Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Review: It Came From Anomaly Flats

It Came From Anomaly Flats It Came From Anomaly Flats by Clayton Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

.Review of IT CAME FROM ANOMALY FLATS by Clayton Smith

What could possibly be as great as the original novel ANOMALY FLATS, the story of the town that makes TWILIGHT ZONE, OUTER LIMITS, and NIGHT GALLERY look like Levittown? Well, here it is:

If you've read ANOMALY FLATS (if you haven't, whyever not?? I've read it twice) you remember that this tiny little odd community somewhere in Missouri is transdimensional, horrific, the stuff of epic science fiction. But some of the background of the town has only been hinted at. Come along now with your guide Clayton Smith and explore parts of the town you haven't yet discovered....

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Review: It Came From Anomaly Flats

It Came From Anomaly Flats It Came From Anomaly Flats by Clayton Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

.Review of IT CAME FROM ANOMALY FLATS by Clayton Smith

What could possibly be as great as the original novel ANOMALY FLATS, the story of the town that makes TWILIGHT ZONE, OUTER LIMITS, and NIGHT GALLERY look like Levittown? Well, here it is:

If you've read ANOMALY FLATS (if you haven't, whyever not?? I've read it twice) you remember that this tiny little odd community somewhere in Missouri is transdimensional, horrific, the stuff of epic science fiction. But some of the background of the town has only been hinted at. Come along now with your guide Clayton Smith and explore parts of the town you haven't yet discovered....

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Review: Avert Your Eyes Vol.1

Avert Your Eyes Vol.1 Avert Your Eyes Vol.1 by Spike Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of AVERT YOUR EYES Vol. 1 by Spike Black

A delightfully freaky and spooky collection, as readers expect from author Spike Black, these ten tales manage to upend reality, to mirror it, or to alter it entirely (and "mirroring" is a theme used more than once, as is repetitive time loops of the type in "Groundhog Day"). Whatever your concept is of consensus reality, you may find yourself rethinking that again and again. Every story is a gem, worth reading and then pondering (even rereading). I enjoyed each one, but my favourite still remains the first story, "Freak Fear." I easily identified with the protagonist, became involved in the story--and then, the ending just blew me completely away. Loved it!!

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Review: Sarah Killian: Serial Killer

Sarah Killian: Serial Killer Sarah Killian: Serial Killer by Mark Sheldon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A truly delightful somewhat-extreme horror story, released July 29, 2016, this novel relates in first person narrative the life and times of one Sarah Killian, not a woman you'd want for your best friend, but definitely individual-with-purpose. Once upon a time, beginning at age sixteen [and I think there is much more to that than meets the eye, or in this case, the page] Sarah turned the harsh lessons of life to use, and became a killer. More accurately, she started on a path of serial killing, until in her early 20's, she was recruited by the shadowy organization [layers upon layers, and who among them knows the entire and actual truth] known as T.H.E.M. Trained by this organization as a Professional Serial Killer [NOT assassin, as Sarah will insist], she is sent out as a contract killer, but rather than being say, a sniper, she frameworks each killing to appear to be that of a serial killer, and especially of the individual chosen to be a "Herring" [as in the "red herring" of the mystery genre.

I so enjoyed this story that I hope Sarah will be a series. Yes, there is gore, there is violence, there's even references to intimacy, but you don't have to worry about being overburdened with emotions. Sociopath Sarah gets along just fine without them [except for rage and vengeance, qualities she possesses in abundance!]

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: Single White Psychopath Seeks Same

Single White Psychopath Seeks Same Single White Psychopath Seeks Same by Jeff Strand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the second horror/mystery in the Andrew Mayhem series about the feckless, not-quite-brilliant, often-irresponsible wants-to-be-a-private-detective-but-he's-no-Lew-Archer protagonist. Husband, father of two, Andrew has one best friend and very few work experiences. He does, however, have one supreme talent: he's always in the wrong place at the wrong time, or at least when he's in coffeeshops. Who knew?

This novel is quite a bit gorier in tone than the first, although since the first dealt with snuff films-to-order, that's a stretch. Andrew and Roger meet up, to their eventual dismay, with a private investigator who is just about as feckless as Andrew, and through him, several rampant psychopaths, two of whom (a married couple) own an Alaskan estate at which they and their sadistic friends practice their favourite games: the slow road to death. Andrew is supposed to be a serial killer himself, but he is soon found out, and subjected to the designs of the five psychopaths-in-residence, as is Roger, whom they have added to their "prisoner" compound.

Difficult as it is to imagine, author Strand's trademark humour is here as always to leaven the horrendous nature of the storyline, and yes, we have character delineation as well. Seems somewhere in their abyss, even psychopaths can find some sort of fellow feeling. So, not recommended for the faint of heart, but if you like your horror on the extreme side, with plenty of violence, gore, and threats of same, deeply seasoned with humour, and a first-person viewpoint in which the protagonist readily acknowledges his imperfections, go for this.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Review: Kutter

Kutter Kutter by Jeff Strand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of KUTTER by Jeff Strand

The very best factor in this book is the character evolution. The next best factor is the delightful dogs (yes, all of them, even the meanies). Those two factors alone would satisfy me. But author Jeff Strand, who thoroughly knows what he's about before he sets to the keyboard, additionally gives us a wonderful story which leavens serious horror with humor, empathy, suspense, and a neat turning-of-tables as the protagonist (initally an unfeeling, almost robotic, individual whose only excitement comes from an odd version of serial killing) is confronted emotionally by a pesky co-worker, a new lady, his found dog's former owner, and physically by two fear-inducing men with mean dogs and a serious agenda.

I would have read this novel just because of the author. I would have read it just because of "Kutter," the Boston Terrier. The gift of character evolution brought the story to an entirely new high level for me. Love it.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: Graverobbers Wanted: No Experience Necessary

Graverobbers Wanted: No Experience Necessary Graverobbers Wanted: No Experience Necessary by Jeff Strand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of GRAVEROBBERS WANTED: NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY by Jeff Strand {Andrew Mayhem #1}

GRAVEROBBERS WANTED: NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY had literally been on my TBR list for about 4.5 years, the second book I listed as "to read" after I joined Goodreads on 1 January 2012. Just recently I found the ANDREW MAYHEM COLLECTION on Kindle Unlimited, a set of the first four books in Jeff Strand's wonderful Andrew Mayhem Series. Talk about feckless protagonists [I've been reviewing a 6-book series with a female protagonist who is nothing but feckless]: Andrew Mayhem, husband, father of 2 feisty offspring, non-worker, bouncing from university major to major to major, now from not-job to not-job, doing odds and ends to earn an income while his registered nurse wife "brings home the bacon," tries out videotaping a cheating spouse (not his) and ends up beaten and assaulted (not by cheater but on his behalf) which is very difficult to explain to Andrew's long-suffering wife Helen. Next, in the vein of "too good to be true," a curvaceous blonde offers Andrew and best friend Roger (never the sharpest tool in the shed) 20K to--wait for it--exhume her husband. But hang on! Husband isn't buried in a cemetery. No, his grave is off in the woods, isolated, untended, and had nothing to do with a funeral home or normal interment.

That alone would make most folks suspicious, and leery of participating. Not so this non-dynamic duo. Before the novel ends, a lot of people are going to get hurt, some very badly (fatally and it's not pretty), there will be abductions, confinement, terrors, threats, natural deaths, and broken bones. The storyline turns really ugly but unfortunately, somewhere in the world such events probably are occurring, given the nature of modern culture. Mr. Strand manages to leaven the horror throughout with the most clever humor. I generally eschew comedy in favor of real horror, but in this storyline I don't think I could have handled my outrage if it weren't for the consistent humorous notes so cleverly interwoven. Kudos to Jeff Strand for bringing a mystery that is both humor-filled and horrendous.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: A Living Grave

A Living Grave A Living Grave by Robert E. Dunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE LIVING GRAVE by Robert Dunn

At the core of this novel is Fear: fear of dying, fear of living. Some characters are torn between giving up on the way to an assured demise, others block out joy and pleasure and happiness in order to dwell on horrific memories a decade in the past. Some refuse to acknowledge their personal responsibility, others internalize victimization into guilt and shame. All of these options are emotionally and psychologically crippling.

In the beautifully scenic Ozarks, under a surface of scenery, contentment, simple joys and peace, stirs a monstrous conspiracy fueled (as almost always) by greed. Whiskey, illicit drug operations, and violence rumble under that pleasant surface, as does out-of-town criminal muscle and a cultural phenomenon which is often dismissed as "urban legend" and in Martin Reaves' A FRACTURED CONJURING is given the coined term "Chronic Mysticism." From a metaphysics viewpoint, this involves the use of mass thought forms to create a "tulpa" of the mind and of the culture, bringing to life a construction of the mind and propagandizing belief in it in the minds of the public (or a subculture).

Sheriff's Detective Katrina Williams carries a horrendous weight from her past. In addition to the thoughts and memories that constantly trouble her, she must battle her own as-yet-unacknowledged addiction to alcohol, and the occasional bullying of male law enforcement determined that she is "less" than they. She experienced this over and over during her tenure as an Army officer, a tenure which resulted in the PTSD with which she daily struggles.

I have not found a story so troubling since I read Lee Child's THE VISITOR, which also deals with military sexual harassment, and all the way back to Thanksgiving of 1975, Susan Brownmiller's AGAINST OUR WILL: MEN, WOMEN, AND RAPE. Author Robert Dunn (whose books RED HIGHWAY and MOTORMAN I have reviewed and found immensely moving) has elicited all the emotional trauma, the victim's shame and guilt, the rage for vengeance, by making "Hurricane" Katrina Williams a vibrant, even larger-than-life, individual, in this very moving mystery.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: A Fractured Conjuring

A Fractured Conjuring A Fractured Conjuring by Martin Reaves
My rating: 0 of 5 stars


I stand in awe of the intellect, the creative imagination, that wrote this novel. This book functions on so many levels--less a vast cast of characters than a multiplicity of levels per character. I read several in-depth reviews before beginning it, and early on in my reading of it, and I am far from being the only reader awestruck. What an imagination is this! Mine feels as if it has been stretched like salt water taffy, then popped back into place, over and over again. Certainly I end the book a different creature than when I had begun it.

Whether you choose to view this story as the chronicle of a descent into madness, or as reincarnation come to life, or as demonic inhabitation, I think that you will not be able to walk away from A FRACTURED CONJURING unchanged. I think the novel should be accompanied by a neon warning label:
"Caution: Your sanity, character, emotions, soul, and spirit will all be supremely rocked and challenged should you take up the concept of reading this novel."

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Review: The Awakening

The Awakening The Awakening by Brett McBean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE AWAKENING by Brett McBean

Coming of age novels exist in many forms and degrees of quality. I've read several, and enjoy this particular category. I've never read one to date as outstanding as THE AWAKENING by accomplished and gifted author Brett McBean. This novel repeatedly blew me out of the water. Set in the small town of Belford in the Midwest, a bigoted, isolationist community under the surface (on the surface it's a calm, peaceful, quiet little Norman Rockwell vision), THE AWAKENING is the story of three fourteen-year-old boys, leaving middle school for the horrors of high school [the protagonist once rhetorically questions, "Is anybody ready for high school?"]. Toby and Frankie have been fast friends since earliest times, Toby the only child in a nuclear family, Frankie raised by single mother and older sister since birth. The two are inseparable, and good kids as a rule. But the summer between middle school and high school is beyond nightmarish: tragedy, fatality, bigotry, shunning, and so much more.

THE AWAKENING is also the story of Jacques (Jack) Joseph, an elderly Haitian native, whose history goes back much farther than the reader would expect. In his interaction with Toby, we learn so much of Haitian history beginning in 1918 [virtually none of it positive], and of vodoun, both white and black [as Mr. Joseph puts it, with either hand--the right hand of positive spirituality, the left hand of black magic, what in medieval times sometimes went by the term "bar sinister."] So there are actually novels upon novels within the framework of THE AWAKENING, a story everyone would benefit by reading. [Sherwood Anderson, take note.]

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Review: Chill the Bones

Chill the Bones Chill the Bones by Sten Ostberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


CHILL THE BONES is one of those wonderful noir stories with sparse prose and taut plotting and unexpected twists that seem to be a hallmark of Scandinavian crime fiction. The infant daughter of a former police detective is abducted, and the kidnapper makes it clear that he or she will stop at nothing. As the situation escalates, the parents' marriage is strained, they are in danger as well as the innocent child, and the revelations of the cause will rock them and the reader.

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Review: The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A classic I should have read long ago, THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is a short story with incredible impact. Originally published in 1892, the narrator is a wife virtually imprisoned in an estate house, for the summer, by her physician husband (with the connivance of her physician brother). She is a victim of the prevailing 19th century thought on females that they were prone to "hysteria" due to their biology (no thank you, Dr. Freud) and although not expressed in those terms, hysteria is what her husband diagnoses. He respects her so little that he refuses her choice of rooms (she sensibly asks for a room with light and air and garden exposure) and installs her in the top-floor nursery, where the wallpaper peels in strips, the wooden floor is scratched, and there are no curtains to ease sunlight nor moonlight. Then he stays away as much as possible. The consequence is a gradual mental and psychological decline, a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy by the physician/husband (he declares "nervous depression," she descends into insanity).

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is a stern and ringing condemnation of the upper-class Victorian Era society (on both sides of The Big Pond) that ruled women third-class, prone to bouts of hysteria, and allowed husbands to decide everything, including disrespecting an adult woman with the "fond" appellation "little girl."

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Mystery Hill

Mystery Hill Mystery Hill by R. Patrick Gates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of MYSTERY HILL by R. Patrick Gates

MYSTERY HILL is a tautly-constructed YA horror/mystery involving (naturally) monsters, mythology, clueless adults (several), and smart youngsters (some too smart for their own good). It's fast-paced and a one or two sitting read; certainly it kept me turning the pages. Definitely emotionally involving, the story explores relationships in families, blended families, and families with loss (of a parent), as well as sibling rivalry gone ballistic.

When Jenny, her father, stepmother, and stepbrother move to a tiny Maine community, just so her stepmother can live her dream of living in a Colonial era rustic farmhouse, Jenny is distraught at being uprooted from her school and friends. Little could she realize initially how much worse can happen. She soon makes two good friends in whom she delights, but their very proximity to her puts the friends and their families in danger, as well as Jenny's own blended family.

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Review: Kids

Kids Kids by Jack Rollins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of KIDS
(Anthology from Dark Chapter Press, Various Authors)

The Victorian ostensible perception of children was to consider them sweet little innocent angels (hence the popularity of cherubs on the graves of children in that era), but modern society recognizes that children can be not only misbehaving, but actually criminal. Children can and do kill, on occasion. Children also, on occasion, torment and kill small animals and pets. The various children in this Anthology, singly or paired, are something more than just acting up. Some of these are downright evil.

Every single story in this anthology is a gem: well-written, tautly-developed, with fascinating and well-rounded characters. There is suspense, horror, plot twists, and many surprises, not all good. I definitely recommend this, both for the Anthology as an entirety, and for its introductions to many excellent authors.

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Review: Blood in Electric Blue

Blood in Electric Blue Blood in Electric Blue by Greg F. Gifune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of BLOOD IN ELECTRIC BLUE by Greg F. Gifune

If you've read anything by Greg Gifune, you know to expect cutting-edge, off-the-mainstream fiction that will delve deep into the reader and carve its own unforgettable niche. Mr. Gifune presents several enduring (in more senses than one) characters in BLOOD IN ELECTRIC BLUE, a novella I believe has and will impact me as powerfully as did his novel SAYING UNCLE.

BLOOD IN ELECTRIC BLUE weaves mythology with loneliness, death, violence, childhood horrors, transgender/transsexualism, the longing for love (in many stripes), domestic violence, and so much more, including the backdrop of a city with its selective neighborhoods, a low-rent "red light" district, and a suspicious chemical manufactory that never ever stops. It is unforgettable, literally and metaphorically.

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Review: Island Red

Island Red Island Red by Matt Serafini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of ISLAND RED by Matt Serafini

ISLAND RED is at once sci fi, adventure thriller, horror, and emotionally involving. Commencing explosively as a courting couple enjoying a nighttime swim witnesses, to their eternal regret, a fireball plummeting from the sky into the ocean. From that point, the horror and adventure are nonstop, as the inhabitants and visitors of a tiny island called Crystal Key, 20 miles from the Florida Keys, come under attack by quadruple, somewhat unrelated threats, every one promising fatal consequences.

