By: Brit Lunden Publisher: Chelshire Publication Date: March 2019 ISBN: 978-1947188990 Reviewed By: Holly Connors Review Date: April 11, 2019
Author Brit Lunden starts out her new "Bulwark Anthology" series in the same way she started (with her initial offering, Bulwark), with a fast-paced, satisfying story that will have readers glued to the pages, trying to figure out what is going to happen next.
In The Knowing, the first book in the "Bulwark Anthology," the reader is re-introduced to JB Stratton, an elderly man who we first met in Bulwark. JB played a small role in that story, briefly taking care of an out-of-town couple hurt in a car accident. When the injured woman saw a picture of JB's late, beloved wife and made a nasty accusation, JB didn't take it lightly. After all, his late wife Ellie was, and would always be, his soul mate. If you didn't read Bulwark, it's not necessary to read it before reading this novella, but I'd recommend it as it's a great read. But for those without a copy of that first book, fear not, as the author covers those events in the first chapter of The Knowing.
Once the refresher chapter is complete, it's on to the new story. The reader is transported back 52 years, to a slower time in Bulwark, GA, where JB is a high school student, a star football player, and dirt poor. Between working on his parents' farm, school work, and football practice, the young man has no time for anything else. That is until Ellie Bronson, a blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful young woman, one year younger than JB, arrives from Connecticut. JB is smitten, but he's also shy and too ill-at-ease to ask Ellie for a date.
Soon, JB could think of nothing but Ellie. It was as if he knew her, but that was impossible because she'd just moved to Georgia. Something out of his past perhaps? Still, he couldn't stop thinking of her, nor could he shake the feeling of knowing her from...where? And then he started dreaming about Ellie. But the dreams...they were unusual and left him uneasy which was particularly odd because he couldn't remember what they were about.
At last, JB and Ellie connect and their romance begins. Things are going great until Ellie's brother finds out about the couple and decides to put an end to JB's desires. JB gets knocked out and that's when things get really odd, or fantastic, depending on your point of view. JB is transported to a Civil War battlefield, or is it just a dream? Readers will be pulled into the story to find out, and eager to learn how Ellie fits into the story.
The Knowing, a novella of just 80 pages is a quick read, made all the quicker because you won't want to stop reading until the very end. I was eager to dive into this story because Bulwark, the short story that started this series, was such an enjoyable read. I wanted to re-visit the town of Bulwark, GA and learn what other oddities were awaiting the reader. I was initially surprised to learn that this story didn't revolve around Sheriff Clay Finnes, the main character in Bulwark, but instead a minor player from that book. While I look forward to meeting Clay in another story in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed learning JB and Ellie's backstory. There's just enough supernatural "something" going on to keep the reader wondering, as well as asking themselves, "do I have a soul mate?" Here's hoping that there will be a lot more books in this anthology series!
Quill says: A very satisfying start to the "Bulwark Anthology" series. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!
For more information on The Knowing: A Bulwark Anthology, please visit the author's website: www.britlunden.com
Published on March 11, 2019 in Thrillers by Jim Alkon
Paranormal fans, I know what you’re thinking: Here we go, another ghost story.
As someone not obsessed with the genre, I couldn’t put down Michael Phillip Cash’s Stillwell: A Haunting on Long Island (Red Feather Publishing). Upon realizing the book is only 161 pages, one might wonder how quickly and deeply the author can advance his story. Stop wondering – this one packs a wallop.
We are introduced to Paul Russo, trying to get his life back together after the death of his wife. He struggles with the demands of three young children and needs to turn attention back to them after devoting all his time to his wife, who loses a painful battle with cancer.
Paul also has to return to his job as a Long Island real estate broker, which is hanging by a thread due to his neglect while tending to his wife. He has a chance to rebound quickly and save his career when he is handed the listing for a multimillion-dollar mansion, Stillwell, which was owned by the Andrews family, parents of one of Paul’s old friends. The house is for sale because the husband murdered his wife and then killed himself.
Signs come early and often that something is amiss. It starts with Paul’s daughter Stella, who insists the ghost of her mother is around the house. As Paul tries to reassure her it’s just her imagination, Stella persists, “No Daddy, she’s here. I heard her.” After Paul leaves the room, Stella whispers, “You can come out now, Mommy. He left.”
Later, driving to work, he hears strange static while trying to tune into his favorite radio station. Through the static, he hears the words, “She’s mine, she’s mine, she’s mine…”
Then there’s the Stillwell house itself. Paul goes to inspect the house for the first time, assured that a cleaning service has removed the signs of the murder. However, as he wanders from room to room and eventually approaches the bedroom, he cries, “Oh my God!” The author writes, “Bile rose to burn his throat when he saw the carnage inside. Guts and gore splattered the room. Streaks of blood and holes from the shotgun pellets peppered the white walls. Bits of brain and decaying flesh decomposed on the floor.”
Later, upon further inspection with a colleague, the house indeed is clean and there are no signs of what Paul experienced the first time. Events like these make Paul question what he is seeing and feeling, and whether he might be going insane.
The secret to what Paul may or may not be seeing or experiencing lies within the notable history of the Stillwell property, going back hundreds of years to the time of the American Revolution. In researching the history, Paul stumbles upon an old picture of the original owner’s daughter Hannah, who bears a striking resemblance to Paul’s dead wife. What can that possibly mean? What’s the connection? Does this revelation help explain the weirdness Paul is dealing with?
What makes Stillwell so compelling is Cash’s ability to capture the everyday mood and feelings of a man trying as hard as he can to return his life to normalcy. Whether it’s making breakfast and sending his kids off to school, setting up dance lessons for his two girls, pickups, drop-offs, meetings with teachers – it’s Paul’s quest – and challenge — for a fairly typical existence that makes the introduction of the paranormal so convincing.
Publisher’s Weekly says it well: “Cash makes the pain of a man who lost the love of his life palpable in this supernatural thriller with a genuinely surprising resolution.”
Stillwell is a quick and captivating read for fans of the paranormal genre, or for non-fans that want a page-turning taste of it. Pick it up – and keep a lot of lights on.
Stillwell is now available for purchase.
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ABOUT MICHAEL PHILLIP CASH:
Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter. His novels are bestsellers on Amazon under their genres – Young Adult, Thriller, Suspense, Ghost, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. Michael writes full-time and lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wonderful wife and screaming children. Stillwell is his second novel. Visit www.michaelphillipcash.com.
I read this and wanted to share it... From the surgical nurse and certified CPR teacher:
Please pause for 2 minutes and read this:
1. Let’s say it’s 7.25pm and you’re going home (alone of course) after an unusually hard day on the job.
2. You’re really tired, upset and frustrated.
3 Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to drag out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five km from the hospital nearest your home.
4. Unfortunately, you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it that far.
5. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy who taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself.
6. HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE? Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.
7. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.
8. Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital.
9. Tell as many other people as possible about this. It could save their lives!!
10. A cardiologist says If everyone who gets this mail kindly sends it to 10 people, you can bet that we’ll save at least one life.
11. Rather than sending jokes, please... contribute by forwarding this mail which can save a person’s life.
12. If this message comes around you... more than once… please don’t get irritated... You should instead, be happy that you have many friends who care about you & keeps reminding you how to deal with a Heart attack.
Hold your finger down on the message and hit forward.
MONSTERLAND REANIMATED MADE IT ON BLUEINK REVIEWS BOOKLIST!
Michael Okon Wordfire Press, 233 pages, (paperback) $14.99, 978-1-61475-672-9 (Reviewed: September 2018)
Blending elements of apocalyptic fiction, horror, science fiction, and fantasy, Okon’s sequel to 2017’s Monsterland continues the audacious tale set in a world gone mad after a plague decimates humankind and monsters from various theme parks around the world escape to wreak havoc. Set largely around the small town of Copper Valley, California—the site of the North American Monsterland, one of seven parks worldwide that featured real live vampires, werewolves, and zombies, until they escaped—the story revolves around a group of teenagers who, after surviving the deadly theme park catastrophe, set out to get answers. Discovering that the government has collapsed, young Wyatt Baldwin and a group of friends set out for the next town to get news of the outside world. But their journey quickly becomes perilous: Not only has a large part of humanity devolved into lawless gangs, but a nomadic blob of purplish slime is mysteriously eviscerating every living thing in its path. Add to that roving zombies, packs of werewolves, an army of mummies, and a megalomaniac’s grand-scale conspiracy to recreate the entire world and you’ve got yourself a highly entertaining read. The well-developed cast of characters is an obvious strength; all are involved on their own respective journeys of self-discovery, even characters perceived as evil. Equally appealing is the extended homage to classic monster movies throughout. Readers will quickly find themselves immersed in the page-turning story. A sense of wonder reflected in stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory coupled with the nonstop action of Mad Max and the existential horror of The Walking Dead makes this a delightfully creepy read. Monster aficionados young and old will love this series. Also available in hardcover and ebook.
No phone, no money, no A/C or heat, right? Sure, but you also lose life-sustaining medical devices, water (towers can't refill without it), food (no money to exchange for it and no energy to grow it) causing a total breakdown of government, social services, and the military (how do you communicate without electricity?). Massive chaos, looting, death.
A sleepy little town in Georgia is the perfect setting for a paranormal thriller that amps up the "creepy" factor in a story with more twists and turns than an old country road.
Clay Finnes is the sheriff of Bulwark, Georgia, a small town where nothing much happens. He's got a slightly annoying deputy, Owen Bishop, who means well but just isn't the brightest light bulb in the pack. As the story opens, Clay and Owen are at the scene of an accident where an out-of-town couple got their car stuck in a big green pond of muck. The accident happened at the outskirts of town, a place where there are remnants of an old road, but nothing else. Where were they coming from and where did that pond of bad smelling water come from?
After finishing the investigation at the scene of the accident, Clay goes to interview the couple. They're staying nearby at a hunter's cabin, with the owner there to keep an eye on them, while they wait for the ambulance. The husband is motionless on the couch, and the wife isn't much better, babbling about a witch in the woods. When she spots a picture on the mantle of the hunter's dead wife and claims, "...she's the witch that took my children," the hunter is understandably upset. That's when Dayna Dalton, an annoying local reporter, shows up at the door. Fortunately, Clay is right behind her and he forces her out of the way as he goes in the house. Clay doesn't have much luck interviewing the couple who are soon hustled off to the hospital.
At the hospital, Clay runs into his wife Jenna. Unfortunately, they are separated...things fell apart shortly after their young daughter Claire went missing the previous year. Clay still loves Jenna and hopes she feels the same, but with a hot doctor making the moves on her, things don't look too promising. Meanwhile, the wife from the accident is still babbling, telling anyone who will listen that they need to find the gingerbread house, which is where her children were taken. When wolves are mentioned too, Clay has had just about enough. What is going on?
Bulwark is one of those fun stories that grabs you quickly and doesn't let go until the very end. At just 109 pages, it won't take long to read and with short chapters that keep tempting you to read just one more, you'll likely finish the book in one sitting. The story has witches, werewolves, a town with a long-hidden history, and a very determined sheriff, who not only is intent on solving the mystery but also getting his wife back. Don't think you've figured this one out as you read, and don't assume you know who is good, or bad...you'll likely be wrong, which is what makes this story so enjoyable. The only thing the book needs is a careful review by an editor as there are numerous editorial errors - not enough to ruin the story but they do get annoying. Beyond that, however, this is a very good story that will leave you quite satisfied.
Quill says: If you like your thrillers with lots of twists, plenty of "creepy," some paranormal events, and a fast-moving plot, check out Bulwark. You might just be afraid to turn off the lights after reading the last page.
For more information on Bulwark, please visit the author's website at: caroleproman.com
The Squeezor is Coming! is a children’s book written by Becky Benishek and illustrated by Matt Fiss.
What’s a Squeezor?
The Squeezor is a friendly monster who just wants to give hugs, but he looks so scary, other monsters run away from him! How can he get them to look past his appearance and be friends? Then he gets an idea: It isn't about what he wants, but what the other monsters need.
"With professional writing and exquisite illustrations, a universal truth and message come to life through the graces of a monster." - Starred review by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite
Monsters overflow in Becky Benishek's new children's book about the power of empathy and why it’s so important not to judge on appearances. Your whole family will enjoy the imagery and important lessons underneath it all.
Becky Benishek has a B.A. degree in English, and is the author of several children’s books, including Hush, Mouse!, What’s At the End of Your Nose?, and Dr. Guinea Pig George. She loves to create stories that help children believe in themselves, and find the magic in ordinary things. Becky is married with guinea pigs.
“Far too many kids feel as unlovable as the Squeezor, and this story is for them. Benishek’s droll and humorous story will please everyone in the room and maybe especially those adults who are still kids at heart. Matt Fiss’s brilliantly grotesque illustrations make this book one to linger over and read again and again and again. Literally. It’s that good.” – Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite
Starred review from Readers' Favorite:
“This story is highly recommended for young readers, especially for those who find acceptance by others as a challenge.”–Bruce Arrington for Readers’ Favorite
Starred review from Readers’ Favorite:
“With professional writing and exquisite illustrations, a universal truth and message come to life through the graces of a monster. And if monsters can make friends with monsters, what's not left for which to hope?"-Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
5 Stars & Top 50 of the Month on Goodreads:
"Oh. My. Gosh. I'm SO in love with this one. . .from cover to cover. . .an absolutely perfect read!"-Miranda Reads, top Goodreads reviewer
“This wonderful story teaches two significant lessons: acceptance of others who are different and self-acceptance.”–Erica Graham, author of the Talking Talesseries
“This is not just another story book. It has a strong scholastic element to it . . . This story will turn the readers into givers and social enthusiasts.”– Ashish Kejriwal
“Kids will love the book’s splashy color, monsters aplenty, and gross-out humor. Parents will love the story’s durable lesson: be yourself.”– Terry Vittone
“A delightful book! Read it for the story, read it for the lessons, read it for pictures that have a subtle and humorous attention to detail. Just read it – you’ll smile and be better for it.” –Lesley Rynders
“The characters are so alive that I often find myself wondering what they're up to right now. Kids will love meeting Graywick (the Apothecaryterror)... Bitey (the scared [yes, scared!] vampire who wears BUNNY SLIPPERS)... Grumpypuss (who looks like a bundle)... and the full cast of marvelous monsters who inhabit Ghastly Gigapolis -- and ostracize the big-hearted Squeezor (who through his kindness eventually succeeds in making friends with everyone). This book is SO fun to read and every page is a delight for kids' imaginations.”-Lemon
The Squeezor is a monster who loves to give hugs. Great, big, wrap-his-arms-around-you-twice, squeezy hugs.
The trouble is, the Squeezor doesn’t look like he just wants to give you a hug. He looks like he wants to eat you up!
“The Squeezor is coming!” all the other monsters would shout when he came to the nearest town, Ghastly Gigapolis, for supplies.
From behind shop doors and curtains, from roof peaks and from alleyways, from third-floor house windows and through cellar-door slats, monsters furry or feathered, scaly or slimy, big or small, quivered as the Squeezor stumped along the sidewalk on his squat legs and big, squashy feet with three greasy toenails each.
They trembled at the sight of his giant, curved horns and frightfully fanged grin. Even the fur on his big blocky shape looked all wrong—a sickly, saggy mix of lime green, purplish brown, and mustard yellow.
And they were practically petrified at the chillingly sharp claws that glinted at the end of the Squeezor’s wrap-around-you-twice arms!
This made the Squeezor very sad.
“It’s not my fault I look this way,” he said to himself one day as he sat in his lonely house up in Vile Vale. “I don’t want to hurt anybody. How can I get everyone to trust me?”
The Squeezor stayed home all that day to think. He didn’t have to worry about being disturbed because nobody ever came to visit him.
He wandered into his library and leafed aimlessly through 7 Habits of Highly Disgruntled Monsters; then he read, How to Stop Worrying and Start Eating, and he finished up with, I’m Okay, You’re Decaying.
None of them helped, not even the one called, First Things First: 10 Tasks to Sink Your Teeth Through.
He went into his kitchen and half-heartedly stirred up a pot of his favorite, putrid green tomato soup and slowly munched a moldy grilled cheese sandwich.
He didn't really feel hungry, though, and wasn't even tempted by the box of Nose Nougats on the counter.
He switched on the television in the living room to look for an advice show. One of the channels was running a marathon of Game of Bones, and he'd watched two and a half episodes before he realized it.
The Squeezor didn't even like Game of Bones. He switched off the set.
"How can I change anything when I can't even figure out what to do with myself?" he grumbled as he wandered around his house.
Just then, he stopped short in the hallway, under a portrait of his Great-Grandmother Squeezums, who always seemed to be glaring lovingly at the Squeezor.
"Maybe that's it!" he said. "Maybe it's not myself that I have to figure out."
The Squeezor, excited now, heated up another bowl of putrid green tomato soup, ate half the box of Nose Nougats (the box itself was edible), and didn't go to bed until he had a plan.
"With professional writing and exquisite illustrations, a universal truth and message come to life through the graces of a monster." - Starred review by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite
Monsters overflow with a great message and fun reading for kids AND adults in @beckybenishek's new book. Get THE SQUEEZOR IS COMING! at https:/bit.ly/SqueezorMCP.