Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Friday, July 3, 2020


5 Spooky Stars 

"When the Sun Shines" by Ron Ripley: This story awakened a lot of empathy in me, and the Denouement was unexpected and surprising...but it worked. 

"Riding the Bus" by Ron Ripley: I really liked this story, as it was tautly written,  full of surprises,  with deft characterization. Disbelief was easily suspended so that the story made perfect sense as it played out, even though it was supernatural. 

"Lost His Senses" by Bronson Carey: I think I shall never again go near a hospital.  This tale is so subtle about the horror,  and couched in terms of the patient experiencing possible hallucinations from side effects of his medications...or, on the other hand, maybe not hallucinations.  Serious scares here!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

14th Canadian Reading Challenge!


After an enlightening participation in the 13th Canadian Challenge,  I'm eager and ready for the 14th:
July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

Review: 324 ABERCORN by Mark Allan Gunnells

5+ Stars!!

  First off, this is my favorite title by Mark Allan Gunnells so far. I absolutely adore this novel; it's exquisite. From the "ghostly" presences to the beautiful iteration of the city of Savannah and its history; from the finely delineated characters of Brad, Bias, Neisha, Harold, but including secondary characters [the Detective is a gem]; the humor,  the love, the idealism, to character unfolding and evolution; it's all exciting. I read it in a sitting and could read it again,  right away.

Horror author Brad Storms visited Savannah and fell in love with the house at 324 Abercorn while in his twenties and still struggling.  Fortune smiles on him, and with several bestselling novels,  he purchases the property and sets out on a new life phase. But it seems "something" in the house isn't pleased with his presence.  Are the tales about the house fact after all? Has his residence in the long-empty home disturbed the occupants of the unmarked Slave Cemetery?

Read on and discover!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Review: THE NIGHTINGALE HOUSE by Steve Frech

5 Stars 

THE NIGHTINGALE HOUSE is the second novel bu y Steve Frech, a page-turner of Horror which riveted this reader, providing characters with whom I empathize, plus a horrendous villain who deserves comeuppance.  The author juggles a number of issues and does so seamlessly. 

Review: ANGER'S RUIN by Ron Ripley

5 Spooky Stars 

I've been reading this thrilling supernatural series since its inception,  yet each installment seems more compelling even than the proceeding. Now that we've discovered the identity of the "mastermind" plotting to destroy the populace of the tiny but evil-beset community of Anger, New Hampshire [in STREETS OF ANGER, Book 5], we watch as said mastermind's plot ratchets up and as feckless, vulnerable, hero Dan Tate throws up obstacles against the plot to destroy Anger. Fortunately Dan (capable but with the weakness of his children in danger) calls on ghost hunter Shane Ryan, an individual with terribly self-destructive impulses and a literally "stop at nothing " attitude.  Prepare for an uproarious roller coaster ride through unimaginable danger, as this literal battle of good vs. evil intensifies, introducing a  totally terrifying new character in the "collector."

Saturday, June 20, 2020


5 Spooky Stars

"Love Me Dead" by Sara Clancy: This story is AMAZING!! Ranks with Sara Clancy's best! Where do I begin? There is one line which encapsulates the story for me and blew my mind; but I can't repeat because it's in the Denouement!! If this tale was a novella or novel, that would be fine; there's a lot of issues going on here, including human evil and horror. But to develop it this excitingly as a short story?! Supremo!

Character Evolution! Character Revelation! Family. Friendship. Night terrors! I LOVE this story!

"Health and Welfare Check" by Ron Ripley:
An admittedly Lovecraftian approach. A nasty neighbor investigates when the attractive lady next door disappears. His nosiness leads him where he couldn't possibly imagine.

"Making Friends" by Bronson Carey: Extremely unsettling. Gives a new spin to "stalking." [Shudder]. Do NOT read at night or while ALONE!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review: SCARY LIZZY by Clive Fleury

4 Spooky Stars 

A well-developed plot line and characterizations,  aimed at upper elementary age [the protagonist-narrator is in fourth grade] with clever development of bullying, and friendship, and other important issues such as being a child of divorce,  Mom's dating life, etc. I enjoyed the explication of adolescence as the cusp of being able to see the Other Side. The story is positive and affirming [though I entered into it expecting more a "Bloody Mary" type event] so despite the title,  it isn't really Horror.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Review: THE DIRTY SOUTH by John Connolly

5 Stars

I first found this a surprising geographical choice for this Irish author in this particular series,  usually set in New England or New York City and environs. THE REAPERS, of course,  has a backdrop of Mississippi as Louis' backstory,  but primarily the series is set in New England. THE DIRTY SOUTH, obviously,  is not. Where I expected,  from the title, somewhere in the Deep South (U.S.), instead the story is firmly set in Southern Arkansas; and, like THE REAPERS, a sad, sad, tale it is.

