Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sharkwater Beach by Tim Meyer

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The story begins at S.Q.U.I.D, a subaquatic research facility that's located in international waters for a reason.  What they're up to isn't exactly work they want to be scrutinized by any government.

It's not long before things go horribly wrong...

A man wearing a shredded lab coat sprinted toward the elevator, spurts of red gushing from where his arm had previously been. His appendage had been ripped raggedly at the elbow. The scientist was panting like a dog on a hot summer day, struggling to keep his lungs full of air. He kicked up splashes of ocean water as he made for the elevator. 

Jill McCourty is on the date from hell when she gets a disturbing phone call from an old professor she once had a fling with.  Next thing you know she's being forced to confront her past and is living out a nightmare of humongous proportions.

What follows isn't exactly a spoiler, after all, both the cover and the title of Tim's new book give this much away.

The size of the tooth took up both palms. “Big-ass shark? Is that a new species or something?”“Didn’t come from a Great White. Their teeth are much smaller.”“No kidding.” A Great White tooth was three inches maximum. This was almost four times that. “If this thing is real, we’re talking Megalodon territory.”

This is the second novel this month with a part of the story from the POV of intelligent sea creatures, the other being J.H. Moncrieff's Monsters In Our Wake.  It's a fun aspect of the story and adds another dimension to what is happening and why.

The encounters with the super shark are everything you could want them to be with more than one "Oh wow!" moment.

Sharkwater Beach is pure B-movie madness.  Lots of blood.  Loads of fun. And wonderful B-Movie dialog...

“Okay, bozo. I’m done. Take me back. I’m getting out of here. You have more drama in your life than my grandmother’s soap operas.”

Sharkwater Beach is published by Severed Press and 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 - Tim Meyer dwells in a dark cave near the Jersey Shore. He’s an author, husband, father, podcast host, blogger, coffee connoisseur, beer enthusiast, and explorer of worlds. He writes horror, mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers, although he prefers to blur genres and let the stories fall where they may. Among other titles, he’s previously published the short story collection, Worlds Between My Teeth.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Guest post from Tim Meyer, the author of Sharkwater Beach

Today's guest post is from Tim Meyer, the author of Sharkiwater Beach.  Think Jaws on steroids.  Watch for my review tomorrow, but for now, here's Tim...

TEETH

All right, I admit it. When I was younger, I was afraid of sharks. Okay, scratch that – I still am. Why? Well, because they're sharks. They're 100 million-year-old killing machines. They're enormous, some of them. They have teeth. Great whites have about 300. Did you know that? Scary. Imagine a person with 300 teeth? That's scary, too. But back to sharks. They're terrifying. The worst part? You never see them gliding up on you from the murky bottom, gaping maw ready to bite, rip, and feed.

I can trace my fear back quite easily – JAWS. I watched the movie on television when I was about eight, and even though it had been edited for content (probably), Quint's death scene still managed to warp my fragile little mind. The sheer terror of that scene shook me, sank its teeth into me. I can still vividly remember watching the gouts of blood spilling from that beloved character's mouth as the massive white shark chomped down on him. The scene spawned many nightmares, and in a way, it's responsible for prompting me to write a novel about a giant shark terrorizing a small group of people.

I read the book Jaws a few years later, then discovered all of Peter Benchley's novels. I read his works before I became obsessed with King, McCammon, Barker; my other heroes. Benchley's books were plain fun, the perfect “beach read,” and as someone who grew up on the Jersey Shore, you can imagine how much time was spent with my butt in the sand, catching some sun with a book in my lap.

Jaws influenced my new novel Sharkwater Beach, but so did other Benchley classics like Beast and White Shark. White Shark, while probably not his most known or best written novel, was a big one for me. The summer when I was twelve, I must have checked it out of the library every other week. Don't know why, but that one stuck with me and it gets a big nod in Sharkwater Beach.

But Sharkwater Beach isn't like a Benchley novel. Not really. A big shark, fishermen, and a few marine biologists are where the similarities end. It's unlike anything I've written before. A beta reader told me it was like “Jaws meets Aliens,” and I couldn't have said it better myself.

