Posts Tagged ‘David Bernstein’

I am a bit late with my 2016 list as the first month of 2017 is just about over, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2016 was a slow year for The Horror Bookshelf and I didn’t hit any of my goals that I made this time last year, but it was for a happy reason! The last few months of 2016 were some of the happiest in my life as my wife and I had our first child. The blog has slowed down considerably, but I do not plan on closing The Horror Bookshelf. I fell a bit behind, but I plan on starting 2017 off catching up on some reviews I owe and then hopefully getting back into a normal routine. I have met so many great people through this blog and it would take forever to name everyone, but I want to thank all of my friends, authors, and readers for sticking with me and offering me encouragement and support. My main goal for this site has always been to have fun, interact with other horror fans, and give back to the authors whose art has inspired me and helped me through some rough patches. That goal remains the same and I hope I can continue the blog for many more years.

Being that I fell a bit behind, some of the books featured here haven’t had their full reviews run yet, but they are on the way. I still want to recognize the authors and their works for helping make 2016 an incredible year for this horror fan. Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2016. I decided to go with a Top 15 for novels, a Top 10 for novellas and a Top 5 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

Novels

1. Ronald Malfi The Night Parade 

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2. John C. Foster Mister White 

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3. Kristopher Rufty Desolation 

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4. Jonathan Janz Children of the Dark

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5. Justin Cronin The City of Mirrors

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6. Damien Angelica Walters Paper Tigers

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7. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason Mayan Blue

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8. D. Alexander Ward Beneath Ash & Bone

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9. Hunter Shea The Jersey Devil

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10. Joe Hill The Fireman

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11. Kristin Dearborn Stolen Away

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12. Robert E. Dunn A Living Grave

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13. Stephen Kozeniewski Hunter of the Dead

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14. Joe Schwartz Stabco

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15. John Quick Consequences

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Novellas

1. Adam Howe Tijuana Donkey Showdown

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2. Glenn Rolfe Chasing Ghosts

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3. Josh Malerman A House At The Bottom of a Lake

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4. Mark Matthews All Smoke Rises

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5. Robert E. Dunn Motorman

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6. John F.D. Taff The Desolated Orchard

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7. Kristin Dearborn Woman in White

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9. David Bernstein Blue Demon

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10. Lucas Mangum Mania

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Anthologies and Collections

1. I Can Taste The Blood

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2. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories

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3. Richard Thomas Tribulations

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4. Brian Moreland Blood Sacrifices

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5. Glenn Rolfe Out of Range

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Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from David Bernstein, who is currently promoting his diverse and highly entertaining short story collection A Mixed Bag of Blood (review), which is out now through Sinister Grin Press. I loved reading this collection, the diversity of the stories guarantee that there is never a dull moment throughout the 86 pages that make up A Mixed Bag of Blood. David’s post takes a look at the troubling trend of characters making baffling choices in a story and how authors can write themselves into a corner. I can definitely relate to what David is saying. It happens more with the TV shows that I watch, but I am sure I get on my wife’s nerves when I say something along the lines of,  “You know, if those characters would have just done this….”. Usually its a solution that would have cut an hour-long episode down to roughly ten minutes.

Before I turn over the blog to David, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour!

Don’t Treat Your Audience Like They’re Morons

By David Bernstein

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Have you ever read a book or watched a movie where the characters did something so ridiculously stupid you turned off the television or chucked the book across the room? Characters making stupid decisions seem to be happening more and more. I like to call it dumbed down writing, or writing yourself into a corner. More and more writers are treating their audiences like morons and I’m tired of it.

For example, I was reading a book, and really into it, when the characters did something that I just couldn’t get past. A bad guy was holding a gun on three people. He’d been after them for most of the book. One of the three people managed to clobber him on the head with a pipe and knocked him out. His gun slid a few feet away. Now what do you think happened next? Did one of them pick up the gun? Shoot the bad guy dead? Tie him up? Nope. They simply turned and ran away. And you know what the bad guy did? He woke up, picked up his gun and the chase continued. I was like—WHAT? Why wouldn’t the people at least pick up the gun. Why leave it there? Even if they were anti-gun nuns who would never kill. Why just run away? Because the author wanted to continue the story and had written himself into a corner and said to himself that the audience will buy it because they’re stupid.

Another case: I was watching a TV show where a bad guy was holding a gun on two people. One of the two people had a German Shepherd with him. The bad guy also had a friend with him, but with no gun. One of the good guys manages to grab a shovel and knock out the friend of the gunman. The dog is sicced on the gunman and latches onto his arm and starts gnawing on him. The gun is dropped and tumbled a few feet away. So what do the characters do? Pick up the gun? Knock out the guy who is fighting the dog? Tie up the bad guys? Nope. Not only do the good guys run away, the dog owner calls the dog off and tells it to run. Why? Because the writer wanted to continue the story. Why didn’t one of the good guys pick up the gun? Help the dog? They could have called the cops while keeping the gun trained on the guy. The show should’ve ended there. And do you know what the bad guy did after the good guys ran away? He picked up the gun and shot one of the fleeing good guys. Then the chase continued. For me, this is a complete turn off. I will stop watching a TV show that does this. It tells me the writer, editor, producer and all else involved think very little of the viewers.

This may seem like a rant, and it is, but I would also like to get people to stop accepting this sort of bullshit. Make a writer work and believe that his audience is intelligent. And as writers, we shouldn’t be doing this sort of garbage. Cheap thrills to progress a story that should’ve ended at that point are silly. And if you don’t want to end your story, then don’t write scenes like the above. Treat your readers/viewers like they have a functioning brain. I’d sooner believe a man can fly or lift a house over his head before making the kind of decisions the above characters made.

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LINKS

David Bernstein’s Official Website

Sinister Grin Press’ Official Website

Purchase A Mixed Bag of Blood: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

A Mixed Bag of Blood tour graphic (1)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about A Mixed Bag of Blood! – #AMixedBagofBlood #DavidBernstein #shortstories #horrorstories

A Mixed Bag of Blood Synopsis

From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.

This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.

Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood

“Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you’ll want to read. With an introduction by Kristopher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did.” –Cat After Dark

 Praise for David Bernstein

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.”  —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

About David Bernstein

david bernstein

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, athttp://www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email dbern77@hotmail.com, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

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BOOK INFO

Publisher: Sinister Grin Press

Length: 86 Pages

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for A Mixed Bag of Blood

My introduction to David Bernstein’s work was through his bleak 2014 novel The Unhinged. I remember reading this novel and being blown away by Bernstein’s depiction of extreme horror with antagonists capable of truly horrific brutality. While the engaging and inventive plot is what initially drew me into The Unhinged, the things that I really enjoyed was Bernstein’s unflinching approach to putting his characters through the wringer and his ability to keep readers guessing. Just when it seemed clear where the story was going, Bernstein would throw a curveball that took the reader to totally unexpected places.

That same sense of unpredictability is found in Bernstein’s short story collection A Mixed Bag of Blood. A Mixed Bag of Blood is a relatively short collection at 86 pages, but Bernstein manages to take readers on a thrilling journey by offering up ten stories that run the gamut from straightforward horror to bizarre, gross-out stories that will make your stomach churn! I enjoyed the collection as a whole, but the following stories were clear-cut favorites.

“The Trojan Plushy” – This story follows Brad Raling, whose family was killed by a drunk driver who gets off the hook due to breathalyzer recall. After spending weeks in a tailspin of despair, Brad gets a visit from his neighbor Miss Conrad, the neighborhood recluse. She brings him a pie that contains an ominous note that offers him the possibility to get the justice he craves. The set-up for this story seems like your standard revenge tale, but Bernstein throws in plenty of unexpected twists that make for an exciting and violent opening to the collection that grips you right away. I don’t want to give too much away about what happens, but Bernstein crafts an ending that packs a powerful, emotional impact.

“Eaten Un-Alive “- This is one of my favorite stories in A Mixed Bag of Blood. Here, Bernstein lays out a scenario where vampires around the world are struggling to survive as zombies begin to overrun civilization. This story details the journey of a vampire named Remington as he scours the countryside in a desperate attempt to survive. Just when Remington is about to give up his search for the blood he desperately needs, he stumbles upon a house that offers the first sign of life in days. While this seems to be the answer to Remington’s problems, the situation is not all that it appears to be.

I absolutely loved the premise of this story and it combines two of my all-time favorite horror creatures – zombies and vampires. Even though Remington is a monster, he is bursting with personality and you are instantly drawn into his journey. It was also interesting to read this type of story told from the perspective of another undead character as it poses a whole different set of challenges than a traditional zombie story.

“Invasion” – As soon as I read the first paragraph of this one and figured out that it was an alien story, I was instantly sold. However, this isn’t your typical alien invasion story and that is part of what makes this such an interesting story. The aliens mechanism for world domination is a modified cockroach and when it crosses paths with a terrifying young boy named Timmy, the results are shocking. The ending of “Invasion” is incredibly cool, but I have warn you, it will probably make you itch for days!

“Samurai Zombie Killer” – This is probably my overall favorite story from A Mixed Bag of Blood. This is the story of Kenji Matsuko, a samurai who is tasked by his master on his deathbed to confront his brother Makito, who is dabbling in the dark arts. The title pretty much says it all when it comes to what to expect from this story. I have read a ton of zombie stories and although I can appreciate the straight forward takes on these creatures, I love when an author manages to do something original with the mythology. While I can appreciate “Samurai Zombie Killer” as a standalone short story, I wish Bernstein would flesh out this story into a full-length novel or novella. I never would have thought of pairing zombies and samurais together in a million years, but now that I have read this story, I can’t imagine how someone didn’t write one sooner!

“Small Town, Big Trouble”  – There is so much to love about this story, I don’t know where to begin! “Small Town, Big Trouble” takes a small town that has been hiding a sinister secret for generations. Four families are tasked with protecting the town and its secrets, but years of stress and guilt drive two men who belong to the inner circle to take a stand in an attempt to end the horror once and for all. I don’t want to spoil too much of this story, but Bernstein manages to take a well-known legend and craft a highly enjoyable short story that once again shows off his imagination.

In addition to these stories, Bernstein also introduces readers to a sentient booger, a cautionary tale about buying things at yard sales, and a slew of other creepy stories. What I like the most about this collection is that it shows off Bernstein’s versatility as an author. Bernstein unleashes a variety of styles throughout A Mixed Bag of Blood, so there is a story in there for all horror fans regardless of what type of horror they are into. Some of these styles weren’t what I would normally read on my own – “The Booglin” and “Pottymouth” immediately come to mind – but in the context of this collection, they work extremely well and I found them to be enjoyable reads. It was a lot of fun reading this collection and not really knowing what to expect from one story to the next.

While the stories collected in A Mixed Bag of Blood are wildly diverse in terms of style and subject matter, one thing that is consistent throughout the collection is a sense of fun that makes this a collection that is very easy to finish in one sitting. So, if you are willing to be a little adventurous in trying out different styles of horror, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of A Mixed Bag of Blood!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

David Bernstein’s Official Website

Sinister Grin Press’ Official Website

Purchase A Mixed Bag of Blood: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

A Mixed Bag of Blood tour graphic (1)

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about A Mixed Bag of Blood! – #AMixedBagofBlood #DavidBernstein #shortstories #horrorstories

A Mixed Bag of Blood Synopsis

From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.

This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.

Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood

“Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you’ll want to read. With an introduction by Kristopher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did.” –Cat After Dark

 Praise for David Bernstein

“David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…” —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

“A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!” —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.”  —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

“A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!” —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

About David Bernstein

david bernstein

David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, athttp://www.facebook.com/david.bernstein.3. Visit him at his website: davidbernsteinauthor.blogspot.com email dbern77@hotmail.com, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

TheUnhinged

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 226

Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

The Unhinged starts off with a fairly simple premise and one that many readers will immediately write off as not being horror. Aaron Dupree is a 24-year-old man who was recently released from prison on parole after serving a six-year sentence for his role as a getaway driver in an armed robbery attempt. Having cleaned up his act while in prison and looking for a fresh start in life, having gotten an honest job and a budding romance with a girl he met while working there. However, his plan for redemption hits a road bump when he is pulled over for speeding. Aaron pleads with the cop and thinks it is his lucky day when the cop agrees to let him off with a warning with one minor stipulation – that he gives the cop his number and does whatever he asks when he calls, no questions asked. When the cop finally calls Aaron with a job, it seems simple enough and Aaron has no choice but to go along with the cop’s demands. The job makes Aaron uncomfortable, but he follows through assuring himself that no one will get hurt and that when he is finished, he will be free of the cop and able to re-focus himself on turning his life round. However, Aaron quickly realizes that he is in over his head and that the world of horrors the cop unleashes puts him and every one he cares about in grave danger.

The Unhinged is one hell of a novel and Bernstein excels at crafting tension that kept me riveted all the way until the novel’s explosive conclusion. Throughout reading the novel, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander at how Bernstein would tie everything together. Would Aaron get caught while completing the jobs given to him and head back to prison? Would he somehow disengage himself from the cop through a clever plan? Just when it seems clear where the story is going, Bernstein throws a curveball and it takes the reader to totally unexpected places.

Bernstein also does an excellent job of building his characters throughout the novel, particularly the juxtaposition between the cop and the man with the scar. Despite them only being referred to by their descriptive monikers, they have distinct personalities. The cop, for all of his brutality and twisted plots, is more of a chameleon. He is able to blend into society and mask his violent tendencies which makes him a formidable adversary. The man with the scar is the polar opposite. There is little to no attempt to mask his personality and he is fueled solely by the need to hand out pain through sadistic violence. Bernstein forces the reader to question which is more terrifying – a man whose evil is concealed to a degree by charm or someone with absolutely no moral compass?

The Unhinged is a bleak novel and the descriptions of the antagonists’ brutality are pretty horrific. However, if you are a fan of extreme horror, this is one novel you will definitely want to add to your collection! I was unfamiliar with Bernstein’s work prior to reading The Unhinged, but after finishing the novel, I definitely plan on checking out his other books.

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

David Bernstein’s Official Website

Samhain Horror’s Official Website

Purchase The Unhinged on Amazon