WHO

WHO'S COMING DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY TONIGHT?




Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2016: CTHULHU FOR CHRISTMAS

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Review: Asylum

Asylum Asylum by Mark Allan Gunnells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ASYLUM by Mark Allan Gunnells

Love 80's gritty horror films? Love campy horror? Love horror with a "Bite"-- no, not vampires: real-life issues--addiction, fear, social anxiety, sexual addiction, love, obsession, terror, bigotry of many stripes, true love and its loss, bitterness, resentment, peace in oneself, lack of internal peace..Author Mark Allan Gunnells bravely approaches these themes, and honey, the Zomb'pocalypse ain't the worst you need to worry over. Check out the additional new piece, "Lunatics Running the Asylum." The dead are actually nicer than the living, and far more considerate.

Mr. Gunnells introduces the Apocalypse in a new venue, a gay club owned and operated by an Earth Mother trans cross-dresser, who wants to help "gay orphans" like our protagonist Curtis, who don't have a strong support group. Now for Curtis (20-year-old university student and virgin. I'm really beginning to love the Feckless Hero category. Curtis is right in this category, but feckless and naive doesn't mean dumb or worthless. Curtis tocks, and so does his sexy heart object Jarvis.

This novella, and it's accompanying short story sequel, are sweet and entertaining, and still scary.

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Review of ASYLUM by Mark Allan Gunnells

Review: ASYLUM by Mark Allan Gunnells

Love 80's gritty horror films? Love campy horror? Love horror with a "Bite"-- no, not vampires: real-life issues--addiction, fear, social anxiety, sexual addiction, love, obsession, terror, bigotry of many stripes, true love and its loss, bitterness, resentment, peace in oneself, lack of internal peace..Author Mark Allan Gunnells bravely approaches these themes, and honey, the Zomb'pocalypse ain't the worst you need to worry over. Check out the additional new piece, "Lunatics Running the Asylum." The dead are actually nicer than the living, and far more considerate.

Mr. Gunnells introduces the Apocalypse in a new venue, a gay club owned and operated by an Earth Mother trans cross-dresser, who wants to help "gay orphans" like our protagonist Curtis, who don't have a strong support group. Now for Curtis (20-year-old university student and virgin. I'm really beginning to love the Feckless Hero category. Curtis is right in this category, but feckless and naive doesn't mean dumb or worthless. Curtis tocks, and so does his sexy heart object Jarvis.

This novella, and it's accompanying short story sequel, are sweet and entertaining, and still scary.

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Guest Post: WHY I LOVE ZOMBIES by Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells is a prolific author whose novella ASYLUM is currently featured.

ASYLUM

My review of the novella will be posted here, tomorrow (August 19). Meanwhile, enjoy Mark's guest post:

WHY I LOVE ZOMBIES

Zombie tales—be it in fiction, television, movies, even video games—has been hot for quite a while, and yet for all the fans of zombie stories, there is an equally vocal contingent of people who decry them. They say that zombie tales oversaturate the market and are actually killing horror. While I understand that certain types of stories aren’t for everyone, I am firmly in the camp of those that love a good zombie tale.

And the more traditional the better! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy when a storyteller employs a fresh and unexpected take on something familiar to the audience, but for me there’s something about the traditional, mindless zombie that just really appeals. I think there are several reasons for this.

First, other traditional horror monsters like vampires and even werewolves often have personality and a tortured quality that make them the focus of the story. That can be quite enjoyable (I’m a fan of all the classic monsters), but with the zombie being such a blank slate, it opens up the story to focus more on the protagonists, the human drama that comes from trying to survive something that cannot be reasoned with, that is driven purely by an instinct to kill. A lack of deeper motivation makes the zombie somehow more frightening.

As an extension of this point, the traditional zombie can often be used as a mere framework for telling very human stories. You get a band of disparate survivors together (trapped in a farmhouse or a mall or a bunker, or in the case of some of my work a gay club or a college dorm building), and then you can start to study group dynamics, personality conflicts, power struggles, bigotry, mental instability. This type of story paves the way for creating a microcosm of society in which you can deal with a lot of serious issues in an exciting and entertaining fashion.

What the late George Romero showed so powerfully in his own films was that zombie stories are perfect vehicles for social commentary that doesn’t become overly preachy. I can respect that, a story that engages as well as provokes thought and discussion.

>P> All of these things were in my mind when I sat down to write ASYLUM, my first real piece of zombie fiction. I went with a very traditional type of mindless zombie, and a familiar setup, having a group of characters trapped inside a gay club while the undead tried to force their way in. I used this as a springboard for a story about prejudice and self-loathing and insecurity and addiction, all wrapped up in what I think turned out to be a very entertaining piece of fiction. I was able to continue this in “Lunatics Running the Asylum,” a short story that picks up where the novella leaves off which is included in the new edition from Apex Publications.

I realize that just by nature of being a classic zombie tale, there are certain people out there that won’t even give ASYLUM a try, but as a writer I have to be true to my vision, my passions. I love zombie stories, and I’m happy to put my own stamp on the subgenre.

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: The Devoured

The Devoured The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DEVOURED by Curtis M. Lawson

I am in awe of author Curtis M. Lawson, who brings to the table a towering intellect (my brain stretches reading his work) and a wide-ranging imagination. He also possesses an incredible grasp of language, laying down phrases like you wouldn't believe (but yet, here they are on the page). Often I pause to savour a turn of phrase, or a description, before continuing. I wouldn't classify his cosmology as fully Lovecraftian (he's far too clever to let his philosophy be limited) but it is Lovecraftian enough to suit this aficionado, and his writings acknowledge that Beyond so far distant from the puny concerns and miniscule concepts of humans (check out his collection BLACK PANTHEONS).

On the surface, THE DEVOURED is a tale set in California near the end of The War Between The States (and oh, the perspective author Lawson puts on that war resounds with clarity and discernment). An adolescent boy, oversized in body, with a good mind, devotion to his Paiute mother, and admiration for his Nordic father, finds himself in charge after Father travels to Texas in aid of the doomed Confederacy. His beloved mother falls ill and approaches death. When the God of Israel seems to provide no answer nor healing, he seeks out his shaman maternal grandfather, an evil man, also dying. Emmett gradually discovers planes of existence, entities, and evils not known to the majority of mortals. Not only the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: The Rest Will Come

The Rest Will Come The Rest Will Come by Christina Bergling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE REST WILL COME
by Christina Bergling

Poor feckless Emma, our heroine; she does “everything right,” only to have nothing go right. Marriage, debts, jobs, dating—she just can't reach her goal, can't grasp that brass ring; is not even sure any more “after all these years” that there is a brass ring—for her. Poor Emma. Then one day—maybe it's years of repressed anger, maybe it's frustration—one day she hears those insulting words once too often: “my heart's just not in it,” and Emma is instantaneously off on a whole new path. Serial murder? Well, these days it just doesn't pay to play fast and loose with Emma, for you may find yourself playing with the Grim Reaper. Emma's had enough...and now that she realizes that, just maybe “the rest will come.”

For all those single women (and can't commit men) who can't catch a break, here's a novel that mingles gore and hilarity, humor and death. Enjoy the catharsis. You'll be glad you did.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review: Kind Nepenthe

Kind Nepenthe Kind Nepenthe by Matthew V. Brockmeyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of KIND NEPENTHE
by Matthew V. Brockmeyer

Beautifully scenic, but humanity renders it depressing: Southern Humboldt County in Northern California. KIND NEPENTHE is a literate horror novel (I loved the epigrams the author's chosen), but I prefer to categorize it as Northern California drug culture noir. Populated by an almost completely sorry cast of lowlifes, KIND NEPENTHE only allows some to surface briefly, to try to be “somebody” with purpose, and then submerges them again. Rebecca wants to be completely organic, and be a sterling mother. Calendula (Mark) is a permaculture designer, or so he hopes. Diesel wants a second chance through his soon-to-be born grandchild, not to mess up as he did with his son and his wife. Actually, the only “winners” in this patch of noir are the hauntings...and we're never really certain what their foundation is, although we see it acted out in certain formerly living individuals. Mr. Brockmeyer does a sort of Henry James-ish horror, the kind that you know is present, but too shadowy and unspecific to get really frightened...until the end, when literally everything and everybody goes raving insane in a fast-paced few pages rolling like a bullet train.

{On a personal note, while I read KIND NEPENTHE, I also commenced another drug culture noir, this one set in New Mexico. Life imitates art.}

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: A Twist of the Knife

A Twist of the Knife A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of A TWIST OF THE KNIFE by Becky Masterman

This third in the Brigid Quinn series, starring a fifty-nine year old female former FBI Special Agent, takes place in Florida instead of Tucson: specifically Fort Lauderdale, Vero Beach, and Raiford. FBI Agent Laura Coleman, prominent in the previous novel, FEAR THE DARKNESS, also encores. We learn a lot of backstory of Brigid's dysfunctional family {I am reminded of the family of cops in Karin Slaughter' s COP TOWN}. We are also treated to defense attorneys on a quest to overturn a possibly wrongful conviction, and the terrors of children missing. A horrible crime committed sixteen years ago resulted in the disappearance of three children, and the convicted is finally scheduled for execution.--but was the conviction righteous, or juggled?

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Review: Fear the Darkness

Fear the Darkness Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of FEAR THE DARKNESS by Becky Masterman

This second in Becky Masterman's Brigid Quinn series is my favorite of the three so far (published). I'm thinking it very well might be the author's exquisite depiction of sociopathy, its whys and therefores, and delineates so well how sociopaths can fool: both the "normal," and those who are themselves on the sociopathic continuum. Each mystery in this series is a pageturner, but I found this the most suspenseful and riveting.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review: Roofworld

Roofworld Roofworld by Christopher Fowler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ROOFWORLD by Christopher Fowler

I first learned of this book from Paul Cornell's THE SEVERED STREETS, which highly recommended both Neil Gaiman' s NEVERWHERE and ROOFWORLD. I am glad to see the republication of ROOFWORLD, an intricately plotted novel of a civilization existing "above" London, a sort of "superstructure" invisible to the "Insects" living on London's surface (normals). Intended as an escape, a high-minded improved society, it has degenerated into vicious war and megalomania, as both sides strive to fulfill an occult potential.

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Review: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE CHALK MAN by C. J. Tudor

A glorious mystery/thriller/coming of age novel, THE CHALK MAN is at once both riveting and engaging. The narrative interweaves the first person viewpoint (limited first-person) of our protagonist at 12, and at 42. Ed Adams is all in all an imperfect character, but his constant self-awareness of his faults renders him all the more likeable. At 12, he and his cronies are still primarily innocents, poised near the cliff's edge of adulthood. At 42, he looks around himself and mourns all that has never materialized. But even at 12, these boys are exposed to "adult" issues: tragedy, death, murder, hatred, fear. They don't always understand but they have to live it anyway. With this talented author, we live it all too.

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Review: The Doll Who Ate His Mother

The Doll Who Ate His Mother The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DOLL WHO ATE HIS MOTHER by Ramsey Campbell

This 1976 publication is not my top-favourite of Ramsey Campbell (so far, that's ANCIENT IMAGES and the collection HOLES FOR FACES) but I quite liked it. Unusually, my 5-star rating is not due to the horror and paranormal elements. Instead, I rated it highly due to Campbell's incredible grasp of and ability to delineate, character. This applies to his human inhabitants, but also to animals and to Place. Looking back through my reactions to the novel, I remember many occasions when I marveled at his revelation of character--just when I thought he had peeled back the remaining layers, he demonstrated more! The horror element is well done, and it's subtle, but I shall remember the novel for its characterizations.

[Note: in the case of Mr. Campbell's explication of the "villain's" inner state, the resonances are positively Poe-ish. See for example, "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Telltale Heart."]

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: Abode

Abode Abode by Morgan Sylvia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: ABODE by Morgan Sylvia

Rare is it in this era of splatter horror to find a book such as ABODE, in which the horror is all too prevalent and real, but is treated oh so subtly, as in a mystery where the reader tiptoes through clues. The author tantalizes us, not bludgeons us. ABODE is richly atmospheric, in the vein of Henry James' 19th century classic "Turn of the Screw." There are Lovecraftian overtones; there are also tragic psychological sufferings. There is evil. Above all, the reader revels in the exquisitely-tuned atmosphere.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: The Girl Who Was Taken

The Girl Who Was Taken The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by Charlie Donlea

I recognized Charlie Donlea as an exceptional new author when I read his debut novel, SUMMIT LAKE. His new stand-alone, THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN, is equally superb. In the small and peaceful, quiet community of Emerson Bay, North Carolina, young women have disappeared. In bordering states, other girls have also gone missing, and some are discovered months, even years, later. Concomitantly, a young man trolls true crime groups and Internet chat rooms, seeking skewed individuals with a similar dark mind-set to his own. Dr. Livia Cutty is a pathology fellow at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh. Her autopsy of a corpse suspected to be a bridge jumper begins the unraveling of a complex and deadly mystery as Livia perseveres to reveal truth, no matter how unpalatable.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: Welcome to the Apocalypse

