Wednesday 30 September 2015

SHOW-OFF AND TELL #9 - Pete Kahle and James Newman - Widowmakers

This week’s Show-Off and Tell is a book that holds a very dear place in my heart for more than one reason. Widowmakers. A benefit anthology put together by Pete Kahle to raise some funds to help out horrors Mr Nice guy James Newman after he had an argument with a tree, and lost.

Reasons why I love this book so much? Number one is the fact that it shows quite clearly how deep the friendship goes in the horror community, when one person is prepared to go all out to put something like this together to help out another individual going through a rough time.

Number two is the fact that due to this books hugeness (fifty individual stories by fifty individuals!) I discovered a plethora of new authors. New to me anyway, and my TBR pile has quadrupled since. I have since made some very good friends in the horror world and to be honest a lot of it is down to this one, single book.

This is my copy.

Monday 28 September 2015


The truth behind the settling of the feud!

So here at Confessions of a Reviewer, I like to stay above the fray. Occasionally little flashes of animosity burst out between rival authors, but I don’t like to get involved. For one thing, I have friends all over the scene, and don’t like to show favouritism, and for another, it’s just childish.

But this one, I can’t ignore. Because they just won’t leave me alone.

Yes, Kit Power and Rich Hawkins have been supposedly ‘feuding’ then supposedly making up for what seems like the last seventeen years, the source of the alleged row all but lost in obscurity at this point. And then they supposedly made up, and are running a joint launch party today. All sweetness and light.

Well, that was the plan.

After this post, who knows?

Sunday 27 September 2015

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #11 - Darren O. Godfrey

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


Darren O. Godfrey

The Past

For me, the love of all things ghastly and bizarre in printed matter all started with two unjacketed hardcover books; a red one and a blue one.  Prior to that find were the usual kid’s material: a slew of Seuss, a dash of Dahl, along with favorites The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Desmond the Dog Detective, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Story of Ferdinand, as well as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and a host of other Twain tales, all easily located in the school library.

Those books, though, the red and the blue, were not on the school’s shelves.  Nope.  Those babies were right there, in my house, close enough to bite me, had they been snakes … and this is where I envision a Ghost of Readings Past (“Long past?” “No, your past”) bringing me, ethereally, to said house on Dogwood Street, in which I did much of my growing up.  A green-carpeted living room, dim even during midday, with a fireplace taking up much of one wall, and, on either side of the hearth, built-in bookcases.  These shelves hold a green-and-gold set of encyclopedias, dozens of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, and various other tomes not often touched by the family’s hands.

[An aside: I wish I could say that I sprung from a family of voracious readers; alas, I cannot.  Mostly casual readers.  Two or three of us, however became voracious readers.  Later.  And separately.  In fact, nearly everything we did, we did separately.  We were basically five strangers under one roof.  But that’s an essay for another time.]

Friday 25 September 2015

REVIEW: Frank Westworth - The Corruption Of Chastity (Killing Sisters #2)

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Book Guild Ltd
Publication Date: 24th Sept 2015
Pages: 352


A copy of The Corruption of Chastity was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Frank Westworth in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

Third book of Frank Westworth’s in a week. All loosely connected using the same “hero”, JJ Stoner. I read two short stories featuring Mr Stoner, the reviews of which you can read here. This one is a full novel featuring the same character. I was expecting more of the same. I did get it, but I was left wanting a little more of the action stuff and a little bit less of the talking stuff.

Chastity is one half of “The Killing Sisters”. She is in the middle of a run of hits that are all part of the same “contract”. Something isn’t right though. Each time she completes her mission, she very nearly gets caught. Someone knows what, where and when she is going to do her job and for some reason is trying to get her “taken out”.

The mysterious people in the background who hired the Killing Sisters want someone to help find out what is going on and how to stop it. In their eyes there is only one person who can do this. JJ Stoner. Only problem is, no one knows where he is.

Stoner is enjoying himself on a round the world cruise. A cruise where he thought he would be invisible and get away from all his troubles. How wrong he was. His troubles are just about to begin all over again.

Thursday 24 September 2015

REVIEW: Caroline Mitchell - Time To Die (Detective Jennifer Knight Book 2)

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Paranormal
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 24th Sept 2015
Pages: 300


I received an advance copy of Time To Die by Caroline Mitchell from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Bookouture.

So a month ago I read my first ever book by Caroline Mitchell, Don’t Turn Around. You can read the review of it here. This was the first in a new series featuring Detective Jennifer Knight. I really liked the book but I did have a couple of negative points that brought the rating down a little bit. It still got four stars though. Time To Die is the second book in the Detective Jennifer Knight series. I obviously wanted to read it. I was interested to see if the negatives had been turned into positives.

Detective Jennifer Knight now works for Operation Moonlight. This is a separate unit within the Police Force in Haven where all the detectives have certain “skills”.

She is investigating a series of murders involving a killer known simply as “The Raven”. He is a mysterious man who gives people readings using Tarot cards. He tells them their past, their present and then predicts their future. Their future always involves them dying in a brutal way.

There is some sort of connection that is driving the killer but no one knows what this is. Jennifer must try and “connect” with The Raven to find out firstly, who he is and secondly, how to stop him. The clock is ticking and time is running out for someone very close to Jennifer. No one knows that yet. Apart from The Raven.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

SHOW-OFF AND TELL #8 - Darren O. Godfrey - Apathetic Flesh Short Story Collection

This week’s Show-Off and Tell comes from Darren O. Godfrey, an author I don’t personally see a lot of and that, folks, is an absolute crying shame.

The reason I say that is because Apathetic Flesh is one of the most amazing collection of short stories I have ever read. Period. It is just superb.

I read and reviewed it before I started reviewing seriously and long before I had the blog going. This has just finally come out in paperback form and now that I have this little beauty in my possession, I intend to fix that and read it again to give it a proper review on Confessions.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on this for a cover!

Tuesday 22 September 2015

REVIEW: Frank Westworth - First Contract and also Four Cornered - JJ Stoner Short Stories

This is a first for Confessions of a Reviewer! A double review! Enjoy!

Genre: Thriller
Publisher: The Cosmic Bike Company Ltd
Publication Date: 22nd June 2014
Pages: 44


A copy of First Contract (JJ Stoner short story #1) was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Frank Westworth in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

Never ever heard of Frank Westworth before. I’m very sorry to say that. Firstly because I always think it’s an insult to an author when someone say’s they have never heard of them. So, sorry Frank. But hey, we can’t know them all eh? Secondly…..well I’m going to give you a piece of advice now. Right now. After only reading this forty four page short story. If you like thrillers, get to know Frank Westworth’s writing.

JJ Stoner has left the army. He had to. There was an incident in Iraq. He had two choices. Be dishonourably discharged or go to work for the “Hard Man”.

He has no idea who the Hard Man is or who he works for. He only knows two things. Number one is he will leave the Army without a question being asked. Number two is he will be working for the Hard Man. To be more precise he will be killing for the Hard Man.

That is of course if he survives The First Contract.

Monday 21 September 2015

REVIEW: Dark Chapter Press - Kill For A Copy - Anthology

Genre: Horror / Fantasy / Anthology
Publisher: Dark Chapter Press
Publication Date: 19th July 2015
Pages: 302


A copy of Kill For A Copy was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Dark Chapter Press, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

This is the second anthology I have read in recent weeks. I said with the last one that you either love them or hate them. Again my biggest problem is the fact that if they are loaded with stories it takes me a while to get through them because I tend to read a couple of novels in between times as well to break up the monotony of constant short stories.

Kill For A Copy intrigued me for a couple of reasons. Number one, there are a lot of stories in this one from authors I have never read before. I am always on the hunt for new people to read so short stories are a perfect way to introduce yourself to someone’s writing. You get to see what their style is like without having to spend a few days reading a full novel and then if you like what you read: you go buy!

The second reason was because this is published by Dark Chapter Press. I have mentioned them in the past as being an upcoming young British press working very hard to make a name for themselves in the fantastically large world of publishing. I think they do great stuff and think you will see a lot more of them in the future.

Anyway…..on to the stories. These are my thoughts on the seventeen tales of darkness that lie between the covers!

Sunday 20 September 2015

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #10 - The Sisters of Slaughter - Michelle Garza & Melissa Lason

Before you start reading this wonderful piece by the Sisters of Slaughter, I would like to do something never before done on Confessions of a Reviewer but, I feel that this is the right thing to do at this time.

On September 3rd 2015, Melissa’s father in law and her husband Chris’s dad, Garry Lason, very sadly passed away at the still young age of 66.

Living in the UK, I never had the privilege of meeting Garry and after reading many of the posts on Chris’s Facebook feed, I feel I have missed out on meeting on a truly wonderful man.

Garry was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and raised in Newark, New Jersey. After high school, Garry enlisted in the United States Marine Corps serving proudly for over 10 years before receiving an honorable discharge. In 1974, he married the love of his life Linda and they had six children.

After his discharge from the Marine Corps, (and his abduction by aliens), Garry worked in the sales industry. Garry enjoyed spending time with his family, watching Sci-Fi/animal shows, drawing, and making everyone laugh.

A selfless individual, Garry was known to always help those in need and put others first. Everyone enjoyed the abundant feasts that Garry prepared, the crazy stories Garry told, as well as the Bible Study group he led for many years.

Garry is survived by his wife, three sons, three daughters, three grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

Again, from what I have read over this past couple of weeks, Garry was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather and a true inspiration to anyone that was lucky enough to meet him.

I also know from speaking to Melissa that Garry was extremely proud of the fact that herself and Michelle have realised their dream of becoming published authors.

On a personal note, I would like to offer my condolences to Chris, Melissa, little Kahlan and the entire family circle. I’m sure everyone who visits Confessions of a Reviewer would also like to offer their love and support over the coming months and offer any help we can.

One way you can help out is to donate to The American Heart Association, a charity the family would like to help out in Garry’s memory. Anything you can, be it a few cents or a few pennies. It all helps and you can make sure your donation is allocated against Garry's name.


This post is proudly dedicated to the memory of Garry Lason.

R.I.P. Garry, may the force be with you!

Friday 18 September 2015

REVIEW: David Owain Hughes - White Walls And Straitjackets

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Dark Serpent / Ravenswood Publishing
Publication Date: 8th April 2015
Pages: 215


A copy of White Walls and Straitjackets by David Owain Hughes was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Dark Serpent / Ravenswood Publishing.

I have seen a lot of publicity around blogs and social media about this book so I was delighted when Maxine over at Booklover Catlady Publicity asked if I would like a copy to review. I have never read anything by David Owain Hughes before either so was excited to read someone knew. The buzz it seems to be creating had me expecting good things. I have to say I was a little disappointed.

Harry and Crystal are a travelling entertainment show. They like to murder people. They have just killed three critics who didn’t seem to like their show. They know they need to dump the bodies and skip town as fast as they can and go somewhere new, for a new start. Crystal wants to go and visit her sister, who is locked up in an asylum on the way. Harry doesn’t want to but reluctantly agrees.

Harry finds a book in the glove box in their van. They have no idea how it got there or even who wrote it. Harry decides to read the stories in the book to Crystal on their journey. Some of the details in the stories seem very familiar and it looks like they may have another killer on their own tails.

Thursday 17 September 2015

REVIEW: Jack Rollins - The Cabinet Of Dr Blessing

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Dark Chapter Press
Publication Date: 22nd January 2015
Pages: 302


A copy of The Cabinet of Dr Blessing was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Jack Rollins in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Dark Chapter Press.

So I have only read one other thing by Jack Rollins and that was his story The Séance and if you want, you can read the review of it here.

It was set in the Victorian era. An era that I love reading books from. One thing I have noticed is there aren’t too many people capable of pulling off the particular style of prose needed to make a Victorian book enjoyable. Jack Rollins did that with The Séance. I was hoping he would do it with The Cabinet of Dr Blessing as well.

Boy did he ever!

The story starts in 1859. Dr Blessing is a GP in London. A well respected man by the public and his peers. He is called, unexpectedly, to assist a young prostitute who is going through a very rough labour. Not what a gentleman of his position would normally do in those times but being the person he is, he rushes to help.

It is clear to him very early that the birth is not going well. Something appears to be wrong with the baby itself. It seems to him it is abnormal. The “lady” unfortunately dies giving birth and as far as everyone else knows, the baby does not survive either.

Dr Blessing knows different though. He spirits the “creature” away, and so begins the destruction of Dr Blessing’s life as he knows it and the destruction of London as everyone else knows it.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

SHOW-OFF AND TELL #7 - Christina Bergling - Savages and The Waning

This weeks Show-Off and Tell is a two for one special!

Christina Bergling may not be a name you are very familiar with. You should change that. She writes exceptionally good stories and I am lucky enough to have signed copies of both Savages and The Waning.

This is my copy of Savages.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

REVIEW: Ricardo Bare - The Dogmen of Cedar Park (Cedar Park Tales Book 2)

Genre: Horror / Dark Fiction
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 15th Sept 2015
Pages: 33


A copy of The Dogmen of Cedar Park (Cedar Park Tales Book 1) was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self published.

I have had the pleasure of reading one other story by Ricardo Bare and that was his story Worship Hymn which also comes under the Cedar Park Tales banner. When I reviewed that story I mentioned that Mr Bare would be a name to look out for in the future.

When he contacted me to ask if I would like to review The Dogmen of Cedar Park it was a no brainer.

I was hoping for more of the same. What I got this time was the exact same style of writing, but, and this is a big but, Ricardo Bare as honed his writing skills to perfection with this one. This is a contender for short story of the year from Confessions!

Branden is ten years old. He feels so alone since his father disappeared a few years earlier. He lives with his mom but she works a lot and he is left by himself for long periods of time. His town is constantly shrouded in a haze of thick fog. Branden sees strange men all the time. Strange men with dog faces. He knows they are after him and he knows he must run but he doesn’t want to leave his mom.

Mr Walton tends the cemetery. He told Branden when the horn sounds, there will be two doors. You must run to the correct one to escape. Branden can’t wait for the horn. The Dogmen are coming for him.

Monday 14 September 2015

REVIEW: The Sinister Horror Company - The Black Room Manuscripts: Vol 1 - Anthology

Genre: Horror
Publisher: The Sinister Horror Company
Publication Date: 14th July 2015
Pages: 269


A copy of The Black Room Manuscripts Vol 1 was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, The Sinister Horror Company, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

This is a charity anthology with all proceeds going to Blue Cross UK. You can find details about the charity here.

So, anthologies. You either love them or hate them. I love them from the point of view that sometimes they are full of authors that are totally new to you so you pick up some really cool new people to read.

I hate them sometimes because I can find it difficult to finish them if they are huge, due to not liking constantly reading short stories. I tend to read half of an anthology then read a novel then finish the anthology. It’s my way of getting through them. This one is produced by The Sinister Horror Company, in my opinion, a new upcoming press with a very very bright future ahead of them due to the stories they put out there and the way in which they present the final product.

The fact that this is all for charity also highlights the character of the guys in charge at SHC, and also the authors for giving up their stories for such a good cause.

So what did I think of The Black Room Manuscripts Vol 1? Let’s find out.

Sunday 13 September 2015

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #9 - Mark Allan Gunnells

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


Mark Allan Gunnells

The Past

The first book I ever read for pleasure was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  I was maybe ten at the time, perhaps a little younger.  It opened up a whole new world to me, and though it may sound a bit overly dramatic, it perhaps changed the course of my life.

I should start out by confessing that I do not come from a family of readers.  Few books were to be found in our home, and my parents didn’t consider reading a particularly enjoyable pastime.  Of course, my school had a library and I had been to the public library in my hometown, but I just didn’t have much interest in checking out any of the books because I hadn’t been taught to value fiction.

Until the day I met Alice and went along on her surreal and crazy adventure.  One of my older sisters had stolen a copy from her school library (that’s a whole other story, don’t ask), and it was lying around the house.  I was familiar with the story of Alice in Wonderland though I’d never seen the movie, so I decided to give it a try.

And I instantly became lost in the story, falling down that rabbit hole with Alice.  I found the book thoroughly engrossing, and I had my first experience with the magic of really fine storytelling.  And that is what it truly felt like, as if I was under a spell.  Enraptured.  I don’t know any other word to describe it.  I fell into the story in a way that had never happened with movies or television before.

