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Joe Coffin Season One Episode One (A Vampire Suspense and Gory Horror Series: Episode 1 Book 0)
Joe Coffin Season One Episode One (A Vampire Suspense and Gory Horror Series: Episode 1 Book 0)
Price: £0.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone loves a good bad guy!, 19 May 2016
A copy of Joe Coffin: Season One, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Ken Preston, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self-published.

So, I have heard a lot about this book and about Mr Preston as well. We have been “friends” on Facebook for a while and interact a little but I have never read anything by him. I felt like I was missing out because I see a lot of people talking about this Joe Coffin fella, so felt it was about time I checked him out.

I had Season One on my Kindle but was delighted to recently take delivery of Season One and Season Two from Mr Preston directly.

As ever, everyone knows this does not garner any favours from me in the reviewing game, even if it was stuffed with cash! Which it wasn’t by the way.

Very disappointing.

This is what I thought.

Joe Coffin is part of the Slaughterhouse Mob, a notorious gang, some would say the biggest, most successful, in Birmingham. He has just been released from prison. While he was in there, someone killed his wife and young son. Joe has only one thing on his mind. Revenge.

What Joe doesn’t realise is that the killers aren’t your average gangland killers. They weren’t in it for revenge or indeed any easy to fathom reason.

In fact, they aren’t your average anything. Joe has a battle on his hands that he could never have foreseen. It’s going to get bloody.

So, we have a hell of a lot of characters in this. The main ones are not what you might think. Joe Coffin is a gangster. He is a killer. You know what though? I defy any of you reading this book to dislike him. Not the brightest spark, he has qualities that a lot of decent people could learn from. Massive in stature and attitude, he is a perfect leading man in this. Tom is his main adversary in this tale. He is cut from the same cloth but has none of the endearing qualities that Joe has. I just wanted to take a cheese grater to his face. Craggs is the old mob boss. Again, he is a very likeable character. Giving his history, this is strange but you just can’t help it. Emma is a reporter. She is the normal run of the mill despicable reporter out for the killer story but her moods and intentions change throughout the story. She has a conscience that she is wrestling with a lot.
On the nasty side of the fence you have Able. Not going to tell you much about him other than to say you will dislike him immediately. He needs a bigger cheese grater.

There are a host of others involved in this including Steffani, Joe’s wife, beautiful in life and it seems also in death. Laura is Tom’s wife. She is also Joe’s ex-wife. She is totally different to most of the people in this story. She shouldn’t be wrapped up with the mob. She is too decent. There are others involved that I am not going to tell you about because that would lead to spoilers and I don’t do spoilers.

The plot? A man from the mob has been wronged. He is out for revenge. Sounds pretty simple and in essence it is. But – and this is a huge but – the enemy aren’t your standard mobsters. They have some unique qualities that set them aside from everyone else.

Basically Joe wants to get the killers of his family. It’s not that easy though because of double crossing friends and an enemy that is as elusive as it is frightening. Add to that mix the fact that Joe is the most easily recognised person in the world, and the police are looking for him, he doesn’t have an easy time of it.

In terms of a book? This is just superb. It’s written in the style of being a Teevee series. Each chapter has its own title that make them unique and quirky. Some of them will make you laugh out loud at what you think might be in them before you even read them. Each chapter is like an episode of the series. Each one ends with its own little cliff hanger and forces you into turning the page immediately to see what’s on the other side. This is very clever writing.

Even though it is categorised as horror it is a mixture of genres that would make it an enjoyable read for many a person regardless of their favourite genre. It has horror, it has blood and guts, it has dark humour in abundance but the overriding element in it that made the book for me is the whole noir thing. Joe Coffin could have been transported directly from the old smoky backroom bars of the old black and white films of years ago. As a main character he is superb. He is in the thick of everything and you cannot help but root for him and cringe when things go wrong for him. He is the typical bad guy that everyone loves and would go out of their way to help him if he needed it.

Ken Preston writes in a style that is not just easy to read. It grips you and will not let you go until you have read a couple more chapters than you were intending to. I missed out on a few things because I couldn’t put this down at times. It’s the old cliché but the words just flow across the page and the pacing, for me, was absolutely perfect. It does get bloody at times and pretty gruesome but then it is a horror book. One I think you should go out of your way to pick up.

To summarise: a story about a likeable rogue out to avenge his family. Combining horror and noir and humour in a masterfully written story, if you like any of these genres, you will love this book. I’m already looking forward to Season Two!

General rating:

★★★★★ superbly written.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ perfect.


The Bad Game
The Bad Game
Price: £1.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't get any better than this!, 12 May 2016
This review is from: The Bad Game (Kindle Edition)
A copy of The Bad Game, by Adam Millard, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, The Sinister Horror Company, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

One thing you will know about me is my love and affection for the guys at The Sinister Horror Company, and the work they do. They produce some wonderful books, both in their presentation and how they read. It is very clear that they put every ounce of effort they have into doing the very best they can for any author they publish.
This is highly commendable in today’s world where you hear so many horror stories about how some presses behave.

One thing you won’t know about me is a fact that I am, quite frankly, ashamed of. This is the first time I have read anything by Adam Millard. No need to send the peasants round with the torches and pitchforks. I have put myself through two days of self-flagellation as punishment and I swear it will never happen again. Want to know how I can be so sure of that? Read on!

This hasn’t happened in a while! It’s two for one time!

Review One:

Like easy to read horror? Fun Horror? Horror in the classic style of Richard Laymon? Horror that will make you cringe, squirm and squeak? Just buy this and thank me later.

Review Two:

Jamie lives in the mostly quiet seaside town of Hemsby. Not much for a fifteen-year-old to do during the summer other than spend the days in the local arcade playing video games. Jamie likes a particular type of game though. He is a retro expert and is close to completing every single level on Pac Man in one sitting!

Scottie runs the arcade and has a soft spot for Jamie and helps him out with his problem with bullies.

When Scottie takes delivery of a new game, dealing with bullies for Jamie is going to be a walk in the park compared to what is coming.

The game proves to be a huge hit with the kids even though no one can understand it. There is evil at work though, and what happens next turns Hemsby from a quite seaside town into a town of unknown horrors and bloodshed.

OK, straight to it. Characters. Jamie and Scottie are the main ones. Jamie is a typical fifteen-year-old. He is quiet in one sense but not so in another. He is an all-round decent lad but can still get himself into bother now and again. Scottie is a man with more than one problem and a past he would rather not talk about. He likes the booze but doesn’t turn into a nasty person with it. He just wants to work, drink, sleep. Put them together and there is a definite connection that is quite endearing. Other people that would play main roles would be Liza, a girl visiting Hemsby that has caught Jamie’s eye. Barry, a quite unassuming lad that is going to explode onto the scene. Angela, the local barmaid with more to offer than she believes herself.

Then we have a host of other kids that all come to the fore as the story progresses and the evil breaks out.

The most stand out thing about every single character in this book is that they could be you. They could be the boy or girl next door or the man or woman down the street. They are so natural that they do not read as made up characters in a book. It’s almost like this is a biography of real people going through real stuff.

The plot? This is where my comparison with Richard Laymon comes in. This has that distinct 80’s feel to it. That easy to read style that Laymon was so good at in all his tales set in America. The fact that Mr Millard has so successfully transferred this style to a small seaside town in England, to me, is superbly fantastic. I don’t think I have read anyone else recently who has managed to do that. It’s sort of B movie style but on a big budget if that makes sense.

Given the title there is no doubt that the story centres around the game. The Bad Game. I am telling no more though about what happens or how it happens. When it does though, this story kicks off in the biggest possible style. It is two hundred miles an hour with blood and guts and flying eyeballs galore. But it isn’t over exaggerated. If it was a movie there wouldn’t be huge, slow motion explosions and lots of CGI used in the death scenes to make it look as gruesome as possible. It’s just told in a way that gets the point across with no frills but still gives you the huge effect and makes you cringe all the same.

Adam Millard has a writing style that I fell in love with after about ten percent of this story. People talk about the words flowing across the page. These words don’t flow across the page. It’s more like the laziest day you could ever think of, lying on an inflatable bed on a swimming pool with your eyes closed, feeling the sun beat down on you as you just gently float along. Not a care in the world and giving you the most wonderful settled feeling. But then when it needs to kick off it does it at a speed, and ferocity, that would be like one of your damn kids jumping in the pool and knocking you flying off the inflatable, sinking and gasping for breath. The run to the finale will leave you floundering in the water for ages until you finally drag yourself to the edge of the pool and catch your breath.

His characters are superb. His story is superb. The idea behind the story will have every person who loves horror of old smiling from ear to ear while reading this and for hours after finishing it. It’s horror that is frightening and sickening but at the same time horror that is fun to read and the sort of story that, when you finish it, you feel deflated, because you wanted it to be much much longer.

But then you smile again because it was so much damn fun.

I absolutely loved this book so much, I am going to invent my own category for it in my end of year round up so it definitely wins!

To summarise: just read the above and buy it. Or if you come to the end first, don’t bother reading the above, just buy it.

Highest possible recommendation.

General rating:

★★★★★ couldn't possibly get any less!

Horror rating:

★★★★★ and again!


Devourer of Souls (The Clifton Heights Saga Book 3)
Devourer of Souls (The Clifton Heights Saga Book 3)
Price: £2.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Superbly Written!, 2 May 2016
A copy of Devourer of Souls, by Kevin Lucia, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publisher, Crystal Lake Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

So, one of the many great things about being a reviewer is obviously the fact that publishers send you nice books to review. I have only recently connected with the mighty Joe Mynhardt, main man at Crystal Lake. I have to say that I am impressed with what I see him doing. He seems to have his finger right on top of the button while being able to juggle loads of other things at the same time. I like his work ethic and it looks like a hell of a lot of people respect what he does, including any authors he looks after.

I was delighted to get my hands on this one as well because I have heard many a good thing about Kevin Lucia’s writing but, embarrassingly, I have to admit to not reading any of his stuff before. I had no idea what this one was about so went at it completely blind. Did I like what I saw?

This book is written as if it is a collection of two stories so I am going to review it as such.

THE SKYLARK DINER

Welcome to Clifton Heights NY. A smallish town in the Adirondacks with lots of mysteries and lots of evil. Chris is the sheriff. He has come to the Skylark for breakfast with the local priest, Father Ward. They have grown up here together and in their later years they have an allegiance of such. A secret allegiance where they solve some of the evil mysteries of the Heights. Today they have come to discuss two such mysteries during one of their special breakfasts.
The first is a story told in a recently found journal. The story of….

SOPHAN

Childhood friends would do most anything for each other. In Clifton Heights, Nate, Kevin and Gary all hang out with each other. Jake tags along but not because he is invited. Jake is the outsider that everyone else just tolerates. He latches on to Nate, who feels responsible for him in some ways. Jake’s life isn’t the best. Poor and apparently beaten by his father, his attitude to life is not the best and doesn’t endear him to most.

One day, at the Commons Yard Sale, they come across the table of Mr Trung. He seems to have some sort of a hold over Jake that intrigues Nate. Something unspoken that is very creepy.

When Jake asks for Nate’s help to go to Mr Trung’s home to try and get something back that he stole from him, Nate reluctantly goes along. Little does he know he will regret that night for the next twenty years.

Where do I start? This is a story that at first you think is going to be a coming of age tale. In some respects, it is. These are kids growing up as best they can.

They all have different lives and different loves. Apart from Jake who just seems to have a lot of hate. Especially for Mr Trung. As characters in a story they are quite simply superb. The specific relationship that Jake and Nate have is amazing. It’s the sort of friendship that shouldn’t fit but does in a strange kind of way.

The plot is one of old. A mysterious game to be played that will determine the fate of the player but a game that changes for each person that plays it. There is a price to pay at the end. One the player will immediately regret when they have to give up the prize of their own. They now want it back and will do anything to get it back but have no idea what they are up against.

This is a slow story. It’s perfectly slow. It builds and builds making you feel more and more tense and creeped out. It will make you hold your breath just to be quite so you don’t give someone away. It will give you chills, and it will emotionally drain you.

THE SKYLARK DINER

Meanwhile back in the diner……it’s Father Wards turn to tell a tale. This one is a story that he was recently told during his time in the confessional. He is pretty sure who the person that told him the tale was. He needs to share what he heard with the sheriff. It’s too horrific not to.

THE MAN IN YELLOW

Stuart is the son of the Pastor of Tahawus. He isn’t necessarily the most Christian of kids. He regularly sneaks out of Sunday night service with his buddy Bobby. Stuart and Bobby aren’t exactly outcasts but with each of them having a disability, they don’t run with the popular people.

When a mysterious new Vicar comes to help out with the Vacation Bible School, Stuart immediately senses that something is wrong. The man in yellow is hiding a secret. A secret that is set to completely change the entire dynamics of Tahawus. A secret that Stuart is pivotal to, but doesn’t realise it yet.

Stuart must unravel secrets held by more than just the man in yellow, to save his very soul and all of the people of Tahawus.

You know what I like about this one? We start off with two main characters in Stuart and Bobby who aren’t the town jocks or the local heroes. We have two young lads who have troubles of their own but just get on with life as best they can. They are extremely likable and you will be rooting for these two right from the outset.

The man in yellow is horrible. When I say horrible, I mean horrible and despicable in every way you can imagine. He is evil personified and as I was imagining him in my mind I actually felt physically sick. The way in which he is described by Mr Lucia is just superb.

The plot is also superb. A small town that doesn’t exactly seem to be a total bible thumping town but does hold to a strong faith. Someone evil comes along to try and take that away from everyone. Stuart is the only one that can stop it from happening.

Tales like this though normally have a predictable run to the final scenes where you can more or less guess the outcome. Not with this little beauty.

CODA

The sheriff and the priest discuss what they can do and where they can go. They understand that after these two stories there isn’t much they can do. Other than keep doing what they are doing and unravel the many mysteries of Clifton Heights.

The End.

This book is, quite simply, superb. I honestly will not be able to say any more in this review that will do this justice. The way it has been put together in terms of these two men sitting in a diner telling each other stories and then breaking into the stories like some sort of dream sequence is wonderful. You feel so at ease with these two men and can picture them sitting in the diner having a chat. You can smell the coffee and pancakes. You can feel the tension.

The stories themselves are totally different but at the same time perfectly connected. I have seen comparisons to Lovecraft and King with this book. Yeah I can see the Lovecraftian connection and Mr Lucia pulls it off extremely well. The King comparison? Well, don’t shoot me but people that know me know that I have never finished a book by King because I get so bored. I finished this didn’t I? This certainly didn’t bore me in any way. That’s Lucia 1 – King 0.

I could talk about this book all night but to be honest with you, you should just go buy it. This is one that could fall into a few different categories in the end of year round up and to be honest again, it could win them all.

To summarise: just buy it. There is nothing else I can say.

General rating:

★★★★★ superb!

Horror rating:

★★★★★ once more, superb!


The Silent Twin: A dark, gripping detective thriller (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller Series Book 3)
The Silent Twin: A dark, gripping detective thriller (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller Series Book 3)
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars She does it again!, 28 April 2016
I received an advance copy of The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Bookouture.

This is the third book I have read by Caroline Mitchell. They have all been in the same series. A trilogy of books about Detective Jennifer Knight. A cop with a gift that many other cops don’t have. Don’t Turn Around was the first instalment and you can read my review of it here.

The second in the series was Time To Die and again, you can read the review here. I have loved the series so far. A crime novel with a paranormal twist brings it closer to the horror books that I love so much. A bit disappointed that this one is the last in the trilogy but as eager as ever to get reading it due to the wonderful stuff that came before.

This is what I thought.

Jennifer Knight is taking on quite possibly the toughest case she is ever likely to have. Abigail and Olivia are twins. Abigail has gone missing. It’s every parent’s nightmare. Their parents are no exception. Except they are. Their father, Nick, is a Police Sergeant and their mother, Joanna, is an eccentric entrepreneur. Is this a kidnapping?

Jennifer is tasked to be their Family Liaison Officer and with an abundance of puzzling clues and puzzling people, she has her hands full in trying to find Abigail and also keep the family peace.

When Jennifer talks to Abigail through her sister Olivia, she thinks she is still alive, but neither know where she is being kept. Someone close isn’t telling the truth and knows more than they are saying.

Characters wise in this one, we have a mixture of lovable ones and hateable ones. In terms of the police in this one, Jennifer is mostly on her own. She is, as ever, fastidious and dedicated to her role and wants nothing more than a quick resolution to the job. The girl’s father, Nick, is a mess. A police sergeant on the other side of the fence this time and struggling with everything. Their mother, Joanna, is also a mess. She just seems to be totally nuts, driven to madness by a past that is horrific. Olivia is the sister left behind. She hasn’t spoken since Abigail went missing. Some think it is shock. Some think it is fear.

There are a host of other people playing much smaller parts in the story. They all fit in extremely well, as they always do in a Caroline Mitchell book.

The plot? It’s horrific and harrowing. Let’s face it people, unfortunately we are no stranger to this sort of scenario these days. It seems to happen more and more often and it is the sort of story that we all dread hearing on the news, when a child goes missing. A lot of books feature this sort of scenario. Some of them take it to the extreme. Some of them just go for the sensationalist story, to over exaggerate things and make it as brutal as possible.

Not Caroline Mitchell. She has written this story in such a way that, it certainly highlights the dangers children face these days. She has also concentrated on the story from the point of view of the parents, showing what each one has to go through, together and alone. She has also shown in a perfect way what it must be like for the police officer handling the case. It is just as scary and in some ways even more so for them. They are the person that is being relied upon to fix things. If they do, they win. If they don’t, they fail. Not a nice position to be in.

One thing that you will notice due to the fact that it keeps jumping up and punching you in the face, is the fact that you will not have a clue who done it! This is one of the best novels I have read in years for totally confusing you as to who you think the villain is. You will change your mind multiple times. You will curse Ms Mitchell multiple times. You will swear multiple times.

When you hit ninety percent of the book you will sit back with a smug smile on your face because you will have solved it during the epic run to the end. When you hit ninety-three percent you will think how could I have been so stupid, and will solve it once again. At ninety-six percent you will call Ms Mitchell a name (sorry Caroline, I didn’t mean it, you just annoyed me for the fifteenth time) when she twists the entire story on its head again and takes you in a direction you would never have seen coming. If you claim that you did, you are a big fat liar liar pants on fire!

Negative? To me it wasn’t the best of the three books. That’s it. That’s all the negative I got. I am sorry to see this character being put on the shelf so to speak and I truly hope she comes back off it again.

On the flip side of that, I cannot wait to see what Caroline Mitchell produces for us next. One thing is certain, I will be picking it up. This lady can write bloody good stuff!

To summarise: book number three in a trilogy featuring a fantastic detective with a difference. Gritty, harrowing crime that will keep you with your nose thoroughly stuck in your reading weapon of choice until you are done.

General rating:

★★★★★ can't give anything less.

Crime / thriller rating:

★★★★★ and again.


Empty
Empty
Price: £1.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly creepy!, 25 April 2016
This review is from: Empty (Kindle Edition)
A copy of Empty was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Ty Arthur, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Mirror Matter Press.

If you have your own blog or website, then I urge you to have an open call for submissions every now and again. When you do that, you tend to have people you have never heard of before email you and ask you to review their stuff. This is a brilliant way to get to read new talent that you wouldn’t necessarily read otherwise.

This is exactly what happened when Ty Arthur asked if I would have a look at Empty. This is a brand of horror I don’t read enough of. Horror set in space. I don’t even know if there is an exact genre name for it but I do love it when I come across a good one.

How did Empty turn out?

The research vessel, Thorne, is in trouble. It is drifting with no engines and none of its crew appear to be able to do anything about it. Apart from one man seen wandering the decks chanting strange religious type sayings.

Many decades later, the salvage ship, Penrose, is sent into deep space to try and bring the Thorne home. It has a very important cargo on board that seems to be very secret.

Junior Engineer 3rd Class Hansen is a loner, but not by choice. He is sent to work by himself after a prank on his senior officer goes wrong. Little does he know that he is going to play the major part in trying to save the Penrose and ultimately, the universe.

So, characters in this one. You really only have Hansen. I will explain that a bit later but as characters go he is an all-round likeable person that you will warm to. He doesn’t have it easy. A bully for a boss and a job in the very bowels of the ship. He just longs to be on the salvage mission with everyone else. When he gets his chance his true personality shines.

The plot? Well this is a short story so it needs to pack an awful lot into a short space of time. It is a familiar story. Ship goes dead for some reason, salvage sent to bring it home, something lurks on the original ship. A bit same old, same old, but Mr Arthur has a significant difference in this one that makes it stand out for me and made it hugely tense and entertaining and horrific.

A distinct lack of dialogue.

There is very little talking at all in this. Most of the story is in Hansen’s head. You see what he is thinking and how he comes about the decisions he makes. He has a very analytical mind. Always thinking things through in a very logical way, rather than jumping straight in. A lot of stories need dialogue to break up the monotony. Not this one. You know the old saying in space no one can hear you scream? That’s because it is lonely. There isn’t much of an atmosphere (scuse the pun) so it’s quiet and still and eerie.

The way Ty Arthur has written this story, that lonely feeling is at the fore all of the time. It feels almost, well, Empty! Hansen is alone in everything he does. Even when he is called upon to do important work, he is still alone. Even when he is involved with others, he is still alone. When he is in deep despair and panic towards the end of the story, he is alone.

When you read this, you will start to feel alone. You will feel the emptiness. You will feel the constant quiet. No noise. Nothing. It starts to make your skin crawl. It starts to make you look around you to make sure nothing is behind you. When you cough, the sound of your own voice will scare you.

The atmosphere that is portrayed in this story genuinely scared the wee out of me. I felt very alone and very in need of a hug when I finished this story. I was cold and scared.

Bravo Mr Arthur. Bravo.

To summarise: If you like your horror to have that little bit extra that genuinely makes your skin crawl and makes you crave human interaction when you finish it, just so you don’t feel alone, this is for you.

I loved this story. I cannot wait to read more from Mr Arthur.

General rating:

★★★★★ excellent.

Sci-Fi / Horror rating:

★★★★★ and again.


Panacea: A Novella of Horror
Panacea: A Novella of Horror
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in short story writing!, 21 April 2016
Rob Arnold is an old man. His wife Molly is dying. All Rob does is look after her 24/7 and has a little smoke and a whiskey, watching the baseball when he can.
He sees an infomercial about a potion called Panacea. The advert claims it can cure everything. It’s destroying Rob watching Molly so ill so he decides what the hell, and orders some. He slips it to Molly one night. What happens next was beyond his wildest dreams. It soon becomes his wildest nightmare.

Wow. This, my friends, is what short stories are all about. Sucking you in, giving you a nicely paced story that slowly builds a picture and has you feeling nice and secure in your chair as you read it and then BAM!! You’re punched squarely in the face and just when you’re picking yourself up from that someone kicks you in the nuts! All you can do is give in and go with the flow right to the end, never knowing where it will stop.

What Adam Light has written for us here is the opening episode of The Twilight Zone if they ever make a new (creditable) series. It’s everything a horror book / film / TV series should be.

A man, rightly, deeply in love with his wife, who would do anything for her to prevent her from suffering any more. A magic potion that seems to work. Until it works too well. That’s when the gates to hell open up and things can only go downhill from there.

Absolutely loved this story. Didn’t want it to end. Perfectly paced. Perfectly written. Perfectly creepy. A perfectly horrifically twisted tale of love and how love can come back and bite you in the ass.

To summarise: Perfect.

★★★★★ Big fat ones.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 2, 2016 8:33 PM BST


Mister White: The Short Story
Mister White: The Short Story

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Short!, 21 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
John C. Foster. Never read anything by him. There has been a hell of a lot of talk about this Mister White fella on social media for a while now. I thought I would pick up the short story ahead of the full novel, just to see what all the fuss is about.

Abel is in Austria. He is an agent for an American Intelligence organisation. He has just had a phone call that he couldn’t understand because the line was so bad, but also because of the mention of the name, Mister White.

Who is Mister White? Why does everyone seem to be scared to mention his name? Abel is about to find out. Then he will realise he should have paid attention to the warnings.

Do not speak his name.

This is just superb. A short story that is quite obviously being used as a teaser. A story to grab your attention and draw you into the mystery of Mister White. A book designed to get you hooked and make you want to get the full novel when it is released. No shame in that. If I had the writing talent of John Foster, I would do exactly the same thing.

I have read a few teasers in my time.

I have never read one as effective as this though.

This is obviously going to be a thriller. A mysterious one at that, full of international espionage and spies and James Bond type scenarios. On top of that though is a dark element to the story. So dark in fact that the amount of darkness in this short story alone is ten times that of the level of darkness I have read in some dark stories for years. Think James Bond on speed with the evil level turned up to eleven. That's dark!

This is superb writing. You have an idea of what is going to happen. Well, you know there are spies involved, and foreign agents, and people running for their lives, and the evil Mister White that everyone is so scared of. Apart from that, you don’t get much more of a clue as to what is actually happening and where the story is going to go.

Fear. That is the word that I think most describes my mood while reading this. You can feel it. Smell it. Almost taste it. When you see the character’s jump and look behind them to see who is there, you do it yourself. When you see them run, you feel like getting up and running yourself. You know when they are caught, they have no chance.

One scene in this short had me cringing so much I was nearly sick.

I won’t give details, apart from the fact that a person is being tortured. It is the worst kind of torture though. It’s self-inflicted on the instructions of others. This scene is so brutal and sickening, in the most simplistic of ways, and how it is described, it is one of the best I have read. Ever.

John C Foster has a knack for the dark stuff. There is no doubt about that. I cannot wait to get my hands on the full novel for this and get into the real juicy bits. I feel I have missed the bandwagon big style. I wanna get on it now!

To summarise: superbly written, dark, horrific short that is full of tension and suspense and leaves you with an absolute hunger for more of the same. All of this in a short story. That is some very powerful writing.

General rating:

★★★★★ superb short teaser.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ superbly horrific and tense.


Death by Chocolate
Death by Chocolate
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Choccy woccy doo da!, 18 April 2016
A copy of Death By Chocolate was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the editor, Matthew Cash, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by KnightWatch Press.

So, the second thing by Matthew Cash in a few days. The first was his story, Ankle Biters. You can read my review of that, here.

This time it’s sampling what he can do as an editor. He has brought together the many stories in Death By Chocolate and I have to say, as well as a lot of new names to me, there are a few crackin writers that I have already read in here.

Anthologies and collections seem to be flying at me from everywhere these days. Can this one be unique and entertaining enough to stand out a bit from the rest?

Let’s find out!

CHOMPERS BY DUNCAN RALSTON

All Ray has ever wanted is some nice teeth. Oh and some chocolate. He doesn't have a lot of money. He is saving for his wedding. His friend Santiago knows where he can get some new teeth cheap.

The only question is; whose teeth is he going to get.

The one thing you need to open an anthology is a strong story. Mr Cash grabbed this little tale by Duncan Ralston and slotted it in the perfect place.

This is brilliant. You know the way some horror gives you that horrible feeling in your teeth when something nasty happens? This one takes that to another level.

Superbly creepy but funny at times as well, this story shows just how good a writer Mr Ralston is at short stories. Loved this.

Perfect opener.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

ONE BOWL AT A TIME BY S L DIXON

Tony is the Prime Ministers number two. He has always been pushing aid for third world countries to try and solve the world's problems. Looks like the PM finally agrees with him.

The only problem is what's going to be in the aid sent to billions. The plan has already started. Time for cereal?

Another crackin story. This one is scary in a way that not many people may think about when they are eating their cereal today.

A sort of megalomaniac James Bond villain type scenario showing that when you sit back and think about it, even breakfast can be scary.

Love this writing. Almost makes you think anything is possible and we wouldn’t even know it was happening.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

THE CHOCOLATE GODDESS BY JUSTINE JOHNSTON HEMMESTAD

Ixcacao is the daughter of the King in the ancient town of Chichen-Itza. Their whole life and belief system is governed by the one thing they can produce in abundance. Chocolate.

When the Aztec’s come to raid their town and demand the secret of the chocolate, Ixcacao must make a choice whether to hand over the secrets or die by chocolate.

Hmmm bit of a strange one this. Not too sure what the story was supposed to represent or mean. A bit surreal and almost a bit tongue in cheek but didn’t do much for me either way.

★★.5 for general.

★★ for horror.

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE BY EDWARD BREEN

John’s mum loves her chocolate. When a meteor strikes in the heart of the cocoa bean production area, all hope seems to be lost for chocolate lovers everywhere. Until the plants start to grow back exceptionally fast.

After John and his mum go for a tour of the meteor site, all things start to go wrong. Looks like it is all over the world.

This was a cool one. Another one with a feel of the Twilight Zone to it after something crashes to earth and seems to be changing mankind with its effects.

Some really good horror and gore in this one. Nearly putting me off chocolate.

Nearly!

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.

NOT SO SWEET BY HOLLY ICE

Mariam is a young girl who has been taken off the streets but into a life of slavery in the cacao fields. She is destined to spend her days cutting down pods and opening then to get the beans out. Boring, and hard work but at least she gets fed at the end of the day.

She is being followed by a ghostly shadow though and has no idea why.

This is a nice slower paced story. Very haunting though and very creepy. It shows the desperate lives some kids must have in third world countries. Work or starve. Work or die.

This one has a lovely haunting twist though that sees Mariam followed around by a ghost. But who’s ghost is it.

This will give you goose bumps.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

WONKY WILLY BY CHRISTOPHER MOORE

Wonky Willy Walters is a loner. It’s no surprise given what people think of him. Every year though he puts on a show of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the rundown Broadview Theatre.

The night before the show every year is a special night. Only Willy and his Charlie rehearse that night. It’s not a normal rehearsal, but then Willy is a bit Wonky.

You will think you know where this story is going. You will think it predictable. You will be shocked and annoyed when you find out it isn’t.

This is a writing style I could read a lot lot more of and I will endeavour to seek out more of Mr Moore’s work.

Tense and creepy. This is what a horror short story is about. Short and to the point, but make your readers imagination run wild.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

THE EATER EGG BY CALUM CHAMBERS

Bethany’s dad is trying to win the Dad of the year competition with this year’s Easter Egg Hunt. He has organised the party of all parties!

She finds most of the eggs, and the biggest one of all. Only problem is, she got this one from a man who told her she could have it in exchange for her soul.

Another good one but I have a complaint. I know it’s an anthology but this one is way too short. It finishes too abruptly for me. Yes, it leaves you dangling as a short should but needed more at the end.

Still a good story though with the right amount of build-up and tension making it very creepy indeed.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.

TOFFEE IS BEST BY CHRISTOPHER LAW

Felicity is staying at her Grandmothers. Her Grandmother has a special box of chocolates that get shared around the family, but only if you have been good. Felicity missed out on one tonight so she has sneaked down to get one in the middle of the night.

She must try and make sure she is not caught or she will be punished. She must also remember to leave at least five to keep the little people happy.

Superb. Mysterious and creepy and full of moments of me shouting at my Kindle “Don’t do it”. Kids just don’t heed the warnings about little people and other worldly things.

Perfectly paced writing with the perfect amount of emotion and childlike thinking leading to perfect tension and horror of the unseen.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

BARRY’S LAST DAY BY KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS

Barry is retiring. He has been a builder for forty years but a new foreman, half his age is more or less forcing him out. He doesn’t look forward to a world of a nagging wife and a druggie son.

Maybe those drugs could be useful in some other way.

Loved this. This is both a bit comical but very scary at the same time. An examination of how opposite generations attitudes to drugs and how they handle them can be both a bit funny, but very scary at the same time.

Great writing in this one. To the point and basic, but perfect for the story. No grand elaborations needed for it to be hugely effective and to leave you with your jaw trailing the ground at the end.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.

SOFT CENTRED BY J R PARK

Emma has just been made redundant. Her husband Mark has given her a bit of slack with her comfort eating of chocolate, but things are starting to get a bit out of hand. And bloody.

I love Justin Parks writing. This was no exception. Starts off as what seems like a scene of suburban bliss which quickly turns to suburban mayhem, horror and bloody tragedy. He writes this stuff so very well.

It has horror, blood and chocolate. Just what the anthology asked for.

Bravo again sir.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★★ for horror.

LE CIEL DE CHOCOLAT (AKA CHOCOLATE HEAVEN) BY DANIEL MARC CHANT

Elizabeth and Sarah are doing what they normally do. Sitting sipping wine after shopping on Kensington High Street. Elizabeth has a thing for Monsieur Mathis, the local chocolatier. She insists she will have him, no matter the cost.

Monsieur Mathis has no interest. Well, up to a point.

This is just bonkers. Scary for many different reasons but so bonkers it’s brilliant. This is what chocolate is all about. Lust. Insatiable desires that must be met no matter the cost. And a chocolatier excited by nothing other than chocolate.

You sort of know where this tale is ultimately going to end up but it doesn’t matter. It’s still great fun getting there.

★★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.

AND HE CALLED HER THE “CHOCOLATE GIRL” BY MARK WOODS

Carl gets an alarming call at two in the morning from Jules. He swore he wouldn’t run for her again but he can’t resist. She sounds in trouble.

She has just returned from one of her cacao plantations in Southern America and believes she has been cursed. Carl sees this as his opportunity to finally get what he wants from the Chocolate Girl.

Bit of a weird one this but I really liked it. Again a sort of Twilight Zone feel to it or Tales of the Unexpected.

A good twist at the end makes you become part of the story.

★★★★ for general.

★★★ for horror.

THE CHOCOLATEMAN BY JONATHAN BUTCHER

Whilst on his way to a meeting, a man runs into Kreb, The Chocolate Man.
Count one, two, three, take a dump and he’ll be there.

No idea what I just read in this one, cannot say anything else for fear of spoiling it for you but this one was not my cup of tea. At all.

★★.2 for general.

★★ for horror.

WHY CAN’T I BE YOU BY MATTHEW CASH

Laura decides to join Nu-You to get rid of the last remaining nine pounds she needs to shed. The rest of the ladies at the club take an instant dislike to her because she is already so skinny, compared to them.

They decide to teach her lesson involving chocolate. A lot of chocolate.

This story read like one of my nightmares. For that reason, it wins the horrific award. This one is quite brutal. It is like a few things I have seen on television over the years about how horrible people can be, to other people.

When you sit back a bit and examine what happens in the story, you could see this happening anywhere. Brutal and to the point writing make this a very effective story in getting its point across.

★★★★ for general.

★★★★ for horror.

So, Death By Chocolate. An interesting anthology full of tales involving chocolate. I have to be honest and admit I didn’t know how this was going to be pulled off. Some of the stories were loosely tied in with the theme but I have to let them get away with it because they were so good.

In terms of the job Mr Cash did? Well I have to congratulate him on a job well done. The stories he has selected for this one all did their job. For the most part they were scary and entertaining. Some more so than others, but that is par for the course with an anthology. I would have one or two little gripes about the editing in places. A couple of little mistakes here and there but to be honest, I have seen more mistakes in a book edited by a professional who has been at it for years. I am being ultra-picky now and probably shouldn’t be.

Surprised but delighted for Mr Cash that he pulled it off. Delighted for the rest of the authors involved in this one. Some brilliant stories and some fresh meat for me to follow and pick some more new author stuff up.

If you want a collection of stories that bring together an easy read, from some new names to you, then this just might be the one for you.

In the future I would certainly look out again for anthologies with stories selected by Matthew Cash. He seems to have an eye for good ones.

Again my score for an anthology uses the old scientific method of adding all the scores together and dividing by the number of stories to get an average. Death By Chocolate comes out as:

General rating:

★★★★.3 nearly perfect

Horror rating:

★★★★ and again.


Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows
Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows
Price: £2.58

3.0 out of 5 stars Still got promise!, 18 April 2016
A copy of Carolina Daemonic: Confederate Shadows was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Brian Barr, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by J. Ellington Ashton Press.

This was one that was sent to me by Mr Barr the last time I put out a call for anyone looking for help or wanting reviews. Generally, with a blog that is just trying to get a name for itself like Confessions, this gets new books in from authors I have not read before and are trying to push their debuts out into the big bad world. This is one such occasion. This is scary. Probably for the author as well as me. I find it scary because you have no clue what you’re about to read and if you really don’t like it you could be about to deal a very dangerous blow to the author. It can be like walking across a lake of very thin ice.

The year is 2020. The South won the Civil War and things are not very smooth in this new Confederate land. Slavery has just been outlawed but racism is still most people’s middle name. And evil hides in the shadows.

OrbTech is the biggest robotics company in the world, striving forward and not scared to flatten anyone in their way. Titus can’t work for OrbTech even though he is a genius. He is black. They don’t accept blacks.

In a story with many paths that ultimately lead everyone to the same end, Titus will end up in a battle with OrbTech and its enigmatic spokesperson Tobias who he knows from his own sordid past.

Alongside this battle is the battle for the skies and the underground. The battle of the unknown. The battle of dark forces no one even knows exist. The time for the revolution has come.

We have quite a few main characters in this one so I will keep them brief. OrbTech spokesperson Tobias is a racist in the extreme, but with a lot of secrets from his past that could turn that completely on its head. He is also part machine. Titus is black and knows Tobias from his younger days. He is a well-respected engineer but got himself there by prostituting himself out to pay for it. Raymond runs OrbTech. Something weird about him too. He is also mechanically driven in his life. Manti is the leader of the Yoruban Nation. A group of black men fighting for survival and fighting against the oppression they have suffered for years.

There is a mixture of other characters that fit in to various plots and subplots and to be honest I can’t really talk about them without talking about spoilers and you know I don’t like to do that.

The plot? That is a difficult question to answer, again for fear of giving things away but also because I’m not one hundred percent sure how to categorise it. I’m also not one hundred percent sure how to categorise the story either. Sort of a thriller with horror and supernatural elements then parts of it are just pure occultist then parts of it are just about corporate takeovers and corruption and power hungry people trying to take over the world.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? No? It wasn’t for me either at times and that’s what has left me with a confusing feeling about this book rather than being able to say a definite yay or a definite nay.

This was an interesting book. I nearly gave up on it very early on because I didn’t understand the politics in it. I think for a non-American who doesn’t understand the American Civil War, the ins and outs of it, the result and the political makeup of the times, the first third of this book may just go right over the top of their heads. It mostly did with mine. I know it’s a period of time that is extremely important to most Americans but, outside of that, I don’t think people would know about it unless they studied it in school. It’s certainly not a subject that I can admit to knowing much about.

Once that bit is out of the way it does get a bit easier to follow although the war never strays far away from the main theme of the story. The other side of the story interested me a great deal. The occult. The dark stuff. Deadly demons swooping down from the skies and taking people to their deaths or to unknown places to do unknown things with them.

There are about four or five different groups all with their own agendas in this book. Some of them politically driven, some of them corporately driven, some of them driven by evil, dark and nasty things. This is obviously the start of a series, because just as the dark side starts to come to the fore, the story stops. It has been set up very nicely for a second book and to be honest, I think it would be better than the first because hopefully the political side of things has been all talked out and the dark stuff can come out in abundance.

There is no doubt that Brian Barr has a talent for writing. This story is extremely well put together. I am smart enough to know that it is a story about the complete opposite of what many know the world to be now and this in itself will probably pull a lot of people in. His characters are very well written. Even though some of them are fantastical you do end up believing in them and following their every move as if they were your neighbours. They feel natural after a while.

He also has an undeniable talent for writing passages that are full of tension and fear and ones that will ultimately lead you to horror. I just wish there was a lot more of it in this story because those were without doubt my favourite bits and I can’t wait to read more of it in book two.

In terms of trying to score this book, this is difficult for me. I am going to go somewhere in the middle because although there were political parts that quite frankly bored me to tears, there are flashes of the dark side that hint at a much deeper, darker story to come and one that I will enjoy much more.

My tip to you would be keep going if you start to read this. It may not be your cup of tea to begin with but it looks like it is going down the right road.

To summarise: an alternative future world full of political and corporate corruption with an evil and dark backdrop that is slowly coming to the fore and is about to completely change the world…..again. Don’t give up on it. I think this could be destined for big things.

General rating:

★★★ a bit confusing for me.

Steampunk / horror rating:

★★★ creepy but could be creepier.


Ankle Biters: A BLOODY HORROR STORY
Ankle Biters: A BLOODY HORROR STORY
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I don't like babies!, 15 April 2016
A copy of Ankle Biters was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Matthew Cash, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self-published.

Right, time to be up front and honest from the very beginning. I have been friends with Matthew Cash on Facebook for about a year now. I have never met the fella face to face. A lot of people would say this is very fortunate for me. I would beg to differ. Matty-Bob, as he is better known, has had a bit of a bad rap. Not entirely his fault, more from situations that show how social media can sometimes be used against a person, but, I won’t go into that here.

I have known he has been writing for a while now. I have offered to read some things before. A couple things didn’t work out but that was purely down to the fact that even though I know him, I will be honest with him about his writing. Mr Cash was wise enough to take some things on board and fix them. This brings me to Ankle Biters. This is the first story written by Matthew Cash that I have sat down to read for enjoyment. To give the fair and honest review. He knows I will be brutally honest.

Here goes then.

Courtney, Bethany, Meghan and Grace are four teenage friends. They act like any normal teenage girls. Nothing too malicious about them, but they do get into mischief from time to time. One night while hanging around in the local cemetery, they dislodge a three-hundred-year old statue that ultimately, falls completely over.

They are too young to know about the legend of Old Ma Lacey or indeed the significance of what they have just done.

Old Ma Lacey was a witch. The statue was keeping her in the ground. The door has been reopened, and she want’s vengeance.

So, there are not a lot of characters in this. It’s mainly just the four girls. They are as I said, typical teenage girls. Mobile phones surgically transplanted in their hands and they like a sneaky beer when the parents are out. They are not vindictive or malicious kids that are out mugging grannies so you can’t help but like them. The circumstances they are in are disastrous, but accidental.

Christine is Courtney’s mum. She comes across as an intelligent and courageous woman who would do anything for her kids. They all must band together in a dramatic fight to defeat evil.

The plot? It’s very old skool. An ancient legend of the last witch to be burned at the stake in the area. A legend that is so old that people of today don’t believe it is true. But it is. And it is real. The witch has been unleashed once more and is after the girls who let her free and ultimately to get revenge on all ancestors of the people who put her underground.

So what did I think of it? You know what? I’m actually rather surprised. I went in to this not expecting much from it. Don’t ask me why. I think it may be something to with it being a new author and the fact that I know them from another life before the writing so didn’t want to build my hopes up that it was any good. But it is. It’s mighty damn fine in fact.

When I mention the plot is old skool, so too is the writing. This story could be from any horror film you ever watched in the 70’s or 80’s. It has a wonderful old atmosphere to it that will transport you back to the days of Poltergeist (1982) and Tremors (1990) and The Gate (1997). It just has that feel about it that makes you smile while you read it. It keeps you on edge and it does creep you out without descending into the ridiculous or unbelievable. It’s horror, but it’s great fun while it’s at it.

Can I be negative for a minute? Sometimes you can tell it is an early piece of writing from someone new. That’s to be expected though, right? A bit more work on some of the phrasing, some of the grammar. I also have to say that for me, it ended too suddenly. It was an effective ending and if it was a movie it would be a great scene to fade out on, but I wanted a little bit more of the human story at the end. But that’s about it really.

You know I reckon this fella has a future at this writing lark. The surprised feeling is still hovering over me a bit. I’m more impressed than I thought I would be. This book brings back a certain nostalgia to the horror story. Nothing high tech, no CGI, just scares and ancient monsters. Good stuff.

To summarise: old skool, no frills horror that will take you back to the golden age of the 80’s. A very enjoyable short from a new name that could make his name shine in big bright lights if he keeps writing stuff like this.

General rating:

★★★★ a couple of creases to iron out.

Horror rating:

★★★★ not far off the full lot.


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