Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: Dolly 3

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

Review: DOLLY 3 (DOLLY TRILOGY) by Jubilee Savage

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

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Review: The Altar In The Hills and Other Weird Tales

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


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

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2018_Bookish_Resolutions_My Challenge

Get my Netgalley percentage up to 76 %

• Read 250 Netgalley books this year

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

• Complete 11 challenges this year

Participate in 7 + read-a-thons

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

See my progress at 2018 Bookish Resolutions


2018_Let's Read Indie Challenge_My Challenge

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: Dolly 2

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

Review: DOLLY 2 (DOLLY TRILOGY) by Jubilee Savage

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

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2018 Blogger Shame Review Challenge_My Challenge


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

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

Anything more is just frosting.

Review: Dolly

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

Review: DOLLY by Jubilee Savage

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

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Review: Goodnight Blackbird

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

Review: GOODNIGHT BLACKBIRD by Joseph Iorillo

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

2018_Author-Love Challenge_Graham Masterton


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




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

12 TBR


BROKEN MONSTERS by Lauren Beukes

DEAD MAN RUNNING by Sharon Stevenson (Raised #1)

DEATH MAGIC RULES by Sharon Stevenson (Raised #2)

DIG TWO GRAVES by Edwin Alexander

GOTHIC REVIVAL by Carson Buckingham

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

RED RISING by Pierce Brown (Red Rising #1)

GOLDEN SUN by Pierce Brown (Red Rising #2)




2 Alternate:

REVIVAL by Stephen King


Goodreads: 2018_official_tbr-pile

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review: Psychomanteum

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

Review: PSYCHOMANTEUM by Joseph Iorillo

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

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Friday, December 8, 2017

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

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

Review: THE GHOST CLUB By William Meilkle

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

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Review: This House Is Empty Now

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

Review: THIS HOUSE IS EMPTY NOW by Joseph Iorillo

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

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: Snowed in with Death

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

Review: SNOWED IN by Ruby Loren

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

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Review: Harry Moon Harry's Christmas Carol Color Edition

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


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

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

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Honey Moon Scary Little Christmas

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


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

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

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Proposed Reading List:




DEATHLEHEM REVISITED Holiday Horror Anthology

RETURN TO DEATHLEHEM Holiday Horror Anthology


THE SHUDDERING by Ania Ahlborn

BLIZZARD by Ross Lynch

BLIZZARD by H. W. Buzz Bernard





"Icebound" by Morris Kenyon

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

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

Ice Storm (children's picture and text)

"Polaris" by H. P. Lovecraft




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


"The Souls of the Ships" by Brian Freeman


THE GHOST CLUB By William Meikle

PSYCHOMANTEUM by Joseph Iorillo


DOLLY by Jubilee Savage DOLLY 2 by Jubilee Savage

Monday, December 4, 2017

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

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

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

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{Part 2} Dec. 4-Jan. 6

Level 5-6
+ children's

Proposed Reading List:




DEATHLEHEM REVISITED Holiday Horror Anthology

RETURN TO DEATHLEHEM Holiday Horror Anthology

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

Scary Christmas Reprise:
THE LITTLES by Tallulah Grace

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

BAH! HUMBUG! Christmas Horror Anthology

Kids' Christmas:



BAKER' S DOZEN (Collection)




NORMAN [Read Dec. 4] See my review HERE

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

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

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

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

CHILLINGWORTH MEWS by Anton Palmer [Dec 4-5]


"The White Ship" by HPL


"The Souls of the Ships" by Brian Freeman

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

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

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

DOLLY 2 see my review HERE

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review: Rapture

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

Review: RAPTURE by Thomas Tessier

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

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Review: The Fates

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

Review: THE FATES by Thomas Tessier

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

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

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Wicked Things

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

Review: WICKED THINGS by Thomas Tessier

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

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Review: Wicked Things

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

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Review: Shockwaves

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

Review: SHOCKWAVES by Thomas Tessier

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

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: The Wilderness Within

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

Review: THE WILDERNESS WITHIN by John Claude Smith

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

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: O Little Town of Deathlehem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Unspeakable

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

Review: UNSPEAKABLE by Graham Masterton

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

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

In all, I was quite taken with this novel.

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review: Nine Eyes: Terror From The Deep

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

Review: NINE EYES by CJ Waller

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

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

A real page-turner and nightmare inspiration!

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review: Ritual

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

Review: RITUAL by Graham Masterton

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

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

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

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Review: The Hymn

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

Review: THE HYMN by Graham Masterton

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

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

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: Rattlesnake Hill

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

Review: RATTLESNAKE HILL by Leslie Wheeler

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

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review: The Devil in Gray

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

Review: THE DEVIL IN GRAY by Graham Masterton

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

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

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Review: Into the Black Nowhere

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review: City of Endless Night

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

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

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

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Review: UNSUB

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

Review: UNSUB by Meg Gardiner (UNSUB #1)

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

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

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Pickman's Other Model

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

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Review: Into the Thinnest of Air

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

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

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

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: Black Chalk

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

Review: BLACK CHALK by Christopher Yates

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

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Review: The House on Hayden Pond

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

Review: THE HOUSE ON HAYDEN POND by Jessica Monks

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

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Christmas Scary!

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

"Reflection of Evil" by Graham Masterton

"The Sympathy Society" by Graham Masterton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review: Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True!

Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True! Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True! by Frank C. Chastain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of HORRORS: Horror: Horrifying Stories of True Paranormal activities and Ghost Stories That You Wish Were Not True! By Frank Chastain

An apropos title, for this set includes quite a number of "true scaries," and a collection of some of the world's worst killers.

Serial Killers: , & Murder: Scary Stories, & True Stories of the Most Terrifying Serial Killers the World has Ever Seen! (Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, ... Unsolved Mysteries, Torture Book 1)

This volume presents 5 notorious (or less so) serial killers: 3 male, 1 female, 1 whose gender as well as identity remains unknown. These are New York's Long Island Killer (or Killers), San Francisco's Zodiac Killer, The Night Strangler Richard Ramirez who murdered in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Boston Strangler (who may or may not have been Albert DeSalvo), and the beautician-turned-nurse Genese Jones, who despite a sentence totally 99 years, will be up for parole in 2018.

The author reports the cases in some detail, taking pains to point out that some of these (Long Island Killer, Zodiac Killer, Boston Strangler) have never been satisfactorily closed, so quite possibly the killers could still be at large.

The author also offers for our entertainment and edification true-life scares, some from folklore, others collected from life, including some of his own scares. Prepare for spine-tingling chills and provoked pondering. Recommended: don't read at night. I love horror even more than I love history, and have been reading horror and hauntings for the last 6 decades--and these are SCARY!!

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Review: Bad Call

Bad Call Bad Call by Stephen Wallenfels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BAD CALL

I started this book with a sense of foreboding. Beginning with the first page (what a reader's hook!), my intuition just "knew" something was going to go very badly wrong. Some one or more of the characters would suffer, and so would I, vicariously. Some of them I distrusted from the beginning; plus I knew that the deception from the very beginning would prove disastrous, bringing on trouble, and more lies, and quite possibly betrayal. As the story continues, the suspense ratchets higher and the tension tautens. As everything seems to conspire against this disparate conglomeration, tricking and blocking their attempts at progress, true character rises to the forefront, both strong integrity and vicious cruelty. When Nature itself leaps in to confuse and destroy, and more than one of this mismatched group of four adolescents makes their own "bad call" (and making wrong or misguided decisions is a consistent theme in this novel), nothing can result but tragedy. The result for the reader: constant breathtaking suspense.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Review: Where Nightmares Come From

Where Nightmares Come From Where Nightmares Come From by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM , edited by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson

I 've enjoyed and benefited from Crystal Lake Publishing's Writers on Writing Series, and am happy to find the brand-new volume WHERE NIGHTMARES COME FROM: THE ART OF STORYTELLING IN THE HORROR GENRE. In 28 articles, including some interviews, 31 authors bring their various and sundry viewpoints, and perhaps better yet, their wisdom, to a volume that I recommend to read and to keep as a reference guide. As a sometime write, I found inspiration, techniques, encouragement, a metaphorical pat on the back and "you're okay, kid" (muttered in a Bogart voice). As a lifelong reader, I enjoyed admiring my idols from afar and discovering the guidance they provide.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Review: Scary House

Scary House Scary House by Sean Thomas Fisher
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

