Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Guest Book Review: Cut Corners Volume 3 by Ray Garton, Kealan Patrick Burke, and Bryan Smith

This review is by my friend, Adrian Shotbolt. Thanks for swapping reviews with me Adrian! He also loves horror fiction and everyone should stop by his blog at He has an abundance of cool book reviews and album reviews. 

You can read my review of We Came Back by Patrick Lacey, just click on the link above. 

Volume 3 of ‘Cut Corners’ from Sinister Grin Press is the best one yet in my humble opinion. Here, three stylistically different horror writers deliver three chilling and strange tales. First drop goes to Kealan Patrick Burke who opens with ‘Andromeda’, and wow! What a great story. As a reader, I love nothing more than a tale being flipped on its head, taking me down a completely different path and that is exactly what Kealan does here. I thought this tale of cell phones and social media was going to be a creepy stalker tale…how wrong I was! It starts off straightforward enough, but things take a truly weird and otherworldly twist which I loved. A great start.

Bryan Smith is a no-holds-barred horror writer. His stuff is visceral, unapologetic and often uncomfortable to read (like good horror should be, right?). His tale follows Martin Sanchez-a man separated from his wife, living a mundane life with his two dogs. When a mysterious black barrel appears in his back yard, Martin is baffled…until he checks his Twitter account. Things become increasingly odd as Martin’s fortunes change for the better upon opening the barrel. Not the best of Bryan Smith, but an entertaining story. I expected something a little more gross-out from Smith, but it’s good to see he can deliver stories like this one too.

Ray Garton delivers the longest piece with ‘Afterparty’. This is the story of Jarrett Baffometti-a pop star, only 18 years old, but already with an endless supply of money. Baffometti attends a strange party at the request of his manager, possibly hosted by the illuminati?! A cocktail of drink, sex and drugs does little to persuade Baffometti that what is transpiring during the night is bad news. Things take a weird, dark and sinister turn as the party hosts dabble in the dark arts leading Jarrett into murky, murderous waters. A very cool story to finish things off.

Overall, ‘Cut Corners 3’ is a fine read. Two great stories and a solid one from Bryan Smith serve as a great introduction to the authors’ works, but also show the versatility and imagination the dark fiction genre has to offer. Great stuff.

4/5 stars overall.

Follow along the tour with these hashtags:
#CutCorners3 #horrorshorts #SinisterGrinPress

Cut Corners v 3, Synopsis 

Late, dark nights are perfect for reading surreal and terrifying tales from some of the best story tellers in the horror business. Grit your teeth, sit by the fire pit, and be prepared to possibly not return from underneath the spell of their writing prowess, but if you do, we’re certain you’ll have a sinister smile to share. All these modern stories have an element of thought-provoking surprise and style.

“Andromeda” –Kealan Patrick Burke
A  grim story of a teen girl hooked to her cell phone that will make you think outside of your comfort level.  Kealan Patrick Burke is a hauntingly lyrical and original writer of horror that will leave you breathless.

“The Barrell” – Bryan Smith
When a surprise barrel shows up out of nowhere on the back stoop, and the dogs start to bark at it uncontrollably, Martin becomes very suspicious and intrigued.  Bryan Smith is a versatile and horrifying author who will leave you squeamish and chuckling.

“Afterparty” -   Ray Garton
Jarrett is getting famous on the entertainment scene, but what will he have to do to remain in the industry?  Brought to you by Ray Garton, a master of explicit detail and tense horror that entrances readers and doesn’t let them go.


Want to Feature?

If you’d like to review Cut Corners v 3 by Burke, Garton, or Smith, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Sinister Grin publicist, at

Dream Woods by Patrick Lacey

Vince Carter takes a shortcut to work one day and notices a billboard advertising Dream Woods and its mascot Sebastian the bear. Dream Woods is New England's version of Disney World. Vince wants to take his family to Dream Woods for vacation, but the park has been closed for nearly 20 years. Dream Woods was nicknamed Scream Woods because there were rumors of murder, sacrifice, and torture at the theme park.

