Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Review: Grandghost: A Haunted House Mystery

Grandghost: A Haunted House Mystery Grandghost: A Haunted House Mystery by Nancy Springer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GRANDGHOST by Nancy Springer

I totally loved this engrossing, emotionally involving, thematically multilayered novel! GRANDGHOST deserves far more than 5 stars. It's so impacting, and author Nancy Springer covers so much territory in this tautly woven tale. Beverly Vernon is a gifted artist whose career has focused on children's book.illustrations. Widowed with two almost middle-aged daughters and no grandchildren, she has moved from New Jersey to near isolation in the rural Florida Panhandle, glorying in nature and sunsets and Art. When her agent intimates that Beverly' s acceptance as a children's illustrator may be over, Beverly, who is very much her own person, begins painting an ideal grandchild. Then while cleaning up a sudden discovery of bricks piled at the back of her property, she unearths a skeleton. The consequences, many and varied, and the character evolution (not only Beverly's) are totally engrossing, and will live on in memory. GRANDGHOST is a Best of 2018!

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 17, 2018


. Dangerous Mistakes Tour Banner

Dangerous Mistakes

by Susan Hunter

on Tour May 7 - 18, 2018


Dangerous Mistakes by Susan Hunter

A clever killer. A smart reporter. An unexpected twist.

Small-town reporter Leah Nash investigates a murder no one else believes happened—until a second death signals the killer's first mistake. Nothing is as it seems, and the twisting trail she follows pits Leah against her police lieutenant best friend, her new boss, and even her mother. Still, the smart and smart-ass Leah can't back down. If she's right, she can save someone she loves. If she's wrong, the next victim could be her.

Independent, intrepid and irrepressible Leah Nash can't resist a good story, especially not one that ends in murder. Sharp dialogue, plots that move and storylines full of unexpected turns make this series a fan favorite.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Himmel River Press
Publication Date: November 2015
Number of Pages: 370
ISBN: 1519208588 (ISBN13: 9781519208583)
Series: Leah Nash Mysteries #2 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)

Click to check out Dangerous Mistakes on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Goodreads!!

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

“All of us are dying.”

“Well, yes, I guess I can’t argue with that, Betty,” I said to the slight, white-haired woman seated behind my desk in the newsroom. I had come barreling in to pick up a new notebook, late for my next assignment.

“Oops, sorry, if I could just get into that center desk drawer there.” I gently rolled her away from the desk, edged my drawer out a couple of inches, and stuck my arm into the depths until I felt cardboard. I tweezered out the spiral-bound notebook between two fingers.

“All of us. Dying. It’s not right.”

I slipped the notebook into my purse and moved to scoot Betty back into position, mentally cursing our receptionist Courtnee for sending her back to the newsroom. Again. Betty Meier was a retired nurse in her 80s. Years ago, during my first stint at the Himmel Times Weekly, she often stopped by to drop off an ad for a garage sale, or a press release for the Sunshine Girls bazaar, or to put in a notice for one of the many other groups to which she belonged. But now she suffered from Alzheimer’s, and when she came to the office, it was because she’d wandered away from home. This was the third time in the past two months that she’d ended up here. As I reached round her to slide the chair, she grabbed my arm, clamping on with almost desperate strength.

Startled, I looked down into her upturned face. The spark of life in her faded blue eyes caught me by surprise. I swallowed the placating answer I’d been about to give.

“No, Betty, it’s not right. It doesn’t matter how old we are. No one wants to go into that good night.” I pulled up the visitor’s chair and sat down so we were eye level.

“No, no, no! It’s us. Everyone is dying. Where’s Max? I want to talk to Max.” The bright light had gone out as quickly as it had come, and her eyes took on a cloudy cast again. Her fingers released their grip, and her voice became querulous.

“Max isn’t here anymore, Betty.” Max, the former owner of the Himmel Times Weekly, wasn’t just gone, he was dead. How and why he died was something I didn’t like to talk about, but never really stopped thinking about.

Just then a harried-looking woman in her early 40s burst through the door.

“Mom! I’ve been looking all over for you. Sweetheart, what are you doing here?” She knelt down and patted her mother’s arm. In an aside, she said to me, “I’m sorry, Leah. The caregiver didn’t show up. Mom’s next door neighbor went over, but then her dog got hit by a car, and she had to leave. I rushed out of work. It was only 10 minutes, but when I got there Mom was gone.”

“Don’t worry about it, Deborah. It’s OK.”

“Sometimes she seems fine, you know? The other day, out of nowhere, she said, ‘How was work, Debbie?’ It almost broke my heart. She hadn’t initiated a conversation in weeks, and then for a second, there she was. My mom. And just as quickly she was gone, and there was a confused old lady who didn’t know who I was.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, awkwardly and inadequately. Two things I specialize in, awkward and inadequate. “She keeps saying all her friends are dying.”

She nodded. “I took her to a funeral a month or so ago. I knew she’d want to be there, but I shouldn’t have. She’s been upset ever since.” She turned to her mother again. “Mom, let’s go home. Tandy’s coming over tonight, and we’ll have dinner and watch some family movies. That’ll be nice, won’t it?” She slid her arm under her mother’s and helped her up. As they left, she turned to me. “Leah, again, I’m so sorry. I know we can’t go on like this. It isn’t safe for her.”

“It’s not easy,” I said, though in truth, and thank God, I knew nothing about the pain of the parent-to-child reversal Deborah was experiencing. My mother–maddening, bossy, loving, funny woman that she is–still has full control of all her faculties, and would happily take charge of mine if I’d let her.

I followed Deborah out the door on a run, but I was already 15 minutes late for an interview with the incoming principal at Himmel High School.

* * *

“Really, Courtnee? Betty Meier sitting in the newsroom? At my desk? Why did you take her back there?”

It was nearly five when I got back to the office, and I was a little on the pissy side. Make that a lot. My interview with the principal didn’t go well. He was unhappy because I was late and even madder when I left early. I had to, or I’d have missed shooting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new McDonald’s franchise. That’s the kind of cutting-edge journalism we do here at the Himmel Times. On the way back to the office, the iced tea I’d bought at the drive-through tipped over, and half of it ran into my purse. In fairness, I couldn’t blame Courtnee for that, but I think that fairness is far overrated.

Looking up from her Facebook account, Courtnee gave a shrug.

“I’m a receptionist, Leah. It’s my job to receive. So, I received her into the newsroom. You were gone, and Miguel is out, and Rebecca wasn’t here, and like always, I had to take care of things myself. She likes sitting at your desk.”

Miguel Santos is the other full-time reporter, and Rebecca Hartfield is the publisher and micromanager at the Times.

“The next time she comes in, if there is a next time, ‘receive’ her in reception. Sit her down—out here—and call her daughter. OK?”

“Okaayy.” She gave a flip of her silky blonde hair and turned to read the text that had just pinged on her phone. At the same time a loud static-filled squawk came from the scanner in the newsroom. I couldn’t make out the words, but I didn’t need to, because Rebecca was already out of her office to translate. She’s a cool blonde—calm, measured, methodical. And, oddly, not that crazy about me.

“Good, you’re still here. There’s a working fire at 529 Halston. A residence. I need you to cover it.”

“But I’ve got a Parks Committee meeting. Miguel is—”

“He’s still in Milwaukee. You can do a phone follow-up on the meeting. Is there a problem?”

“No. Nothing,” I muttered. I grabbed the camera and headed out.

* * *

My name is Leah Nash, and in the exciting, competitive, high-adrenalin carnival that is journalism, I operate the merry-go-round. I’m a reporter for a small-town weekly in Himmel, Wisconsin. It’s where I started 11 years ago, and it’s where I landed 18 months ago, after a series of bad career decisions. I had an exit strategy, but it hadn’t come together quite yet.

The fire assignment was no big deal. Except it was. Though I wasn’t about to confide my darkest fears to Rebecca, who, as far as I can tell, has the empathy and emotional range of a Popsicle. The truth is, I’m afraid of fires—to the point of hyperventilating and quaking in my shoes. Have been since I was 10 years old. I never willingly cover one. But sometimes I have no choice.

My hands were sweaty on the wheel, and I was repeating “breathe in, breathe out” in a frenzied mantra as I pulled up. Smoke billowed from the back of a small two-story house. Here and there yellow flames shot red-tipped tongues out the windows. Gray ash snowflakes floated through the air as firefighters wrangled hoses, flooding the fire into submission. Still, I sat in my car, unable to open the door and move closer to the burning house. Hard as I tried not to let it, my mind hurtled back to another fire, a long time ago. I squeezed my eyes tight to shut out the images. A second later they popped back open in surprise at the sharp rapping near my ears. I rolled down the window so that David Cooper could lean in.

“Hey, Coop.”

“Hey. What are you doing here? Where’s Miguel?”

“Rebecca sent him out of town. So, it’s me.” I struggled to put on an air of professionalism as I opened the door and hauled out my camera bag. Coop is my oldest friend and a lieutenant with the Himmel Police Department.

“So, what’s the story? Anyone hurt? What are the damages? Do they know how it started?” I fired off questions, determined not to let him know how hard it was to force myself to walk closer toward the heat of the fire, to hear the snap and pop as it ate through dry wood, the crash as a section of roof gave way.

I didn’t fool him. Coop doesn’t say much. But he sees a lot. Which I find quite irritating when it’s me he’s looking at.

“Al Porter’s over by the ladder truck. He thinks it’s just about under control. I’ll point him in your direction when he gets off the phone. No sense you going over there and getting in the way.”

I try not to let my weaknesses show. If anyone sees what hurts or scares you, it makes you vulnerable. And, in my experience, that’s not a good thing.

I shook my head. “I’m going over to talk to him.”

He looked at me, but didn’t say anything.

“Look, I’m fine.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Don’t patronize me. I hate it when you patronize me.”

“I’m not. Just saying it’s wet and slippery and crowded over there. Call Al over here, and you’d be out of the way. Suit yourself.”

“I will.”

“Oh, I know.”

We could have gone on like 10-year-olds forever—at least I could have—but the fire chief walked up just then.

“Leah.” He nodded and paused to wipe a rivulet of sweat running down the side of his face, smearing ash across his cheek. He had pulled off his yellow helmet, and I could see that his gray hair was wet and curling in wisps. Pushing 60, and about 30 pounds over fighting weight, Al isn’t going to be September in anyone’s Fire Fighters Calendar. But he knows how to run a crew, keep them safe, and put out the fire, and no one is in any hurry to tell him to hang up his turnout gear.

“You’re a little late to the party. But Matt McGreevy got some good shots and video too.”

I could’ve kissed Al and Matt both, but I played it casual. “Oh? Sure, that’d be great. Whose house is it?”

“Old gal by the name of Betty Meier.”

Al picked up on the shock I felt right away.

“It’s OK, Leah. You know her? She wasn’t home. Nobody was. Well, except for one pretty mad cat, but we got her out all right. The old lady was at her daughter’s, the neighbor said. I guess she’s got some dementia issues. Might have left on the gas burner on the stove. But don’t print that,” he hastened to add. “We’re gonna have the state fire marshal in.”

A loud whoosh of water hit the house just then, spraying the charred remains. No flames were visible, but I knew that didn’t mean the fire was out. Some of the crew would be on the scene for a couple of hours to make sure the blaze didn’t start up again.

“She’s wandered away a few times and come to the paper, asking for Max. I talked to her daughter today. I think she’s probably going to move her to a nursing home.” Poor Betty. Losing all her friends, her memories, and tonight it could have been her life. It’s true. Old age isn’t for sissies.

“Yeah. I’d say it’s past time for that. Fire can move so damn fast. People don’t realize how—” He stopped. Looked at me. Looked embarrassed. I helped him roll on past a subject I didn’t want to delve into either.

“For sure. So, who called it in? What’s the damage estimate?” I went through the standard reporter’s litany of who, what, when, where, why questions, and when I had all the information Al could give me at the moment, I asked Matt to email me his photos and video.

Then I packed it in and went back to the office to post a few pictures and a news brief on the Times website. I stopped by the front desk and checked the spike on the corner of Courtnee’s desk for messages. At 6:30 p.m. she was long gone.

I pulled off the notes for me and gave them a quick glance. Nothing looked urgent, so I stuffed them in my purse to read later. In the newsroom, I didn’t bother to flip on the light, just turned on my desk lamp and used the blue glow of the computer screen. It was kind of nice there in the semi-dark. There was no jangle of Courtnee’s unanswered phones in reception, no tap-tap-tap of other keyboards, no repeated clunking of cans of soda coming out of the Coke machine.

Before I started writing, I texted Coop and Miguel to see if they wanted to meet up for a beer and a burger at McClain’s, then I filed a quick story. I uploaded two of the photos Matt had sent to my iPhone and a short video clip. When I finished, I leaned back for a long, satisfying yawn and stretch, my chair tilted and my arms reaching as far back as possible. I was right at that almost orgasmic point of satisfaction, when every muscle was extended and just on the edge of relaxing, when the light clicked on.


I all but tumbled out of my chair.

“Rebecca! Geez, how about some warning when you creep in on little cat feet?”

“Did you get the story?” Her eyes, the color of a blue-tinged icicle, blinked behind her black-framed glasses.

“Already written. Nobody hurt. Betty, the woman who owns the house, wasn’t there. Property’s totaled though.”



“All right, good. Pull the commission story from the front page and run with the fire above the fold—if the pictures are any good. Are they?”

“Matt McGreevy took them. They’re great. It was really nice of him to share them, especially since you fired him last month.”

“I did not fire him. Stringers aren’t employees. They’re independent contractors. Why didn’t you take the photos?”

I flashed back to my near panic attack at the fire, my dithering around the edge trying to get my nerves under control. The shaming fear that had gripped me. “I got there too late. Matt rolled out with the fire department—he does their videography. And he’s a good guy, so he shared them, even though you ‘not’ fired him.”

“I don’t cut costs for fun. It has to be done. That’s my job.” She spoke slowly, as though explaining something to a small child.

I gave in to the urge to get a rise out of her. “I thought you went to journalism school. Not bean counting academy.”

“I was hired to get the Times in better financial shape, and that requires the counting of some beans. It might be easier if you didn’t take every decision as a personal affront.”

Something in her voice made me look up from putting away my stuff. She had taken off her glasses and was rubbing the bridge of her nose. Her shoulders had sagged a little, and for a minute I saw her as a woman with a tough job, who didn’t have the luxury of casual banter with her staff or after-work drinks at McClain’s. Her role was to be the bad guy, the nay-sayer, the buzz-killer. That had to be pretty lonely. She was only 36, just a few years older than me.

“Rebecca, would you like to—”

She cut me off before I could invite her to stop by McClain’s with me. “Don’t forget to turn your mileage in tomorrow. It’s the cutoff, and you won’t get paid this month if you don’t get it in. I’ve already told Courtnee that.”

As part of the general cutbacks and reassignments in Rebecca’s lean and mean vision for the Times, Courtnee had been assigned the task of processing mileage and expense reports. It had proven to be one of the more effective cost-saving measures, because half the time Courtnee didn’t finish the reports in time for us to get paid for the month, which she always insisted was our fault. The other half of the time, she screwed them up, and they didn’t get processed correctly until the following month. I suspected there was some method to Rebecca’s madness in giving the job to Courtnee, in that to some degree, expenses were always deferred.

“Right.” I gathered my things and left before saying something I’d regret. Working at the Times wasn’t exactly a step up the career ladder, but when Max was here it was fun. I missed the camaraderie, the kidding around, the messy, lively, frustrating, fulfilling business of putting out a paper. When Rebecca first started, I thought we might be friends. She’s near my age, she’s from Wisconsin like me, and she’d even worked at the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan, like I had, though at a different time. It just seemed like we’d have a lot in common. Instead, Rebecca sucked the happy right out of the air. If it weren’t for Miguel, I might have done something stupid like I did at the Miami Star Register. Namely, leaving one job without having another waiting. I wanted to play it smart this time. But she was making it awfully hard.


Excerpt from Dangerous Mistakes by Susan Hunter.  Copyright © 2018 by Susan Hunter. Reproduced with permission from Susan Hunter. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:

Susan Hunter

Susan Hunter is a charter member of Introverts International (which meets the 12th of Never at an undisclosed location). She has worked as a reporter and managing editor, during which time she received a first-place UPI award for investigative reporting and a Michigan Press Association first place award for enterprise/feature reporting.

Susan has also taught composition at the college level, written advertising copy, newsletters, press releases, speeches, web copy, academic papers and memos. Lots and lots of memos. She lives in rural Michigan with her husband Gary, who is a man of action, not words.

During certain times of the day, she can be found wandering the mean streets of small-town Himmel, Wisconsin, dropping off a story lead at the Himmel Times Weekly, or meeting friends for a drink at McClain's Bar and Grill.

Catch Up With Susan Hunter On: leahnashmysteries.com, Goodreads, Twitter - @LeahNashMystery, & Facebook - leahnashmysteries!


Tour Participants:

Visit the other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!  



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Hunter. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com gift Card. The giveaway begins on May 7 and runs through May 20, 2018. Void where prohibited.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours


The Haunted Reading Room's Review:

EeDangerous Mistakes Dangerous Mistakes by Susan Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DANGEROUS MISTAKES by Susan Hunter
(Leah Nash Mysteries Book 2)

DANGEROUS MISTAKES is the second in an intriguing series set in small-town Wisconsin on the declining edge of a failing economy, starring a smart, dedicated, obstinate, sarcastic, protagonist with whom I readily identified. Leah Nash is a journalist in her early 30's, a native of Himmel, Wisconsin, with a university degree, who has worked at print journalism in Grand Rapids and Miami. Probably still would be, except she does not suffer fools gladly (not at all) and refused to let a neurotic boss unjustly accuse her of a potentially criminal act. So Leah finds herself back home in a shrinking community, covering small-town events. The six months she allotted herself for a stay in her home town has extended to more than a year, and metaphorically, a ton of water has passed under the bridge. Seems like nearly the entire town has been upended; folks have died, others moved away, secrets and horrifying crimes were revealed. Some things, though, never change: the Sheriff's Deputy and the chauvinistic police officer with whom Leah constantly butts heads, and her lifelong friendship with police Lieutenant Coop, suddenly increasingly unavailable. Fellow reporter Miguel is still trying to fix Leah up...and suddenly there's an unexpected and intrusive blast from the past.

Leah is writing a True Crime account of her youngest sister Lacey' s life and untimely death, and is suddenly presented with a new investigation, one which once again will place her at odds with the local municipal police department and Sheriff's Department as she determines to find the truth about a supposed suicide. Before she can succeed, Leah will repeatedly go "where angels fear to tread," finding herself in multiple dangerous situations and facing sociopaths with criminal connections and a remarkably clever killer who just can't resist taunting Leah as she uncovers more and more of the truth despite the killer's continued misdirections.

I found this mystery totally compelling, as I did the first in the series, DANGEROUS HABITS, and the third, DANGEROUS PLACES. If you're looking for convoluted, emotionally involving, and psychologically compelling, Susan Hunter' s Leah Nash Mysteries is a superb choice.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review: Dangerous Habits

Dangerous Habits Dangerous Habits by Susan Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DANGEROUS HABITS by Susan Hunter
(Leah Nash Mysteries Book 1)

DANGEROUS HABITS is the first in an exciting series set in small-town Wisconsin in a community on the declining edge of a failing economy, starring a smart, dedicated, obstinate, sarcastic, protagonist with whom I readily identified. Leah Nash is a journalist in her early 30's, a native of Himmel, Wisconsin, with a university degree, who has worked at print journalism in Grand Rapids and Miami. Probably she still would be, except she does not suffer fools gladly (not at all) and refused to let a neurotic boss unjustly accuse her of a potentially criminal act. So Leah finds herself back home in a shrinking community, covering small-town events and thankful for a job for the next six months.

The author suffused this series with so much emotions. She's not afraid to peel back the layers of her characters, nor to delve into serious crime and horrifying psychological disorders {might I say, evil}. Much of this story is heartwrenching, both Leah' s backstory and the ongoing events. I hated that such horrors happened, but they're true to life tragedies, crimes, and evil (just read your daily newspaper) and the novel is so fascinating I couldn't put it down, and leaped into the second in the series immediately.

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 10, 2018


Author’s Post ‘SCOUSE GOTHIC’ and its Cocktails.’


When I started writing the first SCOUSE GOTHIC book ‘The Pool of Life..and Death’ I was keen that it reflected a contemporary view of Liverpool, as well as an accurate one of its past. Although I was born and brought up in Liverpool, and had visited family and friends many times, I hadn’t actually lived in the city for many years. Then a chance combination of events allowed me to stay in the city centre for several months and to discover how much it had changed since my childhood.

The Liverpool I remembered was a city of black buildings and bombsites, warm beer and urban decay. The city I now found myself living in was modern and vibrant; the old buildings had been sandblasted and restored; glass skyscrapers had been built on the bombsites and the bars sold designer lager and cocktails.

While living there I decided that I needed to conduct in-depth research of the city’s bars, clubs and restaurants. (We writers must suffer for our art!) It was during one such expedition that I was introduced to Liverpool Gin. It seemed to embody everything that my contemporary vampires would enjoy: it was local and new, but its inspiration was rooted in the past; plus it was a premium organic gin and suitably expensive - It was also excellent. Idid some more research, and found that idea for the gin came from the owner of a pub in Liverpool’s Georgian Quarter, The Belvidere. At the time it was still a small batch of gin and you could buy bottles there. I visited the pub, which is small and friendly, and tucked away in a side street off Falkner Street. I knew instantly that this would enable me to link Melville’s past and present, I could imagine him drinking in the pub in the past and revisiting an old haunt on his return to Liverpool after almost a century.

Then I read a guide book that mentioned that St Peter’s Church in Seel Street had been converted into a restaurant/cocktail bar, the Alma De Cuba and a photo showed that the marble altar with the prominent Tu Es Petrus was still on view. The church was built in 1788, so once again it could have played a part in Melville’s life, both in the past and present. I’d had an idea for a scene were Melville meets another local vampire in a bar. It seemed natural to use a location that he may have known under a different guise in a previous life.

I visited the Alma de Cuba, it was perfect. The walls were painted blood red and huge chandeliers made from stag horns hung from the ceiling. A bar stretched the length of one wall and it was packed with a vibrant crowd (young blood for my vampire)The back wall was dominated by the marble altar and reinforced the sense of the past and present at one. Much of my vampires lived in the present but were a product of their pasts. What would a vampire drink if you offered to buy him or her a drink – assuming blood wasn’t available? I decided it would be a cocktail. But which? In the end I decided to create my own, which lead to the recipes in the back of the book.

Cocktail lovers will recognise them as variations of famous cocktail given a Scouse Gothic twist:

Sheryl’s beloved Liverbird is a Gin Martini with a green olive, or in her case maraschino cherries.

The eponymous Scouse Gothic is a gin Bloody Mary, or Red Snapper, with a few subtlevariations.

The other cocktails had their ingredients inspired by the characters or events in the book, and succeed to greater or lesser extent depending on your personal taste.

I hope if you enjoy the book, you’ll try a cocktail or too and get into the ‘spirit’ of Scouse Gothic.

Review: Sacrificial Lambs and Others

Sacrificial Lambs and Others Sacrificial Lambs and Others by Sheri White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I believe this collection is my first introduction to Sheri White, and what a glorious encounter it is. This author, I can safely say, is quite possibly unique. In 6 decades of immersing in Horror, I can't recall another writer similar. Without a doubt, she is a master of The Twist: that special denouement which turns readers inside out, sinking the story's hooks (or its claws) into readers' memories. In this selection of 12 flash fiction stories and 14 Short Stories, together with an enlightening and intriguing introduction by Monica O'Rourke and a foreword from Ms. White, is comprised a mind-raising experience, one I am so happy to encounter.

Ms. White is also inspiring. After time away from writing, she recommenced full-tilt and submitted. submitted, submitted, often with wins or inclusion in anthologies. She is unstoppable!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life... and Death

Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life... and Death Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life... and Death by Ian McKinney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When I read Vampire Fiction (rarely), I think in terms of the blessings of eternity {books! Time to read whatever I wish, all I wish! and health: no arthritis! No aches and pains and general debility}. I don't think in terms of the issues our protagonist Melville experiences. He, like the proverbial elephant, never forgets, not even after centuries. Also, Melville still has a heart: feelings, emotions, even compassion and empathy. Everywhere he travels or settles, memories arise. Geography, buildings, lives long ended, lost friendships, lost loves.

SCOUSE GOTHIC: THE POOL OF LIFE AND DEATH.... is Book 1 in Ian McKinney' s SCOUSE GOTHIC series, set in Liverpool, England.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


Follow my progress AT Goodreads

and on this post.

Challenge #1 #insixwords Voracious reader, enthusiastic reviewer, pet devotee

Challenge #2

Year of You

Books published in my birth year


THE INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison




My most-remembered early childhood novel:
Andre Norton's LORD OF THUNDER.

We always had tons of mystery and science fiction paperbacks at home, but LORD OF THUNDER and Rosemary du Jardin's lovely novels were Library acquisitions, from our local Carnegie Library.

Challenge #3: Show Your Precious

Rather than just 1 book, here are 1 book and two authors who always give 1000%:


John Connolly's CHARLIE PARKER Mysteries

Tim Powers, always: surreal fabulist and magical realist, absolute genius--the Eric Bloom of authors. Especially for





Challenge #4:

Read Alikes

My former local library offered flyers with this theme:

"If you like "Author," try "author." Sometimes you just don't know, and are waiting on your author to publish a new boom. So tread--or find a new author.

Tim Powers? Try James Blaylock or John Crowley or John Connolly, some Dean Koontz

Challenge #5:

Space Scavenger Hunt You all like a scavenger hunt, right? This one is space themed. Use the guidelines below. Participate as much as you can. This is a challenge, so you don't have to get them all to win. If you have fun, you win. Mercury - Favourite short story/novella

Venus - Favourite book with female protagonist

Earth - Favourite book about nature/nature word in the title

Mars - Favourite book with a red cover

Jupiter - Favourite tome over 500 pages

Saturn - Favourite book with circle/ring on the cover/in the title

Uranus - Favourite book set in winter

Neptune - Favourite book set at sea, on a boat, or under water

Pluto - Favourite books featuring a dog/with a dog on the cover

Moon - Favourite book set anywhere other than Earth

Sun - Favourite book set in summer

Space - Favourite book set in space

I'll be adding to this challenge for days, as I cudgel my memory cells.

Mercury - Favourite short story/novella: "Overtime" by Charles Stride; "Dreams In the Witch House" by H. P. Lovecraft

Venus - Favourite book with female protagonist LEAH NASH series by Susan Hunter

Earth - Favourite book about nature/nature word in the title: RITUAL by Adam Nevill

Mars - Favourite book with a red cover

Jupiter - Favourite tome over 500 pages

Saturn - Favourite book with circle/ring on the cover/in the title

Uranus - Favourite book set in winter: COLDBROOK, Tim Lebbon

Neptune - Favourite book set at sea, on a boat, or under water: ¥INTO THE DARKEST DEEPS by Mira Grant

Pluto - Favourite books featuring a dog/with a dog on the cover: THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN by Garth Stein

Moon - Favourite book set anywhere other than Earth: GREAT NORTH ROAD by Peter F. Hamilton

Sun - Favourite book set in summer

Space - Favourite book set in space: THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES, Arthur C. Clarke; THE ABYSS BEYOND DREAMS, Peter F. Hamilton

Challenge #6:

My Favorite Bout of Books Moment(s)

I always feel pleased when an author I've reviewed takes time to thank me and comment.

I've been reading and reviewing the first 3 books in Susan Hunter' s Leah Nash Mysteries-two I reviewed for blog tours- and each time Ms. Hunter has been generous with kind comments dovetailed to my specific reviews; a very kind person.

Secondly, yesterday's challenge is really helpful: June 1-14 is the SCI FI READATHON at Seasons of Reading

SCI FI READATHON and the entire month of June is my personal "Space Out With Sci Fi" Month SPACE OUT WITH SCI FI Goodreads Shelf, so yesterday's challenge about Space is igniting my ideas.

Books Read: 1) STARTOUCHER by C. J. Idle. May 14.

2) DANGEROUS PLACES by Susan Hunter (Leah Nash Mysteries Book 3)

3) ASTROMOUSE by Steve Smallman - children's

4) RATTLES' GREAT ESCAPE by Arlene White - children's

5) GRANDGHOST by Nancy Springer



Audio Books: "In Amundsen's Tent" by John Michael Leahy

Friday, May 4, 2018

Review: Peculiar County

Peculiar County Peculiar County by Stuart R. West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: PECULIAR COUNTY by Stuart R. West

I've never lived in Kansas, don't think I've ever been there. But then, I don't think too many people have encountered Stuart West' s Kansas either. As Stephen King mutated Maine, so Mr. West has transformed Kansas into a "meta-Kansas," a condition of "Otherness" above and beyond the Kansas normally experienced by residents and tourists.

Perhaps the quintessence of "meta-Kansas" exists in Peculiar County, where nothing operates according to the laws of physics (except possibly gravity) and where being dead certainly doesn't mean you don't have a part to play, something to say, and an axe to grind. Just ask Dibby, age 15. She lives a quiet country life as the town's undertaker' s daughter. Well, it was a quiet life--till young Los Angeles (James) moves to town (and hates it) and the ghost of a tormented, tortured, young boy cries out to Dibby...for relief, for understanding, for revelation, for vengeance? He's not resting in peace and neither is she.

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Review: A Graveyard Visible

A Graveyard Visible A Graveyard Visible by Steve Conoboy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: A GRAVEYARD VISIBLE by Steve Conoboy

A GRAVEYARD VISIBLE is a literate horror story, a surreal portrait of coming of age, pariah status, and intellect. It is also the story of a tiny depressing town, and of a strange--even bizarre--cemetery, where the impossible occurs. Young Caleb lives in a house overlooking that graveyard, with a psychologically and verbally abusive father, grieving his late mother. Mischa is the highly intelligent but much maligned granddaughter of the cemetery keeper. And the cemetery itself? Growing, literally. New funerals almost every night. New burials under antique headstones. A few mourners. And the cemetery just keeps expanding, measurably... A supernatural suspense in a setting that should be impossible..

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Review: Cold Vengeance

Cold Vengeance Cold Vengeance by Brannon Hollingsworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: COLD VENGEANCE by Brannon Hollingsworth (Tenet's Tales Book 1)

Again, first-person narrative, this time by Tenet himself, the paranormal entity whom we encounter in THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE, where he appeared peripherally but essentially. In 1875 Montana, Tenet and a rancher friend intend to destroy a dangerous threat to wildlife, livestock, and settlers, in the snow-packed Montana mountains. A danger as old as the land, inextricably bound to the land, confronts and drastically endangers Tenet and his old friend.

View all my reviews

Review: The Truth Is Out There

The Truth Is Out There The Truth Is Out There by Brannon Hollingsworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

REVIEW: THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE by Brannon Hollingsworth (Tenet' s Tales Book 0)

I quite enjoyed this tale, both for its rampant supernatural elements, and for its truly "feckless hero" protagonist! First-person narrative delivered by an unreliable narrator tightly involved in the action works excellently in a paranormal plot. Matt (no, not Jimmy) Olsen is the quintessential roving reporter for The Orbis Observer. Matt boldly ventures where sensible persons fear to tread, because Matt is a True Believer. He knows The Truth Is Out There {I readily identified with him}, and he's unafraid to track Truth and report it, even when warned away by a paranormal entity. Off into the steamy Malaysian jungles treks fearless Matt, because The Truth Is Out There...

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Review: The Twelve

The Twelve The Twelve by D.E. McCluskey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE TWELVE by D. E. McCluskey

An aspect of fiction I insist on is the "Reader's Hook," something in the first page (or even the first paragraph) that yanks the reader straight inside the story, impelling us to suspend disbelief and live through the characters--no matter what. In THE TWELVE, the Reader's Hook is explosive!! Blew me away! And--propelled me! Not once was I disappointed. Saddened--yes. Perturbed--yes. Gore-splattered--frequently! Yet the story rocked on, carrying me like the white water rapids of a raging out-of-control river, and I adored every minute of the experience.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: Jacob's Descent

Jacob's Descent Jacob's Descent by Sandra Brannan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: JACOB'S DESCENT by Sandra Brannan
(A Liv Bergen Mystery Book 6)

I read Books 1-6 in 9 days; I truly adore this series, and I hope it continues on and on (lots more on which to expand). Liv is recuperating with her family in South Dakota following the tragic losses of Book 5. But where Liv is, often as not will be not peace but controversy, not safety but danger. As in WIDOWS MIGHT, history plays an essential, if ugly role. Liv will face danger, deception, and modern-day feuding families. Like Book 5 and earlier, this was a one-day read, as I just couldn't stop.

View all my reviews

Review: Solomon's Whisper

Solomon's Whisper Solomon's Whisper by Sandra Brannan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SOLOMON'S WHISPER by Sandra Brannan
(A Liv Bergen Mystery Book 5)

One of author Sandra Brannan's many talents is encompassing topical subjects. In the first in this series, she examined culture and Art, delineating the fine narrow line separating genius and insanity. Next she examined the outlaw biker counter-culture, then eco-terrorism and history, followed by child abuse. In SOLOMON'S WHISPER, the topic is Vigilantism, and how it grows out of a dissatisfaction with America's criminal justice system. There is also a continuation of the child abuse thread found in NOAH'S RAINY DAY, and much examination of the protagonist and her personal life. Prepare to have your emotions turned inside out. Ms. Brannan really managed to fool me, so that the denouement I truly did not expect.

View all my reviews

Review: Chilly da Vinci

Chilly da Vinci Chilly da Vinci by Jarrett Rutland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CHILLY DA VINCI by Jarrett Rutland

I love to find children's books that not only provide a neat story, but also offers more: inspiration, encouragement, a moral lesson. CHILLY DA VINCI is a delightful tale of an inventor penguin. Chilly is creative and "thinks outside the box." Like Thomas Edison, his inventions aren't always perfect on the first attempt, but that never fazes him. He just keeps on.

Inspiring, encouraging, and delightful, CHILLY DA VINCI is a good read, both for reading children and reading to younger kids.

View all my reviews

Review: Noah's Rainy Day

Noah's Rainy Day Noah's Rainy Day by Sandra Brannan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

REVIEW: NOAH'S RAINY DAY by Sandra Brannan
(A Liv Bergen Mystery Book 4)

Liv Bergen is an extraordinary protagonist, of whom I've become extremely fond, extremely fast. Born into a mines-owning large family (Liv Is one of 7 sisters and has 2 brothers), she has always been an inveterate puzzle solver, and just can't let a mystery go. She joins the FBI almost accidentally (or is it fate?) and becomes an applauded Special Agent. This installment, like the following two novels, is a tearjerker, also stomach churning because of the plot (although the author doesn't over detail the situation). Liv' s nephew Noah, who has cerebral palsy, but a brilliant intellect and great powers of observation, is the star.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon_April 28, 2018

This is held semiannually, in April and October. Yesterday was my first go. I started 2 hours, 50 minutes late.

