Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Bayou Strangler by Fred Rosen


Ronald Dominique  was a Patti LaBelle impersonator, meter reader, pizza delivery guy, rapist, and serial killer. This is a look at his crimes, his confession and his sentencing.
When I read true crime I prefer a more matter of fact and less sensationalized approach. I would have liked to know more about his family and what drove him to these crimes and less about his "pulsating" slang for male sex organ. Not much of his family life was disclosed other than he may have been molested by a priest or he may have lied about it, and that his relatives made fun of him for being gay. Out of respect for the dead I would have liked to know more about his victims, other than some of them were gay and some of them were straight, and that most of them were seedy characters. I never felt fully engaged in the story due to the strange writing style. It seemed a bit awkward and clumsy.
3 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dark Screams: Volume Nine


Friday, October 13, 2017

Human Waste by C.M. Saunders

A Short Splatterpunk Story.
Dan Pallister is a survivalist and prepper. Much to the annoyance of the people around him, he has been surviving and prepping since childhood. He just didn’t know what for. When he wakes up one morning to find the world overrun with bloodthirsty zombies it all becomes clear, and despite the fall of civilisation, he can’t wait to get started. He just needs to stock up on supplies from the local supermarket first.

But is everything what it seems?

Bonus Content:

Til death do us Part (short story)
No Man’s Land: Horror in the Trenches (exclusive extract)

WARNING: This book contains descriptions of graphic violence and/or sex, and is not suitable for children.
Dan Pallister woke up one morning to find the world had gone to hell over night. The zombie apocalypse has arrived without warning. He doesn't know what caused it, whether it's something in the air, something in the water, or even whether or not he is already infected. Dan knows one thing, survival. He's been preparing all his life for just such an occasion. Forgoing sports, friendships, childhood fun. He's always been preparing and he's ready for whatever happens. If only it hadn't happened right before his regular shopping day. Luckily there's a supermarket near by so Dan makes his move to stock up on supplies while he plots his next course of action. But wait.. there is something odd about these zombies. Why do some of them seem to be going about their usual human habits? Oh well, Dan doesn't have time to ponder all the gruesome details!
This was a quick and creepy read.
Freakier still was the bonus story Til Death Do Us Part
"He was going to have to eat Margaret soon. That much was obvious."
Ronald and Margaret have had 40 years of wedded bliss, but it's no longer safe to go outside and the cupboards are bare. What's a starving man to do?
I would recommend it to all fans of horror and dark fiction.
4 out of 5 freaky stars from me.
I received a complimentary copy for review 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Angel of the Underground by David Andreas

"David Andreas was a super-talented contributor to Fangoria during its glory gory days. His fiction debut bodes well for readers of unique and scary horror."
--Tony Timpone, former editor, Fangoria magazineWhen three children in a Catholic group home are brutally murdered, the survivors are hurried into separate foster homes across Long Island. Robin Hills, a fifteen-year-old who has spent the past several years under religious care, is thrust into a new, dysfunctional family with no spiritual beliefs. No longer protected by the religion and the nun she had come to love, Robin is completely alone and enveloped in fear.As the murders continue and Robin fears she may become the next victim, her faith increasingly falters. However, she finds solace in a budding friendship with Dennis, a boy her age living in her new foster home. Dennis’s kindness, his acceptance of Robin, and his bravery in the face of evil--born of his passion for horror movies--combine to reassure her that she'll survive the killings.Armed with this new friendship and fueled by a rage she finally discovers within herself, Robin finds the courage and self-reliance to confront the darkest aspects of human depravity.
Murders in the group home have forced out the last few children for "safe keeping" to separate foster homes. Robin is sent to live with a creepy family where the mom seems to hate her, the obese and repulsive father is a groper, and one brother apparently worships the devil and is an all around scumbag. Robin is alone and miserable except for the only member of this odd family who seems normal, a boy named Dennis who she grows to trust and confide in. As the murders continue and the police seem to have no leads it may be up to Robin to unravel the mystery and put an end to the killings, if she can survive! This was a quick and creepy read, that held my attention and had me rooting for Robin to find a happy home. I would recommend it to young adult horror fans.
4 out of 5 stars from me.
I received an advance copy for review.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright


Monday, October 2, 2017

Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

Poison is a literary psychological thriller about a marriage that follows minor betrayal into a bubbling stew of lies, cruelty, manipulation, and danger.

Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass' two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Portland —a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly. First with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace.

With life-or-death stakes and irreversible consequences, Poison is a chilling and irresistible reminder that the closest bond designed to protect and provide for each other and for children can change in a minute.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. Cass presented as a strong and intelligent woman who had faced some tragedy in her life but been able to move on. She had little to no emotional support from either of her parents yet still grew into a compassionate and capable woman and mother.
The problems in her marriage, although supposedly subtle at first seemed glaringly obvious to me. There was  a lack of respect from her husband that to me seemed apparent from the start. He gave off a general feeling of ill will and derisiveness. An  insult said with a smile is still insulting, Overriding of a woman's parental authority done with an air of fun, is still disrespectful.
Towards the halfway point of the story and beyond I just found that it strained believability. I can't say much without giving away the plot but I just found it hard to believe a woman of her intelligence would make such choices, or give out personal information so easily to people she had no reason to trust. There were also some medical and safety issues with the children that if faced with in reality a person would seek immediate help. Since Cass was a journalist I would have expected her to have better sense.

I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Clown Moon by Alex Jameson

Author Alex Jameson is going to make you scream.

Former Marine sniper Sam Asher enjoys his casual civilian life. He’s content with his mundane job, steady girlfriend, and halfway decent apartment, until tragedy strikes too close to home, in a manner that appears to be related to a nationwide epidemic of creepy clown sightings.

Bent on vengeance, Sam hits the road to track down a deranged killer. Accompanied by his brother Jake, and pursued by an overly ambitious Homeland Security Agent, Sam will need to use every resource, every skill, and every friend he’s ever had to find the madman.

As the “clown crisis” ramps up, receiving constant coverage from the media and keeping regular folks hiding in their homes, a rash of murders takes Sam halfway across the country on his quest for justice. The battle-tested Marine will be sucked into a vortex of madness at the hands of a psychopath, engaging in a battle of will and wits that will test his heart, mind and loyalty.

So honestly this is not usually the type of book that attracts my attention. I'm not a fan of detective stories, or government agents and snipers etc. But I had some extra time and the cover really caught my eye. Homeland Security is not the star of this show at all. Neither are detectives, and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself totally immersed in this story.
Some people fear clowns, maybe even more so after several creepy clown sightings across the nation. One man in particular has reason to both fear and hate clowns. Something horrible happened when he was a child, but he's not a kid anymore. Now he's a serial killer, and he's hyper focused on clowns.

Meanwhile a group of kids think it would be fun to join in the craze of dressing as creepy clowns to scare people. Little do they know they have attracted the attention of a psychopath. When one of them is killed Sam is willing to risk everything to catch the murderer in this action packed thriller.

4 out of 5 stars from me.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Year They Burned the Books by Nancy Garden

By the author of Annie on My MindWhen Wilson High Telegraph editor Jamie Crawford writes an opinion piece in support of the new sex-ed curriculum, which includes making condoms available to high school students, she has no idea that a huge controversy is brewing. Lisa Buel, a school board member, is trying to get rid of the health program, which she considers morally flawed, from its textbooks to its recommendations for outside reading. The newspaper staff find themselves in the center of the storm, and things are complicated by the fact that Jamie is in the process of coming to terms with being gay, and her best friend, Terry, also gay, has fallen in love with a boy whose parents are anti-homosexual. As Jamie's and Terry's sexual orientation becomes more obvious to other studetns, it looks as if the paper they're fighting to keep alive and honest is going to be taken away from them. Nancy Garden has depicted a contemporary battleground in a novel that probes deep into issues of censorship, prejudice, and ethics.

A coming of age story that deals with accepting one's own sexuality in a world in which it's not always safe or comfortable to be yourself. In other words the world we all live in right now.
Jamie, the editor of the school paper, and her best friend both feel they might probably be possibly maybe gay (I believe that is how they put it.)
The school has recently adopted a free condom Friday policy which has upset some of the parents, and particularly those who believe sex is sinful. Things escalate as books are removed from the library and some want to adopt an abstinence only policy for sex education.
It was an enjoyable although simplistic story that I don't feel quite grasped all the complexities of the subject matter but keeping in mind it is intended for a YA audience I am rounding up my 3 and a half stars to 4.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 5 Edited by Brian James Freeman.

Richard Chizmar, Lisa Tuttle, Norman Prentiss, Kevin Quigley, and Peter Straub unmask monsters hiding in plain sight in an anthology of heart-pounding short fiction assembled by horror author and editor Brian James Freeman.

DEVIL’S NIGHT by Richard Chizmar
You’ve read about what happened that night. What you don’t know is the true extent of the damage. The papers got it wrong—and the truth is so much worse than you thought.

THE LAST DARE by Lisa Tuttle
Elaine hasn’t been back to her hometown in years. The house she lived in is gone. The tower house isn’t—nor are the stories of the fate that befalls whoever dares to go there.

THE HALLOWEEN BLEED by Norman Prentiss
People think there’s some sort of mystical power that allows enchantments and witchcraft to come to life on Halloween night. But real magic obeys no calendar—and true evil strikes whenever it’s least expected.

SWING by Kevin Quigley
In Hollywood, everyone lives forever. At least that’s what I used to think . . . before Jessica. But no one seems to live long when they’re around me.

PORK PIE HAT by Peter Straub
When it comes to jazz, there are players, and there are legends. “Hat” was a legend. His real name didn’t even matter. Still, he had his secrets—secrets best left buried in the past.

In this last installment of the 5 part Halloween Carnival anthology there are some real winners and a couple of clunkers. I was hoping the final volume would end with a bang. Instead it just kind of fizzled out.

I like Peter Straub a lot but I am just not a big fan of Pork Pie Hat. I know someone must really love it, since it's been published so many times, but that somebody is just not me.

For me,  only 2 stories  really made this  anthology worth reading. DEVIL’S NIGHT by Richard Chizmar in which an ordinary school teacher gets wrapped up in murder and mayhem on a windblown Friday, the night before Halloween.

THE LAST DARE by Lisa Tuttle was another 5 star read for me. Two old friends, each of them a grandma now, who haven't seen each other in many years happen to bump into each other on Halloween. Their granddaughters hit it off immediately. What seems like a happy reunion soon turns into a nightmare. I loved this story.

I received an advance copy for review.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 4 Edited by Brian James Freeman





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

For Better, or For Worse: Eight Stories by Josh Craven


In For Better, or For Worse, Josh Craven offers up eight unsettling stories of the macabre, the supernatural, and the worst of human nature.

•"For Better or for Worse" - When Jacob’s world is derailed by a tragic accident, the hot-shot young attorney finds practicing law is easy compared to practicing his new life.
•"Tongue Lashing" - Two junior-high boys alone in an East Texas pasture on a broiling hot afternoon. What could go wrong?
•"The Hungry House" - In an effort to get his life straight, Davy takes a road trip to put the past behind him for good. But he finds his childhood home has been waiting for his return.
•"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" - Having to go in to the office on a Saturday is bad enough, but commuting on the public rail system can be… well, murder.
•"Attrition" - When looking for a job in the brutally competitive world of big law firms, John Nichols finds that getting through the hiring process can be survival of the most desperate.
•"Cake and Smokes" - A young couple buys the perfect starter home, but they find the elderly prior owner wasn’t quite ready to leave the house behind.
•"The Past Never Dies" - Through the daily entries in Barney’s grief journal, a terrible secret from his past is revealed.
•"The Last Photographer" - First her parents, then her husband—Kat has trouble letting go of those she loves, but she soon finds there are fates much worse than death.

For Better or For Worse is a curious collection of bizarre tales, that range in nature from Sci-Fi in the title story, to psychological thriller, to horror. The first few were just not for me but the last 5 more than made up for that. In "Attrition" several job applicants show up to interview at a law firm that has but a single job to offer. Times are tough and they all desperately need this opportunity. Desperation can be a dangerous thing! I loved this one.

In "Cake and Smokes" an elderly woman puts her house on the market but tries her damnedest to not get put out of her home. This one was super creepy.

"The Past Never Dies" was my absolute favorite. It's about love and loss and grief. Barney has recently lost his wife, and begins a daily journal to deal with his emotions and to tell his wife all the things he can no longer say. Strange things begin to happen as Barney is haunted not by his wife but by his own past.

"The Last Photographer" also touches on grief as Kat tries to face the fact that her husband is losing his battle with cancer. When she tries to both hold on and let him go she learns that some things are far worse than death.

All in all a good solid collection. 4 out of 5 stars from me.
I received a complimentary copy for review

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 3 Edited by Brian James Freeman

Kelley Armstrong, Kate Maruyama, Michael McBride, Taylor Grant, and Greg Chapman unleash the unsettled spirits of the past in five frightening stories collected by celebrated editor, author, and horror guru Brian James Freeman.

THE WAY LOST by Kelley Armstrong
The kids in Franklin don’t ask questions. Each Halloween, one of them disappears into the forest. Dale promised his mother he’d never go into the woods alone. But the kids in Franklin also lie.

LA CALAVERA by Kate Maruyama
The Día de los Muertos Festival at the Hollywood Cemetery used to be ours. Now, without Jasmine, it’s only right that I go one last time in her honor—before I let her go for good. . . .

THE DEVIL’S DUE by Michael McBride
Pine Springs, Colorado, has prospered for generations by honoring its traditions and its promises. Then one man refuses to do his civic duty—and the price he must pay is fatally steep.

Samhainophobia: an irrational fear of Halloween. Phasmophobia: an irrational fear of ghosts. For Anne, these terrors are more rational than she knows.

Every year, one little boy wearing a grotesque Frankenstein mask comes knocking at Gerald’s door. Gerald has always managed to avoid him . . . until this year.

"Every Halloween, one child in Franklin lost his way and never came home."
These words began my dark and delightful foray into Halloween Carnival 3. I was looking for scares and I certainly got them. Volume 1 and 2 were good but this is the best so far of this 5 part anthology series that will be released in time for Halloween.
Oh my gruesome goodness! Every one of these tales was amazing. I would not even be able to choose a favorite as I normally do with short stories because every single one gave me chills. From ghosts to demons to twisted psychological terror this anthology is a horror lover's dream.
5 out of 5 fright filled stars from me.

I received an advance copy for review.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 2 Edited by Brian James Freeman

Available for pre-order at Amazon

Glen Hirshberg, Lee Thomas, Holly Newstein, Del James, and Al Sarrantonio bring the ghouls of the most haunted night of the year to life in a chilling collection of stories curated by master of horror Brian James Freeman.

MR. DARK’S CARNIVAL by Glen Hirshberg
Halloween is more than just a holiday in Clarkson, Montana; it’s a tradition passed down through generations. Only this year, the ghosts of the past may just be a little closer than usual.

When David was young, he believed in magic. In fact, he wanted to become a magician himself. But meddling in the forces of the mind has consequences beyond what an eleven-year-old can see.

MISCHIEF NIGHT by Holly Newstein
Cabbage Night, Goose Night, Devil’s Night—they’re all the same. Before the treats come the tricks. It’s all in good fun . . . until someone gets hurt.

When people need to disappear, I make them vanish. The catch? I’ve always got to be on guard—because that knock at the door may not just be a little monster looking for candy.

THE PUMPKIN BOY by Al Sarrantonio
When boys start going missing, Detective Len Schneider is determined to make it right. But his partner knows that there are worse things out there than a dead kid.

This is the second in a series of five anthologies that will be released next month, in time for Halloween.
Like the first volume it contains 5 short stories which are perfect for Halloween reading or any time of year when you'd like to enjoy a little bite of horror and dark fiction. My absolute favorites were the first 3. Not that the others weren't good but I have previously read all of Al Sarrantonio's Orangefield books (so should you!) and this one is just not dearest in my heart.
The Ghostmaker by Del James was just not my type.

Living in a small town where local legends abound (I live in the same town as the real Conjuring house) my favorite story had to be MR. DARK’S CARNIVAL by Glen Hirshberg in which everyone has heard of the infamous carnival that is rumored to appear only on Halloween but none of them has ever attended. Stories about it abound, but there are no first hand accounts of what really goes on there. Perhaps it is just a myth and doesn't really exist. This year Professor David Roemer is about to find out.
THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF MY SISTER by Lee Thomas was more of a psychological/mystery/suspense
Something horrible has happened to David's estranged sister. We don't know what, only that he is called to rush to the hospital, where slowly we learn how events from childhood led to the suffering of today.
MISCHIEF NIGHT by Holly Newstein When a man in an alcoholic stupor goes to investigate a noise in his basement what could possibly go wrong?
A solid 5 stars to each of those 3 stories and highly recommended for all fans of dark fiction.

I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke

In the wake of his infant daughter's tragic death, Steve Brannigan is struggling to keep himself together. Estranged from his wife, who refuses to be inside the house where the unthinkable happened, and unable to work, he seeks solace in an endless parade of old sitcoms and a bottle of bourbon.

Until one night he hears a sound from his daughter's old room, a room now stripped bare of anything that identified it as hers...except for her security blanket, affectionately known as Blanky.

Blanky, old and frayed, with its antiquated patchwork of badly sewn rabbits with black button eyes, who appear to be staring at the viewer...

Blanky, purchased from a strange old man at an antique stall selling "BABY CLOSE" at a discount.

The presence of Blanky in his dead daughter's room heralds nothing short of an unspeakable nightmare that threatens to take away what little light remains in Steve's shattered world.

Because his daughter loved Blanky so much, he buried her with it.

A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of SOUR CANDY and KIN.

Another brilliant tale from the dark and twisted imagination of Kealan Patrick Burke.
It is told from the point of view of Steve Brannigan who has recently lost his only child.

"I loved her. One rainy night I put her to bed and when I woke up, she was dead. That was the beginning of the end of my world. This is the rest of it."

