Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Lake Publishing’

Book Haven: And Other Curiosities by Mark Allan Gunnells

April 27, 2019 - 8:58 am No Comments

Book Haven: And Other Curiosities by Mark Allan Gunnells

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 26th April 2019

219 pages

This is one of my one-click authors and published by Crystal Lake publishing is a win-win. A collection of a novella and 20 short stories of various lengths had me reading this over a day.

With so many choices, I have found it difficult to only highlight a few for this review, so I am not, but will write about them all, even if it is only a few lines.

Starting off with Book Haven, the novella of the book. Set in a dystopian world where all the digital copies of books were wiped from a server, the Government were responsible for acquiring all real books and uploading for people to read or if they had not got the book rewriting from memory. This is what disturbed me, I use my Kindle every day, I can’t read real books. What would I do if I could not read? As you read this story, you follow Paul Nelson as he is on the hunt for his missing friend. This had a thriller feel to it, as you follow the clues. Paul Nelson was a stuffy character at the start, a bit of a jobsworth but he had a love of books. However, as he escaped the confines of the office, I soon realised that he had a rebellious streak and this adventure brought out his passion. Like all thrillers, there are always ones to stop him and this story was no different. With only a handful characters, it is clear who he is up against but there were a few surprises in the story and a few characters will surprise you. I would love this story to continue into a mini-series, although I am still thinking about if I lost all my books on my kindle.

Human Bones in a China Cabinet: Most folk collect, whether it is stamps, books or like Jesse, something a bit more macabre. As a collector of human bones, Jesse liked to brag and put them on display. But what if there were even stranger collections out there.

Welcome Home: Steve and Evan are a regular couple, going about the daily routine. However, a knock on the door changes their lives. This is a story about love and sacrifice.    

C U Soon: Philip was grieving after Monica his girlfriend lost her life whilst texting and driving. With the grief is guilt and Philip is finding it difficult to cope. I loved the twist at the end and shows the length that revenge can take.

End-Of-The-World Benediction: With the way Earth is going, this is a poem, that will get you thinking.

Going to See a Man about a Dog: At 4 Ethan has a sad life. As a mom, I felt sorry for Ethan and even though I knew what was about to happen, I was still shocked.

The Sandbox: Timothy Ellis was a lonely child, an easy target for bullies. What happens next. I am not going to say as it will give the story away but I really enjoyed this story.

Wrong: Whilst at work Janet is listening to Carol talk about her son. As a mom of two, I have had the temper tantrums although not as bad as Carol’s son. An extreme way of coping with it.

Evolution: Set in a dystopian world where only the strong survive. Following Lowell as he is recovering over his loss of Rick his boyfriend. A surprising story of revenge.

The Bracelet: Bryant and Lyle are very much in love. The story of the lengths people will take when a terminal illness is destroying their lives. A mixture of hope and despair and a very moving story.

Click Bait: A very short story and a warning message about accepting unknown friend requests.

A Day Like Every Other Day: A groundhog story with a glimmer of hope.

The Man Who Watched the Ocean or Twelve Steps Down into the Sea: A story about unrequited love and the lengths one man will take to find the love of his dreams.

The Desk: Tells the story of Nick Henson and the pressure he is under to write another best seller. After moving home, he comes across a desk, that holds so many treasures. This was one of my favourites and you can feel the pressure Nick was under whilst he tries and writes. I was expecting the story to go down a completely different route so the ending was a surprise.

When Gas was 52 cents per Gallon: Brandon and Joe breakdown on a deserted road. Brandon has always fancied Joe but doesn’t know how Joe feels. This was a graphic read, that some readers may find hard to read.

The Little Boy Who Lived in the Library: Paul uses the library and books as an escape from his home life.

Waiting for the Fall: A heart-breaking story of an elderly gentleman waiting for his time to come.

Tanner: One thing I have never understood is people boxing themselves into a device that browns their skin. This is a story about Matthew who purchases a second-hand tanning machine, which may have had a chequered past. An erotic read with an unexpected/expected twist you decide.

Go to Sleep Little Baby: Hard to say much without giving too much away, But this a story about motherhood.

The Farm: Have you ever visited a location that was seen in a film. In this story, the resident of the home that was the main setting for The Farm an 80s slasher movie had a very good reason why he did not like fans coming to his door.

The Hidden Cemetery: When a trip to a cemetery for a bit of fun goes an unexpected way.

As I have said I will always one click this author and yet again I have not been disappointed. I love reading his short stories and he has a way of making ordinary scenes into the extraordinary. I cannot wait to see what comes next.  

Beatrice Beecham’s Ship of Shadows: A Supernatural Adventure/Mystery Novel by Dave Jeffery

November 16, 2018 - 7:07 pm No Comments

Beatrice Beecham’s Ship of Shadows: A Supernatural Adventure/Mystery Novel by Dave Jeffery
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 16th November 2018
307 pages

Beatrice and the rest of the Newshound had survived the Cryptic Crypt and now the darkening heart was lying dormant in Dorsal Finn. But like all evil entities, it won’t rest forever. Now on their school holidays, they are enjoying their freedom and looking forward to a celebrity party on The Spirit of the Ocean. But what they don’t plan for is revenge from a 16th-century witch.
Beatrice and her friends are a lot closer and you can tell that the prophecy of the Darkening heart is playing on their minds. Whilst Beatrice is still the star of the show, the story’s plot gave the opportunity for other characters to show what they are made of. One such character was Emily, being profoundly deaf did not stop her doing anything that she wanted, and when their lives were in danger she knew exactly what to do. She was confident and strong-minded, my only dislike was the football team that she supported, but I can forgive her for that. The other character that had matured was Thomas, Beatrice’s little brother, whilst he still annoyed her with his fixations you could see how much he cared for her and when they were separated, he put his fear aside to get involved in the fight.
From page 1 you are drawn into an action-packed adventure and with the magical element enables the author to introduce some very strange creatures. The story was a quick read as there was always something going on. The descriptive scenes enable your imagination going into overdrive. Scattered throughout are funny one-liners, usually down to Edna, Dorothy, Maud and Agnes, 4 old dears that like to put the world to rights and you will find yourself having a little giggle at their expense.
Whilst it is the 2nd in the series it can be read as a standalone as anything important is explained in detail. This is the perfect book for a youngster who wants a scary bedtime story or to encourage an older child to pick up a read. However, as an adult, I loved it as it reminded me of books like the Famous five or a Nancy Drew book. Another great addition to the Beatrice Beecham series.

Dead Reckoning and other stories by Dino Parenti

October 17, 2018 - 7:41 pm No Comments

Dead Reckoning and other stories by Dino Parenti
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 5th October 2018
226 pages

Regardless of whether I recognise the author, I always purchase any book published by Crystal Lake Publishing. Dead Reckonings and other stories featuring 16 short stories that some could be in the news today.
Like all anthologies there were some stories that stood out for me. From the seventies Two Boys in a Diner- Vic and his younger brother Jimmy are in a diner reminiscing about family, death and old times. As there is only 2 characters, you really get to know them and whilst brothers and brought up together, they are like chalk and cheese. It is not till the end that the true reason of their visit to the diner is revealed.
From the eighties Dead Reckoning- The story opens with a policeman being dragged by a priest on a horse. The story swaps between past and present with ease and as you read this story you find out exactly what the policeman had done to deserve this treatment and why the priest felt the need to dish out the punishment. This story does make you think, was either in the wrong, was their actions justified.
From the nineties Savior- Following a vet disfigured from war, trying to make a living and his fascination with a performer from the visiting fair. There was a feel of sorrow to this story. The main character was hidden away due to his serious injuries. When he performed with his disguise it reminded me of the elephant man and the prejudice that people had for him. Did he do the right thing, I am still undecided.
Jumping to the post-apocalyptic story On the Fickle Nature of Germination. A discovery of 2 ancient bodies trapped between the ice and the outbreak of a devastating flu. Is there a link. This story was one that could be more fact than fiction, as remains get excavated what diseases could be unearthed. This was a quick pace story just like the outbreak.
There was the odd story that I could not get in to, but this did not stop me liking the book. A nice touch was that some of the stories had a low-key link, either by an odd line or action which if like me you read the whole book from cover to cover you will spot straight away.
These stories had a mixture of genres, that would please the readers of dark fiction. Whilst I was writing this review I was checking on amazon to see his other published work and I am surprised that this was his first.

The Mourner’s Cradle by Tommy B Smith

September 14, 2018 - 8:21 pm No Comments

The Mourner’s Cradle by Tommy B Smith
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 14th September 2018
140 pages

When Damon, Anne Sharpe’s husband suddenly passed away, all she wanted to do was to prove his name. Ridiculed in his academic field, Damon was trying to prove that the Mourner’s cradle, an old burial ground was real, and he thought he found it. Traveling to Peru, she not only has to battle the cold but other’s out for the research.
Whilst she did not know exactly what Damon was trying to do, her determination and sheer stubbornness, helped her through this trying time. Going with her was Ruben, a work colleague and friend of Damon. Whilst he did not believe the myth about the Mourners Cradle, he felt that it was his duty to protect her.
As you are reading this story you are following Anne on a perilous journey. Her grief is raw and shows the dedication that Anne had for her husband. Whilst this is not horror it the scary monster sense, it shows the true horror of human nature and there are some heart stopping moments. Especially on the mountain. Once I started this story I could not stop as I wanted to see if Anne survived. The intensity continued to the end of the story and when I finished I felt mentally drained and felt that I had took the journey with Anne.
This was the first story that I had read by this author and will look out for others.

The Outsiders by Stephen Bacon, James Everington. Gary Fry, VH Leslie and Rosanne Rabinowitz

September 4, 2018 - 9:15 pm No Comments

The Outsiders by Stephen Bacon, James Everington. Gary Fry, VH Leslie and Rosanne Rabinowitz
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing on 4th May 2015
226 pages

For about a year I have read every new anthology Crystal Lake has published, however, having not read any of the early publications, I thought I would rectify this by reading The Outsiders. 5 authors writing about The Priory, a secluded estate set in the UK and home to a Lovecraftian cult and run by Charles Erich.

Opening with an introduction from Kevin Lucia, which sets the scene and gets you in the mood to sit and enjoy these 5 stories.

The Subprime by Gary Fry: Finance is a cut throat industry, but Lee at the age of 19 was doing well except for one thing he had a conscious. Mr Philips, his boss hopes to persuade him not to leave by inviting him to a dinner party at his home in the Priory. This is our first meeting with the folk at the Priory and whilst the author at the start made them seem pretty normal as the story continued you could sense they were itching for a kill.

Impossible Colours by James Everington: Michala Bruce is a community officer patrolling Exham and takes an interest in the Priory after Marty Young kills himself. The story describes the effects of the cult, strange flashing colours and the residents being more in a trance. Telling part of the story through Marty’s journal enabled the reader to see both sides of the story and you are left wandering what happened to Michala.

Stolen from the Sea by Stephen Bacon: Ryan was the salesman for the Priory, getting donations for the cause and persuading to join them. A chance meeting with Natalie starts out as friendship, but when Ryan’s son tragically dies their friendship turns into so much more. Written with sensitivity this story looks at grief and religion and regardless of the religion, people will question their faith at times of sorrow.

Precious Things by VH Leslie: Petra and Bernard both retired, moved into the Priory. Married for a long time Petra was used to Bernard’s eccentricity and his love of rocks kept him busy for ages. But when he started locking himself in his study for a long period of time and having secret meetings with Charles Erich, she became worried. This story built up to a dramatic ending and showcased the power of love that Petra had for her husband

Meat, Motion and Light by Rosanne Rabinowitz: Claudia was away at University when her mom asked her to return to the Priory. Reluctant to give up her freedom, she went home to find out what was going on. Following Claudia’s story, you get an understanding that her childhood was not fun. More was written about the creature and the effects it had on the residents. With references to characters and incidents from the previous stories this was the perfect story to finish this anthology.

This was a quick read and whilst it is horror, it wasn’t usually from the creature that lived under the grounds. These stories showed the good and bad of human nature and the effects of the cult on everyone who encountered them. A good read which enabled me to get my fix of short stories