Book Review: The Trees Grew Because I Bled There by Eric LaRocca

Title: The Trees Grew Bexcause I Bled There
Author: Eric LaRocca
Genre: Horror, Anthology, Dark Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon

A beautifully crafted, devastating short fiction collection from the Bram-Stoker finalist and author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes. Includes an introduction from acclaimed bestselling author Chuck Wendig.

Eight stories of dark fiction from a master storyteller. Exploring the shadow side of love, these are tales of grief, obsession, control. Intricate examinations of trauma and tragedy in raw, poetic prose. A woman imagines horrific scenarios whilst caring for her infant niece; on-line posts chronicle a cancer diagnosis; a couple in the park with their small child encounter a stranger with horrific consequences; a toxic relationship reaches a terrifying resolution…

A beautifully crafted, devastating short fiction collection from the Bram Stoker Awards® finalist and author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes.

The Trees Grew Because I Bled There is a collection of dark fiction / horror stories by Eric LaRocca, the author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We First Spoke. I enjoyed Things Have Gotten Worse Since We First Spoke, so when I saw Eric LaRocca had another upcoming collection, I jumped at the chance.

The book is quite short, or maybe it just felt that way because it’s just so enthralling to read LaRocca’s lyrical prose sketching horrors on the pages. He manages to describe the most horrific scenes in such exquisite detail, using such luxurious prose that the reader can’t help but feel fascinated and disgusted at the same time–and that’s a real skill, as an author.

The stories are also unique, each offering a fresh perspective or an interesting twist I didn’t see coming. Some stories start out familiar – or you think you’re in a familiar tale, a classic trope you’ve come to know quite well after devouring countless horror books – only to find yourself in an altogether different story. The characters breathe life on the pages, each of them complete, three-dimensional beings with desires, aspirations and most importantly: flaws.

For me personally, the most unsettling story of the collection was Bodies Are for Burning. Mostly because I’ve recently become a mother (my sweetie just four months old now), and the thoughts the main character has toward children here, are just plain disturbing. Very well written, though, and an excellent investigation of what thoughts can do to a person, and how we’re sometimes forced to fight our own most disturbing thoughts.

One of my favorite stories was The Trees Grew Because I Bled There – gods, that was disturbing but for whole other reasons. Relationships should be balanced, but here, eh, not so much. In fact, if you really picture what is happening in this story, it’s quite sickening.

If you enjoy dark fiction, then don’t hesitate. Read this collection. The prose is haunting, the stories offer twists that will leave you surprised even after you’ve finished reading them, and well, it’s just downright brilliant. Recommended to just about everyone who enjoys darker stories.

Guest Post Battling in All Her Finery

Guest Post

Now more than ever, the world needs women role models.

As I wrote in the introduction to Battling in All Her Finery: Historical Accounts of Otherworldly Women Leaders, when I was growing up in the 80s, there was a dearth of female characters in the popular media that my siblings and I consumed (largely cartoons). If I was lucky, the cartoons we watched had one female character, and she might get an action figure. The “girl” shows (which my brother didn’t want to watch) often had better representation, but they weren’t necessarily the things I wanted to watch.

In recent years, this has changed, with more and more significant female characters in cartoons, TV shows, movies, and written media. It’s much easier for young girls of today, even those who like “boy” things, to find a female role model in the media they consume. But that doesn’t change the fact that more is still needed.

We wanted Battling in All Her Finery to provide stories about women role models in the form of leaders of all kinds. While we have stories about queens, princesses, and generals, we also have stories about CEOs, musicians, and more. And these characters show readers that women rule, literally and figuratively.

If you’re looking for a book in which women rule, and which can provide many female role models for people of all ages and genders, check out Battling in All Her Finery. The stories are appropriate for nearly all readers, and spans fantasy, science fiction, alternate history, and other forms of speculative fiction.

About the Book

Battling in All Her Finery: Historical Accounts of Otherworldly Women Leaders

“I am a woman between worlds. Civilian and military. Seamstress and soldier. The Grande Armée I serve stands between tradition and merit. France itself between republic and monarchy. I stand between comfort and a wall of iron. Between progress and the world of dragons. Between grief and freedom.”
–Blake Jessop, “Cuirassiere”

No one understands leadership like those who have led. Mad Scientist Journal has brought together twenty-one tales of otherworldly women leaders. Some are born to power, while others find the spark of power within themselves. Their leadership crosses the boundaries between the military and political world, while also making stops in music, the boardroom, and civil movements.

Included in this collection are stories from Elisa A. Bonnin, L. Chan, Nathan Crowder, Lin Darrow, A. J. Fitzwater, G. Scott Huggins, Patrick Hurley, Blake Jessop, Alisha A. Knaff, Aimee Kuzenski, Christine Lucas, Matt Moran, Mathew Murakami, Jennifer R. Povey, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Frances Sharp, D. A. Xiaolin Spires, Leora Spitzer, Priya Sridhar, Tais Teng, and Shirley Vogel. Includes art by Rhaega Ailani, Errow Collins, A. Jones, Leigh Legler, Justine McGreevy, and Ariel Alian Wilson.


About the Authors

Elisa A. Bonnin

Elisa Bonnin was born in the Philippines, where she lived until the age of sixteen. Growing up, she enjoyed reading fantasy, writing, and going to the beach. Now, Elisa is a graduate student at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, studying oceanography. She still enjoys reading and writing, and can be found working on pieces of creative fiction from time to time.

L. Chan

L. Chan hails from Singapore, where he alternates being walked by his dog and writing speculative fiction after work. His work has appeared in places like Liminal Stories, Arsenika, Podcastle, and The Dark. He tweets occasionally @lchanwrites.

Nathan Crowder

Classically trained pianist Nathan Crowder wishes he was cool enough to have been in a prog rock band. He has an abiding love for music and desert thunderstorms. Creator and curator of the superhero universe of Cobalt City, he lives in the wilds of North Seattle, surviving on a diet of coffee and irony. His career is managed by his black cat Shiva in exchange for room and kibble.

Lin Darrow

Lin is a professional Victorianist by day and a noir writer by night. She’s written several short works, both prose and comic, for anthologies such as Valor 2, Tabula Idem, Planetside, QueerScifi’s Renewal anthology, Malaise: A Horror Anthology, and others. Her first novel, Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust, is an adventure story that marries magic, noir, casino heists, and queer romance, and was published by Less Than Three Press in July of 2018. She currently writes the Hiveworks webcomic Shaderunners, a queer 1920s adventure/romance comic about bottled colour and bootleggers, at

A. J. Fitzwater

A. J. Fitzwater is a meat-suit wearing dragon living between the cracks of Christchurch, New Zealand. Their work has appeared in venues of repute such as Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer Magazine, Glittership, and many more. They sit on their pointy golden horde of two Sir Julius Vogel Awards. And they emerged triumphant from the trial by word-fire of Clarion 2014.

G. Scott Huggins

G. Scott Huggins grew up in the American Midwest and has lived there all his life, except for interludes in Germany and Russia. He is responsible for securing America’s future by teaching its past to high school students, many of whom learn things before going to college. He loves to read high fantasy, space opera, and parodies of the same. He wants to be a hybrid of G.K. Chesterton and Terry Pratchett when he counteracts the effects of having grown up. You can read his ramblings and rants at The Logoccentric Orbit and you can follow him on Facebook.

Patrick Hurley

Patrick Hurley lives, writes, and edits in Seattle. He’s had fiction published in Galaxy’s Edge, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, Flame Tree Publishing’s Murder Mayhem anthology, Hy Bender’s forthcoming anthology Ghosts on Drugs, Myriad Paradigm’s Mindy Candy anthology, Abyss & Apex, Penumbra, Big Pulp, and The Drabblecast. In 2017, he attended the Taos Toolbox Writer’s Workshop taught by Nancy Kress and Walter Jon Williams. He is a member of SFWA and Codex.

Blake Jessop

Blake Jessop is a Canadian author of fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories with a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Adelaide. He was the lead English translator of Colette Debelle’s recently uncovered memoirs. You can read more of his speculative fiction in Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers from World Weaver Press, or follow him on Twitter @everydayjisei.

Alisha A. Knaff

Alisha A. Knaff lives in Seattle with her cats, Hal and Odin. After inventing the time machine, she was president of the Jane Austen Fan Club from 1800-1806, and helped stop the Martian Invasion of 3003. One of her favorite hobbies is feeding pigeons with Nikola Tesla. Her novel, School of Sight, is available with Razorgirl Press, and you can find out more about her and her writing at

Aimee Kuzenski

Aimee Kuzenski is the woman your martial arts teacher warned you about. Her cat was not born hairless; Aimee once shaved her with a single knife stroke and the fur was too scared to grow back. A graduate of the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop, Aimee has also narrated audiobooks for indie authors and for the SFF short fiction podcast PodCastle. Aimee lives in Minnesota with her girlfriend and not enough Filipino weapons. You can find more information about Aimee’s work at her website,

Christine Lucas

Christine Lucas lives in Greece with her husband and a horde of spoiled animals. A retired Air Force officer and mostly self-taught in English, she has had her work appear in several print and online magazines, including Daily Science Fiction, Cast of Wonders, Pseudopod/Artemis Rising 4, and Nature: Futures. She was a finalist for the 2017 WSFA award and is currently working on her first novel. Visit her at:

Matt Moran

Matt Moran doesn’t talk about himself in public that much, but in private he plays guitar, collects and paints models, cooks, and bakes. As a freelancer, he translates French and writes games, articles, and stories in English. Amongst many other things he has survived a hernia, crucifixion, and being thrown head-first from a horse. He likes sitcoms, sci-fi, spies, and fantasy, and is delighted his fiancée loves him nonetheless.

Mathew Murakami

Mathew Murakami is a writer, gamer, and technology consultant living in Washington State. He has worked as a technical writer, editor, car salesperson, caterer, temp bartender, overnight hotel desk person, landscaper, sandwich artist, and fake job maker-upper (but only once). When he is not writing–and sometimes when he is–he enjoys tea and puns.

Jennifer R. Povey

Jennifer R. Povey is in her early forties, and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband. She writes a variety of speculative fiction, whilst following current affairs and occasionally indulging in horse riding and role-playing games. She has sold fiction to a number of markets including Analog, and written RPG supplements for several companies. She is currently working on an urban fantasy series, Lost Guardians.

Jennifer Lee Rossman

Jennifer Lee Rossman is a disabled science fiction geek who knows the right words can do magic. She hopes she used the right words in Anachronism, her debut novella available from Kristell Ink, a imprint of Grimbold Books. She blogs at and tweets @JenLRossman.

