Thursday, March 15, 2018

Alex and The Other: Weird Stories Gone Wrong #4 by Philippa Dowding

Book 4 in the award-winning Weird Stories Gone Wrong series!Beware the haunted bathroom mirror at school. Beware strangers in overcoats and dark glasses, whispering in the trees. But most of all, Beware The Other …
Alex is the loneliest boy at school. Not only are his parents away (again), but his beloved cat is missing. Plus, one morning his reflection in the haunted bathroom mirror at school starts talking to him. Then two mysterious strangers in overcoats and sunglasses appear, whispering the same message, over and over: Beware The Other …

But, worse than all that, is the girl with the braid. She looks just like Alex. She’s better than him at everything, and they even share the same name. Soon, she’s the only Alex anyone can see, at school, at work, even at home. In no time, it’s almost as though the real Alex never existed at all.

Can the real Alex outsmart his evil twin and get his life back before she replaces him for good? And more importantly, who is the real Alex, anyway?

An engaging read for middle school grades.
Alex is a lonely boy who already feels invisible most of the time. After a mysterious green fog rolls in, it seems Alex may turn invisible for real. Someone is trying to take over his life, but help may come from the strangest of places. Mildly creepy, with cute illustrations, and a true life lesson to be yourself.
4 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland

Kirstie Rawlings is jolted awake by a child crying. Racing upstairs to check on her new-born, she is plunged into every parents’ worst nightmare. She hears an unknown voice in the baby monitor, saying: ‘Let’s take the child – and go.’

Is someone trying to steal her little girl?

In the bedroom, her daughter is safe asleep in her cot. Is the voice coming from a nearby house? But there aren’t any other babies living on her quiet country road…

The police don't believe her. And neither does her husband.

Kirstie knows something isn’t right. She thought she could trust her neighbours, now she isn’t sure. As she unravels the secrets of the people living on her street, Kirstie’s perfect life begins to fall apart.

Because someone is hiding a terrible lie. And they will do anything to stop Kirstie uncovering the truth. But is the danger closer to home than she thinks?

New mom Kirstie is finally living her happily ever after with her new baby daughter and husband Dom after years of struggling to carry a child to term. This should be the most wonderful time of her life.. but something isn't right in her ideal little neighborhood and nobody seems to believe her. This was a gripping psychological thriller that leaves you never knowing who to trust from one minute to the next. Could Kirstie's husband be gas-lighting her? Or is Kirstie suffering post partum depression and a wild imagination? Maybe it's that oddball neighbor or even her best friend who can't be trusted. You won't rest until you get to the end!
5 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Trolls in the Attic: and other tales of the Supernatural by Joanie K. Findle


Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Manson Women and Me by Nikki Meredith

In the summer of 1969, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel carried out horrific acts of butchery on the orders of the charismatic cult leader Charles Manson. At their murder trial the following year, lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi described the two so-called Manson Women as "human monsters." But to anyone who knew them growing up, they were bright, promising girls, seemingly incapable of such an unfathomable crime.

Award-winning journalist Nikki Meredith began visiting Van Houten and Krenwinkel in prison to discover how they had changed during their incarceration. The more Meredith got to know them, the more she was lured into a deeper dilemma: What compels "normal" people to do unspeakable things?

The author's relationship with her subjects provides a chilling lens through which we gain insight into a particular kind of woman capable of a particular kind of brutality. Through their stories, Nikki Meredith takes readers on a dark journey into the very heart of evil

There's not a lot of new information on the Manson family (or Manson Women) contained in this book and for some reason the author has rambled on, jumping from decade to decade without much rhyme or reason. It's the 90s, then it's 2001 and then it's 1940 something and I am left wondering why I need to know that the author was having dreams about Hitler unless that somehow fits in with the ties they want to show that the Tate/ Labianca murders had something to do with being Jewish. I'm also not entirely clear on what the author's brother having been in jail has to do with anything. Maybe I dozed off. Sorry, there's nothing to see here.

I received an advance copy for review

Monday, March 5, 2018

Dark Screams: Volume Ten

Simon Clark, Clive Barker, Heather Herrman, Wrath James White, Marc Rains, Lisa Tuttle, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch unleash the terrifying truths behind love, loyalty, and obsession in a sextet of twisted tales presented by preeminent horror editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.

BASTION by Simon Clark
The Bastion boys were the perfect soldiers: courageous in the face of a fearsome enemy, unwaveringly devoted to each other—and young enough not to ask any questions.

ON AMEN’S SHORE by Clive Barker
Beisho Fie and Rutaluka make their living off of legends and poems, fantasies and rumors. But on the shores of Joom’s harbor, they come face-to-face with the horrifying reality behind the myth.

Natalie moved to a small Minnesota lake town to relax, heal, and start a family. A chance encounter with a strange old woman shouldn’t change that—even if the woman has something Natalie would do anything to get.

SEVEN YEARS by Wrath James White
Every seven years, all the cells in our bodies regenerate, so we’re barely even the same person anymore. And yet we can’t change our past—or escape repercussions for the things we’ve done.

DARK WATER by Marc Rains and Lisa Tuttle
A chance meeting in a coffee shop. A smile shared over a book. They say the soul of a poet holds unseen depths . . . but certain truths are hidden for a reason.

THE TRENDY BAR SIDE OF LIFE by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
In a back-alley saloon, D tends bar for others like her. She’s been there since the night she stumbled in, broken and alone—just like the man who stumbles in tonight.

The first story "Bastion" by Simon Clark was my favorite, even though to me it was more of a Sci-Fi than a horror. It was also the longest story, taking up 49% of the book. A young boy is suddenly thrust into a strange and dangerous world where children are soldiers. He has no memory of how he got there or even what his own name is. It seems to be a world made up of only young boys, no parents, no memories, and deadly enemies to fight.

The Woman in the Blue Dress by Heather Herrman  was  more along the lines of the horror I was expecting. As Natalie is eating alone in a restaurant one night a strange woman intrudes on her dinner. She is quite insistent and seems to know more about Natalie than she would if this were really just a chance encounter. This was a spine tingler for me.

Dark Water by Marc Rains and Lisa Tuttle concerns another chance meeting, but this beautiful woman isn't exactly looking for love when she invites a stranger home from the coffee shop.

I received an advance copy for review.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Tracker by John Hunt

Taylor is being hunted. A sinister shadow trails him playing a game of hide and seek. If Taylor is caught, a cruel death awaits him. There are rules for this game. To break them would mean dire consequences for Taylor and anyone close to him. Taylor must outwit and outlast the fiend for forty-eight hours.

Taylor is an overweight guy who mostly keeps to himself. He has no real friends to speak of and his time is split between work and taking care of his morbidly obese mother. When she passes away he is totally alone... or maybe not. There's a strange man in a fedora stalking him. A shadowy figure who likes to play games, and the stakes are life or death.
This was a fast paced gruesome tale with a really fun twist that I didn't see coming.
4 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Angry Ghost and Other Stories by Peter Spokes

A collection of spooky ghost stories and dark tales based on the classic style of horror/supernatural writing, The Angry Ghost and Other Stories introduces a return to classic form with a fresh perspective. A man journeying to Cornwall seeking a Ghost - and flowers, an obnoxious bully being welcomed to spend the evening at an old museum, and an author of fictional horror unable to take his friend seriously when he’s told of the Werewolf roaming around his village are just three of a collection that will have you reading with every light on.

The stories have a chilling undertone, a sense of unease without outright horror which is matched by its cast of characters that run the gamut from the ordinary to the undead. These characters share the same fate, a confrontation with something unearthly and should not exist - that is, except in a world where creatures of darkness can still, occasionally, break through. The book also features a mix of voices, from first person to third, and from past to present tense which keeps the pace fast, exciting and varied. With descriptive language, the tales bring with them an atmosphere not easily shrugged off.

