Friday, April 22, 2016

David Bernstein's A Mixed Bag of Blood - Review #AMixedBagofBlood

My thoughts
I have to admit that I'm not a big reader of short stories. I prefer stories that require more of a time investment. In other words, novels. However, the exception to that are horror short stories. I love them. I read my first scary short stories as a child. Remember those anthologies of ghost stories you could order from the Scholastic book flyer? I later graduated to Stephen King's short stories and many of his are among my favorites. I think horror works for me in short story format (unlike other genres) because horror can be such a fast paced medium. For instance, horror films are usually no more than 2 hours long, but they still pack a punch. Did I mention that horror films are my favorite? But I digress. What I'm getting at here is that I love horror short stories, especially those that are as good as the stories in A Mixed Bag of Blood.

I love horror that pulls no punches and this author knows his stuff when it comes to that. Some of the stories are a play on our fears of foreign invasion, whether it be in our world, or our bodies. Others bring forth the monsters we're terrified of...zombies, vampires, Bigfoot (we lived in a house surrounded by woods when I was growing up, and yes, I was terrified of Bigfoot. Don't laugh). Some are very gross, yet funny in their message while still being horrific. I'm not going to go into detail because short stories are very easy to spoil for others. Suffice it to say that each story has something to offer.

This slim volume of 125 pages contains 10 stories. I enjoyed every one of them. This "Mixed Bag of Blood" is a must read for any horror fan. I mean it.

About the book
  • Print Length: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2016
From a man seeking vengeance for a dead loved one, to a monster lodged in a person’s nose, to starving vampires and samurai battling zombies, a bully meeting his gruesome demise, along with prostitutes being sacrificed, a boy who refuses to stop swearing, and the consequences of one man’s night of unprotected sex comes a dark and disturbing collection of sinister tales filled with dread, bloodshed, humor and the bizarre.

This is a Mixed Bag of Blood.

Praise for A Mixed Bag of Blood 
“Dave Bernstein let his mind wander and his pen write where I know you'll want to read. With an introduction by Kristopher Rufty, this is a reason to stay at home and read on a pleasant Saturday afternoon like I did.” –Cat After Dark

Praise for David Bernstein 
"David Bernstein delivers a fast-moving tale of desire and destruction that gives new meaning to the words, 'Be careful what you wish for.' Relic of Death twists reality and will leave you reflecting on your own personal Achilles heel long after you finished reading…" —Allan Leverone, author of Mr. Midnight

"A fascinating, unpredictable, ever-shifting tale of greed and desperation. Highly recommended!" —Jeff Strand, author of Pressure

“Fast-paced, cinematic, and excellent. Horror fans gather around, it’s time for another chilling tale from David Bernstein.” —Keith Deininger, author of Within and Ghosts of Eden

"A harrowing, brutal thriller, Skinner is Bernstein at his best!" —Peter Giglio, author of Shadowshift

Add to GoodReads

Purchase Links

Check out Sinister Grin Press

About the author
David Bernstein is originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Salisbury Mills. He now resides in NYC and misses being surrounded by chainsaw-wielding maniacs and wild backwoods people that like to eat raw human flesh. He’s grown used to the city, though hiding bodies is much harder there. He is the author of Amongst the Dead, Damaged Souls, The Tree Man, Witch Island, Relic of Death, Apartment 7C and the forthcoming Episodes of Violence. David writes all kinds of horror, from hair-raising ghost stories to gore-filled slashers and apocalyptic tales of terror. He loves hearing from his readers. You can reach him on Facebook, at Visit him at his website: email, or on Twitter at @Bernsteinauthor.

 photo Cat.gif

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Monster Underneath by Matthew Franks - Review #TheMonsterUnderneath

My thoughts
What if someone could enter someone's mind in their dream state and get them to realize their wrongdoing? That's exactly what Max Crawford can do in The Monster Underneath. He works with prison inmates by psychically entering their dream states as a means of rehabilitation. By seeing the error of their ways and feeling remorse for their crimes, the inmates are able to move on with reentering society no longer criminals. Max has quite a record of success in his methods.

When he is approached by an FBI agent to use his methods on a suspected serial killer, Max has his doubts, but soon is committed to bringing the man to justice. Unfortunately, there are some who just don't feel remorse, or that what they're doing is wrong.

The Monster Underneath is quite thought provoking and at times terrifying. To say it was a page turner is an understatement. The author has explored the ethical question of "How much should we really know about a person? It raises the question, "If you had the ability to enter someone's thoughts/dreams (perhaps a friend or family member), would you do it? Perhaps it's better to not know. Also, there's the realization...some people really are monsters.

This is an outstanding debut novel. I look forward to his future works.

About the book
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Samhain
Publication Length: 219 pages

Reality can be the difference between a dream and a nightmare…

Max Crawford isn’t a typical prison therapist. He uses his unusual psychic ability to walk with convicts through their dreams, reliving their unspeakable crimes alongside them to show them the error of their ways.

Max always has to be on his toes to keep himself grounded, but the FBI agent waiting for him in his private office immediately puts him on edge. The bureau wants Max to go way outside his comfort zone to enter the dreams of suspected serial killer William Knox.

To get a confession and secure the future of his prison program, Max must gain Knox’s trust by any means necessary—and survive the minefield of secrets waiting inside a murderer’s mind. Secrets that could turn Max’s reality into a living nightmare.

About the author
Matthew Franks lives in Arlington, Texas with his beautiful wife and children. He studied
psychology and creative writing at Louisiana State University then obtained a Master’s Degree in counseling from Texas State University. When he’s not working on his next story, he’s counseling adolescents or trying to keep up with his three highly energetic daughters. You can connect with Matthew at:

Praise for The Monster Underneath 
“An assured, gripping, totally engaging debut, Matthew Franks will have you burning through the pages of this taut supernatural thriller at breakneck speed. If Christopher Nolan and Stephen King ever teamed up to write a novel, this would be it. Highly recommended!”
–Ronald Malfi, author of Little Girls

“What if you could see inside the dreams of anyone you came in contact with? Would you dare to look? Could you handle the things you’d find within? The Monster Underneath is a real nail-biter – one of those ever-spiraling stories that you just can’t put down until you reach the surprising end!”
–John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Covenant and The Family Tree

“The Monster Underneath is an intense and clever debut in which reality is more terrifying than the nightmares and twisted dreamscapes of a madman. Author Matthew Franks is a name to remember, his stories you won’t soon forget.”
–Rena Mason, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Evolutionist and East End Girls

“Matthew Franks’ debut novel takes you through the darkest, twisted alleys of a killer’s mind and then drags you several steps further, beyond the status of observer and into the disturbing realm of accomplice. A harrowing tale of murder and delusion and moral ambiguity.”
–Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical, and the dark thriller collection, American Nocturne

Purchase Links 

Want to Feature Matthew Franks? If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with Matthew Franks, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media: 

 photo Cat.gif

Follow on Bloglovin

#Friday56 & #BookBeginnings - The Troop by Nick Cutter

I decided to do my Friday memes here at Castle Macabre today since I'm featuring a horror novel. So, to avoid confusion to those who visited me last week at True Book Addict...this is my sister blog. Welcome!

Since I'll be reading this for my Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon next week, I thought it would be a good one to feature.

Headline from The Weird News Network, online edition, October 19:

BY Huntington Mulvaney

Fearsome news, dear readers, from one of our loneliest outposts--the tiny fishing community of Lower Montgague, Prince Edward Island. A forlorn, foreboding spike of rock projecting into the Atlantic Ocean.

     The perfect location for devilry, methinks? Thankfully for you, we have eyes and ears everywhere. We see all, we hear all.
     Sadie Adkins, waitress at the Diplomat Diner in Lower Montague, had her late-model Chevrolet truck stolen from the restaurant's lot last night by an unnaturally emaciated thief. Adkins placed a call to our toll-free tip line after her entreaties to local deputy dawgs were cruelly and maliciously rebuffed, deemed--and we quote--"ludicrous" and "insane."
     "I know who stole my damn truck," Adkins told us. "Starvin; Marvin."
     An unidentified male, with close-cropped hair and baggy clothing, entered the Diplomat at 9 p.m. According to Adkins, the man was in a severe state of malnourishment.
     "Skinny! You wouldn't believe," Adkins told our intrepid truth-gathers. "Never in my life have I seen a man so wasted away. But hungry."
     Adkins reports that the unidentified male consumed five Hungry Man Breakfast platters--each consisting of four eggs, three buttermilk pancakes, five rashers of bacon, sausage links, and toast.
     "He ate us out of eggs," Adkins said. "Just kept shoveling it in and asking for more. His belly must have swelled up tight as a drum. He...well, he...when I came back with his third platter, or maybe it was his fourth, I caught him eating the napkins. Ripping them out of the dispenser, chewing and swallowing them."
     The unidentified man paid his bill and left. Shortly thereafter Adkins went outside to find her truck stolen--yet another malicious indignity!
     "I can't say I was too surprised," she said. "The man seemed desperate in every way a man can possibly be desperate."
     She fell silent again before adding one final grisly detail:
     "I could hear something coming from inside him--I'm saying, under his skin. I know that sounds silly."
For Friday 56:
We could die--this thought cleaved Ephraim's mind like a guillotine blade. One of us could start to fall, and someone will try to help--Scout Law number two: A Scout is ever loyal to his fellows; he must stick to them through thick and thin--then another and another until everyone gets pulled down like a string of paper dolls.

The Troop by Nick Cutter
Once a year, scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a three-day camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story and a roaring bonfire. But when an unexpected intruder—shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—stumbles upon their campsite, Tim and the boys are exposed to something far more frightening than any tale of terror. The human carrier of a bioengineered nightmare. An inexplicable horror that spreads faster than fear. A harrowing struggle for survival that will pit the troop against the elements, the infected...and one another.


This book has been well-liked by people I respect in the horror, and general reading, communities. And Stephen King said this, "The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best." Enough said!

 photo Cat.gif

Follow on Bloglovin
- See more at: