Tag Archives: horror

Tuesday Teaser, Playthings

It’s that time of the week again, time for teasers.
This week’s teaser is from my latest short horror story: Playthings.

My heart was no longer trying to escape through my chest. Instead it was beating steadily, pumping in an even rhythm that was ready for excitement at a moment’s notice. Ready for the thrill, for the need to rise up and show my heart what it was really like to want to escape. And what it was like to be given the chance.

And currently, Playthings is free if you buy it through Smashwords through until the end of this month.

Check out more Tuesday Teasers at http://sherri-hayes.blogspot.com/2014/07/tuesday-teasers-readshare-excerpts.html

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Filed under Michelle Birbeck, Short Stories

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Short, Sweet, and Snappy Review:


Title:  Dead Ever After

Author: Charlaine Harris

Genre: Horror/paranormal

What I liked: That the series is over

What I didn’t like: Too much to list

Recommended Read: Only if you’ve read the series.

Rating: 2 stars



There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart…


Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.


Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.


But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…


Michelle’s Review:


Where to start with this mess? Perhaps at the end, for a change, because that’s the biggest thing that made me put the book down and say: what a load of rubbish. For a last book in the series, there seem to be a lot of loose ends. Such as what happened to Sam and Sookie? Did they live happy ever after? Did they break up after a couple of months? Did Bill ever find anyone? Has Sookie’s cousin Hunter grown up all right?


But of course, the biggest what the hell out of that lot has to be Sam and Sookie. Had I not already heard through the grapevine that this was coming, I’m pretty sure I would have laughed my ass off and declared the entire book to be a work of self-gratifying fanfiction for the Sam/Sookie shippers. Not that I don’t mind a good bit of fanfic every now and then, and not that I don’t like Sam, but there doesn’t seem to have been any indication prior to the end of book twelve that Sookie thought of Sam in any other way than a brother. But hey, it’s not my book, and I suppose if the author wants to put them together in an attempt to give the series some closure, then fine.


However, the ludicrous ending wasn’t the only issue I had with this book. The switch in writing really threw me. We’ve gone from twelve books of single first person point of view, to a book that switches between that and third person point of view. And honestly, I don’t think those changes in point of view really added much to the overall novel. To me, they seemed like little more than a good way to pad out the book without tying up the loose ends that could have been tied up.


So for me, I am glad this series is over. I’m glad I borrowed the last book from the library instead of paying for it before the paperback comes out, and I am happy that I don’t have to read any more of the books. In my opinion this whole series has been like the Big One (or whatever it’s called these days) roller coaster in Blackpool. It was all uphill at the very start, but after that first rush of falling from the sky everything else is a bit of a disappointment.

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Affliction, by Laurell K Hamilton

Short, Sweet, and Snappy Review:


Title:  Affliction

Author: Laurell K Hamilton

Genre: horror

What I liked: Everything!

What I didn’t like: Nothing.

Recommended Read: Yes!

Rating: 5 stars



Some zombies are raised. Others must be put down. Just ask Anita Blake.

Before now, she would have considered them merely off-putting, never dangerous. Before now, she had never heard of any of them causing human beings to perish in agony. But that’s all changed.

Micah’s estranged father lies dying, rotting away inside from some strange ailment that has his doctors whispering about “zombie disease.”

Anita makes her living off of zombies—but these aren’t the kind she knows so well. These creatures hunt in daylight, and are as fast and strong as vampires. If they bite you, you become just like them. And round and round it goes…

Where will it stop?
Even Anita Blake doesn’t know.


Michelle’s Review:

This series has been up and down for me. It started great, then digressed into little more than smut with a vague plot. However, the last couple of books have been getting better, and this one has been the best so far. I loved the pacing, the plot, the twists, the fact that it kept me guessing until the end, and I loved the flamethrower. There honestly isn’t anything I can say about this book that is negative.


So let’s look a little more in depth at this one and what made it so great. For a start, the zombies were back. Good, old fashioned zombie raising. It’s where the series began, and I was very happy to see a return to that. And given the twists we saw in the book regarding the zombies and Anita’s powers, I am very much looking forward to seeing what comes next.


Secondly, the pacing and action for me was just right. It had me excited and bouncing, but also gave me time in between the big events of the book to sit back and think. It wasn’t all go all the time, and it wasn’t slow and boring.


Of course, I mentioned earlier that some of this series digressed into smut and not much else, but that the last few books have been getting better. That’s not to say there isn’t any sex at all in this book; there is. However, it was well timed, well-paced, didn’t take three chapters to get through, and was actually relevant to the plot for a change.


So overall, before I spend all day going on about this book, I give it a hearty five stars. It’s renewed my faith in the series, and has me excited for the next one.


As always, you can make up your own mind by picking the book up or downloading the ebook from pretty much any book shop.


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Nathan Squiers: The Literary Dark Emperor

“I don’t write horror because I’m not afraid of anything; I write horror because I know EXACTLY what I’m afraid of and I was raised to share.”



I was raised on a steady diet of horror in some form or another. Between a morbid obsession with the… well, morbid, and an insatiable need to read everything I could get my hands on (especially anything with a nightmare-inducing cover), I was never far from something scary. Though I didn’t fully understand what I was reading at the time, I used to sneak into my mom’s books and make off with the likes of Stephen King. Early on, I got into the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine and, living just down the street from a massive cemetery that the school bus dropped me off in front of, it wasn’t uncommon to catch me sitting against a tomb stone and flipping through the pages. In hindsight this was a rather twisted scene for any who might have seen, but, for me at that time, it was just a quiet place that was outside that I could enjoy a book.

When I was a teenager I got really into horror movies, and for a while I aspired to be a filmmaker (though I never stopped writing scripts, so I don’t feel I truly left that dream as much as I simply expanded into other forms of writing). At that time, if I wasn’t at school or reading, I was binging on horror movie marathons (which, though keeping me indoors, DID turn my living room into a rather terrifying place to be   lol).

More recently, however (within the past year-or-so; since I first published), I’ve attended a few conventions as a vendor and/or guest. Many of these were paranormal-themed, and a lot of the guests were ghost-hunters, paranormal celebrities, or specialists in the field. On one of these occasions (at paranormal convention in Indianapolis) I had the honor of meeting, assisting, and gifting a copy of my book, “Curtain Call: A Death Metal Novel” (soon to be re-released from Tiger Dynasty Publishing), to the fantastic Aaron Houdini (the performing descendant of Harry Houdini). Getting to know somebody of that sort of standing in the paranormal community was a pretty gnarly experience for me.

All in all, however, I’d say the scariest place I’ve written would be in my own head. After all is said and done, that is the source of all the gnarliness 😉


Nathan’s stuff can be found on Amazon HERE and on SmashWords HERE.

You can follow him on Twitter @LitDark_Emperor

As well as at the following:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Nathan.Squiers , https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Legion-of-Nathan-Squiers/329543403767153, and https://www.facebook.com/CrimsonShadow.Legacy

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/Literary_Dark_Emperor

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Nathan-Squiers/e/B006N3KCMY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_4?qid=1373715264&sr=8-4

SmashWords (at http://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Nathan+Squiers)

Website: http://www.nathansquiers.com/site#!__site

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Surprise, Part Two!

Yesterday I blogged about the whim I had about publishing my newest short story: A Glimpse Into Darkness. I suddenly decided that rather than releasing it at the same time as Last Chance on May 30th, I would get it formatted and ready and release it early.

Apparently that was a good idea. Because this morning when I woke up, I set about doing my marketing bits and pieces, got some errands run, said good morning to the husband, and then logged onto Amazon.

Sitting there, staring at me, was something I never thought I would see. There are so many books published every day, and I am honestly happy that people are reading the ones I write. I live for the reviews and entertaining people, not the money or anything else. Besides which, I generally spend all my money on new books or days out, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

But this one was special. Because not only have people bough the short story (and a HUGE thank you to everyone who has), but it’s number 28. In short horror stories, and only in the UK. However, it is number 28. There’s a nice little thing that tells me what number it is, and for several long moments after seeing it all my words went on a brief but glorious holiday.

Here’s the link for Amazon UK (the short is only 77p there!), and whilst you all go look at that, I’m going to go dance around my living room some more and call everyone I know to tell them.

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Filed under Michelle Birbeck, Publishing, Short Stories, The Keepers' Chronicles

Twisted Imaginings, Vol 1 by Garry Charles

Short, Sweet, and Snappy Review:

Title:  Twisted Imaginings, Vol 1

Author: Garry Charles

Genre: Horror

What I liked: It certainly appealed to my twisted sense of the world

What I didn’t like: where it ended

Recommended Read: Yes

Rating: 5 stars


Another two blood soaked tales from the author The Horror Channel is calling “The UK’s Horror Supremo”… In ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ we are given a new reason to fear the Big Top and clowns haven’t been this scary since Pennywise… In ‘The Tunnel’ something is waiting in the dark and its hungry… very hungry.

Michelle’s Review:

When I mentioned above that this appealed to my twisted sense of everything, I meant it. A disturbed young man well and truly under his mother’s thumb. An event that changed everything. And though where it ended is my least favourite part of this short, it left me smiling.

Well written, fast enough moving but not too fast, and horror as I like it best. Partly in the mind, partly in reality and blurring the lines so you’re not quite sure which is which.

I’m not sure what else I can say about it other than go get it whilst it’s still free. Get it, read it, and then reread it. Well worth downloading. Click the title above to go to smashwords.

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Girls and Monsters by Anne Michaud @annecmichaud

Short, Sweet, and Snappy Review:


Title:  Girls and Monsters

Author: Anne Michaud

Genre: horror

What I liked: the twists and turns

What I didn’t like: the length

Recommended Read:  yes

Rating: 4 stars


Girls and MonstersSynopsis:

This dark but uplifting collection of five Young Adult novellas includes:

Death Song: Liz is in love with Joe, but the monster of the lake has other plans for them.

Black Dog: Scarlet is engaged in a struggle for her sanity, but according to the voice in her head, she may be too late.

A Blue Story: When Katherine’s beloved dog goes missing, she fears her strange new neighbor might be involved.

Dust Bunnies: Christiane faces her childhood arachnophobia and ends up confronting even greater fears in this test of sisterhood.

We Left at Night: Brooke and her family must abandon their home and their lives to make it out of a disease-plagued town overrun by zombies.

Girls & Monsters is for everyone who has ever been brave enough to confront their childhood fears…and lived to tell about it.


Michelle’s Review:


It has taken me a little while to read this collection of short stories, but that is by no means a bad thing. There are some books you want to make last that little bit longer. This is one of them. There are five short stories in this collection.


My favourite of the five has to be Black Dog, closely followed by A Blue Story. The first of which I felt was highly accurate regarding its subject. All too often people try to write mental health issues and self-harm stories and they get it wrong. They miss the mark by such a long way. But with this short story, I felt that the mark was firmly hit and that made for an enjoyable story.


A Blue Story appealed to my twisted side. I always enjoy it when people start doing strange things, and the tie in with the Blue Beard story was right up my alley. That is one story I grew up with that I always found fascinating. The twist on it that this short story gave me fitted perfectly.


The only issue I had, actually, with any of the stories is that I felt like some of them dragged. A couple of them could have been much shorter and still read just as well as they did. However, having said that, they are all worth a read, and for the price, it is absolutely a recommended read.

click on the book cover above to go to amazon.

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Opposites, by C. Patrick Neagle

Short, Sweet, and Snappy Review:

Title:  Opposites

Author:  C. Patrick Neagle

Genre: Horror

What I liked: the idea

What I didn’t like: It was a bit weird

Recommended Read: Yes

Rating: 3 Stars


This very short story (approx. 1200 words) was originally written for a Sleuth’s Ink Mystery Writer’s Group contest. Fear the dark, and mirrors, and the dangers within our own souls. Enjoy.

Michelle’s Review:

This is one of those shorts that I would recommend reading partly because it is a bit weird, and also on the same breath recommend the opposite for the same reason. For me it was somewhat disjointed in places and the events of the story didn’t really gel together very well.

Technically speaking, it was well written and well described. However, the biggest point for me was the idea behind it. Everything having an opposite, like the reflection in a mirror. It was an idea that kept me reading through until the end. But when I looked back on it to write the review, I found that it hadn’t stuck with me very well, and most of it just didn’t stand out very much.

But as it is a free read, it is worth picking up, if only to use it to pass a little bit of time. Click the book cover to go download it.


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Killer Bedtime Stories by Drac Von Stroller

Short, Sweet, and Snappy Review:

Title:  Killer Bedtime Stories

Author:  Drac Von Stroller

Genre: Horror

What I liked: Not sure there was anything.

What I didn’t like: The lack of grammar and the dialogue.

Recommended Read: No

Rating: 1 Star


Billy and Susan loved to hear their father read stories to them every night at bedtime. Susan told her brother Billy that the stories were for little kids. Susan said, “Billy I love dad, but I wish he would read scary stories to us instead of stories like Peter Pan and Alice and Wonderland. Billy and Susan would get their wish when they went snooping around their Grandmas attic.

Michelle’s Review:

As I sit down to write this review, I am struggling to think of something positive to say about this short story. It isn’t often that I write any review without commenting on something that I liked about it, but in the six pages of this story, I can’t think of much. Had it been any longer, I would have had to put this on my did not finish list.

Between the dialogue that no child outside a royal family would ever use, and the constant grammatical errors … this was not a story for me. But I do feel the need to explain exactly why I disliked this so much.

I’ll begin with the dialogue. Susan spoke as though she was in her teens, with phrasing and wording that didn’t fit with someone who was supposedly a little girl. Also, referring to their dad as ‘our father’ read as completely out of place. Of all the children I know (and I have a high number of cousins, friends with children, and neighbours with children), not a single one of them ever refers to their parents as mother or father. Those terms are something that might be used in a historical novel, but here they seemed very out of place.

Secondly, the grammatical errors. I don’t believe there are many people in the world who are experts on grammar. I know I am not, but I do know my basics. Unfortunately for this story, the basics were lacking. The rules used seemed to change every few sentences, and this more than anything showed a lack of understanding of the technicalities of writing.

All in all, this isn’t a short I would recommend. But if you want to have a go, click the book cover to go download it.

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Skeleton Key by C.P. Bialois

Short, Sweet, and Snappy Review:

Title:  Skeleton Key

Author: C.P. Bialois

Genre: Horror

What I liked: Bait’s A Bitin’

What I didn’t like: A couple of the shorts weren’t to my taste

Recommended Read: Yes

Rating:  5 stars

skeleton keySynopsis:

From the imagination of CP Bialois, author of Call of Poseidon and the Sword and the Flame series, comes a collection of short stories filled horror and suspense. Nothing is as it seems in the world around us. Join us as we step through the doorway and into the unseen workings of our world. With each story, Skeleton Key will warm your heart with a brother’s love, break it with the ultimate betrayal, and bring the shadows around you to life.

Keep telling yourself it’s only a book, and maybe that sound you heard will be just a tree limb scratching against the window. Be sure to read the paper in the morning, as it may save your life. And never, go into a room without something to defend yourself with. Most important of all, relax and have fun.

Michelle’s Review:

If you’re after something to fill your shiny new ereader and a good few hours of your time, then I would highly recommend Skeleton Key by CP Bialois.

That is, of course, if you like anything in the horror genre.

Skeleton Key is a selection of short horror stories that explores a number of different facets from accidental deaths to the supernatural. But one of these stories stood out above the rest of me. And that was Bait’s A Bitin’.

The story of a young boy going out to try and impress his brother. This story stuck with me and moved me enough that I had to stop reading. That doesn’t happen often. I read horror for the fun of it, and came away from Paranormal Activity acclaiming it a brilliant comedy. So it takes a lot to shake me when it comes to horror. Bait’s A Bitin’ drew me in with curiosity, lulled me into a sense of security, and then blew everything up, leaving me stunned and raw.

So for that one story, this is a book well worth buying. However, the stories don’t stop there. Skeleton Key is full to the brim of horror stories that will leave you wanting more. You’re not going to like all of them equally, and there were a couple that didn’t tickle my fancy at all, but that didn’t diminish the overall enjoyment. And though there were a couple of recurring grammatical issues, they were not obvious and did not distract from the stories.

So if you’re after a variety of horror to keep you up at night and make you think, then Skeleton Key is worth the read, and at under $2 not only is it a bargain, but it’s an absolute steal. Click the picture above to go to Amazon and get the book.


Filed under reviews, short reviews