Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review: Baby Teeth

Baby Teeth Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage

From the first pages I was entrapped in this story. Kind of like being an observer at the commencement of a 50-car pileup--you want to stop it but chaos rules, you need to look away but can't. I knew from Page One disaster is imminent. Talk about "bad seeds." I remember that novel and movie from my childhood. I also remember "Gaslight," with the husband who endeavoured to convince his wife of her increasing insanity. I immediately adopted the term "gaslighting" into my vocabulary, but here it is, finely tuned and intensely psychopathic. {Shudder}

While the story progresses, Mom Suzette (a sufferer of Crohn's Disease) steadily devolves. Always an ungrounded personality (in this, she is much like her mother), Suzette possibly is hurtling toward a psychotic break--or is she?

The child Hanna, unspeaking but not physiologically mute, is an angel (in her dad's eyes), or demonic (in her mother's perception), or the embodiment of a 17th century adolescent French witch (Hanna's own view). But what--or more importantly, WHO--is Hanna really? To what extremes will she (and Suzette) reach? And what will be the cost in tragedies if little Hanna really is a "Bad Seed"?

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Review: The Mansion

The Mansion The Mansion by Ezekiel Boone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone

Readers who have read Ezekiel Boone's HATCHING Trilogy know this author cranks up tense suspense and delivers the scares. I venture to predict: "you ain't seen nothing yet." THE MANSION scared the living daylights out of me, a Haunted House story like no other. Oh, a time or too writers or filmmakers have taken a run at the "Smart House" concept, but THE MANSION goes far beyond. (And yes, I also predict this one will be optioned for film.)

THE MANSION draws in many different threads of Themes, and extends to concepts that stretch my imagination, and is comparable to Neal Stephenson's REAMDE in its exploration of computing. Yet the novel also reaches into the realms of Arthur C. Clarke and Peter F. Hamilton as it explores the ramifications of Artificial Intelligence. Indeed, as it discusses the evolution of computerized "personal assistants," the potentials become frightening, and of course, THE MANSION focuses on a beyond-next-generation computerized "assistant." Beware in whose control you place your safety.

This alone would be sufficient to create an exceptional novel. But Mr. Boone doesn't pause at that. He delivers characterization peeled down to the core; he allows character evolution (and devolution); and he delivers a family line so evil that I can only compare it to the family sequence in LINEAGE by Joe Hart. Many sleepless memories will plague me when I remember.

THE MANSION is the novel for which you set aside a block of time and turn off all distractions. Get a comfortable armchair and settle in, for you won't be surfacing until the end.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Widowmaker

Widowmaker Widowmaker by Paul Doiron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WIDOWMAKER by Paul Doiron

I really love this engrossing series set in Maine, focusing on Game Warden Mike Bowditch, formerly Angry Young Man bending rules till they shriek, now somewhat more settled, a man whom nothing escapes--the perfect observer. Throughout the series we are privileged to watch Mike mature, and develop as a law enforcement official, as well as gradually discovering his backstory.

In WIDOWMAKER, Mike is drawn into a missing person investigation, uncovering a secretive government base, and vigilantism. Character depth and nonstop action set a fast-paced, intriguing plot.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018



AIRSHIPS, CRYPTS, AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS by Erin Johnson. July 15. Paranormal Cozy/Baker.

WIDOWMAKER by Paul Doiron. July 15.

THE MANSION by Ezekiel Boone. July 16-17

BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage. July 17-18.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review: Meddling Kids

Meddling Kids Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MEDDLING KIDS by Edgar CanteRo

Deep. That's the best word for this novel, the author's next, subsequent to THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS, his exceptional contemporary Gothic. MEDDLING KIDS also is off-and-on set in a long-abandoned ancient house, with a lineage of Necromancy and dark occultism, and with a cast of protagonists who are Innocents Abroad. Instead of two protagonists, here there are five, teens comprising the "Blyton Hills Summer Detective Club," solving local mysteries while simultaneously coming of age and hammering out their own individual identities. Thirteen years later, broken in both heart and spirit, four will recombine, to face both an implacable enemy, and a cosmic nightmare straight out of Lovecraft and Native American lore of the Pacific Northwest.

