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.