MY REVIEW OF GARY BULLER’S FRIGHTENING AND FUN NOVELLA “DEAD AND BREAKFAST” IS NOW POSTED ON GOODREADS

Dead and Breakfast by Gary Buller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


DEAD and BREAKFAST
Gary Buller
June 19, 2020
Unnerving
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello again you wicked whackdoodles, it’s your old pal Skull with another cool title from independent speculative fiction publisher Unnerving! Dead and Breakfast by Gary Buller is book number 11 of Unnerving’s REWIND OR DIE series, and a most excellent choice of reading material. What we get is one of my favorite approaches to a book: stories within a larger story, which is perfect for modern times, short attention spans, reading on the train and anywhere else. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Punk rockers Eddie and Banksy are on their way to a party which is going to be one hell of a good time. Unfortunately, they get massively offtrack and find themselves in the middle of nowhere with a tire that’s way beyond flat. If that’s not enough, a frigid rain chases them to the only shelter available, an ancient stone cottage straight out of a horror flick. But any warmth and shelter is better than none, right? Eddie feels a bit unsure as he hands over payment for the night’s lodgings at Sally’s Dead and Breakfast, wondering if he heard her right. No matter how creepy she is, a warm fire blazes in the lounge beckoning the soaked travelers. While the kettle is on, Sally regales them with a tale called Cords about a village that operates somewhat on the scale of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery except in Sally’s story the sacrifices are everyone who hits their 35th birthday. They must go to the fissure and if they don’t, evil things make sure they do. Cool mix of futuristic in a derelict almost Victorian landscape.
After that creepy story, there’s at least some tea and possibly a telephone to get the hell out of this crusty inn. But tea’s not ready yet and “sorry dearies, no phone”. There are more stories though. The Brace is a terrifying tale of domestic abuse and the power of ghosts to help a young boy in a time of desperate need. Sally is quite the weird wordsmith and trots out her story The Weight of Nostalgia for her captive audience. Eddie and Banksy don’t want to hear anymore but where can they go? This speculative tale starts with an unseen narrator following a young boy who appears to be enjoying a day at the local sweet shop. Warm waves of nostalgia abound among the penny candies, original formula Coca-Cola, and ice-lollies, but something is amiss here in the land of almost reality. A strange government program that enables test subjects to recreate the past and a family cursed with cancer make us wonder if all life is just a trap that leads to suffering.
Finally, Sally brings tea to the now weary and bewildered travelers who hope this means an end to the horrors she’s been heaping upon them. But she’s got one tale left and it’s a doozy called The Greyfriars Transcripts. A caller to a radio show is looking for some advice about a very grim situation he’s stuck in. His day started normally enough until the baker making his breakfast told him a strange story about the train he planned on boarding. “They say the Greyfriars route is cursed” But the narrator just rolls his eyes and heads off to the train station. Whether that was a good choice or not is something you’ll need to grab a copy of Dead and Breakfast to find out, along with the fates of Eddie and Banksy. Your old pal Skull says it’s a winner!
Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Dead and Breakfast a very scary FIVE STARS. I’ve been fortunate to know Gary Buller for many years and have enjoyed his ability to make readers both chuckle and scream with his decidedly English writing style. Bottom line, his stories hold up with a timeless quality to them that keeps you turning the pages and feeling a bit sad when you’ve finished. Combine that with Eddie Generous’ vision for Unnerving-an inclusive, anti-hater press and person, who knows how to scare the hell out of readers and make them think. Anybody can jump scare someone at least once, but to have something more to say afterwards AND be a supportive member of the diverse community that horror writers are, you have to be someone special. Maybe just a bit crazy too, but aren’t we all if we’re honest about it?
For more information about Gary Buller, visit him on Twitter @garybuller
For more information about UNNERVING go to: @UnnervingBooks on Twitter
And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com It’s a great way to help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer is an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless. We’re also on Twitter @skullsnflames76 and Goodreads. See you soon!




