Archive for the ‘horror’ Category

It’s time for some Hump Day Reviews.

Got a couple of good ones for you.

Check out Behold! and Iced

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Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders

edited by Doug Murano

Print

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Genre: horror / fantasy/ Short Story Collection

My Review

The moment I got my greedy little hands on this book I was giddy with glee. I love the strange, unusual and creepy and this had it all.

The story has three parts, Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders. Not wanting to risk spoilers, I’d say that sums it up nicely. Creepy gardens, gnomes, clowns, mysterious whatevers and more all await your curiosity.

There is just too much awesomeness in this collection to single out any favorites. Some of these talented authors are old friends and some are new to me. All of them are in top form, entertaining me with their various tales.

Make sure you don’t skip past the foreword. It’s a smart piece of work in itself, explaining what awaits you when you get to the meat of the book. As R.L. Stine says, “Beware. You’re in for a scare.”

Loved every bit of this book. I bet you will too. Try it and see. And remember to breathe.

5 Stars

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 I received my ARC copy of BEHOLD! from Crystal Lake Publishing. Thanks so much and thank you to these amazing authors.

Synopsis

Crystal Lake Publishing and Doug Murano, the Bram Stoker Award-nominated editor of GUTTED: BEAUTIFUL HORROR STORIES, are proud to present BEHOLD! ODDITIES, CURIOSITIES AND UNDEFINABLE WONDERS.

Slide into the spaces between the ordinary. Embrace the odd. Indulge your curiosity. Surrender to wonder. Witness as the finest talents of our time bring you tales of the strangeness at the edges of existence.

Featuring:

Clive Barker, John Langan, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Lisa Morton, Brian Kirk, Hal Bodner, Stephanie M. Wytovich, Erinn Kemper, John F.D. Taff, Patrick Freivald, Lucy Snyder, Brian Hodge, Kristi DeMeester, Christopher Coake, Sarah Read, and Richard Thomas.

With a foreword by Josh Malerman.

Pre-order on Amazon

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Iced

A Resort To Murder Mystery  #1

by Avery Daniels

35249284

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Genre: Mystery

 My Review

I have a fondness for cozy mysteries. They have such quirky titles and colorful covers. And there are so many themes. Food, pets, sewing, clothing and more. The theme for this book is new to me.

It’s never a dull moment for Julienne. She works at a luxurious resort as an event planner. Everything must run smoothly and last minute changes will be accommodated. Except when it’s a dead body. Somebody killed the beloved Pastor Tom. Ran him through with an ice sculpture.

Julienne had an earlier incident with the pastor so she’s suspect number one in the eyes of Detective Lawrence. If it was up to him, they need look no further for the killer.

She knows she didn’t kill the pastor and Julienne enlists the help of some friends and the sexy new neighbor to sort things out and bring the killer to justice.

Quite the mystery. There was no clear suspect. My radar pinged on one, but then I didn’t read about that person again until way further in the story. And I was wrong.

I enjoyed reading about Julienne’s personal life as much as I did the mystery. She’s fighting for her independence. Her dad thinks she should get married and have babies. And her boyfriend seems to have her future all mapped out for her. When she’s finally had enough and puts her foot down, or rather stamps it, I applauded her. I like strong female protagonists and I was with her all the way as she carved out her own life.

You don’t have to be a cozy fan to enjoy this book. It’s got lots of colorful characters, fun dialogue, and an ending that comes out of left field. It’s good clean fun.

4 Stars

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Synopsis

Julienne has her ideal job as an event planner at a prestigious resort. During a luncheon event she coordinated, a renowned celebrity pastor is killed next to the buffet. All eyes turn to her as the suspect. If she wants to stay out of jail or even keep her job, Julienne needs all the help she can get to solve the crime.

She has her work cut out for her with a vengeful high school rival now reporter, the public demanding she be fired, plus family who knows what’s best for her, and a boyfriend who doesn’t understand her. She turns to friends and a new ally to uncover who wanted to put the pastor on ice.

Julienne goes undercover and investigates a local swingers group as she follows the trail of clues before they go cold. Can she gather enough suspects and motives to convince the police to widen their investigation? Can she do it before the killer sets his murderous sights on her? Will her personal life ever be as simple as unveiling a murderer?

Amazon

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

You can find a list of my reviews HERE.

For a list of free eBooks go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Who let the dogs out? I had to say that. LOL There be zombie dogs roaming the streets. It’s awesome. It’s horrific.

Check out Hounded and Hounded 2 by Ellie Douglas.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

Hounded

by Ellie Douglas

Genre: Horror, Post-Apocalypse

34868566

My Review

It happens fast, with scarcely any warning. Man’s best friend changed. They’re no longer a loving pet. Now they’re dead and deadly. And humans are their favorite meal.

I do love a good zombie story, and dogs, how exciting. Never read about zombie dogs before. Zombie sharks, yes.

My favorite part in plots like this are the group dynamics. In Hounded you have Cal and his family, trying to fight off the zombie dogs and stay alive. When the daughter gets ill, they recognize the symptoms they’d been hearing about and rush her to the hospital. There, she falls into a coma, and they can’t leave. Wouldn’t be safe to do so anyway. The dogs are determined, and it’s probably only a matter of time before the hospital is overrun too.

Cal’s worries about the fate of his twin brother, Bellamy, lead him to do some stupid things. Others pay the terrible price and now he just wants to get back to the hospital. Will his family still be there? Will they be alive? He rushes to return and find out.

I enjoyed getting stories from Cal and his brother, Bellamy. Both of them are determined to find each other and both are fighting so many obstacles. It’s nerve wracking to turn the page and see what awful fate might await them. Hey, it’s zombie dogs and anyone is fair game.

Some of the things the character’s do had me snorting in derision. Why do they do that? Haven’t they watched the movies? Don’t they know the rules? Some of you may be thinking, nope, don’t want that. But, humans are flawed, we do dumb things. Only recognizing it later. The mistakes make this an edgy page turner.

Lots of gore, I mean lots. Just to warn you. Zombie fans should try this series. It’ll feed your craving and keep you on edge to the bitter end.

4 Stars

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Synopsis

When Calloway Foster woke up that morning, he never expected it to be a deathblow to life on earth.

Nothing can prepare him for one of the world’s most loved species to turn into the undead. Four-legged zombies now run rampant-hungry and intelligent, they are merciless to those still struggling to survive.

Follow Cal on a turbulent journey filled with horrific loss, new love, and unbelievably terrifying events.

Will he find his twin brother in time? Can he keep his family safe?

A terrifying surprise twist will test the survivors to the brink of humanity’s very existence.

Previously published as Zombie dogs SB-16

Goodreads * Amazon

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Hounded 2

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My Review

I really enjoyed the first book and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. And I like reading Bellamy’s point of view. He’s still trying to find his twin brother, Cal, and things are more deadly than ever. It’s not just zombie dogs out there anymore. Something just as dangerous is prowling, wanting to feed.  Who finds who and who survives or dies is anybodies guess as the group tries to find a safe haven with the odds stacked against them.

I’m happy to tell you this is every bit as good as the first book. The hits just keep on coming. I’ve become quite attached to many of these characters too, and that worries me. Nobody holds the golden ticket for survival.

Another action packed, zombie bash. Be prepared. The author makes it a gore fest that’ll have you cringing, trying NOT to picture the scenes. There’s more than one kind of zombie and this should please all the fans out there.

4 Stars

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Synopsis

Bellamy Foster leads his group of survivors on a perilous journey. Not only must he find a sanctuary for them all, but he is also on a quest to find his twin brother, Calloway.

Currently being stalked by raging, hungry, vicious zombie dogs, they become aware of a new, more sinister, threat. The infected SB-16 coma patients are now becoming vile, ravenous, and monstrous human zombies.

Will the survivors find a new sanctuary in time to save themselves and what remains of the shattered world around them?

Hounded 2 is an explicit horror – full of spattered slaughter, love and loss, fast-moving action, and a maze of unexpected destruction, that is sure to keep you turning pages late into the night. In this, her second novel, Ellie Douglas proves there’s plenty of rot to ooze out of the zombie genre.

Previously published as Zombie dogs SB-16 Book 2

Goodreads * Amazon

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Author Ellie Douglas

I’m Ellie Douglas, and like you, I love horror, everything about horror, the goriest and most gruesome of horrors is the ultimate. I can’t get enough. So much so that I write horror. That need to be graphic, and explicit with my horror scenes makes me stand out. I give what I want to read to others, so now they can enjoy a true horror story.

I’m not all about just being graphic, I also build characters that the readers will love and or hate, so they can feel pulled right inside of the story that they are reading. It gives me so much enjoyment when I hear remarks like, ‘You made me want to puke,’ ‘I have nightmares every damned night –thanks,’ and ‘Quentin Tarantino and Steven King made a baby, YOU!’ when I hear comments like that, I know then I’ve succeeded, that also pushes me into writing more and becoming even better.

I’m fun loving, generous and very mysterious. I enjoy spending time with my family, and have four children to keep the horror writing alive. I enjoy helping others and volunteer my services to help Autistic children, I love cosplay and the chance to dress up as a monster, zombie or some other gritty character is fun, oh so much fun.

I love summer, and well…I hate winter. I live in New Zealand and feel often too far away from all the cool stuff going on in the world. I love helping people all the time. I’ve got my hands dipped in a few things, I write books, but I also make professional book covers for other authors, I also create adult coloring books and I have a gambling app that I designed on the apple store :) I’ve always got a project going, be it writing or creating, that is who I am and I love it :)

My ultimate aim is to give back, paying it forward, to constantly better myself and give the audience amazing stories. Let me scare you…

Website * Facebook * Twitter * LinkedIn * Pinterest * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

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giveaway photo: Giveaway Banner for 42nd giveaway.png

Follow the tour HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

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Fear Inducer
by Ellie Douglas
Genre: Psychological Thriller
 
They believed their phobias were just nightmares… 

They believed Dr Felix Bloom would cure them.
They were…SO WRONG!
Doctor Felix Bloom is a brilliant psychiatrist and pharmacologist who has
done a lot of good for humanity. But, he has a dark side as a serial
killer of some of his patients using their phobias against them. How
he gets his patients to kill themselves in some bizarre fashions
satiating his greed for death and mayhem you will have to discover.
But, nonetheless, if you love horror, you will love Dr. Bloom’s
methods and madness. Yes, he is as composed as they come, but maybe
more evil than most. He’s charming, considerate with his secretary,
Joanna, and his best friend, a doctor. But, beneath the elegant
exterior rages the thirst for blood as a serial killer.



Without going into the gory details or the method of Dr. Bloom, his patient’s
deaths are spectacularly staged (and gory) and witnessed by the good
doctor. The author does a great job telling why Dr. Bloom is a serial
killer and it may make you feel some empathy for the man. But, that
is a whole chapter worth exploring on your own. I was pleasantly
surprised at the intricate detail of the mind of Dr. Bloom. He’s
smart. Incredibly smart. The book is definitely worth your time. It
has everything a chilling horror novel should have. I would be remiss
if I didn’t mention the author’s other book about a serial killer
named Toxic Desire, which features a female serial killer. Who’s more
evil? Dr. Bloom by far. Why? I won’t spoil the novel for you. Fear
Inducer is more malevolent while Toxic Desire is erotically-charged.
Also, look for the subtlty in Doctor Bloom over the novel. He has a
lot of secrets worth discovering. Excellent book and a welcome
addition to my bookshelf.
P.S. – I forgot something. There are loads if images in the book at the
front of each chapter based on the fear the patient has. Really cool
visuals to put you in the mood for what you are about to read.

-from Amazon reviewer Cameron Rowe
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My Review

Who knew there were so many phobias. Some of the ones I ran into in this book were so out there. I want to say they were absurd, but I doubt the people who suffered them felt that way.

He’s the smartest man in the world and he’s not that way by accident. And there are side affects to that tampering. He’s got a dark side. One where he gets enormous satisfaction from killing. Killing a lot. Dr. Felix Bloom is a very bad boy. Supposed to help people with their phobias, he instead uses those fears against them, forcing them to kill themselves while he watches. The more he kills, the more he needs to kill. It’s  a deadly cycle and he doesn’t mind doing it.

What a sick twist. And such gory deaths. The doctor comes up with some grotesque ways to get his patients to kill themselves. Are you afraid of snakes? How about clowns? Yeah, a lot of us don’t like those.

I really enjoyed the illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. They start with a new patient and represent their particular phobia. The one for spiders will creep you out. As will some others. And the author was very creative with the illustration for a fear of the dark. LOL You’ll “see” what I mean.

If you like some gore and lots of killer scenes, you’ll want to grab this book. There’s enough to satisfy all your needs. Just ask the doctor. He’ll cure what ails ya.

4 Stars

.
 
 .
.
 
 
I’m Ellie Douglas, and like you, I love horror, everything about horror,
the goriest and most gruesome of horrors is the ultimate. I can’t
get enough. So much so that I write horror. That need to be graphic,
and explicit with my horror scenes makes me stand out. I give what I
want to read to others, so now they can enjoy a true horror
story. 


I’m not all about just being graphic, I also build characters that the
readers will love and or hate, so they can feel pulled right inside
of the story that they are reading. It gives me so much enjoyment
when I hear remarks like, ‘You made me want to puke,’ ‘I have
nightmares every damned night –thanks,’ and ‘Quentin Tarantino
and Steven King made a baby, YOU!’ when I hear comments like that,
I know then I’ve succeeded, that also pushes me into writing more
and becoming even better.
I’m fun loving, generous and very mysterious. I enjoy spending time with
my family, and have four children to keep the horror writing alive. I
enjoy helping others and volunteer my services to help Autistic
children, I love cosplay and the chance to dress up as a monster,
zombie or some other gritty character is fun, oh so much fun.
I love summer, and well…I hate winter. I live in New Zealand and feel
often too far away from all the cool stuff going on in the world. I
love helping people all the time. I’ve got my hands dipped in a few
things, I write books, but I also make professional book covers for
other authors, I also create adult coloring books and I have a
gambling app that I designed on the apple store :) I’ve always got
a project going, be it writing or creating, that is who I am and I
love it :)
My ultimate aim is to give back, paying it forward, to constantly better
myself and give the audience amazing stories. Let me scare you…
 
 

Follow the tour HERE!
 
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 
 

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday hosted by Ambrosia  @ The Purple Booker.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read.
• Open to a random page.
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

My Teaser for this week is from

Black Beauty

Everleaf #0.5

by Constance Burris

26011960

 

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Genre: Horror / Dark Fantasy / Series

 My teaser from7 % in the eBook.

“I’m going crazy,” she thought. This time she did laugh, and the snakes, which were the same rusty brown color as her dreads, returned her smile.

I had no idea what this book was about. I just couldn’t resist that title and cover. It takes right off and gets dark fast. Having fun!

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Read on if you want to know more.

Synopsis

At Vista Apartment Complex, life drastically changes for a few of its residents when they decide to do business with Crazy Jade—the supposed voodoo witch that can grant your wish, for a price.

Shemeya wants the confidence to stand up against the girls bullying her at school, but she soon has to choose between keeping her dreadlocs or living a normal life. After catching her boyfriend cheating, Latreece just wants to have the same curves as all the other girls. Ashley will do whatever she can to have “White Girl Flow”, but takes her pursuit too far when she steals from Crazy Jade.

Everyone who comes into contact with Crazy Jade soon learns the true price of her magic—and how horribly wrong it can go.

BLACK BEAUTY takes the reader on a journey through the point of view of five residents of Vista Apartment Complex, and how each of their horrors crash together in ways they could never have expected.

Amazon

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How about you? Got a tease? Tell me!

stick out tongue photo: rr-sticking-out-tongue roadrunner-stick-out-tongue.gif

 

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Welcome to My Monday Minis where I share short reviews about books I’ve read.

I’m a sucker for clever titles and catchy cover art. It was an easy choice to read The Conversationalist. Not a long story but sure gets the point across.

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The Conversationalist

by Justin Bog

Horrorstruck Novel #1

Genre: Psychological Horror

34605768

 

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My Review

The Conversationalist is tagged as psychological horror. Being a genre I really enjoy, I crossed my fingers and gave it a go. It’s unpredictability makes for quite the page turner.  And, as mentioned in the synopsis, it has an aura of old time edgy horror. I can see this playing out in black and white on the movie screen.

Patrick is such an odd bird.  I’m still wondering what to make of him after finishing this story. You get right inside his head, and you really need to keep on your toes as you fall down that rabbit hole.

Patrick tries to be normal. He even starts dating Wendy. But I wonder if he’s drawn to her subconsciously. If maybe like is drawn to like. He has a dark side and so does she. Two very odd, lost souls make for an unexpected outcome.

While the story isn’t long, the author does a superb job bringing his character to life. How he presents Patrick to you is suspenseful and fills you with an intense need to find out what his dark thoughts are leading up to.

It was truly nothing I would have expected and still lingers in my mind. A first read for me by this author and it won’t be my last.

4 Stars

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Synopsis

BEGIN A CONVERSATION WITH PATRICK, IF YOU DARE . . .

“The Conversationalist is the type of story that if Alfred Hitchcock were alive and his TV show, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-1965), was still up and running, he’d snatch Bog’s script as fast as he could and turn it into a featured vignette.”—Anita Lock, Seattle Book Review

On Patrick’s Pacific Northwest Island home, people whisper about his family’s sad history. Some feel sorry for him. Most want to help Patrick, as if he’s a song-less bird, make him their next project, and even set him up on a date with a best friend . . .

On one such date, Wendy sits across from Patrick and confesses she’s afraid to die, and says: “My mother died a year ago . . . horribly.” Patrick listens and pretends to care. He keeps his own dark secret safe that way.

There’s something wrong with the way Patrick treats the women he dates, his friends, his family . . . no one ever gets close to Patrick. He won’t allow that.

“This suspenseful story deals with lies and betrayals that threaten lives and friendships, and they don’t leave anyone innocent in the end.”—Jacob Buckenmeyer, Anacortes American

THE CONVERSATIONALIST
Horrorstruck Novella One

Included within: an original dark tale, THE NIGHT, and a bonus short story from the award-winning suspense collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories, ON THE BACK STAIRCASE.

Justin Bog is a member of the ITW: International Thriller Writers. He lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island. He’s the author of the crime novel, Wake Me Up, and HARK!

Amazon

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE

Slivers (The Prospero Chronicles #3)
by Fiona J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter
Genre: YA Horror/Scifi
Release date: June 20th 2017

Synopsis

Ben

Growing up is hard, and growing up in Prospero is even harder, but I think we manage. I mean, yeah, my friends and I spend more of our time fighting a race of shapeshifting aliens than we do hanging out, but we have our fun. We go to parties, help each other with our classes, maybe even fall in love…

I’ve no illusions that we live ordinary lives, but they’re our lives, and I’m going to make sure we make the most of them whether the Splinters want us to or not.

Mina

The truce is temporary. We will not humor the Splinters forever. It’s only until the Slivers can be stopped, until the army of Shards being planted among our classmates can be disassembled, until we get our hands on the thing I’d almost given up believing in.

The humanity test.

For the chance to know, once and for all, who can be trusted, some dealings with monsters must be excusable. Inevitable. Just like this feeling between Ben and me.

And that has to be temporary too.

