Category: review

Review: Samson and Denial by Robert Ford

Samson and DenialEver have one of those days where you should’ve stayed in bed because everything seems to go wrong? Today is that day for pawnshop owner, Samson Gallows.

Things start to go downhill when Samson purchases a mummified head from a junkie. Over the next twenty four hours, Samson is forced into a world of murder, mystery and mayhem where he meets some very interesting characters. Between Nick, the junkie he purchased to the head from; the two tortuous Russians he keeps running into; his prostitute friend and confidant, Free Ride Angie and the Crimson Sisterhood, Samson really has his hands full.

While the story is only a novella (weighing in at 125 pages), Robert Ford incorporates all the facets needed for a great story.

Samson and Denial will keep the reader turning the page right up to the very end. It’s story-telling at it’s best, as Ford pens the strangest ideas into a well-thought out and fantastically written tale. The first person narrative and descriptive writing will pull the reader into the story from the gripping beginning and keep them there, right up until the unexpected ending.

Although the paperback version is now sold out,  Samson and Denial is available on Amazon for Kindle for $2.99.

5 Stars out of 5

***Samson and Denial is recommended as Mandytory reading***

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Review: White Picket Prisons by Kelli Owen

An eye for an eye… If this reigns true, I’m not sure what I owe author Kelli Owen for having created the amazing read, White Picket Prisons.

Cover by Alan M. Clark

Mark Baker is a good detective who’s growing tired of seeing the criminals he’s captured walk free either because of “technicalities” or good lawyering. Between his pregnant girlfriend, Gina and his (at times) frustrating job, his life is a roller coaster of emotions. When a strange letter arrives from Sarah, his sister who he hasn’t seen or heard from in nearly a decade, Mark’s finds himself investigating a mystery he may not even be able to solve.

Mark tracks the letter back to the tiny, Wisconsin village of Valley Mill. At first glance, the small town is everything Mark wants for his own city, content citizens and zero crime. After reuniting with his long lost sister, Mark learns more  about the little town and the citizens who inhabit Valley Mill. While everything seems perfect, almost too perfect, he soon finds out the reason why Sarah felt compelled to send him the letter… and everything changes.

***

Kelli Owen has once again managed to tell a story which will keep the reader turning the page right up until the very end.

Owen doesn’t need to unnecessary blood and guts to get her point across but instead she excels at quiet and subtle creepiness throughout the book.

Her ability to describe the scenery and the situations the characters find themselves in, helps pull the reader into the spooky little town and stands them at the gazebo, right beside the rest of the Valley Mill odd citizens.

Owen’s character development is very strong which allows the reader to feel the full spectrum of emotions her characters are dealing with in the book, as they encounter new situations.

White Picket Prisons ends unexpectedly, leaving the reader satisfied with the outcome, but also wanting more at the same time.
Few authors can succeed at this type of ending, but Owen nails it.

5 Stars out of 5

*** White Picket Prisons is recommended as Mandytory reading***

Review: Strange Sex – A Strange Anthology

Cover Art by Shamus BeyaleStrangehouse Books takes horror, erotica and a dash of weird, pops everything into a blender and liquifies it into what becomes Strange Sex, a Strange Anthology. Each of stories toe the imaginary lines between right and wrong. Your reaction to the stories will depend greatly on how twisted your mind is, they will either gross you out or turn you on but overall they will entertain you with a new idea. If you’re tired of all the “usual” horror stories (or bored of the regular guy on girl erotica), this is definitely the book for you.

When it comes to short stories, it’s difficult to say something about it without giving too much away. (This explains why some of the story descriptions sound like movie tag lines.)

No spoilers have been used in the writing of this review.

Interloper by D.F Noble – A man who’s life has been thwarted in life seeks answers. He manages to find them in the most unusual place.

Love Bites by David C. Hayes – Andy Crank has a disturbing fetish and no one to share it with. Until he comes across the newscast from which stems the idea that changes his life.

Pulmonary Ed by Rich Bottles, Jr. – Pulmonary Ed is the kind of loser you don’t want near your children, however, he eventually finds himself in a position of authority over the public. As scary as the latter sounds, Ed doesn’t work alone.

Appetites by Mike Lombardo – Everyone has a sexual appetite, but in some, it’s much stronger than others.

Foreigner by D.F. Noble – It seems like you haven’t been yourself lately… in more ways than one.

The Language of Love by Amanda Williams – Aliens have managed to coexist with humans for years. A young woman begins to wonder if it would it possible for a human and her dinosaur like teacher’s assistant to connect on “other” levels?

Deth Morgue by Elizadeth Hetherington – Edith is a quiet, lesbian coroner who normally keeps to herself. That is until Morianna, the sultry new employee, shows up for her first day of work.

Vagary by Justin Roberts – Sam’s sexual appetite is starting to rule his life. When he confides in his friend Eric about his issue, Eric tells him about a whorehouse where, as long as you follow the rules, all your fantasies can come true. However, the rules are never to be broken, as Sam will soon find out.

F*ck or Feast by Craig Mullins – Normals and mutants now inhabit the world turned wasteland.  You are captured, taken prisoner and brought to the city, Darkham. You and two other normals are taken to a room where you’re left in wait. Unfortunately, your future doesn’t look very promising.

Cinnamon by D.F. Noble – In 2032, humans have perfected androids for all their needs. Cinnamon is the first self-aware android who’s had enough of human need and decides to do something about it.

Cotton Candy by Kevin Strange – Girls in a literature class receive a strange text from their professor informing them to meet in the classroom at 8pm on a Saturday. When they arrive, the classroom is strangely filled with plush animals and furry costumes. On the desk is a manuscript entitled “Cotton Candy” penned by their recently absent teacher which will hopefully explain what’s going on.

Necrosaurus Rex by Nicholas Day –  When things go wrong for Alice, they really go wrong. Martin, a janitor struggles with who he really is. Time travel and dinosaurs add element of science and mystery to this strangely erotic tale of finding out where you belong.

The Sexorcist by Kyle Noble – A young girl is possessed by a powerful demon and the priests understand the only way to rid her of her unwanted guest is to perform a sexorcism.

Strange Sex: A Strange Anthology can be purchased here in paperback format.

*(The great cover art was thanks to Shamus Beyale and his website can be found here.)

I deem this book Mandy-tory reading.

MDG

Review: Scary F*cking Stories by D.F. Nobel

Cover Art by Gabriel Wyse

Sometimes a title of a book strikes a chord and sticks with you. Maybe it’s because it moves you, maybe it reminds you of something from your past, or if you’re like me, it’s cause it’s got a huge swear word in the title.

This exact thing happened to me when I saw the cover for the collection of stories by D.F. Noble called Scary F*cking Stories. (I’d explain the * is really a “u” but I’m sure everyone figured that out already.) These weren’t just stories, these were f*cking stories.

I HAD to have it.

I waited and waited for it to be released by Strangehouse Books,
I ordered it from Amazon and it arrived. 😀
I didn’t get around to reading it until now and I’m glad I did.

Scary F*cking Stories contains ten short stories and an introduction by the author himself. The introduction informs the reader about the paranormal experiences Noble and his relatives have been involved in at the family farm house.

The stories in this collection cover a wide variety of themes, from monsters to weird weather patterns, to paranormal experiences and even aliens.

The Cellar – A short story about a teenage virtuoso, Marcus, and his psychologist, Shelly Andrews. Shelly delves into Marcus’ subconscious to help him through a tough time, but is she prepared to deal with what she uncovers?

Through The Walls – A babysitter loses a child and her sanity but leaves behind a letter and security camera footage that may hold the key to the truth.

Loop Road – Steven is on his way to visit his uncle when an accident on Loop road has him running in circles. The journey is sometimes more than half the battle.

Contact Schematic – This quick read outlines how to use strategically placed mirrors to induce a “visionary state”. The author also includes an email if the readers decide they want to share their experiences.

Wait In Line – The military has evacuated your city into refugee camps. People must comply or they are put to death. You move along with the herd like everyone else, but where are you heading?

Dead Wrong – A letter from a man to his brother which could change everything.

James – Sam’s dreams turn to nightmares the moment she moves into her aunt and uncle’s place. What or who is the reason for the horrible things she sees when she sleeps?

The Pen Or Sword. The Ghost Or Gun. –  An employee decides to torment his boss with the ultimate practical joke but something happens that wasn’t in his plans.

The Blood Tide – Strange clouds roll in, condemning the patrons of a small gas station to face the most horrifying storm ever.

The Doorman – An autistic boy disappears and his parents entertain some extreme ideas to find him.

Night Cap – In the final part of the book, Noble addresses more of his personal strange experiences that all have a common denominator, the tiny town of Bunker Hill.

Scary F*cking Stories was a fun read. Noble’s retelling of his paranormal personal experiences in the introduction helps set the tone of the book early on.  The stories were imaginative, entertaining and progressed easily. Noble takes the things that use to go bump in the night to a new level.

Stories deserving extra mention are Wait In Line, The Pen Or Sword. The Ghost Or Gun and The Blood Tide.

Review: Brains (A Zombie Memoir) by Robin Becker

RAWR BRAINS… Seems to be the ongoing “zombie style” for writing and movies. I personally get tired of the “same old-same old” zombie stories. When one of my friends suggested I check out this novel, due to it’s non-normal-zombie-story, I did. Sure, it still has the “RAWR BRAINS” moments in it, like you would expect from a zombie story, but “Brains” is something a little different.

Brains: By Robin Becker

Meet Jack Barnes, he’s a professor/recently turned zombie. He can’t voice what he wants to say, but he knows he is different than the others around him. On top of his want for brains, there’s something else, a glimmer in his eye or a cognizance, if you have to call it something. He knows he’s not like all the other brain-eaters out there. He knows this because he can think and write.

A newly zombified Jack sets out on a cross-country trek to find the creator of the zombie virus, hoping to prove that not all zombies are mindless brain munchers as he quests for zombie/human equality. Along the way, he finds other zombies who are like him and slowly builds a group of zombies who have “talents”.

The first cognizant zombie he comes to meet is Joan. She is, or was, a nurse and has the ability to maintain the decomposition zombies face on a daily basis. She can repair and mend injuries with things she finds, like a Dead Doctor McGuyver.

Guts, an eviscerated young zomboy, is the next one to join the ragtag group of zombies with abilities. Not only does he understand, Guts can also run even though he’s decomposing at the same rate as every other zombie around him.

Then comes Ros, the first zombie who can converse since he hasn’t lost his ability to talk or remember.

Finally, Annie joins the group. The dead little sharpshooter makes for a welcome addition to the ragtag group of undead.

Throughout the entire novel, Robin Becker manages to create humour in what should be a tale about a horrific, zombie-filled world. Becker manages to create feelings of sympathy in the reader for her characters, even though they are zombies. On the flip side, the reader gets to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes… on dead legs.

Brains is a fun, well-written, different kind of zombie story for those who want a tale that isn’t like all the others.

***Brains: A zombie memoir is recommended as Mandytory reading***

Review: Dark Dreams, Pale Horses by Rio Youers

I was introduced to Rio Youers and his writing when I attended my first horror convention. I picked up a copy of his novel, Mama Fish and added it to my ever-growing pile of books to read. Mama Fish was a quick, good read that I highly enjoyed. Fueled by my enjoyment of Mama Fish and my love for short stories, I immediately jumped at the chance to pick up his next book, Dark Dreams, Pale Horses. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

Dark Dreams, Pale Horses is a collection of six short stories written by Youers with an introduction by Brian Keene.

Pure: There is always a need for salvation during times of infection. Pure is a story set in the near future, however Youers spins a much different tale than what you’d expect from your regular run-of-the-mill vampire story.

