Tag Archives: philosophy

Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition by Mike Thorn (Book Review)

cover image / art by Mikio Murakami

 

Between the covers of Darkest Hours, you will find academics in distress; humans abusing monsters; demons terrorizing people; ghostly reminiscences; resurrected trauma; and occult filmmaking. Ranging from satirical to dreadful, these sixteen stories share a distinct voice: urgent, sardonic, and brutal.  

This expanded edition includes a new foreword by Sadie Hartmann (Mother Horror) and author notes for every story describing Thorn’s process, influences, and more. This updated release also features seventeen of Thorn’s essays on horror cinema, which cover films by Tobe Hooper, George A. Romero, Rob Zombie, M. Night Shyamalan, Wes Craven, and Dario Argento, among others.   

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

 

When I look at anthologies (multiple authors) or a compilation of works by a single author, I hope to walk away loving 1/2 of the short stories. With Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition by Mike Thorn, 11 out of the 16 horror tales scored a 4 or 5. That’s huge! It just shows you how well Mike Thorn crafted each storyline. 

Each story caused various reactions from me. Here are some examples:

 

HairAs a germaphobe, the idea of hair getting in my food or the possibility of eating hair is nightmarish. Ugh, just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. However, the inquisitive part of me wanted to know about hair fetishes. Oh my word, my browser history would raise some eyebrows. Curiosity made me read about hair eating (trichophagia), Rapunzel Syndrome (basically, hairballs), trichophia, and pubephilia. I’ll let readers of my review look those up for themselves. 🙂

While the plot 100% disturbed me and grossed me out, I was fascinated by the medical information surrounding the perversion to hair. 

Economy These DaysThis story wasn’t gory or horrific. It was, however, very plausible. In desperate times, people will do anything for money. So, I can absolutely fathom someone using their body as a punching bag. $450 a day, $2,250 a week, 9K a month, that amount of money is too irresistible to resist. Economy These Days made me wonder what I would do if there were no hope in sight. What would be my price? 

Lucio Schluter: In real life, humans are the real monsters of the world. They are the ones who abduct, inflict pain, suffering, torture, and kill. Every adult has probably watched at least one documentary of a famous serial killer, so you know the horrors that lurk in this world. For me, when Mike Thorn writes about plausible scenarios, that’s the stories that haunt me the most. The ones I won’t soon forget. 

 

Quick responses to 5 more stories featured in the Darkest Hours: Expanded Edition:

 

I’m never camping, thanks to Fusion!!! 

Mirrors are overrated, so I have no issue tossing all of mine in the trash. The possible result if I don’t is scary as shit! (Story, Long Man)

Mired: The absolute horror of the story was the blob eating all the textbooks. 😀

I’ve had many conversations about ghosts, so I loved the philosophical and theoretical discussions in Speaking of Ghosts. I wouldn’t want to face the actual outcome presented in the tale. Nope, I like to live in a world in hypotheticals. Leave the “seeing is believing” for other folks. 🙂

Mike Thorn ended the compilation with a fascinating tale. It’s a story through the eyes of a ghost. Remembering Absence wasn’t gory. It was another “thinker” story. While I love a good gory tale, I found this type of story sticks with you much longer because you’ll find yourself talking about the possibility of such an occurrence with your friends. 

 

After reading the sixteen stories, I learned several important facts.

No sober person had any supernatural encounters. Nothing good happens after dark, so stay the F*** home. Oh, and mirrors are evil so get rid of them! Now! 

 

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

Journalstone.com

Amazon Purchase Link

 

 

 

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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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Cassandra’s Time Yarns (Time Yarns Anthologies Book 1) by Erin Lale, Plus 4 More Contributing Authors (Anthology Review)

Print length: 92 pages

Contents:

The End of History by Gordon Yaswen
Choice by Ralph Ewig
Noble Northern Spirit by Erin Lale
Testing Time by Tony Thorne MBE
The Artist Formerly Known as G-d by Erin Lale
The Beginning by J.L. Toscano

Art Contents:

Paradise Lost by Maria Arango
Mandalas by Lisa Yount

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(review request submitted by Erin Lale, contributing author/editor, for an honest critique) 

 


(Story One) The End of History by Gordon Yaswen explored TIME in the manners of science and philosophy. In doing so, Yaswen reached a broader audience. The more individuals who can debate/explore a topic = more readers, more press. That is the goal of most writers. To get people talking about their work! 

 

(Story Two) Space is majestic, but it also comes with obstacles and fears. Every time a person explores space and the unknown, they are essentially gambling with their life. If something life-threatening happens in space, there is no 9-1-1. You and your comrades only have yourselves to rely on and no one else. All of this was emphasized in Choice by Ralph Ewig.

 

(Story Three) Noble Northern Spirit by Erin Lale was vastly different from its predecessors in this anthology. Erin Lale did not venture out into space. Her adventures took place on Earth. Hers centered almost entirely around magic.

Through the fourteen chapters, Erin Lale mentioned witches, the mob, drug smuggling, Jesus, Satan, and (deep breath) THOR!

There were several mythical beings discussed, in-depth or in passing. She really threw everything into the story except the kitchen sink. 😀

Speaking of kitchen sink, if I had magical powers, I’d used them to tackle the dishes in my sink. 😛

 

(Story Four) Testing Time by Tony Thorne MBE could be plausible in one aspect. If any citizen created a working time machine or force field, the military would be all over them. They’d confiscate the tech and the person. 

The interesting part of Testing Time came millions of (Earth) years later. I wished this section was explored more. Yes, I want about another 10-20 more pages. Why? Because there was so much more Tony Thorne could’ve said. Testing Time felt like it was just getting started when the story was (technically) wrapping up. 

Tony, I would love for you to expand this tale. I’d read it if you did. 🙂

 

(Story Five) The Artist Formerly Known as G-d by Erin Lale discussion of time travel, disruption of events, changing history, and warnings about when/where not to travel got me thinking. If I could travel to any period, where would I blast off to first?

I don’t know about Aunti Cassie and her opinion of her time spent with da Vinci. It might be an unforgettable experience to witness the creation of one of his genius inventions.

The only thing I know for sure…I would limit my time in any place which didn’t have indoor plumbing. I’m a bit spoiled in that way. 😀

 

(Story Six) The Beginning by J.L. Toscano would appeal to anyone who works in the sciences or is fascinated by science as a hobby. My hubby and his friends regularly discuss, and debate topics brought up in The BeginningThere’s also a theory that we (Earthlings) are merely puppets, and someone is pulling our strings. After reading The Beginning, you’ll wonder if this theory could be plausible. I’m sure many will debate this question. 🙂

 

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

Kindle Purchase Link

 

 

Gordon Yaswen, a college professor in California.

Ralph Ewig, from Western Europe, a rocket scientist at SpaceX.

Tony Thorne MBE, awarded a chivalric order by the Queen of England for advances in cryosurgery tools and carbon fiber furnaces, resides in the Canary Islands.

J.L. Toscano, a teacher at the Scarsdale Schools in New York.

Maria Arango, from Cuba, a woodcut artist.

Lisa Yount, from California, an artist and jeweller.

 

Erin Lale

Erin Lale, invented technical processes in iDEN and CDMA wireless communications technology.

Erin Lale writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc. She published Berserkrgangr Magazine, owned The Science Fiction Store in Las Vegas, was Acquisitions Editor at Eternal Press / Damnation Books, reviews books for Eternal Haunted Summer Magazine, writes an official blog for Witches and Pagans Magazine, and is the originator of the Time Yarns shared world universe. She lives in Nevada with her black cat, Happy.


Author website:  

https://www.erinlaleauthor.com/  

 

Author social media links:  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erin.lale  

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erinlale/  

MeWe: https://mewe.com/i-front/erinlale  

Minds: https://www.minds.com/erinlale/  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/erinlale  

 

 

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The Unexpected Inlander by Kellyn Thompson (Book Showcase)

Agent Christopher Rockford has been the best assassin in the agency for eight years, and he loves his job. He loves his solitary lifestyle. He loves keeping the world safe by getting rid of anarchists who threaten their orderly society. He loves his comfortable life as a member of the wealthy Coastal upper class.

But in pursuit of a target, he meets Jenna, a mysterious civilian who belongs to society’s lowest and most shunned group. Meeting her is a life-changing experience. She makes him feel for the first time, and he is instantly captivated.

She boldly stands in the face of everything he has ever known and was taught to believe. He begins to see the world through her eyes, causing him to question his job, his lifestyle, and The Order he so obediently serves. It’s not long before he can’t imagine his life without her.

There’s just one problem: He knows she would leave him if she ever found out about his job. He knows this because he asked her how she felt about assassins in their government, and she was utterly disgusted with the idea, even though she believes their existence is just a myth.

As their relationship grows and intensifies, he knows he cannot keep the truth from her for long.

But Jenna has her own secrets to keep.

Set in an orderly world of near-perfect surveillance, genetically modified humans, and extreme socioeconomic divide, The Unexpected Inlander will take you through Chris’s journey of self-discovery and learning that change begins within.

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With his phone still set to alert him when Adam moved, Chris decided to go to a bookstore he had seen the previous day. It was just beyond the Coastal District but still in walking distance. As Chris left the familiar blocks he had walked with Jenna, the tension in the atmosphere increased. Even in the Coastal District, the air and attitude were more uptight and anxious than anywhere on the Coasts, but citizens looked at him more suspiciously here, and their clothes were noticeably ragged and worn. The officers walking among the citizens were constantly checking hands and bags. Chris also noticed that officers here carried a baton in addition to a firearm. At one corner was a group of riot police with helmets and shields.

Everyone walked swiftly and kept to themselves. Several people bumped into him without apologizing. One citizen tried to reach into one of Chris’s pockets when he bumped into him, but Chris blocked his arm before he could do it. An officer saw the incident and immediately arrested the man, who argued, “He can afford to be robbed.” The officer, without any acknowledgement to Chris, put the man in handcuffs. Chris kept walking without looking back. He heard the man say “Coastal scum” and spit on the sidewalk, earning him another citation from the officer.

He reached the bookstore, and an officer at the door pointed to a sign, which reminded citizens that no bags were allowed in the store, to keep their hands where the officers could see them, and specifically for Coastals to keep their hands out of their pockets. Chris nodded to the officer to acknowledge that he saw the sign and walked into the store. The clerk at the register did not acknowledge him, continuing to frown as she stared out the window. The store was small and had a rank smell to it of old water damage that had never completely been cleared away. There was only one other customer in the bookstore, a Coastal, and he looked nervous in the unfamiliar territory. He smiled at Chris and greeted him in the Coastal custom, grateful to see a fellow Coastal.

Chris probably had more books in his own house than were on the shelves in this bookstore. Education was strictly enforced in The Sectors, and everyone was taught reading and writing in the emerging Common Language. But books were strictly censored, and most Inlanders worked for most of their waking hours and thus did not have time to read. All the books in the store were in the Common Language. When he saw one he had not read before, he took it off the shelf. It was used, as all the books in the store were, but it did not look like it had ever been opened.

Chris took it to the counter, and the clerk scanned the book without looking at him or saying a word. She flipped through it and stopped at a page. It had a note in the margin written in a language she did not recognize. Chris saw that it was written in Spanish, but he did not have a chance to read it before she marked over it with a thick black marker and threw the book in the trash can. Still without meeting his eyes, she waved him away, indicating he needed to choose another book. He did, and this time she scanned it, flipped through it, took his card, charged him, and put the book on the counter for him to pick up—all without looking at him or speaking to him. He took the book and left without acknowledging her. The other Coastal in the store quickly got a book and caught up to Chris walking on the street, staying a few paces behind him. When they got back to the blocks where more Coastals were, the man said, “Have a good day,” to Chris and walked away with ease. Chris got lunch to take back to his hotel room, and he resumed his position on watch.

 

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A few things about me:

  • Yes, Kellyn Thompson is a pen name. Why? Because I write non-fiction science articles and am into SciComm, for which I use my given name. I thought it would be best to keep my fiction writing separate from the non-fiction science writing, ergo I used a different name when I decided to write fiction.
  • I do love writing (hence my first blog post, titled, “Why I love writing“), but I hate writing about myself. Maybe this blog will help me on that front. But I much prefer the solace I find in the objectivity of science or the dreamy unreality of fiction.
  • I reside in the great Pacific Northwest in the United States.
  • I have a dark sense of humor. My whole family does.
  • I need at least two cups of coffee to get going in the morning. It’s not a good idea for me to try to do anything substantial before finishing that second cup.
  • I love animals and biology and the magic (er…science) of life in general and, of course, books and cats.
  • I loooooooove being dramatic in my fiction writing, haaaaate being dramatic in real life.
  • And, finally, in case it’s not obvious, I am very new to blogging–Thank you for your patience! and any tips you have 🙂

 

You can find me on: 

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The Declutter Code: 10 Simple Steps to Clarity by Yvette Bowlin (Book Review)

 

Is your household busting at the seams with stuff everywhere? Has confusion and chaos at home and office become the norm? Are you facing anxiety and overwhelm with all the projects on your plate? Do your relationships suffer from all the demands you put on yourself and other people?

That’s all clutter–in mind, body, heart and home.

No matter what you do to clear the clutter from your life, does it always seem to creep back in?

If you’re nodding your head yes to any of these questions, this book is for you.

How do we begin to clean up our clutter? How do we regain clarity and peace? We lost it to overwhelming to-do lists, countless home- and work-life obligations, social media and cell phones. We lost it to keeping up with the Joneses.

So many books obsess over cleaning out drawers and closets to create an organized household, but that’s only scratching the surface of clutter. Those books miss the mark! There’s something else we have to clean first before we can declutter effectively. The mind.

Known to some as the bible for decluttering your life from the inside out, The Declutter Code is a 10-step journey that will transform how you deal with clutter. Using the same process that worked for herself and her clients, Yvette Bowlin walks you through clearing mental clutter like self-sabotage, stress, lies and limiting beliefs. Learn the secret behind your “clutter problem” so you can begin to deeply clear it away! Regain clarity and, quite possibly, your sanity.

 
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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 
 
I agree with Yvette that we, as a whole, live a cluttered life. We also have difficulties simplifying our lives. This leads to stress, which leads to unhappiness. 
 
Yvette didn’t necessarily teach me anything new about what causes the “clutter” and how to “declutter” myself. (Sorry Yvette but I have been reading philosophy books since I was 19. 


BTW: Love the Lao Tzu quote. He is one of my favorite philosophers.) 
 
With that said, I do think she WILL TEACH many others how to quiet the chatter and live a more peaceful, less chaotic life. 
 
Her experiments might come across as challenging for some such as giving up tv, internet, everything, but it can be done.
 
Also, take her advice and try yoga or mediate. Folks, they really do calm the storm swirling around in our minds. 
 
 
Heart Rating System – 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤
 
 
 
 

Yvette Bowlin has always been a student of the mind. It started with her undergraduate and Master’s work in Consumer Psychology and led to her studies of enlightenment and spirituality. Years of research and self-inquiry sent her down the path of discovering the root of our “clutter problem.” Her work has been featured on Huffington Post, Los Angeles Business Journal, several podcast interviews and more.

From observing herself and others, Bowlin has pinpointed the reasons most people keep themselves stuck in sabotage, suffering, struggle and stress. But we don’t have to stay stuck! Clutter stands in the way of peace, presence and clarity.

Bowlin learned the ‘art of hoarding’ early on in childhood, and has since been meticulous about decluttering her life. She’s created a simple process for doing just that, outlined in The Declutter Code: 10 Simple Steps to Clarity. The underlying premise of her book, seminars and speeches is that the most effective way to declutter is from the inside out—starting with the mind!

Also a certified yoga instructor, Bowlin loves to help others come into mind-body awareness to better facilitate deep decluttering. Read more about her at http://declutterist.com.

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