SCARY HOUSE by Sean Thomas Fisher

Take the title's word for it; SCARY HOUSE Is one phenomenally frightening story. A coming of age plus adult consequences ("how do I deal with something unstoppable?"), this novel is richly layered, and could be enjoyed as a coming of age, abandoned by father, staunch friendships, meeting girls, first romance, growing to maturity, protective parent, saga. But while other individuals experience these categories of life trials and joys, not too many (I don't think) hold the adolescent dream of proving the existence of ghosts. Certainly few encounter an actively haunted house with manifestations this terrifying, nor grow to adulthood in the very real and permanent fear that the terror they battled at age 13 will return, decades later, with a horrifying agenda, an implacable destiny. This is life on the line, nitty-gritty, down to the bone, horror, and it won't stop.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Cabals of Blood: A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror

Cabals of Blood: A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror Cabals of Blood: A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror by Richard Klu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: CABALS OF BLOOD by Richard Klu

Much credit to this author's imagination. He definitely exercises it in this multiple-story collection. Subtitled "A Collection of Lovecraftian Horror," there are indeed stories that explore God's beyond, cities hidden constructed of strange angles and odd proportions. Some of the stories resonate with stories I've read by H. P. Lovecraft and authors who toil in the fields of the Lovecraft Mythos. Other stories here focus on creature horror.

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Review: Die for Me

Die for Me Die for Me by Carol Gorman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DIE FOR ME by Carol Gorman

This was a fast-paced, suspenseful, one-sitting YA read. I was engaged with the characters and the plot premise. In fact, I found it similar to a logic puzzle as I tried to deduce the identity of the killer. Yes, killer--it may be YA but there is death. Also friendship and betrayal, cruelty and egotism, and some genuinely good characters. I especially appreciated the denouement, which carried much emotional impact and provoked thought, and the conclusion.

Carol Gorman is a multiply award-winning author. I look forward to discovering more of her books.

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Review: The Black Blade: A Huckster Novel

The Black Blade: A Huckster Novel The Black Blade: A Huckster Novel by Jeff Chapman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I'm familiar with the subgenre of “Weird Western,” which I guess is a subgenre of both “Weird Fiction” and of “Western Fiction,” in this case “Western” referring to the mid- to late-19th century frontier, in the U.S. And possibly Canada and Mexico. This would be the era of Manifest Destiny, that horrid protocol invented by Western Europeans to countenance their complete takeover of the North American continent. I haven't read a lot of “Weird Western” fiction but let me tell you, Jeff Chapman may just have convinced me to drop everything and start reading this category widely.

THE BLACK BLADE is an adorable, DEE-LIGHT-FUL novel, as perhaps one of its characters might say [or maybe not]. Anyway, this reviewer says so: Jimmy and Orville are a precious duo, and now they've added Isobel on full-time, and that feisty girl is a real kickin' heroine too. Jimmy and Orville are sort of business partners; Orville, a chubby but charismatic fellow, hucksters...he cons folks out of their hard-earned money, and he is always looking for opportunity to knock. Jimmy, younger, rescued by Orville when he was lower than a frog's belly and really poorly off, is always watching out for danger, which usually finds them, then figuring out how to get them safe. In this novel, the two men, and a farm couple, are tricked by a dark magician, a “man” with true power, and Jimmy and Wilbur, the farmer, are sent out on a quest worthy of dark fantasy. They have to deal with shapeshifting animals, a mask that possesses, the dark magician and his various monstrous creations, as well as battle against their own fear, and learn to cooperate instead of compete.

Jeff Chapman's characterizations are precious. His settings are beautifully delineated, and his homespun prattle, particularly Jimmy's, is humorous yet poignant. Jimmy is fond of remembering particular proverbs and platitudes of his late grandma, herself a wise one, and his homage to her and his loyalty to his friends knows no bounds. More Jimmy and Orville, please!

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Review: Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint

Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint by Richard Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Nikolis Cole: The Low-Rise Saint by Richard Black

Wow! That was exciting! Very violent, very profane, very fast-paced--I read it in one quick sitting and I really enjoyed it. When drug lords' violence rips across a destroyed neighborhood, nobody much cares, including the police. But amazingly someone does care. There's a brand-new vigilante bringing justice to the low-rise neighborhood, and it's not Charles Bronson or Candyman. You won't believe what and who it is, but he is righteous!

