Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain

From perennial bestseller Diane Chamberlain, a compelling new novel

In 1944, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly ends her engagement to the love of her life when she marries a mysterious stranger and moves to Hickory, North Carolina, a small town struggling with racial tension and the hardships imposed by World War II. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows no interest in making love. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry and see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain, especially after one of the town’s prominent citizens dies in a terrible accident and Tess is blamed. Tess suspects people are talking about her, plotting behind her back, and following her as she walks around town. What does everyone know about Henry that she does not? Feeling alone and adrift, Tess turns to the one person who seems to understand her, a local medium who gives her hope but seems to know more than he’s letting on.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes the town, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess, who has a nursing degree, bucks Henry’s wishes and begins to work at the hospital, finding meaning in nursing the young victims. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle her husband’s mysterious behavior and save her own life?

I love historical fiction, especially anything to do with the depression or world war II. It was the great equalizer if you think about it. Whether you were wealthy or poor you worried about your loved ones fighting in the war. You mourned and grieved those who didn't make it home. You learned to go without sugar in your coffee when your rations ran out, and all the money in the world couldn't save you from getting polio before the vaccine finally became available. Polio didn't care if you were black or white or rich or impoverished.

 So while there were many things about this book I loved, I have to say I disliked Henry Kraft immensely.  Before I get ahead of myself lets start with Tess, the good girl from Baltimore madly in love with Vince and about to pursue their lifelong dream of getting married and working together in the medical field. He is a doctor and she is about to become an RN.  This dream is ruined by one awful night, and although Henry is portrayed as a kind and caring and decent man.. well to me that awful night was entirely on him.

Tess ends up leaving the only life she has ever known, and moves to North Carolina with Henry, where she is treated as an unwelcome unwanted outsider by his family and the townspeople. When an outbreak of polio strikes and the town comes together to build a hospital, Henry's mother is disgusted by Tess wanting to work there as a nurse. Tess refuses to sit idly by when she has skills that are in such desperate need, especially considering she has been told by the only person who has shown her any kindness, that it's what she is meant to do. I loved Tess, and the remarkable strength she showed especially considering women in those days were expected to do as their husbands told them.

4 out of 5 stars from me.

I received an advance copy for review.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Haunted Nights by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 edited by Brian James Freeman.


Available for pre-order now at Amazon

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kin by Kealan Patrick Burke

On a scorching hot summer day in Elkwood, Alabama, Claire Lambert staggers naked, wounded, and half-blind away from the scene of an atrocity. She is the sole survivor of a nightmare that claimed her friends, and even as she prays for rescue, the killers — a family of cannibalistic lunatics — are closing in.

A soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder returns from Iraq to the news that his brother is among the murdered in Elkwood.

In snowbound Detroit, a waitress trapped in an abusive relationship gets an unexpected visit that will lead to bloodshed and send her back on the road to a past she has spent years trying to outrun.

And Claire, the only survivor of the Elkwood Massacre, haunted by her dead friends, dreams of vengeance... a dream which will be realized as grief and rage turn good people into cold-blooded murderers and force alliances among strangers.

It's time to return to Elkwood.

In the spirit of such iconic horror classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance, Kin begins at the end and studies the possible aftermath for the survivors of such traumas upon their return to the real world — the guilt, the grief, the thirst for revenge — and sets them on an unthinkable journey... back into the heart of darkness.

I have had this on my kindle for quite some time. It was part of a boxed set I scooped up for 99 cents back when I had barely heard of Kealan Patrick Burke. The only thing I had read by this author at that time was The Turtle Boy, and not too long after that I bought the The Number 121 to Pennsylvania after seeing it mentioned in Cemetery Dance magazine. That was when he turned into a "must read" author for me. Believe me, it's a short list. There are not many authors whose name on a cover is enough for me to get my wallet out, but that is all it takes, I see his name, I make the purchase. Why? because he has never let me down, ever. I won't bother to mention who has fallen off my must read list, the big names with bigger price tags and the lazy crazy plot because they know they have hit the big time and all it takes is their name on a book for the money to pour in.
So anyway this gem has sat there trapped in my kindle for years, this week I finally set it free. It was worth the wait.

Personally I think Deliverance pales in comparison and I don't know who it was that decided to describe this book as being "in the spirit of Texas Chainsaw Massacre." To that I say no. Oh no no no. This can not be compared to such  simplistic blood and guts and cannibalistic gore. This book has real heart. It is a story not just of horror, but of loyalty, love, greed, and revenge.

Papa-In-Gray and Momma-In-Bed believe they are the righteous, the chosen, doing as the Lord sees fit. They have raised their children to believe the same. That is why people go missing in Elkwood. No one escapes the Merrill clan. Not until Claire Lambert sees her chance to make an escape. She is not satisfied with being the sole survivor. There's no justice in that. She wants revenge and she isn't afraid to go after it.This isn't just gore and show me your tits. It's a masterpiece of horror.
5 out of 5 stars from me.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Sopaths by Piers Anthony

The SopathsThe Sopaths by Piers Anthony
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is my first one star review in quite some time. Years even. I don't like to rate one star, and I find that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I've been literally stalked and harassed on the internet and accused of "having an agenda" over one star reviews in the past, to the point that I quit writing them. If a book was so bad that it was going to rate one star I would just quit reading it and not leave a review. That opened the door to a new accusation. "You leave 4 and 5 star reviews for every book just because you got it for free."
In reality, I leave 4 or 5 (and sometimes 3) star reviews because if a book does not rate at least 3 stars it's not worth my time and I will move on to the next in the long line waiting to be read. 5 stars is pretty rare from me. I'm picky. I read a lot. 5 stars is the highest rating, it means it's one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. It's not something I give out willy nilly just because my cousin's friend's brother's wife self published a kindle book and needs help getting it to sell. I tell you all that, to tell you this..

This book is foul.

No I do not mean the subject matter, I am not easily offended, I don't think I have ever read a book that offended me. Disgusted me perhaps, tested my gag reflex even. This is just plain trash.

"The black hair opened his mouth and bit the tow's nose. It was no token effort; blood spurted as the black hair wrenched his face from side to side, ripping off the nose."

I purchased this book through a link in an internet newsletter, (where they get paid if you buy through their link.)
I bought it under the guise of it being one of the "top 10 true crime" under the heading of evil children. That is NOT what this is, though if you check out the 5 star reviews you will see one person who says it's frightening to think this is real, so apparently the false advertising did work, up to a point.

My only experience with Piers Anthony until now had been one single short story "IN THE SHADOW OF THE SONG" which appeared in an anthology I reviewed previously. Other than that I had not heard of this "New York Times–bestselling author"
**spoiler alert**
The story is weak. The plot is ridiculous, the writing is poor, there is nobody to root for, I could not have cared less who lived or died. The world is running out of souls, so children are being born without them. Having no souls these children have no conscience, no concept of right or wrong, and for some reason are also hyper sexualized. A man who has killed his daughter because she murdered his son over a candy bar, and then killed his wife as well seems to be the "hero" of the book. He is a "good" man who tries to curb his sexual interest in the 7 year old who keeps throwing herself at him. Meanwhile he has acquired a new family, replacing his dead children with other survivors of these sopaths and replacing his wife with a woman who has no where else to go.
Fear not because this can all be cured with a fungus, called Fungo. All the world needed was a fungus that acts as birth control while increasing your sex drive. This will slow the birth rate so that there are enough recycled souls from dead people available to be reborn to new babies.

View all my reviews

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cut Corners Volume 3 by Kealan Patrick Burke, Bryan Smith, Ray Garton

Late, dark nights are perfect for reading surreal and terrifying tales from some of the best story tellers in the horror business. Grit your teeth, sit by the fire pit, and be prepared to possibly not return from underneath the spell of their writing prowess, but if you do, we’re certain you’ll have a sinister smile to share. All these modern stories have an element of thought-provoking surprise and style.

“Andromeda” –Kealan Patrick Burke
A grim story of a teen girl hooked to her cell phone that will make you think outside of your comfort level. Kealan Patrick Burke is a hauntingly lyrical and original writer of horror that will leave you breathless.

“The Barrell” – Bryan Smith
When a surprise barrel shows up out of nowhere on the back stoop, and the dogs start to bark at it uncontrollably, Martin becomes very suspicious and intrigued. Bryan Smith is a versatile and horrifying author who will leave you squeamish and chuckling.

“Afterparty” - Ray Garton
Jarrett is getting famous on the entertainment scene, but what will he have to do to remain in the industry? Brought to you by Ray Garton, a master of explicit detail and tense horror that entrances readers and doesn’t let them go.

This was a quick and creepy read, containing 3 short stories that are sure to give you chills.
It's hard for me to say too much more than what is already in the description without ending up giving anything away. Suffice it to say that these well written, ominous tales are brought to you by 3 masters of horror who know how to keep the suspense level high and make your heart pound.
4 out of 5 stars from me.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

We Came Back by Patrick Lacey

"WE CAME BACK is an emotional trip through our darkest fears. One of the best books I've read in years."--Kristopher Rufty, author of SOMETHING VIOLENT and DESOLATION.

Growing up dead.

Melvin Brown sees things that aren’t there. Monsters with tentacles and razor-sharp teeth. Ever the social outcast, he is bullied to the point of suicide. And his hatred of those who did him wrong does not die with him.

One decade after Melvin's death, something strange is happening to Lynnwood High School's smartest and most popular students. They begin to act out and spend time at the former high school, now abandoned and said to be haunted. And their numbers grow at an alarming rate.

Is this just a passing fad or are the rumors true? Does Lynnwood really have a teenage cult on their hands?

Frank Tanner has been a bit over protective of his teenage daughter ever since he lost his son, but it's not just his over cautious nature that his him suspecting something is not right with her weird looking new boyfriend Busty. Something evil is waking up at the old  abandoned Lynwood High School. Something that wants revenge on Frank, and will use his daughter to get it.

Meanwhile there's a frightening change coming over the "good" kids in town. They're dressing differently, acting differently, and what used to be the honors society has turned into something dark and foul. Frank has enlisted the help of Justin, his daughter's former boyfriend to see if he can find any dirt on Busty, but he had better hurry because it's getting closer to Halloween and a party you'll never forget.

This was a real spine tingler!

4 out of 5 stars from me.