Reaper: A Collection of Stories

Reaper

Reviewed by Jetana Mutter

*This book was provided for an honest review

Cultures all around the world know it; we all try to run from it, most are afraid of it. There are many names known around the world, but there is only one that you can’t escape. Angel of Death, Harbinger of Doom, Thanatos. No matter the name, it all comes back to one… the Grim Reaper. There has always been a certain morbid sense of curiosity about death throughout human history. Why did this person die and that one live? What would happen when you are exposed to a virus that tears its way through the host and you’re knocking on Death’s doorstep? How does losing a loved one affect us? What happens to the soul when the body dies? These are all questions that man have sought answers to; many answers have been found while others are still a best guess at what happens. When you hear the name Grim Reaper, you tend to think about the commercialized version of what Death has been portrayed as- a giant skeleton dressed in a long black robe holding a scythe that barely touches you and your mortal life is done. But what if death isn’t everything that we’ve been told?

Reaper is a collection of short stories that center on death. We get a refreshing look at what death could actually look like in one story and we are enraged and seek vengeance in another. These stories are crafted in such a way that you are captivated from the get go. I cried when every parent’s worst nightmare is realized- it hit me hard as a mom of a current four year old… really, it should get to anyone that has a heart. I wanted the vengeance for a young woman against her kidnapper. I felt a young man’s despair and anguish as his family is torn away from him. Briana has crafted stories that grab your attention from the start and weaves you into the pages. You are able to experience the greatest joy of being a reader and actually envision yourself in these situations, feeling everything that the characters feel. This is the first I have read from Briana but I look forward to seeing what she has to offer in the future.

Sparks: An Electric Anthology

Sparks

Reviewed by Demetrius Svette

*This book was provided for an honest review

This anthology was put together to help raise money for a very helpful cause, and it’s something that is close to the hearts of many. It intrigued me to see that 100% of the profits of all sales of this anthology go to help with resources for Autism. Though this book was made with absolutely no profits for the authors themselves in mind, the collection of short stories inside are not compromised (meaning that the authors didn’t gyp anyone on the quality of the stories). The pages are filled with some of the craziest, wildest and most detailed stories that I have read inside of an anthology. Some were funny, some were shocking and some can be scary- depending on the person reading it. Each turn of the page, it felt like my hands were being shocked and the pulse of the lightning strikes were filling my eyes. I commend Cash and Dehaney for bringing a great group of authors together for an awesome cause.

Sparks is compiled of fifteen authors that take you on an epic journey through horror, sci-fi, fantasy and the bizarre. There is a little something for everyone. I did not know what to expect when I first started reading Sparks. An incredible experience that started with death and ended with more, this book features Pippa Bailey (hers was one of my favorite stories), David Court, Mark Cassel, Ash Hartwell and many more; including the editors, Matthew Cash and Em Dehaney. Throughout history, we have thought about electric shock and thought Tesla and Ben Franklin mostly but never a book- until now. Do you dare to open Sparks and be shocked or even taken over by the electricity that flows inside? I implore you please do, as you will feel every pulse of the electric rod go through your body.

Are you ready for the horrific tales that lay inside? Are you ready to cut your phone off after you finish with this collection? Remember to check your attics and basements; be sure to cut off all the lights, go-ahead and turn off all your electrical products while you’re at it. Better yet, just rip the cords out of the wall… you will thank me later. From the start, with a short that is not kind and gets straight to the point, you will welcome all the stories inside that do not shy away from horrific and deathly tales of electricity. Just remember that you have been warned and if you follow my directions, you will be safe. Only read this when you are alone and in the daylight with clear skies around. The risks are greater if you read during a storm when you decide to read this. I extend a round of terrifying applause to Burdizzo Books for giving us one of the best anthologies of the year.

Snowman Amuck

Snowman Amuck

Reviewed by Jetana Mutter

*This book was provided for an honest review

Snowman Amuck by Cindy Samul is a great children’s book that shows how active a child’s imagination can be… or could it be more to it than that? In this story, we follow the main character, Jack, who is at home on a Friday night with his older sister while his parents are out for the night. As he is about to fall asleep, Jack remembers that he hasn’t put his sled away like his parents told him to- so he gets dressed and goes outside to put it where it belongs. While he is outside, he hears the back door slam shut; when he tries to open it, he finds himself locked out. Thinking that it is Ally (his sister), Jack bangs on the door to get her attention but she doesn’t answer. He climbs a tree to get to her window, where he sees her sitting at her desk with headphones on… but she’s not alone. A scary snowman is behind her. Jack gets Ally’s attention but when the two of them look, there’s no sign of the snowman in the house. Convinced that Jack is playing a trick, Ally doesn’t believe him and goes back to what she was doing. Will Jack be able to find the mysterious snowman roaming the house? Will he be able to convince Ally of the snowman’s existence before he can get the kids in the house? Pick up a copy of Snowman Amuck today for an enjoyable read with the kids… just in time for winter!

Snowman Amuck was written and illustrated by Cindy Samul. The illustrations are very colorful to draw kids’ attention but also muted to fit with the winter setting. It looks like a comic book in the way it is laid out and my kids absolutely love it! I have a 3 and a 4 year old, so getting both of them to sit and look at the same book from beginning to end is a challenge sometimes but we didn’t have any issues with that when we read Snowman Amuck. This is the first story by Cindy that we have read, although it surely won’t be the last. My kids and I will look forward to seeing what adventures Samul’s characters go on- both past and future!

The Slutty Bride

The Slutty Bride

Reviewed by Demetrius Svette

*This book was provided for an honest review

Through life, we go through challenging events and some of the most incredible moments of our lives- a typical wedding day, for example; the most nervous event to happen in anyone’s life. The flowers have to be right; the ceremony has to be perfect- at least if the bride is a bridezilla. Slutty Bride by Ed Barr talks about the dark shadows that most do not venture into during a wedding scene. Join the tale of Caitlyn and David, as the events turn worse around every corner in the best event of David’s life. Ready to see what a Slutty Bride Caitlyn can be? Then you need to check this out. It is one of the best shorts I have read this year- there is violence, sex and blood all mixed in to one. Who can you trust is the main question in this short? Can you bear to see what will happen in Slutty Bride? Then go and see how hot it gets.

This is not the first I have read from Ed Barr; he is incredibly gifted at taking horror and mixing it well with erotica. I typically do not like reading erotica in general but when it comes to Barr, I am all over it. He has a knack for making things stick in your mind and never being unseen after you read the in depth detail of his scenes that will surely disturb you in every way. Barr will always fascinate me, looking over the brink of the threshold into other sides of horror. He is quite a talented writer and I will always be looking forward to more- waiting to fill my bookshelves with his books.

Spoiled

Spoiled

Reviewed by Jetana Mutter

*This book was provided for an honest review

Those with any life experience knows that if you have wealth, then you have a sense of entitlement about your personality- especially if you grew up being wealthy. To those where money is no object, it is amazing what and who will go your way; everyone and everything have their price, if you are willing to pay it. With that sense of entitlement comes the thinking that ‘I am better than everyone’ and ‘I want it, give it to me!’ A normal person, when they don’t get what they want, they are bummed out about it but keep going. What happens when a Spoiled woman- or girl if you wish- doesn’t get what she wants though? Most of the time, it’s just a huge temper tantrum (almost as if you are watching an overgrown toddler cry about not getting their way) and that is it. Sometimes though, it can be enough for a person to snap.

In Spoiled by Elizabeth Cash and Erin Lee, our main characters are Cora and Micha. Cora is a woman from wealth; she owns her business with her brother Derek, and the two of them built their financial empire from the ground up- without Mommy and Daddy’s help. Micha, or Michael as those outside of work know him, grew up in a modest house and found his way into finances as a way to help his parents out. Micha has worked his way from lowly intern at Graham’s Incorporated to a big investment analyst and along the way has put himself onto Cora’s radar. Cora knows by looking at Micha that she wants him, bad, and will stop at nothing to get him- even if the sentiment isn’t returned. How will Cora react to someone turning her down? What will Micha do when Cora doesn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer? Pick up a copy of Spoiled today and find out for yourself!

This is the first collaboration between Cash and Lee that I have read- having read their works separately- and the way in which this was written is flawless. I’m always a little nervous to read collaborations between authors because there are times that the story doesn’t flow like it should since you have two different people bringing their own perspectives into the story line. In Spoiled, the story flows seamlessly between the characters, tipping a hat to both Cash and Lee for being able to write such expressive characters without making it feel like you are just reading two different parts to the same book. This book leaves you on one hell of a cliffhanger, when I reached the end I screamed out ‘What the…’ so I do hope that these two great women have plans for a sequel, just so that I can rest knowing what happens to Cora and Micha in the end. Jealousy is a dangerous thing, combining it with the intentions of a spoiled brat and you have the grand story that is left off as abrupt as…

The Seventh Seed

The Seventh Seed

Reviewed by Jetana Mutter

*This book was provided for an honest review

When you hear ‘conspiracy theories’, people typically tend to think of the crazy people who like to wear tin foil hats that spew out all kinds of things. “Big brother is watching you”, “Aliens do exist” or “Big pharmaceutical companies have the law in their pocket”, things of that nature. What if, though, there was more to those so-called ‘conspiracy theories’ than meets the eye? What would you do if you found yourself inside of a massive public cover-up to keep the public from knowing who did what? I’m not a stranger to conspiracy theories, my husband loves them, and over time I have seen some wild ones; however, the story in The Seventh Seed by Allison Maruska provides the ultimate government and big pharmaceutical company working together cover-up.

The Seventh Seed is a standalone sequel to The Fourth Descendant, and in this book we follow Javier, who has gained some knowledge that LifeFarm- an all in one pharmaceutical and agricultural company- desperately wants to keep hidden from the public’s eyes. He has discovered a new type of insects and bugs that are pesticide resistant; but, it’s what they have evolved into that has causes for concern. The new superbugs are carriers of a virus that has no vaccine available. Javier tries to do the right thing in informing someone but it goes the opposite of how he envisioned it. Now he is being held captive and awaiting to be transported to a holding facility. After an incredible escape, he now has to find his way to a lab to look at the specimen’s that he has to create a vaccine. Along the way he meets some unlikely allies. What will happen to Javier and the Allies? Will the vaccine be the key to bringing down the corruption… will the vaccine even work? Pick up a copy of The Seventh Seed by Allison Maruska today, and find out for yourselves!

The Seventh Seed is the first book that I have read from Maruska, but it will not be the last. When I first started reading this book, I had no idea that this was a sequel because it read very well as a standalone. The story line is perfect, in my opinion, because conspiracy theories are tough to write in a convincing way- but Allison nailed it. It had the perfect balance of theory, people who question what they’re told and those who wish to do something about it. Timing is everything when it comes to taking down a big company like LifeFarm, one that has the government in their pocket; but the catalyst comes from an unlikely source, throwing long awaited plans into action that could possibly change the way things are, forever. I look forward to going back to read the first book, to find out where the chain of events in The Seventh Seed started at.

Versus

Versus

Reviewed by Demetrius Svette

*This book was provided for an honest review

During my lifetime, there have been many acts of violence in the United States that I will truly never forget; but they have only occurred through the media’s point of view as I have not witnessed most of them in person. Shootings happen everywhere- be it at a school, a movie theatre or even at a hotel. Many acts of violence are a trigger for most people so they will not appreciate the magnitude of the imagination from an author or movie director. I very rarely look to the news or media to learn from the heinous acts of violence to teach myself (and in the future, my kids) the different kinds of violence that exist in a society that has been corrupted. The media has proven that they can manipulate situations, so you can’t trust in first glance at what you’re being told. Allow me to tell you what I think about this book where an incredible and truthful imagination that is raw from beginning to end lies. I do have to tell you that this will disturb you- so if you are weak minded, please just turn away now. Alternatively, you can fully open your mind to the potential wrapped in the pages of these four chapters of terror that is Versus by Andrew MacKay.

Versus is exactly what it sounds like. From the title, you expect the inside to be a world of unfortunate events that will transpire. It will involve the innocent and the not so innocent in the society of Chrome Junction. Through the eyes of the media, the battle between a news reporter and an anchor will occur when the news reporter will stop at nothing to be front and center to rise to fame. Versus will cover different types of turmoil in the U.K., and for the first time, it seems that all hell has just broke loose. This book gives you two unique points of view- those of Freddie and Daryl. Freddie is a student from Chrome Junction Academy who has his faith in Allah challenged. Daryl is a student that never wants people to forget who he is. The two main characters will transpire their ways through a God like atmosphere in this disturbing and chilling story of how the media will do anything to corrupt your mind through their actions in this epic thriller. From the mind of the brave and bold Andrew MacKay, you will be challenged throughout Versus about the real world we live in today. This story is not set in a humorous mind frame- it is a chilling start with a disturbing ending. Step into the world of media as you step in the minds of a psychopath who wants to become a God and one who aims to be the soldier of his own God to diminish the non-believers.

This story steps into boundaries that most will never touch or write about. During my research of works of school shooting fictions, I have found that there are very few in the world. Some think it is a subject better left alone. MacKay, I praise you for taking on these taboos and stepping into the spotlight with touchy subjects; many will hate you for it and many will love you for it. I love that Mackay brought his mind outside of the box. Many would take thriller or horror stories and develop happiness somewhere into the disturbed world they create, whereas MacKay started with disturbing and ended in terror- something that you do not find very much. In the first chapter of this story, I yelled aloud as hard as I could. How many terror events can you fit in a story? Apparently, a lot can happen in works of fiction. Andrew makes me scream and squirm while I read his books because he takes real life events that release monsters into the streets and tears the floor up while the walls tremble down, all without a break for you to catch your breath from all the terror that unfolds within his imagination.

Andrew MacKay is unique in every way I can imagine- he constantly pushes the walls of his thinking box, tearing them down as he watches them explode to give him his creative style of writing. He develops the details and the minds of these characters to make you feel like you have known them for years. You feel their pain and misery. The events that occur in this story will make you so angry in parts that your veins in the top of your head are bulging out; but you end up respecting him as you close his story of madness. You learn things from his writing that will make you think about the world we live in and the events that surround us. MacKay will continue to stretch the bounds of imagination through his fiction as he bends the tape that says, “DO NOT CROSS” and shreds it out of his way. Andrew MacKay has no rules and will not stop because it isn’t something that people talk about, and this is why I will continue to read his works. I urge everyone to read this book as this is one of his best to show the style of MacKay.

Nineveh’s Child

Nineveh's Child

Reviewed by Jetana Mutter

*This book was provided for an honest review

What is it about the end-of-the-world scenarios that grab our attention? For me, I think it’s to see that even under the direst of circumstances, life goes on; but it’s how life goes on that makes it interesting. There’s all different kinds of ways that you can imagine the world ending: an asteroid hits Earth, major disasters change the face of the world and human kind has no other option but to flow along with it, and my favorite- nuclear war. Ever since the Cold War in the 1960s, nuclear war has always been in the back of everyone’s minds and what would happen if there was another World War that involved nukes. How would that change the course of human history? Could the human race survive and if we could, what would life be like? Nineveh’s Child gives us a unique perspective on those questions.

Nineveh’s Child follows Dinah, a young girl who lives on the surface helping tend to a farm with Karl, Uma and Rosalyn. Dinah didn’t always live on the surface though- she comes from Nineveh, an underground development that was originally established when nuclear war was waged on the surface, making survival difficult. She always planned to go back to Nineveh for her brother, Ruben. When the village Dinah lives in is attacked and farms are set on fire, she is the only one in the house to escape and must survive on her own as she tries to make her way back to find Ruben. Along her travels, she meets some companions who inadvertently bring the very people she’s looking to avoid, who in turn take her prisoner. Dinah escapes with some help, and she decides that she’s going to go looking for these people to see if what she thought she saw is true- Ruben is now their ringleader. Will Dinah make it to Nineveh and be able to save her brother? Does Nineveh hold a more sinister plan than she remembers? Pick up a copy of Nineveh’s Child today and find out!

Gerhard Gehrke brings a different approach to the dystopian genre with the first book in his series, complete with monsters, giant man-eating birds, and mad scientists. This book is a great read if you like dystopian worlds. The sequel, The Tin Bride, is sure to continue the strange but brilliant world that Gehrke has given us and I look forward to reading it!

Pure Dark Vol. 3

Pure Dark Vol. 3

Reviewed by Demetrius Svette

*This book was provided for an honest review

WARNING!!! IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE FIRST OR SECOND VOLUME OF PURE DARK. TURN AROUND AND READ THEM!!! THIS WILL SPOIL THE FUN STORY IT HOLDS WITHIN THE THREE VOLUMES!!! NOW AGAIN, I WARN YOU THIS BOOK WILL LEAVE YOUR BRAIN WITH A SLIGHT HEMORRHAGE FROM THE TALES AND HORROR THAT LIES WITHIN! THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH OR THE WEAK!

So far, from the first and second volumes of the epic ride through Pure Dark, we have encountered many mind-altering events that we will never forget. As I have said before, there is nothing in this world like the Pure Dark series; it is the ultimate new generation of Tales from the Crypt. The chaotic nature of each Pure Dark volume are all intertwined with the next, so to understand the turmoil of events that concludes with the end of this book, it is very important that you read this series from the first book. One day I happened to be standing around when I overheard someone saying that nothing creeps them out any more- that everything is paranormal this and paranormal that. I couldn’t help but turn around immediately and asked if they wanted something that will make them seize and turn their brain into mush; and if, by chance you happen to survive, you get a t-shirt. Of course, the person turned around and said yes. I told them to go online and get a copy of Pure Dark Vol. 1 by Andrew MacKay today, then get the second one when they finish as MacKay offers you the ultimate challenge for both your stomach and your mind.

Welcome again to the Pure Dark! In vol. 3, a lot happens that has your brain scrambling around trying to figure out what the hell you have just read- it is not a bad thing at all, as almost every chapter had me screaming ‘what in the hell is that’ or ‘what is going on here,’ (classic traits for Andrew MacKay.) Although this one did not make my stomach turn like the others, there is still plenty of MacKay’s writing that will make you scrunch your face and squirm in disgust. The story gets a bit thicker and darker in this volume, from the first chapter until the end. You will have your jaw on the floor and trying to poke your fingers in your brain to understand what exactly is happening. Volume 1 is my favorite so far but this one was a close second by a lobster’s claw. Who am I kidding? The whole series is great! If you are tempted to read the Pure Dark, I assure you that your dreams will never be the same again. Through the three volumes that I have read, I have had enough crazy dreams influenced by MacKay’s stories that it isn’t even funny. The vivid details that he lays out before you is fantastic. Join the Pure Dark and you may never go back to your normal self- that I assure you.

Andrew MacKay, you magnificent creator of nightmares, I always salute you. Yes, you are the unholy master of vivid nightmares in the world we live in today. You bring me to my knees to bow down to you every time I read one of your volumes. It brings me much joy to read something so disturbing, sickening and straight from the dark itself where anything can happen. This is why I will always think of you as the true master of constructing the most confusing nightmares and I will always be looking for more from the Pure Dark series. I am still sitting here thinking about the third volume because MacKay leaves us on one hell of a cliff edge to hang from; and it chaps my ass that I have to wait anxiously for the next one like a season of a television show. Well, I’m off until next time- I have a flight to catch, we are leaving for Fallopia and it is going to be an eleven hour flight so I need my rest.

The House on Hayden Pond

The House on Hayden Pond

Reviewed by Demetrius Svette

*This book was provided for an honest review

Do you love movies such as Paranormal Activity, Insidious or The Conjuring? It is what frightens everyone, the possibility that there is a more sinister afterlife out there; the jump scares that make you feel like demons and evil exist in the world today. Paranormal is a tricky genre that has to be done right or it can feel cheap and cheesy or boring and plain. The characters have to be perfect to pull off the ultimate goal of scaring people. The evil has to creep through and make the characters fall. What if I told you that I had found someone who has just upped the game in terrifying you through every chapter? One where you grip the sides of the book, and pray you won’t bite all of your nails off while you continue to flip through the pages- making you scream at the characters as if you are watching a horror movie in a theatre. Well, I have indeed found that person- Jessica Monks with her book The House on Hayden Pond. Do you dare to continue on to experience true evil? Would you be able to survive without your heart pounding out of your chest as the book relentlessly haunts you in such a way that you will never forget?

Have you ever heard the saying that ‘nothing is free’? In The House on Hayden Pond, the Bolton family- a happy family with three children that the parents love completely- receives a house. An isolated one that sits on the out skirts of town, but with the Bolton’s long time prayer answered they begin the move in to the house. They are adjusting to life in a new area when disturbing things begin to happen- inside the house, something is hungry. The sinister acts that are thrust onto this family will make you want to scream and cover your eyes but keeping them slightly open to continue reading. Will the Bolton’s truly adjust to the new setting? Will they survive the house? Darkness exists in the world that Jessica Monks has provided for you… just remember to keep the lights on and lock your doors.

Jessica Monks is talented and creative- the front cover is a bloody child’s hand print from her own child, which just adds to the creepy factor. She actually had me screaming at the characters as I read. Monks connected me to the reality that the Bolton family is going through- from beginning to end. She is great at getting under your skin with some unholy events that can occur if you are not too careful; no matter where I am, I will always be checking on my kids- ensuring their safety because the paranormal realm can happen to anyone, anytime. This is the first book that I have ever read from Jessica Monks, but I hope it will not be my last. I wish to read more from her- getting to scream at the characters that she creates is a pleasure as not too many authors have that ability. The House on Hayden Pond resides in a genre that is not going away anytime soon, and the book has been a nonstop thrill ride from chapter to chapter- it has me begging to read more soon.