Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman & Norman Prentiss

5 of 5 Stars      Review copy

Good news, if you missed out on the limited edition publication of The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman & Norman Prentiss, Random House/Hydra will be releasing it in both paperback and e-book formats this June.

"The Halloween Children are everywhere and they know our fears" - written in black marker on a bench outside the Stillbrook 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 favors Mattie and Lynn favors 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 her Mother, called, "The Bad Place."

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

Again, look for The Halloween Children on June 13, 2017, in both paperback and e-book formats, from Random House/Hydra.

From the author's bios...

Brian James Freeman - Brian sold his first short story when he was fourteen years old and his first novel when he was twenty-four. His novels, novellas, short stories, essays, and interviews have been published by Warner Books, Cemetery Dance Publications, Borderlands Press, Book-of-the-Month Club, Leisure, and many others.  Brian lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, two cats, and two German Shorthaired Pointers. More books are on the way.

Norman Prentiss - Norman is the author of Odd Adventures with Your Other Father (A Kindle Scout Selection), and he won the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction for Invisible Fences, published by Cemetery Dance.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cemetery Dance Select: Tim Waggoner

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Cemetery Dance Publications has come up with the idea of asking some of their favorite authors to hand pick a few of their favorite short stories for inclusion in this new series.  CD also asked each author to provide their reasons for including each story and included those reasons in the afterword.

If the Tim Waggoner edition of this new venture is any indication this series should be around for quite some time.

Tim's three selections begin with his first published work...

Mr. Punch - Do you remember Punch and Judy?  If not, Google it, I'll be here when you get back. The opening line of this short is one of the best I've read in a while...

Mr. Punch swung the bat one more time, just to be sure Judy was dead, then stepped back to admire his handiwork.

Mr. Punch is a very clever story of both the violence of a Punch and Judy show and its influence on one young man.

The Tongue Is the Sweetest Meat - is a wonderfully complex tale complete with hanging out with the dead and a trip back in time, and blood, plenty of blood.

Tom was surprised to find himself relaxing and even humming along with the music, as if they were out for a simple night drive instead of traveling through a nightmarish landscape from one of Satan's wet dreams.

The Great Ocean of Truth - features an unusual writing style that even Tim finds hard to describe, but it certainly works for the story.

If entropy always increased you reasoned, then anything anyone did, no matter how constructive it seemed, only helped to hasten the process of breaking the universe down into nothing.  And there wasn't anything anyone could do about it.

A story about life and fighting back against entropy.

I can honestly say I have never been disappointed by one of Waggoner's works.  The only complaint I have about Cemetery Dance Select: Tim Waggoner is that it was only three stories, but that's the way this series works.  It's a quick read and a great way to get to know Tim Waggoner.


Cemetery Dance Select: Tim Waggoner is currently available as an e-book from, let me guess, Cemetery Dance Publications.

From the author's bio - Tim Waggoner is the published author of over thirty novels and three collections of short stories.  He writes original fantasy and horror, as well as media tie-ins.   He’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Scribe Award, and his fiction has received numerous Honorable Mentions in volumes of Best Horror of the Year.  In 2016, the Horror Writers Association honored him with the Mentor of the Year Award.  In addition to writing, Tim is also a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City by Amy Grech

3 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I wanted to like Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City, I actually wanted to love it, but this one just didn't live up to expectations.  I  was surprised since a number of my friends and other reviewers gave this collection rather high marks.

The book begins with the longer title story called, Rage and Redemption In Alphabet City.  Blue Balls - most of us know what they are, but it also happens to be the name of a drink Trevor finds young Ruby consuming in a bar in the East Village.  The story is steeped in sexual tension and climaxes much the way such a tale would be expected to end.  In addition to Blue Ball, the other chapter titles include Marooned, Whodunit, Candy Apple Red, You're So Vain, and Fright Night.

.38 Special - An intense story of a cheating wife and Russian Roulette.

Cold Comfort - More bad decisions being made in an East Village bar.  This time a married man has a fling with a possessive woman and needs to have his wife, an NYC police officer, get him out of a jam.

Prevention - Two brothers who are decidedly different.  A story which sheds light on the age-old issue of nature vs. nurture.

Hoi Polloi Cannoli - My favorite title of the collection.  A tale of...

...the Big Kahuna's Feast, a veritable cornucopia of decadent delights, where any food and drink participants desire can be had for four glorious hours.  Not a minute more, not a minute less, just the right amount of time for the Chosen to taste tantalizing tidbits and relish the experience to the fullest. The Gathering has several firm rules designed to discourage constant chaos.  With that in mind, Big Kahuna decrees the following: The moment the Golden Tickets fall from a secret compartment above the stage and drift downward, swaying this way and that, each and every Villager must stop where they stand and raise their hands. They are only allowed to use their arms and hands to reach for a Golden Ticket, no hitting, punching, scratching, or slapping other Villagers will be tolerated...

In many ways, this story was reminiscent of The Hunger Games as one of the characters states...

"Whether the odds are in her favor."

A sly nod to the popular series.  As much as I liked this story, it was so predictable.  I saw the twist coming from miles away.

While the stories themselves are OK, I didn't find any of them compelling.  On top of that was the large number of error that should have been caught in proofreading.  Any book that's been out for more than a year should not have these types of errors.  I'm not going to list them all, but a few include this like "Daddy bits his lower lip." (bites), "I'd rather not to bring my work home with me." (drop to), and "She blow more smoke rings in Trevor's face." (blew). There were many more, but you get my point.  Writers, remember, spell-check is no substitute for a good proofreader.

I likely would have given the collection four stars if it wasn't for the above.

The author, Amy Grech, is an incredibly nice person, dedicated to her craft, and passionate about the genre.  Part of the blame here must lie with the publisher, New Pulp Press and this line in their submissions policy, "Your work should be fully edited in the sense that you have done all that is necessary and possible to make you work polished, literate and error free."  The least they could contribute would be a proofreader, especially since they said: "...make you work polished..." on their own website.

If an occasional lapse in grammar doesn't bother you, then I recommend this collection.

Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City is published by New Pulp Press and is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Amy Grech has sold over 100 stories and poems to various anthologies and magazines.  She is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Guest post from author Amy Gerch, the author of Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City

Look for my review of this collection of hardcore crime drama tomorrow, but for now, enjoy this guest post from author Amy Gretch...  

The Origins of Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City

I’ve lived in New York City for 21 years now. When I first moved to NYC from Long Island, it was a much darker place than it is today. Back then, certain neighborhoods, like Alphabet City and Hell’s Kitchen were covered in graffiti and had a reputation for being dangerous sections of the city, where crime ran rampant. These were not places where young, single women had any business being, but one of my good friends lived in Hell’s Kitchen, so I got a taste of that section of NYC on a regular basis, saw the crime firsthand, albeit from a safe distance, witnessed junkies desperate for a fix and got a sense that desperation bred contempt. I envisioned Alphabet City to be the same way, but much to my surprise when I went there to explore in the early 2000s, there was no graffiti to be seen, condos dominated virtually every street corner and self-absorbed hipsters replaced junkies, a crime-haven no more…

A pivotal moment in Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City occurs in the lead novella when Ruby Fuji invites Dr. Trevor Braeburn, an Eye Doctor back to her apartment in Alphabet City after meeting him in a bar, knowing hardly anything about him. A potent cocktail of overwhelming lust, coupled with lax inhibitions leads to poor judgment on Ruby’s part, with tragic consequences for the young girl. There’s Rage and Redemption to be had in Alphabet City once her older sister, Gia and Mr. Fuji discover the culprit and take matters into their own hands. You might say the Eye Doctor set his sights on the wrong girl…

I felt very uneasy after writing that scene, especially because Ruby has unknowingly made herself vulnerable to the lethal whims of a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. I don’t scare very easily, so it’s very rare for me to create a moment that strikes a nerve and lingers.

As a single woman living in New York City, one of my worst fears is that I’ll meet a guy at a local bar who is handsome, smart and after too many Margaritas, invite him back to my place, only to discover after we’ve hooked up, that he has a gun or a knife and intends to kill me. Luckily, all the guys I’ve dated have been pretty sane so far…

It’s an extremely dangerous, impulsive thing for a single woman to do, invite a stranger back to her apartment for a good time. And yet, thousands of single women do so every night in the Naked City. Some people might say these women are being reckless, setting themselves up for a fatal encounter. How much does she really know about him? Sure, she might know what he does for a living, where he grew up when his Birthday is, but she has no way of knowing if he’s a psychopath intent on doing her harm until the macabre deed unfolds.

Amy Grech has sold over 100 stories to various anthologies and magazines including Apex Magazine, Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, Dead Harvest, Detectives of the Fantastic, Volume II, Expiration Date, Fear on Demand, Fright Mare, Funeral Party 2, InhumanMagazine, Needle Magazine, Reel Dark, Shrieks and Shivers from the Horror Zine, Space & Time, Tales from The Lake Vol. 3, The Horror Within, Under the Bed, and many others. New Pulp Press published her book of noir stories, Rage and Redemption in Alphabet City.  She is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers who lives in Brooklyn.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Becoming - by Glenn Rolfe

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

If you're a fan of B-Movie monster madness as I am, don't even bother reading the rest of the review.  Just get the book and toss it on top of your TBR pile or list depending on whether you read physical books or digital versions.

Greg Hickey and his girlfriend are spending time down by the water when Greg finds something unusual in the water.  Next thing you know, Greg is gone.  You see, there is something lurking beneath the waters of Jade Lake in the otherwise quiet town of Avalon, Maine.  Something that's been dormant for many years, but isn't anymore.

The action starts right away in Becoming...

The thing was human-like, but yet far from it, and let its mesmerizing glowing eyes come back from their deep depths.  Its slick tentacles slithered around his head, pried between his lips, and shoved their way deep inside.

I loved Michele's fascination with Veronica Mars and how she would repeatedly ask herself, "What would Veronica do?"  I also enjoyed how the craziest man in town, Russ James, may have a better idea about what's going on than the authorities.

Rolfe is sharp with a turn of phrase...

She was light, maybe a couple of crackers over a hundred pounds.

It all combines to produce an imaginative story with a wonderfully high body count.  Can anyone from Avalon survive what lies beneath Jade lake?

Highly recommended.

There's also a Bonus Novella included with Becoming.  It happens to be the first piece I ever read by Glenn and it's called Boom Town.  I gave this story 4 of 5 stars.

The fact that Boom Town is dedicated to Art Bell and George Noory should tell you all you need to know about this fun little romp into the world of the unknown.

Reminiscent of the great old-time creature features, Boom Town is quite inventive and at times disgusting as such a story should be.

It's the perfect companion piece to Becoming, so when you finish the title story catch your breath and then check out Boom Town.

Get both tales now for the Kindle.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Hunter Shea, Brian Moreland and many others. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

A guest post from Glenn Rolfe - The author of Becoming

Look for my review of Becoming tomorrow, but for now here's Glenn Rolfe


Lake-effect:  a meteorological phenomenon in which warm moist air rising from a body of water mixes with cold dry air overhead resulting in precipitation especially downwind —usually hyphenated when used attributively.

Last summer, I was at the lake I take my kids to. I was staring out at the water and all the people swimming around, and thought, “what if we were being drawn here?” Simple question, right?  Here in Maine, most of our lakes are in small towns that you must drive to. There are always locals, usually a tiny population, and it’s those people I focused on in my new novel, BECOMING. I set the story in Maine and after school is back in session. If you’ve been here in September and October, you know it’s no longer beach weather. So the summer folks stay home, and the lake reverts back to being sole possession of the locals.

I love lady of the water stories. John Everson’s Siren is one that comes to mind that I really enjoyed. I didn’t quite go the full siren of the sea here though, I went more “creature” in the depths (which may have a bit of Lovecraft happening). The folks of Avalon, Maine are being drawn into Jade Lake and then returning to town to tell others how great it is.  Okay, so they might be acting a bit off when they come back, but I’m telling you, swimming in a Maine lake in October does things to you. It’s just not a good idea.

The story is also very much about family and community. The relationships that make or break us, that mold us into the people we will…well, become. There is strain, there’s neglect, there’s loyalty, there’s compassion, and for one Clint Truman, there is torment. I’ve almost always lived in small towns, and I’m never amazed at the wonder, the strength, or the horror that is happening all around me at any given moment. We keep many of our own monsters.

Becoming started out as a land monster story, but after scrapping the original manuscript, I found myself thinking about that lake idea. I started over and found myself caught up in one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written. I couldn’t wait to see how it ended or what would become (I know, I can’t help it) of my rural cast. In the end, I felt swallowed by the story, and when I was spit out, I knew it was more than I ever imagined it would be. I couldn’t be a happier writer.

If you like small-town horror, water monsters, stories steeped in paranoia and mystery, I invite you to come visit Avalon. Maybe take a quick swim while you’re here.  You won’t just like what you become.



Praise for Becoming

“Old-fashioned creature feature…Becoming is raw horror.” – The Haunted Reading Room

“Classic horror. Original and entertaining.” – Catherine Cavendish, author of The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine

Becoming shows that Rolfe is indeed, becoming a force to be reckoned with. Back in the day when John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King, were getting started in their horror writing careers, this was the type of story they would write and I would want to read.” – Horror Novel Reviews

Becoming is a creepy horror tale with depth. Rolfe proves he's a master of capturing the essence of small towns--how communities come together, for good or ill. Claustrophobic!”  - J.H. Moncrieff, author of City of Ghosts and Monster In Our Wake.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Fairy Lights - by Edward Lorn

4 of 5 Stars

It's difficult to describe this novella from writer Edward Lorn. But, I will say this about his most recent effort.  Fairy Lights is at once magical and yet brutally real.  Hypersexual and ultra violent and at times reminiscent of Jack Ketchum's groundbreaking novel Open Season.

Lorn certainly has a way with words. and I found myself smiling more than once with his use of the English language.  Stuff like...

She came like a broken water main. and Bobs was the asinine nickname Mom had created for Bobby, as if his two-syllable name was far too much for her single syllable brain.

The conversation between fifteen-year-old Tony and his mother on the subject of masturbation was chillingly authentic and terribly funny.

Fairy Lights is at times violently disturbing and actually cringeworthy, but occasionally the story would slow to a crawl and there were a few loose ends that left me in the dark as a reader.

A word of warning.  Some of Lorn's characters are offensive to a fault, so if you're thin skinned beware.

Overall, I enjoyed the writer's irreverent style and would readily recommend this novella, despite its flaws.

Fairy Lights is available as an e-book from Darkfuse publishers.

From the author's bio - Edward Lorn is a reader, writer and content creator.  He's been writing for fun since the age of six, and writing professionally sin 2011.  Edward lives in the southeast United States with his wife and two children.  He is currently working on his next novel.

Monday, April 10, 2017

We Are Always Watching - by Hunter Shea

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Due to dire circumstance, Matt Ridley, his wife, Debi, and their fourteen-year-old son, West had to move in with West's Grandpa Abraham.  Grandpa insisted the place where he lived was haunted.  That was fine with West,

...(he) devoured horror books like they were M&Ms.  \\

I loved the mentions of popular horror podcasts and magazines, as well as a number of today's most read writers within the genre.  It's not long before the Ridley's realize something is not right about their temporary home.  For West, it began with a message on the ceiling of his bedroom.


Other notes with similar messages appear throughout the house and Grandpa Abraham reveals the legend of the Guardians.  The activity intensifies and the notes become more and more threatening.

The family dynamics in We Are Always Watching are perfect, so believable.

Mothers were so exasperating.  Every stray animal had rabies, every lawn had poison ivy laying in wait, and Halloween candy was full of razors and poison.

BTW, Grandpa Abraham is one of my favorite characters so far this year.  The word curmudgeon doesn't begin to do him justice.  Matt's boyhood friend, James sums him up nicely.

"A kinder, gentler Abraham Ridley is an actual sign of the apocalypse.  I literally just read that in Bible study class."

To say more would give to much of the story away and this is one you really should enjoy for yourself.  Just let me say, Hunter Shea is a dependable author for a solid horror read.

This is one book I can thoroughly recommend.

We Are Always Watching is available in both paperback and e-book formats from Sinister Grin Press.

From the author's bio - Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone, and In Search Of. He doesn't just write about the paranormal - he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he's happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray's Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Boulevard Monster by Jeremy Hepler

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The Boulevard Monster is told in the first person.  I mention this because first person storytelling doesn't always work for me me, but here it's use was extremely effective.  Seth Fowler swears the story he's putting to paper is the truth. However, he admits...

Jurors would never see me as an honest, sane, God-fearing man. I get that.  I understand.  I'm not writing this in the hopes of clearing my name with the authorities or the public.  I'm writing it so my wife Brianne and daughter Sera will know my side of the story. 

The Boulevard Monster is a tale that actually teared me up on occasion.  Seth Fowler seems to be a good man, deep down inside.  A man doing his best for his family, while keeping  terrible secret.  It all begins when he discovers a body in the back of his best friend's pick-up.  Later, when he's made a offer he literally can't refuse, he suddenly has all the money he needs, but at what cost?

All-in-all a wonderful "what would you do" kind of story with an element of the unknown in the personage of the mysterious Luther and the blue jays which seem to keep him appraised of Seth's every move.

In the end it's left to the reader to decide if we believe Seth's story or were we seeing into the mind of a man who was slowly losing his hold on reality.  It's a story well told and one which will leave you wondering after the final page.

The Boulevard Monster is an emotional read and, ultimately, a sad story that builds to a gritty conclusion.  A great first novel and I'm certainly looking forward to his next project.


The Boulevard Monster is published by Bloodshot Books and is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Jeremy Hepler is a native of the Texas Panhandle and is a stay-at-home dad who lives with his wife Tricia and son Noah in a small rural community in the Heart of Texas. Other than writing suspense and horror novels, he loves to read, garden, draw, and repurpose old furniture.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Remember Bowling Green: The Adventures of Frederick Douglass - Time Traveler (An Alternative History Novel Book 1) - by David Niall Wilson & Patricia Lee Macomber

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

If you're a news junky, or if you have had any exposure to the headlines over the last few months, you've likely heard Kelly Anne Conway cite a nonexistent “Bowling Green massacre” to justify President Trump's travel ban. or Donald Trump implying Frederick Douglass was alive, and of course the infamous 'alternative facts" comment. Well mix them all together, change the names to protect the guilty and you get Remember Bowling Green: The Adventures of Frederick Douglass - Time Traveler (An Alternative History Novel Book 1).

Ronald Krump, has come to Bowling Green, Kentucky and he says he's there to "make Bowling Green Awesome." His right-hand man, Race Scanlan, is there to do his dirty work and blame it all on the outsiders whose presence is the result of the community's "Sanctuary City" status. Throw in Barbie Conroy to put a spin on what's going on and I'm sure you have a good idea of where this is going.

There are elements of Remembering Bowling Green which remind me of "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" as Frederick Douglass and Walt (who has done his fair share of drugs) travel through time trying to try and stop Krump.

Remembering Bowling Green is no literary masterpiece, but it's not meant to be. It does poke fun at our 45th President with a rip-roaring story of greed, corruption, and let's not forget a time traveling Frederick Douglass. And there is actually a modicum of truth mixed into this farcical tale. BTW, 80% of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the ACLU.

Needless to say, this book may not be for everyone, particularly if you are a Trump supporter, but seeing how there are fewer of those every day that shouldn't impact sales.


Remember Bowling Green: The Adventures of Frederick Douglass - Time Traveler (An Alternative History Novel Book 1) is published by Crossroad Press and is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book formats. And don't forget, 80% of the proceeds from this book will be donated to the ACLU.

From the authors' bio...

David Nialls Wilson was born in a very small town in Illinois. David lives in North Carolina in a nice, new house now where everything mostly works, He's married to his co-author, Patricia Lee Macomber, and have three boys and two girls. He's sold a small pile of novels and published over 150 short stories. David is the recipient of the Bram Stoker Award for poetry, which he shares with co-authors Mark McLaughlin and Rain Graves, and a second Stoker for his short story "The Gentle Brush of Wings." He's been President of the Horror Writer's Association, and is an active member of both SFWA and the newer International Thriller Writer's Association.

Patricia Lee Macomber is the former editor-in-chief of ChiZine. She has been published in "Cemetery Dance" magazine and such anthologies as Shadows Over Baker Street, Little Red Riding Hood In the Big Bad City, and Dark Arts. Along with her husband, David Niall Wilson, she has written An Unkindness of Ravens and Stargate Atlantis: Brimstone. Her first solo release, Zombie A Love Story is now available. Currently, she lives in North Carolina with her husband, David, and their children.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Ararat - by Christopher Golden

5 of 5 Stars     Review Copy

After an earthquake in the mountains of Turkey, a new cave is uncovered on Mt. Ararat.

"They spotted a cavern up on the southeast face that wasn't there before. Big one. Geologically, it shouldn't exist."

The news reaches documentary adventurers, and engaged couple, Meryam Karga and Adam Holzer who were eager to be the first to the site so they could potentially control the project. They are not alone on their quest and when the Turkish government finally gives their permission to start the climb, they are off on their journey.

Their nearest competitor was Armando Olivieri, the leader of a group of Arkologists—the people who believed the biblical version of the story of Noah's ark and had dedicated their lives to finding its resting place.

