WHO

WHO'S COMING DOWN YOUR CHIMNEY TONIGHT?




Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2017: CTHULHU FOR CHRISTMAS

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review: Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity

Frankenstein A Life Beyond  (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity by Pete Planisek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of FRANKENSTEIN: A LIFE BEYOND by Pete Planisek

In the vein of classics of Gothic suspense, including the original novel FRANKENSTEIN: OR, THE MODERN PROMETHEUS by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, this first volume in THE RESURRECTION TRINITY is atmospheric with all the brooding suspense, gloomy settings, and subtle, implacable horror of Mary Shelley's novel. Not only is the horror present due to Victor Frankenstein's insufficiently considered scientific creation. The author's delineation of character reveal the sorry state of two families seemingly cursed, the Frankensteins and the Tierneys.

I recommend this series for curling up on a cold, stormy, night, with the lights dimmed, or for October reading as we lead up to All Souls' Hallow, the night when the veils are thin, and perhaps monsters roam abroad. Lock the doors, and retreat into the depths of horror and hubris. What hath greedy Man wrought?

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review: Disturbed

Disturbed Disturbed by Jennifer Jaynes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DISTURBED by Jennifer Jaynes

DISTURBED, Jennifer Jaynes's fifth novel, is a finely tuned psychological suspense. At first I wondered if I had "gone off" this type of mystery after decades, since I found myself suspecting absolutely everybody. Really! But Ms. Jaynes's intriguing plotting and excellent character studies soon won me over. What's more, she elicited empathy for the real innocents, and she made the story eminently believable, too--which made DISTURBED a winner for me.

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Review: The Changeling

The Changeling The Changeling by Victor LaValle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE CHANGELING by Victor LaValle

Occasionally one happens upon a book which draws one through the valley of the shadow of death, or in some cases, through hell. Such is the case for me, for example, when I read about Reconstruction and the Jim Crow Era, or accounts of the Holocaust. I wasn't expecting this to be the case when I commenced THE CHANGELING. I was fresh from my one-sitting reading of Victor LaValle's extraordinary rendering of magical realism and Lovecraftian delight, BALLAD OF BLACK TOM. I remained over-the-moon from it, and then THE CHANGELING (published 2017) wrung me inside out, plunged me into the depths of emotional agony {I'd become too jaded, and no story had affected me like this in an extraordinarily long time.} THE CHANGELING made me crawl through the depths, all the time crying "Why? Why? Why?" which is certainly never an efficient response to tragedy, which just is. What carried me through my emotional grieving was the outstanding quality of Mr. LaValle's writing, and the incredible nuances of the story he tells. Victor LaValle is a champion writer, and I shall continue to seek out anything he ever writes.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: The Ballad of Black Tom

The Ballad of Black Tom The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by Victor LaValle

I read this incredible, exceptional novella in one sitting, following a Goodreads friend's recommendation in conjunction with his review of Matt Huff' s LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, which I had just finished the day before. I connected my reading of LOVECRAFT COUNTRY with my perusal of BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by reading H. P. Lovecraft' s DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE in between. Both LOVECRAFT COUNTRY and BALLAD OF BLACK TOM vivify ingrained American racism in the 20th century: the first setting in the historically idealized peacetime of the mid 1950's, post Korean War, and the second, in 1924 New York City. BALLAD OF BLACK TOM also reveals America's entrenched anti-immigration fury {an apropos reading indeed}. HPL' s "DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE" also vivifies ethnic bigotry in 1931, mostly against poor or working class immigrants {but unlike the other two books, the author is not reviling, but is likely expressing his own entrenched and unexamined belief}.

BALLAD OF BLACK TOM relates the tale of a young black man in Harlem, an untalented street musician of sorts {oh, shades of Robert Johnson} and rather gifted hustler. But the novella is so much more than history: it is urban fantasy and magical realism, hubris and ego and otherworldly entities. It is simply perfect, and a day later I am still awestruck and speechless. In the words of Tom Petty' s stunning "Mary Jane's Last Dance": "oh my my. Oh h*** yeah."
Oh my, my, indeed.

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Review: PLANET OF THE DEAD

PLANET OF THE DEAD PLANET OF THE DEAD by Thomas S. Flowers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: Planet of the Dead by Thomas S. Flowers

No two ways about it: love this novella! If you're a zombie lover, you can't help but revel-the author loves this subgenre, and his devotion shines in every sentence. If you're convinced you don't love zombies, or you think zombies are long since overdone, or you believe all that could be said about them has been written: think again, seriously. Just
give PLANET OF THE DEAD a try. Read the first page; when you surface for air, you'll realize you read the whole story.

How can I suggest this? I can because I'm a second-category horror fan: I just don't like Zombies. Really, never have. BUT I raced through PLANET OF THE DEAD absolutely as fast as I could, staying up late because I couldn't bear to wait overnight to finish it. That's the effect on a reader who normally walks away from zombie books. Thomas S. Flowers is the exception. This man writes fantastically, and I continue to metaphorically follow him around as he releases his wonderful literary talent to a grateful universe.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of LOVECRAFT COUNTRY by Matt Ruff

I adore this novel from start to finish. Not one aspect would I alter. Seamlessly interwoven multiple themes and levels of meaning provide hours of thoughtful impact, and the novel will not be forgotten. I recommend it to every individual capable of serious thought. {I only wish those who could most benefit from serious reflection would read and comprehend.}

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY is a wild geographic, philosophical, astronomical, and metaphysical roller coaster experience. Yes, all of that, plus a historical journey, a vivid illustration of America's mid-20th century ingrained racism {horrifyingly eye-opening and grossly disturbing}, a serious and revealing character study, an examination of "natural philosophy" {yes, sorcery}, a study of Lovecraft, and a cautionary tale of the inevitable dangers of hubris and elitism. The novel defies encapsulation, and I consider myself privileged to have read {and to own} it.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: Halloween Carnival Volume 5

Halloween Carnival Volume 5 Halloween Carnival Volume 5 by Richard T. Chizmar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOLUME 5
Edited by Brian James Freeman
Stories by Richard Chizmar, Lisa Tuttle, Norman Prentiss, Kevin Quigley , Peter Straub

Included in this new volume are a quintology of stories centered around the Halloween theme, though they range beyond that. For example, Richard Chizmar' s "Devil's Night" commences on October 30, "Devil's Night," or "Mischief Night"--the date immediately preceding Halloween. Norman Prentiss' "The Halloween Bleed" (for this reader, the set-piece and foundation of the quintology) postulates, via a pontificating "old-school" academic, that the cultural celebration of Halloween--not just on the day itself, but the conversation, thinking, retail sales, planning, and so forth--bring the nature of Halloween earlier and earlier in the year, so that the concept of Halloween "bleeds" into much of the year. (Although the professor's premise relates to the Dark Arts, I found it pertinent to the "thought is creation" premise: by virtue of so many of us--readers, authors, journalists, children--thinking in Halloween terms--we are striving to bring to pass that "Halloween Bleed" on which Professor Sibley insists.)

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Review: Halloween Carnival Volume 4

Halloween Carnival Volume 4 Halloween Carnival Volume 4 by Kealan Patrick Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOLUME FOUR
Edited by Brian James Freeman

Each installment of this wonderful series leaves me with yet more stories that are powerfully impacting. Each installment contains four new stories plus one previously published. Editor Brian James Freeman chooses the cream of the crop for each edition. Every story is a winner: excellently written, and tremendously scary. I recommend the Halloween Carnival series as a top choice when you are looking for October scarefests.

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Review: Halloween Carnival Volume 3

Halloween Carnival Volume 3 Halloween Carnival Volume 3 by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOLUME 3
Edited by Brian James Freeman

One of my most admired aspects of this series is that Editor Brian James Freeman so diligently selects a variety of stories which range beyond the routine--stories whose themes and plots burrow into the reader's imagination to linger on at great length. The stories in this installment (which include Kelly Armstrong and Michael McBride) turned me inside out, inspiring a reexamination of reality as it appears to me.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

BLANKY by Kealan Patrick Burke_Review & Tour

"In the wake of his infant daughter's tragic death, Steve Brannigan is struggling to keep himself together. Estranged from his wife, who refuses to be inside the house where the unthinkable happened, and unable to work, he seeks solace in an endless parade of old sitcoms and a bottle of bourbon.

Until one night he hears a sound from his daughter's old room, a room now stripped bare of anything that identified it as hers...except for her security blanket, affectionately known as Blanky.

Blanky, old and frayed, with its antiquated patchwork of badly sewn rabbits with black button eyes, who appear to be staring at the viewer...

Blanky, purchased from a strange old man at an antique stall selling "BABY CLOSE" at a discount.

The presence of Blanky in his dead daughter's room heralds nothing short of an unspeakable nightmare that threatens to take away what little light remains in Steve's shattered world.

Because his daughter loved Blanky so much, he buried her with it."

A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of SOUR CANDY and KIN.

BlankyBlanky by Kealan Patrick Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of BLANKY by Kealan Patrick Burke

Accomplished author Kealan Patrick Burke achieves yet a new level in his newest novella. Horror is rife--both the native horror of the human condition, and otherworldly horror (jump-out-of-your-skin, shudder-and-shiver, screeching terror). But the gift this story gives me (whenever the author wasn't scaring me witless) is character evolution. Mr. Burke superbly develops, delineates, and evolves {some would submit "devolves"} his protagonist through a horrifying series of events.

Stephen Brannigan is a perfectly ordinary man: decent, diligent, warm-hearted. A school-teacher in Columbus, Ohio, Stephen is appreciated by students and principal. He marries Lexi and they produce an adorable infant daughter. Then tragedy: infant Robin inexplicably smothers in her crib. Lexi moves out, and Stephen's formerly colorful world fades to various shades of grayness. This is only the beginning of Stephen's evolution, as life first offers him hope, then more tragedy, then obsession, and unending horror.

In the space of a novella length, I was wrung out, given hope, scared senseless, and pondered the meaning of beyond-death. Author Burke reached my heart and rung all its chords.

Born and raised in a small harbor town in the south of Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke knew from a very early age that he was going to be a horror writer. The combination of an ancient locale, a horror-loving mother, and a family full of storytellers, made it inevitable that he would end up telling stories for a living. Since those formative years, he has written five novels, over a hundred short stories, six collections, and edited four acclaimed anthologies. In 2004, he was honored with the Bram Stoker Award for his novella The Turtle Boy.

Kealan has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a rock band, curriculum content editor, fiction editor at Gothic.net, and, most recently, a fraud investigator. 

When not writing, Kealan designs book covers through his company Elderlemon Design. 

A number of his books have been optioned for film.

Visit him on the web at Kealan Patrick Burke

Monday, October 2, 2017

Review: In the Company of False Gods: Lovecraftian Steampunk Horror

In the Company of False Gods: Lovecraftian Steampunk Horror In the Company of False Gods: Lovecraftian Steampunk Horror by Mark Cassell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: IN THE COMPANY OF FALSE GODS: LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR by Mark Cassell

I wouldn't be surprised if this charming horror novella segues into a sequel, at some future date. "Steampunk Horror" is clearly a subgenre in whose playground author Mark Cassell is invigorated. Not only does he revel in it, he brings it alive and "makes it real." {I know, if I can believe in the Lovecraft Mythos, I can surely acknowledge an alternate probability of steam and mechanisms and clockwork. Indeed.} But my belief is not the issue here; Cassell' s obvious delight in his creation is the point. Speaking of that, creation, invention, and taking pleasure in one's creations are a mainstay of this story. The feckless protagonist, the nearly megalomaniac Lady Greyheron (my favorite), the Automaton, even That From Beyond {my terminology, not the author's} are each wedded to the concept of invention and Changing the World.
We all know, seven decades plus after the first atomic bomb test, that once some doors {or some Portals} are cracked ajar, there's no way to close them again.

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Review: Smiley

Smiley Smiley by Michael Ezell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SMILEY by Michael Ezell

Amazingly engrossing, this mystery-thriller novel set in West Virginia (with frequent intermissions of backstory from L. A., and remembrances of the protagonist' s early life), is deeply layered. Home-town boy, something of a hot shot in the LAPD (or so his police chief father proclaims) returns to tiny Artemis, West Virginia, nestled in the mountains, after his father's demise. Newly appointed police chief, Garrett soon discovers that although he may be a native of the community, other allegiances run deeper, much deeper. Under the surface of a peaceful small town runs drug abuse and manufacture, and a killer unstopped for decades, and a history of rampant abuse and wanton murder.


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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Review: Collected Halloween Horror Shorts: Trick 'r Treat

Collected Halloween Horror Shorts: Trick 'r Treat Collected Halloween Horror Shorts: Trick 'r Treat by Kevin J. Kennedy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Oct. 1

Review: Collected Easter Horror Shorts (Kevin Kennedy and Various)

I've totally enjoyed the first two anthologies in this series COLLECTED CHRISTMAS HORROR SHORTS and COLLECTED EASTER HORROR SHORTS) so I was poised to expect a delightfully horrific romp through the ramifications of horror lovers' favourite holiday. Needless to say, once again, Mr. Kennedy has collated an excellent set of tales to inspire and frighten all of us who love horror well delivered, thoughtful, and scary. I'd like to especially note Kevin Kennedy' s tale of "HalloweenIand," a "traveling" carnival with Lovecraftian tendencies (just read it--you'll see) which we all need to hope never travels to our locale [if it ever visits your town, lock up your pets and your kids and stay home, safe].

Meanwhile, settle in for a rockin' October with a chilled spine as you peruse these tales. Remember, horror writers and storytellers were delivering the scares long before the invention of horror films. So.why not spend your October with books?

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Review: Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror

Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror Quiet Places: A Novella of Cosmic Folk Horror by Jasper Bark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: QUIET PLACES by Jasper Bark

I read an earlier version of this fascinating story in.the lovely 2016 anthology GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND VOL. 1, edited by Steve J. Shaw, which collected rural British horror. This version, according to the author's own account, is greatly revised plus expanded.

Those who've read Jasper Bark' s THE FINAL CUT; BED OF CRIMSON ROSES; STUCK ON YOU; and others know that he is a master indeed when it comes to laying out the gore. But you also know, as with THE FINAL CUT, he is equally accomplished playing in the fields of metaphysics. Here in QUIET PLACES, he strums chords somewhat reminiscent of those in THE FINAL CUT, but here he presents a totally British setting. Indeed, I cannot imagine such a tale occurring anywhere but in isolated, insular, rural, small-village Britain, a land where millennia of history drape the region, and heavy upon the head of scions lies history's burden, and the obligation of duty to one's lessers.

My especial thanks to Mr. Bark for including my humble name in his acknowledgements--indeed an honour.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: Money Back Guarantee

Money Back Guarantee Money Back Guarantee by Hunter Shea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MONEY BACK GUARANTEE by Hunter Shea
(MAIL ORDER MASSACRES)

WOW! WOW! WOW! Talk about pageturner! Talk about speed of light reading experience! Hunter Shea continues to outdo himself!

I didn't breathe while reading. I certainly didn't blink. If the world ended, guess I missed it. Nothing existed for me but the characters and plot in this story.

Three truisms here:

If it's too good to be true, it isn't true. Avoid it.

The customer is NOT always right. Sometimes, the customer is dead.

Yes, Virginia, there really are worse bugaboos than multinational corporations or the government. And they're hungry and like to toy with humanity. Beware.


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Review: Infinite Darkness

Infinite Darkness Infinite Darkness by Patrick Reuman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: INFINITE DARKNESS by Patrick Reuman
and Others

The word I most take away from this book is: SCARY. Scary, Scary, Scary. Yes, indeed. Impressively so.
What author/curator Patrick Reuman accomplishes herein is to gently cocoon stories of other authors, within a framework of his own writing. It's not a format I've encountered before, but it works excellently. The reader doesn't have time to repress the fear from one story before launching into the horror of the next. Titled "INFINITE DARKNESS," that is truth in advertising, because darkness both covers and infuses this collection, and rightfully so.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Review: Shadows Over Main Street Volume 2

Shadows Over Main Street Volume 2 Shadows Over Main Street Volume 2 by Doug Murano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SHADOWS OVER MAIN STREET VOLUME 2 (Various Authors. Editors, Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward)

This extraordinary anthology series continues, with this new volume. It's readily understandable that the Editors, Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward, are Bram Stoker Award nominees. Their ability to identify and collate excellence is definitely gifted.

Often when reading a collection or anthology, I keep a mental running total of my personal favorites, but for SHADOWS OF MAIN STREET VOLUME 2, I would have to list every single entry. Here we have horror: subtle, scary, all-consuming. We have Lovecraftian overtones, of Elder Gods, of cosmic horrors inconceivable, worshipped by incalculable monsters, holding the universe hostage. If your spine doesn't chill, if your hair doesn't stand vertical, if your skin isn't 100% goosebumps_then you must not have read this anthology.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

Something there is about Ray Bradbury' s incredible gift that is unlike any other I've read. I am certain that in some mysterious and unaccountable fashion, reading FAHRENHEIT 451 changed my life--or at least, altered me internally.

This novel made me grieve, for all the lost books, for all the lost knowledge, for the Firemen, who are such instruments of wanton destruction, and for a virtually blinded, "dumbed-down" populace, who would rather watch spectacularly-staged televised "talking heads" on their living room walls, than read or even think.

From the beginning, I knew this is a Dystopiana I never want to enter or experience. However, 64 years after its initial publication, popular culture holds little hope of avoiding it. We can only hope that, as in the conclusion of FAHRENHEIT 451, those there are who will memorize and retain millennia of wisdom, who will retain the wisdom of books.

The story is all about book burning {shudder}, and the title is the temperature at which paper burns. It's also a chronicle of the triumph of the human spirit, despite... It's a chronicle of wonder, and amazement, of the evolution of the imagination, and of change.

Read for Banned Books Week 2017

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

BANNED BOOKS WEEK SEPTEMBER 24-30

BANNED BOOKS WEEK

Banned Books Week is an initiative of the American Library Association and its Office for Intellectual Freedom. This year's event is September 24-30, inclusive. "Challenged" titles are those which an individual or group finds offensive, for whatever criterion. Usually criteria include profanity or obscenity; sexual references; religious or anti-religious connotations; ethnic reference or bias; and inappropriateness for a specified age group (occasionally, for all age groups).

Challenges are attempts to remove or restrict the material. Banning means the challenged title is actually taken out of the curriculum, library, bookstore. Occasionally, books have even been destroyed--yes, in America also. (More on that topic in a subsequent post.)

Find out more here:
Banned Books Week

Review: OCEANS: The Anthology

OCEANS: The Anthology OCEANS: The Anthology by Ken Liu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: OCEANS: THE ANTHOLOGY (Various Authors; edited Daniel Arthur Smith)

What a wonderfully imaginative, creatively speculative, multi-author collection! I loved it! I was intrigued by the title, as I have been an aficionado of the Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic sub-genres for nearly six decades, and because over the last couple of years that interest has focused on rising sea levels, climate change, and Lovecraftian apocalypses. I found plenty to gratify my intrigue here, and OCEANS: THE ANTHOLOGY has found a place on my special rereader shelf. You can't go wrong here, as there is much from which to choose, all of it guaranteed to stretch the imagination.

Kindle release Sept. 26 2017

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Review: 13 Night Terrors: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction

13 Night Terrors: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction 13 Night Terrors: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction by D.A. Roach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: 13: NIGHT TERRORS ANTHOLOGY (Various)

This third entry in Limitless Publishing's wonderful "13" Anthology series is every bit as delightful and engrossing as the first two entries. You want page-turning thrills? You got it here, you truly do. Horror, dark, grief, spooky, shocking, your choice. The added benefit is that this is a multi-author anthology. Got a favorite author or two? Go for it. A weekend free for reading? Sit down and read straight through. Not enough time? Sample a story; the rest will be there when you are ready. Or follow a returning author from one entry to the next. You can't go wrong. But you can take some truly scary pathways.

Release: September 26 2017
.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: Monsters

Monsters Monsters by Thomas Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MONSTERS by Thomas Smith

I loved this horror novella! It was an entertaining one-session read for me, much more due to my enrapture in the story than to length. Protagonist Jack has so much about which he could boast_; but he keeps his knowledge and talents to himself, an effective vigilante for the forces of good. What a refreshing character!

I can't be too specific, in order not to give away the tale. There is gore--in monstrous bucketloads. There are monsters--human and not. There is a wonderfully engaging tale. I expect to think of this one for quite a while.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors

Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors by Todd Keisling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: UGLY LITTLE THINGS by Todd Keisling

When commencing an anthology or a single-author collection, a reader often doesn't know quite what to expect in terms of quantity. Some single-author collections are of such high quality, consistently, that the discerning reader wishes to read, savor, reread, ponder. This year I have been immensely privileged and gratified to discover two magnificent authors new to me, via the venue of their collections: Paul F. Olson, WHISPERED ECHOES, and now Todd Keisling, in UGLY LITTLE THINGS.

Oh my oh my. When I am in the presence of a master, I am rendered speechless. I had requested to review UGLY LITTLE THINGS in advance of release, and from page one was awestruck. A review copy was not enough; I rushed to purchase. There is no single story, no single page, in this collection that is not extraordinarily perfect. I don't know from whence Mr. Keisling derives such a gift; I am satisfied to bask in his application of it.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Review: Carter & Lovecraft

Carter & Lovecraft Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CARTER & LOVECRAFT by Jonathan Howard

I am so totally impressed with CARTER & LOVECRAFT: very faithful to the master, and expands the Mythos in an unexpected direction. I love to read of science, and of metaphysics tautly combined with science. I won't go into too much detail, so as not to spoil the many surprises; suffice it to state, if you love Lovecraft, or love the Mythos, you will surely be awestruck.

For those who aren't Lovecraft fanboys and fangirls, let me say that Jonathan Howard is a superb novelist. Despite the very serious nature of the plot, his tone is laid back, he treats the horrors so subtly, so that they really are startling and frightening because so unexpected! I have in mind several particular scenes, exquisitely undertaken. Jonathan Howard definitely is firmly established in the Lovecraft Mythos pantheon.

I am delighted to discover CARTER & LOVECRAFT. I can't imagine anyone not loving this novel, and I am ecstatically anticipating the release of the sequel in November!

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Review: Ride the Lighting

Ride the Lighting Ride the Lighting by Nick Younker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RIDE THE LIGHTNING by Nick Younker

Reading this short story is a joy and delight, as I have found to be true throughout Nick Younker' s oeuvre. RIDE THE LIGHTNING focuses on two intrepid young men, lifelong friends as close as brothers. Scott and Brandon are intrepid explorers of the unknown: supernatural, paranormal, outre. This story links to the mysterious State Island in Lake Michigan, to the cursed millennia-old Native American Turik, to Lucy, Indiana, and to the disappeared online journalist of the paranormal, Duncan Criss.

Scott and Brandon's quests take them to State Island, where they discover that, like Cthulhu, that which is dead is still extremely dangerous, and for Brandon, their visit becomes a life-altering encounter.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

OCTOBER IS LOVECRAFT COUNTRY!!! FRIGHTFALL 2017

FRIGHTFALL 2017, a creation of Seasons of Reading, is held this year from Oct. 1-31. Sign up here (the definition of "scary" is pretty wide, in case you are a reader who is not an aficionado of horror): FRIGHTFALL 2017

Michelle Miller of Seasons of Reading is also holding a September-long Edgar Allan Poe reading at her blog Castle Macabre, which inspired me to declare my personal version of October reading:

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

In hopes that this Christmas Eve will see Cthhulhu slithering down my chimney, or that Samhain will bring the proper alignment of stars for Cthulhu to awake from his dead and dreaming sleep in sunken R'lyeh, I will spend October in the pursuit of the Master, H. P. Lovecraft, and of his worthy successors who toil in the fields of the Lovecraft Mythos. I will read as much of the original HPL as I can, plus novels, short stories, anthologies, and collections in the Mythos. {Who knows, perhaps I shall be gifted with Cthulhuian dreams?}

October 1:

I collated a list of about 27 books. I read
THE X-VARIANT by Rosemary Cole (sci fi),
FRANKENSTEIN, adaptation by Saviour Pirotta (for Junior Readers)(horror classic),
SMILEY by Michael Ezell (serial killer mystery/police procedural).

October 2:
IN THE COMPANY OF FALSE GODS
PUCKERED

October 3:
CARNACKI, THE GHOST FINDER

October 4:
MESTLVN

October 6:
AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD

October 7:
YOGA NIDRA MEDITATION

HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOLUME 3

October 8-9:
THELEMA By Colin D.Campbell

HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOLUME FOUR

October 9-11:
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY by Matt Ruff

October 12:
"DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE" by H. P. Lovecraft

THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by Victor LaValle

(NEW AGE BUNDLE by Tabatha Zalot--for review

RELIGION HISTORY BUNDLE by Michael Stewart--for review

OCTOBER 13:
DEVIL BOARD by Glen Frost

OCTOBER 13-14:
THE CHANGELING

OCTOBER 14- :
ENCOUNTERS WITH ENOCH COFFIN by W. H. Pugmire and Jeffrey Thomas

OCTOBER 15:
DISTURBED by Jennifer Jaynes (psychological suspense)

OCTOBER 16:
FRANKENSTEIN: A LIFE BEYOND by Pete Planisek

Friday, September 1, 2017

Spotlight: WHITE WALLS AND STRAITJACKETS by David Owain Hughes

Blurb: 

Meet Crystal and Harry – lovers who work in the entertainment business: after murdering three critics for poor reviews, they decide to skip town and head for the coastline.
Once there, they know things will be fine – it’ll be a chance to start fresh. A new beginning. But, before they head to the seaside, Crystal must first visit her sister at a mental hospital – after all, it’s Crystal’s fault her sibling is there…

As they start their journey, Harry discovers a book in the van’s glove compartment –
White Walls & Straitjackets. The author is unknown, but whoever he is, he seems to know a lot about the deadly duo and other nutjobs who inhabit the Rhondda Valleys, south Wales.

As lives and stories collide, Crystal and Harry soon discover escaping the Valleys won’t be as easy as they think. Especially with another serial killer hot on their heels…

Bio: David Owain Hughes is a horror freak! He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly instil in him a vivid imagination. When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women’s lingerie…
He’s had multiple short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews. He’s written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine, and Horror Geeks Magazine. He’s the author of the popular novels “Walled In” (2014), "Wind-Up Toy" (2016), “Man-Eating F****” (2016), and “The Rack & Cue” (2017) along with his short story collections “White Walls and Straitjackets” (2015) and "Choice Cuts" (2015). He’s also written three novellas – “Granville” (2016), “Wind-Up Toy: Broken Plaything & Chaos Rising” (2016).

WHITE WALLS AND STRAITJACKETS will be FREE September 6-10!

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Review: Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1

Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1 Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1 by Patrick Beltran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1
(Anthology) Patrick Beltran, ed.

Ten thoughtful stories by various authors create a venue to take the reader away from consensus reality, to shake us up and make us wonder "Could it really be possible?" I will categorize this collection as both speculative and horror, because of the "Could it be?" factor which operates so strongly throughout. Each story is worth the read (and the provoking of thought), but each reader will undoubtedly find particular personal favorites. For me, those are:
"Jackson House," "Florie Detail," "Dead Letter Department," and "Just After Sunset, In the Second Drawing Room Garden."




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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: Teeth Marks

Teeth Marks Teeth Marks by Matthew Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: TEETH MARKS by Matthew Weber

Don't mistake this wonderful collection as "only" Deep South hillbilly Noir. Don't sell it short. Matthew Weber is quite a talent, and every one of the twelve stories collected in TEETH MARKS demonstrates a gifted writer and polished quality. Of course there is the occasional hillbilly, and the setting is Southern (like a number of authors, Matt Weber builds a not-quite-fictional and very realistic locale in Trappers Valley and Shady Brake and surrounds). Where he especially excels comes in his polish and in his characters. This is a writer who clearly has spent his life to date in observation and understanding of human character and the spectrum of eccentricity.

This author deserves a wide audience, and we readers deserve him. (Studying how he writes would be beneficial, too.) I'm going to be seeking out his books.



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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull, Volume II

Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull, Volume II Cranial Leakage: Tales from the Grinning Skull, Volume II by Mark McLaughlin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of CRANIAL LEAKAGE: TALES FROM THE GRINNING SKULL VOLUME II

An engrossing 17 tales of literate horror to keep you awake at night, peering over your shoulder, identifying sounds out of place, this wonderful second collection from Grinning Skull Press inspires both thought and imagination. I won't pick a favorite, but I will say I am STILL checking over my shoulder, hoping not to see an Ifrit (or a hungry stray cat). I recommend tasting one story at a time, maybe at bedtime--or when home alone--or during a thunderstorm, reading by flashlight after the lights go out. It's really better if you don't turn around.....

