Demophobia by Gerhard Jason Geick

As peculiar, violent, and perversely humorous as Demophobia happens to be–and it is all of those things–it is also a deeply sad story about survivor’s guilt and an insightful discourse on being an outsider.
Mr. Foicus is a Pus-Eater, or as he prefers, an Eiterfresser. A packed auditorium watches his multimedia lecture on the history of his kind, distorted and sanitized to elicit sympathy and hopefully engender less of a freakshow aspect to his existence. He’s one of the last of his kind, and he’s regretful of that. While he may be an inhuman, vicious monster, he suffers from the same melancholy any human might experience under similar circumstances.
All of this doesn’t change the fact that Mr. Foicus is still a monster, and it doesn’t take long before the story takes a violent and revolting turn when the Pus-Eater shows his true colors. Through the perspective of someone hoping to capture images amid the panicked crowd, we experience the dread of knowing that everyone should have left when things turned sideways. That’s the problem with a crowd, though; they feel safety in numbers, and if a large number of the individuals begin to relax, everyone else will go along with it, even if they think there’s something wrong.
I’ve never been more grateful for the fact that I loathe being in crowded spaces with large groups of people than when I imagined the carnage and wash of bodily fluids in the lecture hall.
Geick does an excellent job of building the reader up to a conclusion that feels both fitting and depressing.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can obtain it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app to your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

For the Love of the Game by Thomas R. Clark

Ricardo “Blackie” Sanchez is the best MLDBB has to offer. The five-time Home Run Derby champion knows he has nothing to fear from his rivals as he steps up to bat for championship number six, as long as he can keep focusing on the ball…or on the ball being a ball.
Unless you live under a rock, chances are you’re familiar with MLB (Major League Baseball), even if–like me–you have neither the patience nor even passing interest in the sport. If I broke down what MLDBB stands for, it would ruin the whole surprise you have in store for you.
Wondering where Thomas R. Clark came up with this whole concept has led me to only one conclusion; this is the result of the punchline of a specific subset of offensive jokes being nurtured and allowed to grow into something awful and perversely hilarious. There’s something very wrong with our friend Thomas, and I suspect maybe someone needs to take him out to the ball game, buy him some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and supply him with a rain poncho like he’s in the front row of a Gallagher performance or an old school GWAR concert.
Of all the ways one might think of to celebrate America’s Past Time, this is not within the first dozen or so things I’d have imagined. We just have to be grateful that Mr. Clark went there on our behalf, to liven(?) up the most tedious sport known to man.

This story was released as an exclusive title at http://www.godless.com and you can obtain it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app to your preferred mobile device. The link is below:

Black Friday by Todd Keisling

Retail is a thankless job, but working retail on Black Friday would be an absolute nightmare. For Doug, it’s not so bad. He knows it’s a job he wouldn’t want to make a career out of, but it pays the bills, and he gets to work with his girlfriend, Jenna.
As challenging as he expects the day to be, Doug never anticipates just how bad it can get. Black Friday is rough, but when it might just be the end of the world, things are about to get worse.
In the tradition of George A. Romero, Todd Keisling provides us with a funhouse mirror distortion of the American obsession with consumerism. Providing commentary on the mindless or single-minded hunger that grips wide swaths of the population on the biggest shopping day of the year, Keisling forces us to wonder how much difference there is between one shambling horde and another.
Even in a genre run into the ground, Keisling manages to create something fresh and entertaining with well-developed characters, fantastic writing, and plenty of wit added into the mix.

Black Friday was released on Halloween of 2021 as part of the 31 Days of Godless event. You can pick it up for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the app on your mobile device. The link follows:

A Predisposition for Madness by Aurelio Rico Lopez III

Aurelio Rico Lopez III has provided readers with a robust assortment of free-verse narrative poems. There are literally dozens of stories and set pieces conveyed through poetry in this collection, and it’s well worth the time spent properly digesting each and every one.
A Predisposition for Madness has certainly put this writer on my radar in a good way. In these pages, you’ll discover monsters both human and far from it, you’ll witness new pandemics and sickness ravaging households and the world, you’ll see warfare and apocalyptic scenarios played out, and you’ll encounter things far more challenging to describe. There’s most certainly something in here that will suit the tastes of any reader, assuming that reader enjoys poetry. Even if you don’t typically enjoy it, I’d recommend giving this collection a chance.
The title is an apt one, the cadence of the poems coming across almost as if the stream of consciousness ravings of a madman in a padded cell, alternating between mumbles and screams.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can read it for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the Godless app on your preferred mobile device. The link is below:

Rhyme Or Reason by Dan Chadwick

Have you ever gotten a ridiculous song stuck in your head?
Of course, we’ve all experienced that.
There’s a reason I mention this, but you’ll know that if you’ve already had the pleasure of reading this surprising story. If you haven’t read it yet, skip the rest of this review and remedy that mistake ASAP.
I’d hate to spoil the surprise.
Rhyme Or Reason details a series of gruesome murders taking place during the nights leading up to Halloween. The victims are horrifically dismembered while still alive to experience most of what’s being done to them. I would certainly hope I’d be long gone before the torture reached an end, but the people being slaughtered while the killer hums his eerily familiar tune are not blessed with that small mercy.
The brilliance of Dan Chadwick’s story is that every bit of the story is building up to a punchline that almost had me laughing out loud. It’s a horror/comedy that the reader doesn’t realize is a comedy until they’ve reached the end.
Does the killer commit these atrocities because the song is stuck in his head? Did the earworm drive him to do the things he does? Is he just a killer who finds humor in what he’s doing, irreverent and cruel enough to make light of it in such a way? Perhaps we’ll never know…and perhaps the author was just hoping to elicit a groan from the readers as they reached the end.
This is a fun story that sneaks up on the reader in a delightfully absurd way.

You can grab this one for yourself by going to http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app on your mobile device of choice. Rhyme Or Reason was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event for October of 2021. The link is below:

Gateway by Kristopher Triana

Gateway is vastly different from a lot of what one might expect from Kristopher Triana. The reader isn’t going to find the sort of vividly depicted gore and violence one frequently associates with Triana’s material. I have to say they’ll be missing out if they don’t dive into this story because they’re disappointed about the lack of brightly splashing gore and viscera in these few pages.
Franco Torres is a human trafficker who specializes in albinos, whether for sex trafficking or harvesting purposes. He’s a monster preying on superstitions and prejudice to accumulate wealth, and he’s exceptionally successful at it.
When a stunning, ethereal albino woman arrives at a party he’s attending, Torres can’t help but introduce himself to The Gateway.
Will his deepest wishes and dreams come true at the hands of this mysterious woman?
What will be the cost?
I will be eagerly anticipating the upcoming novel, The Ivory Dealer, that emerged from this short story. Triana successfully baited the hook with this one, leaving the reader with questions that desperately need answering.

This title is available as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can snag this one for yourself by going to the website or by downloading the app to your mobile device. The link is below:

Casey’s Vengeance: A Killstreme Prequel by Rayne Havok

Casey’s Revenge might just be one of the rarest of things, a prequel story that surpasses the narrative it precedes. If you’ve read Killstreme for yourself, you know just how high a bar Rayne Havok set with that title, and how challenging it would be to do what she’s done here. If Casey’s Revenge isn’t better, it’s certainly no worse. It really just depends on what you look for in a story. For me, this had everything I’d have hoped for and more.
Packed with the brutality and violence one comes to expect from her writing along with the well-drawn characters and exceptional storytelling, we also have a heartbreaking story of innocence reclaimed and shattered.
Casey wanted a new start, at a new school with none of her previous mistakes haunting her or hanging over her head, and that’s precisely what she believed she had. Prom night was the night she promised herself she would give Evan the night they both wanted. unfortunately, it turned out that Evan’s wishes were altogether more terrible than she could have imagined. He didn’t want sex, he wanted her to suffer, and he wasn’t alone.
What could have broken her, simmered within her instead. Casey realized that revenge was the only thing that would give her back the power Evan and his friends had stolen from her. Her vengeance is brutal and perfect, directed toward vile young monsters who deserve every bit of what they receive.
Bonus points for the unique curb stomp that involves an altogether different head than what readers might associate with the term. Also, having one’s head up someone’s ass has never seemed quite so visually stimulating.

This title is available as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You should pick it up for yourself by going to the website or downloading the Godless app to your preferred mobile device. The link is below:

Dune (2021)