Welcome to the Apocalypse Welcome to the Apocalypse by D.L. Richardson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE by D. L. Richardson

A subtle sense of humor, a speedy thriller with tons of unexpected moments, a frisson of anxiety over control by a computer, and really intense characterizations of individuals who can't help eliciting readers' empathy and understanding, weave together into a roller coaster of suspense leavened with romance, friendship, family bonds, as well as grief and unrequited longing. From page one on, you'll be thinking "what next, what happens now," and living vicariously through the characters, cheering them on. Thankfully, this is first of a series; I can't wait for more.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Foxlowe

Foxlowe Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: FOXLOWE by Eleanor Wasserberg


FOXLOWE is a complex work of literary fiction which delves deep into its characters, peeling back their layers to reveal their natures. It is also an English stately house, set on the moors a short distance from standing stones. Foxlowe House is also the setting of a commune, semi-hippieish in its drive to sustainability, and semi-pagan in its emphasis on meditation and healing, and the essential importance of the Summer and Winter Solstices. The story is narrated by Green, a young girl who cannot remember "life outside," as Foxlowe' s inhabitants term all the world not Foxlowe and the Standing Stones. As Green grows, she narrates the microcosm that comprises life at Foxlowe.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review: Final Girls

Final Girls Final Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager

Oh my! A somewhat tiptoeish start soon tossed me onto a runaway rollercoaster of thrills, terror, and mystery. In this environment, I couldn't be certain who was who, who was culpable of what, and who could be trusted, if anyone--including our protagonist, the woman who insists she is "normal" despite the past everybody remembers except her.

Quincy Carpenter, like two other young women earlier, survived a massacre of sorts: one at a sorority house (Lisa of Indiana), one at a motel (Samantha of Florida). Quincy was the sole survivor of a group of friends at a weekend retreat in a forest cottage in Pennsylvania. The press terms them "Final Girls," like the sole remaining heroine in B-grade horror movies. (I prefer the concept of "Last Man Standing," as in Westerns; surviving ought to imply some skill and strength of will, rather than simply be left alive because the killer died or was captured.)

FINAL GIRLS "blew me out of the water". After six decades of voracious reading of mysteries, thrillers, and horror, the author still managed to blindside me, and I truly "didn't see it coming." I can't wait to read this novel again.


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: Cavern Of The Damned

Cavern Of The Damned Cavern Of The Damned by Russell James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CAVERN OF THE DAMNED by Russell James

Exciting creature horror with a huge dose of implacability leavened with hope and a strong helping of the endurance of the human spirit, CAVERN OF THE DAMNED introduces readers to an unopened, unmapped, cave system in Montana. Folks, this cave was blocked to good purpose. Unfortunately, greed is near unstoppable, and the combination of a Hollywood producer and a caver banned from Yellowstone for illegalities will get it open to exploration, with disastrous results. Sometimes it's best not to breach a barrier.

Author Russell James delivers heart-in-mouth unstoppable action and terror. If you love creature horror, paleontology, megafauna, and scares-a-minute, love this!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: The Late Show

The Late Show The Late Show by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly (Renee Ballard #1)

Michael Connelly delivers a certain presence in every novel, a presence which pulls the reader straight into the story and makes us live it vicariously. THE LATE SHOW is the first mystery-police procedural in a new series, focused on Detective Renee Ballard of the Los Angeles Police Department. Ballard is a tough and gritty character, akin to a bulldog when she gets an intuitive scent on a case. She is also vulnerable, as a female in a career that still has a male-dominant mind set.

THE LATE SHOW deals with very up-to-date issues: transgenderness, club shootings, the presence of evil. It's a nonstop thrilling read.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case

The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case by James Neff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WRONG MAN by James Neff

I was a toddler in a neighboring state when housewife Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard was brutally murdered in July 1954, leaving a seven-year-old son and a husband. Of course I knew nothing about it at the time, but in 1967 when the TV series "The Fugitive" debuted, I immediately became hooked on the story of a doctor wrongly accused of his wife's brutal murder, seeking justice and striving to clear his besmirched name. Associating this plot line with Dr. Sam Sheppard, I decided he too must be innocent but beleaguered by the disbelief of law enforcement and courts. Then when I began THE WRONG MAN and discovered Dr. Sam's personality faults (temper, philandering, an addictive personality), I changed my opinion and considered him guilty (for a time).

The lack of clarity and sheer failure to properly investigate may be equaled only by the investigation of the murder of Jon-Benet Ramsay in Boulder, Colorado in 1996. Too much belief in Dr. Sam's guilt and refusal to entertain other possibilities meant a near-railroading of Dr. Sam. Certainly no justice for Marilyn nor closure for her family was ever achieved.



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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: Cavern Of The Damned

Cavern Of The Damned Cavern Of The Damned by Russell James
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: CAVERN OF THE DAMNED by Russell James

Exciting creature horror with a huge dose of implacability leavened with hope and a strong helping of the endurance of the human spirit, CAVERN OF THE DAMNED introduces readers to an unopened, unmapped, cave system in Montana. Folks, this cave was blocked to good purpose. Unfortunately, greed is near unstoppable, and the combination of a Hollywood producer and a caver banned from Yellowstone for illegalities will get it open to exploration, with disastrous results. Sometimes it's best not to breach a barrier.

Author Russell James delivers heart-in-mouth unstoppable action and terror. If you love creature horror, paleontology, megafauna, and scares-a-minute, love this!

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

PENGUINS AND MORTAL PERIL by Ruby Loren_ Review

Penguins and Mortal Peril: Cozy Mystery (Madigan Amos Zoo Mysteries Book 1)Penguins and Mortal Peril: Cozy Mystery by Ruby Loren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: PENGUINS AND MORTAL PERIL by Ruby Loren (Madigan Amos Zoo Mysteries Book 1)

Zookeeper Madigan Amos loves her position at the Avery Zoo, no matter long hours, heat, dirt, and parents who don't supervise their children. Madi frequently comes up with creative ideas to benefit the animals, but other zookeepers sometimes don't see the point. She also draws a zoo comic she publishes online.

Zoo life isn't always smooth. Animal rights protesters march and complain. A zookeeper working late was assaulted. Now the aquatic animals keeper is found dead, likely murdered. The elderly zoo owner may be in cahoots with a mysterious new construction worker. And Madi' s curiosity and determination to protect the zoo's population may be leading this devoted zookeeper straight into danger all her own. First in a series from prolific author Ruby Loren.

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Review: You Only Get One Shot: A Horror Novella

You Only Get One Shot: A Horror Novella You Only Get One Shot: A Horror Novella by Kevin J. Kennedy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

REVIEW: YOU ONLY GET ONE SHOT by Kevin J. Kennedy and J. C. Michael

YOU ONLY GET ONE SHOT is a delightfully creative, engagingly constructed horror novel. It's also a mystery, almost of locked-room stature, as if Agatha Christie had partnered with Edward Lee. The engrossed reader gets more than one shot: counting the Epilogue, there are actually five discrete stories! Someone has lost a loved one to apparent suicide--but that someone blames four popular authors for the death. Allegedly each of the writers rejected the loved one, a budding but uncertain and unconfident writer, who just sought a modicum of encouragement. Instead, spirit was crushed by sheer hatefulness. Now someone orders each author to compose and post a short story, by deadline--or else.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror

What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror by David Wong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ?: A NOVEL OF COSMIC HORROR by David Wong

I laughed throughout this book, especially gleeful because I usually take everything seriously, even solemnly. I couldn't help but chortle at the antics and consequences of this feckless trio of semi-nitwits, well-meaning but imperfect. This was the first of the "David Wong" novels I had read (JOHN DIES AT THE END; THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS) but now I intend to rectify that. John and Dave remind me of boys on the cusp of adolescence, in attitude, perception, and yes, immaturity. In large part, their monster-hunting is adventure as much or more than "saving the world," and for John, it's also a money venue. David's love Amy is a "do-gooder" with a soft heart. She is also the breadwinner. Although she doesn't perceive monsters, she believes, and brings a much-needed logic to their efforts.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: A God in the Shed

A God in the Shed A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: A GOD IN THE SHED by J. F. Debeau

A GOD IN THE SHED is an incredibly complex novel, literary in format, stunning in execution. Simultaneously the story of individuals and families, a torn and battered community, legacies gone grievously wrong; of murders and suffering, of deaths and grief, this is also the story of a band of young boys, tautly connected, the day they discover the impossible really exists, and the horrendous, permanent (even eternal) consequences of that day and that discovery. This is a novel which captures readers, pinning their imaginations to observe the intrusion of other realities into our own.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Andy Graham Guest Post (AN ANGEL FALLEN)

My Own Private Guilt.

Andy Graham

An Angel Fallen Tour 2017

You know the situation. You’re talking to an author and all of a sudden they get ‘the look’: slack-jawed, glassy-eyed and generally vacant. There may be a scrabble for a phone, computer, or even pen and paper (remember those?) to write something down.

“You’re not listening to me, are you?”

“What?”

“I said-”

“Listening? To you? Me? Of course I was. Just give me a sec while I jot this down.”

Anyone who’s been in the same room with an author (or, in my wife’s case, in the same bed) will know what I am talking about. I have visions (not when I’m in bed with my wife) of a room full of authors attempting to have conversations but missing every third sentence as they phase out for a moment.

What does this have to do with my own private guilt?

Allow me a moment of self-indulgence to quote myself. It’s a line from Rose - A Mother’s Unreason (The Lords of Misrule - Book Three), where the vice-president says:

“Guilt. It’s a useless emotion but a valuable currency.”

He’s right. Guilt in all its various guises and forms accomplishes nothing. We’re all aware of the big hitters when it comes to guilt - murder, infidelity, finishing the ice-cream while your kids’ backs are turned. What you may not know is that there are distinct forms of writers’ guilt, and I suffer from two of those.

One is easy to both see and understand - a lack of productivity. When my daily word count drops too low for too long, I feel guilty. That particular guilt is rampant at the moment, there’s so much going on outside of ‘regular’ writing, my word count is way, way down in the hole.

The other is a more specific type of writers’ guilt, one I haven’t spoken to anyone about. Before I do, let me explain a little about how an author’s brain works.

It’s common knowledge that whatever an author sees or hears may crop up in their work. That means that anything seen on the Internet, a TV clip, an image from a video, a song lyric, a cloud formation, a funny-shaped tree, a temper tantrum on the street, even a throw away comment, can all squirm their way onto the page. Here are a few examples:

- The first book I wrote (Franklin - a brother in search of himself) was created from a short story. That short story had been inspired by a sentence I’d called out to my young son: “Where’s your ray-gun gone, Ray?”

- A view of a London rooftop from a room I was teaching sports massage in became my short story A View.

- Sighthill in Edinburgh became Blind Mount and features together with Edinburgh Castle itself in my short story A Decision at Dusk.

- A vile post of two teenagers torturing a dog to death and then posting a selfie of it (Seriously? WTF!) on social media became the inspiration for my latest work - An Angel Fallen.

All well and good, but where is my guilt in that?

OK, here it is.

Basically, I am watching you. I am listening to you. I may even be smelling you. (That’s extreme, granted, but, in large cities, you can smell summer coming on public transport).

Whatever you say or do is fair game for my muse, and he is a hungry fellow.

It may only be a comment: “Guilt fixes nothing.” (Adapted from something my wife said.)

It may be the way you dress: “In a pink menagerie of petals and pearls.” (An osteopathic client I treated.)

It may be a characteristic you have: a friend of mine’s jaw opens diagonally (down and right) when in ‘raconteur mode’.

It may be the way you run: “Like your knees are allergic to your feet.” (A kid in a playground.)

It may be the way your neck “blends seamlessly with your mouth with no chin in the middle.” (That was someone I smelt on a tram in Prague. He also had a mullet, bald-patch and a comb-over. The guy deserves a medal.)

Bits and pieces of ‘life’ get stuck in my mind as images. They sit there, crammed in besides each other. I have tonnes of them jostling for space. I don’t ‘see’ these images all the time, but they pop up in certain situations.

I was trying to explain this to someone (My wife. In bed. We have all the best fun.) and the most logical explanation I could come up with was that it’s a little like a sprained ankle. When it’s acute, you feel it all the time. As it starts healing, you only feel it when you put it in certain positions or situations. The same thing happens with those images in my head. Under certain conditions, they re-appear. That is until I write them down. That tends to get rid of them. Then the guilt kicks in - the guilt for pilfering and picking bits of my friends’ conversations, clients’ dress sense and strangers’ mannerisms and turning it all into fodder for my books.

I have never blatantly copied anyone, and I don’t do this consciously, but I can usually place where, what, or who inspired certain sections of the text I’m writing.

There are better things to feel guilty about (or maybe not, if it is a useless emotion), but this is my particular brand of writers’ guilt.

There is good news. There is still hope for me. It is not terminal.

My most recent work (An Angel Fallen) was a much more guilt-free writing process. It is much less ‘derivative’ than earlier works. Besides the initial inspiration of the social media post (see above), the only other thing I know where the inspiration came from is gin.

The story features a useless, emotionally-vacant mother with an extensive gin collection. I have a friend in Prague who has an extensive gin collection. Fortunately, his similarity with the character starts and stops with their mutual friend ‘Mr Juniper’. But otherwise, An Angel Fallen has the least references to real life of all my work. It’s also the best thing I have written so far.

Maybe there’s a lesson there. Maybe I’m reading too much into it (correlation and causation are not the same thing!). But, suffice to say, be warned that whenever you are talking to an author, they are watching and listening, and, maybe, just maybe, smelling you.

Andy Graham Author Bio (June 2017)

Andy Graham is a British author currently living in the Czech Republic who will now stop talking about himself in the third person because it's odd. I have two main collections of books: The Lords of Misrule is a series of dystopian political thrillers set in an alternate world based on life in 21st century EU/ US. I also have an expanding collection of creepy reads that explore the darker side of life, death, and the undead. There are a few unfinished stories rattling around in my hard-drive and some unstarted ones knocking around in my head. They range from disposable airport fiction and YA sci fi to grimdark epics, but they will have to wait their turn. (Unfortunately for my wife, who is waiting for me to write something 'nice', preferably with sparkly vampires.) Outside of reading and writing, I'm a musician, qualified osteopath, seasoned insomniac, and father to two young kids who have too much energy to let me grow old gracefully. You can find me online at www.andygrahamauthor.com (where you can claim a free book), twitter - @andygraham2001 and FB - andy graham author.
An Angel Fallen Andy Graham May 2017 22K words book blurb You’re eighteen. Bored. Dad’s away a lot. Says its business, but you’ve seen the lipstick stains. Mum’s home. Too much. Keeping the world gin market afloat on her own. There’s Ariel, the family maid. She’s cool. The one piece of this messed up world that makes sense. And then there’s Raph. Raph’s the leader of your gang of two. He gets off on doing those things to the animals you both catch: the slicing, crushing, and maiming. Buried a few alive, too. His relationship with that hammer of his is sick. You run with Raph because, well, nothing else to do out here, right? Except if your folks found out what you’ve been up to, there’d be hell. Then you find it. Whatever it is. It can’t be what you think it is. Those things don’t exist. But it’s staring at you. Asking for help. Is it dying? Can these things die? You need to do something for it. Raph wants to do something to it. Time to choose. Do you run with the human devil you know, or take a chance on this thing that fell from the heavens? An Angel Fallen is a tale of divine retribution from British author Andy Graham. On a day when the world is struggling to stay sane, and is being ravaged by biblical plagues, what price will two teenagers pay for their past?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Review: An Angel Fallen

An Angel Fallen An Angel Fallen by Andy Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: AN ANGEL FALLEN by Andy Graham

Eighteen-year-old Mike is the son of a philandering local politician and a permanently soused mother. His only companion is the notorious homicidal psychopath Raph, terror of the animal populace. Raph is not just a killer, but a torturer. Mike mostly hangs around. When the sky tears open and an inexplicable entity falls to earth, Raph thinks he's found a new plaything. But fallen angels don't do forgiveness or mercy or peace.


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An Angel Fallen Andy Graham May 2017 22K words You’re eighteen. Bored. Dad’s away a lot. Says its business. You’ve seen the lipstick stains. Mum’s home. Too much. Keeping the world gin market afloat on her own. There’s Ariel, the family maid. She’s cool. The one piece of this messed up world that makes sense. And then there’s Raph. Raph’s the leader of your gang of two. He gets off on doing those things to the animals you both catch: the slicing, crushing, and maiming. Buried a few alive, too. His relationship with that hammer of his is sick. You run with Raph because, well, nothing else to do out here, right? Except if your folks found out what you’ve been up to, there’d be hell. Then you find it. Whatever it is. It can’t be what you think it is. Those things don’t exist. But it’s staring at you. Asking for help. Is it dying? Can these things die? You need to do something for it. Raph wants to do something to it. Time to choose. Do you run with the human devil you know, or take a chance on this thing that fell from the heavens? An Angel Fallen is a tale of divine retribution from British author Andy Graham. On a day when the world is struggling to stay sane, and is being ravaged by biblical plagues, what price will two teenagers pay for their past?
Andy Graham Author Bio (May 2017) Andy Graham is a British author currently living in the Czech Republic who will now stop talking about himself in the third person because it's odd. I have two main collections of books: The Lords of Misrule is a series of dystopian political thrillers set in an alternate world based on life in 21st century EU/ US. I also have an expanding collection of creepy reads that explore the darker side of life, death, and the undead. There are a few unfinished stories rattling around in my hard-drive and some unstarted ones knocking around in my head. They range from disposable airport fiction and YA sci fi to grimdark epics, but they will have to wait their turn. (Unfortunately for my wife, who is waiting for me to write something 'nice', preferably with sparkly vampires.) Outside of reading and writing, I'm a musician, qualified osteopath, seasoned insomniac, and father to two young kids who have too much energy to let me grow old gracefully. You can find me online at www.andygrahamauthor.com (where you can claim a free book), twitter - @andygraham2001 and FB - andy graham author.

Review: An Angel Fallen

An Angel Fallen An Angel Fallen by Andy Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: AN ANGEL FALLEN by Andy Graham

Eighteen-year-old Mike is the son of a philandering local politician and a permanently soused mother. His only companion is the notorious homicidal psychopath Raph, terror of the animal populace. Raph is not just a killer, but a torturer. Mike mostly hangs around. When the sky tears open and an inexplicable entity falls to earth, Raph thinks he's found a new plaything. But fallen angels don't do forgiveness or mercy or peace.


View all my reviews

Review: An Angel Fallen

An Angel Fallen An Angel Fallen by Andy Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: AN ANGEL FALLEN by Andy Graham

Eighteen-year-old Mike is the son of a philandering local politician and a permanently soused mother. His only companion is the notorious homicidal psychopath Raph, terror of the animal populace. Raph is not just a killer, but a torturer. Mike mostly hangs around. When the sky tears open and an inexplicable entity falls to earth, Raph thinks he's found a new plaything. But fallen angels don't do forgiveness or mercy or peace.


View all my reviews

Review: The Pot Thief Mysteries Volume One: The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein

The Pot Thief Mysteries Volume One: The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein The Pot Thief Mysteries Volume One: The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras, The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, and The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein by J. Michael Orenduff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE POT THIEF MYSTERIES Volume 1
By J. Michael Orenduff

I really enjoy this series. There's humor, spirit, mystery, and great ongoing characters. I also learn a lot about New Mexico history, ancient potters and tribes, archaeology and anthropology, academe, and an entertained throughout.

