Jason Parent – A Life Removed Review

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the Confessions Publicity book tour

A Life Removed is an intense read and in my opinion the best to date from Jason Parent. I was on the edge of my seat and the tension between the detectives and the potential suspects was gripping. I wasn’t sure who to trust and the criminals were down right frightening. They lacked any moral compass and it was easy to feel their level of crazy. The cold and calculating way they operated with such precision was excellent. I loved the way Jason slowly​ unraveled the mystery while keeping it filled with plenty of horror and never letting up on the level of danger our characters found themselves in. From the beginning of A Life Removed I really liked the two detectives working the case. They were all business and played off each other well. The protagonist, Aaron, is so deeply damaged he needs a level of encouragement that is unimaginable​ just to function day-to-day. I hated him almost from the beginning and my hate only grew with each chapter. Whether intentional or not, Jason did a great job drawing this level of emotion from me. Anytime I can feel this strongly about a character, good or bad, I know they were very well written. The antagonists were also excellent and it scared me to think how a writer can grasp that level of evil. For me the ending was a surprise, I didn’t see it taking that turn but I thought it was perfect with how the story progressed. A Life Removed was a great read, a complete pleasure and I didn’t put it down for a minute.

Book Info

Length: 284 Pages

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing, LLC

Release date: May 23, 2017

To Purchase A Life Removed Click Here

Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own.

Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain.

If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.

Jason Parent, Biography-

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it’s harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he’s back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that’s another story.

When he’s not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody’s head off – he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on the following social media sites for information regarding upcoming events or releases.

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJasonParent

Twitter at https://twitter.com/AuthorJasParent

Website, http://authorjasonparent.com/

Mark Matthews – Garden of Fiends Review

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

Having read Mark Matthews previous books, many about addiction like Milk-Blood and On the Lips of Children, I was excited to read the Garden of Fiends. After I saw the list authors who were contributing I couldn’t wait for a copy to dive into. Every author takes a very different and unique angle on addiction. The addicts in these stories have a common problem, they can’t get out of their own way. They make poor decisions and they risk anything and everything to get their next fix. All rationalizations are considered reasonable and the truths in a Garden of Fiends is a hard pill to swallow for those of us on the outside looking in. The truth as these characters know it and live it is brutal. They live moment to moment and we are taken on one hell of a ride by many of the stories here.

In a wicked thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke, a writer that never disappoints me because his storytelling is always on point. The levels of despair he takes the protagonist to is nothing short of gut wrenching. To see a person barely existing with only one goal, his next drink and having given up on living, is crushing. Sadly, I’m sure this level of addiction isn’t uncommon and we get to experience it first-hand here. The one in the middle by Jessica McHugh was exceptionally horrific. Her story of addiction was brought to life so well I was sick to my stomach. The nightmare world of the protagonist, Perry, is beyond my grasp and she did a great job thrusting the drug addict’s life in my face. What he will do to get his next high is almost beyond comprehension and not easily forgotten. Garden of Fiends, the title story from the anthology, is a great piece of storytelling by Mark Matthews. His insight and understanding into the lives and minds of addiction is amazing. He gives his characters depth and realism. I couldn’t help but root for the protagonist and I was silently screaming for her to do the right thing. Short stories by John FD Taff never fail to satisfy me and Last call is no different. A man is desperate to kick his alcoholism after endless failed attempts. Just how far is he willing to go and is it worth the price are the real questions. The protagonist, Ted, learns the hard way that there are no short cuts. The universe will always balance the good you do with the bad you’ve done. In torment of the fallen we meet Maggie who has spent her life looking for her father. A father lost to addiction and his personal demons. She finds him but doesn’t know if saving him possible. Maggie, like most people, thinks anything is possible if you want it enough. Unfortunately, there is always unseen forces at work and sometimes winning isn’t in the cards. I loved the twist, and characters Glen Krisch give us in this short story. Everywhere you’ve bleed and everywhere you will is possibly the most twisted look at the reality of what addicts endure. I was left shocked at the life this character lives and we get some intense metaphors and visions. The last story, Returns by Jack Ketchum, is short and sweet. I really liked the point of view as seen from the protagonist. I can’t give many details without giving it away but this is story exists on a different plane.

I didn’t connect with all the stories in Garden of Fiends but I certainly loved many of them. This is the risk you take with an anthology, but the risk was worth the reward for me. The level of shock and awe is thrust in the readers face and it’s impossible for a horror fan to be let down. Thanks Mark for gathering this group of writers and giving us, the horror community, a trip through an addict’s life and a life I sure as hell want no part of!

 

Book Info

Length: 210 Pages

Publisher: Wicked Run Press

Release date:  April 18, 2017

To Purchase Garden of Fiends Click Here

The intoxication from a pint of vodka, the electric buzz from snorting cocaine, the warm embrace from shooting heroin–drinking and drugging provides the height of human experience. It’s the promise of heaven on earth, but the hell that follows is a constant hunger, a cold emptiness. The craving to get high is a yearning as intense as that felt by any blood-thirsty monster.

The best way to tell the truths of addiction is through a story, and dark truths such as these need a piece of horror to do them justice.

The stories inside feature the insidious nature of addiction told with compassion yet searing honesty. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental deaths, and some of the most incredible names in horror fiction have tackled this modern day epidemic.

 

 

Mark Matthews, Biography-

Mark Matthews is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a licensed professional counselor who has worked in behavioral health for over 20 years. He is the author of On the Lips of Children, All Smoke Rises, and Milk-Blood, which has been optioned for a full length feature film. He is the editor of the anthology Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror, coming in April 2017. Matthews has run 13 marathons, and has two running based books, The Jade Rabbit and Chasing the Dragon, also available on amazon. He lives near Detroit with his wife and two daughters. Reach him at WickedRunPress@gmail.com

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews

First the Man takes the Drink,

Then the Drink takes the Drink

Then the Drink takes the Man.

The goal of GARDEN OF FIENDS: TALES OF ADDICTION HORROR is to shine the light on the dark truths of addiction through works of fiction. What happens inside these stories are true, even if they didn’t happen. Each story is a piece of fiction, with characters navigating through the world of drugs and alcoholic, but each story also represents some deeper truth of the internal struggles of an addict.

When putting together the anthology, I wanted the insidious nature of addiction to be showcased in all its gory details, but with a sincere empathy for the plight of the addict. As a recovering addict myself, I wanted Garden of Fiends to reflect a world I have come to know so well.

Here’s a summary of what I think each story says about addiction:

 

A WICKED THRIST

There are so many dynamics of this story that understand the mind of an alcoholic. The unquenchable thirst. The constant searching and yearning for alcohol to avoid living with what they’ve become, followed by a heavy and constant sadness that only leads drinking more. And of course, the damage that is created follows an alcoholic like a specter, haunting the alcoholic and always just a few steps behind. A Wicked Thirst is vintage Kealan Patrick Burke, and I am so honored to have it featured as the lead story for the anthology.

 

THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE

Heroin addicts have their own subculture. There is a tone and a language to their life, and it is best captured by transgressive and shocking fiction, for anything less would fall short. Jessica McHugh did not submit this tale for publication. I was doing research about Addiction Horror Fiction, and came across the Green Kangaroos, and was so happy when she agreed to have this stand-alone excerpt be planted in the Garden. This story captures the abject horror of the life of a heroin addict, with body horror and flesh that is for sale in order to get the next high. The story plays like background music, thumping and thumping, pounding into the readers’ head the thoughts and lifestyle of a dope fiend. And I use ‘fiend’ in all its gory glory, for to crave something illegal, one must become a fiend in order to satisfy the urges.

 

GARDEN OF FIENDS

My own entry into the anthology is a homage to parents of opiate addicts who are always waiting for that phone call hearing their child has overdosed. Who pray that their child can somehow maintain recovery.  In the nightmare featured here, one father watches his daughter continually get triggered to relapse by her boyfriend. Most parents would do anything to protect their child from such a fate, and the father in Garden of Fiends does what he can, takes ‘out’ her boyfriend, and thinks he has ‘cut out’ her disease. Instead he has made it spread, and pretty soon, addicts all over Detroit are trying to get his daughter high. This story tells the truth of the horrors parents face, and about the sacrifices they make.

 

FIRST, BITE JUST A FINGER

A short tale, that lovingly and wittingly demonstrates how many addicts get started as a fad or by that slightly odd friend of theirs. Once they get a taste of the high, they dive in head over heels, yet are certain they can quit anytime (and they do, until Thursday). This piece of flash fiction summarizes the lies that addicts tell themselves about quitting someday while their lives are destroyed.

 

TORMENT OF THE FALLEN

While addiction is a sickness that feeds on itself and exists in its own right, so often substances are used as a way to avoid other types of pain and hurt. Getting high becomes a way to keep away other demons, which can be trauma, loss,  grief. In Torment of The Fallen, Heroin is used to combat actual demons, and this has torn a family apart and made a teenage girl live as an outcast, until she finally visits her dad, with pack of heroin in hand.

 

LAST CALL

“Last Call” features an alcoholic who I know so well. This is the sad-sack alcoholic, full of self-pity, who often shows up at AA meetings drunk. It is there he may get berated by his sponsor out of frustration and multiple failed chances, which only makes him drink more and wallow in self-disgust.  Then he gets desperate to get sober at all costs, and, in the case of “Last Call”, we learn the dangers of trying to take a short cut to sobriety. This is such a great story by a writer who is partially responsible for the birth of this whole anthology.

 

RETURNS

Jack Ketchum didn’t write this story to serve as the perfect closure to Garden of Fiends, but sometimes I pretend he did. When a ghost shows up to see his lover alive but drinking herself to death, he ponders on his purpose in being summoned to that moment. It has to be something besides just watching her implode, right?   This story is about boundaries, about learning what we are responsible for, and what we are not responsible for, and how nothing can stop an alcoholic from self-destruction, as sad and tragic as it is to witness.  The reader, like the ghosts in this story, learn similar lessons, and when the page is closed, we move on, while those inside the book continue to suffer.

 

The best way to tell the truth is in a story, and these stories are filled with some horrific truths. You are invited to see for yourself. Spend some time in the Garden of Fiends.