Friday, July 30, 2021

Picker's Bleed by Mark R. Faulkner

Deep in the woods at Picker’s Bleed there’s a fairy-tale cottage, where witches lived and demons lurk.
When Hannah and Jake manage to buy the dilapidated house deep in the English countryside, they think they’ve found their dream home, but their dream becomes a nightmare when Hannah discovers the house’s dark past won’t stay dead.
Ensnared by witchcraft and betrayed by those she turns to for help, Hannah finds herself dragged into the realm of the dead, caught in a battle to break an ancient curse and save her soul from eternal damnation.

Jake and Hannah have longed to live in a quiet secluded countryside. When they find a listing that seems perfect for them, they do wonder why there are no pictures of the inside, and assume it's because it needs lots of work. It's not until far too late that it becomes apparent that just maybe there were no pictures of the inside because nobody dared to stay in there long enough to take any photos. 

Terrible things have happened and will happen in Picker's Bleed. With the arrival of Hannah a sleeping evil will awaken. Some of the villagers may also have nefarious plans for the new residents. 
This was a graphic and gory tale of witchcraft and possession. Expect betrayals, dark and evocative prose, copious amounts of blood, multiple deaths and mutilations. In short, it has all the elements of a great horror novel complete with storms to create a most spooky atmosphere.

4 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

About the author
Mark is a British horror author, who in 2011, published Flux. This was rapidly followed up by The Dark Stone, and the novella, Infested.
September 2021 will see the publication of Picker's Bleed, Mark's first full-length novel in almost a decade.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Attack of the Giant Mutant Worms by Matthew Weber

 Young worm-hunter Miller is collecting bait to catch The Beast, the legendary "monster" fish of his hometown. When enormous mutated worms squirm up from the ground with a frightening appetite, Miller must spring into action to save himself and everyone else!

Full of fun, colorful illustrations, 'Attack of the Giant Mutants Worms' is M.T. Weber's follow-up to his first children's book, 'I Want to Be a Monster When I Grow Up.'

"This one was a whopper and a wiggly flipper-flopper, probably six or seven inches from it's start down to it's stopper."

Once in a while I am asked to review a children's book, and once in a great while I say yes. This one was too cute to pass up. This is the whimsical, illustrated story of Miller, a little boy in search of giant worms with which to tempt and catch a particular giant fish. It is written as a poem that mostly rhymes, (with a bit of poetic license.) It has a great rhythm that is perfect for reading out loud to the kids or grandkids, and if they are old enough, having them read it out loud to you. Whether you are looking to start a book collection for a small child or add to your bed time story repertoire this is an entertaining read.

I received a complimentary copy.


Monday, July 26, 2021

Petrified Women by Jeremy Ray


Some pranks go too far. This one could be deadly.

Harley has the perfect boyfriend. Why can’t her best friend see that? He’s nothing like the others, especially the one who still haunts her memories. She’s finally picked a “keeper” with Aiden.
Sure, he’s a bit eccentric. His wood carving hobby is a little odd. His need for isolation while he carves his life-size female figurines is strange. And maybe his obsession with pranks, or "scares" on Harley goes a little too far. But what do you expect? Aiden’s an artist.

Harley has finally picked the perfect boyfriend. That’s why this year, Harley ignores all her best friend’s warnings. She has the ultimate surprise planned for Aiden’s birthday, one that’s going to help her get even in their battle to out-prank each other.
She hides in his apartment, excitedly waiting to pull off the scare of a lifetime…
But then he comes home, and Harley witnesses a different side of her boyfriend. The side that exists behind closed doors when he doesn’t know anyone’s watching.
Is this just one of his scares? Or is there something more sinister lurking behind his playful nature? Harley’s about to find out.

Sexual Assault
Body Horror
Strong Language
Reader discretion advised

Poor Harley! I loved her but I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and give her a good shake. Sure we've all had a bad relationship or two but Harley takes the cake (literally!) when it comes to choosing the wrong guy. Her too trusting and generous nature has led her down the wrong path before, and sadly she has not learned from her past. This time the lesson may finally sink in, but is it already too late?
When Harley decides to surprise her boyfriend for his birthday she is the one who is in for a shock.
I felt almost like I was in the room yet powerless to help as I bore witness to this date from hell. I may have even yelled out loud once or twice but Harley paid me no mind. The content warning doesn't mention claustrophobia because Harley doesn't suffer it, though it may it raise your anxiety level in a particular cramped space scene in the book. There's more to this clever story than just a creep of a boyfriend but far be it from me to spoil it for you. Read it for yourself to find out.
This was a short but shocking read with an original and creative plot. You'll never guess where it's going until you get there.

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

About the author
Jeremy Ray graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a MFA in Dramatic Writing. He is the recipient of the Max K. Lerner Playwriting Fellowship for his play Boiling Point and the Shubert Playwriting Fellowship for his play Sisters of Transformation. His work has been performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and his screenplays have placed in the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards Competition, The Academy Nicholl Fellowship, and the ScreenCraft Drama Contest.

However, he is most fond of prose. He spends his free time devouring books like the bookworm he is.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Dread Softly by Caryn Larrinaga

 A woman struggles to outsmart the demon who bargained for her father’s soul. An elderly shut-in with a monstrous secret is tormented by a door-to-door salesman. Six-eyed creatures congregate on the ceiling of a remote bungalow, puzzling a newly rescued tabby cat. An imp’s loyalties are torn between a vulnerable child and the god of dreams.

In her debut horror collection, award-winning author Caryn Larrinaga spreads her nightmares under your feet. Fed by the dread her anxiety brings her, each of these eleven tales is a journey into an unsettling universe just parallel to our own—one populated by haunted objects, unwanted urges, and creatures from beyond human understanding. Dread softly.

Previously, the only work I had read by Caryn Larrinaga was a short story titled For Scrying Out Loud that was included in the Wasatch Witches anthology. It was one of my favorites in that book and after reading a whole story collection by this author I feel safe in saying she is now on my must read list. There is a content warning at the beginning of this book and I am just going to mention that one story contains mental illness. The rest I'm going to condense to say this is for horror fans and all lovers of dark fiction. It is not hard core gut ripping gore, and doesn't need or aim to be. There is no over the top "extreme" horror.
These 11 tales are delightfully dark and full of unnerving surprises. I love that each one is accompanied by an illustration. 
I enjoyed every minute of reading every single story and was amazed that even the shortest among them had room for the unexpected. In Dread Softly you will find stories to chill and thrill, and break your heart. There are stories of desperation, hunger, and a nightmare creature that wreaks havoc in a single parent household when a small child is threatened in his sleep. There is also a bit of humor in a tale told from the cat's point of view which now has me walking room to room holding mine up towards the ceiling to see if she can tell me where the "watchers" are. You don't have to love cats to love this story but I think it will be one of your favorites if you do. 
Every story is expertly crafted and my only complaint is that I never wanted it to end. More please!! 
5 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

About the author
Caryn Larrinaga is an award-winning mystery, horror, and urban fantasy writer. Her debut novel, DONN'S HILL, was awarded the League of Utah Writers 2017 Silver Quill in the adult novel category and was a 2017 Dragon Award finalist. 

Watching scary movies through split fingers terrified Caryn as a child, and those nightmares inspire her to write now. Her 90-year-old house has a colorful history, and the creaking walls and narrow hallways send her running (never walking) up the stairs. Exploring her fears through writing makes Caryn feel a little less foolish for wanting a buddy to accompany her into the tool shed.

Caryn lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their clowder of cats. Visit for free short fiction and true tales of haunted places.