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.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

We Came Back by Patrick Lacey

"WE CAME BACK is an emotional trip through our darkest fears. One of the best books I've read in years."--Kristopher Rufty, author of SOMETHING VIOLENT and DESOLATION.

Growing up dead.

Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.

One decade after Melvin's death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School's smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.

Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?

Frank Tanner has been a bit over protective of his teenage daughter ever since he lost his son, but it's not just his over cautious nature that his him suspecting something is not right with her weird looking new boyfriend Busty. Something evil is waking up at the old  abandoned Lynwood High School. Something that wants revenge on Frank, and will use his daughter to get it.

Meanwhile there's a frightening change coming over the "good" kids in town. They're dressing differently, acting differently, and what used to be the honors society has turned into something dark and foul. Frank has enlisted the help of Justin, his daughter's former boyfriend to see if he can find any dirt on Busty, but he had better hurry because it's getting closer to Halloween and a party you'll never forget.

This was a real spine tingler!

4 out of 5 stars from me.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Optical Delusion by by Hunter Shea


Put on a pair of “X-Ray” glasses and things will never look the same! These almost magical specs will make you the hit of the party! Astonishing three-dimensional X-Ray visions of what your friends—and girls—look like under their clothes! And all for just $1.


Martin Blackstone punishes his son for wasting his allowance on a pair of flimsy cardboard sunglasses X-ray vision . . . yeah, right. Martin tries them on just for the hell of it—and all they do is give him a headache . . .


Until he sees things he can’t possibly be seeing. Glimpses of things on the other side of a wall or beneath someone’s clothing. He wants to believe it’s just his overactive imagination but the “X-Ray” specs actually work. Then the fun novelty becomes a waking nightmare when the glasses burn into his face and he starts seeing horrifying apocalyptic visions no mortal man was ever meant to see. Images that alter his very personality—from a husband and father to a bloodthirsty homicidal maniac . . .

Because sometimes you can see too much.

The description provided was a little bit off. Martin didn't punish his son for ordering glasses, it actually wasn't even his son who ordered them.

Martin came home from his factory job just wanting to knock back a few beers, (never a full six pack on a week night or else it made the weekends less special)  and watch Charlie's Angels. He's annoyed that his son Brian and his best friend Noel are making so much racket upstairs. When Martin goes up to tell Noel he's going to walk him home, Noel shows him the x-ray glasses. He's ordered a pair for himself and a pair for Brian from an ad in a comic book. He tries them on even though Brian tells him all they do is give you a headache, and at first that seems to be true, but the more Martin wears them the more he sees. He soon becomes addicted to ogling women through their clothing, but eventually he begins to see something more sinister. By the time he decides to stop wearing them, it's already too late.
This was a quick, fun read, reminiscent of the stories you would find in the horror comics back in the day. A crazy silly good time.
4 out of 5 starts from me.

I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

OTHERS & ODDITIES by Edward Lorn

In WHAT THE DARK BRINGS, Edward Lorn shared stories of hope, heartache, and horror.

Now Lorn returns with tales of terror, temptation, and treachery.

Water monsters, werewolves, leprechauns, and killer toilets are but a few of the OTHERS & ODDITIES you will find here.

Meet you on the other side.

I am a huge fan of Edward Lorn, so I don't know how I missed on out reading this collection of 14 short stories when it was first released. It does contain 2 stories that I have read previously, "Crawl" and "Trailer" which I believe may still be available in the Amazon kindle lending library (which is where I found them at the time)

My absolute favorites in this collection, in no particular order are ..

"Cinder Block" Because I have a soft spot for twisted tales of dysfunctional families.

"Crawl" An unhappy couple are about to separate. Perhaps that separation would have been temporary, or perhaps this trip would have led to eventual divorce, had it not been interrupted by the horror they encounter during their travels.

"Blah -Doop" Because it reminded me of a childhood fear I had long since forgotten and now I'll probably have nightmares. As a small child I was terrified to flush the toilet at night. I don't even know why, other than it was always so deathly quiet at night  when everyone else was sleeping but the toilet was a monster of a throne that made a monster of a noise when flushed. I remember holding the handle with one hand and opening the door with the other so I could be ready to run like hell back to my room before the noise finished. I felt like something was going to get me if I was not in my room before the sound stopped. Now I know.. there IS something in the toilet and it doesn't care if you make noise or not it can get you anyway. Blah doop!

"Trailer" After having extricated herself and her young son from an abusive situation a woman is on the run in her junky car on a cold winter's night.
As junk cars are prone to do, just when you need them most, hers breaks down in the snow. They seek shelter in an abandoned trailer which is not as empty as it appeared to be.

"Full Moon Over Cedar Hill" Finds Peter Hoskins wasting away in a nursing home, forgotten by his family after having suffered a stroke 3 years ago and basically waiting to die. When shrieks of terror and agony begin to fill the halls, it looks like Peter's wait may be coming to an end.

"What Comes Around Goes Around" A woman's plans to do away with her children and start a new life with her child hating boyfriend go awry.

"Just Short of Paradise" What if the holier than thou bible thumpers don't really know best?

"The Scare Rows" There's a new Halloween attraction setting up in town, and after reading this I don't think I'll ever be able to look a corn cob in the face again. Canned corn for me from now on. A funny, raunchy creepy Halloween tale.

4 out of 5 stars from me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realizes she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorizing his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.

The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 bestselling author of Follow You Home.

This is a brilliant thriller, told mainly from two different perspectives. On one hand we have the viewpoint of Ben, a soon to be divorced father trying to put his life back together. On the other hand we have a twisted serial killer with a warped philosophical sense of making people happy forever, by ending their lives when they are at their happiest. If he believes someone is a good person, worthy of happiness, they become a target. He skillfully manipulates their lives and the lives of those around them in order to make them happy. Ben, unfortunately is indeed a good man and the killer finds him deserving of happiness.
I was totally immersed in this fast paced story from page one. The action starts right away and never lets up. The suspense was nearly unbearable and made even more so by the fact that I cared about these characters. 5 out of 5 stars from me.

I received a complimentary copy for review

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bone White by Ronald Malfi


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth by Ray Garton

First time in a digital format for this long sold-out limited edition novella!

Previously released as a special limited edition for Cemetery Dance Collectors Club members and long out-of-print, this collection features Ray Garton's most controversial religious horror stories that are sure to get him in trouble with someone. Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth is too over-the-top for a mass market publisher, but now is being made available by Ray for the ebook market. Be warned: This book is not for everyone, particularly the easily offended.

This volume will differ slightly from the Cemetery Dance edition in that two different stories are contained within. One of them, “Graven Image” has previously been released as a very limited chapbook from Cemetery Dance in 2007, with a print run of only 457 copies.

The stories contained within are:

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth
Graven Image
God's Work

I have been a Ray Garton  fan for decades, ever since my mother lent me her copy of "Live Girls." Since then I have devoured every novel he has published, at least the titles I was able to get ahold of, sometimes having to buy used copies of out of print titles but loving every word.
I was delighted to find this collection of stories available on kindle. Normally when reviewing short stories I would at this point discuss my favorites. I am unable to do that here. I am unable to choose any favorites, since every story is well worth 5 stars.
Now as far as the warning included, while this book is not for everyone, I can't really see any horror lover having a problem with it. Yes due to the central theme being organized religion and the hypocrisy sometimes involved, it will not be for everyone. You don't need to be an atheist to read this book, you just need a love of horror, a desire to be entertained, and an understanding that Ray's childhood experience in the Seventh Day Adventist Church did not leave him with happy memories.

Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth tells the story of a good Christian woman, who raised a murderous son.
Graven Image brings to mind an old made for tv movie Trilogy of Terror.. but this time it's not an evil zuni doll, it's Christ on a cross purchased in a curio shop.
In God's Work a young Pastor tries to steer his congregation towards a less vengeful path.
Choices finds a happy family preparing to protest outside a women's health clinic the morning after a violent storm.
In Monsters a young man who has been harassed and ostracized  for not abiding the teachings of the church returns home.
Sinema  Is about a young boy being raised by his grandparents who suddenly finds himself getting extra special attention from Mr. Moser after finding the remains of a body in the woods.
In Punishments, a man returns to his home town after reading about the murder of the church organist whom he had not seen in 10 years.

5 out of 5 stars from me.


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Crooked Boy by Moses Barraza

A group of apparently close-knit friends venture to an abandoned hospital for a scare, but when things go wrong - terribly wrong - as soon as the night begins, the kids receive more than what they asked for, and when one of the teenagers is murdered, they put into motion a domino effect of supernatural horror, led by an evil older than humankind itself...a sleeping evil that was put to sleep for a reason. Its name: the Lord of the Flies.

A group of teens are heading to an abandoned institution ready to film any strange happenings. On the way they are in a car accident which they don't want to report, accosted by police, and attacked by birds, all before they get to their destination. Inside  they discover a room where someone has left a dire message scrawled across the walls in blood "He is coming he is here we can't escape even death can not free us God is dead"

I have some mixed feelings on this one. It has a fast pace and large volume of downright scary scenes. It's a good story that could have been great if it didn't some times take a stumble through a strange turn of phrase or odd choice of word which made it somewhat difficult to follow. There were parts that evoked chills, for example "Crows and crows and crows. Thousands of them swarmed her like flies. She swatted at the group of winged beasts, to no avail. She felt razors cut through her, sheering her skin like rice paper. She couldn't escape. There was no left or right in the tornado of demon birds. There was only black and red. Feathers and blood, feathers and blood."
Yet there were also parts that left me scratching my head. "She laughed a smile" for example.
Worth a read but I think it could benefit from a little cleaning up
3 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Come As You Are A Short Novel and Nine Stories by Steven Ramirez


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar


The little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told... until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: "Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me."

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat...

Journey back to Castle Rock again in this chilling new novella by Stephen King, bestselling author of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Richard Chizmar, award-winning author of A Long December. This book will be a Cemetery Dance Publications exclusive with no other editions currently planned anywhere in the world!

First I have to say I looked forward to the release of this book for what felt like forever. I preordered in advance the minute I knew of it's future existence. I couldn't wait to read it and yet when it finally arrived I had too much else going on to start it right away. I did take notice of reviews piling up, most of them positive.. Sometimes when books are hyped to high heaven the reality ends up being a let down because after building it up in your mind so much it can rarely measure up to the expectation. That is NOT the case here.
Gwendy Peterson is a likable 12 year old girl who one day encounters the man in black as she is doing her damnedest to lose some weight as well as rid herself of a nasty nickname before the start of the new school year. She is naturally wary of the stranger, and equally wary of accepting his offering of the mysterious button box, and the secrets and power it holds....
This was such a fun read!  If I have any complaints, they would be only some minor historical inaccuracies, and that I wish it had been longer. It spans an entire decade in Gwendy's life and could have been a full novel instead of novella length.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...

One night five years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Emma and Cass never knew from one day to the next whether their mother would be in one of her phony affectionate moods or in a rage at some imagined injustice. She always ran hot and cold depending on who her audience was, who was watching, and the purpose for which she wanted to manipulate them.. When the sisters suddenly go missing one night their mother plays the part of devastated parent but as the years go by the investigation grows cold. Few people know the truth of what happened the night Cass and Emma disappeared but when Cass returns years later without her sister, and with a strange story to tell, investigators will have to take a fresh look. I was deeply engaged in most of the story as told by Cass though I found it to drag a bit during the parts told from the psychiatrist Abby's point of view.
This was a suspenseful, twisty, dramatic look into the lives of a dysfunctional family.

I received an advance copy for review

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cruelty by Edward Lorn

On a lonely stretch of deserted Texas highway, Will Longmire breaks down. But he's not alone.

In the dead of night, Innis Blake hits someone - or something - with her car. The figure should not be getting up. But it is.

An unstoppable force is after Will and Innis. And before the night is over, both strangers will know the face of Cruelty.

Forgiveness is only a few miles down the road, but safety is nowhere in sight.

Every monster has its origins.  

I have made a promise to myself that I will find the time to read some of my book purchases. So in addition to reviewing books that are soon to be published I am finally getting down to those that have waited unread on my kindle.
I have wanted to read this for quite some time, and before starting it I did not even know from the description or other reviews that it had anything at all to do with the "Dastardly Bastard" (another of my favorite Edward Lorn books) so that was a most welcome surprise.
It begins with a meth head hooker and a blind man which the author points out sounds a bit like a dirty joke, and then all hell breaks loose.
 Cruelty, Regret, Forgiveness, Penance, none were what I expected, and I can't begin to describe them to you. There weren't many characters I could sympathize with but Merlo the dog stole my heart.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Two Shades of Vice by Dewey B. Reynolds


If The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss


Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Ushers by Edward Lee

THE USHERS is the author's long-awaited first collection of short fiction and features some of his most disturbing and provacative horror stories, including "Goddess of the New Dark Age", "The Seeker", The Wrong Guy", the 1994 Bram Stoker award nominee "Mr. Torso," plus more over-the-top classics, along with seven brand new stories appearing here for the first time.

If you're ready for horror fiction that takes you well past the edge, Edward Lee is happy to be your tour guide.

I have read and loved a few of Edward Lee's novels but these short stories were pretty hit or miss.
There were only a couple that I really liked a lot, one of which previously appeared in Cemetery Dance Magazine and had a more main stream horror feel to it.

The thing about Edward Lee is that he likes to write about vomit, urine and feces, and forcing people to swallow waste. He likes to write about rape, sexual deviants, and after a while though the titles of the stories change the subject never seems to.

In "Almost Never" a young girl is being stalked by would be kidnappers who mean to sell her but they don't know she is not as easy a target as they expect her to be.
In "Please Let Me Out" Joyce Lipnick is a woman scorned, who will make sure she gets and keeps her man. These two stories were the best of the bunch.

The rest of the stories? meh.
The have all blended together in my mind. I can't tell you which story had someone vomiting into someone else's mouth, or raping a corpse (oops that may have actually been the same story.) but it seemed to me that only the names of the characters changed and bled into the same acts in the same stories over and over.

3 out of 5 stars only because of the 2 stories that I enjoyed so much.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Mean Little People by Paige Dearth

Seven year old Tony has two choices to live or to die.

Tony Bruno just wants to fit in, but the bullies at his school are cruel and relentless. At home, he leans on his mother Teresa for strength and comfort, but she’s no match for his father, Carmen. His father, a fighter and bully himself, hates Tony. He is embarrassed by the child for not fighting back and wishes that Tony was never born.

Then as a teen, in one act of blind courage, Tony fights back shifting the balance of power with his peers. Even after Tony sets things straight with the neighborhood boys, his father continues to terrorize him.

At school, Tony is now respected by his classmates. One day he stands up for a bullied kid named, Salvatore, and the boys become friends. One night, Salvatore commits a horrific crime and Tony suffers the consequences of his friends’ actions. Tony’s punishment changes the course of his life.

All alone and nowhere to call home, Tony sets out to find the life he longs for, one filled with love and acceptance. But nothing comes easily for him, and he is forced to draw upon strength from deep within to survive.

From the dark world he lives in, Tony does unimaginable things to leave his unwanted life behind.

Mean Little People is a haunting story of one bullied child deprived of love and taunted by corrupt individuals along his journey. Tony’s story will make you question the balance between good and evil.
This story begins when Tony Bruno is 7 years old and follows him through young adulthood. It is bleak, brutal, and at times shocking. Life for Tony is nothing but pain. He is taunted, beaten and bullied nearly to death by his classmates, belittled and beaten at home by his good for nothing father, friendless and alone in his misery. He is subjected to every abuse imaginable. Physical, emotional, and later sexually assaulted, which was quite difficult to read...I had to put this book down twice and walk away for a bit.
At 13 he is tossed out of his home with nowhere to turn. Tony ends up in a gang and later in the mob. There are few friendly faces amidst all this turmoil. He meets a kindly older woman and her grand daughter who become his surrogate family, and a girl he falls in love with, but his gangster lifestyle attracts danger to those closest to him. This was an emotional read, that at times had me enraged, disgusted, and sometimes in tears.
4 out of 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan

"From the New York Times bestselling author of She’s Not There, a new novel about a woman whose family and identity are threatened by the secrets of her past.

Long Black Veil is the story of Judith Carrigan, whose past is dredged up when the body of her college friend Wailer is discovered 20 years after her disappearance in Philadelphia’s notorious and abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. Judith is the only witness who can testify to the innocence of her friend Casey, who had married Wailer only days before her death.

The only problem is that on that fateful night at the prison, Judith was a very different person from the woman she is today. In order to defend her old friend and uncover the truth of Wailer’s death, Judith must confront long-held and hard-won secrets that could cause her to lose the idyllic life she’s built for herself and her family."

The above is the description taken from Goodreads.
However as fitting as that is, it is not the description from the cover, and I feel a bit let down. I was expecting this book to be more of a thriller, and I guess I was expecting it to be.... thrilling. I suppose it is more a mystery, and it's aftermath. When the reason for Wailer's disappearance was revealed I was let down again, and even more so at the ridiculous ending.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Where Wolves Run by Jason Parent


The dense Bavarian forest outside the town of Rattenberg has long been rumored to harbor something sinister, something wild — mythical beasts that vanish into the shadowy woods after each attack, leaving carnage as the only evidence of their existence. Many villagers turn a blind eye to what is happening, but those who believe tremble at the mere whisper of the word: werewolf.
There are those who stand and fight, however. Konrad is one such boy. Too poor to live in the village, he and his mother fend for themselves in their forest hovel alone for months at a time, his father preoccupied with mysterious business abroad.
After a vicious assault on their homestead, Konrad finds himself buried beneath his mother’s mutilated body, escaping death only due to his father's chance return. Alive, but taking no comfort in the presence of the man who had left him and his mother to face death on their own, Konrad soon discovers that his father’s work has followed him home…

…and it's hungry.

Konrad has never had much of a relationship with his father. He's always off somewhere, rarely returning home. "Mostly he and his mother lived alone, happy."
When Konrad's mother is murdered he finally learns what Father is up to. Werewolf hunting! But does Father always know best? Konrad is not sure whether he should trust Father's ability to discern werewolves from men, or who should be put to death.  
This was a short read, less than 100 pages. There was nothing really remarkable about it other than "Father" never being named and only referred to as "Father" even when not with his son, which seemed odd.
I did like the ending.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Boulevard Monster by Jeremy Hepler


You say that I am a madman. You say that I am dangerous. You say that I am the one who has been abducting women, slaughtering them, and burying their corpses all around this city for years. You are wrong, because only part of that statement is true…


I know that you probably won’t believe me. Not now. Not after all that has happened, but I need to tell my side of the story. You need to know how this all began. You need to hear about the birds, but most of all, you need to understand…


Seth Fowler was near the end of an ordinary day when it all started. There would be no more ordinary days for Seth. When his long time friend and coworker Randy stops by with a 6 pack and a brand new truck that he shouldn't have been able to afford Seth is understandably a little jealous and maybe a little suspicious but he doesn't notice the birds just yet. What he does notice, when Randy goes in the house to use the bathroom.. is the dead body in the back of the truck. When Randy leaves, Seth calls the cops, but soon he is met by Luther, an otherworldly  stranger who makes him an offer he can't refuse. Literally, there is no way to refuse Luther, so Seth will do what it takes to protect his girlfriend, his adopted daughter and his elderly father from harm, but the police and his brother-in-law are getting suspicious and meanwhile the bodies are piling up.

I can't tell you this wasn't a bit of a crazy story, or that I wouldn't have liked some sort of explanation of what and why Luther is whatever he is, but damned if I didn't enjoy it anyway. It's suspenseful, and creepy, and Seth is just plain likable. I was rooting for him, I wanted those pesky cops to leave him alone. I wanted his brother-in-law to mind his own business, and now I think the birds are spying on me!
4 out of 5 stars from me.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Child by Fiona Barton


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dark Screams: Volume Seven Edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar


Friday, May 5, 2017

Little One by Timothy G. Huguenin


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Just Add Water by Hunter Shea