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‘Psychic Sisters’ by M. E. Purfield – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

 

***

 

I do not know where I am. Sort of. I am at home. My new home. Mikis condo. I grunt and scream and try to say the words in my head but they will never come out. At least not that way. I cannot speak words. Only write them. So instead I pound the couch. I pound my head. I stomp the floor. I feel my face flush red. Tears run down my cheeks. All these thoughts speed through my brain. All these sensations. But most of all anger. 

Please calm down Miki says. I can hear the fear in her voice. Scared of me or what she might do. 

I cannot calm down. She does not understand that I have no control right now. I go through control all day. I hide. I mask. Try to pass myself off as normal and neurotypical so I do not have to suffer the annoyance and sympathy in peoples voices and faces. 

Maybe this is a way for me to finally let loose and show Miki how I am. Who I am.. She will hate me for it. She appears sad and worried. She must be feeling pain. My explosion is hurting her even though I am not touching her. But does she think I am having fun. Does she think I want to do this. That I want attention and love. I hope not. It is not about that at all. 

 

Synopsis –

Miki and Prudence Radicci. Sisters. One, an adult artist. One, a nonverbal autistic teen. Both with a psychic ability. Both that trouble keeps following.

Life is different now for Miki Radicci. Her long lost sister Prudence lives with her so she’s determined to create a stable life for her. But the world is far from stable. Especially when Miki psychically experience a person’s death and Prudence accesses computers with her brain. Whether they are suffering bizarre visions of pink-eyed albinos of another dimension, saving a neighbor from sexual predators, finding a body on vacation, or getting carjacked, nothing will test the sister’s new bond than a catastrophic event that strikes New York and brings their dreams to life.

 

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Thoughts –

The first in a new series for M. E. Purfield, but a series that carries on a previous one, Psychic Sisters follows young artist Miki and her autistic sister Prudence as they try to navigate their new lives and not get on each others nerves. Their unique psychic abilities lead them to situations that test their bond.

Being autistic himself, it is no surprise that the character of Prudence is an accurate and sympathetic representation of a non-verbal autistic teenager. Prudence has difficulty communicating with others and the fact that she has the ability to manipulate machines – able to text without a phone – is a bitter sweet skill when she must keep it secret from anyone she wishes to befriend. Always aware that she is different to others and coupled with her dark skin treated differently, and often times overwhelming to others, she struggles without her sister to help her. And with a sister like Miki, hellbent on doing right by her sibling, it is heartwarming to see their authentic relationship throughout the story, from petty sibling arguments to an unshakable sisterly love.

Miki as a main protagonist has her own issues though. Feeling the pain of others is not an easy gift to have for anyone, and for an independent eighteen year old artist who must now care for her sister as a parent, the burden on her shoulders is mighty. But she carries it with her head held high. While this is part of a larger story, Psychic Sisters can be read comfortably as a stand alone book but be warned – you will be compelled to grab the next one, and probably the previous series too.

 

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One sister an artist, the other an autist, but both with unique psychic abilities – the Radicci sisters are just trying to live their lives, but the world has other plans for them.

 

About the Author –

M.E. Purfield is the author of the long running and highly rated Miki Radicci series and the sci-noir Blunt Force Kharma series. He has had short stories in Broken Pencil, Unwinnable Magazine, and Norwegian American Weekly. He lives in Jersey City, NJ but you can always find him at on his Instagram here or on his website www.mepurfield.com

 

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‘The Virgin’ by Wol-vriey – Review

*Disclaimer – I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review*

***

She sighed in frustration. A little music would have helped pass the time, helped her to relax. 

But I’m prepared to wager that they don’t want us relaxed: they wanted us all tense and on edge as possible. 

The final piece of furniture in the room was the weapons rack. Hailey had so far avoided paying too much attention to the rack. Instead, her gaze flickered from the jewelry on the dresser (a lot of it was utterly gorgeous and she was certain most were designer pieces), to the fridge (which was filled with protein bars and energy drinks), and the digital clock on the wall beside the giant mirror (which informed her she had twenty minutes to showtime.) 

Showtime. Damn. I must be crazy. I can’t believe that I’m actually here and about to go through with this. What if I don’t survive it? Is this actually worth the risk? Oh, hell yes, it is. 

Synopsis –

THE VIRGIN GAME SHOW:

• 10 million dollars in prize money,
• 1000+ video cameras,
• Lots of deadly weapons,
• 10 Suitors,
• 5 Virgins, and
• 3 Hours . . . to keep your hymen intact.

Hailey Osborne wants to sell her virginity for a hundred thousand dollars. But then she’s made an offer she really can’t refuse: how about competing to win ten million dollars in a no-holds-barred underground game show, where all she has to do is remain a virgin?

There’s just two problems:

1. Four other women also want that prize money.
2. There’s ten suitors all contesting to take Hailey and the other virgins’ precious hymens . . . by any means necessary . . .

But hey, it’s just for 3 hours, right? How hard can it possibly be to hold on to something for that short period of time, something you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get rid of for years?

Hailey Osborne is about to find out.

 

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Thoughts –

The Virgin is not what you expect, and certainly not what I expected. Like the Hunger Games but with less sexual assault, surprisingly, Wol-vriey takes readers on an action packed, tense as a steel string story of a reality TV show like no other. In a world where you can change your social status by selling off your virginity, a lot of young women see it as an opportunity to make some not-exactly-easy money. And the woman who runs the show sees it as a vindication for her own intact ‘virginity’. Playing off the glorification of imagined female virginity and the debauched wants and desires of the voyeuristic upper classes, The Virgin does not try to be a feminist novel, nor does it paint the women of the competition as victims either – they see an opportunity and they are aware of all the risks they are about to take, as well as the violence they are willing to partake in to win. Each of them has made a choice for greed or for the want of a better life, but their each ready to fight for the prize.

With ribald humour and a direct and unflinching prose, Wol-vriey gives a glimpse at a gameshow that is a little to easy to believe in. The reader is taken on a thrilling and sometimes violent trail of a competition where the goal is to keep your hymen intact, a hymen that could be worth ten million dollars. Our main protagonist, Hailey Osborne, is a determined young woman who is not against losing her virginity, but may as well make some money while she has it, right? The Virgin is a sometimes humorous, often violent, and definitely though provoking novel that you won’t soon forget.

 

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The Virgin is a wild ride that does exactly what it says on the tin. An adult Hunger Games that is somehow less disturbing – this book will surprise you.

 

About the Author –

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Wol-vriey is Nigerian and quite tall. He writes horror fiction—for adults only, please. And also some surrealist stuff. To date, he has published over twenty novels in both genres.

His horror novels include: Hell Dancer, Girls Are Not Smiling, and the ‘Brainchew’ Series. On the surrealist side of things, he is the author of Pussy Transmission, the Bud Malone ‘Boston’ Series, Vegan Zombie Apocalypse, Vegan Vampire Vaginas, and the disturbing and unsettling Dr. Orgasm.

 

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‘Captivating Flames of Madness’ by Jeff Parsons – Review

*Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.*

***

 

May 24, 1944

The damp air smothered Hans with a slow asphyxiation of hot sweat, carbon dioxide, and diesel fuel. Each breath grew more and more tortured, not so much from the pervasive soggy drip of foul moisture clogging his lungs, but from the thought of what caused the U-292 German submarine to shudder, as if in anticipation. 

The U-boat was cruising along the surface in attack mode with other subs in the wolf pack. They preyed upon the merchant cargo ships that crossed the unforgiving sea from Newfoundland to England. Each time the ship shook, a torpedo was sent away through the frigid North Atlantic Ocean towards its hapless convoy target. 

Hans sat in the narrow toilet stall behind a flimsy curtain screen, leaning forward with his head cradled by his trembling hands, ashamed of his behavior, but unable to control it any more. He carefully eased a photograph from his uniform’s breast pocket. Stroking the portrait of his love, Greta, he wondered yet again how he was going to stay sane – U-boat service extracted a heavy toll upon him. 

He winced yet again… 

Hans thought he could hear the harsh shriek of the enemy vessels tearing apart after each torpedo hit, but he knew that was unlikely, for the submarine’s twin diesel engines were humming along at low throttle inn the nearby bulkhead compartment. 

He had heard that sound before, the dreadful shearing metal sound of sinking ships, and it haunted him. Like being underneath a waterfall, thunderous bubbling accompanied the dying throes of a merchant ship as it cracked open like a fragile egg shell, the deadly water flooding inside and the sailors within… he swore that he could hear the sounds of their lost souls screaming, just like in his nightmares. 

 

Synopsis –

What would you do if fate led you astray into a grim world where you encountered vengeful ghosts, homicidal maniacs, ancient gods, apocalyptic nightmares, dark magic, deadly space aliens, and more?
If you dare, why not find out?

Read for yourself the twenty-two gloriously provocative tales that dwell within this book – but be warned, some of my dear readers have experienced lasting nightmares…

 

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Thoughts –

The Captivating Flames of Madness is an apt name for a collection chock full of twisted and deranged characters. Parsons builds each story on a solid premise, a straight forward tale that the reader can see coming, only to have him pull the rug from under their feet at the last second. There are twists, turns, and surprising endings in these stories, and all of them are darker than you might imagine. Whether it’s a mugging gone wrong in ‘Control‘ where drug addict Chelsea gets more than she bargained for in her search for another hit, or a wish for eternal life turning a hacker’s life upside down in ‘Nothing Personal‘.

Parsons strength in writing is creating a richly layered moment in time, a scene and situation that the reader can instantly step into and forget that they are reading a story – which only serves to make the horror that much more disturbing. Ghosts to Gods, madmen to madwomen, both ancient and modern evils, The Captivating Flames of Madness is a diverse set of stories, circumstances, and characters to lose yourself in.

A collection of over twenty tales of horror, darkness, and disturbed minds, The Captivating Flames of Madness is a generous offering of new and enthralling stories. Jeff Parsons takes you down many paths and turns, and is a writer I’d be happy to follow again.

 

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The Captivating Flames of Madness is a collection best read by candlelight, a darkness best enjoyed by fans of unexpected endings and mysteries in the shadows.

 

About the Author –

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Jeff Parsons is a professional engineer enjoying life in sunny California, USA. He has a long history of technical writing, which oddly enough, often reads like pure fiction. You can find out more about Jeff Parsons and his work on the HellBound Books website here.

 

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‘John McNee’s Doom Cabaret’ – Review

*Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

***

 

“So… this is the club?” I asked.

“Down,” he insisted, urging me onward. “It’s called the Doom Cabaret.” 

“Catchy.” 

“Its an ancient and noble tradition of the theatre, dating as far back as the Roman Empire. From them to now, the Doom Cabaret has been dedicated to bringing revelry to the darkness, spitting in the face of the apocalypse and providing joy to a niche and dedicated audience.” 

“I see,” I said, though it was hardly the case. In truth, it was becoming difficult to see anything in the fading glow of the lamps. 

 

Synopsis –

This is the stage. These are the players.

A young woman’s sexual appetites prove too powerful to be undone by death. Hedonistic clubbers covet a drug that warps flesh rather than the mind. A wealthy cannibal encounters a meal too beautiful to be eaten. The Lullaby Man ushers another eager victim into his clockwork lair. Here is where such stories are told. Blood and beauty, defilement and deformity, musicians and monsters.

Welcome to the Doom Cabaret.

 

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Thoughts –

Being a cabaret fiend myself I couldn’t resist a horror collection with a cover and title like this, and I’m glad I gave into temptation. Doom Cabaret is a set of eight horrific stories ranging from grotesque freak shows that go beyond any freak show you’ve ever seen before in ‘Bebbel‘, to a gruesome mural that  comes to life in ‘Man Holding Razor Blade‘. McNee weaves a tapestry of violence, gore, passion, and revenge shrouded in shadows and as entertaining as it is stomach churning.

McNee’s writing relies heavily on the realistic characters that he creates. There is no such thing as holding back with McNee’s stories, no line that he won’t cross in service of the story.

This collection is bookended by a first and last story of some very different, yet equally hypnotic performances, ‘Bebbel’ and ‘Midnight at Doom Cabaret‘. Hitting you with the hard stuff first, the crunchy middle of the collection ramps down just a little, but always with the shadow in the background of that no holes barred beginning. Horrific performances with horrific stage managers, McNee’s stories are not easily forgotten, and not easy to put down either.

 

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About the Author –

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John McNee is the writer of numerous strange and disturbing horror stories, published in a variety of strange and disturbing anthologies, as well as the novel ‘Prince of Nightmares’.

He is also the creator of Grudgehaven and the author of ‘Grudge Punk’, a collection of short stories detailing the lives and deaths of its gruesome inhabitants, as well as its sequel, ‘Petroleum Precinct’.

He lives in Scotland, where he is employed as a journalist.

 

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‘Bottom Feeders’ by Jerry Roth – Review

*Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

***

Above the crackle of burning wood, a scream rose and curdled the blood within him. The tone of the cry cut into his spine with the precision of a sharpened blade. With his heart in his stomach, Ben ran to his home, trying to understand the reason for his pregnant wife’s screams. Frightened legs refused to move fast enough to satisfy his worried mind. Ben pushed his way into the front door, scraping the frame as he hurried. A sighted destined to scar Ben the rest of his life appeared before his as vibrant as a scene from a movie. Lily stood over their area-rug, knees locked together, and blood pooling under her until the beige colored rug turned an angry shade of crimson. The sight haunted his dreams for years to come without the clarity ever fading. When Ben reached his wife, she was shaking as he guided her onto a nearby chair. Her eyes were wide, filled with terror, and gone was any sense of reality. Ben waved a hand in front of her face and snapped his fingers. 

“Lily can you hear me? Please, Lily, talk to me? She turned her head to him – tears rolled down her cheeks. “What happened Lily?” She looked at the bloody carpet. 

“I was dusting, and it felt like my insides were ripping apart,” Lily said. Ben looked at her swollen belly and began to cry. 

 

Synopsis –

Jenny’s son is acting strange and drawing detailed pictures of bloody murders – she has reason to assume that her ex-husband may be to blame. Her new husband Robert has just taken up a new position as warden at the local prison that holds it’s own dark secrets. Finding a hidden diary that tells the tale of a depraved prisoner thought to be the Devil himself, Robert begins to see and feel supernatural happenings.

Mysteries abound, and chains can’t seem to hold the darkness in Jerry Roth’s Bottom Feeders.

 

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Thoughts –

From the first scene that sees a baby being born with no sign of an umbilical cord in sight, you know this novel is not playing nice. Bottom Feeders follows Jenny and her son Zack, along with her new husband Robert and her best friend Liam, as they discover dark secrets with dangerous consequences. Children are disappearing, children that her son is somehow connected with and Jenny has reason to believe it has something to do with her abusive ex-husband. Robert takes up his new post as prison warden only to discover that there is a prisoner living under the jail who should have been sent to the electric chair decades before. Only with the diary of his predecessor found in his enthralling and hypnotic new desk which offers not only old papers, but also new and terrifying visions.

Roth carries the separate story lines well within the book, keeping the reader interested in each thread by creating full and multi-layered characters. As the story progresses it’s clear that few of these characters are likeable but they are believable for the most part.

At times some motivations are not as clear as they could be, serious conversations seemingly erupting forth out of nowhere in otherwise everyday scenarios, yet it is true that each of the characters in this book are very serious themselves. Likewise, Jenny’s ‘evidence’ for her husband being involved in the nefarious goings on are flimsy even for such a deplorable man. But the story as a whole is populated by flawed, passionate characters, who whether you like them or not, you want to find out the end of their stories.

Riddled with twists, turns, and shadows, you will not be able to guess the ending of this novel, the heavy weights that tie all of the threads together. Bottom Feeders hooks you in with what may seem a straight forward path, but the sharps turns it takes you on will leave you shocked.

 

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Exploring the devil in humanity, and the humanity in Lucifer himself, Bottom Feeders spares few, and redeems even fewer.

 

About the Author –

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Jerry Roth is a graduate from The Ohio State University where he studied English Literature. He has written for Ohio newspapers and sports articles for the Disc Golf Pro Tour. His fiction career began as a screenwriter. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife Tricia and his three children Jesse, Lea, and Nick. After reading The Stand by Stephen King, he became passionate about creating his own work of fiction. Bottom Feeders is his debut novel.

 

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