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The Mort Report!

Book Reviews by Mort Stone

Science Museum Space Exploration
The Mort Report: Welcome

12/16/2023
IN EXCESS OF DARK

By Red Lagoe

“It’s no surprise to me
I am my own worst enemy.
‘Cause every now and then 
I kick the living shit outta me.”
MY OWN WORST ENEMY by Lit


This turned out to be stranger than I thought, but ended up being better than I expected.
This is a brooding story, very dark and gloomy, and I will admit that I was not as motivated at the halfway point to finish the story, but damn, when it picked up, I was invested right to the end.
I feel like I can’t say too much about this story because I really liked the angle it took, and I found it unique in its own way.

So, I am writing a short review and saying that this is a very atmospheric horror story and I think the readers who stick with it will reap the rewards. It might be emotionally draining, though, so prepare yourself accordingly.

5 STARS!

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The Mort Report: Text

CHASING THE DRAGON

BY MARK TOWSE

RELEASING FROM EERIE RIVER IN MARCH OF 2024

Towse went full-on Shrek with this one, because not unlike the beloved ogre feels about himself, this story has layers. Like an onion. Please keep in mind that I did not compare their looks in any way. I am not cruel enough to do that to the big green guy.

Look at the onion as it sits there. It gives you the impression that it is ready to eat, but it doesn’t dictate what it should be cooked with. And as you look at the cover of this book, you might think to yourself that it is a superhero, cartoon-ish story, but you have no idea what is waiting inside.

Take that onion and peel back that first layer. Looks nice, fresh and wholesome. And when you start to read this story, you find a guy who wants to be a hero, who hates to see the chaos around him and wants to bring back hope. You know, like you’re listening to Bonnie Tyler’s HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO in that first part.

Peel back the next layer of that onion and the smell hits you, but you manage to keep it out of your eyes. And you soon realize that this guy in the story is driven by more than just the desire to be a good guy. And the soundtrack shifts to Rev Theory’s VOICES. But there’s this glimmer of hope that comes through.

Next layer gone, and the onion is getting smaller. Of course, at this stage he will meet the unattainable woman of the night. The forbidden love in the hopeless situation they find themselves. And the song changes to something like the Arctic Monkeys’ CRAWLING BACK TO YOU—you know, there’s a sexiness competing with the darkness.

Yank back the next layer, and it squirts you right in the eye in the only way an onion can take revenge. As the tears flow, you realize that you have reached the point in the story where…for a lack of a better description, shit becomes real.

Really, really real.

Because we have moved so far past that comedic lightheartedness of the story, you can’t even remember what was so funny to begin with. Which brings us to the next song on our soundtrack. Architects’ ANIMALS catches the shift in the mood fairly well.

And as you pull back the next layer of the onion, you see a worm has spoiled the onion that you thought was so beautiful when it sat there. And the much expected pushback comes at this point. Let’s change the soundtrack to Fall Out Boy’s MY SONGS KNOW WHAT YOU DID IN THE DARK.

This leaves you with one of two options: Get rid of the onion you’d spent so much time on, or just see it as a protein bonus. And I can’t make this choice for you, because the final quarter of the story might surprise you. But I will leave you with a final song: Phil Collins’ IN THE AIR TONIGHT, but you have the option of listening to the version by the band State of Mine.


This one surprised me. A lot. While I liked most of what I have read by this author, this one blew me away. It is hands down the best thing I have read by him so far. The mix of genres does not interfere in any way with the storyline, instead, it complements it and gives it a natural flow.

Most of all, I am not quite done with the onion yet, because as you peel back the layers from comedy to crime to mystery to romance to thriller to noir to drama to horror, this story will give you more than you expect.

And at the very core, where the worm is also crying because of all the onion juices it finds itself in, there is a very deep look psychological damage caused by abuse and trauma. And you will feel with this one, so be prepared.


There is not really an audience I can pinpoint for this one, but because of the darkness and violence that ensues through the latter part of the story, I would suggest horror, thriller, fantasy, and action readers should give this one a go.


Very easy 5 Stars!

The Mort Report: Text
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The Mort Report: Image

12/09/2023
HOUSE SQUATCH

BY BRIAN BERRY

“Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Berry, you're the best”


NOBODY DOES IT BETTER – Carly Simon



I actually have no idea what to say in this review that will make it unique and original.


When it comes to novelizations of B-movie horror, Brian G. Berry stands head and shoulders above the rest. Much like a Squatch. Except that he shaved this morning so nobody will mistake him for a House Squatch.

Or will they…?


As with the other novelizations he seems to be pumping out like a bodybuilder on steroids, he flexes his visual vernacular with visionic vitality and virtue, without using any big words.


This book is exactly what you think it is – meant to entertain more than challenge, if you are willing to take it for what it is, and you enjoy B-movies, this should entertain you to no end.


5 Stars for entertainment value. 

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The Mort Report: Text

12/02/2023
HEAVY OCEANS

BY TYLER JONES

Tyler Jones is a new read for me and I decided to go into this one blind.

I will start off by saying that this author’s writing style flows really well, and it made me curious to read more by him.


This is a story about a man who visits his brother in Hawaii and there is an incident of violence that changes the trajectory of their lives. As they find themselves on a fishing boat with a captain and his son, this starts getting weird–and cosmic horror ensues.


For my personal taste, this story was a miss. It was not because the author did anything wrong or badly, I just had some trouble wrapping my head around something. I tend to have a very logical mind and sometimes I just struggle with handling something that should not make sense in our “normal” world. At around the halfway point, something happens and my mind kept struggling with accepting the image.


I think that a lesser writer would have lost me completely as a reader here–again, because of my personal taste–so I can’t fault Mr. Jones on this story. The characters have development, though I can also see that some people might want more of a back story on Eric and Jamie, but there is enough said to read some things between the lines.


Readers who enjoy cosmic/creature horror should snag this one, but also those readers who might like a little psychedelic imagery should enjoy the narrative.


3 Stars

The Mort Report: Text
The Mort Report: Text

11/25/2023

SPLATTERPUNK'S BASEMENT OF HORRORS

EDITED BY JACK BANTRY

The door opens slowly…creaaaaakkkkkkk…that fucker needs oil.

Descending into darkness, I make my way to the bottom and pull the cord hanging from the ceiling. A light comes on. And there it is…my worst nightmare…my bank manager and an IRS auditor, with stacks and stacks of papers in the EXPLAIN basket, discussing how we can get through everything in time for me to go to the DMV.


Different strokes.

Jack Bantry has brought together a bunch of really good authors to tell you scary stories in this charity anthology. I was not invited, so you can relax, they are better than the beginning of this review.


The strangest thing about this was just how diverse the stories turned out to be. And I’m not only referring to the ideas, but the writing itself. If you go from Brian Keene’s story (the final one) to Candace Nola’s story, they are worlds apart.


FRIDAY NIGHT IN DAMASCUS is absolutely horrifying and I would encourage you to read the story notes to really feel the clench in your sphincter, while SKINS is art. Yes, it is a fucked-up canvas, but…

Let me try to put it this way. I am not a fan of abstract art. I have neither the culture nor the knowledge to “get it”. I don’t take anything away from the artists, but I am just too dense. However, I was in a sanatorium once, and there was this piece of art against the wall, completely abstract, however I not only knew exactly what it was meant to be, but actually felt the sadness. 100% true, this part.

So read SKINS with an open mind, because there’s a dreamlike quality to the story that says so much by saying so little. Well done, my friend. You should be proud of that one.


But, people, I do not really care what people think is the best story in a collection like this, but the collaboration between Strand and Nelson had me on the floor, and I think the best line in the book comes from that story, but you will have to read it yourself to really appreciate why I say that. The build up to this line is pure genius:

“So I took a picture of my own dick.”


I am going to rate this one 4.5 stars, simply because there was one story that really didn’t work for me, though it has more to do with personal taste than the writing.


Please, people, we are all looking for value for money, and you will get it here, plus the money is going for a good and necessary cause, so please support this one.

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11/18/2023
OLD TOO SOON

By Brian Bowyer

“Apathy
The chosen way to be
Blindly look the other way
While you waste away with me”

 PRICE TO PLAY – Staind


Oh, boy, this one is going to ruffle some feathers!


What if…? 

  • Thomas Scholl

  • Belgica Antarctica

  • Oymyakon

  • Harvey Kennedy

  • Genomericophobia


I want to start by saying that I absolutely love this author’s style of writing – simple and straight-forward, in the best possible way. And then I am going to go off on a tangent first, so the start of this review will make sense.


There are two words that any good author should utilize when writing fiction: What if? It should be the foundation of any original story idea, because we all know an idea alone does not a story make. We need to build on it, to work out all the kinks, to show the reader your vision, to make them buy into something that may not even really exist and, most of all, to make them care.


This story is a rather bleak look at the future of What if…?

I may sound like an old man when I say this, but a lot of things in the world we live in does not make sense to me anymore. Where are we heading, as a species, if we look at the world today?


I had an interesting discussion with my mother-in-law a few weeks ago – no, this is not a beginning of a joke, we actually get along really well – about the internet and information being so freely available these days. We were talking about libraries and how we actually had to do things from our side to get information. And she said something very true:

“Today’s children have nothing left to discover.”


No, I am not inviting a philosophical debate here, but think about it: Just about anything they want to know, they can ask a small device that they carry with them (in some cases literally ask, they don’t even have to type) and the answer is provided.

And this sets a very dangerous precedent, doesn’t it?


One of the most upsetting things I’ve heard in years was a twenty-year-old who made the statement:

“General knowledge has become redundant.”


Ooh, man, I am getting hot under the collar just typing that shit, and it is probably best not to elaborate on why this pisses me off so much. But, I am also not blind, and I can see why she so erroneously might think so.


Do you agree?


Well, l am going back to the beginning of my review. Who, what, and why did I type them? Because, thanks to Google, as I sat down, I could find out the following:

  • Who was the world’s fastest yodeler

  • Which insect is endemic to Antarctica

  • What is the name of the coldest town in the world

  • Who invented the aglet? (Spoiler – it is also the person who invented the shoelace

  • How many people did I actually fool into trying to find the meaning of a made-up phobia when they saw the word


When I was a child, none of these questions would have been answered if I didn’t go to the library and did some research in actual, made-of-paper books. Hell, if I missed an episode of AIRWOLF on a Friday night, it was gone forever if somebody didn’t tape it on a videotape (and we were one of the only families who persisted with Betamax when all my friends had VHS players, because “everything is getting smaller, right?”), which also meant I had to avoid any spoilers until I could watch it at a friend’s house.


So, there is absolutely zero doubt that today’s children does not have a lack of information (although they might suffer from a lack of knowledge – can you remember the name of the coldest town in the world without scrolling back to what you’ve read less than a minute ago?), and if you take away their curiosity, what are you left with? They want to explore the unknown, far beyond what is thought of as decent, moral and every single thing we have worked toward as a species to improve ourselves.


And this makes the older generations ask:

Where will it all end? What are we going to be left with? What will become acceptable and everyday if we continue down this path?


What if…?


OLD TOO SOON takes a path in which this question is explored, and if you are anything like me, you will not really like the picture it is painting. Mostly because – I wouldn’t have thought so twenty years ago – it is probable that the world can actually degenerate into this nightmare.


So why do I say it will ruffle some feathers?


Well, think of all the shit kids (and adults) can do, and then make the main players in the story younger…


This was a difficult read for me. Very, very difficult. I have a son who is approaching his teens – it is not so far away anymore – and I have literal nightmares about what will become of him in this world. If there is only one thing I hope I can to achieve in my lifetime as a father, it would be for him to be empathetic to the people around him who rarely are, to not poison his soul and make him just another number in this life we find ourselves tumbling through.


Fuck, man, I want to avoid making him as cynical as I have become about so many things. In the end, I want him to be a better person than I am.


And it is a hard fucking road to travel, because the world messes with you any which way it can, so trying to teach him to stay calm and talk things through before reacting makes him a target. I just hope I can teach him the tools to come out the other side stronger.


Wow, this is getting very personal, my apologies, but I need to explain why reading this book turned out to be an unpleasant experience. I couldn’t completely detach, because my real life “what if’s” went nuts in my head. It touched me in some very unpleasant places in my mind and it left skid marks on my fears.


I am absolutely loathe to rate this book, because no matter what rating I choose, it will not reflect all the dimensions of my feelings.


So, this book is vile in many ways, but it is a story I will be able to recap in full ten years from now. It was brilliantly written in my opinion, yet the reading experience left an uncomfortable taste in my mouth.

Can I rate this in the middle?

Hell, no, because the author did his job.

Can I rate it full marks?

Hell, no, because I really did not like what it did to me inside.


I will recommend it to the following readers:

Lovers of transgressive fiction and stories that pushes the boundaries of morality, this is a must read for you.

People who feel they have no triggers and want something beyond blood and gore (which it does have, but the power of the story far exceeds the visual), this is a must read for you.

Horror lovers in general who want to be physically scared, this does not have the pace you might want.

People who want trigger warnings, please avoid this story at all costs, my little lamb.


If I am forced to rate this, I will give it 4 stars, because the experience of reading this story can’t be put into a single layer. I am warning you, though, this one will stick with you for better or for worse.

The Mort Report: Text

10/28/2023
HAUNTED HAMBURGER HOUSE

BY FRANK EDLER

There is a British television show called COME DINE WITH ME. For those who are unfamiliar, five strangers get a chance to host a dinner party, each getting a different night of the week. They create their own menu with a starter, main and dessert, and plan their own entertainment for their evening. At the end of the night, the other four guests give them a secret score out of 10. At the end of the week, the person with the most points win a money prize.

The reason I am starting the review with this is because the wife and I, during our lunch break over the last week, watched it for the first time in years. And I realized something—they are doing reviews, giving compliments and critiques, sometimes deserved and sometimes not, about the night they had.

While I can understand they are competing for money, it always fascinates me to see that a nearly perfect night rarely gets more than 8 out of 10. You know, you might get a comment like:

“The starter was absolutely sublime. The mains were cooked perfectly, and the balance of the taste was absolutely spot on. During the entertainment, I was having the time of my life, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. And that dessert! It was a little taste of heaven! However, the dessert portion was too big, and it was super creamy, so I ate too much and now I feel uncomfortable, but I am still going to rate the night a solid 8!”

Or, you get the other side, where people will say things like:

“I don’t like spicy food. They served a curry. So, I am going to rate them 5.”

I am waiting for the day when someone says:

“Well, I don’t eat sugar. And I am vegetarian. And because of my hypertension, I don’t really eat salt. Or anything that burns my mouth. The host tried to cater to my needs, but I found my food rather bland.”


Here’s what I am getting at:

Even the perfect thing can be criticized.

Not everything will fall into your taste or satisfy your personal opinions.

Some people are impossible to satisfy.


So, here’s the thing:

I rate according to how I feel. There are times when I have difficulty with it, because in the world we find ourselves, it is just so easy to say something that will offend someone. But I have adjusted my narrative, and there are two things readers (and writers) should know;


  1. I don’t write bad reviews anymore. It doesn’t mean I am cheerleading all authors or that I promote everything I read, but if their story doesn’t work for me, I try to contact them privately about it.

  2. I’ve had hamburgers that tasted perfect at the right time and I’ve had average steaks, so if I rate a book 5 stars, it means I enjoyed the experience at the time of reading it, regardless of what people might find critical about it. I don’t say the stories are perfect, just that I enjoyed it immensely, or that it made a great impression.


Wow, that’s a lot before I even get to the book, I know, but I’ve heard a few things recently that made me want to clarify this about my reviews.


Frank J. Edler is an author I’ve been in contact with for a few years and we get along really well. His work can be somewhat hard to define, because it might be horror-ish, bizarro-ish humor, but he tickles my funny bone (in a non-sexual way) most of the time.


Haunted Hamburger House is another book that is meant to entertain more than scare. You have a real estate agent who is trying to sell a dump that is (possibly) haunted; you have the paranormal investigators who want to make a reality show there with the host, psychic, sceptic and cameraman. Then you have the two mysterious men who are watching from the distance. And, not to spoil it for anybody, there’s this dumpster…


Putting aside some editing issues, this story came at the right time. We all need a break from extreme stuff from time to time, and this book was extremely entertaining, and it made me laugh. So, I am not going to recommend it to the horror readers who want to be scared or grossed out, but for those who want to laugh, this one ticks all the boxes on entertainment value.


5 Stars!

The Mort Report: Text

10/21/2023
DEAD END TOURS:
ST. RALPH'S HOSPITAL

By Ashley Lister

There once was a man named Lister,
Who wanted to date my sister…
And now I will stop and let this thing drop,
Because I don’t want to end this with ‘fist her’.

Well, well, well – this turned out to be my favorite read from this author so far.

In this story you can expect charlatans, murderers, fornicators and other people of ill repute, who get a little more than they bargained for with…well, about everything. And don’t forget a little history lesson in there as well.

I was attracted to this story because asylums are probably the scariest places you can find yourself, whether it is haunted or not. Because who is to say that it might not be contagious, or that something might happen that makes them close the doors behind you. Once you find yourself on the wrong side of that door, nothing you say will ever be believed, which means just about anything can be done to you.


And the food is horrible. I mean, hello, would investing in a little salt kill you? Would setting a timer…ahem, of course, this is all allegedly and has nothing to do with the evils in this story, just what I heard…from a friend…of a friend…um…

The art inside this book is also superb, so it is something to look forward to.

Recommended to horror fans in general.

4.5 Stars

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The Mort Report: Text

10/15/2023
EXITS

Aron Beauregard-Carver Pike-Daniel Volpe-Rowland Bercy, Jr.

Four authors got together and created a podcast called Written in Red, where they talked about their writing journey so far, all the pitfalls and mistakes they have made, as well as what worked for them. It was a labor of love, something to help all the new, upcoming, struggling authors. It is well worth a listen, if you haven’t yet.

Their first obstacle they had to face was writing a promo for the show. You see, even though they were all making a name for themselves in the extreme and Splatterpunk horror genre, they were very different writers.

Carver’s idea started like this:
“When four breast…pardon me, best of friends, come together, it’s a bukakke party, but afterwards they discuss profound subjects and impart their wisdom like a cuckold-”

So, the guys stopped him there. He may know erotica, but they had to think about a bigger audience. 
So, Rowland piped up:
“Four people in a room, all dudes…hot and sweaty, let uncle bareback teach you a thing or two, boys…”

So, the guys stopped him there. They all gave Carver a dirty look for sending Rowland’s mind in the wrong direction.
So, Aron said:
“Four dark minds entwine into a foggy union of depravity where blood and guts are not frowned upon, but at the very least, expected…”

So the guys stopped him there. What about the kids, Aron? No, no, not for cooking, dammit, for listening to the show!
So, Daniel decided to step in:
“Don’t say anything before we do the research. I discovered this site on the dark web…but don’t tell my wife. She still thinks there’s hope for me.”

Finally, Jack Bantry put his foot down and said,
“Guys, guys, I listen to your show. I LOVE your show almost as much as your writing, so I will do it. I will edit a book for you. We will release it as a limited-edition print, 100 copies only. No problem. But, please, just give me a moment so I can finish my shit in peace…please get out of my bathroom!”

Jack decided to go with Urban Legends as the theme.

Aron addressed his irrational fear of eating too much salt and dying from hypertension as a result.
Rowland addressed his irrational fear of impregnating a woman, because anything is possible in Nor’lins.
Carver addressed the trauma he suffered when he went to the drive-in and partook in cannibalism…allegedly.
Daniel addressed the camping trip he regretted never going on, because what are friends for, right?

   *** ***

In all seriousness, these are four very good stories by four very talented writers, who are all super nice and supportive human beings, and great friends to have in the community.

Thank you so much for this gift, you guys, it means the world!

5 Stars!

The Mort Report: Text

10/07/2023
VANITY KILLS

By Erica Summers

It is not something I do consciously, but I tend to shy away from stories when I read the words “medical horror”. The reason is not that I have something against these stories, per se, but probably because I’ve been in the medical field for close to 30 years (bet you didn’t know that about me – and no, not going to elaborate on it) and reading horror is part of my escape.


So, I was a little reluctant to tackle this one, and I would have probably pushed it down on my TBR if I didn’t read another short story by this author that greatly impressed me. And I am going to start out by saying that this is an author to watch.


The premise is rather simple:

People with scars and disabilities enter a drug trail that might cure them. 

If this had been another genre, that might have been enough, but the words “everything went exactly as planned” rarely makes its way into horror. So…


This story is actually based on the screenplay and movie OBSIDIAN which happened to be written and directed by the author herself, but without having to worry about budget, equipment, schedules, actors and fucking producers, it is a much clearer vision of what she had in mind.


All I can say is that this story is extremely well written, the development of characters should satisfy most readers, and the horror and gore elements are not toned down, but it does not really feel extreme, either.


Looking forward to watching Summers’ star rise, because she has the chops and only needs the audience.


5 Stars

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The Mort Report: Text

DERAILED

By Erica Summers

When Summers feels like winters,
When cloudless skies start to rain,
When your personal trauma scars you,
Write some horror for the pain.

I know what you are thinking and you are right, a poet I am not. There’s more to it than making the final word in the second and fourth sentence rhyme. But there are two reasons why I started this review like that:

The first is that this story is best tackled blind. I can’t tell you more than what is in the blurb without spoiling something you should find out for yourself. There’s an accident and shit happens…


The second is that I felt really, really intimidated when I read this story. Damn, I can’t put words together like that. So, I decided to mention it in my very first review of her work – she’s better than me – so I don’t have to make myself say it every time I review her books. This author oozes talent.

Really good short story, brilliantly written.

Highly recommend it to horror fans.

5 STARS

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The Mort Report: Text

09/23/2023
MINE

BY L.M. KAPLIN

I will admit it: The cover got me.

And after reading it, I can confirm that it was perfect for this story.


Chandler is awkward, as you would expect any unemployed thirty-something who lives with his mother and is her full time caretaker. His voyeuristic tendencies from the safety of his home spins him into a wild fantasy world where he is more than what he can hope to be in real life.

And he is in love with his neighbor. His married-to-a-cop-and-has-a-kid neighbor, Samantha.

It is only a matter of time until things will spiral out of control and his mind will completely break from reality, especially now that he might lose her forever.


There are a number of surprising things about this story, but there are two things I need to highlight:

I actually felt a lot of sympathy for Chandler and, at times, were almost rooting for him.

That ending…man, that was the shit!


This was my first read of this author and he definitely has me interested in seeing what he will produce in the future. The character depth of this one is a big selling point and I can recommend it to horror fans in general. Not overly gory and I don’t think I would place it in the extreme category, though there was plenty of blood in the scenes that required it.