 

Add to Goodreads

Previous Books in the Series (click on image for Goodreads link):

 

Buy links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords
Indigo

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Excerpt

1. Sabotage
Ben
At the time, my instincts told me that jumping onto the hood of a moving SUV was a brilliant idea.
After half a second of trying to find something to hold onto, I told myself I’d reconsider my instincts when I got out of this.
If I got out of this.
A voice in my ear—I hadn’t lost my Bluetooth after all. Haley’s voice, by the angry sound of it.
“Ben, what the hell are you doing?”
“I have no idea!” I yelled back, finally grabbing the roof rack with both hands and holding on for dear life, doing my best to block the windshield. The driver accelerated down the empty suburban street, jerking the wheel back and forth, trying to shake me off. I knew behind the tinted glass of this anonymous, plateless SUV were the gray faces of Slivers. Today they were supposed to be kidnapping one of Prospero High School’s nicest teachers from her home, and we were going to stop them. It wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, but we’d done it before and should’ve been able to do it again.
I looked to the sidewalks, trying to spot any other members of the Network.
There was a heavy blow against the windshield near my chest. The tinted glass spiderwebbed beneath me. The Slivers were trying to break through.
Not for the first time, I cursed The Owl.
“Everybody close on the house! They’re still on the move!” Courtney called over the party line.
“Where’s that spike strip?” Haley asked.
“About twenty feet behind Ben before he decided to go Shatner on us,” Greg answered.
The spiderweb of glass expanded as the Sliver continued to force its way through.
The next voice was impossibly calm. “If we can stop this vehicle, there’s every chance we can capture multiple Slivers at once in addition to preventing Ms. Craven’s abduction. Ben, do you think you can slow them down?”
Mina Todd.
She always asked for the impossible so reasonably.
The windshield broke open in front of me, safety glass exploding outward as a long, muscular arm with a seven-fingered, clawed hand burst through. It raked back and forth, opening up a large gash in the glass that allowed me to see the three Slivers inside. They were of slight frame with gray, hairless heads and bulging black eyes, and they had begun sprouting extra limbs and tentacles to better mangle me.
“I’ll try,” I said, diving into the jagged hole where the windshield used to be.
Their brief, startled pause before attacking was all I needed.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out one of the cheap stun guns Mina loved to make out of disposable cameras and jammed it into the driver’s chest. The creature shuddered violently, jerking the wheel to the side and stomping on the gas reflexively.
I forced the gearshift into neutral and pulled on the parking brake. The SUV lurched to a violent stop in the middle of the street.
So far so good.
Less good was the sound of snapping wood that came from the passenger seat as its occupant’s body began to shift. Its rib cage broke open into a giant, vertical mouth full of jagged teeth and swirling tentacles. The tentacles lashed out at me, wrapping around my arms and neck, and squeezed. The Sliver in the backseat joined in, grabbing the leg I tried to anchor myself with against the dashboard and forcing me closer to that terrible maw.
The passenger door flew open. The Sliver let out a howl of pain as Julie buried a large meat hook in its back and began pulling it from the car. Courtney wrapped her hands around Julie’s on the hook, throwing her track team muscles into the effort and hardly wincing when the gelatinous Splinter blood began to soil her neatly pressed blouse. The tentacles released me, and soon enough the two girls wrestled the Sliver from the vehicle and tased it.
One down.
The driver’s mutated arm reached across my chest and pulled the door shut. It looked deep into my eyes with those empty, black orbs. Its narrow mouth curled into the faintest of smiles as it held me pinned to the seat with that monstrous arm. Though its face was formless, its flesh waxy, I couldn’t help but feel something familiar in that smile and those soulless eyes.
“Soon,” it whispered to me in its chittering, popping voice.
A new arm burst from its shoulder, splitting into two insectoid hands that allowed it to shift gears and disengage the parking break simultaneously. I watched helplessly as Greg and Kevin finally caught up to us with the jury-rigged spike strip we’d built for just this occasion, tossing it uselessly to the ground just as the driver swerved out of the way.
I didn’t know if the Slivers were still going to try for Ms. Craven or if they would content themselves with taking me instead. Would they try to drag me to their Warehouse (assuming the Slivers had a Warehouse) and replace me, or would they kill me as soon as they found a nice, quiet place to pull over?
They weren’t slowing down. If anything, they seemed to be speeding up. They swerved down the street, aiming for the side of an old duplex. Ms. Craven’s duplex.
I took advantage of the driver’s focus to pull one arm free, fasten a seatbelt around me, and brace myself.
The SUV slammed through the duplex’s wall with a crushing impact that knocked the wind out of me and whipped my neck forward. The unsecured driver flew through the jagged remnants of the windshield and landed in what used to be Ms. Craven’s living room. The passenger from the backseat climbed over me with spindly spider’s legs, following the driver out the windshield.
A woman screamed inside.
Slowly, painfully, I undid my seatbelt and crawled through the windshield, landing on the floor in a dazed heap.
Somehow I stumbled to my feet and pulled the mini flamethrower from my back. It wasn’t much—just a kitchen lighter duct-taped to one of those recalled aerosol fire extinguishers that Mina had stocked up on, but it did the job. Flicking the lighter on, I lifted it high.
The driver had Ms. Craven wrapped in a set of tentacles and interlocking claws, lifting her off the ground. Ms. Craven looked at me fearfully, trying to cry out through the tentacle lashed across her mouth. The flamethrower wouldn’t do much good at this range, standing as much a chance of burning Ms. Craven. I was going to have to wait for backup.
“Let her go,” I said shakily. All of my experiences with Slivers so far had proved that they loved to talk. I only had to stall them long enough for Mina and the rest to get here.
The driver looked to the passenger, exchanging a low series of pops and clicks. The passenger nodded, calmly raising one of its three arms and pointing the hand at me, flat. Just like the driver, a small, frightening smile crossed its face.
I lost all feeling beneath my waist, my legs giving out beneath me. Then I could feel again—too well. It felt like every nerve in my body had burst into flames. Violent waves of nausea hit me, and my muscles no longer seemed to be my own.
Two realizations hit me at once.
First: they had a Shard we hadn’t documented yet.
Second: this Shard had remote control of human bodies.
There was shouting, and then Kevin and Greg slid through the massive hole in the wall, brandishing their flamethrowers and Tasers. Less than a second later, a sliding glass door opened in the next room, and Mina and Haley ran in to join us.
Only Aldo, Julie, and Courtney had yet to catch up.
The two Slivers looked at each other, then at us. They could have taken me easily, maybe even two of us. But five of us, well-armed as we were—that gave them a moment of pause. The driver dropped Ms. Craven roughly to the floor. Both of the Slivers raised their arms, and the driver looked at me, curling its lips into that faint, unpleasant smile.
“Soon,” it said again.
Long spikes of bone erupted from each of their chests and backs. They both began to laugh—a raspy, choking sound—as the base of each spike began to pulsate.
“DUCK!” Mina blurted, falling to the floor.
Everyone dropped, dozens of bony spikes narrowly missing us as they erupted from the Slivers’ bodies, lodging in the walls and shattering windows.
By the time we regained our feet, the Slivers were gone.
“Is everybody all right?” Mina asked.
There were murmurs of assent. Ms. Craven was on the floor, sobbing.
Finding out about Splinters is never easy for people to deal with under the best of circumstances, much less while being kidnapped by the extreme anti-human cult of Splinters that we’d taken to calling “Slivers” last fall.
Not that getting kidnapped by regular, garden-variety Splinters was all that much better.
I was confident that Ms. Craven would come out of her shock soon—she’d always struck me as pretty tough. Once this wore off, we’d be able to tell her the truth. Maybe even make her a part of the team.
Assuming, of course, she was really human.
Haley examined my scratches and scrapes. Content that I must have been okay, she smiled and threw her arms around my neck, hugging me close. I don’t know what was more uncomfortable, Haley’s weight against my aching ribs or the look of annoyance on Mina’s face.
“I’m fine,” I assured Haley, pulling away, “though that Shard they have sure did a number on me.”
“One of the ones The Owl showed you?” Haley asked.
“No, this one’s new,” I said.
“Dammit, I hate Shards,” Greg said, shuddering. I didn’t blame him; the last time we’d gone up
against a Shard, it had made him feel a swarm of spiders crawling beneath his skin.
“Tell me about it,” I said.
“Hey, guys?” Aldo said over the group line.
“Did you secure the other Sliver?” Mina asked.
“Yeah, we got her. No problems there. What about yours?” Aldo asked.
“They’ve retreated. They haven’t doubled back your way?” Mina asked.
“No, we’re clear,” Aldo said. There was something held back in his voice I didn’t like.
“What’s wrong, Aldo?” I asked.
“Uh, I think you need to see this one for yourselves.”
“We’re on our way,” Mina said. “Haley, Greg, keep an eye on Ms. Craven.”
“I got some stuff that might calm her down,” Greg said, patting a pocket on his old army jacket.
“Don’t,” I said.
Greg shrugged. “More for me then.”
I followed Kevin and Mina out the front door. By force of habit, I looked up and down the street, hoping by some miracle that we hadn’t been spotted—or heard, for that matter. It was early Sunday morning, so the streets were mostly deserted. Typical abduction timing. The cops would be here eventually—a vehicle crashed through the side of a house has a way of summoning them sooner or later—but given the Prospero Police Department’s closeness with the main Splinter Council, this would all no doubt be hushed up pretty quickly.
“You’re gonna have to spend some quality time with Mina’s first-aid kit, brother,” Kevin observed.
“I’ve looked worse,” I said.
“You’ve looked better, too,” Mina interjected coldly.
“What’d I do?” I complained.
“You nearly ruined the operation. This didn’t go half as smoothly as our other interceptions,” Mina shot back.
I didn’t have a good defense for that. Ever since she’d started receiving those messages from the Owl, giving us the Slivers’ plans for abductions, we’d had a pretty good (though not perfect) track record of intercepting and stopping the Slivers before they could take their intended targets. Over the previous month and a half, we had managed to save the mayor’s son, Sheriff Diaz’s wife, and the head of the PTA from being taken without their ever knowing anything was going on. Things could have gone better this time, I knew that, but they also could have gone a lot worse.
“I didn’t have a choice. They know what we’ve been doing, and they’re being more careful. I did what I had to do,” I said.
“You could’ve been killed.”
“But I wasn’t!”
Kevin squeezed his way between us and put an arm around each of our shoulders.
“Let us not forget, my friends, that we did stop them from replacing Ms. Craven. It may have been sloppy, and she may have been needlessly introduced to our world, but we saved her. We did a good thing; the forces of evil are in check for another day. We should be celebrating!” Kevin said, smiling that easy smile he always used to defuse tense situations.
Mina sighed. “Please try to avoid unnecessary risks in the future.”
“Will do,” I said.
“There, isn’t that better than fighting like a couple o’ freshmen?” Kevin said.
“So says the senior commencement speaker,” I replied, punching him in the ribs softly.
“Hey, I’m as surprised as you guys are that I actually got the gig,” Kevin said, grinning.
“Right… so how long have you had that speech written?” I asked.
“Seventh grade, give or take a month.” Kevin laughed. “Come on, it’ll be my last chance to try to change a few minds here before I move on to the real world.”
“Freshmen don’t fight any appreciably more or less than any other students,” Mina said as if she’d missed half the conversation, looking a bit lost in thought.
“Really? Maybe we should ask Aldo,” Kevin joked.
Tall tales about Aldo’s secret second life, or third life in our case, had become something of a running joke among the Network, given his habit of accumulating even more scrapes and bruises than the rest of us in spite of spending most of his time behind the scenes, digging for information or tinkering with the equipment.
Underground cage fighting and undercover spy operations were common speculations.
This conversation did lead to one topic that had been eating at me lately: the passage of time. Of the eight members of the Network, Kevin and Courtney were both seniors and were going to be moving on from Prospero within the next six months. I didn’t know how we were going to keep the fight going without them. We would find a way to manage, Mina always had in the past, but it would be rough without Courtney’s organizational skills and Kevin’s ability to put things in perspective.
Julie, Courtney, and Aldo had dragged their captive Sliver to the privacy of Courtney’s backyard, a good five blocks from Ms. Craven’s, and by the time we caught up with them, they already had it tied up in copper wire and were threatening to touch the wire to a car battery. As usual, Julie (her jet black hair streaked with hot pink and red for Valentine’s Day coming up) smiled at us perkily beneath her thick goth makeup.
“Ya all right, Ben?” she asked, eying the scratches on my face.
“I’m fine.”
Aldo’s concerned expression was unsettling. Ever since our fight with Robbie, Aldo had assumed a bravura I’d never known he had in him. He was the first to cheer any victory lately. If he wasn’t smiling…
“What is it?” Mina asked, looking down at the Sliver, which looked more human now despite the few extra limbs it still possessed.
Courtney held the end of the copper wire above the car battery with a plastic pair of tongs. “Show them again.”
The Sliver hissed something in its chittering language that must not have been kind. Courtney and Mina
exchanged a glance. Mina nodded. Courtney dropped the wire onto the battery’s contact.
The Sliver screamed too humanly as it shuddered and arched what could best be approximated as its back, and the wire sparked violently. When Courtney took the wire away, it reluctantly took the face of its true, human form with a look of pure spite.
It was the face of Ms. Claudette Velasquez, my calculus teacher. That she was a Splinter was not news; we had known this for a few months.
That she was working with the Slivers was a surprise. The last time we had seen her, she had a seat on the Splinter Council.
“What are you waiting for? Kill me. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” she challenged.
“We’re not that stupid,” I said.
Ms. Velasquez looked at the battery with a mix of anger and fear. “Then what is your plan for me?”
“You’re going to tell us everything you know about the Slivers’ plans,” Mina said simply, taking the tongs from Courtney and holding them a little closer to the battery. “And when we’re convinced you’re not holding out, we’ll hand you over to the Splinter Council.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes went wide with genuine fear. “And if you’re never convinced?”
“We turn you over to them anyway, only we don’t tell them how remorseful and cooperative you were.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes scanned us, probably trying to gauge whether or not Mina was telling the truth. She must have believed her, because her body visibly slumped.
“Fine. I will cooperate. Just don’t—”
She let out an ear-splitting scream, her eyes bulging—then fell still with mouth agape. We stared, trying to figure out if it was a trick, when the flesh began to melt from her bones in thick gray rivers.
“What the… no, no…” Aldo muttered, trying to scoop bits of dissolving Splinter into one of his specially rigged containment boxes, watching with confusion as the liquid continued to evaporate after the box was sealed.
The entire Splinter corpse down to the bones was deteriorating into nothingness as the raw Splinter matter became incompatible with our world.
“What the hell just happened?” Courtney asked. “She was going to talk!”
“Was she?” Mina asked doubtfully.
“Well she sure as hell wasn’t going to die!” said Aldo, staring at the last vanishing remnants of the body. “Splinters just don’t do that spontaneously.”
“They might if they got one of those in ’em, brother,” Kevin said as he pointed to what was left of Ms. Velasquez’s deteriorating bones.
What looked like a foot-long, white caterpillar made of tumors and small air sacs disentwined itself from around her spine. Slowly, it walked away from the dissolving remains of my math teacher, shaking off bits of gray slime.
Then it started to glow a faint, pulsing white, lifting off the ground and beginning to float away like a plastic bag in the breeze. Mina grabbed it with her tongs.
“That a Splinter?” Kevin asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mina said.
“Then what is it?” Aldo asked.
The answer hit me before Mina could say it out loud.
“A game changer,” I said. “If they’ve got themselves some sort of alien suicide pill hiding inside them to keep them compliant, we might have to reconsider our capture strategy.”
Capturing a Sliver for information had been one of our dreams ever since we started receiving information from The Owl.
Just when we thought we had the Slivers figured out, they had to come up with something like this.
I would’ve laughed if it weren’t so damn depressing.

