Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Review: Beautiful Ugly: And Other Weirdness

Beautiful Ugly: And Other Weirdness Beautiful Ugly: And Other Weirdness by Thomas S. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What shines for me in this collection (and recalling other short stories, novellas, and novels I have read by this author, this quality is present throughout his oeuvre) is thoughtfulness. Mr. Flowers KNOWS his characters, and clearly he not only spends time writing their stories--he spends an immense amount of time and THOUGHT in identifying each, from core to their external behavior and environment in which they live, move, and have their being.

Let me proffer some examples, without revealing:
"The Ascension of Henry Porter" is ostensibly a story of curing terminal illness and setting death Into pause mode . Sounds admirable! Seems desirable! Pray you never find yourself in the implacable clutches of the evil scientific mastermind of the Alcove Corporation: death will be the least of your worries; in fact, death will be impossible. This story scared the living blazes out of me--even though I'm not likely to ever be in a similar impasse.

Then there is the eponymous "Beautiful Ugly," a story whose character depths kept me in tears, both on behalf of the protagonist, and also grieving for a society, contemporary and historical, which cannot encompass, much less tolerate or respect, the unknown. I had to pause my reading and walk away for a bit.

These are but two examples out of eleven stories, each of which deserves careful and consideration. Watch this author: he is truly going places, but unlike a shooting star, his path is ever upward.

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Review: Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story

Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story by Karl Beckstrand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pure delight! I love the concepts, I love the illustrations. Gives a lot of astronomy concepts in a brief narrative list, almost poetic. I also appreciated its diversity.

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Review: Manchester Vice

Manchester Vice Manchester Vice by Jack Strange
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MANCHESTER VICE by Jack Strange

If you're on the lookout for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, Noir, look right here. MANCHESTER VICE is a "Noirvella" from Jack Strange, the author who brought us ZOMCAT and CELEBRITY CHEF ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, among others. This story involves a character arc in reverse, a revelation of devolution. Our protagonist loses his trust, his integrity, and eventually his humanity.

Additionally {and all to the better in my estimation}, protagonist Brad Sharpe is the protagonist for "fecklessness." This guy is so feckless as to border on pathetic! Imagine, a degree in criminology, a crime beat journalist for umpteen years; and this immature almost 60-year-old fool, relies on his noted bad temper and his capacity to commit failure after failure after failure, trusting whom he shouldn't (including himself) and just generally proceeding on a Fool's Journey.

If his failings weren't so humorous in a pitying sense, which makes him laughable, Brad Sharpe would be just..pathetic.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review: Meg & Rob's Witch Tricks: Book 1 - The Wicked Stew

Meg & Rob's Witch Tricks: Book 1 - The Wicked Stew Meg & Rob's Witch Tricks: Book 1 - The Wicked Stew by Daniel Shneor
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

How delightful! A spunky little witchling goes to great lengths to avoid her chores. Determining a servant goblin is what she needs, Meg and her devoted sidekick Rob Raven leap into conjuring, with unexpected but delightful results.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Winter's Respite 2018!

Sign up right HERE Winter's Respite is the entire month of January, which neatly coincides (for me) with Vintage Science Fiction month!

I've started the year with:

Vintage Science Fiction: John W. Campbell, THE BLACK STAR PASSES
His early stories, collected in 1953

Contemporary Science Fiction: Pierce Brown, RED RISING

Nordic Noir: MACBETH, Jo Nesbo

Christmas cosy: NOT A CREATURE WAS PURRING (A Paws and Claws Mystery, #5)

SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTS BACK (Charity Anthology for Cancer support)

Also planning on ELMET by Fiona Mosley; DAYS OF NIGHT by Jonathan Stone (read Brian Freemantle' s ICE AGE over the weekend; I so love Antarctica fiction); Alan Dean Foster' s THE ICERIGGER TRILOGY; ELSHAM'S END by H. J. Williams.

Yes, we have themes here: Science Fiction, Ice, and Isolation. What I've Read:

Alone by George Kent See my review HERE 2 for Vintage Science Fiction month:
"The Last Evolution" and
"The Ultimate Weapon", by John W. Campbell

The Last Alchemist by Erik Hamre See my review HERE

Elsham's End by HJ Williams See my review HERE The Dead House by Billy O'Callaghan See my review HERE

Key of Midgard by Sarah-Jayne Briggs See my review HERE

The Unknown Devil by Tom Fowler See my review HERE

Muscat by John Quick See my review HERE

"All Cats Are Gray" by Andre Norton See my review HERE

(Jan. 1-13)

What I've Read
Jan. 14-31

Broken Shells by Michael Patrick Hicks See my review HERE

THE NATURALIST by Andrew Mayne See my review HERE

FATAL FLIP (A Home Renovation Mystery) by M. E. Valid See my review HERE

"The House" by R. Chetwynd Hayes [audio]

"Forest Lodge" by Simon Kurt Unsworth [audio]

"The Church on the Island" by Simon Kurt Unsworth[audio]

"The White Ship" by HPL [audio]

"At the Mountains of Madness" by HPL [audio]

[Also watched an animated video presentation]

"Pickman's Model" by HPL [audio]

"The Shunned House" by HPL [audio]

"Dreaming in Darkness" by R. S. Cartwright [audio]

THE SILENT GIRLS by Dylan Young See my review HERE

"The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle [audio]

"The Red Lodge" by H. E. Wainwright [audio]

"The Death Run" by Destiny Hawkins (short story) See my review HERE

THE SILENT GIRLS by Ann Troup see my review HERE

CREEP by R. C. Greenaway see my reviewHERE

BEYOND NIGHT by Eric S. Brown and Steven Shrewsbury See my reviewHERE

BAD MAN by Dathan Auerbach See my reviewHERE

CRIES FROM THE STATIC by Darren Speegle (short story collection) see my review HERE

"At the Mountains of Madness" by HPL-text reread

13 Novels or Collections, 17 Short Stories As of Jan. 31 PM, I am 30% into TIP OF THE ICEBERG by Ash Hartwell {reading for review} and I have read 542 pages of the 936-page tome THE TERROR by Dan Simmons, about the tragic and lost Franklin Arctic expedition in the 1840's. Not only am I reading this on Kindle, at night I an transported by the wonderful audio version by a British narrator, and have about 15-16 hours remaining (listened to 11). None of these will I complete before January's goodbye.

February will be "Weird Fiction Month," and I intend to read widely among Robert E. Howard, Robert W. Chambers, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, and of course, my icon, H.P. Lovecraft. I also have newly acquired the sequel to Andrew Mayne' s THE NATURALIST, LOOKING GLASS; and a new novel of Nazi-engineered werewolves, WEHR WOLFF CASTLE; also Hunter Shea' s cryptozoological marine horror, FURY OF THE ORCAS, and Kristopher Rufty's collection, BONE CHIMES, and novel, SEVEN BURIED HILL.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Review: Relative Yuletide

Relative Yuletide Relative Yuletide by Martin Reaves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RELATIVE YULETIDE by Martin Reaves

What a perfect story! I loved it! I've long been fond of Mr. Reaves' writing gifts. I started chuckling at the copyright disclaimer, and didn't stop--until events got really serious (Shabam! Pow!) Mr. Reaves possesses a tremendous sense of humor, but he also holds an enormous capacity for hope. The events in this "Christmastime action movie" poise on a knife edge; and if things go wrong, disaster will result. Scary is the rationale behind this lunatic plan; scary is the responsibility the "good guys" carry to stop this tragedy.

My recommendation is: stop at nothing to read this special book.

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Review: We Should Have Left Well Enough Alone

We Should Have Left Well Enough Alone We Should Have Left Well Enough Alone by Ronald Malfi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Lately I've been reading subtlety often, particularly in Horror--well-done, for the most part. But I'm certain I hadn't encountered the Master of Subtlety until I commenced reading Ronald Malfi' s short story collection, WE SHOULD HAVE LEFT WELL ENOUGH ALONE earlier this month [December 2017]. Mr. Malfi has stated that these stories had been written over a long period of time, and that they are non-themed. I believe there is a theme, the Theme of Subtlety, and at this the author is an accomplished master. I recommend savouring this collection especially. Take it one story at a time. If you try to read all in one sitting, your mind will be blown as effectively as the minds of some of Lovecraft' s protagonists when they sought "to know too much."

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Review: Deathlehem Revisited: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity

Deathlehem Revisited: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity Deathlehem Revisited: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity by Michael J. Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Grinning Skull Press's DEATHLEHEM Series makes Christmas just that much more horrifying. Seasonal depression and Tickle Me Elmo have nothing on the varied frights to be found herein. Reading these outstanding tales, you might be wishing Santa doesn't visit this year.

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Review: The Shadow Over Deathlehem

The Shadow Over Deathlehem The Shadow Over Deathlehem by Leslie Linder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Grinning Skull Press consistently delivers Christmas scaries in the outstanding Deathlehem series, offering untold (and often unimaginable) Christmastide looks more terrifying than Halloween! You thought you only needed to be anxious about last-minute gift-giving; now you have to worry about Krampus, walking snowmen, Santa, ghouls, and incubi.

(Individual story reviews soon).

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: Return to Deathlehem: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity

Return to Deathlehem: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity Return to Deathlehem: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity by Michael J. Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the second entry in Grinning Skull Press's DEATHLEHEM series, which makes Christmas Horror a charitable event. It also gives readers frequent doses of the Spooks, some heartwarming, some horror, and a massive dose of entertainment.

"The Shortcut" by Susan Jay: the overarching theme is grief at Christmas, but the story really triggered me, not for that reason. I am distraught over the cruelty of humans, and the lying and betrayal. I won't be specific so as to protect the integrity of the unread story for new readers.

"Bloody Christmas" by Steph Minns: just when you thought all you had to worry about were serial killers, natural disasters, global warming, and pedophiles--well, there are millennia-old dangers too. They aren't pretty and they sure are implacable. Lock yourself in, lock up your children. Stay under the covers and don't peer outside.

"He Sees You When You're Sleeping" by Christopher M. Morgan: Ol' Krampus has nothing on this version of Santa....I love to read theories about the nature and existence of deities depending on believers. Sir Terry Pratchett strummed this theme excellently, as have several others. Here is a new chord in this progression. In the contemporary cultural climate, this Santa makes all too much sense...

"A Merry Little Christmas" by Rose Blackthorn: the Christmas season is all about love, light, and family--and peace. When greed threatens to wreck long-suffering Ethan' s Christmas cheer--and his future-he puts aside his "goodwill toward men" and acts decisively.

"The Wren" by Kevin G. Bufton: an incredibly sad, poignant, moving, village tale, full of history and backdrop and scenery. I want to say, "It didn't have to happen this way," but sadly, the conclusion is probably implacably inevitable. I shall not soon be forgetting this one.

"White Christmas" by DJ Tyrer: why does scary have to be accompanied by sad? Sigh. Maybe that's the nature of true horror. Implacable and unavoidable.

"A Labor Dispute" by Michael Shayne: again,
implacable and unavoidable. Mistakes piled upon mistakes lead to misery and destruction. The way the author weaves in the historical background and vivid setting is impressive. Shades of Harlan, Kentucky's 1930's.

"The Night Before Christmas" by Philip Thorogood: An exceptional tale, scary and poignant. I do love to read of Krampus and of the good-evil dichotomy of Santa and Krampus.

"Survival of the Reddest" by Vicky MacDonald Harris:
Turn "goodwill toward all" and Christmas cheer on its head, think North Pole Arctic Darwinism.

"Awash With the Christmas Spirit" by Jordan Phelps: Sometimes it seems no place is really safe at Christmas Eve or Christmas Day--not even midnight mass. This Christmas Eve service is definitely "awash," but that terror they're feeling isn't a product of the Season.

"What Child Is This?" By Joel Reeves: I think this story left me with anger more than anything; I guess I may have a soft spot after all, and I guess getting angry when evil twists good really isn't so bad.

"Minnie' s Christmas Gift" by Gregory K. Liu : I want a Hellhound for Christmas! I really feared this story was going to bring me a lot more Christmas horror than I wanted--but instead, it proceeded to be just perfect, and adorable.

"Secret Santa" by Chantal Boudreaux: a very effective short story, subtle, leaving protagonist and reader wondering "What if?"

"A Christmas Miracle" by Kerry G. S. Lipp: extreme horror version of "Be careful what you wish for," not for the sensitive.

"A Christmas Remembrance" by JP Behrens: a mother's love is never surpassed nor overcome--not ever...

"No Sugar Plum Fairies" by Steven Bigwood: Quite delightful. I confess to preferring poetic justice ("as ye sow, so shall ye reap"), you know, "just rewards" kind of thing--so this story REALLY pleased me.

"CRACK!" By Gerard Griffin : Confession: Nutcrackers are seriously scary. Give me clover-hooved, goat-behorned, Krampus any day. That stated, occasionally they do have their purpose, as here.

"Split" by Jay Wilburn: Like "A Labor Dispute," this sad tale invokes sins of the fathers being visited upon the sons--except in this case, not the father, and the victim is unfortunately not even a genetic relation.

"Nell' s Game" by Nicole DeGennaro: Oh my goodness, I love the scares and the subtlety in this one! Like a silent stalker, the scares...just...creep....up...

"Cursed Christmas" by David J. Delaney: I looked to this story to be a supernatural one, and in a way it was, but it's also strongly human good vs. human evil, as well. Quite engrossing.

"Ornamentation" by Alys Day: this story is SAD! It's like an entire yarn ball of sad Christmas stories rolled up together. I even felt sorry (kind of) for the protagonist. Sigh...

"The Trap" by Mike Pieloor: I do dearly love my Krampus tales, and in the last few years I've encountered more and more of these wonderfully Christmas-enhancing tales. I love 'em! I also love the deliverance of just desserts. {Smile}

"Killing Christmas" by Mark Parker: this final tale in this Anthology comes out of nowhere and punches, punches, punches! The reader doesn't know where to turn, and neither does the protagonist. Tautly-plotted and masterfully delivered--I loved it! Kudos to the co-editors! The perfect choice to conclude.

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Review: 13 Resurrected: An Anthology Of Horror and Dark Fiction

13 Resurrected: An Anthology Of Horror and Dark Fiction 13 Resurrected: An Anthology Of Horror and Dark Fiction by Amy Bartelloni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

13: RESURRECTED ANTHOLOGY [An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction]

The newest, awaited, entry in the always exciting 13: themed anthology series! Get comfortable and settle in...but oh, please do leave on the lights.

"Death's Proxy" by D. Nichole Knight: grief upon grief upon grief suffuses this story, till you wonder, will there ever be surcease? Read on, because we're all going to be deeply startled. I consider this grimdark.

"Ghost of the Past" by Sara Schoen: scary, scary, scary! I loved the implacability, the buried community and buried secrets, and the almost Biblical visiting the "sins of the fathers" on the sons...and daughters. Truly frightening!

"In Mamma' s Heart" by Elizabeth Roderick: I can't express how much I loved this story! Heartbreaking, terrifying, wonderful! (And I kept thinking about Emmett Till)

"Sundown" by Cat Camille: "If it seems to be too good to be true, then it probably isn't true." As a voracious reader of horror, mystery, and true crime, I return to this proverb often. Here we are again: I suspected the intent in this story, but it is so well and capably prepared I certainly can't complain.

"Executioners" by Byron Lee Ray: they're everywhere--stone-cold killers just waiting for opportunity. But there are also executioners of executioners, vigilantes devoted to ridding the world of murderous scum. A gory, violent, unsettling, tale.

"The Game" by Samie Sands: Very unnerving, in a moralistic sense. Fourteen-year-old Gaby has grown up in the altered world of the AM13 virus, and she can scarcely remember what life before was. She lost all her family, and hardened her heart. Then she discovers that the dead ones {zombies} aren't the true evil. Exposure to this truth reveals her "purpose."

"The Ghost In Me" by Joseph Paul Haines: perhaps "the ghost is me," a visceral tour of existential despair, a 21st century version of a medieval morality tale. What happens to our soul when we are either too self-centered or too weak-willed to serve others in desperate need?

"The Harbingers" by D.A. Roach: subtle horror is the best! A great ghostly story, with heartwarming family feeling.

"House of Souls" by Amy Bartelloni: a surprising and unexpected premise, most intriguing. I applaud our young heroine, strong in character and intention despite her youth and difficult life.

"Manifesto" by Erin Lee: What has two centuries of death done for--or to--America's Founding Fathers?

"Reckoning" by Nykki Mills: Is anything more frightening than the ability of evil to manifest after death?

"Till Death Do We Part" by Joshua MacMillan: Another cautionary "be sure your sins will find you out" tale--or is it? On another level, a "love" that's stronger than death; or, when a ghost won't let go...

"Twisted" by Taylor Henderson: not scary per se, but very, very, spooky. Lynn gives up her career in New York to move to a strange little gated community where resurrection of the deceased accounts for most of the population.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Review: The Night Before Krampus

The Night Before Krampus The Night Before Krampus by Peter Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE NIGHT BEFORE KRAMPUS by Peter Johnson

THE NIGHT BEFORE KRAMPUS is glorious! A contemporary magical fable with overtones of the Brothers Grimm, Old World fables and legends, and even classical Greek and Cretan mythology, this novel is also a medieval-style morality play and cautionary tale. In a contemporary culture that praises youth and "beauty" and the celebration of celebrity while condoning greed and selfishness and closing its eyes to serial killing, genocide, and gun violence, we all need to be reminded of the Bigger Picture: of the true nature of good vs. evil, of the possibilities of the triumph of good, and simultaneously of the microcosm that composes each human life, and of the importance of each choice we each make in discerning good from evil. Wow--this is life-changing.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Review: The Christmas Card Murders

The Christmas Card Murders The Christmas Card Murders by Anthony Litton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE CHRISTMAS CARD MURDER by Anthony Litton

An engrossing British police procedural wrapped in a quaint village-cosy mystery! Utilizing a scary series of killings which may or may not link to an unsolved fatal accident three decades past, the author also manages contemporary social commentary. I found this mystery a quite intriguing page-turner, with a nearly unstoppable killer, gory murders, and that perfect English village background, with family heritage dating back to pre-Norman conquest, the communities, tiny as they are, a microcosm of human joys and failings.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review: The Shuddering

The Shuddering The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: THE SHUDDERING by Ania Ahlborn

I enjoy this author's novels, but although I was reading apace during the middle section, this just isn't one of my favourites. Granted, the horror is implacable--a veritable Juggernaut of implacability, inescapability, and sheer stultifying terror. Granted, the setting is probably my absolute favourite: seriously snowbound in high impassable mountains. But I never warmed to the characters, and the creatures didn't interest me. {Hangs head} It may simply be me--my failure to achieve resonance with the characters or plot. For this reason, I gave it a 4.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: Dolly 3

Dolly 3 Dolly 3 by Jubilee Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: DOLLY 3 (DOLLY TRILOGY) by Jubilee Savage

If you thought DOLLY 1 and DOLLY 2 were extreme (they were!), you ain't seen nothing yet. DOLLY 3 zooms over the top and straight into Hades (in more senses than one). This one is definitely not for the faint of heart or the sensitive or easily offended. That aside, the intrigue maintains, and I could readily imagine the trilogy continuing on.

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Review: The Altar In The Hills and Other Weird Tales

The Altar In The Hills and Other Weird Tales The Altar In The Hills and Other Weird Tales by Brandon Barrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An author unafraid to reveal his roots, Brandon Burrows delivers tales purely Lovecraftian and intrinsically weird. In fact, while reading the eponymous tale "Altar in the Hills," I had to repeatedly check to remind myself I wasn't reading the Master himself {Smile}. That tale resonates for me with the thrill I experience when reading HPL' s "The Whisperer in Darkness." This collection is the first I've read of this author, but it certainly won't be the last.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2018_Bookish_Resolutions_My Challenge

Get my Netgalley percentage up to 76 %

• Read 250 Netgalley books this year

• Read 3 books by debut authors/authors that are new to me each month

• Complete 11 challenges this year

Participate in 7 + read-a-thons

Read 60 books with Winter themes: Winter, Snow, Ice, Snowbound, Icebound, Frost, Frostbite, ad infinitum; or Wintry Climates (Antarctica, Arctic, Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Scandinavia, etc.) {Includes Scandinavian crime fiction}

See my progress at 2018 Bookish Resolutions


2018_Let's Read Indie Challenge_My Challenge

I always read a lot of indie, both through specific authors and some indie publishers, so this challenge is a foregone conclusion. See how many Indie I read in 2018 at 2018 Let's Read Indie Challenge Shelf

Level 6: 51+ books in 2018 And SIGN UP here

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: Dolly 2

Dolly 2 Dolly 2 by Jubilee Savage
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: DOLLY 2 (DOLLY TRILOGY) by Jubilee Savage

This second installment lessens the gore just a bit (but animal lovers, beware!) and leavens with humour and philosophy. Surprisingly, our first-person narrator and protagonist, widow, mother, and killer April Madison, has developed a dry sense of humour and a philosophical bent, along with fresh and frightening new hallucinations. Her hard row to hoe worsens daily (sometimes hourly), but in a testament to the endurance of the human spirit, April keeps on keeping on. The same cannot be said for those around her.

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2018 Blogger Shame Review Challenge_My Challenge


In which Intrepid Reviewer endeavours to provide some closure to my incredibly, indelibly, "late reviews."

I've never counted the total, but I'd like to cover one Late Review per week. So: GOAL = 52.

Anything more is just frosting.

Review: Dolly

Dolly Dolly by Jubilee Savage
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DOLLY by Jubilee Savage

This is the first in a trilogy entitled DOLLY. I read a recommendation of the trilogy in another author's newsletter, and decided to try it. Not only is this book full of character evolution {perhaps devolution}, but this reviewer's opinion evolved too: I started out planning to give it a 4, but by the time I had finished, I decided on 5. Yes, the first-person narrative and the characters' seeming incapacity to use verbal contractions (or prose contractions) is wearying; but that was overcome for me by the leaps our narrator takes in her evolution {devolution} and by her continued wry outlook and intermittent self-awareness. Also, the horror element was handled rather well, and I look forward to reading the two remaining installments. Caution: the gore factor gets really extreme, both from supernatural causation and from human acts. Sensitive spirits may find scenes offensive and disturbing, so be warned.

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Review: Goodnight Blackbird

Goodnight Blackbird Goodnight Blackbird by Joseph Iorillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GOODNIGHT BLACKBIRD by Joseph Iorillo

This is Mr. Iorillo' s third novel. I read these 3 novels consecutively in 5 days. I am very enamoured of this author. But I must admit that by the third novel, the late-30's male finding himself emotionally attached to a 20-something female and putting her off because of the age difference grew a little weary. In GOODNIGHT BLA:)CKBIRD the trope takes a significant twist.

Darren and Jacqueline are both significantly haunted, on multiple levels. Darren bought a home at a quite reduced price, because of Ohio's "stigmatized properties" law. His home had been the site of a multiple domestic killing. Yes, his house is haunted.

Jacqueline' s young daughter died 6 years ago, so Jacqueline refuses to move because she experiences manifestations she believes to be Michelle.

