Category Archives: Review

July in Review

Letters of the month T and O

July was another busy month. We would like to thank all the readers out there who has purchased our books during our SUMMER HORROR DEAL and SUMMER POETRY SALE. We have our Bizarro Sale starting soon and a few more FREEBIES.


OversightOversight by Michael Bailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Darkroom is brilliant blindfolded horror that unfolds a past of childhood dramas. The traverse throughout the house with the sisters and their progress to create a photo album of their late father sleeping in a chronological reverse is creepy to the end. I could see this story as a A24 movie production.

SadFace is a futuristic mental illness story that follows one woman’s path to hide her true self to only face the sadness in the end. This novella I did not care for so much, but the consequences that unravel gives the story its interesting ending.

Signed Bookplate Edition # 36/60

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Tender is the FleshTender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grotesquely equipped dystopia, disturbing and rich cannibalism cuisines. 4.5 ⭐️

Other Books READ:
Tortured Willows: Bent. Bowed. Unbroken. (Yuriko Publishing 2021)
Three Little Birds – Tim Murr (Godless 2021)
Our Blood In Its Blind Circuit – J. David Osborne (Broken River Books 2013)


TIK TOK QUEEN – Samantha Hawkins

Samantha scored an advance readers copy from Last Waltz Publishing Set to release on September 27th from Heather Miller.

This is my first read by Miller and I’m actually more familiar with her as a reviewer than an author 🤭. I was sent this copy in exchange for a honest review as a part of her launch team. 

I thought everything about this book was just fabulous. The opening is wonderful and really reeled me in. I also really liked the authors notes about each story that Miller attached at the end. These stories are all super eerie and creepy. They’re the perfect type of tales to tell around a campfire or on a dark stormy night. The first story “Vice” really spoke to me and set the entire tone for the novel. I’ve been searching for shadows ever since 🤣

“Beneath The Bed” and “Girl’s Best Friend” still literally give me goosebumps to think about. They are scenarios that could totally happen, especially “Beneath The Bed” and I get serious shivers when I think about either of these stories. “The Cold Man” touched on a question I’ve had since i was a kid… why do we wake up sometimes with a part of our body much colder than the rest? 🥶 “Crybaby Bridge” is so heartbreaking and raw and my heart aches when I think about the descriptions inside this story. 

This amazing collection is set to release  September 27th 2022 and you definitely need to get it added to your TBR. All of the stories inside would be great fall reads and they’ll keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. 5 🌟

Samantha brings one of her favorite reads back from May:
Ross Jeffery – Only the Stain Remains

@samanthas_shelf

“Only The Stains Remain” by Ross Jeffrey

♬ original sound – Samantha Hawkins

The Lovely Karla Peterson reviews:

Their fate now belongs to the OGRE!

Set deep in the woods that feeling of isolation is ever creeping. Young campers having fun; sunbathing, skinnydipping, campfires and making whoopee. Lots of children are ready to have adventures at the campground. But the beast has arrived and it is hungry. Panic ensues as it feeds; viscera is flying everywhere, the crunching of bones can be heard and the bodies are piling up. Reminiscent of the classic 80’s slasher films, or as the author mentions in the Afterword, “Woodland Horror films.” A nostalgic creature feature that will surely please any fan of the genre!! **READ HER FULL REVIEW HERE**


Tales From the Parkland is a collection of 11 short stories and a novella. Including many horror filled themes: Aliens, oversized creepy crawlies, a childhood bogeyman, zombies, a serial killer in the making, monsters under the stairs, computer mishaps, a date night gone wrong, acid rains, altered personalities from strange weather, nightmarish realities, and a creature feature apocalyptic fight for survival. Brutality, paranormal activity, alien invasions, revenge, mutants, abhorrent characters and more.

Many of these stories had main characters that were children. That was a whole new level of creepiness. The fact they had to fight their own fears by themselves, to me that is entirely frightening. A few of these ended with a big surprise and my jaw dropped in shock. Mission accomplished. With all the themes there are surely many spine tinglers. Producing those heebie jeebies, checking around corners for shadows, and listening for strange noises. **READ HER FULL REVIEW HERE**


Karla also read The Tower by William Pauley III. William is one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend the “Bedlam Bible Series” or anything from the DOOM FICTION CATALOG!
Read her review on GOODREADS!


CLOSE OUT SONG!

Review

HYbriD: Misfits, Monsters and Other Phenomena on

w/ John M. Cozzoli

Editors Donald Armfield and Maxwell I. Gold have taken their book, Hybrid: Misfits, Monsters and Other Phenomena, very much to heart in selecting the poems and stories within (a hybrid format in itself), to include bizarro, noir sci fi, sword and sorcery, and speculative fictions for a reading that has something for just about anyone. These tales will either provide you with a straightforward reading or something to puzzle over, leading your thoughts to deeper meanings. Or maybe no meanings at all, just some go-with-it and enjoy moments. A good collection of mixed authors should always make you want to seek out their other works and this book will certainly have you doing that. It should be noted too that the cover design and illustration by Luke Spooner (we often overlook the graphic designers when doing reviews, don’t we?) is quite good.