So, sharks. Yes, these ancient sea beasts are terrifying. But that's also what makes them fun. It's the teeth, I think. And we all know books that bite are the most fun.
                                                                                                                                                     
From the author's bio - Tim Meyer dwells in a dark cave near the Jersey Shore. He’s an author, husband, father, podcast host, blogger, coffee connoisseur, beer enthusiast, and explorer of worlds. He writes horror, mysteries, science fiction, and thrillers, although he prefers to blur genres and let the stories fall where they may. Among other titles, he’s previously published the short story collection, Worlds Between My Teeth.

You can follow Tim at https://timmeyerwrites.com where he has great content and features author interviews and you can sign-up for his newsletter!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Northern Frights: An Anthology by the Horror Writers of Maine - Edited by David Price

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

With an introduction from Holly Newstein, Northern Frights: An Anthology by the Horror Writers of Maine embraces the weird from the northernmost of the 48 contiguous United States.  Wait, I just googled a map of the US to verify that and it's not true, but it is up there and it is a place where weird things tend to happen.

Northern Frights: An Anthology by the Horror Writers of Maine features twenty-two stories that are captivating, intriguing, scary, and above all, entertaining.

The Old Guide's Tale Peter N. Dudar

A trio of loading dock postal workers, regular guys, and the story, or rather, the legend of Sebago Lake.

For John, the bigger his audience, the bigger the stories would get. I suppose with age comes the license to embellish. After all, when you're old enough to start forgetting things that happened in your life, you may as well make the stuff you do remember as unforgettable as possible.

A wonderful start to the anthology. I was immediately drawn in by the excellent story-telling.

Giant Wompstah April Hawks

I guess you could say this is the story of genetics gone bad.  The real victim being Larry the Lobster.

Purgatory Junction Jeremy Flagg

A well-told ghost story of the hazing of a teen-aged girl made to spend the night in an abandoned railroad station so she can sit at the cool kid's table.

I read this lying in bed preparing for sleep. Not recommended as it made me afraid to turn off the light.

Catharine Hill Leslie J Linder

A new author for me and a great take on the hitch-hiking ghost trope.

Often, she would thumb a ride from some traveler. She didn't really plan to go anywhere. She just wanted to check out the latest fashions and listen in on modern trends. She always asked them to turn on the radio. But if that failed, people who picked up hitchers were generally prone to nervous chatter. When she'd had her fill, she simply disappeared from the vehicle.

The Bad Trip Thomas Washburn, Jr.

The title says it all.  A bad trip (as in 'shroom trip) that led to a horrible conclusion.  Another new writer I enjoyed immensely.

Teacher's Pet John McIlveen

A student/teacher taboo that's too good to be true.  John is one of my favorite new writers. His debut novel Hannahwhere is well worth your time, as is this delightful short.

Screaming Through Sea Glass Juss Stinson

A ghost story of sorts and a damn fine one at that.

Mira's Shop of Peculiarities Harold Hull

A truly terrify tale. One of the best shorts I've ever read.

Slowly, an eye opened on one of the tiny heads. A quiet, scratchy voice uttered, "Help me." Then the eyes of the head beside it opened and the same words came out. The third shrunken head soon joined in and now there was a harmony of desperate voices begging James for help.

Seeing Is Believing Wicker Stone

An effective tale of an inherited horror.

The Wait Holly Newstein

I don't get to read nearly enough of Holly Newstein's writing

The Janitors Come Out at Night Martin Campbell

The janitors at this High School are not recruited as much as they are made.  A fun little tale.

Agony Chamber Morgan Sylvia

When you worship at the altars of the gods of pain the rewards can be great, but so are the costs.

In my dreams, they tell me to kill, and they promise me that, if I serve them well, one day I, too, can become a god. All I have to do is kill. Not rapists or murderers or child molesters, but innocents.

Window of Darkness Duane E. Coffill

The creature's face was revolting. Slimy green mucus dripped from its ghastly jaw as it gazed at Mark and Marie with mesmerizing red eyes.

