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Book Review: Deny the Father by M. Duda


~ Buy through the links below ~ – Deny the Father by M. Duda – Deny the Father by M. Duda – Deny the Father by M. Duda

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot: The first story in this collection, “A Sarjeta,” follows an impoverished Portuguese with one simple dream. He wants to taste meat. Although Leandro also has larger goals of becoming a famous artist, his hunger and poverty are always at the front of his mind. When he forms a relationship with the wrong person, Leandro will realize that incredible evil exists just across the street.

The middle story, “Good-bye, Sweet Mercury” takes a turn away from the horrific and focuses on a father’s love for his daughter. In this short, simple tale, the father stands at a precipice in his life. He doesn’t want to leave his little girl and will have to make a big decision about his future.

The last story, “Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today,” furthers M. Duda’s theme of metamorphosis and introduces an indentured farmer who is trying to make up for his criminal past. In a future civilization, the farmer faces harsh truths about himself.

Through these glimpses into different worlds, M. Duda tells three intricate, compelling tales of transformation.

Opinion: Readers! I bring you yet another collection of short stories by the highly imaginative author M. Duda. This is the third book I have received from this author, and might I just say these stories just keep getting better and better. What I love about this author is that he isn’t afraid to create stories that reflect on the darkness and savagery that exists in the world. I love any story that is able to make me slightly nauseous at the truths that I am seeing, but a story that also excites the ravenous reader that I am.

Deny the Father has a total of three short stories. The first story A Sarjeta (The Gutter) follows a poor young man that has the sole desire to earn enough money to taste meat for the first time. While living with his sister and her children only eating beans day after day, Leandro finds himself caught up in a dangerous game on his path to riches. In the second story, Good-bye, Sweet Mercury, Tim struggles with saying goodbye to his daughter and moving on after his death. The third and final story, Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today, is set on another planet called Menhir-X. Jax and his wife, Delna, live on this planet as sugar cane farmers along with other alien life forms called Allohms. This story documents as Jax struggles to keep his farmer, while also confronting his past and present mistakes.

I think my favorite story in this collection would have to be Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today. The overall theme focuses on the struggles to provide for oneself and their family, while also putting a spotlight on the mistakes that one makes and how they can cost you dearly in the end. This story shows the wrinkles and imperfections that can scar a person in time, and I think it was an interesting tale of a man seeking redemption. A Sarjeta (The Gutter) is a truly gritty and grimy story. It captures the idea that innocence can be stolen rather than lost, and it gives the reader a sad feeling of hopelessness and despair. It made my heart squirm in my chest and left me feeling uneasy. To me A Sarjeta (The Gutter) and Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today are two stories that test the evil inside oneself and others, and it makes the reader question their conscience or morals.

Good-bye, Sweet Mercury is a very VERY short story that lasts only three pages. I have noticed that the author, M. Duda, touches on life after death at least once in each of his books. In this story, like his other paranormal tales, we are greeted with a character who struggles with the idea of moving on and leaving a loved one behind. Good-bye, Sweet Mercury instills a moment of hope for the reader while they read this story. It was a welcome moment that brought me out of the darkness that usually embodies these shadow books and restored my faith in humanity…if only for a moment.

When it comes to reading an M. Duda collection of short stories, I am always very pleased with the imaginative and poetic tales that I read. As much as I adore reading my overly fluffed YA/Fantasy stories, I will always be seeking a story like this that evokes deep thoughts long after I have finished reading. As always, I HIGHLY recommend reading these shadow books! I hope this author NEVER stops writing these eerie stories, they are truly special and amazing.



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January 2017 Book Wrap-up


Here we are my darlings, my January 2017 Book Wrap-up!

I have given myself a goal of 100 books to read for 2017 (via my Goodreads challenge). If I keep this pace up then I will have no problem completing this. I have been devouring every book I have been getting my hands on, and reading everything so much quicker than I normally do. Though this means that I am reading more, it also means that I don’t get to enjoy and savor some of these stories as much as I would like. Oh…the curses of being a fast reader.

Throne of Glass



The Throne of Glass series…*sigh*. I demolished all five of the books in a week, and let me tell you…I WISH I would have slowed down.  This series is INSANELY amazing! Our main character is a lethal and sharp-edged female assassin, and we follow her as she is hired by her kingdoms enemy to slaughter her own people. As the books go on, the story only gets better and the reader becomes overly invested in the lives of each of these badass characters. I am patiently waiting for the next book in the series, and you can be sure that I will be reading this series over at least once this year.  

Flicker and Mist


Flicker and Mist involves invisibility and a large amount of segregation between different races. Myra is half Plat and half Leftie and has the ability to flicker, or become invisible. As flickering is outlawed in New Heart City, which predominantly consists of Plats, this story follows Myra and other Flickerkin as they fight against being killed for their abilities.  Though I wish this story dove deeper into the creative writing and the story was more drawn out, I found it to be very entertaining and a unique story.



I just LOVED this book…talk about nostalgia overload! Otherworld plays with the idea of turning our imaginations and daydreams into worlds that we can actually walk through and experience. The author did a wonderful job of combining something from everyone’s childhood into this story. Though it follows a very young main character, this highly imaginative story can target every audience. I can’t recommend this story enough! It is a heart-string puller.



Lodging is a short story that is sure to make you really REALLY sad. This story takes the reader back to WWII and gives them a taste of some very real experiences that young adults faced during the war. This story touches on the young men that went away to war, as well as the effects that it had on many young women in that time. Call me crazy, but I have been trying my hardest lately to find a book that will bring me to tears and crush my soul a little. This story is probably what kick started it.

The Other Inheritance


…*sigh*…this book.

If you guys read my review for this story, you already know my feelings. I might have completely ripped this book apart, but trust me it was necessary. I tried my hardest to stay optimistic while reading this fantasy story, but it was just flat and executed poorly. The characters made me cringe and the descriptions of the worlds and magic didn’t feel at all complete. Not my cup of tea AT ALL.

Butterfly Bones


Butterfly Bones is yet another fantasy book that I was gifted from Netgalley. Once again for this month, I came across another book that is truly unique and veering off the yellow brick road to take their own path. Our main character Bethany suffers from a rare bone disease that makes her look like a child, when she is in fact fifteen. As Bethany struggles with her vicious high school peers, she also deal with being injected daily with butterfly hormones from her father…in the hopes that he can find a cure for her. This is a very bitter-sweet coming-of-age story that falls into the science-fiction/fantasy realm as the story progresses. I thought this book was GREAT and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Chat Love


Last but not least, Chat Love. This is a quirky story that touches on the struggles of finding love and the awkwardness of online dating. We follow a young woman as she goes on dates that range from unmemorable to completely insane. This book was packed with comedy and snarky comments, and I loved the main characters. If you guys are looking for a relatable story, look no further. You are sure to find a moment in this story that resembles an embarrassing experience in your life. You’re welcome.


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Magic Unveiled: An Anthology

Either the wondrous or the perilous awaits us when we play a hand at magic.

A hard boiled detective chases the supernatural, unveiling a frightening world right alongside modern man’s. A mother, able to grant wishes, shows us we must be careful what we wish for. An African Orisha might just pass you in downtown Los Angeles, eager to siphon some of your energy so that he will not fade out of existence.

From heart wrenching, ghostly goodbyes to relatives, to discovering sparks of otherworldly magic permeating contemporary society, these nine tales of magical realism and paranormal fantasy come together to form this enchanting and gripping anthology.

Magic Unveiled is presented to you by USA Today bestselling author Samantha LaFantasie, Seattle Times and Amazon bestselling author Raven Oak, Amazon bestselling authors Alesha Escobar and Devorah Fox, NIEA Finalist H.M. Jones, Alice Marks, Jayme Beddingfield, Ronovan Hester, and Keith Goodno.




Giveaway (Prize: Kindle Fire HD Tablet):



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KRIM DU SHAW by Talia Haven (Illustrated by Sytiva Sheehan)

Krim Du Shaw

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Talia Haven, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fantasy/Children’s

Plot: Krim soon discovers what lies behind a stone wall.

Opinion: This is a great short story that has a true knack for bringing out your inner child, who will inevitably be crying by the end. If you were like me as a child, you probably wondered what happened to those beautiful creatures called Unicorns. In this story, the reader sees the ugly side of mankind and the true beauty in innocence.

Krim Du Shaw is the dark and haunting tale about the extinction of Unicorns. This story starts out with Krim as a young colt, where he observes a place with stone walls and a heavy door that opens each day and closes each night. As the inhabitants of the stone fortress come out each day, Krim watches as the Stallions become fascinated by them. As the stallions feel an overwhelming urge to go towards the humans, Krim and the reader will find out what happens when they get too close.

This story is listed as being a children’s or YA short story, but I think it is highly suitable for all ages. This is my first Talia Haven short story, and WOW am I blown away by her creativity. This story feeds my inner child’s innocence and happiness, but completely just obliterates it at the same time! Not only does this story show the ugly side of mankind, it proves that some mistakes cannot be corrected over time. It was heartbreaking to be with Krim as he realized what the cost of his “yearning” meant, especially not being able to fulfill his need in his final moments. The writing is easy to follow and the story is only about 6 pages long. This author knows exactly how to condense a big idea into a small amount of words, which I find to be a hard thing to do. I am very interested in looking into other short stories by Talia Haven, this writer has me hooked!

5 Stars


Books · Reviews

IN THE BIG CITY by Samuel Stevens

51MC+Ww+lkL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_ – In the Big City

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Samuel Stevens, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction

Plot: Collection of six short stories, set in areas both familiar and exotic.

Meeting With the Tribe: An American volunteers for the Spanish Civil War, albeit on the Nationalist side.

The Humanitarian: A naive young woman doing aid work in East Africa meets a cocky American expat.

Sketchbook: Special Activities Division: The first sketch that became the novel Phoenix Operator

Beach Signals: A French Foreign Legion veteran returns to the United States to find his best friend changed for the worse.

In the Big City: Successful novelist Nick Wolfe finds himself against the zeitgeist of the 1960s, and in hot water with a girlfriend he can’t get rid of and a potentially career-ending interview with The New Yorker.

Showing and Telling: Nick Wolfe contends with teaching writing and the politics of academia.

Opinion: Though historical themed short stories are not normally my “go to” genre for reading; I found this book to be quite interesting. With six short stories in total, this book can give each reader something different in each read.

This book contains six short stories: Meeting with the Tribe, The Humanitarian, Sketchbook: Special Activities Division, Beach Signals, In the Big City, and Showing and Telling. Meeting with The Tribe follows an American named Tom Fitzgerald who volunteers to fight for the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War, while also trying to realize if he is doing the right thing. The Humanitarian is about a man named Jack Caraway who is in East Africa doing research for his work as a writer. Jack meets a young woman named Eileen who has come to Africa to teach English and to try to make a difference, unlike Jack who is only present to observe. Sketchbook: Special Activities Division is an original excerpt from the author’s novel Phoenix Operator. This story follows the travels of Jack Erickson and his partner Vick while they reside in Vietnam. Beach Signals is about a soldier named Eric who has just returned to the US from spending time in the French Foreign Legion. Eric reunites with his friend from college, Cohen, and realizes that things are much more different than he anticipated. In the Big City is about a young writer named Nick Wolfe in the 1960’s. The story tells of how Nick cannot seem to get rid of his obnoxious girlfriend Melissa, and about an interview he did with The New Yorker that turned out to be less than stellar. Showing and Telling continues with the character of Nick Wolfe a few years later, where he is teaching about writing.

Doing reviews for short stories are difficult, because I try my best to not give too much information away to the reader. With that said, I am not going to go into any more detail about what happens in each short story…I can’t spoil the endings for you guys! In short stories, the author is placed with the difficult task of trying to get the reader to connect with their characters in a rather short time. I think my favorite stories would have to be In the Big City and Showing and Telling. I found the character of Nick to be the most developed and thought out of all of the other characters, though I still think there could have been more to be said of him. This work, in comparison to other short stories I have reviewed, honestly through me for a bit of a loop.

In other short stories, I notice how each author tries to hide specific meanings or messages in each story they create. Part of the enjoyment of a short story tends to be the idea of trying to figure out what the author isn’t saying rather than what is blatantly being said. In the Big City didn’t seem to have any of these quirks wrapped into it, which made each story fairly straight forward and easy going. Though I would have liked to get a little bit more out of each story; the author really seemed to enjoy creating stories from historical periods and times, which I found highly refreshing. There were a few typos and grammatical errors: missing words, lost commas, and confusing sentences; but the overall book had a nice flow and each story was unique. I am interested to see how the author’s writing improves as he continues to write; as well as what new stories he comes up with.

3 Stars


Books · Reviews



Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot: Five speculative tales weave a complex tapestry of tragedy, horror, and loss
leading readers into dark places…but not necessarily guiding them back to the light.

  • Five different short stories
  • Each story weaves a thread of tragedy and irony

A darkly disturbing book of adult bedtime fables, Bedtime for Seneca offers five separate glimpses into worlds hidden just out of sight, ranging from the seemingly mundane to the fantastical.

“Three Nights in Budapest” explores an estranged father’s last, desperate attempt to gain his daughter back at any cost. In “Mortal Image,” Life accepts a mysterious assignment from her superiors that requires working with her obnoxious, unkempt coworker–Death.

Meanwhile, a nervous smoker with a lover who’s both more and less than he seems seeks help for his addiction from a decidedly odd psychiatrist, while an aggressive advertising consultant hopes to secure a new contract with the help of a rapid language acquisition class with its own agenda. And in “New Friends Made,” a dinner with a recently divorced friend takes an unexpected, and violent, turn.

Loss and regret run through each of author M. Duda’s disturbing tales, where even victory is made possible only by first losing. Each seductively twisted fable leads you into a darkness from which you must find your own way back…should you ever wish to return.

Opinion: Once again readers, do NOT judge a book by its cover. This is the second book from M. Duda that I have had the pleasure of reading/reviewing, and once again he has done a FANTASTIC job of executing “the creep factor” into his fantastical tales. The first book I had read and reviewed for M. Duda was his second shadow book called A Cat Will Play, which introduced me to psychological and eerie short stories. Just like A Cat Will Play, Bedtime for Seneca will have your mind reeling and leave you feeling unsure about your outlook on life.

This book contains five short stories: Three Nights in Budapest, Mortal Image, New Friends Made, Tiny Dragon, and Nervous. Three Nights in Budapest follows a father named Andrew trying to get his daughter back, while also reliving moments from his childhood when his violent father would beat his mother. As Andrew works to find where his daughter and ex had disappeared to, he learns that he might not be as different from his father as he thought. Mortal Image is the story of Life and Death being forced to work together on a mysterious assignment where an old drunken man is about to die. As Life fights to be released from the assignment, she is taught a lesson of forgiveness and gets a glimpse into her lost past. New Friends Made takes a turn into the fantasy and adultery side of things and tells the story of a married couple who has invited their newly divorced friend over for dinner, but things turn quite terrifying quickly. Tiny Dragon follows Leonard Small, an arrogant and outspoken advertising consultant, as he attends a fast-paced language learning class in order to obtain more work. In Nervous, Mr. Grelling attends an appointment with a strange psychiatrist in order to quit smoking due to his lover not approving.

Once again, I do not want to go into too much detail about each story because I will just give everything away! I tried to give a little bit more information in my description above, so hopefully that will give you guys a little more insight into what each story is about. I think my two favorite stories in this book have to be Three Nights in Budapest and Mortal Image, purely because I loved the hidden meanings in both and the length of the stories. Mortal Image might be one of the most unique short stories I have read before, and the way the author has made Life and Death into characters was genius! Though Tiny Dragon and Nervous left me feeling a little confused and not sure what EXACTLY was going on, I feel like the main “message” or theme to the story was more obvious in Tiny Dragon than it was in Nervous. The writing style that M. Duda possesses has made him move onto my list of favorite authors, purely for his way of creating a story for a reader that has a ton of different meanings. Not only does he capture how a person’s mind can linger into other thoughts in different moments, but he keeps each character unsettlingly human and true to their emotions and needs.

Overall, this is another great collection of short stories by M. Duda. Please keep in mind that this is not a book meant for children, as there are some scary and adult moments throughout. Also, if short stories aren’t something you normally read, I definitely suggest giving one of M. Duda’s books a try! He will get you absolutely hooked!!

4 Stars


Books · Reviews

A CAT WILL PLAY by M. Duda – A Cat Will Play

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal


Three twisted tales explore the dark side of human nature
…and the possibilities of fantastic unexplored worlds.

  • Three new and different short stories
  • Experience psychological horror in the short story “CRDL”
  • A lost family member may be found in the afterlife, “Christmas Never Snows”
  • In “Cosmo’s Tale,” growing up is harder than it looks for a young Esther
  • A thread of dark irony weaves through each tale

Welcome to a shadowy world of imagination and depth–where the veil between worlds is much thinner than we ever thought possible and the biggest question is never what happens next, but why. In this dark and unexplored place, good intentions don’t always work out as planned, and the living and the dead each find themselves trapped in cages of their own making.

Containing three unique and imaginative tales, A Cat Will Play showcases the very best and worst of human nature through very different characters and situations. Experience the psychological horror of a postapocalyptic world in “CRDL,” a young girl’s search for excitement and answers in “Cosmo’s Tale,” and the haunting journey of an earthbound spirit in “Christmas Never Snows.”

At times playful, terrifying, and twisted, M. Duda’s second installment of the Shadow Books series evokes a broad range of settings and moods with an underlying thread of darkness that masterfully ties each story to the next. Fans of futuristic sci-fi, paranormal fantasy, and young adult literature will each find something to enjoy in A Cat Will Play–and find themselves anxiously awaiting Shadow Books to come.

Opinion: Okay my readers, I know you have heard this one a MILLION times but I must repeat it again: Don’t judge a book by its cover. This is NOT a children’s book, it is actually quite far from it. When M. Duda asked if I could review this book for him, I of course had to clarify what genre it fell into because the cover is pretty misleading. After reading the short stories that were contained in A Cat Will Play, I have to say that the cover is actually quite fitting for the underlining messages that are sealed inside this one of a kind book. This is something VERY different from what you have ever read, and it has a horrifically beautiful feeling that is captured in every word and detail.

A Cat Will Play contains three short stories, all of which showcase different aspects of human nature. The first shorts story, CRDL, gives the reader an insight into a post-apocalyptic world that is riddled with poverty, unclean air, and an abundance of dead bodies that are used to create cooking fuel for children. Christmas Never Snows is about a woman who has passed away, but remains in the house she grew up in as a child. With the inability to leave her home, due to the guilt of feeling responsible for her mother’s death, her father comes back to help assist her into the afterlife. In Cosmo’s Tale, a young girl struggles with finding a crowd to fit into while also trying to find answers to why things are the way they are in the world.

These three short stories are amazing! The style of writing that M. Duda uses in his writing is highly descriptive and detailed. The imagery brings the writer right into each story and leaves you feeling a bit strange about the world. I personally loved the last short story, Cosmo’s tale, which centered on a fourteen-year-old girl who is longing to find adventure but looks in the wrong places. It captures adolescence perfectly in the way that each awkward character is portrayed, as well as showing that each person has their own struggles that they are hiding. Not only does the main character come to realize that not everything is what it seems, but she starts to really appreciate what she has been dealt with in life. Christmas Never Snows explains to the reader about forgiveness and accepting mistakes that have been made. Basically, one can never truly rest until they accept the things that they cannot change.

Each short story in this book reveals a few small life lessons that everyone should be aware of, but the author delivers each lesson in an almost blatant yet cryptic way. I would highly recommend this book to any reader, no matter what genre you are most interested in. The writing is fantastic, and you will get sucked into the characters and situations as soon as you read the first page. I am so glad I read this book, and I cannot wait to go back and read book one.