Vince is trying to repair his crumbling relationship with his wife, Audra, and he thinks Dream Woods will do the trick. Vince takes his wife and two boys, Tim and Andrew, to Dream Woods, but the fun and excitement are short lived. Vince and his family get trapped at the park. Dream Woods mascot, Sebastian the bear, and his army of gray skins chase after the Carter family. The buildup to the confrontation between the Carters and Dream Woods' staff is masterful!

I have to admit, I am a sucker for books about theme parks! I like a good theme/amusement park! Patrick Lacey makes you feel for the characters, especially Tim and Andrew. Dream Woods is a smooth read that unfolds nicely. Reading Patrick Lacey is like watching a movie, and yes, someone should adapt Dream Woods to the big screen. This book is a quick, satisfying read that you won't be able to put down. Enter Dream Woods if you dare, but beware of Sebastian the bear!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror and theme/amusement parks!

5/5 stars!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I Can Taste The Blood by Josh Malerman, J. Daniel Stone, Joe Schwartz, Erik T. Johnson, John F.D. Taff

I Can Taste The Blood is an anthology that originated when John F.D. Taff saw I Can Taste The Blood scribbled on a bathroom wall. The only theme this anthology goes by is its five-word title. The result is a solid anthology that has some pretty good stories that span the horror genre.

Josh Malerman starts the book off with a story about a drifter who stumbles upon a nomadic family one night. The drifter tells them about a demon thief who follows him. The ending was great but predictable. One of my favorite stories out of the anthology.

J. Daniel Stone's story is about two young gay men, addiction, and an underground art-house cinema. The scenes are unsettling. You can just feel the unease in this story.

Joe Schwartz's story is about Sam, hired muscle. He takes care of problems with his fists. I like reading stories about characters who struggle with trials and tribulations, especially fixers.

I didn't really care that much for Erik T. Johnson's story. Maybe I should give this story a second look over. To be honest, I almost stopped reading this book altogether when I started reading this story. I just couldn't get into it. I had to put the book down, but I eventually came back to it and finished reading it.

John F.D. Taff is a genius! This story was disturbing! I related to the small town characters. I kind of felt bad for the main character, but then the story takes an unexpected turn. This one really has teeth! Everyone should read it!

Like I said before, this anthology has some range. I enjoyed this book for the most part. I am glad that I finally finished this book because the last story was worth it. I really enjoyed Josh Malerman's story too. Everyone has different tastes in stories, and this anthology has some that you should really enjoy.

I recommend this book to fans of horror!

4/5 stars!

There is Darkness in Every Room by Brian Fatah Steele

There is Darkness in Every Room is about Tanner Kokinos, a lady who has been abducted by aliens multiple times during her childhood. She just wants to feel like a normal college student at Berkshire State University. Some college students are killed in horrendous murders, while others mysteriously vanish. Tanner tries to find out the secrets behind her abductions. The story unfolds perfectly, and the story is told from multiple viewpoints. Tanner finds out that there is a celestial game that stretches through time and galaxies. Aliens are threatened by the fact that humans can unlock the secrets of the stars. Humans can also go to their communion site. The characters are memorable! Tanner is a great lead character, Donald is a Vietnam veteran, and Graham is an alien. There are some characters that you will absolutely loathe.

There is plenty of gore and killing going on to satisfy any horror fan! There are gray aliens, disembodiment, skinning, gutting, naked ladies, donuts, Taco Bell, and lots of blood. If you start to hear flies, please run for your life! They come through the darkness. They are everywhere!

If you are a fan of The X-Files, Extraterrestrial, The Fourth Kind, or aliens in general, then you are going to thoroughly enjoy this book! There is Darkness in Every Room is a fast-paced read from start to finish. It is a relatively quick read that you can finish in one sitting. There is a lot going on in this book, but Bian Fatah Steele manages it very well. With that being said, I think everyone should read this book!

I highly recommend this book to fans of horror and science fiction!

5/5 stars!

Follow along the tour with these hashtags:
#ThereIsDarknessInEveryRoom #SinisterGrinPress #alienhorror

There Is Darkness In Every Room, Synopsis 

Print Length: 248 pages
Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
Publication Date: March 24, 2017

Even as a young woman, Tanner is haunted by childhood nightmares of alien abduction. She’s trying to find her place in college, but a series of bizarre murders on campus isn’t helping her paranoia. Tanner just desperately wants to be normal, but finds herself in the center of a celestial game, the players beyond comprehension. The terrifying truth spans across humanity, and there is no hope, there is no tomorrow. There is darkness in every room.

Brian Fatah Steele, Biography

Brian Fatah Steele has been writing various types of dark fiction for over ten years, from horror to urban fantasy and science fiction. Growing up hooked on comic books and monster movies, his work gravitates towards anything imaginative and dynamic. Steele originally went to school for fine arts but finds himself far more fulfilled now by storytelling. His work has appeared in such places as 4POCALYPSE, BLOOD TYPE, DEATH’S REALM, IDOLATERS OF CTHULHU, PAYING THE FERRYMAN, CTHULHU LIES DREAMING, and the Bram Stoker Award-nominated DARK VISIONS, VOL.1. His own titles include the urban fantasy novel IN BLEED COUNTRY, the post-mythic novella collection FURTHER THAN FATE, and the dark sci-fi collection BRUTAL STARLIGHT. Steele lives in Ohio with a few cats and survives on a diet of coffee and cigarettes. He spends his time still dabbling in visual art, vowing to fix up his house, acting as a part-time chaos entity, spending too many hours watching television, and probably working on his next writing project.

Praise for Brian Fatah Steele
So, here, we have a set of tales from Steele that run the gamut, from the terrible to the sublime. In all honesty, Steele rarely forays into the realm of sci-fi, finding his bliss mostly in fantasy and horror. However, in this array of stories he seems to be channeling Brin and Bloch, rather than Barker and McCammon.” 
–CL Nicolas-Stegall on Brutal Starlight


Available on other online retailers as well such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc! Order from your local indie bookstore or ask your library to carry.

Want to Feature?

If you’re a book blogger or media site and would like to feature Brian Fatah Steele or review There Is Darkness In Every Room, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, marketing/PR at Sinister Grin Press and Hook of a Book Media, at

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Just After Sunset by Stephen King

I have read Just After Sunset numerous times! Have you ever read something that just stuck wth you long after you have finished reading it? To me, Just After Sunset is one of those things. I have to give you some background about this short story collection and two other novels by Stephen King. I had just broken my hip in the military, and I was sent home on leave to heal and recover. I was bored, so I went to a local second-hand bookshop. I looked high and low for something to read, but nothing seemed to catch my eye. I asked the feeble old lady behind the counter for some recommendations. She said I should read Stephen King. I had never read anything by Stephen King before. I was open-minded, so she led me to the back corner of the store and that is where I discovered Stephen King. She recommended Just After Sunset, and I picked up The Dead Zone and Duma Key. I went home, popped my pain pills, and began reading. It was one of the best experiences of my life. To tell you the truth, I'm sure everyone has a Stephen King book and a good story to tell. (Feel free to share a Stephen King book and a story in the comments section.) Just After Sunset is a short story collection that contains some of my favorite short stories.

Willa is about a train derailment, which leaves its passengers stranded. David Sanderson's wife walks away from the station and David looks for her. This is a great ghost story! The people on the train don't realize that they are dead, so they are having to deal with their fate.

Gingerbread Girl is about a divorced wife named Emily. She starts running on the beach. Her life is starting to look up when she runs up on a killer. This story is great! The killer is after Emily, so she runs for her life!

Harvey's Dream is about a couple in a boring relationship. The wife is surprised when her husband decides to share a dream of his with her.

Rest Stop is about a writer who stops at a rest area to use the bathroom. He interrupts a man beating his wife. This is a good story!

Stationary Bike is one of my favorites! It is about an overweight commercial artist who gets a stationary bike. That is when the story really takes off!

The Things They Left Behind is about a 9/11 survivor. Objects belonging to his deceased co-workers start appearing in his apartment.

Graduation Afternoon is about a young woman who is goes to one of her boyfriend's family gatherings for the last time. This one is great!

N. is about a psychiatrist who commits suicide. His sister reads the patient file he was working on when he committed suicide. The patient was N. and he had OCD. This one is the best out of the collection!

The Cat From Hell is an older story about a pharmaceutical millionaire who hires a hitman to kill a cat. It was a good story. It was in Dark Side: The Movie back in the early 90s.

The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates is about a woman he receives a phone call from her dead husband.

Mute is about a man who finds out his wife has been cheating on him. The man picks up a deaf-mute hitchhiker and bares his soul. Was the man really mute?

Ayana is a story about miracles.

A Very Tight Place is about a guy who gets trapped inside a Johnny-On-The-Spot by his neighbor. This is a great revenge story!

You may not agree that this is a great short story collection, but this was my introduction to Stephen King. If you like Stephen King, then you should give this collection a read.

5/5 stars!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dark Screams: Volume Six by Brian James Freeman (Editor) and Richard Chizmar (Editor)

Thanks to Brian James Freeman, Richard Chizmar, NetGalley, and Hydra for the advanced reader copy!

This is a solid short-story anthology! (Note: Goodreads says it is a collection, but it is not! A collection is short-stories from only one author, which can be themed.) This anthology includes short stories by Stephen King, Lisa Morton, Nell Quinn-Gibney, Norman Prentiss, Joyce Carol Oates, and a novella by Tim Curran. Not bad, right?

Stephen King gets things going with The Old Dude's Ticker. I like how Stephen King always gives the reader history behind his stories. Cavalier magazine rejected The Old Dude's Ticker, so Stephen King put it away for a long time. This is the first time the story has seen the light of day. The story is about Richard Drogan, a Vietnam veteran who has serious issues stemming from the war. Not trying to give anything away, but it is similar to The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. I really enjoyed this story, but it was predictable.

The Rich Are Different is written by Lisa Morton. Sarah Peck has made a name for herself by revealing the private lives of the rich and famous. She doesn't know how deep their secrets go, or what price they are willing to pay to get what they desire. If I'm being honest, this was a good story, but it wasn't as strong as some of the other stories in this anthology.

The Manicure by Nell Quinn-Gibney is about a trip to the nail salon. I don't even want to think about my nails after reading this short story. The trip to the nail salon was supposed to be relaxing, but it wasn't. She starts seeing flashbacks of bad experiences when it came to her nails. This short story was crazy, and I just want to wince.

The Comforting Voice by Norman Prentiss was great! This short story is about a married couple who have a baby girl named Lydia. The father-in-law and the husband do not get along. The father-in-law becomes terminally ill, and he moves in with them. Lydia can only be comforted by her grandfather's voice. I will stop there because I don't want to give too much away and spoil the story. The Comforting Voice is a creepy read and one of the best out of the anthology.

The Situations by Joyce Carol Oates is definitely different. It is made up of horrible situations where Daddy knows best.

The Corpse King by Tim Curran is about Samuel Clow and Mickey Kierney, two grave robbers. They dig up corpses and deliver them to doctors and medical students to dissect, study, and experiment with. The two men soon realize that something else is inhabiting the graveyards at night. Grave robbers start going missing, and some are found dead. People say that they were taken or killed by the Corpse King. This was a great read!

This anthology was solid, but it could have been better. Each story is different and brings something to the table, but some stories just made the anthology weaker overall. I really liked The Comforting Voice, The Corpse King, The Manicure, and The Old Dude's Ticker! I just couldn't get into The Situations and The Rich Are Different. I have wanted to read The Corpse King, but it was only released by Cemetery Dance as a signed limited edition hardcover.

I recommend this to fans of horror!

4/5 stars!