“Ultimately, the storyteller weaves his tale of dark possibilities to coax out and into the light creatures that may occasionally intrude upon the living, but never encroach upon or breach the shield of safety of the listener. For the listener is always safe from ghosts…almost always.”
A Note From the Publisher
Born in 1961, Peter Spokes has dedicated his working life to a career in the servicing of electronic test equipment. His love of literature - particularly classical horror and supernatural authors - has inspired him towards the creation of tales that he hopes are of a similar ilk

This collection had a very old fashioned vibe to it (which for me was not a bad thing.) It felt more like a screen play and in my mind I could picture the roles that Vincent Price and  Boris Karloff  would have been pleased to portray..
It is overflowing with beautifully crafted tales, a few of which were reminiscent of Poe.
There is a little suspense and a lot of sorrow here. Tales of ghosts and those who mourn for them, and tales of the dead who mourn for the living. Some had more modern touches of humor (wait until you meet Tommy the Tumor)
Not all are ghost stories. There are some monsters, and stories that venture into fantasy (I have a new appreciation for Seagulls now.)  A few were just not my cup of tea but that is the joy of short stories, there is something for everyone so take what you like and leave the rest.
4.5 out of 5 stars from me

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Better Off Dead by Michael Fleeman

Better Off Dead: A Sordid True Story Of Sex, Sin and Murder

A frustrated, unhappy wife. Her much younger, attentive lover. A husband who degrades and ignores her. The stage is set for a love-triangle murder that shatters family illusions and lays bare a quiet family community's seedy secret world of sex, sin and swinging.

BETTER OFF DEAD, the latest true crime book from New York Times bestselling author Michael Fleeman, strips away the pleasant veneer of the Silver Lakes neighborhood in California's high desert to tell a shocking story about a headline-grabbing crime.

Sabrina Limon, a vivacious blond mother of two and part-time "sample girl" at Costco, is handing out free food samples one day when in walks handsome young firefighter Jonathan Hearn shopping for the station.

Their conversation leads to a flirtation that leads to a steamy affair that has them hooking up once and twice a week at her home, his home, and out in hidden spots in the vast Mojave.

Sabrina finds in Jonathan's embrace the love and understanding she lacks at home. To the outside world, husband Robert is a big tattooed teddy bear of a man, a hard-working railroad mechanic, loved by all. This gregarious couple seemed matched by their love of family, friends and good times.
But the partying had gotten out of control for Sabrina. There was boozing and wife-swapping and group sex. Once a turn-on, it now left Sabrina feeling debased, dehumanized, spiritually adrift. Robert won't talk about it, consumed by his work, boat, truck and porn.

With Jonathan showering Sabrina with poetry, gifts, religious insights and, of course, illicit sex, a devious plan is hatched; one hot August night Robert Limon is found dead of two gunshots in a pool of blood
False leads send police into dead-ends until a tip arrives from a most unexpected place. For Sabrina, it's a stunning betrayal that hurtles the case back to a perfect little place in the desert. With informants, undercover cops and wiretaps, investigators discover a romance fueled by lies and dangerous fantasies.
But are Sabrina and Jonathan merely covering up an affair? Or are they hiding a conspiracy that led to murder?

You may or may not recall this trial, it was not that many years ago. I do remember hearing a bit about it myself in the news. Happy family man Robert Limon was killed in cold blood while at work one day. His poor wife devastated, and left to raise their two young children on her own. But was she as lost and alone without her husband as she wanted to appear? Gradually the story spilled out, of the church going but hard partying couple who liked to get drunk and swap sexual partners on their weekend getaways. When Sabrina Limon went from stay at home mom to part time Costco sample girl she wasn't plotting to kill her husband. But sometime shortly after beginning a flirtatious relationship with a young fireman she met there, their ponderings on how nice it would be to have her husband out of the way transformed from fantasy to cold blooded murder. This was a fascinating fact based account of the events before and during the murder trial.
4 out of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy for review

Friday, February 23, 2018

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

We Need to Talk About Kevin meets Gone Girl meets The Omen....a twisty, delirious read that will constantly question your sympathies for the two characters as their bond continues to crumble.” —Entertainment Weekly

"A pulse-spiking thriller." —PopSugar

“Unnerving and unputdownable, Baby Teeth will get under your skin and keep you trapped in its chilling grip until the shocking conclusion.” —New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline

Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Alex and Suzette are madly in love, the perfect couple, a match made in heaven. What a blessing a baby could be to this union. How lucky a child would be to have such loving and devoted parents. Suzette is especially determined to be a better parent than she had, to be the mother she wished she had instead of the neglectful and uncaring mother who was too wrapped up in herself to even notice that Suzette needed medical care. Sadly, no amount of love and attention seems to please Hanna unless it comes from her father. Suzette's days are spent taking Hanna to appointment after appointment in search of a reason for her lack of speech. Home schooling Hanna as best she can since she can't fit in at school, and being the object of Hanna's hatred. When Alex is home Hanna is all smiles. the perfect little silent angel. But Alex can't always be there, and when he is he prefers to bury his head in the sand. Meanwhile Hanna's hatred for her mother is escalating into something dangerous. Does Hanna have reason to hate her mother or is she just a born psycho? You be the judge.
4 out of 5 stars from me.

I received an advance copy for review

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Final Season: A Lovecraftian Quartet by Wahabah Hadia Al Mu'id

Truth and fiction meet in this collection of unnerving tales that merge Lovecraft with actual paranormal experiences, current events and conspiracy.

The only positive thing I can offer about this collection of 4 short stories is that when the second story began with 
"I should have known that something was up when the cat brought in a mouse she’d caught and I absently took it from her and ate it."

I knew this would likely remain as one of the top 10 most memorable opening lines to any short story I have ever read. It was also the only story out of the 4 that I came close to enjoying. I like stories that I can get lost in. I like stories that make me feel something. These were more like reading a lecture with no suspense and nobody to care about.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Forsaken: Stories of Abandoned Places

We’ve all seen them.
The abandoned gas station, its pumps gone to rust. The once popular diner, now boarded up, its bright colors fading. A luxury yacht, adrift and alluring. An amusement park, once filled with the laughter of children, now a place of eerie silence.
A church, a factory, a drive-in. Once hives of activity, now they stand mute, each one containing its share of memories…and secrets.
In this collection, editors Joe McKinney and Mark Onspaugh select twenty-two guides who take you to those places of barely glimpsed phantoms and uneasy mysteries, including contributions by Deborah LeBlanc, Harvey Jacobs, Gene O'Neill, Piers Anthony, Lisa Morton, and many others!

I love short horror stories and these 22 dark tales  will make you wonder whether abandoned places are really as empty as they appear.
My favorites were The Storybook Forest by Norman Prentiss in which a small group of friends gather in an abandoned children's theme park for a few beers and a night of terror. Along that same theme was Lullaby Land by Mark Onspaugh. A once crowded theme park long since closed after a tragedy... but children still manage to find their way there as kidnappers Mitch and Del are about to discover. The Theater by Dennis Copelan finds Leonard Brown, taking a bittersweet final walk through of  his movie theater before signing the final sale papers.
Drive-In of the Damned by Michael Arruda was another of my favorites. Three paranormal investigators stake out a haunted drive in hoping to gain enough popularity on their YouTube channel to get a tv show. Bodies Without Souls by L.L. Soares finds Michael about to give a beach party while his parents are away, when an empty yacht mysteriously floats into easy reach. What's the worst that could happen if he turns his beach party into a boat party?  Emily by JW Schnarr is the story of a missing girl and what happens to two friends who joined her search party in the woods.
High Desert by Lisa Morton finds Kara seeking shelter from the heat when Tadd goes off for help after they have car trouble in the desert while checking out an area where a religious cult mysteriously disappeared. Dream Home by D.L. Snell  is not exactly about a haunted house, but a house that will haunt you. The Pressboard Factory by Peter N. Dudar was my absolute favorite. Billy and Ryan grew up together, but were not much alike. Ryan was picked on, belittled and bullied not just at school but abused at home right up until the day he just couldn't take it anymore.
All of the above, for me were the 5 star stories in this collection.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Defiant Souls by Kathleen Chadwick

When Kyle Chase accepted his Aunt Cindy’s invitation to spend his summer vacation with her, he thought they would be exploring old caves, looking for arrow heads, and honing his skills as a young Archeologist. He never dreamed the fate of the world would rest on his small shoulders. Kyle, his aunt and a small group of travelers have been imprisoned by a mad-man.
Man’s arrogance has opened a doorway of evil and it’s up to Kyle to close it. He will need to trust in his sixth sense, strength, and intellect to escape and find the one man who can help him destroy the evil that holds them captive.
First off look at this gorgeous cover! That is what first caught my eye before I even read the description.
Kyle's vacation pretty much goes off the rails as he is thrust into a battle of good against evil when he and his aunt are hijacked on the road by an otherworldly being. It was a pretty creative story and although I read a lot of horror I was surprised by some of the gruesome events and language since this was categorized under the teen and YA section. It didn't bother me, but it may bother some who are expecting something a little more tame.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Final Goodbyes by Signe Christensen

Sophie Weeks is trying to come to terms with the horrifying murders of her brother and his family. In an attempt to find closure Sophie moves in to her brother's old home. Little did she expect the nightly horrors she is about to encounter.

Sophie is devastated to hear that her brother and his family have been found dead. What's worse is that her sister-in-law and 5 year old niece have been brutally murdered and the police believe her brother is their killer and that he took his own life to escape the consequences of his crimes.
Sophie feels strongly that the killer is still out there and she will not rest until she uncovers the truth with or without the help of police.
This was a suspenseful mystery/thriller. I enjoyed it although I felt the dialogue could benefit from a bit of editing and an occasional use of contractions to make it more natural sounding.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sinner by Christopher Graves

As a direct descendant of the 19th century vigilante gang, the Bald Knobbers, Ezekiel Woods, Jr. has been indoctrinated into a world ruled by violence and a literal interpretation of the bible his entire life. Now, over a hundred years later, Zeke continues his ancestors’ crusade, spending his days camouflaged as an aloof middle-aged grocery store sacker and his nights in a farmhouse cellar, preparing captives’ souls for their ultimate destiny: redemption or death. His latest abductee, an indomitable Texan working her way through a third-life crisis, chooses another option: escape. Zeke must recapture this lost sheep or face a consequence far worse than any worldly fate: that God has forsaken him.
Available for pre-order

Zeke is a religious fanatic from a long line of murderous child abusing nut jobs who seem to think they are on a mission from God to dole out retribution. With an affinity for torture and murder that could  only be surpassed by Leatherface, Zeke is racking up the body count as he rids the world of "sinners" who of course are women. Not all women are so easily dispatched as Zeke finds out the hard way when one in particular refuses to be his victim in a highly suspenseful heart stopping conclusion.
4 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review

About the Author:
Christopher Graves is an actor, filmmaker and award-winning screenwriter based in New York City.
Some of his performance credits include Sneaky Pete, Divorce, The Blacklist, Shades of Blue, Nurse Jackie, as well as many network on-camera and voice-over commercials for national brands.
He is the creator and writer of the comedic web series, With Friends Like These and the feature-length screenplay, Sinner, which was named Best Psychological Thriller Script by the New Hope International Film Festival.
Born in the hills of Mt. Vernon, Missouri, his introduction to the thriller genre started early. At five years old, his mother abducted him along with his younger siblings and fled across the country. They were given new names, a new home and a new beginning–until they were discovered and had to move again.
By the time he accepted his high school diploma (from the tenth school he had attended), Christopher had developed an intense affection for the terrifying plots of authors like Thomas Harris, David Lozell Martin, and James Patterson. Identifying with the grittiness in many of those stories, he had grown fond of the adrenaline surges that come with running and hiding.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two judgmental Siberian cats.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Lost and Lonely by Brian James Freeman

This new collection by Brian James Freeman features characters who are haunted by horrors they think are out of their control, but perhaps the source of their greatest terrors is closer to home than they ever feared possible.

In "Losing Everything Defines You," a bestselling author's family mysteriously vanished three months ago, yet if they're really missing, why is he hearing footsteps in the hallway outside his bedroom every night?

Patty knows that everyone makes mistakes in life and when it comes to "Loving Roger," she wants to fix the errors of her ways and make everything right again.

William Carver and his family fled the colonies to escape a monster stalking their community, but the western plains might not be the safe haven they had hoped for once they hear "How The Wind Lies."