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Review: The House in the Hills

The House in the Hills The House in the Hills by Rowan Hanlon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS by Rowan Hanlon

I think almost every reader can relate to the joy and terror of finding one's dream home: joy when first seeing the house with which you fall in love; terror that it's not available, or you can't afford it, or any number of other reasons preventing you from living in your Dream. Harmony and Marc experience this joy and terror extensively in this novel, Harmony more so than Marc. This young couple from Tennessee moved to L.A. so Marc could practice his ambition in real estate and Harmony could attend culinary school and become a chef, hopefully eventually opening her own restaurant.

Synchronistically, Marc learns of a beautiful, "perfect," residence in the Hollywood Hills, and persuades Harmony it's affordable. So they buy it and move in. Unfortunately, there's information about the property Marc hasn't shared with Harmony (just as Harmony keeps her secrets close), and these unexposed secrets are tragic.

Plenty of paranormal events and good characterization keep the novel's pace hopping. It was a one-sitting read for me.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: LOST HIGHWAYS ed. By D. Alexander Ward

Review: LOST HIGHWAYS, edited by D. Alexander Ward

"Exceptional indeed" is a key phrase to describe this new Anthology of Speculative Horror from Crystal Lake Publishing. From the first page of editor D. Alexander Ward's fine introduction, throughout this outstanding collection, excellence reigns. Each story is an exquisite gem, and I say this with heartfelt emphasis. Each is also thought-provoking, and subtly terrifying. I submit, that even the stories here with positive endings (yes, there are some) ultimately instill terror. (I won't give away which ones!)

Occasionally I am privileged to read a novel, novella, anthology, or single-author collection, that leaves me thinking I have insufficient capacity to praise highly enough; a book which instills high awe at the creative power of writers and editors. I give you, LOST HIGHWAYS. And if you doubt my enthusiasm, check out the contributing authors list. Yes, Gentle Reader, I really did tell you so. LOST HIGHWAYS is beyond outstanding. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: The Supernatural Enhancements

The Supernatural Enhancements The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A few days ago, I found a new novel to add to my special Metaphorical Bookshelf which previously had contained only Garth Stein 's A SUDDEN LIGHT and John Harwood's THE GHOST WRITER. Over the weekend I added Richard Easter's THE GENERAL THEORY OF HAUNTING, and now I add THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS. Each of these exceptional novels left me awestruck, speechless, with memories I'll never lose.

What is extra special about THE SUPERNATURAL ENHANCEMENTS is not just its exceptional and engrossing story line, not just the pleasure of getting to know numerous characters, not just the terrifying denouement or the out-of-the-ball-park epilogue. Extra exceptional is that this young author is not a native speaker of English. English is his third language, yet he has so immersed himself in both the language and the literature that reading this novel is akin to reading a wonderful 19th century Gothic in contemporary literary prose.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review: Rust & Stardust

Rust & Stardust Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: RUST & STARDUST by T. Greenwood

RUST & STARDUST is a brilliant novel, one which not just wrenches the reader's heart, but rips it away. Based on the actual true crime case which inspired Nabokov' s LOLITA, RUST& STARDUST is an incredibly painful read, yet a consciousness-expanding experience. (I think the last time a book affected me this tremendously, it was my reading of Susan Brownmiller's AGAINST OUR WILL, at Thanksgiving 1976. Both gave me the perception of being shifted into a new reality and my metaphorical eyes forced open, to truly "see.")

While I waited to acquire RUST & STARDUST, I did some small research into the factual case. (Tis true, I, once an English major, have not read LOLITA.) The facts of the case by themselves are horrifying and the outcome is tragic. We can read of it, and sympathize. Author T. Greenwood isn't content with surface sympathy: she digs so deeply into her characters, peeling off every single layer down deep to the soul. We don't just observe pragmatically and unemotionally. We, the reader, FEEL. We are present. We suffer.

