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


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.