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review 2018-07-18 21:00
DARKEST HOURS by Mike Thorn
Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn

On top of having this super cool cover, within these pages I discovered some of the best short, dark fiction I've read in a long while! Let's talk about it, shall we?

 

When I was young and couldn't afford bookstores, I often went to the library. (I still do, actually, because I love them, not because I have to.) I developed a love of horror back then, but our library's collection consisted of about two shelves. Once I read those, I started reading all of their anthologies and collections, in the hopes of finding new authors. In this way, I discovered Richard Matheson, Steve Rasnic Tem, Dennis Etchison, Ray Bradbury and other writers that I still love to this day. DARKEST HOURS brought me back to that time of discovery-horror and dark fiction in all of its glorious, different forms. Reading this collection made me feel like a kid again. 

 

This volume begins with the story HAIR. I knew right then that this book was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Coming unapologetically out of left field, Thorn hits you with this tale of unstoppable hair and then moves on to something out of right field, just to keep you off balance.

 

THE AUTEUR It's important to know who you're talking to when you ask for horror recommendations from people. You may find out a little too much about them otherwise, but by then it might be too late. Hair plays a role in this story too. (P.S. Always feel free to ask me for horror recs. You're safe with me. But employees from Verne's Video? Watch out for them!) 

 

CHOO CHOO This story felt like it came out of one of those early collections that I loved so much. With an ending so unexpected that it felt like I got hit by a train, this tale made me laugh out loud with glee.

 

LONG MAN I never thought anything could compete against the Long Walker in my imagination. (Thank you to Nick Cutter's Little Heaven for that.) But now, now we have Long Man. He's even scarier-trust me on this. 

 

ECONOMY THESE DAYS Here again is another story, completely different, completely unlike any other story here. How much physical abuse would you be willing to take to pay your bills? What would that abusive job look like? Of what would a promotion consist? This tale proposes answers to all of those things and oddly, I don't think it's that far out of the realm of possibility. 

 

SABBATICAL If I hadn't felt the spirit of Stephen King in this story, the main character's names of Thad and Gage would've put me in mind of him anyway. I cannotdescribe this story, but it was just so much fun it made me want to do some kind of dance-the dance of my dark fiction people. The dance is delightful and it's only brought on by the best and most twisted of tales. This is one of them. 

 

Stars will collapse and new lights will prick through the sky,

and screaming will not help. 

 

SCHLUTER The most disturbing story I've ever read was written by Michael Blumlein who is a doctor. (Trust me when I say I have read some VERY disturbing stories.) I found it disturbing because in some universe it could happen. SCHLUTER has now taken THE MOST DISTURBING STORY EVER medal. What that medal would look like, I don't want to know, but Mike Thorn owns it. Take this one little harmless sentence for instance:

 

 His mind screamed, but his sutured lips twitched noiselessly.

 

If that sentence doesn't bother you, okay then, to each his own. However, if that sentence makes you want to run out and buy this book, heed your feelings, man! You won't be disappointed.

 

There are a few themes that became apparent throughout this book, academia being the one that surprised me the most, but also: hair. I don't remember ever reading a collection where simple hair is used in such a menacing, disgusting, or just mentioned in passing but still in a creepy-as-hell- kind of way. 

 

 

Okay then-to sum up: disturbing tales? Check! A wide-ranging variety of stories? Check!

Extremely well written? Check! It almost seems like this collection was written with me in mind-it was so perfect for me that I don't even know what else to say. Well, other than this: I think Mike Thorn is an author to watch. I think he's going to do great things in the world of horror and dark fiction, and I for one, will be there to watch it. Will you?

 

My highest recommendation. Period. Get a copy here: DARKEST HOURS

 

*I was provided an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-07-04 15:10
BROKEN ON THE INSIDE by Phil Sloman
Broken on the Inside - Phil Sloman

 

BROKEN ON THE INSIDE is not only the title, but also the theme of this book. Containing 5 short tales, each featuring a person in distress, I couldn't help but feel for them all.

 

 

BROKEN ON THE INSIDE- the title story, starred a woman who's had enough of her mother. So much so that it's making her physically sick. When a doctor tells her he can cure her with nanotechnology she jumps on the chance. But just like her mother said, it wasn't all that easy. (Why are mothers always right? It's enough to drive one crazy.)

 

 

DISCOMFORT FOOD This tale is about another young woman, this one working at a fast food burger joint. One night her manager goes a little too far in his harassment of her and she is forced to react. Never again will dinner time be the same.

