Monday, March 16, 2020

In The Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland

Most kids dream about a new bike, a pair of top-dollar sneakers endorsed by their favorite athlete, or that totally awesome video game everyone's raving about. But thirteen-year-old Jake and his little brother Matthew want nothing more than to escape from their abusive father. As soon as possible, they plan to run away to California, where they will reunite with their mother and live happily ever after.It won't be easy, though. After a scuffle with a local bully puts Jake's arch-nemesis in the hospital, Sheriff Theresa McLelland starts poking her nose into their feud. During a trip to the family cabin for the opening weekend of deer-hunting season, Jake and Matthew kick their plan into action, leaving Dad tied to a chair as they flee into the night.

Meanwhile, the bully and his father have their own plans for revenge, and the events to follow will forever change the lives of everyone involved...

Jake and Matthew have not seen their mother for years. They live in constant fear of beatings from their abusive alcoholic father. Jake  longs for the day that he will have enough money to take his little brother and run away to find their mom in California, never believing their father that it is their fault she ran off. The relationship between the brothers, and Jake's fierce desire to protect Matthew is palpable. It made me wish I could rip them from the book and rescue them myself.
When Jake is finally ready to implement his plan, outside forces conspire against them and ugly truths long hidden, come to light.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy for review

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Passengers You Cannot See by The Behrg


Every story has its beginning and end. But some stories won’t let go. Some stories dig their claws into you. They infect your dreams. They carve out a residence in your mind. They become passengers . . .
Ones that never leave.
Within this collection of short stories by esteemed horror author The Behrg you will discover a haunted house that is not quite what it seems. A trophy collector who prefers living statues to cold ones. A truck driver who, with one good deed, finds more than he bargained for. And a world where happiness can no longer be felt. 
Light and darkness. Hope and despair. Depravities and humanity. These passengers and more await. And they’ve been sharpening their claws to greet you.

This is an eclectic collection of dark tales that run the gamut from supernatural horror to fantasy/sci fi.
Some of these stories were better than others, a few I felt were a bit vague when it came to the ending. My favorites all involved children, as I'm sure I have told you more than once kids creep me out anyway!  From the horror that befalls those who take in an abandoned baby in "Reborn" to the complete and utter devastation of coming home from the maternity ward in need of a tiny coffin instead of a crib in "Still Born", those were the tales in this collection that most resonated with me. "Amado" also involved children as an attempted rescue goes awry. I just can't say that I enjoyed the rest of the book as much as those three stories.

I received an advance copy for review.
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About the author
The Behrg is the author of dark literary works ranging from screenplays to 'to-do' lists. His debut novel, Housebroken, was a First-Round Kindle Scout Selection, and semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Awards. Author of The Creation Series, his short fiction has been featured in various publications and Best-Of Anthologies. His 'to-do' list, however, will likely never be completed.
A former child actor turned wanna-be rockstar, Behrg lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and four children. Discover why he writes as "The Behrg" at his website:

Monday, March 9, 2020

Jon Richter's Disturbing Works (Volume Two)

Another compendium of delightfully macabre stories by Jon Richter, author of Deadly Burial and Never Rest. Jon's first short fiction collection was described as 'Black Mirror meets Tales Of The Unexpected', and here he brings you another chilling assortment of twisted tales encompassing killer creatures, terrifying technology, and scientific experiments gone horribly wrong... These dark fables are perfect for anyone who likes their reads short, shocking, and laced with a dash of black humour.

The first thing I have to say about Disturbing Works volume 2 is that after reading it I need to get my hands on Volume one. These 10 short stories both shock and horrify as we are plunged into what feels like a realistic nightmare. I was hooked from the first story where something as believable as a garbage strike springboards into a tale of corruption, murder and monsters.
There are stories of mythical creatures, medical breakthroughs that go horribly wrong, which I suppose is to be expected when one has the option to be injected with animal DNA to address human weaknesses or aging. The scariest factor for me was my belief that in reality if such medical treatment became available there would be people willing to try it. Have you ever watched any of those Urban Exploration videos online or maybe even considered exploring an abandoned place on your own? I have watched a few and often thought it might be exciting to join in but the story Urbex cured me of that desire. Sometimes abandoned places are best left to decay in peace. Jon Richter's writing is smooth and expressive, making me feel as if I did not merely read these stories but experienced them.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

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About the author
Jon Richter writes dark fiction, including his two gripping crime thrillers, Deadly Burial and Never Rest, and his two collections of short horror fiction, volumes one and two of Jon Richter's Disturbing Works.
Jon lives in Elephant & Castle and is a self-confessed nerd who loves books, films and video games – basically any way to tell a great story.  He writes whenever he can, and hopes to bring you more macabre tales in the very near future, including his upcoming cyberpunk noir thriller, London 2039: Auxiliary.  He also co-hosts the Dark Natter podcast, a fortnightly dissection of the greatest works of dark fiction, available wherever you get your podcast fix.
If you want to chat to him about any of this, you can find him on Twitter @RichterWrites or Instagram @jonrichterwrites.

His website haunts the internet at, and you can find his books at Amazon here:

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Deep by Alma Katsu

From the acclaimed and award-winning author of The Hunger comes an eerie, psychological twist on one of the world’s most renowned tragedies, the sinking of the Titanic and the ill-fated sail of its sister ship, the Britannic.

Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. Between mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, the guests of the Titanic have found themselves suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone from the moment they set sail. Several of them, including maid Annie Hebley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, are convinced there’s something sinister—almost otherwordly—afoot. But before they can locate the source of the danger, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together. Working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship, she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier fighting in World War I. At first, Annie is thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the sinking, but soon, Mark’s presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past—as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.

Brilliantly combining the supernatural with the height of historical disaster, The Deep is an exploration of love and destiny, desire and innocence, and, above all, a quest to understand how our choices can lead us inexorably toward our doom.

 I was most fascinated with the character Annie, who we follow on more than one time line. When first we meet her, Annie is in an insane asylum, although she is not mad. She had been found unconscious behind a pub some time after her ordeal on the Titanic and brought to the asylum where she remained. It is not clear what else Annie has suffered at this point but it is clear that her father has been searching for her and that Annie has a reason for not wanting to go home. When she leaves the asylum to take a job on a hospital ship with another Titanic survivor she discovers someone else from her time on the Titanic.
As the story goes back and forth between the past on the Titanic and the present time on the hospital ship it begins to weave together a paranormal element that connects both time lines.
While I did enjoy this story as a fan of historical fiction, it was not exactly what I was expecting since it was listed under horror. I would recommend this book for those who enjoy historical fiction and all who love anything to do with the Titanic since it seems quite well researched, but I would not recommend it to anyone looking for a scare.
4 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.
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About the author
Alma Katsu is the author of  The HungerThe TakerThe Reckoning, and The Descent. She has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several U.S. agencies. She lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband.