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