Tag Archives: short stories

The Christmas Cameo:  A Fiona Quinn Quick Mystery by C.S. McDonald (Book Review)

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​A lovely cameo brooch is discovered in Fiona’s late Uncle Wilbur’s house two days before Christmas. The pin bears a romantic Christmas message from Wilbur for his new wife with the initials, D.A.S.

How very strange! To the family’s knowledge, Uncle Wilbur had never been married. So, who is this mysterious woman? Now, Fiona is on a holiday mission to locate D.A.S. and deliver the belated gift. 

Question is, what happened to the marriage? Is D.A.S. still alive after all these years? And if so, can Fiona find her before Christmas?

 
 
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Fiona is not the only person in town who loves a good mystery. Ted Welton, his wife, and Detective Tavia are also eager to solve who’s the mysterious person behind the initials of D.A.S. on a cameo brooch discovered in Fiona’s dead uncle’s house.
 
The investigation leads to a sweet moment between Fiona and D.A.S. They are tears of joy for a man, long gone but never forgotten.


While Fiona is on the hunt for D.A.S., Nathan is on his quest as well. He’s looking for a pickpocket whose slick fingers nabbed the cameo. This perp does not wear all black when he’s looking to unburden a person of their belongings. Nope, he wears a Santa suit.


Since it’s the time of the year for peace on Earth, I don’t think I’m overstepping by saying everyone will receive a Christmas miracle. Yes, even fake Santa. I would encourage fake Santa to get a real job. He doesn’t seem to have any luck with pickpocketing.

 

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

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About the Author:
For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time, she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series that everyone, including teens and tweens, can read and enjoy. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries nine books with a tenth slated for 2021. The books are also available on audio, narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg. Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The female protagonist, Alexa Owl, is much different from Fiona Quinn. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy! Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.
 
 
Connect with the author:  
Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook
 
 
 
 
 
 

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NEW Release: Love Awaits – a collection of erotic short stories

Gay.
Straight.
Lesbian.
Monogamous.
Ménage à trois.
Couple swapping.

In this steamy collection, you’ll encounter six erotic stories that’ll leave you breathless and begging for more. Maybe, one of these stories will cause your first bookgasm. You know, a scene is so intense, so erotic that you can’t resist getting off to it. *wink wink*

Enjoy. *kisses*

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Peel Back and See by Mike Thorn (Book Review)

In spaces both familiar and strange, unknowable horrors lurk.

From the recesses of the Internet, where cosmic terror shows its face on an endless live feed, to a museum celebrating the sordid legacy of an occultist painter, this chilling collection of sixteen short stories will plunge you into the eerie, pessimistic imagination of Mike Thorn. Peel Back and See urges its readers to look closer, to push past surface-level appearances and face the things that stir below.

 

Amazon Purchase Link
Journalstone.com

 

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

 

Peel Back and See is a collection of sixteen (16) short stories that are heavy on unforgettable encounters with hungry creatures, blood and gore, fear, Satan, and (weirdly enough) sexual arousal. 

Some stories stuck with me more than others. Below are my top five (5). 

1.) Mr. Mucata’s Final Requests: Everyone knows you don’t try to double-cross Satan. I mean, come on, don’t even try. Deals with him are also a bad idea. Seriously, the worst possible choice a person can make. If you believe in the devil, demons, and hell, say NO to anything offered. Period!

2.) @GorgoYama2013: We’re raised to know you NEVER go into a stranger’s car. Horror movies have ingrained in us to NEVER go into a strange basement, especially alone. Victor broke all the rules. What he met could best be described as a horrific version of Krang (the brain) from TMNT. If you don’t know who I am talking about, look him up! 

3.) Vomitus Bacchanalius: Okay, people are vomiting. Aliens are eating the regurgitated food. There are goo-faced men. Ugh, this story was gross, BUT good! I loved the nod to Gordon Ramsay too. 🙂

4.) The Furnace Room Mutant: This story stood out more because you’d think an unnatural being would be the monster in the story. I like it when authors step out from the paranormal norm. 🙂

5.) Havoc: This was the first story in the collection, and it made me close my laptop and take one giant step back from it. Read the story, and you’ll understand why. There was only one part I wasn’t too keen on — a flashback scene between student and teacher. I don’t want to divulge too much, but it made my score drop from a five to a four. (for this story only, not the overall score of the anthology)

 

 In Peel Back and See, thirteen of the sixteen stories scored three and above. That’s impressive! I encourage others to read the collection and see which story has you cowering under the covers. 


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

Amazon Purchase Link
Journalstone.com

 

 

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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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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.   

Journalstone.com

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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

 

 

 

_DSF2007 (1)

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

Kindle Purchase Link



(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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