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Monday, November 21, 2016

Criminal Zoo by Sean McDaniel [4.5 stars]

 
 
From the Description
 
Like millions of children, Samuel Bradbury comes from a broken home. Yet he still enjoys the everyday activities of being a kid: playing basketball, shooting his air rifle, and hanging out. Something else, however, exists inside Samuel—something that sets him apart from other children. He enjoys killing.

Samuel's murderous impulses follow him into manhood and his lethal actions ultimately land him in the Criminal Zoo—society's final answer to a problem as old as mankind. His days are filled with suffering, as visitors with revenge in mind are allowed physical interaction with the inmates. He exists in torturous misery and all hope is lost. Death, an unattainable early release, becomes his only desire. An unexpected guest, however, changes everything; a surprise visit will decide Samuel's fate.

This is his story.
 
 
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Publication Length: 352 pages
 
 
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this anthology. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 

Criminal Zoo is a compelling and thought provoking story. When I first started reading about Samuel Bradbury I felt bad for him. He comes from a broken home and lives with his abusive father so his bitterness kinda made sense. But then I had to stop and say "Wait,,, WHAT!?! Turns out he's a serial killer. His reasoning and the matter of fact way he thinks about his murders is chilling. After he's sentenced to death as an exhibit in the Criminal Zoo, a prison that allows an eye for an eye type justice for violent offenders, the horror is taken to a whole new level. Much like Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door, this book is very hard to read but at the same time I couldn't put it down. A truly disturbing book that I wouldn't recommend to the faint hearted, but for the rest of you horror fiends I say grab this book and get ready for a twisted tale. An extremely well written 4.5 star read.
 
 
Buy the Book
 

About the Author
 
 
 
Sean McDaniel, born in Durango, CO, grew up on the plains of southeastern New Mexico. At the age of twenty-five, he founded Plaza Fitness Health Club, and is also a contributing editor for MuscleMag International. He lives in Billings, MT.
 
 

Praise
 
 
"A penetrating look inside a killer’s head; disquieting but insightful." —Kirkus Reviews


"I often found myself almost buying Samuel’s twisted logic and it made me think about what a fragile thing sanity is. The idea of the criminal zoo is such a great way to write about the darkest side of human nature. Monsters and victims and the fine line between." —Katie Arnoldi, author of Chemical Pink and Point Dume


"Criminal Zoo is a chilling narrative into the mind of a serial killer. This book is terrifying, not the creepy 'who's behind the door' scary, but disquieting, in the way the reader is immediately brought into the killer's world. Sean McDaniel does a great job of giving the reader an insight into the thoughts, actions, and justifications of the villain through a first person chronicle. McDaniel has created a standout novel. Good character development, a twisting plot complete with a couple of 'didn't see that coming' moments, and a crucial social issue all contribute to making this a must read." —Larry Kennedy, owner of The Book Cellar

 
 
 
 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Stabco: You Need Nothing Else by Joe Schwartz [4.5 stars]

 
 
From the Description
 
 
Jesus Christ, Jim Jones, and Joseph Smith all had one thing in common – they all believed they were God… at least for a moment.


Randy and Raymond have discovered a "new" God in The Supreme Master – the singular and irrefutable leader of STABCO.


Without knowing it, He has chosen them ― Without trying, They have served him


A cult and a corporation Hell bent on making BIG profits, STABCO has found its new cash cow in Randy and Raymond. But like Momma always says, nothing good comes easy and likely nothing worth having is ever free.


This is their story.
Randy and Raymond.


Two loser brothers hoping to find salvation and redemption through the sale of knives door-to-door.


It will be a miracle if they survive.
 
 
Publication Date: October 20, 2016
Publisher: Dark Serpent/Ravenswood Publishing
Publication Length: 212 pages
 
 
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this anthology. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 

Stabco is a glimpse at the lives of Randy and Raymond, brothers who couldn't catch a break if it fell into their lap. This book is full of dark humor and has a gritty feel that I loved. Randy and Raymond are the perfect anti-heroes, uneducated, broke and definitely not PC, but still very likeable in spite of themselves. Stabco is a cult-like company that sells knives, headed by The Supreme Master. When they went to their first Stabco meeting I was thinking "No! Don't Drink The Kool-Aid!!". The other characters you meet along the way are just as idiosyncratic as the brothers. Bizarre situations and hilariously convoluted dialogue make this a great read for fans of The Big Lebowski or Fight club. Haven't read anything by Joe Schwartz yet, what are you waiting for? This guy is fantastic! A highly recommended 4.5 star read.
 
 
Buy the Book
 
Amazon       Barnes & Noble
 

About the Author
 
 
A St. Louis native, my stories consistently feature the city. My preferred style of fiction is called transgressive fiction. That is, my stories' protagonists generally find a solution to their problems through either illicit or illegal means.


I personally prefer stories told through a criminal's point of view. It's not the crime that fascinates me so much as the motivation to do it and the terrible,
almost predictable outcomes of such actions.


Just as I have an expectation of writing to be read, I believe that it is as important, if not more so, that you as a reader should have the expectation of being entertained as you read. Anything less is such a disappointment.


Life is short. Stories are forever. -Joe

 
You can follow Joe on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads
 

Praise
 
"a great storyteller on par with Joe Lansdale" - Michele "Izzy" Galgana, Fangoria


"I need to go out and grab all of his books and give them a read!" - The Horror Bookshelf

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea [5 stars]

 
 
From the Description
 
Deep in the murky waters of Loch Ness, the creature known as Nessie has returned.
 
Twins Natalie and Austin McQueen watched in horror as their parents were devoured by the world’s most infamous lake monster.
 
Two decades later, it’s their turn to hunt the legend. But what lurks in the Loch is not what they expected. Nessie is devouring everything in and around the Loch, and it’s not alone.
 
Hell has come to the Scottish Highlands. In a fierce battle between man and monster, the world may never be the same.
 
 
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Severed Press
Publication Length: 149 pages
 
 
I received a copy of this book as part of the publicity tour hosted by the awesome Erin Al-Mehairi. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novella. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review. If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature Loch Ness Revenge or Hunter Shea in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com
 
 

 
Loch Ness Revenge creature feature you don't want to miss! Hunter Shea excels at writing characters who are realistic and easy to identify with, and taking cryptids out of legend and inserting them straight into your nightmares. Natalie and her twin, Austin, are fun to follow as they hunt for the creature that ate their parents. Henrik, a fellow monster hunter, has awesome toys and if I ever take up hunting for monsters I want his real-life counterpart along for the ride. This high octane thrill ride starts out strong and the action doesn't slow down leading to a fantastic ending. I was so caught up in the story that I devoured the whole book in one sitting. I only have one thing to say to Hunter Shea, "Please sir, can I have some more?" A highly recommended 5 star read.
 
 
Buy the Book
 
     
About the Author
 
 
 
Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.
 
Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – "A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!"
 
Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.
 
He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.
 
Hunter is proud to be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.
 
Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.
 
You can follow his travails at huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.
 

Praise
 
 
"Loch Ness Revenge is not only monsterific, but it's also comedic." – Tim Meyer, author of Worlds Between My Teeth
 
 
 
"Shea delivers a tense and intriguing work of escalating tension splattered with a clever, extensive cast of bystanders turned victims…An otherwise excellent, tightly delivered plot…Fans of cryptid creatures are likely to revel in this love letter to a legendary menace." – Publishers Weekly
 
"Bloody good read! This guy knows his monsters!" - Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre
 
"Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!" –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast
 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

13 Questions with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro Plus Living Spectres

 
 
Today I'm pleased to welcome Chelsea Quinn Yarbro to Horror Maiden's. Growing up I loved her Saint-Germain vampire series and I still enjoy rereading Beastnights, a werewolf novel. Her new series focuses on Poppy Thornton, an intrepid crime reporter, and Chesterton Holte, Gentleman Haunt. There are two books out in this charming series so far, you can find my review of Haunting Investigation (Book One) Here, and my review of Living Spectres (Book Two) is below.
 
