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

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