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

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!

Back Cover Reveal of “For A Glimpse Beyond The Terminus” Something Cool This Way Comes!

Back cover Terminus

Here’s the cool surprise that I was talking about on the back cover of Jordan Anderson’s second book For A Glimpse Beyond The Terminus. This blurb by yours truly for the Horror Review is a very good description of Anderson’s writing. It is deep and continues to surprise us with the unexpected. Big thanks to Jordan Anderson for showing his appreciation of my review by including on the back cover! What an honor! I am currently working on this review and should have it on soon. Thanks for reading. Here’s hoping your weekend is a good one!

Jordan Anderson’s 2nd Book “For A Glimpse Beyond The Terminus” Arrives!

Glimpse Beyond The Terminus Arrives

Last year I reviewed an excellent collection of short stories from Jordan Anderson seeking a “fair review.” At first, I was a bit worried. But the more I read, more impressed I was! For a first book, The Things That Grow With Us was stronger than material I’ve read by more seasoned writers. Needless to say, doing the review was a pleasure!

To celebrate the anniversary of his first book, Jordan has released his second. For A Glimpse Beyond The Terminus is even better than his debut! I’m two stories in and have a feeling that we’ve got another winner on our hands! Be sure to check back tomorrow when I reveal something cool on the back cover! Stayed tuned! 

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 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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