Friday, November 10, 2017

Breathe. Breathe. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Breathe. Breathe. is a great collection of poetry and short fiction. The poems are dark and vivid. They touch at the core of the human condition. The poems are gritty and chilling. You can feel the doom and dread in each of the poems. Breathe. Breathe. is an emotional rollercoaster. The characters are troubled and the author gives them just enough depth. 

People go through pain and abuse. The pages are filled will violence and denial. This book will catch you off guard. Some of the poems and short stories don't always go the way you think they will. All of the poems and short stories are great, but the story about the dandelion yellow crayon is my favorite. It broke my heart. The story is a clinical example of real-life horror. The story about the girl on the beach was good too.

I have to admit that I don't know much about poetry. Breathe. Breathe. makes you feel something, and I think that is what makes it so good. I also like that the collection is broken down into three sections, but it also could have worked by mixing the stories in with the poems. 

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror and poetry!

5/5 stars!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Hellraiser: The Toll by Mark Alan Miller

Hellraiser returns in this novella of terror. Look at that beautiful cover! Hellraiser: The Toll fills us in on what happened between The Hellbound Heart and The Scarlet Gospels. Kirsty Cotton returns to the forefront along with Pinhead, or as she likes to call him the Cold Man. 

By now you already know that Kirsty Cotton has eluded Pinhead for quite some time. This novella is set thirty years after The Hellbound Heart, so she is about 40 or 50 something years old. She has been on the run this entire time. Every couple years she changes her name and identity. She also moves quite frequently. 

One day she receives a letter that is addressed to the woman she's been running from for half her life. It turns out that Kirsty Cotton is the first witness. She must play the game and confront Pinhead. It's an epic battle. The fight scene is brilliant. I just didn't know which one to cheer for. (I cheered for Pinhead. I mean, who wouldn't?) The ending was great. Clive Barker's art is scattered throughout this novella, which enhances the story as well. 

If you like Clive Barker's work as much as I do, then you will enjoy this novella. It's not written by him, but it's in the same vein. I love the Hellraiser movies. Maybe this novella will get optioned for the big screen. 

I highly recommend this novella to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Under the Lake by Stuart Woods

Under the Lake is the first book I have read by Stuart Woods. To me, this book is an instant classic. It reads like a horror story, but there are some mystery elements to the story as well. 

John Howell is a journalist who rents a little cabin by a lake in Northern Georgia to write his novel. He becomes familiar with the surrounding town and learns about the lake. He discovers that the lake was forced upon the farm owners. He hears rumors of people who did not get out in time before the farmland was flooded to create the lake. 

Howell starts seeing and hearing things that can't be explained away. He also gets involved with the local ladies. After all, Howell is supposedly a "lady's man." 

This book starts off slow and builds up as the story progresses. You can feel the tension in the isolated town. This book will keep you up late into the night. It is not overtly scary in a horror sense, but more in a realistic sense. This story could have probably happened. That ending will get you too! The characters were believable. The writing style was good too. 

Dive into this book to find out what happened under the lake. 

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

Stay Out Of The Basement by R.L. Stine

It is time for some more Goosebumps! Sorry for the delay in the chronological read through. Stay Out of the Basement used to scare me as a kid. I was thoroughly creeped out by the dad. I never wanted to go into my basement after reading this. To be honest, I still don't.

Dr. Brewer is doing plant research in the basement of his home. Margaret and Casey, his children, start worrying about their dad. Dr. Brewer spends the majority of his time in the basement, so naturally, Margaret and Casey want to check things out. They want to know why their dad is acting strange and neglecting his parental duties.

Dr. Brewer starts growing leaves out of his head and eating plant food. The kids go down into the basement and find all sorts of plants. They also find more than they bargained for. All will be answered in the end. Always remember one thing. R.L. Stine loves a good twist ending.

I enjoyed this book about as much as I did when I was a kid. I thought the writing was great. The storyline was smooth, but a little predictable. The kids questioned themselves almost too much, though. In the end, it was a solid read.

3.5/5 stars!

Optical Delusion by Hunter Shea

Optical Delusion is the second book in the Mail Order Massacres series, but it doesn't read like a second book. Optical Delusion is about a pair of X-Ray glasses that Martin Blackstone's son orders out of one of his comic books. I remember buying collectibles out of comic books when I was a kid, so it hit close to home for me.

Martin Blackstone tries on the X-Ray glasses and they seem to really work. Brian and his friend think they are a waste of money and want to throw them away. Martin's wife thinks he looks rather dashing in his new shades, so he decides to keep them for a while. Every time he wears them, his head hurts and they become harder to take off.

At first, Martin is having a blast checking out all the women around town. There is one scene that made me want to throw up. It's the old man scene. It thoroughly grossed me out. Martin likes being able to check out the women, but their beauty is only skin deep. The X-Ray glasses begin showing what hides beneath the flesh, and Hunter Shea doesn't disappoint.

I like the way the author set up the story. I like how he moves the story along effortlessly. There are no kinks or hiccups in. the storyline. The characters are easily relatable and could be your next-door neighbors. The ending felt rushed. It ends too abruptly. I like how he transitions from kids in Just Add Water to adults in Optical Delusion. I can't wait to see how he ties up the series. Optical Delusion and Just Add Water read like stand-alone, which I thought was cool.

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

You can grab a copy here!

4/5 stars!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Betrayed by Wesley Southard

The Betrayed is Wesley Southard's first novel. With that being said, it was better than most first novels. 

Sydney Jameson is being followed by people who wear brown robes, and they are gaining on him. They need to tell him something about his past and something that he didn't want to know about his future. 

Wesley Southard puts a twist on the war between Heaven and Hell. Who is the real bad guy? Lucifer or Gabriel? Sydney Jameson will soon find out his place in the battle of good vs. evil. Only he can stop the battle once and for all, but the rest of the world wants to stop him. 

I enjoyed the twist on the war between Heaven and Hell. I was invested in Sydney and the other characters in the book. The scenes jumped off the page. The writing style is good. The story is fast-paced and kept me interested. 

This is my first time reading Wesley Southard, but it won't be my last!

I recommend this book to fans of horror!

Get a copy here!

4/5 stars!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sugar Skulls by M. R. Tapia

M. R. Tapia keeps delivering the goods! I wasn't sure about this book at first because I didn't know what a sugar skull was. Of course, I did my research. M. R. Tapia allows the reader to delve into other cultures. So far, I have learned about Japanese and Mexican culture through three of his stories. 

Micah DeAtta wakes up to find himself seated across from Death. Micah doesn't know what is going on, so he converses with Death to see what has happened and why he is sitting across from Death. The exchanges become entertaining, which enhances the story a bit. Death nicknames him Meeks. I thought that it was funny because Death is being so personal to Micah like they have been friends awhile. 

Micah is forced to relive the deaths of his family and friends before he learns about his own. The deaths occur in real time, and each death correlates with the nine levels of the Aztec underworld. He learns that he did not live up to his full potential. In fact, he regrets several things about his life. He learns that life is far too short and that death is forever. 

The scenes in this book are vivid. The characters are relatable, and the dialogue is great. Each chapter ends with a line or two that makes you want to keep reading deep into the night. I would have finished this book in one sitting if life hadn't interfered with my reading. It is a great book filled with characters that you won't soon forget. I enjoyed the writing style as well. If you enjoyed The Die-Fi Experiment, then you will enjoy Sugar Skulls. 

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Interview with Kealan Patrick Burke

CHHR: I have read several of your books, but Blanky is one of your best so far. Which book was your favorite to write?

KPB: I think that would be a toss-up between The Tent and Sour Candy. The concepts for both were just so much fun from the very beginning and I was grinning like a madman while I wrote them. Writing psychological horror can be depressing at times (most of the time, if I’m being honest), but, while those novellas were certainly dark, I had a terrific time putting the characters through the wringer and creating the monsters. Conversely, Blanky was a chore to write. It was so unrelentingly grim that it exhausted me.

CHHR: I see that you moved from Ireland to the United States. Did family and friends think you were crazy when you moved to America to become a writer? What do they say now?

KPB: Not at all. They were just as aware that the economy in Ireland was in the dumps. By the time the opportunity to come here presented itself, I had graduated in journalism but I was tending bar with no immediate prospects. There was no reason not to take the chance on relocation. It was a badly needed reboot, so they were very supportive, and they still are. Plus, I’d run out of trouble to cause in Ireland.

CHHR: What does your writing schedule look like?