Review: THE POT THIEF WHO STUDIED PYTHAGORAS

Forty-something Hubert Schuze is a finder and purveyor of pots. Some consider him a "pot thief" for his ability to locate and excavate ancient pots on public lands (usually National Parks, in his home state, New Mexico). Hubert own an adobe building in Albuquerque' s historic Old Town, which includes his shop, workshop, and living quarters. In this first of the series, he becomes inextricably entangled with murder and conspiracy to museum theft. Together with best friend Susannah, a twenty-eight year old permanent university student and waitress, he cleverly moves events to an unexpected and enlightening denouement. Along the way are intrigue, suspense, excitement, and a strong exposure to classical Greek philosopher.

Review: THE POT THIEF WHO STUDIED PTOLEMY

THE POT THIEF Series by J. Michael Orenduff is delightful: warm-hearted, full-characterized, humorous mystery--mystery with heart. Protagonist Hubert Schuze (pronounced "shoes") is The Feckless Hero indeed--but he's a sweet guy with a heart of integrity, and a spiritual nature exemplified in his connection to ancient potters, and to the mysteries of the Universe. I call him feckless because he frequently is victimized by others more cold-hearted. As a graduate student at the University of New Mexico in Anthropology and Archaeology, he bested three professors by uncovering pots outside the prescribed dig, and for his intuition, was expelled. He is considered a "pot thief" because of a Federal law (with which he disagrees) barring digging on public land. Also, he tends to fall into situations where he is framed for murder. Through it all, Hubie remains the proverbial good guy and dedicated friend.

Review: THE POT THIEF WHO STUDIED EINSTEIN

Perennial favorite artisan, shopkeeper, and pottery digger Hubert Schuze of Albuquerque returns. He's expanded his shop space, is hoping to sell his replicas of ancient pots, and is stuck reading a book on Einstein (the science, not the biography). When asked to appraise the pottery collection amassed by a reclusive collector, Hubie is eager, even if it includes being chauffeured blindfolded. What he couldn't have planned for, nor imagined, is finding the collection contains some of his replicas, the fee disappears, and he is framed for not one, but two murders, then targeted for his own death.



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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Review: Give Up the Dead

Give Up the Dead Give Up the Dead by Joe Clifford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GIVE UP THE DEAD by Joe Clifford

May this series never end! I've read these three novels in immediate sequence, so I'm quite aware of character evolution in this series, particularly that of admirable protagonist Jay Porter, but also of several other ongoing secondaries. Each novel in the series brings Jay face to face with death and near-death, in trouble with the law and out-of-town bad guys, steadfast but stumbling. But I think it is in GIVE UP THE DEAD that Jay really sees into the mirror of self. Certainly enough individuals call him out on his perspectives and foibles. Jay, who is actually quite an intelligent guy, always thinks, but now he is thinking more effectively--at last.

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Review: December Boys

December Boys December Boys by Joe Clifford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DECEMBER BOYS by Joe Clifford

This exciting series continues, and I wish it would go on forever! New Hampshire Noir, in the hands of Joe Clifford, seriously rocks. Despite the fact that he is living a seemingly permanently noirish life, admirable Jay Porter, despite his adversities, despite his failings, rocks on--or at least, perseveres. You can't keep this guy down: no matter what life throws at him (and the tribulations are nearly constant) he gonna keep on keeping on. Even near-death doesn't end him. I love this guy. I love this series.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Review: Lamentation

Lamentation Lamentation by Joe Clifford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: LAMENTATION by Joe Clifford

I am totally in love with this fascinating New Hampshire Noir series, literate, intriguing, with a die-hard protagonist. Jay Porter is thirty, with an ex-girlfriend he still loves and a toddler son, Aiden. Orphaned at age eight, when both parents died in a suspicious vehicle fatality, Jay has long been the caretaker for his decade-old brother Chris, who failed the promise of his high-school wrestling stardom to fall into the drug abyss. Jay lives a purely working-class existence as a seasonal estate cleaner in a state where winter is a serious business.

But Jay Porter rises above his adversity. He is an individual of massive integrity. No matter what, failures and troubles, beatings and loss of loved ones, job loss, alcoholism, he perseveres, and he always strives to choose the right option. An admirable protagonist is he.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Review: Yesterday, When We Died

Yesterday, When We Died Yesterday, When We Died by Chad A. Clark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

release June 28

Review: YESTERDAY, WHEN WE DIED by Chad Clark

Readers of my horror reviews know that I rate implacability as my highest criterion for Horror. Chad Clark's newest novella, YESTERDAY, WHEN WE DIED, contains implacability in spades. From this evil, you just don't escape. It has a way, not only of destroying individual humans, but of amplifying emotions and base desires, of finding the evil in a human soul, then expressing it, influencing humans to wreak dastardly deeds. Who can stand against it, after all?



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Monday, June 26, 2017

Review: The Han Agent

The Han Agent The Han Agent by Amy Rogers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HAN AGENT

Science is one of my fascinations, and the science premise of THE HAN AGENT is not just fascinating, but highly topical and up-to-date. When a driven Japanese-American scientist with a genius at viral genetics is dismissed from UC-Berkeley for being a lone wolf and violating restrictions, she is snapped up by a Japanese pharmaceutical megaconglomerate. She thinks her value is her scientific knowledge, but she could not imagine what the family-owned corporation intends: to extend the medical depredations of Japan's infamous Unit 731, in the 1930's and 1940's, to eradicate the hated Chinese.

THE HAN AGENT is a thought-provoking, eye-opening, nonstop scientific thriller.

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Review: Whispered Echoes

Whispered Echoes Whispered Echoes by Paul F. Olson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WHISPERED ECHOES by Paul F. Olson

"Pure, uncompromising, excellence": this is my take on WHISPERED ECHOES, a retrospective-to-new collection from accomplished author Paul F. Olson. Mr. Olson's publication career has been unusual: originally published in the "good old days" of horror in the 1980's, he next took up newspaper journalism. After two decades, he returned to his lifelong love, horror. Clearly the absence did not dissipate his immense talent.

WHISPERED ECHOES is a special collection, a treasure chest of horror gens--thoughtful and thought-provoking, literate and intellectual, polished and glowing.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: One Perfect Lie

One Perfect Lie One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ONE PERFECT LIE by Lisa Scottoline

My heart did not drop from my throat throughout this novel. That is how highly the suspense is tuned. Author Lisa Scottoline successfully brings her trademark talent of bringing readers into the plot and setting subtly, enwrapping us unaware, so that we must see the plot through to its conclusion. The theme here is domestic terrorism, horrifying in itself. To see the ways in which formerly innocent individuals trap themselves in crime is also terrifying, and the last-moment suspense blows the reader away.