 
 
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has published over ninety novels and nonfiction works and more than seventy pieces of short fiction. She's known for her bestselling series of historical horror novels featuring the 4000 year-old vampire Count Saint-Germain. She's been awarded a literary knighthood by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, a Grand Master award by the World Horror Association, was the first woman enrolled as a Living Legend by the International Horror Guild, and has received two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Horror Writers Association and from the World Fantasy Association in 2014. Yarbro lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Gang of Two (her irrepressible cats Butterscotch and Crumpet).
 
 
HM: Tell me a little about yourself.
 
CQY: I was born in 1942, in Berkeley, California. I’ve lived in the East Bay Area for most of my life; still do. I went to Berkeley public schools for most of my basic education, and attended San Francisco State College, now University for three years, then settled down to write. I worked in the family cartographic business until I started to sell my fiction. I have served as Secretary of Science Fiction Writers of America, regional vice President of the Northern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and was the first woman President of the Horror Writers Association. I married Donald Simpson in 1969 and we divorced in 1982. I have no children, though I have had two horses (not at the same time) until arthritis caught up with me. I now have two cats (at the same time).
 
 
HM: What do you do when you’re not writing (day job)?
 
CQY: Writing is my day job, and has been since 1970.
 
HM: How long have you been writing?
 
CQY: I started writing when I was six. Between that first effort and the time I started to sell stories, I wrote plays, some for school projects, some for a long-defunct children’s theatre company. I sold my first story in 1968, and now have amassed a fair amount of published material.
 
 
HM: Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
 
CQY: Reading.
 
HM: What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?
 
CQY: The demands of publishing can be quite challenging, and learning to live with massive financial uncertainty is, too. I love writing.
 
HM: Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
 
CQY: Not that I know of, but if I do, I’m used to them, and so they don’t seem strange. I do have one quirk — I don’t like to send off submissions on a Thursday. It made more sense when we had to mail things back and forth, but now, it’s a left-over from a time when avoiding the weekend slowdown in the post made some kind of sense.
 
 
HM: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your free time?
 
CQY: I still like to read; when I could still ride, I’d spend three afternoons a week on my horse; I occasionally do musical compositions. When I’m working, I sometimes listen to opera, which I love.
 
HM: What is your favorite book? Movie? TV show?
 
CQY: Those things change over time, so I’ve learned not to answer this kind of question. Apologies all around.
 
 
HM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
 
CQY: Write every day. Do not show your work to family or friends until it is published. Stay out of writers’ groups until you have established your own voice. Get used to your own company. Be polite: say please and thank you often. Do not fight with critics or fans. And keep in mind that the toughest competition you will ever face is the last thing published with your name on it.
 
 
HM: Can you tell us about any of your new work? Future work?
 
CQY: I just turned in Chesterton Holte, gentleman haunt, #3, Shining Phantoms, and am working on a second play for the Baker Street Players in Jackson, California. I’m also writing another Saint-Germain, Orphans of Memory; I’m about half finished with it. And I’m working on a couple of short stories. After the first of the year, I’ll be starting Chesterton Holte #4, Chasing Ghosts.
 
 
HM: If you weren’t a writer, what would you do for a living?
 
CQY: At this stage of my life, I have no idea.
 
 
HM: What scares you?
 
CQY: Almost anything can, under the right circumstances. I am phobic about tunnels.
 
 
HM: What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?
 
CQY: Here’s one of a long list: What would you like people to be aware of about Saint-Germain? That he is a grown up.
 
 
HM: Where can fans find you online?
 
CQY: You can find out a lot about my work and my schedule on chelseaquinnyarbro.net and on my Chelsea Quinn Yarbro — Author page on Facebook.
 
 
 
HM: Thanks for joining us and stop by anytime!
 
Now onto Living Spectres,,,,
 
 
 
 
 
From the Description
 
Philadelphia, 1924
 
It’s been three months since crime reporter Poppy Thornton was left to die in an abandoned warehouse by her cousin Stacy, chief suspect in a high society murder. Rescued by the quick thinking of Chesterton Holte—her "gentleman haunt"—and Police Inspector J.B. Loring, Poppy is determined to get the real story and see justice done. But Stacy has fled Philadelphia with the widow of the man he is accused of murdering, and now an international manhunt is on for the suspected conspirators. As that search continues, Poppy, Holte, and Loring have a new mystery: the disappearance of GAD Pearce, 18 year-old heir to the Pearce fortune, who has vanished while travelling through Eastern Europe. The suspects range from the young man’s jealous siblings to a mysterious cult of Armenian refugees.
 
Once again Holte uses his ghostly powers to uncover answers and pass on what he learns to Poppy— who must then alert Loring without revealing her otherworldly source.
 
Is GAD still alive? Can Poppy keep her job despite social convention, the disdain of her male colleagues, and the dangerous attraction she feels to Loring? Will the authorities succeed in tracking Stacy down? What’s really going on behind the closed doors of the politicians and bankers who run the city and the state?
 
And as the search for truth takes Poppy and Holte deeper into a forest of dark secrets and official corruption, who will die next?
 
 
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Smoke & Shadow Books
Publication Length: 416 pages
 
 
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this anthology. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 
Living Spectres is the second book in the Chesterton Holte, Gentleman Haunt series. It picks up a few months after the events in Haunting Investigation. I had a lot of fun reading the first book, unfortunately I didn't enjoy Living Spectres as much. Poppy was just as plucky and Chesterton was just as gallant but the detailed descriptions of every single outfit (head to toe), and the planning of meals made it hard to get into the story. Poppy's Aunt Esther is a fun character to get to know. The way she reacts to a wedding proposal helps to illustrate the societal restrictions for women in the 1920's. The intertwining mysteries of where GAD, Stacy, and Louise are and the plight of the Armenian refugee's never really come to a satisfying conclusion, maybe in book three,,, Overall this is still a charming book, just not my cup of tea. 3 stars.
 
 
 
Buy the Book
 
 
 
 
 
Praise
 
 
"A perfect blend of mystery, history, and haunting. I loved this. Can't wait for the next in the series." -- Adrienne Barbeau, actress, author of Love Bites and Make Me Dead

In 1916 France, two men are executed by the Germans. It is now 1924, and the ghost of Chesterton Holte haunts P.M. Thornton. Holte is there to assuage his guilt over the death of Thornton s father in 1916, who was killed with Holte over a misunderstanding. P.M. is Poppea Millicent Thornton who is determined to become an ace crime reporter, like her father, for the Philadelphia Clarion. Poppy has spent too much time covering ladies book clubs and flower shows; she is ready for the big time. VERDICT Better known for her historical vampire series featuring le Comte de Saint-Germain, Yarbro launches a new paranormal series that offers a richly detailed look at life for women as the Roaring Twenties takes off. Poppy is a strong character who desperately wants to honor her father and not succumb to her aunt s blandishments to marry and raise a family. A solid choice for fans of Alice Kimberly s Haunted Bookshop mysteries or Nancy Atherton s Aunt Dimity novels. -- Library Journal, December 2015
 
 
 
Set in 1924, this first in a paranormal mystery series from old pro Yarbro (best known for the Saint Germain historical vampire novels) is an agreeable and inventive yarn. Poppy Thornton, a young socialite, is trying desperately to break into crime reporting for the Philadelphia Clarion when she's approached by the titular Holte, the helpful ghost of a spy executed with Poppy's father during WWI. The murder of an upper-crust acquaintance of Poppy gives Poppy her chance. The death appears connected to other crimes committed at a level of society that the working-class police and reporters have difficulty exploring. As Poppy cleverly exploits her social connections, Holte interviews the spirits of several murder victims, hindered by the fact that ghosts tend to be forgetful. It's all good fun until the action breaks off abruptly at the end. Of course, a series may have continuing themes, but this book leaves far too many plot threads dangling. -- Publishers Weekly
 
"Haunting Investigation, set in the late 1920s in the city of Philadelphia, is a novel that displays Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's characteristic historical accuracy and attention to detail. Here, she combines the mystery and ghost story genres to tell a suspenseful tale of murder with an engaging heroine and a well-drawn cast of characters. This diverting and involving story will leave readers both satisfied and hungering for more stories featuring Poppy Thornton and Chesterton Holte." -- Pamela Sargent; award winning author, Earthseed and The Shore of Women
 
 
 
 
If you want to read one of the best mystery writers alive...if you want to have a few delightful hours of compulsive reading, then I suggest you read this haunting Chesterton Holte mystery by the World Fantasy Award Grandmaster Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Dammit, she's that good! -- JACK DANN award winning author, The Memory Cathedral
 
 
 
 
"Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's work has haunted me all my life, and Haunting Investigation shows why. CQY is a master of the imagination and the queen of storytelling. I can't wait for her next book!" --Nancy Holder -NYT Bestselling Author, Crimson Peak: The Official Movie Novelization
 
 
 
 
"This is the first time I have read Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's novels and this was a wonderful introduction and a treat to read." -- Veronica Lynn, Goodreads
 

 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Greetings From Moon Hill by Anthony J. Rapino [5 Stars]

 
 
From the Description
 
 
BREATHE DEEP OF THE NIGHT.

Greetings from Moon Hill is a collection of darkly bizarre horror stories culled from the deranged mind of Anthony J. Rapino, author of Soundtrack to the End of the World.

Somewhere in Northeastern Pennsylvania, nestled between the forests and foothills of the Poconos, you’ll find the forgotten town of Moon Hill. It’s a surreal place of arcane magic and natural wonder, where a hint of autumn lingers in the air, the leaves are always turning, and the shadows grow long no matter the time of day.

You might say Moon Hill is special, an eerie pocket of Americana frozen in time, filled with eccentric characters and deathly secrets that transcend reality. And like most small towns, it also has a dark side.

This book is a roadmap to the lost town’s terrifying mysteries. Wander through the brush of Moon Hill State Forest and explore its otherworldly flora in "From Your Body They Rise." Bear witness to the interdimensional war raging above Old Road in the novella, "Reality Engineers." Conjure autumnal spirits with Handy Weber in "Halloween on the Hill," sample the peculiar glowing ale brewed by Slow Ewan in "Struck by Golden Lightning," and pay your respects with blood at the old Whistler place in "Just Once More, Little Sister."

As you explore Moon Hill’s darkened corners, you will discover a town built upon a foundation of nightmares, proving once again that Anthony J. Rapino is not only a master storyteller, but also a dark architect of the imagination.

Welcome to Moon Hill. Your definition of weird is about to change.
 
 
Publication Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Precipice Books
Publication Length: 300 pages
 
 
I received a copy of this book as part of the publicity tour hosted by the awesome Erin Al-Mehairi. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this anthology. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review. If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature Greetings from Moon Hill or Anthony J. Rapino in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com
 
 
 
 
Greetings From Moon Hill is a slow stroll down a haunted country road. I was hooked from the excellent forward by Todd Keisling, seriously, this guy knows how to write an introduction! It set the tone for the book to follow, promising shivery delights that the book delivered in spades. This book is a collection of interconnected stories all set in the small town of Moon Hill. The stories are each good on their own but when you put them all together they paint a picture of a town that's straight out of the Twilight Zone. Normally this is where I would tell you about my favorite stories in this anthology but this time I honestly couldn't pick. They are all fantastic, filled with wonder, fear, and a very Octobery feel that kept me enchanted until I had turned the last page. This was my first book by Anthony J. Rapino and I can't wait to get my hands on more of this talented writer's work. A highly recommended 5 star read.
 
 
 
Buy the Book
 
Amazon       Precipice Books
 

About the Author
 
 
 
 
ANTHONY J. RAPINO is a horror writer and sculptor. He’s also a teacher, and somehow that makes more sense than it should. He spends his days among people and things that demand shaping: Words, clay, or minds, it amounts to the same job. Though the minds are a hard sell, you can find his fiction and sculptures online.
 
Discover more on AnthonyJRapino.com or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and YouTube

 
Praise
 
 
"Anthony Rapino’s collection Greetings from Moon Hill is his best work so far. Don’t miss these fascinating and scary stories from a master of the craft." –Kate Jonez, Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author of Ceremony of Flies and Candy House
 
"Anthony Rapino’s work is uniquely infused with horror and a type of childlike innocence that makes the darkness that much darker. Greetings from Moon Hill invites you to a place that is both tragic and extraordinary. Once you enter, you’ll never be allowed to leave." – Mercedes M. Yardley, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Little Dead Red and Pretty Little Dead Girls
 
"Greetings from Moon Hill […] displays Rapino’s range, which is vast and varied, yet unique, and always dark as well as entertaining. With effortless grace and ease, and weaved like a seasoned professional, this collection proves that Rapino’s career is destined to be a long and fruitful one. I cannot think of a higher compliment." – Ben Eads, author of Cracked Sky
 
"A master at the art of tale-spinning, Anthony Rapino infuses a sense of creeping dread that immediately entrances and bewilders. To enter his world is to become unsettlingly accustomed to those tales that exist in the shadows." -- Mary Rajotte, Bloody Bookish
 
"Want thrilling, scary, moody stories that put you on edge and play with your emotions? Well if you’re looking for that and you’re looking for an experience rather than just entertainment, one author comes immediately to my mind and that author is Anthony Rapino." — Benjamin Kane Ethridge, award winning author of Black & Orange and Divine Scream
 
 
 
 
"In Greetings from Moon Hill, Anthony Rapino is at times a sorcerer, and other times a madman. His work is both that of a puppeteer and a sadist. He tends to detail much like a chef, as he parses imagery throughout his work morsel by morsel, which we ravenously consume, until we realize that with his fiction, actually it is us that are being consumed." – Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbags and Hashtag
 
"Anthony Rapino ... crafts charismatic & off-kilter characters with a wonderful small town mentality. And as small towns go, Moon Hill is draped in shadows and as quirky as they come. A definite Charles L. Grant glow illuminates between the pages of a Rapino yarn. It's a curio I've been missing since Grant's passing." -- Zachary Walters, The Eyes of Madness

 
 
 
 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Rare Breeds by Erik Hofstatter [4 stars]

 
 
 
From the Description
 
Aurel and Zora Schwartz are a married couple trying to make a modern relationship work. But an old secret is going to affect them in ways neither of them can imagine. And Zora’s daughter Livie may find herself caught in a trap built long before she was born. The ending will leave you stunned and speechless. Get ready to scream.
 
 
 
Publication Date: October 20, 2016
Publisher: Dark Silo Press
Publication Length: 74 pages
 
 
I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this anthology. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.
 
 
Rare Breeds is twisted, or maybe Erik Hofstatter is. Either way, with Rare Breeds he shows us what a good thing that is when it comes to horror. With a knack for writing characters that are all too realistic, sometimes irredeemably flawed yet still sympathetic, in situations that are intriguing and horrific. To say that his fast paced novella is disturbing would be an understatement. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going another secret was revealed, keeping me glued to the page right up to the shocking end. If you haven't read any of Erik Hofstatter's work this would be a great place to start. A highly recommended 4 star read.
 
 
 
Buy the Book
 
 
 
Amazon          Barnes & Noble
 
 
 
About the Author
 
 
 
 
Erik Hofstatter is a schlock horror writer and a member of the Horror Writers Association. Born in the wild lands of the Czech Republic, he roamed Europe before subsequently settling on English shores, studying creative writing at the London School of Journalism. He now dwells in Kent, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry. His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, Crystal Lake Publishing, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Tales to Terrify and Manor House Show. Other works include The Pariahs, Amaranthine and Other Stories, Katerina, Moribund Tales and Rare Breeds.
 
You can find him at erikhofstatter.net or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads
 
 
Praise
 
 
 
 
"Like Stephen King and Clive Barker, Hofstatter has a voice that is distinctive and highly engaging, and, like those maestros, is certain to become a major writer in the world of horror." ~ Starburst Magazine
 
"Erik Hofstatter certainly shows talent." ~ Scream Horror Magazine
 
 
"Hofstatter is that rare type of genre writer who’s willing to take a risk, a trait that works in his and his readers favor." ~ Shotgun Logic
 
 
"Hofstatter continues to impress with stories that pull no punches, and travel to some genuinely dark places." ~The Eloquent Page
 
 
"An audacious exercise in schlock-horror, gleefully twisted." ~ Gary McMahon, author of The Concrete Grove Trilogy
 
 
 
"Erik writes the kind of old school horror fiction that is rarely seen these days, making him a rare breed himself." ~ Paul Kane, author of The Rainbow Man
 
"This tale of mounting dread and unusual horror creeps in like a night fog and wraps itself around your throat, and when its icy tendrils recede, what is left behind will shock you." ~ Mary SanGiovanni, author of The Hollower Trilogy
 
 
 
 
 




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Haunting Investigation, A Chesterton Holte Mystery by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro [4.5 stars]

 
 
From the Description
 
Spring 1924. The world has clawed its way back from the ravages of WWI and the Spanish Flu pandemic. The 20’s are beginning to roar.
 
Poppy Thornton lives with her Aunt Jo and her excitable cat Maestro in upper-crust Philadelphia. Poppy is determined to make a name for herself as a serious crime reporter, but is stuck reporting on garden parties and ladies’ fashion. Then one day her editor assigns her to collect background information on the suicide of a prominent businessman. She soon discovers it was actually a murder… but her surprising source for this information is the ghost of a man killed alongside her father during the Great War. Even if she dared tell anyone, who would believe it?
 
Together Poppy and her "gentleman haunt" follow the trail of a string of murders. But as their investigation narrows in on an all-too-familiar suspect, Poppy becomes a target herself— and wonders if her ghost of a partner will appear in time to keep her from joining him in the after-life.
 
 
Publication Date: December 31, 2015
Publisher: Cleveland Writer's Press
Publication Length: 352 pages
 
 
I received a copy of this book for review purposes. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this anthology. I did not receive any form of compensation for my review.

Haunting Investigation is an enjoyable blend of historical fiction, cozy mystery, and ghost story. Poppy Thornton is a woman ahead of her time, trying to be taken seriously as a crime reporter instead of settling down and having babies like her family and friends want. She is courageous, determined, plucky, and haunted. Chesterton Holte was a spy during The Great War, now he haunts Poppy. Together they must solve the murders of several business men before Poppy gets thrown off the story or far worse. I love the attention to detail in both the setting and characters. It feels as if you're navigating the drawing rooms and dinner parties of 1920's society alongside Poppy as she investigates the murders. This story is full of twists and turns as well as moments of levity. I laughed several times as Poppy tried not to look crazy talking to the invisible Holte around other people. Not all the mysteries are solved by the end, setting us up for book two in what promises to be a fun and enchanting series. I highly recommend this 4.5 star read to fans of historical fiction, mysteries, or ghostly fun.
 
 
 
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About the Author
 
 
 
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has published over ninety novels and nonfiction works and more than seventy pieces of short fiction. She's known for her bestselling series of historical horror novels featuring the 4000 year-old vampire Count Saint-Germain. She's been awarded a literary knighthood by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, a Grand Master award by the World Horror Association, was the first woman enrolled as a Living Legend by the International Horror Guild, and has received two Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Horror Writers Association and from the World Fantasy Association in 2014. Yarbro lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with the Gang of Two (her irrepressible cats Butterscotch and Crumpet).
You can find her at chelseaquinnyarbro.net or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads
 

 
Praise
 
 
"A perfect blend of mystery, history, and haunting. I loved this. Can't wait for the next in the series." -- Adrienne Barbeau, actress, author of Love Bites and Make Me Dead

In 1916 France, two men are executed by the Germans. It is now 1924, and the ghost of Chesterton Holte haunts P.M. Thornton. Holte is there to assuage his guilt over the death of Thornton s father in 1916, who was killed with Holte over a misunderstanding. P.M. is Poppea Millicent Thornton who is determined to become an ace crime reporter, like her father, for the Philadelphia Clarion. Poppy has spent too much time covering ladies book clubs and flower shows; she is ready for the big time. VERDICT Better known for her historical vampire series featuring le Comte de Saint-Germain, Yarbro launches a new paranormal series that offers a richly detailed look at life for women as the Roaring Twenties takes off. Poppy is a strong character who desperately wants to honor her father and not succumb to her aunt s blandishments to marry and raise a family. A solid choice for fans of Alice Kimberly s Haunted Bookshop mysteries or Nancy Atherton s Aunt Dimity novels. -- Library Journal, December 2015
 
 
 
Set in 1924, this first in a paranormal mystery series from old pro Yarbro (best known for the Saint Germain historical vampire novels) is an agreeable and inventive yarn. Poppy Thornton, a young socialite, is trying desperately to break into crime reporting for the Philadelphia Clarion when she's approached by the titular Holte, the helpful ghost of a spy executed with Poppy's father during WWI. The murder of an upper-crust acquaintance of Poppy gives Poppy her chance. The death appears connected to other crimes committed at a level of society that the working-class police and reporters have difficulty exploring. As Poppy cleverly exploits her social connections, Holte interviews the spirits of several murder victims, hindered by the fact that ghosts tend to be forgetful. It's all good fun until the action breaks off abruptly at the end. Of course, a series may have continuing themes, but this book leaves far too many plot threads dangling. -- Publishers Weekly
 
"Haunting Investigation, set in the late 1920s in the city of Philadelphia, is a novel that displays Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's characteristic historical accuracy and attention to detail. Here, she combines the mystery and ghost story genres to tell a suspenseful tale of murder with an engaging heroine and a well-drawn cast of characters. This diverting and involving story will leave readers both satisfied and hungering for more stories featuring Poppy Thornton and Chesterton Holte." -- Pamela Sargent; award winning author, Earthseed and The Shore of Women
 
 
 
 
If you want to read one of the best mystery writers alive...if you want to have a few delightful hours of compulsive reading, then I suggest you read this haunting Chesterton Holte mystery by the World Fantasy Award Grandmaster Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Dammit, she's that good! -- JACK DANN award winning author, The Memory Cathedral
 
 
 
 
"Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's work has haunted me all my life, and Haunting Investigation shows why. CQY is a master of the imagination and the queen of storytelling. I can't wait for her next book!" --Nancy Holder -NYT Bestselling Author, Crimson Peak: The Official Movie Novelization
 
 
 
 
"This is the first time I have read Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's novels and this was a wonderful introduction and a treat to read." -- Veronica Lynn, Goodreads