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Review: Black Goat Blues

Black Goat Blues Black Goat Blues by Levi Black
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: BLACK GOAT BLUES by Levi Black (The Mythos War Book 2)

After all the trouble, danger, and magic in Book 1, RED RIGHT HAND, Charlie (Charlotte) might be ready to rest. But when you've been Marked by an Elder God, rest is a thing of the past. (And Charlie's never really rested since age fourteen.) After being jerked back across the universe by a certain Elder God, battling others, all the trickery, deceit, set-ups, this girl Is ready to get down and fix said Elder God's wagon. But first she has to find him, and to do so, Charlie must travel to Carcosa, to the Court of the feared and dreaded King in Yellow. The beat-downs, deception, and betrayals aren't over yet...not by any means.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Review: The Black Goat Motorcycle Club

The Black Goat Motorcycle Club The Black Goat Motorcycle Club by Jason Murphy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This novel is so extreme, but boy is it riveting!! I usually don't choose motorcycle club-themed books (that's reading out of my comfort zone) but the title sold me. I had expected Satanism (Baphomet), but instead I got Lovecraft, the supernatural, and then--debut author Jason Murphy took two overdone horror tropes, turned them inside out and upside down and tossed them in my face, and oh did he make them rock!! Not only are there really well-done characterizations, and non-stop gore, but there are not one, not two, but four kickin' female characters (and they sure show up the guys!).

If you think your stomach can stand it, devour this novel. Jason Murphy, you're rockin'

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Review: Red Right Hand

Red Right Hand Red Right Hand by Levi Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RED RIGHT HAND by Levi Black


Absolutely riveting from the first page, I couldn't step away. When I turned the first couple of pages, and read the identity of the one whom protagonist Charlie (Charlotte) calls "The Man in Black," I was awestruck (and no, I won't give it away). This series and this novel are pure Lovecraftian delight!

Charlie Moore is a twenty-five year old woman with the kind of physical, emotional, and psychological damage no one should have had to endure; yet she survived, not necessarily thrived, but she has become an amazingly strong person. Happens also that her maternal great-great uncle was H. P. Lovecraft, who was not only a scribe of Weird Fiction, but a prophet. Yes, the Lovecraft Cosmos is literally true, and the Great Old Ones really are out to get us. Now Charlie is tapped to be a warrior to stop their incursion; if she heeds the commands of the "Midnight Man" (she varies her appellations for him). Of course, heeding him may well be the death of Charlie, her almost-boyfriend Daniel--and the entire planet.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017



FRIGHTFALL, and OCTOBER IS LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, ended yesterday, with Halloween {Samhain}. Today is All Souls Day and the first day of NOVEMBER IS LOVECRAFT MYTHOS. I pledge to myself to read one (or more) HPL story each day from November 1 through December 31.

I am also participating in NaNoWriMo this month, my first since 2012. I'm writing BRIDGEPORT ASYLUM, which is not an exact sequel, but is related to, my 2011 NaNo novel, BRIGHTMOOR ASYLUM.

Hope to really immerse in Lovecraft Mythos reading throughout November (really my favourite month). To that end, last night I commenced RED RIGHT HAND by Levi Black, and oh my, is it rockin' the Mythos!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Slithers

Slithers Slithers by W.W. Mortensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SLITHERS by W. W. Mortensen

Oh my oh my oh my, I loved this perfect novel. I love a book carrying my imagination into wider realms, and this is exactly what the author has done here. Mr. Mortensen takes the "what if's" common to us all, and for 9 characters, spins out their probabilities. If you've ever been in a "close call, a "near miss," or pondered "There but for the grace of God go I," read SLITHERS. If "What If?" has ever occurred to your mind, read SLITHERS. Curious about "the road not traveled"? Read SLITHERS. I think you owe it to yourself. I can definitely see rereading SLITHERS again and again; and I am off to read this exceptional author's debut novel, EIGHT.

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Review: Monochromes: And Other Stories

Monochromes: And Other Stories Monochromes: And Other Stories by Matt Bechtel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I found Matt Bechtel through his story in the New England Horror Writers anthology WICKED HAUNTS. Right then I knew I was on to something. His story collection, MONOCHROMES AND OTHER STORIES, transported me to I can't count how many dimensions and probabilities. In company with authors Paul F. Olson and Tim Meyer (also New England scribes), Matt Bechtel takes my imagination by its clammy little hand and takes it on vacation to exotic possibilities. Each story is an adventure, into the characters but also inside us. When each story is excellent, it's not easy to pick "favorites," but there were several which especially impacted me:

"The Beginning of the End" turned me inside out and upside down and round about. It's about the length of a flash piece, with atomic impact.
"Last Man Standing": a longer story, with an emotional denouement and an ending I never expected. This one woke me during the night for further pondering.

"A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings,"
"Restore Factory Settings,"
"Cozzy's Question."

Each of these three stories made me proud, inspired, and hopeful, touching my heart in positive ways.

Mr. Bechtel is also gifted at delivering the-ending-you-never-saw-coming. Note "Last Man Standing," "This Story Approved by the American Dental Association," "A Man Walks Into A Bar." But don't rely on my opinions; go read this collection for yourself.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Review: Arachnosaur

Arachnosaur Arachnosaur by Richard Jeffries
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ARACHNOSAUR by Richard Jeffries

I totally loved this suspenseful, adventure-rich, horror-thriller, and this is fantastic praise from a lifelong Arachnophobe! This novel has everything for the discerning reader seeking a heart-pounding ploy, implacable horror, lots of scares, and well-delineated character!

Lest you expect yet another terrorism battled by sterling and stalwart Americans, 2-dimensional good-guys vs. Evil, please do think again! This story has Nature vs. Humanity, Apocalypse potential, death, Gore, good guys, really evil guys--and fully-fleshed characters I really hope return {well, not the bad guys}. The author is a writer of excellence, and he knows his stuff. I so hope ARACHNOSAUR will be the first of many more novels.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Review: The Shivering

The Shivering The Shivering by Joseph W. Bebo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE SHIVERING by Joseph W. Beni

THE SHIVERING is a truly scary novel, and I gave 5 stars for two reasons: the innovative nature and mode of the horror and its implacability; and the rampant character evolution (and devolution). The character arcs in this story are really precious.

Our protagonist/hero evolves practically continuously throughout the novel (a requirement if he is to be able to face up to the otherworldly shenanigans and also to cope with the changes in practical matters (economic, interpersonal, friendships, legal, and so forth). Like a Timex of the mid-20th century, Mike Russo takes a licking and keeps on ticking. He is a genuinely "good guy" who also has a lot of compassion for others, even those who don't seem to elicit empathy.

Several other characters are delineated in much depth as they "keep on going through them changes." In their cases, though, it's character devolution but the author continues to illustrate it amazingly.

The evil is imaginative, unexpected, and as discovery of it unfolds, shows itself as nearly unstoppable (not to mention arrogant). There's black magic, ceremonial magic, white witchcraft, Nature worship, and then there's Mike himself, in a category all his own. I can definitely see myself rereading THE SHIVERING.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: Don't Bury Me

Don't Bury Me Don't Bury Me by Nick Younker
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Review: DON'T BURY ME by Nick Younker

Author Nick Younker packs so much into this short story: horror; science; political philosophy; history; child neglect; governmental posturing; familial love; voluntary sacrifice; medical marijuana; the supernatural. He could have extended all this to novel-length, but framing it as a short story just makes the impact much more powerful. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, apparently so is the road to pandemic. Our protagonist spends the story's duration berating himself, but no one can fault his dedication, strength of love, and personal sacrifice to his cause. Spine-tingling, grief-inspiring, heartwrenching, heartwarming, and inspiring, all in one story. Triumph of the human spirit, indeed.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Review: The Wendigo

The Wendigo The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WENDIGO by Algernon Blackwood

Lately much has been made of the bigotry of H. P. Lovecraft: whether it was ingrained, or an externalisation of his rampant fear of the unknown, and whether modern readers should overlook it or eschew his writing entirely. Here in this short piece by Algernon Blackwood, a similar bigotry arises, perhaps even more clearly defined. The omniscient narrator downs African-Americans, North American Indians (the next thing to wild animals, it seems), and even a Quebec-born French Canadian! The civilized members of the hunting party in the Canadian wilderness are clearly and specifically delineated as "white men," who are out of touch with the wilderness and its paranormal elements, while the Indian cook, by nature of being "almost animal," is attuned, and he and the French Canadian are aware of danger in a certain region; though the Indian, of course, is the most aware.

The prose is glorious and the spooky element is frightening, but the bigotry is jarring. I give high praise to the story for its content and excellence in prose. Yet the author sounds that tired ethnic bigotry again at the end. (I must admit that he levels condescension against Scotsmen as well.)

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