.

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About the authors

Fiona J.R. TITCHENELL is an author of young adult, sci-fi, and horror fiction, including Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). She graduated from Cal State University Los Angeles with a B. A. in English in 2009 at the age of twenty. She currently lives in San Gabriel, California, with her husband, coauthor, and amazing partner in all things, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.

 Connect with Fiona J.R. Titchenell on:

Her blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

 MATT CARTER is an author of horror, sci-fi, and yes, even a little bit of young adult fiction. He earned his degree in history from Cal State University Los Angeles, and lives in the usually sunny town of San Gabriel, California, with his wife, best friend, and awesome co-writer, F.J.R. Titchenell. Check out his first solo novel, Almost Infamous, or connect with him on:

His blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Welcome to my Saturday Screams.

I’ve got two more to share from the John Cleaver Series by Dan Wells.

These are the fifth and the sixth and final books in a “killer” series.

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My Review

Having so much action in the previous books, some might think this one falls flat. Maybe it takes some time for things to get hairy, but while you’re waiting, you get even deeper into John’s psyche. Still a budding sociopath, John is more focused on killing the Withered than his own needs. Until a clever killer steals John’s thoughts of people he wants to kill and how he wants to kill them, and copies it in real life. It’s like he’s stealing a part of John. And its a clever way to caste suspicion on him too.

John and Brook thumb rides from town to town, aimlessly seeking Withered to kill. This is where I said it might seem flat. Don’t bet on it. Dan Wells once again adds a wicked twist when Brook appears to be possessed by the only person John has ever loved. How heart wrenching. I’ve always wanted John to become more human. To feel anything. And for him to be confronted with this situation really punched me in the heart.

There’s some new monsters and plenty more violence and blood shed. A must for me. And with only one more story left in the series, I’m wondering if I’ll get what I’ve been wanting out of it.  And if I do, will it be believable. One way or the other, I’m anticipating finding out.

  5 Stars

Narrator Kirby Heyborne

Having Kirby continue this series is a wise choice. He’s kept me enthralled in the stories and I’ll be watching for further books he’s read.

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Thanks so much to Tantor Audio and the author for the complimentary copy.

My review is voluntarily given.

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Synopsis

John and Brooke are on their own, hitchhiking from town to town as they hunt the last of the Withered through the Midwest—but the Withered are hunting them back, and the FBI is close behind. With each new town, each new truck stop, each new highway, they get closer to a vicious killer who defies every principle of profiling and prediction John knows how to use, and meanwhile Brooke’s fractured psyche teeters on the edge of oblivion, overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of dead personalities sharing her mind. She flips in and out of lucidity, manifesting new names and thoughts and memories every day, until at last the one personality pops up that John never expected and has no idea how to deal with: the last of Nobody’s victims, trapped forever in the body of his last remaining friend.

Amazon / Tantor

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My Review

Another thrilling installment in the series. I go into each story hoping for more intrigue, complexity and angst and Dan Wells doesn’t disappoint.

John still battles his urges as he continues to hunt down the Withered. In each book I learn more about these monsters and what drives them. Terrifying they may be, but you’re given insight into their side of the story, which left me feeling conflicted about them, kind of.

The authors choice to tell this in first person POV from John’s perspective was a wise one.  He keeps evolving, growing mentally stronger but still needing some releases for his dark urges. As a budding serial killer who has rules to keep him from killing the innocent, I find him one of the most compelling characters I’ve come across.

There’s an interesting twist that makes for an edgy read. And it’s a gut wrenching finale in the last third of the book as good and bad become entwined in a fight to survive. I wish I could tell you the last scene of the book. All I could think was, it’s about time.

  5 Stars

Narrator Kirby Heyborne

Kirby hits it out of the park. His narration keeps the suspense at a boiling point and his inflection is perfectly timed. Well done.

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Thanks so much to Tantor Audio and the author for the complimentary copy.

My review is voluntarily given.

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Synopsis

Hi. My name is John Cleaver, and I hunt monsters. I used to do it alone, and then for a while I did it with a team of government specialists, and then the monsters found us and killed almost everyone, and now I hunt them alone again.

This is my story.

In this thrilling installment in the John Wayne Cleaver series, Dan Wells brings his beloved antihero into a final confrontation with the Withered. Nothing Left to Lose is a conclusion that is both completely compelling and completely unexpected

Amazon / Tantor

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I’ve listened to and reviewed  all of the previous five books in this series.

 

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Click on the covers for my reviews.

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways go HERE