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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I'm Mad as Hell Today.

 Last night my sister shared a news article from our hometown in our family group chat. She texted,

"You see the shit that went on in Nevada City on Sunday? White supremacists showing up to counter-protest the BLM protestors? It's just so bad. So infuriating."

My two sisters and I have all relocated to the state of Washington. Our parents still live in Grass Valley/Nevada City, CA. After chatting back and forth for a bit, sharing our frustration and concern, my Mom texts, 

"A friend of mine went to the peaceful protest. She's 77 years old and they pushed her down. M F-ers."

Here's the story: Nevada City Opens Investigation Into 'Outrageous' Actions During March

So these are the guys and at a glance, they look like "Clampers" to me. This organization loves a good ol' dust-up with the boys.

"The Ancient and Honorable Order of E Clampus Vitus is a fraternal organization dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of the American West, especially the history of the Mother Lode and gold mining regions of the area."

Now for the disturbing videos:





Watching these videos gutted me. The street this is taking place on, Broad St. in Nevada City? I grew up going to 4th of July parades here. My grandparents owned a restaurant nearby. I worked at a retail store with my co-workers who became my good friends right on the top of the hill. I probably know these people present at this small BLM march.

So I go to my private Instagram page to see what local people are saying and I see that my sister sent me some accounts who started a grassroots effort to identify the men that were physically assaulting protestors. In one video, I saw a man being very aggressive to protestors right in front of a police officer and that officer wasn't doing a damn thing to de-escalate the situation. The video footage taken by people who were at the protest is far more disturbing than what the local news reported. There is a Black person in what appears to be a dress among the BLM protestors and there are these men yelling at them "MY TOWN NOT YOURS", calling them names and using hate speech. At one point, it looks like this person is being assaulted but the camera pans away.

I'm feeling sick to my stomach at this point.

I see that a cousin of mine posted this:

In her caption, she shares her heart. How disgusted she is by the actions of others. She condemns the men that came to the BLM peaceful protest to oppose those seeking racial equality. 

My emotions over this situation are already at a tipping point, right? As I go to leave a comment of solidarity, I see a family member of ours talking shit about violence in Portland, OR. Her message? The violence and hate are on both sides.
I'm over it.
This is the same family member back in June of 2016 when I was posting about the shooting at the club in Orlando who had to tell me that "All lives matter".
I rationally informed her that yes, "all lives matter" but we're talking about LBGTQ people being the target of hate crimes and murder. We're showing our grief, love and concern for them right now. The focus is on the LBGTQ community, they need EXTRA love right now. She wouldn't stop. Ultimately, due to all the bullshit about the 2016 election anyways, I left Facebook.
And now here is this family member again. Mind you, she doesn't ever post anything to her own account. Nothing thought provoking or insightful. She just shows up on everyone's account to argue. Which is exactly like this counter protest that made the news, right?
Here you have a group of likeminded individuals who take the time to organize a peaceful protest and some assholes come out of the woodwork to instigate a fight. To agitate. To harass. To provoke.
My family member is doing the same thing. We use our own platforms, our own voice to have a small parade of one and this person shows up to instigate. Provoke. Argue. Fight. There's no other motive here. It's clear on my own account and my cousin's account who we are and what we stand for. We don't look like people who are asking questions are need any information from Trump supporters.
SO WHY??
I moved from my hometown almost 3 years ago. I haven't heard a damn word from this woman that whole time and then when I post about BLM, she's on it with her propaganda and Trump rhetoric. Now she's on my cousin's post with this shit. 

So I blocked her. 

And it's too bad that the BLM peaceful protestors couldn't mute the agitators. They can't "block" people to avoid confrontation. If my family still lived in Nevada County, we probably would have been at the protest thinking we would be safer in our small town than in a big city like Tacoma where we live now. My husband would not have stood by while people were getting assaulted, I can tell you that. He took our 14 year old son to a protest here in Tacoma and nothing like that happened. It's rural, America you have to watch out for--it's ripe with unchecked ignorance and hatred. 

My point, really, today is:


If you see someone talking about something with conviction and passion, it's not the time to move in with your agenda. That's what your social media accounts are for. Talk about what matters to you, what's important to you with your own voice in your own way in YOUR LANE. Sure, there is always a space for a nuanced discussion but adults are smart enough to recognize motive and intention. A discussion is a two party conversation where there is listening + talking. Someone showing up on your front lawn to take a shit on it is not a conversation, it's disrespect. I'm mad as hell today. 


Friday, July 31, 2020

Like THAT Stephen King Book? Read THIS!

I've read all the Stephen King books. I started when I was thirteen so you bet your ass I've read them all. Wait, this is a lie. I haven't read IF IT BLEEDS because I've been busy reading a lion's share of quality indie horror fiction, but I'm getting there! I might save it for October-my special horror book month.

So what I'm going to do right now, is take a Stephen King book and recommend at least one book you should read if you enjoyed that King read. It's like a Mother Horror magic trick. Are you excited? I am.
First up:
Stephen King's THE GUNSLINGER which is the first book in the DARK TOWER SERIES. 
"Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues The Man in Black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the Kid from Earth called Jake. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter."
If you enjoyed that book, (I don't want to know you if you didn't enjoy that book) here is my recommendation:


Review of WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN:
Oh you authors of dark, disturbing things how I love when you write weird, Western crossovers.
A rare opportunity for readers to fall in love with unlikely heroes engaging in an epic battle against the most formidable enemies you've ever read; both human and cosmic. I promise that once you start reading Boden's work, you'll become a junkie for it; craving his unique brand of horror that no other author can deliver. It's Boden or nobody. 
Lastly, my hope is that there is more from John Boden's universe.
I would LOVE to have a series here and if not a series than just a connected universe because I will not quickly forget my time in this novella and I sure hope I can revisit my new friends.
This is a must-have if you found my recommendation intriguing--READ MORE

If you love King's short stories, especially when he writes about a strong, female protagonist...

"Just after sunset—call it dusk; call it twilight; it’s a time when human life takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you."


I'm writing up my review for SCREAM magazine but I just want readers here to know: I have read a lot of short story collections. This is one of the best ones I have ever read. It's like an album you can listen to cover to cover-every track is good and you can't pick a favorite.

"AND HER SMILE WILL UNTETHER THE UNIVERSE is a stellar example of how a collection can win a reader’s heart forever."- Sadie Hartmann, SCREAM Magazine

There are two books I want to recommend if you enjoyed Salem's Lot and neither of them has anything to do with Vampires and everything to do with fucked up, rural towns with big secrets.

"Thousands of miles away from the small township of 'Salem's Lot, two terrified people, a man and a boy, still share the secrets of those clapboard houses and tree-lined streets. They must return to 'Salem's Lot for a final confrontation with the unspeakable evil that lives on in the town."



I am fascinated by cults and cultish behavior. I watch a lot of documentaries about them, read true crime novels about infamous cult leaders, and enjoy learning about the secret practices of cults. Naturally, Cult Horror is a favorite, fictional sub-genre but it can be hit or miss with me. I feel like a lot of authors want to spend time on the sensational aspects without doing the leg work developing the practical mechanics of a believable cult.
In order for me to buy in, I need a charismatic leader capable of convincing seemingly normal people to do outlandish acts of service.
 
Todd Keisling’s Devil’s Creek is the perfect example of quality cult horror. Let me unpack it for you, as always, I’ll be mindful of spoilers.
 
In the tradition of books like Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, Keisling lays down important, historical groundwork for the setting of his epic cult tale.--READ MORE


What makes this book full-on horror is the brilliant way Amor sucks the reader into the story without telegraphing where she is taking you. As Megan begins to unravel the mysterious situations that befall her, the pace quickens, hurtling towards the escalating drama without being able to stop. The suspense is exhilarating and addicting.

Perhaps most noteworthy is Gemma’s ability to seamlessly stitch together mythology with epic proportions while simultaneously laying down solid groundwork for the reader to stand on so that suspending disbelief comes effortlessly/naturally. It’s clear that world building and character development are Gemma’s wheelhouse, and her greatest assets that assist her in dynamic storytelling-- READ MORE

I love a good Stephen King ghost story...

Four years after the sudden death of his wife, forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan is still grieving. Unable to write, and plagued by vivid nightmares set at the western Maine summerhouse he calls Sara Laughs, Mike reluctantly returns to the lakeside getaway. There, he finds his beloved Yankee town held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, whose vindictive purpose is to take his three-year-old granddaughter, Kyra, away from her widowed young mother, Mattie. As Mike is drawn into Mattie and Kyra's struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations and escalating terrors. What are the forces that have been unleashed here—and what do they want of Mike Noonan?

This newest book, The Siren and the Specter rests in the sweet spot of horror. It expertly blends together a few sub-genres within the horror umbrella.
As the title suggests, there are two entities in this tale, the Siren which represents the author’s incredible ability to develop dimensional characters the reader can invest in, emotionally. Our protagonist, David Caine, a famous critic of the paranormal, is invited to stay at a legendary haunted house called, The Alexander House. Before he even steps into the house, it’s clear that Caine is already haunted by tragedy. Immediately, I formed a connection to David Caine which always generates risk and I love that--it really ups the ante when the horror arrives on the scene.
The Specter represents Jonathan’s other wheelhouse: The brutal, violent and depraved side of horror that fans show up for--the teeth of the story. This book is the perfect example that Janz understands his fanbase. As the horror book industry grows in popularity, the stereotypes are going to be put to death. There’s this weird assumption that the majority of people who read scary books are males who just want blood, guts, sex and gore. -READ MORE

King is the master at novellas. The 4 stories in this collection tap his wheelhouse for strong character development...


Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption--the most satisfying tale of unjust imprisonment and offbeat escape since The Count of Monte Cristo.

Apt Pupil--a golden California schoolboy and an old man whose hideous past he uncovers enter into a fateful and chilling mutual parasitism.

The Body--four rambunctious young boys venture into the Maine woods and in sunlight and thunder find life, death, and intimations of their own mortality.

The Breathing Method--a tale told in a strange club about a woman determined to give birth no matter what.


Short story collections are the best way to experience a “new to you” author for the first time. GHOST SUMMER by Tananarive Due makes this statement unequivocally true.

Seasoned horror fiction fans and those who are timidly testing the waters will find Due’s unique brand of storytelling capable of delivering on all expectations.

There are fourteen stories and a novella. Each story a showcase of Due’s ability to draw readers into a provocative narrative across a variety of genres. One of my favorite things about this collection were the notes from the author after each story. It felt like Tananarive intentionally wanted to build an intimacy between herself and the reader with a little conversation about the experience the reader just had and the author’s experience writing it.-- Full review coming to Tor Nightfire


Joyland by Stephen King is a great, summer, coming-of-age style mystery...



Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. 


I know I sound like a broken record to those who follow my reading journey but for the sake of those who might be reading one of my reviews for the first time, let me just say:
I love coming-of-age horror. I especially love a female protagonist coming-of-age horror story with delicious supernatural elements and paranormal activity. 
SEEING THINGS by Sonora Taylor is about a young girl named, Abigail "Abby" Gillman. Around the same time she starts seeing some changes in her developing body, she begins seeing blood that nobody else can see. The mysterious blood leads her to ghosts or other important objects which usually spark some curiosity for Abby. This provokes her to start having some interesting conversations with the grown-ups in her life.
Man, this book has some serious ability to hook readers into the story immediately. Sonora Taylor has chops. She is an author on the rise. Her storytelling voice is so smooth and accessible, readers just fall right in step with whatever pace Taylor sets. I've read about a dozen or more of the author's short stories and this is an identifying, consistent attribute of her writing. READ MORE

CARRIE by Stephen King is a powerhouse story of an awkward young woman desperately trying to fit in...

A modern classic, Carrie introduced a distinctive new voice in American fiction -- Stephen King. The story of misunderstood high school girl Carrie White, her extraordinary telekinetic powers, and her violent rampage of revenge, remains one of the most barrier-breaking and shocking novels of all time.


As the story wound down to its conclusion, it was infused with emotion and a lingering sense of longing for the story to continue. I could have read about this family for a long time. This stems from everything that SGJ is busy doing in the subtext--because even though this book has its lighter moments and some laugh-out-loud surprises, the weight of the underlying themes were ever present and tugging at my heart strings.
Boys want to belong. They want to have a tribe. They want to feel important, loved for who they are and they want to have a place in this world. To be noticed--and not for being different in a negative way--they want to be different in a way that people celebrate.
This book made my heart explode, honestly.
I'll never see werewolves the same again.
Or French Fries and Pantyhose.--READ MORE




Friday, July 24, 2020

Books About Writing Books: Mother Horror's Recommendations and Other Writing Resources

When I was in Middle School, I used to go to these creative writing contests for children hosted by a local Writer's Guild. We would gather at the Vet's Hall in the basement and sit at these long tables with nothing but a stack of paper and several, sharpened pencils. We would get the writing prompt from one of the Guild members and then have a set amount of time to write a short story inspired by the prompt. I think I placed a few times.
I took Creative Writing in High School as an elective in addition to Shakespeare and English. Tripling-down on English! Over the years, I've dabbled in fictional writing but I mostly enjoy Non-Fiction writing in my own voice about a wide variety of topics. I've read several books on writing that I feel have shaped the frame-work for my style. Here are my recommendations, in no particular order, and including the newest book I've read on the subject with a mini-review. So that's up first!


