Shelter for the Damned – Mike Thorn

Title: Shelter for the Damned

Author: Mike Thorn

Publisher: JournalStone

Genre: Horror

Page Length: 190 pages

Starting off the new year with a couple horrific tales feels right, given the state of the world right now. 2020 was a mess, and 2021 is proving to also be rather distasteful. The horror genre fits right in.

Thorn creates a bloody ghostly experience that will leave you with more questions than answers. But at the same time will take you down a dark and winding rabbit hole of vivid imagination and troubled minds.

The tale was wild with gory illustration and schizophrenic mirrored rooms. I found myself being drawn in to the ever growing void of what felt like a mental breakdown.

For me, this read like a psychological thriller and trapped me in its web. But for another, it may reveal a very different experience. You can find the story on Amazon.

Synopsis: While looking for a secret place to smoke cigarettes with his two best friends, troubled teenager Mark discovers a mysterious shack in a suburban field. Alienated from his parents and peers, Mark finds within the shack an escape greater than anything he has ever experienced.

But it isn’t long before the place begins revealing its strange, powerful sentience. And it wants something in exchange for the shelter it provides.

Shelter for the Damned is not only a scary, fast-paced horror novel, but also an unflinching study of suburban violence, masculine conditioning, and adolescent rage.

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours and the novel Shelter for the Damned. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast and Tales to Terrify.

His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, Seventh Row and Vague Visages.

 

 

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OWL Rating:

*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Duke and I – Julia Quinn

Title: The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1)

Author: Julia Quinn

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Romance

Page Length: 433 pages

Following my binge watching of the Bridgertons on Netflix, I had to pick up the book and compare the two.

The book was just as compelling as the show. However, I have to admit I preferred the changes that the show made. I loved the race bending and the additional flavor that the show writers added. But of course, the original novel gave the bones for the popcorn popping and heart melting streaming show.

Both were wonderful to escape into and I look forward to reading/watching more!

If you love a steamy romance then look no further for you have found it in The Duke and I. You can find it on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn comes the first novel in the beloved Regency-set world of her charming, powerful Bridgerton family, now a series created by Shonda Rhimes for Netflix.

In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

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Corpsing – Kayleigh Marie Edwards

Title: Corpsing

Author: Kayleigh Marie Edwards

Publisher: Sinister Horror Company

Genre: Horror/Short Stories

Page Length: 150 pages

While the cover of this short story anthology written by Edwards did not exactly pull me in, her writing certainly did.

It is rare that I am able to say that I loved every little tale that was woven throughout this short collection, but I honestly did. Each story was fresh and original.

If you are a horror fan, Edwards is a writer to watch. Each of her characters were immediately captivating and brought to life. I look forward to seeing what else she will publish in the years ahead. I am thrilled to add another author on my will read/want to read list.

You can check her writing out on Amazon.

Synopsis: Kayleigh Marie Edwards has been entertaining and chilling audiences with her own eclectic mix of horror and comedy. Now, for the first time, this popular author has collected her works together, reviewing and revising each one to bring you the definitive versions of her unique tales.

From murderous children to nightmarish trips to an ill-fated zombie apocalypse, Corpsing will send you running for the light switch, but smiling as you do it.

Featuring the stories: Bitey Bachman, Bits and Bobs, Siren, Now You See Them, Skin, ‘S’ Day, Barry’s Last Day & ’Twas The Night Before Christmas.

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Kayleigh Marie Edwards is a regular writer of articles and reviews (http://www.gingernutsofhorror.com and http://www.spookyisles.com), a published short story and flash fiction writer, and a playwright. She has an MA degree in Scriptwriting.

CONNECT WITH KAYLEIGH

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*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Knight in Paper Armor – Nicholas Conley

Title: Knight in Paper Armor

Author: Nicholas Conley

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult

Page Length: 426 pages

Conley is a writer full of imagination and originality. Knight in Paper Armor will take you on a twisting and turning rollercoaster ride of unknown destinations. Conley weaves dark historical themes into a fantastical tale of a magical empath who can take one’s pain into himself and control those around him.

