Sunday, December 31, 2017

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi's Breathe. Breathe. - #Review


My thoughts
This fantastic book is a collection of poems and tales of abuse and horror, told so brilliantly only by someone who has firsthand experience. Get ready to feel every range of emotion while reading. From fear to intense anxiety to shock, and even a bit of laughter. This book will touch your soul.

The author touches on the all to prevalent issue of domestic violence. Gut wrenching horror and sorrow to read such powerful narratives of these experiences. She also visits our most deeply seated fears, of what we create to cover up the horrors in our lives.

Certainly not my most favorite or the biggest standout, but definitely one that took me by surprise was Earl Grey Tea...not what I was expecting. This poem is the art of the quick change.

Those who love The Twilight Zone will enjoy Lunch Served at Noon. The one that really had my nerves on edge...The Madness of the Woodpecker.

So many standouts in this collection. Really too many to mention them all individually. Just read it, is all I can say. The experience will be unforgettable. I promise. If you like books that make you think, and that make you feel everything, then this is the one for you.

Breathe. Breathe. is on SALE for just .99 cents through today! Very soon the print version should go on sale as well from $14 to $9!

Find it on Amazon here!


About the book
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.

In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal. The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.

In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.

In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.

Amid these pages the haunting themes of oppression, isolation, revenge, and madness unfold through folklore, nightmares, and often times, raw, impulsive passion crafted to sear from the inside out.

With a touching foreword by the Bram Stoker nominated author Brian Kirk, Breathe. Breathe. will at times unsettle you, and at times embrace you. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, a veteran writer and editor of the written word, offers up a mixed set of pieces, identifying her as a strong, new voice in dark fiction that will tear the heart from your chest, all the while reminding you to breathe.

PRAISE for BREATHE. BREATHE.
“Erin paints scenes and evokes emotions with precision and skill. These are the kinds of stories and poems that tighten your chest and leave you holding your breath.” – The Scary Reviews

“Breathe. Breathe. is as honest and raw as writing gets. Erin bares her soul with these poems, particularly during Act 2 in which the verses take on a much more personal and reflective nature.” -The Grim Reader

“Breathe. Breathe. is a great collection of poetry and short fiction. The poems are dark and vivid. They touch at the core of the human condition. The poems are gritty and chilling. You can feel the doom and dread in each of the poems. Breathe. Breathe. is an emotional rollercoaster. The characters are troubled, and the author gives them just enough depth.” – Cedar Hollow Reviews

“I am certain many readers {and not only female} will find themselves breathing shallower, or holding their breath, as the vividness of these scenes awakens memories. Other readers who may not have these particular types of painful memories, will nonetheless wince in empathy. I am equally certain very few will walk away untouched, and very few will forget.” -The Haunted Reading Room

“Raw, risky, and brave.” – Selcouth Station

“I feel the poems are at their best when folkloric in nature – I particularly like “Ningyo’s Misfortune”, “The Driftwood of Wishes”, and “Offerings to Nang Tani”. The short stories “Destination: Valhalla Lane Loveless, Ohio” and “Life-Giver of the Nile” are both clever and brutal, and the standout.” – Julie K. Rose, author of Oleanna and Dido’s Crown

“Wow. This collection really leaves bruises on the soul. I’m not a huge fan of poetry, yet, I found myself glued to the words and emotions pouring out of this author. The short stories were great too. My favorite was “Lunch Served at Noon”, as it had a Twilight Zone-ish quality to it. To fans of dark literary fiction and poetry, I recommend giving Breathe. Breathe. a try.” – Tim Meyer, author of Sharkwater Beach

“At times sinister, definitely dark, atmospheric and heavy with foreboding, this collection of poetry and short stories from Erin Al Mehairi touches our deepest fears. Murder, domestic violence and even an ancient Egyptian goddess all move within these pages where nothing is ever simple or straightforward.” – Catherine Cavendish, author of Wrath of the Ancients

It’s full of the unexpected – bits of lace cut through with the odd and the horrible and the beautiful. Through it all I sense the power of a survivor!! And I love that!” —Sue Harrison, internationally bestselling author of Mother Earth Father Sky (Ivory Carver Trilogy) “Breathe. Breathe. is at times haunting, visceral, bittersweet, and tender. Erin Al Mehairi bares her soul and invites readers to devour it whole.” —Hunter Shea, author of We Are Always Watching “Erin Al-Mehairi weaves a web of narrative and poetry both beautiful and nightmare-inducing in Breathe. Breathe., invoking heartache and the need to see through the shining masks life presents us to confront the darkness it truly holds.” —Michelle Garza, co-author of Bram Stoker nominated Mayan Blue