Mired in grief, and without the comfort of his wife, Steve spends his time with the TV,  a bottle, and his agonizing loneliness. When he discovers his daughter's "Blanky" in what should be her empty room it seems at first to bring about a way to reconnect with his wife. Until at last Steve remembers where Blanky has been, and that his baby daughter's death was not from natural causes.

5 out of 5 stars from me. This is a must read!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

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


Available to preorder now at  Amazon ahead of the Halloween publication date!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Money Back Guarantee (Mail Order Massacres) by Hunter Shea

Available for preorder at Amazon
Protect America’s shores with your very own nuclear submarine! Constructed from durable fiberboard material, this submersible is large enough for two kids! Sail off into imaginative international intrigue for just $1.99! If this toy doesn’t float your boat, return it for a full refund!

With her son’s heart set on piloting his own nuclear submarine, Rosemary Lanchester orders the craft advertised on the back of a comic book. What arrives is more sub-standard than submarine, but her son loves the cheap piece of cardboard. Until he and a friend nearly drown when they take the sub for a deep sea dive in the swimming pool.

Enraged, Rosemary reports the toy’s manufacturer to the Better Business Bureau. The company’s customer service center retaliates with threatening phone calls. Then her son and husband mysteriously disappear.

To save her family, Rosemary tracks down the company’s headquarters with the help of her brother—a survivalist with enough toys of his own to wage an all-out war.

And she still wants her $1.99 refunded.

Not to nitpick but my obsessive compulsive nature requires that I state that the money back guarantee was for 5 dollars, not $1.99

Having previously read Optical Delusion and Just Add Water by Hunter Shea I was anxiously awaiting this third installment, and as much as I enjoyed both of those, this is by far my favorite adventure into the horrors of mail order shopping.

Set in the 1980s and steeped in all it's glorious culture of Tupperware parties this fast paced horror takes what should be a mundane ordinary experience and turns it into something horrifying.
Against her better judgment, Rosemary allows herself to be talked into purchasing a toy from an advertisement in the back of a comic book for her son Dwight. Naturally, when it finally arrives it's a piece of junk. When Dwight and his friend nearly drown while playing, Rosemary has quite literally a hell of time trying to track down the elusive "AdventureCo" manufacturer that nobody has ever heard of. Unfortunately for Rosemary, AdventureCo has heard of her, and they do not like complaints.
5 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dawn in Damnation by Clark Casey

Buddy Baker is a dead man. Literally. After gunning down more men than Billy the Kid—and being hung by a rope necktie for his crimes—the jolly, fast-drawing fugitive reckoned he’d earned himself a nonstop ticket to hell. Instead, he finds himself in Damnation: a gun-slinging ghost town located somewhere between heaven and hell.

There are no laws in Damnation. Only two simple rules: If you get shot, you go directly to hell. If you stay alive without shooting anyone for one year, you just might get into heaven.

Hardened outlaws pass the time in the saloon playing poker and wagering on who will get sent to hell next, while trying not to anger the town’s reclusive vampire or the quarrelsome werewolves. Buddy winds up in everyone’s crosshairs after swearing to protect a pretty gal who arrives in Damnation pregnant. Her child might end up a warm-blooded meal for the supernatural residents, or it could be a demon spawn on a mission to destroy them all.

Damnation is somewhere between heaven and hell, the place where you end up if you don't make it to heaven. If you die while you're there (even though you are already dead?) it seems to put you on the fast track to hell. If you can behave yourself and not kill anyone, rumor has it that you might be allowed into heaven after a 1 year stay. So far nobody knows. Oddly enough there is no shortage of bacon here and although you can't starve to death when you are already dead, the townsfolk do seem to enjoy being able to eat piles of bacon strips. Women are few and far between in Damnation, and on the rare occasion one shows up they tend not to last too long. When a pregnant dead woman lands herself in Damnation somehow still carrying a live unborn baby it's an unusual situation even for this odd town.
Although I do enjoy comedy/horror this one just wasn't my cup of tea. I think fans of fantasy may enjoy it more than horror fans.
3 out of 5 stars from me.
I received an advance copy for review

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lay Me to Rest by E. A. Clark


Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Way Back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle

In 1937 Freddie (English), Isabella (Italian) and Oskar (a German Jew) become friends at an art school in Florence where they are taught by the dictatorial but magus-like Maestro and his sinister fascist assistant Fosco. When war arrives Freddie returns to England to become the pilot of a Lancaster bomber. Oskar, now a dancer, has moved to Paris where he escapes the 1942 roundup of Jews and arrives in Italy with his young daughter Esme. Isabella remains in Florence where she continues to paint. Until she is called upon by Maestro to forge an old master painting, apparently at the behest of the Führer himself, and as a result is seen as a Nazi collaborator by her neighbours.
The murderous skies over Germany and a war-torn Italy in the grip of Nazi occupation provide the setting for this novel about the love of a separated husband and his wife and the love of a man for his young daughter. Freddie and Oskar both hope to find their way back to Florence. But Florence’s heritage of preserving the identity and continuity of the past has never before been so under threat.

