Tag Archives: horror story

This Cold Night by Erica Schaef Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman must face both psychological and physical horrors in one night in order to keep her family together in author Erica Schaef’s “This Cold Night”.

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The Synopsis

Following the death of a loved one, Rachelle Collins visits Ferguson Estate, an expansive country mansion that holds many fond memories, and one sinister secret, within its walls. Throughout the course of a single, terrifying night, Rachelle must confront horrors, both psychological and tangible, to prove just how far she is willing to go to keep her family together.

The Review

This was a short yet powerful horror read. The author took an iconic story trope like the haunted house horror genre and flipped it upside down, crafting a chilling atmosphere and haunting setting that kept the reader glued to the page as the story unfolded. The grim imagery the author employed was balanced well with the emotional weight of the protagonist’s journey.

Yet for this story, it was the narrative and character growth that really held this novel together. The backstory of how the protagonist and her best friend came together as a family and the emotional weight of their shared loss was so profoundly moving, and yet the jarring experience of the horrors they face in this story will leave readers breathless. The mythos the author builds upon for this setting really puts an interesting spin on the haunted house tale and keeps readers invested as the story progresses.

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The Verdict

Thoughtful, terrifying, and entertaining, author Erica Schaef’s “This Cold Night” is a must-read novel to end the year. The twists and turns in the narrative and the haunting tone the story sets will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word, and will keep them wanting more from the author in the future. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

ericaschaef.wordpress.com

Sanctuary (Hell Hare House Short Reads Book Seven) By Michael J. Stiehl Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young man who has grown up in a monastery soon has his world turned upside down after the arrival of a young girl who holds the key to unlocking the secrets of his past and that of the Sanctuary he calls home in author Michael J. Stiehl’s “Sanctuary”, the seventh book in the Hell Hare House Short Reads series.

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The Synopsis

Deep in an impenetrable swamp, lies the Sanctuary. Abandoned there as a child, Theobard has lived a quiet life among the Silent Brotherhood, a monastic sect that never speaks.

The arrival of Dellia, a beautiful golden-eyed girl with a secret, will change everything.

Her secret will expose Theobard’s true nature, and that of the Sanctuary, pulling apart the only world he has ever known, leaving nothing the same. 

The Review

The author did an incredible job of crafting a unique and captivating horror story. The tension and heaviness of the setting really captured the isolation and eerie silence that mirrored the monks and their dark secrets. The blending of different sub-genres of horror, from psychological thriller to creature features made this story feel very haunting and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The heart of this narrative however was a unique blend of the rich character dynamics and the chilling atmosphere the author was able to infuse into the narrative. The physical and emotional toll the twists and turns this story took on the protagonist and the connection he made to this new arrival emphasized the harrowing journey they found themselves on, and the atmospheric style of writing really honed in on the horrifying nature of the dark secrets this Sanctuary holds.

The Verdict

Thought-provoking, mesmerizing and entertaining, author Michael J. Stiehl’s “Sanctuary” is the perfect short horror read and the perfect continuation of the Hell Hare House Short Reads series. A brilliant blend of psychological thriller and horror, the fusion of gothic and isolated horror themes really brought the terror and heart-pounding action to life in the best way possible. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Michael J. Stiehl has had a lifelong passion for fiction, in particular horror, comics, adventure and science fiction, and is thrilled to finally be writing some of his own. Michael lives in the Chicago suburbs with his wife, two kids and his very silly poodle Jack. When not writing fiction, Michael spends his time riding bikes, camping, reading books, obsessively listening to music and playing D&D with his friends. In short, he hasn’t changed a bit since junior high.

https://www.facebook.com/michael.stiehl

A Child Alone with Strangers by Philip Fracassi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young boy taken and held prisoner in a remote farmhouse connects with a powerful force in the woods to wreak havoc on his captors, not realizing the true motivations this force has for connecting with the boy in author Philip Fracassi’s “A Child Alone with Strangers”.

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The Synopsis

When the young Henry Thorne is kidnapped and held prisoner in a remote farmhouse surrounded by miles of forest, he finds himself connecting with a strange force living in the woods—using that bond to wreak havoc against his captors. Unknown to the boy, however, is that this ancient being has its own reasons for wanting the interlopers gone—there is something hidden beneath the house, tucked away in the dark, damp root cellar . . . waiting for its return. 

The Review

The first thing that really jumped out to me about this narrative was the author’s incredible work building tension and atmosphere. The complex emotions that were poured into these characters were amplified due to the chilling nature of the narrative and were felt more profoundly thanks to that atmosphere of terror and horror. 

Yet it was the balance the author struck between iconic horror storytelling elements with more thematic plot lines introduced early on to elevate the horror. From young Henry’s trauma and loss to the same struggles his uncle has in the face of his brother’s passing and the deep-seated tone of depression and racism the author explores through these powerful characters, the themes really helped bring the spine-chilling terror of the narrative to life.

The Verdict

Haunting, entertaining, and captivating, author Philip Fracassi’s “A Child Alone with Strangers” is a must-read horror novel of 2022. The perfect read for those who enjoy classic monster-style horror and profound character development, the imagery and tone kept me enthralled as the narrative wove in and out of the life of young Henry, and the terrifying nature of the narrative from both the human and monstrous elements made this story feel one of a kind as a whole. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Philip Fracassi is an award-winning author and screenwriter living in Los Angeles.

His debut collection of short horror, BEHOLD THE VOID, won “Story Collection of the Year” award from both This Is Horror and Strange Aeons Magazine.

His new collection, BENEATH A PALE SKY, arrives June, 2021, and his debut novel, BOYS IN THE VALLEY, comes out on Halloween day, 2021.

His stories have been printed in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best Horror of the Year, Black Static, Cemetery Dance, and Nightmare Magazine. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, LOCUS Magazine, Rue Morgue and many others.

His screenplays include the Lifetime thriller Girl Missing and Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups, from Disney. Both are available as VOD.

Follow Philip on Facebook and Twitter (@philipfracassi), or visit his website at http://pfracassi.com

Twisted Reveries Volume II: Tales From Willoughby by Meg Hafdahl Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Meg Hafdahl takes readers on a twisted and macabre journey into the secretive town of Willoughby in “Twisted Reveries Volume II: Tales From Willoughby”, the sequel to Twisted Reveries. 

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The Synopsis

Suspense author, Meg Hafdahl, delivers another collection of spine-tingling stories in this second volume of the Twisted Reveries series. Inspired by the first book’s Willoughby and Moira Kettlesburg stories, Meg takes us on a journey into the mid-western town of Willoughby where forgetting is a way of life. Delve into its macabre history and origins. Explore the strange and unsettling events that plague Willoughby’s unsuspecting citizens in this new collection of thirteen horrifically outstanding tales. 

The Review

This was a truly incredible, emotional yet terrifying collection of short stories. The horror genre is alive and well in this collection, with threats and dangers that sway from monstrous beings hiding in the shadows to more sinister and everyday human evils that the town of Willoughby draws towards it. Although this is my first foray into the author’s work and the Twisted Reveries series of short stories, the author does an amazing job of crafting narratives that feel both isolated and well contained on their own while also connecting to a more broad and small-town vibe and mythos.

What stood out to me as a reader was the well-balanced and captivating protagonists found within the story. Each story had characters that readers could either get behind and cheer on to stop the threat they were facing, or grimace as the tables turned and the protagonist quickly became the antagonist. The complexities of each story’s protagonist and their backstory felt worthy of a short film or television anthology, and the twists and turns these stories take will have readers talking long after the final page drops.

The Verdict

Gripping, exhilarating, and thoughtful in its approach, author Meg Hafdahl’s “Twisted Reveries II: Tales From Willoughby” is a must-read collection of horror short stories that readers are not going to want to miss out on. The overall theme permeating this collection follows how every small town, every city, and even every person, no matter how beautiful and picturesque they may appear on the outside in the light of day, has the potential to hide great darkness and hardship within their foundation, which waits for night to descend to roam free to draw others into its web. A truly haunting collection of stories, this is one short story read you won’t want to miss. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Bram Stoker Award nominated Meg Hafdahl is the creator of numerous stories and books. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Eve’s Requiem: Tales of Women, Mystery and Horror and Eclectically Criminal. Her work has been produced for audio by The Wicked Library and The Lift, and she is the author of three popular short story collections including Twisted Reveries: Thirteen Tales of the Macabre. Meg is also the author of the three novels; The Darkest Hunger, Daughters of Darkness, and Her Dark Inheritance called “an intricate tale of betrayal, murder, and small town intrigue” by Horror Addicts and “every bit as page turning as any King novel” by RW Magazine. Meg, also the co-host of the podcast Horror Rewind and co-author of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Women in Horror, The Science of Stephen King, The Science of Serial Killers, and the upcoming The Science of Witchcraft lives in the snowy bluffs of Minnesota. 

https://www.meghafdahl.com/

Vlada, A Dracula Tale by Chris Denmead Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A horror tale as iconic as the genre itself takes the story fans to know and love and gives it a gender reversed turn as readers take in the story that is Vlada, A Dracula Tale by author Chris Denmead.

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The Synopsis

Gender Swapped the Cast of Dracula in a new and unique take on the characters with some new twists.

The Review

This was such a fantastic twist on the iconic horror story. The author found the perfect chord of harmonious storytelling between classic scenes from the original Stoker version of the narrative and updated details from the author himself. The artwork that accompanies this read is stunning, taking on that iconic and classic gothic horror feel that felt so close to the original novel’s era while maintaining a more updated setting.

The obvious yet still engaging change to this narrative was the gender-reversed roles of many of the characters. Turning Vlad Dracula into Vlada was such an important new direction to take the character, exploring the dark yet seductive nature of the character and yet giving readers a host of powerful female heroines and villains to face off against in this retelling, making the narrative feel more alive. Even the inclusion of some new characters really elevated the drama and familiar yet still entertaining narrative. 

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, haunting, and delightfully chilling read, author Chris Denmead’s “Vlada: A Dracula Tale” is a must-read horror story that will delight those unfamiliar with the tale and yet engage with longtime fans of the lore of this narrative. The balance of nostalgia and updated horror and action and a twist ending to the narrative will leave readers eager to read more from this incredible author, and one can only hope we get more updated twists on iconic horror tales in the future. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christopher Denmead is a passionate horror fan who wants to bring more awareness to the beauty and rawness of female vampires and treat them like the queens they are.

https://www.facebook.com/Vladagraphicnovel/

Famuli Cani: A Supernatural Horror by Alan Golbourn Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two friends face terrifying odds when strange happenings around a farmhouse in the Scottish countryside bring ancient Scottish folklore into reality in author Alan Golbourn’s “Famuli Cani: A Supernatural Horror”. 

The Synopsis

PENITUS IN NEMUS

Dating back centuries, an old evil has returned to within Rothiemurchus Forest. With stories of people having disappeared down the years and fires in the forest at night, wildlife are now being found dead — mutilated and slaughtered.

When a farm, surrounded by the rich forest, becomes affected by sinister and unexplainable events, a group, including an uncle and nephew, soon face unimaginable horrors, beyond comprehension …

From the Back Cover:

EVIL IN THE FOREST

When best friends, David and John, are made redundant, they decide to go away with another close friend, Grant, to David’s uncle’s farm up in Scotland in Rothiemurchus Forest. David soon learns of strange and terrible things happening on the farm, where some of the animals are found mysteriously mutilated and slaughtered.

David’s uncle also informs his nephew of other strange phenomena — including whispers in the wind, and a strange and constant sensation of being watched by someone or something. Driven by his concerns for his aunt and uncle and fuelled by curiosity, David is determined to travel up north, against the wishes of his uncle.

Things soon start happening even before David and his friends set off. They become targeted with frightening and inexplicable events, and messages warning them to STAY AWAY, so that one friend is too scared to go, leaving only the two to make the long-distance drive up to Scotland. Despite more frightening and unimaginable things happening on their way up to the Highlands, the two friends, now fearing for their lives, remain determined to reach the farm.

With their minds racing to all sorts of theories, they will soon face an unparalleled horror, with pure evil awaiting them, and an old Scottish folklore proving to be terrifyingly true …

Set at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and its beautiful scenery, a contrasting dark and evil secret is about to be revealed …

A debut novel with strong characters, Famuli Cani is an original, chilling, suspenseful and engrossing story, that will keep you guessing right up to its horrifying climax.

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The Review

This was such a truly engaging and highly creative read. The author found a way to balance the iconic horror tropes found within the narrative surrounding cults and demons, and added a breath of fresh air with Scottish folklore and settings, making for an original horror tale like no other. The pacing and atmosphere shifted back and forth between extended character interaction and mythology building with quick-paced chills and scares that readers with a vivid imagination will watch unfold in their mind in delightful terror. 

