Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Book Review: Dead by Morning by Kayla Krantz



Obsession is deadly. No one learns that better than Luna Ketz, a pessimistic high school senior. She wishes more than anything to graduate but things don’t always go as planned. Luna quickly finds herself trapped in a web of lies and murders, spun by the least suspected person in her hometown. It’s not long before she realizes she’s being targeted by the person she despises most in the world. When Luna figures out who is behind the killings, things make a turn for the bizarre when she is contacted by a friend she has not heard from in years. It is then Luna realizes she is very much in danger, but although she can avoid the killer in reality, she cannot avoid him in her dreams.


What a brilliant introduction to the series Dead By Morning makes. Here’s a horror story with heart – but it’s of the pulsating, thrilling kind.

Luna and Chance are the main characters, but readers will enjoy the interplay and realism between Luna and her father. This is a well written coming of age story that seems to be going one place before Chance decides to take things into his own hands – literally.

"It is almost like we are inside Luna’s head, just a nano-second before things just happen to her."

The horror genre has been done to death, but there are shades of great originality within the pages, and though it is a long story, it does pull you along.

I didn’t know what to make of Chance – and in the first third of the book, I bet readers won’t either. It works because we are not spoon-fed information before it happens. It is almost like we are inside Luna’s head, just a nano-second before things just happen to her.

This is a strong debut that cannot be dismissed as yet another YA story. There are more in the series so I would like to see where this goes.

Luna may not be a character one instantly warms to, but she is drawn out of realism, and I actually prefer a girl with flaws than some honey-dewed Mary Sue. It was the braver decision by the author to create her this way, and the story is all the more powerful for it.

One of the best blood-curling stories I have read for a long time.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Book Review: Flings With Rings by Katerina Sestakova Novotna



Evelina is a Hawaiian beauty with a strange hobby: she collects engagement rings from successful men without intending to marry them. She is showing her collection to a pious friend while revealing her secret tricks and opinions on men. Evelina's motivation to share her life story seems as mysterious as the reason why her friend keeps listening and asking questions despite their strong disagreement. Will Evelina's behaviour ever catch up on her? 


Flings With Rings introduces us to Evelina, a woman on a quest to collect rings from men but not necessarily with a view to capture them as husbands, but to use and discard them as needed.

Told through a first person perspective, the friend of Evelina sees her acts through her eyes and hears them through her ears. She appears to be a more refined and decent woman, and is practically horrified at what she hears coming out of Evelina’s mouth.

However, it is hard to dismiss Evelina entirely. The half-Japanese half-Hawaiian beauty knows what she’s got and she is not shy to flaunt it.

She accurately depicts the well held view that men do want flings but not the commitment that a wedding ring would involve. As our first person point of view identifies, a ring should indeed symbolise love, but Evelina’s point is hard to dismiss entirely – she mentions how if a wedding ring was so special, it would be worn on more intimate parts of the body. That’s true, if not rather impractical.

"You have to decide if Evelina is evil or if the poor sap of a man actually deserves the treatment he gets."

Men would find it easy to dismiss Evelina as easily as she appears to dismiss them. Whether she is a likeable character or not is up to the reader to decide. For my own viewpoint, I found Evelina not the kind of woman I would want to know, but at the same time, she is not the kind of girl one would find easy to ignore. Moths to a flame, perhaps.

The twists in the story are many, but one that readers may enjoy and is not a spoiler to say so is that Evelina gets more joy out of collecting engagement rings than actually wedding rings.

Evelina does not ply her trade on every man though, she takes a perverse enjoyment in taunting one particular man. You have to decide if Evelina is evil or if the poor sap of a man actually deserves the treatment he gets.

As usual for the author, one can feel more enlightened and educated from reading her books. Flings With Rings is a short story, but not so short that you feel short changed. The story is packed with a really interesting character dynamic – we almost want Evelina to fail against somebody, but at the same time it is hard to deny that she has a logic to her actions that in her place, we would almost agree with.

The story is a clever and insightful study of marriage, it just utilises an interesting counterpoint about what men and women really want.

What I really like about this story is that it is brave enough to suggest that the best times are after an engagement but before a marriage. Not a lot of people say this kind of thing. Many would say that sex, at least in those initial months of marriage is the best, but this is not always the case, nor should it be, if we are honest with ourselves.

The story works not necessarily because we could relate to Evelina’s outrageous hobby, but perhaps because we cannot relate to it. She is a woman on a mission all of her own. Readers can condemn her, be fascinated by her, but one thing is for certain – she cannot be ignored.

Her looks are one thing – but maybe she has a dynamism about her that men cannot help being attracted to, and women might just appreciate her stance on men, sex and marriage to a larger extent than they may openly agree with.

Arguably Katerina Sestakova Novotna’s best written book to date, but in her growing library of works, there is some tough competition.

Book Review: Elisabeth McBride by Angie Blake



What happens to five investigators when they meet up with one of the deadliest demons in Paranormal history? Do they escape the wrath of Elisabeth McBride or were they sucked into their own deaths by the hands of a demonic young girl? Will they be able to team up and help a young girl find her way or will they have to destroy her world and everything she touches to save their own lives? Read Elisabeth McBride, it's murder, horror,suspense and paranormal. So many thriller aspects in just one book!


This book is creepy from the get-go and the murky atmosphere is kept up throughout.. 

It's not easy to do that, but the author show's her skill by not revealing too much about the titular Elisabeth McBride too early on.

A group of paranormal investigators track her down and know some elements of her back story, which I will not list here as it would count as a spoiler.

"The creep factor makes this an extremely scary book."

The book is extremely well written - that may seem a given, but I found myself flipping away at the pages with speed. It is a book crammed with incidents but not for incidents' sake. 

As to the 'heroine' herself, you will have to make up your own mind if the fate that befell her should be visited on anyone else.

The creep factor makes this an extremely scary book - especially in the early hours of the morning when I caught myself reading it!

It's not without its humourous points, for example:-

"I don't get it. We're supposed to be investigators, and we bolt the first time we hear a scary voice?"

Rest assured, you would too.

Grab this excellent scary story today.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Book Review: Darkly Wood II by Max Power


Synopsis: This chilling sequel to Darkly Wood brings us back to the mysterious wood perched above the sleepy village of Cranby. The mystery returns with love and terror walking hand and hand through the seemingly innocent paths of the place that has generated many fearful tales. This time however, there is an even more sinister presence. Much time has passed since Daisy escaped the terror of the wood and on the surface little has changed. But behind the tree line, a new danger lurks. Fans of the original will be taken to darker depths and first time readers will discover the true art of storytelling from the mind of the award winning author Max Power. Heart stopping, fast paced, unrelenting danger lies waiting for you between the pages. Sometimes love is all you have. Sometimes, love is not enough. Darkness is coming…


Darkly Wood was such an incredible read that any follow up had its work cut out. All the same I was very excited to hear of the release of Darkly Wood II, and just like its predecessor, it does live up to most of my expectations.

I’m generally more critical of my favourite authors so my review should be taken in the spirit it is meant.

In the opening pages of the story, we are introduced to Wormhold, a simply genius creation in terms of the creep factor. This is a man – if he is not a demon in disguise, who is genuinely creepy and acts in such a subtle way that you really don’t know what he is going to do from one scene to the next.

His first request of the wonderfully named Cathecus Flincher is truly horrifying. I was staring stunned at the page when I read the request / demand (the latter description more true as bad things happen to those who cross Wormhold.)

" This is one author who is a genius storyteller."

As the story progresses, we are taken back into the aptly named Darkly Wood, and this is strangely where the story lost a little of its power. ‘Woody’ seems less scary here, whereas in the first book he was something to be feared.

The book is part of a trilogy, that’s obvious from the ending, and whilst DW2 doesn’t suffer from ‘middle book syndrome’ it does have a slightly bloated middle.

The final third introduces us to Squelby – certainly a character to watch.

The simple and sheer joy of the Darkly Wood books is that they seem to be written by someone who enjoys enticing us with mysteriously named people – I thought a certain author of a young wizard was good at naming characters until I read the Darkly Wood series.

I do not wish to harp on about it, but this is one author who is a genius storyteller. You are pulled so effortlessly into the world he has created, it is a believable setup that would have me wanting to evacuate the village of Cranby if I could.

There is a delicious morsel for us who want more, because there is going to be a further segment to this series. For now, I am giving this particular book four stars. When I have read the closing chapter to the series, and I will be excited for it’s forthcoming release, I may come back and revise that rating.

It’s recommended to read the first book in any case. One could read this book as a standalone, but you would be missing out on vital character development from the first book.

Strongly recommended.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Book Review: The Return of the Pumpkins by Lacey Lane



Peter Smith is a patient at West Hills hospital. He has been there for nearly a decade. At the age of thirteen, his parents were brutally murdered and Peter was tortured to near death by his Halloween pumpkins. Killer pumpkins haunt his dreams and his doctor thinks he's delusional. Determined to turn his life around, he has eventually decided to join in with the Halloween festivities in the hospital and carves his first pumpkin. Will Peter survive the tenth anniversary of his parents' death? Or will his pumpkin be the death of him?


The original Revenge of the Pumpkins was the first I read by author Lacey Lane. It was a brief, entertaining and utterly brutal horror story that was the kind you might just like to hear on Halloween, but in truth the ending was so shocking that the memory lived with you long after the trick or treat had ended. It was a delight to see this new story - it is still novella length but much meatier than its predecessor.

We join Peter, the protagonist from book one (or antagonist, depending on which side you take) ten years after the events in story one. He's not been coping well. There's echoes of Danny from the Shining when it was revisited in Doctor Sleep, though it is not a direct comparison of the two. Revenge of the Pumpkins strength was also its slight weakness - being short and shocking was great, but left us wanting more, even though it was a complete story in itself. 'Return' allows the story and its characters to breathe a lot more, but the length carries along to another great climax.

The doctors in the psychiatric hospital do what they can to bring Peter to good health, but the nightmares of those slashing pumpkins terrorise him again and again. The interplay between the studious and almost pious Doctor Mitchell and the (un) wise cracking and roguish Doctor Tanner.

It is not as gory as its predecessor, which may disappoint some, but for me the gore factor and mild sexual content was well balanced and a good choice by the author (because most sequel rules infer more gore, more sex and so on).

Another pleasing factor is the balance between dialogue and narrative which is well done and doesn't really allow you to put the book down. Although told in third person it was easy to get into Peter's head, to see what he was going through, that the nightmares seemed like the true terror, not the vicious attacks he had been subjected to himself.

"There's echoes of Danny from the Shining."

People tend to slowly rebuild themselves in psychiatric wards. We are carried along Peter's journey, literally, as he recovers step by step, breath by breath. People may not be able to relate to Peter's situation as to why he is in the hospital in the first place, but they can relate to these things...fighting for breath....many of us have been there.

Some of the characters, like Nurse Giles, play a dual role of good cop / bad cop and again, it shows good character building even though our focus is distracted by the increasingly psychotic behaviour of Doctor Tanner. Peter's eyes cast over Sue, a light amongst the darkness. This is good for the reader too, as we hope these two might get together, as the worst of days are made better by the love of someone special.

Sue seems to play the role of a sex crazed nymph but it becomes clear that she likes Peter in lots of ways, and he is a little overawed that someone other than doctors is taking an interest in him. Sue initially hams up this role, but as she gets in deeper with Peter, the story shifts to whether or not they will ever be released from that hospital, or make their escape before the pumpkins make their eventual return.

The ending is shocking, clever and poignant. One hopes that this is not the end, but the beginning of an even better third slice of pumpkin.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Book Review: Zeeka's Ghost (Zeeka #4) by Brenda Mohammed



Swift. Silent, Ghostly
Zeeka’s ghost appears to Steven and he feels the ghost has evil intentions.
Coupled with that, Steven discovers that he and Mandy are the targets of unknown enemies and their lives are at stake.
Stephen must find a way to hunt down and apprehend these ruthless maniacs and save his beloved wife.
Is Zeeka’s ghost here to harm or help?
Zeeka’s Ghost is the fourth story in the series Revenge of Zeeka.


Zeeka's back. As if you could keep a good zombie down But he's more than the mad scientist/zombie fascinated persona of the earlier books, and in this fourth installment, the ghost of a demon haunts our eponymous hero Steven into near madness.

The thought that he hadn't quite seen off Zeeka haunts him, until the ghost of the title becomes more than just pangs of regret in his mind. The story centres more around Steven so returns to the original concept bore out in book one. This rounding of the story arc is interesting and a good way to handle it.

The other characters are there too, but they play a secondary role in Zeeka's Ghost.

"This rounding of the story arc is interesting and a good way to handle it."

Probably the best of the Zeeka stories to date, author Brenda Mohammed is to be congratulated on another take of zombies and now ghosts!

I think anyone could read this as the horror elements are PG-13 / Cert 12 rated. But more mature readers will pick up on regrets we have as we age and experience life.

A final word must go to the cover - it's excellent and captures the essence of the book brilliantly.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Book Review: The Dramatic Dead by Bryan Nowak



The heart of the city is being gutted by a ritualistic serial killer and the police have hit a wall. Dirk, a private detective, is thrust into the maniac’s world by a mother’s desperate plea. A tragic mistake leads the killer toward his next victim: a girl with ties to the investigation. Now Dirk and his quirky team of problem solvers must race against the clock to find the killer before the next victim is claimed. 

A private investigator, his friend, a cop, and a specter named Victor are all that stand in the way of a madman and his next victim. 


The Dramatic Dead is as entertaining as author Bryan Nowak's debut novel (No Name) however I was initially disappointed that the book wasn't as scary as I hoped. At least, this was my initial view as I read the early chapters. The character of Victor and how he is drawn was the most controversial aspect for me. I wasn't sure I liked the take on it, but like most things you have to read the whole story in order to place the individual elements in an appropriate and fair context. If I didn't do that, I would not be being fair as a reviewer, and it is reviews that people will be reading, so I have to respect that.

"The Dramatic Dead works on a number of levels."

The whole private investigator trope isn't new of course, but the author writes central character Dirk with a swagger and verve that keeps you reading. Indeed, from the male perspective I understood his feelings for a certain character (I won't include her name because of spoilers) but guys, we have all done this...practised saying 'I love you....' and find it easy to say when she wasn't there, but we'd freeze when she was! as the author quotes "She's the most spectacular creature on the planet, and I'd die for her."

Yes we would. We know we would.

Another thing is that the humour of the story shouldn't really work, but it does. Lines such as 'the living are so annoying!' Well who can argue with that?

Overall The Dramatic Dead works on a number of levels - as a thriller, as a detective piece, a horror comedy fused with occasional dark horror that somehow, through the quality of the writing, manages to work. Another element takes us on the road to the afterlife. Now because we know practically nothing about that, we have to take the author's position on it. This is just his view, however, and again, it works because the story is so well constructed. It's a long read, but it never really feels like that. Bryan Nowak is a new author and one that I believe will make his mark very quickly. Snap both books up now!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Book Review: No Name by Bryan Nowak



The soul of a rapist and murderer, killed by the young brother of one of his victims, is resurrected in an environmental disaster. This, part human, part dirt, part chemical, creature morphs into an unstoppable force. The, now older, boy, Dale Edwards, is somehow psychically linked to the creature and starts having nightmares as it focuses on its first victim, Allie. The girl proves to be far more difficult to kill as she demonstrates the resourcefulness taught to her by her adoptive family, and outlaw biker gang. 

Allie, Dale, and her outlaw biker uncle Red, must out think, out plan, and out run a beast that can move around regular bullets, change its shape at will, and has almost limitless strength. The three take up a life on the run while trying to find its weakness. 

Ultimately the three lure the creature to a location for a final showdown. Content with the idea that it will either be them or it, they prepare for a final battle.


4.5 stars rounded up to five.

"And Allie," J.D said, "bolt the door. No one comes in without Red or me."

- J.D, either being very optimistic or completely deluded.

Reading a new author can either be a rewarding experience or a case of 'I'll never make that mistake again.'

So any authors' first work can receive a hell of a lot of scrutiny. Although nicely presented with an engaging cover and strong synopsis, you might me thinking 'pfft! another zombie story....move along, nothing to see here...'

