Sonora Taylor Delivers A Masterful Collection of Short Horror, Flash, and Dark Poetry With Her Most Recent Collection LITTLE PARANOIAS!

Little Paranoias cover shot

 

LITTLE PARANOIAS
Sonora Taylor
October 22, 2019
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Let me just be upfront. I really hope you’ll read the entire review, but I’ll sum it up for the busy folks right now: Little Paranoias by Sonora Taylor is an excellent book that rates a BIG Five Stars and I definitely recommend that you purchase a copy today. Each story is unique and powerful, offering a bird’s eye view into the author’s imagination. So don’t dilly, or dally. Visit your favorite bookseller today!

Okay, that was the high speed review of Sonora Taylor’s fab new collection Little Paranoias. Now the rest of us who enjoy immersing ourselves in books can get on with it! Sonora grabs our attention right away with Weary Bones, a great mix of horror, science fiction, and love. Imagine a horrible rainy night and a lone man watching TV safely inside. Suddenly the doorbell rings. The man gets up wearily, opens the door, and finds himself face to face with a skeleton. Yikes! Right? Nope, not this guy. Instead he opens the door wider and invites it in. Hey, this is kind of different! It’s also a perfect intro to Sonora Taylor’s work and a book that delivers the unexpected again and again.

Another great story in this collection is Hearts Are Just “Likes”. Social media is HUGE these days. If you can’t be Googled, then for many folks, you might as well not exist. From teenagers to grandmas, everyone has some sort of online presence. There are even professional bloggers who make a living from their blogs. But, this sort of career is not without hazards, as Hailey finds out when she gets into a physical relationship with another popular blogger. At first, things seem rosy, but then somebody gets greedy. Trouble comes to call and it turns out to be a big fan of Hailey. Chilling!

 SEED Is a tale that makes you think. What if all the things we take for granted disappeared tomorrow and we had to survive on sheer determination? No electricity, no smartphones, nothing. Just the clothes on your back and whatever foodstuffs you can gather or hunt down. You can die at any time in mysterious ways and disappear overnight. Aidy lost her husband when he went off to Home Depot for gardening supplies and is very lonely and depressed. What’s the worth in pursuing life if you’re going to die any minute? But when she crosses paths with Evan, a unique person who’s doing more than just surviving, she wakes up. Evan makes her laugh, gives her hope, and a reason to live. Love blooms, but how much time is left for them? I just wanted to add this for the Damaged Skull Writer version of the review. I really enjoyed the artfully detailed sex scene included in this story. Sex when practiced in a joyful way by consenting humans, is indeed a beautiful thing and celebrates the fact that we are still animals, not life sucking plants.

And Little Paranoias also contains many more great pieces for you to enjoy. There’s poetry, short stories, and flash fiction that’ll blow your mind! I really dug Hollow. Some things are magic, like Mrs. Sassafras-the doll of no judgement. But there are monsters who enjoy ruining special things. Why they do that isn’t always clear. But one thing is: they must be stopped. Awesome reading experience! Five Stars and a current resident on the “Wall of Fame!” For more information about Sonora Taylor and her other works, visit www.sonorawrites.com Thanks for reading!

Pardon Us We Are Having Technical Difficulties-A Quick Explanation For Damaged Skull Writer’s Erratic Performance As of Late

Big Damaged Skull

Basically, I’m going through a divorce and it is sucking up a great deal of my time. We’re doing our best to sort things out simply, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or fast. I don’t want to dwell or wallow in self-pity, I just wanted everyone who has submitted work for review to know why things have slowed down so badly. Hoping to be back to my regular Horror writer and reviewer self in a month or two. Will certainly post when I can. Thank you for understanding and I hope that things are going well in your personal lives! Also, congratulation to all the recent newlyweds-May this never happen to you.

LOOKING FOR A GREAT HALLOWEEN READ? FRED WIEHE’S “THE COLLECTED NIGHTMARES!” STARTS WITH A STORY HAPPENING ON THE NIGHT WHEN A SOUL CAN GET REVENGE!

The Collected Nightmares cover shot

THE COLLECTED NIGHTMARES
By Fred Wiehe
Black Bed Sheet/Diverse Media
May 8, 2019
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Hello there, horror fans! Are you familiar with the saying, “No Rest For The Wicked?” Well it seems to be a maxim that Fred Wiehe applies to his work. He may not be wicked, but he definitely knows how to write about those who are. The Collected Nightmares, recently released by Black Bed Sheet Books, is vast! We’re talking nearly 500 pages that include two novellas, twelve short stories, and seventeen poems. This author is not one to rest upon his laurels. The reason? Pain caused by an accident and the acid rain that lands on the injured party in multiple forms, all of which Wiehe has noted for us in the heartfelt intro.

This might sound odd, but I especially enjoy works written by those who deal with pain on the daily. It isn’t because I’m some cruel bastard who gets a cheap thrill from the suffering of others.  No, it’s more the feeling of meeting another member of the tribe I belong to as well. Suffering chronic pain puts a drive into a creative person like nothing else. Not even love can surpass the determination to leave a legacy and the chance to escape into another world, like the misery of pain does. Next to that is the anger hanging onto pain’s coattails. You’ve got to express that shit somehow or go mad. Wiehe’s fierce prose and valiant poetry are red hot with that expression. Ready to dig The Collected Nightmares? Then hold onto your hats, we’re going in!

Pretender starts us off on the right foot as we follow author Frank Lester who is running late for his own book signing on Halloween. At first, he is jazzed about being in Barnes & Noble, but elation dies quickly when someone tells him that his father dropped by. Many of us would be cheered by the prospect of at least one friendly face in the crowd, but that’s not the case for Frank. His father is dead, so how the hell could he pop into any store, let alone talk to a clerk? Looks like somebody has attempted a prank in very poor taste, but why? As the story progresses, spirits and Halloween customs assert themselves. Could a mask help Frank escape what’s coming after him? Perhaps giving out Soul Cakes in the more modern form of candies will appease the demons? Frank keeps hearing, seeing, and smelling clues. Is it just his imagination or signs of impending doom? Just when you thought Halloween was scary enough, Wiehe shakes your sanity. Intense!

Right after that fine piece of fiction, we read Penny’s Song the first of many poems in this volume. Short, sharp, and frightening, Wiehe’s poetry adds much flavor to The Collected Nightmares.  These are powerful poems that tell us a lot about Fred and definitely express some of that anger I mentioned. A good example is Not Dead which features the phrase:

The pain is always a part of me
Never gone
From it I am never free

There’s a lot more to this poem that I want you to read and appreciate. This is one of the best and most direct poems about what it’s like to keep your life, but not yourself as the result of events beyond your control. That, friends, is real life horror. We don’t want others to feel sorry for us. Hell, we don’t even know how we feel about you. Just understand that we are different now and there’s no chance of turning back even if we could. Rebirth and Succubus are full on terror about creatures of the night.

Shoot Me is a frightening flash piece that will surprise readers and is a heartfelt piece of writing. The Collection is a great slam against those bullies and mean people mentioned in the introduction. It’s a pleasure to see that their money can’t protect them and their bullshit reputations all the time! There are creatures out there who only want one thing, no substitutions. You can whine all you want, Mr. Applebee! See you soon! My Only Daddy is a frightening tale with a sharp twist. The narrator becomes alarmed when his son starts talking to people he can’t see and acting out. Surely this is not the little boy he and his wife raised? Well, his wife is gone now, due to mysterious causes. While the man is doing his best, his son ramps up the odd behavior. A stop must be put to this and there’s only one way to do it! But was it the right one?

One story in particular, really stands out as a frightening fable about those who hurt others for fun. The Reckoning is beautifully written with just the right amount of terror mixed with a very important message. When a group of girls who take lessons at a riding stable start insulting the girl who works there cleaning stalls, things get out of hand fast. Yelling turns to violence and it looks like somebody might even die. The stable’s owner jumps into action, but instead of shouting at the girls or threatening to tell their parents, he insists they listen to a story. This isn’t just any old fairy tale, either. No way, this is a true story and what it reveals is chilling.

The Collected Nightmares is a genuine 5 STAR READ! Fred Wiehe should feel damn proud of what he’s accomplished here and we’re fortunate that he’s decided to stay among us and challenge our brains with his words. I really enjoyed his twisted tales and think you will, too! Fred Wiehe is a professional author and a member of the Horror Writers Association who’s written many popular books including Aleric: Monster Hunter. Be sure to follow him at: http://www.fredwiehe.com with manyBlack Bed Sheet Books has done a great job in producing such a powerful read and I also really dig the cover art. Want to learn more about them and the other cool titles they offer? Then visit their website at: www.blackbedsheetbooks.com They even have the only authorized biography of the legendary Vincent Price by the master himself!

HELLBOUND BOOKS’ NEW RELEASE “THE TOILET ZONE” IS A FIVE STAR RATED WINNER THAT HELPS US MULTI-TASK IN EVERY ROOM OF THE HOUSE!

Toilet Zone cover shot

 

THE TOILET ZONE
HellBound Books
Compiled & Edited by Bret McCormick
August 16, 2019
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

This hot new anthology from HellBound Books was born from a great idea from the fertile mind of Bret McCormick. It’s like this; The folks reading this review are most likely to be what Stephen King calls “constant readers.” Let me shake you firmly by the hand…in spirit anyway! We take books everywhere, whether in physical form or loaded into an electronic device. That’s us, at Taco Bell: Burrito in one hand, book in the other! We read in waiting rooms and on public transportation because it makes the time go faster in an enjoyable fashion, right? That includes the one room we’re obligated to sit in for 10-15 mins per day to take care of business. Even people who aren’t big readers like a diversion in there. What to do?

Enter The Toilet Zone-32 short horror tales best read over water” from HellBound Books! Bathroom boredom will be a thing of the past when you’re reading really awesome short horror stories in there. Some of the tales included, such as Junkie by Anthony Crinella or The Rambler by Steve Simpson might just scare the shit right out of you! Ha! This fun and frightening volume bears cover artwork that references Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and if you say both titles fast, there’s a definite similarity! But The Toilet Zone is more than just a silly spoof, so stay seated and let’s continue.

That You, Coughlin? By Christopher Brinn takes us to an Oklahoma Territory town in the year 1883. Something strange is happening in Father Bud’s parish. Gunslingers he’s burying in the little cemetery behind the church aren’t staying dead. Is he really burying them more than once? When he asks the creepy Mr. Coughlin, who makes all the coffins for the dead, Father Bud finds out some things he wishes he didn’t know. Will good triumph over evil or will the victor be someone with no connections to the lord?

I don’t know about you, but all the medical technology we have in these modern times is kind of frightening. Just listen to those ads on TV about the latest pharmaceutical miracles! “Dinkzingle 720 EX can relieve your pain and build new muscle fibers!” Great, but it can also destroy the majority of your brain cells, resulting in loss of vision and major anal leakage. Eeeg! The choices aren’t quite so easy then, are they? The main character of James Pyles’ story Retired is an elderly woman who’s undergone a special operation in order to get her brain back on track. While the surgery has been somewhat successful, Leslie’s recovery is not going quite as smoothly. There are vivid memories seeping into her dreams, causing her to behave in ways that the average eighty-year-old doesn’t. Why does she have man hands? Thoughts of campfires that cook up some unique meals? Her son is concerned, but then his mother takes control over her assets and starts doing things by herself. Leslie’s doctor says that means she’s getting better, but is he right?

Want something cool and modern to read? Then try Alan Beauvais’s story SMS which is constructed entirely of text messages. Kat is texting her boyfriend about something strange happening while she’s home alone, but Will jokes with her. However, as the texts continue, it becomes obvious that she’s not joking or being flirty. Can Will solve the mystery before any real harm comes to them? Grab a copy of The Toilet Zone today and find out!

So with all that said, how does this excellent collection of short horror fiction rate? The Toilet Zone rates a BIG FIVE STARS and immediate placement on the “Wall of Fame” in the Skullcave! I think that anyone who reads this collection is going to really enjoy it. You might even see them sneak it out of the restroom to keep reading! And you know what? That’s totally fine because HellBound Books has many anthologies available for purchase. If you check out their site, they also provide some teaser content so that you can decide which ones you like best. Remember…The holiday seasons are creeping up on us quick this year and gifts from HellBound Books might be just what the doctor ordered! Just head on over to: www.hellboundbookspublishing.com for more information! Be sure to sign up for their newsletter and tell ‘em that the Damaged Skull Writer sent ya!

REVISITING JERRY GORDON’S APOCALYPTIC THRILLER “BREAKING THE WORLD” IN THE APEX BOOK COMPANY BACK CATALOG BLOG TOUR!

Breaking the World cover shot

 

AN APPRECIATION OF THE APOCALYPTIC APEX TITLE BREAKING THE WORLD AND ITS AUTHOR JERRY GORDON

 

Hello everyone! The purpose of this article is to celebrate Apex Books’ back catalog. My favorite title is an apocalyptic thriller by Jerry Gordon that will seriously blow your doors off. It features the perfect blend of horror and science fiction that Apex is known for, but its multiple facets give all readers something to grab onto. The writing is also very clean, which I know can be a concern for book buyers, especially if this will be a gift.

Breaking the World seamlessly combines the dramatic and very dangerous fifty-one day standoff between the FBI and the Branch Davidian Church. The U.S. government vs David Koresh-a religious leader with rock star charisma. Gordon presents this tragedy with super researched accuracy, then combines it with a fast-growing pandemic that is changing the world for the worse every second. If that isn’t bad enough, the folks in the white house make a decision that will change the great state of Texas FOREVER! Do the events both fictional and non, prove out Koresh’s prophecies? Did the government lose sanity and abuse their power? Who are “The Fallen” and what are they after?

Told from the viewpoint of 15 year-old Cyrus, Breaking the World is a crazy roller coaster ride that questions everything. Gordon’s use of this character is perfection. Even without being forced to live in a funky religious commune by his divorced mother, Cyrus has a lot going on. He’s standing on the edge of manhood, but still retains the sense of humor of a child. Fireworks and Playboy magazines. He and his friends try to find their place while having to obey a man who often does things they don’t agree with. Readers get a front row seat to the 51 day standoff from inside the Branch Davidian Compound. Changes come hard and fast, keeping your eyes glued to the pages.

My original review of Breaking The World when it came out in April of 2018 was very enthusiastic. I gave it FIVE STARS and a spot on the Skullcave “Wall of Fame.” When I reread it this month I found that it’s still one of the best novels I’ve ever read and it retains its Five Stars. If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy this excellent book. I highly encourage you to get yourself a copy today!

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR JERRY GORDON

jerry gordon

 

BJL: Hi Jerry! All I can say is how amazing it is to reread Breaking the World and find so much more cool stuff to enjoy about it. This is a really complex work!

Jerry Gordon: Thank you! That’s very kind of you to say

BJL: How long did it take you to complete this book, starting from the initial vision to the
paperback I’m reading?

JG: Breaking the World started as a short story set in a post-apocalyptic future that made ominous references to a fallen world with David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. The story was well received, and I ended up pitching the world-ending part of it to a small press publisher as a novella. After I wrote it, the publishing industry took a downturn and the deal fell through. I then decided to sell the novella to another publisher, but a couple of writers convinced me to turn it into a novel. Timeline-wise, I spent three full-time months researching the original novella and about the same amount of time writing it. When it came time to transform that original work into a novel, I spent another six months on research and followed that with a year of writing.

BJL: Thanks for sharing that! I think it’s important for readers and aspiring writers to       have a good understanding of how much time goes into building a book. Not to dishearten anyone more to show them they’re on the right road when they spend time getting it right.

JG: Exactly!

BJL: Another question that I’m sure many readers are wondering about is: How did the fusion of  the Branch Davidian Church standoff with U.S. Law Enforcement and fictional apocalyptic events based on David Koresh’s beliefs along with nuclear warfare come about? Your absolutely seamless integration of these pieces really had me going for a bit! I almost called a friend about the pandemic in Mexico that I’d never heard of previously!

JG:      So many books either skip the actual end of the established world or they give it the “flashback treatment.” I wanted an entire novel to live and breathe in that space where everything falls apart, and not in a generic sense. I wanted to ground the reader in a historic moment that felt so real, the fictional elements of the story   would sneak up on them!

            Twenty-five years ago, over one hundred ATF agents in full body armor stormed the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas. Military helicopters circled overhead as both sides traded gunfire. When the smoke cleared, four agents and six church members were dead. A fifty-one day standoff followed the botched raid, dominating the news. Before it was all over, tanks were deployed against a church in America. It’s almost unthinkable!

What made this bit of history so enticing? The fact that the Branch Davidians
believed that government raids signaled the beginning of the end of the world

I took that meticulously researched history and made small deviations, the kind only someone with expert knowledge would recognize. Then I added increasingly larger moments, all designed to seem plausible. ‘I wanted to avoid raising suspicion and leave the reader with a sense that they had forgotten or overlooked some bits of history. I took a lot of inspiration from Orson Wells’ performance of War of the Worlds.

BJL:   Your efforts were very effective. I remember feeling almost panicked as the shift you speak of began to happen. At first, I was convinced that this was a real part of history the government had covered up during the crisis situation with the Branch Davidian Church. Especially with the level of firepower and psychological warfare techniques used. Well played, sir!

JG:      Thanks, Brian. A lot of it came from doing years of research. When you’re connecting to a historical event in time that generated so much interest, randomly making things up isn’t going to win any points with readers.

BJL:   During your time of in depth research for Breaking the World where did you get all this highly detailed information?

JG:      I read just about anything I could get my hands on! Congressional testimony, FBI reports, court cases, and books written by survivors on both sides. I also watched obscure television interviews, read David Koresh’s interpretation of the bible, and even listened to his rock music. In fact, a CD of his music was made for the most unusual giveaway of the book launch! All the while, I was assembling moments to explore and questions to ask. That helped me understand how Koresh thought about the world. I learned the way he talked and how he moved. When Koresh started showing up in my dreams, I knew it was time to stop researching!

BJL:   That being said, why did you choose fifteen year-old Cyrus as the narrator of this very intense book?

JG:      I wanted a neutral point of view to sort out the actions of the Branch Davidians and the FBI. An atheist teenager dragged to the church by his born-again parents gave me a protagonist that could question both sides of the conflict. I also felt that a younger character at the crossroads of adulthood made the situation even scarier. After completing the first draft, I realized I had written the end of the world as a metaphor for growing up. Read into that what you will about my personality!

BJL:   Yeah, when you think about it, a lot of teenagers feel that way. I liked the references to Holden Caulfield and Mick Jagger as the warring personalities inside Cyrus, as well. It gives readers something tangible, instead of random adjectives. Speaking of the way you gave us handholds to grab onto Breaking the World with I think the quotes you inserted between chapters are great.

JG:      Thanks. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with quotes. Originally, I envisioned a quote preceding every chapter, but that seemed to break up the narrative flow a bit too much. So I settled on a quote every other chapter. Most came to mind while I was writing. The hardest one to nail down was the James Kuntsler quote that comes late in the book. It arrives at a moment when you’re not sure if the characters are going to make it or not. It’s a quote about the probable downfall of the human race that perfectly handles the world hanging by a thread. I went through a dozen quotes before settling on that one!

BJL:   Something that many people seem to be stuck on is, why did a “peaceful church group” have all that firepower handy?

JG:      There are a couple reasonable explanations for this. From a practical standpoint, their “stockpile of guns” was truly an inventory for a business that helped keep the church afloat. They partnered with a licensed gun dealer to buy old guns and parts that they could recondition and sell for a profit. When the ATF raided the church, they found the gun room almost empty because all the guns were off at a gun show being sold.

            Beyond the business side of things, many church members lived onsite and owned personal firearms. Texas gun culture is a very real thing and when you pair that with their belief that they were close to the end times, you have some well-prepared people. So it wasn’t as unusual as some readers might think.

BJL:   Breaking the World ends in a fairly open-ended fashion. Was the plan to leave room for a future sequel or more the realization that that your characters were going to be parting ways soon and doing things that wouldn’t line up with the original story?

JG:      When I was a boy, I read Stephen King’s The Mist. The ending of my book is a bit of a love letter to that story. This will be lost on those who’ve only seen the movie, but   King ended that story in a way that allows readers to imagine and retain hope for the characters. I’ve tried to do that with Breaking the World. That being said, there is an outline for a follow up novel, City of Refuge.

BJL:   Well that’s cool on both answers! I’m on the end of those who’ve only read the book, because that’s my favorite way to enjoy Stephen King’s work. My imagination gets to go out and play, just like it did with Breaking the World. Hopefully your work will inspire writers, much like Stephen King’s pushed you in the right direction. It’s certainly inspired me to try my hand at novel writing!

            Thanks a million for agreeing to this interview. It has been a pleasure and I appreciate your encouragement, too!

JG:      Thank you for doing this, as well. Keep writing!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this feature as much as I enjoyed being a part of The Apex Books Back Catalog Blog Tour! For more information, please check out www.jerrygordon.net and ApexBookCompany.com Jerry’s work is available through Apex Book Company, Barnes & Noble, and of course Amazon.com where you can also follow Jerry and see what he’s up to next. Thanks for reading Damaged Skull Writer!

 

Scratch cracked and damaged human skull, reflection surface

HERE ARE A COUPLE NEW TOYS THAT COULD BE USED TO CELEBRATE HELLBOUND BOOKS’ NEW RELEASE “THE TOILET ZONE!”

Poop Head Slime Squirter and Squichy Poo Doo

However to make sure we’re all on the right track, THE TOILET ZONE is a swell collection of short horror stories that are “Best Read Over Water”. These toys? Well, they’re semi-hilarious. Especially the “Poop Head Slime Squirter!” I mean, who doesn’t want that? A poop with stoner eyes that doesn’t just sit there on your desk, it also squirts out noxious slime! Squishy Poo Doo is a more mellow stress ball sort of thing which might be useful when your boss gives you a hard time. It’s also bouncy so you can throw it at your boss.

But the best recommendation I have for escaping the blues is to just have the shit scared right out of you by the huge new anthology from HellBound Books “THE TOILET ZONE” It features 32 brand spanking new stories and over 300 pages of tales that will make you forget all about the co-worker that dumps a ton of paperwork into your in box at 4:58 and tells you smugly “Have a NICE day!” Just give them a blast from the Poop Head Slime Squirter and head off to “THE TOILET ZONE” Available from your favorite bookseller now!

Toilet Zone cover art

CORONA BOOKS CONTINUES ITS MISSION TO SCARE READERS AND BRING NEW NAMES TO THE SPOTLIGHT WITH “THE SECOND CORONA BOOK OF HORROR STORIES”-AVAILABLE NOW!

Corona Book of Horror Stories two cover shot

 

The Second Corona Book of HORROR STORIES
Edited by: Lewis Williams
Corona Books UK
October 1, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Welcome readers! Today I will be spreading the good word about The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories. This is an absolutely stunning collection of short horror stories by writers who you may not be familiar with yet. But after reading this collection, you’ll be actively seeking them out! The First Corona Book of Horror Stories was a delight to read and the second book follows perfectly in its footsteps. Wait, scratch that, book two is even better than the first book! High quality stories that crackle with energy are waiting behind the creepy cover to ambush you with the unexpected and scare the hell out of you! Make sure to use the loo before reading or suffer the consequences. Ready to roll? Then let’s get to it!

The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories contains seventeen great stories that are aptly kicked off by Phillip Drake’s Mr. Cruel. This chilling tale opens up with a sweet scene of a babysitter taking care of young Billy and his baby sister while their folks are away. Billy is quietly drawing at the dining room table and sis is taking a nap. What babysitter wouldn’t want this gig? Seems nice and cozy, right? What could possibly mar this lovely little scene? The babysitter does, by asking young Billy what he’s so busy drawing. His disturbing answers and her meddling unleash a terror that won’t stop until it’s good and ready.

How many times have you heard older people say In My Day…fill in the blank here? Wondra Vanian uses this title very cleverly for her contribution to The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories. An elderly woman is getting on the bus after a long day at the craft market. She’s feeling fussy and tired, but who wouldn’t be after all that? Stuck walking to the back of the bus on aching feet, she finally gets settled and starts knitting to pass the time until her stop. But the boring bus ride turns frightening when a gang of creeps force their way on and start causing trouble. The old woman watches from her seat as until she is forced to do something. But what could an old woman do against burly, gun-toting criminals? To find out the answer, you’ll need to get a copy of The Second Corona Book of Horror!

When you’re a kid, moving can be a real drag. You’re forced to leave your friends behind and the neighborhood where you know all the cool spots to hide out. But what if there were a magical toy store hidden at the rear of your new home in the country? Would that make things better? In The Toy Shop by Sue Eaton, a boy finds himself in this very situation. Trouble is, no one else can see the hidden store and only he can gain entry. Plus the shop keeper seems fixated on the boy and the toys in his store are strange. Is this toy shop a place for fun, or is it all just an elaborate trap? Excellent!

Do you ever wonder if all the smart technology we have is truly safe? I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of a retro guy and to be honest, I don’t really trust all the technological advances we have at our fingertips. I like turning my TV on and off with my own hand. I also prefer adjusting my home’s thermostat manually instead of letting it “learn” what I prefer. I don’t own a smart phone and I don’t use a GPS when I drive. I’ve never asked Alexa or Siri a damn thing and after reading Kisses, Suzi by Joanie Chevalier, I’m not going to start anytime soon. This upsetting tale is about a guy named Jimmie and his girlfriend Brenda taking the road trip from hell. At first, things are pretty light and even funny. Then Brenda notices that her boyfriend’s car is talking to him personally through the GPS unit. Jimmie explains that he just updated the GPS software and this must be a perk. But soon Suzi gets WAY too personal with her words and Brenda is NOT amused. Suzi doesn’t like being yelled at one bit, so she starts flexing her electronic muscles. The results go from bizarre to downright terrifying and…DO NOT REVEAL ANY MORE OF THIS STORY, OR ELSE-SUZI. Okay then! Well that’s all for this story. Be sure to check it out! ZZZAAAPPP! Ow!

Without a doubt, The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories is FIVE STAR collection of great stories that will keep you turning pages until well after midnight! An instant “Wall of Famer” that grabbed my attention right away and didn’t let go until I’d finished the whole book. You need this collection! Big thanks to editor Lewis Williams and contributing author Wondra Vanian (on Twitter@witchybelle4u2) for all the help. Before I go, I’d like to mention how much time and effort Corona Books puts into helping their contributing authors. There are both biography pages and a list of the authors’ Twitter handles and websites in the rear of the book. Follow your favorites and stay informed of what’s next. All words of encouragement are greatly appreciated! Want to know more? Then check out www.coronabooks.com and Twitter@CoronaBooksUK . Thanks again for reading! Also be on the lookout for The Third Corona Book of Horror Stories Coming to your favorite booksellers SOON!

Pleased To Announce That My Short Story “Rest Stop” Will Be Appearing In The HellBound Books Anthology “The Toilet Zone!

Toilet Zone cover art.jpg

Is This Cool, or what? After years of reviewing many of their great titles, I am so excited to be a member of the HellBound Books family! This collection is a spoof on Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” in the best of ways. I like a publisher that enjoys a good chuckle along with their horror! The stories contained in The Toilet Zone are just the right length for you to enjoy a good read while “taking care of business” from the best seat in the house. This collection is going to “dump” a ton of cool stories by awesome writers right into your naked lap. Coming to your zone, SOON! For more info about HellBound Books and how to pre-order The Toilet Zone head on over to http://www.hellboundbookspublishing.com and sign up for their newsletter to be in the loop and get some cool free stuff! Tell them that Damaged Skull Writer sent you!

Are You Ready For Brutality? Morgan Tanner Brings It With His New Short Horror Collection “THE MIND’S PLAGUE” Available August 22!

The Mind's Plague cover shot

THE MIND’S PLAGUE & Other bites of brutality
Morgan K. Tanner
August 22, 2019
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

A few months ago, Morgan K. Tanner released his debut novel An Army Of Skin on the unsuspecting public and kicked some serious ass! Now he’s back with some bite-sized doses of brutality that masquerade as short stories. But, don’t be fooled! Any one of these ten tales of terror is powerful enough to take your head clean off, leaving an empty hole behind. You have been warned and encouraged by yours truly to check out The Mind’s Plague! Just make sure to be prepared for intensity. Ready? Then read on.

Roaring out of the gate, the title story may result in the following: You, sitting in the middle of your living room, with all the lights on and your laptop smashed into bloody pieces. Why? The Mind’s Plague, which unfortunately is discovered by some teenage boys with extra time on their hands. All they really wanted was some entertainment. What they got was something entirely different. Wear a helmet, Kevlar vest, and some sturdy boots. This one is a KILLER!

Since Morgan Tanner is also a drummer Conflagration Desecration has got to be a tale that’s close to his heart! Steve’s a drummer who’s feeling down about being bandless. Then he reads an ad for what appears to be the perfect gig. But lots of things that appear perfect from afar, aren’t always what they seem. Steve digs the sound of his new band, but what’s up with the outfits and strange behavior? If that wasn’t weird enough, the first show is a mind blower! All I can say is, you will want to read this fiery fable for yourself!

Do you suffer from Reluctant Bloodlust? No worries, man. We all do sometimes. Luckily, there’s a cure! All you gotta do is call the number at the top of your screen and our trained pharmacologists will send a free order of Blue Hardness right to your door! Just call…Oh, whoops! Wrong product write-up! Although this story does take a searing look at another serious lifestyle issue that may be sweeping through your town, so pay attention! Everybody has to eat and no one wants to be alone, right? That’s what Ugh (not his real name, because he can’t remember it) thinks. Just because you’re a member of the undead, that doesn’t excuse you from family duties! With some help from your pack…err, friends, you can take your women on the road. Happy travels!

If you need further proof that Morgan K. Tanner likes writing crazy, twisted stories, then be sure to check out For David, which drops us into the living room of David Brannigan’s “number one fan.” Eek! She continually checks David’s Facebook, visits the same stores he goes to, and even eats the same food. She makes sure to keep the fires burning for David, who seems to be out of the limelight just now. To the naysayers she rages, until her energy starts to fade. Strange things begin happening and our superfan begins to unravel, revealing the reasons for her dedication. I’d love to tell you more, but she’s got a knife. RUN! Run for your lives past what’s in those shoeboxes and the dried up vomit. Because when the truth is revealed, something horrible is going to happen.

FIVE STARS and a spot on the “Wall of Fame” for Morgan K. Tanner’s excellent short horror collection The Mind’s Plague & other bites of brutality! With a release date of August 22, this great book will be available soon, so get ready! A tip of the hat to M.R. Tapia for the creep-o-vision cover of a vastly distressed world with a plague carrier peering from the TV screen. Oh no! The static is filling my head…I need a weapon! Don’t try to outrun me because there’s no escaping my swing! ARRRGGGHHH!

Be sure to check out Morgan K. Tanner on his website www.morgantanner.com or see what brutal mayhem he’s up to on Twitter@morgantanner666 Should you want to prep yourself for what’s to come, consider grabbing a copy of his novel An Army of Skin, available now from Amazon.com and your favorite bookseller.