Thursday 30 June 2016

REVIEW: Mercedes M. Yardley - Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
Publication Date: 4th March 2016
Pages: 280


A copy of Pretty Little Dead Things was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Crystal Lake Publishing, in return for an honest review. This is said review.

In writing book reviews, I have made a solemn vow to never give any spoilers. No plot reveals or important, hidden character traits that drive the story. I rarely check out book reviews myself for the simple reason that I want to read the story myself and be surprised. I will, however, tell you my thoughts on the book and how it made me feel. I will discuss the writing style and do my best to persuade you to read it if I feel it’s worthy of such praise. If not, I won’t harp on the negative aspects to try and belittle the author as is done in social media too often these days...

The particular book I am discussing here, this singular experience of comforting horror unfolded with each word in an agonizing beauty of anticipation. From the first sentence of Pretty Little Dead Girls, Mercedes M Yardley announced the story would be painful. In a handful of perfectly chosen words, she announced plainly how scorchingly sad the pages ahead were going to be. In order to prepare myself, I read and re-read the first line over and again for two days before continuing on into the rest of the book. What I wasn’t, what I couldn’t be prepared for, was how densely gorgeous her writing was.

Wednesday 29 June 2016


So, whenever I set Confessions up, in February 2015, I did it for something to do. I was told I was quite good at this reviewing lark and I should do it, so I did. It started off as somewhere to put my reviews and keep them tidy. It led from one thing to another, and here we are today.

Sixteen months on and I have several features running alongside the reviews. 330 posts published. 63,500 hits. 22 interviews. I could go on and on with the stats.

Again I can’t thank you all enough for keeping coming back and keeping me going. To all the authors and publishers and presses that give up their time and energy and books, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without your generosity I would have no content.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

REVIEW: Nuzo Onoh - The Sleepless

Genre: Horror / African
Publisher: Canaan-Star Publishing
Publication Date: 28th June 2016
Pages: 314


A copy of The Sleepless, by Nuzo Onoh, was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Canaan-Star Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

This one intrigued me when it landed in my inbox. Firstly, I had never heard of Nuzo Onoh and secondly, it was blurbed as African horror and this interested me. After asking around a few people, some came forward and said they had read previous books by Ms Onoh and loved them so I decided to give it a go.

This was certainly a horror book with a bit of a difference. One that would affect me in some very deep ways.

Kene has gone missing. His sister Obele misses him terribly and cannot wait for the day he returns. When she sees him in her dreams she misses him even more, until she realises that she isn’t dreaming when she sees him. She sees his ghost.

Once she realises he is dead, she sets out to try and find out who is responsible. With guidance from a mysterious voice that talks to her inside her head she tries to uncover the truth. Little does she know that others are plotting her own death, and the war is coming.

Monday 27 June 2016

REVIEW: Duncan Ralston - Every Part of the Animal

Genre: Crime / Thriller
Publisher: Shadow Work Publishing
Publication Date: 6th June 2016
Pages: 126


A copy of Every Part of The Animal was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Duncan Ralston in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Shadow Work Publishing.

So everyone’s favourite Canadian person has a new book out! This one fell under my radar for some reason. I think it was because it is a crime thriller type story rather than the out and out horror we are used to from Mr Ralston. If you read any of my reviews of Mr Ralston’s previous work (included at the bottom of this review) you will see that in terms of his horror writing, I never fail to be impressed. Diverging into writing crime stories? I’m sure he could cope with the writing side of it. Would it be any good though?

This is what I thought.

Bo Lowery and her son, Caleb live a simple life. This is through circumstance rather than choice. They have a little house with next to no amenities and have to hunt for their food.

After one of these hunts, they come face to face with a celebrity vegan who happens to have a huge personality and an even bigger mouth. She takes offence at Bo hunting to survive and aims to make her life hell for it.

Bo thinks she can deal with this on her own. Little did she realise just how quickly things would spiral out of control.

Sunday 26 June 2016

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #38 - Paul Flewitt

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


Paul Flewitt

The Past

Who here (if you’re from the UK, that is) remembers the Brittania Music and Video Club?

This was a scheme that would send out catalogues of records (remember those?) and videos that were recently released. One of my earliest and most vivid memories was leafing through that catalogue with my cousins. I couldn’t have been very old. The catalogue was split into sections; western, romance, horror… This was the 80’s and the horror section was one that I would return to, just to look at the pictures. One image that was branded onto my memory was that of a mean looking dude with nails driven into his head. That one image gave my little-boy nightmares, but it was an image that has stuck with me for a long time. Is it strange that I now view the Hellpriest as one of my best friends?
But … I’m getting ahead of myself here (as writers are often wont to do). The story really begins here…

Books and reading have always played a big part in my life from such a young age that I can barely remember a time in my life when I haven’t had a stack of books, waiting to be read.

My father, throughout my childhood was a hobby-writer, penning short stories and poems whenever the mood took him. He was an avid reader and had a large collection of books which I would routinely raid myself. It’s my dad that can probably take responsibility for my writing, because he would encourage me to imagine.

English was always my subject at school. I could read books beyond my years from a very young age and grasped the many vagaries of the English language with relative ease. Hardly surprising, given that there were times in my childhood when we didn’t own a TV and a games console was but a dream and fantasy for me. There were times when books were literally my only form of entertainment.

The first books I remember as receiving for my own were a box set of Beatrix Potter classics, bought by my parents for me. I have to say, they all provided literally minutes of entertainment before I’d read them all, but I return to them even now with my own children. I love the innocence of them and the quite obvious life-lessons they provide. My personal favourite; Squirrel Nutkin, I could read over and over… and have.

Friday 24 June 2016

REVIEW: Rich Hawkins - Fallen Soldier

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 3rd June 2016
Pages: 21


A copy of the Fallen Soldier was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Rich Hawkins, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self-published.

OK so it’s time for the boss man of Confessions to confess!

I have never read Rich Hawkins before. I know. I am ashamed and have suitably punished myself by not allowing myself any cake for thirty minutes. It was tough, but I did it.

Funny, we had a discussion about this when Rich said on Facebook he feels awkward approaching reviewers to pick his stuff up. I made the comment that some of us are so busy we can’t read for our own selfish pleasure because we get so many submissions. That is the reason I have never read Rich before. So he asked about Fallen Soldier and I was now obliged to read him.

This is what I thought.

Joseph has just returned from the trenches in France. His life has been totally changed forever from what he has seen, and had to endure.

When he returns home, he is startled by his father’s appearance and even more worried by the absence of his mother. When he finally sees her, he soon discovers that the horrors he witnessed during the Great War are nothing compared to the horrors in his father’s cellar.

Thursday 23 June 2016

REVIEW: Adrian W Lilly - The Moon In Your Eyes

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Publication Date: 22nd Jan 2016
Pages: 53


A copy of The Moon in Your Eyes was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Adrian W. Lilly, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Amazon Digital Services

The Moon in Your Eyes is a great, fun, quickie of a read. I was looking forward to reading this as, save for Twilight and True Blood, I kind of felt like werewolves haven’t had a chance to have their time in the spotlight as of late. Maybe when Hollywood has their fill of witches and creepy dolls, we can get a good and proper werewolf phase.

I thought the book had a nice, nostalgic feel of a classic B horror film. Adrian W. Lilly did a great job crafting this narrative and pacing it out, leading up to an end that left me grinning.

The premise is simple enough, as I think works best for stories of this type. A group of disparate characters are brought together to go on a week-long camping trip, designed to leave your technological habits behind and take part in the glories of nature. All the characters have different motivations for being along for the trip and Lilly does a nice job presenting them all with little vignettes before the story gets underway.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

SHOW-OFF AND TELL #33 - Paul Flewitt - Poor Jeffrey

#33 in the Show-Off and tell is Poor Jeffrey by Paul Flewitt.

This book is unique for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, it was the first signed book given to me in person. I met Paul recently at Emcon in Nottingham and he was extremely eager to promote his books with whoever would listen.

Refreshing to see someone prepared to do anything to self-promote and get their stuff out there.

