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Updates for 2017

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a short while since we last talked, and there have certainly been some changes since then.  It would be easy and tempting to delve into the elephant in the room (pun not intended), the new president, but there is enough heated vitriol out there about it.  The Casa will remain neutral ground and a place for people to escape the real world for a short period of time.  My hope is to provide that for you and, perhaps, make good suggestions for other entertainment to catch your attention.  As Heath Ledger so aptly asked in “The Dark Knight”, why so serious?

Updates:  Our son, Little Man as we call him, has been home since October. and turned five months old today.  Since he was a preemie, he was on oxygen for a couple of months, but I’m proud to say that he’s been breathing all by himself since just before Christmas.  He is doing very well and sends his greetings to you all, as well as thank you to all who prayed for him and sent their positive thoughts and energy.  He is truly a miracle baby for my wife and I.

With the birth of our son came more changes than just now being parents of seven children collectively (5 months through 22 years old).  Once he came home, I took time off from work to take care of him while my wife returned to work and daycare wasn’t an option since he was a special needs child.  During that time away from my day job, we looked at our situation and decided that daycare still wasn’t something we wanted to do.  I left the company I’d been working at for the past ten years, but not just because of Little Man.  Over the course of my last year there, I found myself unhappy with where I was professionally and dealing with a lot of anxiety and frustrations.  Now that I am away from that company and working on my own writing and audiobook recording business, I am much happier.  I am eternally grateful to my wife for allowing me this opportunity, and I promise  not to squander or take it for granted.

I already have sent some short stories out for possible anthologies, and continue to work on more as we speak.  I also am nearing completion on an audiobook I’ve been recording for another author and look forward to do more recording in the near future, including some of my own tales.  I have also stepped away from my staff position with HorrorAddicts.net, but so I can compete in the writing contest they are offering this year.  You can find details regarding this contest at The Next Great Horror Writer Contest page.  More news to come as it happens.

Well, that is all of the news I have for this week.  Look for a review of  “Once Upon a Scream” next week.  If you have any suggestions of books and movies to check out, please let me know.  I’m also available to lend my voice and writing talents to whatever story or project you may need.  The links for my social media accounts are available on the home page, or you can leave me a note below.

Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — “Mile 81” by Stephen King

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Apologies for my short hiatus the past two weeks.  Between getting a knee injury checked out, bringing my son home from the hospital, and adjusting to being an at home dad, time has been a little tight.  I am now ready and willing to bring a new post to you this week, a review of “Mile 81” by Stephen King.

Imagine you are driving by an abandoned rest stop and you see a car parked whose driver looks to be in some sort of distress.  Would you stop and help, or continue on your merry way?  Suppose you stop and approach the car to investigate, but don’t find a driver anywhere.  You might place your hand on the open car door to both brace you enough to look inside and pull back if there is trouble.  To your shock and horror, you find your hand stuck fast to the door.  The pain kicks in when your hand disappears into the door, literally.  That is precisely what happens to some very unlucky Samaritans in “Mile 81”.

Originally released as an e-book in 2011, it was later included in Stephen’s short story collection, “Bazaar of Bad Dreams”, released in 2015.  As with most of his later works, the story itself grabs you shortly after the beginning, and doesn’t let go.  The way he described what happened to the victims was very detailed without going into ultra gory.  I enjoyed the novella a lot, at least until the ending.  Unfortunately, as with many of his later works, the ending seemed almost rushed and felt like he didn’t really know just how it should end.  Until that point, I loved the story.  My rating is a 3.75 out of 5.

Now it is time for me to scat off to bed for another day of writing, recording, editing, and, most important of all, taking care of my youngest son.  Next week’s review will be a review of the audiobook, “Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword” by Tee Morris.  Until then…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Audiobook review — “Eden” by Phil Rossi

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

I have some baby news, but we’re not ready to report it just yet.  There are some things my wife and I need to do first, but good news will be forthcoming soon.  Thank you to everyone who have sent energy, prayers and positive thoughts our way.  And now, on to the review…

Orbiting the planet Uranus is a space station named Lola.  It’s purpose is to study a tree growing from the planet’s surface out into space.  The plant’s name is Eden, and all who see it are immediately wonderstruck .  That is Malcolm Green’s reaction to it the first time he sees the dark branches and full leaves rising into space.  He is on his way to Lola for an audit and inspection to determine if the company funding the research should continue to do so after a string of accidents plague the station.  Making things more interesting is the history he shares with Rosalind, the woman in charge of the station.  Shortly after he arrives, strange things begin to happen; things that make the crew question their sanity.

I first listened to this story when it was originally podcasted in 2009.  I thought it was a creepy story then, and a re-listen to it only cements that belief.  The best way to describe it is a ghost story in space, akin to the movie, “Event Horizon”.  The supernatural elements are enough to keep you hooked, but add in the subplot between the hero, Malcolm, and the woman who brought him to the station, and you dial-up the emotions even more.  It is one I recommend to anyone who loves a good psychological horror story, but be warned that there are some adult situations and language.  Overall, I rate this audiobook a 4 out of 5.

You can find this story in print form on Amazon, and in audio form on Podiobooks.com.  I truly hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.  Until next time…

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

Book Review: “Cyberstorm” by Matthew Mather

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Just a quick update on the baby front.  He was born on 08/26, 6 weeks early.  He’s doing well, and we expect to bring him home in the next couple of weeks.  No word yet on what his online nickname will be.  More to come later.

This week’s review is one I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.  It seems like every time I’ve started writing about it, there is a terrorist attack and I end up shelving it for a while.  The reason why will become self-evident as you read on.  With the 15th anniversary of 9/11 this past weekend, I was again faced with a similar dilemma.  Without getting political, I’ve found that there may never be a “good time” to give the review.  It is a book that definitely deserves some time in the spotlight.  With that in mind, here we go…

In this technological age, with the threat of terrorism always looming, one can’t help but wonder what might happen if the US were to come under a cyberattack. What if the computers, which run practically everything, were to suddenly be turned against us.  Chaos would reign, but most likely an orderly version.  Now, imagine such an attack occurring in New York City during one of the worst snow storms in recent history.  Would people ride it out and stay unified, or turn on each other?

That scenario, scary as it may seem, is what plays out in Matthew Mather’s book, “Cyberstorm”.  I found it a slow boil ride that hearkens to some of the early despair and uncertainty of The Walking Dead, but with snow and ice instead of zombies.  It offers what I think is a semi-plausible description of how people might behave during such a crisis.  People show compassion for others, look out for their own, and some turn on the very people who have what they want.  Without providing spoilers, the twist ending was totally unexpected.  My rating is a solid 4 out of 5.

Now, it is time to go and spend some time with the newest member of our brood.  Until next week…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Movie review: Curse of Chucky

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

I intended to share my review for this movie a couple of weeks ago, but spending vacation time with my sons before school began for the year and the chaos that was birth week kind of put the kibosh on it.  I can say with a big grin that our son was born a week ago Friday night and is doing well for a preemie.  As I’m writing this, he is still in the NICU, but he is every bit a fighter.  I will share pictures of all my boys sometime in the future.  For now, on to the movie review…

One of the first slasher films I remember seeing as a kid was the original Child’s Play.  The movie was intense because, instead of the stuffed doll helping to keep the boogeyman away, the toy was the boogeyman.   I should add that one of my younger brothers had a My Buddy doll, which bore a fairly strong resemblance to Chucky, so the creep factor remained high for a while after the movie ended.  The subsequent installments saw Chucky the killer doll go through many lengths to possess Andy, the boy from the first movie, but they weren’t able to capture the magic of the first one.  By the time the trilogy ended, the studio decided that injecting humor to the franchise might help, and thus came “Bride of Chucky” and “Seed of Chucky”.  The latest installment of the franchise, Curse of Chucky, takes it back to the horror roots and succeeds so well.

The movie opens with a delivery of a Good Guy doll to an old house where the heroine, Nica, lives with her mother.  It becomes clear soon enough that her family sees her as someone unable to take care of herself, and they are surprised when she shows them what she is able to do.  Before long, the family members begin to meet their demise.  I wish I was able to provide more details about it, but to do so would provide spoilers.  If you are a Chucky fan or like suspense filled slasher flicks, then you will enjoy this film.

Well, I need to take off to see my son.  I will be back next week with a review of “Mile 81” by Stephen King.  Until then…

D.J. Pitsiladis

News — We’re welcoming a baby!

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Apologies for no movie review last week.  I was enjoying the final week off from work with my family before my sons started back to school.  It was very much needed, and I promise to make it up to you… Just not this week, however.  

At the present moment, my wife and I have spent the past week in the hospital due to pregnancy related issues.  As I write this, she is being induced and we will be welcoming our son to the world soon much earlier that we expected.  It is for this reason that I must keep this short.  I will post another update once he has arrived.  

Until then…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Audio Book Review — “Closet Treats” by Paul E. Cooley

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to The Casa!

For the first audio book, I thought we’d start with a bit of psychological horror.  “Closet Treats” was my introduction to works of Paul E Cooley, but it is far from the end of it.  I heard about the podcast version of this book via advertisement on a different author’s podcast.  I thought the premise sounded cool, so I took a listen.  Am I ever glad I did.

The story centers around a man named Trey Leger, a telecommuting computer programmer, who has issues with his mind.  From petit mal siezures brought on by stress to visions of the Closet Man, a hideous man beast that tortures him every chance he gets.  He’s been able to keep most of that at bay with medication, but all of that is ready to crumble after one look at the driver of a new ice cream van in the neighborhood.  from the moment he locks eyes with the ice cream man, a rollercoaster of events is set in motion.  Is what Trey sees reality, or his mind finally unravelling even more?

This story brought back memories of why I started reading Stephen King stories in the first place.  There is the slow burn of tension building all the way to the end of the story where it releases in one big torrent of viscera.  The story isn’t about blood and gore just for the sake of it, everything that occurs fits perfectly together.  I’ve listened to the story read by both Paul and John Mireau.  Both are really good at telling the story and capturing the personalities of the characters, so picking between the two is impossible for me to do.  What I can do is  direct you to Audible or http://www.shadowpublications.com to get yourself a copy to listen to or read.  if you enjoy stories that play with your mind, this one is for you.

Until next week…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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