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Review: Goliath

Goliath Goliath by Shawn Corridan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GOLIATH

We all remember the Exxon Valdez and the Deepwater Horizons environmental disasters. How much more terrifying, if the world's largest super-tanker was deliberately sabotaged--purposely grounded, filled with crude oil, at loss of life and environmental disaster.

This is the premise of GOLIATH, a heart-in-mouth thriller, a novel which pits man against nature, and the underdog against wealth and against his own past failures.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Hell Cat of the Holt (a novella): supernatural horror in the Shadow Fabric mythos

Hell Cat of the Holt (a novella): supernatural horror in the Shadow Fabric mythos Hell Cat of the Holt (a novella): supernatural horror in the Shadow Fabric mythos by Mark Cassell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


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Review: HELL CAT OF THE HOLT by Mark Cassell

Mark Cassell's constructed mythos is creatively imagined and original. He utilizes the concept of a veil between dimensions in a new way. He calls it the Shadow Fabric, a dimension which contains demons, shadows, and other entities. Demons whose physical form may be interred on this side, restrained by "containment stones," while their consciousness remain active on the other side.

HELL CAT OF THE HOLT focuses on a tiny English village of long history, seemingly ordinary on the surface. But a long set of containment stones and an influx of the Shadow Fabric brings increasing trouble and dangers.

Mark Cassell_Guest Post

From Simian to Serpent

It’s no secret the older I’ve got, the more difficult it is for me to face heights. Whether a balcony, a motorway overpass or a mountain, my calf muscles will twitch, my stomach churn, my heart pulse in my throat. And that sensation of the gaping chasm sucking me up and over the edge. Down, down…

Splat.

As a kid, I loved climbing trees; a typical trait of any young boy. Though I do wonder when it all changed. Maybe the catalyst for my growing phobia was when I was fifteen years old.

Allow me to tell you a true story:

Jon and I clambered up the tree, from branch to branch, agile as monkeys. We must’ve been at least fifteen feet up when we finally rested to peer out towards where his house was. Squinting through the woodland, I saw his conservatory with its white framework glaring in the afternoon sun.

If his mum knew we were there, tempting gravity beyond rusted barbed wire, she would've killed us. Feet balanced on a hefty limb, I stared up at Jon – he'd clearly climbed this tree many times. I had one arm wrapped around the trunk, the bark jagged and rough, while the other hand gripped what I assumed was a safe branch.

It wasn't. When it made a sharp crack, like an echoing rifle shot, my heart wriggled into my throat.

Gravity snatched my skinny arse.

Jon's pale face shrank into a blur of green and quivering daylight. His eyes grew wider. The stink of wet vegetation filled my lungs as I plunged into whipping branches. Twigs and leaves slapped the back of my head, clawed my flailing arms, and raked my kicking legs. Jon's face shrank away, now tiny. Why hadn't I hit the ground yet?

Still falling, and—

I slammed into the ground.

Dirt and sticks and dead leaves exploded around me. Arms and legs vertical, suspended almost... And the agony, the wind rushing from my lungs, the force much more than a punch to the stomach.

Help me! I silently yelled at my friend.

Why was he not helping? Didn't he care? Perhaps Jon laughed, perhaps he shouted something as he lowered himself from limb to limb. I had no idea. I could not see nor hear anything through the waves of pain, the roaring agony between my ears.

I writhed in a flurry of crispy leaves, my spine and shoulders and skull burning, throbbing. Heat spread into my legs and feet, into my toes, raging through my arms to numb my fingers. Colours and dark spots dotted my vision. I squirmed in the dirt like a dying snake.p I don’t remember Jon's first words, and I sure as hell cannot remember the return walk. Back at Jon's house, we somehow avoided his mum. My T-shirt was shredded from where twigs and sticks had stabbed my back. I'll give Jon some credit, he made a good effort in patching me up, pulling twigs and leaves from my skin. He swabbed the ragged gashes with cotton wool pads.

His mum never knew, but I told mine the morning after. I actually thought it was funny; I'd survived without a single broken bone.

Before breakfast with Mum standing behind me, I sat hunched over the table. Sunlight bled through the window, reaching across the tablecloth. With the occasional wince, I watched Mum's hand drop dirt and bits of leaves and wood onto a tissue. I even noticed the spiral curls of cotton wool Jon had left in my flesh.

Soon it was time for the disinfectant: its odour sharp and stinging my nostrils. I knew what was coming, my muscles tense.

Mum dabbed my wounds and I hissed, long and loud. Like a snake.

Whether this was the catalyst for my vertigo, I’ve no idea.

Many years later when I wrote my debut novel The Shadow Fabric, I did not include my fear. I intended to, but never had a suitable scene that would do it justice. So when it came to expanding the concept by writing short stories, my phobia featured in a story titled “Disturbed” and can be found in Sinister Stitches, a collection of stories in the Shadow Fabric mythos.

This particular tale doesn’t include a monkey, nor a snake, but there is a demon…p> So how about you? Do you have a phobia and can perhaps recall its inception?

* HELL CAT OF THE HOLT - a novella in the Shadow Fabric mythos
Available from Amazon
UK : http://amzn.to/2ruB1ux
US : http://amzn.to/2rJvqO5
* Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines. His best-selling debut novel THE SHADOW FABRIC is closely followed by the popular short story collection SINISTER STITCHES and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit.

Mark’s 2017 release HELL CAT OF THE HOLT further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.

The dystopian sci-fi short story collection CHAOS HALO 1.0: ALPHA BETA GAMMA KILL is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers.

