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 F├╝hrer 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