This was an impassioned story of love and brutality, told from multiple points of view over a span of several years, before and during WW II.
Isabella and Freddie had barely begun their life together when war separated them.
What most struck a chord with me was the character Oskar, and his love for his daughter Esme. How do you teach a child so young that the "bad people" want to hurt you just because you are Jewish? To hide who you are for your own safety but to not give up hope. There was so much ugliness, and  desperation but Esme never gave up hope because of Oskar.
This was a thought provoking tale of the cruelty of war and I can't count the number of times my heart was in my throat and tears were in my eyes. 5 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Environmentally Friendly by Elias Zanbaka

Out of seven billion people, one man has declared war on Mother Nature and plans to bring it to its knees.

Out of all the criminals in Los Angeles, he's the number one target being hunted by the LAPD tonight.

And out of the entire LAPD, one officer is hell-bent on helping him complete his mission.

"The entire soundstage uncontrollably shook with such powerful violence that it crumbled the fake and easily breakable structures it was supporting"

This is a very short story. (19 pages) It was quite creative and the action was non-stop, however I was distracted by the superfluous use of adjectives and adverbs in nearly every sentence. At times it was difficult to follow.

"He lunged toward the rapidly shrinking figure, whose finger mercilessly strangled the flamethrowers trigger; causing a horizontal geyser of fire to relentlessly sweep over each tree the figure flew past."

This was a head scratcher for me.
2 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy for review

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks


It came from space…

Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.

Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy.

As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.

…and it is spreading.

Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.

To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail.

A fast paced gory tale that is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. It needs a warning for people who like to read during their lunch break. You may want to put the food down before you pick this up.
The meteor shower over the town of Fall's Breath was not just a beautiful light show. It carried with it something deadly. It rapidly turns household pets and wild life alike into ravenous killing machines. The people who manage to survive the attacks will also need to survive each other as this alien virus leaves them forever changed.

I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Wrathbone and other stories by Jason Parent

Terror follows those who let it into their hearts.

Guests of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris attend a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. On that fateful night, a great man falls, but he is not alone. For Henry and Clara, the night is only the beginning of lives wrought with jealousy, madness, and horror.
The Only Good Lawyer
Bradley is a savvy defense attorney with no scruples. Under his representation, many a guilty man has gone free. But when a voodoo priest takes the stand, Bradley soon discovers that he, too, is on trial, and the punishment for guilt may be more than he could bear.
Dorian's Mirror
Dorian loves himself, and why wouldn't he? Every guy wants to be him, and every girl wants to be with him. He would trade all he has to make his looks last forever, but bargaining with the devil may leave him short a soul.
For the Birds
Nev's best friend is his parrot. In fact, it's his only friend… and his only ally when his home is invaded.
Revenge is a Dish
Maurice has landed a dream job, chef for a rich couple on their yacht. The wife has carnal desires for him. Maurice has some carnal desires of his own.

This collection of five tales by Jason Parent were all devilishly good.
Wrathbone was the longest of the stories and started out a bit slower than the others but gradually built to a feverish pitch of horror.

"Wings like those of a bat's reached from his back to the walls, scraping along them, wilting the paint and rotting the wood."

My absolute favorite was "The Only Good Lawyer"
Bradley is a slick and sleazy defense attorney who has made his living representing guilty clients. Justice may finally be served when his latest client murders the daughter of a voodoo priest. It reminded me of a twilight zone episode that I dearly loved when another shyster was cursed to tell the truth. I loved hating Bradley! The ending could not have been more perfect.

Dorian's Mirror was a new twist on the picture of Dorian Gray, this time as a young, full of himself bartender sees his reflection rapidly aging in the mirror.

For the Birds left me so sad for poor Nev who lives all alone with his parrot. A polite parrot with strange tastes that is. He knows there's been so many break ins going on but he is not at all prepared when it happens to him.

Revenge is a Dish was terrifying!
Maurice  the chef is stranded in the ocean with all manner of creepy biting yucky sea life (can you tell I hate biting yucky sea life?) He is plotting revenge on those who left him behind. The end was quite surprising!

A creepy collection that I would highly recommend to all horror lovers.
5 out of 5 frightening stars from me.

I received an advance copy for review.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Deadly Partnership by Richard Gardner

On his retirement, widower Paul Jenkins decides to live with his sister by the sea. But having moved in, the idyllic life that he has been hankering after is thrown into turmoil when he comes face to face with a burglar in the middle of the night.

His impulsive reaction to the intrusion has disturbing consequences when he is confronted with some unsavoury characters. However, it is the dead that he has far more to fear from.

Julie thinks she knows her brother but he has many hidden secrets, in fact one secret is hidden even from Paul himself.

I wonder, does murder get easier over time?

Paul has recently retired and been approached by his son Gary for a loan. He has already given Gary money in the past which he has yet to pay back but decides he will help him out of his current financial troubles by having him work for the money. Paul's  plan is to sell off his home, use some of the money to make improvements to his sister Julie's home and live with her. His son will get paid to work on the house and it's a win win situation for all.

Not long after arriving, a medium has a vision of something horrible that happens on the property and issues a warning to make sure the house is locked up. This warning is not heeded and when a break in goes badly Paul's life will never be the same. As one bad choice leads to another Paul and Gary get themselves deeper and deeper into trouble.

This was a fun read and I particularly enjoyed the paranormal aspect.

4 out of 5 stars from me

I received a complimentary copy for review

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel

In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?

I love historical fiction, especially anything to do with the depression or world war II. It was the great equalizer if you think about it. Whether you were wealthy or poor you worried about your loved ones fighting in the war. You mourned and grieved those who didn't make it home. You learned to go without sugar in your coffee when your rations ran out, and all the money in the world couldn't save you from getting polio before the vaccine finally became available. Polio didn't care if you were black or white or rich or impoverished.

 So while there were many things about this book I loved, I have to say I disliked Henry Kraft immensely.  Before I get ahead of myself lets start with Tess, the good girl from Baltimore madly in love with Vince and about to pursue their lifelong dream of getting married and working together in the medical field. He is a doctor and she is about to become an RN.  This dream is ruined by one awful night, and although Henry is portrayed as a kind and caring and decent man.. well to me that awful night was entirely on him.

Tess ends up leaving the only life she has ever known, and moves to North Carolina with Henry, where she is treated as an unwelcome unwanted outsider by his family and the townspeople. When an outbreak of polio strikes and the town comes together to build a hospital, Henry's mother is disgusted by Tess wanting to work there as a nurse. Tess refuses to sit idly by when she has skills that are in such desperate need, especially considering she has been told by the only person who has shown her any kindness, that it's what she is meant to do. I loved Tess, and the remarkable strength she showed especially considering women in those days were expected to do as their husbands told them.

4 out of 5 stars from me.

I received an advance copy for review.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Haunted Nights by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 edited by Brian James Freeman.


Available for pre-order now at Amazon

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke

On a scorching hot summer day in Elkwood, Alabama, Claire Lambert staggers naked, wounded, and half-blind away from the scene of an atrocity. She is the sole survivor of a nightmare that claimed her friends, and even as she prays for rescue, the killers — a family of cannibalistic lunatics — are closing in.

A soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder returns from Iraq to the news that his brother is among the murdered in Elkwood.

In snowbound Detroit, a waitress trapped in an abusive relationship gets an unexpected visit that will lead to bloodshed and send her back on the road to a past she has spent years trying to outrun.

And Claire, the only survivor of the Elkwood Massacre, haunted by her dead friends, dreams of vengeance... a dream which will be realized as grief and rage turn good people into cold-blooded murderers and force alliances among strangers.

It's time to return to Elkwood.

In the spirit of such iconic horror classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance, Kin begins at the end and studies the possible aftermath for the survivors of such traumas upon their return to the real world — the guilt, the grief, the thirst for revenge — and sets them on an unthinkable journey... back into the heart of darkness.

I have had this on my kindle for quite some time. It was part of a boxed set I scooped up for 99 cents back when I had barely heard of Kealan Patrick Burke. The only thing I had read by this author at that time was The Turtle Boy, and not too long after that I bought the The Number 121 to Pennsylvania after seeing it mentioned in Cemetery Dance magazine. That was when he turned into a "must read" author for me. Believe me, it's a short list. There are not many authors whose name on a cover is enough for me to get my wallet out, but that is all it takes, I see his name, I make the purchase. Why? because he has never let me down, ever. I won't bother to mention who has fallen off my must read list, the big names with bigger price tags and the lazy crazy plot because they know they have hit the big time and all it takes is their name on a book for the money to pour in.
So anyway this gem has sat there trapped in my kindle for years, this week I finally set it free. It was worth the wait.

Personally I think Deliverance pales in comparison and I don't know who it was that decided to describe this book as being "in the spirit of Texas Chainsaw Massacre." To that I say no. Oh no no no. This can not be compared to such  simplistic blood and guts and cannibalistic gore. This book has real heart. It is a story not just of horror, but of loyalty, love, greed, and revenge.