For one of Mark’s FREE stories go to: www.markcassell.com

Or visit the website: www.theshadowfabric.co.uk

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review: A Pig's View of Heaven

A Pig's View of Heaven A Pig's View of Heaven by Stephen McQuiggan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: A PIG'S VIEW OF HEAVEN by Stephen McQuiggan

Something exists beneath the swampy Troughton's Moss, something evil, ancient, and very hungry--hungry for blood and flesh, for murder and mutilation. In the village, it can readily find malleable humans to carry out its desires. For its purposes, humans are virtually interchangeable. For no, that's sufficient; but eventually this Something wants to act on its own. A PIG'S VIEW OF HEAVEN is a dark look at evil, within the human heart and without, at deception and illusion, desire and dismay.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

SIT DOWN AND WRITE 9_June 15-July 15

#sitdownwrite

Sign up at

http://stories-inside.blogspot.com/2017/06/sit-down-and-write-9-june-15-through.html

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review: A Is for Asteroids, Z Is for Zombies: A Bedtime Book about the Coming Apocalypse

A Is for Asteroids, Z Is for Zombies: A Bedtime Book about the Coming Apocalypse A Is for Asteroids, Z Is for Zombies: A Bedtime Book about the Coming Apocalypse by Paul Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: A is For Asteroid, Z is for Zombie

This is not a children's book. {Shudder} If it doesn't give you nightmares and worries, you must be more jaded than I. This delightfully illustrated (in a horrifying fashion, reminiscent of the late, much-lamented, Charles Addams) compendium of eschatological woes is presented as a rhyming bedtime book read by a devoted father to his frightened son, who has been told about asteroid impact. By the time the father finishes, he and the reader are spine-chilled. Who knew the end of the world is possible in so many variants?


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: The Never-Open Desert Diner: A Novel

The Never-Open Desert Diner: A Novel The Never-Open Desert Diner: A Novel by James Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE NEVER-OPEN DESERT DINER by James Anderson

I am totally head-over-heels in love with this novel! It's perfect in every respect, absorbing and fulfilling. Deeply delineated characters populate the novel, along with the Desert, a character in itself, perhaps an even greater character than the human individuals, certainly a stronger and more enduring character.

Our very likable (even admirable) protagonist is Ben Jones, an almost middle-aged local haul trucker, orphaned from birth, who for decades has delivered on a single lonely and isolated Utah desert highway. Ben is always broke, poor, living on the edge in a society that only rewards wealth and power. If it rewarded integrity and merit, Ben Jones would be a king.

THE NEVER-OPEN DESERT DINER is gloriously literate, mysterious, thrilling, romantic--and all around wonderful.



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Review: The Halloween Children

The Halloween Children The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN
by Brian James Freeman Norman Prentiss

THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN is a terrifying horror story which I couldn't set aside till I finished (and then couldn't get out of my imagination). Set in a quiet Maryland apartment complex, not far from a University campus, the focus of the story is a small family: Harris, Lynn, and their two children Amber and Matthew. Harris is the complex maintenance supervisor, with little to do because most of the work is contracted out to professionals. Lynn is a telecommuter, working in computer customer service from home. The “face” of the complex is a “little Napoleon” named Shawna, who rules rigidly and indiscriminately. Some of the residents are real terrors, in the human sense, and there are multiple layers of “reality” involved as well. Overarching this plot line of marital conflict, overprecocious offspring who might be both too imaginative and lacking in moral code, and Harris' own perceptions (which may or may not be “reality) is the approaching Halloween holiday. In conjunction is the theme of “the Halloween children,” as we come to find out, distinctly something (or someones) to be avoided.

Lots of violence and gore abound, but I'd be hard put to discern which is scarier: the “monsters” (if they exist) or the human evil. Unforgettable novel.

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Review: Lockdown: A Novel of Suspense

Lockdown: A Novel of Suspense Lockdown: A Novel of Suspense by Laurie R. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of LOCKDOWN by Laurie R. King

Prolific author Laurie R. King has an immense talent for bringing her novels into the lives of readers. While reading LOCKDOWN, I felt I lived through its events and through the present and past lives of its character populace—yes, vicariously, but so vividly!

LOCKDOWN is the story of Guadalupe Middle School in tiny Central California farming community San Felipe, but its reverberations stretch also to the Midwest, Mexico, and New Guinea. Guadalupe could be a school almost anywhere, and because its students, staff, administrators, and parents are so realistic, they could be us, our neighbors, our family and friends. The events at and around Guadalupe are both joyful and horrifying, both hopeful and horrid—such is real life, is it not?

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Review: The Suicide Motor Club

The Suicide Motor Club The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE SUICIDE MOTOR CLUB by Christopher Buehman

A literate road trip of horror, THE SUICIDE MOTOR CLUB in flavour put me in mind of Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS. But these constantly on-the-move muscle-car-addicted violent profane road-trippers aren't gods of any sort--instead, they are the original undead: vampires. With one possible exception, a gentlemanly sort and older vampire named Clayton, this group weren't likeable while alive, and much less so since becoming undead. Their big mistake is taking the five-year-old son of a woman with strong, unending faith. She can tolerate the death of her cheating husband, but the loss of her son pits her against the vampiric contingent--and oh, will the sparks fly now!!

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review: Rosebud Hill, Volume 1: Searching for Willoughby

Rosebud Hill, Volume 1: Searching for Willoughby Rosebud Hill, Volume 1: Searching for Willoughby by Martin Reaves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ROSEBUD HILL VOL. 1 by Martin Reaves

"Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!" describes my immediate and continued awe as I devoured this novel! Suspension of disbelief was immediate and permanent. I thought Mr. Reaves had delved into the Akashic Records and read my thoughts, dreams, and experience, then set those in a locale I've never been. ROSEBUD HILL VOL. 1 is so perfect, and I find no fault. I'm as excited reading it as I am a John Connolly novel in his Charlie Parker series--which is to say, over the moon and then some.

Mr. Reaves sets his tales on a haunted [really haunted, really preternatural] stretch of quiet, rural, isolated Oregon highway. Only sometimes this particular road is not quite as isolated as it should be. Sometimes there are impossibly tall mist beings, sometimes there's a town that shouldn't [and doesn't] exist. Sometimes there's inexplicable disease, too many missing young women, too easy to disappear. In this 12-mile stretch, the veil is very, very permeable, not just at Halloween.

There are some really nasty villains here--not all of them human. There are people who have committed really bad acts, but want redemption. There are good folks too. And then there's Rosebud Hill, the town that is, or isn't, depending; and a bloody camper hidden way back in the woods...

Mr. Reaves deftly weaves in the original Twilight Zone: if you remember it, you 'll love what he does. If you don't, no worry, he ensures readers' understanding. I am also reminded of the original Outer Limits series as well.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review: Converging

Converging Converging by Thomas S. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CONVERGING by Thomas Flowers

I don't come lightly to anything by this author. I bring my mind, my imagination, and my soul, knowing all three will be stretched. Mr. Flowers has a degree in history (which he capably demonstrates), but his understanding of Character, both of individuals and of Place, is positively Faulknerian. Whether he's delving into Houston, or East Texas, the Delta of Mississippi, or a tiny, smug, Appalachian community, Mr. Flowers comprehends the Character of Place; and when he finishes with us, so do we. He also understands the nature of evil, and how easily it conceals itself from less-discerning eyes. Delve into CONVERGING, and prepare to come away Changed.

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