Short Story Saturday #17
Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are both self-published/small press published and worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature! If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email. If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.
The Haunted Halls: Volume 1 by Glenn Rolfe
Publisher: Allen Agenda Publishing
Released January 27, 2013
What lies in wait at the Bruton Inn? Where did it come from? What does it want? People are checking in, but the little voices, the nightmares,the deep cold sinking into their marrow is changing them. What haunts these halls will alter those within its confines. Something big is unfolding, something dark- something evil. The haunted halls of the Bruton Inn welcome you. Checking in?
My thoughts: I am completely shocked by this first installment by Glenn Rolfe. This story captivated and chilled me from the first page. I’m shocked as to how well the author drew me into each character’s story, made me care about each character, set up a pretty creepy scene, and then forced me to the next character. There were so many characters and yet each one had an individual personality and story. To successfully develop that many characters in such a limited word-space and still not ever info dump is an incredible display of writing talent.
I did think that the flashbacks were weaker than the present day story. Considering how brief these flashbacks, I don’t think their faults can merit a deduction in the rating. The horror did waver slightly by the end. Horror is a hard sell, but I think that Glenn Rolfe has created the beginning of a fantastic serial series with this first short story. At only 43 pages, it accomplishes more than I thought a short story could. The ending isn’t exactly a cliffhanger, but it does make you want to start the next segment. (A)
The hand caressed his chin; fear commandeered his thoughts. He began whimpering a preemptive cry, as he felt the hand begin pulling away from his face, the flesh of his stubble covered jawline ripping up and away with its cold dead touch.
The Haunted Halls: Volume I is currently only 99 cents on Amazon, but you can read the FULL story for free on Jukepop Serials.Read More
I’m doing this review a little differently, since I was given review copies of both the first and second installment. Each one is less than a hundred pages but no less compelling to read than a full length novel. If you’re able to handle the content, then this is a great short length series to read. I would put up a warning label, but there’s too many warnings to list. If you get offended by anything, chances are you will probably get offended by something in this series.
I received copies of both from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
The Flesh Cartel Series by Rachel Haimowitz
Genre: Erotic horror
The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture
Released October 1st, 2012
In this first installment of the exciting new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel, orphaned brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael are stolen in the night from their own home. Taken to a horrifying processing facility, they are assessed, microchipped, and subjected to unspeakable brutality—all in preparation for sale to the highest bidder.
In a world where every person has a price, the beautiful and subduable PhD student Dougie is highly prized. His brother, a rough-edged MMA fighter, is less desirable—and potentially too dangerous—but he still has his own appeal.
Abused and locked up under round the clock surveillance, with no idea where they are or even why they’ve been taken, escape seems impossible, which leaves staying together their only hope. And after being separated once by the foster system, they’ll do anything to keep it from happening again. Anything at all.
(Publisher’s note: This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing, including explicit violence, non-consent, and forced incest.)
Please note that Amazon has removed this title from their site for “content violation.” It is still available at a number of other retailers and the publisher’s website.
available on Amazon as of 2/25/13
There have been very few books that are too hardcore for me to read. The Flesh Cartel is right on that border. There were sections of this book that I seriously considered to putting the book down because of how far it pushed my comfort zone. This isn’t your typical BSDM novel of master and servant. This is a story about two brothers abducted and forced into sexual slavery. There are no limits to how gritty this novel gets. The torture scenes are more degrading than my imagination thought possible. If graphic scenes bother you, don’t read. If m/m bothers you, don’t read. If rape scenes bother you, don’t read. If you can’t stomach incest, don’t read. If none of that stuff bothers you, then prepare for a mental roller coaster as you read this book. It’s the novel equivalent of the movie Cannibal Holocaust. Apparently, Amazon removed it from their site for a while because of content issues and I can completely understand why.
This is part of a series and one I will most definitely be continuing. A+
The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction
Released November 5, 2012
In episode two of The Flesh Cartel, the dark purpose behind Mat and Dougie Carmichael’s abduction is revealed. Though Dougie is protected from the worst of the guards’ brutality, he’s disgusted to find himself halfway to broken—despairing of escape and terrified of pain. Mat holds onto hope despite repeated rapes and beatings, but threats toward his brother teach him well to lay aside his pride and pick his battles carefully.
Worn down by days of unrelenting fear and abuse, Mat and Dougie are packaged and marketed with the same ruthless efficiency as any consumer product: Dougie the prettyboy twink, Mat the rabid pit bull. They are led to the auction block as the showpiece of the house’s collection.
Mat would rather be beaten to death than play the role of obedient slave for sale, but Dougie, desperate not to be separated from his brother, strikes a deal with the pitiless Madame who runs the auction house and controls both their fates. It might just be enough to keep them together—slaves, but together—assuming Mat even wants to be after Dougie fulfills his end of his deal with the devil.
(Publisher’s note: This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing, including explicit violence, non-consent, and forced incest.)
