Book Review: Cry Your Way Home by Damien Angelica Walters

“Once upon a time there was a monster. This is how they tell you the story starts. This is a lie.” 

Sometimes things are not what they appear to be. DNA doesn’t define us, gravity doesn’t hold us, a home doesn’t mean we belong. From circus tents to space stations, Damien Angelica Walters creates stories that are both achingly familiar and chillingly surreal. Within her second short story collection, she questions who the real monsters are, rips families apart and stitches them back together, and turns a cell phone into the sharpest of weapons. 

Cry Your Way Home brings together seventeen stories that delve deep into human sorrow and loss, weaving pain, fear, and ultimately resilience into beautiful tales that are sure to haunt you long after you finish the collection. 

“Once upon a time there was a girl…”

Available on Amazon.



My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

This is a variety of stories that have one thing in common: they’re all dark and mostly about women. They represent suffering, loss, pain, and fear. I was surprised at how well the author was able to make me feel connected to the characters so quickly. Short stories often can have a good story but without the connection with the characters, so that was impressive.

Cry Your Way Home is seventeen short stories over different genres. I didn’t read them in one sitting. I could have because each story was pretty short but they’re so dark I didn’t want to read too many at one time! I definitely recommend Cry Your Way Home if you like dark fiction.



About the Author

Damien Angelica Walters is the author of Cry Your Way HomePaper Tigers, and Sing Me Your Scars, winner of the 2015 This is Horror Award for Short Story Collection of the Year. Her short fiction has been nominated twice for a Bram Stoker Award, reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror and The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and published in various anthologies and magazines, including the Shirley Jackson Award Finalists Autumn Cthulhu and The Madness of Dr. Caligari, World Fantasy Award Finalist Cassilda’s SongNightmare MagazineBlack Static, and Apex Magazine. Until the magazine’s closing in 2013, she was an Associate Editor of the Hugo Award-winning Electric Velocipede, and she lives in Maryland with her husband and two rescued pit bulls.



Book Review: Deadly Beauties by Cherita Smith


Genre: Dark paranormal, young adult

Pages: 41

Publication Date: August 3, 2016

Hell has its demons. Lux has Foster Dad George in LUX AETERNA, a coming-of-age superpower origin story—of a darker sort. Lux is just one of five troubled girls who haunt this trio of dark paranormal tales that will appeal to fans of Laini Taylor & Francesca Lia Block.

In MAUDLIN CARNIVAL, a mysterious investigator hunts through the memories of Evelyn Jones in search of the clues he needs to prevent her tragic death. But time is almost out. What will happen to Evelyn if he should fail?

In ROZA MIRA, Svetlana, Catalina and Soojin have it all: beauty, youth, successful modeling careers… and a creepy man in black who watches them from afar. But each day he gets closer. They call him El Flaco, Geulimja, a Rasputin in a suit. Who is he and what does he want? The three girls will soon find out—whether they like it or not. And chances are good it will be “or not.”


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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free e-copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

In some ways, it’s more difficult to review short stories because there’s less content than in a full-length novel, however, I did enjoy these short stories. They’re dark but interesting.

There wasn’t a lot to Lux Aeterna, but I did like where it was going with her power.

Maudlin Carnival was a little difficult to follow but it had an interesting premise. This investigator is looking through the memories of Evelyn Jones, trying to find some tidbit to help avoid her horrible death. Will he find something in time to help her?

The Roza Mira stories were my favorites. They combine real life problems of young successful supermodels with a bit of paranormal. These girls are so driven, but are they too driven? Will they give up too much to get the fame that they crave?

I definitely recommend Deadly Beauties if you like dark fiction. I’d like to read more!


About the Author

41xlnxznfel-_ux250_Cherita Smith is a writer of fictional words, doer of magical deeds, lover of social justice, dope street art and pretty, girly things. A Los Angeles native, she writes speculative fiction of all kinds, from dystopian sci-fi to paranormal urban fantasy. Whatever the subgenre, dark, lush and haunting with a dash of creepy-thriller is her preferred writing jam.

In the not-too-distant past, her bread and butter was fundraising and online marketing for organizations like Brave New Films and Film Independent, who produce the Los Angeles Film Festival and Spirit Awards. She did a lot of writing then, too, only none of it was speculative and it was (mostly) non-fiction.



Book Review: The Juke by Ted Persinger

2016-04-08_1525Title: The Juke

Author: Ted Persinger

Genre: Dark Fiction

Publication Date: November 29, 2015


About the Book

Who is a man when he loses everything?
Fire destroys and fire creates…
We wonder, don’t we, at the people we see on the streets? The homeless. Unfortunate souls. Addicts. Violent felons. What compels them? How did they end up there? How does a person find himself holding a gun and committing a crime? Shooting heroin from a dirty needle? We avoid them, turning our faces away from the sight of them, hoping the courts will warehouse them so we are safe in our middle class lives.
Frank Joseph is successful by any measure. Family. Career. Church. He has what anybody would want. All that ends one night, and his life takes a new direction…a drastic course change. Facing the fires of life’s trials, he is consumed by the heat…so he flees justice. He becomes a new man wearing a new mask. But who will he be? How will he adjust to the new lives he finds himself living? How will he care for the ones he loves?
The Juke is a tragedy, exploring Frank’s descent from “success” to the darkest corners of society. He finds himself living places he could never have imagined. Along the way he builds new love, a new family, and a new life. Will he survive the ghosts of his past? Is he locked in a pattern of self-destruction?


My Review

I received a copy of The Juke for an honest review.

I picked up this book thinking that I would read a couple chapters before I went to bed. I didn’t go to bed nearly as early as I usually do because this is one of the few books I could not put down until I was finished. I had to know what happened next. I so wanted things to work out for Frank.

The Juke really makes a person think.  Frank thought he was a successful man with a happy home, supportive church, and good friends. One night is all it took for his life to descend into a spiral. He finds out just who he can, or can’t, depend on in his hour of need. And then things really fall apart!

The character of Frank is well developed and I could understand why he did everything he did. He had to deal with so much and, although he made some poor choices, I was impressed how he was able to finally turn his life around. But then, it’s hard to escape your past.

The Juke is dark and depressing and I loved it. I like Ted Persinger’s writing and the ending took me by surprise. I definitely recommend this book!


Available on Amazon.



About the Author

2016-04-08_1525_001I was born and raised in Sacramento, CA.  I spent my high school years under-achieving academically, while simultaneously trying my hand in music.  I played in a few bands, but enjoyed little success (but had a LOT of fun!).  I joined the Air Force at the ripe old age of 20, really more in the hope of getting some basic skills.  I found myself 24 years later retiring.  Throughout my long career, I found myself reading and dreaming of becoming a writer, though my work always got in the way.

 After a short time in the private sector, which I didn’t enjoy, I moved overseas and became a high school English teacher in international schools.  I spent most of my time based in Thailand, but traveled throughout Europe and Asia.  The work was fantastic, the students were wonderful, and I enjoyed my time immensely.  Traveling and seeing the world is every bit as amazing as it sounds.

 Being an English teacher forced me to dig in deeply to literature, far more than I had ever before.  Over the 5 years I taught, I gained much greater insights into what writing really is.  I think it took being an English teacher to inspire me and provide the discernment I needed to finally write.  I now see a path to putting my amorphous ideas into a (hopefully) readable structure. 

Book Review: Short-lived by Michael Pritsos

21897918Title: Short-lived

Author: Michael Pritsos

Genre: Dark fiction

Publication Date: April 5, 2014



About the Book

(from Goodreads)

Short-Lived is a dark novella set amidst the grittier areas of Phoenix, Arizona. Nine stories tell tales of money, power, life, and death. Short-Lived intricately weaves the lives of a drug addict, his love interest, dealers, and those struggling for power in the streets. Who will come out on top, and who will get left in the dust?


My Review

I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

I started this novella a couple of times but I had trouble getting into it. I opened it today and told myself that I was going to read it this time or give up trying. I’m glad I gave it another chance.

Short-lived was a little hard to get into but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down because I had to finish it to find out what happened.

Sadly, I think Short-lived is probably realistic. It’s a dark story about gangs, drugs, violence and death. It could have ended in many different ways but the way Michael Pritsos ended it was fitting.

Available on Amazon.


About the Author

2892946Michael Pritsos has studied English with emphases in both Literature and Creative Writing at Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. Recently completing his enlistment as a U.S. Marine, Michael plans to return to Arizona State University to pursue a Masters in English. His third book, Severance, is a collaborative effort and the first book in a heroic fantasy series entitled The Sovereign.