Jacqueline and Darren meet very unexpectedly, and while life for each of them seems to collapse, the two try to form a friendship, possibly more.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

2018_Author-Love Challenge_Graham Masterton


In 2017, I read 9 titles by Graham Masterton (novels and short stories) for an author challenge at Bookbunny Goodreads Group. In 2018 I'm challenging myself to read 36 novels by Mr. Masterton, averaging 3/month.




https://roofbeamreader.com/2017/11/07/announcing-the-official-2018-tbr-pile-challenge/ HERE

12 TBR

AETNA ADRIFT (Complete) by Eric Wecks


BROKEN MONSTERS by Lauren Beukes

DEAD MAN RUNNING by Sharon Stevenson (Raised #1)

DEATH MAGIC RULES by Sharon Stevenson (Raised #2)

DIG TWO GRAVES by Edwin Alexander

GOTHIC REVIVAL by Carson Buckingham

NOT BY WAY OF PUNISHMENT (Canton County Chronicles Mysteries #4) by C. M. Carleton

RED RISING by Pierce Brown (Red Rising #1)

GOLDEN SUN by Pierce Brown (Red Rising #2)



2 Alternate: THE MAZOVIA LEGACY by Michael E. Rose


Goodreads: 2018_official_tbr-pile

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review: Psychomanteum

Psychomanteum Psychomanteum by Joseph Iorillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: PSYCHOMANTEUM by Joseph Iorillo

I discovered this author through his debut novel, THIS HOUSE IS EMPTY NOW, and set out on a personal mission to read all he writes. PSYCHOMANTEUM is equally stunning. Based on the Greek concept of using a mirror to communicate with loved ones (similar but not identical to black mirror scrying), this novel is a story of two characters on parallel lines who occasionally converge, but not necessarily by design. Melissa Chambliss is a 23-year-old Starbucks barista who lost her father at a young age and seeks methods to communicate with him, including the Ouija and psychomanteum. Psychologist and addiction counselor Ben Ridgeway wishes he could contact his long missing sister. The universe puts them on a collision course, then makes both evolve. (This is a Joseph Iorillo novel, after all--there will be character evolution. {Smile}). It's not always pretty, but it is always twisty, and this novel kept me guessing right on through to the end.

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Friday, December 8, 2017

Review: The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror

The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror by William Meikle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE GHOST CLUB By William Meilkle

Subtitled "Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror," this collection will delight fans of subtle horror, aficionados of literary horror, and readers who long for the days of the exceptional storytellers of the lost Victorian Era. Authors such as H. G. Wells, Kipling, and Twain held literary audiences spellbound. Round table storytelling also excelled, in which authors read or recited their own compositions. Similar gatherings constituted collections such as William Hope Hodgson' s excellent Carnacki tales (a character Mr. Meikle has also expanded). Here are fourteen "new" tales "newly" come to light, as by fourteen well-known, revered, authors of the Victorian period. Scare yourself silly, enjoy how each story suits itself to its author personage, and acclaim the gifted William Meikle, whose talents brought us these tales.

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Review: This House Is Empty Now

This House Is Empty Now This House Is Empty Now by Joseph Iorillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THIS HOUSE IS EMPTY NOW by Joseph Iorillo

Finally I find a protagonist I like! Despite his fecklessness (and yes, he has psychological reasons and yes, it's his responsibility to mature), I liked Ray as a character, empathized with him, cheered him on. I really appreciated the character evolution. This is an engrossing novel (a two-session read for me) which is as much about human psychology and maturity and personal evolution as it is about supernatural events and processes. So even skeptics can enjoy it, as well as every stripe of believer. 5 stars is just not enough!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: Snowed in with Death

Snowed in with Death Snowed in with Death by Ruby Loren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SNOWED IN by Ruby Loren

Ruby Loren' s cozy mysteries are both heartwarming and delightful. In this first of the Holly Winter Mysteries, aptly named pianist and amateur sleuth Holly Winter wins a contest, with the prize a stay at the annual get-together of seven outstanding private detectives. The current event is held at a very isolated Scottish manor house, where naturally, the guests, minus one who could not attend, and the event organizer are snowed in. These are purported to be top sleuths, yet all they do is boast and snipe. One by one, they are picked off [shades of Dame Agatha' s fictional house parties] in a fatal game of last man standing.

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Review: Harry Moon Harry's Christmas Carol Color Edition

Harry Moon Harry's Christmas Carol Color Edition Harry Moon Harry's Christmas Carol Color Edition by Mark Andrew Poe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


When a small community succumbs to anxiety, despair, and economic fear, evil makes inroads, promising solutions (and fomenting greed and cruelty). And where evil makes inroads, the good get going. In the once peaceful community of Sleepy Hollow, Massachusetts (NOT the Sleepy Hollow of Washington Irving!) for the past 15 years, Mayor Kilgore has preyed on the economic fears of the townsfolk and turned the community into "every night is Halloween!" To feed his greed, he treats with darkness, and darkness responds.

Arrayed against darkness are 13-year-old eight-grader Harry Moon and 10-year-old sister Honey Moon, and their respective mentors, magic store owner Solomon Dupree, and the town's librarian. In this engaging series, good magic battles against the ever-encroaching spread of darkness, which sometimes seems irredeemable and indefensible. Harry and Honey will encourage middle-graders to "do the right thing," no matter how difficult, no matter the peer pressure.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Honey Moon Scary Little Christmas

Honey Moon Scary Little Christmas Honey Moon Scary Little Christmas by Sofi Benitez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Christmas is supposed to be joyful and loving, not scary and horrendous. It's not supposed to be another version of Halloween....unless you live in Sleepy Hollow, Massachusetts, a small community which is NOT the site of the Headless Horseman, but is run by a mayor who is both evil and greedy. Honey Moon is a force for good, ten years old, and a warrior on the side of the angels. Older brother Harry is a magician--with actual magic. When the Mayor tries to make Christmas Eve another Halloween, Honey and the town librarian decide to bring the real joy of the season.

The Honey Moon series, created by Mark Andrew Poe, is a delightful, engaging, and thought-provoking set aimed at middle-graders, but which can be enjoyed by any age, even adults. "Do the right thing" and "Be where you're needed" are Honey' s mottos, but we could all adopt them.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Review: Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: A Charity Anthology Benefitting the Jimmy Fund / Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: A Charity Anthology Benefitting the Jimmy Fund / Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep: A Charity Anthology Benefitting the Jimmy Fund / Dana-Farber Cancer Institute by P.D. Cacek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP Anthology (Charity) edited by P. C. Cacek and Laura J. Hickman

An outstanding collation, which benefits the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Institute. You can't go wrong being scared by these exceptional stories.

"Mother and Daughter" by Jack Ketchum: a well-written and intriguing story, but so depressing. Not just supernatural horror can be implacable; psychological horror can be too, as acclaimed author Jack Ketchum demonstrates the chains mind and spirit create. Sometimes one's only escape is the only permanent escape.

"Messages" by Errick A. Nunnally: a story of a man with a mission. It's also a story of an old-fashioned individual, one who admires duty, honor, and compassion, who is determined to uphold these old-fashioned virtues in this crass modern age.

"Sleepless" by Mark Steensland: Insomnia--we've all experienced it, some more than others. Stephen King wrote a horror novel about it. Likely few have experienced it in the intensity, persistence, or sudden determined onset, as has this narrator.

"The Vacant Lot" by Thomas Tessier: Oh my. I am very impressed. Wonderfully subtle, amazingly frightening, all the more so for the subtlety! Feckless protagonist, almost self-driven to it. I can see myself in this plot: unoccupied, alone, impelled to explore, to satisfy questions about the "oddness." Scary

"blood, cold like ice" by Doungai Jam: incredibly unnerving tale. I can read extreme horror day in and day out, face the cosmic horrors of Lovecraft...but domestic violence always unnerves me. This perceptive story proves no exception.

