Tag Archives: monsters

A Maiden in the Foxcombe: The Spiregarden Saga Book 1 by Tanya SM Kennedy (Book Review)

Be polite. Be graceful. Be beautiful. Remain safe.

Being a maiden in Spiregarden requires specific traits and Kardin has none of them. Fastly approaching being labeled unmatchable, she faces being sent to the Cell, a prison-like structure where unmatched maidens are left beyond the safety of the walls to protect the rest of society. It is a death sentence for those maidens society has deemed not good enough, and there is nothing she can do about it.

But when she meets Commander Lef of the illustrious Foxcombe, she is offered a glimpse of the freedom she has always wanted. A chance to escape the Cell and to make a difference and all she has to do is face the greatest danger in Spiregarden. Will she be able to aid in learning vital information to protect all of Spiregarden or will she be the lamb to the slaughter?

A Maiden in the Foxcombe is the opening installment in the fantasy adventure series of the Spiregarden Saga. If you like strong women going against tradition, dangerous monsters, and underdog stories, you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s story of one woman looking for her place in the world.

Buy A Maiden in the Foxcombe and join up today!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

A Maiden in the Foxcombe: The Spiregarden Saga stressed the capabilities of women. We can do more than cook, clean, and birth babies. We can defend our homes, protect our friends. We can be vital in battle, an ally. 

Even though many characters and society, as a whole, believed a woman’s place was in the home, I was overjoyed not everyone conformed to the ridiculous train of thought. Yes, many played the role out of fear of the neylons. However, Kardin chose freedom over fear, and her monumental decision resulted in a game-changing discovery. 

With A Maiden in the Foxcombe: The Spiregarden Saga being this good, I have incredibly high-hopes the sequel will knock my socks off.


On a side note: During Kardin’s training in the Foxcombe ranks, I kept humming this song…


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤1/2

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Tanya SM Kennedy was born in the wilds of West Virginia where she was raised to be strong, independent, and bull-headed. She spends her free time (any she can find) reading, writing, and taking care of her menagerie. She still lives in the wilds of West Virginia with her family enjoying the solitude.

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Shelter for the Damned by Mike Thorn (Book Review)

 

While looking for a secret place to smoke cigarettes with his two best friends, troubled teenager Mark discovers a mysterious shack in a suburban field. Alienated from his parents and peers, Mark finds within the shack an escape greater than anything he has ever experienced.

But it isn’t long before the place begins revealing its strange, powerful sentience. And it wants something in exchange for the shelter it provides.

Shelter for the Damned is not only a scary, fast-paced horror novel, but also an unflinching study of suburban violence, masculine conditioning, and adolescent rage.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Holy smokes, this book was a challenging read. Scenes were written exceptionally well, in painstaking detail, which made me want to gag at times. 

If the monster/presence in the shack were real, it would scare the sh*t out of anyone who had the misfortune to encounter it. I don’t want to give too much away about it or its evil intentions, but its actions are vile, sickening, gut-churning, and a thousand more adjectives along those lines. 

If I could change/add to Shelter for the Damned, it would be answering a few questions. Why did the Shack want Mark? Did it sense Mark’s anger? Was Mark a psychopath? What made Mark such an angry/problematic teen? I think understanding his past more would’ve helped me understand his draw to the Shack and it to him.  

With or without the added details, Shelter for the Damned is twisted AF and not for the faint of heart. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

 

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Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Prairie Gothic. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.

Connect with him on Twitter (@MikeThornWrites) or visit his website for more information: mikethornwrites.com.

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The Battle for Trimera: The Ruling Priestess Book 1 by Tanya SM Kennedy (Book Review)

To give in could mean the loss of everything she holds dear but resisting is tearing her apart.

All Pria wants is to protect her family, but as one of only two high priestesses in all of Reia, everyone has an opinion on her life. But as the stories reach her of the peril of Trimera, there is nothing she will not give to return to the only family she has left, her older brother Janu. Emotion is dangerous for a priestess, something she realizes all to keenly when she thinks about her brother’s friend Mian. 

From the day she was born, Mian knew he would die for Pria. But the woman that returns from the Lorien is a pale shadow of the fiery girl he remembers. Still scarred by the loss of his Prince’s advisor, the previous high priestess, he now has to watch his Pria face the same danger. But the more he tries to protect the high strung Pria, the angrier she gets. The only thing he knows for sure is that Trimera would not survive the loss of Pria; that he would not survive the loss of Pria. 

A mysterious being has gained control of the monstrous grinlo and every second that ticks by only serves to confirm that they are after Pria. With the Lorien watching her every move she can’t afford even the hint of weakness. But the longer she spends with Mian the more addled she finds her thoughts. How will she save Trimera when her very emotions could spell ruin?

The Battle for Trimera is the opening to the epic Ruling Priestess medieval fantasy series. If you like compelling characters, epic battles against savage monsters, and a gripping story, then you will love Tanya SM Kennedy’s tale of a priestess struggling against tradition to save her home. 

Pick up your copy of The Battle for Trimera and join the fight to save Trimera today!

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

At almost 600 pages, The Battle of Trimera is not only a beast in size, but the story is busting out the seams with blood-thirsty creatures. The grinlo are vicious beasts with sharp, black claws. Many men, women, and children have encountered them, yet survivors are few and far between. Ortid, one lone survivor, witnessed their wickedness firsthand. He stumbled up a very gruesome, gory, unforgettable, and stomach-turning scene. The grinlo’s leader, Neram, might be a man, but he was a monster just the same.  

As you are well aware, you can’t have a villain without a hero or heroes. There’re a check and balances in life, real or imaginary. In this scenario, multiple individuals band together to defend their land from the grinlo: Prince Janu, Lord Mian, Priestess Lana, Priestess Pria, Jaren, Liando, and various other soldiers. 

 

At three hundred page mark, Priestess Pria’s mind is troubled. She’s on the hunt for the person pulling the strings of the grinlo, and she’s trying to keep Mian at a safe distance. She wants to be seen as an adult, a powerful High Priestess; however, he makes her feel like a child again. Up to this point, if Pria looked closely, she would see he doesn’t –not entirely. His attraction to her is becoming more apparent for all to see. 

The sexual tension between Pria and Mian is growing with each page. 

 

The next 150 pages were quite active. There were nasty creatures, big and small, being a pain in the neck (literally and figuratively). Emotions also reached the boiling point, and, instead of throwing barbs at each other, Pria and Main let their true feelings show. No, they didn’t shag, but they had some steamy kisses.  

 

From page 450 until the endThe Battle of Trimera kept the same speed as the pages before it. The pace wasn’t too fast or slow. In actuality, Tanya (the author) balanced everything quite well. Overall, I felt she took ample time to develop characters, their relationship to each other, history, plot, etc. She had death scenes, but they weren’t overly detailed. Sure, they were gross but not horror movie gross (if that makes sense). Basically, what I’m saying, Tanya gave us enough visual stimuli to allow the reader to get the picture but not be overwhelmed.

There were some sections I wanted, craved more embellishment on, but I get why Tanya refrained. As I stated in my opening sentence, The Battle of Trimera was almost 600 pages long. 

To sum up, a great book and definitely worth the price tag attached!

 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

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Tanya SM Kennedy was born in the wilds of West Virginia where she was raised to be strong, independent, and bull-headed. She spends her free time (any she can find) reading, writing, and taking care of her menagerie. She still lives in the wilds of West Virginia with her family enjoying the solitude.

 


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Curse of the Blacknoc Witch by Tori V Rainn (Book Showcase)

Page Count: 162 pages
Cover Design: Abigail Owen

 

Be good, or the Blacknoc Curse will come for you.

Samuel dreamed of being a lot of things, but a monster trapped in a forest realm never entered his mind. The Blacknoc Curse wasn’t supposed to be true, only a children’s story meant to persuade them away from evil. Yet, here he was tasked with hunting cursed kids. There’s nothing left for Samuel except the horror surrounding him.

Layla, a young girl tormented by the same curse, is dropped into the terrifying forest every night, running from the monsters intent on taking her life. She meets Samuel and vows to save all the children, especially Samuel, from their torment.

Working together can they defeat the Blacknoc Curse?

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I crouch down next to the girl, careful not to touch her. “Look. You’ll be okay as long as you stay with me.”

She sniffles and cups her face. “This can’t be happening.” She wipes a tear off her cheek. “The legend of the curse is really like what my great-aunt said.”

I stand and pace. My monster self cannot be still when on constant alert. “It’s all true. A real cesspool of teeth.”

“When I woke back in my room, the scratches on my skin from last night were still there. Grandfather thought I’d done it to myself. I told him what happened, and he didn’t believe me.”

“He won’t be able to help anyway.”

She moans, and I stifle a grunt. There I go again with my optimism. As long as I am cursed to this flesh, there just isn’t any room for the stuff. But I can’t avoid the truth of her fate.

I kneel to her level. “What’s your name?”

“Layla Marlowe.”

I smile. A fitting name for a gorgeous girl. “Layla,” I repeat, as if the name carries me back to a reality where humans live in harmony away from monsters. I hurriedly add, “Nice to meet you.” Then I remember our situation. My comment is inappropriate. There’s nothing nice about the forest. Social etiquette must have died along with my soul.

“And you?” She looks up at me with a curious gaze. “Do you have a name?”

It’s been so long since I’ve heard my name. Who said it last? Josh? Pa calling me to supper? I stop to think for a second and then allow it to roll off my tongue.

“Samuel Fawcett.”

She hugs her knees, leaning forward, dangerously near my barbed hands. “What a keen name for a monster.”

An odd musk from between the trees reaches me. The stench of fear grows potent as low branches snap. Someone small and clumsy runs toward us.

I leap up. “We need to go now.”

 

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About Tori V. Rainn

Tori V. Rainn is a Texas-based fantasy novelist who is on a lifelong mission to inspire her readers through the power of imaginative storytelling. During her creative journey, an array of her short stories have been showcased in various online zines. It all started when she took a writing course at Writer’s Village University, which earned her a Creative Writing Certificate. The moment she penned her first story, she knew writing was her ultimate calling and greatest passion.

When she isn’t crafting thrilling plots, you can find this avid video gamer watching her favorite shows, collecting unique knives, or going on meditative walks in the heart of nature. She is also a chocoholic and tea aficionada with an unquenchable sweet tooth. Above all else, Tori enjoys spending quality time with her loved ones.

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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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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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