It is a romantic tale full of tragedy and darkness, but not without hope. Hope that rides on the tails of the young.

Overall, the story was well-written and much heart was clearly put into the storytelling. I did find that perhaps there were too many balls being juggled in this complicated metaphor of a story. As such, there was just too much going on for my personal reading tastes. However, I am sure that for many other readers it will be quite palatable.

You can find the tale on Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.

Synopsis: Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

 

THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY:

Nicholas Conley is an award-winning Jewish American author, journalist, playwright, and coffee vigilante. His books, such as Knight in Paper Armor, Pale Highway, Clay Tongue: A Novelette, and Intraterrestrial, merge science fiction narratives with hard-hitting examinations of social issues. Originally from California, he now lives in New Hampshire.

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OWL Rating:

*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man – Mary L. Trump

Title: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man

Author: Mary L. Trump

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: Biography/Non-fiction

Page Length: 236 pages

Curiosity compelled me and I ventured into the history of Donald Trump. Except this story was more about Fred Trump, Jr. and his toxic relationship with Fred Trump, Senior.

I will admit I now have pity for all the Trump family, including all the players. While this revealing story castigated the entire Trump clan, it also highlighted how they became such a dysfunctional lot.

This story is not told without anger on the writer’s behalf and so with that you must take the revelation with a grain of salt. However, the power dynamics of the cold family would turn anyone to the dark side, and I find myself quite disturbed by the abuse they all have suffered. Some more than others.

The account did not reveal anything about Donald Trump’s character that we didn’t already know, but it did reveal a great deal of history that I personally had not known about.

You can find the story on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ large, imposing house in the heart of Queens, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald.

A first-hand witness to countless holiday meals and family interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events. She recounts in unsparing detail everything from her uncle Donald’s place in the family spotlight and Ivana’s penchant for re-gifting to her grandmother’s frequent injuries and illnesses and the appalling way Donald, Fred Trump’s favorite son, dismissed and derided him when he began to succumb to Alzheimer’s.

Numerous pundits, armchair psychologists, and journalists have sought to parse Donald J. Trump’s lethal flaws. Mary L. Trump has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick. She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.

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Hinterland – L.M. Brown

Title: Hinterland

Author: L.M. Brown

Publisher: Fomite Press

Genre: Fiction

Page Length: 324 pages

I was not sure what to expect from this tale, having never read Brown before. What I discovered was a story full of family drama, mystery and suspicion.

Hinterland takes you on a quiet journey of omissions and guilt. I found myself being drawn deeper into each chapter, wanting to discover the silences that have kept this family apart.

If you enjoy a bit of mystery and drama then I see no reason why you would not find this an enticing and quality read. Give Brown a chance as I did, and you will not be disappointed.

The book is set to release in October 2020. Learn more on Amazon.

Synopsis: Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was while pregnant. Tension start to rise with the return of Ina, Nicholas’ childhood best friend, to the house next door. Kathleen doesn’t trust her or Nicholas. Already unstable, Kathleen’s suspicions culminate in a day of violence, and Kathleen’s disappearance. Kate’s life is shattered by her mother s desertion. No one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina is like a mother to her, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell Kate or Ina the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

THE WOMAN BEHIND THE STORY:

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

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OWL Rating:

*We received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Midnight Sun – Stephenie Meyer

Title: Midnight Sun (#5)

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance

Page Length: 662 pages

I had no desire to read this, since Bella Swan’s version was enough for me. However, I can be a bit of a completist, so for the sake of finishing the series I did read it.

It helps when you have not read or watched the movies in years. The first couple hundred pages were fun, and then it seemed to become repetitive and boring. However, I pushed through and in the end appreciated the few instances where something new was added. Will I ever read it again? Unlikely. Regardless, I enjoyed going back into the Twilight world for a few hours, as it brought back some nostalgia.

So do I recommend it? Honestly, it does not add anything to the original story, but if you love the world and the characters, it can be a fun trip down memory lane.

Synopsis: When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

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Red Dragon – Thomas Harris

Title: Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter #1)

Author: Thomas Harris

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Horror/Crime/Thriller

Page Length: 464 pages

After watching Hannibal on Netflix, I found myself itching to know more. I decided to delve into the world of Thomas Harris and explore this dark world from the beginning.

I was entertained that this first Hannibal story was the beginning, and yet it was the ending for the TV/streaming show.

The show followed the book closely, with only a few changes that I noticed. I found the story engaging, though the show added an even darker element to the tale. Overall, I was satisfied with the adventure and I am considering continuing the series.

You can find the story on Amazon in multiple formats.

Synopsis: FBI agent Will Graham once risked his sanity to capture Hannibal Lecter, an ingenious killer like no other. Now, he’s following the bloodstained pattern of the Tooth Fairy, a madman who’s already wiped out two families.

To find him, Graham has to understand him. To understand him, Graham has only one place left to go: the mind of Dr. Lecter.

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Decoding Your Dog – American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

Title: Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones

Author: American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Reprint: Mariner Books; Reprint edition

Genre: Non-fiction/Dogs/Animals

Page Length: 384 pages

I read this book at the request of an animal behaviorist I saw regarding my own pup who has anxiety.

In truth, I am not the average reader, as I have past experience working in animal environments where I learned many of the elements that are covered in this book.

Regardless, even for someone who is not a newbie to dog behavior, I found nuggets of wisdom within this text. Additionally, I feel this book is a good reminder/guide for all dog owners, especially those who may be seeing some strange behavior from their Fido.

This was an easy to read and understand dog behavior bible that all dog owners would benefit from exploring. It is one of the better texts I have come across regarding this topic.

If you are a dog owner, I feel it is worth your time. While I read the first edition, you can find a reprint on Amazon.

Synopsis: More than ninety percent of dog owners consider their pets to be members of their family. But often, despite our best intentions, we are letting our dogs down by not giving them the guidance and direction they need. Unwanted behavior is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups.

The key to training dogs effectively is first to understand why our dogs do what they do. And no one can address this more authoritatively than the diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, whose work, the culmination of years of rigorous training, takes them deep into the minds of dogs in an effort to decode how they think, how they communicate, and how they learn.

In Decoding Your Dog, these experts analyze problem behaviors, decipher the latest studies, and correct common misconceptions and outmoded theories. The book includes:

• Effective, veterinary-approved positive training methods
• Expert advice on socialization, housetraining, diet, and exercise
• Remedies for behavior problems such as OCD and aggression

With Decoding Your Dog the experts’ experts deliver a must-have dog behavior guide that ultimately challenge the way we think about our dogs
.

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Bone Crier’s Moon – Kathryn Purdie

Title: Bone Crier’s Moon (Bone Grace #1)

Author: Kathryn Purdie

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Genre: Fantasy/YA/Romance

Page Length: 480 pages

A unique tale of love and French mythology that strains and captures the heart in one.

I thoroughly enjoyed this reading adventure, as it contains all the important elements of YA fantasy. Purdie captures the essence of wanting a parents approval while balancing the growing need to be independent and self-expressed. A sisterhood story that promotes strong female characterization and the intricacies and drama that can ignite.

The story revealed itself with some surprises and I am left hungry for more.

You can find the story on Amazon in multiple format.

Synopsis: Bone ​Criers have a sacred duty. They alone can keep the dead from preying on the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes from sacrifice. The gods demand a promise of dedication. And that promise comes at the cost of the Bone Criers’ one true love.

Ailesse has been prepared since birth to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers, a mysterious famille of women who use strengths drawn from animal bones to ferry dead souls. But first she must complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she’s also destined to love.

Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier and he’s been seeking revenge ever since. Yet when he finally captures one, his vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fates are entwined—in life and in death.

Sabine has never had the stomach for the Bone Criers’ work. But when her best friend Ailesse is taken captive, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means defying their traditions—and their matriarch—to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. Before they all die.

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