Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories

Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories by Josh Malerman
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

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Review: The House by the Cemetery

The House by the Cemetery The House by the Cemetery by John Everson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY by John Everson

Outstanding. I can seldom resist the Feckless Hero, which is certainly what we have here in Protagonist Mike, a young carpenter in Cook County, Illinois. I liked Mike (to a point), but he and a whole lot of others would have benefited if he had just--matured. Developed personal integrity. Got a life. {Sigh} Guess my opinion of him didn't rank as high as I thought.

Nevertheless, the story is outstanding. Quite extreme, but given the context of the plot, not over the top. I particularly admired author John Everson' s gift with characterization, which I fondly remember from his novel FAMILY TREE. He delineates his characters quite fully but subtly, without telegraphing in advance, but letting readers' realization gradually unfold. This was a one-session reading for me, as I was so absorbed in both plot and characters. I adored the setting, too, and Mr. Everson delivers suspense and revelation in perfect doses for a tale of haunted locales and haunted character.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018


August 19-26, 2018
Aug. 19:
BENEATH THE EARTH by H. S. Stone. Category: YA. Horror.
THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY by John Everson. Category: Horror.
TEN THOUSAND THUNDERS by Brian Trent. Science Fiction.
HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins.. YA/boarding school. YA Paranormal.

Review: Beneath the Earth

Beneath the Earth Beneath the Earth by H.S. Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: BENEATH THE EARTH by H. S. Stone

A fast-paced YA creature thriller with excellent characterization, BENEATH THE EARTH stands on a realistic premise: a California earthquake has resulted in a shift in geography and unleashed something previously confined underground. Something is on the isolated lake island: something implacable, and very deadly. As the Pine Hill High Senior class campers discover, there's nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

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Review: The Babysitter

The Babysitter The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE BABYSITTER by Sheryl Browne

If THE BABYSITTER came packaged with a warning label, that label would read: "CAUTION: If it seems too good to be true, WATCH OUT!!" In smaller print, a second warning, "BEWARE OF GASLIGHTING!"

Detective Inspector Mark Cain, his sculptor wife Melissa, and their daughters, Poppy, age seven, and infant Evie, seem to be a fairy-tale happy family. A marriage built on a strong foundation of mutual love and trust, dual devotion to their children--seems a happily-ever-after often unheard of in modern times. Mark and Melissa have suffered tragedy and depression, surviving and eventually thriving. But now--will their marriage--and their lives and children--survive gaslighting? Insanity can be contagious.

["Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity." Wikipedia. Term derives from the 1944 film "Gaslight," starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and Joseph Cotten.]

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Review: Rattus New Yorkus

Rattus New Yorkus Rattus New Yorkus by Hunter Shea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: RATTUS NEW YORKUS by Hunter Shea

Author Hunter Shea, who is about as prolific as they get, possesses a particular (and peculiar) talent for cryptozoology and cryptobotany {see THE DEVIL'S FINGERS}. He also demonstrates a scientific bent for mutations of the natural order. (He also has an unbelievably eidetic memory of 1950's sci fi and horror B-films). Here are science, decadence of civilization, and genetics clashing. If you loved the films "Ben" and "Willard" (I did), for sure you are gonna love RATTUS NEW YORKUS. Be aware, the good guys don't always win (this is Hunter Shea' s horror playground, after all), and Mr. Shea is no stranger to Apocalypse.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked

Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked by Christa Carmen
Unnerving Press

Publicist/Marketing: Erin Al-Mehairi
Hook of a Book Media and Publicity
Contact: hookofabook@hotmail.com

Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, Synopsis

Publishing Date: August 21, 2018

Publisher: Unnerving Press

Page Length: 282 pages

A young woman’s fears regarding the gruesome photos appearing on her cell phone prove justified in a ghastly and unexpected way. A chainsaw-wielding Evil Dead fan defends herself against a trio of undead intruders. A bride-to-be comes to wish that the door between the physical and spiritual worlds had stayed shut on All Hallows’ Eve. A lone passenger on a midnight train finds that the engineer has rerouted them toward a past she’d prefer to forget. A mother abandons a life she no longer recognizes as her own to walk up a mysterious staircase in the woods.

In her debut collection, Christa Carmen combines horror, charm, humor, and social critique to shape thirteen haunting, harrowing narratives of women struggling with both otherworldly and real-world problems. From grief, substance abuse, and mental health disorders, to a post-apocalyptic exodus, a seemingly sinister babysitter with unusual motivations, and a group of pesky ex-boyfriends who won’t stay dead, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked is a compelling exploration of horrors both supernatural and psychological, and an undeniable affirmation of Carmen’s flair for short fiction.


Christa Carmen is a writer of dark fiction, and her short stories have appeared in places like Fireside Fiction Company, Unnerving Magazine, Year's Best Hardcore Horror, Outpost 28, DarkFuse Magazine, and Tales to Terrify, to name a few. She has additional work forthcoming from Lycan Valley Press Publications' all-female horror anthology, Dark Voices, and her debut fiction collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, will be released in August 2018 by Unnerving.

Christa lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her husband and their ten-year-old bluetick beagle, Maya. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English and psychology, and a master's degree from Boston College in counseling psychology, and she's currently pursuing a Master of Liberal Arts in Creative Writing & Literature from Harvard Extension School. Christa works at a pharmaceutical company as a Research & Development Packaging Coordinator, and at a local hospital as a mental health clinician. When she's not writing, she is volunteering with one of several organizations that aim to maximize public awareness and seek solutions to the ever-growing opioid crisis in southern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut.

Praise for Christa Carmen “Christa Carmen’s 'Red Room' is a different beast altogether. This story has some wicked imagery, a sinister and brooding atmosphere and a terrific ending. I’d go as far to say that this is one of the best short stories Unnerving has published in the magazine." – The Grim Reader

“I was pulled in from the first story: ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,’ by Christa Carmen. It was also one of my favorites and I have to say that the title gave me a dark chuckle when paired with the band mentioned in the story.” – Sci-Fi and Scary

Purchase Link


Would you like to feature?

If you would like to review Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked or feature Christa with an interview or guest article for a media publication, blog, or author blurb, please e-mail Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

The Haunted Reading Room's Review: Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked by Christa Carmen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Wow! When I started the first story of thirteen in this very special single-author collection, I wasn't sure I would like it. This first story is apocalyptic and surreal--the flavor of Tanith Lee if she ever took up Apocalypse. That question lasted a nano-moment as quickly I was off and running, completely absorbed. Ms. Carmen possesses both an extensive imagination, and the sensory capacity of an artist or poet. She also possesses a deep understanding of human outliers, those who walk apart from the well-trodden path.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: The Ostermann House

The Ostermann House The Ostermann House by J.R. Klein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE OSTERMANN HOUSE by J. R. Klein

I am so pleased to discover this genre-blending novel, which combines horror, science fiction, metaphysics, physics, and outer space into a rewarding and engrossing novel. Probability shifts and altered perception, history that changes--not just according to the teller, but sometimes changes in narratives from the same teller, science, military "snooping," small-town "strangeness": university professors Michael and Audrey Felton didn't know what they were taking on in their simple quest for a country getaway from their busy Houston life. They sought peace and quiet; instead they found the bizarre community of Krivac, Texas, and out in the country, the Ostermann House, land like no other. I couldn't put this novel down, and I'm still turning it over in my mind.

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Review: The Dowling House

The Dowling House The Dowling House by A. Drew
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DOWLING HOUSE by A. Drew

For me the strength of this supernatural horror lay in the characters as much as in the haunting, which is implacable and quite scary. The characters, of two different eras, are well-developed and the authors do well at drawing out the hidden issues and revealing them transposed against the era's cultural mores.
The earlier period (1954) reminded me (in characters and plotting and setting) of the Gothic suspense I devoured as a child antiquities ago.

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Review: The House of Nodens

The House of Nodens The House of Nodens by Sam Gafford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I raced through this novel in one session; I simply couldn't stop. HOUSE OF NODENS is now one of ny very favourite coming-of-age horror stories, well-nuanced and intricately balanced. The plot is both horrifying and twisty, with terror coming at readers from otherworldly realms and via the terrifying monsters deep in the human soul. Riveting and absorbing, HOUSE OF NODENS is a finely-tuned, unforgettable, horror masterpiece.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review: Spores

Spores Spores by Ike Hamill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SPORES by Ike Hamill

I can't resist "fungi fiction" (it "stems" from my love of Lovecraft), so discovering Ike Hamill' s newest novel SPORES was a delightful experience. Indeed, the story proved quite involving, as it also interwove two more of my favorite topics, Maine and Winter (snow, ice, frozen lake, November, cabins). Mr. Hamill does a superb job of delineating a Narcissistic, superiority-complex driven, academic scientist (almost too superb), which truly increased my delight, and the mycologist' s foil character, Marie, who needs to be read to be believed--all the characters play off her refrain, which you will discover throughout the novel. Finally, there's a lot of science turned science fiction in this story--or vice versa--and if you remember/love/admire The Borg, you will understand exactly; plus "a heapin' helpin'" of human greed and cupidity--naturally {frown}. A lot to ponder, the novel will tickle your ingrained "What If--?"

