KEEPING THINGS DARK, LET’S GO VISIT LUNAR BAY AND CHECK OUT “THE DARK MATTER OF NATASHA” BY MATTHEW R. DAVIS FROM EMERGENT EXPRESSIONS AND GREY MATTER PRESS!

THE DARK MATTER OF NATASHA
Matthew R. Davis
Emergent Expressions
June 6, 2022
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello there fans of dark fiction, it’s your old pal Skull with a new book from Grey Matter Press’ Emergent Expressions Signature Line that is some powerful stuff. Before I go any further, I do want to mention that The Dark Matter of Natasha is a heavy book that deals frankly with sex, depression, self-harm, and the consequences of one’s own actions. If these topics are triggers for you, please try a different title from this press. This is an excellent book by Matthew R. Davis, but not one you’ll walk away from unscathed. That being said, let’s check in with our narrator in Lunar Bay, a place by the sea that harbors a certain darkness…

People who have a close relationship with death have a certain charisma. They seriously do not give a fuck and live each day as if it’s their last, because it might well be. Even if she’s poor, and possibly homeless, Natasha has that flair and the narrator of this story finds it irresistible. Even though she’s not really his type and he might still have a solid girlfriend who will love him with all her heart, a chance meeting sets him chasing Natasha and the darkness she carries with her. Because along with that darkness and lack of restraint are large breasts, a voluptuous body, and every high school boy’s erotic desire: Free sex with no repercussions or responsibility. Natasha even tells him, “I ain’t your fucking girlfriend, mate!” To make things clear.

But to a virgin with no real close friends, and what appears to be a dire future cleaning up a trailer park, this might be as close as he gets to love and living out the fantasy he only hears people boasting about outside pubs. So, he adopts Natasha’s religion of smoking weed and listening to Slayer, the heavier the metal the better. Goodbye to inane pop music with all its bogus platitudes and jingle-jangle guitars. It’s balls to the wall, no fear, and fuck her for glory. But as the days pass, things he hadn’t seen before come to light. Like how no one really escapes Lunar Bay, that he’s just a teenage boy playing at being a tough, but deep inside he’s too scared, and the biggie: sex isn’t love. Natasha is so broken that she’ll never be able to love anyone, and the only thing she has a true desire for is something the narrator cannot give her.

When Caitlin, the girlfriend he thought he’d lost, zooms back into the picture, it looks like it’s all blue skies and hooray the gang’s all here, yeah? But sometimes things turn out much differently than expected. Will our lad be able to patch up things with Caitlin? Does Natasha finally make her escape from Lunar Bay? How many times can “hope spring eternal’ before it’s shot down by a mean bastard called life that carries a sawed-off shotgun? Oh, and one more thing: NATSHA LOVES SLAYER.

So, what does your old pal Skull say about The Dark Matter of Natasha by Matthew R. Davis? FIVE STARS! This is another excellent book from Emergent Expressions and Grey Matter Press that meets readers on so many levels. There is a lot to be learned here by inexperienced hearts and some of us older will nod our heads because we’ve been in this place. Maybe some still are. Better to learn now before the darkness takes control. Want more info and to grab your own copy? Go to: www.greymatterpress.com  Want to find out more about author Matthew R. Davis? Go to: www.matthewrdavisfiction.wordpress.com To keep getting news and reviews, follow your old pal Skull at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com

Brian James Lewis is a poet, writer, and reviewer of urban poetry and dark fiction. He has written for Hellnotes, Aphotic Realm, Gallows Hill, and his own site Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. Brian’s most recent work is the immersive short story “Following My Destiny” about mass shooter Chance McCandless that gives readers a chilling look inside the criminal mind. Available NOW in Issue 22 of Trajectory Journal For more information message me or go to www.trajectoryjournal.com Thank you!

Matthew R. Davis

IF YOU’VE BEEN WATCHING THE GROWING NUMBER OF MASS SHOOTINGS AND WONDERING “WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOES THIS?” THEN YOU’LL WANT TO READ MY IMMERSIVE FICTION PIECE “FOLLOWING MY DESTINY” FOR A FIRST PERSON VIEWPOINT. NOW AVAILABLE IN ISSUE #22 OF TRAJECTORY JOURNAL

Human beings want to understand things because it makes us feel more in control of our lives. There are countless books, articles, and blogs about how stuff works from automobiles to xylophones. But we don’t really know everything that happens inside the human brain. I know some of you are huffing and puffing, perhaps explaining the functions of neurons and ganglia to your computer screen, right now. And you’re right about the mechanics of those systems. But a list of parts doesn’t explain why a person who appears outwardly “normal” to the casual observer would want to murder a store full of people, a school full of children, or random individuals attending a concert or movie. That’s what makes the whole phenomenon so scary. How are we supposed to stop these killers if we have no idea where, when, or why they’re going to strike next?
 
I wrote “Following My Destiny” to give readers an idea of what life looks like through a mass shooter’s eyes. My original plan was to use the research I did in more of a creative nonfiction format, but the result was dryer than a high school book report. Frustrated, I talked with some trusted friends and fellow writers, who suggested an immersive fiction approach that made use of my research and my personal mental health issues with PTSD. The results were still pretty flat…Until I was wrapping up another late-night writing session and my hand wrote: The voices are always talking to me, no matter where I am…”
 
Chance McCandless had finally come to life! And once he started talking, there was no shutting him up. My day-to-day activities were constantly invaded by his observations and desires, delivered in a strangely dry and matter-of-fact voice. Sleep provided no escape, just frequent nightmares in which I was always running or drawing a bead on targets. Feelings of guilt, anger, lust, and shame kept washing through me as if I were the one committing crimes, not Chance. He brought me to the realization that mass shooters carefully plan their crimes, slowly accruing supplies, and studying targets. They also spend time figuring out how to be invisible or accepted on the surface while their brains whir like food processors inside their skulls. In our modern world where everything moves fast, and stores are understaffed, those that notice something off about a person are too busy to point it out. And if they do tell their manager or law enforcement, nothing good happens, so you can be damn sure that employee or fellow tenant will keep their head down and mouth shut in the future. The system is broken.
 
“Following My Destiny” begins with Chance telling us about the voices, his desires, and what he’d like to do to his father. Not that I’m endorsing violence, but his hatred is not without provocation. Also fueling the fire is Chance’s favorite podcast delivered by religious zealot Lediv Bloodsmoore who preaches Armageddon to his followers. Chance is desperate for recognition and is planning to do something “really big” in the nebulous future. But when an unexpected event occurs, he’s forced into action too soon. Without a fully developed plan, things speedily spin out of control. Bullets start to fly slicing open Chance’s detached view of life and making his ideas crumble. Should he give up like his friend Al, keep fighting to the bitter end, or make a run for it while he still can and continue “spreading the good word” across the nation?
 
Intrigued, interested, and wanting to read more? Excellent! What you’ll want to do next is order a copy of TRAJECTORY issue 22 spring 2022. Inside, you’ll find excellent poetry, short stories, and flash. There’s a photo documentary about the wall between Mexico and U.S., a piece about the legendary Charles Bukowski, and poetry so real that it hurts. In other words, this fully independent literary journal publishes real writing by real people, not just college kids who are guaranteed to get published because it’s part of the degree their parents are paying for. To date, TRAJECTORY issue 22 has sold out two print runs and is printing a third as you read this. To get your very own copy of this excellent literary journal you can contact:
ME through this blog. I have a limited quantity for sale at $20 each which includes domestic shipping and handling. You can also contact editor in chief Chris Helvey at: adobechris@hotmail.com to purchase issue 22. I also encourage you to check out TRAJECTORY’S website at: https://trajectoryjournal.com where you can read previously published work, sign up for the newsletter, and subscribe. All of which supports independent writers and poets, which is good for everybody. Thanks for reading this post from Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer. Skull and I would love it if you’d follow us at: https://damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com so we can continue to help independent writers and presses. Until next time, keep writing!

HERE IT IS! THE FULL DAMAGED SKULL WRITER REVIEW OF T.C. WEBER’S FIVE STAR NOVEL “THE SURVIVORS!

The Survivors
T.C. Weber
May 5, 2022
Solstice Publishing
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Howdy horror readers, it’s your old pal Skull with the full review I promised of T.C. Weber’s great new book, The Survivors! If you like stories where women are the heroes, warriors, and healers, then get yourself a copy of this unique, futuristic read. This tale of people living in a post-apocalyptic world transports readers to what remains of the earth after major climate issues and the view is not pretty. But it is interesting. So buckle up, buttercups and let’s take a ride…

We meet narrator, Lucy, as she’s climbing aboard a small boat with another member of her small group of survivors. These are people who are existing long after we are gone in so much fossil fueled dust. Nobody is whipping out their cell and clicking the GPS app, kicking over their motor and zooming across the lake. Because well, they can’t. No electricity, which means no refrigeration, light, power, or any of the creature comforts we take for granted.  Everything is done manually and with great effort. Things have returned to almost caveman status, with the occasional relic from the “Vanished Ones” People roam in tribes and survive on what they can kill or find to eat. They also can’t be out much in broad daylight because it is very hot, most likely due to nearly zero ozone layer.

Lucy’s Aunt Irma is a warrior woman with animal like smarts. Everything is handled by force and anything in her way is beaten into submission. This is a handy skillset to have but might is not always right. She and Lucy, who is a healer, clash frequently. Still, they seem to be doing okay with shelter and plentiful food until huge storms come and destroy everything they have. Back to square one, everybody! They must travel to find something better, but they’ve got a pregnant woman, an infant, and children slowing them down. Not to mention a couple teenage boys who are more concerned with their sexual desires than survival. The dangers are many and those without focus turn themselves into targets.

Unlike Irma, Lucy is interested in learning. She wants to find out more about the exalted “Vanished Ones” because she is sure that they were much smarter than she is and knew the secrets to living in harmony with each other. Weber’s approach here brings a perfect bittersweet humor to the story. I mean, here we are reading this in a time when mass shootings have become a scary new norm. Most of the crimes are driven by anger and hate. Gas is heading for ten bucks a gallon, yet huge trucks and muscle cars are selling like hotcakes. Guys sit in their cars with the motor running for an hour while the family shops. “We never even saw it coming…” Seriously? Sorry! Back in the story, Lucy begins to have revelations from what she learns as they continue to travel. Some people evolve and others fail to change. Those who resist change too much are not likely to continue the journey. Patience is indeed a virtue, and a person will be tested time and time again. Things get very dark for a bit, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the light of the ALL…

So what does your old pal Skull think of The Survivors? I give it a 5 STAR RATING and a spot on the Skullcave’s “Wall of Fame”! This is a great and complex story with wide appeal to readers from teen to adult. Climate change has been scientifically proven to be a real thing. There will be a time when life as we know it may cease. I wonder how smart the “Vanished Ones” will be before then? Get your copy of T.C. Weber’s The Survivors with the following links:

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZL9BPCR/

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZLM43H2/

Want to learn more about T.C. Weber? https://www.tcweber.com/, or contact the author at https://www.tcweber.com/contact.

Want to follow your old pal Skull? www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com

Or follow my mortal host Brian James Lewis on Twitter@skullsnflames76

Author T.C. Weber

WANT SOME GOOD NEWS? MY REVIEW OF “DIET RIOT: A FATTERPUNK ANTHOLOGY” IS NOW ON GOODREADS!

HERE’S THE LINK:

Diet Riot: A Fatterpunk Anthology by Nico Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


DIET RIOT-A Fatterpunk Anthology
Edited by Nico Bell and Sonora Taylor
June 21, 2022
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello horror fiends! Welcome back to the Skullcave, where I’ve been reading a very cool collection of stories edited by Nico Bell and Sonora Taylor. Why are they cool? Well, because these stories show plus-sized people in a positive light. Instead of being made fun of or having their bodies be what makes them bad, Diet Riot celebrates bounteous bodies and makes them something to be proud of. Diversity is what makes the world a great place. Forcing others to fit one person’s concept of beauty is way too prevalent in our society and it’s wrong, damn it! That’s why the editors dedicated Diet Riot to: “Everyone who ever felt like they don’t belong.”

This cool, fatterpunk anthology starts off with Stephanie Rabig’s story Cinderella And Her Demon Godmother. When an angry girl calls forth a demon from Hell to kill some body shamers, she gets more than she bargained for. Enter Lucinda, a plus sized and sexy demon ready to get the job done. But, it’s complicated and no smart demon who’s allowed to go topside for a few hours is going to waste a brief reprieve from Hell. So, Lucinda takes her young friend out on the town in style and has some fun along the way. She also makes one last stop before returning home, to burn down a major asshole who thinks it’s funny to shame fat people. GREAT STORY!

Editor Nico Bell contributes her narrative tale Lake House to the collection. It’s the perfect mix of frightening and “fuck you haters!” Erin and her wife Lauren are trying to clean up the big mess of a lake house they’ve just moved into when things go very wrong. There might be a monster in the basement or maybe not, and Erin has an epiphany. Lauren just wanted to mold her like a piece of clay with wacky diet potions and pills. She never really loved Erin for just being her fine, fluffy self. That’s bad enough, but when Lauren drops the bomb of divorce on her, Erin decides to help her lose lots of weight super fast.

Curious Garden by E.E.W. Christman brings us to a horrifying fat camp for kids. Most people, let alone children, don’t think of going to fat camp as a fun vacation. Especially Camp GnuYu where the counselors are freakishly cheerful and bad morale is not tolerated. Failure is also not an option and anyone who passes out from exhaustion disappears in a mysterious way. Jeanie, the camper who narrates this chilling tale, wants to know why. But everything is hush-hush with the counselors acting even stranger as time goes by. They insist that to be loved, a person must be thin, but Jeanie doesn’t agree. Things reach a head when fellow sufferer, Kylie asks Jeanie for help. What they discover is a bizarre hidden garden that’s always hungry.

The past few years have brought many competitive cooking shows to our living rooms. Who’s the best baker, barbecue pit-master, or candy maker? With insane prizes of big money and the chance to launch one’s career, there are always plenty of contestants. So when Crystal gets the chance to become part of the show Easy Bake, she eagerly signs up. But to her horror, the contestants who lose don’t get a big hug from Paul Hollywood and some fond words. Nope, they are eliminated on the spot, striking the fear of God into the survivors. Each round Crystal continues to survive until the semi-finals, but that just brings her closer to dying on the kitchen floor. Then, just as she’s giving up, an escape opportunity presents itself. Will the finalists escape or be cut down by the creepy security team of Scott and Zelda? To find out the ending of this great story by Sonora Taylor, make sure to get yourself a copy of Diet Riot-A Fatterpunk Anthology!

So what does your old pal Skull think of this unique and timely anthology? I give it a Hearty FIVE STAR RATING! In fact, I’m planning on purchasing a few copies when Diet Riot is released on June 21, 2022. One will be going up on the “Wall of Fame” and another will be going to a friend who is really going to enjoy this gift. While I never judge a book by its cover, I must say the cover of Diet Riot is a real beauty! Well done Tori Celeste at Vicki Be Wicked, LLC. For more information about Diet Riot-A Fatterpunk Anthology, visit
Nico Bell at: www.nicobellefiction.com
Stephanie Rabig at: www.stephanierabig.weebly.com
E.E.W. Christman : www.eewchristman.com
Sonora Taylor can be found at: www.sonorawrites.com or Twitter @sonorawrites
And please follow your old pal Skull at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com

Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer recommends giving copies of this book to those you love who suffer poor self-esteem because of fat shaming and body discrimination. Diet Riot is a very empowering anthology that is artfully edited to give people of size a much needed round of applause. Your old pal Skull is a blues fan and agrees with all the musicians who revered a “Big Leg Woman” My mortal host Brian James Lewis is currently working on an essay that celebrates his love of plus sized goddesses. More on that soon!




View all my reviews

CURRENTLY READING T.C. WEBER’S LATEST WORK “THE SURVIVORS.” FULL REVIEW COMING SOON!

Hey there cats and kittens, it’s your old pal, Skull. Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated, mainly because I’m already dead. Ha-ha! I’ll be here all week, folks. Anyway, let’s get to business. This is the cover of T.C. Weber’s latest and greatest book THE SURVIVORS, which mixes cli-fi with suspense to bring readers a very intense read. Weber’s been kind enough to include trigger warnings for those concerned or who might not be familiar with horror. And yes, it IS available for purchase right now if you’d prefer not to wait for the review. Simply head on over to:

Paperback https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZL9BPCR/

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09ZLM43H2/

Or head on over to the author’s page at: https://www.tcweber.com/ for additional information on all of his writing. Your old pal Skull promises a full review with more grisly, and intellectual, details by Friday. Until then, be nice to each other and…READ MORE INDEPENDENT HORROR!!!

DAMAGED SKULL WRITER’S REVIEW OF “UNLUCKY CHARM” BY AIDAN LUCID IS NOW ON GOODREADS!

HERE’S THE LINK!

Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


UNLUCKY CHARM-Book 2 of the Hopps Town Series
Aidan Lucid
January 5, 2022
Jongleur Books
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis
Howdy readers! It’s your old pal Skull, with another great book for you to check out. Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid is book number two of the Hopps Town series, and it picks up where The Scavenger left off. The main characters have gone off to college and better lives, but that’s not the end of the story. Especially for freshly minted demon fighter, Jared. Someone from the spirit world keeps trying to get his attention, but why?
Meanwhile, across town, Richie and Zane find themselves in hot water thanks to a mysterious pawnshop pocket watch. Since Zane purchased the watch, they’ve been having a miserable time being chased down by specters from the past. Not only are these things scary, they’re also deadly. If Richie and Zane don’t get some help quick, it could be curtains for them! Fortunately, Jared is visiting home during a break from college and is available to help. But it takes a hand from his spiritual mentor, Aunt Maybelle to get things moving in the right direction. That’s a good thing, because they’re dealing with an evil demon bent on carrying out a voodoo curse and things get scary fast. Every hour that passes means that Zane and Richie’s lives are getting shorter. Will Jared and Belle succeed or will the demon win? Only one way to find out, head to your favorite bookseller and get a copy of Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid!
Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer gives Unlucky Charm A FIVE STAR RATING of EXCELLENT! It’s a gripping read with plenty of positive messages about life, the value of friendship, kindness, and the fact that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and some of them are pretty awful, but everyone deserves a second chance. Well, except for that creepy demon! Your old pal Skull actually recommends starting with The Scavenger book one of the Hopps Town series to get all the background on Jared and his pals for the best reading experience. But Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid is also strong enough to stand on its own. This series of books delivers thrills and chills while keeping the language clean and family friendly. Give them a shot, I think you’ll really enjoy them!
For more information about Aidan Lucid and his books. Did I mention that The Scavenger is being made into a movie? Go to: www.aidanlucidauthor.com
Thanks for stopping by the Skullcave! For more news and reviews, check out your old pal Skull at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com See you soon.




View all my reviews

“DIET RIOT-A FATTERPUNK ANTHOLOGY” IS A FIVE STAR READ EDITED BY NICO BELL AND SONORA TAYLOR THAT CELEBRATES THE POWER AND BEAUTY OF BEING BIG!

DIET RIOT-A Fatterpunk Anthology
Edited by Nico Bell and Sonora Taylor
June 21, 2022
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello horror fiends! Welcome back to the Skullcave, where I’ve been reading a very cool collection of stories edited by Nico Bell and Sonora Taylor. Why are they cool? Well, because these stories show plus-sized people in a positive light. Instead of being made fun of or having their bodies be what makes them bad, Diet Riot celebrates bounteous bodies and makes them something to be proud of. Diversity is what makes the world a great place. Forcing others to fit one person’s concept of beauty is way too prevalent in our society and it’s wrong, damn it! That’s why the editors dedicated Diet Riot to: “Everyone who ever felt like they don’t belong.”

This cool, fatterpunk anthology starts off with Stephanie Rabig’s story Cinderella And Her Demon Godmother.  When an angry girl calls forth a demon from Hell to kill some body shamers, she gets more than she bargained for. Enter Lucinda, a plus sized and sexy demon ready to get the job done. But, it’s complicated and no smart demon who’s allowed to go topside for a few hours is going to waste a brief reprieve from Hell. So, Lucinda takes her young friend out on the town in style and has some fun along the way. She also makes one last stop before returning home, to burn down a major asshole who thinks it’s funny to shame fat people. GREAT STORY!

Editor Nico Bell contributes her narrative tale Lake House to the collection. It’s the perfect mix of frightening and “fuck you haters!” Erin and her wife Lauren are trying to clean up the big mess of a lake house they’ve just moved into when things go very wrong. There might be a monster in the basement or maybe not, and Erin has an epiphany. Lauren just wanted to mold her like a piece of clay with wacky diet potions and pills. She never really loved Erin for just being her fine, fluffy self. That’s bad enough, but when Lauren drops the bomb of divorce on her, Erin decides to help her lose lots of weight super fast.

Curious Garden by E.E.W. Christman brings us to a horrifying fat camp for kids. Most people, let alone children, don’t think of going to fat camp as a fun vacation. Especially Camp GnuYu where the counselors are freakishly cheerful and bad morale is not tolerated. Failure is also not an option and anyone who passes out from exhaustion disappears in a mysterious way. Jeanie, the camper who narrates this chilling tale, wants to know why. But everything is hush-hush with the counselors acting even stranger as time goes by. They insist that to be loved, a person must be thin, but Jeanie doesn’t agree. Things reach a head when fellow sufferer, Kylie asks Jeanie for help. What they discover is a bizarre hidden garden that’s always hungry.

The past few years have brought many competitive cooking shows to our living rooms. Who’s the best baker, barbecue pit-master, or candy maker? With insane prizes of big money and the chance to launch one’s career, there are always plenty of contestants. So when Crystal gets the chance to become part of the show Easy Bake, she eagerly signs up. But to her horror, the contestants who lose don’t get a big hug from Paul Hollywood and some fond words. Nope, they are eliminated on the spot, striking the fear of God into the survivors. Each round Crystal continues to survive until the semi-finals, but that just brings her closer to dying on the kitchen floor. Then, just as she’s giving up, an escape opportunity presents itself. Will the finalists escape or be cut down by the creepy security team of Scott and Zelda? To find out the ending of this great story by Sonora Taylor, make sure to get yourself a copy of Diet Riot-A Fatterpunk Anthology!

So what does your old pal Skull think of this unique and timely anthology? I give it a Hearty FIVE STAR RATING! In fact, I’m planning on purchasing a few copies when Diet Riot is released on June 21, 2022. One will be going up on the “Wall of Fame” and another will be going to a friend who is really going to enjoy this gift. While I never judge a book by its cover, I must say the cover of Diet Riot is a real beauty! Well done Tori Celeste at Vicki Be Wicked, LLC. For more information about Diet Riot-A Fatterpunk Anthology, visit
Nico Bell at: www.nicobellefiction.com
Stephanie Rabig at: www.stephanierabig.weebly.com
E.E.W. Christman : www.eewchristman.com
Sonora Taylor can be found at: www.sonorawrites.com or Twitter @sonorawrites  
And please follow your old pal Skull at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com

Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer recommends giving copies of this book to those you love who suffer poor self-esteem because of fat shaming and body discrimination. Diet Riot is a very empowering anthology that is artfully edited to give people of size a much needed round of applause. Your old pal Skull is a blues fan and agrees with all the musicians who revered a “Big Leg Woman” My mortal host Brian James Lewis is currently working on an essay that celebrates his love of plus sized goddesses. More on that soon! If you don’t like fat people, keep it to yourself. Dig?

“UNLUCKY CHARM” BY AIDAN LUCID IS A GREAT READ! THE BEST NEWS? IT’S PART OF A SERIES THAT DELIVERS THRILLS, CHILLS, AND POSITIVE MESSAGES. CHECK IT OUT!

UNLUCKY CHARM-Book 2 of the Hopps Town Series
Aidan Lucid
January 5, 2022
Jongleur Books
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Howdy readers! It’s your old pal Skull, with another great book for you to check out. Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid is book number two of the Hopps Town series, and it picks up where The Scavenger left off. The main characters have gone off to college and better lives, but that’s not the end of the story. Especially for freshly minted demon fighter, Jared. Someone from the spirit world keeps trying to get his attention, but why?

Meanwhile, across town, Richie and Zane find themselves in hot water thanks to a mysterious pawnshop pocket watch. Since Zane purchased the watch, they’ve been having a miserable time being chased down by specters from the past. Not only are these things scary, they’re also deadly. If Richie and Zane don’t get some help quick, it could be curtains for them! Fortunately, Jared is visiting home during a break from college and is available to help. But it takes a hand from his spiritual mentor, Aunt Maybelle to get things moving in the right direction. That’s a good thing, because they’re dealing with an evil demon bent on carrying out a voodoo curse and things get scary fast. Every hour that passes means that Zane and Richie’s lives are getting shorter. Will Jared and Belle succeed or will the demon win? Only one way to find out, head to your favorite bookseller and get a copy of Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid!

Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewergives Unlucky Charm A FIVE STAR RATING of EXCELLENT! It’s a gripping read with plenty of positive messages about life, the value of friendship, kindness, and the fact that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and some of them are pretty awful, but everyone deserves a second chance. Well, except for that creepy demon! Your old pal Skull actually recommends starting with The Scavenger book one of the Hopps Town series to get all the background on Jared and his pals for the best reading experience. But Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid is also strong enough to stand on its own. This series of books delivers thrills and chills while keeping the language clean and family friendly. Give them a shot, I think you’ll really enjoy them!

For more information about Aidan Lucid and his books. Did I mention that The Scavenger is being made into a movie? Go to: www.aidanlucidauthor.com
Thanks for stopping by the Skullcave! For more news and reviews, check out your old pal Skull at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com See you soon.

HAPPY RELEASE DAY TO “RESEMBLING LEPUS” BY AMANDA COOL AND GREY MATTER PRESS! MY REVIEW OF THIS EXCELLENT, THOUGHT-PROVOKING BOOK IS NOW LIVE ON GOODREADS!

TODAY MARKS THE DEBUT OF THE EMERGENT EXPRESSIONS IMPRINT FROM GREY ,MATTER PRESS. THE FIRST BOOK IS “RESEMBLING LUPUS” BY AMANDA COOL. CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF THIS KICKASS NOVELLLA ON GOODREADS VIA THE LINK BELOW

Resembling Lepus by Amanda Kool

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Resembling Lepus
Amanda Kool
Emergent Expressions
April 26, 2022
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hey there regular readers, it’s your old pal Skull! Today I’m reviewing Resembling Lepus, the first book with the Emergent Expressions imprint from none other than horror powerhouse Grey Matter Press. Why a different imprint? Long story short, it’s because Anthony Rivera wants to help emerging authors while giving readers something new to enjoy. Basically, a real win-win for all involved. What we get with the debut novella is an action-packed detective story placed in the frighteningly possible dystopian future, with some super fly cli-fi to round out the picture.
Amanda Kool, the author of Resembling Lepus, kicks things off with a murder. We arrive at the grim scene that’s oddly juxtaposed against a lovely nature preserve. In better times, it would be a wonderful place to visit, but right now it’s sullied by blood and tears. Beautiful groves of trees become potential hiding spots for the murderer, who likes to kill their victims by hand. Yikes! And who is the victim? Why a lovely female rabbit-a real one, to be exact. The detective narrating this story, police officer on scene, and the doctor are deeply shaken. Wait, why?
In our current world, we might chuckle and shake our heads at that. But in the future Kool reveals to us, it will be no laughing matter. The way things are going in the present century, there is a serious chance that our luckier descendants will live in a dystopian world. The rest of us will be long gone, riding the extinction train with many plant and animal species. Maintaining the fragile, manmade ecosystem requires many sacrifices. Privacy and personal freedom are things of the past, thanks to 24/7 monitoring by CC TV, doors, and even the furniture we sit on. There will be strict rationing of food and luxury items for working class citizens. City air will be so polluted that everyone will have to wear an air filtration device. Personal use vehicles will be a thing of the past. Everything will be recycled, including life force. Perfection in motion, right?
Well…no. During her investigations, the detective uncovers a lot of bugs in the system. One of the major ones being that just like in our current modern day lives, the wealthy have a free pass to do whatever they damn well please. It’s the actions of some of these entitled people that produce a very dangerous killer. Do they care or even consider the situation? Nah! They’re too busy getting ready to go on vacation for a whole month. Even when the detective points this out by saying “Must be nice” to the man of the house, he just replies cheerfully “Oh, it is!” So spoiled that he’s unable to view his vast, spacious home with a real lawn, trees, houseplants, and pets through the detective’s thirsty eyes.
As the bodies pile up, the detective finds an ally in the forensic doctor who performs the autopsies, runs tests, and even manages to plug them into the brain of a manmade rabbit that lives in the nature preserve along with a mix of real rabbits and ones like itself. While they learn much about the killer, the experience brings some painful realizations about how well this artificial world is really working. Is the doctor truly an ally or is she something else, a spy perhaps? The detective has figured out the mystery and wants to move forward with nabbing the murderer, but her captain wants to follow the rules that perpetuate a system that clearly isn’t doing what it claims. Our detective is a strong woman and she’s not backing down after all she’s been through, which includes nearly becoming one of the murderer’s victims. There needs to be a conclusion. But how much will it cost her?
Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer gives Amanda Kool’s novella Resembling Lepus a FIVE STAR rating and a place on The Wall of Fame! Emergent Expressions’ debut shows readers that this is a brave new imprint producing works that make us think while keeping our eyes glued to the page. There are myriad ways to read Resembling Lepus, and with every pass through the book I saw something new. What always asserted itself was the hard reality that there’s no such thing as a perfect world that works for every inhabitant equally. Humans have tried to play God for centuries and it never works right because no one can be totally objective. Even the Greek Gods of mythology were constantly making mistakes, so what makes us think we’re any better? The murderer in Resembling Lepus reminds me a bit of Michael Crichton’s Terminal Man. Something science claims will work perfectly but doesn’t, with drastic consequences. When caught by the detective, Peter screams “We are vengeful creatures!” And the doctor shows the detective the past when rabbits were considered vermin and hunted for sport because people liked to hear them scream. So why are they protected now? What’s wrong or right? I don’t know, I’m just a book reviewer who calls himself Skull. You catch this book and read it.
For more information and to order a copy of Resembling Lepus go to: www.greymatterpress.com
For more information about author Amanda Kool go to: www.amandakool.net
Tell them your old pal Skull sent you!


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