Undead by John Russo

Undead by John Russo
Publisher/Year: Kensington Books, 2010
Format: Paperback
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐



George A. Romero’s classic 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead, launched a new era of gut-munching mayhem, relentlessly terrorizing the hearts of moviegoers and launching the zombie movie phenomenon. Screenwriter John A. Russo turned the flesh-eating frenzy into two horrific, blood-drenched novels…


A cemetery in rural Pennsylvania. A brother and sister putting flowers on their father’s grave. A strange figure shambling toward them–eyes dead and teeth gnashing. So begins a night of endless terror that would live on in infamy. Seven strangers locked inside a small farmhouse fight off an army of walking corpses. Who will survive? And who will have their flesh devoured…?


Not long after the first zombie outbreak, a bus crashes in a small American town. Local churchgoers rush to the scene to save the living–and destroy the dead. But they’re too late. A terrifying new plague of undead has been unleashed. A new horde of victims has been infected. And this time, they are ravenous…


What I thought

I’ll admit–I originally picked this one up because THAT COVER! And once I saw that there were two classic zombie stories inside, I was sold. I’m glad I picked it up because I did enjoy it. I will throw a disclaimer out there–if you’re looking for a truly frightening read or something with outstanding writing, this ain’t it. Night of the Living Dead is a novelization of the movie, and Return of the Living Dead is a novelization of a screenplay for a sequel idea (not the movie most are familiar with). So, that translates into a lot of tell vs. show writing and a lot of campy horror. If you can go into this with your expectations in check, you’ll enjoy two fun zombie tales for what they are–groundbreaking tales for their time. I dunno, I thought this was a fun, easy read. It would be good to read around a campfire!

The Hairbrush and the Shoe by Jeanne D. Stanton

The Hairbrush and the Shoe by Jeanne D. Stanton
Publisher/Year: SparkPress, 2020
Format: ARC – paperback
Pages: 204
Rating: ⭐⭐


A hairbrush vanished. The piano played. A bed moved out from the wall. But when a workman was pushed and hissed at by something invisible on the stairs, Jeanne Stanton began to take the idea of a ghost seriously. The Hairbrush and the Shoe is the story of her attempt to find out if a ghost is living in her family’s 150-year-old townhouse–and, if so, who that ghost might be.

Formerly a case write at Harvard Business School, Stanton approaches the ghost issue with the discipline of a skeptic, asking first if ghosts even exist. Armchair research soon leads her into the byzantine world of the paranormal, where a flourishing subculture of mediums, psychics, ghost hunters, and amateur sleuths seeks contact with spirits of the dead. She learns that many scholars and writers have shared a belief in spirits, including William James, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens, and that research into telepathy is ongoing. Fascinated, Stanton joins the London-based Ghost Club and consults a psychic, who assures her that more than one ghost is occupying her home.

Wary of fraud, and curious to know how science might approach her query, Stanton studies current research in psychics and neurology, and learns that spirits and the afterlife are dismissed and research into telepathy is mostly discredited. Tackling the final question of who the ghost might be, she discovers a new website listing a number of eminent “Boston Brahmins” among her home’s former families–including one strong candidate for her resident ghost.

What I thought

Thank you to BookSparks and Jeanne D. Stanton for the free finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was an interesting read, but I have to say, it wasn’t quite what I had expected. As someone who is utterly fascinated by everything to do with the paranormal, there was a lot of information here that I already knew. I did learn a few things that kept me interested though, and I did like that I was able to pick up a few book recommendations based off of some the author read herself.

I think that the reason why this book was just okay for me was that this was more of a contemplation of belief on the author’s part than I was expecting. The bulk of this book was the author presenting her research into both sides of the question of whether ghosts exist or not. I think I was expecting more about the experiences that took place in her home.

As someone with firmly held beliefs maybe this book just wasn’t meant for me. This was an intelligently written and interesting book. I would definitely recommend this book to you if you are unsure of which side of the fence your beliefs fall upon.

Shadow of Night (All Souls Series #2) by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Series #2) by Deborah Harkness
Publisher/Year: Penguin Books, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 581
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Drawn to each other despite long-standing taboos, these two other-worldly beings found themselves at the center of a battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Book two of the All Souls trilogy plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies and subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night. The pair’s mission is to find traces of Ashmole 782, but as the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different–and vastly more dangerous–journey.