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: To Hell in a Handbasket

To Hell in a Handbasket To Hell in a Handbasket by Willow Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET by Willow Rose

Scary! That's my word for this novel. Scary! Straight-on supernatural horror, implacable, unavoidable, "the goblins are gonna get you if you don't watch out." Oh yes, abundance of fairy tale resonances here, and the characters really feel that.The plot is very suspenseful (scary!) with a number of unexpected twists. The author selects an unusual type for the horror (unusual in modern culture) and makes the horror seem impossible to bystanders, and even to the victims. Believing is difficult for the characters, until it's too late. I found the ending startling but quite satisfactory. Throughout, the level of suspense was kept ratcheted up with quite a number of edge-of-the-seat moments.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Review_CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki

<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18774020-california" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="California" src="https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1400863574m/18774020.jpg" /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18774020-california">California</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4395695.Edan_Lepucki">Edan Lepucki</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/986809812">5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Review: CALIFORNIA by Edan Lepucki<br /><br />CALIFORNIA was the 2014 debut novel of author Edan Lepucki. Set in a very near-future Southern and Central California, the novel is Dystopian. It is post-apocalyptic in a sense, but in this case the "end" arrives almost subtly, not with a bang (no nuclear holocaust, North Korean invasion, plague, nor zombie uprising). Instead, civilization just fizzles. The novel goes into some detail about life in L.A. during postmodernity, but primarily concentrates on protagonists Frida and Cal as they make the life-changing decision to move out of the city and homestead on "found land" (emphasis mine).
<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7302570-august-is-azathoth-the-haunted-reading-room">View all my reviews</a>

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review: The Obsession of Dr. Pendergrass: Murder in Whitechapel

The Obsession of Dr. Pendergrass: Murder in Whitechapel The Obsession of Dr. Pendergrass: Murder in Whitechapel by John David Buchanan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


In the late Victorian Era, London was a cultural and social beacon. Seat of an Empire, governed by a long-widowed crowned head genetically connected to thrones throughout Europe, London expanded, seemingly blessed both financially and socially. But with great wealth and abundance, inevitably there is also great suffering, poverty, and crime. One man surely cannot combat it all, when Sir Robert Peel' s bobbies cannot succeed. But one determined and diligent man will never cease to combat the evils in the darkness and ugly forgotten slums of London.

THE OBSESSION OF DR. PENDERGRASS is a sensorily stimulating narrative, a close look at Victorian London in the latter 19th century, and an examination of Whitechapel' s most well-known denizen.

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Monday, August 6, 2018


Official:The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 20th and runs through Sunday, August 26th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 23 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.

2018_bout-of-books_23 at Goodreads

Monday 8/20
Introduce yourself #insixwords
Reader! Reviewer, Dog-Owned, Animal Lover
Tuesday 8/21
Book Plot Emoji
Wednesday 8/22
Literary Villain
Thursday 8/23
Book Trip
Friday 8/24
Bookish Playlist
Saturday 8/25
Discover Books
Sunday 8/26
Stretch Goal

HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins

Review: Ghosts of Gannaway

Ghosts of Gannaway Ghosts of Gannaway by Stuart R. West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE GHOSTS OF GANNAWAY by Stuart R. West

I so admire novels that encapsulate expanded moral and social issues while delivering excellent characterization and suspenseful plotting. I give you THE GHOSTS OF GANNAWAY, a novel of history (1929, 1935; and 1969) and of individuals, families, social movements; and the Supernatural.

In 1969, the U S. Corps of Engineers sends an environmental scientist to tiny, almost abandoned Gannaway, Kansas, to test the potential toxicity of the soil, water table, and air. Gannaway appears practically a ghost town (in multiple senses), stores and homes collapsing, dust-ridden, scarcely a semblance of life--except for the expansive home of the man who "made" Gannaway, mine company owner Kyle Gannaway, who opened mines there and founded the community in the 1920's.

Author West also interweaves a plot line which occurs in 1929, and continues in 1935--deep in the Great Depression, in the fiery throes of beginning attempts at unionization and rights for workers. Readers who know anything about the Harlan, Kentucky, unionization tragedies of the 1930's, or such attempts at other mines, will find resonance in the ideals and efforts of young Tommy Donnelly, ground boss at a Gannaway mine, as he diligently strives to make the wealthy company owner "see sense." But Kyle Gannaway and his right-hand man are terrifyingly inhuman individuals, totally devoid of compassion, empathy, or just plain human feeling.

In 1969, the environmental scientist and an elderly Native American, Ahanu ("Bob"), combine forces to uncover the truth, all the truths, about Gannaway' s evil past and toxic present, to settle the ghosts of Gannaway, and to cope with its environmental future.

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Sunday, August 5, 2018

Review: The Witching Well

The Witching Well The Witching Well by S.D. Hintz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WITCHING WELL by S. D. Hintz

Who knew picturesque Northern Minnesota could be so dangerous, so magical, so--dare I say it--witchy? S. D. Hintz knows, and now we readers know too. THE WITCHING WELL is a very fast-paced, snappy, edgy tale of a 13-year-old who has tragically lost his mother to murder. Taken in by his maternal grandmother Anna, Murray moves to her house in tiny Windom, Minnesota. He's scarcely there a day when one vicious neighbor sics his Rottweiler on Murray, another gives him a painful welcoming gift, and he gets in Dutch with Grandma Anna, then discovering a captive boy in the basement next door. On a residential block with only two normal homeowners, Murray is a perfect target, and in a very short time, a lot of lives are in dire danger, including Murray's. Can good triumph over evil (with a little trickery)--or will Evil carry the Day?

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Saturday, August 4, 2018

Review: She Was the Quiet One

She Was the Quiet One She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: SHE WAS THE QUIET ONE by Micheledorn Campbell

From the beginning, we know of a murder; we know the victim is a sibling, and we realize that the remaining sibling, proclaiming innocence, is suspected and accused. What we don't discover until much later in the novel is the identity of the victim, and conversely, the identity of the survivor as well. I paged through the novel with the nagging thoughts in the forefront of my mind: "Who died? Who survived? Who is the killer? Could the murder have been circumvented?" So for me there was much continuing suspense and tension. What I didn't achieve a lot of was character empathy. I managed some for Rose, and for Bel' s roommate Emily, and some for dorm co-head Sarah Donovan. Most of the characters, including the school's administration and board, elicited either dislike or actual contempt. Perhaps it was {tongue in cheek} class envy.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday Bloody Sunday by Ben Coes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: BLOODY SUNDAY by Ben Coes
(Dewey Andreas #8)

Those of us who fear North Korea's aggression and nuclear capability and the leader's instability will find much foundation for that anxiety here. In this 8th installment in Ben Coes' Dewey Andreas Series, Kim Jong-Un is diagnosed with aggressively metastasized cancer, and decides to go out in a literal blaze of glory: the glory to accrue to himself, while the great enemy America perishes in nuclear travail.

Fortunately, there is tragic hero Dewey Andreas, still diligently drinking himself to death. Hot on the trail of the remaining culprits responsible for the murder of his wife, he will be put into play to save the US from utter destruction--somehow.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE LAST HELLFIGHTER by Thomas S. Flowers

THE LAST HELLFIGHTER is an extraordinarily enthralling novel which weaves from contemporaneous society into the future and back to the early 20th century American culture and the Great War, and points in between. Commencing with a blow-me-out-of-the-water reader's hook, set in the Port of Jerusalem, Maine (a beginning that rendered me speechless), THE LAST HELLFIGHTER wings us forward to the ugly and dismaying political climate of 2044 in the United States. The central figure is Benjamin Harker, native of Harlem, black WWI soldier, later Oklahoma homesteader--and vampire-fighter. I love this character (and James Reese Europe, jazz musician and WWI Lieutenant). I love and admire them, for their character, integrity, and truth is what I've always aspired to.

Author Flowers loves history as do I, and always brings it to us, alive and very present. I found a lot here astonishing (and terribly sad), but I've come away with improved understanding, knowledge, and empathy. I now have a new set of favorite fictional characters, and a new best-loved book.

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Review: Murder in the Dark: A Paranormal Mystery

Murder in the Dark: A Paranormal Mystery Murder in the Dark: A Paranormal Mystery by Simon R. Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MURDER IN THE DARK by Simon R. Green

Another totally gripping paranormal/sci-fi thriller from an author who consistently delivers engrossing, compelling. and thought-provoking paranormal fiction. MURDER IN THE DARK is the newest in the Ishmael Jones Series, about the secretive agent for a hush-hush covert organization in the UK. I totally admire Ishmael, who can do no wrong in my eyes, and find his background fascinating. This adventure was particularly scrumptious in that it includes some revelations about Ishmael' s earlier history (and of course I managed to perceive Lovecraftian Mythos themes throughout). The denouement and conclusion are stunning, in an all-round superb novel.

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