View all my reviews

MAYBE STEPHEN KING’S “ELEVATION” ISN’T CRAMMED FULL OF BLOOD SPLATTERING HORROR BUT IT IS A GREAT STORY FOR POST PANDEMIC LIFE WHERE MANY PEOPLE HAVE BECOME RUDE SELF SERVING A-HOLES. SKULL SAYS “GET IT!”

Elevation by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


ELEVATION
Stephen King
Scribner
October 30, 2018
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello again dear readers, it’s your old pal Skull with another review. As you know, I usually spend my time reviewing works by independent writers and presses. But sometimes it’s fun to see what the popular crowd is up to. Today’s review subject is Elevation by Stephen King. Obviously, Mr. King is not an author who needs me to say good things about his work. But I enjoyed this novella a great deal, and think most of my readers will, too. Let’s check it out!

For a few minutes, “Constant Readers” might think that they’ve entered a different version of King’s hit novel, Thinner. However, in Elevation Scott Carey is losing weight with no visible alterations to his middle-aged body. He’s a divorced man who lives alone and definitely didn’t get to enjoy any fun activities before being cursed. Scott doesn’t feel poorly or weak, either. Instead, there’s a bizarre buoyancy to his good-sized frame that initially gives him almost superhuman abilities. What doesn’t make him feel super is his neighbors letting their dogs crap in his yard every time they go running. When Scott approaches them about it, they are unnecessarily cold about it. Initially he’s pretty miffed about it, until he learns that Deirdre McComb and her wife Missy are the victims of some uncalled-for discrimination. Small towns are not always the warm and fuzzy places depicted on TV. Vegetarians might have slid by, but being lesbians doesn’t fly in Castle Rock

Scott discusses his strange medical situation with friend, Dr. Bob. The doc might be retired, but he’s sharp enough to know that something unique is going on. There’s no practical reason to explain why Scott is losing weight or why things he touches become weightless. That adds fear to his already depressed life. Sometimes it feels like the only true friend he has is Bill the cat, who he can’t touch anymore due to his odd condition. Talk about a bummer! With no treatment plan, Scott is free to mope and be bummed out. But instead he chooses the new route of supporting his neighbors, even if they don’t want him to. Why not? He doesn’t have much to lose. But when it becomes obvious that time is getting short, Scott realizes that he might have been wrong about that.

Elevation by Stephen King is a 5 STAR must-read novella in this reviewer’s opinion. King’s storytelling skills are as good as ever in this story that you’ll want to share with family and friends. Maybe even give a copy to folks who aren’t entirely convinced that what a person eats or who they love doesn’t change their status of being human. One thing that struck me about Elevation was the hard reception it got from a lot of reviewers on multiple sites. Complaints that it wasn’t long enough or dark enough prove that too many people come to a book with preset expectations. For me it made Elevation attractive, something I could read in the car during trips. There was also a lot of noise about the “political correctness” of the novella and insinuations that King was pushing agendas. Oh, the horror! This guy thinks we should be kind and try to understand our neighbors instead of immediately labelling them and slamming the door in their faces. Got news for ya, haters. That has been one of Stephen King’s “agendas” for his entire writing career. He didn’t start life with a silver spoon in his mouth and hasn’t forgotten it. What all those comments prove is that Elevation is a sorely needed book. Ignore the haters and check this one out.

And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com which will help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. This is an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless. We’re also on Twitter @skullsnflames76 and Goodreads. See you soon!




View all my reviews

Your Old Pal Skull

STARTING THE NEW YEAR OFF RIGHT WITH “THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER” BY JOHN JAMES MINSTER!

THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER
John James Minster
October 25, 2022
Hellbender Books
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello horror fans! It’s me, your old pal Skull, with a new novel by John James Minster, The Undertaker’s Daughter. This is high school horror taken to a higher level by some old Jewish magic that makes it fresh and inclusive to those familiar with the traditions and educates people who aren’t. Like myself, for instance. Hey, even a member of the undead community can’t know everything! Anna Dingle is a smart young woman who helps her undertaker father with the family business. But she’s tired of being viewed as a plain jane with a brain. Anna wants to be seen as beautiful and sexy, the desire of handsome high school hunks. Especially one lucky guy named Timmy who plays guitar like he was born to do it.

Anna’s bestie, Naomi offers her assistance, with stunning results. But things don’t go exactly as planned. Even though she blows Timmy out of the water, she doesn’t do it without attracting a truckload of trouble. Namely, Bruce Barnette and his crowd of cruddy cronies, a group of garbage that make the mean kids in Stephen King’s Carrie seem kind of friendly. At least they had a few redeeming qualities. Barnette’s crew could’ve been close friends of theirs, though. So instead of a dreamy teenage love summer, Anna and Timmy spend way too much time worrying when Barnette will strike again.

Things reach critical mass when family is dragged into the mess. Once again, Naomi comes to the rescue. More than just a pretty face, she’s deep into the study of ancient religious mysteries and a recent discovery leads to her creating a powerful protector from one of the funeral home’s cadavers with a unique history. Since reason and the local criminal justice system haven’t been much help to the girls, it’s time to fight fire with fire! Or is it? Anna’s got a conscience and doesn’t want to pollute her life with bad energy, but is she making the right decision? There’s only one way to find out and that’s to grab a copy of The Undertaker’s Daughter by John James Minster from your favorite bookseller.

Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer gives The Undertaker’s Daughter A FIVE STAR RATING! This is a powerful story full of plot twists that delivers some serious messages. So, while it starts out in a bright and cheery high school fashion, this ain’t Barbie and Ken in plastic paradise. One quick note: those sensitive to reading sexual assault scenes should proceed with a bit of caution. On the other end of the spectrum, fathers who love their daughters may do some fist pumps when the big bad wolf finds out what it’s like to be prey. Overall, a solid horror novel about bullying, family, friendship, faith and the power of love. Recommended.

Want to find out more about John James Minster? Then head on over to:

Website: http://johnjamesminster.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnjamesminster/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/johnjamesminster

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minsterwriter

You can also order The Undertaker’s Daughter directly from Sunbury Press here:  https://www.sunburypress.com/collections/john-james-minster

And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com which will help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. This is an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless. We’re also on Twitter @skullsnflames76 and Goodreads. See you soon!

John James Minster

Dark Murmurs Review Is Now Live On Goodreads!

Hi guys! Just wanted to let you know that my review of the excellent horror anthology DARK MURMURS is now available to the world on Goodreads.

Dark Murmurs: A Compendium of Curiosities by Richard Chizmar

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


DARK MURMURS-A Compendium Of Curiosities
Edited by: Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime
October 10, 2022
Silent House Press
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello there, horror fiends! It’s your old pal Skull with a review of an amazing collection of short horror fiction from Silent House Press that I just know you’re going to love. Dark Murmurs is indeed a compendium of curiosities with the aim of shaking things up. The stories are breathtaking which is exactly what you’d expect from editors Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime, but this anthology also aims to bring attention to BIPOC and female writers. It has been proven time and time again that these writers are often treated as being less than or have their work dismissed because of gender and/or color issues that shouldn’t be. Just as no book should be judged by its cover, a story shouldn’t be turned down because of its writer. You will see the theme of discrimination brought up frequently in Dark Murmurs whether the protagonist is a human or a spider who’s just not going to take it anymore as in Webbed by Ellie Douglas. By calcium, this book has my bony digits clacking madly on the keyboard, so let’s keep a creepy thing going and check out more of Dark Murmurs!

In a story so vivid, you can feel the boot kicks, a cobbler and rabbi stuck in a WWII concentration camp create a golem to protect their fellow Jews from the Nazis. It is a success…for a while. But as the cobbler says at the end of The Cobbler And The Golem by Catherine McCarthy, “we cannot escape our fear…better to take it with us and learn to live with it.” There is no master race and there never will be. Sadly, there is no shortage of people who hate others for things that cannot be changed.

Looking for a short story that will flat out terrify you with its twisted ending? Then check out Last Words by Richard Chizmar. This one’s going to give you a bad case of chills. The narrator tells us of how his wonderful grandfather raised he and his brother after a tragedy took their parents. Pops taught them how to fish, play baseball, and rewarded them with treasure hunts. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to go on a hike in the woods looking for buried treasure with maps and everything? Oh, what fun! The narrator loved these so much that when Pops mentions a final treasure hunt on his death bed, he can hardly wait to get started. But what he digs up brings a horrible realization. How the hell can one person be a loving parent and the epitome of evil at the same time?

Tea For Two by Elizabeth Massie also delivers a startling conclusion to what appears to be a standard love story. Will rescues Macy from the evil magician they both worked for. Daniel Dawson does a LOT more than just pull rabbits and endless scarves out of his hat. That stuff is mere child’s play for this friend of the devil, who can do horrible feats with his dark powers. Will falls in love with Macy and when Dawson turns her into a wooden dummy, gallantly tries to steal her away from the magician’s evil clutches. But he soon finds out that it’s impossible to run away from the truth. We are who we are despite the skin we’re in.

When I was a kid, my mom constantly hammered into my head that violence for any reason was wrong. Nice sentiment maybe, but I soon found out that turning the other cheek and all that jazz only works for saints in religious teachings. On the street in a new town every six months, I learned some different lessons. One of the main characters in Jill Girardi’s story One Every Year appears to have reached a similar conclusion. We get the story from Debbie who’s constantly getting yelled at and made to feel like trash by Uncle Hank. That seems to be Hank’s overall approach with family. Yell, hit, and dismiss. But when a bunch of hoochies pull up next his boat on the lake he’s a real charmer. Strangely enough after Debbie’s Aunt Ro tells them a story about a Native American Princess who haunts the lake, taking at least one victim every year, a rather major event happens to support her words. But was it caused by the Setauket princess’ ghostly powers or something a bit less ethereal?

What I’ve shared so far is just a tiny taste of the powerful stories included in Dark Murmurs I haven’t even told you about Philip Fracassi’s tale Serial Numbers which explains why it may be dangerous to fulfill one’s fantasies with money. Or why it’s a bad idea for immortals to fall in love with those who have a definite lifespan, as happens in Brandon Scott’s tale Stargazer Lily. But in all reality, your old pal Skull must wrap this review up so people can read it and find out how much they’ll enjoy having their own copy of Dark Murmurs-A Compendium Of Curiosities or gift it to someone who loves speculative fiction.

There’s just one thing left to do, rate this anthology using a system of 1 to 5 stars. Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Dark Murmurs a very hearty 5 STARS! Jam packed with awesome writers and edited by the power team of Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime this is a horror anthology you need to read. Avoid a boring winter by grabbing a copy of Dark Murmurs stat! For more information about this and upcoming releases, contact the publisher at: silenthousepress@gmail.com You can also contact the editors:
Jill Girardi: Twitter: @Jill_Girardi
Instagram: @jill_girardi
Lydia Prime: Facebook: @AuthorLydiaPrime
Instagram: @Helminthophobia
And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com which will help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. This is an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless.




View all my reviews

Digital Camera

LOOKING FOR SOME GREAT AND SOCIALLY AWARE SHORT HORROR STORIES? THEN CHECK OUT “DARK MURMURS” FROM SILENT HOUSE PRESS

DARK MURMURS-A Compendium Of Curiosities
Edited by: Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime
October 10, 2022
Silent House Press
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello there, horror fiends! It’s your old pal Skull with a review of an amazing collection of short horror fiction from Silent House Press that I just know you’re going to love. Dark Murmurs is indeed a compendium of curiosities with the aim of shaking things up. The stories are breathtaking which is exactly what you’d expect from editors Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime, but this anthology also aims to bring attention to BIPOC and female writers. It has been proven time and time again that these writers are often treated as being less than or have their work dismissed because of gender and/or color issues that shouldn’t be. Just as no book should be judged by its cover, a story shouldn’t be turned down because of its writer. You will see the theme of discrimination brought up frequently in Dark Murmurs whether the protagonist is a human or a spider who’s just not going to take it anymore as in Webbed by Ellie Douglas. By calcium, this book has my bony digits clacking madly on the keyboard, so let’s keep a creepy thing going and check out more of Dark Murmurs!

In a story so vivid, you can feel the boot kicks, a cobbler and rabbi stuck in a WWII concentration camp create a golem to protect their fellow Jews from the Nazis. It is a success…for a while. But as the cobbler says at the end of The Cobbler And The Golem by Catherine McCarthy, “we cannot escape our fear…better to take it with us and learn to live with it.”  There is no master race and there never will be. Sadly, there is no shortage of people who hate others for things that cannot be changed.

Looking for a short story that will flat out terrify you with its twisted ending? Then check out Last Words by Richard Chizmar. This one’s going to give you a bad case of chills. The narrator tells us of how his wonderful grandfather raised he and his brother after a tragedy took their parents. Pops taught them how to fish, play baseball, and rewarded them with treasure hunts. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to go on a hike in the woods looking for buried treasure with maps and everything? Oh, what fun! The narrator loved these so much that when Pops mentions a final treasure hunt on his death bed, he can hardly wait to get started. But what he digs up brings a horrible realization. How the hell can one person be a loving parent and the epitome of evil at the same time?

Tea For Two by Elizabeth Massie also delivers a startling conclusion to what appears to be a standard love story. Will rescues Macy from the evil magician they both worked for. Daniel Dawson does a LOT more than just pull rabbits and endless scarves out of his hat. That stuff is mere child’s play for this friend of the devil, who can do horrible feats with his dark powers. Will falls in love with Macy and when Dawson turns her into a wooden dummy, gallantly tries to steal her away from the magician’s evil clutches. But he soon finds out that it’s impossible to run away from the truth. We are who we are despite the skin we’re in.

When I was a kid, my mom constantly hammered into my head that violence for any reason was wrong. Nice sentiment maybe, but I soon found out that turning the other cheek and all that jazz only works for saints in religious teachings. On the street in a new town every six months, I learned some different lessons. One of the main characters in Jill Girardi’s story One Every Year appears to have reached a similar conclusion. We get the story from Debbie who’s constantly getting yelled at and made to feel like trash by Uncle Hank. That seems to be Hank’s overall approach with family. Yell, hit, and dismiss. But when a bunch of hoochies pull up next his boat on the lake he’s a real charmer. Strangely enough after Debbie’s Aunt Ro tells them a story about a Native American Princess who haunts the lake, taking at least one victim every year, a rather major event happens to support her words. But was it caused by the Setauket princess’ ghostly powers or something a bit less ethereal?

What I’ve shared so far is just a tiny taste of the powerful stories included in Dark Murmurs I haven’t even told you about Philip Fracassi’s tale Serial Numbers which explains why it may be dangerous to fulfill one’s fantasies with money. Or why it’s a bad idea for immortals to fall in love with those who have a definite lifespan, as happens in Brandon Scott’s tale Stargazer Lily. But in all reality, your old pal Skull must wrap this review up so people can read it and find out how much they’ll enjoy having their own copy of Dark Murmurs-A Compendium Of Curiosities or gift it to someone who loves speculative fiction.

There’s just one thing left to do, rate this anthology using a system of 1 to 5 stars. Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Dark Murmurs a very hearty 5 STARS! Jam packed with awesome writers and edited by the power team of Jill Girardi & Lydia Prime this is a horror anthology you need to read. Avoid a boring winter by grabbing a copy of Dark Murmurs stat! For more information about this and upcoming releases, contact the publisher at: silenthousepress@gmail.com You can also contact the editors:

Jill Girardi:  Twitter: @Jill_Girardi
                       Instagram: @jill_girardi

Lydia Prime:  Facebook: @AuthorLydiaPrime
                         Instagram: @Helminthophobia

And don’t forget to follow me, your old pal Skull, at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com which will help your favorite independent authors, poets, and publishers. This an inclusive blog where everyone is valued, except for haters who are heartily encouraged to climb into the nearest industrial trash compactor and press start. My human host, Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD who has 3 new Beat Generation style poems in Trajectory Journal issue 23, available now! As is issue 22 which contains his terrifying short story Following My Destiny about misguided mass shooter Chance McCandless.

AS THE LEAVES FALL, “DARK MURMURS” ARRIVES WITH THEM

Ah hello there fans of speculative fiction, it’s your old pal Skull with news of an exciting new “Compendium of Curiosities.” That does sound tempting, doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more:

“Silent House Press Returns From The Void With Fifteen Of Horror’s Best Voices” They aren’t just banging on caskets either, folks. We’re talking about writers you know and love like:

LYDIA PRIME

GWENDOLYN KISTE

JILL GIRARDI

RICHARD CHIZMAR

PHILIP FRACASSI

Just a mere taste of the delights available to those who desire dark reading experiences. Now begone! Your old pal Skull has some reading to do. But watch this space for my upcoming review of DARK MURMURS-A Compendium of Curiosities from the one and only SILENT HOUSE PRESS.

WANT A CURE FOR DROPPING TEMPERATURES? CHECK OUT THE HOT AND FIERY “GOD’S LEFTOVERS” BY GRANT WAMACK. BUT BE WARNED: IT’S A KILLER!

God’s Leftovers
Grant Wamack
Bizarro Pulp Press
August 26, 2022
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello all you readers of horror and dark fiction, it’s your old pal Skull with some new dark fiction from Grant Wamack! Recently published by Bizarro Pulp Press, his novella God’s Leftovers is all killer and no filler, and I mean that in more ways than one. Just a quick note here for people concerned with triggers, this book is violent, gory, and contains some very graphic sex scenes. I know most of my readers are okay with that as long as it’s integral to the story, but for those who aren’t…you have been warned. Powerful images that stay in your head for a long time are on their way. All ready? Excellent! Then let’s all head for the desert.

What do a family of four, an extremely religious man, some funky hippies who live a strange life in desert, and a tough rapper and his videographer all have in common? They’re all visiting the Valley of Fire, a national park in the Nevada desert. The visitors all enter the park looking for something good. The family of four want to explore nature and see wildlife. Jerry the highly religious, uptight man is looking for peace. Big Redd and Scotty came to shoot a badass music video. The couple? Who really knows why they’re here. Probably to boink on the rocks and get video content for their vlog. But, instead of the goodness they seek, the visitors are found by the wiry man.

The desert is an ancient place full of magic and deadly threats. One might not regard the ragtag group of stoned looking hippies meditating for hours as any sort of threat, but the air vibrates with an electric hum that makes all things electronic die. As the power of The Collective continues to rise, the fates of the park’s visitors are revealed and the view ain’t too pretty. Help comes from an unlikely source, but will it be too late? The wiry man is not one to give in without a fight and to the winner goes the harvest. One person will finally find peace by riding into the flames on a pale horse, but who is it? Your old pal Skull gives God’s Leftovers a solid 5 out of 5 STARS and agrees with advance reviewers like Lucas Magnum that this spectacular splatterpunk blast is going to leave you wounded and bleeding. You’ll never look at a desert landscape in the same way again. Get it, but be warned, this ain’t no feel-good story. I dare you to step into the fire.

Want more information about Grant Wamack? Head on over to his blog www.grantwamack.wordpress.com

Want more information about Bizarro Pulp Press? Then head on over to the Journalstone website at www.journalstone.com

Want more information about Damaged Skull Writer Brian James Lewis and his Reviewer pal, Skull? Then follow us at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com

Grant Wamack

ABOUT YOUR HOST:

Brian James Lewis is a disabled poet and writer with PTSD, who writes daily on vintage typewriters rescued from scrap piles, including one previously owned by Rod Serling. He’s also been a reviewer of dark poetry and speculative fiction since 2016. Most recently, Brian’s poem about mental illness “AGAIN” was published in JMWW and his short fiction piece about mass shooter Chance McCandless, “Following My Destiny” is in the Spring 2022 edition of Trajectory Journal. Check him out on Twitter@skullsnflames76 and visit his website www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com for news and reviews.

“VENUM MALUM” BY MICHAEL R. COLLINS IS ANOTHER GREAT TITLE FROM INDEPENDENT HORROR PRESS GLOOM HOUSE PUBLISHING!

VENUM MALUM
Michael R. Collins
January 9 2022
Gloom House Publishing
Reviewed by Brian “Skull” Lewis

Hello horror fans! It’s your old pal Skull with a cool new read by Michael R. Collins that goes by the title Verum Malum. This is just one new selection from growing independent press Gloom House Publishing run by none other than James G. Carlson who is a fine author whose work has been nominated for multiple awards. Be sure to check him out at: gloomhouse@yahoo.com As an extra bonus, Gloom House is currently having a half press sale this month! That means you can sample a lot of cool writing for less or get more books on a budget. Nice! And now back to the subject of this review…

Venum Malum looks absolutely terrifying if you go by cover art alone, but this is a complex story that’ll have you feeling much more than just fear. Ben and Noah are a married couple who not only have to deal with negative vibes about their love, but also about their skin color. This leads to police not taking their complaints seriously and people treating them as “less than.” However, they do have some solid friends who are their chosen family. Jackie is one of those friends. Noah is upset that his husband hasn’t informed him about the cancer returning to his body and there is an argument. Turns out that many things aren’t as they seem and after an uninvited guest sparks things off, Ben tells Noah and Jackie about his secret dark past in which he belonged to a satanic cult. While that is scary, the worst part is that the group wants Ben back and is willing to stop at nothing in their pursuit of him. They’ve opened a portal to a demonic world called the Venum Malum that makes going to hell look like a Caribbean cruise. Group leader Marius believes that this will bring him unlimited evil powers, but will it really? Noah becomes a lion to save his man, but will that be enough to protect them? Will the police finally protect them without discrimination? Skull recommends you get a copy and find out. You won’t be disappointed!

Damaged Skull Writer and Reviewer rates Michael R. Collins’ Venum Malum a hearty FIVE STARS! There is a lot going on in these pages to keep readers riveted with the bonus of being very contemporary. Horror is often a great vehicle for social commentary and Michael R. Collins does a great job weaving his message into the pages of his work without having it feel preachy or unnatural. This book is a great read about the power of love, friendship, and how even a seemingly evil satanic rock band can turn out to be solid citizens. Always look beyond a book’s cover before making judgement. Get yours at: gloomhouse@yahoo.com and visit Michael R. Collins at: www.michaelrcollins.wordpress.com Thanks for stopping by the Skullcave! Stay tuned for more interesting news and reviews coming soon at: www.damagedskullwriterandreviewer.com   

BESIDES READING AND WRITING, I ALSO ENJOY GUITARS AND “60 YEARS OF FENDER” BY TONY BACON IS A WINNER!

60 Years of Fender: Six Decades of the Greatest Electric Guitars by Tony Bacon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is part encyclopedia, part pizazz, and 1oo% fun! Wife got me this after I returned to guitar playing this year and wanted a different Fender/Squier guitar not the same old Stratocaster or Tele(which I still love) This is invaluable for today’s guitar shopper because depending on where you buy, they don’t always explain all the features of your potential instrument. I’ve read other books by Tony Bacon and always come away impressed with the depth of his knowledge. Get this! You’ll enjoy it for years and it makes a great coffee table book when you have company.



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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