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Review: Desdaemona by Ben Macallan

30 Jul

Desdaemona follows the story of Jordan, on the run from his parents, who plan to make him immortal when he becomes of age. While on the run, he helps find other runaways–because who better to find a runaway than another runaway that knows all the best hiding spots and tricks? Enter Desdaemona, or Desi for short, who enlists Jordan’s help to find her sister Fay, who has gotten herself mixed up with some very bad immortals. Jordan attempts to turn down her request, but, as he’s a horny teenager, it doesn’t take much for Desi to convince him to help her out. As their search begins, so do a lot of crazy and dangerous escapades that make Jordan second-guess his decision to help out Desi, despite his raging hormones.

Honestly, I had a really hard time getting through this novel. Some sections of the book I really got into, but then others made me wish I was already on the final chapter. I am glad I stuck through to the end, though, as some of the stuff near the end of the book was quite intense, and I really liked one of the characters introduced late in the book. I will most likely read the next book in the series to see how things go now that the characters have been fleshed out. This first book just felt like the author was struggling a bit with getting his voice and writing style sorted out, but I have hope that in future books this won’t be an issue for Macallan, as he does seem to have some really good tales to tell. The fact that he pulls in so many different creatures, going beyond just the typical vampires and werewolves found in urban fantasy, makes him stand out drastically from many of today’s urban fantasy authors. I would definitely recommend giving Desdaemona a try if you can handle a little frustration along the way, as the book does turn out to be well worth it in the end. Recommended.

Contains: Adult language and situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Die, You Bastard! Die! by Jan Kozlowski

30 Jul

Claire left her past life as far behind as possible, and didn’t want to return home when she received the call that her father had been hospitalized.  He had abused her growing up, which was the main reason she had left in the first place, but she decided to be the bigger person and went home to check on him.  Claire didn’t expect to find that she was expected to use her training as a paramedic to act as a home nurse to him until his condition improved. Nor did she expect her best friend’s suggestion that this would be the perfect opportunity for the two of them to get their revenge on the man that had abused them for the biggest part of their life.  

Intense from start to finish, this book keeps you biting your nails the entire time.  Kozlowski keeps the momentum going throughout this book, giving the reader no chance to come up for air.  Ravenous Shadows promised novellas that could “pack as much punch, personality, and plot as books three times their size” and that they did with Die, You Bastard, Die!  If I didn’t have other obligations in life I would’ve read this in one setting easily, as it was THAT good!  This is a revenge story.  This is an extremely gory revenge story.  I don’t say that lightly.  If you are hesitant to read books that have to do with revenge or contain gore, I’d pass this one by.  However, if you don’t mind either of those things, make sure this one goes to the top of your must-read pile.  Trust me, it won’t take up much of your reading time and you won’t regret it.  I know I can’t wait to read more from Ravenous Shadows and especially from Jan Kozlowski.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex, Rape, Violence, Gore

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Unspeakable and Other Stories by Lucy Taylor

30 Jul

Lucy Taylor’s work has been recommended to me frequently, due to my love for erotic horror.  Earlier this year, I finally got to read a short story by her, and I enjoyed every word of it.  So I was ecstatic when our site was contacted by the author about reviewing her short story collection Unspeakable and Other Stories.  The collection is made up of eight short stories, which I believe have all been published previously in various anthologies/magazines.  There was not a story in this collection that I did not enjoy, but my three favorites would have to be (in no particular order) “Wall of Words”, “The Family Underwater”, and “A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, and a Harley”.  Taylor has a special way of playing with words and twisting them around, making the reader think one thing, and then, when she unravels it all, showing  something entirely different.  Her endings were always a surprise to me, especially in “A Hairy Chest, A Big Dick, and a Harley”. Yes, her stories would be classified as erotic horror, but I don’t think many readers would find themselves wanting a warm body to make love to after having read her work.  Taylor’s stories are sensual yet disturbing and are more likely leave you fearing the lover beside you.  Gripping and chilling, I devoured this collection in small doses to make it last longer.  Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Sacrifice by Wrath James White

