Mini Reviews Part Two – February 2022

Here are the remaining reviews from the end of the month! Finished them up the last couple days and ran out of time to type them up before sharing my monthly wrap up.

Thanks to the publishers for the free copies in exchange for my honest reviews

SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION – Richard Thomas (Released February 22nd, 2022 – Thanks to Turner Pub for the free copy!)

In this new collection, Richard Thomas has crafted fourteen stories that push the boundaries of dark fiction in an intoxicating, piercing blend of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Equally provocative and profound, each story is masterfully woven with transgressive themes that burrow beneath the skin.

• A poker game yields a strange prize that haunts one man, his game of chance now turned into a life-or-death coin flip.
• A set of twins find they have mysterious new powers when an asteroid crashes in a field near their house, and the decisions they make create an uneasy balance.
• A fantasy world is filled with one man’s desire to feel whole again, finally finding love, only to have the shocking truth of his life exposed in an appalling twist.
• A father and son work slave labor in a brave new world run by aliens and mount a rebellion that may end up freeing them all.
• A clown takes off his make-up in a gloomy basement to reveal something more horrifying under the white, tacky skin.

Powerful and haunting, Thomas’ transportive collection dares you to examine what lies in the darkest, most twisted corners of human existence and not be transformed by what you find.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

This was my first time reading anything by Richard Thomas and I have to say, this was the perfect book to start with because I got such a wide range from the author. SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION is a short horror story collection with 14 different stories and each one brought something different to the table. What I liked the most were the endnotes for each story that the author included. The readers get a little bit of insight as to how the stories came to be and where the inspiration came from – this was a nice little addition and I enjoyed some of the stories more after reading these. This is a solid collection and I highly recommend picking this up if you love horror and want some short stories that will keep you thinking long after you’ve finished them.

CHLOE CATES IS MISSING – Mandy McHugh (Released February 15th, 2022 – Thanks to Scarlet Press for the free copy!)

The disappearance of a young internet celebrity ignites a firestorm of speculation on social media, and to find her a detective will have to extinguish the blaze.

Chloe Cates is missing. The 13-year-old star of the hit YouTube series, “CC and Me,” has disappeared, and nobody knows where she’s gone — least of all ruthless momager Jennifer Scarborough, who has spent much of her daughter’s young life crafting a child celebrity persona that is finally beginning to pay off. And in Chloe’s absence, the faux-fairytale world that supported that persona begins to fracture, revealing secrets capable of reducing the highly-dysfunctional Scarborough family to rubble.

Anxious to find her daughter and preserve the life she’s worked so hard to build, Jennifer turns to social media for help, but the hearsay, false claims, and salacious suspicions only multiply. As the search becomes as sensational as Chloe’s series, Missing Persons detective Emilina Stone steps in, only to realize she has a connection to this case herself. Will she be able to stay objective and cut through the rumors to find the truth before it’s too late?

Told from multiple points of view including Jennifer, Emilina, and pages from Chloe’s lost diary, Chloe Cates Is Missing is a suspenseful novel of a child pushed to the brink, and of the troubled family that desperately needs her back.

My Thoughts: 3/5 stars

This is a solid debut novel about a missing 13-year-old YouTube sensation and the investigation to find her. Chloe Cates (real name Abigail) is the star of the channel “CC and Me” with her mother, Jennifer. Not only is her life broadcast for all to see and curated carefully by her mother but everything is under a microscope in the public eye.

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