Archives for category: Book Reviews

If you are a fan of fantasy novels and puns, you are probably already very familiar with the Xanth series of books by the esteemed and talented author Piers Anthony. If you have never read any of Anthony’s novels, you owe it to yourselves to check them out. At times, Anthony gets a bit carried away, perhaps, with his puns; but, they are always relevant to the context of the storyline, and fit in well with the action, adventure, and very cool and personable characters he creates.

The puns extend even to the titles of the Xanth novels. For instance, Well-Tempered Clavicle (2011) is the thirty-fifth Fantasy novel in the Xanth series, following Knot Gneiss. The first novel in the series, though, doesn’t have a pun in its title; it is called: A Spell for Chameleon.

The demon Xanth plays a very important role in the series. He is not always one of the main characters, but characters often refer to him, and have been influenced by him. He is not, generally speaking, an evil demon; but, he is actually liked and even admired/respected by many inhabitants of Xanth.

Knot Gneiss, the novel right before Well-Tempered Clavicle, is one example where I’d say Anthony may get a little carried away with puns. I enjoyed reading it, but when you read about a character called Wenda who has violent mood swings and then read that her swinging on her favorite swing, a “Mood Swing,” was the cause of her mood swings, seems to me to be carrying the whole premise a little too far.

Picka Bone is one of the protagonists in Well-temered Clavicle. He and his sister Joy’nt are skeletons (the offspring of Marrow Bone and Gracew’l Ossein) who share a portion of a soul that has made them have a conscience and help others. Still, Picka Bone believes that he and his sister are living a rather dull life, guarding–mostly strolling around–the grounds of a cemetery. They are doing so at the request of two ghouls who desire a break from guarding the cemetery.

Their lives are dull, that is, until three animals show up, a bird, a dog, and a cat, named after the parts of a speaker: Tweeter, Woofer, and Midrange. They are not afraid of the skeletons, and Picka Bone saves Woofer from where he is trapped. This seals their friendship, and the two skeletons are talked into going on a quest with the animals in search of an adventure.

Woofer, Tweeter and Midrange were in the previous novel, Knot Gneiss. They are from Mundania, and are the Baldwin family pets. They’d heard they could escape getting older in Xanth, so they had decided to move there. As a side benefit, they are gaining new magical abilities. Joy’nt’s magical scroll enables the animals to communicate with the skeletones, and vice-versa.

Other interesting characters that I liked in Well-Tempered Clavicle are Princess Dawn and her sister Eve, who are sorceresses. and Mumfrey, the Good Magician. Mumfrey has five and a half wives, and he grants people answers to their questions if they can find the solution to three challenges he presents them. There is also an invisible giant who joins the three animals and the skeletons. They believe that Picka Bone has a hidden talent, and they journey to ask Princess Eve for help in finding out what the talent is.

The problem is that when they arrive at Castle Roogna, they learn that Princess Eve is away, visiting her husband’s realm. Hades. The adventurers decide to ask Eve’s sister, Princess Dawn, if she will help them. She is available, and what’s more, she fortunately has a free pass that will take them to Hades and allow the entrance to it.

They have many humorous adventures on their way. The plot of the novel changes to one where Princess Dawn is looking a suitable husband, but the animals and the skeletons still play a major role in the plot.

As in all of the Xanth novels, Piers Anthony’s chapter titles are one more reason I am a fan of his writing. Examples include: “Knucklehead,” “Granola,” and “Rules of Engagement.” In the ebooks I have written, I also try to engage my readers by thinking up clever chapter titles. Whether or not I am halfway as good at it as Piers Anthony is a subject of debate, but I always like it when authors try to intrigue their readers right from the very beginning of each chapter, from the title of it onwards, to make them want to read more.

Well-Tempered Clavicle by Piers Anthony is a funny, pun and fantasy-filled addition to the Xanth series. Anyone who loves the Fantasy genre, whether you’re a long-time fan of the Xanth series or are new to it, is sure to enjoy reading this novel. Anthony dedicates his novel to his daughter, who passed away while he was writing it. I am looking forward to reading the next installment, The Luck of the Draw. The Xanth series has legions of fans around the world; check out Well-Tempered Clavicle to find out for yourselves why!


If you’re a fan of tales of the macabre, and you dig reading Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, then you will also want to check out Frank G. Poe’s collection of tales and poems titled Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales for the low price of $10.95 for the paperback edition. If you click on the title, you’ll be taken to Amazon where you can purchase the book. Elsewhere at this site, I reviewed the second book of Poe’s tales, Star Child and 13 More Twisted Tales, which is another page-turning collection of delightfully twisted tales and poems.

What do you get when you buy this book? Is it one worth your money, one that would make a great addition to your personal library? As with Star Child, in the introduction, Frank relates some details about his past, and his near-death experience as a result of his MS, which blinded him temporarily, as well. He battled back from being bedridden, and then in a wheelchair, to currently, when he can walk with the use of a cane. Frank can trace in his lineage as one of his ancestors the famous author, Edgar Allan Poe, and he relates in his introduction that he is actually Poe reincarnated. Whether this is true or not, you can decide for yourselves; but, the tales are fascinating gems which Poe might, if he were alive today, have written.

Does this mean there are poems similar to “The Raven,” or “Lenore” in this collection? Or, stories like “The Masque of the Red Death,” or “The Pit and the Pendulum”? No, but Edgar used an archaic way of expressing himself, to help build the atmospheric mood of his writing. I would imagine if Edgar was alive today, he would write in the vernacular of this age, and perhaps go for shock value to attract the attention of his audience, as Frank does; so, is Frank Poe the reincarnation of Edgar? I’ll just say his short stories and poems are good in themselves; the Edgar Allan Poe connection certainly can’t hurt his own chances at garnishing fame & fortune.

As the title suggests, you get fourteen short stories in this collection: “Raven Wings” and 13 more. And, you get to read 6 twisted poems that Frank has penned for your reading enjoyment. I will only touch on a few of these, to give you an idea what subjects are included in this collection. They’re all good, though, and I’d say worth your time and money. A couple of reviewers mentioned they found some of the tales to be “lewd” and “crude,” and they are, to a degree; but, they are relatively tame compared to many other short stories/novels I’ve read. Controversy and shock–Edgar was known for it–so, Frank shouldn’t, IMO, be overly criticized for doing it himself. Stephen King’s short stories, for example, are often much more violent, lewd, and crude, but are still–generally speaking–very cool, fun tales to read.

The cover of Raven Wings is kind of odd in itself, and I wondered what it was depicting until I read the first story, “Raven Wings”. It’s a tale of a Goth girl who gets into masochism, like having hot melted wax dripped on her body during sex, etc. The only way she can experience pleasure is through pain, and when she cries, and her mascara runs, the result resembles raven’s wings. She eventaully requests that the narrator of the tale chokes her out; and, who is he to refuse? The trouble is, it’s kind of difficult to know when enough’s enough when it comes to choking someone….

“The Spider and the Fly,” is a captivating tale of tangled webs, love, sex, and capturing prey. What happens when a male spider realizes what his fate will be, but still desires to have sex with a female spider? Is there a way to satisfy his urges and live to have sex another day? Perhaps a fly called Sushi will enlighten the spider Domino on the secret to sexual happiness–or, is he doomed to lose his head?

“New Vampire bible: Genesis II” is a quirky little gem about the origins of vampires upon the Earth. It’s a retelling of part of Genesis, and the relationship Adam had with his supposed first wife, Lilith. In the tale, it’s a relationship sanctioned by God, that resulted in the creation of the first “sanguine” vampires–ones which drank blood. The humans that resulted from Adam’s and Eve’s couplings were also vampires, but “pyschic” ones. Due to a terrible apocalyptic war, the Vampire Nathan’s coffin gets filled with blood, he manages to break out of his coffin, and discovers that he is one of the last living beings on Earth. Some will find this tale to be sacreligious, as it refers to God as the “Great Vampire” and mentions Christ’s vampiric heritage; it’s still a fascinating story, however you might feel about this retelling of Genesis, incorporated into a tale of Christ’s Second Coming.

I’ll briefly talk about three of the poems. The second poem in this collection (the first being “Modern Day Ghost”) is called “Card” and is about credit cards and how they are ruining the lives of many people who abuse them. It also gets into America’s international debt crisis, and how Americans have been told that spending helps by “Stimulating the economy.” Frank often includes pop culture references in his tales and poems, and this one is no different: in it, he mentions Conan the Destroyer, Don Knotts, and George Bush.

“Cosmic Butterflies,” uses the metaphor of butterflies having been transformed from caterpillars to describes how humans are similar, in that we experience a second, spiritual existence and transformation after we die. One line I liked in this brief poem is: We don’t begin to live until we die,/And transform into Cosmic Butterflies.”

The last poem I’ll discuss is “The Rocker Squeaks”. It’s a poem about a father rocking his newborn baby, but as with all good poetry, it’s more than that. The imagery Poe uses is very expressive, and he paints a picture with his words of ripening papaws that raccoon will: slip/Into their watering mouths. It’s another poem that involves transformation, as poe writes that the father’s: callous hands transform/Into velvety butterfly wings/By touching the infant’s cushiony skin.

Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales by Frank G. Poe is a collection of macabre tales and poems I’d recommend to anyone who loves reading suspenseful, quirky tales. They will attract your attention, and hold you spellbound. It’s a collection of tales and poems you’ll want to add to your reading lists.


Where can you go to read a fantastic romantic comedy? I generally read mysteries, science fiction, or fantasy novels, as you can tell from the other reviews I’ve posted in the past. However, when I checked out Vonda Norwood’s great romantic comedy, Facebook Breaks Up Marriages.lol, (Click Title To Buy at Smashwords.com for only $2.99!) I saw for myself that if a book’s good, it’s good, no matter what the genre may be. That said, I’m not going to go out & buy all the romantic comedies I can find & and take my reading preferences into an entirely new direction; but, I found Vonda’s writing style very refreshing and lively, and I’m glad I read it.

Despite the title of the ebook, Vonda doesn’t advocate anywhere in it for the breakup of marriages, whether the cause of the breakups be Facebook induced or otherwise. Nor is she saying that the breakup of marriages is a laughing matter, though humor can be found almost in any situation, if you look hard enough. Rather, she’s saying that in the case of her first-person narrator, Liz Peebles, and by extension, the cases of anyone else whose marriages are tenuous at best, Facebook can definitely be a factor in the ultimate breakup of a marriage–whether for the better or worse. And, if that’s where you also happen to find yourselves, you might as well try to see the humor in the situation, also.

Liz gets fixated on locating an old flame, or at least, soemone she wishes had been more of one, through Facebook. Once she gets an idea in her head, she likes to run with it. Learning that it will cost her $19.99 to buy the services of the company she wants to use to look through old yearbooks online doesn’t deter her. Liz is a middle-aged housewife with four children, and she wants to add some zest and spice to her daily life, so that’s a major incentive for her to–shall we say–catch up on old times.

She knew the guy as Kenny Newsome, but generally just called him Kenny. He was a basketball player whom her older brother Douglas, a football player, as well as her brother’s two friends, the “Clowns,” wanted to convert into a football player to hopefully improve the high school’s team. They wanted to use Liz and her feminine charms and knowledge of football (learned at her father’s knee) as a persuasive argument to get Kenny to switch sports in favor of football.

The plot takes us back to Liz’s first encounter with Kenny, and to her immediate liking of him. She’s especially taken with his “big hands” and that he seems to her to be a man among boys. Back in the present, the adult Liz has some initial difficulties searching for Kenny because, though she knows his full name, she just uses the search word “Kenny.” She can’t locate a photo of him using that name, so finally searches for his complete name, and that does the trick.

One other cool aspect, if you’re someone who Tweets, is that Vonda does things like throw out the name of another Tweeter who’s an accomplished author–Teodor Flonta–and makes him a minor character. When I saw his name, that was the first of many times I smiled and laughed a little to myself.

Kenny had told Liz, all those years ago, that after high school he was going into the Service. There wasn’t really any chance that anything like love could blossom under the circumstances, but Liz carried an infatuation for Kenny inside her all those years, until she finally decideed to act on her feelings by trying to contact him.

Now, I’m not one to (in general) give away too many spoilers, so I won’t tell you if Liz ever does manage to contact Kenny, nor what happens if she is able to do so. I’ll leave those questions unanswered for you to discover for yourselves. But, needless to say (though I will), Facebook Breaks Up Marriages.lol (Click this title to buy at Amazon for$2.99) by Vonda Norwood is full of the exuberance that Vonda, herself, is full of, and this is definitely an ebook you’ll want to download and add to your library of ebooks. Also, with it being available at Smashwords, you can get it in any format, for virtually any type of ebook reader. You can even read it as a PDF file on your computer/laptop, or on an iPhone! Get this great book now, before the price goes up to reflect it’s true value!


Even today, long after his death, Edgar Allan Poe is recognized as a master of horror and the macabre. A movie’s coming out soon, The Raven, based on his tales & poems, starring John Cusack. Now, a new master of horror has surfaced, a distant relative of Edgar’s: Frank G. Poe, Jr. He may even be, if the stories about him are true, Edgar reincarnated to walk this Earth and write further spellbinding imaginings of the intellect. His first collection of tales, Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales I will also review here, in the coming weeks; but, as Star Child is just out, I will review it first.

What can you expect from Star Child? The original Poe’s boots would be difficult for anyone to fil, as any legend is always difficult to live up to and match. I’d say, for starters, don’t expect Edgar’s old-fashioned uses of words that are rapidly fading from general usage. But that’s okay–it certainly worked for Edgar, but it would seem archaic for anyone to try to write mimicking Edgar’s style. If he was reborn, undoubtedly he’d be a man of his times, as he was then, and use current turns of phrases.

Ultimately, Frank G. Poe Jr.’s tales succeed because of his own talent, wherever it might originate from, and he deserves all the credit or blame for however the tales have turned out. But, the good news is, the tales collected in Star Child are very well-written, and I believe Edgar would be proud to know someone in his lineage has taken up the torch and is continuing to attract a wide audience to the horror genre. I can’t do justice to the entire collection by discussing each of the tales in much detail, as that would take at least one paragraph apiece; but, I will touch on a few of the stories that stood out as highlights to me.

I’ll begin from the beginning, with a tale with the very cheery title “Because They Eat Children.” Alexander Popovich is an extremely dedicated and protective fourth grade teacher, who gets a bit carried away with thinking he needs to watch over his young flock. He tells them anecdotes of children being eaten by evil people, and even by their own parents, in times of dire famine, or because they have developed a perverse taste for human flesh. He means only to make the children aware of the dangerous world around them so they can better be on guard. But, word gets back to the parents of the children, and things start to go very downhill for Alexander from there on. If only poor Alexander was taken more seriously…but why cry over spilt blood?

The second story is an homage to The Lord of the Rings. “Tolkien Revisited,” shows Poe’s interest in and love of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels. In the tale, Frodo, Gandalf, and the rest of the band stop at a roadside inn on their way home from their adventures and the destruction of the ring. They relate their adventures to the innkeeper, who happens to be Tolkien. The innkeeper thinks he can spice their story up, and he invents new characters, such as Gollum/Smeagle, and he changes/adds details. When he tells the new version back to the adventurers, they are spellbound–indeed, the innkeeper has vastly improved the tale. But, at what cost?

“The Blue Knight’s Tale,” is the third tale of the collection.
It’s a story of modern-day knights, jousting on a–ahem–nightly basis at a Medieval Tournament and Feast resaurant. There is, of course, a Lady Fair, as well, Kitty. She is engaged to be married to the Black Knight, her current boyfriend, Stephen. Austin, the Blue Knight, used to have a “puppy love,” for Kitty, but that ended badly after their senior prom. Still retaining his boyishly good looks, Austin has recovered from his puppy love, with semingly every female in the audience anxious to make him their next mark on their lipstick cases. Or, has he fully recovered? What happens when their old romantic is rekindled? Find out the shattering result when you check the story out for yourselves!

Before I mention a couple of other tales, I would be remiss if I didn’t relate that Frank, like Edgar, writes poetry as well as short stories. He has three poems in the collection “Holocaust,” “Melancholy and the Internet Madness,” and “Contact.” “Holocaust,” is, as you’ve likely guessed (being the astute people that you are), about the Holocaust and our reactions to it, including those of naysayers. The second poem, “Melancholy and the Internet Madness,” is about the obsession of many people with the Internet in general and social media in particular. One begins to feel sometimes filled with a self-importance based on Likes, Follows, etc., that is unrealistic. The obsession is like a form of madness at times. Finally, “Contact,” is about Stephen Hawkings and his fear that our first contact with aliens might well prove to be our last. Poe has a very different take on the ensuing result, though, in the last of a very imaginative and thought-provoking trio of poems.

I’ll briefly mention two of the other tales in Star Child to give you a further taste of the menage of genres and stories that await you. These two tales are the title one, “Star Child The Discovery,” and “After the Apocalypse.”

“Star Child” is another foray into the science fiction genre by Frank, and it’s an engrossing and brilliant gem of a short story. An artifact from an alien civilization is discovered–and, though the dig team is sworn to secrecy by the federal government, they feel that the information they’ve discovered is too important for the public to not learn about. But, they also don’t want to get into legal trouble, so they decide to make a “fictional” account of the whole story available to everyone and the names of those involved will be changed. Though it’s walking a fine line, they feel it’s worth the potential risk. But, is it, really; and, will the public even benefit at all from what they read, if they believe it to be fictional?

The last tale I’ll discuss is “After the Apocalypse.” Based in part from an old Appalachian saying, “Root hog or die,” this is one of my favorite (of many) in Frank G. Poe Jr.’s collection. Then again, how could I NOT like it, as one of the main characters is named Lilly, which is our family “dog’s” name, though ours is spelled with only two l’s? Lilly’s Granny Sugar is the propagator of the saying, and living through the Great Depression as she did, she demanded her daughter, Rose, to learn survival skills from childhood on. Lilly compares this brutal sort of existence to the scenario of Lord of the Flies, and there is at least some truth to that. Since Granny Sugar comes from Pike County, Kentucky, where the McCoy clan (of the infamous Hatfield/McCoy feud) lived, it’s not much of a wonder that she believed in the philosophy of: “When society breaks down only the strong survive, root hog or die.”

This and some of the other tales, though they’re fascinating reading, contain some language that makes the collection more suitable for older teens and adults than younger children. I suspect that back in the time when Edgar wrote his poems and stories, many people found them morally offensive, as well, though now they’re generally considered to be fairly tame in comparison with even what children see on the Nightly News. Perhaps this collection will porve to seem tame to future generations. Don’t get me wrong; Poe is never explicit, and he only uses adult language at times because it’s warranted by the subject matter of his tales and to make the characters who speak the words more realistic. Right or wrong, most of us use four-letter words on a daily basis, so I, personally, wasn’t offended at all by any of the tales in Star Child.

If you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, or Frank G. Poe’s first collection of macabre tales, Star Child is a Must Read! And, if you love the horror, fantasy, and SF genres, I would also recommend this fine selection of quirky tales to you. I look forward with great anticipation to reading more from Frank in the coming years, and to reviewing his first collection in a couple of weeks or so.


The back of (click to buy) Tribulations by Ken Shufeldt dramatically states: “The World Has Ended…The War Is Only Beginning.” That’s enough to capture the eye of almost any SF fan. Similar themes of the end of the world and warfare between different civilizations have been the fodder of many SF novels, but still they are fascinating frameworks for countless science fiction novels. In the right hands, a literary masterpiece can be created from such ideas; or, in lesser hands, a dismal flop can be the result. Which one of the two extremes does Tribulations most resemble, or does it fall somewhere in-between the two extremes? Read on to find out!

The very title of Ken Shufeldt’s novel evokes an Old Testament feel: Tribulations–the difficult times & trials God’s Chosen people undergo before they can finally attain their long-promised homeland/salvation. Fine, I thought before I even began reading–likely the novel will combine science fiction, science, and religion, either one of Earth’s religions or that of another planet. Lots of great SF has been written with religious undertones, like Dune, by Frank Herbert; Hellhole, by Brain Hderbert and Kevin J. Anderson; The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by PK Dick; and A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller, for four examples off the top of my head. I loved reading each of these four books, but I also recognize that anyone who attempts to combine religion and SF walks a fine line. If the book leans too much towards a religious outlook, it can seem to be too preachy and even overbearing to someone who is an atheist or who follows a different religion.

In Tribulations, Ken unabashedly wears the Judeo-Christian religion on his sleeve, though he theorizes that its foundation began on another planet and its basic ideas/concepts were taken here by aliens who were forced into landing on Earth because their spacecraft was damaged. These humanoid aliens were stranded here, and lived out their entire lives on our planet, trying to make the best of their situation and indoctrinate the natives with their religious POV. Their beliefs of there being one god became the foundation for the JudeoChristian religion.

Ken Shufeldt’s novel begins with an amazing archeological discovery. An ancient metal sarcophagus has been “brought back from the battlefields of Iraq” by Larry Sheldon, one of a team of Logos scientists. The group of people known as Logos were an “ultra-secretive evangelical society.” The sarcophagus had been the one the female alien, Evevette, had used “to bury her husband, Adamartoni.” Though the author doens’t come right out and say it even more plainly, this couple’s names seem to indicate that they were the Adam and Eve from the Bible.

Some of the DNA gets injected into the body of a human boy, Billy West, by “accident,” or fate, and some gets fed intravenously into the bloostream of a little girl, Linda Lou Bustamente, who “needed an operation to save her life.” Again, coincidently, her parents “had been lifelong friends” with Billy’s. These two children grow up and are educated under the watchful eyes of Logos, and they progress rapidly in their education, due to their super-enhanced genetics.

Long story somewhat short, the Billy and Linda Lou eventaully learn of meteorites headed Earth’s way, and they realize that Earth is doomed. They plan to have a small fleet of interstellar spacecraft built and they choose a planet that appears to be suitable to sustain human life as their ultimate destination. The name of their particular ship is Genesis, a name torn again directly from the Bible, as it’s what the first book of the Bible is called.

I would have preferred there to be a bit more subtlety in the naming of the two main characters and their spacecraft. Also, Billy’s and Linda Lou’s ability to communicate with each other telepathically seemed to me to be maybe a bit too pat. Still, even with their enhanced DNA, and Biblical prophecy behind them, even with their being the supposed prophesied saviors of humanity in their favor, Billy’s and Linda Lou’s lives aboard the spacecraft are far from Paradise.

Billy knows time is working against them, that reaching the planet he thinks would be the best opportunity for their success will take way too long. So, he decides to try to make the Genesis travel as fast as the speed of light, or faster, despite the apparent impossibility of such a thing. He has a measure of success, but then his plans go terribly wrong. The weakened Genesis gets separated from te rest of the fleet and drifting towards a myserious planet.

Not only that, but the planet is inhabited by opposing sides engaged in a bloody civil war. Upon landing, the members of Genesis are forced into choosing sides just to stay alive. That is where the story gets REALLY interesting, and I was reminded of the story of the land of Canaan in the Bible, where the Israelites had to kill the Canaanites in order to claim their Promised Land. Does a similar outcome happen in Tribulations? I’m not going to tell; read it for yourselves to find out!

Tribulations is a fascinating take on the science fiction theme of aliens possibly having guided human civilization from the very beginning. It’s an apocalyptic but a hopeful tale. While I believe aspects of the novel could have been handled a little more subtley, overall it’s a very well written book that fans of apocalyptic SF will embrace. Check it out today!


What first attracted me to this fantastic collection of prose & verse by the talented author Linda Addison was the very cool cover. I admit, I was drawn in by the eye candy–at least, eye candy for a person who loves the horror genre. Am I shallow? Aren’t we all, at times? Was I right to judge a book by its cover? Perhaps not; but, in this particular example, the contents of the book do match up in excellence with its cover. Maybe I just got lucky…you will, too, if you read How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend (A Collection of Prose & Verse) from Linda Addison and Necon Ebooks for just $4.99! You can also purchase the ebook from Amazon for your Kindle for the same price by clicking here.

Linda is the first African American to win the coveted Bram Stoker Award for horror fiction. She is a rising star in horror fiction, and the short stories and poetry in this collection displays her ability to translate the macabre to the written word extremely well. There are 35 tales & poems in the volume altogether, and though they are short, each packs a powerful wollop. Combined, they will keep you awake at night, and make you nervously glance towrds your closet door and look under your bed for the Boogie Man or some other horrors, like the ones her tales depict in gory detail.

I won’t write about each story and poem in this volume–it would take too long to do them all justice–but I will touch on a few of the poems & stories that I considered to be highlights. They are all great; but, I will limit myself to just a handful.

There are, if I counted right, 16 poems and 29 short stories for your reading pleasure. The poems and tales also include some from the science fiction genre. Some of the stories could classify as being Flash Fiction, not being much more than maybe three hundred words in length. It takes skill to be able to write a story with a beginning, middle, and end in such a short number of words. They, and the poems, helped break the short stories up and the variance in lengths is useful in holding the readers’ attention.

Some of the poems I really enjoyed were: “Mourning Meal,” “Forever Dead,” “Bottling Up De Evil,” and “Alien Bathroom.” “Mourning Meal,” is about a woman whose child has passed away, and she is eating memories of the child, consuming things like a Mother’s Day card and toy spacemen:

bitten into little pieces
swallowed like strange pills.

“Forever Dead,’ is a first-person poem about a zombie stumbling through Central Park. He says that he: “lost my soul to a Voodoo Goddess.” Then, “Bottling Up De Evil,” was a poem I found interesting, as it’s about bottle trees, trees with bottles tied to their branches to attract ghosts into them. They’re mostly seen in the South, and an example can be seen in the movie Because of Winn-Dixie. “Alien Bathroom,” is a fun poem about various aliens trying to figure out what a relic is that they’re viewing. Each type of alien undergoes some elaborate ritual, but none comes close to figuring out what the relic is, until one finally figures out how to flush it–as the relic is a toilet.

On to the short stories. I’ll just mention three examples of the great tales in the collection, to give you an idea of what you can expect when you purchase Linda’s book.

I really enjoyed reading “The Power,” and liked it even more when I came to a story at the end of the book, called “Milez to Go,” that has the same two main characters in it, but now they’re older. “The Power” is about two girls, cousins, Brenda and Angelique, and their involvement with magic that gets slightly out of hand. Angilique goes to visit Brenda and her grandmother, sent there by a seemingly uncaring mother. She desires her mother to love her more, so Brenda shows her how to make a gris-gris, or magical talisman, to strengthen the bonds of familial love.

This, though, has the unintended consequences of attracting the attention of Mrs. Johnston, an odd hag who lives nearby. Though the girls learn that their grandmother was once friends with Mrs. Johnston, things have changed very much since that time. It’s all the girls can do to save their grandmother’s life, after they unwittingly attract the demonic Mrs. Johnston and she tries to take over their grandmother’s body and soul.

The second tale to feature Brenda and Angelique, “Milez to Go,” is perhaps my favorite in the volume. Milez is a protoplasmic musical intrument that Brenda has invented for Angelique to use in her band, which often performs a the Funky Piranha club where she works.The two women encounter three evil charcters who want some information Brenda has, and they will do anything they can to get it from her, including torturing and killing whomever gets in their ways. Milez can talk, and he plays a part in the eventual success of Brenda and Angelique over their foes. Of course, magic again also is pivotal to the tale, and both women have increased in their powers.

The third (and final) story I’ll mention is one with a pretty neat title: “369 Gates of Hell.” The story’s main character is Redi Thomas, who, as the tale opens, is a bodyguard of an accountant. Redi has been an assassin, and her skills have led to her being constantly haunted by the ghosts of the people she’s assassinated. She also had a stepfather who abused her, and Redi longs to get revenge on him, even though he is dead and buried. Enter a character straight from the depths of Hell to offer her that very opportunity, in return for one simple favor: killing the very accountant she’s been hired to protect. Will the exquisite pain Redi experiences as a result of her desire for revenge wake her up to who she really is? read the tale to find out!

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend (A Collection of Prose & Verse) by Linda Addison is a marvelous collection of horror & SF tales & poetry that you are sure to love if you’re a fan of these genres. See why critics and readers around the world are making Linda one of the best-known names of the horror genre by reading the poems and tales in this collection for yourselves!


Detritus: the stuff that we inevitably accumulate. Some of us turn our detritus into our obsessions, into our collections. Most of us have had collections of one sort or the other in our lives, but few have had the strange sort of collections that the characters of the short stories in the new horror anthology Detritus have. The bizarre collections mentioned in these 15 tales range from wads of chewed bubblegum to stuffed animals with lives of their own to the body parts that serial killers collect as trophies to remember their past kills. You can purchase Detritus in paperback form for a mere $13.99 directly from Omnium Gatherum, the publishers of the book, by clicking here, or you can buy it in ebook form for a paltry $2.99 from Amazon; but if you’d first like to learn a bit more about the anthology, read on.

All of the 15 short stories in Detritus are amazing, well-crafted gems of tales about the obsessive nature that often compels people to collect the detritus they like to collect. I won’t get into any great detail about any of the stories, but I’ll mention a handful that stood out for me to give you an idea about the subjects of the tales and to whet your appetites for what lies ahead when you plunk down your cash to purchase this anthology.

The anthology opens up with “Chewed Up,” by the talented author Jeremy C. Shipp. I alluded to this tale earlier; it is the one about a man who collects wads of used chewing gum. It’s the typical story: man collects used gum; has a wife who is sickly and uncommunicative; takes advice from a toy flying unicorn that comes to life; but, finds out too late that covering one’s sickly loved one with used chewing gum can be detrimental to that person’s health. Oh, well–live (or die) and learn, I suppose…I love stories with uplifting morals to them.

Immediately following “Chewed Up,” is “Shots and Cuts,” by Mary Borsellino. It’s about a cop reminiscing about infamous serial killers like one from Ukraine who killed over twenty people. Also, it’s a story about a pair of 14-year-old killers, who brutally attacked a man and killed him on camera, later showing their deeds on YouTube for the world to view. Even the reactions of those who watched it were then filmed and broadcast on YouTube. Kids these days, the youngs rascals, with their torturing, maiming, killing, and collecting trophies! They can be so incorrigible at that age, and so full of murderous curiousity.

The third tale is “Ride,” by Brent Michael Kelley. It’s about a motorcycle riding dude with a heart–actually, twenty-seven of them, which he lovingly cuts out of his still-living victims to honor the memory of his kid bro, who died at the age of twenty-seven. The story reminded me of a song by Talking Heads called “Memories,” and the line: “These memories can’t wait!” What a heart-rending homage to one’s sibling.

I’ll just mention a couple of other tales that are included. I’d like you, dear readers, to have the pleasure of reading & learning aobut these twisted collections and their collectors for yourselves, without too many surprises given away by Yours Truly.

The fifth story is one of my many faves: “Mrs. Grainger’s Animal Emporium.” It’s a shop filled with stuffed animals, skulls, and a skeleton wearing a top hat. There are so many interesting curios in it, that it’s no wonder a mean-spirited kid decides to purloin one of the animals–a stuffed rat–for his very own. But all of those eyes staring at him catch him in the act, and the lady who runs the establishment is not one to let petty thievery go unpunished. It must be nice to have a collection, like this lady does, that works for you, and helps make the size of your collection larger.

Arkitekture, by Michael Colangelo, is the final tale I’ll mention in any degree of in-depthness, though I loved reading all of them. Patterns and dolls are the two collections that play the largest role in this intriguing tale of a Mother who has drifted (avalanched?) into the depths of madness. Or, is it something about the house she lives in the Night House, and the robots within, and the dark, onyx-like ball there that is the cause of her madness? Still, like Jack in The Shining, haven’t we all gone a little crazy sometimes?The Mother of the tale lives in a house that’s just a tad bit too “mysterious and kooky” (to quote The Addams Family theme song) for my liking!

The other short stories that I didn’t discuss are equally marvelous. They are: “The Tick Tock Heart,” by L.S. Murphy; “Candy Lady,” by Neil Davies; “Armoire,” by Louise Bohner; “Shrieking Gauze,” by Edmund Cotell; “The Highest and the Sweetest,” by S.P. Miskowski; “Heroes and Villains,” by Michael Montoure; “Let Them Into Your Heart,” by Lee Widener; “In His Own Graven Image,” by Pete Clark; “Crawling the Insect Life,” by Opal Edgar; and, last but far from least, “The Room Beneath the Stairs,” by Patrick Burke.

There you have it; Detritus is a Must Read collection of horror stories about those people who have…collections. They should perhaps have paid attention to the great Henry David Thoreau’s warning about not allowing your possessions to take control over your life and end up possessing you. But, then, we wouldn’t have this unusual but way cool anthology to read, now would we? Check it out today, horror fans!


Franklin E. Wales knows what it takes to tell a great zombie story: blood, guts, glory, halfbreed human/zombies, and…oh, yes–zombies. As I have been known to be an afficionado of horror & zombie novels, I was very much interested in reading/reviewing the author’s novel available at Amazon for $10.99 (Click to Buy) Deadheads: Evolution and seeing for myself if it was as good as I’d heard. It is, and even more so, a brilliant shining gem of zombie goodness without the candy-coated shell. As a bonus, it has very cool illustrations by Joseph “Jody” Adams. The bombs have been dropped, the zombie virus has spread, and the voracious Deadheads want to claim the Earth as their own. To Hell with the meek–the Deadheads are here, they’re attemtping to become the dominant species, and…they’re evolving.

What can you expect when you read Deadheads: Evolution? Is it worth your hard-earned cash? It’s about motorcycle-riding, dark sunglass-wearing, gun-totin’ Gage Owen, and takes up his tale two years after the biobombs fell, transforming the Earth into a wonderful mystical gory Zombie Wonderland. Well, it’s not that wonderful if you’re a human, as humans are no longer at the top of the proverbial foodchain–zombies are. Fortunately, there are people out there like Gage, fighting back against the zombies and trying to bring order back to the chaotic postapocalyptic world one dead zombie at a time. And, Gage likes to go about his bidness while singing tunes like The Battle Hymn of the Republic. The old standards are best, when it comes to shooting the Living Dead.

And, there’s a traveling companion he picks up, the lovely Sara. Sara has been held captive, locked away and fed, by a household of zombies who have figured out a way to lure humans to their screaming munchy crunchy deaths. Their plans for Sara are ruined when Gage invades their happy home and rescues her, by putting caps into their zombie heads. Sara, Gage finds, is a fairly proficient shot, herself–which can (and does) prove to be very useful–especially when the Deadheads are becoming more intelligent, and seem to be developing a mindreading, hive mentality, like they do in Stephen King’s novel Cell.

Yet another interesting character in Deadheads: Evolution is the ex-Congressman, First-Peter. He and his brother Samuel try to flee the Deadheads in a boat, but they find to their dismay that the boat is also carrying an unwelcome stowaway: a deadhead in the hold. The zombie infects Sam before First-Peter can stop it, and Sam in turn becomes a zombie. First-Peter kills him, then hallucinates–or does he? Jesus walks on the water and speaks to him, and in his hunger and thirst-induced condition, First-Peter takes and eats a strip of his brother’s flesh, in order to attain a new life…or, at least, to continue living. The real/imaginery Jesus reminds him of a bottle of Gatorade down in the hold, thus providing First-Peter with enough to drink to keep him alive until he reaches land.

What does he then do, but start himself a new religion, to honor Jesus and the New Life he has received. First-Peter captures a deadhead he christens Adam, gains followers, and becomes the creator of a new religious movement. The sacrament of the religion includes partaking of strips of flesh he slices from Adam and then consumes, inviting anyone who comes to his revivals to also eat. It’s a religious movement you can really…sink your teeth into (groan). Spoiler Alert: Too bad a brutal motorcycle gang puts an end to First-Peter’s life.

Deadheads: Revolution by Franklin E. Wales is proof that there is still plenty of life in the Living Dead subgenre of horror fiction. Gage, half-human, half-zombie, is all bad ass! On the human side, another villain Gage faces is Sheriff Brody of New Hope. If you are a fan of horror and zombie fiction, Deadheads: Evolution by Franklin E. Wales is a Must Read and is well worth the cover price. Other fantastic novels by Franklin E. Wales include Purgatory Junction, Booger, Gamesmaster, and Friend. A little short on cash/prefer to read ebooks? Well, friend, you’re in luck, as you can also buy this fine book by Mr. Wales at Smashwords as an ebook for a mere $3.99. Just click here.


In the silence of the night, unquiet things rustle and scuttle. Are they they products of our unsettled imaginations, or are they…something more? These unquiet things are the subjects horror author Charles L. Grant loved to write about. He was perhaps one of the best horror writer ever at conveying a sense of unease and dread, and his novelas set in the New England town of Oxrun Station display this talent to its fullest. Necon’s series of Charles L. Grant re-releases in ebook form, if you’re a fan of horror fiction, are a great way to read these gems and celebrate the genius of the horror
genre that was Grant.

The Complete Short Fiction of Charles L. Grant Volume II: The Orchard is composed of an introduction by Kealan Patrick Burke, a prologue by Grant, and four of his Oxrun Station novelas: “My Mary’s Asleep,” “I See Her Sweet and Fair,” “The Last and Dreadful Hour,” and “Screaming In the Dark.” The stories are loosely linked by their setting, by a spooky old blackened apple orchard at the outskirts of town, and by recurring characters from the first tale in the collection, “My Mary’s Asleep.”

What are the short stories about? “My Mary’s Asleep” tells the tale of college students who ought to be preparing for their finals, but who instead choose to use their Sunday to have a picnic, have fun, and blow off some steam. Something mysterious lurks in the old orchard near to where they picnic, but what is it? They enjoy the picnic, have fun playing a game of tag with few rules, and one of the group gets smashed into by a car and dies. That person is the boyfriend of Mary Oster. The main protagonist of the story, the overweight Herb Johns, has the hots for Mary, and so is not unhappy when her boyfriend bites the dust. But then, the other friends at the picnic also begin to die off; Herb mysteriously loses quite a bit of weight in a short time; he carves an elaborate coffin with Mary’s visage on it and a life-sized version of Mary; and then, he eventually finds himself alone in the old apple orchard. Or, is he truly alone?

The second novela, “I See Her Sweet and Fair,” has as its main protagonist a middle-aged police officer who has a teenage son who may be a murderer. Policeman Brett Gilman wonders which of two women in town might be showing the most interst in him, and if he can still find love this late in his life. His teenage son, Les, has been on eof the last people seen with young teen girls who have been showing up dead, ran through by an unknown weapon, perhaps an icepick. Brett tries to confront his son, but Les takes off and runs away, afraid that he is about to be arrested, and that his father doesn’t trust him. But, is it really Les who is behind the murders, or some mysterious creature form mythology borught to life by the hopes and wishes of an obsessed woman?

The third tale in the collection, “The Sweet and Dreadful Hour,” is one of my favorites, as it is a bit more bloody and gory. Ellory Phillips and assorted other characters find themselves hopelessly trapped in a movie theater during a storm. He is watching a movie with a woman he’s asked out on a date when there’s a power failure. An old man falls, and gets knocked unconscious. People try to leave the theater, but find that the doors are all locked, though two people do manage to leave through the doors to get help. They never return. The glass windows are impossible to smash, despite the best efforts of those trapped within. There are shape-shifting demonic figures like Ginny. She acts very seductive, and her clothes somehow fall off of her body. But then her flesh falls away and she’s not so seductive anymore. There are people who disappear mysteriously; and, the concept that it’s all just a dream, and soon they will awaken. But, Herb for one still can feel pain. If it’s all just a dream, then whose dream is it?

The fourth story, “Screaming, In the Dark,” is a nice conclusion to the collection. It’s about a reporter who is recovering from a broken leg in a hospital. But, then he gets an odd bunkmate in his room. Too bad his insurance didn’t cover a private room…but then, there wouldn’t be much to this gem of a horror story.

Check out The Orchard by Charles L. Grant if you love reading quiet horror stories full of dread that creep up on you and without warning, rip your throat out. Happy reading, and pleasant screams–er, dreams.


Can you stay cool while it’s getting hot? Environmental concerns and the threat of global warming are topics that everyone should be concerned about, and they have also played into the plots of SF books like the brilliant Paolo Bacigalupi novel The Wind-Up Girl and even Cormac McCarthy’s New York Times bestselling novel The Road.

Tobias S. Buckell’s latest page-turning novel, Arctic Rising, is about a time in the not-so-distant future when the polar ice caps are melting due to global warming. Though I like reading just about any type of SF, I especially like reading those in which the plot seems very plausible because the future depicted is based on trends, events, or scientific theories that are prevalent today. To me, that basis in reality makes books like Arctic Rising seem more relevant and gripping.

In Buckell’s book, global warming has caused the polar ice caps to partially thaw and calve off icebergs, which in turn causes lowland coastal flooding, and opens up the Northwest Passage and uncovers land that has been encased in ice for thousands of years. The land is called Thule. New communities form in Canada, and it becomes an economic powerhouse. The United States and other nations try to claim parts of the sea bed, in their ever-continuing efforts to locate new oil and other mineral reserves. But, others seek to use the newly navigable oceanic highways to transport drugs and illegally dump nuclear waste material.

The main female protagonist of Arctic Rising is the Nigerian airship pilot (working for the underfunded United Nations Poar Guard) Anika Duncan. She and her UNPG copilot, Thomas Hutton, soar in the skies above the frigid polar seas in search of suspicious ships that might be transporting drugs or radioactive waste to dump. Anika notices that the scatter cameras on the airship are detecting that one such suspicious ship, the Russian Kosatka, registered in Liberia, is emitting strong radioactive readings. When they come in closer to investigate, someone aboard the ship opens fire with a RPG launcher, bringing Anika’s airship crashing down into the ocean.

By the time a ship rescues them and helicopters come to take them to where they can obtain further medical attention, theKosatka is long gone. Though they both are alive when pulled from the ocean, Tom’s protective uniform wasn’t zipped up properly and let in the icy water, bringing on hyperthermia. He dies from it, and Anika is more determined than ever to learn why their airship was attacked and what the Russian ship had been transporting. She knows that the rewards could be high for those captains who loaded up old derelicts with radioactive waste and had “accidents” off the coast of African nations, and believes that perhaps the Kosatka was involved in similar illegal activities.

When the ship is found, and the crew arrested, no sign of whatever cargo might have been onboard is in sight. Fortunately, Anika has kept a recording of the evidence gathered by the scatter cameras to prove that the Russian ship had been transporting something radioactive; but, someone, or ones, seem determined to hush the investigation. Why are various military agencies and corporations suddenly getting involved? Could it be that the crew was trying to smuggle a nuclear weapon of some sort?

Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell, who also wrote the bestselling novel Halo: The Cole Protocol, is a suspenseful book that is sure to stay with you and open your eyes to what might happen if global warming continues at its present rate. The activist group Gaia Corporation, which tries to use technology to reverse global warming and which has a plan to terraform the Earth, also create a superweapon that falls into the wrong hands. When Anika goes undercover and attempts to stop the Gaia Corp’s weapon, the action really picks up and makes for a fast-paced, exciting read. If you like very realistic science fiction thrillers, I highly recommend that you add Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell to your reading lists.

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