LOOKING FOR A COOL STAYCATION READ? THEN YOU’LL WANT TO CHECK OUT SONORA TAYLOR’S NEW NOVEL “SEEING THINGS”

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SEEING THINGS
Sonora Taylor
June 23, 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Well friends, once again, the Skullcave’s Wall Of Fame is making room for another excellent book by Sonora Taylor! Seeing Things is a 5 Star reading experience from a writer who gets consistently better every time I read her work. I’ve also been fortunate to be in the same publication with her more than once and I do consider that an honor! While Sonora’s previous release Little Paranoias was a mix of speculative short stories, flash, and poetry, Seeing Things is a novel. Another big difference is that this novel aims for a wider range of readers, while staying speculative and retaining Taylor’s voice. This will be a great book for teens but is complex enough to be enjoyed by adult readers as well. Let’s take a peek inside and find out what readers can expect.

Abby is the typical thirteen year old girl going through all the trials and tribulations of becoming a woman. That means a lot of blood is included in her daily life. But should she be seeing blood coming out of a locker in her middle school? How about the ghost of a dead girl or random dead folks that nobody else can see? Everybody thinks Abby might be having psychological difficulties brought on by her age. But adults aren’t always as sharp as they think. Turns out, Abby’s superpowers are real. Trouble is, she has no idea what she’s supposed to do with them, except try to keep them under wraps. The dead won’t talk to her and everybody living gets all squirrely whenever she says anything.

To top off all the “fun” she’s having, the summer vacation Abby was hoping for has been put on ice by hard reality. Abby used to visit her Uncle Keith and Aunt Sandra in the seaside town of Sangway Bluff every summer. But due to confusing circumstances, the visit with her uncle will be a short one this year. There’s a student missing from the high school her uncle taught at and he has changed employers rather suddenly. What the heck is going on? Not only that, but it appears that the dead have followed her to Sangway Bluff!

Abby is a kind and helpful person, who wants to help. She doesn’t understand her uncle’s erratic behavior or the way her parents are ganging up on him. As the book picks up pace with facts and questions flying, you won’t be able to put down this mystery until the last page. How many victims have there been and who’s the killer? Could there be more than one? Don’t jump to any conclusions right away, because you might be wrong! Angry boyfriends, corrupt local law enforcement, and adults who aren’t telling the whole truth. This book is very current with its look at men and the need for them to take responsibility for their deeds. Women are not just playthings to be used up and thrown away, they are human being who deserve respect.

The bottom line? Seeing Things is an excellent book with a very surprising ending that rates FIVE STARS! It also accomplishes something I really enjoy in a book, the sharing of the author’s ideals within the larger story itself. I’m not going to give them all away, but a few are that women are a lot stronger than mass media makes them out to be, friendship is golden, and the people closest to you can hurt you the most. Especially in the case of parents. Speaking of parents, I dig the two moms couple. Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor is a great summer vacation read with wide appeal for teens and adult readers alike. Currently available from your favorite bookseller or Amazon.com, grab a copy today! Want to find out more about Sonora Taylor and her other work? Then go to: http://sonorawrites.com or follow her on Twitter @sonorawrites You can also check her out in the 50th issues of The Sirens Call e-Zine by going to their site: http://www.SirensCallPublications.com

Thanks for stopping by Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer for news and reviews! Wishing you all health, safety, and happiness during this pandemic that refuses to go away. Now, more than ever, wear those masks! If not for yourself, do it for all the children and elderly who don’t have the immune system strength to survive without our help. Be sure to follow this blog and stay tuned for the next review, which will be coming soon!

Congratulations to THE SIRENS CALL E-ZINE on publishing their Fantastic 50th Issue! Not only that, but I’m In It!

Sirens Call Issue 50 cover

Happy 50th Issue to The Sirens Call e-Zine and happy publication to all the artists, poets, and writers included in this extra super jumbo whopper of speculative goodness! I’m proud to say that my horror poem “Home Sweet Hideaway” and sci-spec poem “Alien Ambassador” have been included in the mix. Zowie!

Interested in reading this fine fare? Then simply go to the link below and download your FREE Copy today!

Click to access SirensCallEZine_June2020.pdf

 

GOOD NEWS! My Poem “Wrenching On Dreams” Has Been Published In Issue 20 of TRAJECTORY JOURNAL!

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I felt it was only right to put this issue of Trajectory in my toolbox because it celebrates the joys of turning wrenches on your own car or truck with your best friend. My best friend was a four-legged guy named Jake who I lost earlier this year to old age and bad joints. I learned a lot from that rescue Pitbull, even though he wasn’t my first and I really hope he wasn’t my last. Even though Jake had been treated very badly by people in his early life, he went on to a help a whole lot of them. He was a challenging garage companion at times, but some things just go together. Know what I mean? I hope a few heads are nodding out there!

Jake will live on forever in this poem. However, the fate of Trajectory is very much up in the air. Sadly, it might be curtains after ten great years with editor-in-chief Christopher J. Helvey at the helm. If it is, being included in multiple issues of this fully independent literary and art magazine has been an honor! One really important lesson from all this, is that we as writers need to support the publications we write for. A lot of you already do a great job at this, but for the holdouts-Please consider buying a couple copies of the mag that chose YOU over hundreds, sometimes thousands of  other possible contributors. No funds? Donate a couple minutes promoting them on social media. A little positive energy can do lots!

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If you’d like to help the folks at Trajectory go to http://www.trajectoryjournal.com to order a copy of issue #20. Thanks

 

UP NEXT, THE SOON TO BE RELEASED NOVEL BY THE GREAT SONORA TAYLOR “SEEING THINGS!”

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With the days growing so warm, there are times when I actually emerge from the Skullcave and absorb some heat from my porch. Not sun! Goodness no! That would most likely be the end of your pal, Damaged Skull Writer. Like the bats that circle my home on hot summer nights, I am a creature of darkness.

Unlike bats, I enjoy reading speculative fiction and my latest favorite is SEEING THINGS by Sonora Taylor. So far, I’m about halfway through this tale about a teenager who can see things that no one else can. Hmm…Could be a handy skill or a whole lot of trouble…Want to find out more? Then keep your eyes on this page for a review coming soon from DAMAGED SKULL WRITER!

 

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Want to read something from Sonora Taylor before her new novel comes out? I highly encourage you to try this excellent collection of short horror fiction, poetry, and flash LITTLE PARANOIAS

“BURIED WITH THE NIGHT” BY SYON DAS WILL CUT YOU TO THE BONE WITH ITS BLOODY BRUTAL MAYHEM AND SURPRISE ENDINGS! CHECK OUT THE REVIEW NOW!

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BURIED WITH THE NIGHT
Syon Das
May 20, 2020
Review by Brian James Lewis

Welcome to the Skullcave! Once again, it’s time to share the lowdown on a new release from the independent horror world. Syon Das has a new collection of short horror stories and a novelette out titled Buried With The Night. Sounds frightening, right? Well it is! So disturbing in fact, that Das provides the following warning to readers:

WARNING: This book contains descriptions of violence that some may find disturbing. Explicit language is used frequently. Reader discretion is advised.

In basic terms, this means that if you enjoy the work of Clive Barker, Karen Runge, and Morgan K. Tanner Buried With The Night will be an enjoyable read for you. If those authors frighten you in a bad way, then hustle back to your cozy mystery series that feature people baking cookies, knitting, and saying things like “Oh dear!” Not a slam on those books, but I want to be clear that you’ll be seeing a lot of blood, broken bones, and intestines. Got it? Like it? Excellent! Then follow me into Syon Das’ terror inducing world and make sure to wear safety glasses and a mask. There’s gonna be a lot of blood spatter!

Curtis is the novelette of the collection. We are sitting on a psychologist’s shoulder. He deals with troubled teenagers and most of what he does is pretty ho-hum stuff. But then there are a few “special” patients. This is about a young man named Curtis who is a truly disturbed individual. While the psychologist knows his patient is a very dangerous person who should be committed to an inpatient facility, he lives vicariously through the teen. While the doctor enjoys the release from his tight-assed, highly controlled life, things are happening in the background. Curtis wants to show the doc his neat new school project, and it sure as hell isn’t a birdhouse. Will the doctor enjoy his work or run away screaming?

Hot on the heels of that disturbing tale is Higher Learning. Things start off pretty messily when a college student offs himself but then quiet down per orders of the university. Since Josea was a big deal athlete, popular, and smart, many people mourn his death. He was clever, so they don’t what a total shitbird he was. Enter one of Josea’s high school bullying victims and the college custodian’s son who both have grudges. They have an underhanded business plan which seems foolproof. But it is ghost proof? All I can say is “What a ride, huh bud?”

Family can be a problem, right? Especially if they come calling after midnight on Halloween like Duncan and Daniel’s Aunt Katie does. She whirls in full of strange vibes and bad news. It seems that boys’ mother had an accident. But Aunt Katie is more concerned with looking sexy than she is about the boys’ questions. That’s all very unnerving, but what happens next will have you squirming in your seat. There’s nowhere to run…

This collection wraps with the chilling tale Darjeeling that I guarantee will give you the shivers. Because even when the words on the page stop, the story doesn’t really end. In fact, it looks like the beginning of evil adventures for a creature summoned by using a book of black magic. When a mansion in West Bengal is abandoned after family tragedy, the only person who stays on is the housekeeper. Things stay relatively stable until the housekeeper’s brother brings his scout troop to the mansion for a sleepover. The tragic mystery and a forbidden door are irresistible to the boys. They have to know what’s behind it! But the satisfaction of knowing is not without repercussions. Don’t read this one at lunchtime!

Buried With The Night is an impressive debut from Syon Das that earns FIVE STARS from Damaged Skull Writer. There’s lots of detail to put you smack dab on the end of a K-Bar hunting knife, in a dark college dorm room , or hidden in the trunk of a car. Das delivers the goods with a side of contemporary wit and some cool ethnic charm. I HIGHLY recommend this collection as the starter of your summer reading or the continuance of your quarantine entertainment. Whatever you do, don’t miss Buried With The Night stories by Syon Das. It’ll make you scream!

Thanks again for visiting Damaged Skull Writer to check out the latest and greatest new indie writer from NYC SYON DAS! Besides scaring the hell out of people, Syon also teaches folks how to play the guitar. That’s his sensitive side. Want to know more about this guy? Maybe order a signed copy of his work? You can hit Syon up on Twitter@syon_das or(serious inquiries only please) Email him at: sdaswriting@gmail.com

DANIEL BRAUM’S “UNDERWORLD DREAMS” FROM LETHE PRESS ARE GOING TO MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT’S REAL OR ILLUSION!

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UNDERWORLD DREAMS
Daniel Braum
Lethe Press
TBR September 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Welcome once again to the Skullcave! In honor of the warm weather Finally arriving, I have set up an outdoor reading space on my front porch where I can listen to jazz and let my brain travel while pretending to be normal. The first book I’m reading here is Underworld Dreams by Daniel Braum, a collection of unsettling short fiction that will shake you up and leave you thinking long after you’ve finished taking it in. This fine book will be coming your way in fall 2020 from the home of unique publications-LETHE PRESS! This press champions different, with a strong focus on LGTBQ writers and audiences, and Damaged Skull Writer welcomes diversity, so let’s take a peek at what’s inside!

Starting the show is How To Stay Afloat When Drowning. This tale starts off as a story about saving the family business, but it’s also about a man coming to terms with himself and how his life has turned out, despite what he’d hoped for. He meets a strange, but intriguing woman at the bar, who reminds him of the events leading to his wife’s death. The family dynamic is uncomfortable, but the man loves his sister who owns the business. They share a strange family legacy of their parents being snatched up by a man who came to purchase a surfboard. Having the business survive requires entertaining a big bucks client and an obnoxious uncle with a shark hunting trip. It’s the usual big dick, ugly Americans killing animals to feel powerful affair. But it turns the client on so much, that he signs a contract. Hooray! Meanwhile something strange is happening to those who support shark hunting. A pair of “beautiful sharks seeking revenge on land” are making sure that plenty of blood and guts are spilled by both species. The dialog alone in this story is worth the trip into this Underworld Dream.

Sometimes though, a huge loss can be balanced out with magic and something like hope. Cloudland Earthbound gives us just that. Ben is the owner of a magical old dancehall named Cloudland. It’s a wonderful place that dates back to the era of big jazz bands, but also features touring rock and roll bands now and then. Unfortunately, a big developer conglomerate wants to take over Cloudland. Not to operate, but to destroy it and put up something modern and ugly in its place. Ben Myerson tries to take a stand against these people and their mythical leader, Sir Joh, but he doesn’t have the magic or the skills his father had. His son Aaron does, but Ben’s wife doesn’t want him involved with Cloudland. While Ben is at work trying to get things sorted, she takes the boy and slips away. Ben is distraught, weakened, but still determined to protect Cloudland and those who work there. Will things work out the way he wants them to, or is this “lynch pin site” destined for demolition? GREAT story!

What if you wanted something with every atom of your being and someone sketchy offered to help you get it? Would you take it, knowing that there might be a huge cost involved? In Tommy’s Shadow Marco wants to be number one, like Tommy is. He wants to look cool, have the best band at the high school talent show, and be the guy taking the beautiful Alana to the prom. Instead, he’s always going to be the far number two, maybe even three or four. The nerdy friend that Alana will be kind to and say his band is great, even though Tommy’s band is destined for Van Halen type fame. Then a treasure hunt in an abandoned mental institution yields up a nifty souvenir and a creepy new friend for Marco. The guy says he’d be happy to take care of Tommy. So against his buddy Richie’s advice, Marco takes the offer and waits smugly for results. At first, it appears that nothing is going to happen, then all hell breaks loose. Now Marco’s got what he wanted, but it isn’t fun anymore. More like being damned to an eternity of always being under Tommy’s Shadow. Heavy stuff!

Last, but certainly not least, is the wild “what the fuckness” of The Monkey Coat, starring an antique jacket made out of monkey fur. Do not miss this tale of absolute craziness involving this vintage player! “You know how they make them, right?” Is it really the coat or just the inherent wild beast inside all of us just waiting for an excuse to come out? Time to get naked, people!

So the question on everyone’s lips is, “Should I buy a copy of Underworld Dreams when it comes out around August?” The answer is a qualified “HELL YEAH!” This is FIVE BIG SPARKLY STARS of awesome reading that’s going to disturb you, make you think, and maybe even scare you a bit. Because Daniel Braum is a crazy good writer and Lethe Press puts out awesomely interesting books that you will want to suck through your eyeballs. Want to make a pre-order or learn more about this unique publisher? Then head on over to www.lethepressbooks.com They’ve got lots of great titles and bundles for you to check out! Maybe you’d like to learn more about Daniel Braum? Your wish is my command! Go to https://bloodandstardust.wordpress.com or visit www.facebook.com/DanielBraumFiction and my favorite place to be social, Twitter@danielbraum

Thanks again for visiting Damaged Skull Writer! Getting too damn sunny out here, so I must retreat back into the Skullcave before I turn to dust. Until next time, stay safe, be well, and love each other, because that’s the most important thing we have!   

CHRISTINA SNG’S “A COLLECTION OF DREAMSCAPES” IS A THING OF BEAUTY AND POWER THAT’S AVAILABLE NOW FROM RAW DOG SCREAMING PRESS!

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A COLLECTION OF DREAMSCAPES
Poetry by Christina Sng
Raw Dog Screaming Press
April 16, 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Howdy fellow speculative poetry fans! This award-winning poet has been nominated multiple times for the Dwarf Stars, Elgin, and Rhysling awards. She also won a Bram Stoker Award in 2017 for her first full length collection of speculative poetry A Collection Of Nightmares. I’m talking about Christina Sng, of course and today we’ll take a look at her most recent release A Collection Of Dreamscapes. Hot off the Raw Dog Screaming Press, this collection is going to turn what we learned as children upside down by empowering those who’ve been victims in fairy tales and mythology. By fixing our near gospel stories into positive tales, Sng is opening a new chapter in a brand-new world. Awesome, right?

A Collection Of Dreamscapes is grouped into chapters, making it easier for readers to look backwards in the looking glass at the new world created by Sng. They are:

The Love Song of Allegra
Fairy Tales
All The Monsters In The World
The Capacity of Violence
Myths And Dreamscapes

While these are lines drawn for reference, they’re not concrete bunkers blocking interplay between characters and the overall vibe of the book. A dreamy quality carries us on silken mists from poem to poem, so we can witness the hard-hitting action.

In Fairy Tales, Christina Sng’s version of Little Red Riding Hood isn’t afraid of the big, bad wolf at all. She’s got a crossbow and is busy drawing blood. The wolf’s tough guy suit is stripped from his shaking frame as he tries to hide from a merciless hunter who isn’t messing around. A quote from “The Woods” reads, “It was time to grow up; Time to hunt predators instead” Cinderella doesn’t hang around waiting for justice that probably isn’t coming, she steps up to her rightful place by becoming a warrior!

All The Monsters In The World gives us a fresh look at things. Sure, we’re all familiar with the classic monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, and Frankenstein, but Sng pulls back the curtain to show us who we really should be afraid of. Humans are pretty damn scary and predatory! Sometimes, in an ironic twist we even create the monsters that are turned against us by the ruling class government(Into The Tall Grass.)

Which brings us to The Capacity Of Violence. From day one of our lives, we are taught that violence is wrong. No fighting at school, don’t hit your brother, etc. So now we’re wimps that will avoid confrontation at any cost. But what if the violence is used to protect those we love or defend ourselves from sexual abuse(The Tooth Collector), cheating spouses(Dolls), and domestic violence(Inheritance)? We all have The Capacity Of Violence, the ability to use the tools given to us at birth. but only few can actually carry it out. Sng’s poems are beautiful because they offer release to victims. Breaking fingers and pulling teeth might sound harsh, but that only happens once. Compare that to the rape victims who re-live their trauma every day and I don’t feel a single bit bad.

Myths And Dreamscapes, along with the opening chapter, Love Songs Of Allegra are about recognizing and rewriting mythology where women take charge and kick ass. None of that fluffy little doll crap! “Moonlight In The Playground” brings science fiction in. There’s a family enjoying a playground, but these folks aren’t native to the planet. A cool surprise!

Overall, A Collection of Dreamscapes, poetry by Christina Sng is FIVE STAR amazing! This is a serious must-have for lovers of dark poetry with speculative, science fiction and fantasy melded together to hit you square in the brain! Everything I’ve read from Raw Dog Screaming Press has been a home run. Once again, they raise the bar! Shout out to Steven Archer for the beautiful cover art. Available at your favorite bookseller or www.RawDogScreaming.com Grab a copy of this fantastic poetry collection today!

Thanks again for reading another review from Damaged Skull Writer! It’s lonely in the Skullcave sometimes, so it is delightful when you drop by. Wishing you peace, health, and safety during the real life horror of the pandemic. Read when you can, so that your mind can soar even when your body is stuck at home!

#HookedOnPoetry: Brian James Lewis Discusses Mental Health & Writing + Shares Three Original Poems @skullsnflames76 #poetry #mentalhealthawareness

HUGE Thanks To Erin Al-Mehairi For Featuring Me On HOOK OF A BOOK For Mental Health Awareness Month! Hoping This Post Can Help Understanding And Offer Hope

Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

Today is the start to another week of the #HookOnPoetry project. I want to introduce you to my friend Brian James Lewis today. He’s no stranger here as he was part of the project last year as well. Brian has something important to talk about today given that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. He talks about how writing has helped him through his depression and how it focuses him to look toward things like being successful with his writing even through disability. I’m really proud of Brian for what he overcomes. I hope you either relate or come to understanding through his essay, and then, enjoy three original poems he worked on for this project. I’m proud to publish them. Join us the rest of this week here, and at Kendall Reviews, for more poetry.

Erin Al-Mehairi

HookedOnPoetry

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HAPPY MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH FROM BRIAN JAMES LEWIS aka DAMAGED…

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DOUBLE BARREL HORROR VOL. 3 FROM PINT BOTTLE PRESS IS HERE TO BLOW YOUR SHUT-IN BLUES AWAY!

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Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3
Edited by Matthew Weber
Pint Bottle Press
March 31, 2020
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Howdy Horror Fans! I bet you’re looking for something really kickass to read right about now. You’ve watched movies, maybe read a novel or two, but now you want quick excitement that you don’t have to wait for. Well friends, the fine folks at Pint Bottle Press heard your cries of distress and have brought forth what you need! Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 is jam packed with scary goodness and coming at you like the force of nature that it is! We’re talking 6 great authors menacing you with two stories each for a grand total of 12 Double Barrel Blasts to the Brain!  Roll call: Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Glenn Rolfe, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, and Robert Essig. If you’re ready for a preview of all the greatness that awaits, let’s GO!

Christine Morgan chills us with Eye See You, a story that makes us wonder if Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth and what is it about a Magic 8-Ball that turns a party into a swirling hell of hurt and bad blood?

Robert Essig comes on strong with two heavy hitters, but the one that really blew my mind is Fuel For The King of Death! Scottie deals with a cheating girlfriend by going to a unique museum and by the next day he’s a completely different man! New life, horror, and the sweet taste of revenge. Yowza!

Let’s head to the carnival with Mark Matthews! On the outside, those places look like so much fun. There are rides, treats, and the chance to win a prize at one of the many games. But a closer look exposes dark things that prey on the young, taking something precious in hopes of creating a Wicked Smart Carnie. “Step right up! Or maybe “Run for your life!”

Theresa Braun brings her unique style of horror and mythology to the party with her tale Homecoming which features a Scottish castle and a shapeshifting woman named Melanie. She’s a beautiful opera star, but also something else that needs to be “home.” Her boyfriend of many years thinks they’re going on a romantic vacation to Scotland to rekindle the fire, but Melanie has other plans. As things get increasingly weird, the boyfriend zips them back home for safety’s sake. Did he make a wise choice? May-be!

My favorite two stories in Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 are by Calvin Demmer. Highway Hunger has this great realistic feeling that makes it all the more scary when things fall apart. Dudley is stuck on community service for drunk driving. His job? Scraping dead animals off the road. That’s bad enough, but it gets even worse when the “Road Demon” makes the scene. Some things might not make any practical sense, but that doesn’t mean they can’t destroy you. Motel Madness puts Tallulah in a room that constantly changes. Door handles disappear, corpses enter without knocking, and she gets a special visit from the manager. White pills and wine can make for one very hot time.

Glenn Rolfe closes down the show with two powerful pieces The Guide, which is a home run all the way, and The House On Mayflower Street. Every neighborhood has a haunted house with a creepy owner, but this one takes the cake. When Davis and Bethany break into The House On Mayflower Street, they get a lot more than they bargained for. Their attackers may be tiny, but “Alice” plays hardball and he doesn’t EVER lose!

The Double Barrel Horror series from Pint Bottle Press are all great, but volume 3 ratchets things up a few notches. This is truly a FIVE STAR reading experience! Perfect length on the stories, top notch authors, and some seriously badass cover art by Brian Burks! Editor Matthew Weber has done it again, but even BETTER! Don’t sit around with the shut-in blues. Order yourself a copy of Double Barrel Horror Volume 3 TODAY! Just go to www.pintbottlepress.com for more information or hit up your favorite bookstore. You’ll be glad you did!

Thanks for visiting Damaged Skull Writer! We look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, “Keep Your Knives Sharp and Hide In The Dark.” Or maybe just read more books!