Anthology Review by Nicole: Fairytales Slashed 7 (edited by Samantha Derr)

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Fairytales Slashed 7, edited by Samantha Derr
Authors: Andrea Speed, Asta Idonea,
Camilla Quinn, Helena Maeve, K.M. Penemue,
Keelan Ellis, Nicole Field, and Tess Amram
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: March 15, 2017

Rating: Not Rated (See review)

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read in the Dead of Night! (Creepy Halloween Edition)

top-ten-halloween-bannerAs always, this weekly meme is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!
(header image from here)

I’m a HUGE WUSS, I’ll be the first to admit it. Reading a horror novel leaves me curled up in bed with the lights on, unable to sleep. But I love a good, creepy novel that sends chills down your spine!

Here are ten books to read to get you in the Halloween spirit!

1. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski


Probably one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. It’s a story within a story within a story (confused yet?) set in a house that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. But this isn’t a TARDIS; there’s something more sinister and mysterious at work. And it uses typography to convey both motion and emotion (like in the image above).

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.


2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

More eerie than outright scary, this book comes complete with photos that vary between weird and nightmarish. The way the story is told means the mystery unfolds piece by piece, which I really love. I haven’t read the sequel yet, though!

And it’s being turned into a movie by the King of Creepy himself, Tim Burton!


3. Josh of the Damned series by Andrea Speed

Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot.

Definitely not creepy, but still really gloriously brilliant and absolutely hilarious! This is my kind of horror, where zombies shuffle into the gas station store to buy frozen burritos and werewolves are like mangy rats in the parking lot. You can read my five-star review of the series here!

speed(Buy from Riptide Publishing)


4. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King

I thought about putting It on this list instead, because evil clowns are definitely horrifying, but I’ve never actually read it (because, seriously, evil clowns! Enough said). So this is the scariest Stephen King novel I’ve ever read, and I don’t think you can have a list of scary novels without having the King of Horror on your list. Plus, it has creeptastic vampires!


5. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice

Speaking of vampires, this book gave me ALL OF THE NIGHTMARES when I first read it at age 13. The novel itself isn’t horrifying, but the entire plot with Claudia freaked me out. The idea of a doll-like little girl who basically goes insane? Yeah… *shivers*

Anne Rice wrote vampires before they sparkled, and Lestat will always be one of my favorites!


6. The Whyborne & Griffin series, by Jordan L. Hawk

I’m recommending the entire series because I can’t pick out just one scene, or one book, that qualifies as “creepy”… instead, it’s the general vibe of the entire story! Whyborne and Griffin battle monsters, gods from the deep, and evil warlocks while trying to defend their town. Here’s our heroes’ first encounter with a monster, from Widdershins (Book One):

The beam of my lantern revealed a thing for which I had no words.

My mind flailed, trying and failing to make sense of what filled the doorway in front of me. It had four limbs, more or less, a shape which overall suggested some perversion of humanity. But its naked body was horribly misshapen, the limbs of uneven length, the joints distorted. Thick, coarse skin covered it for the most part, but certain protuberances sprouted scales, and something horribly like human teeth jutted out of an elbow.

Its head was worse, however. Thanks to Christine, I’d spent many an hour bent over the art of ancient Egypt and its animal-headed gods. Those gods had a strange nobility and completeness to them. This thing seemed a mockery of the ancient deities. Its misshapen skull retained traces of humanity, but was hideously flattened and distended into an unmistakably crocodilian form.

Beady eyes fixed on me: blue irises punctured by reptilian pupils. Its jaws opened, the gape huge and lined with savage teeth, and it let loose a howl like something from the lowest pit of Tartarus.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, couldn’t do anything but stare. Had I been alone, it would surely have ripped me to shreds.


7. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman


Neil Gaiman is a master of creepy. What makes this even more horrifying is that it’s a childrens’ book. I was actually just talking about this with Vane at Books With Chemistry (go check out her review!), and about how this book is way creepier to read as an adult than it was when I was a teenager.

The incredibly talented Dave McKean did the illustrations for the book (I have SO MUCH of his art, he’s ridiculously good!), but the movie did a pretty amazing job!


8. The PsyCop series, by Jordan Castillo Price

Once upon a time if you told doctors you heard voices, they’d diagnose you as schizophrenic, put you on heavy drugs, and lock you away in a cozy state institution to keep you from hurting yourself or others.

Nowadays they test you first to see if you’re psychic.

Victor Bayne is a psychic cop (hence PsyCop!) who sees dead people. And not just ghosts, either, but full-on, technicolor, graphically dead walking spirits. He teams up (both in the field and in bed) with a non-psychic named Jacob to solve murders by interviewing the dead spirits… when they’re willing to cooperate, that is.

You know there’s some Grade A level creepiness when even the psychic who sees dead people on a daily basis gets freaked out!

“Victor, back there in that basement, when the zombies were… were… moving around on those tables…. Twitching? And dead? You didn’t even blink.”

“This is nothing like those zombies.”

“No shit. Because this time, you’re scared—beyond scared. You’re terrified. And whatever’s got you scared? I don’t want any part of it.”


9. The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey

The most horrifying alphabet book ever written. This isn’t for teaching your toddlers their A, B, C’s…

gorey 1 gorey 2

Gorey’s art is eerie and, yes, gory. But look, it even rhymes! Adorable, right?!


10. The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe

Everything he writes is brilliant and creepy, and he’s inspired dozens of mystery and horror novels. This is one of the opening paragraphs from The Tell-Tale Heart, one of my favorites:

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Poe was one creepy, creepy guy. Stories about burying people alive, about insanity, and about guilt… definitely the stuff of nightmares! Even his death is a creepy mystery!


What are you reading this Halloween?

Review: Josh of the Damned series, by Andrea Speed (Rating: 5/5)

speed-josh-of-the-damnedJosh of the Damned, by Andrea Speed
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Page Count: 196 (complete collection)
Genre: Gay (M/M) Humor/Horror

Rating: 5 out of 5

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After reading a short story by Andrea Speed in the Charmed and Dangerous anthology, I completely fell in love with Josh and his crazy world. I got the first book in this series right away (it’s FREE!!! so you should totally check it out!) and basically devoured it, and then immediately went and grabbed the Complete Collection. Andrea calls these books “goofy horror”, and I completely agree with that genre description!

Josh Caplan is your average late-night convenience store clerk, but the Quik-Mart where he works is nothing like normal with that hell vortex in the parking lot. Waiting on zombies, demons, and other things that go bump in the night might scare some, but they’re actually more polite than the stoners, and Josh welcomes the break in the monotony—especially when he acquires himself a sexy new boyfriend with a deadly secret.

Will Josh survive this retail nightmare? It’s a Big Gulp of a chance, but between the hazard pay and the hottie with a sweet tooth for Josh’s candy, it’s a chance he’s willing to take.

This review is for the Complete Collection, as each story is pretty short by itself.

Okay, first off, I cracked up over and over while reading these! Josh is sassy, sarcastic, and full of hilarious geek references, and the stories are just the right kind of ridiculous.

“Imagine the Hulk with hair, and you’ll have some idea of what you’re dealing with. Although I wouldn’t put that in the manual, ’cause Marvel might sue.” (“Triple Feature #1: Interview with the Empire”)

Helping Josh to stay sane and alive in the chaos is his roommate Doug (a stoner, pizza delivery guy, and all-around awesome friend), his boss Mr. Kwon (surprisingly chill about the hell vortex behind his store), and his insanely hot boyfriend, Colin.

There were pretty monsters? Why hadn’t anyone told him there were pretty monsters? (“Pretty Monsters”)


Each story in this universe is pretty short, but there’s an over-arching plot as well. Josh is pretty much the least likely hero to ever exist, but he does a pretty good job regardless.

“Why are you invincible, bitch?” Mr. Kwon asked, looking over one of the zombie’s shoulders. Josh held up the wrist cuff. Mr. Kwon’s eyes went wide. “Fuck a duck! Is that a reliquary?” (“Triple Feature #2: Clerk of the Living Dead”)

You should read these stories if you:

  • like horror
  • like horror that is also hilarious
  • think frozen burrito meat might actually be human brains
  • appreciate sentient facial hair
  • are interested in mythology
  • have ever thought that gas stations are kind of creepy late at night

Also, I know a lot of people are interested in reading m/m novels with no erotic content… if that’s you, then let me point you towards Josh of the Damned! Josh and his boyfriend Colin are sweet as candy bars, but there’s no sexytimes to be found here.

Highly recommend all around, and I hope there’s more to come from this series!

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Anthology Review: Charmed and Dangerous (Part Two of Two)

charmed-coverCharmed and Dangerous, an Anthology

Authors: Astrid Amara, K.J. Charles, Charlie Cochet,
Rhys Ford, Gin Hale, Lou Harper, Jordan L. Hawk,
Nicole Kimberling, Jordan Castillo Price, & Andrea Speed
Publisher: JCP Books LLC (August 25, 2015)
Page Count: 480 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Paranormal/Fantasy

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* I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

I’m back with the second half of the Charmed and Dangerous anthology! This half features the following stories: “The Thirteenth Hex” by Jordan L. Hawk, “The Soldati Prince” by Charlie Cochet, “One Hex Too Many” by Lou Harper, “Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom” by Andrea Speed, and “The Trouble with Hexes” by Astrid Amara.

You can find Part One of my review here.

My heart races just thinking about all of those amazing authors! I loved the second half of this book just as much as the first, and these five stories are filled with some incredible talent, lots of sexy men, and, of course, plenty of hexes and spells.

(Again, all quotes referenced are followed by the ePub page location.)


The Thirteenth Hex, by Jordan L. Hawk (★★★★★)
Does this count as historical urban fantasy? It’s an alternate universe where magic exists, and witches and their familiars help infuse hexes for everything from policework to helping crops grow. Whatever genre it is, I loved it!

Hexman Dominic Kopecky doesn’t understand why dashing crow familiar Rook wants his help investigating murder by patent hex. For one thing, Dominic isn’t a witch. For another, the case is already closed—and someone is willing to kill to keep it that way.

The mystery here was fantastic, and the sexual tension between Dominic and Rook was off the charts! It’s amazing how some authors can create an entire world with gorgeous characters in such a short space! LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Favorite Quote:

Still, Dominic hadn’t been able to bring himself to forget about magic altogether. It haunted him, just as his longing for men did, a need he couldn’t seem to stamp out no matter how hard he tried. (278)


The Soldati Prince, by Charlie Cochet (★★★☆☆)
In many ways, this was very typical Charlie Cochet writing. Sarcastic and stubborn characters, witty one-liners, and that awesome opposites-attract of the big, tough, serious guy and the small wiry guy with the sense of humor. (Yes, the main characters remind me of Dex and Sloane!)

Riley Murrough goes from serving lattes to being chased by demons. If that wasn’t bad enough, he bears the mark of a shapeshifter king from a magical realm. Riley’s determined to get answers, but if the demons out for his blood don’t kill him, the urge to strangle the arrogant king might.

I really liked the characters, but the romance was kind of unbelievable. The pacing was off, so Khalon does a complete 180 of his feelings for Riley in like two pages. But it was still a lot of fun to read, I have to admit!

Favorite Quote:

“It means he’s made an emotional connection with you, one from the depths of his very soul.”
“Oh. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Because you know, most of his emotional connections leave me thinking he’s close to following through with a physical connection of his fist to my face.” (346)


One Hex Too Many, by Lou Harper (★★★★☆)
I love when mystery/crime fiction pairs up with urban fantasy, because cops with magic is so much fun to read. This story was heavy on the crime drama, and not so much with the romance, but that was more than okay with me.

Veteran detective Mike Mulligan is an expert on violent crimes—of the occult variety. He might even be cursed. Detective Hugh Fox is eager to partner up and prove himself, but Mulligan is accustomed to flying solo. Can they trust each other enough to track a killer who’ll stop at nothing, not even summoning a demon?

Mike is an interesting character, with some great back story. I love the little hints that were dropped about his history throughout the story, and his actions with his new partner were great. Detective Fox, on the other hand, ended up being as mysterious as the actual crime they were trying to solve. Still, a very interesting read!

Favorite Quote:

“I work alone,” I said once the door shut.
“Because you’re a maverick cop who plays by his own rules?” Parker had a good poker face, only the slightest twitch in the corner of his mouth betrayed he was mocking me. (367)


Josh of the Damned vs. the Bathroom of Doom, by Andrea Speed (★★★★☆)
I knew from the title alone that this was going to be a hilarious read, and it most definitely was! It looks like this is part of a series, so I definitely need to check out the other books if they’re as funny and quirky as this one.

It’s a boring night at the Quik-Mart for Josh and his friend Doug. Until a vampire with a grudge—and the most adorable backup ever—crashes the store. Can Josh survive the Bathroom of Doom?

Too bad we only get a glimpse of Josh’s sexy boyfriend, but the snarky back and forth between Josh, Doug, and the other characters is so funny! I couldn’t stop laughing the entire time.

Favorite Quote:

“Satan on a unicorn, is getting stoned all you think about?” the vampire exclaimed.
“I’m a pizza delivery driver with a useless degree, and debts I’m never gonna pay off. So what else am I supposed to do?”


The Trouble With Hexes, by Astrid Amara (★★★★☆)
Right from the first sentence, I knew this was my type of story. Ex-boyfriends who still love each other is one of my favorite tropes, and adding magic to mix makes it even better!

P.I. Tim Keller has a problem. And the only person who can solve it is his ex-boyfriend, Vincent, whose job as a hexbreaker was the reason they broke up. It’s hard admitting he was wrong, especially when coughing up organs. But there’s a missing person to find, a hexmaker to hunt down, and a romance to repair before Tim breathes his last.

This was an emotional rollercoaster as Vincent and Tim rush to find the hexmaker and save Tim’s life. I liked seeing their relationship as it started to heal. The mystery was really well done, too, and the side characters were fantastic. I’d love to read more in this universe!

Favorite Quote:

It was a whole new world and changed everything. If there were hexes, then there could be ghosts. Vampires. Hell, a weight loss pill that worked. Anything was possible. (500)


And that concludes my review of Charmed and Dangerous! This anthology was absolutely amazing, and I all of the authors involved did an incredible job. I think this would be a great book for someone new to the m/m genre, because it brings together so many well-known authors and gives you a chance to see their writing styles side by side!

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