Allison by Jeff Strand- Book Review

Allison
Jeff Strand
Amazon Services, LLC (Mar 15, 2020)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 270 pp

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“Some might say that if a woman had the power to severely harm or kill you with her mind, and she couldn’t control this power, it was best not to date her. There was a definite logic to that point of view.”

Alright, folks. One of our favorites in the genre has just managed to do it again. Strand delivers to us a new and compelling, visually-stunning, fast-paced read of brilliant action-packed telekinetic superpower goodness in his latest book here and she comes by the name of, Allison. But, be careful ghouls and gals. Especially if swiping right and hitting the mean streets of today’s up and coming dating scene. But, let’s also take a moment to breathe and take in the beautiful cover art created by the talented cover artist, Lynne Hansen.

“Takes the girl-with-supernatural-powers-gets-pushed-too-far trope and makes it delicious again.” — Errant Dreams

Allison can break your bones with her mind, and she can’t control her power. Now forty-five years old, she’s spent her life trying to stay away from other people. But a random encounter with a couple on the street leaves her believing that she may have done something horrible. Something unforgivable. Killer-for-hire Daxton and his girlfriend Maggie know the truth. Instead of easing Allison’s anguish, they come up with a cruel plan to take advantage of it. But with Allison’s abilities exposed, there may be a grisly body count very soon…

From its shocking opening to its sinister conclusion, ALLISON is Jeff Strand at his over-the-top best!

“The idea that she could just… crush him from the inside out like that was terrifying.”

You may need more than a pocket full of contraceptives for this pretty little lady because you might just get yourself into a little bit more than what you bargained for. Just in case that’s not clear enough for you, I’d like to remind you that we’re not talking about happy endings and puppy dog kisses over here. Nope, we’re talking about big, bad infamous mob bosses here spinning a tale full of gore, blood-curdling, neck-snapping, intestine-munching madness with no hope and despair. Especially if you’re the one trying to tame such a beast. She’s wild and crazy folks, so be careful what you wish for. There might not be a soul left alive on this planet that is strong enough to pin this one down.

Check it out!!!

The Devil’s Woods by Brian Moreland- Book Review

The Devil’s Woods
Brian Moreland
Rising Horse Books (June 6, 2017)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 310 pp

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“The forest on our land is sacred and alive. So be careful how far you wander. The trees have eyes, and they’re always watching…”

Alright, folks… let’s all take a deep breath, pretend that we’re not boarded up within the confines of our own homes binging daytime soaps on the streaming television sets, and enter the dark, shadowy woods of a native village haunted by ghosts. I don’t know about you but, I’m hella into the sound of all that dark jazz, and wanted to give a little shout-out to this book in case anyone else missed it when it first came out a couple years ago like I did. ‘The Devil’s Woods’ is a supernatural horror thriller with Native American lore from yesteryear!? Now, you can say that again! It’s also a huge plus when the author absolutely nails it out of the horror park so to speak with a cast of super well-developed characters that we as the reader are able to follow right alongside those same very haunted footsteps as their paths become engulfed by flames as some of our worst nightmares and then some come true before our very eyes.

“Fear wears many skins. Deep within the Canadian wilderness, people have been disappearing for over a century. There is a place the locals call The Devil’s Woods, but to speak of it will only bring the devil to your door. It is a place so evil that even animals avoid it. When their father’s expedition team goes missing, Kyle and his brother and sister return to the abandoned Cree Indian reservation where they were born. Kyle can see the ghosts that haunt the woods surrounding the village—and they seem to be trying to warn him. The search for their father will lead Kyle and his siblings to the dark heart of the legendary forest, where their mission will quickly become a fight for survival.”

“You must call in your animal spirit guide and enter with the heart of a warrior.”

With many twists and turns leading up to an action-packed ending with even more twists and turns located on nearly every page. This is an absolute must read for anyone who likes their fiction jam-packed with horror and suspense. To shy the story-line away from being anywhere near predictable, the author has carefully included many of those lovable horror tropes found in the modern supernatural thriller, but then has also managed to ever so graciously take all the necessary steps to mash it up into something much more terrifying, suspenseful, unique and overly creative to share with us as the reader, and I found myself loving every second of it.

Check it out!

Give It to the Grand Canyon by Noah Cicero- Book Review

Give It to the Grand Canyon
Noah Cicero
Philosophical Idiot (July 12, 2019)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 156 pp

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“Ashley would make hot dogs, Rich and I would be on the registers. There was also Debbie from the Bronx. She was a whirlwind of human emotion and Eastern American Sadness.”

Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Check this out and listen up. This is an absolutely beautifully crafted, well-written, fantastically unique gem of a book that I’m currently looking at right now as I continue to hit the keys on this black and white click-clacky keyboard. And, that book in reference is none other than Noah Cicero’s latest book ‘Give It to the Grand Canyon’ published by Philosophical Idiot Press, which I personally absolutely loved and adored and cannot recommend to you enough. The author’s writing is just so pure and genuine and poetic, it’s as if he sat down to write it to personally vent because he needed to. He needed to just sit there and tell us, as the reader, what he was going through at that time for a handful of distinct reasons, but, the main reason being that he just needed to and that it mattered more than anything else in that time. This comes naturally to us as the reader in the shape of these multi-cultural vignettes told from the point of view of our all-star narrator Billy Cox, who has moved back to the states after being in Korea for more than three years with his ex, when he comes back to the Grand Canyon (the closest place to home) where he takes a summer job making minimum wage at the National Park like most college kids do for a summer job. It’s during these times that our narrator self-reflects on a handful of different subjects through a handful of different characters that we all know and love and can relate to because we’ve all personally met somebody like them in the past. Those who can also all be found at the heart of that genuinely nostalgic Americana, being culturally diverse and accepting of others, mindfully respecting nature, nurturing self-care, finding true love and lasting commitment, coping with abandonment amidst struggling with our own interpersonal relationships, suffering from the overbearing weight of eternal sadness and depression, whilst trying to remain calm and sit back to do that intimate soul searching for that perfect American dream that others seem to wear so naturally, and others seem to fail so hard time and time again. Which is one of the factors that keeps Billy coming back to the canyon where he believes that there’s a much deeper connection to be found there.

“Maybe I could do that? Go into the canyon, get lost and let go, let death take me. But I knew I wouldn’t do that, I enjoyed missing her too much. I indulged in my misery, there was no intention of ending it.”

Our narrator points out that the Grand Canyon is more than just a tourist trap. There’s always somebody there. But, also, that the canyon is always there for you too. People traveling from all over seem to come and visit the beautiful landscape for the same reason. Just to stare into its’ soul. Our narrator finds this mostly peaceful, but eventually leads us astray into the darker themes of his own personal self-reflections when he makes the realization that he is always spending so much time in the local bars, asking others what they’re doing, or what they’re thinking and feeling, but never paying very much attention to himself or his needs and the pain he is suffering from, as he seeks solace within the confines of the canyon. On one of his hikes to the bottom of the canyon and back, Billy realizes that it’s all maybe just because he is afraid to confront who he really is. Maybe that is why he has felt like the Grand Canyon has always called out and spoke to him. Maybe he just needs to self-reflect. Give his memories full of pain and sorrow and suffering back to the Grand Canyon much like his friends Kaja and Sheila did when they were going through difficult times and healed by the canyon.

“She responded while wiping the counter, “But he doesn’t want to talk about it, he would probably feel better if he talked about it.”

Near the end of the book we as the reader come to the realization that Billy has just been struggling and trying to get over his ex-girlfriend the entire time. It’s confirmed that the reason he up and left Korea out of the blue was to simply get away from her, and that all the conversations and personal time and investments he’s taken in conversation and getting to know the many other’s around him was all just to avoid having to process those hopeless feelings of genuine sadness, depression, and personal abandonment from his past relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Coming to the realization that he spent most of his time henceforth avoiding the subject almost entirely, as he became devastatingly fixated on that lovesick sadness to where he was personally overwhelmed and consumed by the sheer weight of it. That it was all foggy (like when the fog rolled into the canyon and covered up all the beauty for days at a time). On his final hike to the bottom of the canyon and back he too finds himself giving it back to the canyon like his friends as he comes to the harsh realization of why it is that he actually misses her the most and is not over her just yet, and, that’s because he felt like he never had her heart. He felt like she would be with someone else now and asking how they were and she never cared about him in that way, so it wasn’t even necessarily the fact that she was gone anymore, but, more so in the fact that the general “concept” of her was missing in his life, and that was the sort of love and connection he personally felt like he needed. So, when he asked his friend Dream why it hurt so much. His friend told him that like everything else it was just something else that he’d lost, and that it was he, Billy Cox that was putting all of his pain into her.

“Dream said, “Because you feel like too many things have been taken, your brother died, your grandpa died, all your friends in Korea are gone, you don’t relate to anyone in your hometown. You are putting all of your pain into her.”

In the epilogue, we as the reader discover that his ex makes a trip out and visits the canyon years later after their relationship. She’s never been there before and she’s standing there talking and reminiscing about her relationship with Billy. She explains that their relationship had gone south because she was insecure about their relationship. She felt too young and dumb and insecure and scared, so she’d just ended it with him, as if to run away from it entirely to not have to deal with it because she felt like she was the problem. Billy doesn’t know this and probably never will which adds to the point of him adding the unnecessary weight of their failed relationship to the burden of everything else in his life much like he always had, and that perhaps he didn’t feel enough in the end because he was used to always feeling so much in the beginning.

‘Give It to the Grand Canyon’ is a brutally honest and genuine portrayal of contemporary Americana and modern cultural diversity while coming to terms with the severity of our own basic human nature in society today, and what it’s like to be physically and mentally attuned to your immediate surroundings and emotions. Everybody has a lovesick story to tell and a place to belong. It’s just all about the way in which we as human beings decide to get there that makes it all worth living for in the end.

Check it out!!!

 

Starving Romantic by Vincent James Perrone- Book Review

Starving Romantic
Vincent James Perrone
11:11 PRESS (Sep 8, 2019)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 102 pp

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Alright, folks. Listen up. If shorter works and/or poetry collections are more your cup of tea then you might want to stick around a little bit longer for this one. On the outside, a gruesome and shocking cover that actually rather quite beautifully depicts and coincides with the pain and suffering going on within its pages. Starving Romantic, is a brutally honest piece of psychological lamentation that captures the heartfelt essence and imagery of films like Winter’s Bone mixed with those timelessly subtle undertones of drowning in the Midwest at some type of socially estranged gathering and/or brouhaha, chock full of that great kind of lingering sadness only found towards the bottom of a dark, bottomless pit filled of pain and suffering, hopeless despair and thickened ultra-black sadness that we have all experienced in our human lives at one point or another whether dealing with personal issues and/or depression, loss of a family member, a recent breakup, tragedy, tragedy, tragedy. You know, those other more negative thoughts and feelings that take us away from our happy place(s), but yet with that underlying necessity of just being because without those kind of negative feelings and attachments, the good times we experience wouldn’t be so damn good. They wouldn’t even register or be visible to the naked eye or in this case heart. The book is overall very well-written, highly creative, lyrical, heartbreaking, and emotional whilst managing to be overly dreamy and dreamlike with this beautiful dystopianesque ethereal/intergalactic/otherworldly type of sad and dreary atmosphere set in the bleeding hearts of the Midwest. So, let’s lace up those work boots, folks. We’ve got some serious work ahead of us before we die.

The fumes of crowded Greyhound buses, a Floridian coast visited by Father Time, a woman with a penchant for birds and elevators—what is the substance of humility?

Written in three sections, Starving Romantic explores themes of loss, family, home, and love through a hyperreal lyricism. The backdrops are often the forgotten Midwest, the sprawling landscapes of Detroit, and the anonymous house, complete with porch and backyard.

Starving Romantic lives in chaos, between its own conflicted nature. A celebration of turbulence, romance, and youth and the lingering pain that it brings with it.

Some of my personal favorites from this outstanding poetry collection were ‘The Landing,’Underripe,’Other Seasons,’Barbs, Baby Teeth, and Weekends.’

Check it out!!!

https://1111press.com/

Elaine by Ben Arzate- Book Review

Elaine
Ben Arzate
ATLATL Press (Feb 28, 2020)
eBook/ Trade Paperback/ 100 pp

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This reminds me a lot of my grandma’s house, he thought. It’s like every old person in the Midwest has the same interior designer.”

Omg, you guys! What a neat, creative, pervy, creepy, terrifying, little novella we have here from ATLATL Press, which, if you didn’t already know always manages to deliver the eclectic goods, chock full of black comedy/ dark humor to feed even the most eccentric of readers out there amongst this sick and decrepit and demented world. Reader beware: this is a purposely uncomfortable and unexpectedly pervasive read; but, it’s definitely not written out of bad taste and there’s a point to it and it fits rather well into the storyline and overall composition here beautifully, whilst managing to add to the madness lingering about every turn of the page. This is a first for me written by the author and I can safely say that it won’t be the last.

When Chris hops on a train to meet up with his girlfriend Agnes and her recently widowed father for her mother’s upcoming funeral in the small and peculiur town of Elaine located somewhere in Upper Michigan, things begin to get fuzzy for our main character. Why are all the female’s including the woman on the train named after the town they live in? What does it all mean? What is it with all these perverted dreams and vivid hallucinations he keeps having about all the females in his life? His sister. His girlfriend. Elaine. Elaine. Elaine. The preacher? Perverted commercials on the television? What is happening in this godforsaken town? Why can’t he leave?

“The funeral’s going to be really dreary, Chris thought.”

The true magic of this book is in the slow-burn way in which the story unfolds before our very eyes. That slow, creeping dread that looms from within the words on the page that keeps us as the reader wanting to keep reading quickly to find out what’s going to happen next. There are some really heavy undertones and characteristics of folk horror going on here in abundance, specifically in the way in which all the strange characters from Elaine, MI seem to act and respond to everything, in that, as-if-there’s-nothing-strange-going-on-here type of way, when, in fact, there oh so very much is. I also really liked the author’s clever use of music in this book, adding to the main character’s entire gimmick of being the owner of a record store, listing out specific bands and song titles throughout the majority of the book, which I’ve taken the time to ever-so-conveniently compile below in the order in which they appear like one of those old-school Midwestern emo compilation mix-tapes from yesteryear, which nobody has probably done with a book since reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower back in the day.

The Elaine Mixtape

Johnny Cash- Folsom Prison Blues
Iron and Wine- Walking Far From Home
This Mortal Coil- A Single Wish
Creedence Clearwater- Someday Never Comes
Captain Beefheart- Electricity
Magnetic Fields- With Whom to Dance
Animal Collective- Sun Tongs Album
Clinic- Goodnight Georgie
The Butthole Surfers- American Woman
Outkast- Roses
The Dresden Dolls- The Jeep Song
Yes- Into the Lens
Tracy Lawrence- Can’t Break It To My Heart
Iron Maiden- The Evil That Men Do
Reba McEntire- The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Tim Mcgraw- Indian Outlaw
Creedence Clearwater- Proud Mary
Bruce Springsteen– Born in the USA
Hank Williams Jr.- All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down
The Highway Men- The Road Goes On Forever
Garth Brooks- Friends in Low Places
Asia- Heat of the Moment

Do yourself a favor and check this one out for yourself to see what it’s all about!