Other key players in Golden's intricately constructed story include Feyiz and Hakan, guides to the region of Mt. Ararat. Ben Walker supposedly working for the National Science Foundation, but actually for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). There's also Kim Soeng, a UN observer, and Father Cornelius Hughes, an expert on ancient civilizations and languages.

What is found in the ark causes those assembled at the site, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Atheists alike, to question their beliefs and leaves them shaken enough to become confrontational with one another.

The current of hostility running under the surface of almost every interaction in the cave could have been ascribed to any number of origins. Most of these people had been crammed together inside the ark for weeks, unable to get truly warm or comfortable enough for a deep restorative sleep. The Kurdish guides and workers shot one another suspicious glares, some kind of fracture withing their own group. The project foreman, Hakan, seemed to hate pretty much everyone on general principle. And that whole stew of animosity existed even before they brought religion into the mix.

Ararat is truly the stuff great motion pictures are made of. Action, adventure, a love story, and a killer that seemingly can't be stopped. And, a story that keeps the reader guessing all the way to the terrifying conclusion.

Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio CD formats, from St. Martin's press.

From the author's bio - Christopher Golden is the New York Times bestselling author of such novels as Snowblind, Dead Ringers, Tin Men, and so many others.  Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Rage of Cthulhu - by Gary Fry

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I don't think the subject matter of the new novella from Gary Fry is much of a secret.  With a title like The Rage of Cthulhu the reader has a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which has shielded him since the sun was young.  Who knows the end?  What had risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise.  Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come. 

- H.P. Lovecraft: "The Call of Cthulhu"

George Cox and his wife, Christine are preparing to travel the world.  Married for forty years, George has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and if they don't make the trip now, they likely never will.

Aside from occasional bouts of dizziness, George's condition may also cause hallucinations and therein lies the twist with this story.

Are the horrors that George Cox uncovers on his travels real or are they a result of his condition.  It's up to the reader to decide.

If it's been a while since you've read a story steeped in the Lovecraftian mythos, The Rage of Cthulhu will fill that void nicely.

A quick read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Published by Horrific Tales Publishing The Rage of Cthulhu is available in both hardcover and for the Kindle.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Gary Fry has a PhD in psychology, though his first love is literature. He lives in Dracula's Whitby, literally around the corner from where Bram Stoker was staying while thinking about that legendary character.  He has been writing seriously for about 15 years.  Gary has had a number of books published, including short story collections, novellas and novels.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Haunted Hills - by Glenn Rolfe - If you prefer your horror bloody and sexually charged , this is the novel you've been looking for

5 of 5 stars     Review copy

It's been a while since I've read a good in-your-face horror novel. Don't get me wrong, I've read and enjoyed an abundance of excellent work in 2016, but when I compare them to The Haunted Halls, the latest from up-and-coming horror writer Glenn Rolfe, they've all been rather tame.

The story takes place in The Bruton Inn, Better Beds, Better service, Better Stay. For those unfortunate enough to be booked there, the slogan doesn't exactly live up to the promise.

On the surface The Haunted Halls may seem like a ghost story, after all the word haunted is right there in the tile.  But, in reality this is much more than a few spirits hanging a round an aging hotel.  The evil is dark, malevolent, and sexually charged.

The terror starts right from the very first pages...The ice queen reappeared behind the body of Edward Young.  She spared no smile, only a cold glance over the shoulder of the frozen soul before her.  She slipped away, back to her place beneath the inn's heated pool.

On a personal note: I really enjoyed the many music and book references in Rolfe's story, as they all added to the narrative in ways that made me smile.

With horrors coming from all directions, The Haunted Halls is a wonderfully twisted tale filled with characters to both cheer and despise.

Be advised, this is a story heavy on both sex and violence.  If it were a movie, it would certainly be rated R, if not NC-17, if that's still a thing.  If that's not your cup of tea, you might want to choose something else for your next read.  But if you like your horror to have a bit of meat on the bone, you should consider adding this book to your personal TBR list.

The Haunted Halls, from Shadow Work Publishing, is available in both paperback and e-book formats.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Glenn is an author, singer, and songwriter from the haunted woods of New England.  He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the works of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Kiss of Thorns - by Tim Waggoner

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The latest novella from Tim Waggoner and Darkfuse is drenched in sex and ultra violent.

In the end, young, old, beautiful, ugly, it didn't matter.  Skin is skin and it all came off the same.

Fifteen-year-old Lonny, seventeen-year-old Delia, and their father, Nathaniel, make for one demented clan, a family that puts the fun back in dysfunctional. Incestual both with father and daughter, as well as brother and sister.  But when dad finds out what Lonny and Delia are up to, things turn ugly fast.

As an adult, Lonny has been trying to bring his prescious sister back to life by attempting to transfer the lifeforce of his victims to his sister.  He's about to give up when circumstance provides him with a potential new victim.

A Kiss of Thorns is one helluva horror novella and is available in e-book format from Darkfuse.

If you enjoy sexually charged bloodbaths, grab a copy of A Kiss of Thorns, now.

Tim Waggoner’s first novel came out in 2001, and he’s published over thirty novels and three collections of short stories since. He writes original fantasy and horror, as well as media tie-ins.  He’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the Scribe Award, and his fiction has received numerous Honorable Mentions in volumes of Best Horror of the Year. In 2016, the Horror Writers Association honored him with the Mentor of the Year Award. In addition to writing, Tim is also a full-time tenured professor who teaches creative writing and composition at Sinclair College.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hope and Walker - by Andrew Cull

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Hope and Walker, by Andrew Cull, is a charming story with a touch of horror. The opening line, We were both 10. But he was dead.  And I sat drawing him, immediately drew me in, so important with a short story.

Em Walker's parents ran one of the two funeral homes in the small town of Hope.

Mum and Dad never argued much.  Although they did have a huge row one time when I was seven. I'd been playing hide and seek with Dad when he'd gotten a call from a customer.  He'd been on the phone so long that he'd forgotten all about the game.  Two hours later Mum found me asleep in a casket, where I'd hidden, while she was giving a tour of the showroom.  It hadn't helped matters when I'd woken up with a start, sat bolt upright in the coffin and screamed.  Mum and Dad lost that sale to Bob Ryan and it was quite a while before I showed my face downstairs again.

When ten-year-old Billy Jenkins came to Walker and Son Funeral Directors it was an extraordinarily sad day.  His murder a mystery.  As was her habit by now, Em sat drawing his likeness in her sketchbook, talking to Billy as she drew.  What happens next was nothing short of remarkable.  To learn more.  Pick up this exceptional short story.

Highly recommended.

Hope and Walker is published by Vermillion Press and is available for the Kindle through Amazon.com.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Andre Cull is a writer and director of The Dark and The Possession Of David O'Reilly (UK title : The Torment). His first novel, Remains, is due for release later this year.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Behind Her Eyes - by Sarah Pinborough - A brilliant psychological suspense thriller

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

There is a quote from Benjamin Franklin at the beginning of Behind Her Eyes. It provides a clue, of sorts, as to the devilish nature of the story which follows.

Three can keep a secret if two are dead.

There are three principle characters in Sarah Pinborough's new psychological thriller.  Louise, the attractive, but somewhat chubby, divorced mother of six-year-old Adam.  Louise's boss, David, a psychiatrist by profession.  And David's beautiful, yet troubled wife, Adele.

The author cleverly tells her story through the first person point of view alternating betweeen each of the primary characters.  Each one exposing their own motivations while keeping their secrets from the others.  At first it might seem like you've picked up a romantic comedy, but it's not long before the reader can see there's more going on here than meets the eye.

Night terrors and lucid dreaming soon play a part in a tale so dark and twisted it's like trying to piece together a giant jigsaw puzzle without a picture to guide you. Just when you think you might know what's going on, trust me, you don't.

I know 2017 is just getting started, but it's going to be tough to find a better read in the months ahead. Pick up Behind Her Eyes and move it to the top of your TBR list.  It's that good.

Behind Her Eyes is published by Flatiron Books and is available in hardcover, paperback, e-book, and audio formats.  That means there is absolutely no excuse for you not to read this exceptional book.

From the author's bio - Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed adult and YA author based in London. Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wallflower by Chad Lutzke

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

A few months ago, I got to read Chad Lutzke's Of Foster Homes and Flies and quickly realized I had found a new author worth following.

There are many roads to addiction and Wallflower depicts one young man's decent to dependence.

Chris, Eddie, and Kent are killing time after high school and before the rest of their lives and fall into "urban exploration."  In one of their forays into an abandoned housing development they become involved in an altercation with a vagrant.

Later, Chris returns alone and strikes up an awkward relationship with the junkie in hopes he could safely try heroin with someone who's been there and done that.

Why would someone even start down such a path?  Chris explains the start of his journey. Without knowing the man before me, and with no personal experience with drugs harder than the occasional joint, I was naive about most of it.  And it puzzled me to no end why someone would give up everything they had just for a high.

The chapter titles alone should give you an idea of how things progress.  Temptation - Succumbing - Denial - Delusions - Headfirst - Consequences - Revelations.

A quick note on the cover for Wallflower.   It was designed by Lutzke himself and once you've read this novella you'll clearly see how it visually captures the story within.

Strongly recommended.

Wallflower is available in both paperback and e-book formats through Amazon.com.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the Author's bio - Chad Lutzke lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife and children where he works as a medical language specialist. His fictional work can be found in several magazines and anthologies including his own 18-story anthology anthology, Night As a Catalyst. He has written a collaborative effort with horror author Terry M. West, The Him Deep Down. In the summer of 2016 Lutzke released his dark coming-of-age novella Of Foster Homes and Flies.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Long December - by Richard Chizmar

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Thirty-four short stories and the title novella combine to make a worthwhile collection for any reader who enjoys good speculative fiction.  The only reason for giving Richard's career spanning compendium four stars is the number of stories I felt were incomplete.  Those stories were all compelling and entertaining right up until the final page where I would feel a bit let down or disappointed.

The collection begins with Blood Brothers - Even after all of the years and circumstances which have kept them apart, the Foster brothers still have a special bond, one that would be seemingly unbreakable.  My favorite line in the story was and the cubs were gonna in the goddamn world series.  A premonition perhaps?

The Man With the X-Ray Eyes about one man's quest to save the world from aliens is a prime example of a great story that ended too soon.  It could have been so much more.

Don't get me wrong, there were many wonderful stories to be found in this book.  One such tale was Ditch Treasures.  You wouldn't believe the things found by road crews mowing the median stips along the Maryland stretch of I-95.

The Lake is Life is a wonderfully twisted little tale of the Solomon Island slasher.  According to legend, there was once a drifter who had gone crazy and started kidnapping local girls and bringing them here to the island.  Once he had them trapped here, he would let them go and then hunt them down in a sadistic game of cat and mouse, ultimately capturing them and slicing them to pieces with a hunting knife.

Brothers (written with Ed Goman) was one of my favorites, as was Cemetery Dance, one of Richard's earliest shorts and astory which would become the name of both his horror magazine and small press.

A Crime of Passion was the best story in the book.  Both believable and frightening. There's also a very dark Christmas tale called A Season of Giving.

I found The Poetry of Life to be powerful and bleak.  The darkness in this tale just sort of snuck up on me.

And then there's A Long December, a novella which by itself is worth the purchase price. The long-time neighbor and good friend of Robert Howard is found to be a serial killer, but there is so much more to the truth.

Despite my minor complaints A Long December is a collection I can easily recommend.

Originally published as a signed, limited edition hardcover from Subterranean Press, A Long December is now avilable in both trade paperback and e-book formats through Amazon.com.

From the author's bio - Richard Chizmar edits anthologies, writes fiction, produces films, writes screenplays, and teaches writing.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Little Heaven - by Nick Cutter - Too long, yet left me wanting more, which makes about as much sense as the book

2 of 5 Stars

Despite hearing great things about Nick Cutter and his epic work, Little Heaven, I found this book to be bloated and largely unfulfilling.  This is not to say Cutter doesn't have any writing skills, there where times when I was thoroughly entertained by his turn of phrase.

The motel was a cesspool.  Appropriately, her room was a dump.  At least the place stayed on theme.  The orange shag carpet was studded with cigarette burns.  An arrogant roach skitttered across the popcorn ceiling like an amulatory scab.

Hired killers, mercenaries, a cult leader made in the image of Jim Jones.  Sounds like good times, but nearly 500 pages and little to show for the effort is not what I'm looking for in a good read.

Little Heaven is published by Gallery Books and is available in hardcover, papaerback, e-book, and audio fomats.

From the author's bio - Craig Davidson is a Canadian author of short stories and novels, who has published work under both his own name and the pen names Patrick Lestewka and Nick Cutter.  Other works under his Nick Cutter pseudonym include The Troop, The Deep, and The Acolyte.  He currently resides in Toronto with his partner, Colleen, and one child.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Final Reconciliation - by Todd Keisling - A bright mix of old and new in this enjoyable novella

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

First, some background on The King in Yellow.  Prior to season one of HBO's True Detective series, few people ever heard of Robert W. Chambers or his book of short stories by the same name.  According to Wikipedia the book is named after a play with the same title.  The first half of the book features highly esteemed weird stories, and has been described by critics as a classic in the field of the supernatural. There are ten stories, the first four of which mention The King in Yellow, a forbidden play which induces despair or madness in those who read it.

In The Final Reconciliation, Todd Keisling introduces readers to the fictional heavy metal band The Yellow Kings.  It's been years since that fateful final performance at a small L.A. nightclub.  Miles Hargrove and his producer are interviewing Aidan Cross, looking for the true story of their one and only performance of The Final Reconciliation.  

The band was just starting to make a name for themselves when in walks a gypsy woman calling herself Camilla Bierce.  She showed up shortly after the band had released an EP and were embarking on a cross-country tour.  We blew the doors off every place we played. Every night we took a bow together on stage, every night we piled back into the van, and every night Carmilla came along for the ride.

Keisling proves himself to be a master storyteller weaving a believable tale of an up-and-coming band with Chambers' mystique from The King in Yellow.  When speaking of the time the band spent recording in L.A.,   ...we never really left that dim Carcosa.  That's what Carmilla called it, you see. She never said 'Los Angeles' or 'LA'  It was always Carcosa to her.

That should be enough to whet your appetite for this first-rate novella.  Even the ending of The Final Reconciliation is about as good as it gets, and as a result this book receives my highest recommendation.

Now available for the Kindle from Crystal Lake Publishing. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Todd Keisling is a writer of horror and speculative fiction, as well as the author of the novels A Life Transparent and The Liminal Man (a 2013 Indie Book Award Finalist), and the forthcoming collection Ugly Little Things.  Born in Kentucky, he now lives with his wife and son somewhere near Reading, Pennsylvania.

Greetings from Moon Hill - by Anthony J. Rapino - A collection of strange, inexplicable tales from Moon Hill, Pennsylvania

3 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I wanted to love Greetings from Moon Hill and I can't quite put a finger on what went wrong.  Conceptually, it's a great idea.  A small town "tucked into the folds of the Pennsylvania countryside."  A place of "Unseen things that are all around us. Impossible flowers, witches, interdimensional beings, murder coverups" and more.  These are all things I love, so what went wrong?

Once I finished the book and checked the copyright, I discovered the stories where written over the last decade.  This could very well account for the disconnect I felt and the seeming unevenness between some of the stories. Ten years is a long time and I'm sure the writer has honed his skills significantly over that time.  Some of the stories felt incomplete yet others were as good as anything I've read this year.

I was nearly 20% into the collection before finding a story I found satisfying on all levels. Camera Obscura about a Junior High Science Fair leading to an obsession with one student's project.  That and a bit of a drinking problem lead to some interesting results.

Other winners in the collection included From Your Body They Rise, Morning Espresso at the Church of Me, and Loosely Enforced Rules, the later about an unorthodox gang of miscreants, with plenty of gore, and took a stand on how french fries should be prepared (I couldn't agree more).

No Touching at All was very clever and Struck by Golden Lightning introduced us to Ewan, a wonderfully complex character who would show up occasionally throughout the collection.

Just Once More, Little Sister was a truly demented story and one of my favorites, as was A Very Large Bird.

As you can see, there are some gems in Greetings From Moon Hill, just not enough for me to fully recommend.

Most of these stories have appeared elsewhere, but are collected here for the first time.

Greetings from Moon Hill is currently available for the Kindle. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Anthony J. Rapino is a horror writer and sculptor. He's also a teacher, and somehow that makes more sense than it should.  He spends his days among people and things that demand shaping:  Words, clay , or minds, it all amounts to the same job.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Dwelling - byThomas S. Flowers - Book 1 in the Subdue Series

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Dwelling begins with the horrors of war, something the author knows firsthand, having served in the U.S. Army for seven years, including Operation Iraqi Freedom.  But, this is not a war story, it's more a tale of lasting friendships and hidden horror.

"Suicide Squad..."each whispered in unison.  To an outsider, they may have seemed like monks giving some kind of mystic incantation.  "Suicide Squad," they chanted together.  The debate was over.  In a strange way, it never really began. The group o teenagers, who'd come together back when Voltron and Teddy Ruxpin were the hot items on Christmas wish lists, and though of different ages, Bobby and Jake being he oldest members of the group by at least to years, grew closer that day when they identified themselves with the moniker Suicide Squad.

The other members of the squad were Ricky, Johnathan, and Maggie.  Each of their stories are touched upon within the pages of this first book in Thomas S. Flowers' Subdue series. Complete with multiple storylines, of marriage, a crisis of faith, the death of one of their members...and then there's the House...and what lies beneath.

There is a lot of ground to cover in Dwelling and much of book 1 is necessarily expository in nature, but that does not mean slow and boring.  In reality, it's anything but.

Don't expect much in the way of answers, though.  I'm sure we'll get those in books 2 and 3 in the series. The good thing is both Emerging and Conceiving are already published.

Recommended and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series soon.

Dwelling (Subdue Book 1) is available from Limitless PublicationsIf you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter.  In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History. He blogs at machinemean.org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Angel of the Abyss: A Jake Hatcher Novel - by Hank Schwaeble - Demons, psychics, and Hatcher...Oh my

4 of 5 stars     Review copy

Angel of the Abyss is book three in the Jake Hatcher series.  If you're thinking about diving into this one.  I do recommend going all in, by reading Damnable and Diabolical first.  Sure you can read any of them as a standalone novel, but they work much better as a series.

Before I get started on the review, I need to tip the proverbial hat to cover artist Dean Samed.  Go ahead and blow it up to full screen.  Check out the detail. I've read more than a hundred books this year and that is the best cover I've seen so far.

If you've never read a Jake Hatcher novel before, the following pretty much sums up his character...

...a man who knew in his heart he was damned for all eternity, who I am certain has always known that, whether it is true or not, and still chooses to do good, to fight for what is right. Not for his salvation, not for his God, but simply to do what a good man must.

The Angel of the Abyss begins with our intrepid hero in a cave looking for answers, what he found was a hoax.  Where this leads is a wild ride involving demons, carnates (physically perfect females, the unusual hybrid offspring of a demon and a human), psychics, a special child, and a plot to throw hell into chaos.  A story packed with explosive action from start to finish.  Pure escapism.

Be sure to check your suspension of disbelief at the door and prepare for a kaleidoscope of images and a story that may seem convoluted at times, but will all come together in the end.  And then get ready for the set up for the next story in the series.  We just need to be patient while Hank Schwaeble puts pen to paper.

Look for Angel of the Abyss: A Jake Hatcher Novel available soon from Cohesion Press.

Hank Schwaeble is a writer and attorney in Houston, Texas. His debut novel, Damnable, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. He is also the author of Diabolical, and now The Angel of the Abyss (all three in the Jake Hatcher series).  Hank is also the author of the horror-noir collection American Nocturne and numerous short stories.

Hank is an active member of the Horror Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers Association.

The Rib from Which I Remake the World - by Ed Kurtz - From noir to a metaphysical nightmare

5 of 5 Stars

The Rib from Which I Remake the World  is one of those books which doesn't fit neatly into any category.  Is it Noir? Horror? Psychological Thriller? Occult? The list could go on, but truthfully, what Ed Kurtz's latest is, is a heluva read.

People came and went from circuses all the time, running away to join and then running back home when things got rough.

From the beginning, what really stood out about this book was the prose with a strong sense of noir.

Then the lady came in—floated in, more like—right by the cashier's cage and straight to the beat up chair like she's been sitting in it all her life.

Litchfield, Arkansas.  Not a lot going on there, but it is a place rich in characters.  The hotel detective, the local sheriff and his deputy, the local preacher and his daughter, the movie house owner and his wife and it's there that this story really comes to life.

A Road Show comes to town with film to play at the Palace Theatre Motherhood Too Soon. It's scandalous, purporting to show an actual childbirth at the end of the motion picture.

Then there's a mysterious, invitation only, midnight show which accompanies the main feature   This is where Kurtz's tale goes from being a crime story to something more. Before long it warps into something completely metaphysical and becomes an unrelenting nightmare for those still alive.

One of the members of the road show is torn apart in his hotel room.  The one witness says it was more like his arms and legs tore themselves off.

I get the feeling I may have already said too much, but in some ways, I've merely scratched the surface of this wonderful book.

The final reveal was wonderfully inventive and totally original. All of your questions will be answered.  I've never read anything like The Rib from Which I Remake the World.

This was a read I will not soon forget.

From ChiZine Publications, The Rib from Which I Remake the World is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Ed Kurtz is also the author of Nausea, Angel of the Abyss, The Forty-Two, and A Wind of Knives, as well as numerous short stories.  Ed resides in Minnesota.

Monday, January 30, 2017

White Death - by Jack Castle - A taut little thriller set in the Arctic

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

White Death begins with a disaster at the annual Iditarod dog-sled race, but quickly moves to the Arctic Imperative Conference where Dr. Kate Foster is speaking to the assembled group.  Although the speech does not go as planned, it does lead to a grant and an opportunity to join a research team at Dead Bear Island.

Dr. Foster arrives at Deadhorse airport at the same time as a team of investigators sent to look into a multiple homicide at the very destination she was heading to.

When one of the secondary characters says, "This is like in that horror movie where the monster from outer space picks off the scientists in Antarctica one-by-one.  Man, I loved that movie."  We all know exactly what he was referring to.  In some respects one may think White Death is derivative of The Thing, but actually the similarities are few.

As the mystery unravels, the terror mounts, and the death count rises.  Things are never quite what they seem in White Death.  One thing I did enjoy with this book was the way the author kept it real. It took very little suspension of disbelief to enjoy Jack Castle's latest thriller.

The facts page which precedes this work of fiction is well worth your time.  More thriller than horror, but certainly recommended.

White Death is available in both paperback and e-book formats from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.

From the author's bio - Jack Castle loves adventure.  He has traveled the globe as a professional stuntman for stage, film, and television. While working for Universal Studios, he met Cinderella at Walt Disney World and they were soon married.  After moving to Alaska, he worked as a tour guide, police officer, Criminal Justice professor, and certified weapons instructor. He has been stationed on a remote island in the Aleutians as a Response Team Commander and his last job in the Arctic Circle was protecting engineers from ravenous polar bears. It was this last experience which actually inspired White Death.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Haven - by Tom Deady - An epic coming of age story with terrific twist

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

After nearly seventeen years in Braxton State Prison, for a crime he didn't commit, Paul Greymore is a free man.  Free to return to the lakeside town of Haven.  Greymore may be free from the prison walls, but will he ever be free from his past?  Not if Cody Crawford, the local Chief of Police has any say in the matter.,

At it's simplest, Haven is a wonderful coming of age story, filled with excellent characters I grew to love and hate over the course of the 500 pages that make up Tom Deady's debut novel.

Of course there's Paul Greymore, disfigured in a childhood accident involving the spilling of boiling water on his young face.  Father Neil McCarthy who believes in Paul's innocence.  There's a bevy of teens who provide the story's heart and soul.  Denny and his best friend Billy.  Billy's slightly older sister, Julie.  Julie's bad-boy boyfriend, Dale, who happens to be Sheriff Crawford's son, as well as his cronies.

Deady provides layer after layer of narrative, there's a certain charm in his storytelling with one carefully crafted scene after another.  Some writers have a way of making the reader so comfortable with their words that it's like watching a movie in your mind.  Haven  is like that.

I don't always read the story synopsis before reading a book.  Sometimes I'll go into it cold, either because I like the author, trust the publisher, or have heard from others who like the book.  This is the way I went into Haven thinking it was just a nice little coming of age tale, and then...bang.  Wow.

There are some wonderful moments in Haven.  If you're looking for a read that will deliver hours of enjoyment.  You can't do much better than Tom Deady's debut novel.

Limited to 750 signed copies and already sold out, Haven is published by Cemetery Dance Publications.  Hopefully it will see a wider release down the road so everyone can enjoy this work.

From the author's bio - Tom was born and raised in Malden, Massachusetts, not far from the historic (and spooky) town of Salem.  He has endured a career as an IT professional, but his dream has always been to be a writer.  A passionate Red Sox fan, Tom and a friend created Surviving Grady at the start of the 2004 season. Ten years and three World Series championships later, he still blogs about the Sox. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Blue Demon - by David Bernstein - Powerful and gruesome...one of the best novellas of the year

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

David Bernstein is rapidly becoming a MUST READ author for me.  His stuff tends to be raw, gripping, compelling, and above all imaginative. Sometimes played for fun, but more often for vengeance.

Blue Demon was Dan's favorite cartoon growing up, so much so he purchased the complete 3-season DVD collection as an adult and introduced it to his nine-year-old son, Cal.

Blue Demon was a deity that could be called upon to defend people in need, to right injustices and to make sure the people of the land were watched over and protected.

What if the Blue Demon  wasn't just a cartoon show?  What if it was based on a real legend? Time to check your disbelief at the door because uncle David is going to take you there.

What starts out as a warm-hearted story about a father and son bonding over a cartoon character quickly turns sad and dark, much like life.  Despite it's somewhat simple and seemingly silly premise, Bernstein presents the reader with an expertly-crafted tale that delivers when it counts.

Definitely recommended.

Blue Demon is published by Sinister Grin Press and is currently available in paperback and for the Kindle. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the author's bio - David Bernstein is originally from a small town in upstate New York, but now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people who like to eat human flesh.  He's grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fungoid - by William Meikle - Willie puts the fun back in fungus

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Fungoid is a terrific little "What if?" story sprinkled with enough factoids to up the believability factor.

Things escalated quickly for the rapid response team in the port of St. John's.  It's already all over town—and we have no idea what it is or how to stop it.

The story unfolds at a blistering pace as Meikle continues to raise the stakes in his latest terror-filled read.

As fantastical as the subject matter was , the characters each played to their individual strengths and were completely believable in their actions.

The situation is dire and the prospect for mankind's survival is bleak.  The question has to be asked—and might be answered here, right in front of our eyes, "Is this the way the world ends?"

I've yet to read a Willie Meikle story I didn't enjoy.  Recommended.

Fungoid is available in both paperback and e-book formats from Darkfuse publishing.

From the author's bio - I am a Scottish writer, now living in Canada, with twenty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries. I live in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company and when I'm not writing I drink beer, play guitar and dream of fortune and glory.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Fathom Flies Again - by James Walley - More inspired lunacy in the sequel to The Forty First Wink

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy  

If you read The Forty First Wink, the debut novel by James Walley, then you've more than likely been waiting for the second book in the trilogy, and why not. Book one was so much fun. Wally writes with a whimsical flair I find nowhere else in my ever-growing library.

Everyone is back for this new adventure, including Marty and Kate, the cloth pirates Timbers, Whipstaff, and Oaf, as well as Peeper and his cauldron of clowns. New to this adventure are a giant leprechaun and a glowing and talking koala, named Benji. If you're still not sold, let's add the obligatory pie fight just to make things even wackier.

The writing style is as comfortable as a warm glove on the coldest day of Winter and there is a certain Douglas Adams feel to Walley's writing...

Far, far away, though not altogether that far really (certainly not over the rainbow).

Mixed in with the hilarity is an occasional bit of sage advice...

"Always enter a room expecting for a fight. If you get one, you're prepared. If you don't, at least you'll look impressive."

Admittedly, The Fathom Flies Again is little more than a selection of silly antics, but it's also a lot of fun as I frequently found myself chuckling at the outrageous goings on in this book.

If you like to laugh, read this book. Also recommended for younger readers. If you have young children, it's one you might even enjoy reading together.

The Fathom Flies Again, from Ragnarok Publications, is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - James Walley hails from the mystical isle of Great Britain and is an author who prefers his reality banana shaped.  His debut novel, The Forty First Wink, released through Ragnarok Publications in 2014, scuttles gleefully into this bracket, with a blend of humor, fantasy and the unusual.  Fathom Flies Again is book two in what looks to be a trilogy like no other, except there will be three books like every other.  When not writing, James is partial to a spot of singing, the odd horror movie or ten, and is a circus trained juggler.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Nighthawks - by Jeremy Flagg - Book 1 in the Children of Nostradamus series

4 of 5 stars     Review copy

Nighthawks: Children of Nostradamus Book 1 is a complex and fascinating read.

Eleanor Valentine is a psychic to the first woman president, Cecelia Joyce, but when she attempts to assassinate her boss it leads to her death and to "The Culling" of all mentalists.

The mentalists are not the only ones with powers beyond those of mortal men. There are The Children of Nostradamus.  Where the Children of Nostradamus have hundreds of recorded abilities, there are certain things we all have in common.  We have a natural immunity to all illnesses.  We have higher endurance, we heal quicker...

In addition to the Children of Nostradamus, some of the other players in the story include the Outlanders and the Paladins.  And for me this is where it got to be a bit much.  I get the feeling we'll learn more about the other groups in future books and yes there will definitely be more in the series.

In the meantime, book one is a superhero story with a bit of humor and better than you might expect. In many ways it has the feel of a graphic novel without the artwork and the way they got the name Nighthawks was inspired.

Although I wasn't blown away by book one I certainly will return to the world of the Nighthawks and can recommend you check this one out, as well.

From Limitless Publishing, Nighthawks is available in both paperback and e-book formats.  If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge.  Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the authors bio - It started with single comic book. My mother was determined to make a reader out of me. Shunning traditional literature at a young age, my mother placed X-Men Classic #69 in my lap and for the first time I was exposed to the phrases, "Mutants," "BAMF," and "SNIKT." From that moment on, I imagined my enrollment at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

I came to writing late in my professional career. For a short period I majored in Creative Writing but eventually turned to Graphic Design for my career. It wasn't until 2006 that I participated in my first NaNoWriMo writing an epic science fiction novel. Later I would use the opportunity to write Suburban Zombie High and my first draft of Children of Nostradamus. Now I am the NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison to the Massachusetts Metrowest Region. I also belong the New England Horror Writer's Association where I'm known as the sarcastic zombie author.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Abram's Bridge - by Glenn Rolfe - Starts as a charming ghost story and builds to a devastating climax

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Abram's Bridge is a quick little novella which may just leave you breathless.

Glenn Rolfe is quite skilled at painting a picture with his words. Crossing over the uneven wooden planks, his Huffy BMX bike bumped, riddled and rattled like the chains of the Ghost of Christmas Past.

It was while out riding his bike by Abram's bridge that Li'l Ron heard a girl's voice and discovered Sweet Kate exuding an impossible blue-tinged luminance.

When he hears Kates's story, he makes solving the mystery of her untimely death his mission and he's determined to learn the truth about what happened in his otherwise sleepy town and set her spirit free.

The clues are easy enough for the reader to unravel and it's not to difficult to see where the story's going before it gets there, but there are still a number of nice surprises as what begins as a charming little ghost story quickly builds to a devastating climax.

By the end of the read my adrenaline must have been flowing as much as Li'l Ron's.

A terribly entertaining tale and one I can easily recommend.

This re-release of Abram's Bridge is a Macabre In Production, an imprint of Crossroad Press, is available in both e-book and Audible formats.

From Glenn Rolfe's bio - Glenn is an author, singer, and songwriter from the haunted woods of New England.  He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the works of Stephen King and Richard Laymon.

Monday, January 9, 2017

All That Withers - by John Palisano - John's first collection - Many of the stories have a Lovecraftian vibe

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Three of the stories in this collection have been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, with one taking home the prize in 2016.  That story is the first in this collection of weird and wonderful tales from John Palisano.

The twenty-three stories in All That Withers border on the fantastical.  Many have a Lovecraftian feel, although the author has created his own mythos and otherverse.  This collection is anything but ordinary.

Happy Joe's Rest Stop - This story of a rest stop from hell won the Bram Stoker Award for Excellence in Short Fiction.  He heard screams.  Some sounded human.  Some sounded formerly human.  Some sounded like they were from hell.  What a great way to kick off the collection.

Splinterette - Lost in a whiteout just yards from his property, a man experiences something quite unbelievable.

The Geminis - There's love and then there's love.  A story of love and music with a Lovecraftian vibe.

Available Light - A story of Walter and his "brother," both affected with Xeroderma pigmentosum.

Long Walk Home - My favorite story so far.  A tragic love set in an apocalyptic Jersey shore community.  A wonderfully complete tale.

My Darkness Travels On Sunshine - An aspiring filmmaker with herself as the subject of a documentary takes a turn toward the unknown.  There's a single sentence in this story that really stood out for me.  "Come back when you're ready to talk about the darkness, sunshine."  I just loved the dichotomy between darkness and sunshine.

The Haven - I can't even begin to describe this story, so I'm not even going to try.

To the Stars That Fooled You - Hands down, my favorite in this collection.  The scene between Alex and Phil in the record store in Greenwich Village alone is work the price of the book and then the scene with Sid and Nancy just sends it into the stratosphere.

Mother You Can Watch - A quick stop at the Bates Motel.

Outlaws of Hill Country - Another wonderful tale with a killer opening line.  The night before Halloween, the Long Fellow sucked Jenny Lou Harrison's soul right out through her fingers.

Welcome to the Jungle - It's tough being a struggling actress in Hollywood.

Wings for Wheels - Asbury Park, Thunder Road, an up-and-coming musician.  Is this ringing any bells?  Great story.

Secret Sea - Some things are washing ashore on the beach outside of the Harpoon House.

Eternal Valley -  A rather strange tale of something that lurks at the mouth of the Wabash river.

The Curious Banks of the Wabash River -  There's definitely something about the Wabash river.

The Tennatrick - What if the California wildfires weren't being caused by drought or arson? "What is that thing?" Jen said.  "It's huge," Brian said.  The animal reached the bottom and stood a few car lengths away.  A long sectioned head rose ten-feet high.  Seven eyes glistened.  Some were red, some were blue, while others were black.

Vampiro - A new look for the California border patrol.

X is for Xyx - A breakup leads to an attempted suicide and that's when things get weird.

Sunset Beach - A wonderful day at the beach turns dark with monsters from the deep.

I Know This World - A very personal kind of horror.

Forever - A wonderful story of  life after death from a pet's point of view.

Gaia Ungaia - It's a thin line between bad dreams and reality.

Perrollo's Ladder - Prior to reading this story, I had never heard of criaturas.  I suggest looking them up on Google images.  These are the things nightmares are made of.

All in all, All That Withers is a solid collection.  If you're ready for something different, you're ready for John Palisano.  Definitely recommended.

All That Withers is currently available as a paperback from Cycatrix Press.

From the author's bio - John Palisano's nonfiction has appeared in Fangoria and Dark Discoveries magazines.  In addition to his short stories, he had a pair of books with Samhain Publishing, Dust of the Dead and Ghost Heart.  His novel Nerves was published through Bad Moon Books.  Night of 1,000 Beasts is coming soon.