Twisted Book Junkie

Freelance book editor and professional reader. I love horror and dark fiction because I'm a sucker for stories that terrify me, leaving me with nightmares. I'm also a fan of dark fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk.

Dead Trees by Eli Constant

Dead Trees - Eli Constant

In this dystopian sci-fi novel, we meet Elise, a mom with two young girls trying to survive an invasion of subterranean humanoids. After a harrowing rescue at the safe zone, Elise is drafted to use her scientific knowledge to reclaim humanity.

I love the creativity behind the undergrounders' entire existence, from their creepy physical appearance to their cannibalism. This is one of those novels that stands out from others in its genre.

You know how we say kids will grow out of their fear of the dark? Well, thanks to Eli Constant, I'm reversing in that department, afraid that the beasties are going to claw their way into my nightmares when I turn the light out at night.

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The Dark Victorian: Bones by Elizabeth Watasin

The Dark Victorian: Bones - Elizabeth Watasin

The adventures of His Highness' supernatural agents Art, an artificial ghost only a few days old, and her partner Jim, an animated skull, continue. And I couldn't be more pleased. This time, while Art is still recuperating from the re-animationist case, she and Jim must deal with a bone stealer who uses his rather unique gift to remove and insert bones into another and adhere skin, muscle, tissue, and nerves without permanent damage - except to the one who unwillingly donates his or her bones.

I was delighted by the first book in this series. (Read my review of Risen here.) So, I was expecting to enjoy Bones as well. What I was not expecting was to absolutely fall in love with it! From the artwork to character development to the beautiful Victorian London scenes, it was impossible not to love this novel.

I know Elizabeth Watasin did a great deal of research for this novel, but I have a feeling that she actually lives and breathes this era, that she sees airships when she looks up and carts and hansom cabs on cobblestone roads when she looks around.

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The Dark Victorian: Risen by Elizabeth Watasin

The Dark Victorian: Risen Volume One - Elizabeth Watasin

In this gothic steampunk novella, we have the pleasure of meeting Jim Dastard and Artifice, two agents for Prince Albert's Secret Commission. But they are not your standard investigators, even in this Victorian era. Jim is a cigar-eating skull who wears a top hat, while Art, his most recent partner, is a newly created ghost.

This is a character-driven novella, and we learn much about Jim and Art. Though there is much more to learn about Art, as she does not know much about who she was prior to being brought back as a ghost to work for the Secret Commission. At the end of the novella, we learn about who Art's friends may have been in her first life, but I can't decide if it was an afterthought or if it was deliberately placed so that the readers were kept wondering until the end.

The cover art has a graphic novel feel to it, and sets the tone of the novella.

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Kingdoms of the Dead: Chemical Rot by Ian Woodhead

Kingdoms of the Dead: Chemical Rot - Ian Woodhead

Ian Woodhead conceived a story marrying rotting zombies and intelligent sci-fi that is mind-blowing!

First of all, I love the cover design. I wanted to read this story before I read one word of its description.

As far as pacing goes, this book kicks butt. It is nearly non-stop action, so buckle up before you start reading. There were moments, however, especially in the beginning, when I wasn't sure which character's story we were seeing because there are characters with the same name from different worlds. Doppelgangers, if you will. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it, so I'll leave it at that.

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A Pale Horse by Adam Wolf

A PALE HORSE - Adam Wolf

This apocalyptic tale, the first book in a series, has potential. Which is why I was disappointed with the details of the bowel movement starting on the first page. If those unnecessary details were left out, and the reader could focus more on the creepy scene in the rest stop restroom, the scare factor would have been higher.

Had I not been consciously trying to block out the image of Eugene and his bowel movement, I could have appreciated was probably the most tense scene of the entire book.

The descriptions, including the stench of death, were powerful. I always appreciate writers using the sense of smell to pull a reader further into a scene. The book was well paced, and I found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what Eugene would do when he encounters this mysterious item. The characters were three dimensional, and even in this short introduction to this series, I already felt invested in their lives. And, of course, their fates.

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The Ninth Circle by Brendan Deneen

The Ninth Circle - Brendan Deneen

This dark novel follows Dan, a 16-year-old runaway. With an alcoholic dad, a mom who barely acknowledges him as her child, and an abusive older brother, who can blame him for running away?