WRITING IN THE DARK by Tim Waggoner
This book is currently available for Pre-Order and will release in September 2020. I received an early copy from the author in late May and I've been reading it in fits & starts since then, finishing it last night. There is a wealth of information here--way too much to even itemize properly. Tim's writing voice is like that of a teacher who really cares about his students and their writing journey--however far along you may be. It's personal and accessible-which I appreciate. All of my favorite writing books are this way. I don't want to read a book on writing that talks down to people or over the reader's head. A book teaching writing should first and foremost model good writing and this one is a great example. It's clear that Tim Waggoner has taught writing in various different formats before because this is easy to follow and can be used as a textbook after going through it the first time. It's broken down into topics and each chapter has some "homework" challenges and some great tips & tricks from other leaders in the industry. It was great to see a ton of recognizable talents in a variety of roles in the industry, weigh in on the subject Waggoner writes about. Joe Hill, Ellen Datlow, Joe R. Lansdale, Jason Sizemore, Maurice Broaddus, and more! I loved those portions of the book. A stroke of genius on Waggoner's part to include them.

I will be buying a physical copy so that I can refer back to all the important information included in this manual for Horror writers. A must-have!

_________________________________________________________________________________



DAMN FINE STORY by Chuck Wendig
and his blog Terribleminds-Blog
Pro-Tip: Sign up for the newsletter


BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott


LitReactor Online Writing Classes! Learn from Successful Professionals. I would absolutely take that Stephanie M. Wytovich class on witches, Ania Ahlborn's Bootcamp, and John F.D. Taff's "Picking at Scabs" (ew!)


Stephen Graham Jones' Blog Demontheory is a great resource for writers. Showing/Modeling how to promote oneself and record/track professional appearances, reviews, and such. This blog is ALWAYS updated. The perfect example of a comprehensive landing page for an active, professional author. (In my humble opinion)


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Book Review: MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Published by Del Rey (June 30th, 2020)
Included in the July Night Worms Package "Summertime Madness"


When Ashley suggested we build our July package around the release of MEXICAN GOTHIC, I was skeptical. Night Worms has a diverse customer demographic which is pretty unique for a book subscription service- most subscription box services cater to a female dominate fan base.
We are always mindful of that when we curate our package so as not to alienate any Worms with books or items that are too gender-specific. 
Even after reading the synopsis, which seemed to land in the center of Gothic Horror, the book looked like a romance novel to me. Of course, it was appealing to me and Ashley but would everyone open their packages and be as excited as we were to read it? I had my doubts. Ashley assured me that it was a very "buzzy" book; gracing all of this summer's Most Anticipated lists. We also ultimately decided that this would be a great opportunity to amplify #OwnVoices and celebrate Latinx authors in the bookish community.

After reading it myself, Ashley made a wise call here. This book is HOT. Definitely one of my favorite books of 2020 so far. Here is my review:


Noemí Taboada is a young, beautiful socialite in the 1950s. She attends University during the day and makes her appearances at all the hot clubs and parties in the evening. One night, she comes home after a party to her Father with an important message. He has received a troubling letter from Noemí's cousin, who has recently married into a mysterious family that live somewhere in the Mexican countryside.

Noemí is to make a trip to their estate to check in on her cousin. 

In classic Gothic Horror fashion, this book is what readers generally refer to as a "slow burn" but I'm going to take it even a step further and add a caveat: It's a slow burn, yes, but there's enough drama to keep it moving. Slow burns usually demand readers adjust their urgency to stay in step with a slowed-down pace but it's my opinion that Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote this Gothic storyline at a lively pace and I was never found wanting; never a dull moment or lag.

As soon as Noemí arrives at High Place, she wastes no time asserting herself into the lives of the residents there. She makes it very clear that her purpose is to serve her cousin who reached out to her in distress- she's not interested in the family's demands for secrecy or adherence to their strange rules and traditions. I absolutely fell in love with Noemí. At first, she seems a little spoiled and too self-absorbed to take on this rescue mission but over time, Noemí's confidence and "take no shit" attitude scored major points with me.

As Gothic Horror goes, Noemí begins to learn that the estate, High Place, is home to a dark past. As mysteries unravel and family members confide in her, she discovers that not only has her cousin been in danger but she, herself, might become entangled in the same familial curse. Perhaps if I were to have one complaint, it would be that the setting of the book had an ambiguous timelessness that felt a little disorienting at first. It's set in the 1950s but I didn't feel immersed in that era. Also, there's a sexual dynamic between Noemí and her cousin's husband that played on repeat. After a few encounters between them, I grew tired of the repetition and Noemí's thought-life afterward.
That being said, the complaints are minimal. I mostly just enjoyed everything about this haunting tale looking forward to rejoining the story whenever I was away.


This book is full of surprises. I loved my visit to the Mexican Countryside and High Place. I'll miss Noemí and her confrontational attitude. I'll miss Francis and wandering around in a dreamlike state with predatory nightmares at every turn. All the stars!!




Saturday, July 18, 2020

I've Read 100 Books So Far This Year: Here Are The Standouts

Out of the 100 books I've read so far this year, here are the books that stand out as the brightest:

Released in 2020:

THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS by Stephen Graham Jones (*I read it last year though)
SPUNGUNION by John Boden (*I read it last year)
MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
SEEING THINGS by Sonora Taylor
THE GHOST TREE by Christina Henry
UNBOXED by Briana Morgan
RING SHOUT by P. Djeli Clark
BLACKTOP WASTELAND by S. A. Coby
CHILDREN OF THE FANG by John Langan
WHITE PINES by Gemma Amor
MURDER HOUSE C. V. Hunt
THESE EVIL THINGS WE DO by Mick Garris
THE PERFECTLY FINE HOUSE by Stephen Kozeniewski & Wile E. Young
THE INVENTION OF GHOSTS by Gwendolyn Kiste
THE LOOP by Jeremy R. Johnson
DEAD DAUGHTERS by Tim Meyer
ATTACK OF THE 50FT INDIAN by Stephen Graham Jones
WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING by Max Booth III
THE MAGPIE COFFIN by Wile E. Young
TIL THE SCORE IS PAID by Gemma Amor
CRITERIUM by Tyler Jones
THE ANCESTOR by Danielle Trussoni
CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD by Adam Cesare
DEAD GIRL BLUES by David Sodergren
DEVIL'S CREEK by Todd Keisling
THE NEON OWL by Chad Lutzke
THE LANTERN MAN by Jon Bassoff
THE RAVEN by Jonathan Janz
MALORIE by Josh Malerman
THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by Grady Hendrix
GONE TO SEE THE RIVER MAN by Kris Triana
THE DEEP by Alma Katsu
WHISPERS IN THE DARK by Laurel Hightower
THE GIRL IN THE VIDEO by Michael David Wilson
BAD PEOPLE by Craig Wallwork
SURVIVOR SONG by Paul Tremblay
TOUCH THE NIGHT by Max Booth III
THE RUIN OF DELICATE THINGS by Beverley Lee
EDEN by Tim Lebbon
TRUE CRIME by Samantha Kolesnik
THE FINITE by Kit Power
MISCREATIONS by Doug Murano & Michael Bailey
THE POSSESSION OF NATALIE GLASGOW by Hailey Piper
THE BOATMAN'S DAUGHTER by Andy Davidson

___

Previously Released:


GHOST SUMMER by Tananarive Due
INNER DEMONS by Bob Ford
SHILOH by Philip Fracassi
WE DON'T TALK ABOUT HER by Andersen Prunty
WILTED LILIES & PASSAGES by Kelli Owen
MOUSE AND OWL by Bracken MacLeod
HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson
AND HER SMILE WILL UNTETHER THE UNIVERSE by Gwendolyn Kiste
THE COMPLEX by Brian Keene
PARADISE SKY by Joe Lansdale
MIDNIGHT IN THE GRAVEYARD by Kenneth W. Cain
WHISPERS IN THE EAR OF A DREAMING APE by Joshua Chaplinski

You can watch almost all of these authors read from these selected titles on the Night Worms YouTube Channel: Celebrate Horror 2020 with Mother Horror






Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Author Spotlight: Tim Meyer


Author: Tim Meyer

I read my first Tim Meyer book, THE SWITCH HOUSE almost exactly 2 years ago today. July 15th, 2020 (thanks for keeping track Goodreads!) I was blown away by the novella and reviewed it for SCREAM Magazine:

Originally appeared in Scream mag! Nov/Dec issue 2018

Social media has been a huge game-changer for me in terms of book recommendations. Before Twitter and Instagram, I was basically reading whatever the big publishers were putting in my face. Now, thanks to following indie, self-published authors, smaller publishers, and other horror fans-- my “want to read” list has grown exponentially. 
This is how I found The Switch House by Tim Meyer. I’ll admit, the cover was so alluring to me, I would have picked this up despite the fact several people were already singing its praises. Then I read a small portion of the synopsis which I must share with you now:
“CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve won a role on LET’S SWITCH HOUSES! Your life is going to change. We promise. Your dreams will come true. Everything you’ve ever wanted, we have it. This is a chance of a lifetime. Come inside. Switch with us.”
I didn’t read any more of the blurb on the back, this short hook was enough to pique my interest. 
This is a slick, lean and mean novel, clocking in around one hundred and sixty pages. There is virtually no wasted space here as Meyer intentionally streamlined this story to pack a violent punch.
The set up is so compelling, my recommendation is to make sure you have the time to read this in one sitting because you’re not going to want to put this down. Meyer expertly develops a small cast of characters in the matter of a few pages and then throws them down the gauntlet. The horrors stack up with an unrelenting pace; each fresh scare building the tension to the perfect climax. I was legitimately frightened 30% into the book and I knew it had the potential to make me not want to turn the lights off or forget to leave my closet door open.
As a huge fan of horror, one begins to recognize the plot tropes and during a read, I’ll often guess at where the author is leading me. This story is so original and the twists and turns were so unexpected, that I immediately wanted to read it again as soon as I finished; to see if I missed the signposts. As a reviewer, it’s my job--my mission, if you will--to make sure that I don’t disclose anything about the story that would diminish your own “reader discovery”. Finding your own way through a horror story is quite possibly the greatest joy one can have with a reading experience. That being said, all you need to know is that this book is fast and fierce. A must have for any horror lover.

5 out 5 skulls
Sadie Hartmann/Mother Horror


The next book, KILL HILL CARNAGE, I reviewed for Cemetery Dance and it was also a slam dunk:

Review originally posted on Cemetery Dance Extras, Oct. 2nd, 2018

Kill Hill Carnage is the quintessential Halloween book for any seasoned horror fan or avid reader looking to make an October TBR (to be read) list. The story covers a lot of ground for the genre; easily shelved under several horror sub-genres, which makes it appealing for a wide audience. There’s a little bit of everything here: Teen Drama, Creature Feature, Disaster Horror and Comedy Horror.

The raucous volume of the sex and violence immediately upon opening the book definitely got my attention but also cooled my blood a little because teen-scream-queen stories tend to skim the surface, relying too heavily on shock and cheap thrills to keep readers interested.

However, Meyer impressed me earlier this year with his book Switch House, so I kept turning the pages to see how Meyer was going to turn the tables on me and get me invested. I could have guessed it would be through cleverly written dialog, well-developed characters, and an intricate plot weaving together several different narratives.

My favorite narrative was the present-day drama of a group of “just out of high school” college-age kids venturing out to explore the scene of Christian Camp massacre that happened thirty years prior. I thought the twenty-something-year-olds would be stereotypical meat puppets for the grindhouse horror, but Meyer goes a little deeper and fleshes out their thoughts, feelings, and relationships. This emotional investment on my end proved to up the ante as the story started sprinting towards its violent conclusion.

Another engaging narrative was the story in the story involving the Christian Camp back in the 1990s, the “Interlude” chapters. I loved these! My hope is that Tim Meyer could develop a Kill Hill series with maybe a prequel, developing the Camp story further and then a sequel to Kill Hill Carnage! I’m getting excited just thinking about all the directions Meyer could take with this and he definitely left the door open! My suggestion is for horror fans to get in on this potential franchise now instead of later.
LIMBS: A LOVE STORY, Grindhouse Press

Tim Meyer is always flexin' on the horror industry. He just casually drops a title with Grindhouse and proves, once again, he can write it all--creature features, serial killers, paranormal, experimental, romance, novels, novellas and short stories. Whatever Meyer wants to write, he does and he does it well.
LIMBS: A Love Story is exactly what it promises. A love story
about limbs (or the lack there of)
When I first read the synopsis, I wasn't sure what to expect and to be honest, I was a little hesitant to get excited because the premise sounded a little hinky. (kinky? Well, yes. Kinky too. But I mean "hinky" like 'weird in a wrong way') Especially since this book was published by Grindhouse Press, a publisher notorious for peddling some extreme horror.
To be fair, the first several chapters are actually pretty cringy. The protagonist, Ray Bridges, is a young man with a pretty serious sexual preference for women with missing limbs.
It's so intense, he has trouble even getting aroused in the presence of beautiful women with all their limbs--even beautiful women he could see himself being in a relationship with or falling for-if they have all their fingers & toes, he's just not attracted to them.
This makes life pretty complicated and for the most part, Ray feels like a monster. His issues are not something he can just explain to people to garner acceptance or understanding.
His secret fetish is ruining his life.

Meyer clearly took a lot of time pouring into his character, Raymond Bridges. The result is a relatable, sincere man who struggles in life and relationships just like we all do but also must deal with some awkward sexual fetishes that are out of control. The bizarre nature of Raymond's issues slowly begin to drop off into the background as we get to see all the *other* characteristics that make Raymond who he is as a person. I became less focused on the kinky weirdness that plagued Raymond and began to feel this strange pull for him to be successful in life and get the girl of his dreams--no matter what.

Of course, being that Meyer writes in his wheelhouse, which is horror, this book takes a pretty dark turn and soon, all the lives in this story go careening down the track at breakneck speeds. I literally burned through this book--the ending was a blur as I gobbled up all the exciting parts of the conclusion.
My only complaint and the reason I didn't give this full stars was that sometimes I felt like the sexual hangup was more powerful than any other aspect of Raymond's life. It seemed like it dominated his thought life and his ability to be a functional/whole person apart from his sexual preferences. Which really didn't feel authentic to the story. I mean, maybe if he was also a sex addict--but I didn't see sex being the driving factor in Ramond's life so that felt a little inconsistent and it bothered me that it was such a driving force in his life. 
But other than that, I enjoyed this story very much. Highly recommend.


69: A SHORT NOVEL OF COSMIC HORROR
"Everything is 69"

Except this doesn't mean what you think it means. Tim Meyer, asked if I'd review his latest book and dropped the cover on me--I'll admit, my face was like, "What the __?"
But then I read the synopsis and saw this was cosmic horror...is there any sub-genre of horror Meyer can't flex in? My answer is a firm, No.
Indeed, 69 is cosmic horror and I enjoyed every, single page of this story. I especially loved the protagonist, Amanda Guerrero, who has this Dana Scully thing going on.
In fact, right away I got this X-Files episode vibe off the story and the way Meyer sets it up. This CDC crew shows up on the scene of some bizarre activity in an assisted living home called SPRING LAKES. Several of the residents are exhibiting unusual behavior and the director, Kim calls in reinforcements (and her lawyers).
As Amanda and her crew begin to study the "Sixty-Niners" they realize that the residents of the Spring Lakes facility might not be the ones in danger.
Listen, if you're reading this review you need to know that Tim Meyer is an insta-buy author for me. Everything I have read has been pretty damn great. Short story collection? Yes. Camp Slasher? Yes. Bizarro-Horror? Yes. Psychological thriller/Haunted House Horror? Yes.
And now this, Cosmic Horror.
Of which, I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. I especially loved how dark & sinister this one got, but to talk further about this subject would be to spoil some reader discovery so I won't. I shouldn't. 
Mother Horror recommends this book to those of you who enjoy the business of unexplained phenomenon, cosmic horror, folks being haunted by their past, unlikely, brave protagonists, strong female characters, cringe-worthy backstories and a well-developed plot with a fast, purposeful pace.
Tim Meyer is a storyteller I show up for time and time again.
LORDS OF THE DEEP with Patrick Lacey

If you follow my reviews, you'll know that the "Creature Feature" is not my favorite horror sub genre. I find that most stories involving a villainous creature of some sort rely pretty heavily on readers being able to suspend disbelief. They also tend to lean heavy on the gore and mayhem, with character development being too thin for my liking.
LORDS OF THE DEEP is *not* your average Creature Feature.
I'm excited to report that the collaborative efforts of Patrick Lacey and Tim Meyer have been put to excellent use in this fast paced, compelling tale of Lea Bay and its inhabitants.
Chapter One is a solid hook; I just had to keep turning the pages after that enticing lead. And the hooks just keep coming! Every chapter ends on a mysterious note that made me curious and eager for more. One of the most impressive aspects to this story is the descriptive language. I was constantly blown away at the vivid word pictures Meyer and Lacey were able to conjure up in my mind.
I was immersed in Lea Bay's seaside charm on the surface but with a seedy underbelly and dark history. All the characters that were introduced were interesting and three dimensional--nobody seemed like stand-in props to be fed to the beasts later. Most importantly, I was treated to some amazing descriptions of all the sinister activity going on--there is SO MUCH going on! Fresh horror is emerging every twenty pages or so--sea serpents, ghost pirates, green mist...the threats and the body count keep leveling up at a frenetic pace.
Normally, my cautionary advice to potential readers would be that there's not enough emotional investment here to care about what happens to the characters and to enter this one with no expectations other than to just have fun and be entertained by the carnage--LORDS OF THE DEEP turned the tables on me in more ways than one!
I did care about the characters, actually, which was a nice surprise. I loved the character arc of Daphne Johnson and I was into her the whole time.
There are also some very cool/original story developments that caught me off guard and I really enjoyed that too! Lots of new territories covered here in this story-it's not your average blood soaked gore-fest (although there's plenty of THAT as well)
My only real complaint is that somewhere about 50 pages in, I started losing interest. The plot got a little bit draggy/repetitive. But then it picked back up again around the 100 page mark, so I’m glad I didn’t set it down but I did have to push on through some of the chapters.
This was a super fast, entertaining read that didn't just scratch the surface of the reader's experience but really went a few layers deeper making LORDS OF THE DEEP a Creature Feature with teeth, laughs and heart. Thoroughly enjoyed it.



BLACK STAR CONSTELLATIONS

I have found that certain writers of horror must be very curious observers in their day-to-day, real life. I believe Tim Meyer is one of them. The reason I make this assumption is that some of these stories had to be born out of Meyer's curiosity of some strange, but real experience. 
The clues are in the details. The details are what makes these stories so memorable.
BLACK STAR CONSTELLATIONS is a collection of 22 short stories. Some of which are connected and they make up the Black Hill series 1-6. I've decided to highlight my favorite stories for you because I have found that after I finish a collection and I go read the reviews of my friends, I enjoy seeing which stories they liked best.
THE STARGAZER- I love when something super creepy and unexpected happens with absolutely no telltale signs.
THE CHORUS BOY- A solid boogeyman tale.
LET ME BE YOUR BUTTERFLY- I loved how much heart and emotion Meyer was able to extract from this short, sci-fi story.
THE BUTCHER OF BROOKLYN- This was dark. Again, an unexpected ending that left my mind reeling a bit.
GRUME- Crazy, crazy, disturbing and left me wanting more. What happened here? This needs to be a full novel. The ancients, the siblings, their mother--this felt like a story that rattled around in Meyer's brain awhile and I want the rest of what's in there Tim!
APERTURE- I first read this short story with my edition of SWITCH HOUSE. I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it more the second time around. Horror Cinephiles will love it. "Oh no, you saw what I saw. You saw into the aperture. Into the dark world. And you know what?"
"The dark world saw you."
THE PUMPKIN PEOPLE COME AT MIDNIGHT- A fun campfire style horror story perfect for feeling your Halloween-Feels.
There were only a few stories I didn't connect with--for the most part, I enjoyed the range of subjects, styles, and genres. Meyer has a very versatile narrative style that feels compatible with any genre he decides to write in. I highly recommend this to horror fans who want to get to know Tim Meyer's voice before jumping into a novel.



DEAD DAUGHTERS: Previously with Poltergeist Press (I believe it's looking for a new home)
I absolutely love a good psychological thriller/mystery ESPECIALLY when a horror author takes a stab at it. I feel like authors who turn out quality horror (Like Meyer) easily step over into thriller territory; giving their audience that yummy high of a fast-paced murder mystery laced with horror nuances. When a horror writer is behind the wheel, the stakes are higher, the violence is cinematic, and the subject matter is pitch-black.
DEAD DAUGHTERS is a dark, twisty-turny little ride meant to keep the reader's nose buried in its pages until Tim Meyer lets you go. This book published by Poltergeist Press is formatted as the perfect, mass-market sized binge-read; over 300 pages clocked in a matter of hours.

I don't need to tell you anything about the story. But if you're reading this review, I can make you hungry for it. So this couple has a daughter, Dinah. They love her. One day, they get a shocking piece of unmarked mail--enclosed is a photograph that completely upends their normal life. The rest of the book is just one remarkable discovery after the other. Every chapter leaves the reader in the lurch-- wanting more. More, more, more.
Some of the revelations do require the reader to suspend disbelief--but I feel like Tim Meyer made the unbelievable quite probable in the case of DEAD DAUGHTERS. The concept is wildly imaginative and I had fun going where Meyer was leading me.
I'm sure some readers who rely on keeping their feet squarely planted on the ground might have a hard time with some of the psychology here, but horror fans are used to buying in.
I feel like certain aspects could have benefitted from a little more time in the oven, but overall, I had a great time investing in this story and seeing it through to the epic conclusion.
Love Tim Meyer's work! Buy it all.

It's this reader's opinion that Tim Meyer is one of the most successful, versatile storytellers of horror fiction in the indie market right now. He consistently and frequently releases great books that I think are appealing to a wide audience. If you haven't tried any of his work yet, let one of these reviews convince you that you should definitely pick something up immediately and begin collecting his books. I'm excited to see what Tim Meyer has for us in the future.