Exodus by Kimberly A. Bettes

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Clifford Bettes (2017)

Length: 7 hours 29 minutes

Author’s Page

Set during the Great Depression, this horror historical fiction follows the Carlson family as they try to survive the biggest mistake of their lives. They stopped at a small mining town in Arizona (Exodus) on their way to California where they hoped to be hired on as fruit pickers. Now they have to do their best to survive Frank and his murdering cannibalistic family.

This is a horror fest. It’s not for the squeamish. If you can’t handle the first chapter, then this is not the book for you. Such was not the case for me. I listened to the whole thing and was entertained, grossed out, hopeful for the main character, and wanted the despicable family that perpetrated these acts dead.

Cannibalism, murder, rape, human lactation fascination, and incest make up this story. Frank’s family owns and runs the little diner in Exodus as well as the thrift store where they sell those items they take off of their victims. Frank’s mom is a loud, heavy handed matriarch that rules over her kids. Frank’s brother and his sister carry of an affair that they have to hide from Frank, since he gets rather jealous if his sister/lover even looks at another man. Yep, it’s one severely messed up family.

Sometimes the creepiness was a bit excessive like it was pushed to such a height simply to get a reaction out of the reader instead of moving the story forward. Occasionally it was gratuitous horror but over all I enjoyed the tale. I was really rooting for Anne, hoping she would get out of this hell hole with her baby James.

Speaking of them, this story was extra creepy for me because so many of the names match names of my family members. My paternal grandparents (also named John and Anne) were migrant farmers from Tennessee that went out to California to work in the fruit orchards. I have lots of cousins in small mining towns in Arizona because of this migration. My dad is also named James, though he was born in the 1940s instead of the 1930s. The characters John and Anne lost their first born daughter Sarah due to illness. My sister is named Sarah. So, yeah, talk about creepy! Now I want to ask my dad if there are any stories from that migration that the family doesn’t like to talk about.

Initially, I hoped that one of the Exodus siblings might turn good and help Anne, John, and James escape. Frank’s sister was the most likely candidate however she has a lot of serious character flaws to overcome. I did find that I was a bit squeamish about people suckling on Anne (she’s lactating for baby James). It didn’t bother me when it happened in Grapes of Wrath but here it feels like a violation instead of sharing nutrition.

Perhaps 2/3 of the way through, we get an info dump on Frank and his motivations. He’s this big monstrous object doing horrible things for most of the book and then we get a peak inside his head. I would have liked a bit more of that behind-the-scenes stuff in the first 2/3 of the book instead of one big info dump. Still, we got to know Frank a bit more before the big, messy finale. The ending was a good solid one that wraps up any questions. If you’re in the mood for a good jolt of horror to the system, then this in your book. I will be avoiding meat at small diners for a while.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a great job with this book. His female voices are feminine and distinct. He has individual voices for each of the characters and he’s so good at being scared and determined, or disgusting and sly, or angry and violent with his voice. He also went the extra mile and did a little special affect that included Frank’s favorite song that he likes to work to – ‘Ain’t We Got Fun’. He plays it in just the right moments and in little snippets so it doesn’t eclipse the narration.

What I Liked: Small Arizona mining town; Depression Era; John & Anne & baby James; Frank and his family are so easy to hate; initially, there might be hope for one of Frank’s siblings; the ending was solid; great narration.

What I Disliked: Some of the horror was for shock factor only; big info dump on Frank late in the book.

What Others Think:

Lomeraniel Audiobook Reviews

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Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction & Horror, edited by Mark Matthews

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Wicked Run Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 29 minutes

Editor’s Page

This anthology focuses on addiction, mostly drug and alcohol addiction. They range from science fiction to horror to the paranormal. The editor opens with a short foreword about addiction and his hopes that this anthology will provide some insight into the struggle of addicts and hopefully bring about some compassion for those suffering from addiction. Even if this anthology doesn’t do that for you, it’s still quite entertaining, insightful, riveting, sometimes disgusting, usually disturbing, and chock full of examples of bad decisions made.

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

Melinda and this guy, our unnamed narrator of this story, meet at a bar. They go back to her place and have sex, sort of. Then he wakes up out in the street being drowned in a rainwater puddle. A specter of Steven Carver, his former AA sponsor, reminds him of his failures. The timeline jumps around a little as our alcohol-sodden character tries to muddle through the night. What’s real, what’s not? What’s in the present and what’s in the past? This tale did a great job of showing the inner confusion of someone deep in the clutches of alcoholism. There’s this scene where this guy is burying his daughter’s dead cat and he cries, not for the cat, not for his daughter, but for himself and stuff that happened during his own childhood. This scene really brought home how this character has so much stuff that’s left unresolved in his life. 5/5

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

Set in a future 2080s Patterson Park in Baltimore, the new drug of choice is Atlas. Heavy users like to inject it directly into their genitals, giving them a long-lasting incredible high. Perry Samson is still obsessed with his ex-wife Serina. He watches her from afar and thinks of her when he masturbates. He needs another high but his junkie friend Loshi thinks it’s high time Perry be the one to score and share. The author shows us the keen edge of depravity in this story. The Atlas junkies are willing to sell their flesh for a hit and some cash. Meanwhile, the rich who can afford the delicacy of well prepared human meat enjoy it in swanky restaurants. It reminded me of high school and college students who would sell plasma to go buy some pot. This was my favorite story in the bunch easily. I love the future SF setting (there’s TVs spread throughout the park showing The Wire reruns with all the hopeful scenes cut out) and yet we still have this drug culture, one in which there’s those who suffer and those who profit from it. 6/5

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews

Terra Snyder is in Narcotics Anonymous, living with her parents and trying to get her life back together. Then her former boyfriend Brett unexpectedly shows up. He’s in the Work Release Program while in prison. Against her better judgement, she goes with him to Russell’s place where they used to buy their drugs and hangout. The author shows us step by step how easy it is for someone to be roped back into the users lifestyle. The point of view bounces back and forth from Terra to her dad Gregory throughout the story. Gregory, Heather, and their daughter Terra (somewhat reluctantly) have been working on this urban farm in the middle of Detroit. Heather is one of those always upbeat, optimistic types who would never give up on her kid. Gregory, while not a perpetual optimist, would do anything to keep his daughter safe. This tale really showed how the blame game turns into an excuse to either shuck responsibility for past bad deeds or to commit more bad deeds. 5/5

First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson

This bit of flash fiction dealt with a different kind of addiction, but I feel the spirit of it (exploring a new-to-you high) could be applied to any new addiction. Julia, 39, went to a party, buzz wearing off, so she’s looking to try something new. This guy Toussaint bites off the tip of his pinky finger. Julia thinks it’s a trick. However, as the week goes on Julia notices bits missing from her friends. This little horror flick ended a bit too soon for me. I felt there was more for Julia to tell us. 4/5

Last Call by John FD Taff

Ted is in AA but he keeps falling off the wagon, going from group to group. His sponsor Sam reluctantly sends him to a liquor store with a special card, telling him to ask for the last bottle he will ever need. The store owner gives him a little lecture about choosing life or death. The unlabeled bottle is referred to as a shortcut, which I thought was a great way to show later on that there is no shortcut when it comes to dealing with addiction. The story leaps forward 5 years here, 10 years there, etc., showing how Ted’s life has changed and yet how this shortcut bottle is still tucked away, hiding in his closet. The ending is left dangling and I would have liked a line or two to close it out. It would have made the story more poignant or hopeful depending on how things ended. 4/5

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

Maggie is headed from Phoenix to Aurora, IL to hunt down her long-lost father, Desmond Gabriel. She can see demons and her online paranormal activities, where she goes by Jenny Halloween, have finally given her a hint as to where her father is. Her father, a homeless man, was mentioned on a paranormal chat site, Torment of the Fallen. She meets a short man that goes by Cheddar near the supposedly haunted house where her father sometimes crashes. I enjoyed this story because it had that urban fantasy feel to it where demons were being investigated and a lost person would be found, hopefully. If this story wasn’t in an anthology that focused on addiction, I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up on those elements of the story. I hope we see more of Jenny Halloween in the future. 5/5

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III

Jeremy, 26, is bleeding from his urethra. Perhaps the hepatitis is getting to him though he asks his lover Eliza if she bit him. He hasn’t told her about his hepatitis yet. At work, it gets worse so he goes to a clinic where he runs into Nick, a former junkie friend. He has one confrontation after another and things get worse and worse for him. Let me just whisper it to you – spiders. Yep. This was easily the most creeptastic and scary story of the anthology! I don’t even have a penis or hepatitis and it made me shudder. 5/5

Returns by Jack Ketchum

In this short tale, Jill Hunt’s husband’s spirit returns from the dead. She’s been drinking since he was run over by a cab. He thinks he’s returned to help Jill get past his death and not succumb to alcoholism. She can see and hear him but she thinks it’s all in her head. This little story was rather sad as it involved a pet and this failed relationship. I felt that things were left a bit unresolved as I wanted to know what ultimately happened to Jill or her husband’s spirit. 4/5

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a pretty good job with this anthology. There was a lot of ground to cover, that’s for sure! His female voices were pretty good. Melinda and Terra sounded like women. For the most part, he had distinct characters though in the story Garden of Fiends he occasionally sounded a bit mechanical and the characters weren’t distinct (I had to follow closely the dialogue between Brett and Terra to keep straight who said what). In the entire book, I only caught a single mispronounced word – conflagration. It just happens to be one of my favorite words and that’s why the butchering of it stood out. The pacing and volume were all well done. Over all, a well-done narration.

What I Liked: The variety of substances abused; the different genres; the various tones; spiders!; genital drugs!; great cover art; pretty good narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing, it was an interesting, enlightening, and entertaining anthology.

What Others Think:

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Audible Giveaway & Review: Darkside Blues by Ambrose Ibsen

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Ambrose Ibsen (2017)

Length: 5 hours 43 minutes

Series: Book 3 The Ulrich Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Following upon his success with the Exeter House mystery, Harlan Ulrich’s private investigation business has been doing quite well. He’s got a decent apartment, an admirable collection of fancy coffees, and a cat. Now he’s been hired to find yet another missing person. However, there’s more than one twist with this one. The missing person isn’t really missing but she’s not alive either.

I do believe this is my favorite of this series so far. Harlan Ulrich is truly becoming a ghost talker. He’s got his paranormal experiences of the past two books to draw on, so with this one he starts off on firmer ground, knowing some of the rules of engagement right from the start.

And we have Sparkles! Well, he was renamed by Harlan. His new name is Beardsley though I don’t think the cat really cares what Harlan calls him as long as there is food in his dish. Beardsley has a thing for coffee too and that mainly involves batting the beans about the apartment once he’s torn a hole in the bag.

Michael Poole has hired Harlan to approach his estranged daughter, Vivian. He says he’s seen her three times in an old neighborhood they used to live in when she was a teenager. However, he can’t bring himself to approach her and needs an intermediary. He’s chosen Harlan to be that man. However, Harlan discovers right away that Vivian died 10 years ago. As he continues to dig into the case, he finds other things that don’t match what Michael told him. Someone is lying. It becomes a tangled web as Harlan tracks down the ex-wife (Laguerre) and speaks with the stepmother (Meredith).

Let’s not forget the apparition that appears to be the teen-aged Vivian. However, she’s walking about with a limp. In life, she was wheelchair bound. Harlan has to unravel the truth about her apparent suicide. As Harlan makes more attempts to communicate with her, she responds in turn. However, her attempts of communication are rather disturbing to both Harlan and Beardsley.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was getting to know more about Harlan. He’s a teetotaler and his father was an alcoholic. This tale provides more glimpses into his past and that also provides a starting place for Vivian to communicate with him.

I really wasn’t sure where the author was going to take me with this one. I liked that I couldn’t guess major plot points right away. The story’s ending hung on a tipping point right up to the end. Will this character go this way or that, will it end in justice or vengeance, will Harlan have nightmares for months or sleep like a man after a fulfilling day’s work? I found the ending to be satisfying and I expect Harlan can live with the horrors he’s seen knowing he helped where he could.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Jake Urry continues to be great as Harlan Ulrich. His British accent continues to diminish with each book as he smooths out his American accent. Harlan sounds like a proper gent who happens to live in Toledo, Ohio. I liked his spooky voice for Vivian, who has a messed up face. Urry also added in a few sound effects here and there that worked quite well. I especially enjoyed the wind sounds in the background of some of the final scenes of the book.

What I Liked: Great narration; Beardsley the cat and his treatment of coffee beans; Harlan’s getting quite good at ghost talking; we learn about Ulrich’s past a bit; unraveling all the lies; very good ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I really enjoyed this one.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Ambrose Ibsen:

Once upon a time, a young Ambrose Ibsen discovered a collection of ghost stories on his father’s bookshelf. He was never the same again.

Apart from horror fiction, he enjoys good coffee, brewed strong.

Ambrose Ibsen has penned numerous horror and thriller titles, including The Ulrich Files, Transmission, The Demon-Hearted Series and the Winthrop House Series.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Darkside Blues:

“Ghosts don’t simply latch onto places, investigator. People can become haunted, too.”

A missing person. A city plunged into unforgiving winter. A dangerous spirit.

Though enjoying an increase in business following his last case, life isn’t all roses for private investigator Harlan Ulrich. His newest job, another missing person’s case, is unlike any other he’s ever taken on.

Local businessman Michael Poole hires Ulrich to find his estranged daughter.

The problem?

She’s been dead for a decade.

Join Ulrich on a trip into the darkness, into the frostbitten underworld, as he seeks out a hateful phantom with only a cat and a thermos of good coffee on his side.

Darkside Blues is the third novel in the Ulrich Files series by Ambrose Ibsen.

Audible ~ Amazon

Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Jake Urry:

Jake Urry has been narrating and producing Audiobooks since February 2016, and in that time has released 17 titles, including The Cryptic Lines by Richard Storry, White is the Coldest Colour by John Nicholl, and the PI Harlan Ulrich series by Ambrose Ibsen. His narration work is often dark and suspenseful, and he developing a reputation for Mysteries, Thrillers and Horrors. In 2017 Jake will be working on more work by John Nicholl and Richard Storry, along with a sprinkling of Fantasy adventures.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

GIVEAWAY!!!

Win a 3 month subscription to Audible (US or UK)! Ends June 15th.

Darkside Blues

Medicine for the Dead by Ambrose Ibsen

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Ambrose Ibsen (2016)

Length: 5 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Ulrich Files

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone novel.

Harlan Ulrich is a private investigator whose coffee addiction has led him into financial embarrassment. He’s about to be homeless, but a homeless man with an excellent coffee maker. Some friends of his insisted on inviting him to the bar even though he doesn’t drink. There he meets an old acquaintance who offers him a place to stay provided he looks after the building, which is being renovated. Of course, Harlan can’t turn this down.

The Exeter House has quite the history but the bar downstairs and the soon to be open apartments on the upper floors promise it another life. Vagrants living in the building has been a problem in the past and now Harlan has to walk the building at odd hours of the night to ensure no one is messing about. Of course, something spooky happens followed by more spooky things happening.

The covers for this series make it look like there will be a gorefest but really, there isn’t. There are a few scenes that depict some horror, but the author uses these wisely and they drive home the torture these spirits are in as unfinished business from their life remains to be seen to. Lucky for them, Harlan can see and hear them. Unlucky for Harlan as this keeps him from sleeping.

I loved the cat Sparkles! He added some amusement and suspense to the story in good measure. I look forward to seeing him in future stories. I think the added responsibility is good for Harlan too. Hopefully he will manage his coffee addiction wisely in the future so that he and Sparkles maintain a roof over their heads.

This tale does have two weaknesses and those are that it has a small cast of characters and there’s only 1 female. There’s Harlan, Sparkles, Harlan’s 2 friends from the bar, the old acquaintance that has him building sitting, and the barman working the bar downstairs. Pretty soon this turns into a missing persons case and there’s only so many players I can squint at suspiciously. Early on it was apparent who was most likely involved. With that said, I was surprised by the number of dead, and so was Harlan. Obviously, I would like a better gender balance but that’s not always possible with a small cast.

Once again, Harlan has helped a flailing spirit set things right. For a few moments there, it looked like things could go very badly for Harlan, but since I know there’s a 3rd book in the series, I wasn’t too worried. This was a very satisfying story, despite being able to pick out the culprit early on. I love how Harlan has to argue with himself, convincing himself of what he’s seen and heard, and then using his detective mind to dig into it a bit deeper. In the first book, he stumbled into the paranormal. In this tale, he’s got the experience to build on and I feel he’s really becoming that paranormal investigator the dead so desperately need.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Jake Urry really brings something to these books. Yes, he does have a British accent for some of the words, but I can totally believe Harlan Ulrich is simply a very proper speaking gent that happens to live in Toledo, Ohio. He does great with the other voices as well, keeping each distinct. Harlan goes through a variety of emotions in this book and Urry brought them all to life.

What I Liked: Spooky but not a gorefest; great use of suspense; Sparkles the cat; quality coffee leads our hero into ruin; satisfying end; great narration.

What I Disliked: Small cast of characters so it was easy to pick out the evil-doer; only 1 female character.

What Others Think:

Sci Fi & Scary

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The Tower of Zhaal by C. T. Phipps

Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Publisher: Crossroad Press (2017)

Length: 9 hours

Series: Book 2 Cthulhu Armageddon

Author’s Page

Note: This is Book 2 and works OK as a stand alone. It would definitely be enhanced by having previously read Book 1.

Set in and around a post-apocalyptic Massachusetts, John Henry Booth and Mercury Halsey now work as security for merchant caravans. The world was reformed some decades back when the Old Ones and aliens took up residence on Earth, nearly wiping out humans. Unfortunately, most of these new arrivals found humans useful in some way or another, such as interbreeding or as a food source. John is undergoing a transformation into an unknown something he fears and perhaps the University can cure him. However, their assistance comes at a price. They must hunt down and kill a powerful sorcerer (wizard? magician?) Marcus Whatley, who is determined to released the last of the Old Ones, potentially dooming both humanity and Earth.

Yeah. John and Mercury have their work cut out for them.

The end of Book 1, Cthulhu Armageddon, saw the death of much of the cast. Here, we get several fresh faces and, yes, many of them perish in interesting ways before the end of the book. In fact, several folks from the merchant train John & Mercury are guarding die right away when the cultists of Yith show up unexpectedly. Professor Harvey Armitage of the Miskatonic University wanted a word with John & Mercury and this was his douchey way to getting their attention. Right off the bat, I didn’t care for Armitage and I hoped that John & Mercury found an interesting way to kill him off. And yet…. yet Armitage does has a wealth of knowledge and some healing powers. Perhaps this messed up world needs him… for now.

Mercury used to be a professional torturer and she’s an expert on EBEs, these extra biological entities. So she’s a pretty interesting character that has had an intense career path. In this book, she continues to grow with some training in the magical arts. She’s done all she can for John as a doctor (of sorts) short of killing him (if that’s possible). Perhaps the magical arts are the only way to assist John in controlling or containing his mutation.

I’m interested in seeing how things turn out for the side character Jackie Howard. She’s the teen-aged adopted daughter of John and Mercury and she’s half ghoul. Yes, ghoul. Like Richard Jameson from Book 1, she likes human flesh. But she’s cool. Don’t worry. Donated meat only. There’s this great scene between her and John where John is explaining why they are leaving her behind instead of taking her on this insanely dangerous mission. Lots of great lines in that scene where Jackie acknowledges that John & Mercury care while also calling them on their BS.

Jessica O’Reilly, John’s previous girlfriend, shows up later in the book, as well as his ex-wife. As if that doesn’t make his life complicated enough, his ex-wife is a psychic and she can tell that John is hiding his true nature from all but his closest companions. John also has a bit of a crisis of conscious when he and his team end up in a kind of paradise that relies on slave labor. John was a slave for about a year previously, so he has some strong feelings on the subject. Yet this labor pool is made up of these squid faced entities that could happily slaughter all humans planet wide if they were inclined to… and weren’t being held in slavery. So he’s got 99 problems along with his love life.

The ending was complete with great imagery and phrases like, ‘We must summon Cthulhu!’. There’s plenty of drama and yet things work out. I hope we get another book in this series because there’s plenty more for John to explore even as he goes through his own evolution.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Jeffrey Kafer really shows off his skills with this book. This story is full of lots of nearly unpronounceable names such as Nyarlathotep and Shak’ta’hadron and Kafer has to pronounce them all with consistency and accuracy throughout the book. There’s also plenty of crazy cult ramblings in a nearly unpronounceable language, which Kafer makes the characters sound fluent in. I was impressed by the dexterity of this tongue multiple times throughout this book. He’s great at keeping the characters distinct and also imbuing the text with emotion as needed.

What I Liked: Great cover art; great narration; I just love this wild weird west thing happening in Massachusetts; Mercury’s a great character; Jackie could become a very interesting character; John’s internal battle with whatever is taking over; the answer to the slavery issue John faces.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this is a great sequel to Book 1!

What Others Think:

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Beauty in Ruins

The Audio Book Reviewer

Brian’s Book Blog

The Head by Brian Barr

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Brian Barr (2017)

Length: 48 minutes

Author’s Page

What would you do if you found a lone human head in the yard? You’d probably do something practical, like dial 911 or bury it. What if that head started talking to you and begged not to be left alone? Yep. That’s the situation our heroine Elizabeth finds herself in.

This tale is equal parts horror, suspension, love story, and humor. First, it’s a decapitated head named Bill complaining about a headache. Ha! Poor Bill doesn’t have many memories but he does enjoy Elizabeth’s company. As time goes by, Elizabeth comes to care for Bill as well despite Bill’s off-putting odor.

Things move along as Bill insists they go in search of his body. More memories come back and Elizabeth is drawn into a twisted paranormal situation. Let’s just say that Bill comes from a messed up family.

It was fun and I wasn’t expecting so much humor nor the love story. Also, on a personal note, my husband’s name is Bill and I couldn’t help but picture his head as The Head in this tale. That just added to the enjoyment of this story, not that I want to decapitate the man. Just if he ever ends up in that situation, I’d like to think I would love him all the same. For such a short story, it was full of entertaining surprises.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a great job as Bill the detached head. He fluctuated between serious and caring, pleading and decisive, with ease. His character voices were distinct though I felt that Elizabeth could sound a bit more feminine without sounding slightly cartoony.

What I Liked: Surprising twists!; Ha! A love story!; bits of horror but not gratuitously so; humor mixed in as well.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was an unexpectedly funny love story.

What Others Think:

Lomeraniel

Confessions of a Reviewer

Robin Lee’s Darkside

Lurk by Adam Vine

Narrator: Kevin Meyer

Publisher: Lilydog Books (2017)

Length: 9 hours 46 minutes

Author’s Page

Set in Santa Cruz, California, the house on Sunny Hill has been rented out to one group of college students or another for the past 20+ years. Now Drew Brady and his crew party every night at the house and occasionally attend classes. The close camaraderie the group has starts to shift once Drew discovers a box of old Polaroids in the basement, one of which shows the then-students messing around with what appears to be a human skull. Drew starts having terrifying visions and his mood starts spirally towards paranoia and anger, perhaps becoming dangerous to his friends. Part psychological thriller, part horror flick, this book makes you think twice before going down into the basement again.

The story has a good set up, introducing each of the main characters in unique and engaging ways. First, Drew is a nerd after my own heart. I really enjoyed all the nerdom surrounding this guy and instantly wanted to invite him into my inner circle. His housemates Carter (a muscular, attractive young man) and his girlfriend (a sometimes frigid, and sometimes funny young woman) provide that handsome, happy couple example for the story. Drew’s love interest, Bea, lives nearby but is often at the house partying with the crew. Meanwhile, Drew’s friend Jay comes for a visit along with his googly-eyed dog Popeye and his two homophobic friends.

As a side note, there’s lots of modern slang all over the place in this book and some of it is made up of homophobic remarks. We see everything through Drew’s eyes and his character makes the internal comment that Jay’s friends aren’t really homophobic despite their comments because they have never even met a gay person. OK, it’s character building all around. These guys are comfortable in their derogatory, casual statements and jeers and Drew’s OK with it because it doesn’t go any deeper than that. Regardless of my personal views on such remarks, it’s showing these flawed characters which I can live with. However, it still got a bit tiring simply because it comes up so many times in the story.

Speaking of tiring phrases and such, there is quite a bit of partying in this book. While that lives up to my expectations for a large chunk of college students, it did get a bit repetitive and tiring to have them always doing pot, lighting up (nicotine or otherwise), and drinking until they pass out or vomit or both.

Having gotten those criticisms out of the way, this was a pretty decent story. It has elements of both horror and psychological thriller. I liked that we never had too much of either. It wasn’t a gore fest but there are some pretty horrific scenes. Meanwhile, I was always questioning just how much I could trust Drew’s observations. Is he under the influence of some buried demon that inhabits the house’s basement? Or is he just a truly insecure guy that’s headed down the wrong road? In fact, Drew questions this about himself often and that kept me guessing about Drew for the entirety of the book.

The side character that I enjoyed the most was Andy, a local cop. He’s also a bit of a mystery in the same way that Drew is. Is he a good cop that suspects more than he’s letting on or is he part of the problem? As creepy things start happening more and more frequently around Sunny Hill, we get more time with Andy.

The tale ends on a cautionary note about how words have power and that teasing or neglect can twist someone up inside, potentially creating a monster in the long run. I thought it was interesting that the author ended things on this note considering the amount of homophobic remarks that go unchallenged in this book. The two seemed at odds with each other and yet I can’t say that the author didn’t do so on purpose. This story is either very well planned out or the author flailed around until he got it right. Either way, it is an entertaining read and leaves plenty to think about afterwards.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.

The Narration: Kevin Meyer did a pretty good job with this narration. He was perfect for Drew and seemed to enjoy the role with all the nerd references. He also had a very good creepy laugh that was used here and there throughout the tale. While he did well with all the modern slang, making it sound natural, there were also a few times where music lyrics were simply recited instead of sing-songed. I know this is a tough one for many narrators, but the recited lyrics felt a bit stiff instead of natural.

What I Liked: I was guessing about Drew the entire book; I had my doubts, and my hopes, about Andy the cop as well; enough horror to get the point across without being a gorefest; definitely some psychological thriller going on here; interesting way to end things.

What I Disliked: Homophobic remarks and partying references throughout the entire book got a bit tiresome.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Adam Vine:

Adam Vine was born in Petaluma, California. By day, he is a game writer and designer. He has lived in four different countries and visited almost thirty. His short fiction has appeared in various horror, science fiction, and literary fiction magazines and anthologies. When he is not writing, he is traveling, reading something icky, or teaching himself to play his mandolin. He currently lives in Germany.

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Website

Synopsis of Lurk:

Some secrets should stay buried….

College student Drew Brady never wanted the power to spy on his friends. But late one night, he finds a box of old Polaroids buried under his house that can change to show him whatever he desires, and Drew finds himself with the power to watch the people around him without them ever knowing.

Yet as Drew falls deeper into the rabbit hole of jealousy and despair, he begins having strange visions of the students who lived at the house 20 years ago and the gruesome fates they met after moving out. He finds evidence of a stalker who may be living on the property. The line between reality and nightmare blurs. Drew realizes there is something under the house that is manipulating him through the pictures, an eldritch, not-quite-dead thing that will drive him to do unspeakable evil if he doesn’t look away….

A blistering horror story, Lurk is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

Audible Amazon

About Narrator Kevin Meyer:

A devoted Midwesterner, raised in rural Wisconsin and transplanted to Tulsa, Oklahoma over three decades ago. A career-long voice-over and music radio guy, my iPhone playlist ranges from Alice Cooper and Waylon Jennings to Twenty One Pilots and The Zac Brown Band. Favorite reads are dominated by political biographies (Lincoln, Truman, Kennedy)…and Stephen King.  And now Adam Vine…’cause day-um that Drew Brady is one twisted mother!’

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ LinkedIn

Rationality Zero by J. M. Guillen

Narrator: Joel Richards

Publisher: Irrational Worlds (2015)

Length: 5 hours 42 minutes

Series: Book 1 Asset 108

Author’s Page

Michael Bishop has a cushy life complete with female companionship. That is when he’s not on active assignment as Asset 108. The Facility uses it’s cyberenhanced humans as it will. Now Bishop and his little cadre are on assignment in the Mojave desert. It’s not what they expected. It’s much worse, involving monsters that assault their sanity as much as their physical bodies.

This was a fun, brain candy kind of cyberpunk with Cthulhu monsters story. It’s fast paced with little character development but lots of monsters and tech. Bishop gets the most screen time and he’s fun, having both brains and brawn. Wyatt is a bit of a loose canon cowboy who also happens to have some serious cyber skills. Anya is their coordinator and spends most of the book on overwatch. She’s monitoring the situation and feeding them intel as it comes in. She can also upload packets of info & skills to them, allowing their cyberenhanced bodies to take on new weapons with full aptitude.

While much of the story is just action, Guillen has the basis for something really good here. Who doesn’t want to witness a big throwdown between cyberpunk warriors and Cthulhu minions? There’s plenty of creativity on display here. I would like to see the character personalities expanded and deepened. This is probably a bit tricky since Michael Bishop doesn’t retain his memories from his Asset 108 assignments. Still, I have faith that this author can do it. Wyatt and Anya could use some deepening too. I wonder what Wyatt does when he’s not being used by the Facility? Perhaps he runs a kangaroo & capybara ranch in Utah.

I really liked that the monsters were both strange and deadly. There’s some tentacle action in a few scenes which makes me wish I was safely sealed in a big environmental bubble! There’s no reasoning with these monsters. You can’t bargain with something like this.

It was fun and I look forward to Book 2 in the series. More Cthulhu monsters? I can only hope!

The Narration: Joel Richards was a good match for this book. He is Michael Bishop, Asset 108. I also liked his feminine accent for Anya. He also makes a good old boy Wyatt.

What I Liked: Great world building; great narration; excellent cover art; Cthulhu monsters!; cyberpunk stuff left, right, and center; a great start to something bigger.

What I Disliked: Not much character development at all.

What Others Think:

Books Without Any Pictures

The Audio Book Reviewer

The Book Nympho

Sci-Fi and Scary

Michael G. Munz

Audiobook Giveaway! The Worlds of C. T. Phipps

Welcome audiofiles! It is my pleasure to have Charles Phipps on the blog once again! He’s already released 4 new audiobooks this year and his latest three are up for grabs in this giveaway! Want to know more about the mind behind these entertaining stories? Then check out his Dab of Darkness interview. To enter the giveaways, scroll all the way to bottom. Phipps is generously offering up 3 audiobook copies of each of the 3 books, via Audible.com and Audible.co.uk. In fact, if we all spread the word and there’s a big response, he just may up that to 5 copies a book. And yes, you can win more than 1 book.

Now here’s something new from Phipps – Agent G: Infiltrator. It’s a delicious spy flick with some future tech, betrayals, and a conflicted main character. The notorious Jeffrey Kafer narrates this book.

In a world where virtually any death can be bought for the right price, follow the path of a high-tech assassin searching for answers to questions he shouldn’t be asking along with his next target. Agent G is a Letter, one of the Society’s 26 weapons for hire.

Unfortunately for the Society, G is starting to think for himself.

Unfortunately for G, he’s in the middle of infiltrating a rival organization and is running out of people he can trust.

Audible ~ Amazon

 Ah ha! I was hoping there would be a sequel to Cthulhu Armageddon. Now here it is! The Tower of Zhaal is out! Narrated by the nefarious Jeffrey Kafer.

It has been a year since John Henry Booth’s exile from New America and the fall of the Black Cathedral. Cursed with a slow transformation into a monster, he has begun a doomed relationship with fellow escapee Mercury Halsey as they seek some way to arrest his transformation.

Dubious hope arrives in the form of the University, the deranged scientists and cultists descended from the staff of Miskatonic University. Except their offer of help comes at a price. Having sold themselves to ancient aliens called the Yith, they wish John and Mercury to join a group of rogues in hunting down a wayward member of their faculty: a man who intends to release the last of the sleeping Great Old Ones on an already ravaged planet. If they’re telling the truth, John and Mercury will be heroes. If.

The Tower of Zhaal is the second novel of the Cthulhu Armageddon series, a post-apocalyptic continuation of H.P. Lovecraft’s popular Cthulhu Mythos.

Audible ~ Amazon

Yes! The fourth book is out! The Science of Supervillainy – I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and I look forward to seeing what happens next to Gary Karkofsky and Falcon Crest City. Narrated by the infamous Jeffrey Kafer.

Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless: The Supervillain Without Mercy (TM) returns in the fourth volume of the popular Supervillainy Saga. Having discovered the world’s greatest superhero slain by his doppelganger from another reality, Merciful: The Supervillain with Mercy (TM), and the arrogant President Omega, Gary dedicates himself to overthrowing both. Unfortunately, this is harder than it looks since Merciful has all of Gary’s genre savviness while President Omega has the entire brainwashed United States military behind him. In the end, though, there can be only one ruler of the world and two of these three feuding villains will have to go.

Audible ~ Amazon

Places to Find C. T. Phipps

Blog

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!!

Phipps is generously offering up 3 Audible.com/UK audiobook copies of each of the 3 books. In fact, if we all spread the word and there’s a big response, he just may up that to 5 copies a book. And yes, you can win more than 1 book. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Which book(s) are you interested in? Do you have an Audible.com or Audible.co.uk account? Giveaway ends May 16th, 2017 at midnight.

Agent G: Infiltrator Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tower of Zhaal Giveaway

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The Science of Supervillainy Giveaway

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That Strange Beauty of Apex Magazine

Heya Folks! I’m giving a shout out about Apex Magazine, a wonderful science fiction, fantasy, and horror magazine, featuring not only short fiction but also SFF/Horror/Mashup poetry. Every month Apex gives us a mix of originals and reprints, interspersed with interviews and nonfiction. Some of the featured authors have included: Mary Robinette Kowal, Saladin Ahmed, Genevieve Valentine, Amal El-Mohtar, Forrest Aguirre, Nick Mamatas, Theodora Goss, Nalo Hopkinson, Lucy A. Snyder, Cat Rambo, Jeff VanderMeer, Seanan McGuire, and Jennifer Pelland. Amazing new writers such as Indrapramit Das, T.J. Weyler, Alex Livingston, Ursula Vernon, Kathryn Weaver, Kelly Barnhill, Douglas F. Warrick, and Jeremy R. Butler have also been a part of Apex. And don’t forget that podcast!

Each new issue is posted piecemeal throughout the month and placed on sale the first Tuesday of every month. Content can be read for free via the website. Alternatively, annual subscriptions are available and all our issues can be purchased in single issue formats (ePub/mobi/PDF or from the Kindle and Nook stores–these versions contain exclusive content such as classic reprints and novel excerpts). [I borrowed this bit directly from their website.]

Now Apex is hosting a subscription drive to raise funds. Folks like Jason Sizemore and Lesley Conner put in a lot of effort to make Apex awesome. Revive the Drive has more than just Apex subscriptions to offer. There’s collectible art, signed editions, precision roasted coffee (yes, indeed, fancy coffee!), hand-knitted items, and more!

Find Apex on Facebook and Twitter as well.