Another aspect of consciousness I bring away from this traumatic novel is an awareness of the banality of evil. The criminal here is no brilliant intellect such as Leopold and Loeb; no, "Frank" is of low intelligence and no social adeptness. Indeed, he is an outlier, beyond normal society, virtually unaware of consensus society. His mantra--rather, nothing so consciously chosen, but simply his driving force, never his raison d'etre, because that requires conscious process--the drive which ever propels him is "I want, therefore I get." He does not consider others' needs, desires, or rights, for of this he is simply incapable. Like an adult-sized infant, he lives to feed his hungers, and the Outside World simply exists to supply his needs. He operates on instinctual cunning, much like a marine snail will conceal itself at the threat of danger.

I have read recollections of the banality of evil concerning the Holocaust, and in regard to serial killers such as Henry Lee Lucas of Texas. Never before RUST & STARDUST have I achieved such a visceral awareness of its existence and prevalence, and an understanding that just perhaps the banality of evil is the most terrifying danger of all.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: Copycat

Copycat Copycat by Hannah Jayne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: COPYCAT by Hannah Jayne

My first Hannah Jayne novel, and I adore it! I was magnetized from the first page and couldn't look away. The novel's premise is riveting: a vastly popular YA mystery/thriller series is approaching its end, and a California blogger is invited to participate in the planned promotion leading up to the final book's publication. Her "GapLakeLove" blog sports well-written fan fiction and speculation on the identity of the series' killer. Addison Gaines, the blogger, may well be author R. J. Rosen's greatest fan; but what she could not possibly predict is the series of terrifying events that commence in her own high school, and soon it is clear that Addison and her friends are targets of a cunning, grippingly determined, mastermind who knows each novel in the series by heart, just as thoroughly as does Addie.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: Red Harvest

Red Harvest Red Harvest by Patrick C. Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: RED HARVEST by Patrick C. Greene
(The Haunted Hollow Chronicles Book One)

Set in the Appalachian hills of Western North Carolina, this novel of extreme horror is the first in a continuing series, invoking both Supernatural elements and the horrifying evils in the human hearts. There are some stomach-churning moments and revelations in this compelling story, but what most impressed me was the characters, their delineation, and the emotional impacts they cause on each other. I'm quite looking forward to the next entry in The Haunted Hollow Chronicles, as once again, good and evil battle for supremacy in tiny, tucked-away, Ember Hollow.

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Review: A Haunting in Trillium Falls

A Haunting in Trillium Falls A Haunting in Trillium Falls by Mary Vine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Teacher Taylor Glenn and her aged grandpa purchase a lovely Victorian house in tiny Trillium Falls. Well, the loveliness is potential. At least the house has good bones. For the past year, since her grandmother's demise, Grandpa Gilby has remained lethargic and depressed. Taylor intends to 're-inspire through renovation. What neither knows is the home's scary reputation, nor the existence of a non-paying "tenant." But Taylor is determined to make a home, and a successful renovation, for herself, Grandpa Gilby, and their German Shepherd, King. She'll persevere, despite tenant Calvin, neighbor "Jerry Garcia," and irritating, sexy, handyman, Dillon.

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24in48 Readathon_July 2018

July 21-22 2018

Follow my progress

24 in 48 July 2018


Follow my progress

July 13-15, 6 P.M. to 6 P.M.

Shadow Lounge Facebook READ:

THE HOUSE IN THE HILLS by Rowan Hanlon. July 13

"THE HELL-HOUND OF MIST ISLAND" by Heather Graham July 14

WIDOWMAKER by Carolyn McCray July 14

"Bear Trap" by Paul Doiron. July 14.





Follow my progress

75 Books Group July Readathon


RUMOR WOODS by Steve Armstrong. July 1

RED HARVEST by Patrick C. Greene. July 1-2

THE BONEYARD CHRONICLES by Cyprian Wyrmwood. July 2.

STRANGE WEATHER by Joe Hill. Audio. July 1-3.


NECROSCOPE: THE PLAGUE BEARER by Brian Lumley. Audio. July 4.


COPYCAT by Hannah Jayne. July 5.

TIED UP WITH STRING by Madeline McEwen. British cosy. July 6.

