top of page
Black Fabric

Christina's Critiques

Book reviews from incredible Indie reviewer & the awesome co-host of the Mothers of Mayhem podcast, Christina Pfeiffer. 

Christina's Critiques: Text

12/16/2023
OBSCURUS, 1939

BY STUART DRAKE (STUART BRAY)

How do you kindly beg someone to quietly leave Splatterpunk/Extreme Horror writing and write more literary fiction? Because I need some help with convincing Stuart immediately. Look, I loved THE BALLAD OF HARLEY HECK, WHEN THE MOCKINGBIRD SINGS (with the equally amazing Jason Nickey), and VIOLENCE ON THE MEEK. I felt they were solid stories that showed how depraved he can write but… OBSCURUS, 1939 makes those look like the nerd in the taped up glasses. 


OBSCURUS, 1939 is an interweaving of a town’s stories and timelines. The main focus is on the Shoultz family, who own the local mine (the one that was shutdown as well as the new one) and the secrets that bind them to the town. It’s not just money that cause the heartache. With superb side characters, the seamlessness is extraordinary.


Bray excels at this type of fiction. Again, I really hope we, as his readers and fans, see more of this type of work from him in the very near future. But you know what, I’m going to read what he writes regardless. But I will pout until I get my way. I’m supportive like that.  A OUTSTANDING 10/5 RECOMMENDATION.

image0.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

ROAD HAZARDS

BY JASON NICKEY

Speaking of authors I would love to see more literary fiction from… Mr. Nickey is among those at the tip top of my list. We have seen so much from him with WRECKAGE, JASPER AND THE APPALACHIAN ZOMBIES, and RECKLESS ABANDON. He can do short stories, novellas, and collaborations. But ROAD HAZARDS is exceptional, he flexes his writing abilities and gives us so much more than he is given credit for.


Phillip Cunningham thought he had a bad job at CrediCorp but when he attains a job with the state, he goes on a road trip before starting his new job and meets Vince. Case after case begins to build his confidence as a case worker even when Calvin Henry’s file came across his desk. When his partner comes in late one day, Phillip feels ready to investigate by himself. The rural Appalachia holds more than just lore, maybe even a secret or two.


I have been sitting on this review for weeks now. It won’t leave my head. The stories within the story are quick but can’t be forgotten. It’s a fast read because the reader wants to know what happens next yet dreads to know the answer. Nickey is at the top of his writing with this, and I will sacrifice as many moose and bears as it takes to get more like ROAD HAZARDS from him.  Another OUTSTANDING 10/5 RECOMMENDATION.

image1.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

12/09/2023

EVERYTHING THE DARKNESS EATS

By Eric LaRocca

Friends, this one is a polarizing read on Goodreads. But I have to say, I don’t get it. I find this to be one of the more well-done social commentary heavy stories I have read this year.


The synopsis is difficult to explain as there are multiple story lines that intersect at times, but I will attempt it. Ghost has lost everything he holds dear, well, almost everything. He has a spirit or “parasite” that reminds him and feeds off of his despair and sadness. Malik and Brett are the gay couple in a neighborhood that doesn’t want them… at all. Malik is trying to understand why there are disappearances of mostly elderly women, Ghost becomes intertwined with a man named Heart, and God is in the cellar. I promise it all makes sense when you read it.


There have been severe critiques of certain themes in this novel, but I definitely have to disagree with them. Numerous reviewers were upset about the idea of a blind child’s disability being seen as a “burden”. Ghost has a disability that he received in the past while the child was born with hers. Ghost explains to the reader how he feels a commonality to her, how they both can be seen as monsters (different) and later, the mother says she would wish for her daughter to see. It’s the idea of, as a parent, you want your child to have every chance to succeed, not that they are a burden. (Tell me you don’t have a special needs child, without telling me kind of deal.)


And then the gang rape scene. The character (I won’t give it away) states his captor is attractive and in a different life would be attracted to him. In my opinion, it was the character’s way of trying to humanize his rapist even though he shouldn’t. A sense of self-preservation in a way.


Add in themes of God and individual’s ability to follow blindly, hiding of identity and the past, spirits as manifestations of guilt, and homophobia, you have yourself a recipe for one of the more thoughtful and important novels of the year.


This one is a DOUBLE OFF THE CHARTS RECOMMEND 20/5.

image1.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

THE BIGHEAD'S JUNK

By Edward Lee

Lee gives us not one but TWO short stories (novelette’s, hell if I know) in this short duo of insanity.


The Bighead’s Junk finds the reader back near Luntsville with a group of feisty young adults; Coy, Donna, Larsa, and Mord. When Donna finds out that Bighead’s junk is available to ogle at Old Man Croter’s house, she has to go. And go they do.


You Are My Everything starts with us learning about Easter Cutler and the love she has for her man, Noot but Noot has a love for their daughter Linette. It’s complicated but Easter is from the old school, headers and whatnot, but this story is complex and oddly… sweet in a way. Look, just read it and then you will see what I mean.


As usual, Lee can take us from cackling uncontrollably to cringing at his descriptions of the depravity he gives. And I HIGHLY suggest listening to the audiobook done by a gentleman named Drew Blood. I may have found my new favorite narrator. Not a surprise, A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image0 (2).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

EXPLODING REINDEER

By Frank Edler

Much like Lee, Frank Edler cannot write something I don’t love if it would save his soul. Anything Edler writes, I’m reading! And when he sent me EXPLODING REINDEER for an early read, I squealed a squeal never squealed before and then I started reading.


If you read EXPLODING BEARS, you remember Wyld Louie and his gang of misfit employees, Jimmuh (Jimmy), Jenny (his new blushing bride still trying to get her punishment), Larruh (Larry), and more. Well, the company is doing exploding reindeer this year but… they can’t really find many until luck would have it they found eight… with name tags. Will there be many ho, ho, hos this year? Read and find out.


The absolute absurdity of this story is perfection. Exploding Reindeer being the exhibit that everyone tries to get in to? I mean, come on, that’s gold! And then Wyld Louie teaching lessons left and right, costume changes to rival Taylor Swift, and lines like this, “Did your mama sniff glue through her pussy before she had you?”, easily gets a HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5 from this gal.


Releasing 12/12 on Godless

ExplodingReindeer.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

12/02/2023
DEAD LETTERS-EPISODES OF EPISTOLARY HORROR

EDITED BY JACOB STEVEN MOHR

I’m going to be doing something a bit different with this review, it’s going to be half this week and half next week. There are twenty-one stories in this anthology, and I realized as I read them, I wanted to talk about each of them. There are so many 10/5 stories in here that I can already tell you it’s a Top Ten anthology for me this year. Let’s get into the first installment.


The Parthas UFO incident by T.T. Madden - This is one of the scariest stories I have ever read. The writing is so ominous and just… unsettling. My main note from it is, “Absolutely the hell not.”


… by Patrick Barb - What would you do if you received a text from your dead brother, but you were dead too…?


Next of Kin by Sandra Henriquest - An estranged Mother’s journal is found after her death and read by her daughters. Was she really alone when she died?


Echo Chamber by Gemma Files - Can a song bring bad luck or even death to the listener. (Remarkable research in this short story.)


The Night Nurses of Verdun by Gregg Stewart - A soldier falls in love with a field nurse, but things aren’t exactly as they seem. (One of the most creative stories I have read this year.)


Family Dirt by Justin Allec - An amicable divorce turns messy… like really messy when the kids and the ex-wife’s sister get involved. (This one, too, is insanely creative.)


Dear Kelli by Ai Tiang - Twin correspondence, some name changes, and a whole lot of intrigue.


No Blood, No Bones by Zachery Rosenberg - Old ways and old Gods converge in a creepy, claustrophobic abbey.


PRC Nathaniel Hart Has Died by G. Nicholas Miranda - He is indeed dead, no he’s not, wait he is… no he’s not, … yes, … no… 


In The Event by Liam Hogan - A well taken care of widow is forced to participate in a treasure hunt for more than riches. (Another superb, insane ride.)


This is just the first half of this anthology! I am blown away by the creativity and consistency of quality in these stories. If you like stories that are written in different forms, pick this one up immediately. 

image0 (3).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

SMILIN’ SAM’S CORN MAZE

By Stephanie Scissom

Rachel Schommer doesn’t give five stars often so when she told me this was to her, I had to immediately get on it. 


Cathi lost her little girl, Elizabeth, at 7 in a corn maze. Walter was the last person seen with her and was convicted for her murder. Years later, when Cathi learns her time is running out to learn the truth, she will have some unconventional helpers to solve the decades old mystery.


WHO IS STEPHANIE SCISSOM AND HOW DO WE GET HER TO WRITE MORE!? I was blown away! AWAY I say! I was half way through the story and started bullying other people into reading it. I didn’t think it could be done but she is going in the Top Ten for 2023. SSCM has suspense, supernatural elements, heart, fear, twists, I mean everything but very little blood and gore. And you know what, that’s what made it special to me. Stephanie crafted a story on emotions and a plot that just… well, it’s a remarkable story. And the phrase, “I’ll save you a seat”, will always make me smile.


Stephanie, if you read this, you have a new reading stalker. I’m harmless but I’m so annoying. Get this one immediately, friends! A DOUBLE OF THE CHARTS RECOMMENDATION 20/5.

image1 (1).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

11/18/2023
CUNT KICK THE WITCH BITCH

By Christine Morgan & Edward Lee

When Christine Morgan and her dream co-author releases a book, you bet your sweet ass this crazy lady is going to snag it immediately. I did and friends, it was worth it.


Marj, Doris, and Janet are starting to suspect some non-marital shenanigans happening and when they find a black hair it can obviously only be one person, the goth bitch down the block, Isobel Rigby. When vaginas get kicked and mistakes are made, their husbands may not be the only people getting fucked. 


Imagine, if you will, Satanic Panic that takes place completely in the suburbs with Xanax and cheap wine addicted wives. You have this story. Actually, you have a lot more but it’s enough to get you started. 


Even as a quick read, there is so much happening in this story. Lee and Morgan are seamless in their co-authoring, and I hope to God and/or Satan, that there is much more from these two.

An ABSOLUTE HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image0 (1).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

TRANSFORMATION

By Candace Nola

I have recency bias. I don’t need to be reminded… but I will be until the day I die. All of this is to say, this is one of Nola’s best. Point blank. Period.


Garrison is a sack of shit. Seriously. He treats his Mom like trash until she isn’t there anymore to take the brunt of his anger. Luckily, Garrison makes some changes for the better. One of those is to hike the PNT and prove he has changed, once and for all. On his way, he meets some colorful characters and life and death situations.


This is a cryptid, shape shifter, found family, coming of age, rollercoaster of emotional damage. How so many sub genres work in one story is beyond me. Nola has the reader so wrapped up in their emotions and the emotional release of Garrison, that we don’t see the blood on the walls… literally.


The characters are some of my favorites this year, we fall in love with them and their love of life while learning of their hurt and backstory. Then throw in the shape shifting and cryptids, a recipe for perfection.

AN ABSOLUTE HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image1.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

TWISTED MIRRORS: THE EDGE OF REFLECTION

By Carver Pike

The buddy read group I run has been reading all of Carver’s books since March and this is our newest series. Friends, gather round because this is a banger.


What would happen if you had a doppelgänger, and they were from the other side of the mirror? You were the good one and on the other side was your evil twin? Well, Gabe finds out in the worst way. He meets Lisa’s doppelgänger, Ivy, who is trying to get away from his doppelgänger, Cutter, but Gabe ends up on the other side in the bad mirror world. It gets worse… Cutter is not very liked at all… like there is a bounty on his head. Whew, do shenanigans ensue.


Pike gets me with his opening chapters every time. He may be one of the best at it. I challenge you to read one opening chapter of any of his books and not want to continue… I would damn near bet you couldn’t. He sucks you in immediately and then keeps up the insanity throughout the story. This is the first part of a, as of now, unfinished series, so you have your warning. No matter, as always with this guy an ABSOLUTELY HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 10/5.

image2 (1).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

11/11/2023

DARK DISASTERS

EDITED BY CANDACE NOLA

I love my anthologies and this one is no different AND it has some of my biggest fears in it. Welcome to when Mother Nature meets these author’s demented minds.


The Sleepwalk Society by Brennan LaFaro - During a storm, a group of friends gather to hear a story that sounds a bit too real. 


A Taste of It by Judith Sonnet - Sometimes bad luck can be genetic - ask Porter and his son Carrey. Good, suspenseful atmosphere.


Jenna’s Solitude by Michael J. Moore - AA rules are in place for a reason and sadly, Jenna finds out you shouldn’t get too close to other addicts.


Face-Melting Disaster Porn by Lucas Mangum - Charlene isn’t a damsel in distress and Naomi is more than a mom. The volcanic eruption isn’t the only thing with a hot boiling point. (One of my favorites.)


Family Planning by Caitlin Marceau - Wyatt isn’t ready to be a father but Gianna is more than excited for both of them. A weekend away reveals more than the gender. (Superb.)


Prime by Andre Duza - Hurricanes, volcanos, and Forever Dark, oh my! Sometimes being away from others is more than a red flag.


Special Snowflakes by Bridgett Nelson - Five friends go on a weekend away for a camping trip, but it definitely doesn’t go as planned.


Miss Molly, Miss Molly by Tony Evans - An old wive’s tale brings four friends closer to the truth of what is or isn’t real.


Wildfire by Kate Kingston - Sandy goes against everything in her soul when she drives towards the wildfire threatening her grandparent’s home. But in doing so, she will be facing the past. (Stunning and upsetting.)


Wolf Like Me by Rebecca Rowland - Howard receives all kinds of letters and correspondence from nutters about his column but Block 5 has more than a “doing great, pal” for him. 


No Shelter by Kristopher Rufty - When a stranger comes to a family’s house during a hurricane, blood will flow like the rain. (MY FAVORITE.)


DARK DISASTERS has something for everyone to fear. Snowstorms, wildfires, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, so much destruction and many of them had me guessing until the end.

Another winner from Nola and company. A HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

dark disasters hardcover v2.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

11/04/2023
BRADONOMICON II

EDITED BY RIVER DIXON

Brad Tierney. We all know and love him. And if you don’t love him, you are in the wrong community. What happens when some of the most prolific and well, depraved authors get together to write an anthology for our friend? Let’s find out.


Texas Tierney Chainsaw Massacre by RJ Benetti - Brad gets a bit too high and is given the ability to act in his favorite movie. (One of my favorites.)


Womb Reaper by Brian Berry - Sasha fears the Womb Reaper, a name given to an unknown assailant terrorizing the community. Does Sasha come face to face with the Womb Reaper? 


Balt-Salt Zombie by Brian Bowyer - Kinsey likes money. Douglas has blood money. Add in some bath salts and guns and you have a real party.


Sobriquet - A La Mode by Tommy Clark - The pandemic is hitting everyone hard but a bit of creativity with the meat shortage and BAM! You have yourself a meat medley.


Blobert Returns by Mike Ennenbach - Ursa needs cigarettes and weed, not Aint’s. But when he meets a rag tag group of humans, a toad named Elmer, and an old friend reappears, things get messy… and deadly. (A favorite.)


BAMF by Rayne Havok - Mr. Cuddles is missing but missing posters will only get you do far. When a little girl comes along to help Mr. Cuddles, secrets come out covered in butt juice.


Paula and B-Radley by Candace Nola - Paula is an outcast with a weapon of mass destruction — named B-rad. What harm can a pot smoking, middle aged demon do? More than anyone can imagine. (A favorite.)


//End User by Duncan Ralston - When Mason starts getting oddly specific emails, he realizes they are coming from his own email. The worst part? He hasn’t even gotten out of bed to start his day. 


Spice of Life by RJ Roles - Drugs, expensive dinners, and blackouts abound in this story that should have been titled, “We should have had the dollar menu at McDonald’s.”


Whispers in the Dark by Matt Shaw - We all wrestle with demons, some just more than others.


PB&J by Megan Stockton - Bullies come in all shapes and sizes but so do reincarnated allergens. (Super creative and fun.)


Die Hive Scum by Daniel Volpe - Sheever holds a stolen item that could change many lives but Detective Knut and Akara have a thing or two to stop him.


A solid anthology with some absolute insanity and debauchery. A definite recommend 4/5.

image0.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

SOMETHING VERY WRONG

BY JONATHAN BUTCHER

When Jonathan asked if I wanted an early sneak peek of this, I was afraid he was in the wrong DM. I squealed because Butcher is one of my favorite authors and to get an early look. What? Well, friends, I’m telling you right now, this is Splatterpunk Award nominee material. Let’s get into it.


Drilldo - Ola wants to experiment with something that can provide a bit more power than normal pleasure instruments but unfortunately pleasure will be the last thing on her mind.


The Project - Miss Chesterfield just wanted to judge the boring science fair until one project gains more than some legs.


Family Recipe - Pascoe Treguth and his family claimed the pasty crown 20 years in a row. So it isn’t a surprise that the town isn’t too keen on that and Pascoe’s newest business dealings. Let’s just say, the ovens are the only things cooking this year.


Dripping Wet - Zed and Maggie found out they are both cheating on each other when a beautiful stranger gifts them with more than they bargained for. It’s a give they can’t return. 


Beneath the Moor - Don’t fuck your bosses wife and avoid all misty days. Simple right?


A Threesome with Caricia - If you’ve seen one vagina, you’ve seen them all doesn’t apply to Stephen and his uncommon threesome. Best to this bucket list escapade unchecked.


Alternate Route - Hakim and Martin start out on a boys road trip that quickly turns into a statistical laced, gore filled Simon Says. (Phenomenal story and my favorite of the bunch.)


Last Night’s Gig - A hardcore fan tells a friend about his night with the band Scrotum Grenade. I will never be able to lobotomize myself enough to get those images out of my head. Congrats are in order for disturbing me so thoroughly.


ChaGrin - A very chatty angel and devil on your shoulder story that will leave you uncomfortable. Absolute insanity and bloody.


This collection is one of the best I have read this year. From start to finish, Butcher gives us everything and then some. It’s a DOUBLE HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 10/5.

image2.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

POPE LICK MASSACRE 2: SILLY RABBITS

BY ERIC BUTLER

*clears throat* Mr. Butler and I have a history. A history of me threatening violence because of the ending of POPE LICK MASSACRE. And unlucky for him, the threats will continue.


The Goatman is back, and he is so hungry. So many lives will intersect in the woods that the Goatman calls home, and the rivers will run red.


I can’t give more of a synopsis than that. There are a lot of characters in this story, calm down let me explain. But what Butler does better than 99.99% of other authors is immediately gives each character such defining attributes that you don’t get confused, there’s no need to backtrack to figure out who is who. And that is something special. (Don’t tell him I said that though.) Add on top of that the carnage, depravity, and let’s talk about how he unnerves us with off page action. Butler doesn’t really write rape scenes or sex scenes (much to my annoyance and harassment) but he can write scenes that start out but happen off page that are just so uncomfortable. He makes us do all the imagining and it works, it works well. 


I don’t want to be nice to him. I want to tell you it’s the worst story ever. But it’s not. It’s one of the best stories I have read this year. (Don’t tell him.) I hate to love the Goatman.

This is DOUBLE OFF THE CHARTS RECOMMEND 20/5.

image3.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

10/28/2023
IT'S ME, HI, I'M THE ZOMBIE, IT'S ME

BY NJ GALLEGOS

The first thing that caught my attention was the cover, second was that zombie was in the title. Double win. Then I started reading…


Frankie is a Stokercon attendee who is just there for a good time. Alex is a ex-military Swiftie in Pittsburg for a Taylor Swift concert. When these two worlds collide because of zombies, only insanity can ensue.


… and I was not disappointed. Gallegos gives us so much in such a small package; blood, zombies, sex, angst, farcical absurdity, I mean everything! I cannot wait to get into more of her writing because this was perfect for my zombie (and closet Swiftie) loving heart.


A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5.

image1.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

HEE HAW

BY PETER CAFFREY

I am at a loss for words with this story. If you know me, you know that doesn’t happen often. I finished HEE HAW three days ago and I still am processing the thoughts and emotions from it. It’s Caffrey’s best and it’s going to be hard to top. But he will. I know him. His writing is so gotdamn underrated and it’s upsetting.


(I’m using Peter’s synopsis because it’s perfect) - When Colin, a middle-aged fantasist and loner who lives with his parents, snatches a girl he finds in the woods, things quickly start to unravel. While his intention is to act out his most depraved fantasies, something about the girl unnerves him. Who is the mysterious Alice, and why does she make him feel so uneasy?


It’s psychological, and extreme, but real life and brutal. It’s unreliable without being unreliable. It’s brilliant and needed but I fear it will be overlooked. 


The reader is forced into the pit of madness and pit of despair as much as Colin, the main character and it’s unnerving. A DOUBLE OFF THE CHARTS RECOMMEND 20/5.

HEEHAW.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

10/21/2023
THE DEN

By Jeff O'Brien

This was a spontaneous read for me. I have seen Jeff’s name a lot lately and saw someone one starred it. Then I saw a blurb from Matthew Vaughn that it was sex fueled. Well, that’s a recipe for me to immediately read it because I have to know!

20 years ago, Sarah and Thane worked in a video store and have a flirty relationship until one night Sarah scored a new drug and a mysterious DVD is returned. Sex. Sex. Sex. Snuff film. Enter nun in training Beth and exit Sarah (Sarah goes missing). When the drugs, films, and sex all collide, the past is re-examined and it gets messy.