KPB: I don’t have a strict “write every day” policy because that simply doesn’t work for me. I write when the words are there. Sometimes that means twelve-hour periods of feverish creation; other times, it means a page every four or five days. I’m at the mercy of inspiration and focus and they don’t always show up for work.

CHHR: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, what are they?

KPB: I suspect I’m hardly unique in this, but I rarely write a story using the same font I used for the last one. It’s always the same when it’s published, but not when it’s being written.

CHHR: Do you outline your work or do you go with the flow?

KPB: I prefer to go with the flow. It depends on the story, of course, but on those rare occasions in which I do outline, it tends to be very vague. More a list of random thoughts than summaries. I’ve never been one of those writers who makes a detailed map of their book before they start writing it. To me, that removes the element of surprise, and I like to be just as surprised as the reader when I’m following the story.

CHHR: You have created some memorable characters over the years. How do you get readers to empathize with irredeemable characters?

KPB: By making them human. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all sought redemption in one way or another. It’s part of the human condition. The struggle for redemption, even if ultimately unobtainable, is a fascinating arc in both fiction and real life. But the struggle of any character is pointless if they aren’t drawn well, if you’re not invested in their plight. Even those characters who come across as completely evil and malicious don’t actually believe that about themselves. They’re doing what they believe is right, and that makes for the deadliest kind of villain—one who doesn’t seek redemption because they don’t believe they need it, that their cause is just.

CHHR: What do you think makes a good horror story?

KPB: I think what makes a good story, period, is an appealing voice, good characters, an interesting plot, realistic dialogue. Specific to horror, an awareness of literary precedent and the foundations of the genre are invaluable. Know from whence you came, as it were. Realistic character reactions to the horror they experience is a big one too. And, most important and hardest to achieve: make it scary. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. Crafting a terrifying scene requires you to install in the reader’s mind a clear visual of the circumstances, to trigger the engagement of all senses, and to manipulate expectations. When you pull back that curtain to reveal the horror, it must be something they haven’t seen before. It must jar the senses.

CHHR: How did publishing your first book or short story change your writing process?

KPB: My first book was published about a decade before my work was ready for primetime. It was clunky and ham-handed. If there was a benefit to that, it was the reviews it received. Some readers dug it, most reviewers, not so much, so it goaded me, as all criticism should, to do better. I got validation from that book. It made me a published writer. But it was also not a good book, so the reception helped to make me a better one. I worked harder at bettering my craft, which is something I intend to do until I hit my expiration date.

CHHR: What is in your TBR pile?

KPB: About 400 books, but near the top are The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh, Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers, The Art of Forgery by Noah Charney, Since She Fell by Dennis Lehane, A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly, A House at the Bottom of the Lake by Josh Malerman, Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith, Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory, and In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

CHHR: What do you do when you aren’t writing? Any interesting hobbies?

KPB: I live for road trips, but when those aren’t viable, I like to unwind with videogames (which I have and will continue to argue are as important a storytelling medium as any other; see Bioshock Infinite or The Last of Us), hang out with my dog, Red, go to the movies or art galleries, or binge-watch TV shows. Also, karaoke.

CHHR: Your book cover designs are dope AF! Can you tell me a little bit about Elderlemon Design?

KPB: Thank you! When I was preparing to make my backlist available for sale in digital format, I realized purchasing covers for over a dozen titles was going to cost more than I could afford. I’d always played around with art as a hobby, so I decided to try making the covers myself. For the most part, I was pleased with the results. As time went on and I got better at it, other writers started asking me who designed my covers, and when they learned I had done them myself, they hired me to do theirs. This was close to a decade ago now, and since then I’ve designed covers for some of the top names and publishers in the business.

CHHR: What are you currently working on?

KPB: I’m currently writing and researching a novel entitled Sometimes They See You, which is about art, madness, and the genesis of creative inspiration.

CHHR: Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out and trying to get published?

KPB: The same advice you hear over and over again because it’s true: read often and read everything, and not just books in your chosen genre. Mystery, romance, drama, nonfiction…the more well-versed you are in multiple genres, the broader your ability to employ those components effectively in your own work.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Church by Renee Miller

Renee Miller has created a tale to terrify all who dare to read it! I have read and watched movies about cults, but Renee Miller takes it to the next level.