"A Life Unremembered" by G. Daniel Gunn: well-done psychological horror, so very sad. Kind of "the road not taken" story--with a major twist.

"Wired" by Elizabeth Massie: Real horror here, both factual and psychological, man's humanity, and the wheel of karma.

"Blue Stars" by Tony Tremblay: I am all over shivers from this one. That is horror: the backstory, the denouement, and oh my the ending. I want to scream from fright. I remember the shopkeeper in King' s NEEDFUL THINGS and I think, this story takes place in New England too. {Shiver}

"Are You Happy Now, Mother?" By John Buja: Tremendously sad, but also frightening. And that poor boy's mother! Herself a horror.

"Nina" by John L. McIlveen: So-totally-scary! Implacable, inescapable, horror. So glad it was still daylight when I read this.

"Housing the Hobblegobs" by Marianne Halbert: implacably scary! I'm so far from childhood, yet this story still quite scared me.

"Inertia Creeps" by Charles Colyott: this story gives a new level of meaning to implacable horror: you want to run, you want to hide, but you can't, your natural human compassion got you into this, and now something devoid of compassion is tracking you..

"Leave Here Alive" by Bracken McLeod: I think this is the first story I have read by this author. Let me tell you: THIS STORY SCARED THE LIVING BLAZES OUT OF ME!!!! Afraid to sleep now! This is far too plausible!

"Sleep Well" by Angie Shearstone: a delightfully scary illustrated version of hypnagogia, symptoms, possibilities, biological causation.

" The Fine Art of Madness " by Gary Frank: seriously Lovecraftian, from the non-Euclidean geometry to the dream intrusions to affecting an artist to the entity, in service to a monster god--this is finely-orchestrated implacable horror. Love it.

"The Beach" by Cara M. Colyott: and here you thought the only dangers at the beach were sunburn, high tides, drowning, and tsunamis. Think again.

"Angel Tears" by Jill Bauman: heartwrenching but uplifting poem..

"Darkness at the Edge of Town" by James A. Moore: this cogent tale has incredible twists, I caught my breath a couple of times, and a powerful impact.

"Would You, Could You, In the Dark?" By Craig Wolf: Still digesting this story, which repeatedly blew me away. Saddening, disheartening, grieving--one wants to shake sense into the protagonist, shout "Go with what you've got, not what you lost!"--and the overtones are beautifully and terrifyingly Lovecraftian. Bravo!

"Wishing Won't" by Richard Dansky: You may now color me officially TERRIFIED. I'll have nightmares!

"The Phobia Where You're Afraid of Words" by Paul McMahon. Empathy came easy for both characters in this story, which made the content and outcome sadder.

"Nightly Ritual" by William D. Carl: I particularly love winter scary stories; when Nature herself is rendered implacable, and no escape is possible because the world is blanketed with snow and ice. Death is always close at hand, from freezing temperatures, no heat source, black ice, snow drifts. This is a beautiful and ultimately terrifying tale of an overwhelming love that turns to terror--whenever there's a terrible snowstorm.

"White Wings" by Mark Morris: Another winter horror. An unhappily married man has finally reached his limit with his philandering wife. He's going to end the marriage, but she and her lover have a more permanent solution in mind.

"The Other Side" by Paul McNally: short but so.poignant. Sometimes we wonder if the grass really is greener, and sometimes love and grief impels us to find out.

"Truth or Dare?" By Bev Vincent: Truth or Dare US usually a simple, sometimes embarrassing, occasionally humiliating game. Usually it isn't injurious, seldom fatal. But when one of the players has a nasty agenda and the ability to back it up, the consequences can be horrifying. A really scary tale.

""Unexpected Attraction" by Matthew Costello: ahh, poetic justice. It's so satisfying. In this story, which is multiply twisty, it's more like poetic injustice.

"The Ritual Remains" by Jonathan Lee's: a marvelously fabled tale of a Mother and a daughter and a Birthday Ritual.

"The End of All Stories" by Trevor Firetog: Ever wonder why you don't remember the end of a bedtime story? It's not because you fell asleep...

"Duality" by Brian Keene: short, sad, extremely twisty and surprising.

"The Lake Children" by Izzy Lee: omg make it stop I am way way too scared. Oh this story is stuck my mind, I'll wake up terrified and alone.

"The Circus Under the Bed" by T. J. Wooldridge: still really, really afraid to sleep.

"1-2-3 Red Light" by Gregory L. Norris: Evil takes the oddest forms, but it's still implacable.

"The Old Men Know" by Charles L. Grant: Classic. No one does it like the Master.

"The Oldest Fear" by Skikhar Dixit: What do we fear from earliest childhood? (Illustration)

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Whole Latte Xmas Reading Challenge Nov. 20-Jan. 7


I've been reading Christmas and Winter books for the Christmas Spirit and Scary Readathon and Christmas Spirit Readathon.

Winter is my favourite season, and I long to live in a locale with actual winter. Meanwhile, I read Winter.

Proposed Reading List:




DEATHLEHEM REVISITED Holiday Horror Anthology

RETURN TO DEATHLEHEM Holiday Horror Anthology


THE SHUDDERING by Ania Ahlborn

BLIZZARD by Ross Lynch

BLIZZARD by H. W. Buzz Bernard





"Icebound" by Morris Kenyon

RAPTURE by Thomas Tessier (not fully winter, but frequently)

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP Anthology [several Winter Horrors]

Ice Storm (children's picture and text)

"Polaris" by H. P. Lovecraft




"The White Ship" by HPL SNOWED IN by Ruby Loren


"The Souls of the Ships" by Brian Freeman


THE GHOST CLUB By William Meikle

PSYCHOMANTEUM by Joseph Iorillo


DOLLY by Jubilee Savage

DOLLY 2 by Jubilee Savage

DOLLY 3 by Jubilee Savage

THE SHUDDERING by Ania Ahlborn









12 TERRORS OF CHRISTMAS by Claudette Melanson



BRUGHT STAR, NIGHT STAR by Daniel Schneor ICE AGE by Brian Freemantle


ALONE by George Kane

"The Last Evolution" by John W. Campbell

"The Ultimate Weapon" by John W. Campbell


Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Norman: The Doll That Needed to Be Locked Away

Norman: The Doll That Needed to Be Locked Away Norman: The Doll That Needed to Be Locked Away by Stephen Lancaster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After 6 decades of immersion in horror, I sometimes think I've "seen it all." Then I find a factual account like this one, and realize there really is something new--and terrifying. I've always found dolls discomfiting, but this former Mattel production--Matty, now renamed Norman--ratchets it up several levels. Paranormal investigator Stephen Lancaster demonstrates how truth is stranger--and scarier--than fiction.

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{Part 2} Dec. 4-Jan. 6

Level 5-6
+ children's

Proposed Reading List:




DEATHLEHEM REVISITED Holiday Horror Anthology

RETURN TO DEATHLEHEM Holiday Horror Anthology

{Winter Horror Box Set-release Dec. 5} THE 12 SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS Boxed Set

Scary Christmas Reprise:
THE LITTLES by Tallulah Grace

(Crime Thriller with the scariest Christmas-Eve home invasion I've ever read)

BAH! HUMBUG! Christmas Horror Anthology

Kids' Christmas:



BAKER' S DOZEN (Collection)




NORMAN [Read Dec. 4] See my review HERE

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP [Nov. 28-Dec. 5] see my review HERE

Ice Storm (children's) [Dec. 5]

Polaris" by H. P. Lovecraft [Dec. 5]

HORROR FROM THE BLIZZARD by Morris Kenyon [Dec. 5]

CHILLINGWORTH MEWS by Anton Palmer [Dec 4-5]


"The White Ship" by HPL


"The Souls of the Ships" by Brian Freeman

THIS HOUSE IS EMPTY NOW by Joseph Iorillo see my review HERE THE GHOST CLUB By William Meilkle [Read Dec. 8] see my review HERE

PSYCHOMANTEUM by Joseph Iorillo see my review HERE GOODNIGHT BLACKBIRD by Joseph Iorillo see my review HERE

DOLLY (DOLLY TRILOGY 1) by Jubilee Savage see my review HERE

DOLLY 2 see my review HERE DOLLY 3 see my review HERE THE SHUDDERING by Ania Ahlborn see my review HERE THE NIGHT BEFORE KRAMPUS by Peter Johnson see my review HERE WASHING MACHINE HOLOCAUST by Alan Spencer

13: RESURRECTED ANTHOLOGY (13 Anthology Series) see my review -anthology-of.html">HERE

THE PEACOCK' S POISON by Ruby Loren (Madigan Amos Zoo Mysteries) see my review HERE

RETURN TO DEATHLEHEM Anthology see my review HERE



See my review HERE

RELATIVE YULETIDE by Martin Reaves see my review HERE 12 TERRORS OF CHRISTMAS by Claudette Melanson

MEG AND ROB'S WITCH TRICKS BOOK 1 WICKED STEW by Daniel Schneor see my review HERE BRIGHT STAR, NIGHT STAR see my review HERE ICE AGE by Brian Freemantle see my review HERE BEAUTIFUL UGLY: AND OTHER WEIRDNESS by Thomas S. Flowers see my review HERE

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review: Rapture

Rapture Rapture by Thomas Tessier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RAPTURE by Thomas Tessier

This is my third consecutive novel by this author, whom I read because he is a talent. I really enjoyed reading this novel, as I have his other work, due to this. As with SHOCKWAVES, I truly disliked the protagonist, Jeff Lisker, so I amazed myself at how well I enjoyed the novel. Mr. Tessier is superb at character definition, as well as at plots both amazingly twisted and twisting. His plotting is exceptionally imaginative, and his ability of characterization would make authors of literary fiction proud.

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Review: The Fates

The Fates The Fates by Thomas Tessier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE FATES by Thomas Tessier

This is my fourth novel by this author [and fourth consecutive] and so far THE FATES and WICKED THINGS are my favourites. Neither has certain characters who gripe me, as do SHOCKWAVES and RAPTURE (in the first, Byron Matthews, obsessed crime-fighting District Attorney.; in the second, single-minded and equally obsessive Jack). I quite liked and admired the protagonist in WICKED THINGS, and I easily empathize with the characters in THE FATES, many of whom find themselves confronted with events impossible to predict, imagine, or comprehend, sometimes with deadly consequences.

THE FATES also has somewhat of a Lovecraftian overtone. The disaster that overtakes the community of Millville, Connecticut, is unknowable, fickle, undeniably cosmic, fits into a given individual's or group's frame of reference, demonstrates no concern for humans, animals, plants--and is terrifyingly implacable. Like Lovecraft, this novel is both horror and science fiction.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Wicked Things

Wicked Things Wicked Things by Thomas Tessier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WICKED THINGS by Thomas Tessier

A very fast-paced and highly suspenseful novel, WICKED THINGS is a first-person narrative by Jack Carlson, an almost middle-aged single insurance investigator. Jack works for an investigative consortium in New England. His latest case is an investigation into 16 "accidental" deaths and subsequent insurance claims, on 16 policies sold by one independent agent, to 16 different companies. Jack finds a peaceful, well-kept small community, almost "too good to be true." A very isolated area, with strange chants, wild gangs of adolescents, strange lights in the sky and strange lights in the ground and earth tremors. Added to the statistically improbable death rate are dismemberments and disappearances. Soon Jack is in over his head, and in a denouement that resonates with the horror of Thomas Tryon' s HARVEST HOME, outsider Jack Carlson finds the true meaning of community involvement. Author Thomas Tessier demonstrates a powerful flair for subtlety in horror, and provoking stories that won't be readily forgotten.

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Review: Wicked Things

Wicked Things Wicked Things by Thomas Tessier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Review: Shockwaves

Shockwaves Shockwaves by Thomas Tessier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SHOCKWAVES by Thomas Tessier

What a subtly horrifying novel! Amazing! The author gently balances routine "normal" reality with some distinctly spooky stuff, which is all bound up with crime and with railroaded "justice" (no mercy and very little common sense) and with dreams of a good life, and failure, and seeking for love; all these "normal" human components, while all the time in the background are these monsters--and they're not all "criminals." Sometimes the wolf in the sheep pen looks just like a "good guy," and sometimes the wolf is a charm-dispensing, possibly supernatural, entity wielding a sharp object. Serious thought-provoking here!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: The Wilderness Within

The Wilderness Within The Wilderness Within by John Claude Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: THE WILDERNESS WITHIN by John Claude Smith

Descent into madness, or willing embrace of the madness pre-existing within; LSD flashbacks, or last-stage alcoholism' s Korsakoff Syndrome; blowing wide the doors of perception {nod to Aldous Huxley, William Blake, and Timothy Leary} or some supernatural event/presence/process? Let the individual reader decide. In this literary horror, two bestselling authors, one popular and talented comedian, and one musical artiste, combine in a minute of madness, a waltz of macabre, a tango of grotesqueries. Lovecraftian frissons awaken a dance of cosmic horror, and as above, so below.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: O Little Town of Deathlehem

O Little Town of Deathlehem O Little Town of Deathlehem by Michael J. Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: O LITTLE TOWN OF DEATHLEHEM: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity (Anthology, Grinning Skull Press), edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves

Every publication I've read from Grinning Skull Press, whether novels, novellas, or anthologies, has been delightful: both satisfying and scary, thought-provoking and memorable.

"One of His Own" by Catherine Grant: I have to call Krampus, the half-demon, half-elf bugaboo of Christmas, the hero in this special tale. Reading of the horrors humans inflict on one another, I couldn't help but cheer him on {"Yes, take that one! Save the animals! Save the innocents"}. Some of his chosen chilled my blood {shiver}. Plus the author treats us to a wonderful arc of character evolution!

"Christmas Wine" by Matt Cowan: Oh my--color me very seriously snow-chilled. This tale is frightening, very much so; my bones feel as if I've spent the night locked outdoors in a snowfall and my teeth are chattering. Scrooge is lucky all he had to contend with were ghosts.

"Home for the Holidays" by D. Alexander Ward: Not your happy holiday reunion, oh no. I feel like this story turned me inside out. Wildly imaginative, terrifying, a fine balance of human evil and something beyond. Don't read alone.

"The Ghosts of Christmas Past" by Richard Farren Barber: So chilling--who among us wouldn't change the past if only we could? What if we could change past events? Would we be willing? Would we be allowed?

"Deck the Halls" by Chantal Boudreau: Gruesome but satisfying, Christmas horror with karma. As ye sow....
"All I Want For Christmas" by Raymond Gates: Really, there are worse events than writer's block. One would be disappointing your loving child; another would be...well, read and find out. {Shudder}

"You Better Watch Out" by Randy Lindsay: I have a special soft spot in my heart for true poetic justice and karma (probably why I like Krampus tales). This story offers a thoughtfully intriguing take on belief (and yes, I really liked it).

"Saint Nick Sticks" by Peter White: another story about belief, again specifically the intense belief only children seem capable of, and about holiday karma..

"With Their Eyes All Aglow" by Jeff C. Carter: Scary. Scary. Scary. Implacable horror in a "what goes around, comes around" fashion. Or more apropos, "will the circle be unbroken." {Shudder}

"Shop Till You Drop" by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin: a cautionary tale about Christmas--beware your addiction to busyness and greed. Gory but not overdone, and delightfully humorous as well. Bertram is a treasure.

"Antiphon" by John Biden: let us not forget what "Santa" is an anagram for...a thought-provoking short tale with a cautionary riff..

"A Christmas To Remember" by JP Behrens: a stomach-churner, as much in an emotional/psychological sense. Some "humans" there are who simply exist "beyond the pale." Chilling tale.

"It's the Most Wonderful Crime of the Year" by Nicky Peacock: Oh, that killer ending! It snaps like a bullwhip, stabs like a knife...

"Krampusnacht" by Ben McElroy: an endearing (if you like your horror extreme and gory) cautionary tale. Remember: karma will catch up with you, no matter how many decades it takes...{or, you get what you deserve}...

"Lots of Love, Uncle Billy" by Adam Millard: wow...I loved this! "Be sure your sins will find you out," cautions an ancient proverb--and how true that proves here...

"You'd Better Watch Out" by Mark Onspaugh: not so much horror (well, there are zombies) but deeply, deeply saddening. A finely-tuned tale with the lasting impact of a silent stiletto to the ventricle...or maybe, since it's about Santa, an ice pick in the ear..

"Santa Claws Is Coming to Town" by Rob Ferreiri: this one is both Christmas horror and sad, and I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't spark tears in some readers' eyes...

"Riley and the Big Man" by BC Jackson: I never want to see a Santa again. Ever.

"Ornament" by Christopher Miron.: I don't want to see Santa, now I don't want a Christmas tree. I appreciate the "as you sow, so shall you reap" plotting, but oh gosh, this one is SCARY.

"Holiday Icon" by Michael Thomas-Knight: I don't know which I find scarier: the one-percenters' elitism {shades of the prelude to the French Revolution and even more apropos in 2017 than when this anthology was published}, or the denouement and ending, which scared me senseless. I have visions of Nat Turner and Toussaint L'Ouverture, I hear flames crackling and see plantations burning. {And the soundtrack is Neil Young} Mighty scary.

"Christmas in the Snow" by Rose Blackthorn: The scares do not let up in this Anthology! Despite the idyllic Christmas setting, at home in the pines surrounded by fresh-fallen snow, supernatural danger lurks all around. Some real shivers here.

"Silent Night" by Liam Hogan: The implacability of the horror! No escape! The fear alone is stomach-churning.

"Special Delivery" by Simon Bradley. I so did not see this one coming! Unexpected but I had to chuckle.

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Review: Unspeakable

Unspeakable Unspeakable by Graham Masterton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: UNSPEAKABLE by Graham Masterton

UNSPEAKABLE was literally a one-sitting read! I've long been an admirer of Graham Masterton, and many of his horror novels are favorites. So is this one now {except for the ending, which really perturbed me, like the ending of RITUAL}. UNSPEAKABLE really is not in his horror category; and although there is crime, I wouldn't classify it with his Katie Maguire series of crime fiction. So I'll classify it as "psychological horror," with frissons of paranormal elements.

Our protagonist elicits much empathy; she isn't feckless, but the world sure has seemed to turn against her. Her heart holds a deep well of compassion, constantly battered by the really awful people she encounters, both in her employment in Children's Welfare, and in her personal life. There are some really hair-raising episodes here, and in and around these is woven Native American spirituality and mythology.

In all, I was quite taken with this novel.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review: Nine Eyes: Terror From The Deep

Nine Eyes: Terror From The Deep Nine Eyes: Terror From The Deep by C.J. Waller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: NINE EYES by CJ Waller

I found this horror novel totally engrossing, especially its Lovecraftian overtones, but also its delineation of the several protagonists' emotions against the suspenseful and secret-driven setting.

A small group of friends who fancy themselves investigators of lake monster legends (or debunkers) journey to a very remote village and loch in Scotland, the childhood home of one of the friends, who has lately been plagued by nightmares about the village and loch. It's not only the locale from which his father disappeared, when the boy was just seven...although he doesn't recall, and his friends couldn't know, the loch is a portal, one that must remain closed.

A real page-turner and nightmare inspiration!

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review: Ritual

Ritual Ritual by Graham Masterton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RITUAL by Graham Masterton

RITUAL is a really complex horror novel, and as befits the author, seriously graphic and visceral. As with THE DEVIL IN GRAY and HYMN, the author weaves in history and religion, albeit not the type of religion most of us have learned to expect. An itinerant travelling restaurant inspector, employed by a travel guide, is the feckless protagonist of this story. As is frequently pointed out to Charlie in the course of the novel, he is an individual virtually devoid of purpose. He does his job, which involves constant travelling, but he does not scintillate nor excel. He is divorced, with a fifteen-year-old son he scarcely knows. He by attrition and apathy has failed his wife, his son, and a former mistress.

When Charlie, accompanied by his son Martin, visits a family restaurant in Connecticut, he stumbles upon rumor of a mysterious and secretive "dining society," so of course he must know more. But as with every Lovecraft story, there are aspects of life and knowledge we are better without. Charlie will discover this to his ever-lasting regret.

{Personal note: I do not like the ending. On further reflection, I see that it may fit, and may even in a sense be poetically just; but I don't like it.}

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Review: The Hymn

The Hymn The Hymn by Graham Masterton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HYMN by Graham Masterton

Once again, Mr. Masterton delivers plotting so taut, interwoven with a strong historical background and lesser-known religious traditions. In THE DEVIL IN GRAY, he worked with the American Civil War, specifically the tragic Battle of the Wilderness, near the Confederate Capital at Richmond, Virginia; and with the slavery religion of Santeria. In THE HYMN, formerly published as THE BURNING, he reinstates the Nazi concept of "master race" and racial purity. Then he brings in 19th century operatic composer Richard Wagner, and millennia-old pagan traditions, specifically of the Norse Vikings. This strums chords of elitism and eugenics, reminding that though the Reich ended drastically, the underpinnings of its thought continue, sometimes where least expected.

Of course, because this is a Graham Masterton horror novel, there is also a continuing chord of graphic violence, visceral, explicit, and hair-raising, and the innocent are not exempted. But I found the background rationale--that implacable, no-matter-what-cost, drive to create the Master Race, the superior immortals--far more terrifying than the violent deaths in its cause. There is little more terrifying than fanaticism.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: Rattlesnake Hill

Rattlesnake Hill Rattlesnake Hill by Leslie Wheeler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: RATTLESNAKE HILL by Leslie Wheeler

A cozy New England mystery, simultaneously heartwarming and intriguing, RATTLESNAKE HILL is set in the beutifully scenic Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. Kathryn Stinson, a curator at a private Boston library, rents a rural home on Rattlesnake Hill while renovations are under way at her workplace. She chooses the locale hoping to further investigate missing segments of her genealogy. The more she strives to uncover, the more it seems she is unraveling a nest of snakes, or poking into a hornet' s nest, and she encounters both truth and unexpected danger.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review: The Devil in Gray

The Devil in Gray The Devil in Gray by Graham Masterton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DEVIL IN GRAY by Graham Masterton

The reader's hook commencing this novel is explosive: the first chapter is gory, violent, and the horror is unexpected and oh so implacable. That implacability stays the course throughout this very suspenseful horror novel. I've long been a fan of this author, but I think THE DEVIL IN GRAY must be one of his best. Set in contemporary Richmond, Virginia, the background locale is vividly detailed. Along with the plot (which does rest on suspension of disbelief), the author generously develops character and emotion, and orchestrates evolution for several of his characters, particularly protagonist Lieutenant Dexter Martin of the Richmond Metro Police Department, and his new partner, Detective Tim Hicks, but also for secondary characters as well. Dexter undergoes a full-fledged change of perspective and really, evolves into an entirely new individual.

Mr. Masterton weaves in some of the rich historical background of the locale, specifically the tragic loss of life at the Battle of the Wilderness in May, 1864, and also some of the ugly historic underbelly such as the Ku Klux Klan. Into this tapestry he also weaves a theme of Santeria, the syncretistic spirituality formed from the Yoruba religion of West Africa imported to the New World with slavery, over which the saints of Roman Catholicism were added to disguise the true beliefs and practices from inquisitive or overbearing slaveholders. The result is a deeply satisfying horror novel.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: Into the Black Nowhere

Into the Black Nowhere Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: INTO THE BLACK NOWHERE by Meg Gardiner
(UNSUB #2)

In this second mystery in Meg Gardiner' s new (2017) series, Caitlin Hendrix, former Alameda County, California, Sheriff's Detective, is fresh from both victory and tragedy, and the continuing identify puzzle still disturbs her. At the end of UNSUB, she was instrumental in wrapping up the long-standing case which had trapped and ruined her father, Detective Mack Hendrix. Yet the puzzle remained of an additional, unidentified, killer--the late Prophet's protege.

Tapped for the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, Caitlin is assigned to a new serial abduction case in Texas. As the Prophet in UNSUB bore overtones of San Francisco's Zodiac Killer, the killer in INTO THE BLACK NOWHERE has resemblances to that smooth, charmingly charismatic, vicious killer Ted Bundy. Readers seeking a skin-crawling villain will find that chillingly done right here. Killers who are upfront are bad enough; but those who can charm, who are emotional illusionists, are far more dangerous, because nearly invisible until it's too late for the prey.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review: City of Endless Night

City of Endless Night City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CITY OF ENDLESS NIGHT by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I have devoured the Agent Pendergast novels since the very first. As a faithful reader, I confess to feeling since several novels back that I had gone off the rails. Perhaps it is my questioning if, after 17 installments, the co-authors can create anything new. Well, happily CITY OF ENDLESS NIGHT manages several unexpected twists, a seldom-used plot (although I have read it once in a classic short story), a heaping helping of character evolution (yes, including A. P.), and redeemingly, my most favorite setting. So Pendergast rocks on, although his intensifying humanity I personally find dismaying (although this is my personal viewpoint).

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: UNSUB

UNSUB UNSUB by Meg Gardiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner (UNSUB #1)

I was delighted to discover a new Meg Gardiner series, as I had quite enjoyed reading her Jo Becket series, all deeply psychological mysteries. UNSUB focuses on Alameda County, California, Sheriff's Detective Caitlin Hendrix, daughter of the former lead detective on the long-unsolved serial murder case of the Prophet, more than two decades before. A Narcotics detective, Caitlin is transferred to the Homicide detail at the beginning of a new series of killings mirroring the Prophet's reign of havoc.

Ms. Gardiner carries the reader to hell and back, never settling for an easy solution nor for glossy surface emotions. Indeed, nothing here is easy. Caitlin has to prove herself, as she is a homicide rookie, immersing herself in the cold cases from the Prophet's murders--cases she was first exposed to inadvertently at age nine. As her involvement intensifies, the killer targets her, just as her father, Detective Mack Hendrix, had been targeted by the Prophet. Her home life and her own life are in danger.
I won't say this is a one-sitting reading, but it is a can't-put-it-down, have-to-read-to-the-end engrossing mystery.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Pickman's Other Model

Pickman's Other Model Pickman's Other Model by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Review: Into the Thinnest of Air

Into the Thinnest of Air Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: INTO THE THINNEST AIR by Simon R. Green
(An Ishmael Jones Mystery)

Anytime I start a story which begins "Call me Ishmael. Ishmael Jones." I am over the moon because I am about to embark on a science fiction-paranormal adventure guaranteed to carry me away, in delighted absorption. Mr. Green has a magical talent, immediately suspending disbelief. I love every novel in this series. This time, Ishmael and Penny visit a really isolated inn in Cornwall, situated at the cliff's edge, site of ugly historic murders and many divergent spooky tales. As the evening continues, events transpire apparently proving the tales to be true. Ishmael and Penny persevere to the end, finding opportunities to deliver poetic justice.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: Black Chalk

Black Chalk Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BLACK CHALK by Christopher Yates

There are so many twists in this labyrinthine novel that I felt quite like a pretzel when I finished, but I also came away with a feeling of satisfaction at reading such a deep, rich, story. I can't say I liked or admired some of the characters, and even those I did empathize with had failings (don't we all), but the author's gift absorbed me into the story regardless. At the ending I kept demanding of one of the characters, "Why didn't you? Couldn't you just--?" That didn't alter my enjoyment of the novel, and would have led to some other ending (and I took a personal object lesson from it).

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Review: The House on Hayden Pond

The House on Hayden Pond The House on Hayden Pond by Jessica Monks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HOUSE ON HAYDEN POND by Jessica Monks

An engrossing paranormal with lots of twists and a knock-out reader's hook, THE HOUSE ON HAYDEN POND is rich with emotional depth and character development, and the supernatural elements are truly terrifying. Implacable horror determined on destruction targets neighbors and family members, till one wonders, is anyone safe? Is anything sacred and exempt from terror? That which is dead is not necessarily gone, nor is it impotent. Watch and beware (and don't sleep).

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Christmas Scary!

http://seasonsreading.blogspot.com/2017/11/2017-christmas-spirit-christmas-scary.htmlSign Up

This year, creator Michelle Miller decided to include "Christmas Scary" in her Christmas Spirit Readathon--Read-a-Thon dates: Monday, November 20 at 12:00am CDT until Sunday, December 3 at 11:59pm CDT.

For the Christmas Spirit Challenge, challenge will run from Monday, November 20, 2017 through Saturday, January 6, 2018, Twelfth Night (or Epiphany for the Christians among us), sign up at https://truexmasspirit.blogspot.com/2017/11/2017-christmas-spirit-readingchallenge.htmlSign up

Now, let the CHRISTMAS SCARY Wild Rumpus Commence {With gentle apologies to Maurice Sendak}:




"The Cats of Ulthar" by H. P. Lovecraft [Read Nov. 20]

THE DEVIL IN GRAY by Graham Masterton [Read Nov. 20-21] See my review HERE

"Details" by China Mieville [Read Nov. 21]

"Picnic at Lac du Sang" by Graham Masterton [Read Nov.21]

"Spirits of the Air" by Graham Masterton [Read Nov. 21]

RATTLESNAKE HILL by Leslie Wheeler [Read Nov. 21-22] See my review HERE

"The Fungal Stain" by W. H. Pugmire [Read Nov. 22]

THE HYMN [formerly THE BURNING] by Graham Masterton [Read Nov. 22-23]See my reviewHERE

"The Temple" by H. P. Lovecraft [Read Nov. 23] "Book" by H. P. Lovecraft [Read Nov. 24] RITUAL by Graham Masterton [Read Nov. 23-24] See my review HERE NINE EYES: TERROR FROM THE DEEP by CJ Waller [Read Nov. 25] See my review HERE UNSPEAKABLE by Graham Masterton [Read Nov. 26] See my review HERE


O LITTLE TOWN OF DEATHLEHEM ANTHOLOGY (Christmas Horror for Charity)[Grinning Skull Press] [Read Nov. 25-27] See my review HERE "Camelot" by Graham Masterton

"Reflection of Evil" by Graham Masterton

"The Sympathy Society" by Graham Masterton

"Beyond the Wall of Sleep"by H. P.Lovecraft [Read Nov. 27]

THE WILDERNESS WITHIN by John Claude Smith [Read Nov. 27-29] See my review HERE

"Icebound" by Morris Kenyon [Read Nov. 29]

SHOCKWAVES by Thomas Tessier [Read Nov. 28-29] see my review HERE

WICKED THINGS by Thomas Tessier [Read Nov. 28-30] See my review HERE

"Beneath the Mansion: A Lovecraftian Short Story" by Robin G. [Read Nov. 30]

BREATHE BREATHE by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi [Read Dec. 1] see my review HERE

RAPTURE by Thomas Tessier [Read Nov. 30-Dec. 1]x

"The Other Gods" by HPL [Read Dec. 1]see my review ..HERE

"The Horror in the Museum" by HPL and Hazel Heald [Read Dec. 2]

THE FATES by Thomas Tessier [Read Dec. 2-3] see my review HERE

"Around the Corner" by Jeffrey Thomas [Read Dec. 2]