Papa-In-Gray and Momma-In-Bed believe they are the righteous, the chosen, doing as the Lord sees fit. They have raised their children to believe the same. That is why people go missing in Elkwood. No one escapes the Merrill clan. Not until Claire Lambert sees her chance to make an escape. She is not satisfied with being the sole survivor. There's no justice in that. She wants revenge and she isn't afraid to go after it.This isn't just gore and show me your tits. It's a masterpiece of horror.
5 out of 5 stars from me.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Sopaths by Piers Anthony

The SopathsThe Sopaths by Piers Anthony
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is my first one star review in quite some time. Years even. I don't like to rate one star, and I find that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I've been literally stalked and harassed on the internet and accused of "having an agenda" over one star reviews in the past, to the point that I quit writing them. If a book was so bad that it was going to rate one star I would just quit reading it and not leave a review. That opened the door to a new accusation. "You leave 4 and 5 star reviews for every book just because you got it for free."
In reality, I leave 4 or 5 (and sometimes 3) star reviews because if a book does not rate at least 3 stars it's not worth my time and I will move on to the next in the long line waiting to be read. 5 stars is pretty rare from me. I'm picky. I read a lot. 5 stars is the highest rating, it means it's one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. It's not something I give out willy nilly just because my cousin's friend's brother's wife self published a kindle book and needs help getting it to sell. I tell you all that, to tell you this..

This book is foul.

No I do not mean the subject matter, I am not easily offended, I don't think I have ever read a book that offended me. Disgusted me perhaps, tested my gag reflex even. This is just plain trash.

"The black hair opened his mouth and bit the tow's nose. It was no token effort; blood spurted as the black hair wrenched his face from side to side, ripping off the nose."

I purchased this book through a link in an internet newsletter, (where they get paid if you buy through their link.)
I bought it under the guise of it being one of the "top 10 true crime" under the heading of evil children. That is NOT what this is, though if you check out the 5 star reviews you will see one person who says it's frightening to think this is real, so apparently the false advertising did work, up to a point.

My only experience with Piers Anthony until now had been one single short story "IN THE SHADOW OF THE SONG" which appeared in an anthology I reviewed previously. Other than that I had not heard of this "New York Times–bestselling author"
**spoiler alert**
The story is weak. The plot is ridiculous, the writing is poor, there is nobody to root for, I could not have cared less who lived or died. The world is running out of souls, so children are being born without them. Having no souls these children have no conscience, no concept of right or wrong, and for some reason are also hyper sexualized. A man who has killed his daughter because she murdered his son over a candy bar, and then killed his wife as well seems to be the "hero" of the book. He is a "good" man who tries to curb his sexual interest in the 7 year old who keeps throwing herself at him. Meanwhile he has acquired a new family, replacing his dead children with other survivors of these sopaths and replacing his wife with a woman who has no where else to go.
Fear not because this can all be cured with a fungus, called Fungo. All the world needed was a fungus that acts as birth control while increasing your sex drive. This will slow the birth rate so that there are enough recycled souls from dead people available to be reborn to new babies.

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cut Corners Volume 3 by Kealan Patrick Burke, Bryan Smith, Ray Garton

Late, dark nights are perfect for reading surreal and terrifying tales from some of the best story tellers in the horror business. Grit your teeth, sit by the fire pit, and be prepared to possibly not return from underneath the spell of their writing prowess, but if you do, we’re certain you’ll have a sinister smile to share. All these modern stories have an element of thought-provoking surprise and style.

“Andromeda” –Kealan Patrick Burke
A grim story of a teen girl hooked to her cell phone that will make you think outside of your comfort level. Kealan Patrick Burke is a hauntingly lyrical and original writer of horror that will leave you breathless.

“The Barrell” – Bryan Smith
When a surprise barrel shows up out of nowhere on the back stoop, and the dogs start to bark at it uncontrollably, Martin becomes very suspicious and intrigued. Bryan Smith is a versatile and horrifying author who will leave you squeamish and chuckling.

“Afterparty” - Ray Garton
Jarrett is getting famous on the entertainment scene, but what will he have to do to remain in the industry? Brought to you by Ray Garton, a master of explicit detail and tense horror that entrances readers and doesn’t let them go.

This was a quick and creepy read, containing 3 short stories that are sure to give you chills.
It's hard for me to say too much more than what is already in the description without ending up giving anything away. Suffice it to say that these well written, ominous tales are brought to you by 3 masters of horror who know how to keep the suspense level high and make your heart pound.
4 out of 5 stars from me.