Ray is a devoted Christian who has fallen in love with a woman who follows a god called Zabir. He wants to save her from eternal damnation, so he goes and joins her church. Ray is in for an immediate shock. The Zabian way is a transformative process that is both physical and mental. Not only is Ray broken physically, but he is also broken mentally. Ray's mind is shattered and he loses his identity. Ray loses all hope. The woman he loves dies while he is undergoing his spiritual transformation.

The cover is badass, so I decided to read this one. I've never read Renee Miller before, so I didn't know what to expect going into the story. I was hooked immediately. The author wastes no time delving into the thick of things. I was intrigued with the profit and the way he ran things at his church. The characters are memorable–they seem real. The story-line is smooth and the ending was epic! I didn't see that ending coming! Church packs a punch right to the gut. The book is a psychedelic trip inside the inner workings of a modern-day cult.

Church is easily one of my favorite books of 2017! Everyone should read this one!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

The Veins by Matthew J. Leverton

The Veins is a solid read! Remember the name Matthew Leverton, people!

The town of Red Rock has a dark past. A Nephilim wreaked havoc on the small town in the 1940s. People are preparing to reopen the church on Griffin Street. A young preacher moves into town to pastor the church. People begin to die. It becomes a who done it. The authorities are trying to catch the serial killer, but they have no leads. It appears as though the people are committing suicide. Has Red Rocks' dark past returned?

It took me a few pages to get hooked, but it was worth it! The Veins is filled with several characters. The author knows how to tell a small town story! I was invested in a few of the characters. The small town problems were great filler as well, especially the cheating wife. There is tons of bloodshed and good dialogue. If you like classic horror, then you will surely dig this book. There are Christian overtones, but that doesn't take away from the story.
I was hoping for more of the supernatural in this book. Overall, I enjoyed it!

I recommend this book to fans of horror!

4/5 stars!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

They Came With The Snow by Christopher Coleman

A blast goes off in a small college town triggering a blizzard in May. The story is told from Dominic's POV and you get to see the aftermath of the explosion and what follows. You get to see how guilty he feels for surviving. The crab things that came with the snow are almost undetectable save for their black eyes peering out through the snow drifts. I didn't find them scary or creepy.

They Came With The Snow is an okay read. I enjoyed the writing. I enjoyed the storyline, but I think it should have been a book instead of a short story/ novelette. The event calls for a longer storyline. 

Horror stories have to have some sort of tension, but this story didn't have any. I didn't feel unease while reading this either. 

3/5 stars!

Quiet Places by Jasper Bark

Sally moves to Dunballan to be with David. She cares for the people there who are comatose, slowly dying. Quiet Places starts off at the ending, and then you get filled in on what happened in Dunballan.

Since moving to Dunballan, David starts to change. Sally senses things are not quite right, so she goes digging for answers. She discovers the curse of David's family. The past is told through old journal entries. Jasper Bark takes us deeper and deeper into the past looking for answers to what happened in Dunballan.

I was hooked from the first page. The initial event was cool because it catches your interest, and then you want or have to know what happened. Jasper Bark makes you think about his stories long after you read them, and Quiet Places is no exception. I'm really digging the mythos in this book. I will also read the other two books in this mythos series.

Quiet Places touches on several horror tropes. I like the way the story is told and I think you will too. I was fully invested in Sally. She is very relatable. The story unfolds smoothly and it kept me up late reading by lamplight.

You can get your copy here!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke

Kealan Patrick Burke delivers again and again. Blanky is another story that delivers all the thrills and chills. I didn't know what to expect from Blanky, but I knew Kealan Patrick Burke crafted a terrifying tale because everything he writes scares the hell out of me.

Steve Brannigan has been struggling after his infant daughter's horrible death. His wife has left him, and she refuses to enter their home. Steve isn't able to work, so he tries to drink the pain away while he watches old TV shows. Steve hears something in his daughter's room. He looks around, but all he could find was an old blanky with rabbits on it. The blanky was purchased from a weird old man at an antique place selling "BABY CLOSE." That is when all hell breaks loose and things start spiraling out of control for Steve. He is grasping to hold on to the little bit of light that remains in his life, but Steve's darkest days are in front of him.

Blanky is one helluva trip! I was fully invested in Steve and what he was going through. I was also wanting to know more about the old blanky. The story unfolds perfectly and just enough is revealed to keep the reader guessing right up until the very end. There are no loose ends, just an epic take on grieving and what happens to those who are in the process of mourning the loss of a loved one. Blanky is part supernatural and part psychological. A damn fine read, people!

This book will leave you thinking long after you have turned the last page. The cover is badass as well! 

You can get a copy here!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 stars! 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Legacy Mausoleums by Nick Younker

Nick Younker delivers the goods! Duncan Criss is a writer. He reports stories that are deemed too crazy to be true. He writes on his online news site, but he can't make enough money to live on. So, he takes on a second job at Legacy Mausoleums. He is hired on as the night security guard. He begins to see things. He gets closer and closer to the biggest news story of all time. Can he survive long enough to publish the article on his website?

Legacy Mausoleums is a creepy short tale full of dread and ghosts. Mausoleums creep me out! I had to turn the light on halfway through this story. The story flows well and the characters are not shallow. Nick Younker does a great job of giving you just enough background to make the characters come to life. I didn't see the ending coming at all! The ending was good, but it could have been better.

This is my first time reading Nick Younker, but it won't be the last!

You can grab a copy here.

I recommend this short story to fans of horror!

4/5 stars!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Damned by Tarn Richardson

The Damned is a hell of a read! The cover is badass! I love history, especially military history. The Damned is the Great War with werewolves. Tarn Richardson did a hell of a job researching the time period. It's interwoven with occult and supernatural horror. The book is written in the present (early 20th century) and has flashbacks from the late 19th century. The story spans most of Europe.

Poland 1889: Poldek Tacit's parents are brutally murdered, but he is spared. Father Adansoni takes the boy to Vatican City because he thinks Tacit was saved by a divine power.

Arras 1914: Lieutenant Henry Frost fights the Germans, but the Germans are attacked and massacred by an unknown enemy.

Father Andreas is murdered and Poldek Tacit is sent by the church to investigate.

The characters are vast and unique. The story felt real and the characters felt real. The story is very detailed, but it doesn't drag or lag. The Damned is filled with death, sex, werewolves, war, and religion. It is fast-paced and you can feel the dread oozing from the pages.

I can't wait to read the next book in the series! This is my first time reading Tarn Richardson's work, but it won't be my last.

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

You can get a copy here.

5/5 vicious werewolves!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Welcome To Dead House (Goosebumps #1) by R.L. Stine

Hey, guys! I hope all is well with you and yours! A while back I mentioned that I wanted to do a Goosebumps read through. I loved the Goosebumps books growing up and I felt like it was time for a re-read. Instead of picking my favorites and reading them first, I decided to start at one and read my way through in order of publication.

Welcome To Dead House is the perfect starter book for fans of R.L. Stine! It has all of the classic haunted horror tropes that you expect, but there is always a twist with R.L. Stine books. The Benson Family inherit an old free house from a distant relative that they never knew they had. Amanda (12 years old) and her brother Josh (11 years old) move with their parents to the old house. They bring their dog Petey along with them. The old house is located in Dark Falls, which can't be good. Things start happening around the house and neighborhood.

The ending is classic and creepy! Welcome to Dead House is filled with spooks and chills that I remember from my youth. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Until next time, horror fam!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror and haunted houses!

4/5 stars!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mayan Blue by Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason

Well, paint me blue! Mayan Blue is a tour-de-force through blood and bodies. I love indigenous history, especially Mayan history. Don't believe the hype? Then, you should read this book to see what I'm talking about.

Professor Lipton discovers the Mayans had migrated north to Georgia. This is a once in a lifetime discovery. Professor Lipton goes missing. His associate and a group of students search for him. Mayan hell is unleashed on the small team of students. The Sisters of Slaughter let the bodies hit the floor. There is plenty of blood and gore to go around. The team of students must face the pissed off gods and their owl-headed servants as they travel deeper into the labyrinth that is the newly discovered Mayan temple.

The killing scenes are great. The scenes are stomach -wrenching and they will make you grimace. With that being said, I didn't get attached to these characters. I didn't get to learn much about them before they were slaughtered. These things did not take away from the great debut novel that is Mayan Blue.

This book is short, yet ferocious. Mayan Blue reads like an 80s horror movie. At times throughout this book, I was yelling at the characters for stupid decisions. The Sisters of Slaughter will have you reading late into the night, though!

This is my first time reading the Sisters of Slaughter, but it definitely won't be my last!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

You can get your copy here!

5/5 sacrificial stars!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

IT (2017)

WARNING: This post contains minor spoilers!

As I waited to enter the theater to watch IT (2017), people were walking out crying. I was pumped up for this movie. I've been waiting for IT to drop for some time, and I was not disappointed. However, I was not fully satisfied either. Was IT great? Hell yeah! I also think the 1990 TV movie was great, yet flawed. Is the book better than both versions? You bet!

Don't get me wrong, IT was badass. I just feel like some of the big scares were in the movie trailers. There were some cool parts that made me jump throughout the movie, though. I wanted the original monsters to return in this movie, but they didn't. There were several zombie-like scenes that weren't that scary.

The actor playing Pennywise the Dancing Clown did a fantastic job. He gives Tim Curry a run for his money. When he twists and contorts it is scary as hell. I didn't like the shark-like teeth very much. The CGI could have been better in some scenes, too.

It was hard to relate to the Losers' Club in this one, and I grew up in that era. The kid actors did a great job of portraying those iconic characters. It's just that I grew up with the original Losers' Club actors. I guess zombies scare all of the kids in this one. I wanted to see the werewolf and others, but it was just zombies. Don't get me wrong, there were nods to these creatures, but it wasn't the same to me. There's plenty of Easter eggs in this film too!

What's more, the book is better than both films. I say that with confidence. Both films have some great things in them. This movie has things that the 1990 TV movie didn't and vice versa. I will definitely buy it when it hits Blu-ray!

Pennywise is scary as hell, especially this version. The actor went above and beyond. The Losers' Club actors all did great jobs! I can't believe people actually think this movie is a rip-off of Stranger Things. Hell, we wouldn't even be talking about Stranger Things if it wasn't for Stephen King's IT. Stephen King is pop-culture. Most horror is inspired by Stephen King, like Stranger Things. Anyways, I loved the movie and I will probably go see it again in theaters.

I highly recommend this movie to fans of Stephen King and horror!

5/5 stars!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Slasher Sam by Simon Petersen

I have never read a book quite like Slasher Sam. Sam is a skilled killer who has learned from horror movies. Sam doesn't make mistakes. The body count rises as the blood and guts spill. 

Slasher Sam is written in blog posts, which I thought made the book even better. The book is filled with death, blood, and humor. One minute I was laughing, and then I would get grossed out. The kills are epic and the descriptions of the victims are funny. 

Slasher Sam is well written and a very entertaining read. The story progressed perfectly and the blog posts made it even more interesting. I was hooked from the first page. The top 5 lists are a thing of beauty! 

That ending blew my mind, too. I would definitely read another book about Sam.

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Secrets of the Weird by Chad Stroup

Great book! This book is crazy awesome! I was hooked by the characters, the sounds, and the smells. You don't just read this book,  you experience it. If I'm being honest, it's a great experience. This book blew me away. This year I have opened up to new authors and new subject material. This book delivers at the right time! The LGBTQ  community should be represented more in horror. 

Trixie is the hero of Secrets of the Weird. She lives in a city called Sweetville. Trixie was born in the wrong body. She was born a male, but never identified as male. Trixie is a transgender woman. She wants to finalize her transformation. I was wondering what the cool book cover was all about. Trixie goes through hormone therapy, and she has the body of a girl, save for the male parts she has to tuck away between her legs. 

We get a glimpse of Trixie's past through her journal entries. I think the author did an excellent job of giving the reader the much-needed details of what Trixie has gone through and what she continues to go through. The reader experiences what Trixie experiences. It is hard to believe that this is a debut by this author. 

Secrets of the Weird is filled with rock bands, neo-Nazis, the newest drug called Sweet Candy, club kids, drag queens, punks, prostitutes, and a peculiar cult. 

Trixie falls in love with a rocker named Christopher. Everything would be flawless, but he doesn't know about Trixie's secret. So, she tries to save her relationship. She is enticed by a back-alley surgeon named Julius Kast and the Withering Wyldes. Christopher's racist ex-lover is trying to tear their relationship apart. I will stop there because I don't want to give too much away.

I enjoyed reading the commercial breaks. I feel like they add an extra layer that enhances the book. The story unfolds well and the characters are fleshed out. The characters are relatable and they feel real. I'm a sucker for good dialogue and Chad Stroup delivers. That ending is crazy! I hope the author expands on the world of Sweetville. 

You can grab a copy here.

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

I am going to read and review the original Goosebumps books in order. They used to scare me as a kid. Goosebumps introduced me to the horror genre, and R. L. Stine is one of the best authors working today. He publishes close to 10 books a year. I also grew up on the Fear Street books, which I may read at a later date. But for now, I will read these 60 books that brought me so much joy growing up. My dad used to take me to the bookstore every week to pick up some books. I would pick up one or two Goosebump books and get a cool bookmark. Everyone should have a cool bookmark. (NEVER dog ear your books!) Anyway, I plan to read and review one or two Goosebumps a week. 

If you've never read a Goosebumps book, then you really should. They are well-written and loaded with some of the most memorable characters. I'm talking Slappy, The Haunted Mask, Mummies, Monster Blood, vampires, etc. The TV show was pretty good, but it only lasted 2 seasons. If you haven't watched the show, then I recommend giving it a go. I think they are on Netflix if I'm not mistaken. 

Thanks again for reading my blog! You are always welcome in Cedar Hollow. Feel free to give my blog a follow. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction is a great anthology! This anthology is balanced well. Each author holds their own weight. These stories will leave you thinking long after you have read the last page. Garden of Fiends is a ferocious read. Within these pages, people go to great lengths to satisfy their addiction cravings. Addiction comes in many forms and this anthology explores them. 

Kealan Patrick Burke kicks things off with A Wicked Thirst. A man will stop at nothing to quench his thirst for alcohol. A damn fine story and a helluva way to start this anthology!
5/5 stars!

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh is a futuristic story. A man is addicted to a drug that is best experienced when you inject it into your testicles. It costs a fortune and body parts can be used as currency to pay for it. Awesome story!
5/5 stars!

First, Bite Just a Finger by Johann Thorsson is an excellent flash fiction story. A lady goes to a party and watches a guy eat his own finger, so she tries it. She is soon hooked. 
5/5 stars!

Last Call by John FD Taff is crazy! It is a story of alcoholism and sins of the father. A man gets a cure for his alcoholism, but it comes with a huge price.
5/5 stars!

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch is about a man with demons and an addiction. That ending was superb! I want to read more of his work. 
5/5 stars!

Everywhere You've Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III is disgusting is all the right ways. I was thoroughly grossed out! It is both humorous and disturbing. I will definitely have to read his other work.
5/5 stars!

Returns by Jack Ketchum is a great story. A helluva haunting. I couldn't stop laughing at the couple's dialogue. There's nothing like a bickering couple in a story. The approach the author takes with this story makes it even better.
5/5 stars!

Overall, this anthology is great! There could have been one or two more flash fiction pieces to even things out. The lone flash fiction piece seemed a little out of place. All the stories are top notch, though. I will definitely check out the other work by these authors. This anthology is dark and eerie. These stories make you look at addiction in a whole new way. The cover is badass too!

I highly recommend this anthology to fans of horror!

5/5 stars!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Episodes of Violence by David Bernstein

David Bernstein has done it again! Episodes of Violence gets off to a bang! I have read a couple of his books, but this one is by far the best. He keeps getting stronger as a writer. I was hooked from the first scene. David has created memorable characters that you can never forget. These characters haunt you because they seem so real. Not only do you dislike some of these characters, you also feel sorry for them because they are products of their situations and environments.

Amber goes off to college and joins a sorority. Everything seems to be going well until something heinous happens to her one night at a party. Her life is flipped on its head and she is left picking up the pieces back home. The town she left is not the same, though. Amber’s hometown is riddled with savage violence. People are being slaughtered in the streets. There aren’t any leads for the police to follow. The violence shows up at her door and tears her life apart. The only thing Amber can rely on is the darkness that dwells deep inside her.

David Bernstein gets the college life and small town horror. David creates characters that come to life. They feel real. They feel genuine. The story unfolds perfectly. I kept turning the page because I had to know what was going to happen next. I had to know how it all would end. David Bernstein doesn’t disappoint.  Once you start reading this book, you can’t stop. The conclusion is awesome!

Episodes of Violence isn’t for the faint of heart or the squeamish. This book is filled with violence, sex, death, blood, and gore. There are a couple of scenes that will make you wince and bite your fingernails. I hope there is a sequel to Episodes of Violence. To be honest, I didn’t want it to end.

