Friday, June 22, 2018

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.
Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?
Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.
As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy is forced to question if she really wants her back.
Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Have you ever seen kids getting screamed at in public and wondered if it's an isolated moment or whether they have a bad home life? I have, and so the description of this book really called out to me.
 Sarah is a woman who was neglected, abused and abandoned by her mother as a child. When she sees Emma Townsend being screamed at by her mother it affects her so strongly that she can not forget. When she is sure that this was not an isolated incident she steals Emma, wanting only to protect her and give her the love that she never had as a child and that Emma so obviously needs. Once they are on the run together she is not sure whether she's made a mistake. The story starts off really strong and I was sure I was going to fall in love with it but the ending was just too simplistic and unrealistic for me.
3 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris

From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes another unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history.

2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.

Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers across the nation, this touching novel explores the tale within the frame and behind the lens—a journey of ambition, love, and the far-reaching effects of our actions.


This book looked like it would be right up my alley so I expected to fall in love with it. I'm not exactly sure where it went wrong for me or why I am not able to be as exited about it as so many other people are. It just felt a bit bland to me. I do love historical fiction, especially stories set around the time of the great depression. This novel delivers that, but I was hoping it would dive more deeply into the ways struggling families lived and survived in such poverty stricken times and less about the personal lives of the photographer and secretary.
3 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding

The author of the bestselling novel The Party—lauded as “tense and riveting” by New York Times bestselling author Megan Mirandareturns with a chilling new domestic drama about two women whose deep friendship is threatened by dark, long-buried secrets.

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

In her masterful follow-up to The Party, Robyn Harding spins a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, asking the question: Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past?



Frances Metcalfe is basically friendless and ostracized by the snooty moms
in her son's school until one day she meets the new arrival to the neighborhood Kate. The two quickly become the best of friends although something always seems just a bit off. While Kate dotes on her son and on Frances she seems to have no interest or time for her daughter Daisy. Both of these women have secrets in their past but is one of them a sociopath? A murderer? Even if you figure out who is who before the end, and you probably will, this story is still juicier than a soap opera and moves a lot faster. I loved it. 5 stars. A perfect guilty pleasure.

I received an advance copy for review.



Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach

Reddit horror sensation Dathan Auerbach delivers a devilishly dark novel about a young boy who goes missing, and the brother who won't stop looking for him.

Eric disappeared when he was three years old. Ben looked away for only a second at the grocery store, but that was all it took. His brother was gone. Vanished right into the sticky air of the Florida Panhandle.

They say you've got only a couple days to find a missing person. Forty-eight hours to conduct searches, knock on doors, and talk to witnesses. Two days to tear the world apart if there's any chance of putting yours back together. That's your window.

That window closed five years ago, leaving Ben's life in ruins. He still looks for his brother. Still searches, while his stepmother sits and waits and whispers for Eric, refusing to leave the house that Ben's father can no longer afford. Now twenty and desperate for work, Ben takes a night stock job at the only place that will have him: the store that blinked Eric out of existence.

Ben can feel that there's something wrong there. With the people. With his boss. With the graffitied baler that shudders and moans and beckons. There's something wrong with the air itself. He knows he's in the right place now. That the store has much to tell him. So he keeps searching. Keeps looking for his baby brother, while missing the most important message of all.

That he should have stopped looking.


"Somewhere in the distance, lightning lit the sky on fire, and it screamed in pain."

Bad Man will be published on August 7 and is available for pre-order now.
 It is told from the point of view of Ben, a young man who lost his little brother 5 years ago and never forgave himself and never gave up searching. For some reason the police don't seem to care and his step mother is lost in her own world, still buying presents and holding birthday celebrations for her little boy who never came home. Ben's father doesn't want him working in the store where little Eric disappeared but he sure doesn't mind Ben bringing home a paycheck. His boss is a jerk and the other employees are a bit on the suspicious side.
This was an  incredible read. Bad Man has more layers than an onion, each one deeper and darker than the one that came before. A heavy pervasive creeping dread settled in my stomach with the turn of each page.
5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint by Richard Black

The death of a Drug Lord's first lieutenant ignites an all-out war between two rival gangs, a war that has raged on for a year. Homicide detective Karen Oswalt realizes she has no chance of bringing peace to the streets unless she can find the murderer, but it appears to have been the perfect crime. No witnesses. At least none have come forward. But all that is about to change. With one phone call from an informant long-thought dead, Karen Oswalt and her partner are about to come face to... uh... well, face with the killer.  









"Where man's justice doesn't reach out, a higher justice will reach down."

Detective Karen Oswalt and her partner Leon Barnes get schooled in justice when they meet with an informant in a drug infested neighborhood to try to solve a murder, in this gritty horror short by Richard Black. Someone else is patrolling the street and there's hell to pay.
This was a well written, fast paced, supernatural horror.
4 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Myth of Perpetual Summer by Susan Crandall

From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.

Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.

If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.
  

Part coming of age tale, part family saga, this work of historical fiction put me in mind of V.C. Andrews and I mean her true style when she was alive, not the ghost written books that came out after her death. Although on second thought she would have made it shorter to stretch it into a trilogy. Tallulah James is on her way back to a home she never expected to return to, after news reports that her brother has been arrested for murder. On the way, and once there she recalls what it was like to grow up in such tumultuous times, and the events that led her to flee at such a young age. The story touches on civil rights, mental illness, first loves and family secrets.

4 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Offspring by Bill Pinnell


Terrifying family secrets have plagued Hughie Decker for as long as he can remember. Now, just as his life and career have finally begun to make strides, a seemingly innocent story from his hometown newspaper leaves Decker with no choice. He must return to his boyhood home to confront the horrid truth that destroyed so many lives.


I wasn't really sure what to expect from this book. It was the cover that caught my eye first, looking like it leans towards horror, before I noticed it was sitting there in the general fiction section. A glance at the author's name told me nothing, it was not a name I recognized. The short synopsis didn't give away much either, but I picked it up anyway and began to read. Within the first few pages when I met a character by the name of Irene who was Hughie's mom that had run off years ago with a book salesman... there was no turning back for me.

I think I would put this more in the historical fiction category than general fiction. It spans several decades as Hughie Decker, now a grown man, stands on the spot he hasn't visited since childhood and sees clear as day the events of the past. As Hughie travels back to his childhood home and contemplates events of long ago days we are introduced to several more characters from the past Including his best friend Kenny, Hughie's father Lem who never did get along with the cowardly sheriff and his brother Tom who never could win his parent's love.  I'm not going to go into details about the plot because I enjoyed discovering it for myself and will leave it for you to do the same.
4 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy for review.



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Outsider by Stephen King

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.



The police and DA's office think they have an easy open and shut case guaranteed to lock Terry Maitland away, but for every bit of proof they have, there is mounting evidence that he could not possibly be the killer. This turns into a whodunit of epic proportions but with a deeply disturbing supernatural element to spice things up even further. For me personally, the last decade or so of Stephen King books have been pretty hit or miss. This one is a hit and I mean right out of the ballpark. There were literally no points in the story that dragged. If anything it barreled along at a break neck speed leaving me barely able to catch my breath from one shocking development to the next.
5 stars

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gothic Horror Stories : The Best Horror Classics

Gothic Horror Stories: The Best Horror Classics is a selection of the finest short fiction by the all-time horror masters. Featuring short stories from the best writers of the horror genre, including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pushkin, W. W. Jacobs, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Every horror story is a visit to a nightmare world. What's interesting is that these are nightmares we enter by our own will. Mountain City Books is a publisher specialized in anthologies of the best short stories throughout history. Our mission is to offer hard-to-find titles at affordable prices.


This anthology contains 5 classic horror stories.
The first is "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was easily my favorite in the bunch and is about a woman who seems to be unraveling on a forced "vacation" for the good of her health by her doctor husband.
Next is "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs, a classic which has evolved into many incarnations in  books, TV, and movies. You have probably read it or seen it in some form or another. It is a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for, as we have always been told you just might get it!
The third story is "The Squaw" by Bram Stoker. I confess to never having read any of Stoker's works beyond Dracula, and while this story pales in comparison it was an ok read. To sum it up I would say it was to due with vengeance. The fourth story is "The Queen of Spades" by Alexander Pushkin and I will admit to skipping through bits of this one because I just couldn't get interested in it. Last but not least is "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe in which a man attempts to come to the aid of his childhood friend who has told him he is feeling quite ill and uneasy in his gloomy and mysterious home.
4 out of 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy for review

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Moor by Sam Haysom

It begins with a ghost story around a campfire. Teenagers out on a walking trip, trying to act brave in front of each other.

But as the walk gets underway and the boys begin to fall out, odd things start to happen.

Noises in the night. A severed rabbit’s foot outside someone’s tent.

Soon, the boys begin to disappear.

As panic sets in and a storm approaches, the remaining boys must band together to face a darkness not even the local ghost stories could help them predict.



The book begins with newspaper clippings spanning several years that show why Rutmoor National Park may well be a place to avoid. Over the decades there have been quite a few deaths and disappearances. Sometimes bodies are found.. sometimes people just vanish without a trace.
The story moves back and forth between the present day, when someone (I was not sure who at first) recollects a camping trip in Rutmoor over a decade ago and the events of that trip when he, along with a small group of 13 year old boys and one of their dads were spending a weekend walking through Rutmoor and camping there. The story is occasionally interrupted by further news clippings concerning mutilated pets. This all added to my confusion a bit and I wasn't sure I wanted to keep bouncing back and forth between the present day and that long ago weekend. It wasn't until I was over 20% through the book that it began to pique my interest, and what had begun as a slower build up than I normally enjoy held me captivated. I'm glad I stuck with it. I think you will be too.
4 out of 5 stars.

I received an advance copy for review.


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trail of Blood – Murder Short Stories

Trail of Blood – Murder Short Stories: The Best Horror Classics is a selection of the finest short fiction by the all-time horror masters. Featuring short stories from the best writers of the horror genre, including Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Franz Kafka, William Hope Hodgson, and Ambrose Bierce. Every horror story is a visit to a nightmare world. What's interesting is that these are nightmares we enter by our own will.
 Mountain City Books is a publisher specialized in anthologies of the best short stories throughout history. Our mission is to offer hard-to-find titles at affordable prices.

This book contains 6 classic stories by various authors. The first 2 are  Edgar Allan Poe tales "The Tell-Tale Heart" which has always been one of my favorites and the slightly lesser known "Hop-Frog" which I also enjoyed
The third is "From Beyond" by H.P. Lovecraft. I have never really been a Lovecraft fan but I know many will love this story.
"The Moonlit Road" by Ambrose Bierce was the only story I had never heard of before. In it a man recalls the day he learned of his mother's death, and then we hear the circumstances from both parents point of view. "The Goddess of Death" by William Hope Hodgson is a chilling tale of a small town living in fear of a statue that is said to come to life and murder the residents. "The Penal Colony" by Franz Kafka is the longest of the stories and just not suited to my taste. This is a decent collection for those who are just discovering the classics or those who would like to revisit them.
3 out of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy for review.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jurassic Florida by Hunter Shea

FLORIDA. IT’S WHERE YOU GO TO DIE.
Welcome to Polo Springs, a sleepy little town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to live—if you don’t mind the hurricanes. Or the flooding. Or the unusual wildlife . . .

IGUANAS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.
Maybe it’s the weather. But the whole town is overrun with the little green bastards this year. They’re causing a lot of damage. They’re eating everything in sight. And they’re just the babies . . .

HUMANS. THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
The mayor wants to address the iguana problem. But when Hurricane Ramona slams the coast, the town has a bigger problem on their hands. Bigger iguanas. Bigger than a double-wide. Unleashed by the storm, this razor-toothed horde of prehistoric predators rises up from the depths—and descends on the town like retirees at an early bird special. Except humans are on the menu. And it’s all you can eat




When I saw this cover and read the description I was hoping it would be along the lines of Hunter Shea's Mail Order Massacre trilogy. (which I loved) This one was just not as fun for me. Even though I just this minute finished reading it I can not even remember the name of a single character. I think of them as the old man, the teenage mayor, the family, and the gardening lesbian couple. This was just an ok read for me. It lacked the humor and the terror I was expecting.
3 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Camden, NJ, 1948. When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth's, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute―unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

Based on the experiences of real-life kidnapping victim Sally Horner and her captor, whose story shocked the nation and inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write his controversial and iconic Lolita.
  


While not a "true crime" this compelling work of historical fiction based on real people and events broke my heart in a million pieces. In 1948 when 11 year old Sally Horner was abducted and held captive for 21 horrific months, news did not travel so quickly then as it does today. There were no amber alerts to cell phones, no world wide web on which to upload pictures of the missing and their captors, no national sex crime registry in which to keep track of the location of known child molesters. So although some characters are the invention of the author it is all to easy to imagine the real Sally losing all hope as her captor is able to keep her in his control for nearly 2 years staying one step ahead of the police and running to another state every time they get a lead on what state she might be prisoner in. This must be only a glimpse into the true heartache and suffering of Sally and her family which the author so deftly brings to life. With that I would like to leave you with this actual newspaper clipping of the real Sally, that you may think of her as you read.
5 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Chasing Ghosts by Glenn Rolfe

The Cobbs were ignorant woods-people that died off and left nothing to fear. Locals in Naples, Maine think they know this story. But are they wrong?

Luke Howard and his mom move to Naples and Luke’s eager to make new friends. When Jason and Davey invite him out to the abandoned Cobb place for a game they call “chasing ghosts,” he’s ready and willing. However, the boys will come to discover that some vacant houses are better left to die alone.

Meanwhile, a punk band set to play in a rented cabin out of town feel eyes upon them. Somebody’s watching, but not their usual audience. When their lead singer strays too far from the group and disappears, his band mates set out in the darkness to find him.

Police Chief Walt Henderson is about to discover that there’s more going on out in the woods of his town than he ever imagined.

Chasing ghosts is more than just some children’s game.



If you are into slasher in the woods type horror this one's for you.
There's another party at the Marston cabin in the woods tonight. Everyone is welcome, but be warned, all this loud music and activity has attracted the attention of someone else hiding in the woods. Someone who likes to party in a much deadlier way. This was a quick read and the action starts nearly immediately.

I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Retreat by Mark Edwards

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.
  

Lucas Radcliffe is struggling to finish his horror novel. Well more accurately he is struggling to get any of it done. He returns to the town of his childhood and checks in to a newly opened writers retreat owned by Julia, a sad and lonely woman who has lost her family 2 years prior. There are only a few other writers staying at the retreat and it seems peaceful and comfortable enough other than the strange noises and occasional singing that can be heard coming from what should be an empty room. Lucas can't really focus on his novel as he gets more involved in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Julia's daughter and the supposed town witch in the woods who will steal a child every 35 years.
This was an intriguing mystery that hooked me right away, although as it drew closer to what I thought would be the conclusion it did slow down a bit. Ultimately it delivered a satisfying ending.
4 out of 5 stars

I received an advance copy for review.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

In the riveting new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love and Something Borrowed, three very different people must choose between their family and their values.

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.


When the gossip first reaches them, Nina and her husband Kirk are having a typical Saturday night, which for them consists of being honored at yet another gala event. Rumor has it that their son has taken advantage of an unconscious girl at a party by taking and sharing a sexually explicit and racist photo of her.
As Nina tries to find out what really happened at this party, she also begins to find that she never really knew her husband at all. His solution is to throw money at the problem to make it go away.
This domestic drama is quite relevant in today's world and shows that there are some things you just can't buy with all the money in the world.
4 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bullied To Death? By Judith A.Yates

On September 5, 2015, in a public park in LaVergne, Tennessee, fourteen-year-old Sherokee Harriman drove a kitchen knife into her stomach as other teens watched in horror. Despite attempts to save her, the girl died, and the coroner ruled it a “suicide.” But was it? Or was it a crime perpetuated by other teens who had bullied her?

Sherokee’s short life and tragic death created a national media and social media frenzy much of it centered on sensationalism rather than the truth. Meanwhile in LaVergne, the community sought answers to questions about who, if anyone, should be held criminally responsible for “bullying.”

Award-winning author and criminologist Judith A. Yates peels back the layers of sensational news coverage surrounding a girl’s death, and in context with national interest in the phenomenon of internet bullying tries to answer the question of whether Sherokee Harriman was BULLIED TO DEATH.



This is a fact based account of the life and death of Sherokee Harriman, a 14 year old girl who lost her life far too soon. The question mark in the title would seem to be because nobody was charged in her death, it was not ruled that her death was a result of the bullying though it does seem to have been a factor. Much of the book was about her family life and did not really focus that much on bullying.  Sherokee had a hard time at school and was picked on by her peers, but she also had a difficult home life, a dysfunctional family, had been molested, was diagnosed bi-polar and had threatened to kill herself on numerous occasions when she did not get her way. Nobody but Sherokee can ever really know for certain whether she meant to die that day, or whether this act was a cry for help that just never came. There is some mention of her having YouTube and other social media accounts, which made me want to check to see if any were still online. I did find some of her videos which are still there, though I wish I had not watched them because they left me feeling very sad for her. I'm just not sure what the author was going for here.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ghost Virus by Graham Masterton

Samira had been staring into her mirror all morning before she picked up the small bottle of sulphuric acid and poured it over her forehead. She was a young woman with her whole life ahead of her. What could have brought her to this? DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel of Tooting Police suspect it’s suicide. But then a random outbreak of horrific crimes in London points to something more sinister. A deadly virus is spreading: something is infecting ordinary Londoners with an insatiable lust to murder. All of the killers were wearing second hand clothes. Could these garments be possessed by some supernatural force? The death count is multiplying rapidly. Now Jerry and Jamila must defeat the ghost virus, before they are all infected.


Well.. that was different! I'll say that for it.
The cringe factor starts immediately as a young woman melts her face off with a bottle of acid purposely poured over herself, and dies a grisly painful death all due to wearing a jacket from a second hand shop. Oddly she seemed to be the only one affected in this way by the "ghost virus." The others who tried on the second hand clothes developed murderous and cannibalistic traits against others instead of themselves. I guess the story could have been too easily wrapped up if everyone had only killed themselves.
This was a gruesome, gore fest of a read, and whether or not you like  it may depend on your willingness to sacrifice logic and realism for the sake of enjoyment.

I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Clowders by Vanessa Morgan

Clervaux, Luxembourg. This secluded, picturesque town in the middle of Europe is home to more cats than people. For years, tourists have flocked to this place – also known as “cat haven” - to meet the cats and buy cat-related souvenirs.

When Aidan, Jess and their five-year-old daughter, Eleonore, move from America to Clervaux, it seems as if they've arrived in paradise. It soon becomes clear, though, that the inhabitants' adoration of their cats is unhealthy. According to a local legend, each time a cat dies, nine human lives are taken as a punishment. To tourists, these tales are supernatural folklore, created to frighten children on cold winter nights. But for the inhabitants of Clervaux, the danger is darkly, horrifyingly real.

Initially, Aidan and Jess regard this as local superstition, but when Jess runs over a cat after a night out in the town, people start dying, one by one, and each time it happens, a clowder of cats can be seen roaming the premises.

Are they falling victim to the collective paranoia infecting the entire town? Or is something horrible waiting for them? Something unspeakably evil.

Aidan and Jess' move to Europe may just have been the worst decision they ever made.


First the good..
This was a creative and creepy tale with a decent back story that tells the legend of this cursed village. Personally I love stories about creepy little towns with strange inhabitants who are all in on a secret that leaves the newcomers in peril.
This picturesque town of Clervaux delivers that along with a demonic being who will take revenge on anyone who kills a cat. The main characters are Aidan, a controlling, selfish, yet weak willed veterinarian who expects his wife to just go along with every whim he has, and Jess the put upon wife who can't be bothered to stand up for herself..
The not so good..
The characters behavior sometimes came across as unnatural. There were some strange choices that defy the logic of what someone would do in certain situations. Some things just lacked a natural flow and resolution, like angry villagers chasing you with murderous intent but then you get home and..nothing. I guess they gave up and went home. It didn't really say.There were also some strange bits of narrative, for example "He plucked a strand of hair from behind her face and put it tenderly behind her ear."
All in all not a bad story, and some very creative ideas.
3 out of 5 stars.
I received a complimentary copy for review.

 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

In this book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader.

Mr. Comey served as director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama. He previously served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. deputy attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush. From prosecuting the Mafia and Martha Stewart to helping change the Bush administration's policies on torture and electronic surveillance, overseeing the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation as well as ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Comey has been involved in some of the most consequential cases and policies of recent history.
  


If you watch the news at all or read the 1 star Amazon reviews by people who appear not to have read the book you will be led to believe this is a book about Trump, and bashing him, or outing him as unfit in some way. Especially if you know that the RNC has gone out of their way to create a website just ahead of the book release for the sole purpose of Comey bashing. So let me bust that myth. This is not a book about Trump. There are no big jaw dropping Trump secrets here. This is a book about James Comey, from his early childhood until the here and now. Comey touches on childhood memories, being bullied, later on participating or at least turning a blind eye to bullyng himself. He speaks on his experience being home alone with his brother when the "Ramsey Rapist" broke into his house. He tells you how and why he decided to pursue law as a career instead of becoming a doctor. There are humorous anecdotes about his first job in the grocery store and yes some about his final days as FBI director. You do not have to be a fan of Comey or any of his decisions to enjoy this book. You may or may not be satisfied with his explanation of why he decided to make such public announcements on Hilary's emails, but that is a small part of this book. Personally I was not satisfied and he does admit that others may have handled it differently. If you are only looking for bombshells this book is not for you. By the time it gets to the visit to alert Trump to the salacious allegations the book is 70% over, because as I said this is not a book about Trump.
Even if I do not agree with Comey's decisions to publicly give his opinion on one candidate while withholding the fact that there is an investigation surrounding the other even with the "classified info" that he says we still do not know about I was still able to enjoy this book. I agree with his assessment in the last televised interview he gave, that if Comey is an idiot he is at least an honest idiot.
4 out of 5 stars from me.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Paranoia Tango by Ray Garton

Some claim we are living in the “last days.” Some believe that extraterrestrials have been controlling world events for ages and now, having grown weary of us, are hitting the reset button. Others suspect that a sinister cabal has somehow wrested control from the hands of all the world powers and are steering us toward doom. The only thing everyone agrees on is this:

Something is not right. Something seems to be sucking the hope out of the world.

Hector Graham sees it in the gradual death of his hometown, Seabreeze, where he was born and grew up, where he married and raised a son. He sees it in the arrival at night of strange children who go door to door, demanding to be let inside. For some, the children bear gifts . . . but they come with a terrible price.

Jeff Duggins sees it in the sudden disappearance of an online friend known as Lizard Man. Jeff and his friend Darryl take a road trip to Sacramento to check up on Lizard Man and make sure he’s okay. They are concerned because he’s been making some strange claims about a pet iguana that has grown to enormous size and started to talk . . . and say some scary things.

Ray Garton brings his unique brand of fear to these two novelettes of modern dread in the digital age . . . a time when nothing is as it seems and everyone has a theory about what’s really going on.

The music has begun. It’s time to dance the . . . PARANOIA TANGO.


Paranoia Tango contains two creepy stories "The Last Days of Seabreeze"
and "Lizard Man Dispatches" based on urban legend and the crazy world of conspiracy theories.

I am a sucker for creepy kids in horror, be it books, movies, or urban legends. I think it goes back to my fear of dolls as a child. So Seabreeze was my favorite  as the mist rolls in and the town is taken over by those  black eyed children that have been all the rage since the 90s.
I'm not as big a fan of conspiracy theories or reptiles but somehow when you combine them it just works. It's easy to ignore people who go on and on about Roswell and the Illuminati but I suppose if a lizard wanted to bend my ear on the subject I would sit up and take notice!
5 stars from me.
If you can get hold of a copy give it a read, mine was a limited edition copy and I'm not sure if they're still around.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

From the No.1 bestselling author of HOW I LOST YOU, which Clare Mackintosh called 'utterly gripping', comes a chilling new novel. Perfect for fans of Louise Jensen's THE SISTER and Katerina Diamond's THE SECRET, Linda Green and Paula Hawkins.

Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.
It's her job, as a psychiatrist - and it's always been her role as a friend.
But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.
But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.
And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . .


Karen, Bea, and Eleanor have been the best of friends since they were kids. Karen was always the one Bea and Eleanor could count on, come hell or high water. One day a threat presents itself to this friendship, in the form of a new patient who seems to know far too much about Karen and the lives of her friends. Wanting to protect them as she has always done, Karen struggles with how much information she is able to share since giving away too much would breach patient confidentiality. Tensions mount under the stress of too many secrets that even these best of friends have kept hidden from each other, and the dangers that lurk may threaten not only friendships but lives.
This was a brilliant psychological thriller full of suspense and domestic drama.
5 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Sound of Broken Ribs by Edward Lorn

Lei Duncan has it all: the ideal life, the perfect career, a loving husband. What more could someone ask for? It is with this in mind that Lei takes her morning run.

Belinda Walsh has just lost it all: her home, her husband, her sanity. Everything she’s known to be true is a lie. It is with this in mind that she goes looking for something—or someone—to destroy.

When the lives of two strangers intersect, something will be born of the connection. For one of these two women, the truth of the world will shift and morph into something powerful and dangerous. A darkness of the mind. A rip in sanity.

And something will peek through that darkness, beckoned by the sound of broken ribs.



I have never read an Edward Lorn that I didn't enjoy. There are very few authors I can say that about.
The Sound Of Broken Ribs is as twisted as it's title. I'm not sure there's a lot I can say without giving away too much plot so I will stick with how it made me feel, because for me the best books are those that make you feel something.
For the briefest moment I felt sympathy for Belinda who had just had her ordinary hum drum life ripped out from under her, and then BAM I spent the rest of the book wanting to beat her to a pulp for making me feel sorry for her. Lets face it, lots of us have at some point been screwed over by a man we expected to live happily ever after with, but we didn't pull a Belinda.
The depth and scope of Lei's pain literally made my heart hurt. The suspense of not knowing for sure whether there were supernatural elements afoot or who would survive to the end kept me up turning pages until long past my bedtime. The ending was spectacular.
5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Gorilla in My Room by Jack Ketchum


Description
 

Jack Ketchum is back with a brand new short story collection, full of the horror and terror we've come to love and expect from the author Stephen King has called, "one of the best in the business."

What Ketchum has crafted in these stories are portrayals of the starkest, darkest aspects of the human condition. These stories are enthralling, expertly constructed, and very very powerful. Some will put a lump in your throat. Some will have you squirming. Some might be so intense and disturbing that they leave you no choice but to put it aside for awhile, catch your breath, and finish when you've worked up the guts.

This is fiction that does far more than "entertain," and it goes far beyond what we expect when we read "horror." No haunted houses here, no pitchfork-wielding devils with horns on their heads. The only monsters are the very worst kind: humans.

Table of Contents:
Introduction by Edward Lee
Gorilla in My Room
The Western Dead
Bully
Listen
Polaroids
Squirrely Shirley (with Lucky McKee)
Group of Thirty
Winter Child
Cow (with Lucky McKee)
The Transformed Mouse
The Right Thing
Awake
That Moment
Oldies
Seconds

Shortly after this book was published, we lost Jack Ketchum. I put off reading it for a while because I hated that it would be the last of his work that I would ever read, and I was not ready for it to be over. Now I wish I had started it sooner so that I could have asked him what in the world the title story was about. I didn't know him in person, but we were Facebook friends, and had I asked he would have answered because that is the kind of guy he was. He always had time for his fans, It was probably genius and whooshed right over my head? I don't know but it was a head scratcher for me. I loved the rest. My favorites were Squirrely Shirley, Group of Thirty, Winter Child, Cow, Oldies, and Seconds. Writing this review is harder than I expected it to be. The world has lost a master story teller. Thank you for the fears, the tears, the suspense and the gut wrenching horrors over the years.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Description


I enjoyed The Breakdown and Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris so I already knew that this would be a good read for me as soon as I saw her name on it.
I love being right!
Finn was head over heels for Layla from the minute she wandered, lost and lonely into his life and interrupted his plans. He was devastated when she disappeared.
Time may forge ahead but do we ever really escape the past? Finn had a secret all those years ago  that caused him to lie to the police when Layla went missing in order to avoid being a suspect.
B.A. Paris has a knack for turning domestic bliss into a suspenseful roller coaster ride. I was over halfway finished before I suspected the real twist, and even then the ending was a bit of a surprise.


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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer.

That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted.

Before his admission to a care home for dementia

Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip.

Only she's not his daughter and, if she has her way, he's not coming back . . .

Because Carl's past has finally caught up with him. The young woman driving the car is convinced her passenger is guilty, and that he's killed other young women. Including her sister Rachel.

Now they're following the trail of his photographs, his clues, his alleged crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. Confesses to any of it. To discover what really happened to Rachel.

Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he's guilty of nothing and she's the liar.

Either way in driving him into the Texan wilderness she's taking a terrible risk.

For if Carl really is a serial killer, she's alone in the most dangerous place of all


Grace has never gotten over the loss of her sister who disappeared all those years ago. She believes  Carl Feldman is responsible for her murder. Carl has after all been on trial for murder before. These days Carl is in a halfway house, supposedly with dementia, but Grace is not so sure he isn't faking. She hatches a plan to pose as his daughter, visiting him often so that it won't seem suspicious when she wants to take dear old dad on a road trip one last time. Grace finds out more than she ever expected to, and we find out that there is far more to Grace than just a grieving sister.
There were lots of twists and surprises to this suspenseful story.
4 out of 5 stars
I received an advance copy for review.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rise of the Hearts by Antoine Bonner

Nathaniel's always been a loser—his only friend is his sister, and girls don't want anything to do with him. But when he's given a miraculous gift that allows him to attract the girl of his dreams, he realizes that a gift can also be a curse.



I was under the impression that this was a YA horror although it did not specifically say so, it just sounded like it from the description. After reading it I must say it is not suitable for a younger audience, and I am hard pressed to think of anyone it may be suitable for. It is childish, but it is not for children.
The description of the book sounded appealing, but this story starts off poorly and gets worse as it goes on. The "miraculous gift" does not occur until halfway through the book, and the ending is so abrupt that I assume there will be a sequel that I will not be sticking around for. The characters are not likable and the dialogue is weak and unnatural. I can not recommend this to anyone. As a side note to the author... the effect you are attempting to describe is accomplished with a sip of hot coffee, or alternating hot coffee with ice water. Cigarettes don't heat up your mouth, they just give you bad breath.

I received a complimentary copy for review.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell

On April 15, 1912, three women climbed into Lifeboat 21 and watched in horror as the Titanic sank into the icy depths. They were strangers then…
Con artist Charlotte Digby lied her way through London and onto the Titanic. The disaster could be her chance at a new life—if she hides the truth about her past. Esme Harper, a wealthy American, mourns the end of a passionate affair and fears that everything beautiful is slipping from her grasp. And Anna Halversson, a Swedish farm girl in search of a fresh start in America, is tormented by the screams that ring out from the water. Is one of them calling her name?
Twenty years later, a sudden death brings the three women back together, forcing them to face the impossible choices they made, the inconceivable loss, and the secrets they have kept for far too long.


The first third or so of this book tells the captivating stories of three young women with very different backgrounds, and how they came to be on the Titanic that awful day in history when so many people lost their lives. This was my favorite part of the book. The middle is where we learn how their lives turned out in the aftermath of the sinking, by which time I was still enchanted with Anna, but growing tired of Charlotte. The last part of the book is where we learn through a flashback, what it was like for them that harrowing night in the lifeboat. Although this is a work of historical fiction it felt quite realistic to me and in line with some of the true life accounts I have read concerning the way passengers were treated according to class and the lack of emergency training provided to the crew, along with the insufficient amount of lifeboats.

4 out 5 stars from me.
I received an advance copy for review.

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

Description

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.

THE WOMAN IN THE BLUE DRESS by Heather Herrman
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.