Dan finds refuge with the circus, specifically with the Ringmaster, who takes him on as an assistant. Dan looks up to his new mentor, this father figure in his new life. But not all the freaks with the circus want him there, and they make it obvious.

Though he is sixteen, Dan has lived a sheltered life and often seems younger than his actual age. Until, it seems, it comes to women. His attraction is apparent, his inexperience and naiveté obvious.

I like the dark feel of this book, with its references to sin and delving deeper into the nature of sin, which is based on Dante's Inferno. Also intriguing are the supernatural elements.

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Mastic by Eli Constant

Mastic - Eli Constant

Mastic encompasses several genres. While sitting strongly in the realm of dark fantasy, it exudes paranormal and romance. The mood and tone of the novel are cleverly crafted.

The newly designed cover art reflects the romantic element of the novel, while maintaining its mystery.

The characters are three-dimensional, and I immediately cared about them. I loved to love some and loved to hate others. It's so easy to get to know each of the characters, and their relationships with each other are believable.

Not only are the characters three-dimensional, so are the background and surroundings. Each is brought to life, creating a beautiful backdrop for the characters.

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Unnatural Occurrence by Peggy Martinez

Unnatural Occurrence (An Anna Morgan Novella (Part 1)) - Peggy Martinez

Anna Morgan, who is legally blind in one eye, sees so much more than "ordinary" people. After dying for seven seconds, she was revived with very unusual gifts: seeing wraiths and ghosts, people's auras, and can sense darkness in others.

After reading the description, I knew this novella had to go to the top of my list. In fact, I liked it so much that I read the entire novella in one sitting.

With a unique story, Peggy Martinez wrote one hell of a novella to whet my appetite. Anna is one of those characters that you instantly care for. Though I couldn't possibly know how she feels, I immediately empathize with her and care about what happens to her. I am very much looking forward to the next Anna Morgan novella.

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There Are No Gods for Arthropods: The Sourwood by Richard Wolanski

There Are No Gods for Arthropods: The Sourwood - Richard Wolanski

ig is an insignificant insect in a world with no humans. Insects of all kinds – winged, segmented, as well as six-legged and eight-legged creatures, to many more legs, dominate this new world.

The insects band together to create an organized world in a wide tree trunk. This impenetrable wooden fortress, called the Sourwood, is their home.

Though the story is told from Fig’s point of view, a mite as small as the seed of a strawberry, it doesn’t read like a children’s book. However, I found it difficult to connect with Fig, his friend, an eight-spotted flea beetle, Oz, or any other character. Not because they are two-dimensional, but because they are not human or at least an animal that we tend to associate with having human emotions.

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Odium Origins: Part One by Clare C Riley

Odium Origins. A Dead Saga novella. Part One. - Claire C. Riley

Odium Origins is a companion novel to Odium, and gives us a peek into the world of our favorite - and not so favorite - characters when the plague that turned people into flesh-craving undead monsters spread. I think I understand the characters better now, and even changed my opinion of some of them.

Take Crunch, for example. I was happy to sneer at her during her interactions with Nina in Odium, but after getting a glimpse into her crappy life before all hell broke loose, I actually had sympathy for her. Which caused conflicting emotions in me, because I didn't want to feel sorry for her. But that all changed. Now I understand why she is who she is.

We learn how Crunch meets Mikey, and how the two of them run into Duncan. This is another character whose back story changed my feelings. Instead of feeling sorry for him, like I did originally, I found I actually despised him. Duncan truly is a coward.

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Sundark: An Elle Black Penny Dread by Elizabeth Watasin

Sundark: An Elle Black Penny Dread - Elizabeth Watasin, JoSelle Vanderhooft

Deep in London's Chiselhurst lies the Sundark, a magnificent, mechanical manor built in earlier times by a master illusionist and his occultist wife. Its guests have been known to stay, only to never be seen again. Elle Black, a housewife and telekinetic is summoned to solve this mystery.

The mystery surrounding the Sundark, with its mechanical dome for stargazing and beautiful witch's hat dome architecture is perfectly paced. If the home-turned-hotel didn't devour people and spit out their remains in the garden, I would be ready to move in.

A bonus for me was when I realized that Elle Black lives in the same reality as Artifice, the artificial ghost, and Jim Dastard, the animated skull, from The Dark Victorian series. Their paths almost cross when a character from The Dark Victorian shows up in Sundark.

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Discoredia by J.C. Michael

Discoredia - J.C. Michael

A castle has been built in the middle of nowhere for the sole purpose of hosting several raves a year. Some think he’s crazy, others think he’s wasting time and money. But for Warren, it is something he is compelled to do after suffering a personal tragedy.

When a new drug is offered to Warren’s ravers free of charge that is promised to be better than ecstasy with the unpleasant after effects, Warren agrees. That’s when chaos and madness erupts.

The world of Discoredia is brutal and gruesome, with incredible imagery that is simultaneously disturbing and beautiful.

It’s easy to get to know each of the characters, and they feel real, not like a name with a couple of adjectives thrown in to describe them. My favorite is probably Mr Woodrose, who is disgusting, yet captivating.

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The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak

The Harvesting - Melanie Karsak

How can an author blend a family with paranormal abilities, a post apocalypse world filled with hordes of hungry undead, and beautiful, yet terrifying vampires? You may be skeptical, thinking it would be an awkward, stitched-together story, much like Frankenstein's monster. But you would be wrong. Melanie Karsak blends these elements and genres seamlessly into a fantastic, heart pounding world.

Layla returns to her small hometown after a cryptic call from her grandmother. After stocking up on supplies - some of which are strange requests, but she fulfills all the same - at the request of her grandmother, a zombie apocalypse hits that her grandmother foresaw but would not reveal, perhaps because it was inevitable.

Layla, the bogatyrka, the female warrior, does what needs to be done to help the residents of Hamletville - and all of humanity - survive. Survive not only the zombies, but other creatures content on feeding on humankind.

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The Last Casket by Jack Wallen

The Last Casket (I Zombie) - Jack Wallen

Kitty Casket, lead singer for Kitty in a Casket, and her bandmates, were on their way to finally playing the A-list circuit. Then, here comes the apocalypse to "punch the world in the gut" and ruin their plans for dominating the music scene.

First, let me say how impressed I am that Jack Wallen took a generally depressing scenario of zombies in an apocalyptic world and turned it on its head. I actually laughed during times when the band members - who are as close to being siblings as you can get without shared parental lineage - poke fun at each other. Those moments seem real, not imagined and written down on paper. Kudos, Jack.

It's hard to believe there is so much hope and comradery in one group. They stick together and have this view of the world that is admirable. As Kitty says, "The mean streets of the apocalypse taught us everything we need to know. There's no way around it; you either kill or be killed."

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Eventuality by Peggy Martinez

Eventuality (A Sage Hannigan Time Warper Novel #3) - Peggy Martinez

I worked with Peggy by editing this book. Eventuality is one of the best books I've read this year - definitely in my top 5 favorites for 2014!

Sage's journal entries sprinkled throughout allow us an in depth peak into her inner turmoil and emotions. I'm totally in love with Lucio, a new character in this series, and I think he will tug on your heartstrings as well.

Peggy writes her characters so that their emotions are almost palpable. It's a beautiful thing to feel like you truly know a character and to feel his/her pain, sorrow, elation, and love.

I have two favorite scenes, both of which happen to be in the fae realm. What a beautiful, magical place! Peggy created a world I could see, feel, hear, smell, and taste in my imagination, and I want to visit and experience the magic for myself.

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First Impression by Pauline Creeden

First Impression: A Shadow Maven Paranormal - Pauline Creeden

The cover immediately got my attention. Everything about it drew me in, from the excellent color palette to the title treatment to the model’s expression. Then, I read the blurb, and I knew this book was for me.

First Impression is a perfect blend of paranormal and mystery, and characters with depth.

The story opens with a Harry Potter reference, which I find fantastic. At school, Chira is assigned the task of showing Ben, a new transfer, to his classes. He's quiet and mysterious, yet Chira finds herself attracted to him. As an outcast at school, Chira has only one friend, but Tasha is as loyal as they come. I imagine Tasha’s fierce loyalty stems from her rock solid home life with a close-knit, loving family.


It’s Tasha’s idea to meet a group of classmates at the old schoolhouse to check it out as a possibility for a Halloween party. After all, it’s supposed to be haunted. That’s where the mystery and fun begins. No spoilers here, though.

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Currently reading

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, Ian Schoenherr
Violet Storm (Modi Series) (Volume 1) by Anna Soliveres