The first story, Making Friends, is a comedy of errors involving a happy dog, a curious but unhappy creature, and a couple of farmers meeting the neighbors they never knew they had. Angela Yuriko Smith paces it all into a 1950s sitcom-like nocturnal interlude for Miriam and Bill. It is a good choice as the opening story, breezy and light, and visually funny: there be monsters here, but they are not all gloom and doom and gory pieces.

That is, except for what happens to the villagers in the Ruination of the Gods by Dr. Chris McAuley (Stokerverse) and Claudia Christian (Babylon 5 and Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator). A wizard tries to raise the dead but gets caught. As all diligent readers know by now, what happens to people who get on the wrong side of wizards, caught in the act of doing questionable things, means terror to come. Kail, the Conan-like warrior (or Kali, since the proofreader must have been out to lunch with this one), ignores the giant stew-pot death waiting for him for doing the same punishable act and gets into trouble quickly. Luckily for him the monsters from the sea provide a bloody good diversion for the villagers. While this story uses the standard sword and sorcery approach (an angry wizard, a beguiling witch, and a warrior torn between duty and personal need), McAuley and Christian handle the action, the gory pieces, and the tragic fallout of his decision well, leaving the path open for future adventures.

If you lean towards a 3 Stooges-like bizarro storyline, go to Hopital Automatique by D. Harlan Wilson first. It defies description, as any good bizarro fiction should, but if you have watched the 3 Stooges in the comedy short, Men in Black (1934), that provides a bit of a warm-up to the absurd mayhem wrought here. It is an I-don’t-know-what-is-happening narrative and therein lies the fun. The pace is frenetic, the characters and milieu insane, and this opening line will sum it all up for you: “The car didn’t run over the nurse until she had changed my bedpan and injected a second dose. It was a Datsun.” I question how a Datsun got into his hospital room in the first place, but at least it was not an elephant*, and that second dose sounds like a clue. On the plus side, she did manage to change his bedpan before being run down. The only other meagre clue I can give you for this one, without giving up and speaking to Wilson first, is that Hopital is the French word for hospital. For the rest, you are on your own.

More sensible humor will be found in Alicia Hilton’s Savages Anonymous. A funeral home basement in Trenton, New Jersey, provides haven for a nude extraterrestrial with two heads, an extraterrestrial arachnid and other assorted aliens—along with some mutants—griping about the challenges of getting along with humans. A boy’s ghost interrupts their proceedings, sending Xapanna (the two-headed alien) on a vendetta for the boy’s murderers. The Crime Stoppers Tip line sends her in the right direction. The action and humor are conveyed through very short paragraphs, many one to two lines long, and an endearing ending that ties back to the difficulty of getting along with way-out others.

Art by: Jules Tavernier

The Scoocoom of Big Rock Mountain is a more serious weird western with a more traditional approach to hybrid terror. Taking place sometime between the 1860s to early 1900s, a former buffalo hunter, Max, now sheriff, has family and Big Foot problems (skookoom is a Chinook word meaning Big Foot). Max, having helped to decimate the Indian tribes by hunting the buffalo to near extinction, is partially responsible for the scoocoom putting the bite on the settlers for its food source. Max also has a drinking problem that makes his aim a bit tricky and his step a lot unsure. Once you get past the proofreader still out to lunch (scoocoom flips to skoocoom a few times), Michael Knost delivers a simply plotted western with all the right emotional and weird elements for his characters and events.

The Big Foot theme is seen again in Maero by Lee Murray, a poem where a day packer is enjoying his hike until he comes across a severed limb and “glossy giblets quivering.” This first-person account with the Maero (Māori for Big Foot) is not the usual “train-train” encounter. A sadder one is to be felt in Kolkata’s Little Girl, in which Bandhura is “waiting, in front of a blue-clothes shop for someone to tell her story.” A too long and heavy mala hangs around her neck, hinting at a deeper meaning hidden among the poem’s lines. Alessandro Manzetti’s acheri is haunting and begs for a longer treatment.

There are many hybrids to be found in this collection of twenty stories and poems. The editors have crafted an engaging reading experience across genre types, of which this review has only scratched the surface. As Dark the Night will trap you in Stella’s depression-fueled shadows; the noir science-fiction Vis-à-Vis puts you there in Punktown among the low-lives and no-lives; and Slo-Mo will make you mind the sloths and give them a wide berth and forget the selfies. All these stories make for an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

*For those not familiar with the Marx Brothers, the reference comes from Groucho’s quip as Captain Spalding: “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got to my pajamas I don’t know.”  Feel free to also substitute proofreader for elephant if you are so inclined.