Monday, December 24, 2012

Fungi - Edited by Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno-Garcia

3 of 5 Stars         Review copy

Fungi is a new anthology from Innsmouth Press edited by Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  First let me compliment the brilliant cover art from Oliver Wetter.  He does a very nice job of capturing the spirit of what lies between the covers of this anthology.

As I read the 27 stories in this collection I found my response to be as varied as the stories themselves.  There were some I loved, some I was lukewarm about and others that I just didn't care for at all.

The anthology starts with "Hyphae" a tale from John Langan.  One of the better stories in Fungi. 

After that the stories get more and more out there, including a land of mushrooms, a tale where every character is named for a type of mushroom.  There's a fungus western, pychedelic mushrooms.  Some of the stories are truly Lovecraftian and then there are stories that just have a fungi theme.  There a few familiar names in this anthology and plenty of relative newcomers.

One of my favorite stories is written by Molly Tanzer and Jesse Bullington.  "Tubby McMungus, Fat from Fungus', a wonderful, fairy-tale type of story involving cats, rats and of course fungus.  There's also the delightful ""Wild Mushrooms" from Jane Herenstein and the clever "Letters To a Fungus" by Polenth Blake.  Nick Mamatas makes an appearance with a compelling story of revenge, titled 'The Shaft Through the Middle of It." 

When I read an anthonology, I certainly don't anticipate loving every story, but it would be nice to enjoy more than a handful.  Thus 3 of 5 Stars.  This means I'm glad I read it, but I'm just not crazy about it.

If it sounds interesting to you, read it by all means.  The paperback ($15) and e-book ($8) editions of Fungi are identical. However, Fungi is also be available as a hardcover ($28.00, available only via Innsmouth Free Press ) with three extra stories not included in the paperback and ten black-and-white illustrations by Bernie Gonzalez.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More Than Midnight - By Brian James Freeman - 5 shorts from a master of horror

4 of 5 Stars   Advance Uncorrected Proof

Brian James Freeman is the Managing Editor of Cemetery Dance magazine and publisher of Lonely Road Books where he has produced some very nice limited editions over the years, including a beautiful print edition of Stephen King's Riding the Bullet.  In addition to his work as an editor and publisher, Freeman is also an accomplished writer.  His most recent novel, The Painted Darkness, has been called a hauntingly beautiful tale exploring the thin line between fantasy and reality.

The 5 stories in Brian's new collection have appeared elsewhere over the years and I had already read a couple of them, but if you're new to Brian Freeman or are just looking for a few good stories, you could do much worse than More Than Midnight.

First up is What They left Behind.  Scott's father has bought an abandoned property with a factory, warehouse and office building.  While moving into the warehouse during a big storm, Scott and George head to the basement of the office building to see if they can get the generator working in case of a power outage.

Brian does a great job in building tension and in getting my heart racing when the lights do go out and the two are stuck in the basement and they are not alone...the past is there with them.

My favorite story in this collection is The Final Lesson.  It's been two years since Ronald Hammerstein's wife was murdered outside the Stop-N-Go.  The killers were never caught. 

Another thing I like about Brian's stories is the way he can deliver the horror without telling you all the gory details.  He has the skill to paint a picture with his words and leave rest to your imagination and for me it's just as effective, if not more so.

The story, Among Us, is a bit out there, but a lot of fun and I thought Glenn Chadbourne's illustration for this one was dead on.

Pulled Into Darkness is one of those stories that leaves you wondering if what you read was the truth or the ramblings of a deranged mind.

The last entry was Answering The Call.  I found this to be just as disturbing as it was when I first read it in Borderlands 5, nearly a decade ago.

In all, a nice collection.  And you really can't go wrong with a few stories from Brian James Freeman.  Currently available only as a signed limited-edition hardcover from Cemetery Dance.  To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Darklandia - By T.S. Welti - A dystopian thriller

4 of 5 Stars    Free copy from LibraryThing.com

Darklandia is the first book I've read from YA author T.S. Welti.  I don't expect it to the the last.  If I had to catagorize the work, I might say a dystopian/thriller with one hell of a twist.

Set about 130+ years in the future, the old United States is no more.  After the Civil War of 2072 the government finally defeated the rebels by uniting with Canadian and Central American forces to form the nation of Atraxia.

The story follows seventeen-year-old Sera Fisk who stops drinking the water rations and is soon recruited by Nyx into a rebel organization planning a full-scale attack on Darklandia, a vitual reality program which, along with those drugged water rations has transformed metropolises all over the country into happy, obedient communities.

As you can tell from the above synopsis, there is a lot to learn about the future and the author did an exceptional job of giving just enough information to keep the story moving without leaving the reader feeling overwhelmed with information.

There were a few things I was having difficulty understanding as the story was developing, but even those were answered in an ending that I never saw coming, but was completely satisfied with.

Overall, I found Darklandia to be an enjoyable read and something I can recommend to anyone who enjoys a good, well told story.  Visit the author's website at http://tswelti.com/.  The book is available now, both in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.com.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tool Shed - By Armand Rosamilia - A novella

3 of 5 Stars    Review Copy

When I was asked to read and review Armand Rosamilia's new novella, Tool Shed, I jumped at the chance.  I've really enjoyed some of the other new releases from Angelic Knight Press.  Tim Marquitz's anthology Fading Light: An Anthology of  the Monstrous was the best anthology I've read this year and I'm also a fan of Bryan Hall's books in the Southern Hauntings Saga.

Tool Shed, however, did not deliver for me.  I loved the opening line, "The cows had exploded."  It made want to dig right in and find out what that was all about.

What we learn, is that Michael Zaun has inherited his grandfather's farm following a series of grisly killings now known as the Tool Shed murders.  Despite the property's history a number of local teens have taken to hanging out in the Tool Shed, smoking weed and such.  It's not long before the killings begin again.

There was a lot I liked about this story.  There are nice relationships between Michael, his best friend Larry, Becky and her daughter, Susan.  They make a strong foursome.  But there was something missing.  I think it was the evildoer.  The reader is asked to accept quite a bit at face value.  There is very little background on this character and it has some unique abilities that are given very little explanation.  Sometimes not knowing works OK, but for me, in this story, it just felt a bit off.

Three stars means I liked the story, but it wasn't something I'd recommend to a friend and certainly not what I would call a favorite.  Keep in mind, your experience may be different.  If you'd like to read Tool Shed, it's available now, for the Kindle, at Amazon.com.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Blog with writer Armand Rosamilia - Promoting his new release Tool Shed - Available now

Today, I'm making my first foray into the world of guest blogs.  My first victim...er, guest is Armand Rosamilia a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he eats too much, drinks too much, and doesn't worry about the impending zombie apocalypse. And it is coming. He is the author of many, many stories and novellas (which are all awesome… seriously!), and his Dying Days zombie series is pretty cool, too. He loves talking to fans and friends about horror, zombies, Boston Red Sox and Heavy Metal music. Feel free to e-mail him at armandrosamilia@gmail.com or visit his blog at http://armandrosamilia.com. He also loves speaking in third person.


His new novella is Tool Shed...

When Michael Zaun takes possession of his late grandfather’s farm, he finds out he inherited more than he bargained for. Dubbed the “Tool Shed Murders,” the details of the deaths of two girls on the property, and his grandfather’s, seemingly by his own hand, are a little murky. Was his grandfather a monster or a hero?
The discovery of his grandfather’s journal awakens within him a new confidence. But what about the demon his grandfather mentioned? Is it real or just the ranting of a diseased mind?
 With the help of his friends, old and new, Michael will find not only the answer to that question, but a new strength within himself.

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Let me say this before I get to the interview.  I firmly believe a great opening line can help get any story off to a good start and I just loved the opener for Tool Shed.  "The cows had exploded."  Four words and I'm hooked.  I just have to know more.

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Now a few questions for Armand.

1. What was the inspiration for Tool Shed?

The initial idea for the story began many years ago, when I was buying every Leisure Books paperback I could get my hands on. I loved the stories that Don was editing, and they were all classic horror tales. I wanted to someday write a 'traditional' horror tale, with a monster or demonic entity harassing our hero. I originally thought it from the grandfather's POV, with the murders happening on the farm. Then I put it away and began writing a dozen other stories. But while reading The Rising, or one of Brian Keene's zombie books, I came across a point where he talks about dead cows in the field. The line 'The cows had exploded' came to me, and I immediately thought of my Tool Shed idea. I rearranged the story a bit and began writing.

2. What other books in the genre would you compare it too?

I'd love to think my story holds a candle to classic Leisure Books work from John Everson, Keene, Douglas Clegg, and Simon Wood. But those books are amazing, and the period when Dorchester was firing on all cylinders is still my favorite books to read and re-read. I started writing it with them in mind, to be honest. Then, when it all fell down and burned, I decided to find another publisher that I wanted to be associated with. That was Angelic Knight Press. I was lucky because they obviously loved it enough to publish it, and I didn't have it sitting at half a dozen publishers, trying to get sold.


3. Is it a series? Will we get to revisit the characters?

Kind of. There is a longer novel I've written called Chelsea Avenue, 'starring' the elementals as well but set in Long Branch New Jersey beginning in 1987. I'm doing edits on the story and hope to get it ready to make the rounds as well very soon. It's another story that is many years in the making, and another more traditional horror tale.


4. What made you step away from the zombies that populate some of your other writing?

I never set out to be known as a zombie author. I wanted to write horror stories, period. When I wrote Highway To Hell it was only my second zombie story, after the flash fiction piece "Anything But Luck" starring Darlene Bobich (who has been my main character in all the Dying Days zombie stories) and I thought I wouldn't be writing too many more. Wow, was I wrong. The zombie stories struck a chord with readers, and I still find myself adding more and more to the Dying Days universe. But I still write horror stories, and just released a print horror short story collection, Skulls And Bones, that contains nine stories and none of them are zombies. I swear.


5. The main character, Michael, is a large man. No chiseled abs or buff physique there. And yet, he's basically the hero. Why write him that way?

I'm a big guy, pushing 300 lbs. I can relate to the character and his physical limitations, although I'd like to think I'm in better shape than Michael. I didn't want a Vin Diesel He-man in the story. I wanted a group of normal people, and even his best friend is more geek than anything. Characters that are relatable to a reader, instead of buff male strippers hanging out with super-hot chicks. I only do that in my real life.

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My thanks to Armand Rosamilia for the interview.  I'm reading Tool Shed right now and expect to post a review buy the end of the week.  If you want to get your copy now, it's out today, from Angelic Knight Press and is available here.

The Thirteenth Child - by David Dean - Keeps you guessing right up to the end

5 of 5 Stars    Review copy

Someone or something is abducting childen in Wessex Township, NJ.  Caught in the middle is Preston Howard, the town drunk and father of Fanny who works in the community as a librarian.

Howard has seen the children and he's also seen something else, something that, given his proclivity for alcohol, no one is likely to believe.

To complicate matters even more, Fanny has just become involved in a relationship with the town's Sheriff, Nicholas Catesby. 

David Dean does a superb job of balancing the facts with supposition in the case of the missing children.  Is the creature real or is near-constant inebriation causing Howard to do the unspeakable and concoct an unbelievable tale to keep himself out of jail?

BTW,  living in Southeastern PA, I loved the reveal on the title.  I actually never knew that before.

The author has done a very good job of creating characters that are complete in all of their idiosyncrasies and are convincing in their individual roles.  He also does an excellent job of building tension.  The story starts out with a wonderfully creepy vibe and backs off just a bit, but manages to build tension throughout and keeps you guessing until the final scenes.  The novel is complete, with no loose ends, but there is a bit of an opening for a sequel, should the author decide to go there.

All in all a great read, which I highly recommend.  Available now from Genius Book Publishing in both Paperback and a variety of e-book formats.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm Not Sam - by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee - Morally challenging novella

5 of 5 Stars

Patrick and Sam have been married for 8 years.  He makes his living drawing graphic novels and she is a forensic pathologist.

There is still much love after 8 years together.  It shows well in the love-making scenes, handled skillfully by the writers.  I'd say the scenes are titillating, without being vulgar.

Everything in the story is going swimmingly, but after another night of passion, things change fast and oh so, not for the better.  When they wake up, Sam is no longer herself.  After a visit to the Doc, Patrick learns his wife believes she's a child.  A child of about 5 or 6.

The circumstances are intriguing and the situation calls for restraint.  After all, she still has Sam's body and she's still Patrick's wife. 

I found I'm Not Sam to be a totally enjoyable page turner, start to finish.  And when you get to the end, there's more.  That "more" will turn everything upside down.  When all is said and done, I'm still tossing the moral implications around in my mind.

The idea for I'm Not Sam started as a short story that Jack Ketchum and Lucky Mckee wanted to work into a film, but apparently this story had a mind of its own.  As a result, it winds up as the written word, a novella that Ketchum and McKee have decided to use as a launching pad for another story which they hope to make into a film.  Time will tell.

I'm Not Sam is available in a wide variety of formats from a number of sources.  Probably best just to google the title and authors.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the Tall Grass - by Stephen King and Joe Hill - Scary doings in the middle of Kansas

4 of 5 Stars

Stephen King, certainly knows a thing or two about writing a horror story and his son, Joe Hill, is rapidly making a name for himself in the horror genre.

The first time father and son worked together, the result was Throttle, inspired by Richard Matheson's classic Duel, which also went on to be Road Rage, a graphic novel series from IDW.

This time the two writers united for In the Tall Grass.  Cal and Becky DeMuth were born nineteen months apart and were so close, their parents called them Irish Twins.  While in her freshman year at college, Becky winds up pregnant and the two set off on a cross country trip to their parents on the West Coast.