Frances Sharp

Frances Sharp is a biracial writer from Houston, Texas, who is extremely proud of her Mexican heritage, diverse upbringing, and the Astros. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and daughters, who she is also very proud of.

D. A. Xiaolin Spires

D.A. Xiaolin Spires counts stars and sand, residing currently in Hawaiʻi. She practices eskrima/arnis/kali (Filipino martial arts)–and, like Carmel, owns a tenegre sword, but (un?)fortunately, her weaponry doesn’t weep. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in publications such as Clarkesworld, Analog, Nature: Futures, Grievous Angel, Fireside, Terraform, Reckoning, Galaxy’s Edge, Issues in Earth Science, LONTAR, Andromeda Spaceways (Year’s Best issue), Mithila Review, Star*line, Liminality, ETTT, Outlook Springs, Polu Texni, and Story Seed Vault; as well as anthologies of the strange and delightful: Sharp & Sugar Tooth, Broad Knowledge, Future Visions, and Ride the Star Wind. Website: Twitter: @spireswriter

Leora Spitzer

Leora Spitzer is a queer Jewish bibliophile living in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a major in Urban Studies and a minor in Drama. Leora likes waterfalls, feminism, stuffed animals, economic justice, and learning about badass historical women.

Priya Sridhar

A 2016 MBA graduate and published author, Priya Sridhar has been writing fantasy and science fiction for fifteen years and counting. One of her stories made the Top Ten Amazon Kindle Download list, and Alban Lake published her works Carousel and Neo-Mecha Mayhem. Priya lives in Miami, Florida, with her family.

Tais Teng

Tais Teng is a Dutch writer, illustrator, and sculptor. In his own language, he has written everything from radio-plays to hefty fantasy trilogies. He just finished his first English science fiction novel Phaedera: Alastor 824, set in the universe of Jack Vance, which will be published by Spatterlight Press. His greatest wish is a Star Wars laser cannon to carve mountains or the lesser Jupiter moons. He owns no cats or even a pet boa constrictor, but has to do with a wife and three kids. For his writing go to, for his art to

Shirley Vogel

Shirley Vogel is a new author from St. Charles, MO. In fact, at 68 years young, this is her first published work–joining several other published writers in her family. She likes reading mysteries, staying active with bicycling and walking, and loves drinking wine.



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Book Tours: Starter Day Party The Very Best of Bare Back Magazine


I’m hosting the starter day party today for the book tour for erotica anthology “The Very Best of Bare Back Magazine”. The tour runs from January 18 to February 1. Enjoy the tour!

Tour Schedule

January 18th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

January 18th: Promo Post @ Stormy Night Reviewing

January 20th: Promo Post @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

January 21st: Promo Post @ Illuminite Caliginosus

January 23rd: Promo Post @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

January 25th: Promo Post @ Paranormal Romance…And Beyond

January 27th: Book Review @ PRATR

January 29th: Promo Post @ JJ’s Kinky Books

January 30th: Promo Post @ Bedazzled Reading

January 31st: Promo Post @ The Single Librarian

February 1st: Book Review @ Illuminite Caliginosus

About the Book

barebackcoverTitle: The Very Best of Bare Back Magazine

Editor: Natasha Brooks

Genre: Erotica

Buy on Amazon.

With lots of love and dedication, Bare Back Magazine delivers to you the very best erotic fiction and poetry for your sensual pleasure and erotic reading delight. These stories and poems explore it all, taking you to exotic places from the southern comforts of New Orleans to the bright lights and high towers of New York City and all places in between. You’ll meet some very naughty housewives, experience deliciously intense group encounters and explore love on the internet. Among the stories in this collection, there will also be an unforgettable masquerade for your reading pleasure. We’ll add a dabble of flavor, as we tempt your taste buds in very steamy erotic encounters. These scorching hot short stories will stimulate a variety of intense moods for you, the reader.

The Very Best of Bare Back Magazine features new stories and poems from both up-and-coming and popular writers like Peter Baltensperger, David Hornbuckle, Gianni Shamari, M. Earl Smith, Lane Pierce, Tonia Mansfield, Natasha Brooks, Jerrell Khalil Smith, Jillian Kander, Javier Rokusaburo, Jake Kaida, Bob McNeil, Robyn Alezanders and many more; this joyful celebration of erotic stories and poetry is deliciously sexy, sophisticated, and insanely addicting.

Bare Back Magazine was founded by Editor-in-Chief, Natasha Brooks in September 2005; the first issue was published online in November of the same year. With the help of many talented writers, editors and contributors, Bare Back Magazine has become one of the premier ezines on the web, featuring erotic fiction, poetry, articles and art that explore the diverse spectrum of erotica. Over the years, we have published the works of writers and artists from all over the world.

It has been an incredible ten years. We will continue to celebrate erotica and the talents of all erotic writers and artists by publishing erotica of all genres, celebrating erotic diversity and all of the reflections of erotica.

WARNING – This book contains steamy romance scenes and is not suitable for all ages.

Visit us online @

Published by Emerging Edge Publishing @

Book Trailer

Mini-Reviews: A Place for Sinners, Must Love Ghosts, The Doll Collection


Time for some mini-reviews! What are mini-reviews, you ask? As the title suggests, these are short reviews, consisting of one paragraph tops, about a book. It’s a way to catch up on the books I’ve read a while ago, but never got around to reviewing.

Title: A Place for Sinners

Author: Aaron Dries

Genre: Horror

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Sometimes, survival is a sin.