What I thought

This is definitely something unusual for me to say, but I think this is a case where I actually enjoyed the sequel much more than the first book. I mean, she only ate eggs and toast once, for starters–yes, I counted. But seriously, there was much more that I enjoyed about the story this time around. I won’t go into too much detail–I like to keep it kind of short and sweet when it comes to reviewing sequels. This time around, my only complaint seems to be one that I’ve had since starting this trilogy–I have a rough time jiving with Harkness’s writing style. There just seems to be this disjointedness to the plot where something would happen, and I’d skim back a page or two, convinced I had somehow missed something. Or I’d spend so much time trying to analyze some plot point for it to turn out to have absolutely no bearing on the story. Considering the writing style and my disconnect, I really think it’s just me or the timing of my read. Plenty of people love these books. And I really did love so much about this installment. I loved everything about their trip to Elizabethan London–from the various members of the School of Night to Diana’s witchy lessons to their detour to Sept Tours. Again, I’m being intentionally vague here. I will say that I’m actually quite sad that they had to go back to the present and leave this cast of characters behind. I’m definitely ready to dive into the next book after that absolutely abrupt cliffhanger at the end.

As a whole, I enjoyed Shadow of Night much more than I did A Discovery of Witches. In reading some reviews on here, it seems like this is a pretty polarizing set of books. And even though I enjoyed book #2 more than book #1, I still wouldn’t say I love these books, at least on this, my first read through. I’d say if these books sound like they’re up your alley, maybe borrow them from a friend or the library.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Series #1) by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Series #1) by Deborah Harkness
Publisher/Year: Penguin Books, 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 579
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Deep in the heart of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Diana Bishop–a young scholar and the descendant of witches–unearths an enchanted alchemical manuscript. Wanting nothing to do with sorcery, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery has set a fantastical underworld stirring, and soon a horde of daemons, witches, and other creatures descends upon the library. Among them is the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire with a keen interest in the book. Equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense, A Discovery of Witches is a mesmerizing and addictive tale of passion and obsession that reveals the closely guarded secrets of an enchanted world.

What I thought

I had a major love-hate relationship with A Discovery of Witches. On one hand, I devoured this book and cannot wait to start Shadow of Night, and on the other hand, the few complaints that I had about this book drove me absolutely insane.

Let me begin with my grievances. I don’t want to give the wrong impression–I hate that I have any complaints at all because I wanted to love this book. And I think I would have if it hadn’t been for these few things. Diana was my biggest love-hate issue with this book. I loved that she was intelligent and independent and feisty and stubborn, but I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind if I had to read about her fainting or being carried around by Matthew or MAKING TOAST OR TEA one more time. First of all, why the damsel in distress thing? She was adamantly portrayed as anything BUT–so when she constantly fainted over everything, it was just too contradictory. And as a 5’7″ woman, I’m going to tell you right now, my 6′ husband cannot carry me around. It has nothing to do with my weight–I’m simply too tall to be carried around like a child. Also, I LOVE a lot of detail in a book, but for crying out loud, does Diana eat anything besides eggs and toast?! Onto Matthew–I think my problem with him was his over-the-top possessiveness and his tendency to boss Diana around without any explanation. Granted, I suppose this can be explained away by his “vampire nature.” But what it comes down to with the both of them is that I just like to see more growth from characters. I’m sincerely hoping that since this story was originally slated as a trilogy that it just comes down to this first book being more of an introductory setup. Fingers crossed for character growth in book #2!

The other issue I had, I’m a little less irked by, but I know that this is a make-or-break deal for other readers, so I have to bring it up. I was not a big fan of the insta-love…I feel like I HAVE to be missing something. Their relationship was sweet, but I missed the passion. When they first met, and even through their first few interactions, I couldn’t figure out whether they liked each other, and then, BOOM, next thing I know, it’s :::SPOILER::: “I love you” and now we’re married. Umm…what? And the whole not having sex thing was BONKERS to me. On some level, I “get” it, but I just think it felt like a gimmicky way to keep readers reading. :::END SPOILER:::

Now that I’m done bitching–it probably seems like I didn’t even like this book, but I really did enjoy it, and I’m truly looking forward to the next book, so let me spend some time describing what I loved about this read.

I loved that this book read like a blend of an adult Twilight, The Historian, and Outlander. Fans of any of those books will find plenty to love here. Deborah Harkness writes with such a rich attention to detail that I easily found myself wholly immersed every time I sat down to read. I love the feeling when I’m so into a book that when I put the book down, I have to almost step back into reality, and I felt that big time with A Discovery of Witches. I’m a fairly slow reader, but I had this feeling like I was devouring this book. I’d look up after 100 evocative detail but also to the fact that the world she built was just so damn fascinating. The way she told this story was utterly enthralling, simply put. The blend of vampires, witches, daemons, history, science, romance, alchemy, evolution, reproduction, magic, and time travel was incredible. I loved it! This first book was heavier on vampires and vampire lore, but I’m hoping that, given how this one ended and Diana’s next task, we’ll learn more about witches because their magic is seriously COOL. And can I just say I absolutely ADORED the Bishop house and Diana’s aunts? Another thing I appreciated about the world building was that Harkness’ love for this world she created was 100% evident, so I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing where she takes the story next.

So, as you can see, I had conflicting feelings about a few aspects of this book, but as a whole, I really, really enjoyed this read. I can already tell that this series is one that I’ll revisit every once in a while. I know I’ve gone on and on about the couple things that I had issues with, but I was able to look past them and completely immerse myself in this story. A Discovery of Witches ended on a MAJOR cliffhanger, so I’m very glad that I already have my hands on a copy of Shadow of Night! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more about witches, more character growth, and more of this wonderful world Deborah Harkness created.

The Veil: Heidi Wyrick’s Story by Joyce S. Cathey and Rebecca S. Harrington

The Veil: Heidi Wyrick’s Story by Joyce S. Cathey and Rebecca S. Harrington
Publisher/Year: iUniverse, 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 154
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Three-year-old Heidi Wyrick is born with the ability to communicate with the dead and to gain personal knowledge, identify, and actually befriend spirits from beyond the grave. But these supernatural abilities make her life and the lives of her family a living hell.

Fear becomes tangible when Heidi’s mother, Lisa Wyrick, uncovers hard evidence that her daughter has befriended a man who has been dead for thirty years. To Lisa’s horror, every detail she learns from Heidi proves to be true. But after being threatened by a dark figure, Heidi is thrown into a state of intense fear. The dark figure is different–he is not her friend–and she senses that he means to harm her and her family.

Paranormal experts test Heidi, and exorcisms of the home and readings from well-known psychics become routine. The Veil takes you on a chilling journey through the Wyrick family’s seventeen-year nightmare.

What I thought

There really isn’t a whole lot for me to say about this little book beyond the fact that I enjoyed it (as much as one can “enjoy” a book about horrific events). Some grammar issues and a few typos aside, I did find this to be a disquieting account of one family’s experiences with the paranormal. Told in a prose format, I kind of expected this to feel less like a true story, but truth be told, there were several occasions where I got chills as I read. I can’t even begin to fathom what I would do in their shoes. It took a little bit of searching to get my hands on a copy of this (thanks, AbeBooks!), but I’m glad I did. Being simply a telling of one family’s experiences, it may not offer new perspective or research or anything, but if you are interested in the paranormal, I’d recommend searching this one out, even if just as a supplement to the documentary, A Haunting in Georgia, which had some slightly different details.

Land of Bones: 14 Tales of the Strange and Macabre by Glenn Rolfe

Land of Bones: 14 Tales of the Strange and Macabre by Glenn Rolfe
Publisher/Year: Alien Agenda Publishing, 2018
Format: E-book (Kindle)
Pages: 155
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Demon lights, granted wishes, strange things, and brutal love at the Lucky Lounge Motel. A haunted sister, desperate parents, a little human touch, and the end of the world…

These are the stories whispered among dead leaves, the script etched bare for all to see. When the chills sink deep and your heart begins to pound…are you alone? Welcome to Glenn Rolfe’s Land of Bones: 14 Tales of the Strange and Macabre.

What I thought

This was the first work by Glenn Rolfe that I have read, and rest assured, this won’t be the last. For me, starting out with an author’s short stories can be hit or miss, but I’m happy to report that I’ve found another horror author to watch for. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but as with any anthology, I enjoyed some stories more than others. Or rather, I should say some resonated with me more than others because I truly enjoyed all of the stories here. Anyway, here’s how I would rate each story (for me):

-“Land of Bones” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
-“Ghosts of Spears Corner” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
-“Simon” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
-“Not Kansas Anymore” ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
-“Fire” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
-“Welcome to Paradise” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
-“Wish” ⭐⭐⭐
-“Avenging Kitten” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
-“Charley Sings the World Away” ⭐⭐⭐
-“The Fixer” ⭐⭐⭐⭐
-“The Rooster” ⭐⭐⭐
-“Too Much of a Dead Thing” ⭐⭐
-“Little Bunny” ⭐⭐
-“Death Lights” ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the talent here in this short collection. It was great for reading while packing up our house for moving. I could pick this up and get sucked into a story for a while. I also liked that while some of the stories gave me goosebumps, not all of the stories were the same type of horror. Being tied together around the theme of loss, they often hit and evoked a different set of feelings. I’d recommend this one if you’re looking to find a new, quality horror author. Land of Bones was an impressive intro to Glenn Rolfe’s works.

Daughters of Darkness (The Willoughby Chronicles #2) by Meg Hafdahl

Daughters of Darkness (The Willoughby Chronicles #2) by Meg Hafdahl
Publisher/Year: Inklings Publishing, 2019
Format: e-ARC
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Daphne Forrest and Edwin Monroe forget their past shared trauma by building a life in the big city. But the death of Doris Woodhouse pulls them back into the strangely enigmatic town of Willoughby. Surrounded by the familiar gothic landscape and its dark underbelly of secrets, a mystery unfurls, revealing a catalyst set in motion long ago. One that has caused a unique evil to lurk in the hearts of Willoughby’s citizens. A shocking truth once confronted by protective mother, Doris Woodhouse, and the dashing Holden Small in the winter of 1961.

Daphne and Edwin in the present, and Doris in the past, come to fathom the terrifying reality behind the bucolic edifice of Willoughby. Will Daphne be able to save herself and the town she has grown to love? Or will Willoughby’s evil infect her own heart?

What I thought

One of the coolest things about being a part of the bookstagram/book blogging world is getting the opportunity to work with authors. Obviously I love reading, and I love talking about the books I’ve read, but I can’t actually fathom writing one. It goes without saying that there is nothing more exciting to me than when I get to interact with authors and become part of the process of sharing their book with the world. It’s even more exciting when it’s an author whose work I love, which is why I was thrilled when Meg Hafdahl contacted me about her newest addition to the Willoughby series.

I enjoyed Her Dark Inheritance so much that I couldn’t wait to dive into Daughters of Darkness. And it did not disappoint! Except for the fact that now I’m over here dying for book #3! I don’t want to say too much about the plot, for fear of giving anything away, but it was truly a joy being back in Willoughby with my favorite characters. Daphne has become one of my favorite protagonists in the horror genre, and I’ve enjoyed watching her character grow so much. And Doris! I loved her role in this installment, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Besides the characters, I also loved the town of Willoughby itself. Hafdahl brings the town to life so much so that it feels like an entity in its own right. And I so appreciate that she doesn’t immediately reveal all of Willoughby’s secrets at once. Not only does that leave me looking forward to the next book, but the unknowing leaves the reader with the most delicious, sinister feel while reading.

Once again, I have nothing but good things to say about Meg Hafdahl and her writing. As the books in the Willoughby Chronicles become darker and more evil rears its ugly head, I’m enjoying these books more and more. Daughters of Darkness proves once again that Meg Hafdahl is a strong addition to the #ladiesofhorrorfiction authors. And that final chapter? It’s killing me–I’m dying for book #3 already!

**Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC copy of this book from the author, Meg Hafdahl, in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinions presented here.