Needs rimshot to accompany the story's ending

Death Lights (A Lee Buhl Story) Glenn Rolfe

From the same world as Glenn's novel The Haunted Halls

Death Lights. Evil spirits that promised to take the living in exchange for bringing back the dead. They were tricksters, but far from your average poltergeist. They were not to be f*cked with. Fools thought they could control the conjured spirits, thought they could wield the power. It never worked that way.

Rare Birds Katherine Silva

Cool ending to a story about an amateur ornithologist.

In the Woods Dale T. Phillips

One of my favorite stories in a collection full of great tales

Noseeum Road, didn't ya?" "Yes, I did. By the way, I was curious. What's that road name mean? Some Native American name? I heard you've got some of those folks around still." The storekeeper chuckled. "The name's from some damn little bugs we get up this way. We call 'em no-see-ums because they'll bite ya, and you won't even see that they're there."

Cool dialog, too.

"You ain't telling me you're a Yankees fan, are ya?" "No, I don't follow baseball." The man rolled his eyes again. "Well, better that than loving the Yankees. Then we'd have to shoot ya for sure."

Sleep Tight E.J. Fechenda

The Ricci family purchases a house with a history.  A history unknown to them.  Their young son Ethan is continually awakened by a man a the foot of his bed.  A great ghost story from another author I get to read for the first time.

The Black Beast of Andover Joshua Goudreau

Another new author for me and a killer monster tale to boot.

Lovely Little Nash Leon Roy

A disturbing story of a fun trip gone dreadfully awry for friends Dorothy, Jackie, Frances, and Ruby who have their day interrupted by their love of a classic car and a signed contract.  No one ever reads the fine print.

Liars and Lies Angi Shearstone

A man is suspected of witchcraft, but the truth is so much darker and so much better.

Confession James Graham

A confession leaves a Priest with a crisis of conscience.  Another well-told tale with a great kicker.

The Phippsburg Screecher Lynda Styles

"If you're staying in the Basin, watch out the Screecher don't get ya."  A really good monster yarn.
.
In the Root Cellar GD Dearborn

A wonderful way to close the anthology with a tale of alien invaders.

With an anthology this large, there are bound to be some stories you love and almost alway there are a few clunkers.  I happy to say, while I didn't love every story, there were none I didn't like and overall Northern Frights: An Anthology by the Horror Writers of Maine was a terrific reading experience.

Northern Frights: An Anthology by the Horror Writers of Maine is published by Grinning Skull Press and is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Scallywag - by Stuart R. Brogan

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Harry Davant made a poor decision taking the alley shortcut in the rain.  Two-bit criminal Callum Benson saw the old man's choice as an opportunity, but what happens next surprises everybody, including this reader.

To tell you more would be to give too much away. It's best if the readers get to discover all of the twists and turns for themselves.  I will say this Scallywag is a joyride filled with real characters and believable situations.  Stuart R. Brogan is a master at raising a reader's blood pressure.

If you've already read Stuart's debut novel Jackals and you're looking for another quick fix of his fast-paced, high-energy, writing style, you should pick up Scallywag right away.  BTW, if you haven't read Jackals, do yourself a favor and pick it up today.  It's the best debut horror novel I've read this year.

As for Scallywag, it's a wild and twisted ride which I whole-heartedly recommend.

Scallywag is published by Midgard Books and 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 - Stuart R. Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people's minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people's brains out with fast-paced, gut-wrenching Horror and Thrillers.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog "Poppy" where he co-owns a kick-ass Viking/Asatru shop, fiercely named "Shield Maiden."


Friday, May 12, 2017

Reset: The Dowland Cases - One by Kirk Dougal

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

Richard Jefferson Dowland, Jr., 39. Divorced, no children. Goes by Rick but a whole generation of people know him as RJ. Graduated from UCLA with an undergrad in Computer Science at the age of twenty. Co-inventor of the first fully-immersed computer game, The Kindred. He personally registered twenty-nine patents related to computer- human interfaces and games. 

Rick is now retired from the gaming industry and finds himself working homicide.  When a serial killer starts killing immersive gamers his boss and the FBI ask him to go back in and become a deep sleeper again.  Something he swore he'd never do.  It's an addiction, a habit he managed to kick once and has no desire to revisit.

Deep sleepers, the guys that stay inside for weeks or months, they pay someone to take care of their body while they are buried inside. Gamers call them peepers, or peeps for short.

For a reader, Reset: The Dowland Cases - One provides instant gratification.  The in-game action was fast paced and believable.  The story itself was as immersive as a good video game. With Rick having to go into more than one game it gave the author a chance to experiment with various writing styles in the same novel, including crime noir in the game called The City.

Examples...

The plug-in air freshener tried but there wasn’t enough potpourri in the world to cover up the smell rising from the body on the bed.

I took a drink of the gin and wondered immediately if the bathtub had been clean when it was made. 

The canary on the mic had a color of blonde hair not found in nature and a dress slit almost high enough to see Cleveland. A few flat notes into the next song and I understood why the dress needed to be so distracting.

She stood close enough for me to hear the whisper of her blouse against skin as she breathed. Her perfume wafted into my nose and threatened to cloud my thinking.

So much fun.  Of course there are many red herrings along the way, but in the end it all makes perfect sense and the set up is there for book two in the series.  In the end Reset: The Dowland Cases - One is a tale that left me wanting more in the best possible way.  Highly recommended.

Reset: The Dowland Cases - One is 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 - Kirk Dougal has had fiction works appear in multiple anthologies and released his debut novel, Dreams of Ivory and Gold, in May of 2014.  His YA dystopian novel, Jacked, was published in 2016.  He's currently at work completing the sequel to Dreams, Valleys of the Earth.

Kirk is currently working in a corporate position with a group of newspapers after serving as a group publisher and editor-in-chief. He lives in Ohio with his wife and four children.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Monsters In Our Wake - by J.H. Moncrieff

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The cover and title of J.H. Moncrieff's latest novel Monsters In Our Wake gives the reader a good idea of what they're in for, but this work is far from your typical sea creature trope.

When the novel you're reading begins from the perspective of a giant sea creature who's home is being threatened by oil drilling you know you're on to something different.

When the creature takes action to protect its territory, the result is a disabled ship and a stranded crew.  I always enjoy stories with a limited cast of characters, cut off from the rest of the world, with something out there.

“Nah,” George said, pointing at Flora, “I think she’s crazy. But I’ve seen horror movies. I know how this goes. You crackers always make the black man go first. I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to fix any generator, I’m not going to investigate the scary noise, and I’m definitely not going in the water.”

Monsters In Our Wake is not my first creature from the deep book, but it certainly is the most original and a helluva lot of fun.  It does require readers to check their disbelief at the door, but if you can do that I think you'll enjoy where this deep sea adventure takes you. Recommended.

Monsters In Our Wake is available from Severed Press in paperback, e-book, and Audible 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 - J.H. Moncrieff writes psychological and supernatural suspense novels that let her readers safely explore the dark corners of the world.   Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

The first two novels of her new GhostWriters series, City of Ghosts and The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, will be officially released on May 16, 2017.

When not writing, J.H. loves visiting the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Guest post from J.H. Moncrieff

Author J.H. Moncrieff takes over my blog today to talk about her unusual  sea creature novel Monsters In Our Wake.  I'll have my review tomorrow.

Never in a million years did I expect to write about sea creatures.

Not that I don’t have an affinity for them. I’ve always wanted to spend a day sitting alongside Loch Ness, hoping Nessie will make an appearance. And I love the legends of the nøkken and other creatures from my Scandinavian heritage.

Still, writing about monsters was never something I considered until Severed Press told me they were looking for a sea creature story. It was a challenge I couldn’t resist.

However, telling the same old story—where a bunch of macho dudes and maybe one female scientist (who happens to be supermodel gorgeous) blast the monsters into infinity—didn’t interest me in the slightest. If I were going to write a sea monster story, it would have to be something completely different than people were used to seeing.

