Saturday, December 16, 2017

Honest Reviews of The Book of Blasphemous Words and Ink Stains #5

Since Amazon usually doesn't allow authors to review anthologies that include their work, I've made a habit of posting my reviews here on my blog.

Title: The Book of Blasphemous Words
Theme: horror and supernatural fiction based on religion, deities, and zealotry
Publisher: A Murder of Storytellers
Editor: CJ Miles IV
Number of stories: 29
Pages: 281
Price: $12.99 paperback, $2.54 Kindle

Favorite stories: "A Hole in the Head Reveals the Secret Nature of All Things" by Joseph Shelton (I think he's a brilliant writer with a great voice), "Sack Race to the River" by Chris Kuriata (terrifying ending), "The Unearthed Thing" by Ben Larned (gorgeous use of language), "The Sign" by John Biggs (he never disappoints) and "The Annunciation of Josie" by Jack Burgos (seems like this story could actually happen...)

My story: "Hero Worship," in which a "Christian" heavy metal singer and an impressionable fan exchange a series of emails. The story reads backwards, with the newest email first, and obviously things do not end (or start?) well for the young fan.

Final thoughts: I give the anthology an A-. The publisher, A Murder of Storytellers, always produces excellent anthologies featuring talented authors. I'm never disappointed. Kudos for them always turning out a fine product. And Joseph Shelton and John Biggs deserve a wider audience. Let's start with YOU.

You can order The Book of Blasphemous Words here.

Title: Ink Stains 5
Theme: literary dark fiction
Publisher: Dark Alley Press
Editor: N. Apythia Morges
Number of stories: 12
Pages: 193
Price: $15.95 paperback, $3.99 Kindle

Favorite stories: "Agents of the Seraphim" by Michael Pico, "Dick and Ruth Forever" by Paul Tanner, and "Pleased to Meet Me" by Peter Emmett Naughton. I also want to praise the layout of this book. It's gorgeous and I appreciated the special attention to detail and extra effort that sets it apart.

My story: "Always Confined" in which Johann, an elderly survivor of Nazi-occupied Germany, receives a gift from a well-meaning relative that forces him to relive one of his darkest moments.

Final thoughts: I give this anthology a B. Very solid overall, and I loved the layout. With only 12 stories, I didn't quite LOVE enough of them to give it an A. But it's good, no doubt about it.

You can order Ink Stains #5 via this link. (See what I did there?)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Honest Reviews of Zippered Flesh 3 and HWA Poetry Showcase IV

Since Amazon usually doesn't allow authors to review anthologies that include their work, I've made a habit of posting my reviews here on my blog.

Title: Zippered Flesh 3
Theme: horror tales of body enhancements gone bad
Publisher: Smart Rhino Publications
Editor: Weldon Burge
Number of stories: 19
Pages: 371
Price: $18.95 paperback, $3.99 Kindle

Favorite stories: "Worm" by Jeff Menapace, "All Will Turn to Gray" by Jezzy Wolfe, "Invisible" by E.A. Black, "And the Sky Was Full of Angels" by L.L. Soares, "Shopping Spree" by Meghan Arcuri, and my favorite, "Closer" by Charles Colyott.

My story: "Reduced to Tears," which describes a world where extreme body modification--in the form of yearly reductions--is the social norm. Margo thinks she's met the man of her dreams, until he breaks her heart by asking her to do the unthinkable.

Final thoughts: I give the anthology an A. What a thrill to share a table of contents with legends like Graham Masterton, Jack Ketchum and William F. Nolan, and Billie Sue Mosiman and James Dorr are talented pros as well. My favorites this time around were all new to me. In particular, Meghan Arcuri, L.L. Soares, and Charles Colyott all turned in riveting page-turners. Colyott's "Closer" keeps popping into my head at random times weeks after finishing the book. This may sound absurd, but I'm teary-eyed AGAIN just thinking about it. Powerful story.

You can order Zippered Flesh 3 right here.

Title: Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcase Volume IV
Theme: poems by members of the HWA
Publisher: HWA via Create Space
Editor: David E. Cowen
Number of poems: 50
Pages: 90
Price: $7.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle

Favorite poems: "Stranded" by Robert Perez, "Atoms and the Void" by Miriam H. Harrison, "Cthulhu, Call Your Mother" by Lenore Hart, "The Length of His Spine" by Rob E. Boley, and "They May Not Tell Tales, But They Do Sing Songs" by Nina Shephardson.

My poem: "The Burial Shroud." A short poem about the so-called One Percent versus everyone else, and how it all ends.

Final thoughts: Overall, I give it a B. Besides my "top 5" noted above, I also appreciated the poems of Steve Rasnic Tem and Annie Neugebauer, in particular. The beauty of this showcase is that you can read it for fun, or read it to better understand poetry, or (in my case) a bit of both. I read every poem aloud first, then silently, then aloud again. Based on cost and how small the book is, page-wise, I'd recommend the Kindle. (There's even a deal where you can get all four volumes on Kindle for one price in one download.)

You can order HWA Poetry Showase IV here.