#BookReview: The Con Season by Adam Cesare #TheConSeason #damppebbles

“Horror movie starlet Clarissa Lee is beautiful, internationally known, and…completely broke.

To cap off years of questionable financial and personal decisions, Clarissa accepts an invitation to participate in a “fully immersive” fan convention. She arrives at an off-season summer camp and finds what was supposed to be a quick buck has become a real-life slasher movie.

Deep in the woods of Kentucky with a supporting cast of B-level celebrities, Clarissa must fight to survive the deadly game that the con’s organizers have rigged against her.

A demented, funny, bloody, and strangely-poignant horror novel from the acclaimed author of Tribesmen, Zero Lives Remaining, and Mercy House.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Con Season by Adam Cesare. The Con Season was published on 16th August 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited which is where my copy came from.

I love horror but I’m quite particular in my choices. I prefer slasher horror with a crazed serial killer, human or otherwise, setting about a bunch of innocent and unsuspecting victims with wild abandon — rather than vampires, ghosts or ghoulies. I read Cesare’s first YA slasher, Clown in a Cornfield, last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. To the point where I was keen to read more. So imagine my delight, when I saw this book grinning malevolently at me from the Kindle Unlimited library. I just couldn’t resist!

Aging horror movie star, Clarissa Lee, is no longer the first name on everyone’s lips when it comes to casting a new movie. Except, perhaps, unless you’re talking about ‘the mother role’ or *gasp* ‘the grandmother role’. She’s a regular on the convention scene but it barely brings in enough to support Clarissa’s lavish lifestyle. When she’s invited to join a ‘fully immersive’ convention, an experience labelled by the organisers as something completely different to everything else out there, she drunkenly agrees. But on arrival at the venue – a deserted summer camp deep in the Kentucky woods – everything is not as it first appears. Surrounded by fellow has-beens and wannabes, Clarissa has a fight on her hands. A fight for her life…

The Con Season is bloody marvellous, literally. It’s a high energy page-turner which I could not put down. And at just over 200 pages, there’s a heck of a lot packed into this fast and thrilling read. I love the idea behind this book. A group of desperate starlets out to earn a few easy dollars turn up to discover they’re the main event. The ‘fans’ aren’t there for autographs and selfies (well, there are selfies involved but not the kind you would expect). They’re there to see their movie heroes meet a disgusting and bloody end at the hands of their very own slasher. All controlled by a group of sick minds behind the scenes and one kidnapped film director (who else is going to work the cameras for the souvenir DVD!). This book is not for the faint hearted or the squeamish but I was hooked from beginning to disgusting end.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Con Season is a guaranteed page-turner which I think most horror fans will enjoy. OK, it’s a bit crazy and you do have to suspend your disbelief but who the heck cares? I wanted an entertaining blood-soaked read and I found it in The Con Season. I would happily pick up another book by this author based on the two I have read by him so far. Recommended.

The Con Season by Adam Cesare was published in the UK by Black T-Shirt Books on 16th August 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukBook DepositoryGoodreads |

Adam Cesare is a New Yorker who lives in Philadelphia. He studied English and film at Boston University.

His work has been featured in numerous publications, including Shroud Magazine. His nonfiction has appeared in ParacinemaFangoria, The LA Review of Books and other venues. He also writes a monthly column for Cemetery Dance Online.

His novels and novellas are available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all other fine retailers.

You should buy some.

#BookReview: Slash by Hunter Shea @flametreepress #Slash #damppebbles

9781787581791.jpg“Five years after Ashley King survived the infamous Resort Massacre, she’s found hanging in her basement by her fiancé, Todd Matthews. She left behind clues as to what really happened that night, clues that may reveal the identity of the killer the press has called The Wraith. With the help of his friends, Todd goes back to the crumbling Hayden Resort, a death-tinged ruin in the Catskills Mountains.

What they find is a haunted history that’s been lying in wait for a fresh set of victims.

The Wraith is back, and he’s nothing what they expected.”

Hello bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my review of Slash by Hunter Shea with you today. Slash was published by Flame Tree Press on 24th October 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of Slash but that has in no way influenced my review.

Holy moly, this is a cracker of a book! If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you may know that I love the horror genre as much as I love crime fiction! I’m particularly fond of the ’80s slasher movie’ novels and tend to turn to horror when my reading mojo ups and leaves. I asked for recommendations a few months back and the lovely Sharron at booksbehindthetitle suggested I gave Slash a go as she’d recently read it and thought it would appeal. She was 100% right. I devoured this book. Slash has everything I look for in a horror novel but with so much more dolloped on top (in a steaming, festering, bloody pile).

Ashley King was the sole survivor of the Hayden Resort Massacre five years ago. Yup, she’s a Final Girl. Todd Matthews, her fiancé, returns home one day to find her lifeless body hanging in the basement. Heartbroken and grieving for his lost love, he returns to the site of the massacre to find out what really happened that fateful night. A serial killer named ‘The Wraith’ has always been held responsible for the murders and Todd, and his totally unprepared band of friends, want answers. But what they find living in the ruins of the Resort is a whole lot more than they ever expected….

This is Shea’s homage to slasher movies and I really enjoyed the high-stakes terror and the unashamed gore fest of Slash. But all is not what it first appears. This is the second book I’ve read by Hunter Shea – the first being Creature which is also well worth a look – but I get the feeling that Shea (and this really is just a feeling having read only two of this author’s books – don’t hate me if I’m wrong) has a very distinct style, which Slash benefits from. The story really ramped up a number of notches and was given an almighty gut pulverising twist.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. This is a blood soaked, rip roaring ride of a book and I loved every minute of it. If you’re not a fan of gore in your novels then perhaps this isn’t for you. But if you’ve got the stomach, this is one that shouldn’t be missed. It ticked so many boxes for me and I’m adding Shea’s previous books to the TBR.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Slash. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Slash by Hunter Shea was published in the UK by Flame Tree Press on 24th October 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Book DepositoryGoodreads |

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hunter sheaHunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author photo and bio © https://huntershea.com/

#BookReview | Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella @TitanBooks #Halloween

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“The official novelization of the highly anticipated revamp of the classic horror film Halloween.

In 1978, Laurie Strode survived an encounter with Michael Myers, a masked figure who killed her friends and terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night. Myers was later gunned down, apprehended and committed to Smith’s Grove State Hospital.

For forty years, memories of that nightmarish ordeal have haunted Laurie and now Myers is back once again on Halloween, having escaped a routine transfer, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. This time, Laurie is prepared with years of survival training to protect herself, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson, a teenager separated from her family and enjoying Halloween festivities.”

Woohooo! I love a horror novel. Particularly when I’m in a bit of a reading slump which I have been of late. The folk at Titan Books contacted me about reading a copy of Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella and I jumped at the chance. This is the movie novelisation of the most recent Halloween film released last year and it was a joy to read (a scary nail-biting, nerve-shredding joy!)! I received a free copy of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

So I have a confession to make. This is bound to lose me a few followers but hey, honesty is the best policy….right? I have never seen any of the Halloween films. I’m going to take this a step further now and make matters even worse. I don’t actually watch horror films because I’m a wimp. I get my horror kicks from the brilliant horror novels I read. Shall I get my coat? 😂 What I do know however is that the Halloween franchise is incredibly popular and Michael Myers is as scary AF! I also have a bit of a thing for ‘final girls’ and Laurie Strode is the ultimate final girl. Am I right? And that’s what I loved about this book, the focus on Laurie and the long-term effects of that terrifying first meeting with Myers back in 1978.

Forty years have passed since that fateful first meeting and Laurie Strode is now a grandmother. Not your average, warm and squishy, ‘run-of-the-mill’ grandmother though. She has lived her life preparing for the day Myers will return. Her family think she’s crazy as the knife-wielding maniac who attacked her all those years ago is safely locked away in a high-security establishment. But Laurie knows it’s not over…

It was fascinating to read about Laurie’s life (or rather, the lack of it). How she has built her own high-security fortress, in particular how affected her daughter Karen was by her strange upbringing and how, as a result, Karen is determined to raise her own daughter, Allyson, differently. But Laurie knows not to let her guard down. It’s only a matter of time before Myers strikes again and this time she has a family to protect as well.

Halloween is full-on, incredibly tense and there is always something happening. I loved how the author was able to to make me feel on edge and nervous about what Myers was up to even when he didn’t feature in the scene. I had a constant sense of impending doom, just waiting for something bad (really BAD!) to happen and I loved it!

Would I recommend this book? I would! It’s gory and gruesome but that should come as no surprise. I have read other horror movie novelisations (without seeing the movie, obviously!) and this is one of my favourites. I was on edge throughout and was disappointed that the book had to end. Terrifying, intense and oh so good.

I chose to read and review a copy of Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella was published in the UK by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

john passarella.jpg

I am a married father of three, and reside in Logan Township, New Jersey. Currently, I write full-time (that is, when I’m not working on business, my website design and author promotion business, AuthorPromo.com). While I enjoy writing in the genres of dark fantasy, supernatural thrillers, horror, science fiction, fantasy and mystery, I have been concentrating on horror and supernatural stories in recent years.

The co-authored Wither was my first published novel. Columbia Pictures purchased the film rights to Wither in a preemptive, pre-publication bid. Wither won the Bram Stoker Award in 2000 for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. I followed Wither with the media tie-ins Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble (2000) and Angel: Avatar (2001).

Next came my stand-alone sequel to Wither, Wither’s Rain (2003). In 2004, I had two novels published, Angel: Monolith and Wither’s Legacy and two standalone novels, Kindred Spirit (2006) and Shimmer(2009), available from Amazon.com and the Passarella Author Store.

I’ve written three original Supernatural (CW) tie-in novels for Titan Books, Night Terror (2011), Rite of Passage (2012), and—my most recent novelSupernatural: Cold Fire (2016), which was preceded by a Grimm tie-in: Grimm: The Chopping Block (2014), based on the hit NBC TV series.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio Copyright © John Passarella

#BookReview: Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler #MaskBeneathHerFace

mask beneath her face.jpg“During the 1980s, slashers terrorized America. With machetes and masks, these unstoppable killers stalked college campuses, quiet suburbs, and lakeside cabins.

Thirty years ago, Bobbi Metzger survived a massacre at her 16th birthday party. She spent decades putting her life back together.

Tonight, Bobbi will face a new killer: a high-tech slasher hell-bent on opening the doorway to an abyss of unimaginable horror.

How long can Bobbi survive this nightmare? What will she do to protect the people she loves? How much blood is she willing to spill?”

Woah!  Talk about the right book at the right time!  I have been suffering from a rather major reading/blogging slump recently.  I don’t know about you but when that happens I tend to move to another genre for a while.  I read a lot of crime and even though I love it with a passion it’s sometimes nice to have a break.  My chosen ‘pick-me-up’ genre is horror.  The darker, the better.  I tweeted asking for good slasher-type horror recommendations and the lovely Noelle at Banshee Irish Horror Blog suggested I try Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler.  Which was lucky as I had won a copy of the book and it was sitting gathering dust on my Kindle.

Why oh why did I leave reading Mask Beneath Her Face for so long?  I have to say it’s not going to be to everyone’s taste but if you’ve got an iron stomach and can handle a little (small under-exaggeration there) violence and gore then this is the book for you.  It opens with a teenage Bobbi fleeing terrified from a slasher who has interrupted her birthday party having slaughtered her friends in the most macabre ways possible.  Bobbi is a final girl.  Something that she has to live with for the rest of her life (however long that may be). We skip forward 30 years and discover how badly the attack affected Bobbi.  She has turned to alcohol and pills to take the edge off and is living in constant fear, waiting for her slasher to return and finish her off.  I should say at this point that the blurb of this book tells you very little and the story is so much more than what it first appears to be.  Bobbi has befriended a group of other ‘final girls’ (who are actually guys), all of whom live a life of fear, waiting for the day their slasher strikes.  Jesse won’t look in the mirror.  Sam is hiding a dark secret.  And then there’s Cris, a teenage loner who works for Jesse.  It’s not just Bobbi who shines from the pages.  The entire cast of characters make this book something very special.

The pace doesn’t let up for a moment.  From start to finish one of the characters is running terrified from a crazed killer, being hacked to death or seeking revenge of some sorts.  Which for the reader means that it’s a very difficult book to put down.  I felt I had to read ‘just one more chapter’ and find out whether X was going to survive…or not.  One more chapter was never enough though.

Would I recommend this book? Hell, yes!  But it’s not going to appeal to everyone.  If however, you’re a fan of slasher horror movies or if you like your fiction erring on the darker side then I strongly recommend this book to you.  If I hadn’t read this book last year then it would be a strong contender for my top 10 of 2019.  If you’re feeling brave then don’t let this one pass you by…

I chose to read and review a copy of Mask Beneath Her Face.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Mask Beneath Her Face by Rafael Chandler was published in the UK on 14th October 2017 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comGoodreads |

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rafael chandler.jpgBy day, I write screenplays for video games. I wrote the stories and dialogue for Dark District, Final Eden, Gangstar Rio: City of Saints, MAG, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, and SOCOM 4. Thus far, I’ve worked as a scriptwriter and/or story designer for Gameloft, Kabam, Sony, and Ubisoft.

By night, I’m a novelist. I wrote The Astounding Antagonists, Dracula: The Modern Prometheus (written with Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker), Hexcommunicated, and Mask Beneath Her Face. I’m hard at work on my fifth novel.

In my spare time, I design tabletop role-playing games and sourcebooks, including Dread: The First Book of Pandemonium, Lusus Naturae, Night of the Slashers, No Salvation for Witches, Obscene Serpent Religion, Pandemonio, Spite: The Second Book of Pandemonium, The Starship from Hell, Teratic Tome, ViewScream, and World of the Lost.

I’ve also written nonfiction, including Fundamentals of Game Development (written with Heather Chandler), The Game Writing Handbook (which was a finalist for the 2007 Game Developer Front Line Awards), and various articles for Gamasutra.com and Writers Digest.

I’m a gamer, a gorehound, a kaijuphile, and a metalhead.

Author Links:WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagram |