Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Forsaken: Stories of Abandoned Places

We’ve all seen them.
The abandoned gas station, its pumps gone to rust. The once popular diner, now boarded up, its bright colors fading. A luxury yacht, adrift and alluring. An amusement park, once filled with the laughter of children, now a place of eerie silence.
A church, a factory, a drive-in. Once hives of activity, now they stand mute, each one containing its share of memories…and secrets.
In this collection, editors Joe McKinney and Mark Onspaugh select twenty-two guides who take you to those places of barely glimpsed phantoms and uneasy mysteries, including contributions by Deborah LeBlanc, Harvey Jacobs, Gene O'Neill, Piers Anthony, Lisa Morton, and many others!

I love short horror stories and these 22 dark tales  will make you wonder whether abandoned places are really as empty as they appear.
My favorites were The Storybook Forest by Norman Prentiss in which a small group of friends gather in an abandoned children's theme park for a few beers and a night of terror. Along that same theme was Lullaby Land by Mark Onspaugh. A once crowded theme park long since closed after a tragedy... but children still manage to find their way there as kidnappers Mitch and Del are about to discover. The Theater by Dennis Copelan finds Leonard Brown, taking a bittersweet final walk through of  his movie theater before signing the final sale papers.
Drive-In of the Damned by Michael Arruda was another of my favorites. Three paranormal investigators stake out a haunted drive in hoping to gain enough popularity on their YouTube channel to get a tv show. Bodies Without Souls by L.L. Soares finds Michael about to give a beach party while his parents are away, when an empty yacht mysteriously floats into easy reach. What's the worst that could happen if he turns his beach party into a boat party?  Emily by JW Schnarr is the story of a missing girl and what happens to two friends who joined her search party in the woods.
High Desert by Lisa Morton finds Kara seeking shelter from the heat when Tadd goes off for help after they have car trouble in the desert while checking out an area where a religious cult mysteriously disappeared. Dream Home by D.L. Snell  is not exactly about a haunted house, but a house that will haunt you. The Pressboard Factory by Peter N. Dudar was my absolute favorite. Billy and Ryan grew up together, but were not much alike. Ryan was picked on, belittled and bullied not just at school but abused at home right up until the day he just couldn't take it anymore.
All of the above, for me were the 5 star stories in this collection.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Defiant Souls by Kathleen Chadwick

When Kyle Chase accepted his Aunt Cindy’s invitation to spend his summer vacation with her, he thought they would be exploring old caves, looking for arrow heads, and honing his skills as a young Archeologist. He never dreamed the fate of the world would rest on his small shoulders. Kyle, his aunt and a small group of travelers have been imprisoned by a mad-man.
Man’s arrogance has opened a doorway of evil and it’s up to Kyle to close it. He will need to trust in his sixth sense, strength, and intellect to escape and find the one man who can help him destroy the evil that holds them captive.
First off look at this gorgeous cover! That is what first caught my eye before I even read the description.
Kyle's vacation pretty much goes off the rails as he is thrust into a battle of good against evil when he and his aunt are hijacked on the road by an otherworldly being. It was a pretty creative story and although I read a lot of horror I was surprised by some of the gruesome events and language since this was categorized under the teen and YA section. It didn't bother me, but it may bother some who are expecting something a little more tame.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Final Goodbyes by Signe Christensen

Sophie Weeks is trying to come to terms with the horrifying murders of her brother and his family. In an attempt to find closure Sophie moves in to her brother's old home. Little did she expect the nightly horrors she is about to encounter.

Sophie is devastated to hear that her brother and his family have been found dead. What's worse is that her sister-in-law and 5 year old niece have been brutally murdered and the police believe her brother is their killer and that he took his own life to escape the consequences of his crimes.
Sophie feels strongly that the killer is still out there and she will not rest until she uncovers the truth with or without the help of police.
This was a suspenseful mystery/thriller. I enjoyed it although I felt the dialogue could benefit from a bit of editing and an occasional use of contractions to make it more natural sounding.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sinner by Christopher Graves

As a direct descendant of the 19th century vigilante gang, the Bald Knobbers, Ezekiel Woods, Jr. has been indoctrinated into a world ruled by violence and a literal interpretation of the bible his entire life. Now, over a hundred years later, Zeke continues his ancestors’ crusade, spending his days camouflaged as an aloof middle-aged grocery store sacker and his nights in a farmhouse cellar, preparing captives’ souls for their ultimate destiny: redemption or death. His latest abductee, an indomitable Texan working her way through a third-life crisis, chooses another option: escape. Zeke must recapture this lost sheep or face a consequence far worse than any worldly fate: that God has forsaken him.
Available for pre-order

Zeke is a religious fanatic from a long line of murderous child abusing nut jobs who seem to think they are on a mission from God to dole out retribution. With an affinity for torture and murder that could  only be surpassed by Leatherface, Zeke is racking up the body count as he rids the world of "sinners" who of course are women. Not all women are so easily dispatched as Zeke finds out the hard way when one in particular refuses to be his victim in a highly suspenseful heart stopping conclusion.
4 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review

About the Author:
Christopher Graves is an actor, filmmaker and award-winning screenwriter based in New York City.
Some of his performance credits include Sneaky Pete, Divorce, The Blacklist, Shades of Blue, Nurse Jackie, as well as many network on-camera and voice-over commercials for national brands.
He is the creator and writer of the comedic web series, With Friends Like These and the feature-length screenplay, Sinner, which was named Best Psychological Thriller Script by the New Hope International Film Festival.
Born in the hills of Mt. Vernon, Missouri, his introduction to the thriller genre started early. At five years old, his mother abducted him along with his younger siblings and fled across the country. They were given new names, a new home and a new beginning–until they were discovered and had to move again.
By the time he accepted his high school diploma (from the tenth school he had attended), Christopher had developed an intense affection for the terrifying plots of authors like Thomas Harris, David Lozell Martin, and James Patterson. Identifying with the grittiness in many of those stories, he had grown fond of the adrenaline surges that come with running and hiding.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two judgmental Siberian cats.