When Melissa was a little girl, her father told her that all children were like "Perfect Little Snowflakes," each was different and unique in conception, but you never knew where they would land once they hit the ground.

And finally, a mother doesn't remember when the coldness began to fester inside her and now she's terrified for her baby as she suffers from "The Plague of Sadness."

These five thought-provoking stories show why Stewart O'Nan has said Freeman's writing has "great velocity and impact," and why Publishers Weekly has called his work "highly readable."

This exquisite collection of short stories by Brian James Freeman will be released next month from Cemetery Dance Publications. Each story is a delicious bite sized morsel of horror, heart-ache, and loss. From loss of a relationship, to loss of a child, the common thread woven through each story is emotional trauma, each one leaving me more unsettled than before.
5 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them..

Honestly I didn't really care for the way this book started off, written in the form of a journal, switching back and forth between Jack's point of view and then Syd's. A few times I wasn't even sure which point of view I was reading. I was considering giving up on it. I'm glad I stayed with it,

Jack and Syd were two broken people before they found each other. Now happily in love and moved into their new home it seems like maybe life will turn out ok after all. Except for that foul smell of death in the attic and the strange box hidden towards the back. Then there's the sound of footsteps where nobody should be walking, and the neighbor who threatens you for daring to be nice to his abused daughter. Something from the past has followed the couple to their new home and it's not the welcome wagon.  This was a dark and twisty psychological thriller and the ending took me by surprise.
4 out of 5 stars.
I received an advance copy for review

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Presence by Kirk Kilgrave


This is not your friendly neighborhood library.
During a job interview for a branch manager position, Rosalind Lanners learns that some think the library is haunted. But with a horrible credit score, a mountain of school debt, and less than three figures in her bank account, Rosalind takes the job and hides out there at night until she can find an affordable apartment.
When cold spots precede unsettling, seemingly impossible events, Rosalind begins to wonder if the stories are true. These strange occurrences soon take on a more sinister edge, but circumstances outside her control force her to stay in the one place she'd like to escape at all costs.

As she discovers clues about what might be lurking inside the branch, Rosalind learns that those who work in the library...may be just as evil as what lives inside it.

Rosalind is a young woman who has recently moved away from her friends and in with her boyfriend. With no money and homeless after a break up she and her faithful pup Tofu move into a secret room in the building where she has been made branch manager by the creepy and dirty old man who interviewed several applicants before her but could never find anyone willing to take the job. Strange occurrences and bumps in the night follow as Rosalind gets closer to untangling the mystery of what really happened to the branch manager before her.
This story was a bit more tame than what I would normally expect from a book I found in the horror section. It's more a mystery/ghost story than horror and at first I thought it was  geared towards a young adult audience until some of the language, and a journal describing one character's  sexual proclivities changed my mind on that notion.

I received a complimentary copy for review

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

Can you hide a secret with the whole world watching?

When an explosion rips apart a Chicago building, the lives of three women are forever altered.
A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside. Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.

Now, despite the marks left by the tragedy, they all seem safe. But as its anniversary dominates the media, the memories of that terrifying morning become dangerous triggers. All these women are guarding important secrets. Just how far will they go to keep them?

A fitting title for a novel holding so many secrets.
As the anniversary of the explosion that took the lives of over 500 people approaches, a documentary is being made about the effects on 3 families who've lost loved ones to the tragic accident. Cecily in particular, is a big part of it since a photo was taken of her that day at the site that now has made her face the poster for that deadly shocking day. Cecily has kept a secret about her reason for intending to meet her husband there, but she is not the only one. There are deeper, darker secrets that will be revealed. This was a real page turner that started with an explosion and ended with a bang!

I received an advance copy for review

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser


When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

This small town neighborhood drama started off really strong, but it wasn't long before it was just too easy to tell where it was headed and how it would end up.
Kristin wasn't just gone, her twins were gone, her belongings were gone and her perfect soon to be ex husband was back. Everyone had their own suspicions but it was all just too simplistic for me.
3 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Handyman By Bentley Little

Daniel Martin has never forgotten his childhood encounters with Frank Watkins, the man who built his family a summer home out of cardboard and plywood. Frank's gaze was oddly confusing, as if he was attempting to discern the proper way to behave because he didn't know how to respond in a human manner. Since Frank obviously wasn't an alien, young Daniel thought maybe the man was crazy. In the end, Daniel would learn the terrifying truth about Frank Watkins. And as an adult, Daniel is about to discover there are more of THEM out there..

In Bentley Little's newest twist on ordinary mundane events that turn into supernatural disasters we have Frank, the jack of all trades and master of none. Frank can put your haphazard summer home together, fix your toilet, remodel a room, and ruin your life.
Frank is a liar, a cheat, a thief, and something far more sinister. He may not have a license, and there is no warranty on his work, but there is one deadly guarantee. If you hire Frank your life will never be the same.

4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown


In Gods of Howl Mountain, award-winning author Taylor Brown explores a world of folk healers, whiskey-runners, and dark family secrets in the high country of 1950s North Carolina.
Bootlegger Rory Docherty has returned home to the fabled mountain of his childhood - a misty wilderness that holds its secrets close and keeps the outside world at gunpoint. Slowed by a wooden leg and haunted by memories of the Korean War, Rory runs bootleg whiskey for a powerful mountain clan in a retro-fitted '40 Ford coupe. Between deliveries to roadhouses, brothels, and private clients, he lives with his formidable grandmother, evades federal agents, and stokes the wrath of a rival runner.
In the mill town at the foot of the mountains - a hotbed of violence, moonshine, and the burgeoning sport of stock-car racing - Rory is bewitched by the mysterious daughter of a snake-handling preacher. His grandmother, Maybelline “Granny May” Docherty, opposes this match for her own reasons, believing that "some things are best left buried." A folk healer whose powers are rumored to rival those of a wood witch, she concocts potions and cures for the people of the mountains while harboring an explosive secret about Rory’s mother - the truth behind her long confinement in a mental hospital, during which time she has not spoken one word. When Rory's life is threatened, Granny must decide whether to reveal what she knows...or protect her only grandson from the past.

With gritty and atmospheric prose, Taylor Brown brings to life a perilous mountain and the family who rules it.

There is a large cast of characters here but the story is mainly focused on Korean war vet Rory who has come home to the mountain with part of his leg missing, and his Granny May who is a force to be reckoned with. There's not a lot of jobs in 1950s North Carolina, especially for someone like Rory, but moonshining is a booming business and there's money to be made delivering it provided you don't get caught. The mountain holds a lot of secrets, and so does Granny May but sooner or later things have a way of bubbling to the surface. This was a mesmerizing work of historical fiction.
4 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.
The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbors, and children play in the street.
Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.
But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.
As their obsession with their new neighbor grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see.

If you ever get to missing the ladies of Wisteria Lane, this may be the book for you. Pleasant Court is a quiet, peaceful area, where people are neighborly though not necessarily friends. They certainly don't share their secrets, of which there are many. Some are hiding their secrets not only from the world, but also from themselves.
This was a quick read and a real page turner, with more juicy secrets than any prime time soap.
4 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley

An exploration of domestic derangement, as sinister as Daphne Du Maurier’s classic Rebecca, that plumbs the depths of sibling rivalry with wit and menace.
Oh, to be a Beloved—one of those lucky people for whom nothing ever goes wrong. Everything falls into their laps without effort: happiness, beauty, good fortune, allure.

Betty Stash is not a Beloved—but her little sister, the delightful Gloria, is. She’s the one with the golden curls and sunny disposition and captivating smile, the one whose best friend used to be Betty’s, the one whose husband should have been Betty’s. And then, to everyone’s surprise, Gloria inherits the family manse—a vast, gorgeous pile of ancient stone, imposing timbers, and lush gardens—that was never meant to be hers.

Losing what Betty considers her rightful inheritance is the final indignity. As she single-mindedly pursues her plan to see the estate returned to her in all its glory, her determined and increasingly unhinged behavior—aided by poisonous mushrooms, talking walls, and a phantom dog—escalates to the point of no return. The Beloveds will have you wondering if there’s a length to which an envious sister won’t go.

Betty Stash has never much cared for anyone or anything other than her parents house, which she expected to inherit on her mother's death. She appears to have been in a state of quiet jealous rage ever since her beautiful and "beloved" sister was born. Much of the action in this story takes place in Betty's mind for at least the first half of the book, which made it a little slow and draggy in my opinion, until at last Betty seemed to make the switch from petty, whining, narcissist to full on evil psycho.

I received an advance copy for review.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff


With extraordinary access to the Trump White House, Michael Wolff tells the inside story of the most controversial presidency of our time

The first nine months of Donald Trump's term were stormy, outrageous—and absolutely mesmerizing. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself.

In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:

— What President Trump's staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn't be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration's strategy in the wake of Bannon's firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

Other than a few typos, which I found a bit distracting, this was a sobering look at what many of us feared was going on in the White House. Told in a quite matter of fact way that did not seem to be going for shock value or sensationalism made it all the more believable. Combined with quotes from those he interviewed are the author's own impressions. If given a choice to believe a president who has lied every single day about easily fact checked events, and an author who was seen with a visitor pass on a nearly constant basis by white house reporters, I am more inclined to believe the author than a president who claims he wasn't there. There are a few descriptions of events that have been disputed as inaccurate but I don't think an honest mistake here and there (such as similar names being confused) negate the facts. Perhaps these were due in part to a rush to publish a week or so early in response to an attempt from the president to block the publication.
 Considering the president's desperate attempt to block this publication, and considering the author's statement that some of his interviews are recorded. combined with the fact that nobody is disputing the actual quotes, I find it to be believable.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

 A breakout suspense novel from the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare.
Vermont, 1950. There's a place for the girls whom no one wants--the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It's called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it's located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming--until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she's tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister's death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister's boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can't shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past--and a voice that won't be silenced..

"Mary Hand Mary Hand, dead and buried under land. She'll say she wants to be your friend. Do not let her in again!"
Then : The Idlewild girls, out of sight, out of mind, unwanted. Shut away in a boarding school
 where their families rarely if ever visited. Katie, Roberta. CeCe and Sophia, four girls with not much in common other than being forced to share a room,  become the best of friends. They live in fear, not only of what the future holds, but of the legend of Mary Hand, a story passed down from generations of school residents before them, scribbled about in the margins of text books that have never been replaced. They say Mary is buried on school property, that she haunts the grounds and shows you things, horrible awful things.

Fiona has never gotten over the loss of her sister. Her murdered body found dumped in the field at the long closed Idlewild Hall. When restorations begin on the property by someone who claims to want to reopen the school, Fiona can't keep away. She is present when a body is unearthed on school property, and her investigative mind leads her to uncover long buried secrets. Not only will she uncover the truth about Mary Hand, but of what truly happened to her sister and the newly unearthed body.

Part murder mystery, part ghost story, this was a suspenseful and intriguing tale, told on 2 time lines which added a wondrous mix of historical fiction into this thrilling read.

5 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Becoming by Glenn Rolfe

Something ancient has wormed its way up from the earth....
A change has come today.

After Michele Cote's best friend disappears, no one believes her story about the thing responsible for his abduction. Forced to figure out the mystery for herself, Michele encounters terror she has never known, and witnesses the impossible.

When other members of the community begin to change or vanish, Sheriff Shane Davis must look beyond reason in order to stop the evil seeping into this small town. With help from an unlikely source, Sheriff Davis will come face-to-face with the truth.
You can't destroy what you don't understand. For the town of Avalon, Maine, the future is about change...for better or worse.

Becoming is the next horrifying novel from author, Glenn Rolfe. Includes the bonus novella, Boom Town

There's something fishy going on in Jade Lake, and it's not the trout casting that strange light.
Clint Truman, caring for his cancer riddled father Jack, is the first to notice a strange glow just below the surface.
"It was then he noticed, even though he wasn't breathing, that he was still alive."

Soon it will make it's presence known to the rest of the town.
"One by one, we'll all become."
An ancient evil makes it's return in the small town of Avalon. This was an action packed tale full of good old fashioned creature feature type fun. I would recommend it to all horror fans but especially those who love the old horror comics like I do.
4 out of 5 stars from me.

I received a complimentary copy for review.