Except that No Name is a remarkably stylish and well written thriller, whose key strength is through the dynamic of the main characters Allie, Dale and J.D.

"I really like it when an author gives us the basic premise then allows our readers brain to process and decode it"

Then, there is the mysterious No Name of the title, though you can probably guess his role in the story. And that's part of the fun. Author Bryan Nowak gives us quite a bit of narrative, which in a lesser talent might have been a chore to work through. Fortunately, the set up is so good that when the characters use 'functional dialogue' it works because...this is thriller with a mix of sci-fi horror dropped on it in considerable quantities.

What is most pleasing about No Name for me is the way that the adult scenes are handled. The violence is well described without ever being over the top. I really like it when an author gives us the basic premise then allows our readers brain to process and decode it. When an author writes, 'so they went down the stairs and opened the door and then went outside' et cetera it is like 'why are they telling me all this worthless nonsense?'

No Name is just about the perfect length, taking the reader through a number of shocks and spills before coming to a satisfying conclusion.

I hope if the author returns to this world, that some of the other characters can be further developed.

Nicely done, Bryan Nowak!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Book Review: Zeeka's Child (Revenge of Zeeka Series, #2) by Brenda Mohammed



Zeeka's Child is a continuation of the story "Revenge of Zeeka: Zeeka and the Zombies." The story evolves into a more complicated plot of kidnapping, suicide note, diamond necklace with tracking device, arson, major corruption in the Police Force and a few 'skeletons' jump out of the closet.

In a shocking turn of events, Zeeka is revealed. Detective Jack Wildy certainly has his work cut out for him in this episode. Who is the mystery Master Zeeka and who is Zeeka's child?


"This is no dream! This is really happening!"

- Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Revenge of Zeeka was a quirky, fun horror tale with zombies at its heart. Like any new born, it can struggle to walk and find its feet. However reading book two in the series (and it's helpful to read book one back too), this is confident storytelling where the author has given us more thrills and twists that might sit well in a longer book. To accomplish this in a novella is quite something.

When book one ended, there was what I would call a 'soft' cliffhanger in that readers would not be annoyed that there was a cliffhanger in itself, because it was a complete tale in itself. Now with Zeeka's Child, the plot revolves around Raynor and Janet, and the serious nature of having to raise a child that is not his own.

This is an interesting concept to feature in a zombie story, which would at first appear to be nothing more than a skin bursting sideshow, and I was a little (just a little) put off by the initial chapter because it seemed more like a romantic interlude than anything else. This is actually a very clever piece of writing by the author, because it is like she is saying 'hey, you know this is a zombie tale, I know it's a zombie tale, but let's confuse the hell out of the readers by focussing on contemporary romance for a while.' This could be the first ever zom-contemp-rom, unless you know of another story like it.

The characters are better realised here too, I like Raynor and Janet, because they act like a real couple - fawning over each other one minute before having serious disagreements. This is actually a lot more fun to read about than experience. 

However, both of them are confused, because they have a sense of duty to a child that is disproportionate. However, they have a strong bond with each other. Despite that, they still manage to throw at us a number of twists at each chapters' close.

Throw in the discovery of a necklace by local cop Jack Wildy (who makes a pleasing return from book one) and sidekick / waif-with-badge Jerry Cole. He plays an energetic, idealistic cop to Wildy's jaded persona. Cliche? Not really. These two really enhance the story, taking it into mystery-crime-thriller and away from zom-contemp-rom land.

This could be the first ever zom-contemp-rom, unless you know of another story like it.

The necklace links the mysterious Zeeka with Janet in a way she - and especially Raynor, are not happy about. It also leads into the best question ever asked of anyone in history (probably):-

"Did you know that he had a secret basement where the zombies were kept?"
- cop not expecting to ask this question, ever.

"My God! No! If there were zombies there I would not have gone there."
- Janet affected by the word 'zombie' causes her to spew 'there' several times. As you would.

Right on, lady, right on. Rule number one of surviving a zombie story, don't go to a place where they might convene en masse, playing cards, poker, eating human heads, that kind of thing.

Whilst not as gory / creepy as the first book, it is the better one because the story is more layered, developed and you can identify with the characters more. 

It ends satisfyingly, and we get a hint of what might be coming in book three.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Update from Author John Hennessy / Dark Winter III news / Kobo Books, and New Books from me

Hello everyone.

After a great start to 2016 in terms of my writing goals and hitting them day after day, I hit a bit of bad luck, hard times, call them what you will. In short, it affected my writing and yet as I am writer, I know it won't be a permanent thing.

It could be life's way of saying slow down and focus on some other things. Perhaps. But it's like anything one is into, one has to do it, otherwise, the Cranky Monster will appear. Everyone knows who the Cranky Monster is; it just happens to be different depending on who you are and what you like to do. For most authors, they will feel very cranky if they don't get some writing done.

A lack of writing does not infer a lack of writing focus. In my case, I was finalising tweaks to the concluding segment of the Dark Winter trilogy. There's always mini-errors and omissions that one will find. Over the course of a 110,000 word novel, you bet there are.

Will it be a happy or violently bloody end for Romilly Winter?

However, my process involves viewing it in Word, as a PDF, printing off the entire thing from my own printer, sending it to beta readers, before viewing a proof edition. Even then, I am not finished.

But I am close. The book is available on Kindle via pre-order, with its official release being 21st February 2016. Once I had decided to move the date from October 2015, I felt I could deliver the final edition that I wanted to do. The end will please some, annoy others, but as JK Rowling herself said about the closure of her Harry Potter series, as the author of the work, she was happy. I am too with my own series. And now it is over to the good readers out there to tell the world what they think.

I've already had one review on Good Reads (thank you J Kahele) and I hope more of you will read the book (and the series, because the final book is not a standalone) and up until 21st February, both Dark Winter (I): The Wicca Circle and Dark Winter (II): Crescent Moon can be bought on Amazon for 99c/p each. This changes after 21st February - they will never be 99c/p again.

Kobo. Oh yes, I love Amazon who do help authors a lot to get their name out there, but I am branching out to other platforms too, and on Kobo you can already get Murderous Little Darlings on there, Amazon, iBooks and Nook.

But I will be adding The Ghost of Normandy Road (Haunted Minds I) to the platform in the next day or so, so Kobo users can get it there. But if you can't wait, look it up on Amazon for now.

With Dark Winter III done and basically dusted, fans of my works can look forward to the fifth vampire tale - Reunion of the Blood - which I hope to release end of April. I realise it is nearly a full year since book four - Dream the Crow's Dream came out, but you know I have been busy writing all new works.

March will see the paperback edition of my non-fiction How to Write, Keep Writing and Keep Motivated: Tips for Aspiring Authors book coming out. Kindle version here

So the wait is nearly over for that one.

Currently Writing:-

i) A dystopian tale to thrill and chill you. Anyone who knows me knows how highly I rate George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four, so expect something that I admit was inspired by this work, but will have my own unique take on the genre.

ii) A tale about a writer who plans to quit his successful career to spend the remainder of his years with his wife. Things don't quite work out as planned.....

I am excited about both, but made more progress on the latter. So it is likely that will come out first.

See you next time.

Saturday, 6 February 2016


Hello friends!

The witches, demons, devils and normal folk are back for the final chapter. So I have some freebies for you. But you have to enter to win!

WEEKEND SPECIAL! February 6th/7th/8th ONLY - 
HOW TO WIN: 1 (no purchase necessary)
Tweet, share on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and so on, Sign up to my email list to be entered into a draw for an Amazon Gift Card
HOW TO WIN: 2: (purchase necessary)
Buy Dark Winter 1 and 2 and sign up to my email list to be entered into a draw for a SIGNED copy of Dark Winter III
HOW TO WIN: 3: (purchase necessary)
Pre-order the Kindle version of Dark Winter III: Last Rites on Kindle THIS WEEKEND ONLY or buy the paperback (available now) to be entered into a draw for a KINDLE FIRE
The website for sign-ups:-
Amazon page for Dark Winter I & II:-…/B0…/ref=la_B0068UGR44_1_7_twi_kin_2…
Amazon page for Dark Winter III (pre-order released 21.02.16)…/B…/ref=la_B0068UGR44_1_14_twi_kin_1…
Or grab the paperback now:-…/…/1523862424/ref=la_B0068UGR44_1_13…
AFTER FEBRUARY 21st Dark Winter will NOT be offered at this special low price ever again.
Winners will be contacted after 21st February, with the prizes on the way before end of February.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Book Review: Human (A Ghost Story) by Brian Rowe


Synopsis: Abigail has been stuck in the same room, in the same house, for twenty-two years, ever since the night her father drowned her in the tub. She wants nothing more than to escape the confines of her ghostly prison, but her dad, who committed suicide the same night, won't let her leave. Even though she's a ghost, she can't move past the upper staircase without choking, without feeling like she's going to die all over again.

But when a new family comes to stay at the house, and a troubled boy named Percy becomes her new best friend, Abigail finds the courage to finally face her hateful father, and discover a secret about her future that will change her life forever.

Review: Human: A Ghost Story is a very interesting story that has posed a great challenge for me - the whole review could end up being a spoiler, so what can I do? 

Here goes. Abby is a girl who, over the course of the pages, discovers things about herself that are rather shocking. When she befriend a boy who is being bullied at school, she feels protective over him and wants to help him.

The issue is, Abby is fighting her own demons and in one vivid and shocking scene, we learn that all is not well in the Abby household. 

The events that take place lead on to another big story reveal, and it is so good, I will just say 'please read the book', as it won't take you long, is FREE, for heaven's sake (!) and will have you thinking about it afterwards - now that is the sign of a great storyteller.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Book Review: Lost Girl (Book One of the Lost Trilogy) by Anne Francis Scott


Synopsis: Secrets can eat you up from the inside out, no matter what end of them you’re on . . .

Renowned sculptor Allison Weathers doesn’t believe in ghosts. But when a tragic twist of fate leads her to the small mountain town of Dawson Mills, Tennessee, she soon learns that the dead don't always stay silent. Shadows begin to shift in the rambling, old Victorian farmhouse she’s purchased. Voices come from nowhere. She can feel the eyes on her. Cold. Wicked.

Paul Bradford, a contractor who is bidding the renovation work on the house, believes it’s more than just Allison’s imagination conjuring up the paranormal activity. Toni Harper, a reporter for the local paper, concurs. She’s heard snippets of hand-over-the-mouth gossip from some of the town’s deputies who responded to calls in the middle of the night. Ghosts. Or so the former owner claimed in the few months before his death.

The secrets they unearth rock Allison right down to the core—a nightmare that’s just beginning. Thrust into a haunted world where the paranormal and evil collide, she has one hope of survival: unravel the sinister history buried for decades within the old farmhouse, and find the link to a muddled piece of her past.

Review: I absolutely adore horror stories with a creepy undertone. I also love well crafted horror stories that insert the shocks and gore cleverly. In many ways, Lost Girl elevates itself to something higher through its excellent telling of a paranormal mystery. The main character, Allison Weathers, is an artist practised in sculpture. The quiet town of Dawson Mills, wonderfully described amongst the real state of Tennessee, welcomes her, as does the house she moves into. But is there a reason why she ends up there?

Anne Francis Scott writes with a maturity that, amongst the deluge of YA/NA books out there, it would be easy to class this book along them. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but as I say, this is mature storytelling. 

It is just so obvious on every page, that the author has taken her time to really craft a creepy tale. You will feel sympathy with the other characters around Allison, who know of her history.

Yes, she hears voices. Yes, the pipes in the old house creak and rattle. It's played down by her acquaintances, because the author is letting our viewpoint play out in the statements of these characters. They like Allison, as do we. But they are just a bit concerned that she is reading more into things than see them for what they actually are.

Every time she tries to focus on her work, something happens to scare her. What is clever is that she is not always on her own when it happens, but many times, she is. Given the author's articulate writing style, we are still in the loop when the crazies turn up. The question is, are these ghosts in Allison's mind, remnants of her recent, psychotic past, or are the ghostly apparitions for real?

There's a ramp up in the creep factor when Allison finds an old book in the house. The character featured in this book is so good, I would rate her the best character in the book. It's hard to say more without giving the story away, but this find was a core piece of the story's first third.

The story loses pace, or maybe that is the intention of the author, about half way through. This in itself is not a bad thing, because we need to take a breath and understand the events of the first half of the book. By the story's end, it wraps up rather brilliantly with the terrific ending. It's wonderful to know that there will be another story in the series.

The dialogue between Allison and her tormentors (or her tormented mind) is really well done. It takes an author of great skill to do that.

Personally, I would have wanted more horror in the story. The eerie feel is great and kept up throughout - not an easy task for anyone, but the author managed this feat. But maybe I have read too many horror books so I am rather desensitised about it. There is a hint of romance in the story too, but it does't detract from the main story, otherwise it might have been an irritating side-show. Honestly? If I have ghosts in the house and / or demons in my head, the last thing I want is romance. I'd probably end up taking an axe to the head of she whoever would take a fancy to me.

I will certainly be reading book two, and of course I would like to read the final book in due course, so the rating of 4 is a strong one, but provisional.After the story has been read as a whole, I may come back and revise the rating upwards. 

Some great examples of the writing in this book:-

'Racked with shivers under her lightweight sleep-shirt, Allison wondered why her breath didn't frost in front of her.' 


'Going through the days, living life, because that's what time forced you to do. And somewhere in the middle of it, hanging onto a thin fragment of hope.'

I enjoyed this.

Well done, Anne Francis Scott.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Review: Das Vampir by Tom Reinhart


Synopsis: A short horror story from the author of Saint Monolith and Hegemonian, Das Vampir is an exciting tale with a different perspective on vampires. It's a dark and old school monster story; more akin to Bram Stoker or Nosferatu than the glitzy vampires so common today. It's told from two perspectives: The vampire's, with the loneliness of being undead, the fear of the sun, the hiding in nasty places, the uncontrollable need to feed on the living; and that of the victims, as they fall to a bloodthirsty predator. 
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For I have become evil, and I have become death, and I fear only the light of day." 

Review: Das Vampir is a welcome throwback to the true essence of the vampire. The author pays a generous homage to Bram Stoker, and you can see in his writing a real authority in understanding the vampire's true nature. 

The immortal existence is not played out for laughs, indeed Tom Reinhart makes us understand that it is not necessarily cool to be a vampire, and the story is all the better for it. The story is short but packs no less a punch of a full novel. I would have liked a little bit more character development of the non-vampire characters, but then again, the author makes no apology (nor should he) for the reason as to why they are there in the first place.

They merely serve the purpose of being fodder for this most evil creature. 

With this author's take on vampire lore, do not expect sparkles or seduction. It feeds, it kills, it yearns to, needs to do it all over again. In this respect, the character development is bang on. 

Mr Reinhart's vampire is a winner because it is a truly terrifying entity. And now onto the sequel!

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Book Review: The Little Book of Horrors by Lacey Lane


Synopsis: Three chiling tales to mess with your mind. The tales that can be found in this book are Karma's a Psychopath, Bloodlust and The Monster Within.

Warning. This book contains explicit content.

Review: A collection of three short stories that doesn't pull its punches, the aptly named Little Book of Horrors will have you reaching for the light switch - that's if you dared to turn it off and foolishly try to go to sleep.

The first story, Karma's A Psychopath, is a clever tale that makes us think how we should treat those around us. You'll be feeling for the 'hero' of the story, that's for sure. Even though the brutality and horror pervading throughout this book is stark and horrifying, it remains a compelling read. This one really messed with my head.

Bloodlust was probably my favourite of the three, given my fascination with vampires, and especially of the female variety. This tale is truly macabre, disturbing and viciously satisfying at the end.

The Monster Within is a clever tale that never tries to trick its readers with a big Aha moment. It is subtle in its growth, and as it reaches its conclusion, one wonders how they got there.

As a collection, it certainly fits to and adds much to the well worn horror genre, but it also would fit as a psychological horror too. Over the course of the pages, you feel like you know the characters.

The narrative is sharp and clever.Hence why you will be thinking about these stories long after you have closed the book and turned the light off. Or maybe you'll choose to leave it on.

Suitable for Halloween, huddled around the camp fire? I don't know. I would be suspicious of someone telling me these tales!

Also suitable only truly for a mature audience, and definitely over 18's - though if I was at school, I'd peek at this - it's a deliciously wicked treat.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Book Review: Misery by Stephen King


Synopsis: Paul Sheldon. He's a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader - she is Paul's nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house.

Wow. Only two years since I last read this? I thought it was ten!

Scratch the five stars above. This book deserves SIX. Below is a photo of my actual paperback copy from 1990.

My 2015 Review:-

If you are one of those people who has never read a Stephen King book, whilst it might be tempting to read a short story collection of his, like Graveyard Shift or Everything's Eventual, I would strongly direct you towards Misery.

The book is simply a masterpiece and one of my all time favourite books. Reading it again, and again - reveals something new. This is why some reviewers of books who think they understand a book after one read through....let's give some authors, especially the really great ones like Mr King their due.

You may have to read it more than once. I know - you might say 'oh life is too short and there are so many books to read' - and I will agree with you there.

But to read this book only once does it a disservice.

The brilliance of Misery is in its simplicity. King strips down the book to just two main characters, and the tension never lets up, not for a second. 

Paul Sheldon is a writer who has a car accident. He survives the crash, only to be dragged into a nightmare, because rescuer / retired nurse Annie Wilkes is Grade One on the crazy list.

How many she killed, we never really find's just clever of King to drop these little things in the book to think about.

Why hasn't she taken him to hospital? Why doesn't she phone an ambulance? Why does she fly off the handle one moment, only to tell Paul that she *loves* him, the next?

Because she is his Number One fan. She's not too happy, to put it mildly, that her favourite character from Mr Sheldon's books - Misery Chastain, is killed off in the latest (and presumably final) Misery book.

She's even less impressed with his manuscript for his first non-Misery novel in a while. She hates the title, the story, the characters, and the swearing.

Paul, meanwhile, is getting addicted to the painkiller she prescribed him - Novril.

And he learns early on that Annie has no intention of letting him go.

But before all that happens, he would have to bring Misery back from the dead. And he had better do that right, too!

If Stephen King wrote a book to show how appreciative he is of his fans, I think Misery would be that book. 

Through Paul Sheldon, he tries to explain things to Annie, things only a writer would know and understand.

She rebels of course, because that's how she's written. She thinks she knows it all. She's been in a position of power and authority before, and wants to exercise on Paul in this story.

The book becomes a battle of wills. Paul has his little victories, like managing to get out of the room that has become his prison.

There's comedy, that from my point as a writer, I understand. Yes - the letter E is essential, and I would be lost without it. In Misery, we get these scenes. They are wonderfully created and executed.

Nearly 370 pages and yet it reads like a dream, even when Paul is writing Misery's Return, just for Annie - we get an insight into what that story is actually like.

Some may find that, along with it's typeface (in the print edition) off putting, and distracting from the real story.

It doesn't add, nor take away from it for me. But its inclusion is an interesting one. Say what you like about Stephen King, but he takes risks and it pays off.

Boy, does it.

Book Review: A Circle Around Forever by Robert K Swisher


Synopsis: The outstanding characters in A Circle Around Forever create an epic tale that will fill you with wonder and touch every emotion that is humanly possible: A spirit that is all of the sky, pictographs that come to life to protect and also teach, ghosts of evil and ghosts of good will, stones with the knowledge of immortality, people that are both young and old at the same time, a man with the gift of rainbows, a lady whose tears sprout acres of flowers, a murderer, a boy born with all the knowledge of the world, an evil ghost that longs for nothingness and whose sole purpose is to defeat all who love, a love between two people that started with the beginning of time and is tested to its limits, a battle between Love and Hate that can either plunge the world into darkness or light.

Review: A Circle Around Forever works on so many levels that it is hard to quantify exactly what the author has created here. The story of how wicked Grandma Bertha controls her grandson from the grave is quite something. When he starts exhibiting actions that no young child should be able to do, and how he cryptically talks about the 'voices', one might think they are in for stock horror fare.

When it's done correctly, there's no problem with that.

I have to say that this book came highly recommended to me, so expectations were already high. What I did not expect was my own expectations to be blown out of the water.

It's not a long book, but maybe that's because it is written so well. I was pulled in from the start, wanted to let it go and indeed had things to do. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it - another good sign.

The battle of good versus evil takes on a new meaning in this book. It's amazing that amongst the amount of popularist pap that so often hit the top of the charts, or are fawned over on book programmes that lavish praise on the author but rarely have a book to back that praise up, that this title would have been possibly overlooked by me.

The book has a real power to shock, not in an overtly grisly way (although when it does, it is executed brilliantly). I'm trying to think where I may have read a story like this before, and I cannot offer another story to you like this one.

There are some biblical references which serve to highlight the overall seriousness of the book, but the author never drags us down into a 'repent, lest ye will be judged' situation. It's pretty much perfectly balanced between thriller, epic, horror, and ultimately is a story that makes you think.

My only regret is not getting to this story sooner.

Some may find the tone is too bleak or unsettling for their liking. For me, this was one book I didn't want to end. I can give it no higher recommendation than that!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Dream the Crow's Black Dream (A Tale of Vampires, #4) - NEW COVER REVEAL!

Hi everyone. By necessity I have updated the cover for book four in my vampire series. it will be some time (2016 in fact) before Reunion of the Blood (Book 5) hits the shelves, so  hope you like this new version.

A great theme of the book is the crow, and what the significance is when it appears. It is fitting that it graces the cover.

There's an angel in the top left. This is necessary to give readers hope that evil won't necessarily win out.

The bird itself is perched on something. What is it? What does it all mean? Read the book, and the series to understand!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Book Review: Ivy's Envy (Want & Decay Trilogy, #1) by Latashia Figueroa


Synopsis: Latashia Figueroa’s riveting Want & Decay Trilogy follows the entangled lives of three people tormented by lust, jealousy, madness and murder. In this first book, Ivy’s Envy, Ivy James has had a history of violence with the men she falls for. Her grandmother and parents know what Ivy is capable of when things don’t go her way. 

Now Ivy has become obsessed with Thomas Miles, a man who works at her office. She is certain that Thomas loves her too. But there are people who stand in the way of Ivy and Thomas finally being together, like his wife, Deana. Determined to have the love that is their destiny, Ivy will go down a very dark and twisted road to make Thomas hers, and hers alone. But Ivy is not the only one who has dark secrets, and everyone involved will soon learn that pursuing love and passion to the extreme can lead to terrifying consequences. 

Review: Wow! Talk about a book that could not be put down! Ivy's Envy starts with a bang, continues to hold one's attention throughout, and ends with the kind of ending that would have any reader drooling with delight.

I tend to err on the positive side with my reviews, but I really cannot find anything to fault with this story. It's a short read, well told, with superb characterisation. It's also told from first person perspective, so everything you read puts you in Ivy's head, and that is a dangerous place to be.

Ivy seems to be beyond redemption. She's bad, wicked and so evil it is likely fresh roses would wilt when she would walk by them.

Her obsessive nature - to get what she wants, usually, a man she wants, means that she succeeds for a while, as all psychopaths do. They start to believe their own hype.

The story works because whilst it moves fast, it is brilliantly paced. I would not hesitate to read the later books in the series. This story hits you over the head with one revelation after another. It's all believable. It totally works, and yes, it could happen in the real world.

The ending was quite something, and closes this part one very nicely indeed. 

I don't think I've read a book this short (1-2 hours maximum read time) that left me reeling. It has made an incredible impact. It's a horror of the highest order - for the most part it reads like a mystery, with elements of romance. But the horror parts are clever, subtle, and utterly brilliant.

You will love it.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Book Review: Skin Cage by Nico Laeser


Synopsis (from the author): Daniel Stockholm was fifteen years old when a parasite hijacked his brain, rendering him paralyzed and reliant on machines that run day and night to keep him alive. 
For nine years, Danny has been confined within a biological prison with only two small windows, through which to view the world around him; a silent witness to the selfless compassion of some and the selfish contrivance of others. 
When the malicious actions of care worker, Marcus Salt, threaten to push Danny farther from the ones he loves, and deeper into the dark recesses of his skin cage, he is left with only one option. He must find a way out.

Review: Nico Laeser is an author name you would remember, and Skin Cage is such  a strange and affecting title for a book. Then, you consider the artwork, which just adds to the overall strangeness. The synopsis adds another level to this - and then - you start reading.

Skin Cage holds the reader's attention from the start, telling us the story of Daniel (Danny) who gives clues to his state. He is paralysed, and can hardly move anything, save for his on occasion or when his head lols to one side or another whilst being repositioned in his chair.

It is told in first person perspective. I've told a few stories like this already and it is a skill that most authors cannot pull off effectively. Ultimately, if you don't care about Danny, the first person narrative starts to grate. However, the author has been smart in keeping his chapters short but utterly readable. It's not a book you can skip parts on and understand what is going on. The author treats his reader with respect by saying 'you're in Danny's head with his thoughts, and in his body through his skin cage - if you casually skim past stuff, we will punish you by not filling in the blanks.'

Here is a story where each word, each sentence and paragraph has been painstakingly thought through before committing to paper and screen. 

Danny's view of the world is a strange one. He has his carers, some, like Cassie and Anna, who genuinely care about him. There are others, like Marcus Salt, who seems to be the villain of the story, but again, Skin Cage is not so explicit in the difference of black and white. 

Despite the engaging narrative and thoughtful 'thoughts' of Danny, which are always interesting, the story is never heavy, but neither should it be taken as light reading.

In the first third of the book, I found myself clocking up the chapters even though I hadn't sat through and read it for say a solid hour. By the second third (forgive me, I have an ice hockey past!) things take a dark and twisted turns. A few 'a-ha' moments arrive. That's not the end of it. Or the start.

By the final third, there was only one thing to do - finish reading this elegant and articulate story and find out the ending. It's hinted at where the story is going. But once Danny escapes his skin cage - a sequence that I thought was brilliantly highlighted in the synopsis but wondered could it possibly work in its execution - wow,  is all I can say.

Skin Cage sounds dark, twisted and disturbing. It is. But it is also funny, engaging and well worth anyone's time and money to read. I say that with the confident knowledge that this book is fighting against millions of others to be seen.

Scenes where a nurse is wondered a character may harm themselves should be disturbing. Instead, the author gives us a humourous scene:-

"Can I have a pen and paper?"
"I'm not going to kill myself with it."

Another scene.

I would love to have the use of my body for long enough to deny him the further use of his.

There's a scene with a car that was my favourite moment in the entire book. It's so good, you will simply have to read it. I must also apologise to the author -Skin Cage has been on my read list for ages - but thankfully, it's been read now. I hope this review will help others to read it sooner than I did!