30 Jul

Odd crime scenes are popping up across town, starting with a man being eaten alive by his own dog,  soon followed by a school teacher being brutally beaten by his elementary school students.  The incidents don’t stop there, unfortunately, and Detective John Malloy and his partner Mohammed Rafik have a crazy case on their hands.  In addition to these reports, they also have been running an investigation on a bunch of missing little girls.  When Molloy and Rafik visit the parents’ houses, they notice that the parents don’t have any pictures up any more of their children, but do have a picture up of themselves with some strange looking woman.  Doing a bit more research around town, they find out that the other woman in the picture is a woman that goes by the name of Delilah, and she is some kind of voodoo priestess who has the power to take away a person’s pain… but at a cost.

I’ve yet to meet a Wrath James White book I haven’t liked and that goes for this one as well.  He always writes a strong story with vivid details and strong characters.  In particular, the character of Delilah that he has created in Sacrifice is one-of-a-kind, and I had a hard time deciding whether I loved her or hated her.  Her reasoning for doing what she does is good-natured, but the results are just so horrific that it’s hard to decide which outweighs the other.  That might not make sense to you now but I guarantee that if you read this novella, you will understand my conflict.  If you are familiar with White’s work, you will expect over-the-top gore, lots of violence, and hardcore sex in this novella.  Well… maybe not so much in this case.  There is still a little of each, but I’d say the gore and sex is majorly tamed down this time, which should allow readers that have avoided White’s work in the past due to those features a chance to give his writing a try.  He is a powerful writer and one that shouldn’t be missed.  

Note:  Sacrifice is a semi-sequel novella to White’s novel The Resurrectionist as it pulls in some of the same characters and reflects back on some of the events that took place in the novel.  In order to avoid spoilers to the novel, be sure to read it before this novella.  

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Gore, Sex, Graphic Violence

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Faint of Heart by Jeff Strand

30 Jul

Gary Harpster is planning on spending a weekend camping with the boys, but is worried about leaving his wife Rebecca home alone–she’s a bit of a scaredy cat.  Rebecca promises him she’s alright, though deep down she knows she’s anything but. After a bit of back and forth, he promises her he’ll call and check in, and heads out on his trip.  Rebecca struggles her way through the weekend, and never receives a phone call from Gary, nor does he answer when she tries to call him.  By Sunday night, she starts to panic.  About that time her doorbell rings, and the person on the other side tells her that they are the police.  Unfortunately for Rebecca, it’s not really the police and she is taken at gunpoint by the stranger at the door.  He tells her that he will take her to find out what happened to Gary, but the only way for her to find out is to play their little game.  And what they have in mind is something she’s not prepared for at all.  They want her to go camping.  Well, not just camping… they want her to re-live everything Gary went through over the weekend and she can’t even begin to imagine what all that might entail.

A good horror/comedy book is hard to find, but all one has to do is find a book with the name Jeff Strand on the title and it’s a winner every time (except for those couple of non-horror/comedy books he wrote).  Faint of Heart is a fast-paced novella with a bit of torture, a slight bit of gore, and a lot of laughs.  At the start of the book the main heroine, Rebecca, seems to be quite the wuss.  (Seriously, who wouldn’t want a weekend home alone to be able to catch up on their reading?)  But as she starts going through all of the stuff that Gary had to go through, she has to learn to toughen up quickly.  If not, she would’ve probably just died trying to eat the hot dog. (You’ll understand once you read this novella.)  That being said, Rebecca becomes a very likeable character by the end and the love she shows throughout for Gary is just phenomenal.  The fact that she would put herself through as much as she does throughout this story proves just how much she cares for him.  It’s quite the touching story, despite it being full of violence, but what else can you expect from the King of Comic Horror?  Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Violence, Gore, Torture

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi

29 Mar

Author Travis Glasgow recently completed a novel titled The Ocean Serene, written as Travis’s way of dealing with the death of his brother Kyle, whom he felt he had killed years ago.  Thinking he had put his past behind him, he and his wife, Jodie, move to Westlake, Maryland to be closer to his living brother, Adam.  However, upon arrival to the house, Travis starts noticing strange happenings.  He is hearing noises and seeing strange sights in the basement.  What he witnesses makes him believe that Kyle’s spirit has followed him all this way and is trying to tell him something.  Then one day Travis notices another oddity; a staircase, floating in the middle of the lake outside their house.  As Travis’s confusion and fears increase, he decides to do an investigation of his own, wondering if there is more to the house than just a ghost from his own past.  Taking his research skills to the local library, he soon discovers that the previous owners of his new house have something in common with him; they also dealt with the death of a drowning boy in their family.  Travis becomes obsessed with finding out as much as he can about the previous owners of his house in order to find out what message the being that has been reaching out to him is trying to get across.

Of all the books I read in 2011, Floating Staircase was at the top of my list!  From start to finish I could not put this book down.  Having not previously read anything by Ronald Malfi I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this one, but I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely be looking up his other reads.  I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories and this book is definitely that.  In the beginning, Malfi leaves you wondering if maybe Travis Glasgow has gone just a bit crazy over the years due to the blame he had put on himself after his brother’s death.  But once he discovers that there is another presence in the house other than what Travis originally thought was his brother’s spirit, things really take off.  Mixing elements of both horror and mystery, Malfi has put together a page-turner that, even when finished, leaves you wanting more.  Powerful and chilling, Floating Staircase is one ghost story that horror fans should not miss.  Highly Recommended!

Contains: Adult Language & Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian

Kindle Freebies – 3/25/12

25 Mar

Sorry I haven’t posted any freebies the last couple of days, but I don’t always have time to create these blog posts as it takes a bit of time to get all the links and such together.  This should cover everything that I personally thought looked like good freebies over the course of the weekend however.  As always, click the cover art and/or book title to get to the book.  Also, prices can change at any time, I have no control over that.  

HIGHLIGHTS:  

Since I have previously read both of the following books for review in the past, I’m posting them here at the top as highlights with my personal review of the books.  Both of these are amazing reads, so don’t miss out on them while they are free!

Love crime?  Love noir?  Love bizarro?  Love comedy?  If you said yes to any of these questions, then Squid Pulp Blues is for you!  The book is made up of three novellas and has been described as squishy-noir, and contains all of the genres I just listed.

The first novella, The Haberdasher, is about bad drugs, missing feet, and other weird things that Red Henry Hooper is up against after obtaining parole.  The Longheads is the second novella and has probably one of the most interesting, yet disturbing characters I’ve come across in a bizarro title to date… Peachy, a diaper-wearing gangster.  I’ll leave it to your imagination about exactly WHY Peachy wears a diaper, as it’s best to find out for yourself.  Peachy is actually not the main focus of this story, however.  The story centers on a group of veterans called the Longheads who are tracking down other characters who end up having a run-in with Peachy.  The final novella in this collection is titled The Apocalypse Donkey.  This was my favorite of the three stories, though they are all extremely good.  The Apocalypse Donkey is about Simon, the artist of a popular comic book, who is on his way to an autograph session when someone hands him a package.  Unfortunately, it’s a case of mistaken identity and the package isn’t really for him.  Once this is discovered by the other party, the chase is on!

All three novellas in Squid Pulp Blues are loosely connected, making for an even more interesting read.  Characterization is one of the strongest points of Squid Pulp Blues, as is the case for all of Krall’s books.  Each story contains several characters and each and every one of them has special attributes/features that are unique to them.  I keep thinking that Krall will run out of ideas for new and interesting characters, but he hasn’t disappointed yet.    Randomly gross, most often hilarious, and almost always full of squid references, this is one of Jordan Krall’s finest works.  I would recommend this to anyone as there is something in it for everyone.  Highly recommended!

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

YOU.  Yes, “you”… are a poor soul in the hospital on your last legs.  And as it is, you’ve “given birth” to one of the most horrible “people” ever possible…

MORBID.  Born from “your” rectum, Morbid dispatches many other patients in the hospital in extremely horrendous and painful ways.  However, the main suspect of these murders isn’t Morbid, but instead…

WESTPHAL.  Living with his ghost step-dad, Sammy, and his pet aborted fetus, Chip, Westphal works as a night shift nurse, getting stuck with all of the worst patients.  All those that no one else wants to fool with.  Just to get through the day, Westphal has to dope himself up with the strongest narcotics possible and that doesn’t always help make things easier.

These three characters, as well as a host of other interesting “people” make up Steven Rage’s You Morbid Westphal. Both the characters and story format are unique- Rage has created a one-of-a-kind voice with this novella, which has enough story to fill a full-length book.  A large chunk of the story follows Westphal day-to-day as he suffers through many horrendous tasks at work, in his dreams, and even just trying to obtain more drugs along the way.

As soon as I read the final chapters of this book I was ready to re-read it.  I ended up waiting a few months before doing just that, but after a second read, I would be more than happy to do so yet again… and again… and again…  You Morbid Westphal is one of those novellas that never get tiresome, as you pick up something different with each read through.  You Morbid Westphal is not for the faint of heart, as it is full of numerous crude scenes that Rage describes in graphic detail.  For many seasoned horror/bizarro readers, this will be a plus, but for those that can’t handle things over the top, beware!  Highly recommended!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex, Rape, Violence, Gore, Heavy Drug Use

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

HORROR & THRILLERS

A janitor, a former junkie, a cab driver, a waitress, a high school senior. Strangers in life, they each receive a blue card in the mail. Now they are connected in death by blue cards found on their bodies. The enigmatic letters on the cards mean something to the killer, something Homicide Detective Jayson Weis has to decipher before he can rid the city of this madman. Confronted with the bodies of the present, haunted by the bodies of the past, Weis knows there will be more bodies in his future unless he can stop the Card Killer. When the few witnesses can’t agree about the killer, not even the race and sex, Weis begins to dread the possibility of a second killer. His relationship with long time girlfriend Lois Fremont is deteriorating. The pressure from City Hall mounts. His own uncertainty about his future dulls the edge of his investigation. Help comes from an unexpected direction, a paraplegic teenager who has also received one of the cards.

A personal loss throws medium Tess Schafer’s beliefs into question and severs her communications with “the other side”. Unable to move on with her life, she takes a healing vacation to a haunted resort on the coast of Maine. Her arrival triggers a spike in paranormal activity and the return of her spiritual connection.

As the spirits of two young lovers reach out to her, Tess soon finds herself in the middle of much more than a tragic love story. Why are they afraid and why are they warning her away? Personal doubts, skeptics, a growing sense of menace and a distracting attraction to another guest will not stop her from uncovering the resort’s secrets.

This omnibus contains the novels WHERE DARKNESS DWELLS and THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN. A monster of a volume, this single ebook is over 195k words (or 700+ pages if in print).

WHERE DARKNESS DWELLS
Summer, 1934. Two boys, searching for a local legend, stumble upon the Underground, a network of uncharted caverns. Time holds no sway there; people no longer age and their wounds heal as if by magic. By morning, one boy is murdered, while the other never returns.
Below a town ravaged by the Great Depression, an immortal society thrives, built on the backs of slavery and pervasive immorality.

THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN
Maury can pull dreams into the waking world, giving them corporeal form. From a boy named Kevin, he removes a nightmare dubbed Mr. Freakshow. Mr. Freakshow knows the rules: a dream becomes immortal by killing its dreamer. When the nightmare escapes his confinement, he has but one goal.

Will Kevin survive his nightmare?