Since I have a huge sympathy and love for animals, I thought, “Why not tell the story from the creatures’ point of view?” So I did. And I had a lot of fun with it. Yes, there is violence and gore and dark themes, but Nøkken in Monsters in Our Wake is also sarcastic, witty, and urbane. I’d hoped that bringing his side of the story to life would help provide a new perspective. Whenever an animal attacks, we talk about the people affected, but rarely do we discuss how the animal’s territory is dwindling, its food supplies dying, and the part we play in these tragedies.

The result was a very different book. Different from anything I’d ever written before, and certainly different from your typical sea monster saga. So much so, I was afraid Severed wouldn’t want it. But they did, and I figured they understood their audience well enough to know what would be accepted and what wouldn’t. I also hoped the people who loved more mainstream monster stories wouldn’t notice mine—that it would be a mere ripple in an ocean of books.

Then Monsters became an Amazon horror bestseller. Suddenly, a lot of people were finding my book, and not all of them were happy about it. The backlash began, and it focused on one thing—the creature’s point of view. Either readers loved this unique aspect or they hated it. And when they hated it, they really hated it. One woman didn’t make it past page two. A man advised others not to read anything else I’d ever written, even though Monsters is unlike the rest of my work.

I knew I was taking a risk by swimming against the current, and that not everyone would appreciate it. What I didn’t anticipate was how angry they’d be, or what a polarizing book Monsters would become. Knowing this, was it still worth trying something new and smashing a time-honored genre convention? Definitely.

At the end of the day, I’m not writing for people who want the same old, same old. I don’t like remakes, and I have no interest in writing one. It’s important to have a variety of books and voices available. Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was the same! I get why diverging from a trope irritates some people; I have my comfort food for the brain too. That’s what series are for—you know exactly what you’re going to get with each and every book.
Meanwhile, I’ll continue to seek out readers who appreciate the unexpected, the ones who complain there’s never anything new under the sea.

J.H. Moncrieff writes psychological and supernatural suspense novels that let her readers safely
explore the dark corners of the world. She won Harlequin's search for the next Gillian Flynn in 2016.

Her first published novella, The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave, was featured in Samhain’s Childhood Fears collection and stayed on its horror bestsellers list for over a year.

The first two novels of her new GhostWriters series, City of Ghosts and The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts, will be officially released on May 16, 2017.

When not writing, J.H. loves visiting the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

To get free e-books and a new spooky story every week, check out her Hidden Library.

Connect with J.H.: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Monday, May 8, 2017

Beautiful Sorrows - by Mercedes M. Yardley

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I've been hearing great things about this book for some time and with the new release from the fine folks over at Apex Books, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

First of all, kudos to Yannick Bouchard for an absolutely wonderful cover for Beautiful Sorrows.  Then there's the glowing introduction by P. Gardner Goldsmith comparing Mercedes' writing to the sirens in Greek mythology. Can the book possibly live up to all the hype?  Well, I'm happy to say it does.

The contents in this book have all been published elsewhere, but are collected here for the first time and run the gamut from flash fiction to longer pieces all giving you glimpses into the heart and soul of Mercedes M. Yardley.  At the end of the book, Mercedes graciously provides insights into each of her stories and many of these are as entertaining as the stories themselves.

Some of the highlights for me include Black Mary, a haunting story of child molestation.  Horrible by nature, but beautifully told.

The opening line of The Boy Who Hangs the Stars was particularly beautiful...

Once there was a girl who was sitting by the river.  She liked to watch the water, and listen to what it had to say.  Usually it was nonsense, but every now and then it came up with something important.

This was one of my favorite stories and had a fable-like feel to it.

Then there's Untied an unlikely tale of a suicidal man and the woman inside the window he's threatening to jump from.

Another story with a suicidal theme was Music To Jump By.  I'm generally not a fan of stories without an ending, but damn if this wasn't a perfect tale.

Mercedes M. Yardley's tales are small slices of life with pieces of the souls around us.  Although I enjoyed the many melancholy stories in Beautiful Sorrows, I loved the comedic horror in Axes.  Can you imagine death as your roommate? Imaginative, funny, and totally entertaining.  Followed immediately by The Quiet Places where Your Body Grows.  One minute she's making you laugh and the next she's tearing your heart out.  And that's a good thing.

