Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse - by Gregory L. Norris

 4 Stars

In this collection of short stories, Gregory's muse takes us to places as diverse as ancient Egypt to your own back yard.  26 tales, each one unique in it's telling and yet there are a few stories which share similar geography.  Highway 101 is a stretch of road I wouldn't want to find myself traveling on a dark and lonely night.

The author is skilled at creating believable situations and has a real talent for conversation.  Sure there are monsters, of both the nightmarish and human kind, but I had no trouble suspending my disbelief long enough to enjoy a good story.

There are some proof-reading issues.  Not a lot, but enough of a distraction to keep me from giving the book 5 Stars.  For example, using through for though, and in another story, a character says, "You know we keep all of them.." when it is evident the writer meant to say, "...we CAN'T keep all of them...".

But for creativeness and storytelling, it's tough to find a better collection than what Gregory L. Norris and Evil Jester Press has put together in The Fierce and Unforging Muse.  Available now in paperback and for the Kindle at

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cut Corners Volume 1 - by Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little & Ray Garton

3 Stars

A little chapbook I read between novels. "Cut Corners Volume 1", from newcomers Sinister Grins Press, is a trio of shorts from 3 heavy hitters in the horror genre. First up was Britain's Ramsey Campbell, he's extremely successful and has won numerous awards for his writting, but his story, "The Address" left me more lost than the character in his entry. Fraith gets away from his family and this elderly man spends a good deal of time in a wooded area looking for the train station. He seems lost, almost like he has Alzheimer's, althought that's never stated. The ending left me even more confused, like maybe I was suffering from the disease.

The second tale faired a bit better, from the legendary, Bentley Little, "Conversation Between Two Women Overheard At My Dentist's Office." I am not fond of Dentists, but after hearing this conversation, I'd rather be in the Dentist's chair than be left alone with either of these women.

The third and final tale comes from the dark and dangerous mind of Ray Garton. "Autophagy" is set in the near future, an all to possible future. As if the world isn't a horrible enough place to live, it's an even worse place to die when things are eating you up, inside.

Nothing outstanding here. Just an evening's diversion. Some of the projects Sinister Grins Press is working on look promising. Let's hope they don't cut any corners.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Noctuary - by Greg Chapman - Keep an eye on Greg Chapman

5 Stars

Aussie horror writer, Greg Chapman, is someone worth paying attention to.  The name may not be familiar to you right now, but it soon will be.  Both a talented artist, currently working on illustrations for a graphic novel on the history of witchcraft persecutions from horror legends Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton and now an up and coming novelist in his own right.  I first read Chapman in 2011 when his Novella, "Torment" was published in March.  "Torment" was a terrific ghost story set in Scotland. Still available in both paperback and for the Kindle.

"The Noctuary" takes us in a different direction, but is every bit as good.  It all starts when writer , Simon Ryan, starts conversing with his muse who reveals himself as Meknok, the thing in his dreams.  It is easy to immerse ones self in the world Chapman has created here. 

Along the way Simon Ryan meets Henry Schiller, another writer, and he learns that his soul is on the line, unless he writes for Meknok.  Meknok's what you call a Dark Muse - one of the nine muses, whose soul task is to inspire mankind to darkness.

Ryan has a chance to rewrite his own history, in his own blood, something that he would love to do, given his disturbing past.  What follows is a delicious story told to perfection.  So much so, that I eagerly await Greg Chapman's next work.  I'm hoping for a novel soon.  Something to really sink my teeth into.  "The Noctuary" is published by Damnation books and is available for the Kindle at

Friday, March 9, 2012

Clown In the Moonlight - by Tom Piccirilli - A particularly dark novella

4 Stars

A dark and twisted tale of desire and consequence inspired by actual events, which makes this brief trilogy of interwoven tales even creepier.  Ricky Kasso, the so-called Acid King, murdered a "friend" in '84 because Satan told him to do it.  This story, seen through the eyes of an unidentified acquaintance of Ricky's, tells that tale, but also shed's light on the story of the protagonist who is dealing with demons of his own. Piccirilli's writing is visceral in his description of what drives the antihero to do the terrible things he does.

Overall I enjoyed the mood, the party scene, particularly, captures the a sense of being lost in a crowded setting.  I will warn you, if you are looking for a moral to the story or a definitive end to the tale.  Don't expect to find one on the written page.  The kindle version of this book is free, from the Lending Library, for Amazon Prime members or for $2.99 and includes a preview of Piccirilli's latest book "The Last Kind Words."

Flee: A Thriller - by J. A. Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson - This will get your heart pumping

Originally read March 6, 2012     5 Stars

J.A. Konrath, Ann Voss Peterson, or their publisher, did a pretty smart thing here. They made "Exposed - A Codename: Chandler Novella" available for free. I downloaded it and then realised I wanted to read the origianl novel, "Flee - A Thriller", first. I hate to read sequels, even if they're stand alone stories. Fortunately, I was able to pick it up using my March Amazon Prime Lending Library selection.

At one point, I was a fan of the spy novel, having read all of Ian Fleming's, James Bond books and a good many of Robert Ludlum's books, as well. Recently, however, my taste has moved to Horror and "Flee - A Thriller" doesn't necessarily fall into that category. But there was something that drew me to this book and I'm so glad I was. What an incredible ride, within minutes the action was exploding from the page and never let up until the conclusion of the story.

Chandler, is a top government operative, trained to be the best. Her identity is known by only a handful and once her cover is blown, she can't trust anyone, especially when she takes out her own double, right down to the mole on her chest. There's much more to that, but no spoilers here.

Sure, the fate of the world rests in Chandler's actions and she escapes situations that you just don't see as being remotely possible, but that's not the point. What is, is the storytelling and Konrath and Peterson make an excellent team, keeping the action non-stop and, in the end presenting a completely satisfying work. Available for the Kindle for 2.99 and if you have your Amazon Prime Lending Library selection available for this month, you can't get it for free, as of the date of this review.

Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel - by Richard Kadrey - Not as good as the first Sandman Slim novel, but still worth a read

Originally read March 1, 2012     4 Stars

When I'm reading a Richard Kadrey novel I'm in another world. A world where anything is posible and right now it's about to be overrun by Drifters (Zombies, Zed, the Dead). Lucifer is here too, attempting to produce a movie about his life. Our hero, Sandman Slim, suspects Lucifer may be his Father. "What kind of kid would want Lucifer for a Father? He'd give you the 'censored by Amazon' Christmas presents ever. On the other hand, he'd throw the greatest Halloween parties". It's irreverent dialog like this that keeps me coming back for more.

This is Kadrey's 2nd book in the "Sandman Slim" series. The original, "Sandman Slim" is not required reading to enjoy "Kill the Dead", but it wouldn't hurt. He's also the author of the wildly imaginative "Butcher Bird: A Novel Of The Dominion" from 2007. One of the best books I've read in the last 5 years.

"Kill the Dead" is filled with Angels, Fallen Angels, the Undead and so much more. Of course being able to suspend your disbelieve is a requirement to enjoy these books, but once you do, this is a wonderful way to escape the everyday. All of Richard kadrey's works are available, both in print and for the the Kindle, at

Behold the Child - by Harry Shannon - An action/horror novella from one of the best

Originally read February 27, 2012     4 Stars

Detective Sam Kenzie is a cop's cop. Think Riggs in the Lethal Weapon franchise.

Harry Shannon's writing gives "Behold the Child" plenty of grit and makes the action seem real. There is a clear vision here and Shannon wastes few words. One of the things I most enjoyed about the story was the way the novella started with a burst of action, with Kenzie having to make a life and death decision right at the start.

In the long run, that decision leads to an early retirement and we find Kenzie heading from L.A. to become Sheriff in the town where he grew up. Twin Forks is out there in the Nevada desert and there's a bit of strangeness as he gets lost along the way and meets an old man on the BRIMSTONE TURNPIKE. Just when it seems Kenzie is settling into a routine in Twin Forks the case that lead to his "retirement" shows up in the quiet Nevada town. Leading to an ending that's precisely what one might expect from the mind of Harry Shannon.

Overall a top notch thriller/horror story with an ending I dare you to see coming. The only reason I give this 4 instead of 5 stars is the abrupt end. It left too much to my limited imagination, but don't let that stop you from picking up and enjoying "Behold the Child."

Note, as of the writing of this review, you can get the Kindle version for free

Vampyrric Rites - by Simon Clark - Norse gods and their Vampire Army try again

Originally ready February 23, 2012     4 Stars

When last we left David Leppington, he had seemingly overcome his destiny to lead a vampyrrhic army and their desire to rid the world of Christianity and restore the glory of the Viking gods. Of course he had a little help last time, it's really tough to do this stuff on your own.

All of the the main characters are back, including the owner of The Station Hotel, Electra Charnwood, the lovely and shy Bernice Mochardi and the, left for dead, Jack Black.

The undead, Viking army, are no longer residing under the town of Leppington. You'll now find them living, or not living, in a lake called Lazarus Deep. Through a series of unfortunate events, everyone ends up trapped, at a house by the Lake where we meet David's half-brother. It seems David's Father wasn't exactly faithful. This means David is no longer the last of the Leppington blood-line and not the only person who can lead the vampyrrhic army in their quest to destroy the world.

I know, this all sounds rather preposterous and it may seem like I'm making fun, but somehow it works. Simon Clark is a very talented writer and in his capable hands this is a very entertaining sequel to Vampyrrhic, which I felt was somewhat better.

Although, these vampires are not 100% in line with Dracula, at least they don't "sparkle".

13 Drops Of Blood - by James Roy Daley - Not a home run, but difiitely an extra base hit

Originall read February 22, 2012     4 Stars

OK, not sure why I used a baseball analogy for the title of this review. "13 Drops of Blood" has nothing to do with the great American pastime. Must just be that time of year.

This collection of short stories is my first exposure to James Roy Daley. I wasn't sure I was going to like this since it's one step above being self-published (James owns the publishing company, Books of the Dead Press) and I did find a few errors, that a better proofreading should have caught. But, that aside, I was very impressed with the work.

Nearly, every story was a hit (more baseball) with me. James set the tone with "The Exhibition". I found myself immersed in pure horror. The story was gruesome. It was extreme. It's definitely not for everyone, but if you love blood and guts, this one is for you. There were a number of truly original ideas in this book, plus Zombies, werewolves and vampires. I particularly liked "Summer of 1816". A blend of fact and fiction on how Mary Shelly might have come to write "Frankenstein". Certainly worth your time, especially if you like your horror with a bit of an edge.

Thirty Miles South of Dry County - by Kealan Patrick Burke - Stay out of Milestone, if you can

Originally read February 20, 2012     4 Stars

Another tale from the world created by Kealan Patrick Burke in his novel, "Currency of Souls" 4-stars, too. "Thirty Miles South Of Dry County " features one of the characters we met in the previous work, but the story can certainly be read as a stand-alone novella.

Warrick Tanner, "Tan" to his friends has spent, nearly, the last ten years of his life, hanging with his friend Dick, outside Sven's Liquor & Gas. The establishment is just a bit outside Milestone, a place you wouldn't want to be, even for a visit or on a bet. But, when Sven goes into town looking for revenge for what has happened to his place, and takes Dick with him, Tan has no choice but to go looking for them when they don't return. What he finds is is certainly not what he expects and makes "Thirty Miles South Of Dry County" worth the read. From publisher Delirium Books.

Bad Valentines - by Steve Vernon - Horror that's not just for Valentines Day

Originally read February 19, 2012     4 Stars

"Bad Valentines" was published just in time for the 2012 Valentines Day holiday and since I was between books, I took a chance. Glad I did. I found Steve Vernon to be a talented storyteller with a wicked sense of humor and eye for the bizarre, occasionally finding both in the same tale ;-)

The collection begins with "Change of Pace", something that many couples look for after years of the same routine, both in, and out of the bedroom. Malcolm is in that kind of rut and has tried just about everything to bring back the magic. His friend Seymour finally comes up with the ultimate aphrodisiac which, much to Malcolm's surprise, actually works. He even tries some for himself. The end result is definitely not not what he expected.

"Wetside Story" is out there, I mean WAY out there. Sexuality among talking squid, shellfish and Nazi Zomboids in an Uberbottom Death Sub. Believe it or not there's an underlying moral to be unearthed in this comic romp. Really funny stuff, too.

The final outing here, is "Potboiler, Told in a Spanish Key". Where the first couple of tales were on the light side, not so much here. A dark tale of sacrifice. Well written, with some truly gross moments.

Oh, wait...there's a bonus story in the Kindle edition. It's from Steve Vernon's short story collection "Roadside Ghosts". "Catcall" is an enjoyable tale involving pre-teens and a haunted house.

I've added Steve Vernon to my list of authors to keep an eye on. Check him out for yourself. His works are available from Crossroad Press and

Sleepers - by Jacgueline Druga - Great story that could do with a little proofreading

Originally Read February 17, 2012     3 Stars

I would love to give Jacgueline Druga's "Sleepers" 5-Stars. The story was original, well paced, kept my interest and had a very satisfying ending. The problem is self publishing. Not a bad thing in itself, but this book really needed a proofreader. Dozens of instances of grammatical errors, incorrect tense being used, the awful "I couldn't care less" and more. It was so bad, that I nearly gave up, but by that time, I was two-thirds of the way in and really wanted to see where the story was headed. Three stars means I liked it, but not enough to really recommend. Maybe, if the author took it back and had someone proofread the work and make all the needed corrections, it would be a different story, but for now, that's how I feel.

Seven Stories - by Brian James Freeman - More please...

Originally read February 16, 2012     4 Stars

Brian is something of a rarity in today's Horror genre. A writer who doesn't beat you over the head with all the violent, gory details in his stories. Oh, the violence and gore is there, but it's left to your imagination. Kind of like the shower scene in Hitchcock's "Psycho". You may not see every stroke on the screen, but you certainly visualize it in your mind. Don't get me wrong, there is definitely a place in Horror for the writer who put's it all on the page, but it's nice to see one with the skill to achieve the same results with the unwritten word. On to "Seven Stories". If I have any complaint it's that 7 wasn't enough. It was a little like your favorite band releasing an EP rather than a full album. The collection started with "Walking With the Ghosts of Pier 13" It's not straight out of today's headlines...yet. And I'm hopeful that events like these never come to pass here in the US. In all his stories, Brian finds the horror in the everyday, often dealing with loss, shining a light into the darness only to reveal a deeper darkness. I love Brian's ability to make me cringe and squirm just by setting the table and allowing me to imagine the torment and horror of a situation, as he does to perfection in "The Punishment Room". It all wraps up with a shocking ending in story seven, "When the Sunlight Sleeps". Get this one, turn the lights down low and let Brian James Freeman exorcise your imagination.

RARE CUTS, a short story collection - by Michael Laimo - These "Rare Cuts" are prime indeed

Originally Read February 9, 2011     4 Stars

Michael Laimo's "Rare Cuts" is filled with 24 engaging short stories, including every type of Horror/Fantasy/SciFi tale imaginable. Due to the graphic nature of several of the stories, it's not for kids or those easlily offended. That alone should make you want to grab this one. Michael is one sick pup. The collection starts with a twisted tale of a suicide hotline worker in "1-800 S-U-I-C-I-D-E" and includes a story of a mob boss getting into the worst kind of pornography imaginable in "Snuff's Enough" . Some of the stories have the feel of watching an old Twilight Zone episode, while others...Oh, I forgot...Zombies in "Run Of the Dead" which blends Zombies and and Gladiators in a very strange future. I picked this up as my January, Amazon Prime Lending Library, selection. This was the best FREE e-book I've read to date. If you don't have Prime, you can get it for a very reasonable $2.99. Well worth a few bucks.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Naked Heat (Nikki Heat) - by Richard Castle - Servicable tie-in to the popular ABC series, "Castle"

Originally read February 7, 2012     3 Stars

If you're a fan of the "Castle" TV series, which I am, you'll likely enjoy this second book from Richard Castle. These clever tie-ins to the TV series are seviceable, but not much more. As to who the ghost writer might be for these novels, it seems to be the best kept secret in publishing. I've Googled quite a bit trying to find a clue and have gotten nowhere. If you want to try one of these books, be aware of the differences between the TV series and the Novels. Kate Becket, on show is Nikki Heat in the books, both are Homicide detectives. Richard Castle is Jameson Rook, still a writer, but for a magazine, rather than a Novelist and he still writes an occasional article about Nikki Heat.

I think I may have enjoyed the books more if they didn't mirror the TV show as closely as they do. that aspect leads to some confusion for me. All-in-all, there is some fun to be had. Good, but nothing special

Chaos Bites (Phoenix Chronicles, Book 4) - by Lori Handeland - Warning: It will leave you hanging

Originally read January 26, 2012     3 Stars

OK, I'll admit it, Lori Handeland is a guilty pleasure for me. I read a Nightcreature short in a collection one time and immediately went out and bought the entire series, I think there were seven at the time. I then started reading the Phoenix Chronicles when they started coming out. However, I actually wish I handn't read her lastest in that series, "Chaos Bites". Don't get me wrong, it was a fun read, everything you'd expect in this Romantic/Fantasy genre. But let's say reading this one was like getting just to the point where a character was in the heat of passion, nearly to the point of climax and she stops. Yeah, that pretty much explains what I felt like at the end of the story. There is so much more to tell here and Lori has gone back to writing books in some of her other series while leaving us hang in The Phoenix Chronicles with no word on when or if she'll pen another. I hit her up on facebook and asked her why she would do this to me and she responded, "It seemed like a good idea at the time". I'm not saying don't read it, it's actually the best of the series so far. I'm just warning you that you'll be left wanting more. I just hope there is more...eventually.

77 Shadow Street: A Novel by Dean Koontz - Read the wjhole book, it's worth it

Originally read January 20, 2012    4 Stars

Been reading, and enjoying Dean Koontz for a very long time. I must say this is one of his strangest books to date. Took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I found it hard to put down. Dean writes from the perspective of many of the residents of the exclusive Pendleton, at "77 Shadow Street", which had to be challenging, even for a writer of Dean's caliber. From a shy pre-teen, to a retired U. S. Senator, to an insane contract killer, each with their own, distinct persona.

Every 38 years, something tragic happens at the Pendleton and in 2011, it's happening again. As I mentioned, it did take me a while to see what the writer was trying to accomplish, I may be slow, but I couldn't get a grip on what the connections were until I was way into the book. However, from the halfway point, to the conclusion, I could feel the pace quickening and Dean does an amazing job of tying it all together by the story's end.

At one point I thought about only giving this book 3 stars, which would have been a disappointment for a Dean Koontz novel. But, now I feel very satisfied with this and am giving it 4 stars.

The Armageddon Chord - by Jeremy Wagner - Much better than I expected

Originally read january 7, 2012  4 Stars

For some reason, I was prepared to not like this book, which was strange, because I really like and admire Jeremy Wagner as a person. Having met him at Horrorfind Weekend 2011, I found him to be genuine, confident and really hard not to like. I guess my problem going into "The Armageddon Chord" was that I'm not into Metal, and was not at all familiar with Jeremy from his work in the music industry. I figured since I don't listen to Metal, I'm not going to like the book. Let me admit, I was just plain wrong.

Although, It did take me a while to get hooked, once I was into the story I started to really look forward to what was going to happen next. The lead character, Kirk Vaisto, "The God of Guitar" is very believable and finds himself in a position he wants no part of, but can't get out of without jeopardizing the life of the woman he's fallen in love with as well as his own. The characters I found myself loving to hate were his manager, a "Nazi" loving German Egyptologist and one of the richest men in the world.

After unearthing the tomb of an ancient Pharaoh who worshiped Sethis or Satan, the evil Egyptologist gets Kirk to transcribe the ancient music, into a guitar piece, to be performed at the unveiling of the tomb's riches. The performance will be broadcast to the World and is believed by the evil doers to bring on the Apocalypse and grant them power and immortality.

Kirk is given one shot at redemption which leads to one of the most amazing conflicts of good versus evil ever put to paper. This is not a book for the faint of heart. If it were a movie, it would at least be rated PG-13, if not R. If you think you've heard all this before and believe this may turn out to be predictable, read it and find out. I think you might be surprised.

The Hungry - by Harry Shannan Best use of a Wedding Dress in a Zombie story

Originally read December 30, 2011     5 Stars

In the Acknowledgements at the end of the book, Harry Shannon thanks his co-writer, Steven W. Booth, for "sticking Penny Miller in that damn wedding dress". Yeah, I'd have to agree with that. There are a lot of Zombie books out there these days and to stand out it's got to be more than just humans blowing the brains out of the zombies. After just reading The Prologue, I knew I was in for a treat and I hadn't even met Sheriff Penny Miller yet. The writers' dialog is fresh, colorful and fun, and Penny shares a favorite saying with me, "F___ a duck". I can't say it here, but you get the idea. On the down side I was a little thrown by the way Sheriff Miller "checks out" each of the new male characters in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. Really. Seems something a guy might do. Ladies, let me know if I'm wrong. All in all, this one's a winner, fast paced and fun. A must read for any Zombie enthusiast and anyone with a hankerin' for a mighty fine tale.

The Painted Darkness - by Brian James Freeman - One of the better stories I've read in 2011

Originally read December 26, 2011     4 Stars

Brian is currently the Managing Editor of Cemetery Dance magazine, so to say he knows horror may seem a bit of an understatement. His current novel is more than just a horror story. Sure, it has those cringe-worthy elements with rats galore and an evil boiler seemingly come to life, but this is much more than your standard horror fare. I get a real Ray Bradbury feel as I read this story. Ray was always able to take me to real places and make me feel right at home. Brian manages to do just that, particularly with young Henry and his adventures in the woods, behind his home. In the story we find that Henry, as both a 9 year-old and a grown up man with a wife, Sara, and a 3 year-old son, Dillon, has quite the imagination. An imagination that sometimes goes beyond fun and game and is pivotal to the "The Painted Darkness". Available as both a hard cover and at a great price for your kindle.

Lords Of Twilight - by Greg F. Gifune

Originally read December 20, 2011     4 Stars

Just read Greg F. Gifune's "Lord's Of Twilight" for free, thanks to Amazon Prime's Lending Library. Have I mentioned how much I love my Kindle Fire? Not a long book, but an intriging tale of Lane Boyce, who was falsely accoused of having a ...relationship with one of his HS students who had a teacher's crush on him. The incident cost him his marriage, his career and quite possibly his sanity. Greg does a nice job of deftly weaving the past and present in this alien abduction story. I liked it so much I just purchased his novel "Apartment Seven".

The White Devil: A Novel - by Justin Evans

Originally December 18, 2011  4 Stars

Stephen King recently listed his choices of 2011's Top 20 Movies, TV, Music and Books in Entertainment Weekly. Among the books was one that caught my interest, that coupled with SK's recommendation was enough to get me to read, The White Devil by Justin Evans. I'm glad I saw the recommendation, this one turned out to be quite an original take on the classic ghost story. Andrew Taylor has already been kicked out of school in the states, more than once. His Father convinces Harrow School, outside London, to give him a chance, after making a contribution to the school. He is assigned to the Lot house and his head of house is writing a play on Lord Byron. Just so happens, the new student, bears a striking resemblance to Byron. Not only does the head of Lot house notice, but so does the Lot ghost. Ghosts today, seem to be able to do a lot more than they used to, just look at American Horror Story. If I say much more, I'd have to give spoiler alerts. I'd give this one 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. Definitely worth a look. Enjoy.

Ghost Story (Dresden Files, No. 13) - by Jim Butcher

Originally read November 13, 2011     4 Stars

There are several series of books that I enjoy for a variety of reasons. There's the hardcore Prey series, by John Sandford, the amazing writing of James Lee Burke and his Dave Robicheaux series and a few others, but for sheer fun, I always come back to Jim Butcher's, The Dresdin Files. I've just finished the 13th novel in this long-running series and have yet to be disappointed. Sure some are better than others, but it's always a joy to get lost in Harry's Chicago. When last we left the wizard detective he was shot and presumed dead. The title sort of gives you an idea where the new book picks up, "Ghost Story". No surprise there, but Harry's got a lot of learning to do on the other side and a myriad of challenges, as well. Will he be up to the task or die (again) trying. You really should start at the beginning with "Storm Front" and get to know Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. You won't be disappointed.

Currency Of Souls - by Kealan Patrick Burke

Originally read November 11. 2011     4 Stars

Welcome to Eddie's Tavern, the only functioning waterhole in a near-dead town. Among the people you'll meet tonight are: Tom, Milestone's haunted lawman, who walks in the shadow of death; Gracie, the barmaid, a wannabe actress, doomed to spend her hours tending bar in a purgatory of her father's making; Flo, the town seductress, who may or may not have murdered her husband; Cobb, a nudist awaiting an apology from the commune who cast him out; Wintry, the mute giant, whose story is told only in cryptic messages scribbled beneath newspaper headlines; Kyle, the kid, who keeps a loaded gun beneath the table; and Cadaver, who looks like a corpse, but smells real nice, and occupies his time counting stacks of pennies.

And then there's Reverend Hill, who will be in at eleven, regular as clockwork, to tell them who's going to die, and who's going to drive.

Welcome to Eddie's, where tonight, for the first time in three years, nothing will go according to plan.

Not for the faint of heart. This book is out there and it was fun to escape to a place where you have no idea what will happen next. The dead don't stay dead and living wish they weren't and deer speak and cigar store Indians are a pretty good shot with a bow and arrow.

Spirit - by Graham Masterton

Originally read November 6. 2011     4 Stars

Spirit is not Graham Masterton's newest book, by any means, but it was my first experience with his work. I promise it won't be my last. A family is haunted when the youngest of 3 Sisters drowns in the family pool. A totally original twist on the ghost story. Tying the fairy-tale of "The Snow Queen" into a truly frightening and imaginative work. Little Peggy only wants to protect her big Sisters, even when they no longer want that protection or when it threatens to take away what one Sister loves the most.

Bobby Darin: A Life - by Michael Starr

Originally read June 1, 2011     3 Starrs

Bobby Darin: A Life reveals the rollercoaster ride that was Bobby Darin's Life. Born Robert Walden Cassotto, May 14th, 1936 he truly came from humble beginnings in the Bronx, to a career in popular music, the movies and headlining in Las Vegas. The stories are all here. His marriage to Sandra Dee to his last days in Vegas, doing shows with an Oxygen tank backstage so he can catch his breath as he struggled with his heart condition which would lead to his death at the age of 36. Some very intersting stories with some of the biggest names in showbiz. Well worth a read.

Wayward Son - by Tom Pollack with John Loftus and Jim Alves - Not really what it's made out to be

Originally read May 16, 2011     3 Stars

A capably written and imaginative story. My biggest problem isn't even with the writing, but with the marketing. What I have seen so far led me to expect something along the lines of a Dan Brown thriller or a story in the vein of a National Treasure movie, but instead this is a message novel and the message is Salvation. I don't want to say that the authors are hitting you with the Christian pitch throughout the whole book. Truthfully, it's barely three pages, but it's enough. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but don't try to hide it and that's what I felt was happening. I really feel the reading public would be better served by finding this on the shelf at a Christian Book Store. About the story, our heroine, Amanda find herself with a few, rather diverse options as the tale begins. She finds herself at an archaeological site near Pompeii, where she has a vision which spans much of history from the beginning of the Bible through the time of Jesus (this is where the pitch for Christianity is played out).. There is a lot of ground covered here. The vision drags on and seems rushed at the same time. In the end, the authors manage to tie it all together in an acceptable manner, but then take it one step futher in what looks like an attempt to set it up for a sequel. God, I hope not.

Wolfwraith - by John Bushore - Not what you might expect

Originally read April 16, 2011     3 Stars

Shadow Fletcher is an imperfect man. For one thing, he's missing an arm. He's also missing his family, now estranged, due to being falsely accused of inappropriately touching his 12 year old daughter. He's noticeably rusty in the dating arena and, oh yeah, he seems to have authority issues.

Shadow is a relatively new Park Ranger at False Cape State Park which is experiencing a spat of murders where some of the victims have had their throats slashed.

I know, you're thinking, typical Werewolf fare. Well, not quite. There are some nice surprises and a couple of likeable characters, and John did a nice job with the Category 4 Hurricane, but there were a number of sub-plots left unresolved and that left me feeling shortchanged. From Damnation Books and

Skulls - by Tim Marquitz - Fine original Horror

Originaly read April 16, 2011     4 Stars

More of a long novella than a novel, but Tim manages get get a lot of horror into relatively few pages in this imaginative and completely original story. Jacob Rile is basically a good kid, so what if his Father is an abusive drunk and his Stepmother couldn't give a damn. He has his friends and a girl who seems to care a lot for him. When Jacob discovers a mystery on the property of old man Jenks he starts to lose it all. I'm not a squeemish person., I love Horror and read it more than any other genre, but I actually squirmed in my chair as I read portions of this book. I've been reading a number of stories by younger writers lately and this was, by far, one of the better efforts.

Torment - by Greg Chapman - A Chilling Novella

Read March 9, 2011     5 Stars

I didn't know much about this one going in, but I'm glad I took a chance on Greg Chapman's new Novella. What I thought might turn out to be a story about an exorcism, turned out to be a very entertaining ghost story. When Jessica Newman travels to Scotland, with her family, to deal with her dead Father's ancestral home, she will need to confront much more than the demons from her childhood to save her entire family. This chilling tale's only flaw is in it's brevity.