Amity Collins has been deaf since she was seven. That was the day the wild dogs attacked, fighting for her bones. The day her father died. This trip to Thailand is exactly what Amity and her brother, Caleb, need—freedom.

As their boat slits through saltwater, Amity, Caleb and the other passengers are having the time of their lives. They watch the island emerge on the horizon. Its trees twitch, as though impatient or hungry. Within its shadows, secrets best kept hidden will be unearthed. Sacrifices will be made. Terror will reach out to grasp Amity, as real and frightening as what’s lurking in the dark.

A perfect example of a book that starts out strong but ends on a bit of a sour note. The first part was magnificent, and I felt like I was in Thailand too, along with the main characters. However, the second part of the book, while disturbing and holding a lot of potential, fell a little flat because it was TOO complex. Some of the twists and character reveals made little to no sense either. I don’t mind a little complexity but it needs to stay within the realms of the possible.

Title: Must Love Ghosts

Author: Jennifer Savalli

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Ghosts

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Haunted? Call 1-800-GHOST-HUNK.

Tia McGarry believes love is nothing more than a biochemical cocktail, and she’ll have the research to prove it—as soon as she and her calm, stable, almost-fiancé land a research grant.

Her biggest mistake, bad boy ex-boyfriend Dec Mancini, is firmly in her past. But when the ghost of her long-dead great-uncle moves into her living room, Dec is the only paranormal investigator with the skills to get rid of him.

Dec is used to scorn and ridicule, but he never quite got over Tia’s refusal to believe. With irrefutable proof that ghosts exist manifesting in her house, he can finally earn respect for his profession—and maybe find common ground for himself and Tia to rebuild on.

Tia can’t deny their crazy, chaotic chemistry is strong as ever, but as the ghost’s pranks threaten to put her grant out of reach, she must decide which is the greater risk: letting a ghost jeopardize her career, or falling in love with the man who could destroy her safe, stable life.

Tia doesn’t believe in ghosts, but when her dead uncle shows up, she might be forced to change her opinion. And when on top of that her ex-boyfriend, a paranormal investigator, makes a reapparance in her life and it seems like things are about to turn hot and heavy between them again, she’s in for a fun and quirky adventure. Despite that, the plot is pretty basic and the characters are a little flat too. Not a bad read,but not that great either.

Title: The Doll Collection

Author: Ellen Datlow (Editor)

Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Anthologies

Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

The Doll Collection is exactly what it sounds like: a treasured toy box of all-original dark stories about dolls of all types, including everything from puppets and poppets to mannequins and baby dolls. Featuring everything from life-sized clockwork dolls to all-too-human Betsy Wetsy-type baby dolls, these stories play into the true creepiness of the doll trope, but avoid the clichés that often show up in stories of this type.Master anthologist Ellen Datlow has assembled a list of beautiful and terrifying stories from bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Seanan McGuire, Carrie Vaughn, Pat Cadigan, Tim Lebbon, Richard Kadrey, Genevieve Valentine, and Jeffrey Ford. The collection is illustrated with photographs of dolls taken by Datlow and other devoted doll collectors from the science fiction and fantasy field. The result is a star-studded collection exploring one of the most primal fears of readers of dark fiction everywhere, and one that every reader will want to add to their own collection.
At the publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied

Dolls are creepy. Enough said. Now, in this collection, which packs a bunch of the most original stories I’ve ever read in the genre, the authors explore the trope of creepy dolls. A range of haunted dolls, mad doll owners, creepy doctors and ventriloquists pass by, and each story is unique and strong in its own way. One of the best horror anthologies I’ve read.

Book Review: Suspended in Dusk by Simon Dewar


23204395Title: Suspended in Dusk

Author: Simon Dewar (Editor)

Genre: Horror, Anthology, Dark Fiction

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

A time between times.
A whore hides something monstrous and finds something special.
A homeless man discovers the razor blade inside the apple.
Unlikely love is found in the strangest of places.
Secrets and dreams are kept… forever.
Or was it all just a trick of the light?
Suspended in Dusk brings together 19 stories by some of the finest minds in Dark Fiction:
Ramsey Campbell, John Everson, Rayne Hall, Shane McKenzie, Angela Slatter, Alan Baxter, S.G Larner, Wendy Hammer, Sarah Read, Karen Runge, Toby Bennett, Benjamin Knox, Brett Rex Bruton, Icy Sedgwick, Tom Dullemond, Armand Rosamilia, Chris Limb, Anna Reith, J.C. Michael.
Introduction by Bram Stoker Award Winner and World Horror Convention Grand Master, Jack Ketchum.

Suspended in Dusk is a quality anthology of dark fiction and horror stories, all of them centered around dusk. The anthology hides some gems and some mediocre stories, and they strike a good balance.

“Shadows of the Lonely Dead” starts off the collection, a story about a woman who takes in the death of all the people around her and the elderly she takes care off. An intriguing concept, and the other develops it nicely, although it packs a little much for a short story, especially with the storyline of the boyfriend thrown in. 4 stars.

The next story, “Taming the Stars” focused on two protagonists, Michele and Esther, and it had some twists I did not see coming. I found Esther especially intriguing. This was one of my favorite stories of the anthology.  4 stars.

“At Dusk They Come” was another favorite. Strange creatures appear at dusk, and leave a man with a terrifying choice. Some cool twists, and although I figured out most of them before they happened, it was still entertaining. 4 stars.

“A Woman of Disrepute” had a Jack the Ripper-like feel to it mixed with some Dorian Gray since it also focused on artists and painters. An interesting story, but not on of my favorites. It wasn’t really as creepy as I’d hoped. 3 stars.

Next up, “Burning”. I wasn’t sure what to think of that one. It showed the horrible side of humanity, but it didn’t really scare me. 3 stars.

“Ministry of Outrage” was another good one, an original, interesting concept and the execution worked well too. The ending didn’t come as a surprise, though. 4 stars.

I liked “Maid of Bone”. The protagonist was so tragic, and the scenes of her visiting the graveyard were haunting and atmospheric.  4 stars.

“Shades of Memory” wasn’t a favorite of mine. I didn’t mind the concept, which was good overall, as was the setting, but the protagonist bothered me and his choice at the end just wasn’t believable to me. 2,5 stars

“Reasons to Kill” gave an interesting spin to the whole zombie/vampire lore in a post-apocalyptic world. Loved this one. 5 stars.

“Digging Deep” is one of my favorite premature burying stories I’ve ever read – the author does an amazing job describing the main character’s panic, and the ending was just wow. The writing was excellent, and this was my favorite story from the collection. Stories about premature burials have been attempted by hundreds of authors, but it’s tricky to pull it off in a believable way. 5 stars.

“Outside In”. I didn’t like this one. I didn’t finish reading it either, the whole mixed up order of chapters confused me and I couldn’t connect to any of the characters. DNF.

“Hope is Here”. Loved this concept, unfortunately I saw the ending coming from miles away, and I kept on wondering how Many would be involved. A little dissapointing that she wasn’t then. 3 stars.

“Would to God That We Were There”. A story set in outerspace is always interesting, and I felt the protagonist’s fear and insanity seeping through the pages. 3,5 stars.

“Negatives”. I want to see this one as a book. I loved it, an amazing story about twin sisters and an abandoned theme park. I’d love to visit an abandoned theme parks, and this made me only slightly scared to visit one, hehe. 5 stars.

“Fit Camp”, also known as “Fat Camp” and the scary things that happen there. An entertaining story but not genuinely scary. 3 stars.

“Quarter Turn to Dawn” was an all right story, but I struggled to get into it. 2 stars.

“A Keeper of Secrets” was another winner for me. I liked the concept of a keeper of secrets stuck on attic. The ending was thrilling and horrifying at the same time. 5 stars.

“Spirits Having Flown”. This book deserves to be a full-length novel too. A good concept, well-executed, and great writing. 4 stars.

“The Way of All Flesh” had an interesting spin. Didn’t expect that one. 4 stars.

So all in all, I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection, some of them were amazing. I’ll definitely be on the look out for more anthologies put together by this editor.


Book Tours: Starter Day Party for Falling Hard

I’m hosting the starter day party today for the book tour for “Falling Hard”, a new adult anthology. The book releases on May 31 and will have a huge release day party on Facebook!
What are you waiting for? Go sign up for the Facebook event! It looks like it’ll be a blast. And in the mean time, if you’d like to know more about the book, read the rest of this post.

Tour Schedule

May 24th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

May 24th: Book Excerpt @ Indy Book Fairy

May 25th: Promo Post @ Nat’s Book Nook

May 27th: Promo Post @ Bleeding Heart Book Blog

May 29th: Book Excerpt @ The Single Librarian

May 31st: Book Excerpt @ 100 Pages A Day

June 1st: Promo Post @ Undercover Book Reviews

June 3rd: Book Excerpt @ BB’s Book Reviews

June 4th: Promo Post @ Books are Forever

June 5th: Book Excerpt @ Bedazzled Reading

June 6th: Promo Post @ Lynn Stevens’ Blog

About the Book

received_10204513707937451.jpegTitle: Falling Hard

Authors: Aliza Mann and Heather Novak

Genre: Paranormal  (New Adult Anthology)

From sweet & heartfelt to steamy & spicy, FIVE brand new college campus novellas filled with alpha heroes and tenacious heroines for every romance reader.

This anthology is intended for mature readers, 18 years of age and older.

FORBIDDEN: FRESHMAN YEAR (An Erotic Suspense Novella) by Shelly Bell

A BDSM romance between a professor and his student turns deadly…

It was only supposed to have been one night of passion, but when Professor Tristan Kelley and freshman Isabella Larsen meet again in the classroom, they’ll jeopardize everything to be together…including their lives.

TIN MAN’S DANCE (A New Adult Novella) by MK Schiller

If he only had a heart…

Former marine James Hutchinson thought they might have amputated his heart right along with his right leg. That is, until he sees Lilly Franklin dance. In a crazy ploy to meet her, he steals her front row concert seat… but it’s only fair since she stole his heart first.

DARK HEARTS (A Paranormal New Adult Novella) by Aliza Mann

Dark secrets, hidden lives…

While struggling to contain the beast within, Mitchell Rowland imprints on the beautiful and mysterious Aurora Tanner. With Mitch’s dangerous lycan secret and Aurora’s demon father out to kill her, they must band together to fight against the very things that could ultimately keep them apart.


HIGH STAKES (A New Adult Novella) by Sage Spelling

Betting on Seduction . . .

When rich boy, college jock Blake Holland wagers to seduce the sexy librarian Catalina Vega, he never anticipated the gamble would cost not only his pride… but also his heart.


