Friday the 13th Book Recommendations!

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It’s Friday the 13th! Which means not only is it Friday, but it’s the unluckiest day of the month. Why not turn your luck around (and get your weekend off to a great start) with some spooky Friday the 13th reads?

I asked the reviewers at JLR what their favorite creepy and eerie reads are, and here’s what some of them recommend:

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Anthology Book Review: Lead Me Into Darkness

Please note this book was reviewed prior to the revelation of author’s identity and actions. Please read this statement from Riptide Publishing for more information.

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Lead Me Into Darkness (Anthology)
Authors: Santino Hassell, J.C. Lillis, J.R. Gray,
Kris Ripper, and Roan Parrish

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This is a short anthology collection just in time for Halloween, filled with five super creepy graveyard stories from five incredibly talented authors! And best of all, IT’S FREE!

No, this isn’t a trick… it’s definitely a treat! So check out my reviews of each story, and then go grab your copy.

One thing to note, though, is that most of the stories in this anthology are set in pre-existing universes. So if you, like me, have not read some of these authors, you may feel a bit lost at times. But it’s still an excellent chance to find new books to check out… my TBR list has definitely grown!

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Take You Farther, by Santino Hassell (a Stygian short)

I just finished Stygian a couple of days ago (my review), so having a follow-up story in this anthology is awesome!

He was the most beautiful monster Watts had ever seen.

Because I suspect a lot of people still haven’t finished Stygian, I’ll avoid talking about the plot of the short story. It picks up a couple of months after Stygian ends, and focuses on Watts and Quince as they try to adapt to their new lives. Watts is still an emotionally constipated dick, but he’s also a brilliantly complex character, and Santino has a way with words that makes the eerie feel beautiful.

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Memory Hill, by J.C. Lillis

Billy Hartigan’s been dead for ten years, and it’s really pissing him off. Stuck in Memory Hill Cemetery due to “unfinished business,” he fritters away the long days playing monster movies in his head, reliving the glory days of his indie band, and mourning his missed chance at love with his best friend. Then one Halloween he gets a visit from troubled teen geek Todd Racklin, the last living fan of Billy’s old band. Todd needs some beyond-the-grave help from his idol–and his visits might hold the key to Billy’s release from Memory Hill.

J.C. is a new author for me, but I’m a fan now, that’s for sure! Todd is incredibly sweet, in a geeky, overly-earnest way…

Todd Racklin is so raw and embarrassing I can barely stand to hover three inches from him.

Normally I struggle with second-hand embarrassment when I read a character like Todd, but his sincerity and devotion are really admirable! Told over eleven years, we get to see Todd grow and find his Happily Ever After through Billy’s eyes, as Billy waits for his own After.

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Grave Circumstances, by J.R. Gray

So this story is set in J.R.’s Bound series universe, although I didn’t realize that going in. Made me very confused at first, because they were talking about slaves and cravats, and I couldn’t figure out what time period it was! But once I sorted things out (and realized “slave” was probably in a BDSM sense), I could sink into the story.

Secret agendas collide with guns, ghosts and confusing erections, on a tour through a haunted graveyard. Jesse’s been carrying a secret and needs a night alone with George. But George has his own agenda, leading Jesse into darkness, the fright of his life, and a blinding release he won’t soon forget.

The story itself is really fantastic, and I’m intrigued by George and Jesse’s relationship. But without having read his Bound series, I’ll admit that I didn’t enjoy this as much as I could have.

That said, I’m definitely going to check out the Bound series now!

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Boyfriends in the Boneyard, by Kris Ripper

A Halloween ménage story with sex in a graveyard! Oh yes, please!

You are a grown man. A professional. You are forty-one years old. You will not get arrested having sex with your husband in a cemetery. Neither of you can run fast enough to risk it.

This is another short set in a pre-existing universe, Kris’ Scientific Method series. But I feel like ze did an amazing job of opening this up for new readers so they wouldn’t be confused. Truman and Hugh are married and poly, and Will is their boyfriend, and there are sexy kinky times. It’s funny and adorable and super hot!

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Mayfair, by Roan Parrish

This is a super creepy story about what lurks beneath the surface of our everyday world.

Jocelyn has been secretly in love with her best friend Bethany for a year. And it’s hell. But there are other things—dark, creeping, illusory things—that are tormenting Jocelyn even more. They’ve been appearing more and more lately and Jocelyn is starting to doubt her sanity. But a Devil’s Night ritual in a Detroit cemetery may reveal more than she ever imagined…

Even Jocelyn’s one-sided relationship with Bethany is written as eerie, two girls rebelling against authority by spending time in the local graveyard.

I love seeing things unfold from Jocelyn’s point of view, and the subtle hints we get about her background and the things she’s seen out of the corner of her eyes.

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So where can you find your own copy of this fantastic anthology?
Nook / Kobo / Apple / Oyster
Page Foundry/Inketera / ARe / Scribd

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read in the Dead of Night! (Creepy Halloween Edition)

top-ten-halloween-bannerAs always, this weekly meme is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish!
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I’m a HUGE WUSS, I’ll be the first to admit it. Reading a horror novel leaves me curled up in bed with the lights on, unable to sleep. But I love a good, creepy novel that sends chills down your spine!

Here are ten books to read to get you in the Halloween spirit!

1. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

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Probably one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. It’s a story within a story within a story (confused yet?) set in a house that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. But this isn’t a TARDIS; there’s something more sinister and mysterious at work. And it uses typography to convey both motion and emotion (like in the image above).

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

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2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

More eerie than outright scary, this book comes complete with photos that vary between weird and nightmarish. The way the story is told means the mystery unfolds piece by piece, which I really love. I haven’t read the sequel yet, though!

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And it’s being turned into a movie by the King of Creepy himself, Tim Burton!

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3. Josh of the Damned series by Andrea Speed

Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot.

Definitely not creepy, but still really gloriously brilliant and absolutely hilarious! This is my kind of horror, where zombies shuffle into the gas station store to buy frozen burritos and werewolves are like mangy rats in the parking lot. You can read my five-star review of the series here!

speed(Buy from Riptide Publishing)

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4. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King

I thought about putting It on this list instead, because evil clowns are definitely horrifying, but I’ve never actually read it (because, seriously, evil clowns! Enough said). So this is the scariest Stephen King novel I’ve ever read, and I don’t think you can have a list of scary novels without having the King of Horror on your list. Plus, it has creeptastic vampires!

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5. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice

Speaking of vampires, this book gave me ALL OF THE NIGHTMARES when I first read it at age 13. The novel itself isn’t horrifying, but the entire plot with Claudia freaked me out. The idea of a doll-like little girl who basically goes insane? Yeah… *shivers*

Anne Rice wrote vampires before they sparkled, and Lestat will always be one of my favorites!

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6. The Whyborne & Griffin series, by Jordan L. Hawk

I’m recommending the entire series because I can’t pick out just one scene, or one book, that qualifies as “creepy”… instead, it’s the general vibe of the entire story! Whyborne and Griffin battle monsters, gods from the deep, and evil warlocks while trying to defend their town. Here’s our heroes’ first encounter with a monster, from Widdershins (Book One):

The beam of my lantern revealed a thing for which I had no words.

My mind flailed, trying and failing to make sense of what filled the doorway in front of me. It had four limbs, more or less, a shape which overall suggested some perversion of humanity. But its naked body was horribly misshapen, the limbs of uneven length, the joints distorted. Thick, coarse skin covered it for the most part, but certain protuberances sprouted scales, and something horribly like human teeth jutted out of an elbow.

Its head was worse, however. Thanks to Christine, I’d spent many an hour bent over the art of ancient Egypt and its animal-headed gods. Those gods had a strange nobility and completeness to them. This thing seemed a mockery of the ancient deities. Its misshapen skull retained traces of humanity, but was hideously flattened and distended into an unmistakably crocodilian form.

Beady eyes fixed on me: blue irises punctured by reptilian pupils. Its jaws opened, the gape huge and lined with savage teeth, and it let loose a howl like something from the lowest pit of Tartarus.

I couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, couldn’t do anything but stare. Had I been alone, it would surely have ripped me to shreds.

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7. Coraline, by Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman is a master of creepy. What makes this even more horrifying is that it’s a childrens’ book. I was actually just talking about this with Vane at Books With Chemistry (go check out her review!), and about how this book is way creepier to read as an adult than it was when I was a teenager.

The incredibly talented Dave McKean did the illustrations for the book (I have SO MUCH of his art, he’s ridiculously good!), but the movie did a pretty amazing job!

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8. The PsyCop series, by Jordan Castillo Price

Once upon a time if you told doctors you heard voices, they’d diagnose you as schizophrenic, put you on heavy drugs, and lock you away in a cozy state institution to keep you from hurting yourself or others.

Nowadays they test you first to see if you’re psychic.

Victor Bayne is a psychic cop (hence PsyCop!) who sees dead people. And not just ghosts, either, but full-on, technicolor, graphically dead walking spirits. He teams up (both in the field and in bed) with a non-psychic named Jacob to solve murders by interviewing the dead spirits… when they’re willing to cooperate, that is.

You know there’s some Grade A level creepiness when even the psychic who sees dead people on a daily basis gets freaked out!

“Victor, back there in that basement, when the zombies were… were… moving around on those tables…. Twitching? And dead? You didn’t even blink.”

“This is nothing like those zombies.”

“No shit. Because this time, you’re scared—beyond scared. You’re terrified. And whatever’s got you scared? I don’t want any part of it.”

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9. The Gashlycrumb Tinies, by Edward Gorey

The most horrifying alphabet book ever written. This isn’t for teaching your toddlers their A, B, C’s…

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Gorey’s art is eerie and, yes, gory. But look, it even rhymes! Adorable, right?!

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10. The Tell-Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe

Everything he writes is brilliant and creepy, and he’s inspired dozens of mystery and horror novels. This is one of the opening paragraphs from The Tell-Tale Heart, one of my favorites:

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture –a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very gradually –I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Poe was one creepy, creepy guy. Stories about burying people alive, about insanity, and about guilt… definitely the stuff of nightmares! Even his death is a creepy mystery!

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What are you reading this Halloween?

“Sinfully addictive…” — Book Review: Alasdair, by Ella Frank (Rating: 4.5/5)

frank-alasdair-smallAlasdair, by Ella Frank (Masters Among Monsters, Book 1)
Publisher: Self-Published (October 13, 2015)
Page Count: 244 pages
Genre: Paranormal/Horror; Gay (M/M) Erotica

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Purchase Links: Amazon (Kindle) BN (Nook) KoboiBooks

* I received an advanced copy of this novel from Rock Star Lit in exchange for a fair and honest review. *

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Giveaway: Click on the image below for your chance to win one of THREE incredible prizes!

1st Prize: Kindle Fire HD 7 + $25.00 Amazon Gift Card (US ONLY)

2nd Prize: $50.00 Amazon Gift Card (US ONLY)

3rd Prize: Signed paperback of Alasdair with swag (OPEN TO ALL)

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Dark, delightful, and absolutely delicious! Ella Frank is a well-known name in the M/M genre (and the Romance genre in general!), but Alasdair is something new from the author of the sweet and sexy Temptation trilogy. This is paranormal horror and romance at its finest.

Can I compare this to Anne Rice? Too bad, I’m doing it anyways. Ella jump starts the vampire romance genre with the first in this new trilogy– a genre which has been saturated with vampires that sparkle– and brings back the wicked protagonist that I love to read! This is Anne Rice for the M/M genre, for sure!

(And it’s the first in a new trilogy? YES PLEASE!)

Bestowed with eternal life by the Ancient Vasilios, Alasdair Kyriakous is one of the most feared and ruthless vampires in existence. His name carries weight across all of the seven continents.

But he is a mystery to his kind, an anomaly among the self-indulgent. While he enjoys the pleasures of the flesh, he is exceptionally particular in his choice of partners and prides himself on his ironclad self-control.

Thrust into a world he could never have imagined, Leo Chapel awakens in his worst nightmare. Taken hostage by the dangerously mesmerizing vampire, Alasdair, Leo must rely on his intelligence to escape before he reveals a secret he isn’t even aware he’s hiding.

This book was sinfully addictive; I pretty much devoured it like a vampire in need of a good meal. Alasdair isn’t a hero, and Ella doesn’t try to make him into one. He’s unapologetically 100% vampire, with everything that denotes. And while he may not be as free with his lust as his fellow vampires, he’s not above doing whatever it takes to get what (or who) he wants.

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Leo, on the other hand, is sweet and naive in many ways. He has a layer of toughness, and he’s fiercely independent, but he’s also unwilling to stand up for himself at times. In fact, it’s his decision not to challenge others that draws Alasdair to him in the first place, when Leo chooses to leave his own birthday party rather than deal with a handsy stranger. It makes him prey, in Alasdair’s eyes, and the vampire is eager for a hunt.

“He’s uncommon for a human. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“You mean he’s appealing and you want to fuck him.”
“Well, that too.” (Kindle Loc. 600)

Now, there are a few things you should be aware of before jumping into this book:

Don’t think it’s going to be just like Ella’s Temptation trilogy!

While I definitely noticed some similarities between Alasdair’s character and Logan’s, these are definitely two very different series, which very different characters. The Temptation series had it’s darker moments, but was mostly light-hearted, fun, and incredibly sexy. With the first book in the Monsters series, Frank has instead written an incredibly dark novel. Alasdair’s arrogance may make you think of Logan, and aspects of Tate may be found in Leo’s innocence and determination, but this is a book about monsters, plain and simple.

This human was curious in the most unusual ways. Asking questions Alasdair would think would horrify him. But the telltale signs of arousal told him otherwise and had Alasdair fighting every instinct he had to keep his teeth off of him. (Kindle Loc. 903)

Beware the darkness!

I can’t emphasize enough how dark parts of this novel is. There are scenes that read (to me at least) as dubious consent. There is violence and gore. But at no point did I feel like it was overdone, or too much. The darker emotions and themes fit the novel very well, and Alasdair’s character never reads as the “redeemable” one. He is what he is, and even the feelings that he begins to develop for Leo are shrouded in the darkness.

“My confusion. My fear. It turns you on, right? What kind of sick fuck are you?”

“Is that a trick question?” Alasdair asked, unhooking the chain. “I’m not a person, Leonidas. I’m vampire. That’s the kind of sick fuck I am.” (Kindle Loc. 927)

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Final Verdict:

I loved this book. I really did. I grew up sneaking Anne Rice books into my bedroom, because my parents had forbidden me from reading them until I was older, so I have a deep love for dark vampire novels. Ella Frank writes fantastic characters with complex backgrounds, and there’s a mystery throughout the novel that is intriguing but not overwhelming to the character development.

This is the first book in a trilogy, so keep in mind that the mystery and plot will not be resolved here. But if you’re looking for a delightfully wicked and dark novel, you should absolutely check this out.

(And if you want something lighter and more fun, but still very sexy, I cannot recommend Ella’s Temptation trilogy highly enough!)

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Coming Soon: “Alasdair”, by Ella Frank!!

If you read M/M romance, then you’ve almost certainly heard of (and probably read) Ella Frank’s Temptation trilogy. But now Ella is back with a new series, and the first book is dark, delicious M/M that will completely blow you away! Take one sexy vampire, add in a brilliant scholar, and combine with a very intriguing mystery, and what do you get? Alasdair, the first in the “Masters Among Monsters” series!

Alasdair (Masters Among Monsters Book 1)
Publication Date: October 13, 2015

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A DANGEROUS ALLURE

Bestowed with eternal life by the Ancient Vasilios, Alasdair Kyriakous is one of the most feared and ruthless vampires in existence. His name carries weight across all of the seven continents.

But he is a mystery to his kind, an anomaly among the self-indulgent. While he enjoys the pleasures of the flesh, he is exceptionally particular in his choice of partners and prides himself on his ironclad self-control.

Yet with one look his control will become a thing of the past, and Alasdair will discover that eternal life doesn’t always last forever…

A DEADLY ATTRACTION

Thrust into a world he could never have imagined, Leo Chapel awakens in his worst nightmare. Taken hostage by the dangerously mesmerizing vampire, Alasdair, Leo must rely on his intelligence to escape before he reveals a secret he isn’t even aware he’s hiding.

A FORBIDDEN DESIRE

Unaware that they’ve been brought together by an outside force and are little more than pawns to a higher power, Alasdair and Leo spend time trying to uncover the other’s secrets, the attraction between them growing stronger all the while.

But enemies are watching and preparing to act against them.  When decisions that will alter lives and destinies have to be made—can a dead, grey heart learn to beat again?

Purchase Links:
Amazon (Kindle) BN (Nook) KoboiBooks

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About Ella Frank:

Ella Frank is the author of the #1 Bestselling Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite erotic serial, A Desperate Man. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction and lives with her husband in Portland, OR. You can reach her on the web at http://www.ellafrank.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.author

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.

Website Goodreads Author Page Facebook Twitter

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Review: Dangerous Spirits, by Jordan L. Hawk (Rating: 4/5)

hawk-dangerous-spiritsDangerous Spirits, by Jordan L. Hawk (Spirits, Book 2)
Publisher: Self-Published (September 15, 2015)
Page Count: 193 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance, Horror

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Henry and Vincent return in this sequel to Jordan’s Restless Spirits, a horror/paranormal series about two men who use different methods to battle and help the dead who are trapped in our realm.

After the events of Reyhome Castle, Henry Strauss expected the Psychical Society to embrace his application of science to the study of hauntings. Instead, the society humiliates and blacklists him. His confidence shaken, he can’t bring himself to admit the truth to his lover, the handsome medium Vincent Night.

Vincent’s new life in Baltimore with Henry is disrupted when a friend from the past asks for help with a haunting. In the remote town of Devil’s Walk, old ties and new lies threaten to tear the lovers apart, if a fiery spirit bent on vengeance doesn’t put an end to them first.

I know it’s an overdone plot, but I love when a character keeps a secret that they know is going to come back and bite them in the ass later. Henry is dreading the moment that Vincent finds out about his disgrace, but he can’t bring himself to tell the truth, too ashamed, so he keeps burying himself deeper in the lie. As a reader, it made for a delicious anticipation!

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I normally don’t like the horror genre very much. I’m a wuss, I admit it! But I love Jordan’s books and her characters, so I gathered my courage and dove in. I don’t think many people would say that these are “horror” books, necessarily. I mean, they’re definitely not Stephen King in terms of creepiness levels. But ghosts covered in flames and hauntings in a small town are definitely enough to get the hairs on the back of my neck rising.

Henry glanced at Vincent, then back to the window. His hand trembled visibly as he reached out and brushed the fabric back just an inch.

A white eye, without iris or pupil, stared in at them. (ePub page 60)

I don’t think it was as good as Restless Spirits, but that’s because the first book had a lot of character development and an equal amount of conflict between the two characters. Dangerous Spirits had a good plot, but very little character development, and the conflict was entirely one-sided. But if I’m not comparing it to the first book, I think it’s still very good!

This is definitely a book for readers who like the paranormal side of the m/m genre. It’s pretty short (under 200 pages), and I would have preferred if there’d been more about Lizzie and Jo, since I find both of their characters incredibly interesting. But it was super enjoyable… even though I may not sleep tonight!

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Review: Josh of the Damned series, by Andrea Speed (Rating: 5/5)

speed-josh-of-the-damnedJosh of the Damned, by Andrea Speed
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Page Count: 196 (complete collection)
Genre: Gay (M/M) Humor/Horror

Rating: 5 out of 5

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After reading a short story by Andrea Speed in the Charmed and Dangerous anthology, I completely fell in love with Josh and his crazy world. I got the first book in this series right away (it’s FREE!!! so you should totally check it out!) and basically devoured it, and then immediately went and grabbed the Complete Collection. Andrea calls these books “goofy horror”, and I completely agree with that genre description!

Josh Caplan is your average late-night convenience store clerk, but the Quik-Mart where he works is nothing like normal with that hell vortex in the parking lot. Waiting on zombies, demons, and other things that go bump in the night might scare some, but they’re actually more polite than the stoners, and Josh welcomes the break in the monotony—especially when he acquires himself a sexy new boyfriend with a deadly secret.

Will Josh survive this retail nightmare? It’s a Big Gulp of a chance, but between the hazard pay and the hottie with a sweet tooth for Josh’s candy, it’s a chance he’s willing to take.

This review is for the Complete Collection, as each story is pretty short by itself.

Okay, first off, I cracked up over and over while reading these! Josh is sassy, sarcastic, and full of hilarious geek references, and the stories are just the right kind of ridiculous.

“Imagine the Hulk with hair, and you’ll have some idea of what you’re dealing with. Although I wouldn’t put that in the manual, ’cause Marvel might sue.” (“Triple Feature #1: Interview with the Empire”)

Helping Josh to stay sane and alive in the chaos is his roommate Doug (a stoner, pizza delivery guy, and all-around awesome friend), his boss Mr. Kwon (surprisingly chill about the hell vortex behind his store), and his insanely hot boyfriend, Colin.

There were pretty monsters? Why hadn’t anyone told him there were pretty monsters? (“Pretty Monsters”)

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Each story in this universe is pretty short, but there’s an over-arching plot as well. Josh is pretty much the least likely hero to ever exist, but he does a pretty good job regardless.

“Why are you invincible, bitch?” Mr. Kwon asked, looking over one of the zombie’s shoulders. Josh held up the wrist cuff. Mr. Kwon’s eyes went wide. “Fuck a duck! Is that a reliquary?” (“Triple Feature #2: Clerk of the Living Dead”)

You should read these stories if you:

  • like horror
  • like horror that is also hilarious
  • think frozen burrito meat might actually be human brains
  • appreciate sentient facial hair
  • are interested in mythology
  • have ever thought that gas stations are kind of creepy late at night

Also, I know a lot of people are interested in reading m/m novels with no erotic content… if that’s you, then let me point you towards Josh of the Damned! Josh and his boyfriend Colin are sweet as candy bars, but there’s no sexytimes to be found here.

Highly recommend all around, and I hope there’s more to come from this series!

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