Want Some Great Reading? Then Try a Copy of SNAPSHOT by Chris Helvey!

Snapshot cover shot

by Chris Helvey
Livingston Press-University of Alabama
December 30, 2017
reviewed by Brian James Lewis

The book I want to talk about today is Snapshot which was written by a fine fella by the name of Chris Helvey. He’s an award winning writer with a good number of books out including a great collection of short stories titled Claw Hammer that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to read some real solid writing that engages your brain while dragging your heart along for the ride. Helvey writes books about the true America. This is what happens between folks who are struggling along to make ends meet and find love, or at least some kind of reason for their existence. But since this isn’t a review of Claw Hammer, let’s get back to the latest and greatest from author Chris Helvey.

Snapshot starts off in a pure, simple way that might remind you of Hemingway, Steinbeck, or Kerouac. Helvey puts you right there with Eddie Burke as he walks out of the Kentucky coalmine where he works and runs smack into Turp Lawson on his way home. They aren’t friends, nor does Eddie want things to go there. But Turp forces himself on Eddie and asks for a favor. Since it seems harmless enough and Eddie doesn’t want to be stuck up, he approves. But that’s kind of unfortunate, because it isn’t long before Eddie’s good deed flings him into a mess of the blues.

Even what might seem like a kindness trips Eddie up when he goes to Turp’s place for supper and ends up with a whole lot more than he bargained for. Seems that Marta, Turp’s attractive wife, thinks lonely, divorced Eddie needs some cheering up and before he knows it they’re operating on a clandestine basis. Meanwhile, ol’ Turp keeps leaning on him harder for support and Eddie is thinking that he must’ve walked into an outhouse head first. Things come to a head the night that the boys get to drinking. Despite Eddie’s warnings, Turp buys his shine from a questionable source and drinks way too much of it, turning a mellow drinking party into a big old mess. Things spiral wildly out of control with horrible results that leave poor Eddie holding the shitty end of a stick that he would never have grabbed in the first place, except for kindness.

I guess that I don’t want to get much deeper than that into things. This is a story that deserves to be told by its author and eaten nice and fresh like fried squirrel. What I will say is what a great book Snapshot is and one you won’t walk away from untouched. Even in what appear to be simple places, life can get complicated in a hurry. When a person changes, regardless of whether they initiated the change or not, things cannot stay the same. Eddie wrestles with that a lot and is left with 20/20 hindsight about how a man he didn’t really want to know had such an impact on his life.

Snapshot isn’t a straight-on horror novel full of monsters and such. Yet, as William Quincy Belle pointed out, what is more terrifying than our everyday existence? One only has to check out the news to see that man is capable of doing horrible things. Chris Helvey’s writing makes you think on that a little and that’s a good thing. “How do I get a copy?” You ask. I was just getting to that. You can purchase Snapshot from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books, Livingston Press, and from Chris Helvey himself. You can contact him via e-mail at adobechris@hotmail.com Let’s support small presses and writers who make a difference!

A Quick Blurb About PMMP’s THE DETAINED-Available March 6, 2018

Detained cover shot

EXCELLENT! Five Stars! So real feeling and written in such a believable way that you’ll be turning pages long after midnight! Kristopher Triana keeps building the suspense while pushing us slowly over the edge into no man’s land. The Detained will crush you with its truths, but redeem a lost soul with honesty. Holds up a funhouse mirror to show us that we’re still the scariest creatures walking the planet. You may never want to attend a high school reunion again after reading this book!  –

Brian James Lewis-Damaged Skull Writer

New Release! Fortune Box With Eraserhead Press

Check this coolness out!

Madeleine Swann

Hello my little shots of non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice!

Just a quick pop in to say you can pre-order my collection Fortune Box (Eraserhead Press) now: “No one knows where or what Tower Ltd Surprise Packages is or why it’s sending gifts to complete strangers across The City. All they know is that each package is the best thing that’s ever happened to them…or the worst.”

It’s been described as being like a ‘season of The Twilight Zone’ which I was really pleased about. So don’t delay, pre-order today!

I upload regularly on my YouTube and my Twitter, come and find me.

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Parlour Tricks From Parallel Universe and Carl Barker

Parlour Tricks cover shot

Parlour Tricks
by Carl Barker
Parallel Universe Publications
July 27, 2017
reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Wow! Talk about an interesting short story collection! Carl Barker’s Parlour Tricks is what you are looking for if you enjoy twisted speculative fiction with shocking endings. Not only does this book boast a highly divergent content level, it also ties the stories together by relating them to specific magic tricks in a section called The Inner Circle at the end of the book. At first, I was a little skeptical of that, but it works! The cover art by Luke Spooner draws you into Barker’s clutches and after that it’s time for the magic to begin. Kids, don’t try these at home!

Eater of Lost Causes is a cool tale about Leonard, a young dude who discovers an amazing ability to experience people’s lives by eating their ordinary household trash. Things like teabags, egg cartons, and cardboard yield up the lives of their previous owners to his wondering mind. Leonard likes the way his “trips” take him away from the disaster zone of his parents’ crumbling marriage and all the abuse his mother heaps upon him in her angry times. After an especially bad time, the boy hits the road and ends up in the giant landfill where all the city’s garbage is dumped off. The possibilities provided are unlimited and Leonard makes a very special friend, who helps him to understand his powers. But good things can’t last forever and an attack from a Cthulu type monster destroys Leonard’s new life. What will he do to survive?

Unlike Leonard, who is forced out of place multiple times, Bryan finds himself forced into place by the leader of his rock band. In With The Band Jukebox Willy wants Bryan to return to his position of guitar virtuoso in their former band and he’s not going to take no for an answer. Trouble is that the rest of the band died in a plane crash 18 years ago. So they can’t all just meet up in a pub and start grooving. No, the place that Bryan will have to go in order to join the others is a dank dark hell pit. He tries to ignore Willy, but Bryan finds that the ghoulish drummer is everywhere and his rampages are becoming more dangerous. Soon decomposing creatures are crossing into the world of the living and wreaking havoc. Bryan’s only chance for survival is in playing at least one concert. Will he make it out alive?

The Man Who Came To Dinner is a powerful piece undiminished by its brevity. Since I have used a similar approach to death in one of my stories, I totally get it. We all fear death, especially as young, single folk. There is so much we want to do yet-NEED to do! But, when a person is at the other end of the spectrum, death can bring mercy and relief from pain or loneliness. May we all be fortunate enough to have such a polite Ferryman taking us to the next world.

Since my aim is to whet your appetite and not spoil your meal, that’s it for the previews. Now it’s time for me to answer the big question. Would I purchase a copy of Parlour Tricks for myself or a friend? Indeed I would! Every book I’ve read from Parallel Universe Publications is better than the previous one. I’m not just saying that to be nice, either. There is definitely a positive evolution taking place as they grow their catalog of available works. As a reviewer, that is something enjoyable to watch. I totally encourage you to purchase a copy of Carl Barker’s Parlour Tricks in your favorite format today! Please keep in mind that this book is intended for adults and contains material best suited for them. As always, thanks for reading and remember: If you find yourself chained to a breakfast bar with no clothes on, it’s probably the work of a nutty ex-girlfriend. Good Luck!

this day in crime history: february 8, 1932

Mad Dog Gets Mowed Down

Nobody Move!

On this date in 1932, bootlegger, kidnapper, and hitman Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll was gunned down (this would constitute “death by natural causes” in Coll’s line of work) in a drug store phone booth. Legend has it that he was on the phone with Hell’s Kitchen mob boss Owney Madden, and that Madden kept Coll on the phone until the shooter — possibly working with Dutch Schultz — could get in place. The shooter put enough lead into Coll to kill a whole pack of mad dogs. Fifteen bullets were recovered from Coll’s body. A bunch more went right through him. “Can you hear me now?”

Wikipedia – Mad Dog Coll

Find A Grave –  Vincent Mad Dog Coll

Gangster City website – Photo of the phone booth where Coll was gunned down

Gangster City, by Patrick Downey

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100 Word Horrors – An Anthology of Horror Drabbles

Check out this great new collection of drabbles that includes C.M. Saunders and a few other folks you may have heard of! This is reading for our modern times!


Late last year, I was asked to contribute to an anthology. It wasn’t themed like so many are these days, the interesting thing about it was that it was to consist entirely of drabbles (a piece of fiction exactly a hundred words long, not including the title). This is something I had never even attempted before, so I initially did it for the challenge. After banging my head against the wall for a few days, I eventually came up with a story called Coming Around. I can’t say writing it was easy, but it was a lot of fun. As the project grew legs and started running, it turned into a who’s who of horror, and something I am very proud to be a part of.

100 words updated

Kevin J. Kennedy, has once again brought together the best of the horror world to bring you an anthology that is packed with creepy…

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Valentine’s Day Is Fast Approaching Better Grab That Copy Hardened Hearts on Amazon NOW!

Customer Review

on January 28, 2018
Hardened Hearts is an awesome mix of styles from 17 different writers, including publisher Eddie Generous, Calvin Demmer, and John Boden. This collection features just about any kind of love you can imagine, including quite a few you might not have. How about a woman who loves a giant spider, or perhaps a tongue-tied office worker who unleashes a beast? One of the most exotic stories in the collection is Theresa Braun’s “Heirloom” in which a highly polished professional woman inherits an antique mirror from her mother. To say much more would be to spoil and I don’t do that, so let’s just say that the mirror is a lot more than just a lovely wall hanger. For a trade paperback, the price is excellent for all the talent you’re getting. Valentine’s Day is coming and Hardened Hearts is the perfect gift if your honey digs Horror Fiction! Sure, get them some dark chocolate or edible underwear-BUT, also buy them something that they can read while they’re recovering from the love fest. HARDENED HEARTS Also available on Kindle

HARDENED HEARTS Is Here To Change Your Concept of Love FOREVER!

Hardened Hearts cover shot

Hardened Hearts
Edited by Eddie Generous
Unnerving Publications
December 3, 2017
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Hello friendly readers! It’s almost Valentine’s Day and you know what that means. It’s time to celebrate love. For many of us that also means it’s time to spend a shit ton of cash on our significant other. The majority of advertisements feature young men and women giving candy, flowers, and cell phones to each other as tokens of their undying love. Awww! Sunny skies, birds twittering in the trees…It’s just so…so…INCORRECT!

Move over syrupy garbage! It’s time for Hardened Hearts! From Eddie Generous and company at Unnerving Publications comes a whole new approach to love. Quick Note: If you are an ultra- conservative individual who only believes there is one kind of love in the world, please run away screaming now. This is NOT the book for you! Hardened Hearts celebrates and depicts ALL kinds of relationships. While there are a wide variety of human couplings, there are also monster-human, living-dead, and a highly memorable woman-arachnid combo. Yeah, in Sarah L. Johnson’s story Meeting The Parents, the hot boyfriend just happens to be a giant spider. Grab some smelling salts, for the folks!

What about relationships that can alter time, or where a person can live in multiple worlds if they are given special talismans and portals? Glad you asked! You’ll want to check out Theresa Braun’s story Heirloom, it’s quite the trip. I want to tell you about it, but it’s complicated. By that, I mean impossible to explain. What you see in the beginning is not what you get at the end at all. Let’s just say, that not all of those cool headed, perfect professional women are ice cubes. Especially not when they have access to another, almost Hell-like world via an antique mirror inherited from their mother. Intrigued? You should be. However, to find out more you’ll need to grab a copy of Hardened Hearts.

The collection is also crammed full of short shockers, such as Consumed by Madhvi Ramani.  Is there a connection between lawnmowers and love? It may not make you hot under the collar, but the narrator begins the story as a man who loves lawnmowers and everything they stand for with a deep passion. I mean this dude is practically getting off as he drives his lawnmower around! Then, something changes his desire for suburban perfection. The grass is greener elsewhere and he’ll do whatever’s required to make that change.

You might think for just a minute that you’re done with creepy clown stories, but we’re not. That twisted symbol of merriment and circus entertainment is just painted up to hide all the darkness inside. In The Pink Balloon by Tom Deady, most of the characters say that the clown wasn’t even there! But we know better, and so does Grace’s miserable Dad. He didn’t take her to the carnival and pays the ultimate price for his mistake. Why does it always seem like the worst things happen when nobody is watching? Take the boring blah of a cubicle-filled office in The Recluse by John Boden. At first, we look upon the scene with pity. Some nerdy computer geek is unable to get the nerve up to say hello to a pretty girl in office. Awww! Poor little dude! C’mon bud, you can do this! Finally, he steps up to her and…WHOA! What the hell was THAT?

I hope that I’ve made your heart beat a little faster, maybe even excited you to the point where…You just have to get a copy of Hardened Hearts!  It can be enjoyed by yourself or with others. That choice is up to you. Buy chocolates, buy roses, buy a bottle of cheap wine, but don’t forget the book! Recommended.