I read for 12 hours, 45 minutes (of 24).

I read (in entirety): SOLOMON'S WHISPER, Book 5 in the Liv Bergen Mystery Series By Sandra Brannan;

CHILLY DA VINCI, a children's picture and text story by Jarrett Rutland.

Finally I read 13% of THE TWELVE by D. E. McCluskey, a terrifically engrossing horror novel.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Review: Widow's Might

Widow's Might Widow's Might by Sandra Brannan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WIDOWS MIGHT by Sandra Brennan (A Liv Bergen Mystery #3)

This third installment of the Liv Bergen Mystery Series follows directly and immediately from LOTS RETURN TO SODOM (Book 2), while Liv is preparing to leave Rapid City, South Dakota, to return to home at Fort Collins, Colorado, and employment as Division Manager of the family quarry. But seemingly fate (or Liv's unconscious plans) has other ideas. Tapped by FBI Special Agent Streeter Pierce to become the new handler for Liv' s late friend's FBI trailing (manhunting) dog, Liv has also been tentatively asked to consider applying to the FBI.

While Pierce is assigned temporarily to the Rapid City FBI Office, he is tasked to consider a long series of cold cases attributed to a perpetrator tentatively labeled "Crooked Man." Turns out, the trail isn't quite cold, because the killer isn't finished, and this one directly endangers Liv' s family, and Liv. The plot is immensely convoluted, and clearly demonstrates the famous dictum of historian George Santayana:
"Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it."

View all my reviews

Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Lot's Return to Sodom

Lot's Return to Sodom Lot's Return to Sodom by Sandra Brannan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: LOT'S RETURN TO SODOM by Sandra Brannan
(A Liv Bergen Mystery)

I fell in love with this series from the very beginning of the first mystery, IN THE BELLY OF JONAH. I loved this one also, though due to the subject matter it was personally uncomfortable. Ms. Brennan delves deeply into the psyches of her characters (which I find personally gratifying) and she continues to set up complex patterns and plots.

Protagonist Liv Bergen returns to her home town of Rapid City, South Dakota, for a brief convalescence with family as she continues her recovery from the near-fatality of IN THE BELLY OF JONAH. It so happens that her visit coincides with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and multiple murders. Liv' s puzzle-loving mind can't resist interfering, especially since one elderly deceased was a long-term family friend, and the murdered young lady was shortly to become Liv's brother's beloved fiance.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Review: In the Belly of Jonah

In the Belly of Jonah In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: IN THE BELLY OF JONAH by Sandra Brannan
(A Liv Bergen Mystery, #1)

An extraordinary commencement to what promises to be an extraordinary series, IN THE BELLY OF JONAH is, without exaggeration, unforgettable. Those opening scenes!... Not just those, the entire novel. The empowered female series protagonist, the FBI Special Agents, the victims, the secondary characters--and the Villain. Oh my. Ted Bundy, step aside. This is a novel in which a number of characters are brilliant intellects: Liv Bergen, the protagonist; a few of the FBI agents, and the Villain. So, as with the real-life killers Leopold and Loeb of 1920's Chicago, there's a constant "battle of the minds" which raises the story level (and the stakes). Then, too, a strong cultural framework contains the story's tapestry (Art), balanced by the bizarre psychology and methods of the Villain.

Thankfully I own the first six books in the series and am making this a marathon read.

View all my reviews

Friday, April 20, 2018


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: LAND OF BONES by Glenn Rolfe

By turns heart-touching, heart-tearing, oh! My!, and almost always Scary!, Glenn Rolfe's new collection showcases this author's variety. I'd say there's something here to terrify almost everyone, even the most jaded reader of horror, dystopia, or apocalyptic scenarios. There's also a thoughtful and heartening introduction from author Erin Sweet all-Mehairi, the talented editor of this collection.

I thought I could select one or two stories to call "my favourites" in this set. Didn't work that efficiently. Found I had several. For the "Oh!My!" factor, there's "Wish." (If I was a little more puritanical, and thought Jonathan Edwards was peering over my shoulder, I'd sling this story into the "Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out" folder. Of course, these stories ARE set in New England....)

Then there's the delightfully painful "Not Kansas Anymore," which is set in Maine, there are no flying monkeys but something worse--and you really, really, do not want to see the "man" behind the curtain.

"Fire"--tore me up. I'm sure there will be nightmares. Inescapable and implacable, maximally.

"Simon"--hello, Mr. Lovecraft, and plenty of "Oh! My! Oh! No!" Factor. Very scary. What hurt worst? The little girl voices it. Read and see.

Finally, the story that cast me back to an earlier work by this gifted man, "The Ghosts of Spears Corners." If you've read Glenn's impactful CHASING GHOSTS (a book whose memory STILL wakes me up at night gibbering), race at the speed of light to read "Ghosts of Spears Corners" first {read it in sunlight}.

View all my reviews