Also, this is the first thing I have read by Paul. I only vaguely knew him through Facebook before Emcon and that was only fleetingly. I didn’t even know he was an author to be honest.

During a couple of smokes outside a rather dreary Emcon, we got chatting about writing and reviewing and how hard both can be and Paul promised me a copy.

True to his word, as soon as we were inside, I got my copy.

This is it:

Monday 20 June 2016

REVIEW: Paul Flewitt - Poor Jeffrey

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Shawthing Publications
Publication Date: April 2016
Pages: 181


A copy of Poor Jeffrey was given to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Paul Flewitt in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Shawthing Publications.

The way in which this review has come about is a first for Confessions. I met Paul Flewitt for the first time at Emcon in Nottingham earlier this year. We got chatting and he asked if I had read his book. I admitted I hadn’t. I didn’t admit I knew nothing about him or his book. He very graciously gave me a copy of his book to give it a go. He told me a little about the style of the book and signed it for me. That was it.

I loved the cover on this one but if I’m being honest, I didn’t put much urgency on reading it. It kept waving at me from my pile though so I picked it up to give it a go.

I think I should have paid attention to the waving earlier.

Poor Jeffrey. He has had a life of ups and downs. Now he has been killed in a freak accident. His friends, Tommy, Chloe and Jade miss him so much they decide to bring him back.

Using ancient, dangerous methods, they embark on a ritual to bring him back to life. Jeffrey would have rather stayed dead.

At the same time there is a killer on the loose in their town. Everyone is determined to catch him but when he interferes with the friends, all hell breaks loose as they try to help Jeffrey, and stop a killer.

Sunday 19 June 2016

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #37 - Delphine Quinn

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


Delphine Quinn

The Past

Growing up wasn’t easy for me. This isn’t some story about how my parents didn’t love me or I suffered some horrible abuse. It’s more just a story of a girl who didn’t really like anyone, most of all herself. This made being a child fairly difficult, because most kids at age seven are worried about getting the new light up shoes and the Barbie they’ve had their eye on for Christmas, but I remember sitting up nights wondering why I was so unhappy, thinking about how someday my parents would die and I would be left alone, and ending up in a sobbing heap under the covers. So to say my childhood was strange would probably be an understatement. What saved me was literature. I don’t know many nine year olds who were in therapy after saying they wished they’d just die. But there it was. There I was. Trapped in a sorrow of my own creation.

Until one day, in fourth grade, I went into the library and decided I was going to check out the biggest book I could find, and immerse myself in it. The school library had a lot of books, especially for a poor public school. Something drew me to a shelf of books in the center of the room. I leaned down and saw a BIG book. I picked it up, sat down on the nasty, shit-brown carpet, and looked it over. Edgar Allan Poe’s complete works. On the cover, I remember a creepy ass bird.

Friday 17 June 2016

REVIEW: Erik Hofstatter - Amaranthine and Other Stories

Genre: Horror / Collection
Publisher: Creativia Publishing
Publication Date: 18th May 2016
Pages: 63


A copy of Amaranthine and Other Stories was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Erik Hofstatter, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Creativia Publishing.

Erik Hofstatter. The most wonderful name in writing. I love when someone asks what I’m reading and I get the chance to say Hofstatter over and over. No idea why. It’s the little things I suppose. I have read a couple of other things by Mr Hofstatter in the past. The Pariahs and Katerina. You can read my reviews of both at the bottom of this review. Whilst The Pariahs blew me away, Katerina was more of a pop than a bang with me but there is just something about his writing that keeps me coming back for more. He has a talent for writing that I think will take him to all of the places he wants to go.

So when he asked if I would like a look at Amaranthine, how could I refuse?

This is what I thought.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

SHOW-OFF AND TELL #32 - Thomas S Flowers - Emerging (Subdue Book 2)

#32 is the Show-Off and Tell feature is following on from last weeks. It’s the beautiful Emerging (Subdue Book 2) from Thomas S Flowers.

This is without doubt one of my favourite series ever. If you want to know why then check out the reviews at the bottom of the page.