This is not one of those adventure thrillers in which a happy hero rides to the rescue, saving the damsel and many bystanders. This is far more nihilistic, and believe me, some of the humans are more monstrous than the marine threat or the newly-arrived (via fireball/meteor) threat. Wildlife, after all, acts on instinct, following the evolutionary imperatives. Humans, however, choose to act, so I think the greater onus is on the human monsters in this story.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: Satan's Lambs

Satan's Lambs Satan's Lambs by Lynn S. Hightower
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SATAN'S LAMBS by Lynn Hightower

Definitely not for the faint of heart, SATAN'S LAMBS is a high-powered detective/metaphysical/psychological study, not amiss for the fact that it's original publication was in 1993, before the era of cell phones and before widespread home computer use. In context, it doesn't seem bewildering when the protagonists must hunt a pay phone, because the storyline flows so smoothly and definitely captures the reader's attention. The author adds a plethora of scenic details, as the story travels from University community Lexington, KY, to Appalachian Eastern Kentucky, and Knoxville and Nashville, TN, with points in between. An abducted child, badly injured mother, and a generational satanist family cult are bright splashes of colour, again riveting readers' attention. I look forward to exploring more mysteries by this accomplished author.

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Review: Pay The Ghost

Pay The Ghost Pay The Ghost by Tim Lebbon
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review of PAY THE GHOST by Tim Lebbon

A short story of extreme horror, which is also extremely sad. Seems like there are no winners in this one (except perhaps the titular ghost).The faint of heart will not enjoy this one. However, in the hands of an author I consider a master of horror, the characters are so finely delineated, the horrors so imaginative, the setting so vivid, that this is a tale well worth the perusal [Just not at night and not alone.]

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ALL-NIGHT TERROR By Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini_Release Day Review

All-Night Terrorby Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini

Sinister Grin Press

Media Kit

Publicist/Marketing: Erin Al-Mehairi
Contact: hookofabook@hotmail.com


Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #AllNightTerror #storiesofterror 
#HookofaBook #SinisterGrin

File Size: 392 KB
Print Length: 144 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press (July 15, 2016)
Publication Date: July 15, 2016


All-Night Terror, Synopsis

You’re invited to experience ALL NIGHT TERROR. Don't look for help, your weaker friends will be too scared to attend, but you’re in for the nightmare of your life.

Sit down in front of the TV and prepare for a late-night odyssey of wicked shocks as a horror movie marathon becomes a bloodbath before your very eyes. It starts when a disgruntled cable host seizes control of a television station, determined to give his viewers an evening they won’t soon forget. One where monsters of all shapes and sizes rise up against mankind. One where deranged killers prowl the night for a variety of victims. And one where cinema itself haunts its creators and creations.

Join modern horror stars Adam Cesare (TribesmenZero Lives Remaining) and MattSerafini (FeralIsland Red) as they bring you ten tales of fear that will have you shivering between the pages.

All-NIGHT TERROR—good to the last slash.


Author Biographies


Adam Cesare’s list of books include Zero Lives Remaining, The First One You Expect,Video NightThe Summer Job, Mercy House and Tribesmen. He writes a monthly column exploring horror fiction and film for Cemetery Dance Online. He lives in Philadelphia and can be found at AdamCesare.com, where he’s giving away a free e-book if you sign up for his mailing list.

Matt Serafini is the author of  Island RedDevil’s RowUnder the Blade and Feral. He’s a columnist for Dread Central, and has formerly contributed to Bloody-Disgusting,Fangoria and Shock Till You Drop. He lives in Central Massachusetts with his wife and son where he spends way too much time tracking down obscure slasher movies. Find him at mattserafini.com

Find more information on Sinister Grin Press at www.sinistergrinpress.com. We have “horror that’ll carve a smile on your face.”

Purchase Links

Kindle US


Universal Amazon


Sinister Grin Press


Also available in paperback!


Media? Wish to Feature?


If you are a member of the media or a blogger that wishes to review All-Night Terror or to feature Matt or Adam, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicity and marketing, Sinister Grin Press, athookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com.


All-Night TerrorAll-Night Terror by Adam Cesare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars 

Release Day New Edition
Review of ALL-NIGHT TERROR by Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini
[revised, release July 15 2016 by Sinister Grin Press]

ALL-NIGHT TERROR is not the first celebration of B-movie gore that I've read, and likely won't be the last; but it is the best I've read. Authors Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini are artistes of Gore, and this delightful book is an encapsulation of some of the most frightening "monsters" around (both nonhuman and human). Appealing to those youngsters (of any age) who delight in Creature Features, schlock film, and horror movies in general, as well as readers who want more-more-more monster, and those who love their fiction splashed and splattery, ALL-NIGHT TERROR presents a series of "films," woven into a set-piece of real-life insanity and takedown, all as viewed by a young boy who after all only wanted a nice horrifying marathon film Saturday night!
Enjoy four NEW stories, two by each of the authors, only in this revised edition! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: The Family Man

The Family Man The Family Man by T.J. Lebbon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE FAMILY MAN by T. J. Lebbon

Let me tell you this: I really enjoyed (and found frightening) THE HUNT, the first in this thriller series by prolific author T. J. Lebbon. But THE FAMILY MAN, second in the series (there are some continuing characters, even though each is otherwise a stand-alone), brings the sport to an entirely new level. THE FAMILY MAN is electrifying, a can't-put-down roller-coaster read. I literally raced through it as the characters, settings, and convoluted twisty plot kept me glued to the page.

Instead of sensible architect husband-father Chris Sheen in THE HUNT, a man who was randomly targeted for killing and acted to save his family, here we have Dom, an electrician, husband and father; but unfortunately feckless and too easily led by others, especially his "close friend" Andy. Andy scarcely has to mention a potential criminal enterprise, and Dom leaps in, no thought of prison or of the potential damage to his family and marriage. Unthinkingly he trusts Andy, whose secrets are very, very dangerous, to Andy himself and now to Dom, his wife Emma, and their daughter Daisy. Of course, there is collateral damage including other fatalities, because the secret Andy is hiding is explosive, a real killer.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: The Hunt

The Hunt The Hunt by Tim Lebbon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE HUNT by T. J. Lebbon

The first venture into thriller for this accomplished and proclaimed author of fantasy and horror, THE HUNT is a stomach-churning, gut-wrenching adventure tale. I use those adjectives for the shock value included, but also because the sheer unrelenting terror, danger, and implacability is heartstopping. THE HUNT is a tale of Man vs. Man, Man vs. Himself, and Man vs. Man (in the latter case, there are multiple instances of individuals pitted against individuals, against individuals as representatives of a group, and of individuals against a very implacable, high-powered, highly-funded group). Of course, bottom line is the excesses, frailities, and traits of human nature (in some cases here, inhuman nature housed in a human physiology).

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Review: The Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE JERSEY DEVIL by Hunter Shea

The common thread in Hunter Shea's stories is that a reader learns to expect the unexpected. [Just read I KILL IN PEACE.] Every cryptid he writes of is never the cryptid we have learned to expect, but something different, stranger, "meta." Here the common, ordinary legend of "The Jersey Devil" transforms into something far more terrifying (as if the original Jersey Devil and its purported origin wasn't frightening enough).

Another factor in Hunter Shea's books is that he manages capably to juggle a sizeable number of characters while rendering each and all actual individuals, deeply definining them and then turning them loose to interact with others in the cast. In THE JERSEY DEVIL, I was impressed by the family ties of multiple families, and found myself wishing these could be true for families everywhere. Also, Mr. Shea's portrait of the "Lone Cryptozoologist" and his cat (and his failings and foibles) is both endearing and enlightening.

Surprisingly, Hunter Shea's THE JERSEY DEVIL is, I think, the first book-length treatment I have read on this topic. I'm certain it's going to color all the others I've yet to read.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CONSEQUENCES by John Quick_Review & Tour

Review of CONSEQUENCES by John Quick

A well-written, well-executed, well-played novel, a horror-thriller, coming-of-age, first-love-blossoming, rural redneck insanity [that is not a judgment, that's referring to several recurring characters], CONSEQUENCES is a biting, gory, thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride in which the suspense never lets up.
Author John Quick takes especial care with his young (adolescent, newly high school graduates) characters, making sure that although they are realistic "teens," with all that entails, they are also full-fledged individuals, each in his or her own right. They're not just cardboard one-dimensional props. As the story progresses, we truly get to know them, including their hearts and souls. I'll give just one example, chosen not to give anything away: fairly early on, two of the young people, Tyler and Alexis, converse, deeply. Not only does Tyler demonstrate real thoughtfulness sometimes uncommon to his age group (and gender), but his nature is more compassionate than many adults (especially in our current era of "hate").

I can't say I "like" the villain (who shall remain unidentified for purposes of this review), but I do understand the motivations, I think. As with so many serial killers, such as Manson or Bundy, genetics ("nature") collides irretrievably with "nurture" (environment, upbringing), creating an individual who adheres only to his or her own moral code, acting according to his or her own lights, and we find that more than once in this novel. I can't see how the villain in question could have acted much differently, and that implacability, for me, heightens both the suspense and the enjoyment of the novel.

For those interested in the "If you like --(author), will you like this author?" I will mention that Mr. Quick has found comparison to Jack Ketchum, and from my viewpoint, with (wait for it) Bryan D. Smith (also a Tennessee author) and Matt Shaw. I point this out not only in regard to the gore level, but in the way that each author illumines character and raises the plot above the ordinary, to something numinous.

Consequences, Synopsis

Publishing Date: April 11, 2016
Page Length: 245 pages

It was a summer of blood and terror...

For seven friends, graduation night was supposed to be a time to celebrate the end of their high school careers and the start of their real lives.

But when an accident while partying at the local haunted house results in tragedy, they find themselves being hunted by a maniac for whom the stakes are decidedly personal.

Thirty years ago, Crazy Freddy hung his family up with barbed wire and skinned them alive. Now, the survivors can only hope for such a kindness as they are forced to accept that for everything they do, there will be CONSEQUENCES.


John Quick has been reading and writing scary and disturbing stuff for as long as he can remember, and has only recently begun releasing some of his creations upon the world.


His debut novel, Consequences is available now as a paperback or digital eBook. Watch for his next novel to come from Sinister Grin Press in 2017. He lives in Middle Tennessee with his wife, two kids, and three dogs that think they're kids.


When he's not hard at work on his next novel, you can find him online at :http://johnquickauthor.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook and Twitter.


Praise for Consequences

“The character work here is pretty impressive, particularly for a first-time novelist.” –Michael Hicks, Author of Let Go

John Quick takes you inside the mind of a psycho path in this thriller. I read it in only two sittings because the pacing kept me turning the pages. Very well written, I enjoyed the dialogue very much, especially the young people being hunted by the killer. It felt believable and well developed.” –Michelle Garza, co-author of Mayan Blue

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If you would like to review Consequences or feature John with an interview or guest article for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com .

Review: Every Part of the Animal

Every Part of the Animal Every Part of the Animal by Duncan Ralston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of EVERY PART OF THE ANIMAL by Duncan Ralston

I am really enamoured of the protagonist, Bo Lowery, a real pioneer woman if I ever read of one. Bo is a prehistoric hunter-gatherer in 21st century rural Alaska, a mother-moose plus mother-bear plus mother-lion rolled into one. She will figuratively stand and let all sorts of disrespect roll off her like water off the proverbial duck, but boy oh boy, no matter who you are, you do NOT EVER mess with her son, Caleb. You don't threaten him, you don't threaten his home or his welfare. If you do, likely you won't ever threaten anything again.

Young Caleb is quite a person in his own right. Not quite ten years old, he undergoes a massive amount of character evolution between the beginning of the story and its end. Speaking of the ending, perfectly done. The story is tautly plotted, and the author has a subtle way of working in the various elements of the backstory, revealing them when their discovery is the most potent.

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Review: The Ice Princess

The Ice Princess The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of ICE PRINCESS by Camilla Lackberg
[Patrick Hedstrom #1]
This first in a series by acclaimed and prolific Swedish author Camilla Lackberg carries that particular flavour I've found common in Scandianavian noir and crime fiction. Perhaps it's living in a part of the world where winter is always a serious business, sometimes life or death, and where darkness comes early and lingers. In any event, I've noticed among many Scandinavian authors that there is a sort of subtle aloofness, a remoteness often common to the characters [of course, this is also true in the wonderful The Wasp Factory by Iain M. Banks, not a Scandinavian author, but a novel that falls into this flavour nonetheless, very clearly so].

From the initial bathtub death scene, the reader is impelled into the story line, following along as noted biographer Erica Falck becomes convinced to undercover the life and secrets of her late childhood best friend, Alexandra. The translation into English is excellent, and provides a pleasant and entertaining journey into the heart of a very puzzling mystery. Did she? Or didn't she? If not she, then Who?

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Review: Morbid Metamorphosis

Morbid Metamorphosis Morbid Metamorphosis by Jo-Anne Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of MORBID METAMORPHOSIS (Lycan Valley Press)

Used to be, when reading anthologies, I could single out a favourite story (or several). Not so with MORBID METAMORPHOSIS, the debut release from Lycan Valley Press. Here I find it impossible to choose just one, so I'll say I have 22 favourites! A reader can't go wrong with this collection, which contains something (multiple somethings) for everyone. Lycan Valley Press has collated an outstanding collection, well worth reading in each and every one of the stories. I also much enjoyed the Introduction by Blaze McRob, and the Afterword from Publisher Jo-Anne Russell.

MORBID METAMORPHOSIS provides high hopes for the future of Lycan Valley Press. Looking forward to new releases!

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Review: The Chosen Routes

The Chosen Routes The Chosen Routes by Matt Shaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE CHOSEN ROUTES by Matt Shaw

The more I read by this prolific author, the more I am impressed. This story is horror, yes; Supernatural, yes; a thriller, yes. Character exposition is excellent, yes. But as well as being scared (yes), I am most impressed by Mr. Shaw's writing capabilities. THE CHOSEN ROUTES is an incredibly polished piece of writing. Each character is perfectly delineated and a perfect fit into the story's jigsaw. The horror starts subtly, more as an aside (like children making fun of the old grimy rundown house at the end of the road), but builds and builds until WHAM!! the reader (and the characters) are knocked senseless with grief and fear. Perfectly polished, perfect in execution.

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Review: Broken: A Psychological Horror

Broken: A Psychological Horror Broken: A Psychological Horror by Matt Shaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This review is likely to appear as a testimonial to the author. Perhaps it is. I certainly am more and more impressed. When I first "happened" upon listings for author Matt Shaw, I noted that he is a bestselling UK horror author, and known for his "black cover" (extreme horror) books. At that time, I wasn't particularly interested in getting into the extremes, so I passed. Recently, however, I read THE HOUSE THAT HELL BUILT, a collaboration between Matt Shaw, Michael Bray, and Stuart Keane, and enjoyed it extremely [pun intended]. Since then, I've been trying to read as much by Matt Shaw as possible (and as prolific as he is, I haven't caught up).

BROKEN released July 2 2016. It is psychological horror, and as such, omits the rather extreme venues Mr. Shaw is noted for. However, the ending, when one pulls aside the veil and looks into it, certainly would qualify for extreme. Yet it is subtle; everything about the story is subtle, low-key, and understated, and it's a wonderful and fascinating portrait of character progress and collapse. Additionally, the scenic background is tremendous.

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Review: Bed of Crimson Joy

Bed of Crimson Joy Bed of Crimson Joy by Jasper Bark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of BED OF CRIMSON JOY by Jasper Bark

I wish author Jasper Bark would install a window in his forehead, because I really want to observe his imagination at work. His newest-published, BED OF CRIMSON JOY, is a totally knock-out, kickin', take-no-prisoners, read-and-weep story which just blows common fiction out of the water and out of the Universe. I can't think of any other author quite like Mr. Bark, nor any imagination akin to his. And yes, as his Author's Note says, he is contagious.

Sixty-something Rose has endured four decades of a loveless and sexless marriage with Stanley, a man whose snippy sarcasm I can forgive only for his sharp intellect and knowledge of poetry. A chance encounter with new neighbors propels Rose into an entirely new, seemingly impossible, realm where nothing "real" any longer exists--and where what is, remains eternally, especially punishment.

If this were a Medieval moral tale, a morality play, Rose would be cast as the Wendigo, the hungry spirit always clamoring to be filled, at the cost of her own sanity and soul, and at the cost of all around her. Stanley would be cast as the Cleric, intellectual, ascetic, and lifeless. The reclusive eccentric wealthy individual who appears later in the story, to such powerful effect, would be the Mephistopheles role.

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