The character development was well-thought-out and developed in this narrative. The author found a means of making the characters feel real and relatable, which helped ground the story enough to make the paranormal/supernatural elements of the story feel real enough to be spine-chilling. The thing that stood out to me was the book’s length. While many would probably be hard-pressed to engage with a novel of this length, I would advise them to stay with this book, for it felt like reading a whole new horror mythos coming to life before my eyes. The author kept enough twists and turns going to keep drawing me back in time and time again, making this a truly memorable read.

The Verdict

An adrenaline-fueled, chill-inducing, and entertaining horror read, author Alan Golbourn’s “Famuli Cani: A Supernatural Horror” is a must-read novel of 2021! The perfect fall and Halloween horror read, the balance of terrifying threats both human and non-human mixed with thought-provoking world-building and well-rounded characters made this a standout read, and I highly recommend checking this out for yourselves this fall season. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alan Golbourn was born in Essex, England. He enjoyed writing stories at a young age and was known for his writing abilities. Amongst several interests and hobbies including football and computer games, he holds love and compassion for animals.

Edge of the Known Bus Line by James R. Gapinski Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A simple bus ride turns into a nightmare when a young woman finds herself forced into a hellish landscape with no means of escape in author James R. Gapinski’s “Edge of the Known Bus Line”. 

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The Synopsis

A woman’s daily commute takes an abrupt turn when she’s dropped off in a grotesque shantytown in Edge of the Known Bus Line. The townsfolk live in huts and tents scavenged from broken trinkets. They eat dead rats and human flesh. They’ve developed cult-like religions about miracle bus routes that will someday set them free. The narrator searches for a way out of this surreal hellscape while dredging up a few nightmares of her own.

The Review

A truly brilliant and memorable read, this short yet powerful novel does a great job of exploring the horror genre to the fullest. The fast-paced nature of the narrative is perfectly balanced with story development and horror-specific mythology that really draws the reader in. 

The atmosphere was really the biggest selling point of this novella. The book quickly thrusts the protagonist into the hell she has found herself in, allowing the reader to feel the shock and terror that the protagonist feels in this shocking situation. The author paints a grim and terrifying image to the reader, using imagery to really sell the spine-chilling nature of the world in which the author has created.

The Verdict

A gripping, entertaining, and at times even humorous read, author James R. Gapinski’s “The End of the Known Bus Line” is a must-read short novel horror story. A captivating and engaging story of trying to find hope in a sea of nightmares and horror, this is a fantastic story that is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

James R. Gapinski is the author of the novella Edge of the Known Bus Line (Etchings Press; University of Indianapolis), named to Kirkus Reviews‘ Best Books of 2018 and a finalist for the 2019 Montaigne Medal. He is also the author of three chapbooks: The Last Dinosaurs of Portland (Bottlecap Press), Fruit Rot (Etchings Press), and Messiah Tortoise (Red Bird Chapbooks). His short fiction has previously appeared in Heavy Feather ReviewHobartJukedMonkeybicyclePaper DartsPsychopomp, and other publications. He’s managing editor of The Conium Review, an instructional specialist at Chemeketa Community College, and an instructor for Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA program.

http://jamesrgapinski.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/edge-of-the-known-bus-line-by-james-r-gapinski

Winter Comes (When Winter Comes #6) by Daniel Willcocks Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A small Alaskan town faces the end as the storm that has been raging around them and the threats it has brought begin the endgame in author Daniel Willcocks’s “Winter Comes”, the sixth book in the When Winter Comes series.

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The Synopsis

The forest is quaking, the storm closes in, an ancient darkness is awakened…

The endgame nears. The storm has brought them into its heart, and in its center a secret force, long hidden, wakes from slumber. Will those whom the storm has corralled be able to take on the monsters that the world has forgotten?

Or will the darkness take what it’s owed?

Cody struggles to come to terms with the reality of his mysterious messenger. Tori and Oscar plot their way inside the Drumtrie Forest. Alex and his charges stumble upon the very thing they thought they’d never find.

And, Karl… Karl will do whatever it takes to ensure that his new masters are served.

Only, the Masked Ones serve a master of their own. And he is hungry.