The physical books themselves are absolutely wonderful. You know when you get a book and you just fall in love with the cover and the presentation right down to the font and how the print looks on the page? That’s exactly how I feel about these books.

The fact that they were surprise packages makes them even more special.

This is my copy.

Monday 13 June 2016

REVIEW: Thomas S Flowers - Reinheit

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Shadow Work Publishing
Publication Date: 1st June 2016
Pages: 196


So very late in the year last year I got sent Thomas S Flowers’ first book in the Subdue series, Dwelling, for review. In case you missed it, I absolutely loved it and you can find a link for the review at the bottom of this page. You can also check out my review of book two in the series, Emerging. If you want a pure overdose of Thomas S Flowers, then you can also check out the Confessions’ interview with him at the link below.

Reinheit is one that I heard so much about so I really just wanted to pick it up for my own reading pleasure instead of it being a review request.

Another reason for stating all of the above is because all of that was done before I read Reinheit, which was before I was asked to write the foreword for the current version. Just getting it out there that I loved this man’s writing before I was asked to do the foreword. I know there are some people out there that would throw an accusation of favouritism about. The rest of you that know me, know that isn’t true.

Anyway, on with the review.

Rebecca Moss has one mission in life; to please her husband, Frank. This generally means her life is easier and she has less bruises to cover.

When she sees an antique Queen Anne high back chair, she just must have it, no matter the cost. When she discovers that the chair’s last owner was a Nazi General responsible for some of the worst atrocities during World War II, she is still not put off and buys it for her beloved Frank.

Although Major Eric Schroder is long gone, he owned the chair for a reason.

That reason is still very much alive.

Sunday 12 June 2016

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #36 - Ty Arthur

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


Ty Arthur

The Past

Exploring other worlds through the written word is a pastime I've been engaging in since my earliest memories. Besides my other passion – underground extreme metal – books that opened up portals to other lives easily kept me going through my middle and high school years. So much so that I got sent to the principal's office on more than one occasion for reading through particularly uninteresting classes.

Many of my favorite series had to be read during school hours or on the sly at home, as unfortunately we had a strict rule in my family against anything that would offend baby Jesus' delicate sensibilities (essentially meaning most fantasy, sci-fi, or horror). Rather than turning me off to the genres, the prohibition frankly that just increased their appeal, since they were all apparently so awesome they had to be banned.

Although there are plenty of horror novels that I managed to sneak a read through of at the library or by toting books to school away from prying eyes (The Hellbound Heart and Weaveworld immediately come to mind), fantasy definitely had a bigger impact on my formative years than horror when it comes to literature.

Friday 10 June 2016

REVIEW: Jason Parent - Where Wolves Run

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Corpus Press
Publication Date: 31st May 2016
Pages: 86


A copy of Where Wolves Run by Jason Parent was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the publishers, Corpus Press, in return for an honest review. This is said review.

My old friend Jason Parent has a new one out! And I get asked to review it! How could I say no? Well I could have but that would have been stupid on my part because I always love his stuff. Well, Unseemly wasn’t my favourite of his to be honest, and after seeing this one was to do with werewolves, I went at it with a little trepidation. I have never read anything to do with werewolves from Mr Parent before. I didn’t really think it was his bag but you live and learn.

This is what I thought anyway.

Konrad lives with his mother. His father is never around. Hasn’t been for years. He flits in and out of their lives sometimes but never stays for long. Konrad resents him a lot because of this.

When a tragedy hits Konrad and his mother, his father returns and fills his head full of tales of ancient evils and explanations for why he is never around that don’t really ring true to Konrad.

He doesn’t really have a choice but to believe him and have faith. Faith that he will survive when the evil comes for him.

Monday 6 June 2016

REVIEW: Russell James - Q Island

Genre: Horror / Apocalyptic
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Limited
Publication Date: 7th July 2015
Pages: 391


A copy of Q Island was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Russell James, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is published by Samhain Publishing.

