Title: Silverwood: The Door
Authors: Brian Keene, Stephen Kozeniewski, Sisters of Slaughter, Richard Chizmar, original creator Tony E. Valenzuela
Publisher: Serial Box Publishing
Have you ever heard of Serial Box? Not the box you find your Cheerios in. Well I hadn’t, not until someone reached out to me and told me all about it.
It sounded like Netflix for books, except a bit different. It is serialized fiction that like TV, is released in episodic segments. You find a book you’re interested in and then pay for that books narrated episodes and eBook. Kind of cool, right?
When all is said and done, you’ve paid the price of one book and you get two different formats to choose from.
I listened to the first episode for free of Silverwood: The Door. But I have an auditory processing disorder, so I prefer to read instead of listen. I was excited to see that I can just continue the story on my own in eBook format, instead of waiting for each episode release. Regardless of my wee hearing disorder, I think this is pretty neat. I know when holiday travel starts up again, I will be looking at this site for audiobooks to make the traveling a bit easier.
Now, about the story Silverwood: The Door. I have been keen for sometime to read Keene, but have never gotten around to it. And we all know my bookworm heart beats fast for Kozeniewski. So, when this title came across my inbox I was eager to check it out.
This is a story that combines both primal violence and otherworldly phenomenon. An X-Files story on steroids that there is no coming back from. If you like stories about the darkness that creeps under our humanity then you have found your bedtime fairy-tale.
The story has 4 authors who seamlessly weave their tales together. Each chapter is written by a different author, but you can’t tell because they have melded their voices as one.
The story felt like a movie as you follow the characters individual stories. The level of detail paints a vivid picture, a picture that contains much gore and mayhem. However, even with the horror that unfolds on each page, the authors still are able to bring a level of humor to the scenes. I think my favorite involves a character named Devin, who is surrounded by terror and chaos, but tries to maintain an air of professionalism as bodies hit the ground. It tickled my gooey insides.
It was a well crafted story by some of the best horror writers currently alive. If you are interested in reading more or listening to the episodes, check out the first episode/chapter on Serial Box. You can listen to the first episode for free.
The original inspiration for Silverwood: The Door began with a YouTube show called, Silverwood, which was a 10 episode anthology series that came out in 2012. Keene and fellow authors are now continuing the story.
Synopsis: Deep within the forest of Silverwood, California, a crack between dimensions has appeared. A dark force that lurks among the trees is growing stronger, determined to return home if it can only gather the strength to open the door—bad news for a Cub Scout troop and the employees of Hirsch Capital on a company retreat nearby. As their darkest fears and impulses power the mysterious force, their bonding exercises take a deadly turn. Will anyone be able to keep their minds long enough to close the door before our world is torn apart?
*I received a free copy of the story in exchange for an honest review
Title: Spencer & Locke
Author: David Pepose
Art: Jorge Santiago Jr.
Color: Jasen Smith
Letters: Colin Bell
Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment
Genre: Hardboiled Fiction/Noir – Graphic novel
Before you begin reading this collection of quality hardboiled fiction, set the tone with the low vibes of jazz noir. It will enhance your reading experience. With every page turn, I felt more and more pulled in with the help of YouTube.
I have an obsession with this style of crime detective fiction. It’s edgy, dark, fatalistic and sexy. Pepose and fellow creators produced a gritty Calvin and Hobbes remix, starring a confident and brooding protagonist with a traumatic past. Even though Locke’s sidekick is a stuffed animal come to life in his mind, Locke still oozes that cool and calm demeanor we love from our prohibition style crime fighters. However, I do have some questions about the psyche evaluation that clearly never happened for this detective.
I loved the style of this graphic novel. The artwork was fantastic and the writing fit perfectly. Spencer has some clever comebacks that also brought a giggle to my lips. I can’t wait to see the next installments to come out in the spring.
If you have an interest in noir styled graphic novels then check Spencer & Locke out, you will not be disappointed. The first novel starts at $5.99 in Kindle/comixology format and $13.49 in paperback.
Synopsis: Spencer & Locke follows hard-boiled Detective Locke as he investigates a brutal murder with the strangest of partners ― his childhood imaginary panther, Spencer. But when they face brutal gunfights, deadly car chases and memories of Locke’s traumatic youth, can this unlikely pair survive long enough to find the truth?
Currently nominated for five Ringo Awards, including Best Series and Best Writer.
THE MAN BEHIND THE WORDS
After starting his career at DC Comics, David Pepose has gone on to write thousands of articles about comic book storytelling. SPENCER & LOCKE, Pepose’s debut series with artist Jorge Santiago, Jr., has been praised by IGN as “a fiendishly fun take on an age-old classic.” A St. Louis native, Pepose currently lives in Los Angeles, where he works in the television industry.
CONNECT WITH THE CREATORS
*I received a free copy of the story in exchange for an honest review
Title: Darkest Hours
Author: Mike Thorn
Just in time for the Halloween holiday, I had the pleasure to continue my horror education with Thorn’s latest short story collection. Horror and I are beginning to become good friends, if I do say so myself.
Thorn has compiled a varied and creative anthology. I found that from story to story I was always pleasantly surprised. Naturally, some stories I enjoyed more than others, but overall I felt this was a solid grouping of tales.
The collection starts with a disturbing and repulsing addiction to hair. Can’t deny that I said eww a lot. It was also enlightening because at the end of the day there is someone out there who is suffering from this sexual proclivity. It felt like a beginning to a Criminal Minds episode.
I found often drawn to certain sentences that Thorn crafted. They were clever and I liked his use of language. Some of my favorites included:
“My scholastic cock outsizes everyone else’s”
“Herbert asked the bartenders breasts”
“Work like you want to work”
“Everything else, the chaos that came between the cradle and the grave, was unpredictable”
It is clear from Thorn’s writing that he has spent some time in academia, as several of his stories star accomplished or struggling academic professors. It is obviously a familiar environment Thorn likes to capture. Whether the academic was a mouse mass murderer or an out-of-work biologist, Thorn highlights their struggles and peculiarities.
One of my favorites from the collection was Lucio Schluter, a creative writing piece that brings reality to art. I think it was my favorite because it felt like true crime. This was a story that I could see showing up in an FBI file. For me, the more realistically attainable the horror, the more intriguing and butt clenching the tale.
If you are looking for a quick and unpleasant (in good way) read before bedtime then look no further. You can find the story collection on Amazon for $3.99 in Kindle format and for $11.00 in paperback.
Also, I dig the cover. It reminds me of a home recorded VHS tape, which brings back the memories.
Synopsis: In the bleak landscape of Darkest Hours, people make decisions that lead them into extreme scenarios – sometimes bizarre, often horrific, always unexpected. Between this book’s covers you will find academics in distress; monsters abused by people; people terrorized by demons; ghostly reminiscences; resurrected trauma; and occult filmmaking. Ranging from satirical to dreadful, these stories share a distinct voice: urgent, sardonic, brutal, but always empathetic.
THE MAN BEHIND THE STORY
Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours.
His fiction has appeared in a number of magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast and Behind the Mask – Tales from the Id, and his film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, The Seventh Row and Vague Visages.
He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.
CONNECT WITH MIKE
*I received a free copy of the story in exchange for an honest review
Title: The Embalmer: A Steve Jobz Thriller
Author: Vincent Zandri
Publisher: Bear Noir
Genre: Detective Fiction/Thriller/Crime
I read this story for OnlineBookClub.org. While I am not permitted to fully review it anywhere else, I would like to share a few thoughts.
I have been on a crime kick lately, so I decided to explore this story by an author I had never read before. The story was enjoyable and I was never bored. However, the characters were lacking in development.
I recommend checking him out if you enjoy light detective fiction and crime thrillers.
If you are interested in seeing my full review, please head on over here.
Synopsis: From New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Overall No. 1 Bestselling Thriller and Shamus Award Winning Author Vincent Zandri Comes a Brand New Private Detective Series. “The Embalmer is dying to meet you…”
You might think that a guy with the name of Steve Jobz would be one lucky man. That he’d be rich and have the world at his fingertips. But instead, Jobz is barely making ends meet at the New York State Department of Unemployment Insurance Fraud. A former cop who was forced to retire early after shooting a young man of color during a convenience store holdup, Jobz has since resigned himself to wasting away his days in a four-by-four cubicle inside an office space that’s more boring than watching the paint dry.
But when his overbearing boss calls him in on a job that the Albany Police Department is heading up, Jobz has a chance to get out of the office for a while.
But what he doesn’t realize is that he’s about to come face to face with a serial killer who embalms his victims alive. What he is also about to face down, is his own worst nightmare come true when that serial killer turns out not to be a stranger.
The Embalmer culminates with an explosive climax and promises to keep readers glued to their chairs for hours.
The novel combines wry humor with some serious hard-boiled action, adventure, and romance. For fans of Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, Charlie Huston, Jim Crumley, Lee Child, Brett Battles, and more.
*I received a free copy of the story in exchange for an honest review
Title: Poison by Punctuation
Author: Kelley Kaye
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC
When I read the first installment, I was pleasantly surprised and was interested to see what other adventures Kelley Kaye had to share for these two teachers, Emma and Leslie.
Emma and Leslie are likeable and light women. Even when death looms above them, they continue to smile and investigate. However, like several of the characters, their characterization is quirky in a dated way. They talk more like 50 year old women than late twenties/early thirties ladies. So I guess you can call them old souls. But I predict their characterization would appeal to a slightly older, female audience instead of the intended age.
This second tale continues Emma and Leslie’s investigative night job of solving murders and threats made within the school.
The beginning was slow and I had to push through to get to the meat of the tale. I often felt there were many sections that could have been cut altogether, making a more concise story without so much down time. Once I was halfway in, I started to enjoy the story and the the revelations that ensued.
If you enjoy light, chic-lit murder mysteries then you may enjoy this series. For me the tale was just okay. This is perhaps due to my age or the fact that I prefer my stories a bit heavier on the character development. Also, I prefer more darkness than light.
THE WOMAN BEHIND THE STORY
Kelley Kaye taught High School English and Drama for twenty years, but her love for storytelling dates back to creating captions for her high school yearbook. Maybe back to the tales she created around her Barbie and Ken—whatever the case, the love’s been around for a long time.
Kelley is married to this amazing man who cooks for her, and they have two funny and wonderful sons. She lives in Southern California.
*We received a free copy of the story in exchange for an honest review
Title: Caught in the Devil’s Snare
Author: Dani Matthews
A homeless girl finds a knight in shining armor in his tale, though it’s all a little twisted, since the knight is the leading crime boss for NYC.
Matthews is a new author to me, and she was a recommendation from an online book club I am apart of. I tend to enjoy the controlling, dominant male leads and Devlin was a good compromise. He was just dominating enough that it was enjoyable and not abusive.
Charli was a strong willed and motivated character, though a tad young. I would have preferred she was more than just barely legal. I liked her character well enough despite her age. She was a more mature 18 year old.
The whole scenario was a bit far fetched, but I appreciated that the author wrote about a deaf woman. It added something to her character. It was my first time reading a book where the main character was deaf. I thought the author incorporated it well, without leaving the reader feeling like they were missing something.
The romance took a while to build, which is always the best part. It was a steamy tale and I felt the attraction.
If you are looking for a stand-alone, sexy read then this might be the story for you. You can find the tale on Amazon in Kindle format for 99 cents.
I felt my 99 cents was well-spent.
I live in a world of silence.
Living on the streets hasn’t been easy, but my other senses have kept me safe.
That safety is soon shattered when I’m snatched off the streets and find the Devil pointing his gun at my head.
He spares my life, but that’s not where it ends.
He wants something from me, but I have no intention of giving it to him.
She’d have been dead by my hand if it weren’t for those blazingly defiant green eyes.
She looked like any normal street-ravaged waif until I learned she’s deaf.
Call me intrigued.
Not because she can’t hear, but because she’s the most stubborn female I have ever met.
No one has ever denied me what I want…until Charli came along.
I think I want to keep her.
Recommended for ages 18+.
Title: The One
Author: John Marrs
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Genre: Psychological Thriller/Science Fiction/Romance
I heard about this in a book recommendation magazine I subscribe to as a librarian. It spoke to my 16-year-old self who was obsessed with the idea of soulmates. I lived and breathed anything related to the topic and even believed at one time in my life that I had found mine. Additionally, this book was all about our Brit cousins, which added to the appeal.
Well this book was about soulmates and then some. It wasn’t the romantic ride I anticipated. Instead, it was about the darker side of finding and knowing that the one made for you exists out in the world.
It was a fast paced read with five characters to follow. Each character had a different experience once they met their match. There were some happier stories, but overall the book is about the problems that arise from having a DNA match.
I enjoyed the ride, even though it was not what I expected to read. The characters were developed and engaging. I found myself enraptured by each individual story-line and rooted for them all, even the less than human personalities.
Synopsis: A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.
That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.
Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…
A word-of-mouth hit in the United Kingdom, The One is a fascinating novel that shows how even the simplest discoveries can have complicated consequences.
Title: Taken by the Beast
Author: Connor Kressley and Rebecca Hamilton
Publisher: Evershade Publishing
Beauty and the Beast is likely one of my most favorite stories. I have always identified with the Belle character and swooned over the beast.
Taken by the Beast evolved to be a twisted tale of this original concept. Charisse plays the Belle character, a feisty, curvy, New York City kind of gal, who never leaves home without her high heels. Whereas, Abram plays the hulking beast of a man with the endowment to aid in his sexual dominance.
The story was different than the original, excluding the curse that turns Abram into a beast. There are no teapot moms and sexually obsessed candelabras in this tale. Instead, it is based in the contemporary world, where magic is waiting just below the skins surface.
When I read romance, I like to feel connected to the characters, and I struggled with connecting to Charisse. She was kind of high maintenance and easily distracted. Plus, I actually dislike the name Charisse. This is me nit-picking, I know. But I can’t help it. So that was a struggle for me. The sex scenes were meh. They didn’t inspire because I felt like the build-up just wasn’t there.
I also was not compelled by the magic system in this world. I’m a big fantasy buff and while it was developed enough that it made sense, I just didn’t really care for it.
I kept reading because I like romance, and I wanted to see where it would go. I like to finish what I start because you never know, the story may evolve into something special.
On the plus side, it was well-written and clicked along at a nice pace. I enjoyed the beast character and his grumpy demeanor. Overall, I was just underwhelmed by it and won’t be picking up the sequel. It wasn’t a bad read, just nothing special. My opinion on this though is in the minority.
You can explore for yourself on Amazon in Kindle edition for $2.99.
Synopsis: When Charisse Bellamy takes the job at New Haven’s first ever Night Club, it’s only intended as a short term solution to make ends meet. But she soon discovers there is no resisting the pull of her new boss, Abram. Despite worrying how her feelings for Abram will impact her budding relationship with police deputy Dalton, she can’t seem to stay away, and it’s not until a missing girl is found chained up in Abram’s home that this beauty realizes one of her romantic interests is a beast.
Title: The Sea Was a Fair Master
Author: Calvin Demmer
Genre: Horror/Flash Fiction
I have never read flash fiction before, let alone horror flash fiction.
I was a bit worried to say the least. I have in the past suggested I needed more from Demmer’s short stories. So, I cautiously began reading this on my lunch breaks at work. And you know what? I really liked it. They were short, to the point, and developed enough that I was satisfied.
Some of my favorites: The Peeper, Evolution, Spanish and Hangman.
I like it when Demmer delves into the criminal justice field, so far I have enjoyed the 2 stories I have read from him where the characters are involved with keeping order. The Peeper dims the heroism of those who are meant to shine the light.
Evolution reminded me why I don’t like dark alleys or being alone in parking lots. It was a salty warning to be on guard. And that trust needs to be earned.
Spanish was an interesting twist to what might go swish, swish in the depths of the rivers and the secrets dark places can hide.
Hangman was kind of my favorite because it dealt with EXTREME ENGLISH. Death by poor word choices and limited vocabulary.
If you like dark stories and need a quick word bite then this might fit your needs.
On a side note, I dig the cover. It reminds me of something I’ve seen before, but can’t quite remember.
Synopsis: The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.
The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.
For the sea was a fair master.
*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review
I am almost done with this series that I have been reading over the past few years (since 2014).
This is just a continuation of The Moon Dwellers story-line and just like the others, I enjoyed it just as much.
I am not going to go into too much detail, since the books are all linked, but it was a satisfying finale to the underground realm.
I enjoy Estes writing. He includes action, romance and crisis that makes for an enjoyable read. Also, I never feel bored and find the tempo of the stories to clip right along in an acceptable and appropriate manner.
If you like teen romances, strong female leads and dystopian world settings than you might enjoy this tale.
Synopsis: Includes a bonus Dwellers Short Story (Anna’s Story) and a sneak peek at David Estes’ follow up YA dystopian series, Fire Country!
With those she’s closest to dying around her, Adele embarks on a secret mission to the Sun Realm to assassinate the President. Along the way she’ll uncover secrets about her relationship with Tristan that she might not be ready to face. Tristan has a secret, too, one that’s been eating him up inside ever since he met Adele. Will he reveal all, and risk the loss of friendship and love at a time when he needs it the most? At the same time, Adele’s mother, General Rose, must lead her soldiers into battle to face the sun dweller army in the hopes of holding them off until Adele can complete her mission. Can she outlast the strength of President Nailin’s elite fighting force? There’s only one truth in their world: someone must die.