There’s a bunch of sex in this which is an immediate yes in my opinion. Then the development of the characters, the perfect pacing, creepy villians, all add to the yes. It’s Lovecraftian, horror erotica, and extreme horror, how could you not love it?!

A definite recommend. 4.5/5. 

image0 (1).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

10/15/2023
PARASOCIAL

By Wendy Dalrymple

PARASOCIAL by Wendy Dalrymple


I want to start this review out that now I can’t trust any of you I have only known online. Please direct all anger at Wendy because she wrote a story that is so damn unnerving.


Casey lives for Della’s livestreams. She feels close to the streamer, so close in fact, that she considers them friends. When Della goes silent and comes back with terrible news, Casey reaches out to help. A road trip to meet her idol and friend turns into a fight for her life. 


The social commentary in this one! You know I love it. Being in the indie horror community, we become familiar with authors and other readers, even friending them on a more personal level. Is there a danger in that for either party - the reader or the author? Wendy asks in PARASOCIAL, is there a line between viewer and content creator? What she does is turn that into a nightmare of epic proportions leaving you to question your current friendships. 


Absolutely unsettling and brilliant this is a DOUBLE OFF THE CHARTS RECOMMEND 20/5.

image1.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

10/15/2023
DEAD GIRLS AND DEAD THINGS

Edited by RJ Roles

There are a loooot of dead bodies to get to so let’s start digging in.


One for Sorrow by AJ Mullican - Superstitious readers beware, crows are bad omens for Katie.


The Watcher by Angelique Jordonna - Cam can see people. Mostly good but sometimes… not so much. Secrets abound in this story.


Admission by Rayne Havok - Avery wants to hang with the big boys and must prove she’s one of the guys. Bonus = lesbian sex scene. 


Living in Sin by Nat Whiston - Mildred is dealing with her husband’s death and a few other bloody skeletons.


Stay Awhile by D. A. Latham - Lilly likes the dead… graveyard sex scene alert! This one is spicy AND bloody.


In Her Reflection by Tara Losacano - When a kidnapping goes … right? Morally grey and that’s A-ok.


The Doll’s Revenge by Peggi Boone - Creepy dolls and even creepier shenanigans.


Shuffler by Regina Watts - Zombies, jerk boyfriends, and new loves. 


Modern Relationships by Natasha Sinclair and Ruthann Jagge - A bloody and saucy love triangle ends when the dead get pissed.


Don’t Look in the Box by Allisha McAdoo - Nosy Nelly (Maria) gets more than she bargains for with a storage unit buy.


Good Eatin’ by Judith Sonnet - Ryann just wants to sleep but when he is seduced by Jozi, STDs are the least of his concerns. 


The Cavity Wall by Michelle Butcher - Kat and Rene have suffered a terrible loss but a life in trouble gives Kat a new hope.


There were a few that just didn’t work for me but there are five standouts: Rayne Havok, Regina Watts, Natasha Sinclair and Ruthann Jagge, Tara Losacano, and Michelle Butcher.  These stories are worth the price of admission alone. A solid anthology and a definite recommend 4.5/5.

image0.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

10/07/2023
WRECKAGE

By Jason Nickey

This guy… the emotional damage that he caused with this damn book…


Frank is having a shit life. His best friend died, his family is in and out of his life, and he has a wee bit of a drinking problem. Then he crashes in Canada (the absolute horror). When things aren’t as they seem, he (and the reader) are left putting the pieces together.


WRECKAGE is so different from what Nickey usually gives us and I REALLY hope we see more like it from him. Powerful, page turning, and emotionally draining, this hits so many of my favorite things in literature. (And shout out to Tom Jordan for the narration, he absolutely brought it to life. A stellar performance.) 


I will sit with WRECKAGE for a while. Nickey is perfection in stories like this.

A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

IMG-4013.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

10/07/2023
ARKANSAS WOODCHIPPER MASSACRE

By Jeremy Mac

A group of friends go on a mineralogists wet dream of data collection but what lurks in The Bone Woods may put a wrench in their plans. Hillbillies, a woodchipper, drugs, and some sex all culminate in depraved insanity.


AWM is brutality and sex throughout, which happens to be two of my favorite things when reading. Some of the kills are the best I have read in a while and the reader can see his love for the genre, both movies and literature. Mac is someone we should keep our eyes on because this one is a banger.


A definite must read for anyone who loves full on insanity. 4.5/5.

IMG-4012.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

09/30/2023
THE REST STOP

BY ERIC BUTLER

Eric Butler and I have a history… a history of me wanting to take out a kneecap. Think back to 2021 if you follow any of my insanity and you will remember how pissed I was about POPE LICK MASSACRE (iykyk). Well, he did it again! He has done pissed off me in 2023. Great job, Cargo Shorts.


Kylie, Sara, and their Uncle Jack are just trying to get to their destination in one piece, but one rest stop break makes that a fight for their lives. 


TRS had me reading so damn fast so I could see what was going to happen next and I was on the edge of my bed the whole time. Butler crafts a world that not only is scary but is too real to not be unnerving. The twists and turns do not stop coming until the very end. I know I’m going to get flak for this, but it is his best work so far. A not at all surprising, HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5. 

image0 (1).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

09/30/2023
HOT IRON AND COLD BLOOD

AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE WEIRD WEST
Edited by Patrick McDonough

I love anthologies. I also love westerns. So, when I saw a western horror anthology I was like, uh … yes. And friends, I need you to understand this is the best anthology I have read so far this year and maybe since I have been in this community. There are sixteen stories, but I will only be talking about the ones I gave 10/5 stars to. Now, I want to explain that there is only 1 - 4 star in this group. I will repeat that - out of sixteen stories only ONE is a four star. The rest are 5/5 or higher. That is absolute insanity. Anyway, let’s get into the super stars of the collection:


Ruthless by Jill Girardi - When a long believed, dead daughter is spotted, old wounds are felt by those affected by the disappearance. (One of my favorites.)


Holes by Brennan LaFaro - What happens to souls that just can’t quit you. The imagery and hopelessness in this story is phenomenally written.


Soiled Doves by Vivian Kasley - How many whorehouses are too many? Sometimes the competition can kill you. This one is bananas.


The Deviltry of Elemental Valence by Edward Lee - Don’t be nosy when digging up bodies. Things can get very time confused. Classic Lee and some of my favorite Easter eggs in this one.


Old World Birds by Drew E. Huff - Differences make you stand out but not always in a good way. Even if it can bring you love unknown. Bizarre, stunning, and brilliant.


Rope and Limb by Jeff Strand - Darius is sentenced to death by hanging for something he technically didn’t do. For his final words, he has some suggestions on improving in the future. I cackled throughout this whole story. It’s perfect.


It Calls by Patrick McDonough - Don’t wish upon a star, don’t assume everything you see is real, and don’t trust anything with tendrils. A creature feature with a whole lot of sadness.


Hungry by Jesse Allen Chapman - Chinese railroad workers must choose between their food or their lives while learning the horrible truth about their camp site. 


Seeking a Grave in Canaan by Wile E. Young - A Gun and his owner walk into a bar… this is biblical, familial, and 100% unnerving.


Friends, you need this anthology. Not a want, a need. McDonough went above and beyond bringing it together and I promise you will not be disappointed. An absolute DOUBLE OFF THE CHARTS 20/5.

image1.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

09/23/2023
NO GUILT OF BLOODSHED

BY JOHN BALTISBERGER

Baltisberger… I tell you what, this guy consistently rocks my socks off. How he etches each line in the words of hate into every one of his stories leaves me in awe. You feel everything and NGFB is no different.


Mal and his trusty golem dog Misphat are out to right some wrongs and collect a bad guy penis or two. (Trust me, it makes sense when you read the story.) As Mal and Misphat are encouraged to perform side quests to get to collect the treasures (penises) to battle the final boss, the reader is taken on a bloodbath that just well… rocks.


Baltisberger shocked me with some of the on page kills. I gasped, said, “Holy shit!” more than once, and found myself rooting for Mal even though he refuses to apologize for the blood and carnage left in his wake. This one ranks in the Top 5 of the Splatterwesterns from DHP for me. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend 10/5.

IMG-3881.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

09/23/2023
THEY COME FROM WITHIN

By Jason Nickey

Well, Jason does it again! THEY COME FROM WITHIN has nine, NINE, bangers of stories. Let’s get into them.


Late-Term - by far, one of the most thought-provoking short stories I have read in 2023. This will definitely hit harder for parents.


Documentary - Dissociation at its finest. (This is such a clever and inventive spin for a story.)


Self-checkout - Always remember, no good deed goes unpunished.


A Shared Experience - Roadside bathrooms will never be the same after reading this.


Polly’s Cracker - A woman being nosy and jumping to conclusions, a tale as old as time.


Danny’s Dilemma - Things aren’t always what they seem even to a young child.


Firebug - Fire can be cleansing, but sometimes too much.


Safe Travels - When your trip has a few hiccups…


Prank - What’s funny to one person, may end up deadly for another.


My favorites are Late-Term and Prank but they are all amazing. Sometimes, I read collections and there are a few I’m like, meh, obvious filler. But Nickey doesn’t do that. He gives up great in every one of them. An easy HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend. 10/5.

IMG-3880.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

09/23/2023
GRANNY

 Simon McHardy & Sean Hawker

These guys… again. They got me with this one. Old people sex is gross but when you add in prolapsed vaginas (DO NOT for the love of God google that, use me as a cautionary tale. Let’s just leave it at that), you get even more insanity.


Granny or Princess Cunt likes to get her cougar prowl on. Unfortunately, for those she encounters, they come away with more than just a few scratches. When two gritty, not too trusting police officers ask questions, fur will fly… but who’s?


GRANNY is offensive (possibly one of their most to date), gross, kinda hot at times and as always hilariously perfect. If you don’t like animal deaths, I would pass on this one (you whiny babies). Not a shock at all a HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend, 10/5.

image0.jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

08/19/2023
SKIN

By Audrey Rush

I found a call for horror erotica readers on Tiktok and thought, hey, I love both of those! Sign me up, and by golly, I’m glad I did.


Theodore is a stuffer of things: dead animals, people, whatever is lying around. When a Mother brings her Daughter to Teddy to get … stuffed, things aren’t what they seem. Theodore is a perfectionist and he doesn’t like things half-assed. 


SKIN a short story of pure insanity! From the first line, “I crush the head of my dick a like a stress ball as the video zooms in closer to the woman’s face”, the reader knows they are in for a good time… well, at least an interesting time. For jaded extreme horror/splatterpunk readers, this is a breath of fresh air. It’s creative, kinda hot, and well, bloody. Rush definitely needs to come into the extreme horror/splatterpunk realm and hang out with us. What’s a little necrophilia between friends?


An absolute HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5. 

image (3).png
Christina's Critiques: Text

08/12/2023
COUNTING BODIES LIKE SHEEP

Edited by K. Trap Jones

Is there anything Trap releases that isn’t gold?! Because if there is, I need to know about it immediately. Because friends, this is an anthology for the ages.


My Chopping List (Stephen Kozeniewski) - When happens when you try to outsmart a savvy list maker.


Rats in Sheep’s Clothing (Lucas Milliron) - I stand by my opinion that furries are freaking weird and this story just re-confirms that.


The Steak Eating Freak (M.J. Davis) - I will never eat steak or go to a restaurant again.


Payback’s a Bitch (Edward Lee and Roman Neznayu) When Hank only saw one set of hoof prints it was because Satan was carrying him. 


Sausage (Jeremy Megaree) - Now I don’t trust speaker boxes… or recycling.


Blood Expectations (Robert Essig) - Poor Sasquatch. And for the love of God, keep your weirdo fantasies to yourself.


Body Drop (Gerard Houarner) - A behind the scenes look at body clean up, kinda.


Slop (Armand Rosamilia) - Pigs like meat. Lots of meat. Bad guy meat especially.


Dance, Bitch (Christine Morgan) - Snow White is understanding, even on her wedding day and requests the evil witch to dance at it.


Club Rules (Sarah Budd) - Old friends aren’t to be trusted and dream jobs aren’t always that great.


Bit hit/Near Miss (Dustin LaValley and Daniel Volpe) - Don’t have a gambling addiction or take on unknown favors.


Paper Cut (Josh Davis) - Paper cuts are now a gateway kink. This story had me so uncomfortable but kinda hot. 


Garden Club (Trevor Newton) - Some titles in life are hard to give up.


The Taste of it Fresh (Richard Dansky) - Self-disgust can be downright delectable to some.


Shits ‘N Giggles (Bridgett Nelson) - A doctor lends one of his nurses a hand and enjoys his Spotify list with some co-workers.


A Mishap in the Garden of Eden (K Trap Jones) - Jesus had a drinking problem and a problem with nuts.


Just Lee/Neznayu’s and Davis’s stories were worth the price of admission and most of them keep you reading. I see why this was nominated and is a heavy contender in my opinion. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5.

IMG-0201.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

8/12/2023
BOUQUET OF VISCERA

By Bridgett Nelson

We have all seen this one floating around our Facebook groups the past year, so let’s get into it.


Auras - Blaire starts seeing things that others can’t and learns a family secret or two too many.


Political Suicide - How far would you go to avenge your child’s death? Dr. Jennifer Perry finds that out the hard way.


Spores - Being alone on a mountain top is no fun, especially when you are a little too curious as a scientist.


Invaders - Olivia finds out her friends aren’t as faithful as she once thought. One beach, four ex-friends, and a dozen huge problems.


Cooked! - Flanna is a tour guide for the White House in the future. When a new microchip comes out that can stop viruses, the bad comes with the good.


Reflections - Does killing bad guys make you a bad guy eventually? 


Jinx - Jimmy is having a rough go of it and when she believes she has moved on from her past, she realizes it isn’t through with her.


The Show Must Go On - Lana had it rough but fifty years later, she has a chance at redemption.


BoV is a solid debut collection. The cover attracts readers immediately and the indie authors blurbing it are impressive. I have read more from Nelson and have found a few I really, really enjoyed. But this one rates at a 3/5.

IMG-6925.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

08/12/2023
ALWAYS LISTEN TO HER HURT

By Kezie Jennings

I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting but this collection knocked my socks off! 


Wreckers - Sometimes those we trust the most with our children, we shouldn’t.


It’s the Little Things - Eleanor is bored with her colleagues and students so she spices things up until a mistake comes back to haunt her.


Paper Dolls - A cute beginning of the year project for individual art projects gives glimpses into their futures.


The Gentle Art of Nominication - Loni is the Queen bitch at the office and choices must be made.


AMA One … AMA Two… - Jason returns to a previous destination years after meeting Cari. Jellyfish aren’t the only ones that hold secrets.


Peelings - Beth’s family aren’t her biggest fans and on a Disney type trip, everything comes to a head.


Just a Local Thing - Kat and Del are on a vacation with their daughter whine they are treated to local shenanigans.


#TheVacationers - Vacations can be killer…


This House - When a house turns out to be more than where the heart is.


The Shakes - Revenge is best served when you are in your right mind.


The Hot Box - Sometimes the known is scarier than the unknown.


Single, Middle-Aged Cat Lady Seeks… - Don’t go home with cat ladies… ever.


A stellar collection with a wide variety of insanity for all tastes. A must read 4.5/5.

IMG-3537.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

08/05/2023
STILLBORN GALLERY

By Axl Barnes

Well, I have another author to stalk. Let’s get into this amazing collection:


Numbskull - This story will ruin onions, watermelon, and potatoes for you. 


Closing Shift - Poor Mandip. Between exhaustion, Catherine, the main character, and an escalator, you would think she would have stayed home.


Night Soil - Dejected by her flavor of the week, Tanya finds the voices may be back and all too late.


The Playground with Crosses - Nope. Nooooope. One of my biggest fears in this one. 


Natasha Suicide - If overkill was a story. 


Florica, the Legend - Not everyone should be idolized and Florica is one of them.


A Perfect Day - if you loved E.A. Robinson’s Richard Cory poem, you will love this short story.


Sunday Evil - What happens when two suicidal ex-lovers come back together after years apart? 


Dead Seed - End of the world checklist 1) don’t have cancer 2) don’t fuck zombie necks. … that’s about it.


Axl interweaves his theme seamlessly in this collection and I’m not sure why this isn’t talked about more. Each story is flawless, and you can tell the emotions that are on display. An absolute treat! A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

stillborn.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

08/05/2023
ALL THE RAGE

By David Hardy

Do you know the easiest way to get me to read your story? Say zombies and I’m done. (Or demons, or hell, or angels/demons, or smut, …) I had had my eyes on this one since I had seen the cover and friends, I am not disappointed at all.


Nathan is in the pokey for a murder that was 100% needed but you know the legal system. And Ashlee, well, she just has had a bad life. When circumstances put these two unlikely road trip buddies together, things go from bad to worse. No one can be trusted and sickness is running amuck.


David Hardy, you have been holding out on us! AtR has so much happening but everything is so cohesive. Dual POV (a favorite), zombies, and complete mayhem are throughout this novel. The gut punches come one right after the other to the very last page. I’m so impressed by this novel and cannot wait to see what he has in store for us next. 


An easy HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

Rage.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

08/05/2023
DR. PARASITE

By Rowland Bercy, Jr.

I don’t want to review this. I really don’t. Not because it’s poorly written or the characters are flat, not even because the book was terrible. No, not for any of that. It’s because this is the most disgusting, unnerving, and close to vomiting I have been with a book all year. I walked away from this book three times! I don’t put books down. Rowland got me though. He got me good.


Jacob… ugh. Jacob. He likes to do science stuff and not the cool make volcanoes erupt kind. But the kind that makes people sick and whatnot. When he teams up with Andrew things get really spicy and messy. 


That’s it. That’s all you get. I can’t talk about it anymore! Rowland writes so damn well that you can smell, taste, feel, hear, and see the things he describes… and it’s not a good thing with this book, ha. 


I’m calling this in now, this will be my #1 most repulsive read of the year. *shivers*

An off the charts SUPER DUPER RECOMMEND 20/5. I need everyone to be as grossed out as I am. 

parasite.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/29/2023
COME HITHER NO MALICE

By J. D. Buffington

What if… Medusa wasn’t as bad as the myth says? I always felt she got the short end of the stick (no pun of Zeus’s penis intended). What if Perseus was a greater hero than we learned in school? 


This reimagining of one of my absolute favorite Greek myths is something spectacular. In 50+ pages, Buffington forces the reader to question so many what if’s. And Buffington maintains Medusa’s innocence and what was taken from her in such a thoughtful and cautious manner. 


While a shorter novella, it isn’t short on commentary and need for introspection. Truly, the best reimagining I have ever read.


Another one off the charts, a HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 20/5.

image1 (27).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/29/2023
WE THE BROKEN

By Simon McHardy & Sean Hawker

I want to preface this review with, WTB is not like anything you have read from Mchardy and Hawker. I didn’t laugh once, I didn’t smile or think, “these crazy kids”. WTB is 100% dark and I’m not going to lie, I kinda like this side of them.


Alison has had a bad run (no pun intended) in the luck department. A tragic accident has left her minus a parent, one parent with a new addiction, an oblivious brother, and her in a wheelchair. When a mean girls prank goes too far, every life will be altered. 


WTB is heavy and I mean hurt your heart heavy. When you strip away the duos typical insane shenanigans, you have a morality tale. Normally I would be cackling and talking about the trigger warnings these two are known for but this one, the triggers are more somber. 


I need (and want) more like WE THE BROKEN from Hawker and McHardy. Fans are going to be surprised but impressed by this new side of their voices. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image3 (16).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/29/2023
HER TEETH, LIKE WAVES

By Nikki R. Leigh

Ooooh you like sea tales? Unknown creatures? Sirens? Well, I got the novella for you, friends.


Mitch is an adventurous type of guy. Especially when he finds the exact location of unexplored underwater caves. He brings his camera and some friends along. But… you know, shenanigans happen. Then his twin sister, Kat, and her girlfriend, Jules, set off to with Pauline, their boat and guide to find out what is taking that rascal so long. Town legends are told and bodies wash up… will they be next?


Holy Toledo in a bean and cheese burrito! This was a banger. I mean, from beginning to end I was glued to this story to find out what happened next. Leigh’s story telling is freaking superb. A rollercoaster of emotions and questions, I couldn’t get enough. There is blood and gore enough for my extreme friends and a tight, perfectly told story for all of us. I can’t find a single flipping thing wrong with this book so it gets an off the chart HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 20/5.

image2 (23).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/29/2023
THE FILTHY MARAUDERS

By Bob Freville

I loved this one so much last year that the second Bob asked if I wanted to listen on audio, I jumped at the chance and everything from my original review stands.


Spunk just wants to get his band of merry misfit bikers and head to get some extra… D.A.R.E. Not approved items.  What starts off as a potentially fun little getaway, turns into a death dodging extravaganza. Will Moe, Spunk, Foxie, Scalps, Bones, Brainiac and Gary survive the getaway or will they take their big bikes to the other side?


Look, that synopsis is like Mister Rodgers in comparison to this novella. Let me make something clear, this is an action packed, gorefest of awesome.  Freville has such a distinct but genre bucking voice that no one is really in the same level of writing that he is.  Also, there is a giant cock in a woman’s vagina… not that kind you bunch of perverts.


With a mix of Splatterpunk, bizarro, and even elements of suspense, this needs to be at the top of your to buy list this month.  


It was so much fun to revisit this insanity on Audible (which I recommend highly as well) and it’s still a 5/5 from this Freville loving gal.

image0 (26).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/22/2023
TRIAL RUN

By Josh Davis

I had had my eyes on this one for a while and finally snagged the audiobook so I could get through it a bit faster and friends, I am glad I did.


Margo is a single mom to Tika, her 10 month old daughter. He friend, Rachel, asked her to housesit in a not so nice neighborhood, what could possibly go wrong? Not heeding the three omens she experienced on the way to Rachel’s will come back to haunt her… if she survives. 


This gave me WARRIOR vibes for some reason and I loved it so much. Not to the extent of the movie but you will get it when you read it. Davis takes us on a splatter-y, human trafficking, gang turf drawing, vengeance fueled rollercoaster and holy shit was I all about it. Also, I’m a firm believer in omens so I was like, “Margo, you dumb bitch…” 


A quick paced, bloody, stress filled read just waiting to be enjoyed. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 5/5.

TrialRun.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/22/2023
ON HER HEELS

By Eve L. Fell

Oh, Eve, is there anything that isn’t amazing coming from you lately!? Three freaking bangers from this gal and I am a stan for sure.


Ashton has a type, (don’t we all). He pays their bills, visits them at work, and keeps them safe from the bad guys… except him. When Irina becomes his next potential victim, previous loves of Ashton’s life come back to haunt him. Will Irina be his happily ever after?


Fell has a way of sucking the readers in and not letting go. She gives us a story each time that is not only going to knock our socks off but give us whiplash from the twists and turns she hands out like candy on Halloween. This one is no exception. Each story she writes is better than the last and that is so hard to do. She’s an autobuy for me and she should be for you too. 


An easy peasy HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image1 (25).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/22/2023
BLACK GALLERY

Ohhhhh, buddy. Buckle up. This is going to get crazy.


Janie wants to go to a new art gallery and Andrew is not keen on it. Who wants to go around some fancy scmancy gallery, not Andrew. When the owner, Hampton, takes a likely to Andrew’s wife, things get weird but the exhibits Andrew sees are weirder. Hampton wants to “do” Janie and Andrew isn’t excited about a threesome. Can he save her from what’s in store?


I’m in shock with this one. It’s not even close to what we are used to with an Ericmore and I’m kinda in love with it. The humor is there but turned down to a 2, which works perfectly. The gore is at a 3 so we still get a wee bit of gross. But it’s surrealism in writing. I would go as far as to say Neo-gothic surrealism. You literally feel trapped in a painting and it is the damnedest thing! This one is hard to explain but I know I need more like BLACK GALLERY. 


Give me Rene Margritte, Mark Ryden, and/or Salvador Dali vibes any day with literature and I will show up with bells on (and clothes because no one wants to see that). A DOUBLE OFF THE CHARTS RECOMMEND from me with a 20/5.

image2 (22).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/22/2023
ADDICTED TO VENGEANCE

By Stephen Cooper

*glares at Stephen Cooper*


Barrett has a bit of a kink, well, maybe it’s not a kink per se but he kinda enjoys getting the shit beat out of him and then exacting revenge. But when he meets the perfect woman and has the perfect daughter, all of that goes away. Right? RIGHT?! 


*sigh* I cussed Stephen for something in this novella. Look, you will too so let’s not judge me just yet. Cooper’s ability to write emotional devastation mixed with brutal carnage is going to be his signature. I just know it.


His ability to evoke these feelings and reactions shock me every time I read something new from him (at this writing, I have read four by him and see no signs of stopping). He is going to be someone to watch very closely and side eye the entire time. Definitely the rising star of the year in my opinion. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image3 (15).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/08/2023
THE ARISTOCRATS

Various Authors

Have you ever heard The Aristocrats joke before? If not, please pause reading and go YouTube it. Because you are going to read it in eleven different ways in eleven different authors imitating other authors writing voices and it … is… insanity. Let’s just jump in.


Tom Bradley writing as Marquis De Sade - Sade is in an insane asylum telling the Director of his production ideas that include other patients and those who have wronged him.


KD Porch writing as HP Lovecraft - Lovecraft, turned away at the Palace, sneaks back to watch Pertwee’s family’s “performance” but granny accidentally summons Asstomouth.


Mike Ennenbach writing as Stanislaw Len - Ivan wants to go to Hawaii. His government job says different. This makes you want McDonald’s and Wendy’s. Fucking Diedrich.


Dav Crabes writing as William S. Burroughs - Hmmm. I can 100% say I have no clue what happened besides the foundation joke. But I would definitely read more from Dave.


Regina Watts writing as Vladimir Nabokov - Frank Kempler just wants to go to his office but must share a can with two ladies who will make his night unforgettable.


Kevin Sweeney writing as Lewis Carroll - I will NEVER fall asleep during a play. Absolutely horrific … and hilarious.


Benzo Monroe writing as Hunter S. Thompson - Dear God. Definitely NOT for the USO. Absolute depravity.


Gary Shipley writing as Jean Baudrillard - What the fuck did I just read? Space/time, family infused after gernades explodes, self cloning. It is something else.


Sean Kilpatrick writing as Thomas Griffith Wainewright - A whole bunch of nonsensical perfection. Weird, Carroll-sequel, and provocative. 


Ben Arzate writing as James Ellroy - Holy shit. Pretty dead on with Ellroy’s style. Brutal and 100% offensive. 


Justin Isis writing as Damon Runyon - Dildo Darren and Maurice the Mauritianian fo in search of a film they need to find the name to.


This is probably one of the most offensive collections I have ever read and that’s saying something. Each author has the same foundation but builds such a shithouse of insanity that the reader is left shaking their head. The five standouts are: Ennenbach, Sweeney, Watts, Monroe, and Arzate. 


A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND for anyone that can take a freaking joke. 10/5. 

image0 (24).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/08/2023
FUZZY

By Roni Stinger

I have never read anything like this and I have to have more!


Jamie is a forest/park ranger who just wants to preserve the hot springs in the park. Aaron is her assistant and resident handyman. When bodies start piling up from the pool inside the cave, more than one secret is at risk of being exposed. 


Guys, guys. Stop reading this and go get it, read it, THEN finish this review. (I know you won’t, you little scamps, but you should). I hate the water to begin with and stories like this just solidify why I refuse to even dip my toes in. It’s an ecological, body, botanical, organic horror. I’m saying all four. And there’s gore and a body count. And secrets. And oh my God. It’s perfect! 


I need more from Roni. I’m about to go on a binge so go pick this one up. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image1 (22).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/08/2023
HEADBLOWN

Edited by Merrill David

What a well-known anthology! Seriously, this is grade A selection of some of our more well-known authors and some new ones that I will start stalking… Let’s look at allllll 17.


The Passengers by Jason Nickey - Ugly neighbors lust for hot ones, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.


More by Ruthann Jagge - More money, more problems. Laura’s life goes from bad to worse before she knows it.


Y2K by D.W. Hitz - Don’t do drugs, kids, especially at the end of the world.


Envy the Earth by Heather Miller - A good man is hard to… grow? Brandy makes a mistake but gets kind of a second chance.


A Sad Song by B.L. Blankenship - Revenge is best served with a side of arrows and breast pouches.


Fluffy by C. Derick Miller - Always feed the cat… and oh, don’t rape or kill people.


I’m Your Bogeyman by Ben Chadwick - Always check your closet for monsters. They may not be happy that you ignore them.


The Elephant in the Room by Merrill David - Deformed people have feelings too — and they can get people pregnant.


Drunk Girls and Ouija Boards  by Kayla Krantz - Don’t get drunk and try to summon spirits. They suck.


The Tearing of the Veil by Chris Miller - If you speak from the Necronomicon, you deal with the weird things that come out of your wife’s vagina.


A Raging Heart On by Chase Will - Once Jane’s heart was broken by Chad, she gains confidence for revenge from an unlikely helper.


Call Me Auntie Betty by Bruce Cuttman - Lucifer has bad taste in demons. They like making minions and whatnot.


Children of the Porn by Matt Micheli - Want to stay relevant and hot? Get an Only Fans and listen to the highest tipper.


Temple by Megan Stockton - When a one-night stand’s possible STD becomes much, much more.


The Fixer Upper by Eric Butler - Joanie can’t catch a break. Out of the fire, into the pan as they say.


Brother Francis by Jay Bower - Brother Francis wants atonement for sin and will get it anyway possible.


Kafka and the Fly by Mike Ennenbach - Insurance companies are the devil. This story is absolute perfection.


Top 5: Ennenbach, Nickey, Butler, Jagge, and David. This will be a top anthology for me this year without a doubt. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

Christina's Critiques: Text
HEADBLOWN.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Image

07/08/2023
BRO TOMAHAWK

Various Authors.

BRO TOMAHAWK - various


I love Drew and his Xtreme label but this one may be the one. The one that raises some ruckus. Let’s just jump into it:


Angry, Armed, and Bleeding from the Anus by Terry Musalata - Ma Kelly lost her daughter and grand baby to ban outlaw gang led by Otis Travesty. Will she get her revenge or die trying?


The Ballad of Dickfingers McGee by Scabs McDumpster - Dickfingers McGee and the Coitus Kid must battle his foe Mollywop Jenkins and her posse. Both have secret weapon but will secrets from their past be the end of them both?


Cowboys of Extinction by A. Cunt - Jesus Christ. I have no idea what happened in this story. It’s like JABBERWOCKY but on acid, crack, and LSD. Um… yeehaw?


Prematurejacushowdown at Dusty Pisshole’s Saloon by Marty St. Hubbins and Vagina Steve - Philetus ain’t too fond of Leaky-eyed Jesper filthy mouth and demands a showdown. When the whole town comes for the excitement, will they stay for the climax?


Billy the Mong by Raw Dog and Henry Wankstein - This story alone will get this book cancelled. Holy shit. DO NOT read this is you have any politically charged triggers. You’ve been warned.


Bukkake Hoedown by Fanny Hertz - Lucille is feeling her age; wrinkles, gray hair, and a hairy mole. Even she finds a cure for aging, will she be the belle of the ball like Cinderella or end up an ugly stepsister?


The Cuntslingers by Armitage Shanks - Some fights are settled with guns, others with fists. The fight between Billi the Clit and Clamitchy Jane is a bit different; fashionable and wet.


A Crippling at Shit Fucker Creek by Thrash Frankenstein - What does a werewolf, Wendigo, and a pretty boy who is not a cowboy have in common? Read this story and find out.


Cholera Goldrush by Freddy Fatberg - When Doctor Ryder comes to town, everyone will do anything to avoid him and his shit stirring. 


An absolute insane read from the first page to the last. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one. 10/5.

image3 (14).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/01/2023
BLADEJOB

By Lucas Mangum

It needs to be said again, I am a Lucas Mangum fangirl. I love his works and his ability to show difference author voices but… I especially love when he writes about wrestling (see PANDEMONIUM co-authored by Ryan Harding for more awesomeness).


Brian “Bad Guy” Hearns just finished a twenty-five-year stent in prison, during which he lost his wife and daughter because of something he didn’t do. Now, he has been given a chance to restart those years, will he or will it all be for nothing?


When I say this book has it all, I mean it. Wrestling, occult, dual timelines, family, loyalty, regret, creature feature, sex… everything. It has a Christmas Carol feel to it and I’m not sure if it’s intentional but I freaking loved it. There’s a bunch of gore too. Like a ton. Mangum really has us down for the count for this one. It’s phenomenal and I am obsessed with it.

A HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend. 10/5.

image0 (22).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/01/2023
ENHANCED: A HOLLYWOOD MYSTERY

By Ryan Hyatt

Dave is on a mission to find out the truth behind a murder. Who does he have help him? Marilyn Monroe and Easy Z, of course! When technology can be manipulated and questions answered to an old murder, is there a downside that isn’t being seen?


Hyatt rocks my socks off with his newest story. One with commentary on technology, what should be considered cold cases, and even the effect such technology has on children, this fifty-three pager packs a punch. Heavy on intrigue and suspense, Hyatt delivers a winner (again).

A HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 5/5.

image1 (21).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/01/2023
RESIDENTS OF HONEYSUCKLE COTTAGE

 Elizabeth Davidson

Laura and Monique want a quiet life in the rural countryside after a situation in their previous city. What begins as an idyllic setting turns sinister when their neighbor Dougal tells a local tale of Wiley, another name for Death. While Laura has cause to believe Dougal is telling the truth while his seemingly hateful wants to keep secrets, everything comes to a head at the town fair.


Holy Toledo, friends. Talk about oppressive, eerie, and unnerving literature. It’s like THE YELLOW WALLPAPER mixed with don’t trust anyone… including yourself. The prose is stunning and the imagery of the countryside is phenomenal. I’m stunned by how freaked out I am after reading it. I don’t get scared often with books but this one did it for me. There is little gore and no on page kills and I’m still side eyeing every little sound in my house. 


If you are looking for something spooky and unnerving with very little gore, this is the one to pick up immediately.

A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image3 (12).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

07/01/2023
THE BALLAD OF HARLEY HECK

By Stuart Bray

Oh, Stuart (pronounced like Roald does in Letterkenny)…


Harley Heck is a scamp. A terrible, murderous, raping, scamp. As he has found himself in a no-win situation being jailed, the Sheriff has asked if he would like to tell his story before his hanging. The stories unfold and the body counts rise. What will Heck’s finally words be?


Bray does it again! His ability to make the reader feel complicit in the story’s events astounds me. I don’t want to witness these shenanigans! I don’t want to be a voyeur to depravity! But I’ll be damned if I’m not. The characters are so fleshed out and somehow relatable (not Harley), even at the darkest of times. BALLAD also has quite a bit of humor and I found myself laughing at more than I should have. 


Another absolute must read from Bray. A HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image2 (21).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/24/2023
JASPER AND THE APPALACHIAN ZOMBIES

By Jason Nickey

This asshole messed with my emotions too many times. 


Trent needed to get away from the big city and moved out to Ghost Holler. When he meets his neighbor, Jasper, an instant friendship is started. Through tweakers, cults, Florida living, and actual zombies, their friendship stands the test of time… (s). (You will get that when you read it.) A fast paced, cackle fest that will take you on an emotion rollercoaster more times than you want.


Nickey can suck an egg because of the emotions he had me feeling. I even sent a few hateful DMs because I was upset. UPSET! The relationship between Jasper and Trent was endearing and relatable. We all want that one person who just gets us and will give us shit when we need it. 


What is most interesting about this book though is that it feels like three different books, but it works. We feel like a part of the journey, that we are Trent and have to see Jasper naked half the time.


An absolute must read! A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image0 (20).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/24/2023
DEVIL WON'T LET ME BE

By Chad Farmer

This book… just… 


Herman and Amanda Masterson have had the short end of the stick. Abandoned by their addict parents, they moved from foster home to foster home and the abuses followed them too. When their high school janitor uncle adopts them, life gets better, right? Right? Nooooope. So, so much worse. Just … gotdamn, so much worse.  With bullying that forces one sibling into silence while the other makes a bargain they do not completely understand, the blood will flow as will hidden truths decades unknown.


Gotdamn. That was my thought and I said out loud at least fifteen times. DWLMB is brutal. And it’s relentless. I can handle a lot of sexual assault in my books, but I had to walk away from it a few times. But what Farmer does is write in such a way that you HAVE to know what happens next, even if it the most depraved, repulsive, uncomfortable scene yet. (And friends, there are plenty of them). 


I don’t know what I expected with it. I didn’t expect such a well written story with characters that pull on every heart string you have. It’s an absolute must read if you can stomach it. I would rank this as one of the top three hardest novels for me to get through.  I’m interested to see how he will top DWLMB and I’m a bit scared.  A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

IMG-2850.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/24/2023
LIFE SUPPORT

By Elton Skelter

Have you ever had a book that changed your life, but you don’t want to revisit it because it hurts too much? The characters become best friends, the love between characters make you remember what it’s like to feel, and for a minute faith is restored? But when the last sentence of the story leaves you sobbing uncontrollably for so many reasons explaining yourself would be a feat that is unattainable? Well, read this fucking book then.


Derek Steadman goes to a form of AA. It’s for people with uncommon afflictions; alien hand syndrome, cyclic vomiting syndrome, persistent sexual arousal syndrome, and so on. When members start disappearing or worse, Derek and his merry band of misfits must find out what is going on. But who is to be trusted? Who will figure it out and will it be too late?


I have not been able to shake this book and it’s hold over me for over a month. Skeltor is not only someone to watch but someone to put stock in. Characters alone, Elton surpasses many well-known authors celebrated right now. Add in the plot, pacing, world building and you have almost literal perfection. Why not complete perfection? Read it and you will find out. He ripped my soul out, stomped on it, put it in the blender, hit purée, and made me watch. And I BEGGED FOR MORE! It’s number four for the 2023 for me. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

IMG-2849.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/24/2023
GAME OVER

By Eve L. Fell

Eve is … I’m telling you, she’s one to keep our eyes on.


Paul Ramsey paid a bunch of money to remove an obstacle in his path to his perceived promotion. When the day comes, he’s left with more than wounded pride. 


She got me! You know when you are in deep in a story and all of a sudden your brain literally puts the last puzzle in? That happens in this story and it’s oh so satisfying. The gore is insane, the story is quick yet completely immersible, and somehow the characters are somehow relatable. (When you read it, you will understand that statement.


Like DOLLS, GAME OVER is something special. I cannot wait until her next story comes out. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

COMING SOON !!

IMG-2852.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/17/2023
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF TOM NERO

By TJ Price

Tom Nero is a bit down on his luck. No home, no job, no stability. When a chance encounter at his favorite bar finds him back in the arms of Asa, his former fling, things get a bit weird. …. Then Tom meets Silas, the one that will save him… but Tom disappears! A commonality binds them all together but is that the only similarity? 


Um… Hi. TJ is it? Yeah, um where have you been and how can you take all of my money with your future works? Is there a prepay option because I’m not OK with only having read this. I need more. So much more from you. And I’m annoying. Ask any author I have reviewed. I come with references.


Friends, this is a breath of fresh freaking air. From the story to the characters, the formatting to the flow of the narrative. I am shook in the best way. And there is no rape, no torture, and I’m pretty sure there isn’t even blood! 


Welcome to my Top Ten of 2023, TJ. Friends, you need to pick this up. It’s about 80 pages and I promise you will be in my DMs telling me I was right. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 20/10. (It had to be doubled.)

9CFDA48A-DAD7-4C3A-88B6-90F777AAC14A (1).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/17/2023
BITTERS

By Kaaron Warren

McNubbins is a carrier of dead bodies. Up the stairs he goes day in and day out to provide generations after him with bitters. He throws them in the open mouth of the Man and continues on. When McNubbins finds the truth about the bodies, a childhood friend and professor uses that information for evil. His co-workers, Clive and Swain, and McNubbins wife, Wanda, will all have to come to terms with what is happening. The bitters may help with sickness but does it help with the evil in men?


uuuuhhhhh… this one has given me heavy boots. The book is upsetting, depressing, and well a heavy read and I loved it. BITTERS is something like I have never read before and with every twist and turn, I needed more. While a short novella, don’t be fooled. We are pulled into a world that is built around us as we move through it with the characters. It’s rich in commentary and heart. 


BITTERS is a book I needed in my life and didn’t know it. If you are looking for literary fiction that will make you fall in love with the written word again, look no further, friends. Warren has us covered.  A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 10/5.

cover (10).jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/17/2023
THE NIGHT SILVER RIVER RAN RED

By Christine Morgan

Only Christine Morgan could make me sympathize with a rapist named Horsecock…


The Carnival is in town (well, outside of town anyway) and four kids sneak out to see the attractions. They meet three others and when caught run to the nearest house… well, there is no help there, only death. Enter The Red Wolves with their bloodlust. On the other side of town, The Nasty Bastard gang is up to no good and are going to have a good time at the expense of others. And there’s Horsecock. The people are unprepared, but the outlaws are outnumbered. Who will make Silver River run red?


I’m used to smut from Morgan, but you know, I didn’t miss it in this one. The on-page kills were brutal, and the story was a slow burn (I LOVE those!) DO NOT LET THAT DETER YOU! TNSRRR is insane and blood soaked. A perfect addition to the Splatterwestern series and I can’t get enough of it. A definite recommend 4.5/5.

image2 (19).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/10/2023
A SAVAGE BREED

By Patrick C. Harrison, III

I was not prepared to love this as much as I did. Like at all. Let’s get into it.


The Tate Gang is some of the luckiest sidewinders in the west. Elizabeth is a smart ass that just wants to see California. James Haggard is on the trail of those he thinks is responsible for ruining the loves of his life. When all three stories converge with the Night Tribe in the mix, some will live to tell tales, others… not so much.


Stop reading this review. Seriously. Go buy this one. I can wait.


… done? OK, good. PC3 went all out in this one and because of that, unseated Chandler Morrison as my favorite Splatterwestern. I know, I’m as shocked as you are. Not because I didn’t believe PC3 had it in him, I just… Shook. That’s what I am. And how I fell head over hells in literary heaven with Liz is beyond me. She is fucked uuuuuuuuup. So much so that I was like… this child is not OK but I dig her so much.  Every character was like that though. Even the most repulsive and terrible were a favorite. 


I am currently on a Harrison binge and I’m not seeing any end in sight. He has a unique writing voice that I’m finding I love. 


One of my most HIGHLY recommended so far. 20/5. (Yes. Double my normal off the charts.)

image0 (19).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/10/2023
THE UPSIDE-DOWN VOICE THAT SPEAKS BACKWARDS

By R.J. Benetti

I was lucky enough to check out the first 10,000 words a long time ago (like six months or so, maybe more I forget time exists most days). What he completed was a twenty-two short story extravaganza of amazing! I can’t go over all of them because most of us have the attention span of Dory from FINDING NEMO so let’s look at my Top Five.


Gather Your Stones - A condemned man takes a few extra people with him.


Sweets and Treats - Keep your pervy old man hands off the little kids or bad things could happen.


The Breadcrumb Trail - This story is what happens when something seems too good to be true and how sheep should always question.


International Death Day - The main character craves death but Death doesn’t crave him.


And my absolute favorite! The Tale of Reginald Cleaver - Don’t screw with nature or a horticulturist. 


Every story will leave you satisfied and wanting more, it will make sense when you read them. Benetti thrives in the short story form and this collection is no different.

Such an easy 10/5 from this Benetti loving gal.

image1 (18).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/10/2023
UGLY AS SIN

By James Newman

Nick, The Widowmaker, Bullman has had a run of bad luck in recent years. Kidnapped. Tortured. Broke. You know, normal stuff. But when his estranged daughter calls, begging for his help finding her daughter, his life gets a lot more hectic. Can he find her before the final count?


I’m going to be even more honest in this review than I normally am. I was not expecting to love this one as I have not seemed to mesh with Newman’s works previously but friends, I have never been so happy to be wrong. This book hooked me from the first line to the last! I found myself excited to continue the story, I wanted to find out what happened next to Nick. 


Some may say the ending was rushed but don’t be fooled. It was perfect. Everything comes together and I had a “holy shit” moment (I love those so much). UGLY AS SIN has wrestling, friendship, family dysfunction, heart, forgiveness, torture… it really has it all. (It also has a fun little homage that I grinned ear to ear on so it gets a bit extra love for that.)


You need this. Not want. Need. A HIGLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 11/5 (extra point for the homage).

image2 (18).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/10/2023
PREY DRIVE

By Wrath James White

This is, by far, my favorite from Wrath that I have read. 


Joseph is in prison for well, eating people as we continue from SUCCULENT PREY. Selene, a crazy asf fangirl will do anything to be cursed by Joseph and Cindy, the Correctional Officer who falls in love, and his cousin Dirk, make up a core cast of characters that will be with him until the end… or his/their ends. Sexually thrilling, face paced, and on the edge of your seat drama, makes this a must read!


Wrath has a way of making me hate characters and Selene was no different. I thought it would be Joesph but I ended up liking him so much more in the sequel. The depth of the characters, even the more minor ones, felt rich and fleshed out (pun intended). There are so many hot, slip and slide inducing moments and even more bile inducing ones. 


This is my seventh of Wrath’s and I am not sure how he can top it. Everything in it was so methodical and well, perfect. Sequels are usually hit or miss with me, but PREY DRIVE beat out the original. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 10/5.

image3 (10).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/03/2023
WHEN THE MOCKINGBIRD SINGS

By Stuart Bray & Jason Nickey

These two… I tell you what…


Johnny is a bit of a hot head. When he and his partner are supposed to pick up a piece of precious cargo for his boss, things get a little … messy when he goes to blow of some sexual steam and well, it doesn’t go as planned. And it just get worse from there. So, so much worse.


I typically am not speechless after reading a story. I mean, ffs, I have read what, over 600 or so stories/books at this point. I thought I had read almost everything until these two assholes (said in a very loving way) show up in my inbox each time. It seems as though with every story (together or solo) they keep thinking, “Will Christina send us a hateful message at the end of this?”, then they cackle as they write it. 


This short novella is a lot. I mean, a loooooot. Mentally and emotionally you are brutalized through the whole damn story. And friends, I can’t get enough. A HIGHLY RECOMMEND (for those with the stomach, that is) 10/5.

image0 (18).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/03/2023
EATEN BY EVIL

By Ash Ericmore

Sally loves Trevor, Trevor loves power. When he gets Sally addicted to heroin at 14 years old, her life completely falls apart. She subjects herself to desperate acts and is manipulated into trusting the wrong people for the high.  When she is forced into fight or flight, everything will come down to how much she wants to live for that next high.


EATEN BY EVIL is completely different than what I am used to reading from Ericmore. Gone is the dark humor we see in the Alex Cole series and can I be brutally honest? I love this side of Ericmore’s writing with the  more realistic, gritty, and raw storytelling that he is showing he can excel at. I love his humor, I mean, I’m a bit in love with Alex Cole but the depth of desperation and depressing characters are stunning to read. 


A HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image1 (16).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/03/2023
WAX FIGURES

By Aaron Weese

I love debut novellas or novels, they can give me a new author to keep my eyes on and friends, Aaron is one to watch.


Neil is hired at Madame Pinault’s wax museum to help restore some of the not so well done wax statues.  When Neil notices the most breath-taking man he has ever seen, he begins to follow him.  Neil uses the Adonis as his muse for creating a bygone killer, things start to get complicated. Will the legend come to life or is it all a 50+ year old rumor?


Guys, WAX FIGURES… wowzer. It’s a thriller, vampiric, m/m romance that feels like an older slasher movie. And I loved it all! There’s something special about this that I can’t exactly nail down for some reason but I will be thinking about this in the coming months. It’s like a The Picture of Dorian Gray mixed with some vampires. Maybe that’s why I love it so much. It’s very Oscar Wilde in style and feel. 


A HIGHLY RECOMMEND from this new Weese loving gal. 10/5.

image2 (17).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

06/03/2023
HUNGERS AS OLD AS THIS LAND

By Zachary Rosenberg

HUNGERS AS OLD AS THIS LAND by Zach Rosenberg


Splatterwesterns have fast become one of my favorite new genres and HUNGERS is at the top of my recommends.


The novella starts on the battle field with Abraham saving Cyril’s life. Nineteen years later, Abraham’s daughter, Ester and her the love of her life, Siobhan, must make the difficult trek to another town with the help of the Hungers. But when Cyril comes back into Abraham’s life as a mercenary sent to destroy anything in his way, old debts are collected and hungers will be satisfied.


Um… first off, WHO IS THIS AUTHOR!? I was on the edge of my seat from the first page to the last. There is so much happening but it all ties in so beautifully. Anti-semitism, greed, racism, gay representation, and theft of land are all predominant commentary in this story along with a strong cast of characters and even stronger story line. I’m so impressed by this author! I can’t wait to check out more from him in the future.


And there’s so much blood! So don’t think there isn’t any because Rosenberg gets pretty damn creative and refuses to allow the reader to walk away unscathed from gore. An absolute must read for Splatterwestern fans. A HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image3 (9).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

5/27/2023
TWO MINUTES WITH THE DEVIL

By Matt Micheli

Matt is an instant buy author for me after reading his short story (novella?) WHITE. So when he was asked if I wanted to check this one out, I tried to be professional but it ended up being a “fuck yeah”. 


Kids are missing and no one knows why. Is it the devil? Is it a serial killer? Max, Fred, Michael, Alice, and Phillip become a part of the evil happenings in the town whether they want to or not.


Matt did it again. He made me a part of this universe with his writing and I was not prepared for the journey. Also, can I talk about something. I don’t give two shits about animals in books. Normally, they are used as a manipulation device and guess what, this bitch can’t be manipulated… until this story. While I didn’t cry, I did say out loud, “you dickbag”. That’s what Micheli does, he makes you forget you are in a story and just watching the events. 


I don’t like it one bit. I like it lots of bits, the dickbag. Playing on nostalgia from the 80s, urban legends, and monsters that are not always made up, he has a winner with this one. Fast paced, edge of your seat suspense, and twist after twist makes this a HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 10/5.

image0 (17).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/27/2023
SIRENS AND SEAWEED

By Candace Nola

Captain Black Hammer (nicknamed for his weapon of choice) is in charge of the Silent Seaweed. When a violent storm partially destroys the ship and leaves the Captain with a bonk on the head, the crew is veered off course but near land. Old memories come back to haunt ol’ Black Hammer and the Sirens are there to remind him.


53 pages. That’s how long this story is and Nola writes as though it’s 300 (I wish it was). The story starts off with Pip, the 11 year old cabin boy being seasick and ends with absolute depravity. The dreary, oppressive atmosphere that she weaves with the beauty of the Sirens is astounding. And all within 10 days! 


A historical throwback to some land loving pirates, add in some vengeful Sirens, and you have a short read packed with blood, guts, and so much more.  I have loved everything I have read of hers but this shows her talent in so many different ways. Although, I will never forgive her for Davey. NEVER! But I still HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one… even if it’s out of spite. 10/5.

image1 (15).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/27/2023
THE WORLD BENEATH

By Chisto Healy

This is my first by Chisto and I can promise it won’t be the last. 


Taylor and Sarah go missing after they dive down into a black hole in the sea. When Sarah’s dad, Mom, fiancé, and a friend go in search for them, the sea holds more than secrets. In a fight for their lives, creatures, caves, and the dark unknown will make it difficult to reach the surface.


This story was all over the place… but stay with me, friends. Imagine a fish - zip, zip, zip, and your eyes are ping ponging back and forth to keep up, that’s WORLD BENEATH and it freaking worked! It worked perfectly. Healy masterfully keeps the reader in the action while simultaneously making you question every dark spot and every corner in the story.


Creepy, unnerving, and claustrophobic. HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image2 (16).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/20/2023
HOW THE SKIN SHEDS

By Chad Lutzke

Let’s just get into it.


Garrett visits his sister, Diane and niece, Nadine but unfortunately Garrett walks into a bloodbath. While on the trail for his sister’s killer, he enlists Franklin, a recently freed slave and his revenge seeking, albino niece. Will the trio find the killer or will they be added to the victim count?


Lutzke knocks this out of the gotdamn park. Writing characters with depth, relatable flaws, and a vengeance unlike many others I read, this is top in the Splatterwestern series. There wasn’t a lull in the story and the reader is intent on finding out the resolution as much as the characters are. I have read a few by Chad and this is, by far, his best. 


I do have to point out my favorite character, Franklin. I mean, the man obtains his freedom from being a slave only to become a slave to an insane fate. Always having a witty or positive comment, Franklin is this story even though he’s meant to be a supporting character. 


Definitely a must read and a HIGHLY RECOMMEND from this Splatterwestern loving fangirl. 10/5

image0 (16).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/20/2023
DOLLS

By Eve L. Fell

I’m calling it now, Eve is going to be the new IT girl. Mark it on your calendars so you can remind yourself I was right. Do it now. I will wait.


Sarah and Lindsey think a night on the town is just what the doctor ordered. But the roofie is the least of their worries as they wake up in a warehouse where the game is to survive, by any means possible. Secrets are revealed and blood is spilled in this insane debut.


OK. Look. I devoured this book so damn fast. The suspense is top freaking notch, characters perfection, and the plot is so quick you get whiplash because of all the twists and turns (and not just from the maze). Fell ain’t playing with us or holding back and I’m here for anything this woman has in store for us. 


As a Top Ten for 2023 (oh, yeah, it’s that flipping good), it’s a no-brainer that’s it’s a HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 10/5. 

image1 (14).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/20/2023
TO STARE DEATH IN THE EYES

By Eric Butler

Another Splatterwestern! I’m as shook as you are. 


Irving Fountaine feels guilty about leaving seven settlers on their own but comes back to only six… dead. Someone has taken his love, Sarah, and he is on a war path for her. When he meets Annabelle they go in search of her sister too. Old ghosts come back to haunt Irving and not everyone will get their happy ending. 


Butler rocked my socks off with this one! Full on brutality and blood everywhere plus a bit of body horror and creature banging, makes this one a must read.


I really hope to see more like this from Eric because this was amazing! RECOMMEND. 5/5.

image2 (15).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/13/2023
Bleeding Rainbows and Other Broken Spectrums

By Maxwell I. Gold

I love poetry (I know, it’s a shock to most) and one with a cover like that? Please, stick in literary fork in me, I’m done.


Gold intertwines his soul with the reader's for journeys through forbidden love, interstellar truths, and erotic impulses while bewitching our senses with BLEEDING RAINBOWS AND OTHER BROKEN SPECTRUMS. And my God, was I ready for it. 


Below are some of the lines I HAVE to share, I mean come on with these!


“I lost my body, destroyed/Myself in a bed that became my grave…”


“… this ancient sensation drenched in guttural pleasures, moaning with erotic blasphemies as stars made love with daemons in the dark.” 


(HOLY SHIT, RIGHT?!)


“Nothing is ever what it seems, though through the rose-colored nights and cheap, blended colognes, I felt the warmth of someday caress the welts on my shoulders, black eyes, and bruised dreams of self-worth.” 


(MAKE ME WEEP, WHY DON’T YOU?)


Each poem is a kaleidoscope of emotion and eventual redemption that will leave the reader breathless. And I would be remiss to not mention the stunning formatting. The full color artwork is beautiful AND erotic (penises galore!) and the page edging is spectacular.


You can tell there was thought, love, and many tears involved in something so perfect. I am 100% obsessed with this book and I know you will be too. HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image0 (15).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/13/2023
Shop Til You Drop

By Kelvin V. A. Allison

When I saw in February that Allison was writing this, I squealed. I LOVE retail store stories (see my obsession with THE NIGHT STOCKERS by Triana and Harding). So I was ready… then he took his sweet freaking time writing. But never fear!, I promise it was worth the wait.


Neve, Scooter, and David have some customers that just make life miserable in their retail jobs. When a chance meeting gives them the golden ticket for some pay back, it’s not at all what they expected. With a cast of depraved and sinister misfits ready to dole out karma, no one is safe from their comeuppance. 


Well, well, well, Mr. Allison you know how to build a rollercoaster of insanity! This is a wild ride, friends. Just when you think you have it figured out… nope. And kills are so fucking brutal. Meat cleavers, cheese graters (uggggh), and meat slicers are utilized in nefarious ways. 


But what really got me was how the reader latches on to certain characters. Did I send a hateful message after one particular scene? Yes. Do I regret it? Never.

SHOP TIL YOU DROP is such a fun and quick story. SUPER DUPER RECOMMEND 10/5.

image1 (13).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/13/2023
Last Of The Ravagers

By Bryan Smith

Oh, Mr. Smith, you got me with this one. This is my third by Bryan and by far my favorite to date (ignore my recent bias tendencies.)


Snakebite is just a classic western town until it becomes ground zero for a showdown with an inter-dimensional necromancer. Well, then all bets are off. 


Guys, this one rocked my socks off! It was sci-fi, western, SMUT (I will get back to that because this man can write some of the hottest sex scenes), splatter, and a bit of romance. And somehow, some way, it all works and works perfectly. I have read almost all of the available Splatterwesterns and I would put this in my Top 2 of the series. 


Let’s get back to the smut. Here’s all I will say: zombie/human lesbian finger play. You’re welcome. Now go buy it.


I can see why this is up for a Splatterpunk Award this year. And while the competition is fierce in the novel category, I can see this one coming out on top. We shall all see come August! HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image2 (14).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/13/2023
The Resurrectionist

By Wrath James White

Oh look, it’s a character I absolutely loathe… Fucking Dale.


Dale has a gift. He thinks it’s from God but anyone else knows it’s from Satan. When Dale becomes obsessed with his neighbor, things get rape-y. Real rape-y. Can Sarah and Josh prove that Dale is not the wimp he pretends to be or will they end up falling apart?


I don’t know how Wrath does it. He makes me hate a character so much that I beg the literary Gods to kill them off. THE RESURRECTIONIST is fucking intense and stress causing. There are so many twists and turns you have to hold on for dear life not to get thrown off.


Did I love this book? Yes. Did I cuss Wrath? Yes, and I’ll do it again, ha.


HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 4.5/5.

image3 (8).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/06/2023
SLUSH

By Glenn Rolfe

Glenn posted about this 2014 collection of short stories and I’m like, “Yes, yes I give this bad boy a whirl.” And I’m so damn glad I did! Let’s look at each story individually.


Skull of Snakes - A cursed coin makes one young boy’s life very difficult… and lonely. (Emotional damage alert.)


Sweet 16 - This boyfriend may be older but he ain’t wiser. Also, if he can’t have her, well, there isn’t another choice.


Jackie Boy - Jackie has a hankering for something not so common and no one is going to narc him out.


The Curse - Coaches aren’t always looking out for the best interest of their athletes but the past will always find them.


The Delicious Death of Parker Stevens - Creepy, crawly, and dark this one is a mindfreak and a half. Also, I hate the woods, just saying.


I’m in Here - Two words: emotional damage.


Henry  - Sometimes our idea of self-beauty isn’t worth the pain. (This one stings the ol’ emotions.)


Something Lost - sometimes we don’t know what we have until it’s gone.


Ballad of the Best-Selling Author - What happens when your disdain of zombie literature goes too far. 


Candle Magic - a writer’s ritual explained.


Flaws - Dennis realizes he has a flaw. Unfortunately, so do some others but too late. (My favorite of the collection.) 


Halloween Worm - What happens when your bully actually needs your help to defeat an evil? This story will tell you.


I don’t care this collection is almost ten years old. What I do care about is that you read them. Rolfe has a way of pulling you in and not letting go. I went through this collection in one sitting; I couldn’t stop reading! This is my first but I have others by him so prepare for an author binge! 


I suggest picking SLUSH up immediately. A HIGHLY recommend. 10/5.

IMG-2243.JPG
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/06/2023
THE BOYFRIEND

By DE McCluskey

Friends, this is going to be a top novel for many in the community, I just know it. From the opening chapter to the last, McCluskey keeps us on the edge and anxious as hell.


Lisa has the perfect boyfriend, Sean. Her parents love him, she loves him and she’s ready to give him something that can be given once. But sadly, things do not go as she expected. 


THE BOYFRIEND is not for the faint of heart. It’s a difficult book to read because it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. McCluskey takes that fear and forces the reader to not only face it but to face it brutally. And I have to mention the whiplash it causes. Just when you think you have figured it out, you don’t. 


I have read a lot by DE from his children’s novels and graphic novels, to his splatter books and I’m here just going to say it, it’s his best to date. I cannot recommend it enough so… HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 5/5.

image0 (14).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/06/2023
1000 SEVERED DICKS

By Matt Shaw & Ryan Harding

Full transparency: I was not a complete fan of this one the first time I read it. (Insert collective gasp here.) BUT! I’m a bigger fan of it the second time around. Let’s chitchat. 


A man has had a rough go of life, especially from his wife, Eloisa and his best friend, Tommy. After some unsuccessful mediation that Eloisa and Tommy do not want to take part in, the man intends to set the rest of the world right or bad things will happen. When his plan hits a small kink on his last example, things get a bit confusing.


I’m not sure why this one didn’t hit the same way the first time but sweet summer children, it did this read. The pizza cutter scene is classic Harding. It’s so uncomfortable yet you can’t stop reading. 1000 SEVERED DICKS is brutal as hell so be prepared. Though I really don’t feel like I should have to warn since, you know, the title… but I will. Shaw and Harding co-author but their writing voices are so distinct you can pick out who wrote what very easily. Usually that would be a bad thing but this one just works.


An obvious HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 5/5.

1000sd.jpg
Christina's Critiques: Text

05/06/2023
THEY HIDE: Short Stories To Tell In The Dark

By Francesca Maria

Well, Francesca is now officially on my radar with this collection. Like, damn. I want to chat about my four favorites (even though there are thirteen).


The Wysterfield Murders - Goody Sarah keeps losing friends in a horrific way. When she sets out to find the cause — she finds more than she bargains for. (This has some of the most disturbing non-splatter imagery I have read in years.) 


My Brother Andy - What evil wants, evil gets. Possession, loyalty, and ignorance are all prevalent in this short story. The story is complete and phenomenal, but selfishly I wanted 150 pages more. (Can I whine for a novella maybe?)


The Perfect Partner - a spicy telepathic, body suspended sex scene. Friends, you know I love smut and this one is hooooooooooot. (I didn’t reread this story in particular. *wink*)


A Game of Ghosts - A card game that plays for keeps. Maria uses journal entries and interviews for this story and it is my favorite out of the whole collection. It is creepy and oppressive. I couldn’t get enough. 


Usually I go through each story but I wanted to talk about this collection as whole a bit more. The title is literal perfection. Now, I don’t want to say it took me until the sixth story for it to dawn on me the point of THEY HIDE but… it did. Sometimes I have to be hit over the head to get things (you guys will get it earlier). Francesca’s ability to scare the hell out of me and make me squirm without being splatterpunk is remarkable. Somehow, there isn’t a bad story in the collection and that fascinates me. 


I could see this collection being on the Stokers ballot easily. It’s as close to perfect as a collection can get. DOUBLE HIGHLY RECOMMEND 10/5.

image3 (6).jpeg
Christina's Critiques: Text

04/29/2023
REDGRAVE

By Carver Pike

Carver Pike, this fucking guy…


On a military base, in Anchorage, AK, Sikes and Chapman are tasked with making sure Milo Redgrave stays locked in his cell. No way out for the two watchers as they are locked in for the night. Will the night go as every other night or will there be uninvited guests?


Carver. Every single time, this man gets me. REDGRAVE has suspense, thriller elements, some hot, HOT smut, gore, and so much more. In 80+ pages, Pike shows (again) what a powerhouse author he is. 


It’s a brutal, uncomfortable story. With the characters locked in, the claustrophobia is almost immediate add on the darkness, cold, and depressing Anchorage winters (I can confirm as I live there) it makes it so much worse. It gets a bit warmer with a couple spicy scenes and then he ruins your reading life with the rest.