This review is an interesting one. This comes as a sort of a challenge from Mr James to me. You see I read his book, Dark Inspiration and reviewed it a while back. I enjoyed it. I mentioned in my review that I thought it could have been scarier, for me anyway. It was a sort of a negative review but I like to think of my reviews as more constructive than negative. Instead of calling me names or giving me one fingered salutes, Russell James contacted me and thanked me for the review and said try my book Q Island. I think you will like it more.

I love it when an author does this. To me this is a sign of a great strength that says, hey you didn’t get this one, but try this one instead. I really like that happening.

So did I like Q Island as predicted by Mr James?

Long Island is in turmoil. A virus that has lain dormant for thousands of years has been released into the general public. There seems to be no cure. The virus itself isn’t the killer. It’s what it turns the infected into that ultimately kills them.

There are pockets of survivors though. Among them is Melanie and her son Aiden. Aiden is autistic and seems to be immune to the virus. Could he be the saviour everyone is looking for? Jimmy Wade has the virus. He is convinced if he finds Aiden and kills him, he will become all powerful and rule the new world.

Time is running out for everyone.

Sunday 5 June 2016

GUEST POST: Confessions of my Past, Present and Future #35 - J.R. Park

Confessions of my Past, Present and Future


J.R. Park

The Past

As a kid I read a lot, and throughout my life I was always obsessed with the dark, forbidden fruits that lurked in the horror section of the local library and book shops. The joy about books is there is no classification, so unlike the video shop, where I could only look at the covers and imagine the lurid delights within, I was able to fully explore the darkness in the written word.

By the time I was thirteen/fourteen, I was already reading Clive Barker, and began exploring other authors that frequented the shelves of the horror section. Shaun Hutson was a writer I’d seen mentioned a few times and so opening to the first page of Renegades, I was blown away by the sample paragraph at the front of the book. In graphic, gory detail it described someone being shot in the head. The detail was disgusting with lines like ‘confetti of brain and pulverised bone’. I needed to know more.

As I read the book, the early promise did not wane, and I was assaulted by an explosion of violence and sex. This was pushing my boundaries and I loved it. Put simply, the book rocked. It felt like the literary equivalent of a heavy metal song.

When I sat down to write my first book, Terror Byte, my memories of Renegades and its lasting impressions was the first thing I drew upon when describing the gore and sex scenes. I wanted that tone. That feeling like the book was slapping you in the face. I was so pleased when a few reviewers picked up on the Hutson-esque vibe. A great testament to the power of his writing, that it left such a mark on me for all those years.

Friday 3 June 2016

REVIEW: Jack Rollins - Tread Gently Amidst The Barrows

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Dark Chapter Press
Publication Date: 14th March 2016
Pages: 31


A copy of Tread Gently Amidst the Barrows, 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, Jack Rollins. I make no secret of knowing the man himself, as both a writer, and the main man behind the fantastic Dark Chapter Press. Let this disclaimer be an acknowledgment of that fact and also that because of this and the fact he got me very drunk at Emcon this year, this does not gain any favours from me when it comes to reviewing his books. He has been quite vocal in the fact that he is waiting for the time I review one of his books and think it is rubbish.

Sorry Jack. You’re going to have to wait another while.

Oliver Stroud is working in Sweden. He is the man tasked with looking after the daily running of lumber magnate Dick Jameson’s business interests there.

Jesper is a night watchman. On one of his patrols of the site, he disappears. No one can say for sure what has happened to him but the locals are talking about Trolls. Stroud thinks this is nonsense but he must investigate to ensure the safety of his men.

Wednesday 1 June 2016

SHOW-OFF AND TELL #31 - Thomas S Flowers - Dwelling (Subdue Book 1)

#31 in the Show-Off and Tell series is a book I dreamed of having a signed copy of since I read it, but never thought I would.

It’s Dwelling (Subdue Book 1), by Thomas S Flowers.

There is one very simple reason why I wanted it. It’s one of my favourite books ever and, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This story is made up of so many different elements and emotions that it will scare you, make you laugh and make you cry, all in one sitting.

Apart from that fact, the production of the actual book itself is superb and trust me, you really need to have this book in your hands to appreciate that cover!

This is my copy: