DEATH PERCEPTION Available for Advance Review

Hey there, if you’re a book reviewer and want to review my latest release for a May 15, 2013 launch, I’d love to hear from you!

DEATH PERCEPTION is a supernatural crime story corrupt with horror yet preserved by a sprinkling of black humor. The skinny:

DEATH PERCEPTION by Lee Allen HowardNineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care facility, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.

He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. But when his perception differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, he must bring the killers to justice.

Take a peek at chapter 1 of DEATH PERCEPTION in PDF. I’d love to hear your comments on this post, or by email. Enjoy, and feel free to share this page!

If you are willing to write a review for the May 15 release, please contact me at lee [at] leeallenhoward [dot] com. I have .mobi (Kindle) and PDF files, as well as trade paperbacks available. DEATH PERCEPTION is 72,000 words.

Thanks, and please help me spread the word!

Check out release plans here.

What They’re Saying About DEATH PERCEPTION

“Dastardly devious, cleverly conceived, and just a whole lot of fun to read, Death Perception is Lee Allen Howard on fire and at his finest. Rife with winsome weirdness, it’s like the mutant stepchild of Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King, mixing a truly unique paranormal coming-of-age story with a quirky cast of offbeat noir characters into a novel that’s simply unforgettable… and hilariously original. A supernatural crime story, blazing with creative intrigue… don’t miss it.”

—Michael Arnzen, author of Play Dead

“Lee Allen Howard’s Death Perception is a red hot union of Gothic crime thriller and grim humor that burns with supernatural tension. Beneath the sickly sweet scent of caramelized sugar lies the wildly entertaining tale of a man who delivers justice to the dead while fanning the fires of the living. Ever hear the expression, ‘laughing in a morgue’? Death Perception feels just like that. Howard has a gift for crafting eccentric characters and clever plots. This is dark fun at its best.”

—Jason Jack Miller, author of The Devil and Preston Black and Hellbender

“Death Perception has officially made me envious of Lee Allen Howard. It sings like a choir of angels, while weeping like a ghost in winter. Everyone should have this in their collection.”

—Trent Zelazny, author of To Sleep Gently and Butterfly Potion


Book Review: HELLBENDER by Jason Jack Miller

HELLBENDER by Jason Jack Miller

4.8/5.0 stars

“It’s Johnny Cash with a fistful of copperheads singing the devil right back to hell.”

HELLBENDER by Jason Jack MillerHELLBENDER, sophomore novel by Jason Jack Miller, is as much a sensory experience as his first in the Murder Ballads and Whiskey Series, THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK. Instead of Morgantown, HELLBENDER is set in the mountains of West Virginia, and with Miller’s descriptive skill, I got to experience the flora and fauna of the Appalachians: the sights, sounds, and smells of a place I’ve never been but now felt like I was there.

The Collinses have been feuding with the Lewises for years. And their animosity comes to a head when Henry Collins buries his little sister in the cold, hard ground. Janie is a victim of the Lewises’ malicious spellcraft. Teaming up with love interest Alex, Henry learns she’s adept at the old hills magic that women in both families practice—for good and for evil.

Besides the magic and intriguing family characterization, Miller loads on the action like a railroad car full of coal, stoking the engine toward a violent destination.

I dig Miller’s turns of phrase, his depiction of local color and customs, his description of the rural milieu, and his demonstration of forces supernatural. If you believe in magic—or want to—you owe it to yourself to read HELLBENDER. I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

You can connect with Jason on Twitter @JasonJackMiller. HELLBENDER is available in trade paperback from Raw Dog Screaming Press or for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Book Review: BUTTERFLY POTION by Trent Zelazny

BUTTERFLY POTION by Trent Zelazny

4.7/5.0 stars

BUTTERFLY POTION by Trent ZelaznyPerry got rolled last night during a blackout. He’s looking for what he’s lost, and that’s more than his wallet and cell phone. He finds Talia; Talia finds him.

Reading Zelazny is like going on a drinking binge and waking in the gutter. But among the messy people in a sad, depressing world is existential philosophy cocooned in beautiful writing. Zelazny has a knack for turning phrases—not just on the page, but in your mind.

Along with despair, there is humor: “To Perry he looked like a kid who’d been picked on in school, which over time had given him the options of suicide, junkie, criminal, or law enforcement.” Priceless.

In the end, there is satisfaction. And thankfully, some hope. All while the butterfly watches.

Available in paperback and for e-readers. On Goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13613311-butterfly-potion.

You can discover more about Trent Zelazny at: http://trentzelazny.com/


Book Review: MERLYN’S RAVEN by Rose Vanden Eynden

MERLYN’S RAVEN by Rose Vanden Eynden

5.0 stars

I recently finished an excellent first novel by a long-time student of Arthurian legend, Rose Vanden Eynden. MERLYN’S RAVEN from Soul Mate Publishing is a romantic fantasy set in fifth century Wales.

Merlyn's Raven by Rose Vanden EyndenGwendydd, the illegitimate child of an allegedly wild woman, suffers her mother’s reputation, but longs to know the truth of her heritage. Slated for a loveless marriage to her chieftain grandfather’s political ally, she meets and falls in love with a druid’s apprentice, a handsome man with golden eyes, possessed of second sight, yet said to be the son of a demon. Appearing and disappearing at will are a few of the many feats of magick the young Myrddin (Merlin) can do, as well as casting glamours—and building Stonehenge with his metaphysical prowess.

Beyond the disapproval of her family, difficulties mount when Myrddin’s clairvoyant visions foretell the birth of a great king who will unify a warring Britain. To shift the balance of power, they must succeed in a dangerous scheme, one that threatens their very lives.

If you’re looking for a book that’s a perfect potion made of magick, romance, and adventure, I highly recommend MERLYN’S RAVEN. Rose Vanden Eynden’s words flow like a rushing river. The setting is rich, the characters are fascinating, the magick is powerful, the treachery surprising. Keeping the pace brisk throughout, Vanden Eynden builds ancient intrigue to an exciting conclusion and sets things up nicely for the next edition of an enchanting saga.

You can watch the book’s video trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt4cu3rSKz8.

You can find MERLYN’S RAVEN at Soul Mate Publishing and Amazon.

The Goodreads page is http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13448335-merlyn-s-raven. You can find the author on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/RoseVandenEyndenOfficial.


Book Review: DESTINATION UNKNOWN by Trent Zelazny

DESTINATION UNKNOWN by Trent Zelazny

4.6/5.0 stars

DESTINATION UNKNOWN by Trent ZelaznyI’ve read most of Trent Zelazny’s work, and along with TO SLEEP GENTLY, this is one of my new favorites.

Again, in DESTINATION UNKNOWN, Zelazny really puts the screws to his characters, and I relish that in a suspense tale. Just when you think you know where the story’s going,—blammo!—you’re off in a different direction and, by the end, careening downhill with no brakes. (I should warn you that I had to stop reading this one late at night because it was jacking my adrenaline and I couldn’t get to sleep.)

The characters are deep as they are wounded. Brian and Kate tragically lost a son and think they’ve received a boon when they come across some money. A lot of money. But the owner wants it back, and will do anything to get it.

DESTINATION UNKNOWN will keep you guessing to the end, and wincing at every development along the way. Classic TZ with an 80s music soundtrack. Loved every freaking page. Please write another.

Available in paperback and for e-readers. On Goodreads at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13276701-destination-unknown.

You can find out more about Trent Zelazny at: http://trentzelazny.com/


Book Review: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE by Ron Butlin

4.6/5.0 stars

“You are thirty-four years old and already two-thirds destroyed.” This is not just the measuring rod of today’s alcohol consumption, but the yardstick of your life.

Ron Butlin’s The Sound of My Voice (Canongate, 1987) is another text in my self-study plan for second person point of view. In this short novel, the “you” is protagonist Morris Magellan, an alcoholic whose life is unraveling, perhaps irreparably.

THE SOUND OF MY VOICE by Ron Butlin

Following the death of his cold and distant father, Magellan dogpaddles through life as disappointing husband, father of two “accusations,” and junior executive at a biscuit company.

Drinks connect the moments of each day, accompanied by a background of classical music played too loudly. While numbly trying to hold it together, Magellan manages to alienate his co-dependent wife, frighten the children, offend his secretary, and jeopardize his position. Without the drink, he’s drowning in mud or hallucinating about snow.

Butlin’s choice of second person POV is perfect for the task, making you (the reader, that is) feel nervous, guilty, and detached all at once, as if you’re watching through a hidden camera lodged in the bridge of Magellan’s smeary eyeglasses the embarrassing minute-by-minute footage of someone too drunk to realize he’s failing at every turn.

Although The Sound of My Voice is not as excruciating as Grimsley’s Winter Birds, Butlin’s short book is self-conscious and uncomfortable, tense and poignant, with anguish made more powerful by his keen skill of understatement. Butlin delivers meaning and emotion in his spare prose like a lorry filled completely with the perfect number of biscuit boxes; no more will fit, and nothing jostles. This book is nigh perfect in its execution, and makes a lot more sense than Daniel Gunn’s over-literary Almost You (1994).

I recommend Butlin’s The Sound of My Voice. It’s a fine study in narrative and an example of a well-executed novel.


Book Review: WINTER BIRDS by Jim Grimsley

4.8/5.0 stars

You are Danny, one of five children born to poor Southern parents in the late 1950s. You move from one ramshackle house to another, most in ill repair and without adequate heat. When your Papa loses his arm in a farming accident, hard times grow harder.

Your saintly Mama puts up with a lot of abuse from Papa, whose moods swing deeper and darker and dangerously more violent with every imagined offense. You young’uns do your best to steer clear of trouble.

How do you feel reading the previous two paragraphs?

WINTER BIRDS by Jim Grimsley

Jim Grimsley’s Winter Birds (Simon & Schuster, 1984) is part of my self-study plan for second person point of view. The initial effect of second person is an unsettled feeling, then a distancing: “That’s not me—I’m not ‘you.’”

But the more you read of it, the more it draws you in, creating identification with the narrator/protagonist. Ultimately, it forces you to participate in the story events against your will—probably one reason why Grimsley chose this POV.

Being held in an uncomfortable POV underscores the plight of an impoverished mother and five children trapped in a house with nowhere to escape abuse. All you have are your thoughts and each other, waiting for Papa to come home.

Grimsley ratchets up the tension with the dangers that Danny’s hemophilia pose: a misstep on a glass shard or Papa’s drunken backhand could mean a week in the hospital until the bleeding stops. Like Danny, as a reader, you continue to bleed until the final page.

Winter Birds is one of the most beautiful and excruciating stories I’ve ever read. At times it’s so intense that I had to put it down, and I’m no literary sissy.

Turning away is the prerogative of the reader; never the writer. Grimsley doesn’t flinch. American publishers rejected this semi-autobiographical work for a decade because it was “too dark.” When the book was finally published in English, it won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as being cited for a PEN/Hemingway Award. Well deserved.

The narration, the dialog, the POV, the description all blend into a cohesive package that delivers a poignant, dark dream of childhood. Occasionally, second person comes off as incredulous when the narrator describes things he couldn’t be privy to. But the floating, fantastical elements interspersed through a child’s imagination allow you to accept the tale as told.

If you’re studying narrative or second person POV, you must read Winter Birds. If you read it for any reason at all, I daresay you’ll be moved.