Book Review: Pay The Ghost by Tim Lebbon

26246296Title: Pay the Ghost
Author: Tim Lebbon
Genre: Horror, Novella
Age Group: Adult (18+)
Rating: 3 stars

Purchase: Amazon

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

A girl goes missing … the father gives up hope … but the mother never stops searching. Now, a year later and close to Hallowe’en, they have a chance to rescue their child. But to do so they must face something terrible.

Pay the Ghost is all right for a short story. The story is pretty basic: Moll, a six-year-old girl goes missing on Halloween. A year later, her father is desperate, her mother even more so. She’s been reduced to a shell of her former shelf, and when she knocks on Lee’s – Moll’s father – door, she looks like a living corpse. But she knows where Moll is, or so she claims, and Lee is desperate to save his little girl. Even if perhaps she can’t be saved at all.

The plot was pretty original, but it wasn’t fleshed out enough in this novella. I couldn’t connect to the characters because they didn’t really have personalities, not even main character Lee. There’s nothing outstanding, different, or intriguing about the book. It’s a pleasant short story, but it doesn’t stand out.

Also, for a horror story, the novella lacks scariness. I wasn’t scared at all while reading.

Book Tours: Starter Day Party for Lay of Runes: Dwarf’s Ransom


I’m hosting the starter day party today for the book tour for fantasy short story “Lay of Runes: Dwarf’s Ransom”. The tour runs from April 1 to April 8.

Tour Schedule

April 1st: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading

April 1st: Book Review @ Books, Books and More Books

April 2nd: Book Excerpt @ Indy Book Fairy

April 4th: Book Review @ PRATR

April 5th: Book Review @ A Novel Kind of Bliss

April 7th: Book Review @ Fantasy Book Lane

April 8th: Promo Post @ Nat’s Book Nook

About the Book

coverTitle: Lay of Runes: Dwarf’s Ransom

Author: M.L. Larson

Genre: Fantasy

Jari, a young dwarf from an isolated kingdom, is sent out to find his trouble-making brothers. After being saved by a stranger from being trampled by a horse, Jari finds himself with a new companion in this strange land. As they search for Jari’s kin, they find more trouble made than either of them had anticipated. Soon, Jari’s missing brothers are implicated in the murder of a god, making their return home all the more urgent. But when they are finally found in a distant land, troubles only seem to get worse for Jari and the companions he’s picked up along the way.

Author Bio

ML Larson first started writing in grade school, and never stopped. There have always been stacks and stacks of notebooks cluttering up rooms ever since, full of meandering stories and complex worlds filling up the house. Soon, those notebooks became huge folders on his hard drive and in Google Docs. Right now, he’s in the process of taking many of those old stories and finding the hidden gems in them.

Miles reads just about anything, but it’s the Thor comics that gave him the idea for his current series, Lay of Runes. Norse gods with pizza and cell phones is an idea that amuses him endlessly. While that aspect isn’t part of Lay of Runes, a lot of the surrounding attitude about the characters has. The idea that gods are stories gave him the idea to approach the myths and characters from a different direction, as if the stories we know today are the result of word of mouth stores being twisted and exaggerated over time.

When he’s not writing, Miles enjoys doing needle and yarn crafts. He lives in Portland.


Mailing List:

Book Review: Numbers 16:32 by Brady Koch

numbersTitle: Numbers 16:32

Author: Brady Koch

Genre: Horror, Short Story

Age Group: Adult

Rating: 4 stars

Purchase:  Amazon

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

Joseph’s Sunday morning routine of church, beer and solitude is interrupted by a ragged screaming coming from the the far side of his farm land. What he finds there will challenge his resolve in ways he hasn’t faced since losing his wife or confronting the horrors of the Korean War.

Numbers 16:32 is a short story, barely 25 pages, but it’s an interesting one. At the start, we meet Joseph, an old man who lost his wife several years ago, who fought in the Korean War decades ago, and who longs to do nothing more than enjoy life on his farm, without getting in trouble with anyone.

But when Daisy, his neighbor’s dog shows up barking at his door, he follows her. The dog leads him to nearby farmland he leased to a company, and he finds Matty, a young lad, stuck in a well. He gets Matty out, but to his surprise, the boy wasn’t the only one stuck in the well. What happens next, is a horror worse than Joseph could’ve imagined, and he’s seen a fair share of horrors in his life.

The writing was top-notch from start to end. A slow build up brings us to the surprising twist when Joseph finds Matty in the well, and from then on, we’re on a rollercoaster of solid suspense until the end. A nice, short horror piece that stays in your head for a while after you finish reading – which is always an indication the story touched upon something, some fear you can’t quite place. I hope to read more from this author in the future, be it other short stories or a full-length novel, but he definitely has talent for writing scary stuff.

Book Review: Buried Secrets by Gary Cecil

20498366Title: Buried Secrets
Author: Gary Cecil
Genre: Horror, Short Story
Rating: 1 star
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided in exhcange ofr an honest review.

*BURIED SECRETS* will keep you wondering to the very last page. At approximately 2,800 words, this spine-tingling horror tale is guaranteed to make you laugh and squirm, as the young couple realize… they’re not alone.

Max and his wife, Megan, just moved into their new home. It’s a charming Victorian, that did not come with the typical Victorian price tag. Sure, it needed some paint thrown on here and there, but soon–with a baby on the way–it would be the perfect home for their family.Things quickly begin to change, though. They hear things at night, and even feel things crawling in their sheets.

But that’s not the worst of it. There’s a foul smell in the air sometimes, and something even fouler in the basement.Something smells, licks, and lingers in the walls and down in the basement. When the power goes out, Max goes into the basement to find the breaker, and what he finds, is something much worse.*Can the young couple survive this horrible fate? Or… are some secrets just too damned evil to be kept buried alive?

Buried Secrets had potential, but the execution is flawed, and overall, the story is pretty ‘meh’. There’s an introduction at the start, “About Buried Secrets” which intends to give us some back story, but which serves to almost immediately deny the reader any fear they might’ve felt while reading.

The story is fairly typical, a little unoriginal. Couple moves into new home (which is actually a very old home), weird stuff starts to happen, and instead of acting like any normal person would, they still continue to live in the house, and pretend nothing is happening for a while. Why Hollywood and authors tend to think that if someone crawled on your sheets at night, you wouldn’t freak out and get the hell out of there, is beyond me. But apparently that’s not the way this works. Ignorance is bliss.

The story is written in a weird font, like it was written with an old typewriter. At least that’s how it looks on my .pdf. Didn’t like it all, but okay, I’m willing to look beyond that.

The dialogue is awkward and stiff, and there’s not enough detail about any of the characters to truly care about them. Instead of saying “can’t” and “it’s”, the author tends to say “cannot” and “it has”. Even in dialogue. This sounded unnecessarily stiff and formal. Examples:

“I cannot wait for Kevin to enjoy it, too.”

“It has been the longest day, babe.”

I have the feeling this story is the author’s first attempt to write a story. It’s not all bad. The plot could be interesting, but the writing needs a lot of work. There’s a reason why they say you shouldn’t publish your first book or story, no matter how good you think it is. I’m not sure the author hired an editor, but if he did, that editor should’ve told him the book needed work.

The characters are flat. They have no personality. Even in short stories, you should at least make us care about the characters. The story jumps from point a to b without much explanation. Some scenes are irrelevant, others that should be relevant, are simply skipped.

Overall, I’d lie if I say I enjoyed the story. It had potential, but misses every ball. With a good editor, another round of revisions, and some polishing, it could become interesting though.

Book Review: My Hero is My Monster

15753760Title: My Hero is My Monster
Author: June Spears
Genre: Short Story, Non-Fiction
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 10th 2012
Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)
Review copy provided by the author in exchange for honest review.

A young girls childhood is stolen when her Hero becomes the monster in her bed everynight.

My Hero is My Monster is a short story of about eleven pages long, so naturally, this review will be short as well. This book is a true account of the downward spiral of events that make a young girl’s life go from hell to worse. One night, when she’s only four years old, her father, the man who was supposed to be her hero, who was supposed to love her and look after her and keep her safe from all the evil in the world, does the unthinkable. He takes away her innocence, her trust and everything she ever believed in.

This book is cruel, gruesome and terrible. It’s honest, disturbingly so, and its strength is its honesty and brutality. I applaud the author for her courage to tell us this story, which is non-fiction, a memoir of sorts. The story is straight-forward, without flowery language to hide the cruel truth. For telling this story alone, the author would get my full five stars. Unfortunately, there were some easy-to-catch typos I saw, and since this book is fairly short, I would think it could benefit from another quick spellcheck, so I deducted a star for that, hence the four stars.

I’m glad this is a short story though. I have no idea how much else I’d been able to cope with. Child abuse is always horrible, and when the facts are laid bare without covering anything up, that makes it all the more difficult to stand.

This book is painful to read, but it is a must-read. I would recommend My Hero is My Monster to everyone, although I do advice to keep it away from children. Some of the scenes in this book obviously aren’t suitable for little kids. But I recommend it to all young adults and adults. It’s worth taking a look at.

Starter Day Party My Hero is My Monster


Today is the starter day party for My Hero is My Monster and I’m glad to host it on my blog!

Tour Schedule

August 13th: Starter Day Party
@ I Heart Reading

August 16th: Book Excerpt
@ Serenity’s Lovely Reads

August 17th: Review
@ Night Owl Reads

August 18th: Review
@ I Heart Reading

August 19th: Author Interview
@ Majanka’s Blog

August 20th: Review and Excerpt
@ Nick’s Book Blog

About My Hero is My Monster

15753760Title: My Hero is my Monster
Author: June Spears
Genre: Short Story

A young girl’s childhood is stolen when her Hero becomes the monster in her bed every night.

Purchase from: Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)

About The Author

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, June E Spears had spent her early years writing mostly poems and school songs. However, she could not escape the allure of storytelling and quickly began studying to become a novelist. She began by reading every chance she had. Mostly Fantasy and Romance novels, June’s love of writing was uncontrollable. Once she began typing, she never stopped.

June is best known for her Fantasy Novelette Series “The Blood Moon Chronicles”. She is a single mother to her only daughter Isabella Rose.

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review: Antique Charming by Natalie-Nicole Bates

12753184Title: Antique Charming
Author: Natalie-Nicole Bates
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Adult, Short Story
Publisher: Books To Go Now
Publication Date: September 24th 2011
Goodreads | Amazon | Author Website

Third-generation funeral director Lizzie Morton is about to have her dream realized. She has purchased the long abandoned Nichols Funeral Home and its upstairs flat, determined to restore the funeral home to its once former glory. But a late night visitor, Adam Nichols, claims the funeral home still belongs to his family. Lizzie scoffs at his odd behavior and outlandish claims, but when a vintage photograph appears, she soon realizes, to her horror, that Adam Nichols did once own the funeral home more than one hundred years ago and now she has allowed this entity to pass into her home.

Lizzie Morton buys the long abandoned Nichols Funeral Home, one of her life-long dreams coming true. Then one night, a man named Adam Nichols knocks on her door and claims to be the owner of the funeral home. Lizzie is skeptic at first, but after a little investigating on her own, and discovering an old picture of aforementioned Adam Nichols, she comes to a stunning conclusion…

I don’t write a lot of short story reviews. That’s mostly because I don’t tend to read short stories, and if I read them, I don’t normally end up reviewing them. Generally, my reviews tend to be long, but since this is a short story, it will probably be a lot shorter.

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this story. For a short story specifically, the characters are strong and developed, three-dimensional, with an impressive array of emotions and feelings. Although the story is pretty simple, it did manage to grab me and it pulled me in from start to finish. I very much enjoyed Lizzie’s interactions with Adam, and her own little investigation in to what was going on. I’ve seen a lot of people rage about the length of this book – it is a short story, so if it’s only about 7 pages long, that doesn’t surprise me or annoy me at all. It is what the author meant it to be. Do I see potential in this story to be something more? Yes, of course. But the author meant it to be a short story, not a novel, and not even a novella, so I’m going to review it for what it is and now complain about what it isn’t.

I love short stories that spread out several clues but let the reader come to their own conclusion. Antique Charming does that very well. It lays down the foundations but leaves the conclusion in the middle. I thoroughly enjoyed that, and I wouldn’t mind reading more short stories by Natalie-Nicole Bates. She definitely knows how to write a short story that grabs your attention from the first page and doesn’t let you go. If you want an introduction to the author’s writing, this is it. A must-read both for paranormal romance fans and short story fans.

Book Review: In The Storm by Karen Metcalf

11100954Title: In the Storm
Author: Karen Metcalf
Format: eBook
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Short Story
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by the author. Visit the author’s website.
GoodReads | Smashwords | Amazon

Abandoned by the world around her, Carly believes she is fated to a life of torment at the hands of her stepfather and is desperate for an escape. When she can bear the abuse no longer and gives in to a thunderous rage, she suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar, yet beautiful, storm world. This limbo between dimensions appears to be her private sanctuary, but it may just be her purgatory.

No one escapes fate without sacrifice, but is the price more than Carly is willing to pay?

In The Storm is a short story of roughly 90 pages long. In a gripping display of emotions, our protagonist Carly sketches her life at home, under the ‘care’ of her stepfather Richard – a drunk, abusive and malicious man – and the way she and her younger brother Mitchell try to deal with this in their day-to-day life. When she hears her stepfather coming up the stairs to enter her room in the middle of the night, Carly has had enough. With a clicking sound, she leaves her human body behind to travel to a world beyond our own: an imaginative place only Carly can access, and which is inhabited by her guardian angel. Said angel appears in the form of a gorgeous-looking teenage boy who listens to the name of Morgan. He explains to her the very nature of his place sprung from her imagination, and its purpose, as well as his own purpose. To save her, to make her reach a certain life goal. But Carly has yet to realise that this goal comes at great expense…

For a short story, In The Storm certainly covers a lot of topics, ranging from child abuse, loneliness to fantasy worlds, alternate dimensions, guardian angels and destiny. At some points in the story, I wished the author had chosen to cover less topics, and maybe focus more on explaining some loose ends: for instance, the explanation of the different dimensions left me sort of confused, we never got to know why Carly’s mother left them in the first place, or why Carly gets to have an imaginative world at her dismay, whereas some other children in comparable circumstances (like her brother Mitchell) don’t get one. I wish some of these topics were explained more in detail. And although I could relate to the characters, I would have liked to get to know them better. Therefore, in my opinion, this book would have been better suited as a full-length novel than as a novella, considering the depth and complicity of the story, and the development of the characters.

On the other hand, I have to admit that it was nice reading a short story for once, and briefly blinking in and out the lifes of te main characters. I liked Carly as a person: I thought she had a very strong personality, a lot of courage and a very caring heart for her younger brother. I loved the interactions between Carly and her brother Mitchell, because they were so honest and sweet, and so remarkably loving and caring for people in such abusive circumstances. I wish we had a greater insight in Mitchell’s personality though, because he seemed like an interesting person as well. I also ‘liked’ (since ‘like’ isn’t the appropriate word) the way Karen Metcalf sketched stepfather Richard’s personality. An abusive man who spends more time drunk than sober, with a passion for hurting the children left in his care, and an obsession for sick mind games. Naturelly, I detested his personality, but I do admire the way the author described his personality so well, and really portrayed him as the sick man he was. It isn’t easy to do something lik that, especially not in a novella. But whenever the name ‘Richard’ was mentioned, I felt really sick in the pit of stomach and I got the urge to go hit him on the head with a rather large axe. Mission accomplished, I would say, because I really did hate this guy, who is sort of ‘the villain’ in this story. I would have liked to know more about what exactly made Richard turn into a blazing madman though, because I’m curious like that.

What I absolutely loved about this book, is the world building. The world Carly creates from her imagination, the world she can only access once something inside of her goes CLICK, is simply amazing. The way Karen Metcalf describes the looks and feel of this world, the way she makes the giant trees come to live, and the way she makes the storm so vivid and terrifying as if they were real, is very impressive. I also loved the entire background story about why this world was created, and why one can only access it now and then, and the story about Carly’s other lifes, her previous lifes, and her connection with the supposed-to-be’s. I thought these notions were very original, well thought-through, and they got me to do a fair share of thinking myself. Although a fantasy story at the core, I believed the basic ideas to be rather realistic and perhaps even plausible. Who knows where the feeling of déjà-vu really comes from, and who knows there aren’t a ton of other us’s out there, living the exact same life as we have – or something slightly different – in other dimensions? I know that these thoughts crossed my mind before when I was younger and in the whole doubting-life-and-everything-in-it phase, but I outgrew this as I grew older. I’m glad this book reminded me of this, as it’s really an interesting subject matter to think about. Who knows? Maybe in some other life, I’m Queen of the World and everyone bows down for me. Now that would be something.

I also liked the addition of ‘destiny’ and ‘fate’ in this novel, as it was ultimately destiny that brought the characters to where they were, and that no matter how many times Carly’s guardian angel Morgan, had tried to alter the course of destiny; he eventually failed every time. I thought the idea of a world based on our own choice or opinions but ultimately determined by a fixed destiny, was very appealing and intriguing.

It still surprises me how much originality, character development, topics and themes and great life-altering questions Karen Metcalf managed to address in this less-than-one-hour-long read. It leaves me yet again with the thought that this novella could have been life-changing and the next best thing in YA fantasy, had it been longer, and had the topics been covered more thoroughly. I have to hope that Karen Metcalf decides to write a sequel to In The Storm, because this is a story truly deserving of a sequel; and I cannot wait to read more about Carly and Morgan, as their entwined destinies enfold. An excellent read, that I would recommend to every fan of Young Adult Fantasy novels, or even just Fantasy novels, or to everyone who has an hour to spare and wants to read something fresh and original. Try In The Storm – it will not dissapoint.

Author Interview: Karen Metcalf

The Book

11100954Title: In the Storm
Author: Karen Metcalf
Format: eBook
Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Short Story
Rating: 4 stars
Read my review for In The Storm.
GoodReads | Smashwords | Amazon

Abandoned by the world around her, Carly believes she is fated to a life of torment at the hands of her stepfather and is desperate for an escape. When she can bear the abuse no longer and gives in to a thunderous rage, she suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar, yet beautiful, storm world. This limbo between dimensions appears to be her private sanctuary, but it may just be her purgatory.

No one escapes fate without sacrifice, but is the price more than Carly is willing to pay?

Karen was nice enough to offer a giveaway for In The Storm to two readers! Scroll down to the bottom of the interview to read the giveaway rules!

Author Interview

1) Hey Karen! After reading In The Storm, it wasn’t all that difficult to come up with some interview questions for you 😉 Let me start by asking the question that’s been on my mind the most: Where did you come up with the idea for writing In The Storm?

I grew up on the coast of North Carolina where they have the absolute best thunderstorms. During one, I thought about how they are the perfect personification of anger, and wanted to create a world that would reflect someone’s inner emotions. Mitchell was the first character I developed, and Carly was next, as his caretaker.

2) Was there any particular reason why you choose to write a novella rather than a full-length novel? Because I can imagine finding a publisher for a smaller work of fiction is a lot more difficult than finding one for a novel – and it’s not like getting published is easy either way.

So true!  I just wrote until the story was finished, and it happened to be pretty short. I didn’t see anywhere that I could add the thousands of words that would make it full-length, and anything else felt like fluff.  So I researched novellas and stumbled upon Vagabondage Press who was just beginning to consider publishing novellas.  It was just perfect timing and a lot of luck!

3) Could you tell us something about the road you travelled from having a finished manuscript on your computer to actually finding a publisher?

I sent it to friends and family first. A distant relative used to be an editor, and he really convinced me that it was worth publishing. Without his feedback, I probably would have stopped there. There are very few places that will publish novellas, so I did not originally hope to see it published as a stand-alone piece.  I was originally submitting to a few fiction competitions and literary magazines. Vagabondage Press publishes the Battered Suitcase magazine, which includes novellas.  I planned to submit to them, just to get my name out there, when I stumbled across a blurb that they were looking for novellas to start a new line of digital novellas.  I admit, I was very lucky, and only had two rejections from competitions before Vagabondage signed me.

4) In The Storm is the first book you wrote and published. What was the most difficult thing you encountered in the writing process?

The writing was easy!  I wrote it in only about a week or so, and the words just flew out of me. I happened to be on Christmas Break in college and had the time to give it a shot.  I had more trouble with promoting it as I am working and going to school full-time. It has all happened so fast. I think it is harder after the first one has some success.  I just hope to live up to how happy I am with my first one. The biggest challenge is how very fast it all happens. I did not expect that!

5) I must say that my favorite character to read about was Morgan. Who was your favorite character to write, and why? And also, who was the most difficult charachter to write, and why?

Morgan wrote himself. I didn’t do a lot of planning with him and he just developed with the story. I am very happy with the result. Carly was much more personal. I had to go to the emotional places she went, which was tough, but rewarding.  Her and Mitchell have a special place in my heart for the awful things I put them through.

Richard was more difficult.  I am lucky to have never known someone so awful, and really wasn’t sure how far to go with him. I hate him.

6) Are you currently working on something else? If so, could you tell us something more about it? (And please tell me it’s a sequel to In The Storm!)

I haven’t taken a sequel off the table, but I am working on something separate. I don’t yet know what the future holds for them, but it stays in the back of my mind all the time.  I won’t say too much about my current piece but it will be in the same genre and longer.

Thank you so much for answering my questions!

The Author

There’s a phrase in the South: “telling stories”, which means telling lies. Growing up, Karen Metcalf told a lot of stories, which wasn’t always a good thing.
She was raised on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where she spent most of her time reading science fiction and horror. She continues to explore those worlds through her writing, today.
Karen is 23 years old, and lives in Tucson, Arizona.
To find out more about Karen and her books, be sure to visit her website. You can also visit her Facebook author page here; the In the Storm fan page here; and lastly the In the Storm teaser and excerpt here.


Karen was nice enough to offer two free copies of In The Storm to my readers. The giveaway runs from April 1st till April 30th, and two lucky winners will be chosen by a random number generator to receive a free eBook copy! The contest is open internationally.

All you have to do to participate in this contest, is leave a comment to this post. That’s all. Of course, there are some ways to gain additional entries as well! 😉

  • +1 entry for commenting on my review for In The Storm.
  • +1 entry for following my website through GFC (both new and old followers welcome!)
  • +1 entry for subscribing to I Heart Reading by email (just enter your email in the ‘Subscribe by Email’ box at the top of the right sidebar)
  • +1 entry for following me on Twitter (@iheartreads)
  • +1 entry for Tweeting about this contest. Please include a link to your tweet!

Please add the number of extra entries you have in your comment below; and good luck with the contest!