Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Don't Tell a Soul by M. William Phelps

Cherry Walker was a devoted, trusting, uncommonly innocent young woman who loved caring for a neighbor s little boy. But when she was asked to testify in court against his abusive mother, Cherry never got the chance. She couldn't lie if her life depended on it and it did. Cherry s body was found on the side of a Texas road, after being doused with lighter fluid and set aflame.
Attractive, manipulative, and violent, mother of four Kim Cargill had a wealth of dirty secrets she'd do anything to keep hidden. This in-depth account by bestselling investigative journalist M. William Phelps takes you inside Cargill s shocking trial and into the mind of one of the most conniving female psychopaths in recent history and on death row.
Anything by Phelps is an eye-opening experience. "Suspense Magazine"
Phelps dares to tread where few others will: into the mind of a killer. "TV Rage"
Phelps is the king of true crime. --Lynda Hirsch, Creators Syndicate columnist
One of our most engaging crime journalists. Dr. Katherine Ramsland INCLUDES 16 PAGES OF DRAMATIC PHOTOS

This is a factual account of the cold blooded murder of Cherry Walker, and the trial and conviction of Kim Cargill for that murder. Cherry was mentally handicapped and although she was in her late 30s, she had only recently begun to live on her own with the help of an aid who would check in on her and help her with her daily living skills. Cherry was so proud of her little apartment, and everyone who knew her loved her, and was proud of her accomplishments. Everyone but Kim Cargill that is, who saw her as an easy target to be used and manipulated. Kim had 4 children by 4 failed relationships, often telling her various men that she could not get pregnant and then "surprising" them with a pregnancy in order to manipulate them further. She did not seem to want any of her children or get any joy from motherhood. Her children were an outlet for her anger, something to bully and beat on and take out her rage. But after already having lost custody of one child she was willing to kill to keep from losing custody of another. Not because she wanted him, or cared about him, or loved the child, but mainly because she did not want to have to pay child support. I am not a violent person but honestly this book made me want to throttle Kim Cargill myself. It was satisfying to learn how her lies caught up with her and ultimately landed her on death row. I would have liked to see pictures of her trial but the version I received did not contain any.

I received an advance copy for review

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Dead by Morning (Rituals Of The Night #1) by Kayla Krantz

Obsession is deadly. No one learns that better than Luna Ketz, a pessimistic high school senior. She wishes more than anything to graduate but things don’t always go as planned. Luna quickly finds herself trapped in a web of lies and murders, spun by the least suspected person in her hometown. It’s not long before she realizes she’s being targeted by the person she despises most in the world. When Luna figures out who is behind the killings, things make a turn for the bizarre when she is contacted by a friend she has not heard from in years. It is then Luna realizes she is very much in danger, but although she can avoid the killer in reality, she cannot avoid him in her dreams.

In this first installment of the trilogy Luna is what appears to be your average high school student, not a part of the in crowd but that's ok with her, she doesn't like them anyway, and she has her best friend Violet to hang out with. Chance is the most handsome and popular boy in school. Popular with everyone but Luna that is. She can't stand him, yet he stalks her on a daily basis. Other girls would love to have his attention but he is only interested in Luna and will not take no for an answer.
I thought this was gearing up to be your typical stalker thriller, but there is more to it than that. Chance has the ability not just to mess with Luna in this world but can even invade and control her dreams. There is a reason Luna is the only one who sees through Chance's false charm. There is a reason Luna is afraid to tell what she knows, and maybe nobody would believe her anyway. This story has a lot of elements going on at once. I hate to say maybe it was too many, but in a way for me it seemed to muddy up the story line a bit. There is a lot of action and suspense in this young adult thriller, and while it left me anxious to find out where it was heading and what would happen next there were some things that bothered me. Luna's home life left a bit to be desired. Her mother is only described as a strict business woman, other than that she is not really in the picture. This leaves Luna alone with her father David whose actions felt very unrealistic to me. (For example "punishing" Luna by forcing her to go to dinner and a dance.) On the one hand Luna is afraid for her life and the lives her friends (with good reason I might add!) yet on the other hand she is also easily manipulated with just a threat of being grounded. I did enjoy parts of this very creative tale.
3 out of 5 stars from me.
I received a complimentary copy for review

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bay's End by Edward Lorn

When twelve-year-old Trey and his best friend Eddy play a prank on Officer Mack, the resulting chain of events rocks the small town of Bay’s End.

Today, Trey Franklin is a man haunted by his past. Tormented by that one tragic, fateful summer, Trey searches for catharsis the only way he knows how - by writing.

A tale of love, loss, and the depths of human evil.

Welcome to Bay's End.

For Trey, that summer of 1992 in Bay's End was made of memories that will last his lifetime, but not everyone survived that year.
The day was hot and dry when he first heard the sound of that rusted out rattle trap Ford turning onto his street. That was the first time he got a look at Eddy, the new kid moving in across the street. The two quickly become the best of buddies, in that way that only kids can. But it's not all baseball games and good times in Bay's End. Summers don't last forever in this coming of age tale of best friends and first love. Sometimes monsters get in the way. Not the supernatural/occult kind that go bump in the night, but the real ones, the monsters that are sometimes merely people who harbor an abominable evil where their souls should be.
5 stars from me.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wicked Witches: An Anthology by the New England Horror Writers

New England has a rich, dark history with the supernatural. From this region many writers of dark fiction have fueled their stories. One chapter in history has been the stuff of legends and nightmares: the Witch. Look to ancient mythology or your next door neighbor and you will find them, practicing arts both Dark and Light. The New England Horror Writers proudly present a new anthology which pays tribute to those whose ancestors were accused, hung, pressed, drowned, or burned at the stake. Enter these pages, wander the hard roads of Colonial America or modern corporate boardrooms, to face the Witch. Wicked Witches, fiction from New England’s most talented writers: G.D. Dearborn, Barry Lee Dejasu, Peter N. Dudar, Jeremy Flagg, Joshua Goudreau, Catherine Grant, Jan Kozlowski, Patrick Lacey, Izzy Lee, Nick Manzolillo, John McIlveen, Paul McMahon, James A. Moore, Errick A. Nunnally, Ogmios, Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert, Doug Rinaldi, Rob Smales, Morgan Sylvia, K.H. Vaughan, Morven Westfield and Trisha J. Wooldridge Introduction by Penny Dreadful; Cover art by Mikio Murakami

As a horror fan and long time resident of New England I have always been interested in stories about witches so this gorgeous cover immediately caught my eye. Beyond this cover, Wicked Witches is just plain "wicked good" story telling. The tales that cast the strongest spell on me were as follows..
 "In Agatha Craggins' Defense by John McIlveen -
To say Agatha was unattractive was a gross understatement but does that make her a wicked witch just because the townsfolk point and stare and gossip about her? You will have to read to find out.
"The Witch's Apprentice" by Morven Westfield - Callie has had enough of her annoying noisy neighbor and decides to use witchcraft to get some peace and quiet.
"Going Home" by James A Moore - A witch returns to Salem but are her intentions good or evil?
"White Witch" by Catherine Grant -When a baby is born the "wrong color" it will take the power of a mother's love and some help from voodoo to protect her.
"Baskets" by Paul McMahon- When Tommy shows up at Grandma Shawl's house uninvited and unwelcome they're both going to be sorry.
"Portrait of an Old Woman with Crows" by Peter N. Dudar
 When a woman begins painting a portrait without asking the subject for permission to use her likeness the results are horrifying. This one had me almost afraid to turn the pages.
"To Dance The Witches Circle Again" by Morgan Sylvia- This story was amazing! Trouble is brewing  as more and more witches are arrested and put to death.
"Another Plane" by Patrick Lacey-
Matt is fed up with his wife Kelly's interest in witchcraft. It's not real. Or is it?
"The Jatinga Effect" by Doug Rinaldi-
Edson is having a really bad day at work, and so are his coworkers thanks to a curse.

I would highly recommend this anthology to any fan of horror, dark fiction, or witches in general. All the stories were good, some were  spectacular.

I received a complimentary copy for review

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Multo: Philippine Tales of Devils, Darkness, Deja Vu and Devious Hearts by P. K. Vandcast

MULTO means ghost in the Tagalog language of the Philippines.

There are nine interconnected, yet separate stories told in 39 chapters, all taking place in the Philippines approximately around the time of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, which took place on June 15, 1991, exploding in a major eruption eight times more powerful than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. The eruption of Mount Pinatubo was the second largest volcanic episode in the 20th Century, second only to the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in the Alaskan Peninsula.

Ghost stories and tales of witches, vampires and other strange creatures have been lore in the Philippines for hundreds of years. This collection of stories will surprise you, entertain you in how they are connected, and perhaps even make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand at attention.

First the good...If you are not looking for happily ever after tales and you enjoy dark fiction this may be the book for you. I love short stories, especially when they lean towards horror. My favorites of the bunch were "Little Monkey" in which a man must flee his home to hide from criminals, who in the end get what they deserve.  "MANGKUKULAM" in which a broken hearted girl seeks the help of a love spell to win back her boyfriend, and "True Love" in which marriage counseling doesn't have the usual expected outcome.
I also liked the way the stories all shared a common thread which connected them.
Now the not so good..
Since these stories all take place in the Philippines a lot of the dialogue is either not in English, or it is in broken English which I found somewhat distracting.  3 out of 5 stars from me.

I received a complimentary copy for review

The stories in order are as follows...

 LITTLE MONKEY, Arturo must flee Manila because two Triad 49ers suspect the simple, yet loveable street vendor of witnessing a crime. Arturo is sheltered by Uncle Boy in Iba, who possess a few secrets of his own.

  • The lovesick daughter of a U.S. Navy Captain is convinced by her friend to win the young man she loves with the help of a MANGKUKULAM, a caster of spells and maker of charms. Like the volcano, it is indeed a volatile situation when one crosses into the gray unknown between white and black magic.

  • "Boats" is a U.S. Navy diver assigned to the Dive Locker at Ships Repair Facility in Subic Bay. Proud to serve, for him, it is DEEP SEA or nothing. When he gets a glimpse of something dark and sinister in the bay, it just may be a foreshadow of the horror to come.

  • A Triad 49er lies dead on the warehouse floor while a beautiful woman in a black cocktail dress is tied to a chair. She explains the death of the Chinese criminal to the Mountain Master via tales of Filipino ghosts in MULTO.

  • Jose is in love and he will do whatever it takes to win and keep the heart of his TRUE LOVE in this story of vampires, shape shifters, aswang and mangkukulam.

  • Perlita of Pinatubo is the spirit of the volcano, which erupts in the heart of the northern island of Luzon on June 15, 1991. PERLITANG PINATUBO is a poem paying tribute to the legend of the volcano spirit.

  • Former U.S. Navy SEAL, Niccolo Soliz, is an internationally recognized action film star who harbors a dark secret. When he travels to Boracay incognito, he meets a beautiful woman with whom he feels a mysterious, haunting and overwhelming attraction. In PREMONITION IN PARADISE, Nick Soliz may discover how surprising déjà vu can be in an exotic tropical locale.

  • Triad "Dragon Head" Henry Wu is tied to a chair, held captive by a man who insists on enlightening him with a legend of the Quiapo district of Manila. LIRIO reveals the fate of Wu and the future of Quiapo in this tale of mystery and bound and gagged tension and intentions.

  • Detective Donato Tiong doesn't have time to entertain suggestions of vampires as a possible cause for an unsolved case. THE HONEYMOON he has planned for his bride to be in the exotic tropical paradise of Boracay is all that matters. Can there really be vampires in this day and age? Or is there a darkness within the human psyche longing to justify the creature's existence?
  • Tuesday, January 3, 2017

    Splintered Souls Flames of Time: Book 1 by Erica Lucke Dean

    When Ava Flynn walks away from a scholarship to Georgetown and moves into her grandmother’s abandoned summer home in coastal Maine, she steps into the center of a centuries-old curse. On her first night, she notices a mysterious leather-clad stranger looking up at her third-story window. For weeks, everywhere she goes, Ava catches more glimpses of him, but she can never get close enough to find out who he is.
    Over three hundred years ago, Lady Catherine Fairchild risked everything to protect her unborn child, sending a ripple through time that would change Ava’s future. As the mystery unravels, the horrifying consequences of Lady Catherine’s choices drag Ava deeper into a world she never knew existed, trapping her in a conflict that’s been raging since before she was born. A winner-take-all battle for her soul.
    Hundreds of years ago a pregnant woman rode off in a storm to beg a witch's blessing for her unborn child. That choice would plague her into madness. 
    Ava is the new girl in town. She has recently lost her father and has moved with her Mom and little brother into her deceased grandmother's house. On her first night she sees "lamppost guy" as she calls him, a handsome hunk who seems to be staring up at her window. As suddenly as he appears, he is gone. The next day she thinks she spots him  in a store where she's shopping with her mom, but while trying to catch up with him she crashes into her soon to be new bestie and lamppost guy disappears again. Suddenly everywhere Ava goes, she feels his presence, until at last they meet. Ava feels an instant connection as if they are soul mates, but she doesn't know that's only half the story!
    Full of romance and suspense without graphic sex, this is a perfect read for young adult fans of paranormal romance. 4 out of 5 stars from me.
    I received a complimentary copy for review

    Sunday, January 1, 2017

    Leaving is My Colour by Amy Burns