Book Review: These Ghosts Bleed by Christy Aldridge

these ghosts

Title: These Ghosts Bleed

Author: Christy Aldridge

Release date: June 8, 2021

Well then.

I did not expect the brutality that awaited within ‘These Ghosts Bleed.’ I’m torn between not saying a single word about it and telling you what to prepare yourself for because JFC Aldridge goes places only Cannibal Corpse lyrics dare venture. There you go. That’s your warning.

Truth be told, Aldridge is a new to me author. It was one of those times when I was scrolling Twitter and a mutual follower had liked her release day post. I loved the cover, LOVED the synopsis and so I promptly snagged a copy for my Kindle. I then apologized to my 1000 Kindle books on my TBR list and bumped this up to the top. Glad I did.

What I liked: Ok, I’m going to share something that I don’t believe is a spoiler, but I want to let people know going in – the start of the book focuses heavily on the aftermath of Anna having committed suicide and her grieving husband trying to figure out how to go on. But not in the normal sense. You see, Allen just may well be the most despicable character I’ve ever read. Narcissistic, abusive, and a womanizer, he views ever woman as a conquest. Being a doctor, some play it off as him just being arrogant, but that is far from the truth.

Aldridge does a fantastic job of making you want to push him down a flight of stairs. When he discovers Anna’s secret computer files that contain her novels she wrote to try and mentally escape from Allen’s abuse and her losing their child during pregnancy, you just know he’s not going to be respectful, but will instead attempt to use it for personal gain.

But as things unravel, Anna hasn’t left. Her ghost still is around and this ghost is not a peaceful spirit. It’s in these scenes, when Anna returns and torments Allen that you almost feel sorry for him. Anna does what she can to make sure he’s not happy and that doesn’t matter if it means hurting those who are with him.

I wish I could say just a bit more about Anna’s torment and what happens in the final quarter of this book, because it is just grotesque and cathartic and will make you squirm and smile. The ending was fantastic and Aldridge did a fantastic job of completing Allen’s downward spiral. His breakdown happens over many, short punchy chapters, but when it finally completes, it is stunning.

What I didn’t like: Gah! I hate this when the one little thing that bothered me is something I can’t actually say. What I will mention, is that one character never really had a resolution and that’s what frustrated me. I wanted to see it, but it never happened. If you’ve read this and want to discuss let me know, otherwise I won’t say anything else.

Why you should buy this: I mean, look at that cover! And the synopsis! And Aldridge can write like nobody’s business. This book snaps along and delivers moments of tenderness and savagery that hook into the reader and pull them along. I had a blast with this one and am so glad I took the chance and snapped it up. At this point, I have this slotted in my ‘Top 10 of the Year’ list, and I think it will take a lot to bump it off.

I hope somebody reading this review does the same, because I can guarantee you, you’ll be happy you did.


Book Review: Rooted (Volume 2): A Poetry Collection by Cassandra Chaput


Title: Rooted (Volume 2): A Poetry Collection

Author: Cassandra Chaput

Release date: Expected July 5, 2021

I connected with Cassandra a few years back when she was my main sensitive reader for my novel ‘The Stranger.’ From there, I discovered she had a poetry collection out and I dove into it. ‘Rooted: A Poetry Collection’ was fantastic. Empowering and uplifting, I loved how many small affirmations she had throughout.

(You can find my review here:

Now, almost two years later, Cassandra returns with her second collection, and I’m so happy she reached out to see if I’d like to review it. I have it pre-ordered for my Kindle, but she kindly sent me a pdf which I devoured.

What I liked: Cassandra has a way with words. Simple, straight-forward, delicate. Her poetry conveys a novels worth of emotions in sometimes only three sentences.

We open with ‘Stormy Weather,’ which not only starts the collection off with an affirmation, but also connects it to Volume 1 which I really liked.

Throughout, we see Cassandra actively embracing and connecting with her Indigenous heritage and culture. Poems such as ‘Dying Language,’ ‘Métis,’ ‘Heartbeat’ and many others. They are all fantastic snippets of a person fighting between accepting their heritage while trying to find their place in today’s society.

‘Serene’ was one of my personal favorites, a fantastic piece about reconnecting with nature and being one with the land and the elements.

‘Soon’ was a sweet poem about someone waiting patiently to reconnect with the love of their life.

My absolute favorite was ‘Our Time Is Limited.’ A gorgeous poem about living your best life and enjoying what you have and being as happy as you can be. Loved it.

The final poem was ‘Elm Tree’ which was both a touching piece of respecting nature, but also connected with the first poem and the first volume, which I really enjoyed seeing it come full circle.

What I didn’t like: This was such a great collection. With all poetry releases, it’s hard for me to comment on it as this was an author’s lived experience and I’m no scholar or poetry teacher. I can’t critique that Cassandra should’ve used a different rhyming scheme or whatever! The poems all work great and really tie in well with Volume 1 and with each other.

Why you should buy this: While this may only be Cassandra’s second release, I feel like she’ll become a force to be reckoned with in no time at all. She tackles darkness and grief with a smile and so many of her poems are amazing call to actions or empowering moments. Absolutely a joy to read and a collection I think many will love.


Book Review: Stark Naked by Silvia Canton Rondoni


Title: Stark Naked

Author: Silvia Canton Rondoni

Release date: June 1st, 2021

I’ve not read any of Silvia’s work prior to this, but recently when she asked the Kendall Reviews team about people to reach out in regards to getting her collection reviewed, I volunteered as well.

I love reading poetry, even if I don’t always get it or am smart enough to get the theme being conveyed, but there’s something so phenomenal about reading a poem. About an author baring their soul in a line or over an entire collection.

This collection is gorgeously illustrated by Silvia Nieto and each illustration really works to increase the emotions found in each piece.

What I liked: The two big notes I have written down while reading this collection are, “GRIEF PLAYS A CENTRAL ROLE” and ‘BRUTALLY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL.” That really sums up the entire batch of poems. These are hard to read, with limited uplifting moments. There are a few, sure, but when I was finished, I was stunned with just how introspective and honest each of the poems were.

The first one, ‘Disclaimer’ really lets the reader know just what they are in for. We then get a one-two punch revolving around acceptance and moving forward with ‘Then’ and ‘Now.’

‘If Only I Knew’ and ‘Origins’ were two moving pieces. Each one dealing with where the narrator of the poems came from as well as looking back on decisions they’ve made through their life.

‘Nobody/Somebody’ was a touching poem. From my interpretation, I felt like it was somebody seeking their soulmate. someone who can complete them and make them happy.

‘David. Me. Why.’ This was a very hard piece to read. I suspect it was based on real events, but even if not, it is a poem that questions life’s moments and why the narrator is where they are versus where they could be.

The highlight for me, though, was ‘Dear Chris.’ This read like an unspoken eulogy. Saying goodbye to somebody in a way they never could when somebody was alive. Touching and devastating all within the grief of knowing you’ll never see them again.

Silvia’s poetry was both accessible yet elevated, introspective but relatable. This was a really nice group of poems that’ll make readers turn over key words and lines repeatedly, knowing that by doing so, you’ll change the meaning of spots throughout.

What I didn’t like: Poetry collections are meant to engage and uplift or cause sadness. So, when an author lays themselves on a page like this, I can’t now sit back and say anything negative about their experiences. This was really well done. If anything, I’d have loved a sentence or two after some of the poems about the author’s inspiration behind the piece, but doing so may affect the readers experience.

Why you should buy this: If you’re looking for a poetry collection that will feel relatable and have some shared life experiences, this fits that bill. Certain moments in each poem made me think of different family members, friends or moments in life. Silvia has a way of making each piece a cathartic experience but also a shared piece with the reader. As though she herself is sitting beside you, reading it aloud.

This was really well done and I can’t recommend this one enough.


Book Review: Bedfellow by Jeremy C. Shipp

Title: Bedfellow

Author: Jeremy C. Shipp

Release date: November 13, 2018

Having recently read Jeremy’s creepy ‘The Atrocities,’ I was excited to check out ‘Bedfellow’ when I saw him post about it on Twitter.

I know, going into a Shipp read, that my reading brain will be tested. He likes to write in an unconventional or non-straightforward manner (at least for how I read), so I expected the unexpected, and sure enough – I found it!

What I liked: The story opens up with a home invasion. A man has entered the family home and we have a mild standoff. This invader not only enters the home, but also whittles their way into the minds of each family member.

The story escalates fairly quickly and will make you question what you just read. Told through alternating perspectives between the members of the family, you’ll read a section, and immediately have to go back and reread what happened, when you get to the next section, the next family member.

It is psychologically unnerving, both for the reader and for the members in the story. You’ll feel like you’re actively engaged as part of the plot, trying to connect the dots, especially in the second half when things really take a bonkers turn.

Shipp writes incredibly complex ideas with a very simple, straight forward prose. Accessible writing with border-line inaccessible concepts. It really is fascinating and something that is both frustrating and phenomenal. This is a book that’ll make you contemplate DNFing a million times!

What I didn’t like: No surprise, from what I just said, but at first the various POV’s as well as subtle detail differences will drive you mad. This will test you. You will have to decide if this is a book you’re willing to persevere through or not.

Why you should buy this: As I mentioned, Shipp writes stories that challenge the reader. If you’re wanting a story that won’t make you think or be engaged, carry on. But if you’re wanting to read a physically unnerving story that wraps itself around your brain and pulls you into the story – and feel like you’re in the story – ‘Bedfellow’ is perfect for you.

Shipp is a fantastic writer, one whom seems to be writing on a different plain than most, and the dark fiction community should celebrate how much of the normal boundaries he pushes.


Book Review: Dreams for the Dying by Adam Light


Title: Dreams for the Dying

Author: Adam Light

Release date: June 14, 2021

Big thanks to Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Evans Light, Adam Light and Corpus Press for sending me a digital review copy of this one!

I’ve not had the privilege of reading anything from Adam yet, but based on what I’ve read, I’ll definitely be seeking out more of his work. ‘Dreams for the Dying’ is his first collection, one that groups together Light’s previously released short fiction.

It opens with a really well done foreword from Duncan Ralston, and while he does a good job of setting the reader up for what awaits, when the first story ‘Taken’ kicks in, even that foreword can’t completely prepare the reader.

What I liked: The collection features eleven stories, and to my pure joy, it also features authors notes on how each story came to be. I LOVE when books and collections have this. I wish every author did it and I often feel the weight deflated when I finish a book, flip the page excited to read an afterword and (whump whump) just see the ‘about the author’ section. These gave great insight into each story. But enough about that, let’s chat about some of my personal favs within.

The first story ‘Taken’ I thought was going to be my personal highlight (until something reared up later on). It follows a long-haul truck driver who wants to fulfill a promise to his wife. In doing so, he kidnaps a waitress. It is a simple premise, but as the story unfolds and we get some layers exposed, Light really delivers a creepy, moody, engaging piece.

‘Vengeance by the Foot’ was a short, crisp, cringe-creator and ‘Gone’ was moody and flew off the pages.

For me, the personal highlight was ‘Valley of the Dunes.’ The note after states that Light wanted to write a very straight forward story, but there is so much to unwrap with that one and the little sneaky nuances that he put within really led to the fantastic ending. Wish that one was a novel it was so good.

What I didn’t like: I really enjoyed each story, but a few didn’t connect with me as deeply as others and that’s a common finding with collections and anthologies. With this, Light delivered eleven really solid stories, but as always, reader mileage may vary between story subjects.

Why you should buy this:  Collections seem to be coming fast and furious lately from authors, but I think Light’s will stand the test of time based on the quality of the writing and the phenomenal way Adam delivers with his storytelling. The collection doesn’t have a sagging point, and the pacing and story sequence was really well done. If you’re looking for a collection to read between chapters of a novel, like I often do, this would be a perfect option.

I think this is a prime example of a seasoned story teller showcasing his absolute best and because of that the reader is richly rewarded.


Book Review: Maritime Monsters by Steve Vernon


Title: Maritime Monsters

Author: Steve Vernon with illustrations by Jeff Solway

Release date: Originally released September 30th, 2009, re-released July 31st, 2019

First – I just want to say, this isn’t going to be one of my ‘traditional’ reviews – in that I won’t be sharing any criticism or my usual ‘what I didn’t like section.’ The reason being that this is a book about mythical creatures for kids. I absolutely loved everything about it, and truthfully I can’t find something to suggest any improvement or something that may turn readers off, which is what I usually do.