“I loved Dandelion Yellow. I was hyperventilating at the end, but it was such a beautiful, painful and artful tale. I’ll be saying that last line to myself for weeks at least. Just beautiful. I’m re-reading the rest. One read just isn’t enough because DAYUM. Beautiful.” – Somer Canon, author of Vicki Beautiful and The Killer Chronicles

“In Breathe. Breathe., Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi employs sharp, jagged words arranged in sparse, disturbingly visceral clusters to force readers to “breathe” through the fear and pain of abuse and personal terror. It’s a sense reinforced by the deceptively quiet but disquieting story, “Dandelion Yellow.” Filled with sharp sensory detail, the highlight is “Life-Giver of the Nile,” an evocative circular time-shift tale in which an Egyptologist’s soul is required by Anuket, ancient and modern goddess of the Nile, for a greater purpose. Whether in poetry or prose, dark kernels nestled within horror tropes indicate that Al-Mehairi writes from the gut and from the heart but with the fierceness of a survivor, the soul of a fearless champion. This mixed collection is a fine introduction to a strong, intriguing new voice in dark fiction.” -W.D. Gagliani, Bram Stoker Finalist, author of Wolf’sTrap (Nick Lupo Series)


About the author

Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has 20 years of experience in the communication and marketing fields and is currently a writer, a journalist, a publicist, and an editor among many other things.

She writes fiction, essays, stories, and poetry and is an avid reader of many genres. She has edited poetry anthologies, novels, fiction pieces, and other various non-fiction and journalistic pieces. As a journalist, she’s written, interviewed, and edited for various newspapers, magazines, media outlets, and online news sources at both ends of the spectrum in media and public relations.

As an entrepreneur, she owns two businesses: Addison’s Compass Public Relations and Hook of a Book Media, in which she acts as a PR/Marketing Consultant, publicist, and editor for authors, publishers, and others. She also handles marketing and PR for Sinister Grin Press, where she is also an editor. Her third pursuit is writing her own works for publication. She volunteers her time in the community and is the chairwoman on the board of directors for a local mental health center and rape crisis and domestic violence safe haven.

She is the mother of three school-aged children and a cat. She lives with her family in rural Ohio nestled in the forest—a place just ripe for nightmares. Her passions are reading, writing, book hunting, hiking, and entertainment such as movies/film, television, and music. Oh, and she bakes, because you can’t do any of that without cookies.

Erin is a co-host with her Marketing Morsels segment on Project Entertainment Network’s The Mando Method, an award-winning weekly podcast for new and veteran writers.

Breathe. Breathe., published by Unnerving, is her debut collection and a mix of dark poetry and short stories and has been an Amazon best-selling paid title, debuting at #2 in Women’s Poetry. She is also featured in the anthology from Unnerving called Hardened Hearts, which published in December 2017. Her story “Dandelion Yellow,” from Breathe. Breathe. is also featured in the My Favorite Story anthology of the Project Entertainment Network, which published also in December of 2017.

You can e-mail her at hookofabook (at) hotmail (dot) com and find her easily at http://www.hookofabook.wordpress.com. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest where she loves new friends.

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Ronald Malfi's Bone White - #Review #Horror


My thoughts
Malfi does it again! If you're looking to read a book that emits a feeling of palpable dread from start to finish, this one is for you.

Paul and Danny are twin brothers. It is said that twins have an almost supernatural connection and it seems to be so with them. When Danny, the more troubled of the two, goes missing, Paul begins to worry. That worry becomes dread when a man confesses to the mass murder of some campers/hikers in a small town in Alaska called Dread's Hand. He believes Danny is among the victims.

What follows is a harrowing journey for Paul to a town full of superstition and suspicion. It almost seems that no one understands the concept of identical twins by the way they react when Paul shows photographs of Danny. Paul becomes more and more frustrated when no one will talk to him, and he gets no help from the local law enforcement.

This book has a lot of genuinely creepy moments. There's no blatant "slap you in the face" horror here. This is a slow and steady build of complete dread. It's like living the story along with Paul. Everything he felt I swear I felt in my gut.

The end was quite the revelation. I loved it. I loved the whole book. What can I say? I'm hooked on Malfi. Can't wait to read his next one!

About the book
A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days.
The feeling like a buzz in your teeth.
The scrape of bone on bone. . . 

Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims graves, in remote Dread's Hand, Alaska.
It's not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest.
But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what's in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny.
And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. . .

Available on Amazon and other booksellers


About the author
Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, received a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014, while December Park, his epic coming-of-age thriller, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at http://www.ronmalfi.com.
(author bio from Goodreads)


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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review - Hell House LLC: Director’s Cut DVD #WitchSeasonCM


I have a special treat for you today...on my birthday of all days! Why is it special? Well, I haven't done a horror movie review on this blog for a LONG time. I was sent this film for review by the director, Stephen Cognetti. Here is the synopsis and following that, some words from the director himself.

15 people died on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house attraction. A documentary crew revisits the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened.

"Hell House LLC was shot in May of 2014 while working full-time at another job. I was only able to edit a little each morning or a little at night. That lead to a year-long editing process until I had my locked version of the film.

My intent for Hell House LLC was to produce a slow burn of subtle, yet building scares. I have never been a fan of jump scares or music aided scares. My favorite type of scares in horror has always been the little things caught in the background that the protagonists are not immediately aware of. I worked to embody these sensibilities in Hell House LLC." ~Stephen Cognetti


My thoughts on the film
A "slow burn of subtle, yet building scares" is exactly what this film is, and it's what makes it so good. At first, the viewer might think, "Oh great...another found footage film." Personally, I tend to like those types of films. I'm a huge fan of The Blair Witch Project. This movie is similar to that in some ways, and in others, it's much more scary.


Of course, the hotel where the attraction is put on, the Abaddon Hotel, has a creepy back story. This is the point where any horror movie buff (I don't care who you are) is saying, "Why would you want to put on a haunted house attraction in a location with such a past?" We always say/think this, but there wouldn't be any horror movies if the people in them were really smart...or maybe just had some common sense. All the more fun for us.




This movie just works. There are isolated (subtle) creepy moments right from almost the beginning and these build to a killer crescendo. Anyone who has ever enjoyed going to haunted house attractions, something I've always loved doing, has probably wondered what would happen if the attraction turned deadly. Come on...you wouldn't be a horror buff if you didn't. Putting yourselves in the shoes of the protagonists is what makes the fear more palpable. Even if the horror is ultimately caused by a supernatural force, there is a part of us that still thinks "what if?"


I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves horror movies. My fourteen year old son, and my sixty-seven year old mom, watched it with me and they thought it was great too. Perfect movie for this spooky, season of the witch time of year.

This film is a DVD-Only Release...

Here is some important information about the DVD:
  1. Extended feature includes Director Commentary
  2. Additional footage showing the chaos in the basement near the end. The original cut was scripted to be a much bigger payoff. We shot green screens for some VFX, but due to budget and other reasons, we had to use alternative shots. For the Director’s Cut, we brought on a visual effects expert to finish the VFX. 
  3. Additional character development scenes. My original rough-cut ran almost 100 minutes and was screened in fall 2014 in New York City. While the film was received well and the scares were effective, the run-time bothered some of the producers. So, I spent the next few months trimming the film by eight minutes. We didn’t lose our best scares but we lost some character development that I was reluctant to part with. I added some of these scenes to the Director’s Cut.
  4. DVD Release Date: October 1, 2017 – DVD only. Purchase at http://hellhousellc.com
 Check out the website and support the sequel: Hell House LLC 2: The Abaddon Hotel (Yes, there's going to be a sequel!) DVD sales will help fund the production costs for the Hell House LLC sequel!

This post is a part of...


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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Shirley Jackson's The Witch - Discussion #WitchSeasonCM


A couple days late with this discussion post. I'm sure you're not surprised.

There are spoilers ahead so if you haven't read the story yet, tread lightly.

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What a strange little five page story! I look at this one as a horror story for parents. The man with the cigar, or as the little boy calls him, "a witch" is a parents worst nightmare. Whether he was teasing or not, one could not deny sharing the mother's unease when she heard what the man was saying to her son. I mean, who sits down next to a four year old and starts telling a story like that? Such a conversation might be looked at as comical until he starts going into the (literally) gory details..."and then I took her and I put my hands around her neck and I pinched her and I pinched her until she was dead...And then I took and I cut her head off and I took her head..." Of course, the four year old gasps and yet he's still curious, as any four year old who doesn't quite know yet what a threat is would be. The man goes further with this talk and that's when the mother steps in.

So, not quite the "witch" story I was thinking it would be, but no less interesting with its underlying meaning. Shirley Jackson has a true knack for subtle horror.


What did you think?

This post is part of...



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Monday, October 2, 2017

Season of the Witch - October means #WitchSeasonCM


First, an update on Gothic September. I really dropped the ball there. I couldn't even keep up with reading short little Poe stories. Well, I read the first three. I just have one to go. I will post my final thoughts on the four some time this week.

Now on to the late start of Season of the Witch. As mentioned in my earlier post, we will be reading the following (thank goodness The Witch is only five pages!):

The Witch by Shirley Jackson
Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood
You can download a PDF copy of the story, or any of Blackwood's stories, at Blackwood Stories (the site is up and running again), or you can get a Kindle copy of Blackwood's Complete Works on Amazon for 99 cents.
The Witch of Ravensworth by George Brewer for Kindle on Amazon $2.99

 I'm going to try to keep to this schedule:

The Witch - Discussion post up on October 11
Ancient Sorceries - Discussion post up on October 20
The Witch of Ravensworth - Discussion up on October 30

I hope you will read along with me!

Also, I would love some guest reviews on some scary reads...or if you have a spooky story to share, or a spooky memory...I would love to have you. Just shoot me a message via the contact form.

Don't forget...the FrightFall Readathon is going on ALL MONTH LONG! Join us here 



Come read along with us at Gather Together and Read...Anne Rice's The Mummy, or Ramses The Damned. All the info here! 


Happy October!

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Gothic September - Edgar Allan Poe #GothicSept #Poe (and more upcoming events)


Gothic September is here...and that means fall is just around the corner! One of my most favorite times of year! It has become a tradition for us to read Poe during this month and so that is what we're doing again. The stories and schedules are listed below.


Week One - Berenice: A Tale
Week Two - William Wilson: A Tale
Week Three - The Imp of the Perverse
Week Four - A Descent into the Maelstrom

Discussion for each story will go up by the weekend at the end of each week on this blog.

More upcoming events this fall here at Castle Macabre, over at Seasons of Reading and at Gather Together and Read!


In October, Season of the Witch is back. We will be reading stories about witches by Algernon Blackwod, George Brewer (a short novel) and Shirley Jackson. I will post the reading schedule and more specific details in the starting post on the first of October.

The Witch by Shirley Jackson,
Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood - You can get a Kindle copy of Blackwood's Complete Works on Amazon for 99 cents. The Blackwood Stories site is back up! You can download a PDF copy of the story, or any of Blackwood's stories, at their site here.
The Witch of Ravensworth by George Brewer for Kindle on Amazon $2.99


The FrightFall Readathon is back and I've made it a month long event! Sign up is open now so head over and add your name. Would love to have you join us!


Everyone knows I'm a huge Anne Rice fan (my favorite author) and she has written a sequel (with her son, Christopher Rice) to one of my favorites of her books, The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned. The new book is titled Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra. So, I've decided to host a read-along of the first book (October) in honor of the sequel's release in November. This will be a reread for me and frankly, I'm pretty excited. Rereading a favorite is always fun! Check out the announcement post and express your interest HERE.

That's it! Let's get the fall fun under way!


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Castle Macabre celebrates 7 years! #blogiversary #giveaway


Seven frightening years of (mostly) horror! Wow! I know this sister blog of True Book Addict is not quite as prolific, but it is no less dear to my heart. I've discovered some great horror authors since starting this blog and I'm looking forward to discovering more...and continuing on with more from my favorites. You know who you are!


In recognition of seven awesome years of scary, and to thank you for your friendship and loyalty, I'm hosting a little giveaway. I'm giving you a chance at winning any horror book (Kindle format) on Amazon (under $5). Looking for recommendations? Click that Book Reviews tab in the menu at the top. I've read some really good ones, especially in the last year. All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me a horror book you've read that you could not put down. Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact the winner. (Anyone who does not leave an email address will not be entered. If you're afraid of a bot stealing it, enter it like so: truebookaddict AT gmail DOT com) This giveaway will end on September 15th at 12 midnight central time.

Good luck...and thanks for sharing the horror!



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