This Is The Summer Of Love: Terri and Billy are the main characters in this story of love, protection, and need. Terri lives in a black and white world of sadness, at least until she meets Billy, who becomes her knight in Technicolor armor.

Ghost Of Lillian Bliss: An elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s recants a story from her childhood. While present memories seem to elude her, she has no problem digging up the images from her childhood.

Chrysalis: The world as we know it is now a cold, desolate place where people are forced up mountains to chase the sunlight and children are born at death’s door. Angelo, the main character, cares for the children in this touching fable of sorrow and hope.

Alice Bleeding: After an asteroid decimates parts of Australia, thirty-three survivors remain and wait for rescue. Sally, her four-month-old son and her husband survived but the bitterness she carries is destroying her marriage. The group waiting for rescue thinks the worst is over, but something more horrible approaches.

Promised Land Blues: Jonathan’s life long dream is to drive across the USA in a 1955 baby-pink Cadillac, stopping in every city mentioned in Elvis Presley’s song, “Promised Land”. While the road trip should be a week to remember, it takes a turn for the worse as mysterious events unfurl surrounding the ‘55 Cadillac.

Youers has a near-poetic way of writing. “Beautifully-written” would be the most accurate way to describe the rich environments, characters and the overall feel of every story.

***Dark Dreams, Pale Horses is recommended as Mandytory reading***

Available here on Amazon

Review: Black Bubbles by Kelli Owen

Thinking it would simplify my first reviewing task, I chose “Black Bubbles” a short story collection by Kelli Owen. I figured I could read a few stories per sitting, over the course of a few days. I could take my time, jot down take some notes on the stories and then formulate a concise review. The idea was sound, but once I started reading Black Bubbles, my plan changed.

Story after story, I was hooked and I couldn’t put the book down.

The collection contains 21 stories of differing themes. From ghosts to zombies, to serial killers and women scorned, Kelli’s stories touch on all kinds of scary things nightmares are made from. Through her descriptive storytelling, her words paint an easy-to-imagine picture in your mind’s eye, allowing you to follow her well-developed characters as they deal with their extraordinary situations. The lengths of the 21 tales vary from quick flash reads, 500 words long, (“The Rabbit” and “Brian Made Me Do It”), to full-length short stories (“Spell” and “How’s That Make You Feel?”). There’s even a “poetry-esque” free verse entitled “Shadows in a Bowl of Soup.”

Here are a few of the stories that stood out and deserve extra mention:

“The Worst intentions”: Patti and Debbie are the main characters in this short but intense story. The action begins almost immediately with a scene involving the two women and what should be ultimate terror, yet Kelli Owen paints an eerie picture of calm and serenity as they come to terms with their situation.

“Potential”: A story of secrets, loneliness, dating and death. The twists in this plot will keep the reader guessing throughout the story.

“Trials and Tribulations of Dr. Jekyll’s Third Cousin Twice Removed”: The title alone is enough to pique interest in the reader. The story is a humorous but disgusting account of what may happen when homemade acne cream comes with mutative side effects. “Trials and Tribulations… Removed” is easily the most horrific story in the collection.

“Black Bubbles”: The story after which the collection is named is the final story in the book. Henry is trying to stay alive, just like everyone else. The “Shadows”/black bubbles are like nothing anyone has ever seen before. Kelli walks us through a scary day-in-the-life-of-Henry and what could happen if our nightmares ever became real.

Black Bubbles is proof that some of the scariest tales are sometimes formed from the most mundane of ideas. The author’s notes included at the end of each chapter allow the reader a personal glimpse into the mind of the writer, as Kelli Owen takes a few moments to describe how the ideas for her stories came to be.

Kelli Owen has once again excelled in her ability to weave a story—or 21 of them—which will captivate the reader from start to finish. The variety of themes in Kelli’s storytelling ensures there is something to suit all tastes. Black Bubbles will please both the serious horror fan and the short story aficionado.

Black Bubbles is Recommended as Mandytory Reading!

Now available in eBook format on Amazon for $3.99.