Crossing Kansas, they go through an area where the grass is higher than an elephant's thigh.  As high as seven feet.  When they hear the voice of a young child crying, "Help! Please help me!" And: "I'm lost!", they decide to stop and investigate.  Worst. Decision. Ever.

By now the reader has a pretty good idea where this is headed.  To bad Cal and Becky don't.  There are clues like the name of the roadside church, Black Rock of the Redeemer, the fact that there are a number of dusty cars in the church's parking lot, and the voice of the child's mother warning them not to attempt a rescue, but in they go and what follows is terrifying fun for the reader.

Along with a nice, original story, you get one very good limerick and for me, I actually learned a new word. "illimitable", which means "incapable of being limited or bounded." 

In the Tall Grass was originally published in two parts in the June/July and August 2012 issues of Esquire magazine and is available now as an e-book from a variety of sources. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Secrets: The Hero Chronicles (Book 1) - by Tim Mettey - Nice YA Thriller/SF Adventure

4 of 5 Stars

A pretty good debut YA novel from newcomer Tim Mettey.  Tim's bio paints a picture of a family man, a man with a clear set of values and that is certainly reflected in his story, but it is in no way a distraction, in fact I found it somewhat refreshing..

Fifth grader Alexander Taylor is a bonafide hero.  On 10-10, the day of the giant earthquake he becomes a hero and it turns his life upside down.  Five years later, he's still on the run.

I don't want to go into a lot of detail on the story, learning the Secrets one by one is what makes the tale enjoyable.  We do get a number of answers by the end of book one, but there are still plenty of mysteries remaining for the sequel(s).

One thing I really wanted explained, and never did learn, is the Tic Tac effect.  You'll understand what I mean when you read the book, and I do recommend this one, especially for Young Adults.  This book is certainly not in the Harry Potter league, but it does compare well to The Hunger Games and is somewhat better than the Twilight books.

Available now in both paperback and e-book formats.  I know you can definitely find it at Amazon.com and may be available from other retailers, as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Devil's Night - by Richard Chizmar - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications has given us a ton of great Halloween shorts during their 13 Days of Halloween and Devil's Night by Richard Chizmar is one of the best.

An excellent story, with completely believable characters from the quirky teacher, to the jealous cheerleader, to the the jock being led by his...cluelessness, with just enough of a twist at the end.

Devil's Night was a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is still available online from Amazon and Barnes and Nobel and Kobo.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Short of Breath - by Trent Zelazny - A halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications has given us a number of fine stories during their 13 Days of Halloween Including Short of Breath by Trent Zelazny.

Ian Cain and his wife, Delilah, haven't been agreeing on much.  This time it's about the Halloween party they've been invited to.  Ian doesn't want to go and Delilah does.

Short of Breath is a fun tale, full of irony and a taste of karma.

Short of Breath was a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is still available from Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Legend of Halloween Jack - by Lisa Morton - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications has given us a number of fine stories during their 13 Days of Halloween and that includes The Legend of Halloween Jack, a Halloween short from Lisa Morton.

It's Halloween in the French Quarter and Jack is doing everything he can to stay lost in the crowd.  "Not yet.  He hasn't found me yet. There still might be a chance, then.  A chance for escape."

Lisa Morton is a Bram Stoker Award winning author in non-fiction and the author of Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween, but here she has crafted a fine piece of Halloween fiction, on what can happen when you cheat the devil out of his due.
 
The Legend of Halloween Jack was a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is still available from Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Treats For Adeline - by Elizabeth Voss & Peter Tackaberry - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications has given us a number of fun stories during their 13 Days of Halloween and that includes Treats For Adeline, a Halloween short Elizabeth Voss & Peter Tackaberry.

Not too frightened by the walk-through at Mayor Barton's mansion, seven-year-old Adeline asks her sister, Harper, "what's next."  So she decides to take her Trick-or-Treating at the house of "The lady on the bluff."

On the way, Harper tells her sister how the lady on the bluff gives the most unusual treats.  One time, it was a basket of puppies, this time, the treat seems a bit odd, but it leads to something horrible.

Treats For Adeline is a treat for the reader as well.  A completely original story that's fun and well written from beginning to end.  Well worth a read.

Treats For Adeline was a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is still available from Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com.

Trick - by Gerard Houarner - A Halloween short

4 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications has given us a number of fun stories during their 13 Days of Halloween and that includes Trick, a Halloween short from Gerard Houarner.

I was hooked with the opening line, "The knocking began a week after Roger moved in."  And the knocking always comes in threes.

There's not a lot I can say about this story, or at least not without giving too much away.  Let's just go with, it's an enjoyable treat that holds its' secrets until the very end.

Trick was a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is still available from Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The House On Cottage Lane - by Ronald Malfi - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with The House On Cottage Lane, a Halloween short from Ronald Malfi.

Brian grew up near the Toomey family.  They were "always taking in weirdos."  His father referred to them as "troubled kids," but Brian failed to see the difference.

One time it was a girl around his age, eleven or twelve, and they were digging up night crawlers in the back yard and she bit him on the bicep for no reason.

Then there was Oliver, despite Oliver's strangeness, his father was always wanting Brian and his friends to include Oliver in their activities.  So when Halloween came and it was time to Trick-or-Treat, along came Oliver "dressed as a ghost.  A single sheet covered his body, with two holes punched out for the eyes."

What happens at The House On Cottage Lane is the crux of the story and it's a story that works on every level.  Kids being kids with unfortuate results.  Highly reccomended.

The House On Cottage Lane is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available, right now from Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com.

You In? - by Kealan Patrick Burke - Clever little ghost story

4 of 5 Stars

"The Wickerwood is being renovated, so tonight Peter will watch over the machinery.  And he will soon discover that there is something else in the hotel with him, something that has never died.  And never will."

Peter Haskins is trying to get his act together.  A recovering gambler who takes the job with Abigail Point Securicorp on a 12-6 shift to keep an eye on the place.  Sure he's heard the history of Wickerwood, but he doesn't much believe all the stories.

You in? is a smartly written ghost story of a man already haunted by personal demons.  Completely enjoyable read, with a fun little hook.

You in? is now available in e-book format from a variety of sources.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Southern Hauntings Saga: The Girl - by Bryan Hall - Very good ghost story

5 of 5 Stars  (Review copy)

Creighton "Crate" Northgate has been seeing ghosts for some time.  He moves around a lot, helping folks with their ghost problems, although Crate hints that there's more to it than that.



As Crate says, "...a lot of spirits seemed to want something, or need a little help moving on to the next plane, and he had...talents in that department."

The Girl is Amy, daughter of Tom Lee and his wife Margie and sister of Angie.  She's been gone for two years and Tom see's his daughter frequently.  Mostly out by the woods.  Margie has never seen her and Angie isn't saying anything on the subject.

The premise for these stories is rather simple and yet Hall is skilled at moving his characters through each step in the discovery process.  Much like a good police procedural, there are false leads and the reader is kept guessing to the end.

The scene with the big discovery is rich with description, leaving just enough to our imagination, but the discovery just leads to more questions.  In addition to helping his clients get answers and hopefully helping the occasional ghost move on, Crate remains haunted by his own brother, Martin, who had died 15 years ago.

Given the subject matter, I still find it easy to suspend my disbelief.  These tales in The Southern Hauntings Saga have a ring of truth to them, making them that much more enjoyable. 

The Girl is a beautiful, self-contained, ghost story, but is just a part of Southern Hauntings Saga which started with The Vagrant.  Each story works well on it's own and both are available now from Angelic Knight Press through Amazon.com.  For more on Bryan Hall you can visit his website at www.bryanhallfiction.com.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Haftman's Rules - by Robert White - A wild ride that begins with the search for a client's missing teenage daughter

4 of 5 Stars    (Review copy)

Thomas Haftmann is a Private Investigator, the sole existentialist P.I. in Northern Ohio.  He's also a former Detective with Cleveland Homicide.

The story is sprinkled with Haftmann's Rules, things like, "Every existentialist in good standing must own a gun, and every week the existentialist rulebook says that the gun ought to me inserted barrel first into the mouth.  Then you make a choice."

I felt the existentialist PI bit played nicely throughout the book.  Added to the character of Thomas Haftmann without getting in the way of the telling of the tale.

In this story, Haftmann's client is John O'Reilly who has hired him to locate his estranged 17 year old daughter.  Thing is, Annaliese Marie O'Reilly doesn't exactly want to be found.

As the investigation gets going Haftmann learns plenty about the relationship between client and daughter that flat out disgust him.  But, he doesn't give up.  He never gives up.

The author, Robert White, has a gift for dialog, imbuing each character with it's own cadence and attitude.

The story itself was totally engrossing and at times I found myself getting lost in Haftmann's world.  Things never quite turn out how you might expect and the investigation goes way beyond it's original scope.  There some huge surprises.  Stuff that left me asking, "What the hell just happened here"?

Haftmann's Rules has plenty of disturbing images.  One in particular, which will stick with me for a long time, involves a human water balloon.  Needless to say, this book is for mature audiences and those not easily offended.

I did feel the book started to drag a bit toward the end, but at the same time I can say it was worth the  read and I can recommend Haftmann's Rules as a solid PI story.

BTW, the character, Thomas Haftmann, has appeared in other works by Robert White, but they are not required reading and this is the first full-length novel to feature the character and it works very well as a stand-alone story.

Haftmann's Rules, is published by Grand Mal Press and is available as a paperback and e-book from a wide variety of sources.






Thursday, October 25, 2012

Monster Night - by Brian James Freeman - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Monster Night was a part of Cemetery Dance Publications' 13 Days of Halloween sometime in the remaining days of October.

Brian James Freeman is the Managing Editor of Cemetery Dance magazine and publisher of Lonely Road Books where he has produced some very nice limited editions over the years, including a beautiful print edition of Stephen King's Riding the Bullet.  In addition to his work as an editor and publisher, Freeman is also an accomplished writer.  His most recent novel, The Painted Darkness, has been called a hauntingly beautiful tale exploring the thin line between fantasy and reality.

For his Halloween story, Freeman introduces us to Jonathon, a little boy excited at the prospect of trick-or-treating.  "When Jonathon asked his mother why everyone wore costumes to go trick-or-treating, she said the costumes were so little kids could blend in with the real ghouls and goblins that walked around on October 31st."

The monsters in this story aren't necessarily the ones that haunt us in our dreams, but more likely the ones that come and go in our lives under the guise of ordinary people.

Freeman delivers a delightfully scary story through the eyes of a child, which tends to make the scary stuff even more frightening.

I definitely recommend Monster Night be included in your Halloween reading.

Monster Night is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available, right now from Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com.

Pumpkin - by Bill Pronzini - A Halloween short

4 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with Pumpkin, a Halloween short from Bill Pronzini.

Prozini is a very well known mystery writer.  In his long career he's writen 77 novels, 36 in the iconic Nameless Detective series, the most recent of which is Hellbox (just published).  His numerous awards include the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, presented in 2008, and three Shamuses and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America.

Pumpkin takes place on the SUTTER PUMPKIN FARM  "The Biggest, The Tastiest, The Best - First Prize Winner, Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, 2006."

The trouble begins when the leader of the crew picking the pumpkin's refuses to pick one he "feels" is evil.  An original, if somewhat predictable short story.

Pumpkin is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Press - by Graham Masterton - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with a short from Graham Masterton entitled The Press.

Graham Masterton has been writing professionally for more that 35 years and is still busy creating new works.

The Press is very short, but it is also very good. 

Padraic Rossa died at the age of 89.  At one time, he was a writer of some note in Ireland, but he hadn't had anything published in the last 15 years.  That was All Hallows' Eve which talked about how "by the commercialization of Halloween we have dragged the souls of our dead ancestors out of the eternal shadows and hung them up in the common light of the marketplace for every inquisitive passer-by to finger."

It should be noted that 5 reviewers who were critical of Rossa's work all disappeared on the next All Hallows' Eve.

I found The Press to be quite imaginative and completely unlike any of the Halloween stories I've read over the years and I highly recommend it.  Particularly if you enjoy a good pun ;-)

The Press is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Toll - by Kealan Patrick Burke- A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with a short from Kealan Patrick Burke entitled The Toll.

Burke is the author of the popular Timothy Quinn series which will see it's conclusion with the publication of Nemesis: The Death of Timothy Quinn this month.  Available now as a signed, Limited Edition, hardcover and as an e-book on October 31st.  You can get details at kealanpatrickburke.com.

The Toll is the story of Miles Camden who awakens to find himself sequestered in a pine box.  A turn of events that actually comes as no surprise to Miles.  Over the years, Miles has accumulated few friends and many enemies including three ex-wives.

The writing style is a bit different than anything I've read from Burke in the past so I asked him if his muse was channeling any specific writer from the past.  He told me, "definitely a bit of Poe and Joseph Payne Brennan, I'd say."

The Toll is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Yesterday and the Day Before - by Ed Gorman - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with my favorite short to this point, Yesterday and the Day Before, from Ed Gorman. 

Wow.  A lot of punch here for a short story.  I don't want to give anything away, so let me just say it has the power of a much larger work pared down to just enough words to get the job done.  And it does that job nicely.

If you only get one of these Halloween treats from Cemetery Dance, this is the one to get.  I highly recommend Yesterday and the Day Before.

Yesterday and the Day Before is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Flash Virus: episode 1 - by Steve Vernon - A roller-coaster ride that's just getting started

4 of 5 Stars

What High School student is going to turn down a free cell phone?  Totally free.  No catch.  Or is there a catch after all?

When the kids in Old Man Jenkins' history class start hearing the strange ring-tone "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (in May), coming from their new free cell phones things start to get very weird, very fast.

Steve Vernon launches his episodic YA thriller, Flash Virus, with a roller-coaster ride that is just getting started.