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror! Episodes of Violence is going on my top 10 list of 2017!

5/5 stars!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks

Mass Hysteria is great! I think it's Michael Patrick Hicks best work so far. I didn't know what to expect before diving into this book, but I flew through the pages quickly. I needed to know how it would all play out. Michael doesn't disappoint! The characters are great, even the villains. You can't really tell who the villains are, which makes the book that much more enjoyable. 

One night, a freak meteor shower carried an alien virus to Earth. The alien virus quickly spreads, infecting animals and humans. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid and they start attacking people without warning. Animals begin stalking and killing humans. The natural order has been turned on its head. Lauren searches for her boyfriend. Her father is a policeman and he tries to restore order in town. The town is thrown into mass hysteria. Humans have to fight. They have to survive. Falls Breath will never be the same.

This book is filled with blood, gore, sex, and violence! I'm telling you now, this book isn't for readers with weak stomachs. It is brutal in all the right ways. There is one character that you will come across in these pages that you will dislike or maybe even hate. The character creeped me out and made my skin crawl. 

The characters are developed well and the scenes are very vivid. The story unfolds perfectly and it keeps getting better and better with each turn of the page. That ending is crazy!

You can grab a copy here.

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror!

5/5 savage stars!

Guest Post by Michael Patrick Hicks

When Animals Attack!
A Michael Patrick Hicks Listicle

My latest novel, Mass Hysteria (out now!), involves animal attacks. A whole big damn lot of them. Meteor’s carrying an alien virus have been striking the Earth, and this new disease turns animals rabid, but not just rabid – absolutely batshit, bonkers insane. Which prompted Curtis to ask me what some of my favorite crazed animals attacking are.

1.     Jaws. This one is a no-brainer, isn’t it? Jaws is a seminal classic, and for good reason. It’s the ultimate man versus shark movie ever made, filled with terrific characters, quotable dialog, and some of the best awesome man-eating shark action put to film. Mass Hysteria may not have any sharks in it, but Jaws definitely had an influence on my small-town under siege story.

2.     Cujo. Book or movie, your pick. It’s hard to not think about Cujo in any of its mediums when you’re writing a book filled with insane, rabid dogs attacking their owners and prowling the streets in search of fresh prey. Cujo was a book that maybe made pet owners an itsy bit leery of their faithful, fluffy companions, and reminded us that although a dog may be domesticated, it can still certainly be one vicious motherfucker.

3.     Arachnophobia. I haven’t seen this movie in years, and it’s long, long, long overdue for a rewatch. My ten-year-old self was obsessed with Arachnophobia, enough so that I wore out the VHS tape. It’s also partly responsible for my fear of spiders. It was during a viewing of Arachnophobia that I was playing some game on my handheld Sega Genesis, which was equipped with a screen magnifier attachment, when a spider walked across the screen…beneath the magnifier…and freaked the shit out of me. It’s a memory that still gives me chills, and makes me want to get all decked out in some bug-killing urban warfare gear like my man John Goodman.

4.     Tremors. Mutant worms versus Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward! And it’s funny, too. What’s not to love?

5.     Gremlins. Gremlins was the first horror movie I saw as a child, and one of the first films I saw in an honest-to-god movie theater. I can trace just about everything I love about horror back to watching this movie as a five year old in a dark movie theater. It’s got gore, it’s got some good laughs, plenty of nasty creatures doing nasty and darkly comedic things. I love horror featuring snow and cold climates, and this flick is one of the best Christmas movies ever, just a few notches beneath Die Hard in my estimation. There’s also an overriding sense of fun to all of it; it never takes itself too seriously, and it’s a movie that knows what it is.

Maybe you noticed a theme developing as this list wore on, as the last three films are, at their core, fun slices of horror. When I wrote Mass Hysteria, it was to entertain. While it’s a dark, oftentimes brutal book, I wanted there to be an overarching element of fun, and for the book to not take itself too seriously. It’s meant to be a fun bit of pulp, filled with gore and more than a few scenes sure to disgust, much like the movies listed here.

What are some of your favorite When Animals Attack stories?

You can get a copy of Mass Hysteria here.

It came from space…

Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.

Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy. 

As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.

…and it is spreading.

Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria. 

To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail.