Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn is A Powerful Collection Of Horror, Grit-Lit, Sci-Fi, and Heart

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Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs
Israel Finn
February 11, 2016
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Hello again dear readers, I’d like to start today’s review with a question: Have you ever read a book that is so powerful and connects with you on so many levels, that you feel like you already know the author? As a writer and book reviewer, I certainly read a lot of great books. Enough books in fact, that I can honestly scratch my head at those who try to insinuate that reading is “hard” and/or “boring.” While they may not be bad people per se, those individuals aren’t going to get along with me and vice versa. So why screw around with those shitbirds? As a person who grew up in a highly mobile fashion, the only real relaxing place, one that showed permanence, was the library. Reading books gave me somewhere to go. I could leave the neighborhood full of bullies and ruined war veterans behind when I dove between the covers of a book. Add in some music and I had everything I needed. Good stuff!

Well that was one hell of a buildup, wasn’t it? But, I’m excited because I just finished reading Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn. I knew this collection of short stories was going to be good, but less than halfway through it was apparent that I was holding a book by a truly great writer. Finn’s stories have muscles and soul. They tackle important issues that we should all be thinking about and not ignoring with our technologically isolated brains. He shows us ourselves and snippets of others, but mostly he bares his soul. It ain’t pretty because it’s not supposed to be. Israel Finn’s stories crash through the dead walls and divisions the world has tried to build between classes. These stories may be fiction, but even fiction carries a lot of truth. Life doesn’t always offer perfect choices, so it’s nice to be able to escape into a book.

Man, these stories are so good that I don’t know where to start. Maybe a leap right into the middle of things is best? Here we go! STONES is a story about where we might be in the post-apocalyptic future and if things go the way of Finn’s story, many folks are going to be in for some severely difficult times. The rather unenlightened America we live in imposes a certain model that we’re all supposed to meet. We should be heterosexual, monogamous units with 2.5 children, 2 cars, one house and a bunch of other unimportant shit that really has nothing to do with love or true happiness. Our elders often pressure us in that direction and show us that those who don’t follow “the rules” deserve our hatred. In fact, they really should be eliminated if at all possible. “It’s the right thing to do” they tell us. Oh yeah? What if that’s all wrong when we get to the future? People will be reduced to living hand to mouth, every day a fight to survive. Many buildings are destroyed, gone. Gas powered vehicles are a thing of the past and fuel is hoarded for generators. When every day could be your last, pleasures like sex are important. But making more people will stress an already fragile ecosystem beyond its limits. The solution? Same sex relationships ONLY! No birth control required and you should have a decent idea of how all the equipment works, right? STONES blew me away-There’s so much going on that you’re really going to want to read this for yourself!

The average criminal wants one thing-to keep doing what they’re doing and not get caught. While many of them are familiar with jail and prison, they aren’t there because they want to be. So when Eddie Merrick makes a mistake that could put him behind bars immediately, he makes a run for it. Anything has to be better than going to prison, right? Plus this was going to be his last job! But it’s Halloween, a night when anything can and will happen. So when Eddie’s simple car theft accidentally morphs into murder, he knows that the he needs to be far, far away. So he tries to run away from his troubles, but ends up in the worst trap ever. Over My Dead Body asks the question: How much justice is enough? Punishment is one thing, but is torture excusable? Then again, what would you do if someone killed your sister?

As we reach the end of this review, it’s only right that the last story we visit is DEATHBED. This is a difficult story to discuss without revealing too much and I don’t want to be a spoiler. I will say that I’ve been in a similar situation, but it was the ones who remained living that got my carefully composed speech. This one starts off one way and then a twist turns it right side up. Well done, Mr. Finn!

The stories in Israel Finn’s collection Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs are all amazing. Each one is different and perfectly developed. The author never runs over. He says what he wants to say with just the right amount of detail. That is a very difficult feat. Many musicians talk about some of the most important notes being the ones you don’t play. Finn understands that balance and delivers a 5 Star performance that readers will be able to enjoy over and over again when they peruse their bookshelves for just the right story. This book has already found a home on my “Wall of Fame” and I highly encourage you to pick up your own copy of Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs from your favorite bookseller. It is currently available at Amazon.com, where you can follow Israel Finn. Want to know more? Check out his website www.israelfinn.com or connect with him on Twitter @Israel_Finn. Whatever you do, NEVER STOP READING!

Original Fiction for #HookonWiHM: Girl, Waiting by Marge Simon #wihmx

Check out all the cool things going on at this GREAT site! Marge Simon’s poetry is always so sharp and powerful. Women In Horror are amazing!

Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

Today I am thrilled to publish a flash fiction or prose poem – as you will – from the incomparable Marge Simon! Simon is a writer, poet, and illustrator living in Ocala, Florida. A Grand Master Poet of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, her stories appear in Daily Science Fiction, Polu Texni, Silver Blade, BeteNoire, and anthologies such as Chiral Mad 4 and Tales from the Lake 5. Simon is a multiple Bram Stoker Award winner.

 I want to sincerely thank her for submitting this haunting piece to Hook of a Book in celebration of Women in Horror Month X!

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waiting-for-train-fb-timeline-coverGirl, Waiting

by Marge Simon

The bench is cold, the station deserted. She has no idea when the next train will arrive, or even if there are any trains left, still running. She knows she must get away from here, but she doesn’t remember why.

The floor is littered…

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Proud To Be Included In Issue #3 of The ECONO CLASH REVIEW! Quality Cheap Thrills Available NOW!

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As a writer, it doesn’t get much better than seeing your name on the front cover! In this case, I’m proud to be sharing space with Chris Stanley, Sara Dobie Bauer, Leroy B. Vaughan, and many more cool writers. My story Turning The Tables is about desperate folks stuck in the diner from hell. Anyone who has ever waited…and waited some more, for their meal to arrive will appreciate this funny and creepy tale! ECONO CLASH REVIEW is packed with great stories and groovy artwork that has been carefully edited by J.D. Graves, who is a literary force to be reckoned with! Treat yourself to some “Quality Cheap Thrills” and grab a copy on Amazon.com today!

Something New and Exciting This Way Comes, Thanks to the Fine Folks at Cemetery Dance Publications!

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Here at the Skullcave there is excitement in the air as I prepare to read and review The Long Way Home by Richard Chizmar! As you can see, he’s brought some light to what is usually a dark and dreary space. This awesome collection of seventeen short stories, two essays, and a short script is massive! And I can already feel good story vibes seeking to burst out from beneath the cover. So I must make haste and begin my literary journey NOW! Stay tuned for a review soon! Be sure to visit the author’s web site Richardchizmar.com to find out more exciting news and if you have not yet read Widow’s Point a frightening collaboration with Billy Chizmar, I highly encourage you to do so!

Channing Whitaker’s New Black Band Short “The Peddler” Shows Us A New Way To See The World And That Disabled Doesn’t Mean Powerless!

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The Peddler
Channing Whitaker
Off Speed Press
October 22, 2018
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

When the proprietor of a leather crafting shop is harassed by some creepy goons, a gunslinger from the Wild West comes to his aid. When a victim of domestic abuse needs someone to save her, a Sikh Warrior just happens to appear in her apartment. An Internal Affairs investigator is saved by a powerful lioness in the middle of the city. What’s going on here?

Time for another one of Channing Whitaker’s excellent Black Band Shorts! These scenes come from his latest story The Peddler! This novelette is a well done combination of magical horror set in a present day city that could use a little help. Make that a lot of help! With its highly corrupt police force playing both sides of the field, men treating women badly, discrimination, and small businesses fighting to keep their doors open-This place needs a hero with big muscles, superpowers, and a snazzy costume!

How about a wheelchair bound homeless man instead? He’s blind and spends the majority of his time carving wooden figures that he displays on a crude table at the park. They might be for sale, or they might not. It depends on what The Peddler thinks of you. How about them apples? Much better than a super hero right? Right?

Before you say no, I will give you a hint: This old man in the falling apart wheelchair is much more than his appearance reveals. He also occupies the only green space in the city-A park that takes up roughly four blocks. In comparison to all the noise, concrete, and dirt the park is a sanctuary of sorts. But it can become a terrifying trap at night for the wrong sort of people.

Uniforms, no matter what kind, can be deceiving! You might assume certain people in police uniforms are good because they’re supposed to be. One might also think that a crippled man is powerless and someone to feel sorry for. But The Peddler by Channing Whitaker is going to teach you a different way of looking at things. This 5 Star read feels much bigger than its physical size. Great characters, believable location, and a super solid story line!

Get a copy of The Peddler from your favorite book retailer, today! When you look it up, also consider checking out previous Black Band Shorts The Remnant-A horror thriller, and Existence Augmented-An interesting Science Fiction tale that challenges the concept of reality. Want to know what this author is up to next? Follow him at www.channingwhitaker.com

“The Toy Thief” Is An Emotional Roller Coaster That Will Rock Your World!

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The Toy Thief
D.W. Gillespie
October 6, 2018
Flame Tree Press
reviewed by Brian James Lewis

Being a writer is a tough job that one does almost an obligation to the rest of the world. These stories need to be told and some of us are marked for that vocation. For those writers, it’s not all about the money, glamour, or movie adaptations. Sure, we’d all like to be millionaires with multiple homes and all that jazz. But for writers like D.W. Gillespie it’s about feeding the fire, following the trail, and making things happen. The Toy Thief is an intricate labor of love. A twisted labyrinth with dark surprises around every corner. Some are gifts and some are terrors, but I guarantee that you’ll never feel bored or lonely while reading this amazing new release from Flame Tree Press!

The story is told to us by Jack, who was a young girl when the Toy Thief shattered the tenuous structure that her family balanced upon. It is a single parent family that was brought to that state by a blessed event that turned out horribly. This is a burden that Jack bears at some times and rejects others. Her brother Andy seems to be constantly seething about it, but appearances can be deceiving. Their father is a decent guy doing the best he can to hold everything together. These are regular, working-class people who take life as it comes.

Jack has a friend named Sallie who comes from a rich family, but enjoys the freedom of sleeping over at a house where the kids aren’t under strict adult supervision. It is possible that the girls would have eventually parted ways, but The Toy Thief makes sure of it when he steals Sallie’s doll. Not only that, but Jack sees him doing it! Trouble is, no adult is going to believe in the strange, skeletal creature that walks on ceilings. So Jack is stuck with trying to find her own solution to the problem. A little 9 year old girl isn’t much of a threat to something so huge and powerful, but when her brother Andy joins in, they might just have a chance.

When they do take the offensive approach, it seems uncertain how successful they’ve been. But then Andy disappears and Jack knows that he didn’t just wander off on his own. Regardless of his violent record and official title of juvenile delinquent, Jack doesn’t see him that way. He’s her smart and calculating older brother, who often seems like he’s merely an observer to his own behavior. Things just kind of happen when he’s around. When the police and even their dad have no idea how to find Andy, Jack is pretty damn sure she knows exactly where he is. But can she find The Toy Thief’s lair and save her brother without becoming a casualty in the process?

This is a powerful, Five Star read that will keep you reading long past your bedtime! The complexity keeps readers on their toes the whole way through and when you reach the end, there’s a good chance that you might cry. Not about some happy, sappy family that finally figures out that they love each other, either. No, you will feel the pain Jack bears in her heart for her father and her brother. Why did things have to go the way they did? Are they special or just a normal, screwed up family in an age when doctors prescribe Ritalin to hyperactive children as if they were Sweet Tarts? Is The Toy Thief a who or a what?

D.W. Gillespie’s writing is amazing in the way it pulls us in close, right into the center of things. He never sugar coats or shies away from difficult things and that is exactly as it should be. People need to come to grips with the difficulties of being human again. No electronics or smoke and mirrors here. The Toy Thief is bloody and frightening. It tackles big issues. It’s a cave on fire and you need to get a copy now to see just what I’m talking about! Something just slid my sliding glass door open and I need to check on it…Run! Save yourselves by going to www.flametreepress.com and purchasing The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie today! Also available from Amazon.com or your favorite bookseller. Ow! It burns!

Ready For A Science Fiction Thriller That Addresses The Issues Of Gender Inequality? Then You’re Going To Love “OF SOUND MIND AND SOMEONE ELSE’S BODY” By William Quincy Belle!

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Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body
William Quincy Belle
BG Ltd.
September 22, 2016
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis

I can’t think of a better way to start this year than by reviewing a book that straddles a number of genres and does it with grace and style. William Quincy Belle’s novel Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body is an amazing combination of Science fiction, medical suspense, humor, and even romance. Belle also spotlights the need for gender equality by pointing out that it is still a “man’s world” in too many ways. Let’s take a look inside!

Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body opens in a very dynamic fashion. Rising financial whiz Alan Maitland hits the hay anticipating a crucial corporate deal and how that will lead to his success. But instead of sweet dreams, he’s rudely awakened into a nightmarish situation. Alan has become a woman in all the physical ways, but still has his regular man’s brain. What the hell is going on here? He’s not even in his own bed! In fact, he’s quite busy next to one. Yikes! What to do?

Fortunately Alan is a cool minded pragmatist, so his brain works even under pressure. He remembers that on the previous day he went to participate in a scientific research experiment. Hmm…Could there possibly be a connection there? Maybe there was a mistake and his brain was switched into the body of the beautiful woman he seems to be inhabiting? One Miss Hana Toussaint? Only one way to find out. He needs to track down his own body and see who’s inside of it. What if it’s also him? What if…

What if he gets his ass in gear? That has to be better than just worrying right? Well, yes and no. Alan discovers quite quickly how difficult it is to be a woman, especially a sexually attractive one. Guys don’t talk to his face and many have one track minds that aren’t interested in giving him directions back to his condo. Then there’s the whole challenge of walking in stiletto heels. You can’t pull the old manly lumberjack stride thing with these babies on! Unless you want to break an ankle or your neck, that is.

He finally makes it back home, only to find out that the worst is true. There’s a woman in his body and get this-she thinks the whole experience is a fun adventure. FUN? Hoo boy, this is getting more complicated by the minute! Both of them are at critical junctions in their lives, too. How is that going to work out? In today’s fast-paced world, no matter if you are a high priced escort or corporate numbers cruncher, it is frowned upon if you call in sick. Plus Alan and Hana really would like to get back into their own bodies ASAP.

So all they need to do is go back to the doctor’s office and get the person who made the mistake to fix it. Simple, right? Not exactly. When they get there, the person who did the procedure is missing and no one believes them. Soon they’re on a wild goose chase after a doctor who’s hard to track down. Did I mention that his lab has very erratic hours? Will Alan and Hana ever be able to return to their physical selves? How about their respective jobs? Things are not looking good. Will Alan learn to love being a woman? What if Hana runs off with someone else in his body? Man oh man! This is one book you will want to read because it is packed with suspense to the very end!

Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body gets a 5 star rating from this reviewer! William Quincy Belle has done an excellent job tackling a lot of important issues while keeping the story moving and using humor to keep things light. Having his characters switch genders makes it easier to get the point, too. Why is being a financial whiz looked on much more favorably than being a highly intelligent sex worker who makes people happy in a safe environment? Why do humans ruin everything by applying so many rules and conditions? It’s not much of a mystery why people are so stressed out these days. Everyone makes so many assumptions that we often miss out on cool people and experiences. Read this book and see if you don’t feel better! Tell them Dr. Blackmore sent you.

William Quincy Belle is the author of multiple books. Including Death is a Many Splendored Thing, Salmagundi, and his newest release Metro Float New York a post-apocalyptic thriller! You can follow William and purchase his books on Amazon.com or check him out at http://www.WilliamQuincyBelle.com  You’ll be glad that you did!