Monthly Archives: May 2020

Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3 – Six Authors, Twelve Chilling Stories (Anthology Review)

Brace yourself for another two-barrel blast of unrelenting horror and suspense. Volume 3 of the ‘Double Barrel Horror’ anthology series delivers two chilling tales from each of six talented authors for a twelve-story onslaught that will blow you out of your sneakers. This time around, your fate lies in the hands of Christine Morgan, Mark Matthews, Theresa Braun, Calvin Demmer, Glenn Rolfe, and Robert Essig.

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(review request submitted by Theresa Braun, contributing author, for an honest critique)

There are twelve stories in this gory anthology. I am going to share my favorite story from each author. 

 

I had no idea so many phrases had the word “eye” in it. Christine Morgan’s Eye See You discussed mentioned several. 

  • keeping an eye on you
  • look with your eyes, not your hands
  • eye spy with my little eye
  • eyes in the back of your head
  • eat with your eyes first

When a child hears these phrases, their minds might translate to a literal form. Maybe a child believes EYES are in the back of heads. If you step into their mindset, this phrase is creepy. That’s why I think many will find Eye See You disturbingIt makes you rethink and picture a not so pleasant scene. 

 

 

If you have a weak stomach, as in the mere mention of puke causes you to gag, then pass on From Unclean Spells by Robert Essig. There was so much vomit in this short story. I mean, you could slip- n-slide in the slimy stuff if you wanted to… not that I am suggesting you ever do so. I am just giving you a nasty visual of how much upchuck was involved. Oh yeah, there’s a grotesque monster in this tale as well. He made me wanna relieve myself of my breakfast foods as well. 

 

 

Wicked Smart Carnie by Mark Matthews solidified what my mother told me every year of my childhood when the carnival came to town… “Never trust a carnie. Never talk to a carnie. NEVER, EVER, go off with a carnie alone!” 

I’m sure carnies are lovely people, but they give off a creepy vibe to me. I’m assuming Mark Matthews (the author) has felt the creep vibe from them as well. 

 

Theresa Braun’s Stillborn had a great combination of science fiction, mystery, suspense, gore, and shock. I mean, first, she had body parts in jars. But, she topped herself when more jars were exposed. (no spoilers)

Mad scientist… Invasion of the Body Snatchers… I’m not sure what the heck is going on in that hospital, and I’m not sure if I want to know. Who am I kidding… I so want to know. I didn’t want the story to end! 

 

Calvin Demmer drew me in with Highway Hunger. His monster was a seven-foot squid/octopus with two large eyes that fed on dying animals or humans. Ok, that sounds good on paper. In-person, not so much. 

And the ending, wow, I DID NOT see that coming. I bet Dudley didn’t either. 

Oh and the rat scene… SHIVERS! 

 

 

When I was a child, there was an urban legend that a Cabbage Patch Doll came alive and suffocated a baby in her sleep. I immediately tossed all my big dolls in the trash. Even now, as I shop in stores, I give them the side-eye. I know it’s my imagination, but I swear them look a little too intently at me. Plus, they can blink their eyes. That’s creepy. 

Oh, and don’t get me started on the dolls that look, feel, and act like real babies. Those dolls are nightmare inducers! 

After reading The House on Mayflower by Glenn Rolfe, I have a new fear. I’d tell you, but I don’t want to ruin the story for others. 


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Heart Rating System:
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Christine Morgan (Author), Mark Matthews (Author), Theresa Braun  (Author), Calvin Demmer  (Author), Glenn Rolfe (Author), Robert Essig (Author), Matthew Weber (Editor) 

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The Best Man Plan by Jaci Burton (Happy Book Birthday!)

Book 1 in the Boots and Bouquets Series

Three days before Erin Bellini‘s wedding, her fiancé breaks up with her – in an email! Hurt and embarrassed, she decides to have a fling with veterinarian Jason Callum, who’s both the best man and the hottest guy she knows. But Jason wants a lot more than just a one-night stand with the woman he’s cared about for years. So he’s taking things slow. And hot. And showing Erin what real love can look like.


Suddenly Erin finds herself spending a lot more time with Jason than she intended. Feelings she never planned on having again are wrapping around her heart, refusing to let go. Erin isn’t sure she can trust her instincts, though. After all, she made a terrible choice with her ex-fiancé. But Jason intends to convince her that he’s the best man for her, and that what they have together is a real love that will last forever.
 

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**Partial excerpt courtesy of Jaci Burton’s Website**

 

Chapter One


Erin Bellini shouted out from her office at Red Moss Vineyards.

“Mom. Have you talked to the caterers?”

Her mother didn’t respond right away. It was her most annoying quality. While she waited, Erin jotted down several things she needed to remind her bridesmaids about. Her two sisters were onsite so she had them covered, but she made a note in her planner for the rest of the bridesmaids.

Erin’s mother, Maureen, made an appearance in Erin’s office. “You don’t need to yell at me, Erin. You could have just sent me a text. And yes, caterers are confirmed. Which I already told you this morning.”

“Right. You did. For some reason I hadn’t checked it off the list. Sorry.” She typed an X in the spreadsheet on her laptop as well as marking it off on the page in her planner. She looked up at her mother. “And my dress is back from alterations, right?”

“It’s in your closet.” Her mom made that face, the one where her lips went straight and her eyes narrowed and you knew you were being scrutinized. “You’re not getting nervous, are you?”

Erin smiled and took in a deep breath to center herself. “I never get nervous. Because I have everything organized. In my planner. In my spreadsheet. In the notes on my phone.”

Her mother smiled. “Right. Yes, well that’s you, honey. I’m going out to the vineyards to check on your dad. Call if you need me.”

“Okay.”

She should call Owen, her fiancé, to make sure he remembered he had to pick up the tuxes. Or maybe she should call Jason, Owen’s best friend and the best man. Owen was always scattered and busy and he’d likely forget. Thankfully he had her to organize everything for him.

She picked up her phone and found Jason, then pressed the call button.

“Busy here, Erin.”

She shook her head at Jason’s gruff brush-off. They’d grown up together, had known each other forever. “I need you to pick up the tuxes.”

“What?”

“The tuxes, Jason.”

“I’m knee-deep in cow shit right now, Erin. You don’t mean now, do you?”

“No. I mean tomorrow.” She heard mooing. “You delivering babies?”

“Pregnancy checks.”

“Oh. Cool.” Jason was a large animal vet, so he was always on the run. He was part of a practice in town, but he also worked the local ranches.

She was scrolling through her e-mails when she saw one from Owen. Huh. That was odd. Owen never e-mailed her. He either called or texted. She frowned and clicked on it.

“I thought Owen was doing the tux thing,” Jason said.

“Owen is likely up to his elbows in hops or wheat or whatever it is that brewers do. Or he’s making sure the brewery won’t go up in flames without him when we’re on our honeymoon. You know how he is.”

“Fine. I’ll handle it. Anything else?”

“Yeah.” She was trying to concentrate on Owen’s e-mail and forgot she was on the phone with Jason.

“Erin. Anything else?”

Her blood went cold. Everything in her went cold, despite the warm May day.

She read the e-mail again. It was a breakup e-mail. Two days before the wedding, and Owen was breaking up with her.

“In a freaking e-mail? He’s breaking up with me in an e-mail?”

“Who’s breaking up with you?” Jason asked. “Owen is?”

She was getting married in two days. Correction. Apparently she was not getting married, because exactly two days before their wedding Owen had broken up with her. Via e-mail.

She felt dizzy and sick to her stomach. She leaned over and put her head between her legs.

“Erin. Are you there?”

“Did you know about this?” she asked, trying not to faint or throw up.

“Hell no, I didn’t know. Did he call you?”

Erin straightened, the dizziness making her feel as if she’d just downed a bottle of Bellini’s best prosecco in one gulp.

Two days. They were getting married in two days. This had to be a mistake. But as she looked at the e-mail again, the word “mistake” was written in the same sentence as the words, “us getting married.”

“Ahhhhhhhhh!” she screamed, long and loud, then yelled, “That sonofabitch. I will kill him. He broke up with me in an e-mail, Jason.”

“He didn’t,” Jason said. “Are you sure?”

She straightened, shoving her laptop as if somehow that was the same thing as slapping Owen. “Oh, he did. And I’m sure. I can read a damn e-mail, Jason. I gotta go.” She ended the call and stared at her lists, tears pricking her eyes as the future she’d envisioned with Owen dissolved right in front of her.

All because of an e-mail. An e-mail! How could he be so cold?

“I will kill him. I. Will. Kill. Him.”

Click here to read the full excerpt!

 

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January River by Bernard Jan (Book Showcase)

Five friends. One dog. One river carrying a secret.

When one of their friends goes missing, everything comes crashing down for the small group of childhood friends in the small town of Greenfield. Ethan takes it hard. Then he loses his dog, his only consolation.

Hoping to start anew, Ethan leaves Greenfield and moves to New York City. Far from the ghosts of his childhood and the river that gives and takes life. There he finds his one true love and builds a career as a bestselling author.

But how long will Ethan’s happiness last as doubts creep back into him and shatter his reality? And will his reconciliation with the past come at too great a price?

All rivers carry their secrets, but not every river keeps its secret forever.

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Ethan McCoy lay in the grass, stretched out to his full length. He flung his head back and unbuttoned his shirt, exposing his neck and the pale skin of his chest to the sun. His rolled-up sleeves were already drenched in sweat. Perspiration ran off his forehead, dripping onto the jacket folded under his head in a faux pillow.

Ethan removed the light-sensitive glasses from his nose and wiped the sweat off with a handkerchief. Inhaling deeply, he stared at the sun through unprotected eyes. The scent of Greenfield invaded his nostrils, conquering his throat, lungs, and heart. Inside him the memories were waking up, ignited by familiar feelings from the past.

In the strong light he felt a pain in his eyes, forcing him to close them. So that he might suffer too, he didn’t move to escape into the protective shadows. Determined to stay exposed to heat that reached him from the vast distance with such strength, he willed the sun to cause him pain. Wanted it to numb his senses and make him oblivious to any and all experiences—both pleasant and unpleasant. Most of all, he wanted to let go of the internal pain that refused to leave him alone after all these years.

He wished one pain could soothe another. The physical could annul the emotional. Even as he thought it, he knew it was in vain. He also accepted there was no cure for that pain. At best, it might be blunted some day and become just a painful reminder of his past.

But it would never disappear.

Because if it did, Greenfield would no longer exist. The artificially created grove beside the river in which he now rested, would vanish too. The same for Willy, then Jason, Derrick, and Sarah. Riv and . . . Susan. Could they evaporate, all of them? Did he have the right to ask that?

Or, what if it were possible for all of them to remain in their reality where they belonged? While he—Ethan—disappeared? Both could be possible only by some supernatural phenomenon. Something that could never happen.

Eventually moving into the shadows, he took off his shirt, shoes and socks and continued with his fantasy. Recalling. Or gathering up the strength and determination to do what he intended. Well, that’s what he planned on saying if someone asked him why he was there. So far, nobody had. Nobody knew. He arrived less than an hour ago. He hadn’t gone to the town, but had come straight to the river. To the place where everything had begun. Therefore, it only seemed fitting that it be where the beginning of the end transpired. The place where he would insert a period at the end of a life story. If he got lucky, he’d tear out a blank page and start anew. No memories. No past.

Without the bad memories, he could live in peace.

However, if he were honest with himself, that would be equally impossible to achieve.


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Be a Superhero in the Kitchen by Donna Glass (Book Showcase)

The book contains a detailed list of Superhero Cooking Tips and delicious kid-friendly recipes including Super Chicken Tacos, Powerful Potato Cakes, Mega Mac and Cheese Pizza, Crime Fighter’s Cookie Fluff, Legendary Lemon Tarts, and many more!

Let your child try their hand with the recipes in this book. Every kid who becomes the superhero of suppertime is one who eats super well!

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Angie Quantrell 
 

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I am a wife, mother of two kids, a lover of comic books, and a home cook. I believe in making mealtime an enjoyable experience through joint cooking and kid-friendly meals. I also believe kids that help with the cooking process are more likely to eat their meals, which leads to a happy, peaceful dining experience. Be a Superhero in the Kitchen is my first children’s cookbook, but I strive to publish more.

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Bury ‘Em Deep by Ellie Douglas (Book Showcase)

With famine and disease spreading out of control, the death toll was the worst in recorded history. It was being described at first as the Black Death. Little did the world know at the time but it was much worse.

The living had to fight to stay alive. It was what they fought against that the world wasn’t ready for. Corpses rose from out of the ground, rotted and putrid. Decaying masses herded quickly, devouring everything in their way.

It is now 1855 and a crew of fearless cowboys face off against what their ancestors failed to vanquish. Follow Gus, Cole, Hector, Fred, and Yahto as they do everything they can to eradicate the pestilence plaguing  the Wild West. To right the wrongs of their forefathers, they must purge the world of the undead.

Man took back what was rightfully theirs.

Or did they?

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~~ Teaser ~~

The poor ill-fated mare had one of its dark brown eyes plastered to its face, still hanging on its tendon.

For Yahto, the worst thing was the horse’s stomach had been gnawed open. The ripped-out, unborn fetus still lay in its amniotic membrane mixed with slimy gore sprawled out on the ground amid the hay and dirt. Next to that lay the horse’s stomach and liver. All of it looked as though it had been eaten and then regurgitated.

When Yahto’s eyes panned over the horse, he noticed how the top of its head had a gaping wound, and its brain had been half ripped out of its head, eaten. The other half spilled down the side of the horse’s face and onto the ground in a pool mixed with cerebral fluids and blood. All four of her legs were folded at the knee joints, so she appeared to be kneeling. If it weren’t for the others eating her, she’d have been flat on her side. Flies buzzed relentlessly, and the smell of blood assaulted the men, burning the backs of their throats.


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Born and raised in New Zealand, a mother and wife who donates what spare time she has into volunteer work with Autistic children.

Ellie Douglas is addicted to horror, everything about it she loves. She enjoys creating strong characters that rise to the top from ordinary lives.

Her love affair with horror has seen her produce three award winning horror books. With many more on the way.

Ellie is creative in all aspects with several adult coloring books and an online casino slot game under her belt. She is constantly striving to do more.

Ellie also makes professional book covers for authors and she makes websites, banners, and logos too.

Ellie’s ultimate aim is to give back, paying it forward and to constantly better herself. To give the audience amazing entertaining stories that she herself would read.

She would love to scare you…

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