Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Behind Closed Doors by A.L. Smith

"For Sierra, Alex and Latrice, the innocence of childhood was lost at an early age. Choosing significantly different paths, they struggle to deal with the psychological effects of abuse. The three are eventually driven apart and they transition into womanhood carrying a secret that would influence their lives and threaten to destroy their family. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, the three are reunited. The meeting would ultimately set the stage for atonement."

Behind Closed Doors is a thought provoking, heart wrenching look at the long term effects of abuse.
Three cousins Sierra, Alex, and Latrice, come from a family with a history of sexual abuse that spanned generations. All three women suffered sexual abuse as children by the same family member. Years after the abuse Sierra tried to tell her mother what had been done to her, but was met with nothing but blame as her own mother asked "How could you let him do that to you" As if Sierra at 4 years old should have been able to prevent any of this. Latrice turns to drugs, Sierra to prostitution. Alex becomes a successful attorney, but is never able to form lasting relationships with any man. All of them carry their grief and shame and the pain of what has been done to them in their own private way, choosing not to speak of it, until at long last they are brought together by a single event that forces them to speak out to protect another family member.  This was a very emotional read. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

I was given a complimentary copy for review.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

"At first glance, Phil Pendelton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to eat candy whenever he wants and set his own bedtimes. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.

What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.

A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of THE TURTLE BOY and KIN"

This was a quick and creepy read that will make you think twice about that quick trip to the WAL-MART or those shrieking kids in the aisles. Phil Pendelton was having a pretty good day up until he went to the store. He was planning nothing more than a day off spent with his girlfriend and couldn't wait to get back to her. That all changed in the candy aisle. All poor Phil wanted was to indulge his girlfriend's need for chocolate but that is not at all what he came home with. I personally wouldn't take candy from strangers but after reading this I may run away screaming if anyone offers me sour candy. However this is one delicious story. I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Desperate Passage by Ethan Rarick

"In late October 1846, the last wagon train of that year's westward migration stopped overnight before resuming its arduous climb over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, unaware that a fearsome storm was gathering force. After months of grueling travel, the 81 men, women and children would be trapped for a brutal winter with little food and only primitive shelter. The conclusion is known: by spring of the next year, the Donner Party was synonymous with the most harrowing extremes of human survival. But until now, the full story of what happened--and what it tells us about human nature and about America's westward expansion--remained shrouded in myth.
Drawing on fresh archeological evidence, recent research on topics ranging from survival rates to snowfall totals, and heartbreaking letters and diaries made public by descendants a century-and-a-half after the tragedy, Ethan Rarick offers an intimate portrait of the Donner party and their unimaginable ordeal: a mother who must divide her family, a little girl who shines with courage, a devoted wife who refuses to abandon her husband, a man who risks his life merely to keep his word. Rarick resists both the gruesomely sensationalist accounts of the Donner party as well as later attempts to turn the survivors into archetypal pioneer heroes. "The Donner Party," Rarick writes, "is a story of hard decisions that were neither heroic nor villainous. Often, the emigrants displayed a more realistic and typically human mixture of generosity and selfishness, an alloy born of necessity."
A fast-paced, heart-wrenching, clear-eyed narrative history, Desperate Passage casts new light on one of America's most horrific encounters between the dream of a better life and the harsh realities such dreams so often must confront."

This is a work of non fiction, and I would recommend it whether you already know the gist of what happened to these people or whether you only think you know, Whether you have heard very little about it other than cannibalism was involved, or whether you have watched documentaries on the subject this is by far the best and most detailed account of events that I have come across. The Donner/Reed Party is an important part of American history. “Of the eighty-one people who had been trapped by the early autumn snow at the eastern edge of the Sierra, thirty-six had died and forty-five had survived. No one remained at the high camps. For the Donner Party, the journey was finished.”
But their story lives on.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dark Fantasy: A Mike Angel Mystery by David H Fears

"In late 1966, the world’s richest man, Howard Hughes, took occupancy of the top two floors of the Desert Inn on the Strip in Las Vegas. After his time was up he refused to vacate the space, and wound up buying the Inn for thirteen million dollars from the Mob.

Earlier that year Mike and Rick were called to an empty apartment where the body of a world-famous glamour model, a twin, was posed with flowers. The scene tipped Mike’s equilibrium, and when the surviving twin hit town he struggled with his darker fantasies.

Mike crosses the line when he breaks into a gallery’s back office and dark room to discover a strange pornographic film involving the dead twin and an underage boy. After viewing the film with Rick and Molly, Mike is persuaded to turn it over to the police, and take the heat for his actions. The film mysteriously disappears from the police evidence locker.

Hired by the surviving twin, also a model who makes Molly a bit jealous, the case leads Mike to Las Vegas, connections to local racketeer Big Jim Elkins, L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen, and then to Howard Hughes in Las Vegas. Can Mike gain entrance into the Hughes penthouse and verify Hughes’ possession of the porno film involving the dead twin? He’ll need an ingenious plan, which is supplied by a sexy Swedish blonde he meets at the newly opened Caesar’s Palace. If the plan to get in works, can he escape alive and get out of town? He cannot trust the Vegas authorities or even the FBI, who have been surveilling Hughes for bigger issues and offer no help.

Another complex novel, this set in Portland and Las Vegas in 1966, Dark Fantasy is the 7th in the Mike Angel Series, and follows Dark Moon. Just over 72,000 words. Warning! This is a Noir Novel complete with sarcastic humor back when PC wasn't eroding logic. If you find yourself laughing occasionally, that's okay. It's not a comedy."

Dark Fantasy is the 7th book in the Mike Angel series, and while you may want to read them in order I find I had no trouble getting into the story even though I have a haphazard way of jumping from book to book out of the order in which they were written. One of the things I love the best about the Mike Angel series is the way that facts are woven through the fiction, for example this story touched a bit on Howard Hughes bizarre and OCD-like behavior in his later years. It adds a great deal of realism to the story and more than once I found myself googling dates and names of gangsters to see what else was true, sort of like a bit of a history lesson wrapped up in an entertaining story. I also love how it all comes together at the end, nicely tied up with no loose ends to leave you hanging.

I received a complimentary copy for review

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

"Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them."

Part romance, part tearjerker, this story is tragic yet inspiring, and heart felt.. Anna Forster has not had a great life, and now at only 38 years old it seems her life is coming to an end. She and her twin brother watched their mom deteriorate with Alzheimer's, and it would seem their dad never looked back after abandoning them. Now Anna herself has been diagnosed with the same deadly disease and can no longer take care of herself. She is one of only 2 "young people" in Rosiland House, the assisted living facility which is now her home.
Eve Bennett and her young daughter Clementine are also facing some hard times of their own, when Eve comes to take over as cook and housekeeper at Rosiland House. Having lost her home, her friends, and her money through no fault of her own Eve knows what it's like to have loved and lost. Eve forms a bond with Anna and finds herself risking losing her job to do what she can to make Anna's final days happy, and maybe at last find some happiness for herself and her daughter.

I received an advance copy for review.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Little Secrets by Megan Hart

"With a baby on the way and a brand new house, it seems Ginny and her husband, Sean, are on their way to a fresh start. But strange occurrences and financial strain seem determined to keep Ginny and Sean stuck in the past. Ginny begins to believe the house may be haunted...or that her husband might be trying to trick her into thinking so. As Ginny researches the house's former owner and the tragedy that happened there, it becomes clearer than ever that something is in the house with them. The question is, who...or what...is it?"
Expected publication: February 2nd 2016 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd

I went into this expecting it to be just another haunted house story, which was actually ok with me since I do love a good haunting. However it was much more than I expected. Ginny and Sean are making a new start, after having gone through some rocky times in their marriage when Ginny lost their first baby. Pregnant again, and hormones all over the place Ginny often feels like she is not alone in the house. There are scratching noises in the walls that a visit from the exterminator doesn't get rid of. There are strange hot and cold areas even though they have a brand new heating system. The power goes out frequently and food either disappears or gets rearranged in the fridge, unless maybe it is her husband Sean trying to drive her crazy. Sometimes in the dark Ginny is almost sure she sees someone, or something. As Ginny becomes more frustrated with Sean's lack of help in setting up their things even though he is constantly nagging at her not to do it by herself, she comes across some strange items left in the house by the previous inhabitants and wonders if her house is haunted. But it is so much more than that.
This was a very suspenseful and spooky read and I often found myself more spooked about the goings on than Ginny seemed to be. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Sound Of Time By Jeremy Essex

"Is time just an illusion?"

Charles never believed the ghost stories about the old factory. As a psychology student, he understood the spooky tales told by the midnight workers were just the products of overtired minds. But when his company is hired to clear out the derelict old building, a small group of night workers become stranded in the isolated, mist-shrouded complex. Charles decides to conduct a psychological experiment to see if he can re-create the ghostly effects people have seen and heard over the years. But the experiment goes horribly wrong and something inexplicable happens. Now Charles is starting to believe as he finds himself fighting for his sanity and his life."

This was a short horror story that takes place one creepy night in an old factory, There are rumors about people having heard strange noises at night and a disembodied voice that asks "are you real?"
Charles feels that one's perception of time can be manipulated and that would leave them open to see or hear things others would not. Something goes wrong when he tries to test this theory. I did enjoy the start of this story and the creepy atmosphere. The middle became a little too repetitive for my tastes. However the ending was quite good.

I received an advance copy for review.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Publication date Feb 2 2016       

available for pre-order at Amazon        


A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband's family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf

"Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for"
Sarah and Jack have been happily married for 20 years. They have built a life together and  raised 2 daughters, but Jack has been keeping secrets and just maybe some of them have been deadly. Sarah has always thought Jack's parents had died in an accident. Until they return to his home town where his aunt has been hospitalized, Sarah really never gave it much thought or pressed him for details. Almost immediately upon arrival Sarah is bombarded with one uncomfortable and unpleasant surprise after another. There are so many things her husband has not told her, including his real name, or why his sister Amy refers to their former home as The House of Horrors. The more she finds out the less she feels able to trust him, The tension builds as Sarah investigates the past and the possibility that Aunt Julia's accident was not an accident after all. She begins to question whether she ever really knew her husband at all.
This was a highly suspenseful story I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert

"A sweeping international love story that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit over the inhumanities of war and prejudice.
Six-year-old Gretl and her sister jump from a train bound for Auschwitz, her mother and grandmother unable to squeeze between the bars covering the windows. The daughter of a German soldier, Gretl understands very little about how her grandmother's Jewishness brought her first to the ghetto, then to the train, and now, to the Polish countryside where she wanders, searching for food and water for her dying sister.
Soon, Gretl finds refuge with Jakob, a Polish freedom fighter, and his family, where she is sheltered until the end of the war. Gretl is then sent away to a new life, a new name, and a new faith in Apartheid-era South Africa. As she comes of age in this strange place, she confronts its prejudices as she hides the truth of her past from her new family.
When Jakob makes his way to South Africa many years later, Gretl and Jakob are reunited in a love story that transcends time and distance and survives the ravages of hatred and war."

This story spans 15 tragic and heartbreaking years during and after World War 2.
6 year old Gretl and her older sister Elza are made to jump from a train bound for Aushwitz by their grandmother who hopes to save them from the horrors of the concentration camp. Just after they get off, the train is ripped to pieces by bombs. Gretl and Zelda are now utterly alone in the world. Orphaned, thirsty, starving, and alone. They are discovered by Jakob who takes them home, but there is very little room for them and Zelda is terribly sick.
As a fan of historical fiction I will say that this is a must read for any other fan. The sheer bravery and strength of character that Gretl shows in the face of suffering such tragic loss in such brutal times had me cheering her on every step of the way.

I received a complimentary copy for review

About the Author
International bestselling author Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years before she began writing. Her stories are known for their deep insight into personal relationships and rich historical detail. She's the author of eight novels and a regular fixture on bestseller lists in The Netherlands and in her native South Africa. She is the winner of the 2010 ATKV Prize for Romance Novels. Facebook: irmajoubertpage

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Death Do Us Part by JG Faherty

Death Do Us Part

"Vengeance never dies."

When Art Stanhope's bitter, vindictive wife commits suicide, he believes all his troubles are over. Instead, they're just beginning. For Catherine's fury transcends even the grave, turning Art's world into a living hell as he struggles to keep his son and new fiancee safe from her lust for vengeance.

But there are secrets behind Catherine's death that Art doesn't know. Secrets that could prove deadly for everyone involved as they learn too late that death is not always a permanent condition, and sometimes the ultimate sacrifice can be too great a price to pay."

Death Do Us Part by J.G. Faherty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Catherine is on her way home in a state of rage to confront her husband Art. She never makes it home alive, but her rage still gets there. Strange things begin to happen, a foul odor of decay fills the house and Art must get to the truth behind Catherine's death if he ever wants to be free of her.
This was a fun, quick, and quirky read, reminiscent of the stories I read as a teen in the old horror comics.

I received an advance copy for review

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Heart Land Love and Loss in the Heart of America by by DB Allen

"She is home to Great Plains and even greater rivers, shining towns and people of soul. Her winters are ice-chest bitter, her summers alive with thunder and twisters. Deserts and dust-devils, cottonwoods and corn fields all sing the harmonies of gospel, the melodies of country and the rhythm of the blues, in this church of love and loss. Hers is a bright light slowly fading. She is America's Heartland. These are her stories. Heart Land is a novel of inter-connected stories spanning generations, all set in the American Midwest."

This is an anthology of short stories, some incredibly short and over before they barely start. They are all set in the Midwest. As one leads to the next you will notice mention of characters from the stories that came before. Most notably in "The Swing" which was my favorite story  about Sue Ellen, the little girl from the first story "Last Storm First" now as a grown woman who finds and reads a journal written by her husband long after he is gone. It is a sad tale of loss and regret, as is "Dan 4 Danica" a story about Dan Rensburg, a boy in junior high labeled as "dummy Dan" ever since elementary school and obsessed with Danica Patrick the race car driver. Dan wishes he were smarter like his sister or brother (The brother who is in the next story "A Single Word") "Kaitlin's On The Corner" at first seemed to be entirely about a pubescent boy's masturbatory habits and fantasies up until the end which was a heck of a twist. This was an enjoyable read. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Clemenceau's Daughters by Rocky Porch Moore

"The Ballards live in the shadow of July Mountain. They are one step shy of overcoming the taint of poverty dogging the family since the Great Depression. During the excess of the modern 1980s, the Tennessee Valley still harbors a passing respect for the unexplainable and superstition. Roots cling to family trees like tendrils that tangle and tear to claim, not just birthrights, but bloodrights. Folks tend to die around Little Debbie Ballard. She struggles to make sense of a world where the unspoken past and prejudice collide, where truth is no longer as simple as Daddy's word, and cruel intentions transcend generations. Debbie must face the insidious legacy that haunts the women of her family, one by one. How does a family escape a past that refuses to die?"

This was a short read or maybe I just zipped through it in one long night because there was no putting it down. The story begins on a summer day when "Little Debbie" is 5 years old, and leaves us when she is only 13. I wish there had been more, I would love to know what kind of woman she turned out to be. Anyway Debbie at the start of the story is 5 years old and looking forward to starting the first grade when summer ends. She loves books, and imagines herself in the bible stories she reads. She hates being left with "Fat Sarah" the glutinous babysitter who spends more time stuffing her face than caring for Debbie and her baby brother while her parents are working. They live in a small rented house too close to a dangerous road where people tend to drive like maniacs and throw beer bottles out the windows. Debbie is wise beyond her years and later in flashbacks we learn of the heartbreaking story of her ancestors. I don't want to give away too much so I will stop here. This was a well written story full of heartache and hope.

I received an advance copy for review

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson #9) by Darynda Jones

expected publication January 12, 2016
"In a small village in New York lives Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she's more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.

But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her—even from her new and trusted friends—the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn't help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she's lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way."

This book is a bit difficult for me to review. Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I am coming into it totally blind. This book is 9th in a series and I have never read book 1 through 8.  Naturally it took me a little while to figure out that "Janey Doerr" was not a stranger to these other characters and the reason ''Cook" would call her Charley when she got upset.
Anyway, "Janey" has lost her memory, and has been taken under the wing of a variety of characters, some who are not among the living. Oh yes, Janey can see dead people! This was a really fun read for me. It is humorous, sexy, and spooky, and I loved the setting in "Sleepy Hollow" complete with headless horseman. I am sure fans of the series will enjoy this newest installment and I would recommend those who have not started at the beginning would grab book one, as I intend to do.

I received an advance copy for review

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Dream Beings by Aaron J. French


"Born with a mysterious gift he never wanted... a gift that could mean his death."

When Jack Evens's name appears in blood at the scene of a grotesque ritualistic murder, the private investigator is drawn into a conflict that extends beyond reality, into the realm of dreams...and nightmares.

A serial killer is after him, but this is no ordinary psychopath. This killer is controlled by mysterious creatures from another realm. If he hopes to survive, Jack must finally come to terms with his psychic ability, a gift that has haunted him since he was a child.

At stake are the women the killer has targeted, Jack's own life, and something much more...something of cosmic proportions."

This was a quick read, and while the premise was good and the description was promising, I just really couldn't get into much. While I did think the idea of a psychic private eye was a good one, the "dream beings" themselves made the story a little hard for me to follow and the too frequent mention of the serial killer's pimples seemed an unnecessary distraction. I would give it 2 and a half out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sage's Eyes by V.C. Andrews

Expected publication: January 26th 2016 by Pocket Books
"From V.C. Andrews, bestselling author of Flowers in the Attic (the first in a series of Lifetime movie events about the Dollanganger family), comes the tale of a young girl kept under the watchful eye of her adoptive parents, as if they fear who—or what—she’ll become…

Sixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they’re right to—even she can’t make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don’t, that her parents and teachers—no adult—could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they’ll learn, far too many things."

This was a quick read. It is the engrossing story of an adopted child who feels different to everyone else. Poor Sage wants so badly to fit in and have friends and be like other teens. Though not so badly that she can stop talking about things she should have no knowledge of. Sage has vivid memories of things that could not possibly have happened to her, at least not in this lifetime. She knows things about other people that she has no way of knowing. Every time she opens her mouth she seems to be a constant source of embarrassment to her parents who warn her repeatedly not to speak of these visions she has. She is barely allowed out of the house and always under interrogation by her parents over every little detail. They seem to be studying her and treat her  more like an exhibit or a lab rat than a daughter. She is never allowed to question her parents or know her relatives other than an uncle. They refuse to answer any questions about her birth mother. Sage begins to suspect that all is not what it seems with her adoptive parents and she is determined to discover the truth about them and about herself. The relationship between the parents seemed somewhat underdeveloped to me but I enjoyed this story and wonder what the future has in store for Sage. She is a very strong character and I doubt this will be the last we hear of her.
available for preorder at amazon

I received an advance copy for review

Thursday, November 12, 2015

All Is Bright: A Hope Beach Christmas Novella by Colleen Coble

"A romantic, Christmas wedding at her seaside hotel gives Delilah a chance to shine with her unique gifts. But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say I do ?

As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friends at the grand hotel overlooking the ocean. While picking up still more twinkly lights and some last-minute groceries for the reception dinner, a huge truck runs her off the freezing, wet roads into the dark night. Her car stops just short of an enormous tree and the truck speeds off into the night. Delilah escapes with her life and has almost convinced herself the whole thing was an accident, but then she begins to receive threatening phone calls. With the wedding just hours away, she s distracted and anxious. Then Sheriff Tom Bourne stops by the inn and volunteers to help.

Tom has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he s determined to protect her. But he is pulled away by a bizarre Christmas stunt that has the neighborhood reeling, and Delilah is attacked again.

Will Delilah have to cancel the Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn? And will Tom s protection be enough to save Delilah from the shadowy figure looming in the background?"

Poor Delilah! A sweet lady with a tragic past, Delilah loves to take care of others and couldn't possibly have any enemies. Or could she? Someone seems to be out to get her.
This was a quick, fun, read. If you are looking for a bit of mystery and romance with your Christmas cheer this is the book for you.

I received a complimentary copy for review

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Colleen Coble has written several romantic suspense novels including Tidewater Inn, Rosemary Cottage, and the Mercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com Twitter: @colleencoble Facebook: colleencoblebooks

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dark Shadows by Toni Vallan

"My name’s Ella Raimi.
Until last week, my life was pretty normal for a sixteen-year-old. Until I spent that awful night trapped in the janitor's closet in utter darkness. Until the dreams began — suffocating, panic-filled dreams. My best friend Kyla stays with me, but the dreams still continue. And I wake each morning with cuts & burns on my skin. I don’t recall inflicting them.

And then there is the blood on my hands and my sheets when I wake up.

I’m afraid of myself and what I've done.

And I'm beginning to be more afraid of Kyla. And what she will do."

Genre :Horror/Thriller

Ella has been bullied ever since she started a new high school. She is there on scholarship and made to feel unwelcome and unwanted and a "charity" case by the more privileged students who run wild and do as they please, knowing there will be no consequences brought against them by the ineffective principal. One day this bullying goes too far and Ella is left locked in a closet over night. After this incident she begins having nightmares and waking with injuries she didn't have when she went to sleep. Her only friend Kyla wants revenge on Ella's behalf but Ella is feeling helpless and hopeless and does not want to name her attackers. As Kyla begins acting more hostile and Ella's problems begin to escalate we learn the truth about this friendship and a tragic past that could not be escaped. I thoroughly enjoyed this taut psychological thriller.

I received an advance copy for review

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Whistling Women By Kelly Romo


"Life went terribly wrong for Addie Bates in San Diego, and she’s been running from dark memories ever since. For fifteen years, the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony has provided a safe haven for Addie to hide from the crime she committed. But when the residents pack up to go on exhibit at the 1935 world’s fair in San Diego, Addie returns and must face the thrilling yet terrifying prospect of reuniting with her estranged sister, Wavey.

Addie isn’t the only one interested in a reunion. When her niece, Rumor, discovers she has an aunt, Rumor is determined to bring her family together. But it’s not so easy when the women are forced to confront family secrets, past and present.

Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the devastating consequences of a single impulsive act."

As a fan of historical fiction I really fell in love with this book. This is the story of 2 sets of sisters. We learn through flashbacks to 1918 about the relationship between Wavey and her sister Addie, and the awful circumstances under which they became separated. In the "present day" of the book's setting in the 1930s We have the relationship between the two sisters Rumor and Mary who are Wavey's daughters, growing up under Wavey's roof, without their father. The author paints a vivid and poignant picture of life in the early 1900s and the hardships faced, especially by women and children in those days. The story was beautifully descriptive from the excitement of the World's Fair to the lack of appropriate care for orphaned children.  This is a haunting story of the love between sisters, and the love of a mother for her daughters, and what she is willing to sacrifice to keep them all safe.

I received an advance copy for review

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Journal of James Halldon (Diary of the Displaced #1) by Glynn James

The Journal of James Halldon (Diary of the Displaced, #1)

"There is a place where nightmares are real. It is a dark and terrifying place, hidden from the world we know by borders that only the most unfortunate of souls will ever cross.

James Halldon woke up in the dark, alone, without any food or water, without a clue where he was, and with no memory of where he came from.

It only got stranger.

James has somehow found his way to The Corridor, a midnight place that no human should ever see and the prison of a creature that has destroyed entire worlds. Somehow James has to learn to survive.

But he is not alone. The lost souls of others who have drifted into The Corridor, and died, also haunt this world, and they have been waiting a long time for someone to come along.

The Journal of James Halldon is a dark sci-fi novel that follows Halldon's struggle to survive whilst trying to understand the strange, dark, and terrifying world in which he is trapped.

If it's dark when you wake up, and you can hear growling, then close your eyes and maybe it will go away.
But maybe it won't"

The Journal of James Halldon by Glynn James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 I must say it was quite original I don't believe I have ever read anything quite like it before.
A man awakens in a strange place, isn't even sure if he is indoors or out, or how he came to be there. No food, no water, and strange creatures the likes of which have never been seen anywhere else. Very original and imaginative. I was pleased to learn there will be more to come, since this is the first book in a series.
I was given a complimentary copy of the book for review.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Word Game by Steena Holmes

The Word Game
For overprotective parent Alyson Ward, any time her daughter, Lyla, is out of sight is reason to panic. So it’s a big step for her when she lets Lyla attend a sleepover at her cousin’s house. Comforted by the knowledge that her sister, Tricia, is the chaperone, Alyson does the one thing she never thought possible: she lets go and trusts that her daughter will be safe.

But Alyson’s sense of peace is short lived. When Lyla comes home the next morning, she reveals something that could tear apart not only their family but also the entire community. Now, Alyson and Tricia must confront their painful shared past as they come together to help a little girl who they fear might be harboring terrible secrets similar to their own. Will the sisters be strong enough to face their demons in order to protect the child, even if it means telling their most private truths?

The Word Game by Steena Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a hard, sad look at dysfunctional families, guilt, and secrets long buried finally coming to light. The subject is harsh but it is told in a non exploitative manner. I felt a strong connection to the character Alyson, and though she was described as a helicopter parent she certainly had her reasons for being so protective of her daughter. This was a thought provoking story of the courage it takes to come forward even when you think nobody may believe you.

I received an advance copy for review
View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Cold White Fear by R.J. Harlick

"Stranded by a blizzard at her isolated cabin, Meg Harris finds herself in a desperate and terrifying situation when two strangers arrive.

As night approaches, a major blizzard has cut off road access to Meg Harris’s isolated wilderness home, Three Deer Point. She is alone with her young friend Adjidamo, preparing for Christmas, when a knock suddenly echoes through the house. She finds two strange men at her front door, one of them bleeding. Against her better judgment, she lets them in.

At that moment, the power goes out, plunging the group into total darkness and severing all phone links to the outside world. So begin a terrifying twenty-four hours that have Meg summoning up a courage she didn’t know she had to get herself and Adjidamo out alive"

I really expected to like this book a lot more than I did. From the description it sounded very appealing. I do love a good trapped in a blizzard story. I was not able to muster up much interest in these characters. The dialogue felt unnatural to me and one character in particular whose name escapes me already since he was mostly referred to as "The Serbian" truly grated on my nerves with his stereotypical broken English. The main character's repeated thwarted attempts at escape began to bore me and I just couldn't make myself care much one way or the other whether any of them lived or died. I did start out at least rooting for the dog to live but after too many "little brown sausages" on the floor I can't say I cared too much for her either. I would give it 2 and a half stars.

I received an advance copy for review

A Coin For Charon by Dallas Mullican

"Gabriel isn’t murdering anyone―he’s saving them.

The media has dubbed him the Seraphim Killer. He believes the gods have charged him to release the chosen, those for whom life has become an unbearable torment. Gabriel feels their suffering—his hands burn, his skull thunders, his stomach clenches. Once they are free, he places coins on their eyes to pay Charon for passage into paradise.

Detective Marlowe Gentry has spent the past two years on the edge. The last serial killer he hunted murdered his wife before his eyes and left his young daughter a mute shell. Whenever she looks at him, her dead eyes push him farther into a downward spiral of pain and regret. He sees the Seraphim as an opportunity for revenge, a chance to forgive himself―or die trying.

Gabriel performs the gods’ work with increasing confidence, freeing the chosen from their misery. One day, the gods withdraw the blessing―a victim he was certain yearned for release still holds the spark of life. Stunned, he retreats into the night, questioning why the gods have abandoned a loyal servant. Without his calling, Gabriel is insignificant to the world around him.

He will do anything to keep that from happening."

I had some mixed feelings when starting this book and was not really sure what to expect. The cover looks like a horror, the description sounds like a police story and in all honesty I tend to shy away from detective stories and the like. However there is just so much going on in these pages that before I realized it I was so totally immersed in these characters that I could not put it down. There is more to this story than a cop searching for a killer. This is also the story of the killer himself Gabriel who believes he is helping people, Of Max living day to day in fear and pain and of wanting your life to have meant something when you reach the end. Then there is Becca who counsels others on how to get their lives in order though she seems to have given up on fixing her own. The author is able to weave all these stories into one. There is just so much going on here and yet it all fits together. A very enjoyable read.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tales From The Graveyard The Complete Collection By Susan Shultz

Tales from the Graveyard: The Complete Collection
"In a pleasant little New England town, there is a house on a hill. Its garden is decorated with gravestones.
The house has stood for ages now, and occupants have come and gone.
But those who died there never leave.
They just watch…and wait.
Susan Shultz's haunting Tales From the Graveyard series is now available in one complete digital collection.
Read Tales From the Graveyard: The Complete Collection today, and you'll see.
Our ghosts never leave us."

Tales from the Graveyard: The Complete Collection by Susan Shultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This anthology contains 4 short stories that all center around the same house at different points in time.
The first story "The Blacksmith" Has little to do with the actual Blacksmith and more to do with a serial killer. It was ok but nothing spectacular. If rated separately I would give it 3 and a half stars.

The second "Jessie" about an unloved, neglected, and abused wife who basically lives like a slave and eventually gets her revenge was much more substantial. It was sad and spooky, creepy and dark, and perfect in every way. 5 stars

"Dirt" Is the story of a reporter/journalist who becomes obsessed with the killer from the first story. I would give it 3 stars.

Last but not least is "Sam" the story of a man and his pregnant wife who move into the murderer's house. 5 stars.

All in all this was an enjoyable read.

I received an advance copy for review

View all my reviews

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dead Ringers by Christopher Golden

"When Tess Devlin runs into her ex-husband Nick on a Boston sidewalk, she's furious at him for pretending he doesn't know her. She calls his cell to have it out with him, only to discover that he's in New Hampshire with his current girlfriend. But if Nick's in New Hampshire...who did she encounter on the street?
Frank Lindbergh's dreams have fallen apart. He wanted to get out of the grim neighborhood where he'd grown up and out of the shadow of his alcoholic father. Now both his parents are dead and he's back in his childhood home, drinking too much himself. As he sets in motion his plans for the future, he's assaulted by an intruder in his living room...an intruder who could be his twin.
In an elegant hotel, Tess will find mystery and terror in her own reflection. Outside a famed mansion on Beacon Hill, people are infected with a diabolical malice...while on the streets, an eyeless man, dressed in rags, searches for a woman who wears Tess's face."

Dead Ringers is indeed the stuff of which nightmares are made. Picture it.... you are in your bed, alone in your room. You can't sleep. You take a deep breath and let it out slowly... and so does someone else. Your heart pounds, you are terrified, and then you hear a laugh. You turn on the light, and there it is, that which can not be. It looks just like you and it wants to be you. This was one scary spooky read! Well written, fast paced and reminded me of one of my all time favorite Twilight Zone episodes in which a woman sees "herself" at a bus station and is told to quit asking when the bus will show up even though she has never asked yet. This is like twilight zone on steroids, almost guaranteed to give you nightmares.
I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A New Game (The Next Move, You're Dead Trilogy Book 2) By Linda L Barton

"Detective Lucinda Mackey has never been one to give up on a case until she brings the guilty to face judgment for their crime. She has always lived by a certain code, but she never anticipated a mysterious caller would choose her to play in a game of life and death.

Will she survive this challenge from an unknown opponent bent on her destruction, or will she meet the same fate as the others before her who played in The Game? "

This is part 2 in the Next Move You're Dead Trilogy. Even though it's been about a year since I read book one I had no trouble at all getting right into the story and the author does refresh your memory for you nicely in case you may have forgotten anything crucial from part one. I think this book would appeal not only to those who enjoy a good thriller, but to classic horror fans (like myself) as well due to the spine tingling suspense that grabs you from the first page. If you like a good scary story with lots of action but without all the gore, this is meant for you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Left To Darkness by Craig Saunders

"A meteor strikes the Earth. Dirt and dust fill the air. Only a few people remain under the setting skies, and those who still live find it's not God's England anymore.

It's the Devil's turn.

Lines are drawn between the dark and light. For the darkness, James Finley and his cult for the end of days. On the side of light, Paul Deacon, the lost policeman, and Dawn Graves, the last mother.

To survive, they must put their lives in one man's hands: Frank Liebowicz, a killer with a soft spot for lost causes. Because come Armageddon, God won't choose his champions.
They'll choose themselves"

This was a fast paced graphic and gory end of the world tale complete with blood, guts, and cannibalism. The main characters are not your typical hero types but that just served to make the story even better. I was a little surprised by what seemed to be a very abrupt ending, until I realized this book is the first in a series.

I received a free copy for review.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Singing Bone by Beth Hahn

Coming in March, available for preorder at amazon
"A convicted killer’s imminent parole forces a woman to confront the nightmarish past she’s spent twenty years escaping.1979: Seventeen-year-old Alice Pearson can’t wait to graduate from high school and escape the small town in upstate New York where she grew up. In the meantime, she and her three closest friends spend their time listening to Led Zeppelin, avoiding their dysfunctional families, and getting high in the nearby woods. Then they meet the enigmatic Jack Wyck, who lives in the rambling old farmhouse across the reservoir. Enticed by his quasi-mystical philosophy and the promise of a constant party, Alice and her friends join Mr. Wyck’s small group of devoted followers. But once in his thrall, their heady, freewheeling idyll takes an increasingly sinister turn, and Alice finds herself crossing psychological and moral boundaries that erode her hold on reality. When Mr. Wyck’s grand scheme goes wrong, culminating in a night of horrific murders, Alice’s already crumbling world falls into chaos, and she barely makes her way back to normal life.

Twenty years later, Alice has created a quiet life for herself as a professor of folklore, but an acclaimed filmmaker threatens to expose her secret past when he begins making a documentary about Jack Wyck’s crimes and the cult-like following that he continues to attract even from his prison cell. Jack Wyck has never forgiven Alice for testifying against him, and as he plots to overturn his conviction and regain his freedom, she is forced to confront the long suppressed memories of what happened to her in the farmhouse—and her complicity in the evil around her."

This story was a bit draggy at first and it took a while before it really began to hold my interest. Once it got going it was worth a read. Jack Wyck is basically a Charles Manson type who is able to manipulate a group of teens into participating in sex, drugs, fraud, and a murder spree. We are told the story  through flashbacks that begin when the teens still had "normal" lives.

I was given an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

"Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who panics at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and fun- loving—full of art, science experiments, and music—and all confined to their small house.

But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally ventures outside.  At his new school he meets Jonah, an artsy loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedoms of skateboarding.  Together, they search for a missing local boy, help a bedraggled vagabond, and evade a dangerous bootlegger.  The adventure is more than Will ever expected, pulling him far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood, and all the risks that everyday life offers.   

In buoyant, kinetic prose, Michael Christie has written an emotionally resonant and keenly observed novel about mothers and sons, fears and uncertainties, and the lengths we’ll go for those we love"

This book started out fantastic but lost a bit of momentum around halfway through. This is the story of the relationship between an increasingly agoraphobic Mom and her young son. At first Diane has mild to moderate panic attacks and can only leave her house for specific reasons. When the panic becomes so intense she can no longer drive she takes taxis. When the panic increases she no longer leaves the house at all, having everything delivered. She finds that even businesses who do not normally deliver will do so if you tell them you have a "severe condition"   Diane is determined to keep her son Will safe from the "outside"  His only experience with interacting with people comes from the deliveries he accepts and signs for since his mother is no longer able to answer the door. She tries to keep Will entertained inside, Will creates what he calls "masterpieces" and they pretend different parts of the house are different countries so that they may "travel" all over the world while remaining safely inside. When this is not enough for Will and he wants to venture outside he is made to wear a helmet. He is clueless when it comes to interacting with other children since he has never been allowed to do so. This leads to quite a bit of difficulty at first. As Will becomes increasingly curious and wants to experience more of the "outside" Diane's panic and mental illness worsens. After he notices that he is the only one wearing a helmet and he survives his first encounter with the outside he begins to question whether the world is as dangerous as his mother has led him to think. This was a sometimes humorous and sometimes sad look at mental illness and it's impact on families.
I received a free copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for review.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The View From Here by Rachel Howzell

"The View from Here focuses on the beauties and hardships of marriage; the betrayals and promises made between husbands and wives; and the grief of one woman haunted by secrets.

Nicole Baxter has always tried to control every element of her life, but that control is slipping away. She has issues. Abandonment issues. Marital issues. Conception issues. And she thinks her house in the hills is haunted. It doesn't help that her husband Truman spleunks and climbs, making her worry more with each adventure he takes. As the two grow apart, Nicole makes decisions that may ultimately shatter her fragile marriage.

Her life changes on the afternoon she receives a phone call from the harbor. During a scuba dive, Truman disappears. No one -- not his diving instructor, not the Coast Guard -- can find him. Is he still alive? Or is grief making her believe the impossible?"

A very well written story of a dysfunctional marriage, and a husband who goes missing and is presumed dead. However You are never quite sure if he is alive or dead, or haunting his wife, or perhaps she is just losing her mind. Then again maybe her friends are conspiring to make her lose her mind. It will keep you guessing until the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review

Monday, October 19, 2015

Better Left Buried by Belinda Frisch

"Something from Harmony Wolcott's past is haunting her, leaving her with nowhere to turn but the supernatural. When a session with a spirit board reveals a street address, Harmony and her best friend, Brea, investigate an abandoned house on the outskirts of town. While neither recognizes the building's importance, there's a vague familiarity that draws them into researching its history.

For Harmony, it feels like home, and reminds her of a time when her and Brea's friendship wasn't forbidden, of a place where their families' lives had intersected years earlier, and of an unspeakable tragedy that might be the town of Reston's best kept secret. Unfortunately for her, sometimes the past is better left buried."

A coming of age story with a twist.
This well written story of Harmony, a teen with a troubled past, a strung out mom, and a secret she can't quite remember will haunt your memory long after you finish the book. The well developed and true to life characters nearly leap off the page and in your face.

I received a complimentary copy to review

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Rock by Laurie Kast-Klein

"The smell of discontent oozed from her apartment. The dirty diapers, unwashed dishes and urine-stained floors were a relentless reminder that there was no escape.
Most days, Shelby felt trapped inside this world, not by a locked door but by the lack of expectation. - The Rock is a story of four very different individuals sharing a hallway at a subsidized apartment complex. You will laugh and cry along with them as they stumble along in life"

A peek into the lives of the tenants and manager of Rockefeller Hills Apartments, a rundown section 8 housing complex known as "The Rock" Not very realistic as far as portraying the struggle to even get housing, or should I say the lack of struggling. In the book you just show up and say you want section 8 housing and poof you get it just like that. Also in the book if you have no income your rent is free, when in reality if you can't pay any rent you can't get a section 8 apartment, but of course the book never claimed to be anything but fiction, and the story itself was entertaining.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When Myths Collide: Short Stories by Mark Ferry

"From foggy remains of waking dreams come visions of things otherworldly.

When a routine bio exam turns into an inexplicable nightmare for an interstellar science team, the ship’s pilot is faced with a grim decision that could cost him everything.

The victims of a brutal home invasion learn that even those closest to us are sometimes not what they seem.

A young drifter’s selfless act leaves his soul in a battle for salvation.

And a dying woman finds hope for the future in a simple seven-word note.

These and five other tales"

I read a lot of short stories. I especially reach for them late at night when I just want a little something to read before bed, or when I want a break from a particularly long novel but don't want to get involved in reading 2 long books at the same time. A common issue I run across with short stories is that often times the characters lack depth as it seems their creators just lack the time to properly introduce you to them and they can seem one dimensional and underdeveloped. Well not here! These stories are incredible, and the characters are rich and full bodied with an intensity of spirit and emotion. For example in my 2 favorites out of the bunch "When Troy Fell" I feel like I know Walt and Rita personally and I do not doubt their love for each other. "Vegetarian Spiders" was also an exciting story of love and betrayal. I enjoyed all of the stories but those were my personal favorites.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hellfire's Judgment by Linda L Barton

"A simple trip to the supermarket starts a chain of events that begins with the violent rape of an innocent thirteen-year old girl. This act of violence forces a family to face the difficult decision of whether to pursue justice against the member of a powerful local family, or remain silent as so many others have in the past. Clay Jefferies has never been a man to walk away from a fight. However, after the acquittal of the man who raped his granddaughter, he finds himself forced to protect his family in the only way he knows how. Clay must now ask this question of himself. If you kill the man who brutally raped your granddaughter, is it Murder or Justice?"

I can't say this was an easy read. The subject matter will be a trigger issue for some people. As a woman, as a mom, as anyone who has ever been abused by the so called justice system or known someone who has been molested this might be a difficult read, though to her credit the author does not exploit it, or go into graphic gory detail this is still a story of a child who has been raped and the man who got away with it. I had to tell myself several times "It's just a story, It's just a story It isn't real" But the sad fact is that in this world children are hurt every single day and I was sometimes filled with such rage over what this child was put through that I had to put the book down and take some time away from it. I will say I'm glad I saw it through to the end because it had a most satisfying conclusion. This was a well written and powerful story but not for the faint of heart.

I received a complimentary copy for review

Monday, October 12, 2015

Falling Like Snowflakes (A Summer Harbor Novel) by Denise Hunter

"Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads.
Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone.
When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.
Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her.
Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?"

Eden is on the run, at first we don't know from who or what or why, we know only that it is imperative that she and her young child get to their destination, she needs a safe place to hide out but we don't know why. Car trouble and lack of money to fix it leave her in desperate circumstances.  Stranded on a bitter cold night with only the clothes on her back and nobody to turn to for help.

Her luck turns when she is offered a job of caring for a woman who recently had an accident, but as she begins to settle in and almost feel safe with this family they are suspecting that she is hiding a troubles past and some dangerous secrets.

This book is the first in what looks to be a promising series. I can picture this in my mind as one of those Lifetime holiday movies, it would be perfect for it. If you enjoy a little suspense and action mixed in with your romance this is the book for you.
 I received a copy from Book Look Bloggers for review

About the Author
Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Dancing with Fireflies and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn't orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are raising three boys. You can learn more about Denise through her website DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her FaceBook page at facebook.com/authordenisehunter

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Two-Family House: A Novel by Lynda Cohen Loigman

"Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.
From debut novelist Lynda Cohen Loigman comes The Two-Family House, a moving family saga filled with heart, emotion, longing, love, and mystery."

This is the story of Helen and Rose, sisters-in-law and best friends raising their families and sharing their lives together. Helen has the upstairs apartment with her husband Abe and is raising a house full of boys.

Rose has the downstairs with her husband Mort and their daughters.
This struck a chord with me, as when my husband and I were first married we lived for 5 years in a 2 family house and had the upstairs. Downstairs were my parents and sisters. I felt the author quite accurately portrayed the feeling of being one big happy family and yet still wanting your own space with your own family.

Though Abe and Mort are brothers they are very different and not as close as Helen and Rose. They own a business together and work together each day but don't share much else in common. Their approach to raising children is quite different, their marriages are quite different, Mort is more cold and less demonstrative, sometimes cruel. Abe is more warm and affectionate. Rose often feels that things would be different if she had born a son instead of only daughters... Helen sometimes feels overwhelmed with her house full of boisterous boys and wishes she had a daughter to talk and laugh and share with, but they each try to make the best of things in their own way, and they could not love each other more if they were sisters by blood and not only marriage.

Sadly, choices that they make leads to a rift in their relationship. Things they thought they could live with become impossible to bear. Tragedy tears them further apart. I don't want to give away too much, but I truly felt for these characters, I sympathized, I empathized and I felt their heartbreak.
I am impressed with author Lynda Cohen Loigman and will most definitely be keeping an eye out for her future work.

I received an advance copy for review.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Dinner By Herman Koch


"It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
     Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
     Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy"
The description made me want to read this book, but while the story held my interest I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters or empathize with any of their decisions. There was not so much a "tragedy" that any one was faced with nor did it make me wonder what I myself would do if faced with such an impossible "tragedy" The characters were too unreal. The plot was too implausible and the narrative too often stated "I'm not going to tell you" As in the wife is hospitalized but "I'm not going to tell you why" She had multiple surgeries but "I'm not going to tell you" what they were. One character has a mental illness of some sort but "I'm not going to tell you" what it is (since no such condition exists) oh and this illness could have been diagnosed before birth with an amnio but "I'm not going to tell you"   This was less a story of how far you would go to protect those you love and more a story of how far you would dig yourself into a deeper hole along with someone who was never in a million years going to be able to get away with what they've done.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for review


About Herman Koch

HERMAN KOCH is the author of eight novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in forty countries and was an international bestseller. He currently lives in Amsterdam
more info


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy Coffey

"With the “profound sense of Southern spirituality” he is known for (Publishers Weekly), Billy Coffey draws us into a town where good and evil—and myth and reality—intertwine in unexpected ways.
Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse. Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves."

I fell in love with this book! The Curse of Crow Hollow is a spine tingling story related to you slowly through a folksy down home narrative that made me feel I was a trusted friend sitting around a spooky campfire being let in on a secret.

It is a story of superstition, suspicion, mob mentality oh and lets not forget the witch! Is she or isn't she? Can she really curse a whole town or is it all in their own minds like some mass hysteria? When a birthday party gone wrong leads a group of teens to the witch's door long hidden secrets make their way to the light and evil can live not just in a witch's shack but in the hearts of men.

I received an advance copy for review.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Island Of Worthy Boys By Connie Hertzberg Mayo

"In 1889, the Boston Farm School didn’t accept boys with any sort of criminal record. Which made it the perfect place for two boys who accidentally killed someone to hide.

Charles has been living alone on the streets of Boston for the last two of his twelve years. Aidan’s mom can’t stay sober enough to keep her job. When the boys team up, Charles teaches Aidan the art of rolling drunks in the saloon and brothel district, and life starts to look up―until a robbery goes horribly wrong one night and they need to leave the city or risk arrest. When the boys con their way into The Boston Farm School―located on an island one mile out in Boston Harbor―they think they’ve cheated fate. But the Superintendent is obsessed with keeping the bad element out of his school, and as both their story and their friendship start to splinter, Charles and Aidan discover they are not as far from the law as they had hoped."  

This was an engaging, beautifully written work of historical fiction. While the main characters Charles and Aidan are fictitious, Boston Asylum and Farm School for Indigent Boys did actually exist as does Thompson Island MA.
Charles and Aidan meet quite by accident and although Charles is wary of people and used to being alone the two quickly become the best of friends. They are each suffering through their own hard times and their friendship is only solidified when things take a turn for the worse. I was totally immersed in this story and couldn't put it down.

I received an advance copy in exchange for review

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Lost Girl - A Fear Street Novel by R.L. Stine

"Generations of children and teens have grown up on R.L. Stine's bestselling and hugely popular horror series, Fear Street and Goosebumps. Now, the Fear Street series is back with a chilling new installment, packed with pure nightmare fodder that will scare Stine's avid fan base of teen readers and adults. New student Lizzy Palmer is the talk of Shadyside High. Michael and his girlfriend Pepper befriend her, but the closer they get to her, the stranger she seems… and the more attractive she is to Michael. He invites her to join him on a snowmobile race that ends in a tragic accident. Soon, Michael's friends start being murdered, and Pepper becomes convinced that Lizzy is behind the killings. But to her total shock, she and Michael are drawn into a tragic story of an unthinkable betrayal committed over 60 years ago. Frightening and tense in the way that only this master of horror can deliver, The Lost Girl is another terrifying Fear Street novel by the king of juvenile horror"

 I have bought a lot of R.L. Stine books over the years but this is my first time actually reading one. I bought all the Goosebumps for my son when he was little. Then in his early teens I bought him all the Fear Street series. I watched the TV shows with him and recently even rewatched the Haunting Hour on Netflix because I enjoyed the R.L. Stine series so much, but as a woman in my 40s it just never occurred to me to read something that is targeted at teens or YA I'm only sorry I waited so long!

This is a stand alone story, as in you will not need to have read previous books in the  Fear Street series but you will certainly want to!

This is a story within a story, part happening now and part what has happened nearly 70 years ago.

New student Lizzy shows up in town, nobody knows anything about her other than wherever she goes she always seems to be lost. She latches on to. Michael and he and his girlfriend Pepper and their friends try to befriend her. There is something not quite right about Lizzy and the closer they get to her, the stranger she seems.  This is a very fast paced story with lots of thrills and chills. Though it is intended for a younger audience, adults who enjoy a good spooky story can enjoy it too. R.L. Stine can both scare and entertain without needing the distraction of excessive blood or gore.

I received an advance copy for review

Tell The Story To Its End by Simon P. Clark

Tell the Story to Its End
"Tell the story to its end," says Eren with a grin.His yellow eyes are glowing like embers in the night.
"When I reach the end," I say, "what happens? You'll have the whole story."
"Hmm," he says, looking at me and licking his lips with a dry, grey tongue. "What happens then? Why don't we find out?"

Tell the Story to Its End by Simon P. Clark
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was anxious to read this book after seeing the beautiful cover and reading the description. The illustrations are lovely as well.This is the story of a 12 year old boy Oli who goes with his mother to spend time at his aunt and uncle’s home though he does not really know why, nor why his father is not able to be with them. The target audience is children approximately Oli’s age though I felt the heavy atmosphere, slow pace, and sometimes confusing story may dissuade readers of that age group. There is an ominous oppressing feeling through out and though I really liked the concept of Oli meeting the beast in the attic who feeds on stories, the story itself did not seem to go anywhere. I didn’t really feel any connection with the characters and I felt as if the end of the story just left me hanging.
I received a complimentary copy for review

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Monday, September 28, 2015

The Year Of Yearning By Jeff Harmsen

Description "Part dreamy time machine, part acid flashback, The Year of Yearning delves into the titillating mishaps of two quirky cousins from Kingston Ontario. While attending their final year of high school in 1978, Miles and Jo Martini succumb to profound infatuation; albeit, from entirely different perspectives.

The well read and romantic cousin attempts to woo a raven haired beauty by slipping his heartfelt poem into her locker. The athletic, somewhat crass cousin pursues a Wiccan Bombshell with nothing more than wishful thinking, held spellbound by her love potions and provocative whimsy.

Shocking, mind boggling complications beset both cousins, including a brutal beating and a humiliation common to guys who fall for hot, promiscuous women. Miles and Jo survive their darkest hours by supporting each other. In the end, they want what most of us want, the warmth of a meaningful relationship, like slipping into a cozy cotton sweater on a frigid night in winter.

Brazenly sexual and uniquely bizarre, this novel is heavy with heartache and great awakenings, heady with love and lust churning, all within The Year of Yearning."

I'm not sure how I would categorize this book if pressed to do so, but I can say it was an enjoyable read. Part thriller, part romance, The Year Of Yearning is a fun coming of age tale that mainly tells of the lives, loves and teen angst of cousins/best pals Miles and Jo, Interspersed with humor, a bit of supernatural, and lots of action.

I received a complimentary copy from the author for review

The Horror Challenge Volume I by J.H. Glaze

"Welcome to J.H. Glaze's unique brand of horror. The first volume of "The Horror Challenge" includes 14 short stories that provide the thrills you seek in a good horror tale. From the sentimental story of haunting, 'Spooky', and comical alien abduction tale, 'Bob Saves the World', to the final story in this collection, you will find yourself wildly entertained with the stories created by the author in response to suggestions from his readers."      

 This book was quite short and I was able to read it in a single day. I would not really call these "short stories" but flash fiction, super short, and to the point. It was a fun read but nothing really frightening or scary about it.                                                                 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mouthful Of Carrion (Three Days Until Midnight book 1) by Ian Woodhead

From the publisher
'Two decades have passed since that deadly mutagen turned most of our species into the walking dead. Now, millions of blighted corpses migrate across the land, consuming everything in their path.
The few surviving humans live a Nomadic existence, foraging for what little scraps they can find.
In this ravaged world, a lone hunter searches for his human sister, vowing revenge on whoever dared to rip her away from him. She had cared and looked after him, ever since the outbreak, nurturing the hunter, helping him come to grips with his affliction. 
Part human, part zombie, the hunter had relied on her to rein in his base instincts, to stop him from feasting on warm human flesh."

Three Days Until Midnight is a different take on the zombie apocalypse. Not just the usual human against zombie survival story, we also have "hunters" part human part zombie. This is mainly the story of one hunter in particular Colin and how he came to be, and his search for his sister in this new sometimes gut wrenching world.The story begins about 20 years after the virus took hold and we are told in flashbacks how this world came to be. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, it gets quite gruesome and graphic at times. Anyone who enjoys a good zombie story should give this one a read.
I received an advance copy to review.