When the person you must destroy is your soul mate…

Witch hunter Grayson Lynch must make the devastating choice between condemning his brother to death or destroying the forbidden love of his life: a witch.


Author Bios

SONY DSCAliza Mann

 Aliza Mann has always known she wanted to be an author. It wasn’t until she was two business degrees in and enjoying a long career in healthcare that she realized she wanted to do it for a living. With submission of a historical paranormal short story to an online journal, and the subsequent publication, she hasn’t stopped spinning tales and being carried away on wings fueled by her imagination since.

 These days, she writes paranormal, urban fantasy and contemporary romance. Most days, she has no idea of what may end up on the blank pages in front of her. What she does know is she wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

 Residing in Michigan with her two children and dear beau, she enjoys reimagining all of her friends’ lives, spouting Hemingway quotes because it makes her feel smart, and visiting local distilleries. Otherwise, you’ll find her writing.

Heather Novak

Heather Novak Press photo 1Young Adult and New Adult author Heather Novak is in an open relationship…with the love of her life and the fictional characters in her head. After deciding her expensive film/screenwriting degree from Wayne State University should be used to make the world smile, she started writing Happily Ever Afters with a preternatural twist! (Don’t worry, she had to look up that word, too). Focusing on powerful imagery and emotional storytelling – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh so hard you’ll cry.

 Heather resides in Metro Detroit with the love of her life and several imaginary (and hypoallergenic) pets. She strongly supports the use of sarcasm and the Oxford Comma.








Buy Links:



Amazon U.S.

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Book Review: DarkFuse #1 by Shane Staley (Editor)

20513038Title: DarkFuse #1
Author: Shane Staley (Editor)
Genre: Dark Fiction, Novella, Anthology
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 3,5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Anthology including the following short stories:
“She Sleeps in the Depths” by William Meikle
“Better Heard and Not Seen” by Michael Penkas
“Carrion Fowl” by William R. Eakin
“Jaws of Life” by E. G. Smith
“Netherview” by Gary McMahon
“Children of the Horned God” by Christopher Fulbright

This anthology of short stories by DarkFuse, the first in what I suppose is an anthology series that’ll reflect the quality DarkFuse has embraced in its novels and novellas, is a good start to an anthology series, although some of the stories suffered from a lack of originality.

Let’s start with “She Sleeps in the Depths”. This was one of the more original stories. A man starts hearing a weird noise. He’s unable to escape from it, and chases the noise out to the open sea, where he and a woman he meets along the way, discover a Lovecraftian type of monster slumbering in the depths. Strong writing, solid characters, and a brush of originality make this an outstanding story.

“Better Heard and Not Seen” tells a familiar story. A boy believes there’s a monster living in his closet. He tries not to wake up his Mom though, afraid she’ll get upset again, but when something crawls out of the closet, and gets in bed with him, and that something turns out not to be the monster…That’s spine-chilling. I loved how the author picked a familiar trope here, then added in this original elements, and left me scared to go to sleep. This was, hands down, the best short story in the book, and definitely the creepiest.

“Carrion Fowl” was…disturbing. For some unexplained reason, people start turning into cannibalistic flying monsters. The main character is turning into one of these terrifying beats as well. He’s already lost his wife to this strange illness that turns people into some type of dinosaur. The story is strange and surreal. The writing was okay, but didn’t really stand out. There was no real plot either, just the main character as we follow him during his descent into madness. It was an okay story, but not more than tht.

“Jaws of Life” is a traditional, yet horrifying story. A salesman’s car gets stuck upside down on an abandoned stretch of road. He’s found by gauntly-looking children. The oldest of them, who seems the nicest of the bunch, refuses to tell the grown ups that the salesman is there. While the salesman keeps begging, he’ll soon find out why the kid didn’t want anyone else to know. I found this story predictable, and it also lacked originality. Without trying to spoil things, I saw the ending coming from miles away, and it reminded me of those “lost in the woods” horror stories we see reworked in B-rated horror movies every now and then.

“Netherview” was simply confusing. A couple goes to look at a home showing at the site of an old asylum, and then get locked up. But why, to what purpose, and how, are all questions left unanswered. I’m okay with having some questions left at the end of a story, but if I’m still wondering about the most basic of things, that bothers me. However, it’s clear that the set up here, and the character’s fears and worries, and the choice they make at the end, is far more important than the setting and the reasons why. A nice try, and I certainly felt appalled by the end.

“Children of the Horned God” was meh. Some horned creature grabs a man’s wife, he starts to hunt for the creature, and finds out a bunch of secrets about his community he’d rather have left buried. Nothing too special, a tad predictable, not too scary.

All in all, the anthology had some definite top-notch stories, and some mediocre ones. None that were particularly bad though. I hope the next anthologies do a bit more thinking outside the box, and embrace new concepts in horror. I missed originality in some of the stories here.

Book Review: Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales)

Talking Walls and Cigarettes coverTitle: Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales)

Author: Erin Beck & Kelli Beck

Genre: Horror, Short Story Anthology

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Talking Walls and Cigarettes is a collection of seven dark short stories that deals with both real life monsters and those that dwell within us. A bartender still grieving the tragic death of her brother, shunning from her family, and the whispers in the street is visited by a man who appears out of thin air to offer her a way out of her own personal hell in The Salesman. A poor family is cursed by a mysterious old man in the woods and the children are at risk for falling victim to their parent’s unspeakable acts in Porcelain. The title story follows a man as he is tormented by demons in his own mind. In Homecoming, can a young woman find what she’s looking for years after her father’s abduction by other-worldly beings?

In this horror short story anthology, authors Erin Beck and Kelli Beck provide a varying palette of horror – from the disturbing appearance of a ghost to alien abduction to demons to terror only present in the protagonist’s mind. The themes of the stories vary greatly, but their quality is consistent.

The first story, “Cough Syrup” was by far the most complicated story to understand. The main character is dealing with grief, comes from a dysfunctional family, and eventually starts making some bad decisions. It was dark fiction more than horror, but definitely set the right mood.

Next up came “In His Cellar”, which I thought was hands-down the best story in the anthology. Dark, bleak, with no way out. There are no good guys, there is no redemption, no hero saving the day. The main character falls prey to a sadistic serial killer. The only outcome is evident, and pain necessary. The story is strong, to the point, and terrifying.

“The Air in Venice” had a good premise – a boy turns up in a city and brings along the Plague – but I felt like parts could’ve been explained better. The story jumped from one thing to the other, as if it didn’t really know which direction it wanted to follow.

“The Salesman” was an okay story, but it wasn’t really scary. All in all, it seemed to have a pretty upbeat message. I liked the premise of it, but it could’ve been darker. A woman is visited by a ghost, which may not be a ghost at all, and they end up making a deal.

“Taken”, the next story in the anthology, talked about alien abduction. This was probably the weirdest story, and I’m generally not a fan of alien abduction stories, but I ended up really enjoying this one. I could’ve easily seen this story turn into a novella though – there was sufficient back story and plot to fill a novella.

“Porcelain” was another hit for me. A mysterious man curses a family, and what follows is so random and horrific that I absolutely enjoyed it. If it happened in real life, I’d scream my head off, don’t get me wrong, but in fiction, this is the kind of story I like. Surprising, different, with an ending you don’t see coming by a long shot.

“Talking Walls and Cigarettes” is the last story in the book. A man is slowly losing his mind, hearing voices that aren’t there and seeing demons. When he suspects the nextdoor elderly lady may be a demon, things start to go terribly wrong. A story about what happens if your own mind turns against you. Dark and disturbing, and a very enjoyable read.

My top three stories, in order, are “In His Cellar”, “Porcelain” and “Talking Walls and Cigarettes”.

All in all, a balanced anthology offering a lot of variation in theme, with some truly dark and disturbing gems.

Book Tours: Starter Day Party Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales)


I’m happy to host the starter day party today for horror short story anthology “Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales)”. I’ll be reviewing the book later on during the tour, on February 27. Meanwhile, you can visit the other tour stops – there’s quite a few of them!

Tour Schedule

February 17th: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

February 19th: Book Excerpt @ The Readers Hollow

February 21st: Author Interview @ The Single Librarian

February 23rd: Book Review @ Star Angel’s Reviews

February 25th: Book Excerpt @ I’m an Eclectic Reader

February 27th: Book Review @ I Heart Reading

March 1st: Book Excerpt @ The Book Gazette

March 3rd:  Author Interview @ Majanka’s Blog

March 5th:Book Excerpt @ The Book Daily

March 7th: Book Review @ Forever Book Lover

March 8th: Author Interview @ Editor Charlene

March 9th:  Book Excerpt @ 365 Days of Reading

March 10th: Book Review @ Auggie Talk

March 11th: Book Excerpt @ Hollow Readers

March 13th: Book Review and Interview @ Pretty Little Pages

March 15th: Book Excerpt @ Bookish Madness

March 17th: Author Interview @ Cassidy Crimson’s Blog

About the Book

Talking Walls and Cigarettes coverTitle: Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales)

Author: Erin Beck and Kelli Beck

Genre: Horror,  Short Story Anthology

Talking Walls and Cigarettes is a collection of seven dark short stories that deals with both real life monsters and those that dwell within us. A bartender still grieving the tragic death of her brother, shunning from her family, and the whispers in the street is visited by a man who appears out of thin air to offer her a way out of her own personal hell in The Salesman. A poor family is cursed by a mysterious old man in the woods and the children are at risk for falling victim to their parent’s unspeakable acts in Porcelain. The title story follows a man as he is tormented by demons in his own mind. In Homecoming, can a young woman find what she’s looking for years after her father’s abduction by other-worldly beings?

Author Bio

Erin Beck was born and raised on the mean streets of Chatsworth Illinois.  Every day was a struggle to survive, to overcome, to persevere.  At the age of twelve, she took up writing.  This passion for the written word saved her from such fates as teen pregnancy and tooth decay, that which have befallen many other great Chastworthians.  Erin is also the author of The Pursuit of Hair and co-author of Grabappleberry Punch: The Adventures of Mister Tennison Volumes One and Two.  Her influences include Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, and Christopher Moore.  Erin spends her leisure time tossing a ball around with her dogs and parasailing, and has on more than one occasion been caught napping in a box full of packing peanuts.  She is a drop-out of Hogwarts where she majored in English and minored in the contortion arts.  She has scaled the dark tower; she has trekked through middle earth; and she thinks cannibalism is a real hoot.  Erin now lives in the woods with her boyfriend and survives off of insects and pine needles.  She wrote portions of this short fiction collection on homemade paper and her own blood.

kelli bio picWhen she is not gold mining or globetrotting with her husband, Kelli spends her time writing, reading, and playing with her two dogs. Often described as “worldly” and “well-traveled,” Kelli is envied amongst co-workers and friends alike. She has a knack for reading minds and can often predict the future. Many people worldwide come to her for financial advice and money as she is the sole proprietor of the only money tree in existence. Her heroes include her father, Stephen King, and Albus Dumbledore. She has read the Harry Potter series many times over and is proud to share her birthday with The Chosen One. She has been described as a fearless leader, charismatic, even bulletproof.



