Archives for posts with tag: book review

Ban This Book (Starscape) by acclaimed author Alan Gratz deals with banned books at a school library, and with the efforts of a young elementary school student to read every book on the list for herself, and start up a lending library so that any of her fellow students can also read the books if they want. The young girl, Amy Anne Ollinger, starts off by desiring to simply want to borrow her favorite book from her school’s library, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg.

Amy has read it numerous times before, but loves to reread it over and over again. When she attempts to borrow it this time, however, she finds it has disappeared off of the shelves of the library, and that the mother of one of her classmates, Trey, is planning on talking to the school board to have the book, as well as others, banned from the school library. Amy is determined not to let the banning of books which she thinks her fellow students should have the freedom to read prevent them from having access to the books. For a chance to win a hardback copy of this novel that all book lovers will want to read, just enter this contest by being a resident of Canada or the United States and leaving your name, mention the state or province and city where you live, and follow the few other simple rules below! The last contest I ran was involving winning a hardback copy of the thriller, City of Saviors,(Tor/Forge) by Rachel Howzell Hall. Due to a lack of entries, there was not a winner chosen…it’s so easy to enter these contests, though, so I urge you to enter this one!

At the beginning of Ban This Book, Amy is just an ordinary student, a young lady who loves reading books, and who has several “favorites.” The one she loves the most, however, is the afore-mentioned one, by Konigsberg. Amy has always feared speaking up for herself, and making her opinions known, especially living as she does with her sisters always striving to be the centers of attention. She has always just gone with the flow, wanting to say what her opinions are, but saying something else, instead.

However, Amy finds herself changing and she becomes a stronger person, inside, throughout the course of Ban This Book, as she fights her own battle against censorship. Her father takes her to a local book store where she buys herself a copy of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and she loans it to her best friend, Rebecca Zimmerman, who also loves the book after she reads it, and is intrigued with the idea of reading something that has been forbidden them. Rebecca has another book that is on the banned list, and she lets Amy read it. That is how the idea that Amy gets of creating a lending library of banned books is born.

In Ban this Book, Amy realizes that starting up the lending library could get her and her friends into trouble, if they get caught; but, she feels it is worth it to take a stand for her love of books and the rights we all have under the First Amendment. For the chance to win a hardback copy of this book, besides following the few simple rules above, you just need to be 18 or older, anda person who is not related to me. The contest will run from Tuesday, October 10, 2017, to Friday, October 20, at midnight. I will then chose a winner at random. The potential winner will have five days to get back to me with his/her snail mail address, just so I can let Starscape, the publishers, know where to send the novel. If I do not hear from the potential winner after five additional days, I will chose a new winner, from the rest of the entries. Multiple entries from the same person are allowed, but Spam-related ones will not count as eligible entries. People can also enter by providing the information I mention here to me via a Twitter or Facebook message or via email. Good luck!

Written By: Douglas R. Cobb

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Killing Is My Business (Tor/Forge) is Adam Christopher’s sequel to his critically acclaimed novel, Made to Kill, featuring noirish robot detective — and killer — Raymond Electromatic. Christopher deftly combines the genres of mysteries, detective dramas, and science fiction, with a good dose of sly humor, in Killing Is My Business, a highly entertaining romp that fans of all of these genres, and just plain good writing, will enjoy reading.

What’s more, thanks to Yours Truly, the book’s publishers, Tor/Forge, and Adam Christopher, one lucky reader who is also a resident of the United States who leaves a comment below, mentioning the state he/she lives in, will win a hardback copy of the book! A few more simple rules follow this review. I had a winner for my first-ever giveaway, of the thriller Tower Down, by David Hagberg; but, due to lack of response for the second giveaway, a hardback copy of Putin’s Gambit by Lou Dobbs and James O. Born there were no winners chosen. Sometimes one shot is all it takes….try your luck, and YOU could be the winner of a copy of Killing Is My Business!

As Killing Is My Business opens, robotic sleuth, Raymond “Ray” Electromatic is tracking down yet another person, Los Angeles city planner, Vaughan Delaney. The reason why isn’t personal. It’s to kill Delaney. Ray has been given his orders, via a roll of magnetic tape, changed out at the end of each day. He has no memories of past days, other than what might serve him in continuing on his search, and his “boss” is a brassy supercomputer. Why he has been asked, by some client he has never met and doesn’t know, he does not know. He just has a job to do, and that is to kill whoever he has been assigned to kill.

Ray definitely has a personality, though, and certain meories are hardwired into him, like his love of beautiful cars and admiration of those who also love them, even if…he has been ordered to kill them. Only, in the case of Vaughan, the city planner, on the outside a happy family man, beats Ray to the punch by taking a dive out of a window where he works on the sixth floor and killing himself. To Ray’s unknown client, a dead Vaughan is a dead Vaughan, no matter how he met his end, so Vaughan’s death still filled Ray’s unkonown employer’s pockets with cash.

Then, Ray is charged with locating and killing another man, a very wealthy individual, Emerson Ellis…and the plot of Killing Is My Business really takes off, with the elusive Ellis proving to be quite difficult to track down. Despite going to check out Ellis’ businesses and questioning his secretary, butler, and others, and journeying to his prey’s various houses, Ray comes up empty-handed, but far from defeated or deterred.

Killing Is My Business is a witty, very cool genre-crossing novel by Christopher, an extremely entertaining addition to the author’s series about his robot gumshoe, Ray Electromatic. I highly recommend that you add it to your reading lists today!

To win a hardback copy (one is being given away), simply leave a comment below, with your name and the state you live in, so that I know you are from the United States, for shipping purposes. The giveaway will run from August 31, 2017, to September 14, 2017, at midnight, when I iwll randomly select a winner from all eligible entries. The winner must also be over 18, and be willing to provide me with his/her complete snail mail address, so i can give that information to the publishers, Tor/Forge, as they will mail out the copy to the lucky winner. Good luck, and who knows? YOU might wind up being the winner!

By: Douglas R. Cobb


Debut author, Freddie Owens, swings for the fences and hits a home run with his excellent coming-of-age story set primarily in Kentucky, Then Like the Blind Man. When Orbie’s father dies, his life changes forever. His mother, Ruby, finds herself attracted to the smooth-talking, poetic atheist Victor Denalsky, who had been Orbie’s father’s foreman at a steel mill in Detroit. After Orbie’s father dies, Victor courts Orbie’s mother, and eventually marries her. Not wanting to nor desiring to take care of a nine-year-old boy with an attitude, like Orbie, who can’t stand his stepfather, anyway, Ruby and Victor decide to drop Orbie off at Ruby’s parents’ house in Kentucky, with the promise that they’ll come back to get him once they’ve settled in Florida, where Victor supposedly has a job lined up. Orbie’s mother and Victor take with them Orbie’s younger sister, Missy.

The novel is told in the first person by Orbie, who, though young, is very insightful for his age. As I read, I was often reminded of another famous novel told from the POV of a child, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird. The themes are different, but Orbie’s and Scout’s perspectives on African Americans in the 1950′s are significant to understanding both books. Orbie has some bad experiences with some of the black people he comes in contact with early on in the novel, so he calls them the “n,” word at various points in the story.

Through the course of Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie eventually realizes that his grandparents are great people who love him. They may not have attained a high level of school education, but they are wise about farm life and human nature.

They don’t like it that their daughter, Ruby, has developed a prejudice for blacks, nor that she’s passed it on to Orbie. That’s one of the many nice touches I liked about Freddie Owen’s debut novel, that in it, it’s not Orbie’s grandparents who live in Kentucky that exhibit a prejudiced point of view, but it’s learned from experiences Orbie and his family have living in Detroit, in the north. Of course, in reality, unfortunately you can find prejudice in every state to this day; but, the author didn’t go the stereotypical route of having his northern characters expressing an enlightened POV, and his southern ones being all racists.
Owens, a published poet, has infused Then Like the Blind Man with a poetic sensibility that makes his story and characters come to life for the reader. Through Owens, and Orbie’s story, we feel the emotions of being dumped off somewhere he doesn’t want to live, at his grandparents’ house; but, we come to see them as positive, nurturing influences on Orbie’s life. Though Orbie despises the alcoholic Victor, and how his mother has made wrong decisions (to his POV, anyway), Victor is not portrayed as being completely bad. He does show an interest in Orbie at times, like when Orbie expresses his fascination with a scar Victor has on his neck that he got in WWII.

Orbie comes to think that Victor acts nicely towards him only further to ingratiate himself with Ruby, Orbie’s mother. Ruby is the type of woman who thinks she can change the man she loves, to rehabilitate him, and she always holds out a spark of hope for Victor. This is an aspect about her that kind of frustrated me as a reader, and made me want to tell her–if she was real and in front of me–to stop deluding herself and wake up and realize what a jerk Victor is most of the time. But, thinking of a man who has faults as being some sort of “project,” or someone who can be “rehabilitated,” is a trait that some women have, so Ruby’s having this trait brought even more realism to the story.

Besides there being various themes and messages in Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie’s boyhood exuberance, how he relates to his grandparents, his changing point of view about much of what he’d taken for granted; and his adventures are what really makes the novel captivating. Freddie Owens fills the pages of his novel with other very memorable characters, like the humpbacked elderly lady, Bird; Moses Mashbone; Mrs. Profit; and Nealy Harlan. If you’re a fan of novels like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, Freddie Owens’s Then Like the Blind Man is s Must Read!


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!


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.


Looking for some great horror fiction to read? Necon E-Books has come out with loads of fantastic ebooks that are sure to please the most discriminating fans of the genre. I will periodically review some of the excellent horror novels featured there. This week, I will focus on the first in a series of eight books that Necon is releasing covering the collected short fiction of the renowned horror author, the late Charles L. Grant (September 12, 1942 – September 15, 2006) titled Nightmare Seasons. Available at the site as an ebook for $4.99, it is composed of four novellas by Grant, and is a great beginning to the series and one that you’ll want to add to your E-libraries.

Originally published by Tor in 1982, the brooding and suspenseful tales of horror in this collection have found new life and hopefully a new and wider audience of horror fans. The four novellas are interrelated, linked by both their setting and the theme of seasons and decades, and what fresh horrors each season can bring. As stated at the Necon site, where you can order this ebook and many others, this makes Nightmare Seasons “a tone poem – almost a symphony.”

This description might make the book seem highbrow, but though the writing is sophisticated and polished, it contains enough genuine horrific moments that it beat out Stephen King’s Different Seasons and Dennis Etchison’s The Dark Country to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection/Anthology. Not too shabby, when you can write good enough horror to beat the America’s King of Horror.

So, what do you get when you purchase Nightmare Seasons, the first of the eight-book series? First, the folks at Necon E-books will work to make sure you get the ebook format that’s right for whatever reading device you want to download it to, whether it be to your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, cell phone, or computer, for example.

Nightmare Seasons begins with a nicely written prologue by the horror author and critic Don D’Ammassa that also serves to introduce us to Oxrun Station, a fictional Connecticut town where the stories of this collection (and much of Grant’s other fiction) is set. Besides the setting of the stories, they also contain the themes of “the potentially destructive power of love when it demands too much,” and “the tragedy of lonliness and the danger it poses for those so afflicted,” as Don Ammassa notes.

The four novellas are set in different decades and seasons. The first one, “Thou Need Not Fear My Kisses, Love,” takes place in the spring of 1940 and is about what happens when Samantha England, the de facto head of her father’s corporation when he suffers a stroke, comes home to discover the severed foot of a co-worker who may have been her lover of her lover lying in front of her house. She denies that he was her lover, but they were definitely close. Then, her fellow co-workers also begin to meet mysterious demises. Who, or what, is behind the series of odd deaths? Is the culprit a serial killer, a bear, or something…else?

The second tale, “Now There Comes A Darker Day,” is set in the summer of 1950. It, like the first story, involves a group of men attracted to a woman, but the woman in this tale is very different from Samantha England. Her name is Elizabeth Corey, and she travels with an enigmatic and creepy young girl, who has a thing for violets. The men whom are regulars at a local bar each, in turn, become fatally attracted to Corey, and feel the need to protect her and love her. They fall under her spell, but each has worrisome qulams about the silent little girl who seems to be her daughter. The men Corey leaves suffer terrible fates; but, is it the fault of Corey, or perhaps, somehow, the little girl?

“Night’s Swift Dragons,” the third novella, is set in the autumn of 1960, largely in the postal office of Oxrun Station. The workers there encounter a mysterious, Night Gallery-type of evil that is almost beyond their ability to comprehend. They find themselves virtual prisoners of the post office when their town is invaded by a motorcyle gang. But, is it a gang of bikers, as they appear to be; or, are they something much…worse, and evil? Perhaps they are archetypal antiheroes, perhaps they are dragons, who appear throughout history under different guises, and enjoy killing just for the sheer pleasure of it. I’d say it was my favorite novella from a collection of strong, powerful ones that display Grant’s writing prowess at their apex.

“The Color of Joy” takes place in thw winter of 1970. It is a
Christmas story, and the protagonist is the daughter of one of the postal workers from the previous story. Melissa is the center of a circle of devoted friends, but she has never gotten over the deahts of her mother and, later, her brothers. She finds it difficult to relate to others, but she believes that, in general, she is happy. However, Melissa finds it difficult to explain why she keeps imagining that someone is watching her, and she eventually begins to realize that perhaps her friends may feel differently about her than she has thought that they have. It’s a fascinating tale of self-realization and the horrors it brings.

Besides winning the World Fantasy Award, Charles Lewis Grant a Nebula Award in 1976 for his short story “A Crowd of Shadows”, and another Nebula Award in 1978 for his novella “A Glow of Candles, a Unicorn’s Eye.” He has also written under the pseudonyms of Geoffrey Marsh, Lionel Fenn, Simon Lake, Felicia Andrews, and Deborah Lewis.

To be perfectly honest, I had not heard of Charles L. Grant before I had the good fortune to be sent a copy of the ebook, The Complete Stories of Charles L. Grant: Nightmare Seasons Volume One. I didn’t know what to expect from the collection, but I greatly enjoyed reading it. It’s not a type of collection of horror that is about blood & gore from the beginning to the end of each story, though, which is what many readers of the genre have come to expect. Rather, the horror creeps up on you more. While terrible and gruesome things happen, the psychological horrors that the main protagonists experience are just as crucial to the plots of the tales. Though I have come to the writing of Charles L. Grant relatively late, I see his writing as that of a master of the horror genre, and I am looking forward to reading the second book of the series, The Orchard very much. Check out this wonderful collection of Grant’s novellas today!

–Douglas R. Cobb–

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