#OWSCyCon2019 Cover Wars – Please Vote! #YA #scifi #horror

Happy Friday!  I’m participating in OWS CyCon over the next few days, and both of my book covers are battling it out in Cover Wars – Sarah under horror/thriller, and The Gemini Connection under sci-fi.

I could use your help, and this is me begging for votes – if you have a couple of minutes, please vote at the following links:

Vote for Sarah HERE.

Vote for The Gemini Connection HERE.

Fair warning – the bracket for sci-fi has been kind of wonky in the mornings, but seems to work in the afternoon.

Don’t forget to register for the 22 book and Amazon gift card giveaway HERE!

Thanks so much – have a great weekend, and don’t forget to vote tomorrow, also!

More Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts #bookreview #shortstories #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Do you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden? Or know the real truth about what lurks inside every mobile phone? Would you steal items from a blind person, or send your neighbours on a time travelling adventure fraught with danger and menace to save the human race from a bug? How about staying in a sleepy village where many murders have taken place or coming to the aid of royalty while out shopping? 

These are just some of the subjects covered in the second collection of short stories and flash fiction from author and writer, Hugh W. Roberts. 

‘More Glimpses’ gives the reader an opportunity to take a peek into the lives of normal, everyday people whose lives are all on a path full of twists, turns and unexpected endings. However, it’s not only about the humans; nothing escapes the extraordinary journeys Hugh has planned for you. If you are a lover of shows such as ‘Black Mirror’ or ‘The Twilight Zone’ then you’re in for another exciting trip in this second collection from Hugh. Come and meet the characters who had no idea their lives were about to be turned upside-down. Enjoy the ride! 

What an eclectic collection of short stories!  There’s something for everyone – horror, comedy, science fiction, mystery, paranormal.  Some are a scant few paragraphs, while others span several pages.  My reactions to these stories ran the gamut – laughter, shock, sadness, surprise.  The author has quite an imagination, and uses human nature and tendencies and our dependence on modern technology in clever ways.

All are a delight to read, but some that stuck with me are The Tunnel – such an unexpected ending, and I laughed out loud; Floral Hall – so sweet and melancholy; The Right Choice – words can have different, and sometimes very literal, meanings; The Hole – karma occasionally delivers in the most divine ways; and Easter Bunny Cake – I’ll never look at carrot cake the same way again.

Whatever your preferred genre, you’ll find it in this compilation of chilling, humorous, and unpredictable tales.

I received a copy of this novel from the author through Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The Devouring Gray (The Devouring Gray #1) by Christine Lynn Herman #bookreview #YA #fantasy

On the edge of town a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening…

Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

When I saw the cover of this novel, I wanted to read it without even seeing the description.  Comp titles like The Raven Cycle and Stranger Things are the equivalent of leaving a trail of chocolate to lure me in.

What a dark, atmospheric story this is, with spine-tingling moments, complex, flawed, fully-realized characters, and layered secrets intermingled with lies.  Small towns always hold the most secrets and lies.  Occasionally when I read, I’m skimming the pages and getting the gist of the story.  With this book, I was completely absorbed from page one, and read every single captivating word.

These characters – oof.  Complicated relationships, a diverse cast, and a few different POVs.  All of them are compelling, but with a tragic, mysterious past, Isaac is the character that most intrigued me, and it looks like more about his past will be revealed in the next book.

The Devouring Gray is an enticing blend of YA fantasy and horror.  It’s not a fast-paced story, but more of a slow burn – and what a tantalizing burn it is, with all those secrets and lies slowly coming to light.  The second book in this duology will be on my wishlist for next year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

Call Drops by John F. Leonard #BookReview #shortstory #RBRT #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

Vincent likes nothing more than rootling round second-hand shops in search of the interesting and unusual. Items that are lost and forgotten. 
Why not? He needs the diversion. Time on his hands and money to burn. His life is affluent and empty. Little on the horizon and memories tinged bittersweet. 
That’s all about to change. He’s about to find something that is perhaps better left unfound. 

CALL DROPS is a darkly swirling mix of horror and mystery that will stay with you long after the reading is done. It’ll maybe make you think twice about impulse buying, those moments when you simply must have something, even though you don’t need it. 
It might cause you to look again at the apparently mundane and everyday …and possibly, just possibly, wonder at what twisted marvels lurk within your mobile phone. 

Call Drops is a short (ish) horror story, the first in a series of sinister tales from the Dead Boxes Archive. 
Some objects are scary things. Dead Boxes definitely fall into that category. 
They can be easily overlooked. They’re ordinary on the surface. At first glance anyway. 
If you look a little closer, you’ll see something unique. 
You could have one and not know it. 
Be careful. 
They hold miracle and mystery. Horror and salvation. 
None are the same. Except in one regard. 
You don’t need one. 
You might think you do, but you really don’t. 
Believe me. 

A Short Horror Story 
From the Dead Boxes Archive.

This is one grim, twisty, short story that filled this horror fan’s heart with glee.  It’s been a while since I’ve read short stories, and I’d forgotten what a pleasure it can be to immediately get down to the business of storytelling  – and this author does it well.  He takes the reader by the hand and gradually reveals Vincent’s life, both in present day and through flashbacks.  All the while, you just know something sinister might be waiting around the corner.  And trust me, it is – you won’t be disappointed.

Don’t expect blood and gore horror – this is more about the dark side of human nature, and what people are capable of doing to each other.  The only negative for me, and this is my personal preference, is the cover – if I saw this book on the shelf, it isn’t something that would immediately grab my attention.  But the contents inside surely did.  Call Drops has a Twilight Zone/Black Mirror feel, and can easily be read in one sitting.

I received a copy of this book from the author through Rosie’s Book Review Team.

 

Inspection by Josh Malerman #bookreview #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world.

J is one of only twenty-six students, all of whom think of the school’s enigmatic founder as their father. J’s peers are the only family he has ever had. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics, and their life at the school is all they know—and all they are allowed to know.

But J suspects that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions. What is the real purpose of this place? Why can the students never leave? And what secrets is their father hiding from them?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.

This is my third Malerman book, and I’ve decided his books should come with a guarantee – the plot will be entirely original, and unlike anything you’ve read.

It’s a fascinating premise – raise children from infancy, seclude them from the outside world, educate them at an advanced rate, and control everything in their lives to include what they wear, read, eat, and do in their leisure time.  All while making sure they’re unaware of the opposite sex.  You can’t deny it’s thought-provoking, and would certainly inspire some fascinating book club discussions.  But what happens when the children learn they’ve been lied to their entire lives?  Especially considering their advanced education, maturity, and thought processes?

Even though the childrens’ world is limited, learning it takes a bit of time – it’s bizarre on one level, but practical on another.  Malerman elevates common terminology to sinister levels – ‘the Corner’ and ‘spoiled rotten’ – and the inspections are just downright creepy and disturbing.

D.A.D. and M.O.M. are psychologically demented and unbelievably narcissistic, and the reader is given insight as to how this inhumane experiment came to be.  Some of their scenes are cringe-worthy and profoundly unsettling.

Inspection is more of a slow burn horror novel, then jumps into light speed near the end – and this is an ending you don’t want to miss.  This novel is scheduled for publication April 23rd, 2019.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

Craven Manor by Darcy Coates #bookreview #horror

Daniel is desperate for a job. When someone slides a note under his door offering him the groundskeeper’s position at an old estate, it seems too good to be true.

Alarm bells start ringing when he arrives at Craven Manor. The mansion’s front door hangs open, and leaves and cobwebs coat the marble foyer. It’s clear no one has lived there in a long time.

But an envelope waits for him inside the doorway. It contains money, and promises more.

Daniel is desperate. Against his better judgement, he moves into the groundskeeper’s cottage behind the crypt. He’s determined to ignore the strange occurrences that plague the estate.

But when a candle flickers to life in the abandoned tower window, Daniel realises Craven Manor is hiding a terrible secret… one that threatens to bury him with it.

I’ve seen Darcy Coates books all over Amazon and Goodreads, and her eerie covers always catch my eye, but I’d never read any of her work.  After Craven Manor was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in the horror category, I knew it was time to change that.

My heart immediately went out to Daniel.  He’s down on his luck, with barely a penny to his name, but is so generous to others.  Maybe he’s a bit naive, but I awarded him bonus points for being an animal lover.  This author definitely knows how to set a tense, haunting scene – the imagery is wonderfully vivid, and the neglected grounds of the manor are easy to visualize.

The final battle, although furious, seems to stretch on for bit, but it leads to a satisfying ending.  I also found the relationship between Daniel and his cousin, Kyle, kind of weird, and never really understood it.

Overall, I enjoyed Craven Manor, and I’m sure it won’t be the last book I read by this author.

Dark Visions: an anthology of 34 horror stories #bookreview #horror #TuesdayBookBlog

From the creators of the #1 bestseller The Box Under The Bed horror anthology comes Dark Visions, 34 horror stories from 27 authors. Tag along on a con man’s New Orleans vacation where he gets more than he bargained for from a mysterious voodoo shop. A collection of family photos reveals an eerie secret about a beloved grandmother’s true nature. A child’s horrifying memories haunt her into adulthood. A new camp counselor learns that the camp has secrets she might not live to reveal. Edited and compiled by Amazon bestselling author Dan Alatorre, this anthology of horror brings together the minds and pens of more than two dozen amazing authors. Dark Visions will take you into the realm of the eerie and macabre, with thrills and chills from: bestselling author Dan Alatorre (The Navigators) bestselling author Jenifer Ruff (Everett), bestselling author Allison Maruska (The Fourth Descendant), bestselling author J. A. Allen, award-winning author MD Walker, award-winning author Juliet Nubel, award-winning author Dabney Farmer, award-winning author Sharon E. Cathcart, award-winning author Heather Kindt, award-winning author Bonnie Lyons, award-winning author Sharon Connell, award-winning author Geoff LePard, award-winning author Anne Marie Andrus, award-winning author Christine Valentor, award-winning author BA Helberg, Ernesto San Giacomo, Alana Turner, Nick Vossen, award-winning author Robbie Cheadle, Betty Valentine, award-winning author Frank Parker, award-winning author Bonnie Lyons, award-winning author Lori Micken, Chuck Jackson, Ellen Best, Victoria Clapton, Perfect for Halloween or any time, these stories will make you think twice before spending the night alone, planting a tree in your garden, or even visiting your mother. Consider yourselves warned. 

If you’re looking for quick reads to enjoy during a break in your day, Dark Visions offers some eerie, creepy, and unsettling short stories that are perfect for this time of year.  Although I can’t review each individually, I’ll mention those I was still thinking about days after finishing.

If you’re a parent, The Storm by J.A. Allen will rip your heart out.  Pictures showing people who were absent when the picture was taken is disturbing and haunting – which is why The Stranger by Allison Maruska is a freaky little tale.  The Willow Tree by Robbie Cheadle is dark and twisted, but what makes it even more frightening is that it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.  It’s easy to imagine hearing about something like this in the news.

Dark Visions offers a nice variety of stories that may have you looking over your shoulder and double-checking the locks on your doors.

I received an ARC from one of the authors.