My second thought,  which continued throughout,  was how apropos to the immediate cultural/social/political climate.  Although set, for necessity,  during the Presidency of Arkansas's Favorite Son Bill Clinton,  the backdrop might as well be in 2020, amidst the counterculture protests against police brutality and violence against Black citizens. Yes, victims are black; yes, the murders are horrible [and the Denouement is mind-blowing in its multiple perverseness], but the story is highly character-driven and setting-laden, so that I almost think the victims could have been of any ethnicity,  and the story would be only a little different. 

THE DIRTY SOUTH is #18 in the Charlie Parker Series, but in effect it serves as a sort of prequel,  occurring several months after the horribly gruesome murders of Parker's wife Susan and daughter Jennifer,  in Brooklyn.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Review: THE MASK by Tom Coleman

4 Spooky Stars 


In an economically-deprived, crime-laden, Acapulco,  tomb raiding proves excruciatingly fatal. A mask of odd design and unknown origin, once unearthed, wreaks havoc. 
The horror is inescapable,  implacable, and terrifying. 

Saturday, June 6, 2020


5 Spooky Stars

"Outside Of Town" by Ron Ripley: I wasn't sure at first if I liked the outcome of this story. As I pondered on it, I decided that the portion that concerned me (the abandoned house) actually was pretty seamless, so although the ending did surprise me by its particular specificity,  it fit with the house's own expressed nature [and make no mistake: the House is a Character].

"A Peculiar Song" by Bronson Carey: Unnerving--maximally Unnerving. This tale crept up on me all unawares, then knock-out! The horror is implacable, as the best horror always is. Shudder. Warning: nightmares approaching, fast.

"Scouting" by Ron Ripley: I love the existence of Nature; but I don't trust the Outdoors.  Nor would I ever consider camping. I was only a few paragraphs into this story and I was ready to scream, beg, and plead: "DON'T CAMP THERE!!" I don't camp, but that never prevents the Nightmares....

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Review: BAD PARTS by Brandon McNultu

4 Stars

 Definitely a unique horror approach.  Until I read this,  my Imagination could not have encompassed such a concept. I've read fiction a time or two about Organ-trading and the black market in human anatomy,  but BAD PARTS is way beyond that--out of this world. Lots of gore and violence, overflowing terror; you really don't want to read this at night.

For me, though, other than this Incredible concept, the best aspect was the characters: the good, the villains, the wolves disguised as sheep, character evolution and devolution.  That's what made the story for me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Review: DEVIL SHIP by David Longhorn

5 Spooky Stars 
Sainte Isabel,  a tiny isolated Caribbean island,  is the home of an ugly history and uglier legend;  as American investors Joe and Sara discover,  sometimes legends bear truth. The resort development into which they have sunk all their funds lacks workers, the local police appear to be riddled with corruption, then they are assaulted, and then arrested! But is the source laziness, corruption--or the sadistic,  violent,  late 17th-century privateer turned pirate, and his demonic familiar?

Review: THE BETRAYED by Heather Graham

5 Stars 

In tiny Sleepy Hollow, New York,  the main attractions are the Headless Horseman and his author,  Washington Irving.  When a psychopathic killer determines to mock the Headless Horseman legend in brutal and gruesome ways, it's up to the FBI Krewe of Hunters to search out and stop the killer. A new member,  a childhood friend of one of the first victims,  has been personally summoned by that victim's spirit [though he doesn't believe it].

As usual,  author Heather Graham Krewe of Hunters in the history and the literary history of the area, and brings plenty of tense Suspense while the Krewe and civilian counterparts hunt an unexpected,  twisted villain. 

Review: THE HEXED by Heather Graham

5 Spooky Stars
Krewe of Hunters 13

Although I enjoy each novel in this exciting Series,  simply because each is geographically and historically based, I'm bound to have some favorites! (Smile) THE HEXED is one, because it's set in Salem, Massachusetts and environs, and the history is, of course, the infamous 1692 Witch Hysteria.  I enjoy the exposure to history through this Series, especially when it relates to an interest of mine. I also enjoy the ghost interactions,  and the hoops characters put themselves through trying to convince others and themselves that they really don't see or hear ghostly apparitions. 

Review: THE CURSED by Heather Graham

5 Spooky Stars 

Key West

I'm quite enamoured of this Series and have enjoyed each installment I've read.  Even though my Reading order has been due to availability rather than to Series order or publication date, each novel is still enjoyable because the author provides sufficient,  but not an overflow,  of backstory,  and in each installment some Series characters will reappear, not always the same. Each has intriguing Paranormal elements,  individual personal tension,  and a romantic involvement.  A plethora of Suspense and some remarkably twisty villains maintain interest. 

THE CURSED is set in Key West,  primarily at a popular bed-and-breakfast,  and includes the up-to-date plot thread of an elusive criminal organization involved in finding and thieving artifacts and treasures.  Bed-and-breakfast owner Hannah O'Brien owns an antique home, replete with ghosts, and quite possibly treasure!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Review: SEEING DARKNESS by Heather Graham

5 Stars


Although I enjoy this entire series (Krewe of Hunters) for its foundational Paranormal basis and the opportunity to learn of different geographic settings,  so far SEEING DARKNESS (of this writing,  the newest) and SACRED EVIL are my absolute favorites. SEEING DARKNESS is set in Salem,  Massachusetts [yes, THAT Salem]. [SACRED EVIL is set in Lower Manhattan and very much involves late 19th century New York City history,  London's Jack the Ripper, and a possible American Ripper of that era.]

Four professional women from Massachusetts,  all in careers,  all Harvard graduates,  return to Salem to celebrate one's upcoming wedding.  A past life regression for one, Kylie, backfires as instead she experiences her own murder. Except it's not hers, but a killing taking place in Salem simultaneously to her vision experience.  Later that evening,  Kylie sees and identifies aloud the murderer in her vision,  and a Salem native,  FBI Special Agent Jon Dickson of the Krewe of Hunters, is on the scene already,  tracking a serial killer moving North from Virginia to New England. 

As well as a compelling plot and tons of suspense,  the characters are excellently delineated. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Review: SHORT HORROR STORIES VOLUME 20 by Scare Street

5 Spooky Stars
3 Spooky Scary Stories!

"Proof" by Ron Ripley: Kudos to protagonist Joel for his creative inventions! Especial kudos to the author for the immensely unexpected plot twists and that twisty but morally gratifying ending! 

"Ice Fishing " by Ron Ripley: Do NOT read this at night alone! I still cannot stop thinking of this story and of "Proof" [above]! I admired so much the deep characterizations; that's one of the author's gifts. Two brothers, at a moment in time: then bang! [figuratively] and everything changes and oh my word how that change is affected! Sheer implacable horror!!

"The Last Light" by Rowan Rook: A small-scale Apocalypse [as far as reader and characters know, limited to one community] but unavoidable and implacable and scared me senseless. Then, that Ending!!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Review: ROADKILL by Tom Coleman

5 Stars

Whoa! What a reader's hook! At first I thought,  is this an instance of "Nature fights back?" but then as the story continues, "Oh my! What is really happening on this isolated road?" The story could have taken any of many different paths from that point. High drama and high tension render a frightening tale with a strong "What If?" factor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Review: TOMB OF GODS by Brian Moreland

4 Stars

TOMB OF GODS is a very complex horror/fantasy which delves deeply into mythology (not just Egyptian,  but also Sumerian, Akkadian, Mesopotamian,  Celtic) as well as into philosophy, psychology,  and metaphysics. Certainly there's never a dull moment. Archaeology in Egypt is the surface focus,  but the story reaches far beyond and much deeper than that.


4 Stars

UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND is a compelling coming-of-age with a "disabled" protagonist (severe scoliosis) and his summer encounter with a beautiful girl who happens to be...inhuman. Although the plot and action are riveting, I give praise to author Glenn Rolfe's talent at characterizations.  As he has proven time and time again,  he gets inside his characters' psyches, knowing them perhaps better than they know themselves (although protagonist Rocky and first-love November are both quite self-aware).

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Review: SACRIFICE AT ST. NICK'S by F. R. Jameson

4 Spooky Stars

An entry in F. R. Jameson's GHOSTLY SHADOWS novella series. I perused the sample, and couldn't resist the book. The conclusion is SO twisty! I 'm still pondering "What?? Who?? What??" which will be understandable when you read the story. I definitely wanted to delve deeper.

An adolescent girl, considered a "freak" by her sister and peers, discovers a "famous" (cult famous) schlock horror author is interred a half-mile from her highly dysfunctional home, apart from the other interments in a crowded cemetery. Soon she begins to obsess, studying the author's works, visiting forums, hanging out at the grave, heeding a voice...

A quick but scary, thought-provoking, read. Definitely reminiscent of the late Dennis Wheatley,  with maybe a frisson of James Herbert.