Second – I owe Steve Vernon an apology. It never dawned on me to review this! How ridiculous, because I review so many books. Steve kindly sent this as a surprise gift for my son last year. My son (who’ll be turning 5 in two months at the time of this review) is OBSESSED with monsters, creatures and things that go bump in the night. So, while this book is suggested for kids aged 8-12, just know that I was reading this to my son while he was still three years old and he loved it.

The book is gorgeously illustrated by Jeff Solway (a prime example is that cover!) and it goes through over a dozen mythical creatures living over in Eastern Canada. Each creature is shown in stunning detail by Solway and is accompanied by the folklore around them as well as neat ‘facts.’

Vernon writes the background of the creatures with pure joy and throughout, humor is injected. The humor is done effectively enough that it’ll make adults and kids laugh; I know my son sure laughs at a number of parts.

The quality of this paperback is really amazing, with high gloss paper and the colors really pop. And while it is ‘Maritime’ monsters, I think any fan of Cryptozoology and strange and mysterious beasts will really enjoy this.

I’m very appreciative that Vernon sent this for my son, but truthfully this is a book I would’ve bought had I seen it somewhere or if he’d shared it online. Right up my son’s alley and mine! So, thank you again Steve and if you’re a parent with a youngster who is all about those scaly, creepy creatures that lurk in the water and in the woods, this is a book you NEED to get!



You can buy this direct from the publisher here;

Or at any of these other fine places;

Book Review: Master of the Moors by Kealan Patrick Burke


Title: Master of the Moors

Author: Kealan Patrick Burke

Release date: October 1st, 2008

I’ve probably read 6 or 7 of KPB’s novellas and 2 or 3 of his short story collections, but previous to this, I’d only read his novel ‘Kin,’ which was a blast. Kealan (or KPB to me!) has become a master of writing short fiction and novella length releases, and for many fans that’s what he’s known for. Well that, and his cover design work. But KPB has a number of long reads out, and I’ve had ‘Master of the Moors’ sitting on my Kindle for far too long. I was very happy to see it arrive at the top of my TBR list last week and I dove in, excited to see what was in store.

Strangely, and enjoyably, I found this book to almost be a sibling to John F.D. Taff’s ‘The Bell Witch.’ A historical piece (although this isn’t based specifically on a real event) written with a very similar style of prose.

What I liked: The story opens up with a frantic search along a foggy moor, a local man’s wife having been reported missing. From there Patrick Burke gives us a moving, haunting piece of things not always what they seem.

At its core, the book really does a great job of making the reader uncomfortable, and while the story itself has some truly shocking and disturbing moments (that opening sequence alone would make for a stunning novella) it is the atmosphere that KPB creates throughout that really was the highlight for this reader.

The characters are flawed people, which I really enjoyed. A prime example of this was the local physician who pines for the widowed barmaid, only to be made a fool and find himself in the fog.

What I didn’t like: I did find a few spots lagged a bit. Mainly the family dinner-type scenes. While necessary and did add to the tension between some characters, I wanted to know more about the rest of the events whenever these scenes arrived.

Why you should buy this: If you’ve not read Patrick Burke, this would be a great starting spot. You get his ability to inject every sentence with atmosphere and emotion. If you’ve read him before, but not this one, you know what you’re in for and get on it.

I really enjoyed this one and there are a half dozen scenes that have already worked there way into my brain to take their place where they’ll live forever. Creepy, haunting and filled with atmospheric dread, KPB really delivers with this full length.


Book Review: August’s Eyes by Glenn Rolfe

augusts eyes

Title: August’s Eyes

Author: Glenn Rolfe

Release date: August 17, 2021

Over the last few years, I’ve read a number of Rolfe’s works and have fast become a fan. When I read and reviewed ‘The Window,’ I stated that it was amazing to read a novel that while reading it, you know you’re experiencing a book that will become a classic in the genre. I still believe that.

His last release, ‘Until Summer Comes Around,’ was a throw-back, coming-of-age vampire story. Vampire stuff has lost some of its appeal for myself, but it was Rolfe’s writing strengths that made that book enjoyable for me. I was excited for ‘August’s Eyes’ when it was announced. Big thanks to Netgalley, Flame Tree Press and Rolfe for approving this.

What I liked: ‘August’s Eyes’ opens up with two friends experiencing a horrible moment in a town’s history. Fast forward and we’re now following John, one of the two youth from back then, grappling with the ripples of that moment all those years ago.

Glenn does a great job of introducing the characters and giving them great depth (especially our teenager, Pat who had been dealt a tough hand) as well as making the small town of Spears Corner feel alive and real within a very short time.

Rolfe also introduces us to John’s dreams. More specifically Graveyard Land and his two friends there; August and One Eye. These two play an important role and, while August was fairly obvious to myself early on, Rolfe did a great job of teasing out their real identity and the place in John’s past that they hold.

One thing I always love with Glenn’s writing is that he always has characters that you feel like you’ve known your whole life, even within a few paragraphs of them arriving. No matter if they are good, bad or straight up creepy, Rolfe is a master at writing those folks who populate his books.

There’s a ton of emotion packed into this novel and the ending is both tragic, but fitting. One that’ll leave many readers gasping for air.

What I didn’t like: While the Indigenous storyline that plays out in the novel is necessary and really well done, I still don’t know if it completely worked for me. Or, more specifically, I can’t decide if it had a payoff moment for me.

As well, I found the epilogue to be a bit much and a bit too sweet. Not sure if it was a late addition, but it took some of the edge off of the ending for me. Some people will absolutely love it and theoretically it could set up a future sequel, but it was a bit deflating for myself.

Why you should buy this: Rolfe is really humming along and while this doesn’t read like some of Glenn’s traditional books that he’s released in the past, this one shows a really nice progression in how Glenn’s telling his stories and frankly, when a really great writer continues to better themselves with each and every release, the readers are in for a treat.

A book that’ll be a favorite of many readers this year, ‘August’s Eyes’ definitely delivered a fantastic read from start to finish.


Book Review: Daniel by Marcin Lechna

Title: Daniel

Author: Marcin Lechna

Release date: August 9, 2021

Even though I’m technically closed for review requests, I’ll still get the occasional one that’ll come through that meets my “exception” criteria. New authors or books with limited reviews that sound right up my alley.

So, when Cristina from Authors Large and Small contacted me about ‘Daniel’ by Marcin Lechna, I was intrigued. Marcin has an interesting background and because this was a book first written in Polish and translated to English, it had me wondering what I’d be getting into. Much like foreign horror movies, foreign (to me at least) horror stories don’t follow the formula or the norms. And while this synopsis seemed to lean more to speculative science fiction, I wanted to see what type of experience Lechna had created.

What I liked: ‘Daniel’ is a story about a man, named Daniel, who wakes one day in a white room. It’s sparse and seemingly has no exit. There is a computer which turns on to one singular website where Daniel can click on a few things, but otherwise he’s essentially trapped.

As the days go by, Daniel comes to the conclusion that this place is a puzzle and he must figure out the clues to allow for his escape.

Lechna has written a very unique story here, where there are limited set pieces but a lot of questions and what-ifs. Someone must be watching him. How else can things arrive? Someone must be visiting him. How else can things appear to move?

The prose is great, minimal but impactful and as Daniel goes through his character arc, the subtle shift in writing works really well.

What I didn’t like: It just so happens that this book was sent to be reviewed by the one reviewer who has written a book that is mildly similar with my debut novel ‘Invisible’ that came out almost 5 years ago. If you’ve read that book from myself, you’ll see some of the clues that I did that ultimately made the ending not as impactful as it could’ve been.

For those who haven’t read my book (shame! ha!) the ending will either work for you or it won’t. I think that’ll wholly depend on how much you’ve bought into Daniel’s realizations etc.

As for any worries regarding translation issues, I found none here and nothing felt clunky and there was no odd instances of dialogue.

Why you should buy this: The story was crisp and felt futuristic enough to create questions while reading that can really steer your experience reading this in a number of directions. Lechna does a great job of making Daniel a likeable/relatable character. The story offers the reader that ability to ask themselves ‘what if I woke up in a white room with no exit? What would I do?’ This really heightens the tension.

As for a rating – I’m leaning towards a 3.5/ maybe a 4, but as always – reader experience will vary!

The book launches August 9th, 2021 and looks to be only available currently for pre-ordering through Marcin’s website. If and when this gets added to Goodreads or Amazon, I’ll update this page!

Otherwise you can find out details and ordering links here;