TV REVIEW: The Walking Dead Season 6

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Please note there are Season 5 spoilers in this review and minor spoilers for season 6. please don’t read on if you haven’t seen the 5th series or don’t want to know the storyline for season 6. you have been warned! 🙂

 

The sixth season of the AMC hit show carried on it’s bleak journey as our survivors struggle to come to terms with living in the nearest thing to safety any of them have ever experienced. Rick and his people struggle to adapt from the savage lifestyle they had been forced to live, which came to a head in the season 5 finale when under instruction from Dianne, Rick kills habitual drunk, Pete.

The fallout from Rick’s actions and the cold brutality in which he went about them causes mistrust against the Alexandria community who are conflicted as to if Rick and his people belong there or on the other side of the wall. This struggle between Rick and his people trying to convince the people of Alexandria that such brutality is needed in the world as it is now and their lack of understanding due to being sheltered from the zombie apocalypse is a prevailing theme throughout the series.

Season six also introduces us to some new villains in the shape of a certain barbed wire wrapped baseball bat wielding maniac who will be familiar to those who have read the comics and we’ll get to shortly, and another group called the wolves. The wolves are essentially everything the people of Alexandria are not. They have lived in the conflict, desperate and clawing to survive, resorting to inhumane tactics in order to survive.

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The people of Alexandria find out first hand when the Wolves attack the town, army of walkers in tow and cause chaos, almost destroying everything the people had worked to build. These scenes are particularly brutal, and test Rick and his group in ways they had started to forget,  causing them to revert back to their savage nature from their time on the road. It is around this time, with the group once again split and in disarray that Daryl, Abraham and Sascha encounter a group in the road who call themselves the Saviors. The saviors tell the group that everything they own now belongs to Negan. Reluctant to hand over their possessions, Daryl and co dispatch the threat and return to Alexandria just in time to help.

The second half of the season picks up in the aftermath of the Alexandria attack as the town (now under the leadership of Rick) trying to repair the damage done by the wolves. During a supply run, rick and Daryl encounter a man called Jesus, who initially seems friendly then steals their supplies. Daryl and Rick track him down and learn that the man comes form a community called the Hilltop. he claims they have supplies and food, both of which are running low in the Alexandria community. Rick agrees to go with Jesus to  the Hilltop to negotiate a trade deal.

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When they arrive at the hilltop, Rick and co find out that Jesus was telling the truth, and the Hilltop is well stocked with food and provisions. Rick learns that the Hilltop community are being extorted for food and supplies by the saviours, who threaten to attack if their demands are not met. Rick and his group agree to eliminate the saviours in exchange for a trade deal with the hilltop where they will share supplies going forward. This leads to an assault on a saviour compound, where Rick and his group brutally kill several people, sure that they have eliminated the threat until they learn that two of their own have been captured. This in turn leads towards the grand finale, where the saviours lead rick and his people towards a face to face confrontation with Negan himself (along with aforementioned barbed wire wrapped baseball bat) who tells them someone has to be punished for what they have done in what has to go down as one of the greatest and most intense end scenes for this show to date.

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There is a lot to like about this season of The Walking Dead. We get to see Carl coming of age after surviving a horrific and life threatening injury. We also get a superb episode dedicated to Morgan’s backstory titled ‘Here’s not Here,’ Which fills in the gap between what happened when Rick first met Morgan in series one to finding him delirious and insane back in the third season. Carol decides that she has seen enough of death and goes off alone, isolating herself from the group as she gives in to the chaos of the world around her. By far the most interesting aspect of season 6 is the start of the upcoming Negan story arc. In a series where Rick and his group have been the alpha, to see him at the end of season six broken, afraid and in tears shows that things have definitely changed. And then of course there is that final scene of the last episode which will no doubt infuriate as much as it captivates.

FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10: Everything changes in this season and I can’t recommend it enough. go buy it!

The Walking Dead season 6 comes to DVD /  Blu ray on September 26th. You can pre order it now from Amazon below:

Amazon U.K: Pre order season 6 now (UK CUSTOMERS)

Amazon U.S: Pre order season 6 now (U.S Customers)

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Voting for the first retro review is now open!

Every month i’ll be reviewing an old horror classic to see just how well (or not) certain movies have aged. This will be a fun, tongue firmly in cheek series of reviews designed to revisit some of those films horror fans knew and loved back in the day. The first selection is up in the poll above, so get voting for your favourites!

If you are unfamiliar with the films or just want to revisit them before making your choice, i have included the Amazon links for each title below. Just click the relevant cover to be whisked away to the amazon page where you can read the synopsis etc. Happy voting!

Writing tips 1: Pre orders and how they can work for you

 

Last year, Amazon introduced the ability to set a title up for pre order. At first glance this may look like a pointless addition, however, used the right way, pre orders can help you to get a strong head start in the rankings and, more importantly, a good chart position on day one. Used correctly, pre orders can be a valuable tool in the author arsenal and give you the advantage to make your book a best seller.

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The image above shows the pre order numbers for my novel, Project Apex. The pre order went live on March 18th and with a minimal amount of promotion achieved 115 pre orders by the day of release. Those numbers helped the book to achieve a strong chart position on its release.

The good news is that anyone with a KDP account on Amazon can access these tools, and if combined with the lessons included in the A to Z of self-publishing course, can give very strong sales numbers early in the shelf life of the book, which as you know, is when the most sales tend to occur for a new title.

Before I get to the details of how pre orders can work for you, there are a few things to note. Firstly, you can only set up a pre order for a specific title for a maximum of three months ahead of its release date. The flip side to this is that you can set up a pre order without having a final version of the manuscript, so you can get this all set up ahead of time as you finish the manuscript and generate sales before the book is even finished! One thing to be aware of with pre orders, is that if you set up a release then don’t upload the final version of the manuscript by the given deadline, then you will lose access to the pre order service for a full year, so be sure that you can get the finished product uploaded in time.To set up a pre order for those who have never done one, it’s as simple as choosing it during the creation of a new title on Amazon. When you are going through the creation process, on option 4 you simply select ‘make my title available for pre order.’

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When you have selected your date (within the three month window) you will have to upload a manuscript of some kind to amazon to use as a placeholder file. This can either be an unfinished draft of the book you are working on or something as simple as a blank document with any random text on it. The Amazon uploader will accept anything here at this stage as it knows you will be returning at a later date to upload the final manuscript. One thing you do need to have ready at this stage is book cover and blurb. If you have this, you can then fill out the rest of your listing as if you were releasing the book there and then. When it’s done, you will have to wait for amazon to approve the pre order. Once it’s done, you will have a listing just like any other book you would release, only with a pre order link instead. This is where you can use the service to your advantage, especially if you set up with the full three month lead time. It gives you the opportunity to share the link and get guaranteed day one sales in advance. I offered a special pre order price to my readers of just .99 which would then revert to its full retail price the day of the book release which built a lot of early anticipation for the release and gave people a reason to commit to buying the book ahead of time. I also did a little bit of Facebook / Twitter promotion to advertise the limited time low pre order price.  With careful planning and promotion, you can almost guarantee a solid number of pre order sales and a massive day one boost to your income, allowing you to plan ahead and get a good estimate of projected sales. If you then combine this process with the other lessons included in the A to Z of self-publishing course around marketing a new release via your mailing list etc., the impact pre orders can have can be even further increased, making them a powerful and valuable tool for you the author. I hope this short blog was useful to you, and that you get some benefit from using this tool to further boost your sales and give that much needed day one spike.

 

 

Michael Bray is a bestselling horror / thriller author of several novels. Influenced from an early age by the suspense horror of authors such as Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, James Herbert & Brian Lumley, along with TV shows like Tales from the Crypt & The Twilight Zone, his work touches on the psychological side of horror, teasing the reader’s nerves and willing them to keep turning the pages. Several of his titles are currently being translated into multiple languages and with options for movie and Television adaptations under negotiation for others.

Where to find Michael Bray online

Official website: www.michaelbrayauthor.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/michaelbrayauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelbrayauth

Instagram: www.instagram.com/michaelbrayauthor

Google +: www.plus.goggle.com/michaelbrayauthor

Where to find my books

 

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Bray/e/B009GH9XCO/

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Bray/e/B009GH9XCO/

 

 

 

 

 

GUEST POST: ANDREW LENNON

My first guest post is by my friend and fellow author Andrew Lennon. Andrew is one of the nicest guys in the business and his new short story collection, A Taste of Fear is well worth checking out. I’ll hand over to him now and let him tell you more!


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When Michael Bray asked if I wanted to do a guest blog on his site I was a little bit nervous. I’ve never done a blog before, let alone a guest post so I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to say or how this is going to go. Just bear with me and hopefully I don’t sound like too much of an idiot.

Michael suggested that it would be a good idea to use this post to promote my new book “A Taste of Fear” which is due for release on 29th July. So here we go….

I had some short stories that I wanted to put into a collection, some had been previously published in various anthologies. Some were completely new, however once I’d finished putting the collection together, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. It just didn’t feel right to release this collection when it felt incomplete.

I was toying with various thoughts and ideas about what to add, but nothing really seemed to fit. Then Stuart Keane contacted me with edit notes for my daughter, Georgia. She has a couple of stories lined up for release with Dark Chapter Press within their anthologies “A-Z” and “Kids – Vol 2”. And that’s when it hit me. That is what would finish this collection off perfectly. If I could get a couple of stories from Georgia, then that would make the finished touch and it would also introduce people to her writing ahead of these anthology releases.

I personally think that Georgia is a fantastic writer, but being her Dad. I’m bound to say that aren’t I? It was when she submitted stories to anthologies that were accepted, and she had editors who were saying she has a gift there, and, she has a bright future in writing. I was sure that this was the right decision.

When I asked Georgia if she wanted to write a couple of stories to go in my anthology she immediately said yes and was quite excited to do so. A few weeks later she came back to me with her first story. “Dolls With Human Hair”. To say that I was jaw dropped is an understatement. I have genuinely never read anything like this before. She is really pushing the boundaries with this story. Truth be told, perhaps some readers will not like her for it, but the readers that do like it, will love it! It is, in my opinion, the best story in this collection.

A few weeks after that she came back to me with another story and a poem. Again these were both great. The emotion and description within these stories really sets a creepy vibe throughout. I really enjoyed them and I hope you do.

So anyway. That’s how this collection was completed. The description for the book will follow in a moment, if you scroll further down you will be able to read the first story in the collection in full. A flash fiction story named “Bite”.

On tonight’s menu, brought to you by Andrew Lennon.
We have a collection of short stories, each tailored to give you A Taste of Fear.
Something small to whet your appetite.

For starters we have:

Bite – A lone survivor in a zombie apocalypse
Killing Christmas – A man who loses his mind over the festive season.
Apartment 2B – A taxidermist who decides that it may be time to make his wife, his art.

On the main course we have:

Hunger – A cellar dweller who is looking for something, or someone to feed on.
Silent Scream – A group of campers who are soon to be hunted.
Meet Victor – A children’s horror tale about a haunted house.
Twins – Two sisters who invent a game, and they want people to play with.
Lake – Two lovers who are trying to escape, but can they?
Bad Day – The tale of a man who’s had too much. Eventually he will snap.

For desserts we have:

Bonus stories from Georgia Lennon.

Dolls With Human Hair.
Tomorrow Night.
I am the monster in the dark.

We hope you enjoy your meal and leave here with A Taste of Fear.

Please, come back soon.

Bite

Shovelling a spoonful of beans into his mouth, Aaron kept his eyes focused on the black and white CCTV screens. What had started as a bit of fun had quickly became a major obsession. Luckily, for Aaron, it was an obsession he had taken very seriously.

It was just over a year ago that the first news report hit the TV stations. Experts had no other word for them: Zombies. The cause was uncertain. If there was anybody who actually knew how the outbreak began, or knew of the person responsible, they were either dead or keeping quiet for their own safety.

Nobody could have imagined just how quickly the outbreak would spread. Local authorities were powerless to fight these creatures, and the armed forces didn’t last more than a couple of days. They were able to take down a lot of them with effective headshots, but a killer that is both fearless and mindless does not back down, or slow down. Before any real damage was made from the gunfire, the soldiers were swarmed. Just a scratch from one these things was enough to infect you. The movies had lied; it wasn’t just a bite that you had to fear. If they could reach you, you were a goner.

Aaron had been preparing for this for years. He had been laughed at, and alienated from his family and friends. He was just the crazy person preparing for the zombie apocalypse. He didn’t even open the door for his own mother when he saw her trying to escape from the madness outside.

News reports stopped within days. Any reporters that had braved the outside world in a vain attempt of the glory report were ripped apart on camera for the viewers at home. For a while, Aaron was able to keep an eye on things through online videos. People would film the carnage from their bedroom windows and then upload them to YouTube, but they hadn’t prepared the way Aaron had. They didn’t have a year’s worth of food, or steel reinforced doors. After a couple of weeks, people stopped uploading the online videos. The only thing Aaron had left to check were his own CCTV cameras.

At first, he had been scared at the sight of his neighbours being ripped apart outside his home, but then he remembered how all of these people had treated him. Now he was safe inside and they were the stupid ones. He laughed, it didn’t matter that nobody was there to hear him. The pleasure he took in finding out that he was right after all this time gave him a great sense of joy.

Now, his eyes still watched the cameras, waiting for some sign of movement. The cameras had never been so quiet. Victims had stopped appearing on the cameras within a couple of months, but until last week, there had always been several zombies prowling the streets, sometimes even sniffing around the door, as if they knew he was inside. Now, the outside world looked empty, still. Could it be that these things had died off? There were several lifeless figures lying on the ground, but Aaron wasn’t willing to risk checking just yet. If the zombies really had died, then that meant there were no more people for them to feed on.

Could it be possible that he was one of the only remaining survivors left on the planet? He licked his lips at this thought. He had resisted this temptation for over a year, but now if the evidence looked to be true, then Aaron would be responsible for repopulation.

He threw the empty tin on the floor, wiped the spilt beans from his chest, and then walked to the spare bedroom. That’s where he’d left her, still chained to the wall, a young girl. Splitting his rations with her for all this time was now going to pay off. All that waiting would be worthwhile. The wait would make it so much more pleasurable.

Perspiration began to form around his upper lip. The young girl must have sensed the look in Aaron’s eyes because she screamed and cowered back into the corner. There was a sense of fear and self-preservation that he thought she had given up on a long time ago. He was hoping that the fight would be completely gone out of her, and that this would be an easy task.

“Now, dear,” he said through his heavy breathing. “There’s no use making a fuss, this is for the good of humanity. We have to do this to save the world.”

The girl didn’t say anything, she just screamed in response, frantically trying to free herself from the shackles.

“Calm down.” He licked his lips and edged towards her. “It’s all going to be alri … OW!

He smacked the side of his neck where he had felt a tiny pinprick. He looked at his palm to see a tiny squashed insect. A mosquito.

Aaron’s eyes turned blood red.

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You can pre order “A Taste of Fear by going to:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Taste-Fear-Collection-Horror-Stories-ebook/dp/B01F3O6ZWO/

Amazon USA: http://amzn.to/2abC3CM

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Thanks to Andrew for submitting his post and being my first ever blog guest! If you want to check out more of his work you can find his website at: http://www.andrewlennon.co.uk/ 

 if you a writer and are interested in posting a guest post of your own, let me know!

Stranger Things SEASON 1 REVIEW

A homage to 80’s horror done right.

There has been quite a reaction to the new Netflix exclusive Stranger Things. It seems that every other post on Facebook was about somebody watching and raving about it, and so, as the credits roll on the final episode, I feel ready to give my verdict to go with the zillion others out there right now.If, like me you were a child of the 80’s, then you will immediately fall in love with the tone of this series right from the start. Everything from the set and costume design to the sinister synth tones of the opening title sequence takes the viewer back to the days of The Goonies, E.T, Eirie India and of course the Horror Movies of that era. There are no mobile phones or Pokemon Go here, but BMX bikes and the great outdoors.

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The plot centres around a young boy called Mike, who, after an evening playing dungeons and Dragons with his friends, cycles home. On the way, he encounters something in the woods which follows him home. The unseen entity follows Mike to the shed, where after a tense standoff he disappears into thin air. What follows is the search for Mike as things grow more and more strange and tense by the episode.  His friends Finn Wolfhard (Mike)  Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas)  and Gaten Mattarazzo (Dustin)  who are a Goonies like bunch if ever there was one, stumble across a young girl in the woods when out looking for Mike. she is shaven headed and confused, marked by a tattooed 11 on her wrist (played expertly and with haunting conviction by 12 year old Millie Brown) who seems to have strange mind bending powers not unlike a certain girl in a certain Stephen King novel.  The interplay between the kids is charming and often funny, which are moments offset by the traumatic breakdown of Mike’s mother, played with superb believability by Winona Ryder in what has to be one of her strongest career performances to date.

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As this is a spoiler free review, i don’t really want to go too deeply into the details of the plot (as it would spoil your enjoyment of watching. As the search for Will goes on and Mike and the rest of the kids get to know the mysterious Eleven, the supporting cast are left with plenty to do. David Harbour is the town sheriff, who finds that his simple case of a missing child has started to grow into something much more intricate and potentially deadly. Natalie Dyer’s performance as the quiet desperate to do get with the in crowd Nancy Wheeler is also worthy of note, as her struggle for acceptance and eventual involvement in the overall storyline weaves in and out of the main narrative before all of the separate threads come together for the finale and the mystery is finally revealed.

If 80’s nostalgia is your thing, and you are a fan of 80’s Spielberg of the movie adaptations of Stephen king, then this is definitely worth checking out. If not, check it out anyway, if only for the soundtrack. True, Stranger Things doesn’t tread any new ground, and there are many elements you have seen before, but in a world where people spend their days chasing pokemon and staring at their computer screens, it’s refreshing to go to a time when such things didn’t happen. Thankfully, Stranger Things has been renewed for a second season, and i for one will be watching.

Final score:

8/10

Well worth a watch and a wonderful homage to the 80’s. Recommended.