Vernon seems to have a genuine understanding of the teenage mentality.  Personally, I'm far removed from those days, but with two grandsons, 18 and 8, living with me, I think I have a feel for how they express themselves.  When the author writes, "There is nothing that a teenage boy hates more than to to be called children,'" you better believe it.

There were times, when reading "Flash Virus," that I found myself laughing out loud only to be totally shocked by what happens just a few pages later.

I'm not a big fan of the episodic approach to story-telling, but I've done it a couple of times with Stephen King, both with The Green Mile and The Plant, Steve Vernon has me wanting to find out what happens next.

Flash Virus, episode 1 is available now at Amazon.com. 

The Neighborhood - by Kelli Owen - It starts with a found finger

5 of 5 Stars

First, a note on Kelli's sense of humor.  If you were to follow Kelli on Twitter, you'd see it all the time.  Here, it is evidenced only in the Author's Note: "If any place, person, event or thing exhists that sounds like those included within, it's purely coincidental...unless you are that new couple that moved in down the street, then you might want to take notes."

The Neighborhood is Neillsville, a very small town, something like 400 people.  People who know each other or at least know about each other. 

This is a story about the kids in Neillsville.  It's also about a "finger, then the blood, then Rick---which she personally didn't believe was connected---and then the body proper."  For me, the story was reminiscent of Stephen King's Stand By Me.  A compliment to both King and Owen, as I found each story charming and disturbing it its own way.

By the time we get to the story's end, there are more than a few unanswered questions, but that's OK.  That's just like life.  By the time we get to the end,  we rarely have all of our questions answered either.

The easiest way to get a copy of The Neighborhood is probably through Amazon.com.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gerassimos Lamotas: A Day In the Life - by Simon Clark - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with a truly disturbing Halloween tale from Simon Clark called Gerassimos Lamotas: A Day In the Life.

Gerassimos Lamotas: A Day In the Life first appeared in the  British anthology Dark Forces back in 1993.

Gerassimos Lamotas, a middle-aged man for whom life has not turned out the way he dreamed, is offered a million Euros if he would allow his 19 year old daughter, dumb her entire life, to spend the afternoon a stranger's yacht.

What follows is disturbing on a number levels, but I still found myself entertained by Clark's story.

Make sure you read the Introduction where Clark tells the story of his five year-old self swallowing a stone in front of his classmates in the schoolyard.

Plus, there's a bonus story, Live Wire, one of the author's earliest works from 1989.  You really get a lot for your .99 cents here.

Gerassimos Lamotas: A Day In the Life is part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Quiet House - by Norman Prentiss - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with an excellent little Halloween tale from Norman prentiss called Quiet House.

It's October 29th and the decorations have disappeared from the Myrick's house.  In their place is a sign that reads QUIET ZONE - DEATH IN THE FAMILY.  This is so unfair because it was the first year Jeremy was going to get to go inside to see the rest of the elaborate display.  So unfair.

In 2011 Prentiss received a Bram Stoker award for Invisible Fences in the Long Fiction category.  I have yet to be disappointed by a Norman Prentiss story and this one is no exception. 

Quiet House is a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Gemini Virus - by Wil Mara - It starts with a sneeze. It kills in four days. There is no cure.

5 of 5 Stars

Aside from being a pretty good Texas Hold-Em Tournament player, Wil Mara writes an excellent disaster novel.

Wil and I met at Bally's poker room a few years ago and wound up splitting the pot that day with a few other players.

I found Wil to be an affable guy and I wound up buying a copy of his first disaster novel, Wave, about a tsunami that hits Long Beach Island.  That was a great story and I found his writing style to be very readable and compelling.

Since then, I've been asking when the next "disaster" novel would be released.  Well, that time is finally here and the book is called The Gemini Virus. 

It all begins in Ramsey, NJ where normally healthy Bob Easton wakes from a deep sleep with a fever, and within 4 days, Bob is no longer among the living.

Mara is a fine story-teller with an eye for detail.  Simple stuff, like when decribing Bob's wife, "Bernice, in the baby blue nightgown that Easton thought of as part of the Golden Girls collection."

Before his death, Bob manages to infect a number of others and the descriptions of the symptoms grow increasing gruesome.  You'll definitely need a strong constitution, especially in the early chapters.  There's even a scene where the virus is being passed around Bally's in A.C. (An aside to Wil: Suddenly, I'm in no hurry to go back).

What started the virus?  Where did it come from?  With thousands already dead and many more infected the prospect of the CDC and WHO finding a cure or controlling the outbreak are bleak.  "It could take millions and developing a vaccine could take years."

More than a few cringe-worthy moments.  A well researched, yet clean read that will keep you up at night and guessing right till the end. 

Available from a wide variety of sources as a Hardcover, Digital Audio or e-book.  Well worth a read or listen.

A Little Halloween Talk - by Joe R. Lansdale - A Halloween Short

4 of 5 Stars  (Revised)

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with one of the brightest stars in the Horror genre, Joe R. Lansdale.  This past year the Horror Writers Association awarded Joe the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, so Joe knows a thing or two about telling a good story.

A Little Halloween Talk was definitely fun and I realize the protagonist was telling the story in what seems to be a Brooklynese accent, which I enjoyed, but there were plenty of misspellings which I've been informed are there to give the reader a feel for the education level and communication skills of the protagonist.  That said, I still had occasional trouble understanding what was being said and it did distract from my overall enjoyment of the story.

What I did like, and found to be totally original was the Pumpkin Chop game.  "A grown man with a axe, trying to see how many times he could chop at a pumpkin rolling down a hill without getting out from behind a line."

A Little Halloween Talk is a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Invitation Only - by Ray Garton - A Halloween short

4 of 5

Cemetery Dance Publications continues their 13 Days of Halloween with one from one of my favorite horror writers, Ray Garton.  Ray has been writing full time since 1984 and his Halloween short story is definitely a lot of fun, even if it is just a bit predictable.

Invitation Only is a little All Hallows Eve story of an orgy in a cemetery that's by Invitation Only.  What could go wrong?  This one is definitely for mature readers only.

Invitation Only is a part of the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as from Amazon and Barnes and Noble


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monsters - By Stewart O'Nan - A Halloween short

5 of 5 Stars

I've been a fan of Cemetery Dance Publications for a few years now and this year they've collaborated with some of their favorite genre writers to release a series of Halloween themed short stories.

The first selection is Monsters by Stewart O'Nan, a wonderful story of childhood friendship deeply affected by a terrible accident.

Halloween is coming and best friends, Mark and Derek, were chosen to be Monsters from Creatures from the Black Lagoon in the church's Halloween walk-through.  What happens before the big day is monstrous and sad, and O'Nan takes the reader on a tension filled journey with hopes of a happy ending.

Monsters is a nice start to the 13 Days of Halloween from Cemetery Dance and is available from their website, as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Southern Hauntings Saga: The Vagrant - by Bryan Hall

5 of 5 Stars   ( Review Copy)

Creighton "Crate" Northgate has been seeing ghosts for some time.  He moves around a lot, helping folks with their ghost problems, although Crate hints that there's more to it than that.

The Vagrant is a perfect introduction to the "Southern Hauntings Saga" series from Angelic Knight Press.

In this story, Crate stops for fuel and beer, and sees two men outside the store.  Bryan Hall does an excellent job describing there characters, "One, a vagrant...[his] left shoe had the toe blown out of it and a sock the color of old dishwater had escaped into the daylight."   The other clean cut and well dressed..."He wore a slight smile which seemed to be almost mocking Crate...An arrogant little smirk, and all Crate could think was the bastard was probably a lawyer."

One of these two turns out to be a spirit and what follows is a delicious little story of a ghost who is staying until he feels he has received vengeance.

In The Vagrant Creighton talks about the different types of hauntings, how..."Some [ghosts] were still in the mortal plane to fulfill some purpose, others were nothing more than traces of their old selves like faded Super 8 videos transposed over a crisp, high definition film; doomed to run in an endless loop until the end of time."  The Vagrant deals with one of the former, a spirit that refuses to move on until he feels justice has been done.

The Vagrant is a beautiful, self-contained, ghost story, but also sets the stage nicely for the tales to follow.  The next novella in the "Southern Hauntings Saga" is The Girl and both of these stories are already available from Angelic Knight Press through Amazon.com.  For more on Bryan Hall you can visit his website at www.bryanhallfiction.com.




Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thin Men with Yellow Faces - by Gary Mcmahon and Simon Bestwick - the second entry in a new, quarterly series of premium, signed, chapbooks from the UK - website This Is Horror.

5 of 5 Stars

Thin Men with Yellow Faces is the second entry in a new, quarterly series of  premium, signed, chapbooks from the UK - website This Is Horror.  The website is a great source of info for fans of both Horror writing and films, and I figured I'd take a chance on a charter subscription and I'm glad I did.  Not only do you get the signed chapbook, but they send you a link for the e-Book, as well.

Chapbook number 2 is from Gary Mcmahon and Simon Bestwick.  To find out more about Gary, visit his website at www.garymcmahon.com and for Simon, visit simon-bestwick.blogspot.co.uk .

Thin Men with Yellow Faces follows Gabrielle Holmes, who works for Child Protection Services, as she follows up on a report of suspicious comments made by young Heather Mayhew.

The report came from Heather's teacher who related that Heather had been seeing strange men at the foot of her bed at night.  "Thin men with yellow faces."  Shortly after being turned away by the girl's father, Gabby learns of the murder of Heather's teacher.  Coincidence?  What do you think?

Although a short story, there is plenty going on here as the pace quickens from scene to scene and we find the reality of the situation to be even more sinister than can be imagined.

Once again, I am quite pleased with the product.  For more information on this chapbook, or others in the series, be sure to visit http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/this-is-horror-premium-chapbook-series/ .

Monday, October 8, 2012

Prey - by Tim Marquitz - With bonus novella Anathema

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy4 of 5 Stars  (Review Copy)

In the past year or so, I've grown to me a fan of Tim Marquitz.  One of the first stories I ever reviewed was Skulls from Damnation Books.  More recently Tim was editor on the amazing Fading Lights: An Anthology of the Monstrous. 

This time around it's his own stories Prey and Anathema.  Be sure to take a close look at the wonderful cover from M. Wayne Miller for just a small taste of what to expect from the cover story.  The artist says, "The hardest part of doing that cover was to do something that was not too intense for a cover."

In Prey, Marquitz takes the reader to a very dark place.  The images are raw, disgusting, gruesome (somebody get me a Thesaurus).  Really, the list could go on and on.  The  author's description of what was found in an abandoned house in the 5th ward is one of the more disturbing pieces of prose I've ever read and I read Horror for enjoyment.

The police have a suspect in custody, one who has confessed to the crime, but as the investigation unfolds, we find there is so much more to the story.  What's the Mayor's involvement in all this and why is the Mayor's 11 year old son missing.  Numerous twists and turns will keep you guessing to the end, but for me, it ends too soon.  There seems to be a rush to conclude.  All the loose ends are tied up nicely, but quickly, without a lot of explanation.

Prey is definitely for adults and not for the timid or easlily offended, but for those who enjoy a bit of gore with their horror, it's certaily a good ride.

The Bonus Novella is Anathema.  OK, I admit, I had to look that up in my Funk and Wagnalls.   It means "a person or thing detested or loathed."  This tale is perfect for the title.  A story of revenge gone awry.  I found myself rooting for the protagonist who was wronged in such a big way.  But, instead of exacting revenge on the perpetrator alone, things get more than a liitle out of hand.

Both stories are enjoyable and well worth a read.  Available from the fine folks at Genius Book Publishing for the Paperback and from Amazon.com for both the Paperback and Kindle versions.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Devil of Echo Lake - by Douglas Wynne - Subtle horror with the devil, a ghost and a god

5 of 5 Stars

Back in June, I got to read The Void by Brett J. Tally, a very good mash-up of Science Fiction and Horror.  I gave it 5  of 5 Stars.  This week, I got to read The Devil of Echo Lake by Douglas Wynne, which I'm also giving 5 of 5 Stars.  What, pray tell, might these two books have in common (other than the fact that they both delivered the goods)?  It's their publisher JournalStone Books.  They really seem to be putting out some great material.  I received both of these as ARC's from LibraryThing.com, a great way to get free books.  But let's get back to today's read.

Billy Moon did not recall when he had sold his soul, it might have been the night he met Travor Rail.  That was the same night Billy was prepared to step off the Tobin Bridge.  Rail pulls up in a black limo, introduces himself as a record producer and asks Billy to get his guitar and step into the car.  Of course a deal is struck and Billy has to leave everything from his past behind, but since that time he's pretty much had all that he ever dreamed of.

It's several years later and Billy and his band are just coming off his successful "Lunatic" tour.  Now he is contractually obligated to prepare his next album.  Echo Lake is home to the recording studio where Billy will do just that under the guidance of Trevor Rail.  This is also where we meet Jake Campbell, brought on as an Engineering Assistant on the project and we meet the ghost that lives in the church converted to a studio.  There is a whole back story for the ghost which I won't get into here, but I love the notes repeated on the studio's baby grand.  Pretty creepy. 

Wynne does an excellent job in describing the recording sessions.  Driven, long, intense, crazy.  There are a lot of nice moments and inspired prose.  The primary engineer on the project is Kevin Brickhouse and Douglas Wynnn writes, "What Kevin Brickhouse saw next, he would not understand for the rest of his life, which was now the length of a song."  I'm a sucker for a good line.  The bit with the Ouija board tatoo is inspired and although I didn't follow it all there's the god in the woods that Billy discovers and communicates with.

Near the end, Wynne sums up the recording experience pretty well with, "You may find records are kind of like hot dogs.  You enjoy them a lot more before you know how they are made."

Douglas Wynne has been a writer, a musician and has returned to writing in a big way with The Devil of Echo Lake.  One of the better books of read in 2012 and one I won't soon forget.  Highly recommended.

There is a limited edition, signed, hard cover due out on October 12th, 2012.  Also to be available in paperback and e-book formats from JournalStone Books.  BTW, you can get a FREE e-book with your purchase of the hardcover or paperback versions. Something I think more publishers should consider doing.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Writing Crime Fiction - by Top Suspense Group - Essays on Writing Crime Fiction

4 of 5 Stars  (Review Copy)

More than a year ago, twelve authors got together and formed the Top Suspense Group.  Among them, they have two hundred years of experience, have published more than two hundred books and have been honored with nearly sixty award nominations and/or wins.

Needless to say, this group knows a thing or two about writing crime fiction and in Writing Crime Fiction they've come together to share that knowledge with anyone who wants to try their hand at writing in this field.

What Writing Crime Fiction is not.  It is not a substitute for a good writing course.  It is not a step-by-step guide to writing your first novel.  It is not a guide to self-publishing.

What Writing Crime Fiction is, is a series of essays by some people who have been there.  Helpful words from a dozen writers who have had significant success writing in a genre they love. 

There are articles on Going Indie, Finishing the First Novel, Building Suspense, Writing Noir, How to Use Sex in Your Book, Bringing the Zombie to Life and much, much more.

While I have no plans to write a novel, crime fiction or otherwise, any time soon.  If I ever find myself tempted,  I'd come back to this volume again.  There is pleny of solid advice between it's covers.  Advice that could take you months to accumulate by making connections in the genre and asking the right questions.  And it's already collected for you in Writing Crime Fiction. 

Writing Crime Fiction is available as an e-book from Amazon.com and if you subscribe to Amazon Prime you can borrow it for FREE from the Kindle Lending Library. 

BTW, once you're written your Crime Novel, please send me a copy.  I'd love to write a review.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When the Shadows are Hungry and Cold (A Milestone Story) - by Kealan Patrick Burke

No cover   4 of 5 Stars

When the Shadows are Hungry and Cold is another story in the growing mythos of Milestone.  So far, those stories include "The Palaver" (not yet published),  "When the Shadows are Hungry and Cold", "Currency of Souls" and "30 Miles South of Dry County."  All novellas, with the exception of Currency of Souls, which is more of a Novel which grew out of another novella, "Saturday Night at Eddie's".

Above is a good estimation of the chronology of the stories.  It really doesn't matter much which one you read first or what order you read them in, you can pretty much come and go as you like when visiting Milestone in story form.  If you lived there, you might not be given the same freedom...to come and go as you like.

Milestone is alive or at least concious in a way.  If you live there, it may never even make itself known, but it certain can if it decides to.  In When the Shadows are Hungry and Cold it does so with the occasional car wreck, at the same location and generally credited to the driver hitting a deer, although the deers are never found and the damage tends to be more than stiking a deer would allow.

The latest victim, survives the crash, but ends up muttering "take your child...follow the signs" before taking her own life in front of Officer Bryce Carrington.  BTW, there is an excellent payoff for this mystery at the end of the story.

Burke's decriptive narrative comes alive with lines like, "Buckwheat Prime Beer, a local brew that tasted like someone had wrung out their dirty socks into a dish of rainwater, but sure got your head spinning."  Yech.

I started my personal journey through Milestone with "Currency of Souls" and that includes, "The Palaver", which Kealan gave away online a few weeks back and I was lucky enough to win.  Needless to say, I look forward to my visits to Milestone.  I'm just happy I get to leave at the end of the day.

When the Shadows are Hungry and Cold is available for FREE online at Subterranean Press and is as good a place as any to begin your own personal visits to Milestone.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Traumatized - by Alexander S. Brown - A collection that truly lives up to it's name.

5 of 5 Stars

Whenever someone contacts me and asks if I would read their book and provide a fair and honest review, I always worry just a bit.  What if I don't like it, I'll have to give an opinion in writing anyway, it's what they signed on for.  It's for that reason, I prefer to pick my own reading material, that way, if I have to give it a negative review, I don't feel so bad.

Well, Alexander S. Brown, was confident enough in his work to provide me with a review copy of his horror collection, Tramatized, and I am happy to report that, not only did it not disappoint, it was by far, the best collection I've read this year.

Usually, in a collection of this size, you'll find one or two stories that just don't measure up to the rest, but not the case here.  Every one of the 15 tales inside the covers lives up to the title.  I would so not want to be the protagonist in one of these stories, as every last one of them is traumatized to the full extent of that word.  As a matter of fact, the first online definition I came accross for the word Traumatized was to "Subject to lasting shock as a result of an emotionally disturbing experience or physical injury".  Yep, that pretty much sums up the stories in this brilliant collection.

Ghost stories, a teenager pushed to the brink of insanity, witches, a cultish church, a paranormal investigator going it alone, and for me, the best of the bunch, "Zoe's Swan Song", the story of Zoe Michelle Byrnes, a model/singer turned actress hungry for more.  I dare you not to cringe several times as you read this one.

Tramatized is more than 300 pages of first-rate writing and provided hours of enjoyment for this horror enthusiast.  The work is published by Xlibris Corporation and is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book formats.  Traumatized is intended for mature adults only and certainly not for the easily offended. BTW, according to the author's website, it was once banned in 2009.  That right there should sell a few copies.  I cannot recommend this one enough.  Enjoy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Empty Places - Written by Gary Raisor with artwork from Jeff Austin - Short graphic novel

4 of 5 Stars

Gary Raisor is an American horror author best known for the novels Less Than Human, Graven Images and Sinister Purposes, as well as his extensive short fiction work.  Now he's made his first foray into the world of the graphic novel.

Here, he's taken his 1989 short story, Empty Places, and teamed with comic artist, Jeff Austin, with results that left me wanting more.

The story is very good.  The protagonist is trying to get his friend, Jake, back home to Texas and the two see something in the wheat fields of Kansas, that they were never supposed to see.  The event seems mystical, dreamlike.  Raisor weaves a beautiful story which leaves plenty to the imagination.

What I felt was lacking was the way the artwork was used.  Don't get me wrong, the art was good, but I just felt it could have added more to the story.  Jeff Austin is certainly a capable artist, see his sketch blog here,

One nice thing about the way the graphic novel is packaged, is that you can read the story separate, or read it as a graphic novel.

If you're a Gary Raisor or Jeff Austin fan, you'll definitely want to pick this up.  If you've never read Raisor, get familiar with his work.

Empty Places is available from Crossroad Press, in a variety of e-book formats, and from Amazon.com

Deep Nights - by Joe Mckinney - Short story, like a good episode of The Twight Zone

No cover - 4 of 5 Stars

I can't for the life of me remember what I clicked on to get to this short from Joe McKinney, but from somewhere on the internet, the combination of FREE and the name Joe McKinney got me to this part cop story and part supernatural tale.  Glad I found it.

Officer Steve Fisher recently moved to what they call Deep Nights,  the 11-7 shift, on San Antonio's West Service Area.  As the new guy he thinks he's being pranked, but the truth is so much stranger.

In the words of Office Fisher, "And let me tell you this, the idea that the supernatural really happens, especially when it's supported by an experience like mine, grows inside your head like weeds in your lawn."

Joe McKinney is a former homicide detective with the San Antonio Police Department and the Bram Stoker award winning author of Flesh Eaters.  Although Deep Nights is only a short, it's definitely a good one.

One of the places where you can read Deep Nights for FREE is http://forbiddenzone.webs.com/deep.htm


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Non- Review - Chance to win a copy of Inheritance by Joe McKinney (Evil Jester Press), weeks before it goes on sale!

PLEASE READ THIS:

4 Lucky readers will win a copy of Inheritance by Joe McKinney (Evil Jester Press), weeks before it goes on sale!

Here's how:

Simply share the link to Blogging the Ghost Week #2, featuring a new story by Joe McKinney and blog posts by Peter Giglio and Peter N. Dudar, between today and Monday, September 17th, and you will automatically we be entered into the drawing.

Use this link: http://petergiglioauthor.blogspot.com/2012/09/blogging-ghost-week-2-joe-mckinney.html


Details:

1 lucky reader will win: An ARC print copy of Inheritance by Joe McKinney, signed by Joe and sent directly to their address. This is a one-of-a-kind, personally inscribed collectable, an unproofed advance reader copy.

3 additional winners will receive ARC eBook copies of Inheritance.

Here's what folks are saying about Inheritance:

"An artful haunting with the gloomy quality of a Terrance Malick crime drama"

- Weston Ochse, author of SEAL Team 666

"Joe McKinney delivers. Inheritance is a brisk, wry and deliriously creepy tale of family secrets and black magic that is guaranteed to get your goat!"

-Harry Shannon, author of Dead and Gone and The Hungry

"Joe McKinney has proven, yet again, that he is a true literary genius. INHERITANCE is a breath-taking thrill ride masterfully crafted to grip the reader, pulling them deep into the nightmares of its characters with a level of suspense that steals the breath from your lungs. Brilliant!"

— Gabrielle Faust, author of REVENGE and ETERNAL VIGILANCE

AND BE SURE TO INVITE ALL YOUR FRIENDS!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Bad Place - by Lincoln Crisler - Very effective short story

4 of 5 Stars

Lincoln Crisler's body of work consists of over thirty short stories, two novellas and editorship of two anthologies, most recently the very successful Corrupts Absolutely?, an anthology of dark superhero fiction.

Recenly he tossed this one into the mix.  Definitely a stand-alone short story and a intriguing one at that.

The Bad Place is also a very dark place, on several levels.  Both Judy and Joey are being abused by their father who will punish then by putting them in The Bad Place.  When Joey disappears from there, things gets very interesting.

The idea of using a Time Machine to escape child abuse is quite imaginative.  Of course, this being a horror story rather than Science Fiction, you just sort of know things aren't going to go well. And Crisler doesn't let us down.

Only 16 pages, but an excellent read.  Available at Amazon.com and if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE as one of your monthly selections from the Kindle Lending Library.

While you're shopping you might want to pick up Licoln Crisler's Corrupts Absolutely?, which I plan on reading, hopefully in the near future.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Grief School - by Matthew Tate - A cringe-worthy horror short

4 of 5 Stars

There are a number of Australian writers putting out very good stories in the horror genre.  Without hesitation, I would say, one of those writers is the talented Matthew Tait.

Although The Grief School is relatively short, coming in at a mere 30 pages, it's certainly not lacking in punch.

For Myles Lacey, the death of his 43 year old wife did not cause the heavy grief one might expect in such a situation.  In fact he felt a certain elation when he discovered her dead of a heart attack.  This could have something to do with a secret he'd been keeping from her for sometime.  Myles was, and still is, a compulsive gambler.

Enter Jango Ravana who is willing to pay off his debt.  Jango is not your typical loan shark, if you don't meet your obligation, he's not sending some goons to break your legs.  He has other was of teaching you a lesson.

Believe me, The Grief School has plenty of terror and more than a few cringe-worthy scenes.  Jango Ravana is one sick and twisted individual.  Overall, this is a quick read which I found very enjoyable.  If you are easily offended, you might want to go for something else, but if you enjoy squirming while you read, this one's for you.

Currently available at Amazon.com where, if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can read it for free from the Kindle Lending Library.

Let Darkness Take Hold - by Cameron Trost - A suspense novella about getting revenge

4 of 5 Stars

Lately, I've been reading works by a number of Australian writers.  I have no idea how this happened, but I'm glad it did.

Let Darkness Take Hold is another example of what I'm finding far from home.  A suspense novella about a father's obsession with finding the truth about the disappearance of his sixteen year old son.  He's long had his suspicions, but lacks the proof to act on them.

By the time fortune smiles on him and he learns what happened, his son has been gone six years and his obsession has cost him his marriage.  Now it's time to exact his revenge which comes at a costume party he wasn't invited to.

The costume party is the heart of the story and Cameron has a lot of fun with it and deftly plays with the readers emotions to the point where I wanted revenge as much as the father.

A bit contrived, but still an enjoyable read and currently available for free at Amazon.com.  Check it out for yourself.




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vaudeville - by Greg Chapman - Another horror triumph for this Aussie writer

5 of 5 Stars

In a short time, Greg Chapman has become a master of the horror novella.  In the last two years, I've read the ghost story Torment,  a wonderful tale of a demonic muse in The Noctuary, and now, his third novella Vaudeville. The later work published by Australia's Dark Prints Press.  All three, wonderful examples of the genre.

I think the reason I like his work so much is that Chapman writes the TRUTH and writes it with passion.  I know, this is horror fiction and fiction is made up, LIES by definition, but when I'm reading one of Greg's novellas, it doesn't read like something that's been made up.  It reads like, well like the TRUTH, even when it's about ghosts, demonic muses or, in this case, a group of troubadours; performers, if you will.  troubadours with with a dark, disturbing past.

I've always loved the evil carnival story,  the best being Ray Bradbury's, Something Wicked This Way Comes, so when I saw the premise of Vaudeville I was eager too see what Chapman would come up with.  Let me tell you now, he does not disappoint.

First there's the town of Keaton, home to just under 1,000 citizens.  A town which reminded me a bit of Mayberry and there's young Anthony Moore, who seems a bit like Opie Taylor, but that's where the similarities end.  

It was a year ago that Anthony's father was found hanging from an oak tree in the woods outside of town.  It's at this very tree that Anthony meets these performers and things get interesting, so very interesting.

Vaudeville is a wonderful way to spend an evening in the dark, with just enough light to see the written word.  Available now from  Kobo and Amazon ; with the iBookstore (Apple) available very soon.