Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Anthology, Dark, Review on January 21, 2018


17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.

Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.


Enclosed in this book are 17 short stories that range from 3 pages to about 30 (I didn’t count on some of the longer ones!).

Most of these stories are dark and some can be depressing when you look at the storyline.  But at the same time, some of these stories have an underlying moral to the story that should not be overlooked.

I liked most of the stories as they intrigued me and took me on an adventure through another time and place.  Some I wished were longer because I felt like there was more than could be told.  A few ended abruptly and left me wanting to know what happened next.

Overall these stories were intriguing and it was not all hearts and roses, but rather the heartbreak that we all experience at one time or another.

We give it 3 1/2 paws.



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Posted in 3 paws, Dark, humor, Review, Spotlight on January 17, 2015

russian optimism



Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up is an illustrated coffee table book of thirty of Russia’s most horrifically hysterical nursery rhymes translated for an English speaking audience. Each rhyme is 2-4 lines, with an innocent title and a horrible ending. Each rhyme is accompanied by a brightly colored yet twisted illustration of the scenario described to add humor. Each two-page layout has the illustration on one side, and the title of the rhyme, the English text, the Russian text and the Russian transliteration (using English letters) on the other. For example, The Woods: “A little boy found a machine gun. Nothing lives in the woods anymore.” The rhymes are grouped in seven ironically titled chapters: Moral Messages, Parenting Pointers, Classic Cooking, Aquatic Adventures, Close Calls, Cheery Children and Explosive Endings.


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Russian Optimism has been mentioned on Inc.,  BoingBoingElite DailyMarginal Revolution and The NY Post.

Russian Optimism Website


This is a rather interesting book.  I don’t know that I have read dark humor before but thought I would check this one out since each “chapter” was a short nursery rhyme.  I thought some of the rhymes were pretty good and others were downright disturbing.  But that is why it is called Dark Humor.  It all depends on what tickles your funny bone.

Here are a few of the pages from the book



We give this 3 paws up and if you like these examples you will probably like this book!


About the Translator/Author

Ben Rosenfeld is a comedian and writer who has appeared on FOX’s Laughs, CBS This Morning and Rooftop Comedy. He is the creator of “Russian Optimism: Dark Nursery Rhymes To Cheer You Right Up,” an illustrated coffee table book which has spent time on Amazon’s Top 100 for Dark Humor Books. Ben has been featured as TimeOut New York’s Joke of the Week, twice headlined at Caroline’s on Broadway, hosted at the Lincoln Center and performs nightly in New York City. Each week he co-hosts “The Passive Aggressive Podcast” and recently released his first comedy album, “Neuro Comedy,” both of which are available on iTunes.

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