Tale Old as Time with a Twist!

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First off before I begin my review of Trimpl by J. T. Lozano I would like to say a little something about our lovely independent author community. To Avid readers: everyone starts somewhere, and these days there are many fantastic independent authors out there! They are really not given the credit they are due, or the support. So I for one will speak up, even if I am just one I hope people hear.

Independent authors are hard working people. Many haven’t even been able to quit their day job yet in order to write full time. Let alone afford people for cover art, editing, proofreading, and polishing the work to grammatical perfection. I mention this because I believe that typos, grammatical errors, and other simple things of that nature that do not effect the story whatsoever should NEVER be a factor on a novel or novella’s rating that is given. Sadly, I see many people out there who think that an author is not working hard enough if there is a typo or two, and give a book a low star review simply for that reason. With that said I want all of the independent authors reading this to know I value your work! I wish I could do what you do! I wish I had the commitment, time, effort, passion, and overall endurance that you all possess! Never give up on your dreams because you have those out there such as myself who are cheering you on all the way!

Now onto the review! Trimpl by J.T. Lozano is definitely a familiar tale, but very different with a fresh take. What would you do to get what you desired? Sell your soul? Be up to agreeing to a favor at any time, place, and no matter what it is to follow through?

I know many of you may be jumping to, “Aha! This is Faust!” Well, sorry to burst your bubble… This is Trimpl! Mr. Trimpl does a multitude of favors for anyone willing to pay his price. As you have guessed he wants to collect souls. His conditions to completing a favor is simple enough, but many repercussions can befall a person who is hasty. Think of it as a pawn. If you fault on paying your debt, favor, on time you lose!

This novella was fantastic! I would have read it a lot faster, but I had a lot going on. It really is one I didn’t want to put down, and could have been read in one day. The story revolves around five people mainly, and a sixth at the end. Of course Mr. Trimpl is the main character, a reporter named Liz Sullivan, Sam, Charlotte, Adrian, and I’m going to leave the mystery person out so you can pick up this delicious slice of horror/thriller literature.

Liz is summoned by a prisoner, Mr. Trimpl, with the promise with a story to restart her career which had long since been washed up. As Liz visits the unknown prisoner she is in for the story of her life! As she converses with Mr. Trimpl, and listens to his story she is very intrigued. The only problem is Mr. Trimpl always has a price, even if confined! Will Liz be willing to sell the most precious thing she owns? Is her soul really as precious to her as it is to Mr. Trimpl?

This novella has six main parts. The first and last deal with Liz and Mr. Trimpl. The other four are dealt with the remainder of characters. Lozano skillfully weaves the story together nicely, and leaves much mystery involved to keep you guessing. Some things you may figure out, some not until the conclusion. Such a fun, quick, and easy read. This novella is definitely perfect for introducing young adults to horror fiction! It isn’t excessively gory, no sexual content, and no language (if there was it is scarce). Nevertheless, is is a nice little chilling thriller that will entertain readers of all ages!

I really enjoyed this little novella, and the time that J.T. took to share it with readers. I guessed a few things, but the ending was a kicker! I loved that! I give Trimpl by J.T. Lozano 4 stars out of 5 stars. Now, for you grammar police if you pick this novella up there are some grammatical errors sure. However, that was not included in my rating, and as I said before I never hold that against independent authors. I challenge you to write something without any errors, and work as hard as they do. With that said I did predict much of what was to come therefore I deducted a star. However, the ending makes it all worth the while! Also, there are a lot of twists and turns. Nonetheless, a fantastic novella by yet another awesome independent author! That is my honest take on Trimpl, and I encourage you to pick yourself up a copy! Even if to get a teen to start reading! We really need more young readers these days. I say check it out, let it simmer, and then draw your own conclusions.

Written by Andrew C. on 10/23/2020

Body Horror, Parasites, and Zombies!

Photo Courtesy of Andrew C.

Scalp by Carver Pike is a novel that took me sometime to digest prior to sitting down and writing this review. Scalp has so much material packed into it I felt I needed time to digest and process it as a whole properly. I must say I find myself hearing many comparing Scalp to Carver’s other horrific novel Grad Night. I have given this much thought, and I feel it is not proper to compare the two books whatsoever. Both novels shine in their own bright way! Grad Night was my first venture into the world and mind of Pike. Scalp is a completely different animal with a totally different formula! I cannot stress enough how impressed I was by Carver’s ability to be imaginative, fresh, and very diverse in what he writes! He is not a one trick pony so to speak. That much said I find it a bit ridiculous comparing these two novels. As it is ridiculous comparing apples to oranges. Anyways, let’s get on with my review of Scalp by Carver Pike!

I honestly, again as I felt with Grad Night, do not want to go into too many details because this book is a must read for horror fans! I felt that it incorporated many things I fear, maybe most of us do, body horror, blood sucking parasites, and what may very well be zombification. However, the last one you must read in order to truly comprehend my meaning. The one thing I found most disturbing is the one fear that I feel everyone has is at the heart… the loss of oneself, loss of oneself’s control, and the loss of oneself’s mind.