The second part of the series is basically about how far will you go to save the life of someone you love. For Dougie and Mat, that limit is probably further than most of us. I can’t imagine ever suffering through this with one of my siblings. I think if my life ever got to this point, death might be a better option. But, not these two.
The scenes are so vivid and heart-wrenching that it feels like I’m reading someone’s memoir and not a work of fiction. (A)
(Information borrowed from Goodreads. No picture available.)
M/M erotic romance author, freelance writer and editor, sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, proudly pervish. I’m a twitter addict (@rachelhaimowitz), and I blog every M/W/F at Fantasy Unbound. To learn all about my current and upcoming projects, please stop by my website. I love to hear from folks, so feel free to drop me a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.Read More
Dinosaur Lake by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Publisher: Self published
Released August 29th, 2012
An ancient predator has been reborn in the caves beneath Crater Lake…and it’s hungry.
Ex-cop Henry Shore has been Chief Park Ranger at Crater Lake National Park for eight years and he likes his park and his life the way it’s been. Safe. Tranquil. Predictable. But he’s about to be tested in so many ways. First the earthquakes begin…people begin to go missing…then there’s some mysterious water creature that’s taken up residence in the caves below Crater Lake and it’s not only growing in size, it’s aggressive and cunning…and very hungry.
And it’s decided it likes human beings. To eat.
And it can come up onto land.
So Henry, with the help of his wife, Ann; a young paleontologist named Justin; and a band of brave men must not only protect his park and his people from the monster but somehow find where it lives and destroy it…before it can kill again.
There’s nothing scarier than a monster that has no limits on where it can go, no discrimination with what it eats, and no easy way to kill it. Hands down, Dinosaur Lake is probably one of my favorite monster horror books that I’ve read thus far. The situation started out grim with hints of what the monster could do and when the monster finally made its appearance, it didn’t disappoint. Probably my favorite monster with its combination of intellect and methods of killing people.
The situations and character reactions are somewhat predictable. If you imagine a cross between Jaws and Jurassic Park, then you pretty much have the entire book. However, Dinosaur Lake is written so well and the suspense is consistently building, that knowing what will probably happen only intensifies the dread and anxiety you feel for the characters in this book. Henry is an average park ranger who feels like a genuinely real person. He feels like one of my neighbors rather than some Hollywood hotshot. I like how solid of a relationship he has with his wife, even if their motives aren’t always the same. They put their marriage and love above everything else and that kind of relationship is sorely lacking in most of the novels I read.
The setting and circumstances behind the monster appearing seem dangerously plausible. I don’t think that I want to live anywhere near Crater Lake after reading this book. Overall, a great read. I recommend this book to anyone that loves books dealing with natural disasters, monsters that just don’t care about anything but their next meal, or a book that forces you to keep turning the pages. (A-)
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel and two murder mysteries) previous novels and eight short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.
All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s Books available at Amazon.com.
Novels and short stories from Kathryn Meyer Griffith:
- Evil Stalks the Night (Leisure, 1984; Damnation Books, 2012)
- The Heart of the Rose (Leisure, 1985; Eternal Press Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy
- Blood Forge (Leisure, 1989; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2012)
- Vampire Blood (Zebra, 1991; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Buy
- Damnation Books Buy Link:
- The Last Vampire (Zebra, 1992; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2010) Buy | Book Trailer
- Witches (Zebra, 1993; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition 2011) Buy
- The Nameless One (short story in 1993 Zebra Anthology Dark Seductions; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Buy
- The Calling (Zebra, 1994; Damnation Books Author’s Revised Edition, 2011) Buy
- Scraps of Paper (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2003…soon to be an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
- All Things Slip Away (Avalon Books Murder Mystery, 2006…soon an Amazon Kindle Direct ebook)
- Egyptian Heart (The Wild Rose Press, 2007; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Buy | Book Trailer
- Winter’s Journey (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Buy | Book Trailer
- The Ice Bridge (The Wild Rose Press, 2008; Author’s Revised Edition, Eternal Press 2011) Buy | Book Trailer
- Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella & bonus short story: In This House (2008; ghostly romantic short story out; Eternal Press 2012) Buy | Book Trailer
- BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons (Damnation Books 2010) Buy | Book Trailer
- The Woman in Crimson (Damnation Books 2010) : Buy | Book Trailer
- The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction)
- Dinosaur Lake (from Amazon Kindle Direct 2012)
I apologize for the slight vacation in posts. My husband took a weekend vacation and took my computer desk with him (it’s one of those white Wal-Mart folding tables), so I didn’t get everything reassembled until last night.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Genre: YA Dark Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Releases March 26th, 2013
THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN’T LEAVE BEHIND … A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the “normal” life of school, clothes and boys. Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go … a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
I don’t usually review books this far in advance, however If You Find Me is pre-order worthy. As a child, Carey believed every word her mama told her. Carey raised her little sister without electricity, water and sometimes food; because her mama told her that there was a bad man out there looking for them. When this bad man arrives with child protection services years later, Carey knows that her mother will come and save them again. Then, she reads the note her mother says relinquishing her custody of both girls and Carey starts to doubt the stories her mother told her.
This debut novel is written from the POV of a missing child that didn’t know she was missing. The brilliance of the novel is the contrast between Carey’s version of truth and her father’s version of the truth; the former we learn initially and the latter we learn over the course of the novel. The truth behind why Carey ended up in the woods with her mother isn’t revealed until the very end.
This would of been an okay story if it transcribed Carey’s reintroduction with her father, but it’s a compelling story when Carey’s mute younger sister, Janessa, is stitched into the drama. Janessa’s father was someone their mother screwed for a hit of meth and neither girl has seen that man since. Janessa’s unwillingness to talk spawns from something that Carey did a year ago and as the horrors of both girls’ past unravels I really wondered what Carey could possibly do to top everything else they had experienced. It was a relief when her secret was finally revealed and it wasn’t a disappointment.
I have a little sister myself, so the relationship between Carey and Janessa reminded me of my sibling bond. It’s refreshing to have siblings in a YA story that are so genuine, you wonder if they’re fiction. I was a less impressed by how pigeonholed Delaney was as a mean stepsister. Compared to the other characters, Delaney was very underdeveloped and her motives questionable.
I was also slightly discouraged by the opening chapter, as it was written with a “backwoods” accent. The accent disappears from the narrative after the first couple chapters, so don’t let the opening dissuade you. Once the hickish accent faded from the pages, there is nothing that could stop me from finishing. This is a book that I will recommend to friends and I think they will both love and hate me for making them read a book so poignant and real. If You Find Me is a reminder that when a child goes missing, their story doesn’t end with being found.
(I received a copy from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have also pre-ordered a personal hardcover copy as a result of this review.)
(Information and picture borrowed from Goodreads.)
Emily is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There’s never a time she’s without a book. Her debut novel, If You Find Me, will be available from St. Martin’s on March 26, 2013 and from Orion/Indigo UK on May 2, 2013. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert’s tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing. Emily’s other passion is saving equines from slaughter. She uses her writing to raise awareness of this inhumane practice, with the goal of ending the slaughter of America’s equines through transport to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. She offers sanctuary to abused and slaughter-bound equines who dazzle her every day with their forgiving nature and gratitude in exchange for security, consistency, food and love. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Emily hopes her penchant for writing will do just that. All-in-all, she’s a lefty in a right-handed world, writing her way through life and smearing ink wherever she writes.Read More
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Released July 3rd, 2012
Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . .
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Peaches comes a magical and bewitching story of the romance between a fearless heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
Originally, I fell in love with this book because of its gorgeous orange cover. Then, I read the blurb and I was super excited to read a re-telling of Peter Pan from the point of view of one of my favorite Disney characters, Tinkerbell. It turns out that Tinkerbell was the reason for much of my frustration over this beautiful story. I started this book in July, but annoyed by Tinkerbell’s disinterest in the main characters early on in the book, I stopped reading 38 pages into the story.
A couple of days ago, I took the book back off my shelf and gave it a second chance. It turns out that Tinkerbell was a fantastic choice for a narrator. She could give input on a multitude of characters, since she was so small and mostly ignored. Since she wasn’t able to speak, she couldn’t spoil the fun “surprises” the the readers knew awaited the other characters.
Tiger Lily has a unique personality that may be hard to connect to. She’s quiet, boyish, and rebellious. She doesn’t know how to express her feelings to anyone, including the dashing Peter Pan. I really empathized with Tiger Lily and I was sad to say goodbye to her when the book was finished. I truly wished that more characters acted like her – a shy tomboy – because I know quite a few in real life.
Peter Pan reminded me slightly of Lestat in Anne Rice’s vampire series. He did what he wanted to do without caring about the consequences. He didn’t understand why Tiger Lily made choices with her head and not her heart.
The contrast between these two characters made some very tension filled scenes. It was heartbreaking to witness their interactions. As a reader, I knew what should be said and what should happen, but it never unfolded that way.
One thing that did shock me was how late in the story Wendy showed up. I almost thought that her parts would be rushed, but somehow the author was able to establish and develop Wendy just as much as the other characters.
The pirates do make an appearance, as does the ticking crocodile but they’re rather minor characters. I like the reasoning behind Hook’s jealousy towards Peter Pan, as well as the ‘aging curse’ which explains why some characters grow old and others do not in the land of Neverland.
So, even though this almost ended up being a DNF, I have to rate this book 5 stars. I’m so happy that I gave this book a second chance. I loved the characters and the story and it’s a book that I will definitely be re-reading.
(I purchased this book from my local bookstore.)
(Picture and information borrowed from Goodreads)
I write books about vaguely magical peach orchards, resorts in the afterlife, enigmatic island princesses beloved by Tinkerbell, and…civics! I was an awkward and strange child who kept lots of secrets. Now I live with a sweet Basenji dog named Peanut who loves to eat shoes, and a sweet husband who is good at all the things I’m bad at, like being organized and thinking things through. I’ve loved writing and reading about mythical and strange things since I can remember.Read More