Friday 11 September 2015

REVIEW: Stephen Kozeniewski - The Ghoul Archipelago

Genre: Horror / Zombies
Publisher: Severed Press
Publication Date: 16th Oct 2013
Pages: 360


A copy of The Ghoul Archipelago was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Stephen Kozeniewski in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

Stephen Kozeniewski’s second novel. I was really excited to get into this one after reading his debut Braineater Jones a few months ago. I absolutely loved it and was hoping for more of the same. You can read the review of it here. This one also has zombies. That’s about the only comparison it has. It’s a totally different style of book. Was that good or bad?

Henk Martigan is the captain of a freighter sailing through the Curien Islands in the South Pacific. His cargo is not exactly what you could call legitimate. It never is. While he is at sea, the world has ended. An army of very hungry zombies has overrun the earth, leaving nothing in its wake.

While he and what is left of his crew battle pirates and ghouls, a three way battle is also raging to take over the islands and ultimately, the world. Probably. This battle is between a genius inventor of a virtual reality collar (or his he), a sinister missionary who seems to have developed a cult worshipping the ghouls rather than the Lord and a ruthless President elect and Admiral of a fleet of American warships recently arrived in the area.

Martigan then gets a distress call from others trapped on mainland US and puts everything in place to go rescue them and bring them back to the more favourable South Pacific.

He only has to survive the three way battle and all should be fine. Oh, and the ghouls!

Wednesday 9 September 2015

SHOW-OFF AND TELL #6 - Duncan Ralston - Gristle and Bone: 7 Delectable Tales of Terror

This weeks Show-Off and tell is another recent delivery to me. Gristle and Bone: 7 Delectable Tales of Terror by Duncan Ralston.

This one has just been released with a new cover which as you can see will put you off your dinner after just one look! I love it. When I opened the package with this inside, and showed it to my wife, she promptly ran and threw up thirty seconds later! Job done Mr Ralston!

Monday 7 September 2015

REVIEW: Peter Giglio - Shadowshift

Genre: Horror
Publisher: DarkFuse
Publication Date: 2nd June 2015
Pages: 171


I received an advance copy of Shadowshift from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by DarkFuse. Need I say anymore?

I have only ever read one other thing by Peter Giglio, Sunfall Manor. Now that I think of it, I don’t know why I haven’t read more. I loved it. So when Shadowshift came up on NetGalley I couldn’t refuse.

I’m glad I didn’t refuse.

Chet is a shape shifter. He can change into nearly any bug or small rodent. His weapon of choice when he is breaking into other people’s homes is a cockroach. Easy access, steal what you want, leave. This is fine until one of his victim’s figures out it was him and sets him up. Things go drastically wrong for Chet from here and his life is going to get a bit boring for a while.

Hannah is Chet’s daughter. She also has a gift. She can manipulate things with her mind. She is only twelve so still developing her skills.

Tina is Chet’s wife. She wishes she never had been. He was never good to her.

When he disappears after the setup, Tina has only one goal in life, protect Hannah. She has no idea her daughter has a gift.

What comes next is a story following two different timelines, Chet’s life in the past and Tina and Hannah’s life in the future. No one knows yet but both timelines are going to clash very soon, with disastrous results.

Sunday 6 September 2015

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #8 - Eric J Gates

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


Eric J Gates

The Past

When childhood memories come to mind there’s a year in particular that stands out. I was 14 years old and, for the first time in my young life, I was to travel to Europe on my own! Well, not quite; it was school trip organised to visit France and Switzerland over the Easter break. Almost forty unruly kids, and three teachers supposedly trying to keep us safe, and the French and Swiss safe from our mischief. That trip was memorable for many reasons, one of which was that, on the overnight train journey from the UK to Switzerland, I read my first Ian Fleming novel.

I was hooked, so much so that in the summer of the same year my parents had planned a family trip to Bavaria, Germany, via France and Austria… and I was still reading more Ian Fleming as I heaved my stomach’s contents into the Channel during a particularly rough crossing (no nice tunnels back then). I finished all twelve of the Fleming 007 novels and both of the short story collections by the end of that summer, then made the mistake of reading the Robert Markham (Kingsley Amis) novel ‘Colonel Sun’, a supposed first novel in the continuation of the 007 mystique. What had they done to my beloved character? Why was this book so distasteful after Fleming’s masterful works?