Scalp begins very simplex as two cousins are on a hunting trip in good old West Virginia. Andre an ex-military man, and his cousin Carl. They both enjoy the great outdoors, and especially the hunt. Andre prides himself on being a great shot. However, both men seem humble and down to earth.

Andre finally spots what he has been waiting for, and takes aim. The shot rings true and his target is hit. The odd thing that Carl is less savvy than Andre to notice is the deer simply dropped. No reaction, no running, and no need for the men to track a blood trail.

As the cousins approach the kill Andre feels something is quite wrong. There is hardly any blood, the animal looks diseased in some way, and it’s eyes are glazed over like it has been dead. Carl is very excited, but Andre insists to leave it be. Carl doesn’t listen when Andre compels him to not touch the beast and leave it alone. This is where the story begins.

Odd things transpire in the woods for the men. In the run for their life Andre attempts to help Carl, but little do either know the breadth and width of what is about to occur. Shortly on the road things begin to go south, and the men become involved in an accident.

Hal, short for Halogen, is the night park ranger, and finds a flipped vehicle. With it not being in his area the authorities are called to investigate. The hunt to find Andre Pete and Carl is on.

The story then shifts gears as a group of youths arrive at Stonewall Forge to attend a leadership conference. Nitsy, short for Natasha, (a little play here on words with the nickname I believe), and Robbie both are from the same school in Florida. They couldn’t be more different, but everyone holds their secrets. As they start to assemble for the leadership conference the students have no idea what is lurking just around the corner.

Then you have several other characters that play a part in the story. Other students, Phyllis, Bradley, and Lance to name a few. Leadership conference leaders Eggo and Mr. Dale to name a couple. The locals Sally, Grant, a boy named Thomas, and as mentioned Hal. The book is full throttle from the start, doesn’t let up, has a lot of surprises and twists, and is very hard to put down!

I cannot stress enough how admirable it is the small town community, and small town vibe Carver creates in Clydesville West Virginia! Pike also has packed this horrific work full of characters that feel real, have flaws, baggage, are majorly well fleshed out, and this blows my mind! Why? Because there are so many characters! Pike has a story for each character as well! Wow! That is not an easy task! Trust me, I only scratched the surface, no pun intended, on the characters you will encounter! Utterly mind boggling! Not to mention it doesn’t leave you feeling confused or bogged down with who is who.

Clydesville, WV is a beautifully illustrated community Carver fleshed out and created with his words. I am familiar with West Virginia to some extent, and I would say it is pretty spot on. A fabulous small town country feel!

As far as the gruesome horror? Well, I mentioned that a bit in the beginning. I felt that, yes, there was some brutal and bloody sequences. However, if you enjoy zombie stories there are similarities. I also feel that it really invokes on the major fear of losing control of yourself, and ceasing to exist. I feel this can be interpreted as almost psychological horror in this manner as well.

Overall, I have to say Scalp blew me away! I really think Carver is a exquisite author that has a broad spectrum as far as imagination goes, and he doesn’t pigeonhole himself into simply writing one type of book. That is talent folks! Plain and simple! I plan on picking up his Diablo Snuff series next, but Pike also has works drastically different under the author name Chris Genovese. I have yet to pick these up, but I have read good reviews about them as well. Especially the motorcycle club romantic suspense series. Also, they are a totally different ballpark involving romance if horror is not your cup of tea. Pike also has The Edge of Reflection series which is dark fantasy if you would like to dip your toes in there.

All in all, I enjoyed every minute of Scalp! I most definitely recommend this read! This novel will definitely leave you shaken, feeling the heebie jeebies, the hairs on your neck standing up, your skin crawling, and you will definitely feel love and pain for the characters. Some more so than others. I give Scalp by Carver Pike five stars out of five stars! For originality, suspense, horror, character building, painting a town with his words that is vivid, and making everything gel so well together! I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Carver Pike, and what tricks he has up his sleeve for his next work!

Written by Andrew C. on 10/14/2020

Amazon Originals: Hush Series

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This review will cover all six entries in the Amazon Original Series titled Hush. I will keep each very short and spoiler-free as possible. Especially since they are all short stories, and can be read in one day. Hopefully my opinions of the entries will help you decide if you want to tackle all six entries, or simply check out the ones I found to be most compelling. If you have a kindle unlimited subscription you can borrow these titles, and they also come with the ability to listen to the audiobook versions.

Honestly, each of these short stories really stand alone. They all have a shared theme of kidnapping, stalking, and/or crime and murder. However, I did not really see the connection to the series name Hush, but most were enjoyable and quick reads. I will now break each one down in order briefly. Enjoy!

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Snow Flakes by Ruth Ware is the first entry in the Hush series, and my second favorite of the set. A father and his children have retreated to an island after the world has ended. Tensions rise, some of the children worry every time their father must venture to the main land for supplies, and others seem to see him in a different light. This story is very fast paced, strange, and the last knife twist Ware delivers is an amazing climax! I give Snow Flakes by Ruth Ware five stars out of five stars!

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Treasure by Oyinkan Braithwaite I felt to be the most disappointing entries of the Hush series. The second short story revolves around a young woman who is infatuated at becoming an Instagram influencer. As the plot unfolds a seemingly harmless Instagram account ends up putting her life in harms way. I felt that this story just fell flat. It was not very suspenseful, thrilling, and it didn’t deliver anything very shocking. The ending was quite unsatisfying. I give Treasure by Oyinkan Braithwaite two stars out of five stars.

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Slow Burner by Laura Lippman is probably tied for my third favorite of the entries alongside Lisa Unger’s entry. Liz has a fickle husband named Phil. They have spent many years together, and Phil has been unfaithful before. Liz learns by spying on Phil, due to odd behaviors, by looking at his phone. Will Phil be unfaithful again? Will Liz be able to prevent it from occurring? Or will this be the demise of their marriage? I absolutely loved the ending of this story! I saw many of the twists coming, but some I miscalculated. Nonetheless, I give Slow Burner by Laura Lippman four stars out of five stars.

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The Gift by Alison Gaylin was my second least favorite story other than Treasure. A famous family become up in arms, and hysterical when their only daughter goes missing. Some very strange occurrences begin to transpire as a psychic reaches out to the child’s mother Lyla. Has old ghosts come back to haunt Lyla? Has her only child been taken or lost forever? Who holds the answers? I felt that this story was very cleaver, but I felt rather indifferent to it. The twists were a bit predictable. They were also somewhat far fetched. However, I still give The Gift by Alison Gaylin three stars out of five stars.

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Buried by Jeffery Deaver was by far no contest my favorite story of the Hush series! Deaver delivers on all levels with this short story, and it feels more complete than the previous entries. A respected journalist Fitz ends up scoring a scoop on a fantastic story of The Gravedigger Kidnapper. The only issue is the paper he writes for is undergoing a transition to being paperless in the new digital world. With little time for the physical paper to endure Fitz fights to write a piece on The Gravedigger before his job becomes obsolete. Fitz gains leads, he hits the streets, and attempts to piece the puzzle together before time runs out. Will he uncover the mystery of The Gravedigger? Will his piece be remembered? Will it come to fruition? Ultimately, will justice be served? Deaver fires on all cylinders with this fast paced crime thriller! It is a fantastic quick and intriguing read! I suggest if you choose to not read any of the Hush series at least read this one! I give Buried by Jeffrey Deaver five shining stars out of five!

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Let Her Be by Lisa Unger is my third favorite of the Hush series alongside Laura Lippman’s entry. The story is from the perspective of the main character Will, and surrounds many unfortunate happenings that have occurred in his life lately. Will seems to be down on his luck, living with his parents after many failures, and has little friends left. His writing career, or lack of one, has not been to kind to him either. As the past interweaves with the present revelations begin to unfold. Is Will able to redeem his spiraling life? Is he ever going to see success? What lengths is Will willing to go to succeed? Unger really did write a superb story with Let Her Be. I was sucked in by this quick read, and the narrator “Will” was nicely written. The twists in this story were very satisfying. I give Let Her Be by Lisa Unger 4 stars out of five stars.

Overall, I feel that the Hush series as a whole was a fun adventure, could be read in any order, and come entries can be skipped if interest doesn’t strike. However, for the time it took to read all six entries I would encourage anyone to draw their own conclusions. I would encourage those who are interested to simply read them all. If you are a fan of crime thrillers, suspense, and mystery I feel like you have nothing to lose!

Written by Andrew C. on 10/10/2020

Horror of Legend and Myth

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Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant is a very interesting read. I felt as though it was written in the vein of a Michael Crichton novel, but with a horror twist. Very original. However, if you are not a fan of slow burn novels it may not be your cup of tea. If you are into cryptozoological excursions, and horrors of the vast deep ocean it is fantastic!

The main protagonist Victoria “Tory” lost her sister Anne to a tragic at sea incident while she was working for Imagine Entertainment. Imagine was known for their entertainment shows of attempting to track down long lost creatures, creatures of myth, and of stories of legends pasted down through the ages. Unfortunately, on the expedition to the Mariana Trench the crew on the ship the Atargatis fell to a horrible fate. Coverups occurred to save face, families of victims were hushed, but Tory will never forget! She wants answers, she wants justice, and vengeance for her sister’s death!

Years later Tory’s wish for answers come to fruition when she is approached to accompany other scientists, heavy security, trained hunters, and Imagine at the forefront to investigate the Mariana Trench further and the Atergatis’s disappearance. Will the vessel Melusine fall to the same fate as the Atergatis? Will they find the answers to the mysteries left behind? Or will they be swept far below into the drowning deep?

I felt as though this novel was excellent! I really enjoy cryptozoological/myth/legend stories! I also love Michael Crichton’s legacy of work he has left for the ages. Grant, I felt, wrote very much as Crichton did in his works. She did have extremely strong characters, their development was superb, and her style created such a vivid picture of everything she describes.

There were characters I really loved from the start, some very mysterious ones, ones that I disliked, and with much of the story occurring on a sailing vessel the tension between the drastically different characters was easily felt!

I really feel that this novel is a really good read for those who are a bit squeamish of horror. For this book is more than “horror”. In fact it is very much a laid back type of horror. In my opinion you could compare it to the likes of Jurassic Park or The Lost World.

If you enjoyed the movie The Meg or the classic Jaws this book is one you would really love! In fact, I think that a screen adaptation of this novel would have been far superior to the movie The Meg. Much more interesting, and intense! However, I digress.

Overall, I give Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant a solid four stars out of five stars. There were moments that I became a little bored with the story, but the character building was essential. I feel as though some more horror could have been injected into the story as well, and the ending I felt as though could have faired better. Hence my one star deduction.

All in all, I would recommend this book to readers of many different tastes. I think categorizing the book as horror is a bit misleading. Certainly there are some slightly scary things that occur, but there is much drama, mystery, suspense, and some action that I feel constraining it to one particular genre is tough. All I can say is I really enjoyed it, and it is definitely worth the read!

Written by Andrew C. 10/09/2020

School’s Out Forever!

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First off I would like to thank my fantastic spooky sister Becca for encouraging me to pick up this book! She said I wouldn’t be disappointed, and my goodness was she right! I really think it can be dissected from a couple of perspectives. One, an adult perspective that is relatable, but also a teenagers perspective that can also be very relatable. This is my review of Grad Night by Carver Pike! Enjoy!

This novel was simply superb! The writing style, the atmosphere, the visual representation illustrated through words, and the character building were all selling factors! With a friend recommending this read I didn’t even feel the need to read the synopsis. She has yet to steer me wrong on a recommendation as of yet! I certainly hope to see Carver grow and become a household name! This book left me in awe, and wanting more!

I really must say that this review is going to be vague because I really encourage you to pick it up. It is also on Kindle Unlimited so there is always that option. However, I digress let’s get on with the review, and after CHECK IT OUT!!!

Grad Night centers around many characters. Both teens who have just graduated, and teachers as well. Many teachers are getting invitations to a mysterious grad night party stating it is because they are of the select few of the “favorite teachers”. Although it seems juvenile many of the teachers are intrigued, and really want the invitation.

The story is centered mainly around two teachers Charlie and Lauren. Lauren receives an invitation to the party early on, but Charlie is dismayed when he doesn’t get one. Last minute Charlie is invited by one of his favorite students, and internally is ecstatic! Not only will his friend Joel be there, but so will Lauren.

As Charlie reaches the party Joel and Lauren are nowhere to be found. Soon Charlie realizes something isn’t right. As he begins asking questions at the party he sets out to find his friends.

As the night wears on many mysterious acts begin to unfold. You may even say heinous. As Charlie finds his fellow colleagues, and some friends, it is apparent that this grad night will be a fight for his life! The most sadistic graduate Liz is the ringleader of a crazy party involving not your typical games. Will the teachers make it through the night? Will the students be stopped in their lunatic games?

I cannot express enough how hard it was to put this book down! I finished it possibly a week or so ago, and had to stew on this review. I really didn’t want any spoilers! Pike is utterly fantastic and original, and also mentions small inspirations (I felt) in the novel. Nonetheless there are similar stories, but I cannot pin one down quite the same! I guess you may say it could be a mixture of The Most Dangerous Game, aspects of Saw (but maybe not as gruesome), and hints of other great literature as well as films. However, as mentioned very original, and worthy of a read!

I most definitely have to give Grad Night by Carver Pike five glimmering stars out of five stars! I cannot express enough the talent that Carver has in writing! I cannot wait to read other works in his bibliography especially The Diablo Snuff series! Also, it must be mentioned that this was possibly THE best horror novel I have read this year!! I only wish I would have picked it up sooner!

Written by Andrew C. on 09/20/2020

Not You’re Typical Ghost Story!

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Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour is a book that is difficult to place in one solid category. It certainly could resonate with YA readers, adults, and mystery lovers alike. All I know is that this novel was an amazing, quick, and really awesome read!

Watch Over Me begins with the main protagonist, Mila, has just come of age of eighteen and phased out of the foster care system. She has the opportunity to interview for a position at a farm that is famous for the husband and wife taking in foster children. The farm is considered a safe haven and refuge for the broken.

Mila quickly and gladly accepts the position. She is all too willing to live on the farm, and the seclusion of the farm isn’t a worry for her. She doesn’t mind not having a cell phone, modern technologies, or being away from much of the populace. They are all like a big happy family, and keep to themselves except for market days.

As Mila learns the ropes around the grounds of the lovely farm located on the north eastern coast of Northern California there is one aspect that was glossed over and not mentioned in the interview. The farm is haunted by ghosts.

This novel is so amazing! It captures loneliness, the want to be accepted, and dealing with many other emotions any new comer would. Mila’s friendships and pupils are so sweet to see grow. The mystery of Mila’s background, and the ghosts are definitely so intriguing that I couldn’t put it down!

I give Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour five stars out of five stars! I would suggest this book as a must read this year for any avid reader! Only coming in at a page count of 261 it really is amazing how grand the novel is. I didn’t want it to be over, but the ending will leave you somewhat emotional, happy, and sad it is finished.

Written by Andrew C. on 09/12/2020

Reacher 1

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Killing Floor by Lee Child was my second outing in Jack Reacher’s universe. My first Reacher book I picked up was The Enemy, and I intended to read the novels chronology with Night School and The Affair before moving on to Killing Floor. However, my lovely wife has a fantastic book group on Facebook called Book Nerds, and this months poll winner was Killing Floor. So I decided to break my cycle, and I’ll revisit Night School and The Affair after. If you would like to join an amazing book group full of a diverse group of avid readers, reviews, and much more I will leave a link to Book Nerds at the end of my review of Killing Floor.

As I began reading Killing Floor by Lee Child I did have some idea of what to expect since I did read The Enemy previously. I also took some things with a grain of salt since this was Child’s first outing writing a Reacher novel. With that said I was surprised.

I didn’t really need the background on Reacher or get to know the character, but it was a nice refresher. I felt that the novel was very interesting not only in the mystery and suspense, but also knowledgeable facts that Lee put into the novel.

The story starts off simple enough. Jack is drifting through a town, and he is arrested. There is no explanation as to why, and that is when the story takes off.

As the story moves forward there are details sprinkled in here and there. Some significant and others not so much. Possibly to make you think a little, or throw you off. I kept finding myself thinking I had the story pinned down, who was good, bad, and indifferent. I was way off. Some people may catch it in reading, but Lee tricked me.

After Reacher is arrested little details of who he is, how he thinks, and his background are revealed. Reacher himself narrates the book. Upon Reacher being found innocent, a horrible weekend in jail, and then being let out he has all intentions on leaving the little town called Margrave. Seems to be a case of wrong place at the wrong time.

Reacher only stopped at Margrave to simply find out the roots of a blues guitarist named Bind Blake. Before he can hit the road things become a bit more complicated, and Jack ends up sticking around due to a personal tie to some criminal activity that is occurring. Murders, secrets, and deception are abundant in the little town.

The murders become a bigger issue. Someone, or more than one person, is attempting to silence the only people who have knowledge of an operation that is occurring in, and around Margrave. It all boils down to money in the end. Reacher becomes vested in the investigation, since he used to be an MP, and works with the only two people he feels are trustworthy chief detective Finley, and officer Roscoe.

As they all work on the case all of their lives come closer and closer to danger and death. This doesn’t deter Jack and the officers. However, they have less than a week to crack open all the secrets, end an operation, and stop the murders before Sunday arrives. Will they make it to the finish line before the masterminds behind the killings? Or will Reacher, Finley, and Roscoe also be just another bloody bag of flesh on the Killing Floor?

I felt that this book was great! I didn’t figure it out which is always a win for me. There were times of deep suspense, mystery, and action. I found myself at times almost holding my breath! I feel like Killing Floor is a perfect first entry into the Reacher universe.

Overall, I give Killing Floor by Lee Child four stars out of five stars. There were parts of the novel I felt that could have progressed a bit more quickly, but I did only deduct half a star being that the novel is Child’s first work featuring Jack Reacher. I also deducted half a star for the ending, and others may disagree. However, I felt the ending didn’t really flow with the rest of the novel, and should have been a bit more bleak. Although, it is alright that it was a “life goes on” type of ending. I just felt like the end could have been better. It wasn’t a happy one, but it wasn’t bleak either. All in all, I cannot wait to enter the Reacher universe again sometime soon!

If you would like to connect with some amazing people who are all about literature, book reviews, reading books together, and just everything books please visit and join our group Book Nerds! We love to have new members, and fresh perspectives on all types of novels and written works that are out there! You would be amazed how much you can learn from fellow avid readers! I hope to see you there! https://www.facebook.com/groups/735398456792824/?ref=share

Written by Andrew C. on 09/08/2020

Lackluster and Disappointing!

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*EDIT: This is not the SAME Wendy Webb I know and love! This is NOT the Wendy Webb who wrote Daughters of the Lake, The Vanishing, etc. In my opinion, this person is riding on the coattails of a well loved author and selling books under false pretenses!! I’m changing my review from 2 down to 1 star, and I’ll be contacting Amazon for a refund!! 😡😡😡😡

I finished this a couple of days ago and decided to give myself time to compose my thoughts because I thought my immediate response was too harsh. However, I haven’t changed my mind, so here goes….

Widow’s Walk
By: Wendy Webb
1 star

I usually sing the praises of Wendy Webb as one of my comfort authors! An author I can count on to provide me with a gothic-esque story with a dual timeline (usually) – one present day and one a hundred-ish years prior in the same setting. The characters are generally loveable and the story is fun and engaging with a creepy twist.

This time? Not so much. There was a bit of a dual timeline, but most of the story was told in present day with only a few flashbacks hinting at the past. This was fine. What was NOT fine was the cover that gives too much away, the horrible tag line, the characters that were annoying and generic and the storyline that was just “okay” at best. I didn’t connect with ANYONE. The little boy, Charlie, seemed like a cookie cutter autistic child and the adults seemed very blah as well. There was a tragic backstory and a failing marriage, but all of it seemed so snoozy that I wanted to actually quit the book several times!! The one character that began to interest me was barely discussed and quickly glossed over, with no idea what happened to her at the end. Webb tried to begin the rising climax WAY too early in the book, so the buildup was too long with not enough happening to keep the reader’s attention. The ending was a letdown, but I was just happy to see it come to a close!

I wouldn’t recommend this one, sadly. 😢😢

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Snuff the Punks! Duel Review.

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The Grindhouse Experience by Sam West appealed to my interests immensely! Especially after reading my first book written by her Flesh Factory. If you haven’t read Flesh Factory it is an amazing novella, and a must read for any extreme horror fan!

With that said Sam writes some very extreme, graphic, and brutal material! She is amazing at what she does, and I really love the flow of her writing. She always throws me for a loop at the end too! I always feel like something is a bit off, and SURPRISE! A twist always catches me by surprise. Which isn’t easy to do these days I feel for me at least.

The Grindhouse Experience is a phenomenal idea that Sam conjured up! I thought, oh well maybe this will be like the film Fear Inc, WRONG! Totally different! Sam creates a world revolving around an enigmatic Grindhouse film director Jefferson Blake. Although Blake died in 1992 after his collaboration with renowned author Cillian Smith in his final film. Of which he died before release his legacy lives on, and many fans still dote on his work! If Cillian sounds familiar you may want to check out Sam’s Novella Writers’ Retreat. It isn’t necessary, but it is mentioned in The Grindhouse Experience.

The story revolves around four students in University. Lucy and Mason are studying film and cinematography, Anoushka is studying law, and Rob is studying mathematics. Regardless, all four love Blake’s films, and grindhouse in general.

Oddly enough Anoushka is the one who convinces the others to sign the waiver for The Grindhouse Experience which takes place once a year on Halloween. Rob is easily ready to jump on board, even though a numbers wiz, he has a vast knowledge and passion for the films. Lucy and Mason are reluctant, but Anoushka convinces them to go with it.

Months later on Halloween they all decide to gather for a viewing of Jefferson Blake’s films, and speculate if they will be chosen. They also speculate as to whom is the one behind the whole thing. Which they all assume is Blake’s only child. A reclusive man named Ethan Blake. However, no one knows for certain.

As the night wears on persistent knocks begin to occur at the door. By the time they answer the door everything becomes extremely too real! Rob is stoked, Anoushka has changed her tone, and Lucy and Mason feel like I told you so.

Upon the invasion of masked men to take them to The Grindhouse Experience horrible things already start to occur. Following they are drugged and awake in a nightmare of Jefferson Blake’s films! All being re-enacted, only there is one problem, they are the victims! Will they survive the experience? Fun and games has become blood and guts in this roller coaster ride of an extreme novella!

Overall, I give The Grindhouse Experience by Sam West four and a half stars out of five. It is utterly fantastic! I only deducted half a star because damn, what a cliffhanger of a book! All in all, I loved it so much I was on to part two in a heartbeat!

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Kill ‘Em All!

Monster House is the second installment in The Grindhouse Experience books. I couldn’t wait to read this, and was so ecstatic that I waited until this release dropped to read both. But… I was in for a surprise.

Monster House carries the same tonal qualities that The Grindhouse Experience did, only the game has been switched up a bit. Two friends, 19 year old Rhea and 22 year old Summer have decided to sign up for the mysterious grindhouse experience. The only problem is after Rhea’s mom and dad, Holly and Ade, cancel their travel plans for Halloween they become dismayed due to the idea if they’re picked they may lose the experience being that two people will be in the house who didn’t sign the waiver.

Nonetheless, the girls make the most of the night, and decide to binge on some good old Jefferson Blake movies. Their little hearts still hoping that their dreams of being picked will come true. As the night wears on it seems less likely.

Holly is going through menopause, and seems like a curmudgeon of a woman. Ade is seeming to be going through a midlife crisis. It goes without saying their marriage seems to be on the rocks. Also, Rhea, like most teenagers, is simply embarrassed by both of them.

When someone begins pounding on the door everyone is in separate rooms. Holly gets up to answer, and soon Ade is not far behind. He finds Holly gone, and intruders standing in his home. Both Summer and Rhea are on the stairs ecstatic knowing they have been picked, but Ade is scared as hell. However, he is ready to defend his home.

Unfortunately, or fortunately in the girl’s minds, things don’t go according to planned. They are drugged and swept away to the fabled grindhouse experience! All four of them no less!

As the horrors of the night ensue, and the blood begins to flow nothing is what Summer and Rhea previously thought is would be! They are plunged right into the middle of a Hell they wish they never would have signed up for!

I give Monster House by Sam West four and a half stars out of five. Yet again, Sam threw me for another loop! Another cliffhanger! Not as crushing of a blow as the first entry, but now I have to wait for another installment! This is agonizing and exciting all at the same time! I’m ready for book three Sam! I hope it flows out fast, and I can devour the pages as I did with these first two entries! I cannot wait!

Written by Andrew C. 09/06/2020

Escalating Extremes…

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The book Extremes by Jim Goforth rather surprised me! I am actually not one for many short story anthologies unless it is a compilation of different authors. However, I felt that Jim knocked this one out of the park!

I felt that the book’s short stories began tame and grew with intensity as the end of the novel loomed ever closer. There were some stories that I felt were entertaining, but not amazing. Nonetheless, I had three stories that really sold this book for me!

My favorite short stories in this compilation were definitely When a Bunny Snaps, Mental Elf, and House of the Goat Monster. I felt that these three were the most brutal of the entries. Although, I really enjoyed all of the entries. Many of the others really captured the way it feels to be an outcast, and then get revenge. I always appreciate a fantastic revenge story!

The first two short stories I really enjoyed take place at the same establishment called Fantasy Dress. A sort of risqué restaurant/bar, not strip club. The two stories are at the same establishment, but take place on separate holidays. Also, they stand alone although the previous entry is mentioned.

When a Bunny Snaps is about a girl with the real name Bunny, and Easter is her day to make the big bucks at Fantasy Dress. When Bunny just wants a little peace and quiet when she takes a break a patron decides to make an unsettling move on Bunny. What follows is the bloody carnage Bunny causes, and the calamity she leaves behind.

Mental Elf, also takes place at Fantasy Dress, only this time it is Christmas Eve, and a new girl Merry plays the part of an Elf to make some cash from patrons. When some zealous wackos from a religious assembly invade Fantasy Dress, and decide to dole out punishment for the atrocities they feel are being exploited they bite off more than they can chew. What no one knows is Merry has her own little secret she carries, and she isn’t about to let them take her without a major fight.

I felt the most disturbing story, yet also amazing, was House of the Goat Monster. Kathryn becomes stranded on her way back to town in an unknown area after selling her father’s estate. What ensues is very extreme. She stumbles on a little girl crying in the woods named Bethany, and is beaconed to help the other children at “the goat monster’s house”. As Bethany takes her to the supposed monster’s home Kathryn is in for the most morbid, brutal, and disgusting ride of her life. Kathryn must join forces with another captor, teenager Olivia, in order to survive, save the little boy Tommy, and escape the goat monster’s terrors. The question is will they be able to overpower the monster in time to be saved from the tortures that await? Will they be able to get out alive?

Upon first finishing Extremes by Jim Goforth I felt I was going to rate it lower than I ended up in the end. I let this one sit a while, thought on it, and digested the material before coming to a final conclusion. All in all, this was one of the best short story compilations I have read to date, and I cannot wait to read More Extremes and Greater Extremes! Along with other works that Jim has contributed in such as VS. and Rejected for Content.

I give Extremes by Jim Goforth four stars out of five stars. Jim certainly delivers, and I felt that the placement of the stories was perfection. He also writes very well which is a major plus! Some of the extreme content is alluded to, and a lot plays out in your mind. Which some may find not as horrific or as in your face as others, but the mind is a curious thing and can create even more horrific imagery when it is not fully spoon fed to you. I felt like this aspect set him apart in many ways. However, don’t get me wrong there is very much extreme content! I only said some was alluded, and I drew my own pictures in my mind. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in the wonderful world of Splatterpunk/ Extreme Horror, and wants to sample some matrial from another fantastic author.

Written by Andrew C. 09/04/2020

A Complete Waste of Time!

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I was really intrigued to read this book, and was sorely disappointed in the outcome. I feel that Donald Friedman carries himself in a very pompous manner. I felt like his writing screamed, ‘I’m better than you! If you don’t understand you are not educated! If you don’t understand the vocabulary get a dictionary!’

Corrupted Humors sounded like it was going to be a fantastic story of duel storylines that would come together. A story of a freakish death in the OR, romance, and a mysterious investigation. Sadly, the synopsis was well baited, and in my opinion sold a pretentious and lackluster story as something that it was not!

Overall, I would really like to give Corrupted Humors zero stars out of 5, but I will give it 1/2 star out of 5 and round that star up to 1. This piece of literature, if you can consider it a piece, is utter garbled garbage! Nothing but a lot of rambling, old perverted men wanting young women, old perverted women wanting young men, and more nonsensical rambling to fill pages. I highly disliked this book, and would never recommend it to a friend. I will never be touching a work by Mr. Friedman again. Utterly horrible.

Written by Andrew C. 08/29/2020

Retro Book/Movie Review & Comparison: The Running Man

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The Running Man by Richard Bachman (AKA Stephen King) 1982

This novel was a very interesting read to say the least. I most definitely do not think regular King fans would be very interested in The Running Man though. It definitely has its own feel, and it doesn’t resonate Classic King in my opinion. If you are looking for a great horror novel by King this isn’t for you.

I loved the entire book very much. It is a bit slow paced, but only for a short time. Definitely not a huge slow burn like many of King’s works. The story has a lot going on, and a lot of undertones that I believe could be dissected. I will not cover all of the topics I felt that were prevalent throughout the novel, but basically I felt that it captured the ugliness that humanity can and currently is displaying. I also think that it also captures how rare and precious humane acts of kindness are in society today as a whole.

The Running Man by Richard Bachman revolves around a man named Ben Richards. He is out of a job, has an ill daughter, and a wife that sells her body to put food on the table. Ben is disgusted with the way he is failing to provide, jobs being so hard to come by, so he makes a very radical decision. One that could change his and his family’s life for the better, but at a high cost.

The year that this dystopian/Sci Fi drama takes place is oddly the present day we live in. The jobs that are available have great health risks, and the workers cannot afford proper health care. Pollution is so terrible it tears people apart. Both their lives and their bodies. The ruler of this world in The Running Man is the media and entertainment. Free Vee provided to every home, yet not healthcare. Free Vee is the vice of the nation. Along with other general addictions.

Ben decides to go to enter for a chance to win some money at the broadcasting company. All of the games have strict rules, and qualifications. However, Ben just wants to see his daughter survive. He will pay the ultimate price if that is what it takes.

Ben undergoes many tests and trials before being placed in a spot. He fortunately makes the cut, but unfortunately it is the most dangerous game… The Running Man. Ben doesn’t know how long he will last, but his only wish is to make enough money so that his daughter receives medical attention.

Killian is the man that rules the roost. He explains how The Running Man works, and how Ben can make money or lose money or make extra. He also explains the fact that everyone will be out to get him. Not only the police. Ben faces danger at every turn due to a reward will be given to anyone who turns him in.

As Ben hits the street and his time begins he begins to think quickly on his toes. He has a bit of a head start, but not much. He becomes very resourceful, and a long game of cat and mouse ensues.

The kicker is Ben has to survive 30 days without being killed, and no one has ever made it. He also has to send in 2 video tapes via mail every day unless he wants to default his money. He looks for help in the most unlikely places, and finds that there are still some people that are humane and provide hope.

He is run all over the east coast. Many people aid him, and in doing so risk their own necks. However, with all of the greed, corruption, dishonesty, and mistreatment of the lower classes (not to mention exploitation) they feel that aiding Ben is worth the risk.

Will Ben be able to outlast? Will his family be taken care of? Will his run make a change, and send a message to the broken world? All is up in the air in this very bleak, yet strong piece of literature.

Overall, I give The Running Man by Richard Bachman (Stephen King) 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars. I felt this novel was poignant, and thought provoking. I only deducted 1/2 a star due to some very outdated technology that could have been a little more creative, and some racial slurs (but I feel there was a point to them). With that said even though I felt a bit more imagination could have been put into how recordings were taken, sent, phones, and especially one part a Telex was used, but there were some really neat aspects that we still do not have today. I say give the book a whirl. It’s a quick read, and if you don’t enjoy it put it away. However, it isn’t the feel of many King novels.

(1987)

If you want an action blockbuster The Running Man film is a fun slice of 80’s greatness! If you want a movie true to the novel you will be sorely disappointed. I would have to say I preferred the novel much more than the movie, but I still enjoy the 80’s campiness and nostalgia. Not to mention a fantastic cast featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Yaphet Kotto, Mick Fleetwood, and Richard Dawson to name a few.

In the movie Ben is an ex-policeman who escapes prison, he has no wife or daughter. His motive is to find his brother and blend back into society. This doesn’t go as planned.

Ben is quickly captured, and is forced to decide if he will participate in the running man or not. Ultimately after threatening to put his fellow escapees on the show he gives in.

The show is much more over the top than in the novel. There are “stalkers” outrageous characters who are out to kill the contestants. They also really tried to turn up the futuristic factor, but also it comes up dated (but fun).

Arnold says a lot of classic one liners. There’s a lot of brawling and carnage. Action packed to the teeth for an 80’s movie. This contrasts drastically to the novel which I found to be more of a bleak drama. The novel is a lot of ducking and hiding in comparison to Ben being a killing machine in the movie.

Of course the characters are skewed drastically from the book. Arnold is not even close to the physic that Ben is described to have in the novel. This made the novel a bit more suspenseful I felt, because Ben was a lanky run of the mill man. Also, Killian being both the boss and the host was a downer considering in the book they are two different characters. One in charge. One just a face for the show.

Overall, I give the movie The Running Man 3 stars out of 5 stars. I love the cast, the fun, and the action. However, it isn’t true to the book. It is a pity as well because I feel the novel being properly translated to the screen would be amazing! Nonetheless, the movie is still fun, but definitely not as thought provoking.

All in all, I feel the novel and the film are both good in their own rights. Of course I feel the novel was superior to the film, but that is my opinion. They are really like comparing apples and oranges. They are two different things with a few commonalities.

I highly suggest the novel to any avid readers out there! I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would! I will warn you it is a bleak story so if you don’t enjoy a bleak story it isn’t going to be your cup of tea.

For all of those who are causal readers I still highly suggest the novel, but if you want a lot of action stick to the movie. Hollywood definitely took a lot of liberties in turning a bleak dystopian/ Sci Fi/ suspense drama into an action blockbuster. I’m not one to judge though. Just look at the films they were pumping out at the time! Arnold, Sly, Dolf, and Jean Claude were hot commodities at the time! Action blockbusters were booming!

Maybe Hollywood was right in the approach they took to The Running Man at the time. However, I think a reimagining, and more true to the novel version of a film would go over well today. Bleak as it may be I feel this would be great to see happen. Although I sadly think it will not occur. I honestly feel with the proper cast, director, and producers The Running Man could make a really great suspense drama. That is just my two cents. Check them out for yourself. I would love to hear some more opinions and discussion.

Written by Andrew C. 08/26/2020

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