Memoir From Hell by Stephen Ross Review

A young man begins the painful journey of recovery by sharing the gristly details of a hellish childhood that changed him forever in author Stephen Ross’ novel “Memoir From Hell”.

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

TRIGGER WARNING: This novel contains story elements involving physical and mental abuse (including those involving children), as well as themes of domestic abuse. If these things are too upsetting or triggering for readers, reader discretion is advised.

A young man begins the painful journey of recovery by sharing the gristly details of a hellish childhood that changed him forever in author Stephen Ross’ novel “Memoir From Hell”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A child’s life should be idyllic: filled with friends, abundant joy, and carefree days of endless possibility. But that was not to be for Jake Malloy and his little sister, Dory. Their lives traversed paths upon which no child should tread.As a young adult trying to overcome the past, Jake chronicles the events that destroyed the possibilities and turned life for the Malloys into a living hell. Will Jake and Dory ever be able to lead normal lives? Only time will tell.A fictional memoir not for the faint of heart.

The Review

This is a painful yet important and well written novel. A top read contender for best literary fiction/drama/thriller, author Stephen Ross has expertly brought the heartbreaking reality of domestic abuse and childhood trauma to life. Studying the effects of abuse on the mind a young person who grew up in a truly harmful environment, the author creates realistic and relatable characters that bring the raw emotions of that situation to the forefront, instantly connecting with readers.

The themes and story elements of the story are both powerful and hard to read at times. Yet in this very quick read, the message that comes through has never been more important than it is today, as violence (especially violence against children and domestic violence), seems to be getting worse and more rampant, and the need for the laws to change have never been more apparent. 

The Verdict

This is an emotionally charged novel that needs to be read. Haunting and painfully relevant, this novel is a horror story that challenges the concept of monsters, as it proves that the true monsters are often hiding in plain sight, and could be hiding inside the people we should be able to trust the most. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Memoir From Hell” by Stephen Ross today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Stephen Ross was born in LeMars, Iowa, in 1948. He lived in Fremont, Nebraska, from the age of five until he left home to attend the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. After college, Stephen taught business courses at Nebraska Technical College for two years prior to moving to Los Angeles, California, to pursue an acting career.

During his eight years in Los Angeles, he not only acted, but gained extensive experience as a waiter. He moved to San Diego, California, in 1981 to attend law school at the University of San Diego, and practiced law there until retiring in 2017.

Website: www.stephenrossauthor.com

Facebook: StephenRossWriter

Twitter: StephenRoss48

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We Call It Monster by Lachlan Walter Review

A mysterious attack leads to a world changing event in author Lachlan Walter’s We Call It Monster.

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

A mysterious attack leads to a world changing event in author Lachlan Walter’s We Call It Monster. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

One ordinary day, an enormous creature dragged itself out of the ocean and laid waste to a city. In the months and years that followed, more and more creatures appeared, until not a single country remained untouched. At first, people tried to fight them. In the end, all they could do was try and stay alive. 

We Call It Monster is a story of forces beyond our control, of immense and impossible creatures that make plain how small we really are. It is the story of our fight for survival and our discovery of that which truly matters: community and compassion, love and family, hope and faith. 

The Review

This is by far one of the most original and “human” stories set in a world filled with larger than life monsters. Bringing the large scale destruction of any Godzilla or King Kong style film and blending it in with the character development and connectivity of a film like Crash, the novel explores a sudden war with mysterious monsters that threatens to end the world as we know it. The author changed the formula up however by focusing not on the monster’s origins or larger than life battles, but instead the relationships and struggles of those affected by these events.

Each section of the novel focuses on specific years in this “war”, from the creatures emergence across the world to the economic struggles and loss of life felt by the people around the world. Each chapter focuses on a character introduced in the previous chapter, allowing readers to see how connected we all are to one another, and allowing us to see how the monster’s arrival affects everyone differently. The emotional impact of these creature’s destruction and the slow decline the planet faces brings a new focus on the monster genre, and creates a truly impactful story like no other.

The Verdict

A true must read novel of 2019, author Lachlan Walter has exceeded the expectations of the genre and created a narrative that is truly original. Exploring the affects the monsters have on our society, on the planet and the people left behind in their wake, the heart of this novel rests in it’s fantastic character development, and will leave readers on the edge of their seat as they witness the slow ride into the end of the world as we know it. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up your copy of We Call It Monster today! 

Rating: 10/10

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lachlan Walter is a writer, science-fiction critic and nursery-hand (the garden kind, not the baby kind), and is the author of two books: the deeply Australian post-apocalyptic tale The Rain Never Came, and the giant-monster story-cycle We Call It Monster. He also writes science fiction criticism for Aurealis magazine and reviews for the independent ‘weird music’ website Cyclic Defrost, his short fiction can be found floating around online, and he has completed a PhD that critically and creatively explored the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and Australian notions of national identity.

He loves all things music-related, the Australian environment, overlooked genres and playing in the garden. He hopes that you’re having a nice day.

AN EXTRACT

The old man shuffled out to the balcony, dusted off an outdoor chair and

then made himself comfortable. The sky was a shade of blue that painters

only dream about; it was a beautiful sight. The old man drank it in,

leaning back in his chair. He sipped at his coffee and smoked a cigarette.

He was happy to wait as long as was necessary – he had all the time in

the world and he wasn’t going anywhere.

The monster finally appeared, a blurry smudge in the distance.

Slowly, but not as slowly as he would have thought, it grew both

closer and more distinct. The old man laughed out loud; it looked like

nothing more than a child’s drawing of something that might have been a

lobster or might have been a spider or might have been both, propped up

on flagpole-like legs that supported a wetly-shining carapace, a beaked

head, and a tail as long as a bus.

It was enormous and ridiculous in equal measure. The old man was

surprised to find that it failed to frighten him.

It drew closer to the city. It stopped suddenly and bit a great chunk

out of a stately old tree lining a boulevard. Chewing slowly and

methodically, it worked its way through the mass of wood and foliage

before throwing its head back and opening its mouth wide. Despite his

deafness, the old man felt the monster’s keening in his bones and in the

pit of his stomach.

He pulled his hearing aid from his pocket, turned it on then slipped it

in place.

The beast’s cry was low and mournful, more a melancholy bellow

than a ferocious roar. Thankfully, the klaxon-blare of the evacuation

alarms had stopped. The monster cried out again and it shook the old

man, both literally and metaphorically. The beast shifted its legs,

presumably adjusting its weight, and destroyed an office building in the

process.

Almost comically, it looked down at the destruction it had wrought

and seemed to shake its head.

It looked back up and cried out a third time, and then started walking

again. It seemed to meet the old man’s eye. Without breaking its gaze, the

old man took another sip of coffee before lighting another cigarette.

Slowly-slowly-slowly, the monster drew closer. You could almost see

a smile on the old man’s face.

A Q&A WITH THE AUTHOR

What is it about giant monsters that appeals to you?

Initially, it was a childish fascination with things being smashed. Let’s face it: Every little kid has thrown a tantrum for reasons they can’t explain, broken something and then experienced relief at the wordless release this brings. A giant monster barging through a city for no fathomable reason can reflect our own difficulties in articulating and making sense of our emotions at that age.

This fascination soon turned to awe and wonder at their scale and mystery, a reflection of the feelings inspired in me by my discovery of dinosaurs and cryptozoology (the study of creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Yetis and the like). My love of dinosaurs is easy to explain – show me a kid who hasn’t at some point gone through a ‘dinosaur’ phase’ and I’ll eat my hat – while my love of cryptozoology was inspired by a book entitled Creatures From Elsewhere, which my parents gave me and which is actually still sitting on my bookshelf.

Beginning in my teenage years and continuing on into the present day, I’ve loved the metaphorical and symbolic potential that giant monsters possess, and the ways in which they can ‘stand in’ for so many different problems that seem beyond our control and almost impossible to deal with. Nuclear war, our negative impact on the environment, international terrorism, industrial pollution, climate change, the staggering number of displaced people around the world – giant monsters have represented them all.

Why did you decide to write about giant monsters?

As mentioned, I’ve always been fascinated by them. But I’ve also always been a voracious reader, and sometimes an obsessive one. I’ve been known to occasionally get my nerd on for a particular sub or micro-genre, looking up ‘similar title’ and ‘you might also like’ lists online when I should be doing better things with my time. But I still keep searching, because there can’t just be one example of Mystery Sub/Micro-genre X out there.

Giant monster fiction was one such obsession that carried me away, the timing of which coincided with the completion of my first book. I binged on literally anything I could find, looking for something that took giant monsters as seriously as some of the movies do, something that was more than just capital-A action. I found lots of fun, post-modern stuff out there – some of which could even be described as zany – but not much that approached giant monsters with a serious eye.

Looking for a new book to throw myself into writing – a book that I wanted to be distinctly different from my first book – I decided upon a piece of serious giant monster fiction. In other words, I decided to write the book that I wanted to read. Isn’t that what an author does?

Do you need to be a fan of giant monsters to appreciate We Call It Monster?

Nope, but it probably helps… In all seriousness, though – no, you don’t need to be a fan. My aim with We Call It Monster wasn’t only to write a serious piece of giant monster fiction because giant monsters have, historically, rarely been written about in such a way. Instead, I also wanted to write a piece of speculative fiction that does what all good speculative fiction should: Use the speculative element within to make us look at ourselves and our place in the world with fresh eyes.

Despite its title, We Call It Monster is more concerned with people than monsters. It isn’t a ‘wham-bam, shoot-em-up’ but instead a serious look at how we might react to forces beyond our control, and to forces that illuminate the precariousness of our position as world-conquerors sitting atop the food chain. And ultimately, it’s the story of what really matters: community and compassion, love and family and friendship, hope and faith. Anyone that appreciates such people-centric stories should find something within We Call It Monster that they can enjoy.

Why did you decide to write We Call It Monster as a story-cycle/novel-in-stories?

To me, one of reading’s biggest attractions has always been in my sense of engagement with the world being built on the page (a process even more absorbing when reading science fiction and speculative fiction). I think this enjoyment of engagement applies to most people. We all ‘see’ things in written worlds that the author didn’t actually write, even at the most mundane level: we populate a footpath with pedestrians, a street with cars.

A story-cycle/novel-in-stories can increase this sense of engagement to an incredibly strong degree, and their traditional structures allow writers to work magic. They can give us different perspectives on the same events, blocks of ‘missing time’ that exist between stories/chapters, events that are only alluded to rather than seen first-hand, a multiplicity of narrative “voices”, and so much more. But ‘missing time’ begs to be filled; events only alluded to tantalise us; we can’t know the truth when presented with different perspectives, or even if the truth exists. And so our minds do this work for us, conjuring up and giving life to parts of the story the writer has withheld.

The way story-cycles/novels-in-stories allow us to create the world right alongside the writer is a beautiful thing. However, the structures behind them aren’t just beautiful, but also incredibly practical. They can allow a story to cover a span of time longer than a regular person’s life; and help do away with the inevitable and repetitive ‘amazing coincidences’ that prop-up stories where one single character guides us through an incredible sequence of events covering an incredible amount of time; and enable a wider representation of voices from a wider variety of countries and cultures, without also falling back on the aforementioned trope of inevitable and repetitive ‘amazing coincidences’.

IMPORTANT LINKS, SOCIAL MEDIA & CONTACTS LINKS

Official Website

Severed Press

SOCIAL MEDIA

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Twitter

One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins Review

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

A group of strangers with dark pasts find themselves in a never ending nightmare in author C.B. Collins novel “One Night’s Stay”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

Thirteen strangers check into the Sunset Inn hoping to find rest. When one of them is murdered in the middle of the night, the survivors realize they’ve found something else entirely; an ancient evil looking to satisfy an undying hunger. If the guests want to make it through the night, they’ll have to discover the secret behind the motel and the mysterious town it serves. However, in uncovering the truth, they might find that the town’s past is nowhere near as dark as their own.

The Review

This was one of the most original horror stories of the year. A twisted tale of damaged souls and great evil coming face to face with something more sinister than any human could imagine, the author does a wonderful job of turning a classic supernatural horror element into a fresh batch of hell. A blend of both supernatural and classic serial killer style horror, the story reads like a mix of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs. 

The story had equal parts horror, scares and emotional storytelling. Each character had a backstory that was either twisted, sad or highlighted humanity’s struggle with the world around them. The character development nearly outshone the horror story being told, but in the end both showcased truly amazing command over the genre that the author has. 

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The Verdict

Overall this is a must read novel. Filled with scares, chills and everything in between, the author did a wonderful job of creating a story horror fans will love while giving a wider audience characters that would draw them in. What is the terror facing this unlikely group of survivors? Find out by grabbing your copy of C.B. Collins novel “One Night’s Stay” today.

Rating: 10/10

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Release Day Blitz: Grave Importance by Perfectly Poisoned Anthologies


Grave Importance
Published December 1, 2017 by Perfectly Poisoned Anthologies
Historical Fiction

Synopsis:

It’s 1870 in a rural setting on the outskirts of London. Famed surgeon Dr. Benedict Morrow hosts an elite few surgical trainees at the renowned Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science.
Though the days of Burke and Hare are long gone, and body snatching and grave robbing a seemingly thing of the past, the supply of high-quality fresh cadavers is still lacking.
Each student of Dr. Morrow must procure a fresh corpse for their very own study, or face expulsion from the prestigious academy.

These hand-chosen students are the best and brightest in the country. They are also devious, conniving, and determined to do whatever they must to stay in the academy and under the tutelage of Dr. Morrow. Even turn against each other is necessary.
In the cards will be manipulation, murder, betrayal, sex, blackmail, and of course, money always talks.

ADVENTURES IN LIFE…AND DEATH
Natalie-Nicole Bates

Dr. Linnea Lyons has it all. She is beautiful, intelligent, witty, and charming. All the things a young woman needs to get her way in 1870.

Tasked with procuring a cadaver for her surgical studies, Linnea decides to use her womanly charms to get what she wants. A visit to the morgue when only the Deputy Coroner, Dr. Cyril Rhodes is on duty, she asks him to allow her to watch his embalming process.

Cyril is enthralled with the dark-haired beauty. After all, it is a rarity to meet a female doctor, let alone one studying the art of surgery.

Linnea senses the good doctor is a bit lonely and perhaps an easy mark to get what she wants.

But will her ambition ultimately be her downfall?

Social media links for Natalie-Nicole Bates
Amazon Author Central Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0071MP0DC

An Unlikely Union – Sheri Lynn

The first year Dr. Benedict Morrow at the renowned Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science considers female students, Louisa Becker is honored to be chosen. An ocean away from everything she has ever known and thrust into a highly competitive, if not, demoralizing group of students is arduous. It intensifies once Dr. Morrow tasks them with procuring their own fresh corpse or face expulsion.

Residing in the home of a previous student of Dr. Morrow’s and his teaching assistant, she suspects Edgar Walker guards sinister secrets and she should fear him. Instead, she observes his skill and technique in class and respects him. Intrigued and attracted to the withdrawn, brooding man she watches him from a distance.

One evening following him into London, she witnesses him commit a grisly crime. Louisa and Edgar forge an unconventional relationship involving murder, seduction, lust, ambition, and mayhem.

Social Media Links for Sheri Lynn:

BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW –
Jennie L. Morris

An immigrant, Fredrick Wolf has to succeed at Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science. Not only succeed, he has to prove to his peers that he belongs, that he isn’t a poor local Dr. Morrow accepted out of pity.

Fredrick is willing to do anything to procure a prime specimen for their special assignment. Calling upon his uncle, his partner in crime since their move to England, Fredrick plans to use his uncle’s position at the local gaol to select the perfect candidate.

But not all prisoners are the usual drunkards or petty thieves. Some possess dark secrets, especially the man known in Clayton Bridge as Eugene Wallaby. Biding his time, Eugene sees young Fredrick’s murderous plan as a means of escape, but only if Eugene can survive the night.

Social Media Links for Jennie L. Morris:


The Tangled Web
Leslie Hachtel

No one wants to be successful as a surgeon more than Scarlett Kensington and no one has as little conscience. She has met every challenge with skill and talent and by out-thinking her detractors. And when the great Dr. Morrow demands his students present a cadaver for class, whose body will it be?

Social Media Links for Leslie Hachtel
Twitter: @lesliehachtel
Website: lesliehachtel.com


Bring me to life
Lauren Tisdale

Enzo Mason is a hustler and a thief by nature. After stealing the most valuable thing he’s ever stolen, he thinks he’s finally on the path to making a good life for himself. His confidence is tested when Dr. Morrow reveals the newest challenge that will decide their fate in the surgical program – procure your own cadaver for study or be dismissed from the Academy. Will the help of a fellow classmate, who happens to be the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, be the one thing that helps him achieve his goals or will his luck run out?

Jacqueline Kennison is a stunning newcomer to the Morrow Academy of Anatomy and Science who has caught the eye of a fellow classmate, Enzo. Jacqueline is determined to see her master plan through, even if it means teaming up with Enzo. This choice leads to unforeseen dilemmas that she never expected. Will Enzo be the one to aid in her own self-destruction or will he surprise her by saving her from herself? 

Social Media Links for Lauren Tisdale:
@LTisdaleauthor on Twitter


Skeletons in the Closet
Marie Sterling
Doctor Elizabeth Chandler is top of her class at the Royal College of Surgeons of England and has the world in her hand… until it comes crashing down around her. With the sudden death of her beloved father and her mother’s convalescence due to a carriage accident, Elizabeth abandons everything to return to Clayton Bridge and help her family. Traditional medicine has failed to bring her mother back to consciousness, so when she hears of Doctor Benedict Morrow and some of the more unusual requirements of his Academy of Anatomy and Science, this seems like the answer to her prayers. Blackmail, deceit, and treachery are just a few of the lessons she will learn along with her surgical studies.

Social Media link for Marie Sterling:



I Want Your Body
J.V. Stanley

Miranda O’Reily has been struggling with her grades. In a profession where men are the superior sex, she has a lot to prove to not just her peers or Doctor Benedict Morrow, but to herself. Coming from an impoverished home, she was lucky to have an unknown benefactor paying for her college. The mystery unravels as she tries to identify who this mysterious wealthy individual is all while struggling to meet the intensity of the curriculum. 

Edward Thatcher, the last mortician she saw denied her a corpse because of her gender. Infuriated, she vowed to get a body by any means necessary, even if it meant murder.


Social Media Links for J.V. Stanley:
 Link to my group Horror Warriorshttps://www.facebook.com/groups/140403956607785/
A Word To The Wise Blog: https://writerzblock007.wordpress.com







Clarissa’s Warning by Isobel Blackthorn

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

A woman’s good fortunes turn dire when her dreams of owning and restoring old ruins leads to a dangerous situation in author Isobel Blackthorn’s “Clarissa’s Warning”. Here is the synopsis.

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The Synopsis

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A lottery jackpot changes Claire Bennett’s life.

She buys an ancient stone ruin on the island of her dreams. Her mystic aunt Clarissa warns her of danger, but Claire pays no heed.

Soon after moving to the idyllic island, Claire is confronted by a mystery. As the sinister story of her home slowly uncovers, Claire enters a world of inexplicable events and ordeals. Someone or something doesn’t want her there.

But is it really a curse, or is there something else behind the events?

The Review

This was the kind of classic slow burn horror story that defines the horror/thriller genre. What starts out as a mission to fulfill a dream turns into a nightmare when Claire must struggle with the distrust of the locals, tales of an ancient curse and mysterious happenings that defy logic. The story flourished under the hopeful eyes of protagonist Claire. Peeling back the layers of this well rounded character, readers will love seeing the complex relationships with her parents, her close knit bond with her aunt Clarissa, the strength of taking a leap of faith and going after her dreams, and the struggle to merge her logical, scientific mind with the supernatural/curse nature of her new home.

The setting really brought this story home however. The Canary Islands take the center stage in this tale, an inspiration from the author’s own travels and mission to bring ancient structures on these islands back to their former glory. Themes of conserving our past, pursuing our passions and bringing the truth to light all shine through in this truly incredible horror thriller. 

The Verdict

Overall I loved this tale. The novel soars as a classic story of love, passion and a promise to protect the places that hold our civilization’s history within it. With a heavy focus on character development with light doses of horror and thriller elements, this is a story readers will thoroughly enjoy. Be sure to preorder your copy of Isobel Blackthorn’s “Clarissa’s Warning” today.

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific Australian novelist of dark psychological thrillers, mysteries and contemporary fiction. On the dark side are Twerk, The Cabin Sessions and The Legacy of Old Gran Parks. On the lighter side are AsylumThe Drago Tree and A Perfect Square, and the short story collection All Because of You. Soon to be published are three more novels: A Matter of LatitudeClarissa’s Warning and The Unlikely Occultist: A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Isobel’s writing has appeared in journals and websites around the world, including Paranoia Magazine, Mused Literary Review, Backhand Stories, Fictive Dream and On Line Opinion.

Isobel’s interests are many and varied. A humanitarian and campaigner for social justice, in 1999 Isobel founded the internationally acclaimed Ghana Link, uniting two high schools, one a relatively privileged state school located in the heart of England, the other a materially impoverished school in a remote part of the Upper Volta region of Ghana, West Africa.

Isobel has a background in Western Esotericism and she’s a qualified Astrologer. She holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ After working as a teacher, market trader, and PA to a literary agent, she arrived at writing in her forties, and her stories are as diverse and intriguing as her life has been.

Isobel performs her literary works at events in a range of settings, gives workshops in creative writing, and writes book reviews. Her reviews have appeared in Shiny New Books, Sisters in Crime, Australian Women Writers, Trip Fiction and Newtown Review of Books. She talks regularly about books and writing on radio, in Australia, and on occasion in the UK and USA and Canary Islands.

British by birth, Isobel entered this world in Farnborough, Kent, as Yvonne Margaret Grimble. She has since been Yvonne Rodgers, before changing her name completely in 1996 to Isobel Schofield. After a number of years as Isobel Wightman, she is now very happily and permanently Isobel Blackthorn. Isobel has lived in England, Australia, Spain and the Canary Islands. She now lives on Australia’s southern coast with her cat, Psyche.  You can find out more about her other achievements here.

Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross Review

The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace

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

One man’s journey to rebuild his family after a tragic loss turns into a nightmarish journey to discover who was behind a small town’s grizzly murder in author Alistair Cross’s “Sleep Savannah Sleep”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The Dead Don’t Always Rest in Peace 

Jason Crandall, recently widowed, is left to raise his young daughter and rebellious teenage son on his own – and the old Victorian in Shadow Springs seems like the perfect place for them to start over. But the cracks in Jason’s new world begin to show when he meets Savannah Sturgess, a beautiful socialite who has half the men in town dancing on tangled strings. 

When she goes missing, secrets begin to surface, and Jason becomes ensnared in a dangerous web that leads to murder – and he becomes a likely suspect. But who has the answers that will prove his innocence? The jealous husband who’s hell-bent on destroying him? The local sheriff with an incriminating secret? The blind old woman in the house next door who seems to watch him from the windows? Or perhaps the answers lie in the haunting visions and dreams that have recently begun to consume him. 

Or maybe, Savannah herself is trying to tell him that things aren’t always as they seem – and that sometimes, the dead don’t rest in peace. 

“SLEEP SAVANNAH SLEEP hooks you with a small-town atmosphere that quickly turns ghostly cold. Beware a plethora of twists and turns …” – Michael Aronovitz, author of Alice Walks and Phantom Effect 

The Review

This was an incredible story. Author Alistair cross continues to shine as one of the horror/thriller genres best writers. Feeling like a successor to greats like Dean Koontz and Stephen King, the author captures the mystery and intrigue of a murder-mystery while bringing in an emotional story of a father trying to hold his family together in one piece after losing his wife. 

The story itself is intriguing, as it keeps you guessing all the way to the book’s end who could be behind this senseless violence. It’s a story of family, loss (both physical loss and the loss of a spiritual or mental variety), and the impact the past has on the present. The setting is incredibly vivid, bringing to mind the small town horror stories fans have grown to love from authors like Koontz. It was a roller coaster of emotions as you felt for protagonist Jason. Why was he chosen to be thrust into this investigation, and will he be able to protect his family from the true killer? That’s the quest the author takes readers on.

The Verdict

Overall this is a must read thriller. Filled with action, suspense and fantastic characters that draw the reader in, the novel is incredibly powerful and a prime example of how modern day horror thrillers need to be. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Sleep Savannah Sleep by Alistair Cross today.

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Alistair Cross’ debut novel, The Crimson Corset, a vampiric tale of terror and seduction, was an immediate bestseller earning praise from veteran vampire-lit author, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and New York Times bestseller, Jay Bonansinga, author of The Walking Dead series.In 2012, Alistair joined forces with international bestseller, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write – among other things – the successful Gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their debut collaboration, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was a bestseller. They are currently at work on their next solo novels and a new collaborative project.

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of HELLRAISER 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore.

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Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker Review

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

One of 2018’s most highly anticipated fall reads has to be author Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s novel Dracul. The book is the official prequel to the classic literary horror classic Dracula, written by Dacre Stoker’s great-granduncle Bram Stoker. Taking the concept first explored by Bram and showcasing how the legend of Dracula first began, the story puts the Stoker family in the role of protagonists and explores where the myth and legends truly came from. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.

The Review

I will say it now: this is one of my 2018 picks for best book of the year. It was truly amazing to read, and was as engaging as the original novel written by Bram Stoker over a century ago. Capturing the gothic, Victorian era setting and interweaving history, mythology and handwritten notes from author Bram Stoker himself, the authors really did a wonderful job bringing the life of Bram Stoker and his family to life in a horror based setting.

Now while the world knows the works of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be a fiction horror tale, what fascinated me about Dracul was not only the amount of history and real life individuals mixed into the narrative, but learning about the creation of Dracula to begin with. Readers will be enthralled to learn the true manuscript first written by Bram Stoker was never meant to be a fictional tale, but through the words of Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s afterward we learn how the book came to be what we know today, and that large portions of the original novel have never been published before. How much of this horrific and scary tale are fiction as we know it, and how much is fact?

The writing itself was amazing. The story was written in an epistolary format, allowing us to delve into the minds of the Stoker family themselves, as well as associates of the family and historical records to match some of the claims. Fans of the original tale of Dracula will love the similarities and context given throughout this novel, while modern day horror fans and readers will be enthralled with the vast character development and parallels between the life of Bram Stoker (in the novel) and the stories told within his novel years later.

The Verdict

This is a must read book for 2018. As a history buff, classic horror fan and overall Bram Stoker enthusiast, this story really captured my attention from the beginning. From the author’s early years battling illness to the life or death battle with unknown forces he and his siblings undertook, this is the kind of story that comes along rarely. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up the novel Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735219346/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0735219346&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Authors

Dacre Stoker:

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Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.

Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is Dacre’s first novel.

Dacre Stoker’s Links:

https://twitter.com/dacrestoker?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/DacreCStoker/

J.D. Barker:

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J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

A note from J.D.

As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

jd

J.D. Barker’s Links:

http://jdbarker.com/

https://www.facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

https://twitter.com/jdbarker