One lucky winner will win a print copy of “Talking Walls and Cigarettes (And Other Dark Tales)” during the tour. Fill in the Rafflecopter form to participate! US/CA only.

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Book Review: The Awakening & Other Stories by Emma Meade

Cover ArtTitle: The Awakening & Other Stories
Author: Emma Meade
Genre: Short Story Collection, Horror
Age Group: Adult
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase: Goodreads, Amazon

Put on the kettle, close the curtains and curl up by the fire. Dive into 8 short tales, each with a slice of the paranormal.

Ghost Story – Who is the shadow in the window of the abandoned house, and what or who is he waiting for?
The Awakening – It’s time for Sabrina to wake up and face the light.
End of the Line – Cassie wants to die. When midnight rolls around, she stands on the tracks waiting for the train to come.
Milsa Loris – The once magnificent kingdom of Milsa Loris comes alive one night each winter. The King’s witch is brewing up a little magic, sure to make the soup all the tastier.
The Old Vampire – Hailey spent her life dreaming of a dark prince falling in love with her. He never showed up, until now.
The Knocking – Alison’s grandfather has one eye on the next life. After all, he’s heard a lot of rapping at his door lately.
The Boy on the Beach – Kate’s grandmother warns her about the boy with the green eyes. Will she pay heed?
Snowglobes- It’s busy at Calvin’s Cabins this Christmas. Eddie and Maggie are a young couple in trouble. Not to fear, Calvin is always ready to lend a hand.

The Awakening & Other Stories is a quick, deliciously scary anthology to read through. It comes up at around 70 pages, and offers eight stories. I think I finished it in under an hour. The stories fit nicely together. They’re all themed around horror, paranormal horror in particular. I like anthologies that have one central theme or topic, and that was certainly the case here. I’m going to talk about all the stories in detail, and then give a general opinion at the end.

Ghost Story – This was one of my favorites. Like the title suggests, it revolves around a ghost. Two girls, Jessica and Michelle, go into a haunted home, where supposedly a man killed himself. While Jessica’s grandma warned them not to go in, they go in anyway, and there Jessica has a heartfelt, although slightly creepy encounter with the ghost. I loved this ghost story, although it was a tad bit predictable, it reminded me of what ghost stories used to be like before Hollywood entered the scene. A nice read.

The Awakening – This was more like a kind of vampire / Sleeping Beauty story. Sabrina dreams about being another girl, but the lines between dreams and reality shift, and the ending is pretty creepy. This was one of my favorites as well.

The End of The Line – Cassie has been trying to commit suicide for a while now. She’s depressed, and she can’t seem to snap out of it. She jumps in front of a train, but instead of dying, she ends up on board of “The Death Train”. It’s inhabitants are people who died on the train racks, and they tell her their stories. By the end of the night, Cassie has two choices: go back, and live the rest of her life, or stay dead. I loved the concept of this, but felt like the execution was a little rushed at times. This story had enough meat to be turned into a novella;

Milsa Loris – I wasn’t too fond of this one. It’s different all right. A city is captured by tragedy, death and despair, and an old witch tries to stop the inevitable from happening. It was a nice read, but I couldn’t grasp the characters.

The Old Vampire – I actually liked this one. Hailey has always been a fan of paranormal romance books, and she’s dreamt her entire life a vampire would come and grant her eternal life and beauty. Now she’d old and withered, and the vampire has finally come…But is it too late? I liked this take on vampire stories. Very original, and I liked Hailey’s voice.

The Knocking – This was another win for me. Alison is taking care of her old grandpa, who’s suffering from illness, when she starts hearing knocking sounds on his door. When she opens the door, there’s no one there. The knocking continues, growing in intensity…Who is coming for grandpa? I loved this story, it gave me goosebumps, and had a nice build up.

The Boy on the Beach – Not too fond of this one. I liked the beginning, but the story fell a little flat toward the end. Kate has been warned to stay away from him, but she’s drawn to him all the same, and well, things go haywire from there. I didn’t like Kate, she was too superficial for my liking.

Snowglobes – Another winner. I thought this was perhaps my absolute favorite. Calvin rents cabins to young couples, some of them trying to work on their relationships, others happy with each other. When another young couple arrives, Calvin believes he has to save their love, before it ends. This was an original, intriguing, delightfully creepy story.

Overall, this anthology had a decent collection of solid stories. Most of them are related to ghosts or supernatural powers, and one to vampires. I liked the variety, and that even though the stories vary you can still see the theme. The writing was decent, although here and there the pacing was a little off. Like “The End of the Line” for example. It was a great concept, but the build up before the suicide took too long, and afterward everything was rushed. This story could’ve easily been made into a novella. My favorites are Snowglobes and The Old Vampire, but really, I liked all of these stories. Milsa Loris would be last on my list.

If you’re looking for a quick, ghostly, creepy read, then The Awakening & Other Stories is a great choice.