A Rare Breed

Genre – Fiction

Subgenre – Horror/Short Story

Pages – 32

Publication Information – Independently Published – January 12, 2019

Format – Digital

Reviewed by William C. Bitner, Jr.

Rating – 📙📙📙📙📙

I must admit that R.J. McCabe is a new name to this reader.  He contacted me a few weeks ago asking if I’d be interested in reading A Rare Breed, and I of course, always interested in adding new names to my list of authors I’ve read, said yes.  I had no idea what to expect. This short story is so very aptly titled, as this was indeed a rare breed.  Beware, this one will sneak up on you and surprise and scare the hell out of ya. It always amazes me what an author can accomplish in a very few amount of words and pages.  That is the true art of the accomplished and successful short story. He spends a good part of the book preparing us for and building up to a climax. I love being caught off guard and this one did that and much more.  You may have some idea where it’s going, but not until the very end are you really sure what’s going on. A great little read. I am so looking forward to opening the pages of more of his work in the very near future.

From the back cover:  A Rare Breed: A person or thing with characteristics that are uncommon among their kind; a rarity.

And for mild mannered Ted, an evening walk on the local common, with his mischievous Cocker Spaniel Baxter, leads to a chance encounter with a very rare breed indeed.

About the author:  R.J. McCabe was born in Birmingham, England.  He lists Stephen King, Shaun Hutson, J. K. Rowling, Nick Cutter, Geroge R R Martin, Peter James, and Luke Scull as some of his influences.

Other books by R.J. McCabe:  Blackwater:  Book 1, Little Man Syndrome, Predators, and No Future Plans

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Trick Or Treat By Jamie Stewart

Trick Or Treat

Genre – Fiction

Subgenre – Short Story/Horror

Pages – 27

Publication Information – Independently Published – April 2, 2019

Format – Digital

Reviewed by William C. Bitner, Jr.

Rating – 📙📙📙📙📙

Turn the lights out, light a candle and grab a copy of Trick Or Treat by Jamie Stewart. It’s a ghost story, a witch story, a vampire story, and a story about a mother’s revenge for the death of her son and the loss of her marriage.  One of those I would run like hell from and hide from for days. A quick 27 page read that is masterfully plotted and an original take on “the witch lives in that house” type of Halloween tale.  With more back story on the “Reaper Man” and how the myth came about in this neighborhood, this would be a fantastic full length read. Great characters and a unique and interesting storyline. This is my second read by Jamie Stewart and I am so looking forward to watching him further his potential and grace us with many more wonderful stories of the macabre and unexplained.

From the back cover:  It’s Halloween. For the residents of Denison Street that means face paint, costumes and swapping horror stories. Or at least it used to be.

Last year Logan Conway went missing while Trick or Treating. The police have no clues, no suspects and no leads.

Some say The Reaper Man did it.

Others say he’s an old wives’ tale. Logan’s mother, Jane, disagrees. So much so that she’s invited The Reaper Man back again.

About the author:  Jamie Stewart started writing stories at the age of nine inspired by R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series and old horror movies that he was far too young to watch in hindsight.

Since then his short horror story, Insular, peaked at Number 1 on Amazon’s Best Sellers List in less than a week.

His favorite authors include Stephen King, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Joe Hill, J.K Rowling, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett to name a few.

Other work by Jamie Stewart:  Insular, and Mr. Jones (Limited Availability)

Elude: Part Three by Derek Barton

Elude Part Three

Genre – Fiction

Subgenre – Suspense/Thriller/Crime/Short Story/Series

Pages – 102

Publication Information – Independently published – April 2, 2019

Format – Digital/ARC

Reviewed by William C. Bitner, Jr.

Rating – 📙📙📙📙📙

Young ex-con Vicente Vargas’s misadventures continue in Elude: Part Three by Derek Barton.  Dark, gritty, mysterious, episodic, and eerily atmospheric, this is one hell of an “on the edge of your seat” thriller.  As with the first two installments, this one also ends with a bit of a twist, and more unanswered questions. There are some unexplained and somewhat preternatural occurrences happening sporadically throughout the book that will have you furrowing your brow and tilting your head in wonderment.  With elements from a few different genres this book will keep you on your toes, have you asking questions and have you trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. It’s a quick read, but filled with lots of action and a very meaty plot. Looking forward to what’s next for Vicente and his cohorts.  It’s a real cat-and-mouse adventure…

From the back cover:  Stepping blindly into a horrific murder scene, a young ex-con, Vicente Vargas, must flee from the police while eluding the real killer who continues to pin more bodies on him in this intricate cat-and-mouse game.

Cut off from all friends and family, tried and convicted by the press, Vic must survive on his wits and cunning on the gritty streets of Phoenix, Arizona long enough to clear his name.

About the author: Derek Barton was born in northeast Indiana in 1970. The typical introvert kid; closer to books than people, but grew up with a fascination for horror novels (Stephen King, Dean Koontz) and medieval fantasy (Piers Anthony, R.A Salvatore).

In April of 1996, he moved out to Phoenix, Arizona to find his own path.

Other books by Derek Barton: The Bleeding Crown, Seyde In Blood: Consequences Within Consequences: A Short Story Prequel, Consequences Within Chaos, In Four Days: A Horror Suspense Novella, Elude: Part One and Elude: Part Two.

Alterlife II By Matt Moss

Alterlife II

Genre – Fiction

Subgenre – Fantasy/Action/Adventure/LitRPG/Virtual Reality

Pages – 307

Publication Information – Independently Published – June 4, 2019

Format – Digital/ARC

Reviewed by William C. Bitner, Jr.

Rating – 📙📙📙📙📙

In the second installment of the Alterlife Series, Alterlife II by Matt Moss the edges of reality and the the gaming world (Alterlife) along with a bigger involvement of the Gods begin to become even more blurred.  I think what really makes this read interesting is that it’s very difficult to put it in any one specific category – is it science fiction, cyberpunk, dystopian and utopian all mashed together into one reality, fantasy, virtual reality,  or action/adventure? The answer is, all the above. One thing however, that is not hard to determine, is that the worlds and the characters that Matt created, no matter how complex and crazy they are are easy to follow, and the plot is well defined and laid out masterfully.  I have not read any gaming type books prior to these two reads, and was a little apprehensive going in as to whether or not it was going to be something I would enjoy. I thought it might be a bit to“young adult” for me – it is not in the least. It’s a very mature, intelligent, well thought out and entertaining read.  There are some very mature situations throughout both books relating to drug use, violence, family situations, relationships and some, but not an overabundance of graphic language. If you’re looking for something outside the box and entertaining as all get out you will not go wrong with this selection. I’m anxious to see what Matt has in store for these characters and their respective worlds.

From the back cover:  Alterlife  is in the vein of BREAKING BAD and READY PLAYER ONE.

Warning: Alterlife  is dark in nature. It contains graphic language, violence, and drug use, and is intended for a mature audience.

John Crussel has established himself as one of the most powerful players in the game, known in Alterlife as Ace the Great. But his quest for freedom came at a price. By unleashing the virus, thousands of lives were lost, and their blood is on his hands.

Time has passed, and with it, the deaths seemed to have stopped – the virus is no more. Prosperity has returned to Alterlife, and to John’s life.

But the Gamemasters haven’t forgotten about Ace the Great and what he has done. They lie in wait, patient and calculating. They seek to avenge their fallen brother, and are willing to use every tool in their arsenal to deliver justice – even unleashing the gods themselves upon Alterlife.

John Crussel thinks everything is back to normal. But there’s a war coming to his doorstep.

And he doesn’t even see it coming.

About the Author:  Matt Moss is an older millennial who found a love for reading in his mid-twenties. After three years of devouring fantasy and historical fiction novels, he decided to try his own hand at writing. The Path of Man was written by hand during his breaks while working construction. He currently lives with his wife and three toddlers in the mountains of North Carolina and writes around the edges of the day.

Other Books by Matt Moss: The Path of Man (The Soul Stone Trilogy, Book 1), The Shepherd of Fire (The Soul Stone Trilogy, Book 2) & The End of Days (The Soul Stone Trilogy, Book 3),  The Legion of Soul Stones, The Rebellion and Alterlife (Alterlife 1)

Under Rotting Sky By Matthew V. Brockmeyer

 

Under Rotting Sky 1

Genre – Fiction

Subgenre – Single Author Short Stories/Horror/Psychological Horror/Dark Fairy Tales

Pages – 266

Publication Information – Black Thunder Press – Expected Date April 20, 2019

Format – Print

Reviewed by William C. Bitner, Jr.

Rating – 📙📙📙📙📙

It was not until I started reading Under Rotting Sky  by Matthew V. Brockmeyer that I realized I know this guy’s writing.  It was then that I started to look through some of my previous readings of anthologies authored by various authors that I found his work in a few of the anthologies that I’ve read.  His style is an unmistakable take no prisoners, no-holds barred, hardcore physical and psychological horror. This collection of twenty short stories are brutal, in your face, unapologetic and incredibly visceral.  You will not soon forget the characters or the plots of these diverse tales of the macabre. It’s filled with ghosts, shape-shifters, ghouls, homicidal children, and a darker take on a Grimm’s Fairy Tales, just to name a few.  This is one of those books that I will keep within arms distance and most definitely pick up later and read a story here and there. If you’re looking for a horror fix filled with blood and gore, deranged minds and done with masterful wordsmanship you will most assuredly want to pick up a copy of this collection when it’s available.  I look forward to what nightmares this author can inject into my memory as well as the ones he has already placed there.

From the back cover:  Twenty tales of darkness and transgression from Matthew V. Brockmeyer, award-winning author of  Kind Nepenthe.

Enter a disturbing dreamscape where your worst fears are illuminated and taboos are mockingly shattered.

In Mine a child hangs precariously between the isthmus of innocence and evil, shedding his humanity for the altar of a wolf pup. In RUMPELSTILTSKIN the troll under the bridge is very real, and wants your children for unspeakable deeds. In THE GYM TEACHER a boy’s obsession with serial killers leads him to discover the true nature of a monster.

These twenty stories traverse the outskirts of society to reveal the brutality of humanity in all its gory glory.

About the Author:  Matthew Brockmeyer lives in an off-grid cabin deep in the forest of Northern California with his wife and two children. In his off time he enjoys howling at the moon and bathing his fangs in human blood.

Other works by Matthew V. Brockmeyer:  Kind Nepenthe.  Contributed to The Horror Collection, Collected Christmas Horror Shorts 2, After the Happily Ever After, Infinite Darkness, Deciduous: Tales of Darkness and Horror, and 1o0 Word Horrors just to mention a few.

Stranger Things Have Happened By Thomas Gaffney

Stranger Things Have Happened

Genre – Fiction

Subgenre – Single Author Short Stories/Horror/Paranormal/Speculative

Pages – 81

Publication Information – Independently Published – August 30, 2017

Format – Digital

Reviewed by William C. Bitner, Jr.

Rating – 📙📙📙📙📙

Stranger Things Have Happened by Thomas Gaffney is a multifarious collection of nine very interesting short stories.  This is also Thomas Gaffney’s debut collection. I quite enjoyed each story on it’s own merit, however, I just fell in love with Eight Days A Week.  I thought the idea of giving each day of the week a name and putting them in a familial situation, such as eight sisters was genius (why does everyone hate MonDay – and yes there’s an extra day in the week just to help take care of all the sisters at the end of their Day…). Each of the stories is solid in its narrative and could easily be reconstructed into a full length novel, or novella at the very least.  A quick and fun read that moves along a at smooth and relaxed pace but will leave you feeling anything but relaxed.. I look forward to Thomas Gaffney’s next endeavor.

From the back cover: A collection of short stories dealing with the unnatural in a natural world…

  1. Fraxinus is the story about a group of women facing off against an ancient, and seeming undefeatable enemy.​​
  2. FEEEEENIX is the story about man coming to grips with his late father’s legacy and purpose in the world.​
  3. Napkin is the story of a troubled man getting help from a random stranger. Or is he?​
  4. Ghost is the story of a young girl whose new home appears to be haunted.​
  5. Eight Days A Week is the story of 8 sisters and their routines throughout a full week.​
  6. Celebrity is the story of a former Hollywood actor and popular adage “celebrities always die in threes”.​
  7. The Day Harold Sanford Got Cancer is the story of a man who feels like his life is falling apart around him.​
  8. Missing is the story of a loner who’s looking to fill voids in his life.​
  9. Fraxinus Americana is the story of an old man who’s fighting Alzheimer’s and a familiar foe.

About the Author:  Thomas Gaffney was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He survived 12 years of Catholic school before embarking on several careers: computer programmer, barista, and account manager. Much like Henry Bemis in the Twilight Zone episode ‘Time Enough at Last’, Tom considers himself a bookish little man whose passion is the printed page. He fell in love with books and the idea of writing while reading an old, beat-up copy of Stephen King’s IT. He currently lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and spends too much time and money in random coffee shops.

 

The Forgotten Story (Legacy Series – Book 5) By Michelle E. Lowe

The Forgotten Story - Legacy Series - Book 5

Genre – Fiction

Subgenre – Steampunk/Epic Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Pages – 350

Publication Information – Independently published – February 22, 2019

Format – Print

Reviewed by William C. Bitner, Jr.

Rating – 📙📙📙📙📙

 

Reading The Forgotten Story: Legacy Series, Book 5 by Michelle E. Lowe was like revisiting an old friend who surprised me by having over all our other friends.  Once again Michelle hits the ball out of the stadium and continues to keep the reader’s interest with new and exciting adventures involving this motley crew of elves, vampires, witches, nymphs, and even a few humans.  I feel like I’ve grown up alongside many of these characters and it’s exciting to be introduced to the new members of the their families. Michelle always seems to find at least one new character to add to the already fantastic group of characters.  Along with new characters their are exciting new plots, crossing over many different genres. This series has just about all one needs to escape reality and have a wonderful journey into the world of make believe. Traveling along with Pierce and the others is such a fun and exciting experience.  It’s almost as if we the reader are along for the adventure, be it on horseback, airship, watercraft, locomotive or whatever contraption Michelle has conjured up in her fantastic imagination. Climb aboard whatever form of transportation is available in your imagination, and find out what’s next for this crew of miscreants, thieves, saints, rascals and heroes.

From the back cover:  For seven blissful years, retired thief, Pierce Landcross, has lived a peaceful life on the island of Maui with his family. That changes on the day he receives disturbing visions about his mates, the Sea Warriors. Pierce and Grandmother Fey quickly realize the visions have come from none other than Freya Bates, the witch who wants to end Pierce’s life for her own dubious reasons. Now Pierce must leave his island home and return to England where Freya has a series of events lined up for him that will not only lead to the trap she has set, but also to the truth behind the whole bloody thing!

About the Author:  I’m a Georgia born native who has spent most my life near the Atlanta area before pulling up stakes and moving clear across the country with husband, Ben, and our two daughters. History piques my interests, especially European history. I’m a big nerd at heart. I read science-fiction and fantasy stories, and I love old B horror films. I also get a kick out of playing classic Atari video games, and I do oil painting as a hobby.

I’m a daydreamer and animal lover. I have two kitties, Nico and Max, and one very demanding guinea pig. I took up writing as a serious career choice twenty years ago, learning a lot and sharpening my skills along the way.

Other books by Michelle E. Lowe:  Legacy (Legacy Series – Book 1), The Reunion (Legacy Series – Book 2), The Underground (Legacy Series – Book 3), Bounty Hunter (Legacy Series – Book 4), Spine Shivering Stories, Cherished Thief, Atlantic Pyramid, The Warning, The Hex Hunt, The Hex Hunt – Surviving the Sea, The Hex Hunt – The Island of the Sleeping Volcano, and Poe’s Haunted House Tour.