Three Incidents at Foster Manor by P.T. Phronk

Summary

An old mansion. An apocalyptic storm. Whispering voices in the air. She was right to fear the worst-case scenario.

Amy Burnett has been buried in her work as a security expert. She likes it that way—her dark past can’t invade her thoughts as long as she stays holed up in her office. So why the heck has she ended up at a gothic mansion’s doorstep in the middle of the night?

It’s because Craig Foster summoned her there. Amy’s company built the sealed chamber in his basement, for any worrisome worst-case scenario, but now the safe room has presented a scenario of its own: Craig’s daughter is trapped inside.

It should be a quick fix. After all, what’s the worst thing that can happen when a stranger arrives at a remote mansion on a stormy night? An impossible mystery? A haunting? A visit from the lurking strangers in the woods? Surely not all three—that would require extraordinarily bad luck.

Unfortunately, Amy’s been short on luck lately.

Amazon

Characters

Amy is the primary character but there are a litany of supporting characters. She is an interesting character, with a lot of baggage. Despite some of her characters flaws, I quite liked her. Other characters include Caleb the needy teenager, Ash the jerk, Craig the weak-willed father, Marcus the likable dad, Jasmine the plucky one, and Trista the girl locked in the room. Each has a role to play and by saying much more I may be ruining it.

Plot

It reminded me of reading horror  genre clue. A very interesting who-dunnit where it isn’t just about who…but also about the bigger mystery and the bad dudes that show up. It will keep you on your toes with constant tension. Amy is the only one you can trust so everyone else is suspect—leading to great scenes. I did figure out both aspects but it took quite a while and I wasn’t 100% spot on—there are a bit of a twist on each. This book never lets up—in a good way.

Overall

A very easy and enjoyable read. I read this in two sittings and stayed up late to finish it. Because I just had to know if I was right and turning the pages was easy. I felt I could easily have read it on the weekend in one sitting. The writing and imagery created such vivid scenes, many of which had me gripping my phone from the suspense! A real page turner!

My only compliant was—I didn’t catch onto the whole ‘rain is dangerous because this is in the future when the environment is going to heck in a hand-basket.’ So I could not understand why people didn’t just leave. It wasn’t until much later that some very subtle hints finally made sense. Some more world-building throughout would have fixed this but it wasn’t enjoy to ruin my enjoyment of the book.

Rating

4.5 (rounded up)

A great mystery suspense for an airplane ride or a quite night in. You’ll easily read this in one sitting and feel satisfied by the end of it. Be ready for one crazy ride!

Where did I get a copy?

From the author. This review is voluntary.

Advertisements

Eating Crow by J.D. Buffington

Summary

Kidnapped, bound, and nearly starved, I am forced to watch the torture and murder of an endless parade of innocent victims. What is this murderer after? Why won’t he just kill me and be done with it? How can I ever get out of this nightmare?

Overall

This short story is hair raising. The story doesn’t wait a minute but throws you into the deep end head first. It is dark and twisted. The main character is caught up in a terrible delusion (or is it?) of a killer. He kills without hesitation to prove a point. See it from the victims point of view. What an excellently chilling piece. Easy to read in one sitting and would make a great intro for a bigger series. Won’t say anymore for the risk of giving it away – well worth the time!

Rating

4 Stars

Chilling! If you love horror and want a quick thrill before bed – this is it!

Where did I get it?

Received a free copy from the author. This is a voluntary review.

An Extra Topping of Horror by Darrell B. Nelson

Summary

Brian is happy delivering pizza to incompetent devil worshipers, lustful demons, show tune singing vampires, and over-affectionate houseplants. His life gets even better when a time traveling babe he rescues tells him they will be lovers in the future. His carefree life is destroyed when aliens bent on taking over the Earth open a rival pizza place.

Overall

I loved Brian. At first I thought he was an idiot but the author does such a great job rounding him out and showing him to be more complex that he was quite endearing by the end. Amanda was a great balance for him and I appreciated the approach the author took with her – making her the brilliant one. At first it feels like a series of anthologies, pizza stories with an arc of Dr. Rayburn’s travel. However, by the end you’ll find out there is more going on (it isn’t exactly subtle if you pay attention).

The world building needed a little bit of work but the generally sudden arrival of another character/theme was a constant plot device. Many times to the books benefit. Many times to incite laughter. Not always applied the best way. There was at least one overly shocking scene that was completely unnecessary. It was gross and way over the top. I actually put the book down. It doesn’t matter that it was fixed later – the damage was done. It was just so incongruous with the mostly fluffy feel of the book, that it never recovered.

The writing was mostly easy to follow and only lulled in a few areas.It was a bonus but also a let down at the ‘borrowing’ from well known horror stories. Especially since the story relied on them too much at times. Despite that it was FUNNY! So many hilarious b-movie feel scenes that actually hit home (and I hate dumb humor normally) so that was a real surprise. It is for sure for people who love funny horror with a romance and sci-fi pieces thrown in.

Rating

3.5 stars (rounded down)

I really loved so many aspects of this book but there were just enough downsides to give it a solid 4 stars (which with a few tweeks it would deserve). Despite a few downsides – it was an amusing book and if you love b-rated horror movies this is a must read! It just wasn’t for me.

PS to the author – get a formatter and a new cover – this book deserves it!

Where did I get it?

I received a copy from the author. This is a voluntary review.

What’s the Time Mr. Wolfdog? by Stephen J. Willis

Summary

Before the lone wolf’s cry, Tim Connery had been resigned to the fact of a cold Christmas alone. Encompassed by snowy landscapes, the views from his cottage toward the outbound vistas were but another reminder of his desolation.

Deserted by his wife and children, he is forced into the gradual admittance of his betrayal, and in keeping an unspeakable secret that is slowly tearing him apart.

Before long however, Tim suddenly finds himself surrounded by a battalion of desperate and starving dogs that have recently broken free from the nearest pound for illegal and unstable animals. Since being liberated from restraint and subservient only to a vicious pack leader, they will do anything and eat anything to survive – and Tim is no exception to the menu.

The unpredicted appearance of a woman’s dead body however, finally brings Tim to his knees, forcing him to finally confront not only his past and his future, but the very fundamentals of his faith in God. It becomes apparent thereafter that death is no stranger to Tim, when truth is revealed at even the most unexpected of times.

Here, the line between man and beast becomes lost in the overwhelming will to endure and overcome, wherein only the victor will survive to tell the tale.

Overall

This is a shorter read which was a major plus. There are a lot of glossary terms at the end, so the book was shorter then I was anticipating. The writing was easy to read and created many vivid scenes. It did a good job bringing in other senses and setting the eerie feeling. It was gripping and surprising more then a few times. However, some of the surprises didn’t necessarily match up with the blurb ‘unpredictable appearance’ is paper thin. That being said after a slow start and a character I found somewhat annoying, I was sucked in. I had to know what was going to happen to Tim and who of his newly loyal beasts would survive the night. It was gripping at times and down right chilling at others.

This was a horror story with a humanity element that twisted itself around the grotesque scenes like a bow. As with most horror though, once the crisis was averted the story simply ended without wrapping up many aspects of the story. Which speaks to excellent writing because a character I disliked for most of the book, I still invested in knowing what happens to him. What really clenched it for me was by the time he faced the ‘final boss’ I was starting to question how realistic it was and how timid Tim could really accomplish some of that. Beyond that, it was a great horror read for a quiet evening in.

Rating

3.5 Stars (rounded down and up)

Overall this was an okay read that had a lot of great chilling moments and action oriented scenes. A horror with a human angle.

Doctor Bell Anthology: Tinnitus Terror Tales by Jan L Mayes

Summary:

Horror. Humour. Educational. Dr. Bell is determined to find the cure for tinnitus (ear noise). No matter what it takes. No matter how high his dry cleaning bill is. It’s hard to get blood out of a white lab coat. Warning: violence and coarse language. Not for the faint of ear.

Overall

This is an outlandish horror with a level of bizarre that as each story is told, more strange than the last, it is hard not to question how Dr. Bell continues to get away with such ‘experiments.’ Thankfully just as the most tragic story is told, the author switches to Dr. Bell’s ‘punishment.’ I will be honest in saying the ending was disappointing. Without giving anything away I expected Dr. Bell to get his comeuppance…

A vivid horror of incompetence with a Machiavellian lead. If you are looking for a creepy set of horror stories about medical disasters, this is for sure worth your time. Leaves one shuddering. Also a bit of a lesson on blindly following authority. (As a side note: I could see how this could be offensive to those with Tinnitus, so be warned.)

Rating

3 Stars

Creepy and bizarre this set of short stories about medical disasters to cure a terrible disease will leave you squeamish.

Painted by Kirsten McKenzie

Summary

When art appraiser Anita Cassatt is sent to catalogue the extensive collection of reclusive artist Leo Kubin, it isn’t only the chilly atmosphere of the secluded house making her shiver.

Upon entering the house, Anita stands before a silent audience of portraits clustered on every wall. Every painted eye is watching her, including those of the unfinished portrait on the artist’s easel. A portrait with an eerie familiarity.

Kubin’s lawyer didn’t share the detailed instructions regarding the handling of the art, and Anita and her team start work in ignorance of the very instructions designed to keep them safe.

Disturbed, a man eases himself out of his portrait and stretches. Free at last from the confines of his canvas, he has no intention of ever returning. He has a painting to finish…

Characters

This was probably the biggest drawback to this book. When I started reading this Anita was a pretty well formed but blah character. After the rest of the group shows up I just couldn’t stand her! She kept making the same stupid choices but then so did all of them. I felt like they were all the typical horror movie characters. I was almost rooting for the villain! (The ghost not the other evil one). Almost none of them have any sense of self-preservation. Downside the author does a ridiculous amount of head hoping instead of going full narration. Also the lawyer is so over the top that it was a little painful to read at times—pretty sure he didn’t have a single good trait.

Plot

This is a horror based ghost story. It does an excellent job building the tension and is without a doubt super creepy. The ancient house, the moving portraits, and the hapless heroine. It had all the elements of a horror story and was super gripping. Downside it was such a cliche! I struggled through the idiotic characters and almost repetitive decision making.

I did appreciate two major points of this book. There was a plot within a plot and the author didn’t play it safe with the ending. Those were what took me from despising this book to sort of blinking in surprise at the last page. I don’t want to give anything away but it was refreshing!

Overall

I have a love hate relationship with this book. There were aspects of it I just loved and there were aspects I just hated! I liked the start of the book with Anita but after others arrive starting with the lawyer, all of the characters take a nose dive and never really recover. Mostly because of their completely illogical decision making that seemed only to exist to shock or drive the plot in a very specific direction. While the nail biting plot had me hooked and I just had to know the ending. Although I did see aspects of it coming, I was utterly surprised at the way the author ended it. That aspect is what really hit home as being a good book.

Rating

3.5 stars (one up and one down)

It doesn’t deserve 3 stars because it was better than that, but it wasn’t a solid 4 star book in my mind. A tense book that has all of the hallmarks of a good horror just not good characters!

This is a voluntary review.

Cover Reveal – The Sixth Gate (The Gate Trilogy #1)

I am proud to announce that the cover for The Sixth Gate has been fully finalized.  The Sixth Gate is due out July 7, 2017 – exactly two months away. I’ve also finished the back of the book text – welcome to the first of The Gate Trilogy, a dark fantasy.

The interplanetary gates have existed between the five planets and the Netherworld for as long as living memory.

Dr. Elisabeth Avery is a woman caught between two worlds. Little does she know that others like her, other half-breeds, are being hunted. When a creature drags a princess into the Netherworld, Elisabeth is determined to save her.

Meanwhile, on the planet of Hystera, a Keeper and his assistant investigate a grisly string of suicides. The Gate Guardians know something is coming, know that the Netherworld has begun to bleed through to the planets, but not why.

Will Elisabeth be able to come to terms with what she is so that she can face the coming evil?

Here is the full cover wrap:

book1_the_sixth_gate.jpg

What do you think? Can you feel the eeriness – the dark world I built? I’d love to get your thoughts!

Interested in a sneak peak? You can get the pre-order prequel to the entire series HERE. Get to know Elisabeth as a child and what put her on her path. Want a free copy? Sign up HERE for my mailing list and you’ll get a free eBook copy.

 

Asahi Art.jpgI also want to give a special shout out to Asahi Art who designed this amazing cover. As you can see I was fortunate to find someone so talented. He is diligently working on the cover for the second and third books so they all match! I highly recommend him.

See more of his amazing art HERE.