BOOK REVIEW: Bleed More, Bodymore by Ian Kirkpatrick #horror #bookreview

HORROR IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EVIL OVERTAKES THE HEART.

Joey’s a mechanic. One night, she receives a call from her best friend, asking for his car to be picked up from the infamous body dumping grounds of Baltimore: Leakin Park. When she arrives, there’s little more around than a stalled-out car and a couple of ravens, so she leaves only with the car. Back at the body shop, it doesn’t take long for the smell of rot to permeate the trunk. Inside? A corpse. The cops say her friend did it. His absence is his guilt, but Joey knows better. She will find her missing friend and she will prove his innocence.

But something isn’t right in Baltimore. It’s not just the feeling that someone is always watching from the city’s abandoned buildings… Her search for her friend reveals something much worse hiding under the city. A ghost town, a reaper, regret. Suddenly, the city’s rage and the stink rising out of the dirt make much more sense.

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MY REVIEW – 3 stars

The cover snagged my attention first then the description. It took me about a chapter to settle into the author’s style. I wanted to love this book, and there was enough action at first to keep me reading… until things got weird. Or weirder…

At first Joey came across as a male character, which left me feeling confused. She’s so masculine at times it was hard to picture her and Jag together. With the way she constantly pushes him away, I’m not sure she genuinely cared about him as more than a friend. There wasn’t much about Joey, or even Jag and Donny, that I found even slightly likable.

The book starts with a murder mystery, and Joey trying to find her missing friend. And then it takes a strange turn. While I think the paranormal aspect of the book had potential, it was so randomly thrown in and rushed, it comes across as more of a square peg being jammed into a round hole. I found Val and Charon to be the most interesting characters in the book. They stole the show, casting Joey, Jag, and Waylon into the shadows.

Too many questions left unanswered. There was entirely too much crammed into the book in not enough pages. It didn’t give the author room to adequately complete the various story threads and tie everything up.

Since the book ends with an unfinished feeling, I hope the story will continue. Preferably with Charon and Val as the main characters.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.

BOOK REVIEW: The Haunting of Leigh Harker by Darcy Coates #horror #bookreview

From bestselling gothic horror author Darcy Coates comes a chilling story of a quiet house on a forgotten suburban lane that hides a deadly secret…


Leigh Harker’s quiet suburban home was her sanctuary for more than a decade, until things abruptly changed. Curtains open by themselves. Radios turn off and on. And a dark figure looms in the shadows of her bedroom door at night, watching her, waiting for her to finally let down her guard enough to fall asleep.

Pushed to her limits but unwilling to abandon her home, Leigh struggles to find answers. But each step forces her towards something more terrifying than she ever imagined.

A poisonous shadow seeps from the locked door beneath the stairs. The handle rattles through the night and fingernails scratch at the wood. Her home harbours dangerous secrets, and now that Leigh is trapped within its walls, she fears she may never escape.

Do you think you’re safe?


You’re wrong.

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MY REVIEW – 5 stars!

Fabulous! Just absolutely fabulous…

The Haunting of Leigh Harker will give you chills and have you begging for more. Just when you think you have it all figured out, another twist is added. One part haunting and one part murder mystery, it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

There were times the story seemed a bit confusing, but the more I read, the more it all started to fall into place — until the author turned everything upside down, leaving me enthralled, in awe, and scrambling to find out what happened.

A must-read for horror fans!

*Disclaimer: I purchased the paperback edition of this book. Neither the publisher nor author requested a review.

BOOK REVIEW: Hetty by Eddie Generous #horror #bookreview #NetGalley

Hetty Stanley was a schoolteacher. Hetty Stanley was a prudish spinster. Hetty Stanley was a murderer. Hetty Stanley has been dead for more than a century.

Dane Butler is doing his best and his best isn’t enough, but a little luck puts him into an inherited home that shares a property line with a woman and her son. Winona and her son Casey are no better off than Dane, forcing the strangers to rely on one another.

One day, Dane looks up from his computer at the sound of Winona shouting in through his door. Her four-year-old son is missing—no boots and no coat, January in Minnesota. Hours pass. Police scour the woods and begin pointing fingers at the only plausible suspects, but one high-ranking officer knows the painful history. Children have been disappearing from the old schoolhouse property for decades, and although it is impossible, there’s only one likelihood: Hetty Stanley.

To save Casey, Dane and Winona must find the link to Hetty and follow it, no matter how impossible the route seems or what trials they might face and what stakes they must overcome.

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MY REVIEW – 3 stars

I’ve struggled over my review and rating for Hetty the last two days… and finally decided on 3 stars. Here’s why…

The book got off to a decent start, letting us meet Hetty right off. It went downhill a bit from there until about 60% into the story.

While I understand and appreciate a more active way of getting Dane’s and Winona’s backstories, the constant flip flopping, and time warps, made it confusing quite a bit if the time. It also made the story lag quite a bit. We went from immediate action to humdrum daily life for such a large chunk of the book. Had this not been called the scariest book ever by quite a few people, I’d have never made it to the “scary” bits.

Admittedly, the sex scenes in Winona’s point of view with “the Cowboy” very nearly made this a two star read for me. They were unrealistic and had I not known going into the book it was written by a man, those scenes would have made it glaringly obvious. I think I actually cringed a few times.

The creepy factor would spark then die again as the dead kids made their appearances. I’d get excited, thinking things were about to take off, only to go back to the humdrum parts that lagged. Until Casey disappears. That’s when the magic happens …

I wouldn’t call this the scariest book, in fact, I would call it slightly creepy and at times a bit chilling, but as horror goes, it didn’t make my heart race or make me want all the lights on. It was a decent story and seems to be set up for a potential spinoff.

I just don’t think this author’s writing is quite to my taste, even though the idea behind Hetty was rather fabulous.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.

Interview with E.J. Dawson #authorinterview #horror #supernatural @ejdawsonauthor

Are you a regular visitor at Books+Coffee=Happiness? You may have noticed I’ve -been reading more horror books lately. I’ve always loved the genre, but for a while they all seemed to be the same, so I took a step back and read other genres. Well, I’m diving back into the realm of horror and all things spooky.

I recently had the pleasure of reading an ARC of E.J. Dawson’s latest book, Behind the Veil, and it’s a definite 5 stars from me. If ghosts, murder, intrigue, and romance are your idea of a thrilling ride, Behind the Veil is a must read! I simply couldn’t put it down! I loved it so much, I reached out to Ms. Dawson and she agreed to an interview! (yes, I totally fan-girled for a moment)

BooksCoffee: Often writers started out as readers. Was there a particular book that inspired you to be an author?

My mother read a lot aloud to us, I often talk about her reading Lord of the Rings to us, twice. But the books that really caught me was the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. A five book series threaded with Arthurian legends. It wasn’t the Arthurian legends that I loved, but the subtle darkness of the story. The slow build until even the simplest things like crow’s feather invoked absolute dread of whatever was coming next.

BooksCoffee: Do you tend to read the same genre you write?

Not at all. I read quite diversely. On my shelf is a range of urban paranormal romances, along to the Anita Blake series with Anne Rice, down to gothic romances and thrillers, with M. M. Kaye, further along to the Justin Cronin and Kerry Greenwood’s murder mysteries who has good company with Agatha Christie and Ellie Marney. I’m a devoted Terry Pratchett fan, who has a shelf to himself, but for scifi/fantasy I have loved Anne McCaffrey, Anne Aguire, and of course Neil Gaiman. There are other odds and ends on my shelf, I find it hard to say no to any book.

BooksCoffee: Can you describe your office or writing space?

An old boss gave me my desk, its one of those fancy corporate affairs with metal legs and black painted faux wood. While cheap looking, it is expansive enough for all the things on my desk, including a cat bed. Behind the desk on my wall is my goals and failures. These are divided by a line of quotes which change. At the moment, the best one is from my spouse, who reminded me earlier in the year during a dark period that while I may be failing at some things, they are things I’d never dared try before. He told me to keep failing upwards. Immediately above my desk is a list of what I’ve accomplished this year to keep me motivated.

BooksCoffee: Writers sometimes have furry, feathered, or scaled helpers. Do you have a writing companion?

Oh boy do I ever. We have two rescue dogs with special needs. My beloved is Dobby, a mastiff cross who was a skeleton covered in skin, who “smiled” at people. The pulling back of his jowls when nervous/eager to please put him off adoption. After watching him for several weeks, and sending several pleading glances at my spouse, we were allowed to adopt another needy dog. It turned into the best reward I never thought I’d deserved. Dobby loves hugs, and while his namesake was because he was huge eyed, grey, wrinkly and pathetic, he’s now a thirty five kilo brindled mastiff who will happily sit on my if I don’t get out of bed.

BooksCoffee: Is there a book, movie, or song that inspires you when you’re working? (Something you have to read, watch, or listen to in order to set the mood)

I *always* write to soundtrack music. My favourite composer is Bear McCreary who I fell in love with from the Battler Galactica remake, and in fact walked down the aisle to Roslin and Adama. I find it evocative and inspirational. For example, I wrote Behind the Veil to a track on Youtube called the Untold album from Secession Studios. I often find that a song can inspire a story, I forget to this day what I was listening to, but a dark song on my Spotify caused me to stop my walk home from work in the rain, and under the eave of an abandoned shop I wrote a poem. That poem went on to inspire two books, One with Rage an urban magical cyberpunk romance, and Echo of the Evercry, a NA fantasy that later was contracted to be published with Literary Wanderlust.

BooksCoffee: When you pick movies or TV shows, do you tend to choose something similar to the genres you prefer to read or write? Do you have a favorite movie?

My all time favourite movie is Clue, closely followed by Arsenic & Old Lace. I do have a thing for American Horror Story, Firefly, and Killjoys, but I also enjoy watching a lot of anime. Oran High School is a favourite, but so is Blood Plus and Trinity Blood. What I look for in all of these is the hook, the taboo, the thing that’s not like everything else. I love emotional angst and its prevalent in comedy tales as it is horror.

BooksCoffee: How long have you been writing, and how long did it take before your first book was published?

How long have I got? I kid. But I kind of don’t. I’ve been writing picture stories since I was a little girl about a princess who didn’t need a prince. I wrote my first book when I was sixteen, but bullies tore up the notebook I carried with me everywhere. I met up with a friend from the same school years later, and I will be forever grateful for what she said to me when I told her. “If you know what happens, why can’t you write it again?” I wrote it again, better than before. I made a semi Ok attempt at a paranormal romance in the naughties, but when I turned thirty and was told I may never have children, I knew I had to do something with my life. I started an overly epic steampunk series, before funds ran out and switched to a dark paranormal tale that became Behind the Veil.

BooksCoffee: Do you have a routine you follow when you’re working on a book? A certain time of day when you write, or a snack you keep nearby?

My routine has changed over time, but generally I outline now after being a prolific punster for years and having one too many novels with soggy middles. I also tend to write in sprints, so I’ll write nonestop for a set time, have a small break, and do it again. These times can be from ten minutes to two hours. I am always working. Work and writing for me at first molded into social media management, editing, beta reading, critique partners, dev editing work, and writing, but now writing often takes a pleasurable activity. I’ve worked hard to learn the rules, but my stories still very much run away with me, and I’m eager to be taken.

BooksCoffee: Did anyone give you writing advice when you were first getting started? Do you think it helped?

I absolutely hold my current status to Scott Vandervaulk, an Australian editor who edited my self published series, Last Prophecy. I also have a huge thanks for other editors I’ve worked with, including the great staff at Literary Wanderlust, Sharon Salonen (Behind the Veil) and Jennica Dotsen (Echo of the Evercry). But also the publisher herself, Susan Brooks. I’m also indebted to Marcus Vance and Jennifer Jarrett, who worked on my self pubbed scifi romance Queen of Spades. Each editor has pointed something out to me, about my writing, where to improve but where I shined. I recommend getting a professional editor to work with you on your script, because their outside and unbiased opinion is what you need to make your story up to scratch for the reader.

BooksCoffee: What is the scariest thing you face as a writer? How do you handle it?

People think that rejection or bad reviews is the worst thing you can experience. And its not. As someone who’s worked at this for eight years now the worst thing I wake up to is nothing. You cut pieces of your heart out, swathes of time, to write, edit, and publish a novel. I will love everything I work on but nothing is dispiriting as feeling as though you’re offering your heart and no one wants it. But its not all darkness. It’s never not worth doing. For the people who review my book and want it added to their shelves. To the story where my mother, bless her, had Behind the Veil as a draft, started talking about it at the hair dresser, and describing one terrifying scene, had the entire salon’s attention as she described the scene where Letitia realizes where an evil entity is, and that it isn’t after her.

BooksCoffee: If you could pick your top 3 favorite books of all time, what would they be?

Oh gosh I always hate these. I always go back to the books I read again and gain. Nine Coaches Waiting is an old Mary Stewart novel that I’ve loved. Anne Rice the Witching Hour, and everything with Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett. I can’t put a single book to Granny’s name because she’s stayed with me during some very dark times. She was my humor when I couldn’t laugh, proved there was a way to beat every problem, and was a light in dark times.

BooksCoffee: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when following your dreams?

Never quit on a dream you aren’t willing to let die. It’s a saying that I constantly come back to, and its complicated but works for me. Things don’t always or ever turn out the exact way we predict and often leaves us somewhere very distant from where we thought we’d end up. Life’s thrown a lot of curveballs at me, and I haven’t always handled them very well. What I carry with me is that people like what I do, enough to buy my books, to keep reading, to put their hands up every single time I need a beta reader. I’ve been told I write good stories often enough I believe it. Now I’ve got this experience, I’m going to keep creating from the heart, knowing I tell good stories despite imposter syndrome, but aiming for great stories. I keep failing upwards.

BooksCoffee: Does your family support your writing?

I struggle with this question a lot because I know that many writers not only have very unsupportive families but most importantly unsupportive spouses. I am autistic, and as such have needed my family and spouses support and they’ve been exceptionally giving. I’m so grateful to them, for inspiring me and believing in my writing journey. But the thing about their belief, is that at first some of them were a little skeptical. I’ve been doing this for eight years now and I have nothing but their love and devotion. Yes, you will always have doubt at the start, within and without, but the best advice I can give is to persevere.

Now, let’s talk a little about your current book…

What’s the title of your current release and is it part of a series?

Behind the Veil is a gothic stand alone, but other books of a similar nature are drafted.

Who published Behind the Veil?

Literary Wanderlust

Do you know what cover artist designed your cover? Have you worked with them before?

Violeta Nedkova designed my cover, she also designed the covers for the Queen of Spades trilogy.

Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this story?

My love of the supernatural, ghost stories, and the subtle insidious of the gothic genre

If there’s one thing a reader will take away from this story, what do you hope it is?

Strength. That even a coward like Letitia, who isn’t a coward at all, (but annoys my mother, much to my amusement), that strength isn’t about saying yes. Sometimes its about saying no.

Any funny stories (or something memorable) you can share about writing this book, or something that sparked the idea for it?

I knew I had something that might be greater than I’d done before, when my mother was recounting a scene from the book, and was just telling her hairdresser about it. But by the time she was finishing, the entire salon had stopped everyone listening. She is a master class story telling, but I like to think I had something to do with it. I sent her hairdresser a copy of my book as thanks for the assurance that I told a good story.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Can she keep the secrets of her past to rescue a girl tormented by a ghost?

In 1920s Los Angeles, Letitia Hawking reads the veil between life and death. A scrying bowl allows her to experience the final moments of the deceased. She brings closure to grief-stricken war widows and mourning families.

For Letitia, it is a penance. She knows no such peace.

For Alasdair Driscoll, it may be the only way to save his niece, Finola, from her growing night terrors. But when Letitia sees a shadowy figure attached to the household, it rouses old fears of her unspeakable past in England.

When a man comes to her about his missing daughter, the third girl to go missing in as many months, Letitia can’t help him when she can’t see who’s taken them.

As a darkness haunts Letitia’s vision, she may not be given a choice in helping the determined Mr Driscoll, or stop herself falling in love with him. But to do so risks a part of herself she locked away, and to release it may cost Letitia her sanity and her heart.

Preorder for October 1, 2021 at Amazon

ABOUT EJ DAWSON

Beginning a writing journey with an epic 21 book series, Ejay started her author career in 2014 and has taken on the ups and downs of self-publishing with her fantasy series The Last Prophecy since 2016. At the start of 2019, she put the series on the backburner to write Behind the Veil in 25 days, and signed a publishing contract for the gothic noir novel to independent publisher Literary Wanderlust. She resumed self-publishing a scifi series, Queen of Spades released across 2020 and 2021, as well as signing another contract with Literary Wanderlust for NA fantasy, Echo of the Evercry. Believing in more than one path to a career in publishing, Ejay pursues self-publishing alongside querying traditional publishers with multiple manuscripts.

Find EJ Dawson Online: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Release Blitz: To Summon Nightmares by J.K. Pendragon #bookreview #LGBTQ #paranormalromance @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: To Summon Nightmares

Author: J.K. Pendragon

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/23/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 53200

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, romance, demons, witches, horror, suspense, magic, mythology, psychic ability, PTSD, author, celebrity, Europe, small town, Ireland, new adult, transgender

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Description

Three years ago, Cohen Brandwein was a teenage media-darling, a popular author and internet celebrity. But ever since he came out as trans, public opinion has been less than golden, and these days he wants nothing more than to escape the big city and find somewhere quiet to work on his next book.

When he inherits an old house in the Irish countryside, Cohen sees it as a perfect opportunity to get away from it all. What he doesn’t count on is becoming embroiled in a paranormal murder mystery, and falling for the primary suspect, a handsome but mysterious self-proclaimed witch, whose reality makes Cohen’s fantasy books seem like child’s play…

Excerpt

To Summon Nightmares
J.K. Pendragon © 2021
All Rights Reserved

November, 2007

Jacky had crawled into Niall’s bed in the night. Niall thought about waking him and telling him to go back to the thin foam mattress on the floor, in case one of his parents walked by and saw them together through the crack of the door. But the floor was wood, and the house was old, and winter was setting in. Sleeping on the floor was cold, but Niall knew that wasn’t why Jacky had crawled into the bed next to him.

He stirred, and Jacky’s thin fingers grasped at his nightshirt, his legs wrapping tightly around Niall, and he muttered something in a soft and frightened voice. His hair, black and shiny with grease, fell limp in front of his sunken eyes. He was so beautiful, Niall thought, knowing he was the only one who saw it. He wrapped his arms tightly around Jacky, wishing he could protect him and keep him safe always. But Jacky couldn’t spend every night at Niall’s. He would have to go home tonight. Home to him.

“Niall!” His mother’s voice from down the hall spooked them both awake; Jacky’s eyes flew open in a panic. He jumped away from Niall and hurriedly scuttled under the blankets on the floor as the sound of footsteps grew closer and Niall’s mother pushed the door open.

“Morning, boys!” she announced, and Niall and Jacky pretended to wake up, rubbing their eyes and gazing blearily at her. “Oh heavens, it’s freezing in here; you’ve left the window open all night!”

Well, that explained the chill. She stepped over Jacky, who shrank away from her, to shut the sticky window tight. “Time to get up or you’ll be late for school. No more sleepovers if you’re going to be exhausted the next morning. What time did you boys go to bed last night?” She cocked her head, hands planted on her hips.

Niall and Jacky looked at each other guiltily. “Not that late, Ma,” said Niall. “I dunno. We didn’t look at the clock.”

“Well, get dressed.” She tutted. “Honestly, you boys don’t appreciate me. You think all mothers allow sleepovers on school nights?”

“No, Mam.” Niall managed a smile through bleary squinted eyes. “You’re the best, Mam.”

“Well, you’ve got that right. All right, up, breakfast’s almost ready.”

She left, closing the door behind her.

Jacky sighed and lay back on the pillow. “Why can’t I just live here with you, Niall?”

Niall bit his lip. “Well, y’know maybe if you told her, like, what’s going on with your dad—”

“She won’t listen,” said Jacky crossly. “They never listen. I told you. And me dad told me if I made a fuss again he’d hit me harder.” He flinched, his eyes going dark. “He said he’d kill me last time. I told you, Niall.”

“I know, but I bet Mam would let you stay here.”

“She wouldn’t, Niall. Anyway, I don’t wanna talk about it. We’re doing it tonight, aren’t we?”

“Yeah, I said tonight, didn’t I?”

“You sound like you don’t want to.”

“Of course I want to!” Niall jumped down onto the floor and grabbed Jacky, pulling him into a tight hug. “Hey, we’ve been planning it for weeks. I’m not gonna back out now.”

“Bet y’are though,” said Jacky, sniffling.

“I’m not.” Niall took Jacky by the arms and looked him firmly in the eyes. “I’m not just gonna abandon you, Jacky. Whatever it takes, I’m gonna take care of you. I love you.”

“I know.” Jacky sniffled again, rubbing his eyes. “I just can’t go back there again. I can’t keep lettin’ him—”

“You won’t.” It hurt deep in Niall’s heart to see Jacky cry. He couldn’t stand it. He pulled Jacky to him and kissed him hard, hoping it would stop the tears and take away some of the fear. “Listen, I got it all planned out. Everything’s ready. I’m gonna be there tonight at midnight sharp, okay? We’re gonna do it.”

“You promise it’ll make him stop? You promise it’ll work?”

“I promise, Jacky. I know what I’m doing. I’ve been studying this stuff for years; you know that. Magic works. I’ve tried it. You saw the stuff I can do.”

“It’s just little stuff.” Jacky crossed his arms.

“Yeah,” said Niall, feeling slightly offended. “That’s just ’cause I haven’t tried anything big yet. Look, if you don’t believe me, I’ll prove you wrong tonight. Right?”

“Yeah.” Jacky sighed and turned away to look for his clothes. “I hope it works, Niall. I dunno what I’ll do if it doesn’t.”

“It’ll work,” said Niall. “Don’t worry.”

It was impossible to concentrate at school. Niall’s mind was running through the ritual, remembering all the incantations. He’d be reading them out loud from a book tonight, but he had memorised them all anyway. He doodled the summoning circle in the margins of his notebooks, over and over again, so he’d have it perfect. It had to be perfect.

Jacky wasn’t in any of his classes this year. He had been in years past, but last year Jacky’s grades had slipped, and he’d been placed in learning support. Niall had tried to help him. Tried to make him learn. But his attempts had only been met with acidic responses and eventual tantrums from Jacky. He was smart, but no one could make him learn. So Niall had decided to leave it alone. He would learn when he was ready. And this might just change everything.

Jacky met him at lunch, in their usual spot outside the gymnasium. It was a corner that no one ever came near, so they were in relative privacy. He leaned his head on Niall’s shoulder and sighed. Niall drew him close, savouring the moment of aloneness. “How’s class?”

“Just stupid,” sniffed Jacky. “I can’t really think. I’m so excited.”

“Me too. I’ve been practising.”

“I got on the computer a little.” Jacky stiffened a little and leaned away from Niall to grab his bag. “I printed out some stuff.”

“What?” Niall leaned forward.

“Well, I thought—” Jacky pulled some papers out of the bag, printed articles. “I thought we might make a last-minute change.”

Niall bit his lip. “I don’t know, Jacky. It’s kind of a delicate thing.”

“Who’s the one you want to summon? Densel?”

“Denusel,” corrected Niall. “Well, he seems best; I mean, I looked him up in a bunch of different demonology books, right? He’s supposed to be really good at persuasion and mind control, so I figured he’d be a good fit. Plus, it said he had an even temperament.”

“It’s just…” Jacky frowned, chewing on his nails. “He’s not supposed to be very powerful, is he?”

“He’ll be enough, Jacky; it’s all relative. This is a really simple request, like a small transaction. The more powerful demons are much more dangerous, and they do much bigger stuff.”

“Yeah, but if you do it all right, it’ll be fine. It won’t be able to hurt us.”

“It’s— Sure, but we don’t need to—”

“Because I looked it up, and I found this.” Jacky shoved the article at Niall. It looked old like it had been photocopied from a book, but not one that Niall had ever seen before.

“Khireneth,” he read aloud. “Notably powerful demon, recordings include— No, this is no good. It doesn’t say anything about his power level or what he does.”

“It does down here, see?” Jacky pointed. “Look, it says he calls himself ‘Champion of the Oppressed.’”

“Sure, but that doesn’t mean anything; demons are all liars. They’re bad and dangerous unless you know how to contain them.”

“I know. You told me, but you do, right?” Jacky swallowed. “I want to make sure it works. I want to be sure.”

“I am sure.”

“Niall, I want to do this one.”

“No.”

“Please. Please, Niall.” Jacky blinked and a tear rolled down his face. “It has to work. There’s no other way. My dad—”

Niall clenched his jaw. He hated that man. And he hated even more that there was nothing he could do. Jacky wouldn’t let him tell the teachers, or the police or anything. Not since he’d come to school with a black eye once in fourth grade, and the teachers had sent a social worker to their house. Niall didn’t know what Jacky’s father had done to him as punishment, but he never talked about it. And when Niall even suggested telling someone about it, Jacky went white as a sheet.

Niall hated feeling helpless. That was probably why he had taken up magic. It gave him a feeling like he had some control over his life; that he could help. And he could help. If this summoning went well, why couldn’t they summon a more powerful demon? The transaction would be the same. And it would be a for-sure thing.

“Okay,” he said. “Okay, Jacky, we’ll do it.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

My Review – 4 stars!

A tale of magic, tragedy, and love… and did I mention magic?

The first bit of the book felt a little disjointed and confusing but once Cohen and Niall meet it starts to make more sense. I loved how protective Niall was from the beginning. What he saw as weakness was actually his strength. He had a huge heart, but it allowed people like Jacky to take advantage.

Cohen was brave, a bit quirky, and completely endearing. I was rooting for him and Niall to find happiness together. They’d both suffered and deserved a fairytale ending… but with the last scene in the book, I’m not so sure that’s in the cards for them. I really hope there will be a sequel.

Overall an action packed read that left me wanting more.

Meet the Author

J.K. Pendragon is a Canadian author with a love of all things romantic and fantastical. They first came to the queer fiction community through m/m romance, but soon began to branch off into writing all kinds of queer fiction. As a bisexual and genderqueer person, J.K. is dedicated to producing diverse, entertaining fiction that showcases characters across the rainbow spectrum, and provides queer characters with the happy endings they are so often denied.

J.K. currently resides in British Columbia, Canada with a boyfriend, a cat, and a large collection of artisanal teas that they really need to get around to drinking. They are always happy to chat, and can be reached at jes.k.pendragon@gmail.com.

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Book Review: Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone #gothic #youngadult #NetGalley

A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.

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MY REVIEW – 5 stars

Full of magic, darkness, hope, and love, Lakesedge is a gripping tale you won’t soon forget. It will pull you in, hold you in it’s grasp, and leave you feeling emotionally wrung out.

What would you give to save those you love? It’s a question Violeta must answer, multiple times, as she begs Lord Under for help. This dark tale has a Hades and Persephone feel to it. The more we see Lord Under, the more I became convinced what he truly wanted was for Violeta to offer herself to him. The dynamic between the two is quite compelling, and while Violeta’s love for Rowan is something more pure and utterly human, I often felt her place was truly meant to be beside Lord Under.

The secondary characters add a depth to the story, giving it a richer feel. The author created an interesting world where boys crushing on boys and girls crushing on girls seemed to be the norm. With Arien preferring romances where the prince and knight fall in love, and Clover openly flirting with Thea, it set the story in a world where people were more accepting of one another — as long as you weren’t a monster.

With the book ending with a bit of an unfinished feel to it, I’m hopeful there will be a continuation. And yes, I will definitely buy it! Lakesedge may be Ms. Clipstone’s first novel, but I’m already a huge fan!

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Release Blitz: Long Night at Lake Never by Eric David Roman #LGBTQ #horror @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Long Night at Lake Never

Author: Eric David Roman

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 07/12/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50100

Genre: Contemporary Horror, LGBTQIA+, horror, horror fiction, queer horror, queer lit, lgbt horror, gay horror, gay lit, dark horror, revenge, slasher, scary, supernatural, camp horror

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Description

Welcome to Camp Horizons, where they pray all day…and get slayed all night!

Nestled against scenic Lake Never, recently outed Tyler Wills has arrived at the secluded conversion camp, where the delusional staff of counselors believes he and his fellow camper’s queer affliction can be healed solely through the power of prayer.

After a full day spent rallying against sadistic deprogramming therapies, the deranged camp director, and planning his escape, Tyler discovers a larger problem—a mysterious stranger has rolled into camp with a grudge to settle and a very sharp axe.

When night falls, the terror and body count rise. And Tyler, along with his fellow campers, find themselves trapped between a brutal, unrelenting killer and their holier-than-thou prey as they desperately search for a way to survive the Long Night at Lake Never.

Excerpt

Long Night at Lake Never
Eric David Roman © 2021
All Rights Reserved

God Hates Faggs

Tyler Wills had not gazed out the car’s window for a solid hour, but when he finally did, those three words angrily mocked him. Each word with its own crudely hand-painted sign, and each one staked in the ground along the roadside. The message, along with the overall cheap tackiness of the signs, churned his stomach.

And they couldn’t even spell it right. Assholes.

After tilting his head back, he nestled against the leather headrest of his father’s Mercedes and rolled his eyes, thinking about life and its accompanying bullshit. How much he wanted to be free—eighteen was ten months away. How much easier everything would be once on his own. Life, his way.

A glance out the window and another sign met his eyes, this one reflective green. It announced they were twenty-five miles from their destination: Camp Horizons. The crude signs, which at first appeared random, now made more sense. Tyler could have groaned or sighed loudly, but no one cared or listened. His parents remained silent the entire three-hour trip, and no noises Ty made were going to change that fact in the last thirty minutes. No radio. No small talk. Only the car’s interior noises, their collective breathing, and the curt driving directions of the British-voiced GPS.

Nadine Wills sat stone-faced and stared out the windshield, only letting the occasional sniffle escape her nose to show she was still alive. Tyler expected a ride filled with screaming and admonishments against his character, but instead, he got the Wills silent treatment. In the two weeks since the night Tyler was brought home by the police, she hadn’t acknowledged him once. She did not listen to him that night either. Once the door opened and she saw Ty there looking small and pitiful with the bulky police officer behind him, she slapped his face and demanded he go to his room. He didn’t, remaining hidden on the stairwell, giggling to himself, as the cop explained to his parents their seventeen-year-old son had been caught in the park giving, as the officer described, “vigorous oral sex.” He emphasized the word vigorous multiple times, either driving home the point he’d witnessed the offensive act, or to show how impressed he’d been by the skills displayed but remained obligated to uphold the law.

Tyler lamented life was not more like porn. If his had been, the cop would gladly have joined in, and Tyler wouldn’t have faced his third strike with Michael and Nadine. The previous two were for his attitude, minor offensives, but this infraction came with the threat of an indecent exposure charge, for which he got let go with only a warning. However, the more significant issue was the revelation their only son was queer. He knew the ordeal would cost him this time, which it did.

One day after the incident, as the event became referred to, Michael barged into Tyler’s room, a disgusted look etched into his worn and wrinkled face, and his laptop clenched in his hands. Tyler rolled his eyes as his red-faced father, livid at his only son for being a filthy fucking cocksucker (his exact words), showed him the website for Camp Horizons, a “rehabilitation” center for homosexual youth. Tyler understood exactly what a pray-the-gay-away-style conversion camp consisted of. He was an educated young man and was aware of what kind of rehab went down at places like those. The blood drained from his face as Michael smirked at Ty’s horrified reaction. Nadine wasn’t present for Michael’s fiery antihomo tirade about how the camp would be healthy for him. Tyler figured a silent or else came attached to the demand he agreed to be fixed. He hoped Nadine would swoop in for a rescue, tell her husband he was being ridiculous as she had in the past and that would be all. But Ty didn’t count on her this time; he knew she wouldn’t leave the safety of the bedroom where the surplus of Xanax kept her numbed and staring at the ceiling in mindless wonderment.

The week until they left for the camp had been hell. They took everything from him: the car went first, the phone next, along with all the electronics, and like a prisoner, his remaining freedoms were stripped away. Tyler spent the week locked in his near-empty bedroom. The severity of his punishment pissed him off and it wasn’t due to premarital sex or getting caught by the police. If he’d been blown by a girl, sure there would have been some yelling and tears since Nadine cried at fucking everything. But once she settled, his father would have come into his room and congratulated him on becoming a man and probably expunged any punishment with a hearty high-five.

No, their anger, their disgust came from the fact Tyler was gay. What infuriated them more, Ty had no issue with his sexuality at all. To them, being queer equaled unacceptable, and yet, he held no shame whatsoever. For the past two years, he’d tried on multiple occasions to come out but always retreated at the last minute. He understood the truth: Michael and Nadine were bigoted archaic assholes. The kind who spoke disparagingly about queer people whenever they showed up on a television show or in a movie. “Ugh, do we need more of them?” Nadine would say as she fidgeted in her spot until the offensive parties left the screen. His father would mumble fags under his breath, and so Tyler would sit there being hurt and annoyed by the two people who were supposed to love him more than anything.

And he thought, foolishly, he could make it to eighteen and get out before he ever had to tell them. His libido thought otherwise. The allegations were true. He’d done everything the cop accused him of—and more—before the offensive flashlight so rudely shined on them in the plastic playhouse atop the slide. Tyler picked at the seams on his jeans and thought about Daniel, his long-time crush, who had finally agreed to meet him.

Closing his eyes, he pictured Daniel’s slender face, his deep eyes, and his full lips, which felt as nice as Ty had hoped. Without any of his devices, there’d been no way to see how much trouble Daniel had gotten into with his family. And no means to apologize or tell him how he’d not stopped thinking about their brief night. Nadine and Michael hadn’t merely sent Tyler away; they’d successfully cut him off from the world. He wouldn’t know if there may have been something more with Daniel than a few quick make-out sessions behind the lunchroom and a sloppy half-finished blow job.

He opened his eyes when his father’s voice demanded he wake up though he had not been sleeping. A large wooden sign filled the front windshield as they passed, declaring they’d reached Camp Horizons. In the camp’s heyday, the hand-carved sign had been brightly painted with yellows and blues, depicting a serene sun setting on a group of cabins. Each ray of the sun became a cross the closer to the camp they reached, but the current state of the sign showed those days were long gone. Now the sign’s faded paint showed off how dried and cracked the wood had become. The sign hung crooked, drooping on one side from damage to one of the posts, which no one had bothered to fix. Past the broken sign were a few hundred more feet of dense forest, which sent a chill, cold and icy, traversing up Tyler’s spine and sent shudders through his body. The camp was more isolated than he realized, and the fact unsettled him. An apprehensive knot formed in his chest and told him this place wasn’t right.

The Mercedes followed the curve of the camp’s driveway, and Tyler saw a trio of cabins nestled together along the rim of the circular drive. Behind them, sloping down the uneven terrain to the edge of Lake Never were several more. From the window, Tyler spotted a round-faced man in his late thirties, with a short beard and thinning hair, wearing a bright-yellow shirt and tan khakis, waving happily at them. Michael pulled the car around until he faced the way they’d come in. He shoved the gearshift into park, pissed off at it and blaming everything in the world for his son being a queer.

Michael turned to face Tyler in the backseat. For a moment, Ty thought his father would finally speak to him, and he did, but not with any words. The anger and disappointment were painted all over his face as they’d been for days, and the look told Tyler without question, you’d better not fuck this up too. Tyler blew him a kiss and flung his car door open, happy for the fresh air. As his parents slammed their doors, the man from the porch trotted down to them.

“The Lord has blessed us with a beautiful day, hasn’t he? Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Wills. Welcome to Camp Horizons,” he said warmly, his greeting coated thickly by a Southern accent as rich as syrup smothering a stack of pancakes. He extended his hand and shook Michael’s, and then Nadine’s, who barely registered a response. “Robert Kendall, the camp director here at Horizons. But please, Bob is fine. Been going by it for years. And this young man must be Tyler.” Bob swung his hand over to Tyler, an obviously super fake grin smeared across his round face.

Tyler refused to shake any hands. Instead, he let his focus drift around the camp as Bob spoke to his parents. If Horizons had any glory days, they were long gone. There was not one cabin which didn’t need some form of repair or wasn’t boarded up. Every surface needed a paint job, and the grounds were overgrown, except in the prominent areas along the front to keep the entrance looking deceptively beautiful. Tyler’s sneakers dug into the gravel of the drive, his thoughts only on running away, as Bob led them to the office sitting to the left of the largest cabin, which he referred to as Integrity Cabin.

For a religiously run camp, Tyler found there was not much around touting the place’s pious nature past the crosses on the camp’s entrance sign. In his head, he half expected to see nothing but crosses—hung to everything, twenty feet tall—but the camp appeared subdued.

He recanted this opinion once inside Bob’s office. The room was adorned with an obscenely large and ornately framed painting of Jesus Christ on the rear wall. Between the pictures of the camp through the years were photos of the Guides who had worked there, small but ornate crosses, placards with scripture quotes, and religious-themed motivational posters, which encouraged all to Pray it Away with the power of God.

Situated at his desk, Bob was tiny in front of the looming Jesus, who glared down on them, and the desk was covered with files, papers, and a complete set of apostle bobbleheads.

The Wills family sat quietly as Bob beamed at them with a righteous awkwardness for a silent minute. Exhaling loudly, he leaned his head up to the heavens as he began, “The Lord is here today. Yes, he is. He is always present when one of his disciples begins their Journey.” The word, said often, was always accompanied with a pompous weighted reverence. “Tyler, Horizons exists to restore those trapped within sexual sin. Our program is specifically designed to cater to those that have fallen prey to the sinful cult of homosexuality.” He bowed his head, raised his right hand, and shook like an evangelist on Sunday morning television, casting away queerness like one would cast off the evil eye.

“Homosexuality is a vile disease, and through the power of prayer, we can get Tyler onto the path of righteousness and return him to the arms of our Lord.”

“Kinda thought the idea here would be getting me out of the arms of men, but hey, who am I to argue?” Tyler could do nothing but laugh off the absurdity around him.

“God sees you, Tyler Wills, and your soul is in peril. Do you want to spend eternity in damnation and hellfire? Let’s try to approach this with some decorum. Our mission here is to save your soul.”

Tyler rolled his eyes at the idea of his soul needing saving—an impulse reaction but one that earned him a hard smack across the back of his head from his father.

“How long does this process take, making them straight again?” Michael asked with an annoyed tone, suggesting he expected to literally drop the offensive party off and leave. Nadine sat quietly, not looking at her son, husband, or Bob’s suntanned face. She stared up at the large painting of Jesus, dopey eyed in her sedated state. “Tyler had an incident,” she whispered softly.

“I got caught vigorously sucking some cock,” Tyler boasted as his father fumed, and Nadine covered her mouth and shook her head.

“An incident,” Michael spoke over him, “that concerned us enough to bring him here for treatment.”

Bob put his hands together in a prayer stance and once again sounded like a preacher. “The path to religious righteousness is a thorny one. Romans 12 tells us, ‘Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.’” He quoted the Bible with the slimy ease of a used car salesman trying to offload a lemon.

Michael rudely cut through the religious platitudes. “And what kind of time frame does that entail?”

“Bob,” Tyler interjected before the camp director answered, “my parents are extremely uncomfortable. Neither of them is religious enough to know what Romans means. What they want you to tell them, and in the simplest words possible, is how long this introduction will take. They’re so uncomfortable. I mean, look at how much they want to leave.” The retort was worth the second smack to the head.

“The Journey is two and a half weeks, but they are laborious weeks for sure.” Bob cleared his throat. “Now I’m required to make clear that neither I nor my Guides are actually licensed therapists. We’re merely servants of God, who’ve gone through the Journey and are invested in keeping the camp running so other young people will have a safe space to embark on their own path back to the Lord.” He rattled off a few other disclaimers rapidly before sliding across the desk three papers he advised were confidentiality agreements, each stating the Wills would not divulge their therapeutic techniques.

Tyler figured his father listened and honed in, as Tyler had, on the unlicensed and unregulated part, which to anyone else would have been a huge red flag. He hoped that would have shown his father how ludicrous the entire idea was, and how potentially dangerous. Except Tyler imagined his father hoped the so-called techniques included a little bit of physical punishment. “Fucking kill them all, and we wouldn’t have this problem,” Michael Wills had once proclaimed at the breakfast table in front of his son and wife after becoming annoyed with the ongoing coverage over the fight for marriage equality.

“We here at Horizons have developed our own patent-pending, seven-step rehabilitation program, which will take Tyler on a voyage of self-discovery where he will once again find, through prayer, and our assistance, God’s eternal love. And in that love, he will find the courage to reject these deviant homosexual impulses, falsely implanted within him by Satan.

“All of our Guides have taken the Journey. They are trained to assist other young men and women going through the process. Luckily for Tyler, our attendance is rather low this cycle, which is all the better to give those here a truly one-on-one, immersive experience, which will return him to our Lord and Savior. Through God’s beautiful bounty, we are blessed to be here providing this service to his flock.”

“I’m pretty sure this shit is illegal.” Tyler’s already upset stomach tied itself in more knots listening to the eerie way Bob referred to God so subserviently that it didn’t seem to Tyler like they had the healthiest relationship. Whomever Bob was referring to wasn’t the God Ty knew, and everyone in the room would be gutted to know how well Tyler was versed with the Bible, but he kept that to himself.

“Language,” Bob chided. “We keep our words G-rated at Horizons.”

“Fine, I’ll reiterate—isn’t conversion therapy illegal?”

“No laws have been passed as of yet…in this state anyway,” Bob quickly pointed out smugly before shifting his attention to Michael and Nadine. “As you may have observed driving in, Lake Never is rather large. We are secluded here on the south side. As such, there is no access to the internet. No televisions. No radios. No distractions. And any fraternizing, in a physical manner, is strictly forbidden.”

Tyler sat back in his chair, believing he had found his way out. The first guy he found to be willing—bam—he’d get kicked out.

“Expulsion is not the punishment,” Bob declared as if reading the blueprints of Tyler’s escape plan directly off his face. “The program resets, and our Journeyer must begin again. And if this causes them to go over their allotted time, there will of course be a small fee. We will need to collect Tyler’s phone and any other electronic devices he may have. There is a landline here in my office. If you are so inclined to check on Tyler’s progress, you may call, but the Journeyers are not permitted access to it.”

Tyler laughed. They wouldn’t give a shit about his progress once they drove off. “Don’t have to worry about that, Bob. These assholes don’t care if they hear from their faggy son or not.”

“Language.” Bob’s demeanor flipped, and the word came with a more pointed tone making it clear foul language wouldn’t be tolerated again.

“Tyler, shut up,” his father demanded. “And after these two weeks he will be straight, correct?”

“Oh yes,” Bob assured Michael. “We here at Horizons are God’s mechanics, determined to help fix our brothers and sisters who’ve been led astray.”

“There is nothing fucking wrong with me. I happened to luck out and got these two braindead assholes for parents.” Tyler went to stand up and storm out. Michael proved quicker, snatching his arm roughly, forcing him down into his seat.

“Sit the fuck down right now,” Michael yelled, never once looking at his son. “You will take this seriously. You will follow the rules, and you will not come home until—”

“Until what?” Tyler pulled his arm back. “Until I magically like pussy? There is nothing wrong with me the way I am.”

Michael wound up his hand again and started to say something when Bob jumped in. “Mr. Wills, please. Tyler, we will not accept this kind of talk or behavior at Horizons. That is no way to speak to your parents. One of the commandments is to honor thy mother and father. They are your moral compass.”

“You’re fucking joking, right?” Tyler sat up in the chair and laughed. “Moral compass? My mother over there dopes herself every day to ignore the fact that my father is sticking his dick into every woman he meets. She doesn’t care about this as long as her meds are refilled, and the credit card doesn’t get declined. I do believe gluttony, infidelity, and generally being a shitty person are sins too, are they not? Where’s the rehab camp for these asses?”

Nadine shifted in her seat and exhaled loudly as she turned her face away when Michael sent the back of his hand across Tyler’s face, effectively silencing him. Bob didn’t comment on the slap, waiting a moment until the air settled before he continued.

“We are not here to discuss semantics, Tyler. We’re here to talk about you starting your Journey toward being a straight and God-fearing member of society.”

Tyler rubbed the side of his face, still hot from Michael’s hand, and shrugged the slap off. “I get your gig; you pick and choose what parts of the Bible you feel like enforcing. The rest doesn’t matter, right?”

Bob, still sporting his Cheshire-cat-like phony grin, studied Tyler as he slid the confidential agreement across the desk toward Michael. Bob motioned to the pens in the cup in front of him. “We are going to require our fee up front.”

Purchase at NineStar Press

Meet the Author

Eric David Roman.com spent twenty years wandering the wrong paths; he tends to get lost a lot (he’s from Florida). He worked the wrong jobs (as it turns out, streetwalking is not a profession for just anyone) and avoided his true passion—writing, or as he refers to it, devouring sleeves of gluten-free Oreos in a dark closet whilst crying. After hitting a low point while trapped in retail management hell (a harsh rock bottom), he rearranged his thinking (now with 75 percent less anxiety and depression) and switched his focus fully to writing; well, as much as his gAyDD allows. And now, you’re reading his bio, so things are progressing nicely. He is the author of the outrageous novella Despicable People, the new novel Long Night at Lake Never, and multiple upcoming works. Eric remains socially distant in Northern Virginia (don’t stalk him, you’d just be disappointed), where he lives, writes, and loves a mix of all things horror, campy, and queer. He spends the days with his adoring husband and loveable cat (both of whom remain indifferent to his self-proclaimed celebrity).

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Book Review: VanHelsing vs. Dracula’s Daughter #graphicnovel #bookreview #VanHelsingvsDraculasDaughte #NetGalley

Release Date: July 13, 2021

Author: Raven Gregory

Introducing Helsing’s deadliest villain yet! Liesel Van Helsing returns in a brand new series set to turn the inventive huntress’ world on fire. A mysterious being rises from Helsing’s long forgotten past hell bent on revenge. A being whose secrets could very well destroy Helsing…and all she holds dear. Don’t miss this exciting new series written by fan favorite Wonderland writer Raven Gregory and artist extraordinaire Allan Otero!

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MY REVIEW – 4 stars

Van Helsing vs Dracula’s Daughter has amazing artwork and a storyline with enough twists to keep you entertained. While I enjoyed the unique additions to the Dracula/Van Helsing story, there were times I felt like I was missing something. I hadn’t read the other comics in this universe, so if you’re trying to read this as a stand-alone, be advised there are bits and pieces that are further explained elsewhere. All in all, it was a great graphic novel and I definitely want to read more.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.

BOOK REVIEW: They by G. Allen Wilbanks #horror #bookreview @gallenwilbanks

I do not know what They are. I don’t know where They came from.

All I know for certain is They appeared in the house about six weeks after Amy and I moved in.

They may have always been in the house, but I don’t believe that’s true. I believe they found something compelling about the old building that drew them to it. My wife and I were merely the unfortunate souls who resided there when They arrived.

Lock your doors, close the drapes, turn on all the lights…Supernatural horror from G. Allen Wilbanks at its best.

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BOOK REVIEW – 5 stars

They is a spine-tingling, hair-raising, chilling tale that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Do you love things that go bump in the night? Enjoy tales of spooky things stalking you in the dark? If you answered yes to both of those questions, They is a must-rest you won’t be able to put down! Mr. Willbands packs quite a punch in so few pages that will leave you wanting more. Be prepared for a dark tale with an even darker ending… buckle up because it will be quite the ride!

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Spotlight: Invasion of the Undead by Samurai Dan Coglan #horror #zombies @CoglanDan @RoxanneRhoads

 

Invasion of the Undead

Death Stalker Chronicles 
Book One
Samurai Dan Coglan
 
Genre: Horror
Publisher: L’Oste Vineyard Press
Date of Publication: 5-28-2021
ISBN: 978-1-7353896-7-7
ASIN: B08XNS92W5
Number of pages: 242
Word Count: 60500
Book Description:
Former Marine Lance Corporal Chase Brooks fought the enemy in Afghanistan and lost his unit.
Now back in America, he fights to keep from losing his mind, as he is repeatedly attacked by the undead that he believes wiped out his men overseas.
Convinced that what he saw over there was real, he goes to war to wipe out the undead on American soil.
#samuaraidancoglanbooks #invasionoftheundead #deathstalkerchronicles #lostevineyardpress #horror #zombies #horrorbook #zombiebook
 

Excerpt

“Get those damn charges set, and let’s get out of here,” I growled into
my mic.  Shadows moved around me, and a turbaned face appeared out of the
murky darkness.  I shot the onrushing insurgent twice and looked around
for more.

“Come on, come on, come on,” I muttered.  “We’re past time for
evac.  Move your slow asses!” Lt. Rodriquez was suddenly at my side,
scowling.  “We’re doing the best we can, Corporal.  Hold on to your
hat.”

“Charges set, Lieutenant,” Stevens called out.  “That makes all
four; we can blow this popsicle stand!”

“About damn time,” I snapped.  “There are hostiles everywhere.
What the hell is this place, anyway?”

McGavin scoffed.  “It’s a temple, Brooks.  Remember? We had a
briefing and everything.”

“Screw you,” I told him.  “This ain’t like no temple that I’ve
ever seen.  And it smells like a fucking crypt.”

“No lie,” my buddy, Lance Corporal Jeremy Stevens, chimed in.  

“Marines,” Rodriquez barked.  “Let’s go.”

I led us back out, the six of us in tight formation.  Stevens was
on my left flank; Sgt. Bates was on my right, and the Lieutenant was in the
middle with the beady-eyed “guide” that the Colonel had stuck us with.
McGavin brought up the rear.

Dead bodies were everywhere; our ingress had come with a high body count.
I ignored them.

Two tours had made me immune to corpses. I had bigger priorities.

There was a commotion in front of us; heard but not seen.  Voices
cried out in excitement.  We froze.

Our position was suddenly hit with massive spotlights.  “We’ve been
cut off! Break left!” Rodriquez yelled as gunfire erupted all around us.
We returned fire, hot and heavy.
Being in front has its disadvantages.  I got hit three times, twice in the
chest and once in the leg.

My vest took the brunt of the two to the chest, but the leg shot really
sucked.  I went down but staggered back to my feet and kept fighting.

Stevens took over point; Lt. Rodriquez slid over to his spot and put me
in the middle with the guide, who looked scared out of his mind.  I didn’t
blame him.   

We raced through the gloom, moving downhill but not having a choice in the
matter.  McGavin took a round to the lower back and went down.  I
shouted, and the unit took up positions around our fallen comrade.  

We created a semi-circle facing back the way we’d come, weapons up and
ready.  There wasn’t long to wait.  The horde was on us quickly, the
heavy sound of their AK-47s threatening to overwhelm the sharper cracks of our
M-4s.  

It was over in less than sixty seconds, and to my amazement, we were
still standing.  There were bodies all around us, and the air was thick
with the smell of cordite.  Clouds of smoke from the gunfire obscured our
lights even further.
It was like being in hell, I thought, sweeping the area with my carbine.
Something flashed in my light, and I swung back.

There was a figure standing at the edge of the light.  It couldn’t
be a friendly, so I shot at it.  I missed, and it ducked behind a pile of
bodies.  The Lieutenant motioned, and Stevens and I went out to get
whoever it was.  

I’d taken maybe three steps when the figure reappeared, much closer.
I could tell it was a man, head and neck wrapped in a shemagh.  One
arm was holding a bundle, and the other was outstretched toward the ceiling.

His eyes were glowing red.  I blinked.  His eyes really were
glowing; it wasn’t goggles or an optical illusion.  Glowing or not, I knew
what my job was.  I put that head with glowing eyes in my sights and prepared
to pull the trigger.

Our guide, who’d been useless and paranoid the entire mission, started
screaming and babbling in complete gibberish.  The only part that I could
make out was something about Manziel or manzazu or some such nonsense, but his
outburst caught me off guard, and I missed my shot.
Suddenly there was movement all around us.  The bodies of the enemy
combatants were stirring.  Impossibly, they were staggering to their feet.
All around us, corpses were rising from the floor, their eyes shining a
baleful crimson.

“What the fuck?” Stevens shouted.  “This ain’t happening, man.”

I put a three-round burst into the chest of the corpse nearest me and
blew out his heart.  It didn’t seem to affect him at all; he just kept
shuffling toward me, his arms reaching out.  I shot him again, this time
doing the Mozambique technique that had been drilled into all Marines.
The two shots to the body didn’t do anything, but the follow-up round to
the head dropped it.
I could hear my unit screaming, cursing, and shooting the reanimated dead
bodies all around me.

 They were coming at us from every direction.  

We tightened our circle, trying to cover each other as we changed mags
and shifted targets.  It didn’t matter; they overwhelmed us. There were
just too many of them, and we couldn’t put them down fast enough.

I watched in horror as my best friend, Jeremy Stevens, was pulled down
by a mob of freaking zombies and torn apart.  Behind me, Lt. Rodriquez
screamed, and then his voice trailed off into a muffled gurgle, and I knew he
was gone, too.

My mag ran dry, and I reached for another, determined to keep fighting.
My fingers closed on air.  I was out.  The undead pressed in,
their hands clawing for me.  I swung the empty rifle like a club, trying
to clear a space.

The undead mob pulled the rifle from my hands, so I drew my Colt 1911
handgun.  It was a fine weapon, and I was good with it, but it only held
eight rounds.  Those eight rounds went quickly.

 When the pistol was empty, all sounds of gunfire ceased.

I was the last of the unit standing.  The zombies surrounded me.
To my right, two of the obscene things were eating my Sergeant.
Behind them, more were tearing our guide to pieces.
I spun to my left and saw what was left of Stevens.  Hands fastened onto
my vest, and I twisted away.  More grabbed hold of my legs, and I went
down.  

The zombies crowded around me.  Behind them, looking on, was the
man with the glowing eyes, triumph on his face.  He cackled with glee.

In desperation, I felt around for anything to use as a weapon.  My
hands reached above my head and found the remains of the Lieutenant.  His
head had been ripped off.  My hands shifted lower and found the detonator
on his belt for the explosive packages that we’d set.

I yanked it free and held it up.  The zombies were all over me,
and their leader was looking down at me, sneering.

“Fuck you,” I screamed and pushed the button.
There was a distant rumble, a pressure wave, and then the world collapsed
on me.




About the Author:

 
Dan Coglan, A.K.A. “Samurai Dan” is the acknowledged masters of marital… er, martial mayhem.  Dan travels the civilized portions of the U.S., bringing his unique show to curious and horrified audiences alike.
In addition to their high-energy, mostly safe stage shows (where razor-sharp blades and barbs fly),  Dan teaches historical and hysterical panels on the way of the warrior.  Offering a wide range of lectures and interactive workshops, Dan provides joy and laughs wherever he goes.
Due to a supreme lack of filter, Dan also performs standup comedy in censored and uncensored settings.  A storyteller at heart, Dan is releasing his first book in his Deathstalker Chronicle Series:  Invasion of the Undead.
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