 

THE MAN WHO FED THE FOXES is a sad narrative about a lonely man who has let his beautiful garden go to pot. When a group of foxes take up living in his abandoned paradise, he begins to feed them a special diet, and they bring him unusual gifts in return.

 

THERE WAS AN OLD MAN In this tale John Hinklow is a gentlemen rather obsessed with having swallowed a fly. Rightfully so, it turns out.

 

VIRTUALLY FAMOUS was a weird little story about a man named Chet who became addicted to a game-The Game. In it, players can opt to be Chet, (the star), , or to be other people in the story-line. But what happens when the main player begins playing himself? In the end it becomes difficult to determine who was the real Chet and which was the Chet in the game. Whether it be gaming or drugs, addictions are dangerous.

 

These stories were all heavy hitters and combined, make up this powerful narrative as a whole. I enjoyed it as entertaining storytelling on one level, but it also caused me to think deeply about life as we know it and how we go about living that life. Every single person in this book had problems-addictions and obsessions. They were broken on the inside. This led me to thinking about the people I know and even myself. Aren't we all BROKEN ON THE INSIDE in one way or another?

 

Highly recommended for fans of extremely well written dark fiction!

 

Get your copy here: BROKEN ON THE INSIDE

 

*I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-05-22 21:20
Tiger Striped (Shifters Unbound #11.5) by Jennifer Ashley
Tiger Striped - Jennifer Ashley

Tiger Striped - Jennifer Ashley 

 

I love coming back to this world! Tiger and Carly had their own full-length novel in Tiger Magic and this is just a snippet of what life has been like for Tiger. When Tiger receives a distress call from heaven-knows-where, he and Carly (and the always fun Connor Morrisey) rush to help. 
In just a few pages we get to enjoy Carly and Tiger’s strong love bond at work, a high-speed chase, human-shifter interaction, and of course the promise of more to come. And that twist at the end was just perfect! I totally recommend it whether you’re new to the series or a long-time fan.

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review 2018-05-20 15:46
PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER by Fredric Brown
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake,Fredric Brown

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHER is a collection of mystery stories from the detective pulps. Most of these tales were originally written back in the 1940's. What fun!

 

All of these stories have the possibility of being supernatural tales, but all end up having a perfectly reasonable explanation. What's fun is the getting to the explanation! I enjoyed every single tale here, but I think my favorites were:

 

TWICE KILLED CORPSE- which had a nice little twist as well as a hero that wanted to be a detective.

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER- which had a lead character that reminded me of Jimmy Olsen. (I'm showing my age here!)

 

DEATH IS A WHITE RABBIT- which was a strange little tale with a remote hint of Dr. Moreau and his experiments. These things never go well.

 

This book was a boatload of fun and reminded me of my pre-teen and early teen years when I read these types of collections. The old Ellery Queen's and Alfred Hitchcock's were always a source of entertainment, but somehow I missed Frederic Brown back then. With this collection and NIGHTMARES AND GEEZENSTACKS, (which I listened to last year), Mr. Brown has made made my list of memorable and witty short story writers. I'll be on the lookout for anything else of his I can get my hands on.

 

*I received this book as a gift from my friend Tigus, at Booklikes, with no strings attached. Thank you once again, sir! *

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review 2018-05-15 20:53
Stealing the Duke's Heart by Shana Galen
Stealing the Duke's Heart - Shana Galen

Stealing the Duke's Heart - Shana Galen 

 

**These novellas were previously published in the anthologies The Dukes of Vauxhall and How to Find a Duke in Ten Days.**

 

How to Steal a Duke 
Dominik and Rosalyn make one of my favorite couples ever. She was graceful, playful, and brave. He was haughty, proper, and much to his chagrin, caring. Together they are the perfect pair. With a hint at gothic, and although it’s only a novella, this story packs plenty: romance, nail-biting situations, and an unexpected twist. It was a nice story that I wish would have been longer! 

Taken by the Duke 
When Henry is attacked by a band of ruffians, the last thing he expected was to come reacquainted with a long lost love. Kate has changed so much since he last saw her however he knows that deep inside she’s still the same girl he knew all those years ago. There were sparks flying for these two from the start. I loved that it’s not your typical “duke” and there was “no damsel in distress.” I thought the ending was kind of abrupt but it was still an enjoyable read. 

Both stories were fun, enjoyable, and quick reads. If you’re looking for a read to pass your morning, this is the one to get. 

~ I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher. ~

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