Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Cullen Spurr

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Memories are the pathway to our souls…

I’d like to start by saying I am delighted to be the first person to review this author’s debut short story, bringing his work into the blogging world is truly an honour, as well as giving him the recognition he fully deserves. Pushing his work into the spotlight and paving the way for his future works to be shown to the world. If his other work is as good as this short story then we are all in for a treat!

Firstly we dive straight into the story with a stream of consciousness as the protagonist starts to describe his surroundings and the confusion in which they bring, already the sense of darkness fills the gaps as we go along the characters journey. Guessing at each turn on who this character is (as no names are given), where he is and what has happened to him, which only increases the mystery.

As we progress through the characters memories we are taken on a trip through his childhood, dipping into his adolescence and falling in love. However don’t let this description fool you, the darkness behind the words slips out as we slowly discover the character’s emotions (feeling numb to the world) with a glimmer of hope when ‘she’ walks into his life. Even when all seems like it could be a ‘happily ever after’ situation his world comes crashing down beneath him.

One of my favourite things about this story was the break of consciousness, snippets of the protagonist swaying from his past recollections and bringing more mystery into his words. The fact that he realises he’s breaking from his trip down memory lane and giving away clues to the reader without them knowing how they piece together.

Another way to know if a story is good usually falls into the lines of wanting to know more, with this story it is open to interpretation on what actually happened with this man. Not giving you a clear black and white ending you find yourself questioning whether the break in consciousness earlier in the story meant that the ending wasn’t all that it seemed.

If you like a bit of darkness, some mystery and a story that pulls you in from the beginning and doesn’t let go then this is a story I would definitely recommend. Cullen Spurr is an unknown author for now, but I have a feeling that his work is going to capture a wide audience and have something special behind every cover.

Until next time…

If you would like to read this yourself it is available for download by viewing the PDF here – Are There Enough Chairs In Heaven – Culln Spurr

Bio: Cullen Spurr
Throughout his school life he was reprimanded for being outspoken and a little different, with the exception of his English teachers, who praised his creative writing and inquisitive mind. He developed a passion for all forms of creative writing early on in his life. This developed through many mediums such as music, poetry and prose. He self-released a short novella through Amazon’s Kindle store in 2013 but then took a step back from writing to pursue music throughout university. After graduating university Cullen rekindled his passion for writing and started working on, what he hopes to be, his debut novel.

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Spells & Persuasions – S.J.Budd

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Dark, twisted and extremely believable…

Now this review will be slightly different to my usual book reviews, as this collection features 9 short stories in the dark fantasy genre but I will try to review them as a whole and pick out some highlights from each. Before we begin I would not suggest reading these before bedtime as they have such an element of realism, making you think about situations in your own life that these events could occur as well as giving you twists to leave you shocked!

As mentioned before this collection has 9 short stories in, I actually read this book twice! Not only because it was such a well written book but because I wanted to make the experience of reading it last longer and really take in each story as a whole (letting the twists and turns really sink in). Each story draws you in straight away, not needing a long build up to realise what is happening. By doing this you are already engaged with the characters situation and follow the story word by word.

The style of each story varies from modern day to fantasy (witches and spells) but all have an underlying theme that is ‘relationships’ whether this be in the form of mother and son, husband and wife or teenage crushes. Each story delves deeper into these relationships and shows the darkness behind them, even the most innocent of characters are not as they seem (A Most Devoted Son, The Little Orphan Girl & Hold Me Tight). These stories really make you think about your own experiences (especially Spells and Persuasions) where teenage crushes can turn into something horrific, especially when magic is involved.

Now the genre of all these stories is dark fantasy and as it is a genre I most enjoy reading, I must say I wasn’t disappointed. Each story took me down a route that I thought I would suss out the ending but always shocked me and left me wanting more answers when the plot twists came out of the woodwork! The writing is so well done that you turn each page with ease, completely engrossed with the story that S. J. Budd has provided. The darkness within these stories is done in a way that makes you want to keep reading but part of you knows that something frightening is yet to come.

Just to pick out some of the stories that I enjoyed the most (honestly I wish I could write a whole review for each one) – ‘The Mound’ was one story that felt very close to being a real life event, yes it had magic and ghosts but the underlying theme of adultery made it full of possible realism. Not to give away any spoilers but let’s just say that if your husband is cheating on you and you find out, be careful what you wish for!

Another one that I enjoyed thoroughly was ‘The Little Orphan Girl‘ this story was one that wasn’t set in the modern world but in a world that had witches. The reason for picking this was the fact it really creeped me out! Normally I don’t like little girls in anything remotely scary (films or books) but this story really showed that innocence can be misleading. Again not giving away any spoilers but this twist really had me, I kept trying to work out what would happen as I was reading but I would have never guessed that ending.

In all honestly I would highly recommend this collection as it does have a little something for everyone (even if you’re not a huge horror/ dark fantasy fan) as the story lines are very well thought out and the twists will leave you speechless. I will definitely be looking forward to any future works of S. J. Budd as her writing is spectacular (and scary!).

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Spells and Persuasions’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: S. J. Budd
Originally born in Cornwall, south west England, her childhood was surrounded by myths and legends and she has always been fascinated by anything out of the ordinary. It was in this strange and ancient land where she developed a passion for writing.
S.J.Budd loves writing short stories exploring dark fictional worlds and its mysterious inhabitants, and is currently working on her first novel. Her day job involves working as journalist for http://www.findahood.com and she also blogs on her site http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Siren’s Call Publications, Deadman’s Tome, Innersins , Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Shadows at the Door and Danse Macabre Magazine, The Wild Hunt, Morpheus Tales and Freedom Fiction. Twitter @sjbuddj

There Is Always More To Say – Lynda Spiro

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Love and friendship never really end…

For a lazy Sunday afternoon I couldn’t have asked for a better book to get lost in! This book really does make you think and even got me to reminisce on my own past friendships. Before reading this book I had done some research into it and discovered that it wouldn’t be written in a way that I have come across before, however this just made me even more intrigued to see a different style of writing and what it could have in store for me.

Firstly I must point out the use of inspirational quotes that are used at the beginning and end of each ‘chapter’ – they really enhance the reading experience but also compliment that which has been discussed in the chapter. After reading this book you really do feel a sense of enlightenment and the quotes just make it that little bit extra to stand out from the crowd of ‘normal’ book writing styles. Safe to say I may have to use some of them in any future writing I do!

The literary style almost feels as if it is a memoir of the narrator (or even a diary) as the book follows a stream of thoughts, feelings and past experiences that seem deeply personal to the narrator. However this is done in such a way that you feel you’ve gone on this journey with them and laughed, loved and cried through every step. This book could be challenged as a typical love story but digging deeper it is so much more, you really feel connected to the characters and can relate to experiences they’ve had regarding ‘first love’ and ‘true friendships’.

As for the characters there is an air of mystery as you never get to know their names, always keeping you guessing and allowing your own imagination to take off, which personally is a very clever writing strategy. I kept wanting to know more, as my questions never got fully answered, but throughout this journey of a book it really brought a smile to my face as it was just on a level that everyone could enjoy.

Being quite a short story you would have no problem curling up for an afternoon and really getting lost in it (I most certainly couldn’t put it down!). I can’t wait to see what Lynda Spiro does next as her writing style has most definitely captivated me!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘There Is Always More To Say’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Lynda Spiro
Lynda Young Spiro is a mixed media artist whose love of textiles, found objects and recyclable materials are incorporated into her colourful work. Lynda was born in 1959 in Hampstead, London, where she now lives with her husband and two sons. Lynda’s previous book Latch-Hooking Rugs is published by A & C Black. There is Always More to Say is her award-wining first novel, which has since been recognised by Chill With A Book, Shelf Unbound, and Hollywood Book Festival.

Dying Valentine – Calvin Demmer

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Don’t forget the chocolates and flowers…

This is the first time I’ve read a Calvin Demmer short story and from my research ‘Dying Valentine’ is the latest version in his Dark Celebrations collection, it is safe to say that I will be reading the rest of his collection! As a short story I was worried that I wouldn’t get into it but truth be told I was hooked from the beginning and wished there was more!

Straight away you are brought into the story, not much background information given but with the way it is written I’d say you wouldn’t need it. The story follows Daniel Hill who is nervous about meeting his girlfriend Julia’s parents on Valentine’s Day (what a day to meet them!) but little does he know that this particular Valentine’s Day isn’t going to be a pleasant one.

This book is a very typical ‘horror’ genre which is the type that I enjoy reading, however it starts out almost as a romance and takes an unexpected twist towards the end. With only a few characters mentioned in this book they all are very memorable and created so that you could fully relate to them. Daniel being the ‘nice nervous young guy’ for example, everyone knows a ‘Daniel’ in their lives which really brought this story to life for me. Being a short story you’d think that you couldn’t get invested in a character but oh how I thought wrong, I really felt for Daniel every step of the way.

At first I was very suspicious of the mysterious girl in the middle of the night, and honestly thought that the story was going to go down a different path when he invited her back to his place *without giving away too much! – however Calvin Demmer managed to completely shock me with the way the story ended! I wasn’t expecting it but I think the way it was done was amazing.

The only fault I have with it is that I wished it could have been longer, leaving me hanging like that at the end was just so unfair! That said, I will be reading more of Calvin Demmer’s work as I’m sure they are just as gripping, gruesome and entertaining as Dying Valentine.

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Dying Valentine’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Calvin Demmer
Calvin Demmer is a crime, mystery, and speculative fiction author. He has had over thirty stories published in various magazines and anthologies. When not writing, he is intrigued by that which goes bump in the night and the sciences of our universe.

P∃T Shop – Gary Buller

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Curiosity killed the cat…

For my first ever audio book review I was excited to listen to ‘P∃T Shop’ by Gary Buller, not knowing much about this book I was intrigued to see what it had in store for me! This book was quite short which I was slightly apprehensive about (30 minutes long listening time) however as the story progressed I kept wishing that it would be longer and never end!

Firstly I was very impressed with the way the audio book was as a whole, using music to enhance the experience was new for me (I’ve listened to a few audio books and all of them have been just the narrator telling the story). The way the music blended in the background helped set the scenes and really brought the story to life! I was worried that it would distract me from the actual story but it took it to a whole new level and made me feel so much more connected with the story.

The story itself is dark and mysterious, making the reader really feel as if you are with Brandon as he enters the ‘pet shop’ – the level of description is highly impressive, making it so easy to imagine how the shop would look, feel and smell. It’s safe to say this isn’t your ordinary pet shop! The character selection is small, two main characters Brandon and Horace and a few mentions of Brandon’s family – however you do find yourself able to relate to the characters and needless to say two main characters is more than enough.

Now on to the ‘pets’ – these creatures are not like any household pets, nor are they ones you would wish to bring home to live with you! The many varieties of creatures that lurk in the shop brings mystery and myth to a whole new level. Creatures such as mermaids and fairies can be seen to make an appearance yet they are not how us humans would imagine them! There are many darker and dangerous creatures that can be found in the shop, unfortunately Brandon’s curiosity gets the better of him and could take him down a dark path.

The creature creation really pleased me, giving the typical mythical creatures an unexpected twist. It gave the reader a chance to delve deeper into the creature’s background (like where Horace found them) and make the reader more curious to what else could be shown next…

The twist at the end was most enjoyable, in all honestly I wasn’t expecting it which frankly was what made it so perfect! I kept wishing that the story would continue as I did get so engrossed with it and wanted to learn more about the pet shop – having so many questions that were unanswered I am hoping that there could be another story to follow on from this.

Until next time…

If you want to listen to ‘P∃T Shop’ by Gary Buller yourself then you can directly download it from the ‘Gallery of Curiosity’ website here.

Bio: Gary Buller
Gary Buller is an author from Manchester, England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, his daughter Holly, and dog Chico. He grew up in the Peak District where the hauntingly beautiful landscapes inspired him to write. He is a huge fan of all things macabre, and loves a tale with a twist.


Dead Over Heels – Theresa Braun

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Who said romance is dead…

It’s safe to say I was excited to read ‘Dead Over Heels’ as it is the genre of book I most enjoy reading. A paranormal, romance and mystery book which captivates you from the first paragraph, keeping the mystery alive of what brought Veronica and Sebastian to that time in their lives. I was quite wary when learning this was a ‘short story’ as I didn’t think it would have enough detail to keep me engaged… Oh how I was wrong.  This book is only 38 pages long yet manages to include so much depth to the story line, builds the characters of Veronica and Sebastian perfectly and keeps you interested throughout with unexpected events popping up.

‘Dead Over Heels’ introduces you to Veronica who many women who have tried online dating (myself included) can relate to. She is almost about to give up hope in finding her ‘true love’ when in comes Sebastian. The romance begins with online messages but finally builds to them having their first date (which is at a known haunted restaurant). However this isn’t an ordinary date when supernatural events start to unfold – linking Sebastian and Veronica in ways I never expected.

Battling through these ghostly encounters Veronica and Sebastian must come together to uncover the truth behind these events. With both of their pasts coming back to ‘haunt’ them, can their love survive digging deeper? As the story unfolded I was impressed with the connection Veronica and Sebastian had with the ghosts, the way that their relationship pushed through the ‘creepy events’ and kept me completely engaged the whole way through.

The twist at the end was so perfect, it made me angry but happy at the same time! I was hoping for the book not to end but sadly it had to (although ending beautifully). I personally wish that this book will have a sequel because I am not finished with Veronica and Sebastian.

This book was such an enjoyable read, it had everything I could have hoped for. The characters themselves are easy to relate too (who doesn’t know an awkward attractive guy or a girl next door type with an edge) – the story line flowed effortlessly and kept me thinking and wondering what could happen next. I can’t wait to see what Theresa Braun does next!

Until next time…

If you want to read ‘Dead Over Heels’ yourself you can purchase it on Amazon by following the link here.

Bio: Theresa Braun
Theresa Braun was born in St Paul, Minnesota and has carried some of that hardiness with her to South Florida where she currently resides with her two fur babies, who are her creative sidekicks. She enjoys delving into creative writing, painting, photography and even bouts of ghost hunting. Perhaps growing up in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota is to blame.