It’s worth mentioning right away that I have always been a fan of David Lynch’s admittedly flawed adaptation of Dune from 1984. I saw that movie on cable television sometime in the mid-1980s, and though I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, I found myself captivated by everything happening on screen. I couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old at the time, so I clearly hadn’t read the novel yet. It was, in fact, the impact of that barely remembered movie that influenced me to read the novel later in life. Since then, I have read and re-read the original six novels as well as almost all of the supplemental books written by Frank Herbert’s son, Brian, and Kevin J. Anderson. Dune is something I can’t seem to get enough of, and it all started with a young boy seeing the confusing experience unfold on an old box television.
I’m also somewhat fond of the 2000 miniseries John Harrison directed for the Sci-Fi Channel, though substantially less so than the version provided by Lynch. I’ve seen multiple versions of the 1984 release of Dune, owning it on VHS and later on DVD and Blu-ray, with collector’s editions that included multiple cuts of the film. There are a lot of things to love about the 1984 adaptation of Dune, from the dark tones to the dialogue ripped directly from the novel, and the overall aesthetic from set design to costumes and makeup. There are also a lot of things to dislike about it, most notably the significant deviations from the source material and the condensed narrative that ignores some of the most important components and sidelines numerous characters to the background. For most of my life, I expected Lynch’s vision, as corrupted as it was by studio interference, to be the best possible version of Dune I’d ever see on the screen. I was wrong.
As soon as I heard Denis Villeneuve was going to direct a two-part adaptation of Dune, I knew something I’d wanted to witness most of my life was finally coming to be. After seeing Arrival, Villeneuve’s adaptation of the Ted Chiang short, “Story of Your Life,” and the spectacular sequel to Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, Blade Runner, I knew there was no other director who could bring Dune to life with any chance of successfully capturing everything important. His previous movies like Sicario and Prisoners were good, and they showcased an impressive directorial talent, but it was Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 that blew me away and made him one of my favorite directors.
Having seen his vision for Dune, or at least the first part of the narrative terminating as Paul and Jessica meet up with the Fremen, I felt like a childhood dream had finally come true. Everything about this movie was more than I could have hoped for. Though it lacked the directly adapted dialogue Lynch brought over from the novel, it more truly captured every beat of the story in a way Lynch’s vision didn’t even attempt to approach.
Timothée Chalamet’s performance as Paul Atreides is nuanced and captures the fear Paul experiences in response to the changes he feels in himself as well as the visions of a future he’s horrified to witness. More age-appropriate to the role than Kyle MacLachlan was, he captures the youth and aborted innocence of the young Atreides.
Similarly, Rebecca Ferguson captures the role of Lady Jessica Atreides spectacularly well, portraying a woman torn between two worlds and two vastly different sets of loyalties.
The rest of the cast is no less fantastic in their designated roles. Each individual proved themselves to be capable of thoroughly projecting their characters with such quality that I never once felt like I’d have preferred the original cast. I look forward to experiencing more of the performances from Zendaya (Chani), Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck), Stellan Skarsgard (Baron Harkonnen), Dave Bautista (Rabban Harkonnen), and Javier Bardem (Stilgar) when the second half of the epic story hits the screen in 2023.
The cinematography was jaw-dropping at times, and the sets and landscapes were captured with vivid detail that made the experience of watching the movie an immersive one.
The score provided by Hans Zimmer was the most surprising aspect of the movie, incorporating hints of the score TOTO provided for the 1984 adaptation of Dune. At no point going into this had I anticipated that there would be such a respectful nod to what had been a stellar score, one that I still consider one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.
I will spend the next two years eagerly anticipating the release of the second half of Dune, and I will also spend that time daydreaming that Villeneuve gets the green light to direct an adaptation of Dune Messiah.

Dia De Los Death by Ryder Kinlay

David Longbottom has a girlfriend! You read that correctly.
That’s how Dia De Los Death begins, well, it actually begins with a perverse Oedipal fantasy played out by Longbottom and the aforementioned girlfriend, but that’s neither here nor there.
After murdering his bride on the honeymoon in the first installment, it was high time David got back on the horse, after all.
Will his best friend, Dakota, approve of her?
More importantly, will his mother?
Ryder Kinlay immerses us once again in the lifestyles of the rich and homicidal with this third Longbottom misadventure. She knocks it out of the park yet again. I can’t share much, without giving it all away, but you can probably guess mommy dearest does not approve of the new girl on David’s arm. Where it goes from there, well, you’ll have to let Mr. Longbottom tell you those details himself.

This title was released as part of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com for October of 2021. You can check it out for yourself by going to the website or downloading the app. The link is below:

Billy Silver by Daniel J. Volpe, Narrated by John Wayne Comunale

Billy and Jeannie are definitely not Jack and Diane. They’re not the sort of couple Mellencamp would immortalize in song. It’s more likely they’d be immortalized by a band like Cannibal Corpse, preferably before the departure of Chris Barnes.
Billy Silver is a junkie and an alcoholic, a guitarist and singer, and an all-around degenerate. Despite all of his flaws, and there are many, he’s also captivating and occasionally funny. Within the first few pages, you’ll come to loathe him. That sensation never quite disappears, even as you begin to feel a small amount of sympathy for him along the way.
With his life falling apart even worse than it already had, Billy finds his way into a tattoo parlor where the mysterious Talia pays him to obtain a new piece of ink under the pretense of needing practice before the shop officially opens. It doesn’t take long before Billy’s self-destructive nature takes on an altogether more horrific and direct manifestation.
Daniel Volpe captures Billy and the other characters who populate his dingy, filth-riddled corner of existence with such detail that you can almost smell the halitosis and urine as the story carries you along.
Volpe brings the streets and back alleys of the city to life in crushing, grimy detail that is further enhanced by the narration provided by John Wayne Comunale. These two men together provide us with something as splendid as it is awful. I’m glad I’ve snagged more audiobooks narrated by Comunale because he is not only an excellent writer but a truly amazing narrator.