And then there's Stars, a wonderfully fanciful story.  It's the little things that make a Mercedes story work for me.  Like the dog who's name changed weekly.  I can relate.  My wife and I have two dogs, one I would never consider changing her name and the other I try to change every few weeks, but my wife won't let me.

I can't leave without mentioning Big Man Ben another of my favorites, the longest story in the collection and one that just left me devastated.

Expect the unexpected in these stories, many of the tales are downright inexplicable. Recommended.

Beautiful Sorrows is available from the Apex book company in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Mercedes has three kids, a husband and no time to write, although she tries her very best. She is the author of the short story collection Beautiful Sorrows, the “serial killers in love” novella  Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, the BONE ANGEL trilogy,  Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, and the Bram Stoker Award winner Little Dead Red.  She specializes in the dark and beautiful.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Dark Screams - Volume Six - Edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar

4 of 5 Stars     Review copy


Editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar continue to bring together the brightest stars in genre fiction for their Dark Screams anthology series, now in its sixth incarnation with more on the way.

This time, I absolutely loved two of the stories, thoroughly enjoyed three others, and was a bit let down by the sixth.

The stories include...

The Old Dude’s Ticker by Stephen King - Even a King completist may have missed this one.  Originally published in NECON 2000 for attendees of Camp NECON that year and later in The Big Book of NECON from Cemetery Dance. This is the story' s first wide release.  King himself calls the story a crazed revisionist telling of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”  It is so much fun.  Read it just for the seventies slang if for no other reason.  Written very early in his career, it's like something out of a time capsule.

The Rich Are Different by Lisa Morton - A brilliantly crafted story of love and madness. Given the chance at unimaginable wealth would you take it at any cost?  “But the price is this: Your children will appear human until they feel lust, and then their desire will make them into my children, divine in appearance and strength.  Should they seek to satiate themselves with a mortal, they will create a victim, not a lover.  They will have only each other to fulfill their needs and continue your line.”

The Manicure by Nell Quinn-Gibney - Getting a dark fiction piece out of a free manicure. A wonderfully constructed piece of fiction from a writer new to me.  I really enjoyed this story.

The Comforting Voice by Norman Prentiss - We've all had our experiences with crying babies, but Josh and Cheryl's newborn, Lydia, really has a set of powerful lungs and knows how to use them.  The solution comes from an unlikely source in this charming tale.

The Situations by Joyce Carol Oates - I hate to say it, but this was my least favorite entry in the anthology.  A trio of tales I just didn't connect with.  I love Joyce Carol Oates, but not this set of stories.

The Corpse King by Tim Curran - I read this novella seven years ago when it was first published as a limited edition by Cemetery Dance and I just read it again for this review. What a terrific bit of writing this is.  So well-crafted. Takes the reader to a time and place where grave robbing was common, even if it wasn't respectable.

The harvest of cadavers was piled in the beds of muddy wagons and taken to market, sold to the highest bidder to supply dissection room and anatomical house.

Brilliant dialog and dialect.

“You’ve been sweet on the drink for too many years, Johnny Sherily, and this is a fact, I say,” Clow said to them all. “Ain’t nothing in the North Grounds. Nothing but money a-moldering in the ground.”

And Arnie, by Christ, he said he saw something down there, something staring up at him from that hole. Something like a huge, horrible skull with teeth like knitting needles. It stared up at him with burning eyes, crawling and creeping about, chewing.

And witty to boot

As things stood, she had one more tooth than eyes.

If Poe was writing today this would be a story he might write.  Definitely recommended.

For this story alone it's worth purchasing Dark Screams Volume Six available now as an e-book published by Hydra, a division of Random House.







Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Meatcow Maker by Matthew Warner

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I've made this comment before, but it bears repeating...

You just don't see many chapbooks anymore and certainly none with the quality and attention to detail as those that appear quarterly from Keith Minnion's White Noise Press.

From what I understand, Matthew Warner's Meatcow Maker is the last planned release for the foreseeable future.

The goodness begins with a gorgeous wrap-around cover from Deena Warner and the limited edition chapbook is signed by both the writer and the artist.

About the story...

