HAPPY EASTER From Damaged Skull Writer!



Brian James Lewis

Hey! It’s Easter! A time of renewal, cleansing, and candy! Oh yeah, that’s what’s on your mind! Especially if you are a young person who’s the right age for Easter egg hunts! This is nearly as good as Halloween and you don’t even have to go knock on any doors. Every store you walk into has those fun displays of chocolate Easter bunnies that are stacked just right to catch the eyes of hopeful little guys and gals. You can’t help but smile at these cutely packaged treats and dig those names! “Happy” “The L’il Professor” “Sunny” All made of delicious and nutritious “chocolate flavored candy.” Yum!

Wait, what? Isn’t chocolate flavored candy just chocolate with a snazzy name? Right here at the department of Easter candy consumption, we like to know what we’re eating, so I did a little research. You’re welcome! Okay, so if you read the ingredients carefully, it turns out that the majority of cheap holiday chocolate is made out of stuff that pretty much amounts to, um…WAX! Fortunately, it’s food grade wax (not melted crayons) that is safe for human consumption. They color and flavor it with cocoa, press it in molds and voila! Holiday treats! In short, unless you shell out for stuff that is labelled chocolate, you’ll be consuming what amounts to chocolate flavored suppositories. Yum! Well at least constipation will not be a problem!

Easter for adults isn’t quite as exciting as it is for kids. So unless you are helping out with the Easter egg hunt this year and eating brown wax, you’ll be standing out on the lawn with Dad, Uncle Joe, and maybe Grandpa having an adult beverage and a smoke. There will be discussions of such important topics as whether or not your lawnmower will start this year. That’s one of the major springtime rituals for most home owners, regardless of gender. But for some reason men seem to talk about it more. How much analysis is required? You just yank on the starter rope and curse angrily until your arm breaks or someone points out that there isn’t any gas in the tank. If nothing else, it’s definitely a good excuse for drinking.

Other important spring time tasks are getting the grill going and nearly burning the porch down when all the grease left from last year ignites. Along with my favorite, putting out all the lawn furniture so that giant birds can crap on it. These birds are not the robins, who have the useful purpose of announcing spring. No, I’m talking about giant crows who not only disfigure lawn furniture, but also drop large pieces of half-eaten food in our yard. Without warning, a slice of pizza will plummet out of the sky and land sticky side down on the dog. That’s nice for him but often disgusting to observe. The bonus is that no cleanup is required and you get a happy dog at the end. The hard blobs of smelly white filth on the furniture make no one happy and can only be removed by renting an industrial power washer when company comes. If you are cheap, you can just reserve the worst chairs for people you don’t like very much. “Here you go, Uncle Mike! Have a seat right here! What’s that, you’re leaving? Okay then! Happy Easter!”

But, before you can get on to the high festivities of the holiday of ham, bunnies, chicks, and springtime. The re-birthing of the entire world, if you will. You have to go shopping for all the stuff required. Yep, lucky for you, you’re going to the supermarket! Damn it!

It doesn’t matter which one you walk into, because they’re all pretty much the same. Adults pushing carts grimly along while children hang onto the sides and yell navigational directions at them. This is because the adults can’t see over the huge mound of the comestibles that they’re wheeling in a wobbly old cart. “Watch out for the old guy bent over the oranges! Oops, too late!”

The old people are far from innocent though. They are the worst rammers and cart crashers out there. Mostly it’s because their brains are still at home, probably on the toilet. Meanwhile they’ve driven five miles to the store, parked the car on the sidewalk, and entered the building pushing a large shopping cart in a randomly distracted fashion. They whip around each corner on autopilot while talking loudly on their cell phones about unimportant things.

“I have a RASH on my ASS!” An older woman in front of me shouts while completely blocking the bread aisle. Well good for you, M’am! Now stop showing off and get out of the way. Just as I manage to slither around her, WHUNK! I get T-boned by an ancient old fellow who is draped over his cart like a corpse. For a moment, he just stands there not moving a muscle and I fear the worst. Then with a fierce look in my direction and a disgusted, “Huh!” He wheels away, destroying an Easter candy display that he doesn’t even see because he’s busy looking at the floor again.

To make up for the grumpy, destructive folks, there are the sorry people. They go around the store shouting, “Sorry!” in a very apologetic manner at people they aren’t even bothering. Wait, let me rephrase that. At people they weren’t bothering until they came zooming towards them briskly and yelling apologies into their startled faces. Which causes many of them to go into cardiac arrest right on the spot.
“Let’s see here…bread, milk, eggs and…”
“Ahhh! My heart…” Clunk!

See what I mean? Maybe they’re just sorry they didn’t hit your cart or slam you into a hard, unyielding object. Well, regardless of all these potential bumps in the road, I hope you and yours enjoy a wonderful Easter. Me? I’ll be power washing my chairs.

easter skull eggs

Figures Unseen–A New Book by Steve Rasnic Tem (2018 Valancourt Books) w/ Introduction by Canadian Author Simon Strantzas…

The Sanguine Woods


In the worlds of Steve Rasnic Tem a father takes his son “fishing” in the deepest part of downtown, flayed rabbits visit a suburban back yard, a man is haunted by a surrealistic nightmare of crutches, a father is unable to rescue his son from a nightmare of trees, a bereaved man transforms memories of his wife into performance art, great moving cliffs of detritus randomly prowl the world, a seemingly pointless life finds final expression in bits of folded paper, a nuclear holocaust brings about a new mythology, an isolated man discovers he’s part of a terrifying community, a photographer discovers the unexpected in the faces of dead children, and a couple’s aging dismantles reality.

Winner of the World Fantasy, British Fantasy and Bram Stoker Awards, Tem has earned a reputation as one of the finest and most original short fiction writers of our time, blending elements of horror…

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Review of Breaking the World From Apex Books and Jerry Gordon!

Breaking the World cover shot

Breaking the World
Jerry Gordon
Apex Publications
April 19, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

On April 19th Jerry Gordon and Apex Publications are bringing you the end of the world courtesy of David Koresh’s prophecies mixed with some cool fictional elements that will leave you hard pressed to identify what is real. Breaking the World kicks off during the legendary 51 day standoff between Koresh’s followers and the combined forces of multiple branches of law enforcement. Many of you probably remember all the news coverage giving us an outside view of the situation. But in Jerry Gordon’s book, we see things from the inside viewpoint of 15 year old Cyrus, a teenager who doesn’t believe in the gospel and would do nearly anything to get away from what he perceives as a bunch of ridiculous behavior. Too many rules, along with Koresh’s rather self-serving approach to marriage, fail to score many points in his eyes or those of his two friends Marshal and Rachel. During this maelstrom of craziness, Cyrus is busy falling hard for Rachel and wants a conventional monogamous relationship with her. All three of the teens are from broken homes and they need each other to stay strong through being attacked by what should be friendly forces.

I like how Breaking the World opens with a bang. Gordon puts us right into the action when Cyrus hears what he thinks are fireworks. As he runs to join the fun, he gets shot by the joined forces of the ATF and FBI just minutes before they shoot David Koresh. The smooth twining of facts and fiction is so well done by Gordon that the entire book feels real. You are there, seeing the world through teenage eyes and experiencing a lot of exciting stuff. I thought the description of Cyrus as part Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger’s classic work The Catcher in the Rye was well played. That desire to be cool but also afraid of the world is teenage males all over. Falling in love, yet fighting for his life in a situation that he’s not even sure he understands.

I also enjoyed how Cyrus begins to understand David’s prophecies. That is paired with the flip side of “Hey if the only people that get you are rebellious teenagers, how solid is your argument?” Gordon does this a lot throughout the book and I think that’s what makes it such a fresh read. You’re inside the compound being shot at, gassed, and attacked in all kinds of ways by people who claim they’re not trying to hurt you. Yet the self-proclaimed pacifists are armed and shooting back, which kind of throws their claims of being peaceful out the window. When the pandemic gets out of control, so does the government’s approach to defending the U.S. This creates a massive problem that no one except Koresh was expecting, so he’s the only person with a plan. The church is under attack from law enforcement, but something else is coming over the horizon with its eyes on the FBI encampment. Something crazy huge is going to happen!

And that, dear readers, is why you need to order a copy of Breaking the World stat! It’s full of cool cliffhangers and crammed with dope details that I don’t want to spoil. What I can say is that this book gets 5 stars plus for being so engaging. It is obvious that Gordon did a ton of research in order to make things so vivid. I very much enjoyed being able to see the humanity of the people involved, including David Koresh, who is regarded as a religious kook who took things too far. Through Cyrus, Gordon makes some really good observations about what happened. Revealing the redeeming qualities about these people is important.  No one is one hundred percent good or bad. Perhaps some of the ideology was okay, but when put through the filter of Koresh’s mind, turned sour. The desire to be a rock star never produces good results in public figures. Then with the addition of the apocalyptic fiction, I felt like someone who heard Orson Welles read War of the Worlds on the radio for the first time. This is powerful stuff! Another great book from Apex Publishing and stellar writing by Jerry Gordon. Get your copy TODAY!




About Brian J. Lewis

Brian James Lewis is a published poet and writer who enjoys reviewing speculative fiction and dark poetry. With all the great emerging writers, magazines, and presses, it is exciting to be part of this growing community! Word of mouth and keyboard is more important than it’s ever been, because readers want to know about books before they buy. It makes Brian feel great to see writers he’s reviewed become successful and their work go on to win awards! Whatever happens, he’s always glad to offer encouragement and increase visibility of writers who trust him with their work. You can catch up with Brian on Twitter @skullsnflames76 or on his WordPress blog damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com

A Big Thank You To Everyone Who Chose Damaged Skull Writer For Your Review Needs! Here’s To A Great 2018!


Over the past few years I have met some awesome writers and made some really good friends! It is an honor to be part of the Hellnotes review team as well as The Horror Review. It has also been my pleasure to feature reviews here on Damaged Skull Writer and share my successes! This blog will continue to be about great writing and poetry regardless of label, but the majority will lean in the Speculative direction. This is also a safe, no haters allowed place. We’re put on this earth to create and not waste time being obsessed with sexual orientation, skin colors, genders, body types, and choice of religion. Those are things that make the world unique. The power of the written word can overcome a lot of stuff, including disability. Thank you to everyone for trusting me with their work!

See You On The Next Page,

Brian James Lewis

Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer

Coming Soon From Jerry Gordon and Apex Publishing-The End of the World!

Breaking the World cover shot

On April 19th Apex Publishing is going to release the fiery apocalyptic thriller Breaking the World by author Jerry Gordon. Things kick off deep inside the Branch Davidian Church compound in Waco, Texas during the infamous 51 day standoff between cult leader David Koresh and the FBI. While that is exciting in itself, it’s just the beginning of a wild ride into a brand new world of danger for three teenagers who are running for their lives. Be sure to stay tuned for my review of this incredible book on Hellnotes. You don’t want to miss this!