Vices and Virtues: A Horror Anthology

Vices and Virtues is a horror anthology edited by Ashley Franz Holzman and includes 16 stories that all tie into vices and virtues we have in society. I wasn’t expecting much from this anthology because I didn’t know any of the authors but was pleasantly surprised by the quality of work in this book. All of the stories in this book are like an emotional roller coaster with normal characters  you can relate to put into extraordinary circumstances.

The first story did a great job of setting the tone for the whole book. The Girl Who Died by C.K. Walker is about a lonely girl who has no friends except the animals in the woods. One day she finds a dead animal in the woods that changes everything. We then see this girl go from never being noticed by anyone to being infamous all because she cared to much. The next story in the anthology is I Loved You So Much by Christopher Bloodworth which is in the same vein as the first one, a child who is a little lonely finds a new friend who ends up bringing destruction to the kid’s family. Both of these opening tales pack an emotional gory wallop and were a lot of fun to read.

One of my favorites in this book was Constance by Adam Grey, this was an emotional story about a confused older woman, a single mother and an innocent young child. Constance is an old woman living in an apartment building and working in an abortion clinic when she gets let go by the clinic she goes off the deep end and a young mother in need of a baby sitter makes  the bad decision of leaving her child with her. This story was disturbing and at the same time really made you feel for the characters involved in it.

There is a great mix of stories here and one story that mixes Science Fiction and horror is The Lonely Man by Kristopher J. Patten. Set in the future we have a captain on a spaceship going to Mars on an exploratory mission. The last visitor to Mars was 120 years ago and since then on Earth there has been was, famine and several deaths. Much to the captain’s surprise when she reaches Mars she finds the last person to visit alive and well.What has kept this person alive so long and what plans does he have now that he has a way to get back to Earth. The plot of this story is very similar to the movie Space Vampires but has a much more personal feel to it and much scarier.

This anthology felt like it was a labor of love for all the authors and there wasn’t a bad story in the book.. Each story had a personal feel to it with one character going through something emotional that no one else could understand. The authors in this book seem to know what it takes to write a good story and they have put together a great book that mixes literary fiction with horror and Science fiction.


Batwoman Vol.1 : The Many Arms of Death

I have to say off the bat that I don’t know a lot about Batwoman. Not to long ago I met a woman whose favorite superhero was Batwoman so when I saw this on Netgalley I decided to give it a try. Batwoman Vol.1 : The Many Arms of Death collects issues 1 through 6 of the new ongoing series plus a one shot called Rebirth 1. The book includes writing from Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV along with art from Steve Epting and Ben Oliver.

Right away I have to say I wish a little more time was spent on the origin since I didn’t know much about her. But I liked the art and there was enough background information given so that I wasn’t lost. Agter the orgin we find Batwoman tracking people who have an illegal drug called monster venom. It causes people to turn into monsters giving them the means to cause destruction and kill as many people from as many nations as possible. Batwoman finds a man in Istanbul who just used the drug to transform and kill people in an international market.

Simple story, great characters and good art, what else can you ask for in a comic. I loved that Batwoman has a Pennyworth assisting her. I also liked that it takes place mostly on an island  called Coryana ruled by pirates and other thugs. It would have been nice to have a little more background information on the history of Coryana and the story could have been a little more detailed. At one point we seem to abandon the story about the drug and go right into a story about the island about to be destroyed.

I did like how Batwoman’s lost year on Coryana was described, it’s pretty much shown as a home for vigilantes and it has some questionable characters.. My favorite part was when Batwoman is fighting a woman named Tahani and explains how she is not like Batman. She states that Batman would never work with the killers and thieves she is willing to work with. Batwoman shows herself as being a much darker character than Batman and doesn’t mind bending the law to her needs. One question I had was why does Batwoman wears a disguise since everyone seemed to know who she was anyway? All in all this is an entertaining book.

Lighter Than My Shadow

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green is the auto-biographic graphic novel about a girl with big issues who just wants to be happy. Katie deals with an eating disorder, anxiety and all the awkwardness of adolescence. At over 500 pages this is one huge graphic novel and it took the author almost five years to draw and write it. What made me want to read this book was that I had never heard of a biography in this format and I fell in love with the cover. When I saw the girl walking through the woods with a scribbled shadow behind her I had to find out more.

At the start you see an average girl with a perfect life. We also see her deal with problems in school, learning about her sexuality and the pressure that all kids go through to be accepted. Katie’s story is easy to relate to as you see her go through the awkward teenage years. She thinks that she will never find a boyfriend and worries about getting good grades. Katie wants to fit in but at the same time she wants to be happy. She struggles to accept her changing body and you see her deal with her feelings of being different from everyone else. Being a kid is hard and it seems to be even harder for Katie.

As the story goes on it gets more into Katie’s eating disorders and how it affects her life. It also gets into what causes her to begin her journey, starting with how other kids look at their bodies. Food becomes an obsession, not just eating it but how much weight she will gain if she does. She worries constantly about how food will affect her and her as her life goes into a downward spiral. I liked the attention to detail on her eating disorder but I felt that this part of the book was a little too long. I understood the point that was being made and less time could have been spent on it. At times the book felt like a long therapy session but I was rooting for Katie to find what she was looking for in life.

When one problem gets solved, other problems present themselves and you start to wonder if Katie will ever find happiness. Lighter Than My Shadow is one woman’s journey from a good childhood to being a troubled teenager to finally finding piece of mind. This book was obviously a labor of love and readers will be able to see some of their selves in Katie. She is looking for the same thing that everyone looks for which is happiness.




Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Because David is such a fan of Markham in the Night’s Knights series, I’ve decided to share an excerpt from the new book, Dusk’s Warriors, where Markham is battling Hellhounds. It also involves Minidoo, a Canadian Ojibawe Indian who is a new character in this sequel.

Excerpt from Dusk’s Warriors:

A gust blew off Markham’s hat and he tripped over a tree root, pitching forward and landing face-first. Snow pushed up his nose and into his mouth. It was clean, but stung like the blazes.

Markham stood and brushed himself off. He covered his mouth and nose, breathing heavily to clear the coldness from his skin. Hearing a rustle in the woods, he pressed against a nearby tree, trying to blend in to the forest. The trees were dense and as he watched in the direction of the noise, a doe galloped past him about two yards away. After the doe, a woman dressed in furs, long black twin braids flying out behind her, sprinted past. Her head snapped in his direction, but she kept moving. Markham followed cautiously behind, watching the woman grab the doe and sink her canines into its neck. The doe made a yelp when caught, but then was still. The woman drank of her prey, concentrating on the animal. Markham kept his distance, knowing not to approach a vampire while feeding. The woman’s eyes flew open, her mouth still connected to the doe.

As Markham was about to step out and introduce himself, he heard Ridge approach. He could read his thoughts before he saw him.

Kill the girl, get free. Kill the girl, get the money. Never have to go to Hell again, Ridge thought.

Whe nesh na baa?” the girl asked, and Markham thought she spoke to him, but she looked past him, to the right. Her eyes narrowed, a cold dark stare as if she would kill with a mere look. “Annish mampee enna kian sha ganosh?” She stood, blood trailing onto her white furs as she whipped her two long braids from her face.

“Listen,” Ridge said as he stepped into view, a gun trained on the girl. “I don’t understand your gobble-de-gook. If you’re gonna threaten me, do it in English.”

“Who are you to come on this land, in a forest of peace to dishonor the ancestors of the people?” she asked, clear and confident with only a slight accent.

“Glad you asked. My name’s Ridge. You are?”

“Minidoo. I belong here. You do not.”

“Look Mini, I really have nothing against you, but I made a deal and you are my way to freedom. So stand real still like…” He fired his gun. The shots missed and Minidoo had Ridge in a head lock before he could blink.

“Who sent you?” She lifted him off the ground, his neck still in the crook of her forearm as she floated upwards.

“Put…me…down…God damnit!” Ridge struggled against her, grunting and kicking back at her. “All right, no more Mr. Nice Guy.” Ridge took something from his pocket and put it too his mouth.

Minidoo dropped him, screeching and covering her ears. Markham didn’t hear anything, but it seemed to work on the poor girl.

“What is it?” she yelled.

“Hell whistle.”

Markham could stand by no longer, he stepped between them, his back to Minidoo.

“Ridge, your torture stops here.”

“Markham O’Leary! Two for the price of one. Imagine my luck!” Despite his cocky humor, Markham could see doubt in his mind. Can the Hell whistle defeat two strong immortals? Will I live to collect my money?

From the woods came a howl so horrific, it couldn’t be a normal wolf. A mangy set of dogs came out of the woods.

“Hmmm…in all my days, I ain’t never seen a hellhound so ugly. Glad he’s on my side. Go get ‘em killer.” Ridge smiled self-righteously.

The animals didn’t seem to be “hounds” exactly, but the Hell part Markham believed. They were giant wooly dogs, almost bear like. At first it looked like they were chained together by twos, but the closer they got, he realized they were attached in the middle like mutant Siamese twins, each having four legs and a separate head, but combined in a wide body. Brown in color, their fur seemed to undulate as if it was liquid. Their eyes were deep crevices where eyeballs should’ve been. When they snarled, deadly sharp teeth and skeletal jaws dripped with blood.

Have you encountered this sort of beast before? Minidoo asked Markham silently.

No, you? Markham asked.


Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night’s Knights has returned! Emerian Rich’s unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shaurette, Lilith’s Love


“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won’t be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library


Praise for Night’s Knights:

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor


“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

Emerian Rich was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1973, the only child of pastors. She lived in thirty-two different places by the time she graduated high school. With no siblings and no consistent peer relationships, the pen became an integral part of her life, granting her an inexpensive pastime that she could take with her anywhere. The characters in her stories became her friends and her journal, her only continuous confidant.

Emerian graduated The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, California with an A.A. in Visual Presentation and Space Design. She has been a consultant on window design, store merchandising, web design projects, company logos, event planning and decoration, newsletter production, and has been voice acting since 2008.

Emerian began her non-profit zine, Dark Lives, in 1997. Her goal was to give unpublished talent in the horror genre a place to have their work published and enjoyed. Originally began as a paper publication, Dark Lives became exclusively a webzine in 2002. officially closed it’s doors at the end of 2007.

Emerian now serves as Horror Hostess for the internationally acclaimed podcast, has become not only a podcast but a widely read publisher of horror news, reviews, and fiction.

Emerian has been a part of many social and business groups including: The Katz (Supernatural Investigators), Wicked Women Writers, Mad Hatter Tea Society, Quillz Literary Group, and others. She is also an active volunteer for the following causes: Clean The Beach Days, Earth Day, Oil Clean Up Education, Service to Elders, Children’s Day Camp, Community Support for Abused Children, and Activities for the Developmentally Disabled.

She has also written under the names: Emerian Mordrige, E. Mordrige, Emmy Z. Madrigal and Emz.

Emerian lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. To meet Emerian, check out her events.

Justice League Vol. 4: Endless (Rebirth)

The DC universe has been reborn and The Justice League is back in action. Justice League Vol. 4 (Rebirth) collects issues 20 through 25 of Justice League and is written by Bryan Hitch. There are a few different storylines in this book but the main one focuses on The Flash. With the Justice League dead and Manhattan destroyed the Flash finds himself in a time loop repeating the events that lead to the destruction that he believes he caused. Eventually he gets help from Batman and they are able to solve the mystery as to what happened.

I got this book through Netgalley in exchange for a review and found that it was pretty much what I expected. There is some great art here with some excellent battle scenes and some decent storytelling to tie it together. In particular I liked the two new Green Lanterns and getting into how they feel about the Justice League. My favorite part was towards the end of the book where Batman talks to a villain about the origins of the universe and whether there is a God or not. If you are a fan of the Justice League then you will enjoy this and it will get you in the mood for the movie.

Nancy Drew And The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys have been around since the 1920’s in books, movies, TV and comics. In the beginning their antics were aimed towards a young audience but over the years their audience got older and some of their stories were aimed at an older audience. This brings us to the present day and a new limited edition comic series from Dynamite comicsNancy Drew And The Hardy Boys: The Big Lie is written by Anthony Del Coy with art by Wertr Dell’Edera and shows the characters as you’ve never seen them before.

Frank and Joe Hardy had everything going for them, good part-time jobs, nice girlfriends and the respect of everyone in the town of Bayport. Everything starts to fall apart though when their father and police detective Fenton is accused of corruption. The whole town turns against them and their father commits suicide, or so it seems. After an investigation the police suspect that Frank and Joe murdered their father. The police not have all the proof they need but in the court of public opinion, the boys are already guilty. Luckily for them Nancy Drew doesn’t believe that and has a plan to prove their innocence.

What drew me to this graphic novel was the cover which was drawn by Faye Dalton. I’ve been wanting to know more about the Noir and Hard boiled mystery genre and this book seemed to be a good fit. I wasn’t disappointed either, I haven’t read any Hardy Boys books since I was a kid but that didn’t matter, you don’t need to know the characters well to enjoy this book. From the opening pages you know that these aren’t the characters that you grew up with. Bayport is a dark place filled with crime, drugs and more than one dark secret. I loved how this book goes back and looks at the Hardy’s family and we see that there were a few criminals in the bloodline and the Hardy Boy’s father may have been as corrupt as the public thinks.

I also liked hearing about Nancy’s background and how she finds out that her dad has his own dark secrets. I loved how Nancy was shown in this book, when she finds out details on the death of her mother she decides to do what teenagers are supposed to do which is party. She quickly finds out that partying isn’t for her and goes on to do what she does best, which is solve mysteries. We get to see Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys solving mysteries as kids, then as moody manipulating teenagers and I enjoyed how the book shows the kids changing through the years.

No one is what they appear and everyone has a secret or two and The Hardy Boys have their own ideas of what’s right and wrong and fight quite a bit. There are a lot of great twists and turns to this book and I never saw the ending coming.  Also the art is amazing and adds a lot to the story making the dark mood to the plot even darker. This book was a fun read with the art and story firing together on all cylinders.  If you love graphic novels, this one is a must read.

David’s Haunted Library: Drive-In Creature Feature

Soda? check, Popcorn? check, Blankets? check. These are some of the things you might need if you are going to your local drive-in theater. If you’re 30 or younger you probably don’t know what a drive-in is. You also don’t know the joys of sitting in your car with a group of friends while you watched giant creatures destroying the city on the big screen. Luckily Eugene Johnson and Charles Day have put together a horror anthology that captures the spirit of the Drive in.  Drive In Creature Feature contains 19 stories for anyone who loves a good monster tale.

Since it would take too long to talk about each story I’ll spend some time talking about my favorites. The Tattering and Jack by Clive Barker is about a demon who has the task of driving a man crazy. The job ends up being much harder than the demon…

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