There'd been a nuclear war started by the Orange President, whoever that was.

For many years the meatcows served their masters, the skralls.  Genetic creations which allowed their owners to partake of their flesh, which would regenerate in time. (You don't want to know what the meatcows eat).  But now things are changing, crops are being grown, and the meatcows are no longer needed.  Where are they to go?  What will they do?

Meatcow Maker is one of those stories which will stay with you long after it's been read. Recommended.

Meatcow Maker is available, as a signed limited edition chapbook from White Noise Press. For their complete list of chapbooks visit them online at http://www.whitenoisepress.com/shelf/

From the author's bio...In the time since his first newspaper article was published in the 1980s, Matthew Warner's writing career has traveled many avenues.  Now he's primarily a prose fiction writer, preferring the genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Matthew lives in Staunton, Virginia, with his wife, Deena Warner, and sons, Owen and Thomas.






Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jackals - by Stuart R. Brogan

5 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I don't know about you, but I hate it when I'm reading a horror novel and I know who's gonna die. Jackals is NOT one of those novels and I loved it.

Jackals begins with a big surprise and delivers one powerful punch after another, right to the unexpected end.

Imagine an organization simply known as The Order that exists merely to recruit teams for the purpose of committing horrible acts of violence. The Order finds killers known as The Selected who then recruit three other killers. These teams of four are called Jackals. They only have one rule, NO GUNS...beyond that, pretty much anything goes.

For example...

She stood on the WPC's head and tugged at the ax that was firmly wedged in the policewoman's skull. With a little effort and snapping of the bone it came free. Rosie turned and headed for the canteen door. She was happy again and wanted to find more people to play with.

There are plenty of twists to keep the reader off balance and richly drawn characters to both root for and against.

I do feel compelled to share a bit of a warning here. Different folks look for different things from their horror. This is one of the most violent books I have ever read. It is brutal beyond words, but if you're up to it, Jackals is one bloody, bold, bodacious, bad-ass read. Thoroughly recommended.

Jackals is published by Midgard Books and is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Stuart R. Brogan is a former nightclub Bouncer and proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people's minds with Pagan related Non Fiction or blowing people's brains out with fast paced, gut-wrenching Horror and Thrillers.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long suffering Wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog "Poppy" where he co-owns a kick-ass Viking/Asatru shop, fiercely named "Shield Maiden."

Monday, May 1, 2017

Guest Post by Stuart R. Brogan the author of Jackals

Look for my review of Stuart's debut novel, Jackals, tomorrow, but first...

Tentative Steps by Stuart R Brogan

I am willing to bet a truckload of money on the fact that any artist, regardless of medium, has, at one time, been in the nerve-racking position of debuting their work, and despite their best efforts, have been terrified!

I don’t care how good you are or how much of a prodigy you believe yourself to be, you would have been shaking with trepidation regarding what people will think, and praying that the general public and reviewers look favourably at your work.

I myself felt this sensation when I was about to release my first novel Jackals. It was my baby, a thing of beauty and self-perceived genius that I had spent four months of my life dedicating myself to. In my mind, it was truly awesome, and I couldn’t wait to unleash it upon the world. As the day finally came, I braced myself for the onslaught, secretly hoping that people would enjoy my work as much as I had enjoyed writing it. It really was a case of batten down the hatches and await the hurricane of reviews and personal perceptions.

I have to say I was blown away by the reaction; in fact, the word humble doesn’t even begin to describe the sensation I feel when people talk about my novel. But it could have so easily gone the other way. It had the potential to start me on the path of a downward spiral, my fragile self-belief being used as nothing more than a break as my literary career scrambled to slow my rapid descent into oblivion and personal failure.

I like to think of myself as being a bit of a down to earth and grounded fellow and think of myself as being a leader, not a follower, regardless of what task I am undertaking. I have always danced to my own tune and refuse to play second fiddle to anyone. Bearing this clarity of vision in mind, I have often stated that I don’t care what other people think of me, and their opinion is of little consequence to my day to day dealings. But, in truth, perhaps that’s tinged with more than a little touch of ego and alpha pride.