BROKEN MONSTERS by Laurie Beukes. Audio. July 5-7. THE GENERAL THEORY OF HAUNTING by Richard Easter. July 6-8. TOTAL: 11 BOOKS (6 novels + 1 novella + 4 audio novels)

Review: Feeding Frenzy

Feeding Frenzy Feeding Frenzy by Maaja Wentz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: FEEDING FRENZY by Maaja Wentz (Loon Lake Magic #1)

Delightful contemporary urban fantasy set in a small long-established Canadian community somewhere near Toronto, FEEDING FRENZY is the first in a series which promises to be quite worth reading. The centuries-old town of Loon Lake has a major-and marvelous-secret: it's a hotbed of magic, and a locus of power. Yes, magic! However, the inhabitants, and the town government, divide on whether to acknowledge this, or to conceal it from the Mundanes. Mostly the division is according to ancestry and family ties. Endearing characters make it easy to empathize, an edgy plot line maintains interest, and sufficient mystery provides both mundane and magical intrigue. I'm eagerly anticipating the next in series.

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Review: 12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper

12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper 12 Gauge: Songs from a Street Sweeper by Dustin LaValley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: 12 GAUGE: SONGS FROM A STREET SWEEPER by Dustin LaValley

Three novellas of extreme Gore and gritty Noir populate this collection. "Spinner" is a matter-of-fact narrative of a psychotic escaped inmate, his equally disturbing girlfriend, and their rampage while trying to escape to Canada. "H/armed" is splatterpunk run wild, killing set to music (by the author). I was reminded of Bryan Smith's THE KILLING KIND. "The Deceived" twists the home invasion tale--and twists it, and twists it, and twists it--into a shocking and explosive ending.

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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Review: The Beast of Brenton Woods

The Beast of Brenton Woods The Beast of Brenton Woods by Jackson R. Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE BEAST OF BRENTON WOODS by Jackson R. Thomas

A finely-tuned coming of age tale ensconced in the setting of a paranormal novel, THE BEAST OF BRENTON WOODS is a deep and engrossing read. Beware the White Wolf; beware also the monsters that walk as men, who don't shapeshift but whose cores are evil (yes, more than one). Tyler and Ben are 13; Jimmy, his sister Wendy, and best friend Bryan, are 23. Yet all experience "coming of age" tribulations during the short time span of this novel, and all 5 are given opportunities, even demands, to mature, and quickly. As Ben discovers, his father Scott also endured an unexpected coming of age trial that altered his life.

THE BEAST OF BRENTON WOODS engrossed me from the very first page and never let up. It definitely provided food for pondering, and considering the conclusion (and my deep interest in the characters), I hope for a sequel.

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Review: Scarecrows

Scarecrows Scarecrows by Mav Skye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SCARECROWS by Mav Skye

This themed collection of three horror stories is, yes, scary. Especially the first two stories,"Marrow" and "Scars." {Shudders} the third story, "Spindled Souls," I found too sad and disturbing, and despite the fact that it is dark fantasy (actually a twisted retelling of a fairy tale), I found it all too realistic.

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Review: The Blood Singer: A Haden Church Supernatural Thriller

The Blood Singer: A Haden Church Supernatural Thriller The Blood Singer: A Haden Church Supernatural Thriller by Patrick McNulty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE BLOOD SINGER by Patrick McNulty

A delightfully comic horror with an engaging protagonist, a solemn and cynical foil as the protagonist's wise ghost mentor, a premise particularly imaginative and engrossing, combines in a very fast page-turning supernatural novel. There's nothing funny about Haden Church's childhood; his mother is horrid and Haden himself is, if not one of a kind, close to it. Haden sees ghosts, they congregate to him, and his abusive mother considers that the work of Satan and believes it her God-given mission to thoroughly exorcise her son.

As an adult, Haden is in the employ of the Ministry of Wraiths, but he might as well be freelance, he is so obstinate and stubborn, following his own ethical code. When his mentor-companion Moses brings to Hayden the ghost of an elderly lady vitally (and rightly) concerned for her wayward son and her young granddaughter, Haden leaps into the fray irregardless of his personal safety, in order to rescue the child.

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