Monday, September 26, 2016

Honest Reviews of Dark Moon Digest #23 and Broken Worlds

Amazon typically does not allow authors to review anthologies to which they have contributed. With that in mind, here are honest reviews for two more collections that feature my work.

Title: Dark Moon Digest #24
Publisher: Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing
Editor: Lori Michelle
Number of stories: 8
Pages: 100
Price: $2.99 Kindle, $7.95 for paperback.
Theme: non-themed horror stories
My story included: Reunited, about a radio announcer who is dangerously close to losing his job--and his sanity--until he resorts to drastic measures to revitalize his morning show.

I love the cover art by Allen Koszowski. It reminds me of the interior art of vintage Weird Tales. It's so good I wish the text on the cover had been kept to a minimum.

My favorite stories in this issue were "A Constant Effort to Bind the Pieces Together" by Joshua D. Moyes. This is an excellent story that brought back memories of Theodore Sturgeon's "It" but with a darker focus. "Shifting Sands" by Shannon Lawrence was another favorite, with a beautiful and haunting opening sequence. Matt Andrews' story was also good, and Jay Wilburn provided a thought-provoking non-fiction piece.

I give this issue a B. It's a magazine worth buying every issue. You can order a copy here.

Title: Broken Worlds
Publisher: A Murder of Storytellers
Editor: Jack Burgos
Number of stories: 34
Pages: 286
Price: $4.99 Kindle, $12.99 paperback
Theme: broken worlds, societies, families... a mix of horror and some sci-fi.
My story included: The Way It Will Be, featuring a gifted local newscaster whose words become truth every evening. But who's writing his scripts? And for what purpose?

The cover art and layout by George Cotronis is really good.

My favorites were "The Wailing Women" by M.R. Ranier, "Good Enough for Jeorgia" by John Biggs (more people need to read his work, he's an undiscovered talent), "Exodus of New Sodom, South Georgia" by Franklin C. Murdock, and "Nice Guys" by Adrean Messmer.

One of, if not THE best, story I've read in several years is included in this anthology. It's called "The Cords of the Neck" by J. Robert Shelton. This author doesn't have a web presence, doesn't appear to be on Facebook, and remains a mystery (to me.) I am told this is his first published story. If true, that in and of itself, is remarkable. The story has a strong "voice" and I've never read anything quite like it. Post-Apocalyptic carnival barkers vie for non-existent customers in this quirky, macabre tale.

I give this one an A-. There were a few stories I didn't care for or found confusing, but overall, a very enjoyable anthology. If I lost my copy, I'd buy it again just to have J. Robert Shelton's story.

You can order a copy right here.

I'll be back again soon with two more reviews. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Honest Reviews of Taboo (and) HWA Poetry Showcase III

Amazon typically does not allow authors to review anthologies to which they have contributed. With that in mind, here are honest reviews for two more collections that feature my work.

Title: Taboo (A Morpheus Tales special issue)
Publisher: Morpheus Tales
Editor: Sheri White
Number of stories: 12
Pages: 52
Price: $2.99 Kindle, $5.73 for paperback from Lulu.
Theme: horror stories examining taboo subjects
My story included: Questions Still Unanswered, in which a man seeks answers about his wife's death from his uncooperative step-children.

This seems like a short magazine, but the print is quite small so you DO get your money's worth. The shiny cover on the paperback diminishes the cool artwork by Lubi (it's much darker than the picture). Speaking of "darker," these stories strive to be collectively darker than a typical horror anthology.

My favorites were "Four Locks" by Adam R. Shannon, a historical horror tale with a great ending, "Apron Strings" by S.K. Harrison, and "The Witch Finger" (cleverly written POV) by Brent Michael Kelley.

Rating: I give it a B+
Here's a link to order the ebook. Paper copy is here.

Title: Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase, Vol. III (2016)
Publisher: HWA
Editor: David E. Cowen
Number of poems: 51
Pages: 96
Price: $7.99 paperback, $2.99 Kindle
Theme: horror and dark-themed poetry
My poem included: Ant Farm Necropolis, about a deceased man whose spirit is trapped in a plastic ant farm from his childhood.

First the bad: I don't care for the cover at all. Also, there's an instance of the word "airing" used instead of "erring". "Airing on the side of caution"? Oops.

Now the good: I admit I have to read poetry aloud to increase my comprehension. This is a very good collection with a number of highlights and only a few I didn't care for. My favorites were the poems by Bruce Boston, Chad Stroup, Chad Hensley, Davide Camparsi (his piece, "Playground" is my favorite in the collection), and Janet Leach.

I give this a B+ and recommend the Kindle version.
You can order it right here.

Title: The Beauty of Death
Publisher: Independent Legions PRess
Editor: Alessandro Manzetti
Number of stories: 41
Pages: 587(!)
Price: $6.99 Kindle
Theme: Death from all perspectives
My story included: Building Condemned, in which a man makes improvements in an oddly-familiar asylum. He wants to put everything right but time is running out and something is working against his efforts...

The only reason I have not read this is because it's a Kindle ebook only and I prefer reading paper books. For the rest of you who aren't so ingrained in their reading habits, this book should be a "must have". Reprints by horror legends Peter Straub, Poppy Z. Brite, Ramsey Campbell, John Skipp and Edward Lee. New stories by Nick Mamatas, Tim Waggoner, Rena Mason, John F.D. Taff, Maria Alexander, and many more!

Overall: I can't rate it because I haven't read it (yet). If you like horror and own a Kindle, getting this anthology is a no-brainer.

Here's a link to order.