I once heard the singer Marilyn Manson state that he DOES care what people think of him, but only the ones he respects. When I heard him say that I was nodding in agreement because, for all of my male bravado, I myself DID and DO care what people think of me and my work, but like he said, it was only those I respect.

Obviously, neither you nor I can please everyone. There will always be reviewers and readers that hate your work, be it due to the writing style, subject or voice, there will always be the haters, the ones who just don’t feel you should be breathing, let alone writing. Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t feel a little annoyed by someone’s perception of me but I know it’s all part of the game I must play if I wish to keep releasing books.

On more than one occasion I have heard many a famous musician, author or actor state that developing a thick skin is an absolute necessity when putting your work out into the public domain. You are, after all, putting yourself at the mercy of public opinion and there are some out there who have nothing better to do than court controversy and illicit untruths. This is becoming an ever increasing problem due to the internet, where cyber stalking or trolling seems to be a viable pastime. Don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing myself to some A-list movie stars, and I sure as hell don’t earn their kind of money, but the principal is exactly the same.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy reading great reviews of my work, it plumps my ego and makes me fit to burst with personal pride, but I also have to take the worst reviews just as seriously. I can’t just accept the good and discard the bad regardless of how much I dislike what is being said. So if our ego is so fragile what are we to do? Bury our heads in the sand for fear of reading or hearing something we don’t like?

The moral of the story- Don’t listen to any of it. Just do what you want and put it out there, ignore the haters and take pride in what you do. Enjoy it, because none of us truly know how much time we have on this rotating ball of water and dirt. In the greater scheme of things, we are only here for a fraction of a second so let’s make the most of it.

Tentative steps? Yes, but like the saying goes “Every journey, no matter how long, starts with a single step”

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Garden of Delight - by Alessandro Manzetti

3 of 5 Stars     Review copy

The Garden of Delight is a sexually charged compilation of stories from Alessandro Manzetti.  Most have been previously published, but a few of the tales are new to this collection.

All of the stories share a similar tone and spirit as they explore human decadence through the centuries.  When it comes to sexual relations, nothing is off limits.

Another familiar theme in these works is cannibalism; several stories are set in an apocalyptic future where the She-Pope organizes exhibitions that would embarrass the leaders of ancient Rome.  And then there's the future ultra-violent district Paris Sud 5.

To give you an idea of what you're in for in Garden of Delights here's a taste of the cannibalism.  His passion, to reach the attic of the grand palace of the senses, soon became mine.  I tried it out on myself, the first time, tasting a small piece of my right thigh, dug out with difficulty using a prison soup spoon.  Walter lit a small fire in the laundry, and we roasted those few bleeding ounces on a skewer made for the occasion.  We tasted my flesh as two connoisseurs who had just landed in the best restaurant on Mars, sitting in front of a succulent, phosphorescent, alien steak.  I had the impression of chewing pork cooked with almonds.  Walter said that I had a really good flavor, and to watch my back from now on, because killing and eating me was going to become an obsession for him. I was really delicious.

There were stories in this collection which I really enjoyed and others that just seemed to fall flat for me.  It is for that reason I can't give The Garden of Delight my whole-hearted recommendation.  But, if you're looking for something completely different, you might want to give this offering a try.

The Garden of Delight is published by Comet Press and is available in both paperback and e-book formats.

From the author's bio - Alessandro Manzetti is a Bram Stoker Award-winning author, an editor, and translator of horror fiction and dark poetry, his work has been published extensively in Italian, including novels, short and long fiction, poetry, essays, and collections.  His stories and poems have appeared in Italian, USA, and UK magazines.

He has translated works by Ramsey Campbell, Richard Laymon, Poppy Z. Brite, Edward Lee, Graham Masterton, Gary Braunbeck, Gene O’Neill, Lisa Morton, and Lucy Snyder. He is an Active Member and part of the Board of Trustees of the Horror Writers Association.

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 hardcover 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 hardcover 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.

Recommended.

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 Grech, 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 Grech...  

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”

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.

Cheers!

-GR

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.

WE SEE YOU.

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.

Recommended.

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.

Recommended.

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 Halls - 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.