OTHER HORROR & THRILLERS

Crack in the Glass by Jonathan Carter

Dead Man #1: Face of Evil by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin

The Fall by Reverend Steven Rage

Medi-Evil 2 by Paul Finch

The Empty Heart: A Collection by Derek Murphy

Merciless Pack by R. Thomas Brown

Flashes From the Grave by Lisa McCourt Hollar

Eyes of the Seer by Peter Dawes

Falling Awake by Charles J. Harwood

McGrave by Lee Goldberg

Covert Reich by A.K. Alexander

Rotten Apple: Seven Sins, One Deadly City by Simon Dunn

The Innocent by Vincent Zandri

Hunt, Hunted. Murder, Murdered. by Michael McBride

Dead But Not Buried by Iain North

Mayhem: A Collection of Stories by R. Thomas Brown

Brujas Behind Bars by David Bain

Dirty Eden by J.A. Redmerski

The Grid by Amy Cross

Welcome to Demos by Jonathan Lister

Monster Story by McCarty Griffin

EROTIC HORROR

Final Cut by Jonathan Carter

Nocturnal Cravings 2 by Various Authors

TWISTED FAIRY TALES

Horrors! While out on a lovely boating jaunt with her sister Lorina and Charles Dodgson (otherwise known as Lewis Carroll), poor Alice finds herself caught up in the tentacles of madness. Inspired by the brilliant and haunting Dreamlands works of the pre-eminent author of horror-fantasy, H.P. Lovecraft, CTHULHU IN WONDERLAND: The Madness of Alice hurls the reader down the Zoog Hole and into Wonderland to experience the sanity-leeching terror of Cthulhu, Shoggoths, the Jabberwock, the demoniac Duchess, the tyrannical Queen in Crimson and the King in Yellow himself. Filled with macabre, sophisticated and antediluvian humor, CTHULHU IN WONDERLAND is certain to leave a permanent aethereal scar upon the reader’s already frail and faltering psyche.

From the author of THE NECRONOMICON ~ THE CTHULHU REVELATIONS and the editor of THE COMPLETE ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

(Disclaimer: Publisher not responsible for death, dread metamorphosis, transmogrification, loss of sanity, permanent neural damage or horrific titillation. If you experience a trans-dimensional journey lasting longer than 4 hours, cease all bodily activity and go the emergency room immediately. Read at your own risk. Ingredients: Earth-Shattering Revelation 43.6%, Apocalyptic Waking Nightmare 33.1%, Things Man Was Not Meant to Know 23.3%. May contain trace amounts of morbid amusement and partially hydrogenated peanut oil.)

OTHER TWISTED FAIRY TALES

Blackstone & Brenwen: The Mirror & The Meretrix by Andrew D. Mellusco

Snowy & the Seven Wharves by Patricia Green

Royal Historian of Oz by S.D. Brown

PARANORMAL ROMANCE/EROTICA

Meet Vivian. She’s a 580-year-old vampire who exudes sex, has a talent for drama, and is passionate about two things: her human husband, Rafe, and their resort for the undead. Her ability to project physical illusions has created the perfect vacation spot — a dark, isolated Alaskan hideaway where visitors can have their wildest fantasies come true.

Vivian knows the best performance requires perfect timing, but the powerful vamp is put to the test when she discovers a corpse in a locked guestroom minutes before the next arrivals. Always cool-headed, Rafe hides the body, convinced he and Vivian can find the culprit without disturbing their guests.

Juggling the increasingly outrageous demands of their customers while tracking a killer isn’t easy. Will their poking and prodding give them the answers they need, or will it uncover secrets Vivian would kill to protect?

Warning: This book contains very explicit sex scenes, intended for mature readers over 18 only.

OTHER PARANORMAL ROMANCE/EROTICA

Just One Taste by C.J. Ellisson

Another Sip by C.J. Ellisson

Echo in the Dark by Marc J. Riley

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Part One by Amileigh D’Lecoire

Love Immortal by Kelly Wallace

PARANORMAL YA

Seattle’s demons are scared and wreaking havoc in the rainy city. They’ve burned their way through the Seattle underground, threatened to topple the Space Needle, and sent a twenty foot statue rampaging downtown.

It’s up to Nathaniel Grimlock, the teenage Demonkeeper, to control them, but when he discovers what’s stirring them up—a legendary monster known as the Demoneater—he finds that he’s in over his head yet again!

MORE PARANORMAL YA

Dead, Sweet Angel by Susan MacQuoid

Changes by Patricia Reed

Marty Boggs & The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb by M.T. Acquaire