Category: review

Review: On The Lips Of Children by Mark Matthews

OnTheLipsOfChildren-1I do most of my reading during daily exercise on the treadmill. As I got into the story, I realized that the main characters are also runners. There are a few minor differences however, they run outside, where I prefer the indoors, and they run, where I’m more along the lines of jogging/walking. (It’s difficult to read when you’re running.) ūüėÄ

“Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man.¬†He’s planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible.¬†During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn’t imagine.¬†And Macon, and his family, are next.” On The Lips Of Children – Mark Matthews.

The book was interesting and opened up a world of horror in the underground tunnels below San Diego. Unsuspecting tourists and helpless people are taken as hostages, their captors fuelled by the need for drugs and money. The family living in the bowels of the earth are much more than just dysfunctional and newly taken hostage Macon must pull himself together if he wants to save himself, his wife Erin and his daughter Lyric.

The story kept me intrigued, as I wanted to find out what would happen to the family. Matthews goes into great detail with his writing, from the aspects of running to the description and feel of what it’s like to get a tattoo. I felt in some instances there was a little too much description (like with the running), but he does take the time to ensure the reader can see what’s happening in the story, rather than just telling us what’s going on.

I did feel the ending was a little abrupt, as I wanted to know more about certain things, but it did leave me satisfied enough to have enjoyed the book.

I recommend this book for horror lovers as it was a good story with well-thought out characters and plot lines.

Three and a half stars.


Review: Eulogies II – Tales From The Cellar

Eulogies IIAt 371 pages, Eulogies II (edited by Christopher Jones, Nanci Kalanta and Tony Tremblay),¬†is a hefty tome. However, buried within it’s pages are amazing stories that will keep you reading right until the very end.¬†*(I did receive my copy awhile ago, but I lost the book halfway through reading it, to my boyfriend who suffers from intermittent insomnia. He started it one night and was hooked, so I let him finish it before I took it back for myself.)

The stories in the anthology cover a wide variety of themes, from monsters who come out at night to the darkness that resides inside humans.

While all the stories in the anthology were well-written and entertaining, here are some of the stories that I feel deserve extra mention:

Spare the rod by Lucy A. Snyder: Jake and his brother Sam have a discussion over beers about child rearing and how to deal with a child who isn’t growing up the way he should.

A Serving of Nomu Sashimi by Eric J. Guignard: Terry works hard, but no matter what he always seems to fall short of top sales reps. When he’s invited out for dinner with the others, he realizes their success is reliant on far more than just hard work.

Chiyoung and Dongsun’s Song by T.T. Zuma: Written like a Chinese folklore tale, this story teaches us a lesson in acceptance as we follow the love struck Dongsun in his ¬†attempt to court the beautiful Chiyoung.

The Bore by John McIlveen: Munroe Dolan is the world’s most boring person… or so he thinks.

The Second Carriage by Jonathan Templar: When Danny comes across a train set in the attic, he realizes he has found much more than just a toy.

The Cat in the Cage by Nicole Cushing: Pets are supposed to alleviate stress, but as Sheila realizes, sometimes they can also be the cause of it.

Mister Whisper by James A. Moore:  Four escaped convicts steal a car from a household and end up tangling with something they never expected.

The Miracle Material by Abra Staffin-Wiebe: A new material is found from the depths of the ocean. Humanity uses it for their needs, but this material comes with a cost…

Over all, Eulogies II – Tales From The Cellar was a great read which I’d suggest to anyone who loves short stories and horror.
I highly recomMandy it.

You can pick it up here on Amazon.

Five out of Five Stars


Review: All That Is Left Is Chance by Jacob Haddon

All that is left is chance“Jacob Haddon grabs you by the hand and seduces you over Times Square as it disappears. Noir at heart, this is one party you’re not likely to forget.”

All That Is Left Is Chance by Jacob Haddon was the first story to be put out in the One Night Stands series by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.

What do you get when you combine a party, an intriguing woman and a slowly disappearing Times Square? A quick, interesting story written in the first person, a narrative style I really enjoy. Haddon does a great job at building suspense up until the very end.

I don’t want to give too much away but do yourself a favour and check out All That Is Left Is Chance.

You can get a copy for only $0.99 HERE.

Four out of five stars.


Review: Starers by Nathan Robinson

starers copy

“Imagine if you found yourself the attention of the entire world . . .

The dysfunctional Keene family awaken one Saturday to find several strangers and neighbours staring at their home. Events turn more bizarre when more hypnotised strangers arrive, all seemingly transfixed with those within the Keene household. As the ominous crowd gathers and grows larger by the hour the Keene‚Äôs find themselves under siege in their own home. With hundreds, then thousands of bodies pressing against the walls of their home, a rising body count and grim premonitions plaguing their dreams, the family must work together to discover who or what is controlling the Starers.”

Nathan Robinson‘s novella, “Starers” is a fun, creepy little read.¬†With horror these days, it seems like everything’s being done, redone and done once again.¬†In Starers, Nathan takes a different approach on what creepy is, building suspense with each and every Starer who arrives¬†outside the Keene family home.

Starers was an entertaining read. Definitely something different, the premise having intrigued me from the start. Nathan Robinson has a way of keeping you entranced throughout the story. His descriptive storytelling paints a picture for the reader with every turn of the page, or in this case, flip of the Kindle Page.

You can pick up your copy of Starers here.

Four Out Of Five Stars

Review: Mountain Home by Bracken McLeod


“Lyn works at an isolated roadside diner. When a retired combat veteran stages an assault there her world is turned upside down. Surviving the sniper’s bullets is only the beginning of Lyn’s nightmare. Navigating hostilities, she establishes herself as the disputed leader of a diverse group of people that are at odds with the situation and each other. Will she – or anyone else – survive the attack?”

Mountain Home is Bracken MacLoed’s debut novel, but you’d never know it.

Bracken has created an intricate story with great characters and interesting plot lines that will keep you turning the page. The suspense starts at the very beginning and Bracken manages to sustain the tense emotion throughout the entire book.

Mountain Home covers the plight of a group of characters that are put to the test when a local diner is caught under sniper fire. Some of the characters are out for themselves, whereas others feel the need to help everyone survive. Each individual learns more about themselves and the others when the pressure is on.¬†Not only do the patrons of the diner have to contend with being under fire by an unknown sniper, there’s also something ¬†sinister lurking around in the forest.

Hard hitting and well-written, Mountain Home is a definite addition to your horror/thriller collection. Bracken has knocked it out of the park with his first novel and I eagerly await his next one.

I highly recomMandy this novel.

Five out of five stars.

You can pick up the ebook HERE or the paperback HERE.

Review: Cannibal Fat Camp by David C. Hayes and Mark C. Scioneaux

CANNIBAL FAT CAMPMark C. Scioneaux and David C. Hayes deserve second and third helpings of whatever they want for telling this story. With a title like “Cannibal Fat Camp” and the great Garbage Pail Kid-esque cover by Joshua Werner, it’s hard to not want to read it.

Miles Landish has a “huge” problem. Miles loves food. He eats when he’s hungry and eats when he’s not. Aside from the excess weight and health problems, his love of food has made him a social outcast. His appetite is so severe he can’t control himself if he knows there’s food around. When the high school principal catches Miles in a not-so-flattering moment amidst a trail of stolen lunches, Miles is referred to a doctor who sells Miles on the idea of attending a fat camp called Camp Tum Tum.

At first glance Camp Tum Tum is like all other fat camps. Every camper is overweight, subjected to controlled calories, lots of exercise and in Camp Tum Tum’s case, complete seclusion on an island.

Lose weight or lose weight, there are no other options here.¬†At least until the counsellors are found dead, leaving the campers in charge.¬†The only thing on their starving minds is: “LET’S EAT!”

When food stores run out, one of the campers named Charles decides to step up and take over the camp. His first order of business is to find more food. Being trapped on a deserted island makes finding food a more difficult task than expected…
Or does it?

Cannibal Fat Camp reminded me of a chunky Lord of the Flies, but with an obese amount of comedy and gore.
I highly recomMandy it!

Five out of five stars

You can pick up your Kindle or Paperback copy here.


Review: In The End, Only Darkness by Monica O’Rourke

In the end,only darkness

I first came across Monica O’Rourke‘s writing without realizing it. Another one of my author collegues sent me a link to download “Jasmine and Garlic”. I really enjoyed the short story, but had yet to meet Monica. We finally crossed paths in Las Vegas at KillerCon 4 in 2012. When I heard she had a collection of dark poetry and short horror stories out, I was more than happy to check it out. Not only does it satisfy my needs for well-written short stories, it was nice to meet another female writer for a penchant for the extreme. In The End, Only Darkness is sure to please the reader who seeks out fantastically written scenes of shock and gore.

Stories that deserve mention (aka my faves):

*Attainable Beauty: Molly has an appreciation for art and she’s fallen in love with a certain painting. The painting becomes her idol as she learns each brush stroke and absorbs every colour nuance. While art appreciation is important, has her love for art also becoming a debilitating disease?

*Huntin’ Season:¬†Sometimes the hunters become the hunted. (This story sure resonated with me.¬†Wow. Just wow. I think it was probably my favourite story in the collection.)

*Vade in Pacem: An excellent flash story about the importance of confessing your sins.

*The Rest Of Larry: Larry wakes up in a precarious problem. It seems like he’s half the man he used to be…

*Maternal Instinct: A look into maternal instinct and how some people just don’t have any at all.

*Oral Mohel: Jack decides to convert to Judaism so he can marry Sarah. Circumcision is on the list of to dos, so Jack calls the best in the game.

*An Experiment In Human Nature: Rich kids  have too much time on their hands, as told by this gory tale of torture and human will.

Monica’s stories are not for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for something to read that makes you say, “Oh my god…” This would be the perfect collection for you.

***Five out of Five Stars***

Pick up an e-copy of In The End, Only Darkness – HERE.


Review: The Compound by Robert Ford

TheCompound_dustjacket2Once again, Robert¬†Ford has managed to write a story that kept me glued to the pages.¬†Honestly, I couldn’t put the book down. After reading his first book, Samson and Denial, I eagerly awaited something else from this fantastic storyteller. With the release of his new novel, The Compound, I was not disappointed.¬†His ability to describe a scene draws the reader in and doesn’t let go.¬†Ford weaves three entirely different story lines into one seamless, action-filled adventure.

Jake, Ashley and Tori are an estranged family torn apart once again by the zombie apocalypse.

Calvin, a biker, wants nothing more than to spread his wife’s ashes where she requested and won’t let anything or anyone get in his way.

Sombre and Spider, brothers in a vicious gang, have benefitted from the zombie infestation by taking over the self-sustaining, super prison Tartarus.

Pick up your copy to find out what happens at Tartarus Federal Penitentiary aka The Compound.

I highly recommend this novel.

You can grab a copy of The Compound here.

***** Five out of Five Stars *****

Review: The Venus Complex by Barbie Wilde

venus-largeThe Venus Complex, by Barbie Wilde, follows the main character’s descent into madness by way of his diary. After a car accident, Michael is left to rehabilitate physically and mentally. While his body may have healed, his mind takes a turn for the worse. A college professor and art lover, he puts his life on hold and immerses himself in the study of becoming a serial killer. Plagued by his dreams, he acts out on his most depraved thoughts, which in turn spurs on the darkness just a little bit more. He meets Elene, and so begins the struggle between his dual lives.

Barbie Wilde has an excellent grasp of the male POV as she walks us through the creation of a killer. She takes the reader on a journey into the mind of a twisted individual, as he comes to terms with who and what he really is.

This tightly-written page-turner is not for the faint of heart. It contains some (amazingly written) graphic sex and death scenes.

Step into the shoes of a serial killer and pick up your copy of The Venus Complex paperback or Kindle edition.

Five out of Five Stars

(Interested in what my rating system means? Check out this link.)

Mandy’s Review Rating System

5-Star_ratingI’ve posted a few reviews last year and am making a point to post more this coming year. I started doing reviews for Snakebite Horror and when I handed in my first review Mark (from Snakebite Horror) asked me, “How many stars?”

I had to stop and think for a moment.

I wasn’t sure.

All I knew was that I liked the book and I wanted my friends to read it, so I was going to post a review…

I realized I had to stop and ask myself, how does one choose how many stars a certain book should get?

From that point on, I spent a lot of time reading other book reviews, be it a one star or a five star, on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads.
While a lot of reviews made sense there were always a bunch that didn’t…

I’m still not sure what’s the reasoning is behind everyone’s book rating system, but¬†I have come to realize that every reviewer is different.
We all have our own reasons to give a book a 5 star review or the opposite.

For those who follow my reviews, here’s my reasoning:

5 stars: Means the book was awesome, I’d definitely read it again and I want all my friends to know about it.
4 stars: Means the book was great and you should probably check it out.
3 stars: Means the book was good, it was entertaining enough to keep me reading, you could check it out if you want.
2 stars: Means I can’t believe I spent time reading this crappy book but I will not be bothered writing a review.
1 star: Means I couldn’t finish the book or it sucks really bad, be it the editing or the writing, so I won’t waste my time writing a review.

I guess that I’m more of the recommendation type reviewer.
If I like something, I’ll tell you about it.
If I don’t, I’m not going to drag it through the mud.
It is what it is.¬†Someone else might love it, but it just wasn’t for me.

I think the main idea to recommendations or reviews is to find a reviewer who’s decisions you agree with and follow what they say.