Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fear: The Hero Chronicles (Volume 3) - by Tim Mettey - The continuation of this YA Thriller/SF Adventure

3 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Fear: The Hero Chronicles is the third entry in this YA series and continues the saga which began in Secrets: The Hero Chronicles and continued in Trust: The Hero Chronicles.  

To review, Nicholas is a Thusian, an ancient group of secret guardians of mankind, destined to sacrifice their lives at any given time, to save those around them.

Book three, sees more threats from those who would like nothing more than to destroy the 7, a rather confusing combination of 3 Seekers (bad guys) and the 4 (good guys).  This time the emphasis of the story is fear.  There's the fear of the Seekers, the fear of his girlfriend, Elle, being off at college while he finishes his senior year at Winsor High School, as well as all of the normal fears a teenager must deal with.

Although, I enjoyed the overall story in Fear: The Hero Chronicles, there was one bit that I found somewhat disturbing and not in the usual fun horror story way.  In the middle of the book Nicholas' friend, Eric, organized a Nerf gun battle, dubbed Mafia Wars, which would take place during school hours between the Junior and Senior classes.  In today's climate, where even mentioning guns on school grounds is cause for expulsion, it seems in poor taste to have students shooting one another, even when done in fun with Nerf guns.

BTW, Nicholas continues to pop Tic-Tacs as if they were some kind of medicine with no real explanation.

If you've already read and enjoyed the first two books in the series, I think you might enjoy Fear: The Hero Chronicles.  If you've never read any of the books and want to check them out, this is one series where it's important to read the previous installments or you're likely to be lost.

All three books are available in paperback and e-book formats through Amazon.com and as of the writing of this review Secrets: The Hero Chronicles and Trust: The Hero Chronicles, book 1 and 2 in the series, are FREE.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

At Hell's Gates: Volume One - edited by Monique Happy & James Crawford - A benefit horror anthology with lots of zombies

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

At Hell's Gates: Volume One is the brain child of Devan Sagliani who floated the idea around in his writer's group to see if they would like to pool their talents and use them for good in some way.  The result is a nifty little horror anthology, heavy on the zombies and featuring some genre writers I'm already a fan of, as well a a number of new voices for me, which is always fun.

All of the proceeds benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an organization that does much to care for the brave men and women who have suffered in the line of duty and for the families of injured and deceased soldiers.

For me, it took a few stories for At Hell's Gates: Volume One to begin to hit it's stride.  "Time of Death Perspectives: Ollie Ollie Oxen Free," by Shana Festa was just a killer story.  It could be because I was already familiar with the "Time of Death" world, but more likely, I think it's because Shana "gets it" when writing zompoc fiction.

Some of the other notable stories include, "Nefarious," by Stevie Kopas, an enjoyable zombie story about maternal instincts and caring for your toddler zombies.  I thought "Journal of the Undead: The Beginning," by S. G. Lee was one of the better stories with a new Army Doc volunteering to serve at an undisclosed front line of a secret operation.  Yep, zombies.

"Princess and the Flea," written by Paul Mannering, a new writer to me, and someone I need to read more of.  Quite the original story, delightfully told, and worth the $2.99 purchase price all by itself.

They're not all zombie stories.  There's an interesting ghost story from J.M. Martin, called "The Hour of the Beast," and "The Err Apparent," a Demon Squad short by Tim Marquitz that is just flat-out fun.

Then it's back to zombies with a couple of above average stories in "Cracked: A Deadland Saga Short Story," by Rachal Aukes and "Undead Britain," by Frank Tayell.

Overall, a fun collection for a worthwhile cause and a good way to sample a few genre writers you may not be familiar with.  One negative is the number of proofreading errors.  There seemed to be at least one in nearly every story.  I choose to forgive since the effort is for charity, but it would be nice to keep an eye on that for future volumes.

At Hell's Gates: Volume One is available now at Amazon.com for just a few bucks and if you are into zombies, it's worth every penny.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Halloween Children - by Brian James Freeman & Norman Prentiss - Delightfully disturbing

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

For more than a decade, publisher Paul Miller has celebrated his favorite holiday with the release of a novel of flat-out horror, usually featuring classic terrors such as monsters and haunted houses rather than psychological suspense or real-life horrors.

This year, it's the story of The Halloween Children, written by Brain James Freeman and Norman Prentiss.

"The Halloween Children are everywhere and they know our fears" - written in black marker on a bench outside the Still brook apartments.

From a survivor..."When did you realize something wasn't right that Halloween night?"  After a long pause.  "When I discovered that so many of my neighbors were dead."

The story is primarily told through the eyes of Harris and Lynn Naylor, parents of Mattie, their son, and daughter, Amber.  A couple with distinctly different parenting styles creating an interesting dichotomy as Harris favorites Mattie, and Lynn, Amber.

Harris works as a handyman at the Stillbrook Apartments where his boss has just decided to cancel the complex's traditional Halloween party.

The Halloween Children is suitably creepy and scary with voices in the walls, a dead body that just disappears, and a story by Amber Naylor, as told to Mother, called, "The Bad Place."

I found this Halloween treat to be delightfully disturbing and along the way there are some wonderfully gruesome surprises.

The Halloween Children is available as a limited edition hardcover, signed by both authors, from Earthling Publications.  With a print run of only 500 copies, you'll want to get your order in soon if you want to read this one for Halloween.

Strongly recommended.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Drought - by Graham Masterton - A great "what would happen if" read

4 of 5 stars     Review copy

Over the past three years the lack of any significant rainfall has brought large portions of the US to a crisis point.  One of the worst hit areas is San Bernardino, California.

What would happen if the temperature was hitting 120 everyday and the Governor instituted "Rotational hiatuses" for water service.  Suddenly there is no water at all for the city's poorest neighborhoods.  The announced "plan" is 48 hours off in one area and then to restore water there and turn it off in other areas, but 48 hours becomes 60 and there's still no water.  The result is rioting, looting.  People are dying.

Meanwhile, in the city's more affluent neighborhood, the greens at the Country Club continue to be watered.

Martin Makepeace  works for the San Bernardino County Children & Family Services.  Ex-Marine with an ex-wife and two children.  Martin is a bit unconventional as a social worker.  Very protective of his charges and he takes no crap from those who would do them harm.  Martin is called into his boss's office where he meets Saskia Vane from the the Governor's special task force set up to deal with the drought emergency.  They need Martin's assistance to help reassure his clients that the water restrictions are only temporary.  If only that was true.

Graham Masterton's Drought is filled with characters pushed to the breaking point.  Even Martin Makepeace, the undeniable hero of the story is forced to take what would be considered despicable actions under normal circumstances.

A devastating drought, a corrupt government, a private security force run by a madman, rioters, looters, and then there is Santos, a Native American, who knows the location of Lost Girl Lake, and attempts to lead Martin and a group of family and friends to it's hidden location.

Drought gets off to a fast start and doesn't let up until the last page.  The horror in Drought is the potential reality of the situation.  Many of the conditions that make this story work exist today in the real world.  Drought is a well-told tale of survival against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Please be advised, there is a good bit of graphic sex and violence in this book.

Drought  is currently available as a hard -cover from Severn House Publishers through Amazon.com.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I'm Not Guilty: The Case of Ted Bundy (The Development of the Violent Mind Book 1) - by Al Carlisle Ph.D

4 of 5 Stars     Review Copy

As a rule, I review fiction, generally horror fiction, but as we all know rules are made to be broken.  I'm Not Guilty: The Case of Ted Bundy (The Development of the Violent Mind Book 1) is the exception to the rule.

The book, through various interviews with Ted Bundy, and then distilled into a mock interview format, takes the reader through the time leading up to his first murder right through his last.

The author, Dr. Al Carliisle, was a psychologist who was involved in the 90-day evaluation of Bundy after his conviction for the 1974 attempted abduction of Carol DaRonch.

What follows is an amazing story of a man who was able to get a college degree, begin law school, and maintain mostly normal relationships, all while killing numerous co-eds over a number of years.

In the end, after reading I'm Not Guilty, I would have to say I'm likely to be a much less trusting individual.  You just never know.

I'm Not Guilty: The Case of Ted Bundy (The Development of the Violent Mind Book 1) is published by Genius Book Publishing in both paperback and Kindle formats and is available now.

If you enjoy non-fiction with a bent toward horror, I can certainly recommend I'm Not Guilty: The Case of Ted Bundy (The Development of the Violent Mind Book 1).

Be sure to check out StoryBundle’s newly live Supernatural Suspense package

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you know how much I love horror, and how much I also love a bargain.

Today, I stumbled upon a combination of the two that was too good to overlook and I felt was worth passing along to the faithful.

In the words of Brian Hodge...

"It’s not an all-you-can-eat buffet; more like a gigantic bucket of creepy chicken.

I’m part of StoryBundle’s newly live Supernatural Suspense package, along with David Wilson (who curated the thing), Elizabeth Massie, Chet Williamson,Tom Monteleone, Al Sarrantonio, Thomas Sullivan, Aaron Rosenberg, Mike Baron, and Clive Barker. My own title in the roster is NIGHTLIFE, which won the acclaim of no less a deity to me than Robert B. Parker."

If you are at all interested, just follow the link below and enjoy...


Monday, September 15, 2014

Preview of Pretty Little Dead Girls - by Mercedes M. Yardley - Sequel to Nameless: The Darkness Comes, the first book in The Bone Angel trilogy.

Elegant Murder and Tragic Prose are in the Stars This Fall

Mercedes M. Yardleys New Release is Nothing Short of Beautiful

Monday, September 8thCrestview Hills, KY—“Murder and whimsy. These things may sound incompatible, but dark fantasy author Mercedes M. Yardleys latest novel manages to entwine the two concepts with lyrical language, beautiful imageryand a high body count.

Ragnarok Publications is proud to announce the release of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, coming on September 29th. A dark but lovely fairy tale, this is Yardley at her finest: a tapestry of lush imagery, poetic prose, and beautiful violence about a woman destined to be murdered and her flight from Fates inevitableyet seemingly terriblemarksmanship.

Yardleys fans are no strangers to her lovely, tragic style. She is also the author of the acclaimed novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, winner of the 2013 Reddit Stabby Award for Best Short Fiction, and the novel Nameless: The Darkness Comes, the first of The Bone Angel trilogy.

The creation of Pretty Little Dead Girls was something special for Yardley, however: Pretty Little Dead Girls was created out of sheer joy, Yardley says. I've never experienced anything like it. This novel was written in three weeks. It bled from my pores, it was so intense. But so joyful.

Hugo award-winning artist Galen Dara was commissioned to create a cover image that would capture the idea of lovely murder. The result, coupled with the design skills of J.M. Martin, is absolutely stunning. So stunning, in fact, that Ragnarok Publications has decided to release a special, limited hardcover edition of the book. Only one hundred of these signed hardcovers will be available, and preorders have already begun.

Also included in the package for the pre-ordered hardcovers is a signed print from artist Orion Zangara, renowned for creating fairy tales with his lavish pen and ink drawings. Dark and evocative, this stunning image by Zangara was made with a particular scene from Pretty Little Dead Girls in mind.

Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is not just a novel; with the poignant words
of Mercedes M. Yardley, and the haunting images of both Dara and Zangara, it is, without a doubt, a work of art.


The special signed hardcover edition of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, along with the Orion Zangara print, is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER. http://www.ragnarokpub.com/#!apocmon-boneangel/c234g

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Thirteenth Child - by David Dean - A very creepy and original horror story

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

This is a re-read and a follow-up review of a novel I first read in November of 2012.  Since that time, David Dean has gone back and reworked some of the story.  Fleshing out his monster a bit, bringing some vampire aspects into the mix, and adding some additional jeopardy for his main suspect. My final opinion.  It's still a great original horror story.

Someone or something is abducting children 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?

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.

The Thirteenth Child  is available now in both e-book and paperback formats, from Genius Book Publishing, through Amazon.com.

Still highly recommended.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Conduits - by Jennifer Loring - A view from inside a damaged mind

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Jennifer Loring has written a beautiful book looking out from inside the mind of a woman who is hopelessly lost in  her own world.

In Conduits, Mara Okubo, is a young woman with a tragic past. Already dealing with the death of her older sister, at her own hands, now, years later, she is faced with the loss of her boyfriend.  To make matters even worse, Mara is a cutter.

Her friend, Andrea, has had her committed for her own safety.

"Self-mutilation.  Paranoia.  Persistent delusions.  Possible hallucinations.  She could see it now.
'Ms. Okubo, we want to help you--'
'You think I'm schizophrenic don't you?'"

The reader is led to believe there is more going on than just a woman who has lost her mind. Conduits delves into the subjects of lucid dreaming, visits quantum physics, and enters the realm of the paranormal.

Although, I didn't fully understand everything that was going on, I did find the story to be completely satisfying.

Part of the Darkfuse novella series, Conduits, is scheduled for release on September 16th, 2014 through Amazon.com and if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber you will be able to read story at no additional charge.

Recommended for fans of more literate horror.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Halfway House - by Weston Ochse - A very twisted, wild, and strange ride and ultimately worth the trip

4 of 5 Stars     Review Copy

From the Amazon book description..."The Halfway House...a place shrouded in mystery...standing shunned and ignored...yet seeming to devour the souls of everyone who dies in San Pedro."

Events which took place in 1942 along the California coastline are still having an impact today.

Halfway House is brimming with memorable characters and Weston Ochse does a wonderful job bringing them to life with his wonderful descriptive skills.  "Wearing long, peach-colored pants and a T-shirt from Bell's Cove in Australia, the fifty-five-year-old Kanga reached up and knotted his long white hair to keep it out of his face.  The muscles in his arms twisted and bulged.  A lifetime of surf bumming on three continents had chiseled the old man's features into those of a twenty-five-year-old.  Only his grey hair and a stubborn, but small, pot-belly made from years of burritos and beer were evidence of his age."

His friend, Bobby Dupree, is quite the character.  Raised in an orphanage in Memphis, he's on a quest to find the Double  Platinum Award Elvis received for Heartbeak Hotel.  He has a letter which says his father was Elvis Presley and the award was left to him as his inheritance, but it was stolen from the orphanage before he even knew what it was.

The other key player is the leader of the 8th Street Angels, Louis Cabellos, but everyone just calls him Lucy (Lou C.).  There are many supporting characters and they are all richly developed and make for a wonderfully entertaining story.

And then there's the Halfway House.  It goes back to 1942. "Everyone.  Every single person who dies here dies forever.  They don't go to Heaven.  They don't go to Hell.  Instead, they go the halfway house to feed her revenge."

The end of the book calls for an all out assault on the Halfway House.  I guess you could say things get a little crazy, but then this is a horror novel, after all.

Published by JournalStone, Halfway House is available through Amazon.com.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vaudeville and Other Nightmares - by Greg Chapman - An impressive collection

4 of 5 Stars     Review Copy

This collection from Australian horror writer and artist, Greg Chapman, begins with my favorite novella from his budding career, Vaudeville.  

Anthony Moore's father was found, hanging from a tree, in the woods outside the small town of Keaton. A year later at the same location, Anthony discovers a band of Vaudeville players, who are so much more than they appear to be.

Young Anthony had been sent to the market to get some items his mother needs to prepare their dinner.  On his way home he is sidetracked by the performers who promise to bring back his father if Anthony brings four of his friends to see their show.  He gets home without the groceries and his mother is none to happy.  "Mashed potatoes and beans for dinner, garnished with silence and animosity."  I love that line.

Vaudeville has that evil carnival vibe, reminiscent of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and is just one of 21 stories which will reach out and grab you and won't let go until you've read the last word on the final page.

I'm not going to give a synopsis of every story, but a few of my favorites include "Lost Lake," where a pedophile gets what he deserves, "Human Resources," where a dream job turns into your worst nightmare, and "Chthonic," a delightfully creepy story of a boy who buries his best friend alive.

No subject is off limits, no taboo is too great.  Chapman takes them all on.  Not even Saint Nicholas is save, as evidenced in, "Christmas Mourning."

Look for Vaudeville and Other Nightmares to be published by Black Beacon Books on September 19th, 2014.  Just in time for Halloween.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bloodeye - by Craig Saunders - A strange yet satisfying horror novella

4 of 5 Stars    Review Copy

What an odd little story.  At times, Bloodeye is terribly disturbing and then it will turn around and have a moment that is touching and tender, but mostly it's disturbing.

Keane Reid works as a crime scene photographer for the Norwich police department.  To say he's a troubled soul would be quite the understatement.

"The man he killed seven years ago, the man who murdered his wife, was back."  But, as we slowly learn the true meaning of those words we will be taken on a journey down a dark and winding road into madness.

Beautifully written, Bloodeye, is a quick read which will stay with you long after you've read the last page.

A part of the Darkfuse novella series, Bloodeye, will be available on September 9th, 2014 and if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it for no additional charge.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chelsea Avenue - by Armand Rosamilia - Terrific horror story told in a unique way

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Chelsea Avenue is a real location in Long Branch, New Jersey.  The Murphy's Law Club was a real place.  On July 8th, 1987, the famous Haunted House on the pier in Long Branch did, indeed, burn down.  The rest of this well-imagined story comes from the demented mind of Armand Rosamilia.

I really wanted to like this new book from Armand.  First, I set out wanting to love every book I read.  Second, this is Armand's first book with Ragnarok Publications, a small press that's doing big things in the horror and fantasy genres and I wanted it to be a success for author and press.  And lastly, Armand is one of the good guys.  What he managed to do, this year, with the project Authors Supporting Our Troops was truly an inspiration.  Check it out on Facebook at...


I'm glad to say, Chelsea Avenue, did more than live up to my expectations.  For the most part, the story is told over a 15 year period, beginning with the events which took place on July 8th, 1987 and then on each subsequent July, 8th, until the climatic events of July 8th, 2003.

We get to witness what happens each year on the anniversary of the fire that destroyed Murphy's Law in 1987, as more and more of those who survived the original fire are mysteriously drawn back to the lot where the club once stood, only meet their doom.

Manny Santiago's parents owned the club and we get to see Manny go from being a teen, lucky to survive the fire, to his life as a cop, then detective, get married, get shot, divorced and live to be one of the final survivors of the original event.

Rosamilia does a very nice job with the telling of each year's story, he pulls no punches, and provides some nice twists along the way.

At first, I was a bit put off with only getting the events of each July 8th, but I got used to the idea quickly and it became one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book.

Chelsea Avenue, is available now for pre-order at Amazon.com and will be released on September 8th, 2014 from Ragnarok Publications.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dog Beach - by John Fusco - Like watching one of Jackie Chan's better movies - Fun read

4 of 5 Stars    Review copy

The Malibu locals call Las Flores, "Dog Beach." Troy, a budding film-maker, and his housemates call their two-story beach crib the Dog House, and call themselves the Dogs of Entropy.

Louie Mo, is a former Hong Kong stuntman extraordinaire, who is now getting by as a hired knee-breaker in LA, putting fear into the hearts of people reneging on payments to investors.

When Louie Mo shows up at the Dog House to "encourage" Troy to pay his investors, Troy recognizes Louie and winds up convincing him to star in his next project.

Dog Beach is a high-octane, quick read, that is a lot like watching a Jackie Chan film and just as much fun.

I enjoyed the way the author developed the back-stories for the principal characters, giving the reader a clear picture of what drove them to do what they did, and I also liked the way he gave us just enough of a look into the movie-making process without getting too bogged down in the details.

The action was fast-paced, start-to-finish, as Louie Mo had to remain one step ahead of the Chinese mob, a monster ex-NFL lineman, and two ex wives.  While at the same time Troy is trying  to deal with his producer and some angry Guatemalan investors.  Plus, I loved the twist in the book's climatic chase scene.

Overall, a fun read and John Fusco is an author I'd like to read again sometime.

Dog Beach is being published on September 9, 2014 by Simon & Schuster's Toouchstone division and will be available in bookstores and from many online retailers.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Skinwalkers - by Bear Hill - Lycanthropes in the Wild West

3 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Recently I had the pleasure of reading Bad Mojo: A Zora Banks Novel written by Shane Berryhill.  It's a world filled with spooks of all types, vipers (vampires), werecreatures, zombies, hoodoo, and much more, written with an in-your-face style well suited for the story.  It's a tale I can easily recommend.

Skinwalkers is an earlier work from Shane Berryhill, writing under the name Bear Hill.  See what he did there.  Bear Hill.  Berryhill.  Clever.

There is quite a bit going on in Skinwalkers.  There is the supposedly fictitious writer, Donovan DeChance, who come's to Bear Hill, drugs him and then leaves him with this message...


I  have defeated the demon.  It will hinder you no more, provided you make no further attempt to tell the story of the ill-fated town of Perdition, New Mexico, or the horrors that once walked its streets.

Please heed my words.  Do not unleash this tale of woe upon the world.  It has claimed far to many sould already.  If  it were to ever be published en masse, I shudder to think of the havoc and destruction that would result.

Of course, what follows is the story of what happened in Perdition.  Told in layers of flashbacks, news articles, the story of a paranormal investigation team, etc.  And that is my biggest problem with what otherwise was a fun romp through the Wild West with shape-shifting Navajos.  There is just too much clutter.

The good news is, Shane has become a much better storyteller with Bad Mojo: A Zora Banks Novel. If you haven't read that one, by all means do so.   I'd only read Skinwalkers if I wanted to read an early work by someone on his way to becoming a fine writer in the horror/urban fantasy genre.

If you'd like to try it yourself, it's available now from Crossroad Press and Macabre Ink Digital at Amazon.com.