American Supernatural Tales edited by S. T. Joshi

American Supernatural Tales edited by S. T. Joshi
Publisher/Year: Penguin Books, 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 477
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The ultimate collection of weird and frightening fiction by American writers

It takes an unusual caliber of writer to deliver readers into the terrifying beyond–to conjure tales that are not only unsettling, but unnatural, with elements and characters that are all the more disturbing for their impossibility. From Edgar Allan Poe to Stephen King, American authors have excelled at journeying into the supernatural. You’ll find them here, including H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others. An unprecedented anthology of phantasmagoric, spectral, and demonic writing, American Supernatural Tales celebrates our enduring need to be spooked and horrified.

What I thought

If you are looking for a collection of “supernatural”/horror short stories, look no further. This was a solid sampling of stories from some of the genre’s best authors. I was so excited to dive into this one to not only read selections from some of my favorite authors, but also to discover some of the other greats that I hadn’t read before. As with any collection, there were some stories that I enjoyed more than others, but for the most part, I really liked what I read and even found a few new favorites. I also really enjoyed Joshi’s introduction and found his commentary on the genre to be fascinating, although I highly disagree with his opinion of Stephen King. All in all, I thought this was a comprehensive anthology and one I’d like to add to my own shelves!

Here’s my rating of each story:

–“The Adventure of the German Student” by Washington Irving ⭐⭐⭐
–“Edward Randolph’s Portrait” by Nathaniel Hawthorne ⭐⭐⭐
–“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe ⭐⭐⭐
–“What Was It?” by Fitz-James O’Brien ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Death of Halpin Frayser” by Ambrose Bierce ⭐⭐
–“The Yellow Sign” by Robert W. Chambers ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Real Right Thing” by Henry James ⭐⭐⭐
–“The Call of Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis” by Clark Ashton Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Old Garfield’s Heart” by Robert E. Howard ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Black Bargain” by Robert Bloch ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Lonesome Place” by August Derleth ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Girl With Hungry Eyes” by Fritz Leiber ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“A Visit” by Shirley Jackson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Long Distance Call” by Richard Matheson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Vanishing American” by Charles Beaumont ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Events at Poroth Farm” by T. E. D. Klein ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Night Surf” by Stephen King ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Late Shift” by Dennis Etchison ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Vastarien” by Thomas Ligotti ⭐⭐⭐
–“Endless Night” by Karl Edward Wagner ⭐⭐
–“The Hollow Man” by Norman Partridge ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Last Call for the Sons of Shock” by David J. Schow ⭐⭐⭐
–“Demon” by Joyce Carol Oates ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“In the Water Works (Birmingham, Alabama 1888) by Caitlin R. Kiernan ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Her Dark Inheritance (The Willoughby Chronicles #1) by Meg Hafdahl

Her Dark Inheritance (The Willoughby Chronicles #1) by Meg Hafdahl
Publisher/Year: Inklings Publishing, 2018
Format: E-book (Nook)
Pages: 316
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


On the day her mother died, Daphne Forrest learns the devastating truth. She’d never really known the woman who raised her, not even her real name. Fueled to unravel the tragic mystery behind her mother’s secrets, Daphne abandons all she knows, traveling to the bucolic yet sinister town of Willoughby, Minnesota.

Navigating through the memories of her own bloody legacy, Daphne throws herself into the insular and haunting small town of her ancestors. She investigates the murder that led to her mother’s shame aided by charming, yet tortured, local, Edwin Monroe. Edwin has a unique understanding of the darkness in Willoughby, and how the town holds a lurking threat more foreboding than any unsolved murder.

As Daphne gets closer to the truth, Willoughby itself rebels against her. She bears witness to terrifying scenes from the past. Is her mother a murderer? Is that Daphne’s dark inheritance? And is she strong enough to battle an evil more frightening than her own past?

What I thought

I have to give a big shout out here to thank the ever-wonderful Ladies of Horror Fiction for introducing me to Meg Hafdahl’s writing! I was very impressed by Hafdahl’s debut novel, and I’m always glad to add another female horror author to my authors-to-watch list.

From the very first chapter, I had a hard time putting this one down. The writing was descriptive without being overdone, the characters were vivid and diverse, the town of Willoughby came to life, and at the end, I didn’t want the story to finish! I’m glad that this will be a series because I’m looking forward to more from Hafdahl!

My two favorite things about this book were the character of Daphne and the town of Willoughby. I loved watching Daphne’s character develop, and I especially appreciated the fact that she was a flawed character, not cookie-cutter, by any means. The town of Willoughby reminded me of Stephen King’s Derry so, of course, I loved it. I only wish we knew more about Willoughby’s evil background, but maybe that’s for future books.

All that being said, I’m so glad to have read this one–I enjoyed it so much. I don’t know what you call it, but this type of horror is one of my favorites–the kind where you have this sense of dread and unease to the point where you don’t want to stop reading because you have to know how it turns out (thriller, maybe? I dunno). I can’t wait to read more from Meg Hafdahl, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series!

Jane and the Damned (Immortal Jane Austen #1) by Janet Mullany

Jane and the Damned (Immortal Jane Austen #1) by Janet Mullany
Publisher/Year: Avon, 2010
Format: Paperback
Pages: 292
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Jane Austen


Damned, fanged, and dangerous to know.

Aspiring writer Jane Austen knows that the respectable young ladies like herself are supposed to shun the Damned–the beautiful, fashionable, exquisitely seductive vampires who are all the rage in Georgian England in 1797. So when an innocent (she believes) flirtation results in her being turned–by an absolute cad of a bloodsucker–she acquiesces to her family’s wishes and departs for Bath to take the waters, the only known cure.

But what she encounters there is completely unexpected: perilous jealousies and further betrayals, a new friendship and possible love. Yet all that must be put aside when the warring French invade unsuspecting Bath–and the streets run red with good English blood. Suddenly only the staunchly British Damned can defend the nation they love…with Jane Austen leading the charge at the battle’s forefront.

What I thought

My last read of 2018!

This was a fun little read, but unfortunately, I don’t think it was one that will have a lasting impression on me.

I’m willing to give just about any book a go, so when I came across this book about Jane Austen as a vampire, I picked it up. And like I said, it was a fun and entertaining read. You can certainly tell that Mullany is a Janeite, and her love for Austen shines through the story.

I very much enjoyed the inclusion of the Damned in the plot of the story. I don’t know much about vampire lore, but what I read here intrigued me enough that I wanted to know more. But here is where I have a complaint with this story–I wanted more. I felt like there needed to be more explanation of the lore. I don’t always have the easiest time following the story when components of a world or lore are introduced with little to no explanation or development. I was also not a fan of the character development, as I never really got a good feel for Jane (or her love interest), which took away from the ending for me.

This makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy this book, but I did like it! It just wasn’t memorable for me is all. Fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this, if you don’t mind the addition of vampires!

Not Just Voodoo by Rebecca Hamilton

33980880Not Just Voodoo compiled by Rebecca Hamilton
Publisher/Year: 2017
Format: E-book
Pages: 487
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


Summary (from Goodreads)

To celebrate the release of Something Like Voodoo by New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton, we’ve put together this paranormal fantasy collection of short stories that include works from some of her favorite authors!

Most of the stories in this specially curated collection are brand new, exclusive content–never before distributed anywhere else and yours for the taking!

If you’re in the mood for unique magic and familiar creatures, this anthology is sure to add spark to your day!


Margo Bond Collins – Major Arcana
When a teenage fortune teller in a traveling carnival meets up with an attractive townie, she finds new magic in her tarot cards.

Erin Hayes – I Wish I Weren’t A Djinni
A djinni who is summoned by a young man has the power to grant any of his wishes, he simply has to believe her enough to ask.

Aileen Harkwood – Splintered Magic
Though Saige McMullins may feel like nothing more than a half-witch freak, when evil with a nasty appetite threatens the beach town of Lost Cliff, she knows she’s the only one who can stop it.

L. C. Hibbett – Wicked Witch
Destiny isn’t a good witch. She lies, she cheats, and she dances on the dead. But Destiny has a secret that might just change everything…

Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squiers – Journal of Abigail DiAngelo
As a hunter in training and high school student, Abigail DiAngelo would much rather live a normal life than fight monsters with her father, but when an unexpected chance for change arises, it’s up to her to take charge…

Katerina Martinez – The Witch and the Thief
When Nicole Harriman receives an urgent prophetic vision, it’s up to her to protect what is hers.

K. N. Lee – Awakened
A young witch betrays her darkest secret and risks her crown, life, and soul for the love of a human.

Nicole Zoltack – Gavin’s Gamble
Gavin thinks nothing can be worse than having a witch hunter for a father until he experiences possibly magical phenomena…

Debbie Cassidy – Deadtown
A pocket of crazy, a town hostage to magic, and a mysterious warlock boss equal a recipe for disaster.

Alicia Rades – Visions Among Frost
Crystal Frost can see ghosts and predict the future, but when her friends pull out a Ouija board at their sleepover, it’s up to her to clean up their mess.

Monica Corwin – The Dying of the Light
When Charity dies on the first day of her new job, she rallies with the help of her new reaper partner, and her eight remaining souls, to take down the criminals responsible.

Jasmine Walt – Tested by Magic
Shifter and bounty hunter Sunaya Baine would much rather chase after hardened criminals, but when a child goes missing in her magical city, she’ll stop at nothing to find her before she falls prey to the real things that go bump in the night.

Thea Atkinson – Reaper’s Redemption
A grim reaper’s next fare might be her last.

Rebecca Hamilton – Leaves Like Magic
A young witch joins forces with a shapeshifting ally in a race against the clock to save her best friend from vampires.


What I thought

I’m going to intentionally keep this short. I don’t want to review each story, but I did keep track of what I’d rate each of them, which I’ll list later. As a whole, I liked this collection, hence the 3 stars. While I really liked some of the stories (4 stars), there were quite a few that I simply liked (3 stars) or thought of as just okay (2 stars). I admit that I didn’t find this to be the strongest anthology, and even though it took me a million years to read, I didn’t have a bad time reading this one. Actually one of the things I enjoyed most was just trying out new-to-me authors. I do think this collection would be more accurately named as a “sampler” because most of the stories were prequels. Overall, while this might not have been an all-time favorite for me, I am glad to be walking away with some new authors that I want to check out!

“Major Arcana” by Margo Bond Collins 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“I Wish I Weren’t a Djinni” by Erin Hayes 🌟🌟🌟
“Splintered Magic” by Aileen Harkwood 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Wicked Witch” by L. C. Hibbett 🌟🌟🌟
“Journal of Abigail DiAngelo” by Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squiers 🌟🌟
“The Witch and the Thief” by Katerina Martinez 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Awakened” by K. N. Lee 🌟🌟🌟
“Gavin’s Gamble” by Nicole Zoltack 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Deadtown” by Debbie Cassidy 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Visions Among Frost” by Alicia Rades 🌟🌟🌟
“The Dying of the Light” by Monica Corwin 🌟🌟
“Tested by Magic” by Jasmine Walt 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Reaper’s Redemption” by Thea Atkinson 🌟🌟
“Leaves Like Magic” by Rebecca Hamilton 🌟🌟

The Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer

TheSeaWasaFairMaster_CoverThe Sea Was a Fair Master by Calvin Demmer
Publisher/Year: Unnerving, 2018
Format: E-book
Pages: 83
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟


Summary (from author)

The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.

The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.

For the sea was a fair master.

CalvinDemmer_PhotoAbout the Author

Calvin Demmer is a dark fiction author. His debut collection, The Sea Was a Fair Master, was released in June 2018. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe. You can find him online at www.calvindemmer.com or follow him on Twitter @CalvinDemmer.



What I thought

This was my first time reading flash fiction, and I’ll be totally honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m all about development, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about stories that were all less than 5 pages long, especially stories from several of my favorite genres. But I have to say, these were pretty darn good stories! As with any collection, I prefer some over others, but I really did enjoy a majority of them. Since they were so short, I wanted to take my time with them, so I only read one or two per day so that they would linger with me. And I’ll tell you what, Demmer really knows how to pack a punch in just a handful of words! Overall, I was truly impressed. I’m definitely curious to see what this author could do within the realm of short stories or even with a novel!

Thank you very much to Calvin Demmer for providing me with a digital copy of this collection in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my review.