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Review: Asylum

Asylum Asylum by Mark Allan Gunnells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ASYLUM by Mark Allan Gunnells

Love 80's gritty horror films? Love campy horror? Love horror with a "Bite"-- no, not vampires: real-life issues--addiction, fear, social anxiety, sexual addiction, love, obsession, terror, bigotry of many stripes, true love and its loss, bitterness, resentment, peace in oneself, lack of internal peace..Author Mark Allan Gunnells bravely approaches these themes, and honey, the Zomb'pocalypse ain't the worst you need to worry over. Check out the additional new piece, "Lunatics Running the Asylum." The dead are actually nicer than the living, and far more considerate.

Mr. Gunnells introduces the Apocalypse in a new venue, a gay club owned and operated by an Earth Mother trans cross-dresser, who wants to help "gay orphans" like our protagonist Curtis, who don't have a strong support group. Now for Curtis (20-year-old university student and virgin. I'm really beginning to love the Feckless Hero category. Curtis is right in this category, but feckless and naive doesn't mean dumb or worthless. Curtis tocks, and so does his sexy heart object Jarvis.

This novella, and it's accompanying short story sequel, are sweet and entertaining, and still scary.

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Review of ASYLUM by Mark Allan Gunnells

Review: ASYLUM by Mark Allan Gunnells

Love 80's gritty horror films? Love campy horror? Love horror with a "Bite"-- no, not vampires: real-life issues--addiction, fear, social anxiety, sexual addiction, love, obsession, terror, bigotry of many stripes, true love and its loss, bitterness, resentment, peace in oneself, lack of internal peace..Author Mark Allan Gunnells bravely approaches these themes, and honey, the Zomb'pocalypse ain't the worst you need to worry over. Check out the additional new piece, "Lunatics Running the Asylum." The dead are actually nicer than the living, and far more considerate.

Mr. Gunnells introduces the Apocalypse in a new venue, a gay club owned and operated by an Earth Mother trans cross-dresser, who wants to help "gay orphans" like our protagonist Curtis, who don't have a strong support group. Now for Curtis (20-year-old university student and virgin. I'm really beginning to love the Feckless Hero category. Curtis is right in this category, but feckless and naive doesn't mean dumb or worthless. Curtis tocks, and so does his sexy heart object Jarvis.

This novella, and it's accompanying short story sequel, are sweet and entertaining, and still scary.

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Guest Post: WHY I LOVE ZOMBIES by Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells is a prolific author whose novella ASYLUM is currently featured.

ASYLUM

My review of the novella will be posted here, tomorrow (August 19). Meanwhile, enjoy Mark's guest post:

WHY I LOVE ZOMBIES

Zombie tales—be it in fiction, television, movies, even video games—has been hot for quite a while, and yet for all the fans of zombie stories, there is an equally vocal contingent of people who decry them. They say that zombie tales oversaturate the market and are actually killing horror. While I understand that certain types of stories aren’t for everyone, I am firmly in the camp of those that love a good zombie tale.

And the more traditional the better! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy when a storyteller employs a fresh and unexpected take on something familiar to the audience, but for me there’s something about the traditional, mindless zombie that just really appeals. I think there are several reasons for this.

First, other traditional horror monsters like vampires and even werewolves often have personality and a tortured quality that make them the focus of the story. That can be quite enjoyable (I’m a fan of all the classic monsters), but with the zombie being such a blank slate, it opens up the story to focus more on the protagonists, the human drama that comes from trying to survive something that cannot be reasoned with, that is driven purely by an instinct to kill. A lack of deeper motivation makes the zombie somehow more frightening.

As an extension of this point, the traditional zombie can often be used as a mere framework for telling very human stories. You get a band of disparate survivors together (trapped in a farmhouse or a mall or a bunker, or in the case of some of my work a gay club or a college dorm building), and then you can start to study group dynamics, personality conflicts, power struggles, bigotry, mental instability. This type of story paves the way for creating a microcosm of society in which you can deal with a lot of serious issues in an exciting and entertaining fashion.

What the late George Romero showed so powerfully in his own films was that zombie stories are perfect vehicles for social commentary that doesn’t become overly preachy. I can respect that, a story that engages as well as provokes thought and discussion.

>P> All of these things were in my mind when I sat down to write ASYLUM, my first real piece of zombie fiction. I went with a very traditional type of mindless zombie, and a familiar setup, having a group of characters trapped inside a gay club while the undead tried to force their way in. I used this as a springboard for a story about prejudice and self-loathing and insecurity and addiction, all wrapped up in what I think turned out to be a very entertaining piece of fiction. I was able to continue this in “Lunatics Running the Asylum,” a short story that picks up where the novella leaves off which is included in the new edition from Apex Publications.

I realize that just by nature of being a classic zombie tale, there are certain people out there that won’t even give ASYLUM a try, but as a writer I have to be true to my vision, my passions. I love zombie stories, and I’m happy to put my own stamp on the subgenre.

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: The Devoured

The Devoured The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DEVOURED by Curtis M. Lawson

I am in awe of author Curtis M. Lawson, who brings to the table a towering intellect (my brain stretches reading his work) and a wide-ranging imagination. He also possesses an incredible grasp of language, laying down phrases like you wouldn't believe (but yet, here they are on the page). Often I pause to savour a turn of phrase, or a description, before continuing. I wouldn't classify his cosmology as fully Lovecraftian (he's far too clever to let his philosophy be limited) but it is Lovecraftian enough to suit this aficionado, and his writings acknowledge that Beyond so far distant from the puny concerns and miniscule concepts of humans (check out his collection BLACK PANTHEONS).

On the surface, THE DEVOURED is a tale set in California near the end of The War Between The States (and oh, the perspective author Lawson puts on that war resounds with clarity and discernment). An adolescent boy, oversized in body, with a good mind, devotion to his Paiute mother, and admiration for his Nordic father, finds himself in charge after Father travels to Texas in aid of the doomed Confederacy. His beloved mother falls ill and approaches death. When the God of Israel seems to provide no answer nor healing, he seeks out his shaman maternal grandfather, an evil man, also dying. Emmett gradually discovers planes of existence, entities, and evils not known to the majority of mortals. Not only the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: The Rest Will Come

The Rest Will Come The Rest Will Come by Christina Bergling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE REST WILL COME
by Christina Bergling

Poor feckless Emma, our heroine; she does “everything right,” only to have nothing go right. Marriage, debts, jobs, dating—she just can't reach her goal, can't grasp that brass ring; is not even sure any more “after all these years” that there is a brass ring—for her. Poor Emma. Then one day—maybe it's years of repressed anger, maybe it's frustration—one day she hears those insulting words once too often: “my heart's just not in it,” and Emma is instantaneously off on a whole new path. Serial murder? Well, these days it just doesn't pay to play fast and loose with Emma, for you may find yourself playing with the Grim Reaper. Emma's had enough...and now that she realizes that, just maybe “the rest will come.”

For all those single women (and can't commit men) who can't catch a break, here's a novel that mingles gore and hilarity, humor and death. Enjoy the catharsis. You'll be glad you did.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review: Kind Nepenthe

Kind Nepenthe Kind Nepenthe by Matthew V. Brockmeyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of KIND NEPENTHE
by Matthew V. Brockmeyer

Beautifully scenic, but humanity renders it depressing: Southern Humboldt County in Northern California. KIND NEPENTHE is a literate horror novel (I loved the epigrams the author's chosen), but I prefer to categorize it as Northern California drug culture noir. Populated by an almost completely sorry cast of lowlifes, KIND NEPENTHE only allows some to surface briefly, to try to be “somebody” with purpose, and then submerges them again. Rebecca wants to be completely organic, and be a sterling mother. Calendula (Mark) is a permaculture designer, or so he hopes. Diesel wants a second chance through his soon-to-be born grandchild, not to mess up as he did with his son and his wife. Actually, the only “winners” in this patch of noir are the hauntings...and we're never really certain what their foundation is, although we see it acted out in certain formerly living individuals. Mr. Brockmeyer does a sort of Henry James-ish horror, the kind that you know is present, but too shadowy and unspecific to get really frightened...until the end, when literally everything and everybody goes raving insane in a fast-paced few pages rolling like a bullet train.

{On a personal note, while I read KIND NEPENTHE, I also commenced another drug culture noir, this one set in New Mexico. Life imitates art.}

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: A Twist of the Knife

A Twist of the Knife A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of A TWIST OF THE KNIFE by Becky Masterman

This third in the Brigid Quinn series, starring a fifty-nine year old female former FBI Special Agent, takes place in Florida instead of Tucson: specifically Fort Lauderdale, Vero Beach, and Raiford. FBI Agent Laura Coleman, prominent in the previous novel, FEAR THE DARKNESS, also encores. We learn a lot of backstory of Brigid's dysfunctional family {I am reminded of the family of cops in Karin Slaughter' s COP TOWN}. We are also treated to defense attorneys on a quest to overturn a possibly wrongful conviction, and the terrors of children missing. A horrible crime committed sixteen years ago resulted in the disappearance of three children, and the convicted is finally scheduled for execution.--but was the conviction righteous, or juggled?

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Review: Fear the Darkness

Fear the Darkness Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of FEAR THE DARKNESS by Becky Masterman

This second in Becky Masterman's Brigid Quinn series is my favorite of the three so far (published). I'm thinking it very well might be the author's exquisite depiction of sociopathy, its whys and therefores, and delineates so well how sociopaths can fool: both the "normal," and those who are themselves on the sociopathic continuum. Each mystery in this series is a pageturner, but I found this the most suspenseful and riveting.

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Review: Roofworld

Roofworld Roofworld by Christopher Fowler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ROOFWORLD by Christopher Fowler

I first learned of this book from Paul Cornell's THE SEVERED STREETS, which highly recommended both Neil Gaiman' s NEVERWHERE and ROOFWORLD. I am glad to see the republication of ROOFWORLD, an intricately plotted novel of a civilization existing "above" London, a sort of "superstructure" invisible to the "Insects" living on London's surface (normals). Intended as an escape, a high-minded improved society, it has degenerated into vicious war and megalomania, as both sides strive to fulfill an occult potential.

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Review: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE CHALK MAN by C. J. Tudor

A glorious mystery/thriller/coming of age novel, THE CHALK MAN is at once both riveting and engaging. The narrative interweaves the first person viewpoint (limited first-person) of our protagonist at 12, and at 42. Ed Adams is all in all an imperfect character, but his constant self-awareness of his faults renders him all the more likeable. At 12, he and his cronies are still primarily innocents, poised near the cliff's edge of adulthood. At 42, he looks around himself and mourns all that has never materialized. But even at 12, these boys are exposed to "adult" issues: tragedy, death, murder, hatred, fear. They don't always understand but they have to live it anyway. With this talented author, we live it all too.

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Review: The Doll Who Ate His Mother

The Doll Who Ate His Mother The Doll Who Ate His Mother by Ramsey Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DOLL WHO ATE HIS MOTHER by Ramsey Campbell

This 1976 publication is not my top-favourite of Ramsey Campbell (so far, that's ANCIENT IMAGES and the collection HOLES FOR FACES) but I quite liked it. Unusually, my 5-star rating is not due to the horror and paranormal elements. Instead, I rated it highly due to Campbell's incredible grasp of and ability to delineate, character. This applies to his human inhabitants, but also to animals and to Place. Looking back through my reactions to the novel, I remember many occasions when I marveled at his revelation of character--just when I thought he had peeled back the remaining layers, he demonstrated more! The horror element is well done, and it's subtle, but I shall remember the novel for its characterizations.

[Note: in the case of Mr. Campbell's explication of the "villain's" inner state, the resonances are positively Poe-ish. See for example, "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Telltale Heart."]

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: Abode

Abode Abode by Morgan Sylvia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: ABODE by Morgan Sylvia

Rare is it in this era of splatter horror to find a book such as ABODE, in which the horror is all too prevalent and real, but is treated oh so subtly, as in a mystery where the reader tiptoes through clues. The author tantalizes us, not bludgeons us. ABODE is richly atmospheric, in the vein of Henry James' 19th century classic "Turn of the Screw." There are Lovecraftian overtones; there are also tragic psychological sufferings. There is evil. Above all, the reader revels in the exquisitely-tuned atmosphere.

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Review: The Girl Who Was Taken

The Girl Who Was Taken The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by Charlie Donlea

I recognized Charlie Donlea as an exceptional new author when I read his debut novel, SUMMIT LAKE. His new stand-alone, THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN, is equally superb. In the small and peaceful, quiet community of Emerson Bay, North Carolina, young women have disappeared. In bordering states, other girls have also gone missing, and some are discovered months, even years, later. Concomitantly, a young man trolls true crime groups and Internet chat rooms, seeking skewed individuals with a similar dark mind-set to his own. Dr. Livia Cutty is a pathology fellow at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh. Her autopsy of a corpse suspected to be a bridge jumper begins the unraveling of a complex and deadly mystery as Livia perseveres to reveal truth, no matter how unpalatable.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: Welcome to the Apocalypse

Welcome to the Apocalypse Welcome to the Apocalypse by D.L. Richardson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE by D. L. Richardson

A subtle sense of humor, a speedy thriller with tons of unexpected moments, a frisson of anxiety over control by a computer, and really intense characterizations of individuals who can't help eliciting readers' empathy and understanding, weave together into a roller coaster of suspense leavened with romance, friendship, family bonds, as well as grief and unrequited longing. From page one on, you'll be thinking "what next, what happens now," and living vicariously through the characters, cheering them on. Thankfully, this is first of a series; I can't wait for more.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Foxlowe

Foxlowe Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: FOXLOWE by Eleanor Wasserberg


FOXLOWE is a complex work of literary fiction which delves deep into its characters, peeling back their layers to reveal their natures. It is also an English stately house, set on the moors a short distance from standing stones. Foxlowe House is also the setting of a commune, semi-hippieish in its drive to sustainability, and semi-pagan in its emphasis on meditation and healing, and the essential importance of the Summer and Winter Solstices. The story is narrated by Green, a young girl who cannot remember "life outside," as Foxlowe' s inhabitants term all the world not Foxlowe and the Standing Stones. As Green grows, she narrates the microcosm that comprises life at Foxlowe.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review: Final Girls

Final Girls Final Girls by Riley Sager
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager

Oh my! A somewhat tiptoeish start soon tossed me onto a runaway rollercoaster of thrills, terror, and mystery. In this environment, I couldn't be certain who was who, who was culpable of what, and who could be trusted, if anyone--including our protagonist, the woman who insists she is "normal" despite the past everybody remembers except her.

Quincy Carpenter, like two other young women earlier, survived a massacre of sorts: one at a sorority house (Lisa of Indiana), one at a motel (Samantha of Florida). Quincy was the sole survivor of a group of friends at a weekend retreat in a forest cottage in Pennsylvania. The press terms them "Final Girls," like the sole remaining heroine in B-grade horror movies. (I prefer the concept of "Last Man Standing," as in Westerns; surviving ought to imply some skill and strength of will, rather than simply be left alive because the killer died or was captured.)

FINAL GIRLS "blew me out of the water". After six decades of voracious reading of mysteries, thrillers, and horror, the author still managed to blindside me, and I truly "didn't see it coming." I can't wait to read this novel again.


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: Cavern Of The Damned

Cavern Of The Damned Cavern Of The Damned by Russell James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CAVERN OF THE DAMNED by Russell James

Exciting creature horror with a huge dose of implacability leavened with hope and a strong helping of the endurance of the human spirit, CAVERN OF THE DAMNED introduces readers to an unopened, unmapped, cave system in Montana. Folks, this cave was blocked to good purpose. Unfortunately, greed is near unstoppable, and the combination of a Hollywood producer and a caver banned from Yellowstone for illegalities will get it open to exploration, with disastrous results. Sometimes it's best not to breach a barrier.

Author Russell James delivers heart-in-mouth unstoppable action and terror. If you love creature horror, paleontology, megafauna, and scares-a-minute, love this!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: The Late Show

The Late Show The Late Show by Michael Connelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly (Renee Ballard #1)

Michael Connelly delivers a certain presence in every novel, a presence which pulls the reader straight into the story and makes us live it vicariously. THE LATE SHOW is the first mystery-police procedural in a new series, focused on Detective Renee Ballard of the Los Angeles Police Department. Ballard is a tough and gritty character, akin to a bulldog when she gets an intuitive scent on a case. She is also vulnerable, as a female in a career that still has a male-dominant mind set.

THE LATE SHOW deals with very up-to-date issues: transgenderness, club shootings, the presence of evil. It's a nonstop thrilling read.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case

The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case The Wrong Man: The Final Verdict on the Dr. Sam Sheppard Murder Case by James Neff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WRONG MAN by James Neff

I was a toddler in a neighboring state when housewife Mrs. Marilyn Sheppard was brutally murdered in July 1954, leaving a seven-year-old son and a husband. Of course I knew nothing about it at the time, but in 1967 when the TV series "The Fugitive" debuted, I immediately became hooked on the story of a doctor wrongly accused of his wife's brutal murder, seeking justice and striving to clear his besmirched name. Associating this plot line with Dr. Sam Sheppard, I decided he too must be innocent but beleaguered by the disbelief of law enforcement and courts. Then when I began THE WRONG MAN and discovered Dr. Sam's personality faults (temper, philandering, an addictive personality), I changed my opinion and considered him guilty (for a time).

The lack of clarity and sheer failure to properly investigate may be equaled only by the investigation of the murder of Jon-Benet Ramsay in Boulder, Colorado in 1996. Too much belief in Dr. Sam's guilt and refusal to entertain other possibilities meant a near-railroading of Dr. Sam. Certainly no justice for Marilyn nor closure for her family was ever achieved.



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