Tag Archives: thriller

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:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Infested by Carol Gore (Book Review)

Swarms of powerful mosquitoes sucking victims dry. Insatiable horseflies feasting on living flesh. Huge roaches with a ferocious bite. No tent is safe at the Green Swamp Zip-Line Adventure and Campground. Camp manager, Casey Lovitt, and entomologist, Dr. Phillip Edwards, must go up against powerful business interests and cover-ups from the local sheriff’s department to stop the deadly infestation. And with the busy tourist season fast approaching, time is running out. Will Casey and Phillip stop the onslaught of hungry bugs, or will the bodies continue to pile up among the long-buried secrets of the Green Swamp?

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

 

Besides arachnids, I’m not overly fond of most bugs or insects. Before reading Infested, I didn’t suffer from myrmecophobia (fear of ants), pteronarcophobia (fear of flies), or scolopendrphobia (fear of centipedes). I do have a fear of spiders, but arachnophobia is a pretty common phobia. However, after reading Infested, that’s all changed. I now suffer from entomophobia, fear of ALL bugs. 

I don’t care if it’s a ladybug or butterfly, I’m going to be cautious of everything for a long while. 

After you read Infested, and I implore everyone to read it, you’ll understand my previous statement. No insect should be the size of a teacup poodle. No gator should be taken out by an insect or multiple insects. And, no way should pests be the predator while the humans are the prey

Infested will make your skin crawl, but that means Carol Gore completed her mission. She wrote a story that’ll leave a lasting impression with the reader. 

 

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
Carol Gore examines the absurdity of life on earth by writing horror and humor, sometimes at the same time. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Fourteen HillsPunchnel’s, and Dark Moon Digest. Aside from writing, she’s a yoga enthusiast, a painting hobbyist, and a lifelong voracious reader. She lives in the rural south with her husband and two sons.
 

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The Crown for Castlewood Manor: My American Almost-Royal Cousin Series by Veronica Cline Barton (Book Review)

The English ancestral manor of Cherrywood Hall is ready to compete for selection in an upcoming British TV period drama series: the grounds are manicured, the mansion is polished, and the servants are poised. American heiress Gemma Lancaster Phillips has crossed the pond to help her cousin defeat the three other stately homes vying for the prize.

What Gemma doesn’t realize is that this competition is life or death, and someone is taking that challenge literally. The occupants of one home are killed in an automobile accident, and murder becomes a frequent occurrence at the other locations. Who is behind the mayhem? Selection would be a major coup for both the estate and the community. At first the other contestants seem to be likely suspects, but no one is quite certain as the tragedies continue. Could it even be Emma’s beloved cousin Evan, the surviving heir to the Lancaster fortune, or Kyle, his best friend and estate manager? With the Royal family in attendance at each event, the puzzle becomes a crucial one for Scotland Yard, and they enlist Gemma’s help to solve the mystery.

When the competition’s winner is announced on New Year’s Eve, will Gemma’s future be forever tied to her ancestral past?

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

Wow, royal families really know how to throw a party. No matter where the competition events were being held, pandemonium was soon to erupt.

Shots fired. Drinks poisoned. Suspicious car accidents.

Who was the killer and was he or she working alone?

This was not a simple murder mystery book. Veronica Cline Barton (the author) will have you guessing right up until the end when Chief Inspector Marquot explains all the motives behind each illegal act.

BTW: I would be shocked to know any reader was 100% correct in all the who’s and why’s of this multiple murder mystery.

I do have some bit of advice before you crack open this book. Grab snacks!

Veronica mentioned food so many times that I was starving by the time I finished the book. 🙂

Good luck, super sleuths!

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

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Veronica Cline Barton earned graduate degrees in both engineering and business and has had successful careers in the software and technology industries. Her lifelong love affair with British murder mysteries inspired her to embark on a literary career. The Crown for Castlewood Manor and Cast, Crew, & Carnage; the Filming of Castlewood Manor are the first and second books in what she calls her My American Almost Royal Cousin Series. When not traveling and spinning mystery yarns, she lives in California with her husband, Bruce, and her two cats, Daisy and Ebbie.

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Troika: A Supernatural Short Story by Bibiana Krall (Book Review)

A normal day in the Deep South turns into a nightmare, as Chantal discovers that beauty and terror trace the fault lines between life and death. She fights to understand why a good woman, her friend Aida is stricken with a debilitating illness that steals her mind and reason. When Aida’s terrifying visions are revealed, what price does it have when it’s shared with Chantal? 

 
 Take a walk on the dark side, where existence is fragile and knowledge of the after-life can cross over and become frighteningly real and physically dangerous to anyone who knows the truth. Make it a summer to remember with a fantastic new story from Black Calyx Books!
 
 
 
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

Dementia is a scary illness. It weakens the mind and body. People with the affliction are aware their time is limited, and there’s no cure. Loss of motor function, loss of memory, and hallucinations are just a few symptoms a person faces with this terrible illness. Again, it’s a sad and frightening illness.


Bibiana wrote about the fears and heartache of having Dementia from a sufferer’s point of view and a friend’s as well.


She focused a lot of time on hallucinations. Were the three people Aida saw real or the result of her disease? To avoid spoilers, I won’t say either way.


I will say this…


When you sense evil or death breathing down your neck, real or imaginary, it’s a real mind F—K. You can’t help but live in constant fear. And fear, as we discover, is like food for vile creatures.


After I finished this short story, I read the “Afterword.” In my opinion, I think Bibiana Krall should’ve put the “Author’s Note” before the actual story. Knowing this story was loosely based on real-life events increased my score. Before the “Afterword,” Troika was a solid three stars. After I read the “Author’s Note,” my score jumped a point.


Also, before the story began, Bibiana had an “Epilogue.” An epilogue goes at the end of a story.


Other than those two things, I wouldn’t have changed anything else. It was a quick, to the point, read and had just the right amount of spookiness to keep me engaged. No gore, only a story that embraced the word FEAR.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 
 
 
Bibiana Krall is the author of seventeen titles on Amazon, a former international travel expert and luxury insider, she has lived the adventurous life she writes about. Her novels and short stories highlight kickass, female protagonists in character driven stories that utilize social narratives.
Winner of a ‘Pay It Forward Scholarship’ from Wilkes University CW, Bibiana Krall has been called a, “Lyrical maven and literary wordsmith.” @Goodreads Learn more about Bibiana’s books, watch cinematic book trailers.

Become Literati and subscribe to her free blog, news, inspiring articles and occasional recipes at https://www.bibianakrall.com

YouTube: Bibiana Krall Books | Barefoot Films
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Chat & Follow on Twitter: @Bibiana1Krall

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Escape by L. A. Davenport (Book Review)

To escape first you have to set yourself free

John, a doctor grieving for the loss of his wife, is recuperating at a glamorous resort in the Eastern Mediterranean, where he falls for Jasna, a brilliant and beautiful young hostess. When she is brutally murdered, John is the only suspect.

To clear his name and find her killers, he teams up with Charles, the elderly hotel manager seeking justice for the death of his granddaughter. They are pitched into a ruthless world of people-trafficking, prostitution, drugs, mafia and murder, where life is cheap and no-one and nothing is what it seems.

Will they gather the evidence in time to stop the killers, or be the next victims in the seemingly endless cycle of violence? And can they trust the police, or are they part of the web of corruption that reaches into every part of life, trapping everything in its threads?

Escape is the debut novel by L. A. Davenport that plunges you into a darkly glamorous world in which John has to overcome his grief and obtain justice for Jasna and the women made victims of modern slavery.

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

 

John, a recent widow, goes to a resort in the Eastern Mediterranean to get away from his sorrow. However, his escape from reality comes with dire consequences. The resort is serving more than fine food and drinks. The gang running the area has its hand in everything, and almost everyone is under their control. John isn’t though, and he proves to be tougher than anyone ever suspected. Petrov, the gang leader, sure did underestimate the middle-aged doctor (John).

Suspense, violence, mystery, love, friendship, and sadness… Escape sure had a lot going on.

 

As for the mystery aspect of this story, it wasn’t so much as who killed the ladies, but how would the gang be taken down.

L. A. Davenport broke up Escape into nine parts, with each section having three to eight chapters under them. I’ve read stories with 1-3 sections but never nine. Each part also began with Chapter One. That means, there are NINE of them. That seemed odd to me. Why start each part with Chapter One?! While the story was pretty good, this unusual setup seemed unnecessary and made no sense at all.

 

Now, let me talk about John’s love for his deceased wife. It was apparent her passing tore him up. He spoke to her portrait often. Yes, there’s no doubt in my mind he loved her, loves her still, but this is where things turn south for me. He fell in love with another woman, Jasna, quite soon after his wife died. He didn’t  know Jasna. Yes, she was a nice woman, but he didn’t really know the real her. I think he was confusing infatuation with love. 

John also spoke of this ‘demon’ inside him, which wanted John to do bad things. I assumed the demon would come into play later on, maybe a surprise twist, but it did not. That was a bit of a letdown.

 

Even though I had issues with some details of Escape, I do love when the underdog gets the upper hand. If you do as well, then buy this book.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤1/2

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L. A. Davenport is an Anglo-Irish author.

He sometimes lives in the countryside, far away from urban distraction, but mostly he lives in the city. He enjoys long walks, typewriters and strong black coffee.

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