“Winter Comes” is the sixth tale in the serialized apocalyptic horror, “When Winter Comes,” with new episodes released monthly. 

The Review

What a powerful and impactful horror read! The author astounds readers with a wholly unique story that blends the terror of isolation with the fear that monsters often bring. Immediately the atmosphere of the narrative reminded me of Steve Niles’s “30 Days of Night”, with powerful and deadly creatures attacking a small Alaskan town that has been cut off from the world via a powerful storm. 

The author does an incredible job of crafting a story that not only serves as a fitting end to a terrific series but allows newcomers to enjoy the narrative as well, (for which I am one of them). The utilization of the creatures the author chose for this narrative was an inspired choice, as the creatures are known enough to not be obscure but are not as utilized in pop culture as saying vampires or werewolves, creating a new mythos and elevated level of fear for those not as familiar with them. 

The core of this story remains the amazing character development. The author’s writing is superb, bringing readers into the action immediately and creating a series of characters within this small town that not only highlights the horror of what they are facing but the sense of community that comes with a tale of survival such as this. As isolating as the overall setting is, the survivors having endured separate attacks soon turn to a community facing off against a powerful threat. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, engaging, and chilling horror story, author Daniel Willcocks’s “Winter Comes” is a must-read novel and fitting end to a powerful series. With twists and turns the reader will be shocked to see and both satisfying and emotional conclusions to these character’s stories, readers will not be able to put this book down. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author 

Daniel Willcocks is an international bestselling author and podcaster of dark fiction. He is the CEO of Devil’s Rock Publishing, one fifth of digital story studio, Hawk & Cleaver, co-producer of iTunes-busting fiction podcast, ‘The Other Stories,’ as well as the host of the ‘Great Writers Share’ podcast, and the ‘Next Level Authors’ podcast.

Residing in the UK, Dan’s work explores the catastrophic and the strange. His stories span the genres of horror, post-apocalyptic, and sci-fi, and his work has seen him collaborating with some of the biggest names in the independent publishing community.

Find out more at danielwillcocks.com

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08JQL7WXT/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F55743120-winter-comes&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Ekleipsis by Tamel Wino Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

What happens when ordinary people give into their darker nature? Find out in this amazing collection of short stories from author Tamel Wino, titled “Ekleipsis”. 

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The Synopsis

The sun has finally set on humanity…

What happens when we give in to the darkness?

Ékleipsis is a debut short story collection written by Canadian author Tamel Wino, with hints of Chuck Palahniuk’s and Cormac McCarthy’s stripped, vivid writing styles. This gripping book explores the havoc wreaked when ordinary people abandon their humanity to pursue their darkest desires, and questions just how far people will go to follow their baser instincts.

Each story takes a version of a person we’ve known in our own lives and transforms them into something completely unnerving—yet all too familiar.

These dark, complex characters and twisted tales of the once ordinary will change your perception of humanity forever.

The Review

What a fantastic and well-written collection of short stories. The author does a brilliant job of delving into the darkest parts of human nature and allowing readers to see into the minds of these ordinary people who find themselves pushed into becoming their darkest selves. Pacing is key to this collection of stories, as each tale while short, does an incredible job of building the suspense until the twist ending comes and shakes the foundation of the narrative to its core. 

One story in particular early on that I enjoyed was Closing Costs. The author does a great job of taking readers into the classic affair story gone wrong while getting to see the story from a different perspective of “the other woman”. The author does an incredible job of making these characters feel both vibrant and real all at once and challenges the notion that far too often we see the masks of people they want to show the world, and rarely see the true face beneath the mask. 

The Verdict

A powerhouse collection of short horror stories that are both entertaining and enlightening all at once, author Tamel Wino’s “Ekleipsis” is a must-read book. The author truly is able to showcase the dark psychology of those who are pushed to their limits and those who take the plunge into their darkest desires and gives readers a thought-provoking thrill ride. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tamel Wino is a horror/thriller short fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on madness and human morality. He attended the University of Western Ontario, majoring in health sciences and psychology which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold, evocative narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic movies and travelling.

To get a copy of the book: https://books2read.com/ekleipsis

my website: https://ekleipsis.ca/

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ekleipsis29/

goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20895934.Tamel_Wino

book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuiVWiZP13s&feature=youtu.be