4.5 Stars

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The Mort Report: Text

09/23/2023
LACUNA'S POINT

BY TIM MEYER

Have you heard of a band called Lacuna’s Coil?
It doesn’t really matter, because it has nothing to do with this story.

Lacuna’s Point is a place where people get mesmerized by the clock tower and disappear from the face of the earth. Two best friends go there and they are presumed dead, but after three years their parents get text messages and a photo with the clock tower in the background.
The parents goes in search of their missing children and suddenly finds themselves in a Twilight Zone-like situation. And, of course, there is a bad guy who happens to be the mayor of the town.
So, is there any hope left for the missing girls or do the parents find themselves lost to the world too?

It can be really tricky when it comes to balance, especially when you write a slow burn as this story turned out to be. Tim Meyer is a great writer and his character development in this one is superb. For the story itself, I can’t fault him on anything.


However, it felt a little too long. It might have to do with my personal taste changing over the last few years, especially with the volume of books (and reviews) waiting, that I am moving away from slow burns. This is also the reason I have been off thrillers for a while. 

So, this is my advice to any readers who takes on this book:
If you are patient, you will be rewarded. But know that it is going to be a journey to reach your destination.

I am not going to be harsh on the author for the length of this novel and I am going to give it a solid 4 stars, for I probably would have abandoned it if the writing was not so good. Again, my personal taste, not the story.

Highly recommended to horror readers who loves the character development and appreciates the reward of a slow burn.

4 STARS

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The Mort Report: Text

09/09/2023
THE HAUNTED HALLS

By Glenn Rolfe

Well...slap me with a wet fish and call me a merman...
I did not expect to like this book as much as I did.

'Haunted' whatever stories are not my favorite. After THE SHINING and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR in the 80's (I know there will be people screaming at me about THE HAUNTING AT HILL HOUSE, but that came to my attention later), these specific stories didn't do much for me anymore. Granted, every now and then a gem would pop up - movies, I know, but I rarely read these stories after the 80's - like GHOST SHIP or 13 GHOSTS, but they are few and far between.

So, when I read the blurb, I was thinking that this would be an inferior rehash of the Overlook Hotel. However, Glenn Rolfe came on my radar some months ago and I've been reading his work.  And, Glenn, this is the first 5 star rating I'm giving, because you entertained the hell out of me with this one.

Even though some of the inspiration most definitely came from Stephen King, this story stood on its own two feet. Much more sexual and violent, but never solely reliant on shock factor, this haunted hotel story was a tense yet enjoyable breeze to get through. I'm willing to forgive some minor niggles, because they never got in the way for me - and this was a debut.

I don't know if I would have thought less of this story if I wasn't reluctant to begin with, but I had fun. You'll have to decide for yourself.


5 Stars

The Mort Report: Text

09/02/2023
THE MIDWIVES

By Duncan Ralston

Quality story. Quality writing.

What is a midwife - if you don't know, you are probably a man.
To certain rich people it could mean the second wife after he marries the third.
Some might even suggest Mike Tyson is going through a "Midwife cwisis" right now, which I find in really bad taste...funny, but not nice.

The answer is actually health professional workers who assist around childbirth. And there are women out there who would call childbirth "the most beautiful thing in the world".
Ladies, you are wrong. Giving birth is a miracle, but there ain't nothin' purdy 'bout it!
Guys, if you've never seen the process, keep it that way for as long as possible. Sure, support her, keep her calm, give her your hand to pulverize, but go through it while standing at her head. You might think you're tough, but once you've seen it with someone up to their elbows in vernix caseosa (Google that shit, man), you will never be able to un-see it. A bit traumatic, if you catch my drift....

Anyway, in this story there are five Midwives, who live on (and control) the island called Barrows Bay. Pst, I don't wanna give anything away, but think witchcraft, okay.
The oldest of them, Ruby Savage, has a son called Martin, who is a successful true crime writer. And, when one of the serial killers he wrote a book about - "Witch Hunter", who holds a grudge, escapes from the nuthouse, Martin finds himself between a rock and a hard place. You know, like bumping into your mother-in-law while running from the police.

Martin and his friend, Sheila, needs a place to hide, and while he hasn't been back in Barrows Bay for more than two decades, it's the only place they can think of.
But, alas, things are not as they seem on this island - Tum Tum Tuuuuum - and you know, fairly soon, the ship is gonna hit the fan. For the time is at hand when a sacrifice is needed...

While some elements seem run of the mill with this story, you will ask yourself repeatedly:
"Did I switch off the oven when I left the house?"
Sorry, that's my OCD kicking in. You know, Gingerbread house and everything.
But the best hidden secret of the book is why Martin was kept alive - and I can't elaborate any more on that.

Mr. Ralston, well done - this is a horror story that ticked all the right boxes. While it is not fast paced, I was never bored with anything. And, for the gory part of my palate, there was this one really sick scene, even though the author kept the blood and guts to a minimum.
While I have nothing bad to say about this one, I do think those horror fans who likes their action quick and fast might find it a little long, but the story made it worth my while.

Highly recommended!


5 Stars

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08/19/2023
WE THE BROKEN

By Simon McHardy & Sean Hawker

A few years ago, an Australian gentleman…ahem, writer contacted me and asked me to review his book. It’s humorous.

Sure, I said, I like funny stories.

A few days later I contacted him and told him I will not be able to review his book.

Why, he asked innocently.

Well, sir, you managed to make me nauseous!

Yes, boys and girls, I was not prepared for MOTHER MAGGOT, and I think I abandoned it before 15%.


But take a moment to let this sink in. His words created images in my mind that made me physically gag. And I am not really one for gross-out, I will give you that, but there was something to his writing that made me want to try him again. And at least I was prepared this time.


I read a few books by Simon McHardy and wrote a review or two, though I refused to rate them. But let me tell you the thing that made me go back – this guy is funny, and buried beneath all the vile things he writes, I have a great admiration for how sharp he is.


Then I got my hands on THE CAPTIVE DWARF, which I enjoyed, and the author was generous enough to send me THIS IS PURE FUCKING FILTH! Well, I made it a few pages in before I said; um, okay, no. This is not for me.


But when I heard that Sean Hawker teamed up with Simon McHardy, it all clicked. Of course, there are two of these fuckers, and they managed to find each other. And it made sense!


I read NEIL and, well, the two of them together was like two naughty children being put in the same place and their parents leaving them. They were pushing each other. As a side note, this is the one book I refuse to give my wife (who does not do extreme) to read, but I am not totally sure if it is because I’m afraid she can’t handle it or what she would think of me for reading it all the way through.


Yet, they are both really good writers and hilarious, though disgusting.


However, when I heard about the new story they wrote and it was something different, I snapped it up.


And then I sent them both the following message right after I finished it:

“You motherfucker!! When you have stories like WE THE BROKEN in you, by all means, write the gross-out humor kind as well, but give us more of this awesomeness! Bra-fucking-vo!!”


When I go crazy with the exclamation marks, it means I am excited.

I loved everything about this story – it was dark, yes, but it was great as well.


Very highly recommended to horror fans!


5 STARS!!

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8/19/2023
ARON BEAUREGARDS'S MORBID CURIOSITIES

By Aron Beauregard

Doing something a little different here – going to tell you a story before the reviews.

A few years ago, I decided I want to see if I could do editing. But how do you get your foot in the door? I was a nobody – a reviewer on Goodreads who started writing reviews to keep track of what I’ve read, amongst other things.

This was my plan:

I would send authors messages if I liked their stories and offer to help with editing their upcoming stories – totally free of charge, so if they were not satisfied, it was no harm, no foul. I gave myself a year, after which I would decide if it was a waste of time or if I should consider doing it for money, if possible.

I was ignored by a lot of authors, and some were nice enough to politely refuse the offer, but every now and then, somebody would say why the hell not.

Aron’s YELLOW had just come out and I saw that there were no reviews for it, so I contacted him and offered to do a review if he would send me the book. He did. When I was done, I wrote the review and sent him the message that I picked up a few edits – if he was interested, I would send them to him.

Aron is the type of guy who is not satisfied with almost perfect. Then I made him the offer of editing whatever and he told me that he was almost done with a story called WEDDING DAY MASSACRE. I edited it for him, after his original editor, and found one or two things. At the end of the day, I’m not really sure how much I helped him, but he was grateful – even offered to pay me, which I politely turned down. It was a symbiotic relationship, because I gained experience and confidence while he got just a little more polish on the story.

For that year, you will find this on the information page of every book he released: 

"Special Thanks to Mort Stone for Additional Revisions."


I discovered that year what a nice guy this extreme horror author is. He sent me some books – international, I might add, free of charge – but more than that, he let me in. He gave me the opportunity to test the waters with his work, and he allowed me to build the confidence I needed to carry on with editing.

Whatever anybody has to say about Aron, I am forever grateful that he trusted me with his babies (for any writer knows your stories are your children, too) and I have not heard him utter a bad word about anybody. And I am sure there are many others who also have their own Aron Beauregard stories they can tell.

He has earned the privilege to be called the nicest guy in Splatterpunk. I feel truly blessed to have come to know him a little bit.

His work is of the highest quality, and his Splatterpunk award backs up that statement!


Now, on to the reviews:

CAME WITH THE FRAME (Aron Beauregard's Morbid Curiosities Book 1). 

It was TV shows like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and THE OUTER LIMITS that spoiled me with expecting a twist in the stories I enjoy. All three books in this series are dedicated to Rod Serling and the inspiration is very clearly visible throughout.

The first one deals with an infamous photographer who pushes boundaries and, as you would expect from a Beauregard book, has macabre tastes for his art and personal life. But a gift will make him question his own sanity and push him further than anything he has attempted.

A solid 4 Stars.

THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE (Aron Beauregard's Morbid Curiosities Book 2). 

Yeah, baby!

I loved this one – a fresh spin on an idea that has been popularized in Science Fiction since 1895 by another legendary writer. That’s your only clue.

This one was darker than the first, but it completely fit with the world Aron created.

Can’t recommend this one enough.

Easy 5 Stars!

CEMETERY CAMP (Aron Beauregard's Morbid Curiosities Book 3) 

Troubled teens and family dysfunction – with the world going nuts all around us and the kids out of control, will there ever be a way we can save the difficult ones?

Time to take some tough love to another level – Aron Beauregard style!

The kind of sick, twisted quality you would expect from this author…and sure to offend some people, as all of his stories does, maybe he could be on to something…

Bwahahahaha!


4.5 Stars

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08/12/2023

MISCHIEF NIGHT

By Mark Towse & E.C. Hanson

Well, boys and girls, if there is one thing you can always count on from The Evil Cookie Publishing, it is good, old-fashioned quality. And blood…never forget the blood.

Towse and Hanson weaved an interesting little story which is not at all what you expect it is going to be. And I have no idea what else I can share with you that will not ruin the surprises that lies in store.

Except for one thing, which weighs heavy on my mind, and I am genuinely curious about it. I don’t know if it is simply a cultural thing, but are there really places in the world where you would still open your door to a stranger and allow them inside?

A lot of people in different countries have such a misconception of what is going on in the world. I live in South Africa. No, the lions do not roam the streets freely…we lock them up for the tourists. However, it is a dangerous place to live. And it is rare to find a house without a security door or windows that doesn’t have burglar bars. If a stranger knocks on your door at night, the reaction is more like THE PURGE…except most of us can’t afford the security cameras and state of the art security systems, but the fortunate ones have alarms and panic buttons.  

Well, if you are inclined to play the friendly host, read this first. Maybe it will make you rethink your choices.

5 STARS

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08/12/2023
PUZZLE HOUSE

By Duncan Ralston

Okay, so I will admit it – I get along great with this author. However, I get along great with a lot of authors, and I will not say the following about all of them:
I have not read anything bad or what I felt to be sub-par from this author.

Which is why I got the inside scoop and I am about to reveal the inspiration for this story.

Duncan had a weekend to himself, so he decided on a movie marathon. Of course, it started with ESCAPE ROOM, which planted the seed. Then he watched SAW. And SAW II. And SAW III. Finally he reached the point where he felt he’d seen enough SAW.
After a quick bathroom break and a TV dinner – because that’s how he rolls when he is alone – he decided to spice things up. SPICE WORLD played for about 10 minutes when he decided nope, it doesn’t get better over time.
Time for Cage! NATIONAL TREASURE and CON AIR.
That left him feeling kind of frisky, so he watched ON GOLDEN POND, because he mistook it for ON GOLDEN BLONDE, but don’t worry, he still got off because that Henry Fonda aged really well.
Feeling tired, he fell asleep watching CONSTANTINE and had a nightmare about the end of the world.

What does this have to do with the story, Mort?
Well, here’s the puzzling thing, how much of the information I have given you are clues and how much is misdirection?

5 STARS

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08/05/2023
WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?

By Bridgett Nelson

A determiner. A conjunction. A pronoun. An adverb.

There, that answer should just about cover it.

Oh, you want to be more specific, do you?

Well, “that” just happened to be three very well written, very brutal and very fucked up stories…the kind of quality you would expect from a top-notch author. 

Need I say more?

5 Stars!

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07/29/2023
SCARLETT

By Brian Bowyer

Bowyer’s name has been in my radar for a while, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to read him.

While the premise of this story is something I have read before – a serial killer artist who uses the blood his victims in his paintings – this story was better than I expected.

Now, it is not a flawless story, but it is apparent that this author has that ability that I so greatly admire: Simplicity. He uses easy to understand words/phrasing/terminology and tells it in a way that makes it seem so straight forward, it simply flows.

For anybody who has ever attempted to write a story, you will know that it takes true talent to make it seem so easy.

What I loved the most was that there was not unnecessary fluff. You simply get all the information you need and you can get on board with the ride.

Most importantly, I want to read more by this author, and that is why I will push the rating up to full marks.

5 Stars

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07/29/2023
WOE TO THOSE WHO DWELL ON EARTH

By John Lynch

This is an interesting collection and one that showcases the imagination of a very talented author. From supernatural to environmental to outer space and more, the horror stories are quite diverse on subject matter.

Now, I know there has been rumors that some of these stories may have been conceived while he was sharing a foxhole with another very talented horror author, but I refuse to lend my ears to the rumor mill. I will, however, buy the video if it comes out…

At ease, men…

4.5 stars

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07/22/2023
SORROW: BOOK TWO
UNBURIED

By Dan Volpe

There are different opinions about this, but do you know the quickest way to a man’s heart?

Some would say it is through his stomach, some would say it is through his dick. I think it was Nanny Ogg who said that it was with a sharp knife between the second and third rib.

Whatever you may believe, it doesn’t have anything to do with this story. Because Daniel Volpe knows for a fact that the quickest way to a monster’s heart is through his mouth. Which happens to be in his stomach…


Having difficulty with this mental image – look at the damn cover!

And yet, Volpe actually makes it work. 
So buckle up, sharpen your sword and go on another adventure with Sorrow and his crew.

The second Splatter-fantasy will make you wish you could get your hands on the third one as soon as possible, so make haste and devour it like your mouth is in your belly!

5 Stars

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07/22/2023
STAY OUT OF THE TUB

By D. W. Hitz

Man, you would imagine with the amount of seggs in this book, SOMEBODY would have done it in the tub, right? But nooo, hygiene always cums last…

The family dynamic is less than ideal and add to that the extra stress of moving from one house to a newly renovated one – which is not done yet – and things can get uglier than a wart on a mushroom.
This story was interesting, and it got really gory toward the end.


Recommended to the extreme and Splatterpunk crowd.

4 Stars

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07/08/2023
MICHAEL BRAY

DOUBLE REVIEW

This week I am giving a shout-out to an author who had some difficulty with Amazon recently, so he has set up his own store where you can get his books.

I discovered Michael Bray a few years ago, when it was still early in my extreme and Splatterpunk journey, so the two reviews I am posting this week was of younger, much more innocent me. However, I decided not to edit them because both these books have stuck with me (more than 200 stories later), so I still feel confident in recommending them.

MONSTER BY MATT SHAW & MICHAEL BRAY

I'm a fan of Shaw but I haven't read anything by Bray before.

The book starts with a warning, by both authors, about how bad things are going to get. Knowing Matt Shaw's work, it had me intrigued.

Shortly into the story, I was getting this TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE vibe, but at 100 pages I thought to myself that it was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

And then came the second part of the book. Within 20 pages, I felt like I had been sucker-punched repeatedly in the gut. I had to put the book down and do something "normal" for a few minutes, call it a mental time-out, before I could stomach the rest of the story.

This, my friends, is the book you need to read if you are wondering whether you might be a sociopath or not. If Part 2 can't evoke empathy from you, I doubt anything else will.

Mr. Shaw and Mr. Bray seem to feed off each other when it comes to pushing the boundaries, and these two sick fucks (compliment) can write a damn good story. 
I can recommend this one only to those who have the guts for it, and even they might be surprised. Brilliant effort.

5 STARS

MEAT BY MICHAEL BRAY

"You can check in any time you want,
But you can never leave..."
HOTEL CALIFORNIA by The Eagles.

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!
This book had me from the very first line! Within three pages on my Kindle, I had to highlight the following sentence:
"Rack of human ribs which still had the skin on one side for 'easy roast crackling'."
How can you NOT want to read this story?!

Michael Bray, you beauty you!

This story is about people in a supermarket who notice things for sale which should really not be...well, available.
Human body parts.
And then, once faced with this reality, it becomes clear that nobody will be allowed to leave.
What the hell is going on?
And how much conflict can human nature create among themselves in a hopeless situation?

The whole atmosphere of this story is very reminiscent of THE MIST by Stephen King, but everything about this story impressed me because...
No, I'm not going to give it away.

I loved this one. And that ending knocked me on my ass.
I can ask for nothing more!

5 STARS

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07/01/2023
HOUSEBROKEN

By The Behrg

Well, well, well...
What a heartwarming, family friendly story about family ties. What movie does this book bring to mind? Hmm...have you seen IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE?
Like that, only the opposite.

Cue the speed-metal!

This story was in your face. No, I don't think you got it. In your FACE! The author went for full-frontal extreme, the way this story was meant to be told.
Want a comparison?

It's like grabbing a four-year-old girl by the ears and screaming in her face: SANTA DOESN'T EXIST! NEITHER DOES THE EASTER BUNNY! OR UNICORNS!!
or
Like a mother grabbing her son's erection he wakes up with and threatening to cut it off.
shiverrrrrrr
And just to give the ladies some perspective, it doesn't even have to be a young son. The trauma will be there. Hell, a few nights ago my wife did it with me. It's not like you have any control over poking it THERE while you are sleeping. For the record - THERE refers to the kidney area, you pervs!
It put such a fright in me; I tied my wiener to my right leg with a shoelace. Only problem - I accidentally kicked her out of the bed that night!

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. She got angry about my snoring. And maybe she didn't threaten to cut it off, but the word 'vasectomy' was thrown out there. I haven't slept since. I'm actually quite tired right now.

But I digress...back to the story.

This is a different take on a home invasion. The story becomes fairly complex, but I have to give kudos to the author - he never lost me in the story.
And, people, for fuck's sake, this story goes extreme real quick, and it stays there all the way through.

However, there is something negative (in my opinion) I have to mention:


The story begins with day 6, and then it jumps back to the beginning. While I'm fine with that, the fact that you know the main character survives until day six takes away from those moments where you would have thought - will he survive this??

I also have to mention brief animal cruelty around the 100 page mark, but he doesn’t dwell on it and it is important for the story.


Overall, it was a very impressive book, but it pushes the limits a little, even though I am not sure if this does more than touch on Splatterpunk.


4 Stars

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07/01/2023
SLASHVIVOR

By Stephen Kozeniewski & Stevie Kopas

Fun! Fun! FUN!!

This book deserves six stars for entertainment value! It might not be the book to broaden your horizons and change your life, but this must have been the book that I enjoyed the most all year.

I've been thinking about the best way to describe this story since about 20% in the story. This might not be the most graceful or tactful review you come across, but this comes straight from the heart:

SLASHVIVOR! must have been the product of a Hollywood party. Actually, to be more accurate, orgy. THE RUNNING MAN hosted, MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME, THE HUNGER GAMES and GLADIATOR was there. Dark comedies like FIGHT CLUB, IN BRUGES, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS and VERY BAD THINGS showed up. PLANET TERROR made a surprise appearance. And, hey, wait a minute. Is Hannibal Lector giving a speech like Al Pacino in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY? Man, it was a wild night.
And from this night was born a script for a reality TV show that was so unprecedented that they needed a director like Eli Roth to bring it to life...

This book is a post-apocalyptic horror comedy...
After the nuclear war in the 80s only about 1% of the American population survived. And that's when this Mad Max shit started. And the Geiger Lands is probably the worst of the worst, which makes it the perfect place for the pirate show called 'Try Not To Die'...
Okay, that's the concept, but this story offers so much more. The deaths are brutal and gory, so don't think the authors held back. They decided early on that we will be the sick fucks who will laugh until we piss ourselves at all the horrible shit that happens in this story.
And, just to make it clear, there will be no cursing on air because the children are watching.
As for the mxnxkxkm... cough...
I beg your pardon. What I meant to say - cough... cough, cough... cough...
What the...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-

Finally. I apologize, ladies and gentleman, but I just couldn't let him go on any longer.
Allow me to introduce myself - I am Mort's conscience, and on behalf of both of us I have to apologize for all this cursing. I mean, come on, does he always have to drop the f-bombs in his reviews like that? He's not like that at home, you know. In fact, he never curses in front of his son. He doesn't even watch violent movies or shows when his son is there. I have no idea where he comes up with all this filth and his enjoyment of it.
Really, don't judge him by these reviews. And, for fornication's sake, don't read all this feces he advocates. It
is super violent and the humor is just wrong, wrong, wrong. I swear, I get so urined off sometimes, I'm beginning to wonder if people won't think we are just some immature penises or something...

Anyway, sorry for the interruption, I just had to get my two cents in before this anus makes us look bad again.


Cough...
I really hope I didn't give too much away in this review. It was funny as fornicate...


5 Stars

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07/01/2023
HOME INVASION

By Tom Deady

Home invasion.

Is there anything scarier? I mean, the very idea that someone can invade the one place you are supposed to safe...

Okay, it was a rhetorical question. Forget about your proctologist, Dr. Pineapplefingers, for a moment. Nobody likes a wise-ass, Larry.

Well, after reading this one, I'm probably about two books away from never, ever going anywhere secluded again. Think I'm kidding? I was about to take off the bathroom door a minute ago.
But I took a deep breath and told myself not to become paranoid...again.

So, I'm applying something I learned from a shrink, and making a list of people who would not make good home invaders:

1. Paranoid people. They wouldn't make good criminals in general.
2. People without arms. Or legs. Basically disabled people. I mean, how would they get in? Or out?
3. People with OCD. Forget about the key that must be turned eight times or the hands that must be washed at least three times with a brand new bar of soap...what if the home of the people they are invading is a mess. Like the dishes hasn't been washed for a week. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to aim a gun at somebody while scrubbing the bottom of a burnt pot? Or stepping on dog shit on the lawn, dont even get me started!
4. People with severe diarrhea. While not impossible, it seems highly unlikely that they would have the energy. And even if they do, the chances of them dehydrating and passing out is fairly high.
5. People who are in comas.
6. People who are serving life sentences in prison.
7. People who are on a different continent.
8. People under the age of 5 and over the age of 95. Again, not impossible, but I'm fairly sure I can take them.
9. Well, Dr Pineapplefingers, he's too rich to be interested in my stuff.

Take another deep breath.

See, feeling better already, aren't we. All we needed was to calm down and think positive thoughts.

Sigh.

Who the fuck am I kidding?! This book was scary!

Good story, short and to the point.
Well done, Mr. Deady


5 Stars

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06/24/2023
VEILED

By Jeff Strand

You’re going to need to go along with these visuals for a moment.

This story is like a strand of Rapunzel’s hair, after somebody tried to climb to the top and, once close, slipped and went all the way down, but still holding on, and the friction has the same effect as it would if you tried to make a curly ribbon, so this long strand of hair becomes this intricate, complicated pattern of organized chaos, that is so twisty even an extremely fit hair lice would have difficulty figuring out where it will end exactly…

And that, my friends, is what happens if you drink too much while watching cartoons…your mind actually accepts the possibility that what is it thinking makes total sense, despite your better judgment. 

The point I am trying to make is that Strand managed to spin a golden yarn, like Rumpledforesk…sorry, wait, flicked past the porn channel.

Anyhoo—I am very obviously running out of ways to review Jeff Strand books, because I had no idea what I was going to say when I sat down a few minutes ago.

Guy meets girl, there’s chemistry, guy finds out girl must be a little unbalanced—like a drunk Libra—and is hiding something, guy still gets swept up and then…

I will give Strand this—as a fan of his work who reads just about anything he writes, he managed to really surprise me with this one. The hook is extremely clever; the twists are truly surprising, and he kept me wondering right up to the end.

Loved everything about this – not a single criticism.

5 Stars

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06/17/2023
SWEET, SOUR & SPICY

By Bridgette Nelson

It has come to me!


Bridgett Nelson is Bernadette, from THE BIG BANG THEORY!!


Fans of the TV show will know exactly what I mean. Short, adorable girl who is nice to everyone until, BAM!, you pissed off the wrong lady, there – bucko. Those who laugh at your fear of her have never felt her wrath and, if they are lucky enough, will go the rest of their lives being blissfully unaware of the bullet they have dodged.


This book is the perfect example – she lures you in with her sweet little ghost pug story, until you are nice and comfortable, and then BAM! the next moment you are looking up medical equipment you have never heard of before and finding that, yes, it is actually very possible to do that to another human being, and then to decompress she throws a third story at you that makes you wonder why…oh why, does sex have to be such a dirty birdy thing!


High quality, but too extreme for the average horror reader, perhaps – don’t you ever underestimate this woman. She can throw them in there with the big boys…right until she cuts something off!


5 Stars

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06/17/2023
TWO MINUTES WITH THE DEVIL

By Matt Micheli

1986.

I miss the eighties. When I was growing up. When I was discovering things. When I had no idea how the world actually worked.

So, what happened in ’86?
A lot of cool shit, that’s what!

Kenny Loggings took us to the danger zone, where fighter jets could fly upside down and you could give the enemy the finger, scaring them away.
Ferris took a day off to help his best friend discover himself, William Dafoe got shot to shit in ‘Nam, Queen contemplated mortality while men fought with swords until they summoned lightning, Jeff Goldblum gave his best performance when he became an insect, Kim Basinger shot to fame for showing some boobs and ass, an Australian made fun of an American knife, three actors misused the word “infamous” to the most hilarious of consequences, Stephen King had an ATM call him an asshole in the movie he directed, Daniel-son made a return, Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines gave a guy grief for not practicing safe sex, and Madonna was in a movie with a Penn.
Eddie Murphy was on the music charts, the movie soundtracks were all over the charts, Falco shot for classical music…kind of, there were bands with names like Scritti Politti and Nu Shooz, Robert Palmer admitted his addictions, Lionel Richie could literally flip the room and we started doing the Walk of Life.

To say this book made me nostalgic might not be a stretch.

It is a coming of age story and it is written well – I think most horror lovers will find something they like about it.

However, the ending…
I love cliffhangers and I love open endings, most of the time. But this time I wanted some kind of conclusion. I am pretty sure there is a follow up coming on this, but until I can see the final battle, I can’t give this one the five stars it probably deserves.

So, pending the continuation, I will rate this 4 stars.

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06/10/2023
A STORY OF SORROW

BOOK ONE: OF FLESH AND BLOOD

by Daniel Volpe

I don’t know if my opinion will hold much water on this book, since I was one of the editors. But I will say this:

As someone who can be very particular about what they read and who is not really a fan of fantasy, it says a lot about the author if he can make me want to read more of this series.

Horror and fantasy fans, treat yourselves to this.

5 stars.

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The Mort Report: Text

06/10/2023
SKINSLUT

By Finn Vandergrift & Regina Watts

This story reaches levels of depravity that will not only make a lot of people uncomfortable, but will ABSOLUTELY get judged by readers who are not ready for the genre.

So, cannibalism is legal—if you have a contract—and that would make consensual murder legal as well.
But that wouldn’t necessarily mean that people wouldn’t get judged and still have to live in the shadows about their particular kink.
Enters college student Erica, on a journey to discover…well, everything.

Look, I am a fan of Regina Watts, even though I’m not that big into the erotica side. I think she is an immensely underrated author, and she has this fine sense of humor that I think is absolutely hilarious.
But she pushes the boundaries—she manages to take me to places where I am not comfortable sometimes, and this makes it really hard to rate her work.

This was my first read for Finn Vandergrift, so I am not sure if I should say “Shame on you!” or “Ooooo-kay, then”…

With that in mind, for their superb writing and a really fast-paced story, I am going to rate this 
4.5 Stars–but with a warning:

If you are not into extreme and Splatterpunk, and you have trauma triggers, don’t take this on–it will get to you, guaranteed.

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The Mort Report: Text

06/03/2023
LARRY

By Adam Millard

I am doing something a little different this week – promoting an author I haven’t seen anything new from in a while. 
But, I really enjoyed these three books and wish I could get a little more. If you haven’t heard of Adam Millard yet and you are in the mood for something different, it might be worth giving him a go.
The following are reviews I did when I read the books a few years ago.
****

Superbly Hilarious!

Are you willing to join in this reader-participation review?
Don't worry, it's not difficult and it won't take a lot of time.

Here's what you need to do - the words that are written normally you imagine are being read by James Earl Jones...the voice of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movies...Mufasa from the Lion King...a really deep voice, if you're still lost.
The words written in italics are being read by Jack from the television series Will & Grace.
Anything in brackets will be a sound you have to make out loud.

Are you ready? 
[Before we start, try to read this review while listening to Carmina Burana]

You were scared when you saw Leatherface in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.
(Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm) 
You pissed your pants when you watched Jason Voorhees in FRIDAY THE 13th.
Thats right, he said pissed! 
(Trinkle-trinkle-trinkle...plop-plop-ploink) 
You nearly went crazy from lack of sleep after you saw Freddy Krueger in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
(Shink-Shink-Shink-Slash) 
You nearly became a vegetarian after you watched the cannibals in WRONG TURN.
(Chomp-chomp-chomp) 
You can't kill Mike Myers from HALLOWEEN or The Creeper from JEEPERS CREEPERS.
You need to put some feeling into this, like a drag queen at a shoe sale. 
(AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!) 
And we're not even going to talk about the Teletubbies.
(Make him stop, mommy, SOB) 

But nothing,
And if he says nothing, he means not-a-fucking-thing! 
(Gasp) 
Oh, grow up, will ya? 
Pardon me, I'm trying to work here...
See what you did, you...gasper! Sorry, James, dazzle us with your golden voice. 
Where was I?
(NOTHING!) 
Right. Nothing can prepare you for...
(Tum-tum-tummmmmmm) 
LARRY!

When geriatric serial killers want to relive their youth, things can only go one way...
(duunnn dunnn...duunnn dunnn...duuuunnnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn dunnnn ... 

And what's the moral of the story, James? 

Don't go fucking camping, you idiot!

--------------------------------------------

Okay, it may have been a bit juvenile, but I loved everything about it. As a geeky horror movie fan, this story was right on the money. 
Looking forward to reading more from this author!

5 Stars

The Mort Report: Text

Larry 2: The Squeequel

By Adam Millard

Slapstick...

Okay, the way to approach this one is to just let yourself go and go with it, or you will never be able to enjoy yourself. It is utterly ridiculous - yet, funny, if you are into that kind of thing - and totally inappropriate in places.
Put it this way - imagine SOUTH PARK mixed with AMERICAN DAD! and FAMILY GUY - if you find it funny, you'll love this story.

Larry is back and he's going after Final Girl Amanda, with a whole cast of new, crazy characters:
The bored mayor, the rough-around-the-edges nun, the celebrity, the porn star and her billionaire husband, even a Roberts...
And the rules are simple - it is a sequel, so the body count has to be higher.

It took me about 20% to get into the right mindset, but from there I laughed quite a bit.

Something strange happened to me a few months back. I've mentioned on many occasions that my son is a huge PAW PATROL fan - which means I've seen nearly as many episodes (repeatedly) as him. I saw a book in a shop that included a PAW PATROL DVD - which makes a great gift for many reasons...for those about to become parents, a bit of free advice: Get something your child loves and use it as leverage when said child needs to be punished, i.e. "If you don't stop acting up right now, you are not allowed to watch PAW PATROL for two days!".
Anyway, I'm getting off track a bit.
My son loved the present and when he popped in the DVD, something sounded a bit off. I would love it if anybody who reads this can explain it to me. It was an episode we've seen multiple times, but suddenly the voices and accents were different. Now, I can understand re-dubbing something from English to, say, Mandarin. But why in the world would you want to go to all that trouble and expense to change it from American English to British English? 

The point is:
LARRY 2 takes place in America, but Millard is an English writer, so the fact that these Americans started using terms like bollocks and knickers actually made this story a little funnier for me. I don't think everybody will feel the same, though.

Hey, here's a joke for you:
A naked guy shows up at a fancy dress party. The bouncer asks:
"What are you supposed to be?"
"I's a snail."
"Yeah? And what about that naked girl on your back?"
"That's Michelle!"

A naked guy shows up at a fancy dress party, his dick covered in a yellow substance. The bouncer asks:
"What are you supposed to be?"
"I'm fucking-dis-custard"

If you found above jokes funny, maybe you'll be into this book. Won't work for everybody, so you have been warned.

4 Stars

The Mort Report: Text

06/03/2023
LARRY 3D

By Adam Millard

This book was so wrong on so many levels that I loved it as much as the first one!

Look, I'm just a movie geek with a special place in my heart for horror films, and there were a gazillion inside jokes in this story, almost like AIRPLANE, so I was laughing throughout. 

So, Larry's mom wants to resurrect him (again) at a horror movie convention with the premier of LARRY 3D. Who did they get to play him?
Why, there is only one actor who could possibly portray this slasher madman - but Gary Oldman was not available. So they got the next best thing - an actor who has honed his craft over the years to expose his willy every chance he got.
No, not Shia Ladeouf, the other one: William Dafoe!
With a face like that, well, let's not be judgmental, but it might just be the wise choice to draw attention to his...ahem, almost said dick there...scrotum.
And he will be the only one who will be able to save them. Or will he?

This was a blast. Even Ricks and Murtow from STUFF THAT had a part in this book.

Does it offend you?
Who cares - you need to laugh in these crazy times.

Serious question:
Why do they change the name William to Bill or Billy?
Yip, just saw it - probably better than Willy...

5 Stars

The Mort Report: Text

05/27/2023
BISHOP: MAN VS MONSTER

By Candace Nola & M Ennenbach

“I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real”

HURT by …


Okay, I have to get this off my chest – the more famous version of this song (and if you don’t know it, unfuck that right now!) is by Johnny Cash. And, while I am a huge Cash fan, I prefer the version by the guy who actually wrote the song. Trent Reznor – listen to the Nine Inch Nails version. And the reason is simple – Johnny sounds defeated, while Trent becomes angry.

On to the book:

Man, there are layers in this story. Deep, emotional layers. 
If you are looking for a simple horror story to just entertain you for a few hours, kind of like a popcorn movie, this is not the read for you. This one will leave you with questions on where exactly you stand on the subject of life, death and monsters.

Now, I have read some really good collaborations and I have read some really bad ones, so it is always a risk to go down that road. Because there are difficult questions you have to answer before you even start a project like this:
Will our voices gel together? Will fans of one author be put off by the style and flow of the other author? Will the other author’s handwriting be so bad that the thread of the story gets lost and nobody will ever want to read me again and – breathe, damn you, breathe…screw these panic attacks!

It’s not really that bad. For everybody, anyway.


But the thing is, do you edit the stories to flow so well together that the reader would not know who wrote which part, or do you allow each other the freedom to express yourself the way you know it works for you?

And there is no right answer to that question.
I have read a novel where four authors were involved and I could honestly not tell who wrote which part, and then I have read some where they tried to make it sound like a singular voice, but in the end it diminished both author’s strong parts of their writing.
And I have read collaborations where both authors kept their own voice, but in the end the one was so far superior to the other that it made me like the story less.
But when it works…

So what did these two decide?

Well, there are two very distinct voices in this novel…

Fans of the first BISHOP novel by Candace Nola will not be disappointed by this one. And fans of Mike Ennenbach will get exactly what they expect.
But they made it work, mostly because most of the story takes place in two different timelines, which didn’t make you feel like one author was bending over to accommodate the other…even though Mike might have enjoyed that.
Relax, he has the sense of humor to appreciate that.

Highly enjoyable and recommended to horror fans who can appreciate depth in a story.

5 Stars!

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The Mort Report: Text

05/20/2023
TRANSCENDENTAL MUTILATION

By Ryan Harding

What can I say about the collection called TRANSCENDENTAL MUTILATION?
It is something, all right.

Ryan Harding – such a calm looking, soft-spoken guy – can go to places where extreme readers will say shit like:
“I’m done with extreme for a little while…”
Have you recovered yet, my reviewer friend who I shall not name?

Look, this guy can write, there is just no denying that. But he can also repulse you to the point where you might feel the need to just take a shower and smoke a blunt to wrap your mind around the mental images you just had.
This is not a criticism – this is what he does…because he can.

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking he is just trying to gross you out (even though he will), because even with tales like ‘The Corpsefucker Blues’ there is actually a story there. Can you imagine how it must be to be ‘Orificially Compromised’ or what ‘The Seacretor’ might be?

You’re probably right, but it is done with style to the point that you feel like the author must have been wearing a tie when he wrote it. Granted, he may have been naked and wearing a gimp mask, but the tie was definitely there. Man, there’s even a zombie story in there that I liked!

Extreme and Splatterpunk fans, you are going to LOVE this!