Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review: Listen To Me Speak Trilogy

Listen To Me Speak Trilogy Listen To Me Speak Trilogy by Victor Dark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I enjoyed this trilogy much more than the author's UNINVITED GUESTS TRILOGY (although I quite liked the first in that set). Quite possibly I liked this set better because I am far more comfortable with the supernatural than with household intruders. However, I also think the author shows promise of coming into his own. I liked the characters, enjoyed the plot, and found the neat interweaving of past and present quite exciting. Looking forward to the author's next appearance.

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Review: Uninvited Guests Trilogy

Uninvited Guests Trilogy Uninvited Guests Trilogy by Victor Dark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Just when I thought I had surmounted my phobia of literary home invasions, I pick up Victor Dark' s UNINVITED GUESTS TRILOGY, and the phobia has cranked back up. Only now, instead of intrusions by those bent on robbery, desecration, and assault. I've got to worry about what--or rather, who--is inside. No, not spouses, parents, children, siblings; instead, it's the ones living in the undetected spaces of one's home. Author Dark says his calling is to scare people silly. Well, it worked.

I gave the trilogy as an entirety 4 stars. Rating the three stories separately: 5 stars for 1, 5 stars for 2, 4 stars for 3 [but 5 for the final paragraph!!]

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Review: Unseemly

Unseemly Unseemly by Jason Parent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: UNSEEMLY by Jason Parent

This novellette is just exceptional. I certainly did not expect it to unfold as it did, neither the denouement nor the conclusion. The poetic imagery throughout really inspires vividness, and there's a neat balance of "I really don't trust/shouldn't get involved" vs. sheer greed plus inertia. The outworking of the plot is deliciously scary. Definitely rereadable.

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Review: Moving In

Moving In Moving In by Ron Ripley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MOVING IN by Ron Ripley (Moving In Book 1)

I totally enjoyed this story, a one-sitting riveting read. Mr. Ripley has a special talent for approaching the supernatural, as demonstrated in THE BOYLAN HOUSE TRILOGY and SHERMAN'S LIBRARY TRILOGY. MOVING IN is just jam-packed with ghosts, some lovely and some definitely not so, so naturally I just loved it. The living are pretty lively too. I especially enjoyed the characters of Samuel and Leo.

Fortunately, our beleaguered householders Brian and Jenny take up the call, and will reappear in a new installment. Can't wait!

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Review: The Devil's Serenade

The Devil's Serenade The Devil's Serenade by Catherine Cavendish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE DEVIL'S SERENADE by Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish has a gift for scariness--always so, but on some occasions "great" becomes "exceptional" and the fright level achieves memorable. Such is the case with THE SECOND WIFE; LINDEN MANOR; and now, THE DEVIL'S SERENADE. There is true horror here, but there is also triumph--both human and spirit. The denouement scared me pale. Read with the lights on...and ignore those noises upstairs. They're just your imagination.

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Review: Things We Fear

Things We Fear Things We Fear by Glenn Rolfe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THINGS WE FEAR by Glenn Rolfe

I never miss a Glenn Rolfe story--never. I know I'll be scared, in a subtle and literary way. THINGS WE FEAR crept under my skin. Author Rolfe combines human monsters (yes, they exist) and the monsters-in-the-closet type of scare: those "that can't really exist!" kind. A character in another story insists, "Ghosts can literally scare you to death." Sometimes, our fears can be the death of us, too.

Be wiser than me: . Don't read this at night.

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Monday, January 25, 2016


Release:  June 1 2016


I have heard so much positive praise of the author's A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS [2015] so I was eager to read his newest. Every expectation was fulfilled. DISAPPEARANCE AT DEVIL'S ROCK is an exceptional novel, unforgettable--and a strong Best of 2016. 

Beginning with a knock-out reader's hook--the dreaded after-midnight phone call that is every parent's nightmare, the action and emotional impact is literally non-stop. Instead of immediate closure ("your child/spouse/parent is dead") in which the worst has already happened and the grief must begin, in this novel the grief, fear, anxiety, is open-ended: Elizabeth's son's best friend since first grade calls in the early AM,  on the landline, to ask if Tommy' s come home. Three friends had been at a sleepover at one's home; but they had lost Tommy in the forest of the State Park wrapping around their Massachusetts community.

As the story unfolds, relationships are tested: Elizabeth's with daughter Kate, and Elizabeth's mother Janice with both Elizabeth and Kate. The friendship of the two remaining boys, Josh and Luis, is maximally stressed, and as reminiscences unfold, leading to a powerfully impacting denouement, readers--and characters--learn of the manipulated events of the summer that drive wedges among the boys and the horrifying consequence which inevitably resulted in a disappearance at Devil's Rock.


The Secrets of Lizzie BordenThe Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy
My rating: 0 of 5 stars 


An intriguing account of the life and times of one Lizzie Borden, of Fall River, Massachusetts, THE SECRETS OF LIZZIE BORDEN unfolds from the bird's eye view, a first-person narrative related by Lizzie herself. I was struck by the ongoing misery of the household of Andrew Borden. A wealthy man, he might have provided proficiently for his first wife and daughters, and later for his second wife. Instead the family lived as if poverty-stricken, with the only acknowledgement of wealth being Andrew' s constant remonstrances against devious fortune hunters. Lizzie seems a failed person, never able to achieve joy or happiness or ever to find love. 

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Monday, January 18, 2016

THE PASSENGER by F. R. Tallis_Review

Review:   THE PASSENGER by F. R. Tallis

I expected a great new novel from the author of VOICES, and THE PASSENGER is exactly that! A riveting, non-stop, historical thrill ride, the framework is the perils and progress of an early World War II German U-boat, against British shipping, both military and mercantile. (This period is prior to American entry against the Axis Powers.) On multiple levels, THE PASSENGER is stunning. The horrors of war, the loss of life (demonstrated both individually and multiply), the cost to the populace at home (in this case, both the German people, and the citizens of Occupied France), are all so vividly expressed that this novel could be taken as anti-war.

Then there are so many characters so excellently delineated (quite understandable as the author is a clinical psychologist), and this includes many who are of secondary and tertiary importance.

The protagonist (human) is Commander Siegfried Lorenz, commanding the unlucky U-330. He is truly exceptional: a military man who rules with a light hand, and quotes poetry in his war diary (commander's log). German Nationalism and the Reich are protagonists also, in a broader sense, as is the Nazi occultism, which by cause and effect directly bears on the imminent supernatural and paranormal events impacting and plaguing the feckless U-boat.

I seldom think of  a book in a movie context, but this novel would be a superb and powerfully impacting film (emotionally, psychologically, and visually). Definitely a Best of 2016.

THE HAUNTING OF MELMERBY MANOR by David W. Robinson_review

Review: THE HAUNTING OF MELMERBY MANOR by David W. Robinson (Spookies #1)

What a perfect collection of characters populates this novel, the first in a series. Author David W. Robinson has chosen cleverly so that the three main protagonists--Sceptre, Pete, and Kevin--are foils each for the other, and he interweaves practical tension with their incipient ghost hunt business. Additionally, the actual supernatural events and characters play against a backdrop of actual crime and criminals, and one skeptic and one frightened non-believer partnering with a true believer. It all meshes seamlessly.

Sceptre Rand-Epping, an aristocratic scion living in genteel poverty, has been a psychic since age eight; her spirit guide is her great-grandfather's butler, Albert Fishwick, deceased July 1, 1916, at the Somme. Pete Brennan is a private investigator who enjoys violence but operates out of a strong moral code, a former police constable. Kevin Keeley is a wheeler-dealer, small-time, and a tech wizard. That they are platonic roommates and partners in a new ghost investigation business should be a marvel, but instead the three are a perfect balance.

Friday, January 15, 2016

FAR FROM TRUE by Linwood Barclay (PROMISE FALLS #2)

March 22 2016

Review: FAR FROM TRUE by Linwood Barclay

Once again, Linwood Barclay breaks the envelope limiting imagination as he returns readers to that exceptionally bizarre community, Promise Falls, New York. (About the only achieved promises here are a failing small-town economy and a cast of really off-the-wall characters.) However, eager readers are guaranteed exciting, thrilling, and riveting entertainment. As far as I know, some of these scenes are never-seen-before. Author Barclay peels off the veneer of this odd community, as he does so.well in each of his novels, and exposes the real issues and real individuals.

If you like to explore towns in "the twilight zone," where nothing is as it appears, welcome to Promise Falls, an unforgettable community. I'm enthusiastically awaiting the third in this extraordinary series.

Promise Falls: you might want to visit, but you sure don't want to live (or die) there!


Release date January 1 2016


I was eager to read this book after perusing a Goodreads review, and found PRINCE OF NIGHTMARES every bit as appealing as I'd hope. Mr. McNee has a vast imagination, and weaves it extensively. I predict fans of Clive Barker and Bryan D. Smith will admire this novel. Not for anyone without a cast-iron heart, stomach, and brain, but nevertheless exquisitely designed. Touching on some original theories about the nature of both reality and perception, the author draws the veil between consensus reality and nightmare reality so taut it thins, stretches, then snaps, making nightmares overrun "reality"; and oh, that incredible ending!! In your face--quite literally.

FOOL ME ONCE By Harlan Coben_Review

March 22 2016 Release Date

Review: FOOL ME ONCE by Harlan Coben

I've long relied on author Harlan Coben to deliver outstanding mystery/thrillers. FOOL ME ONCE is no exception. While juggling several plot lines seamlessly, Mr. Coben provides a tale of some really nasty individuals, the kind who smear the idealistic image of humanity. I won't identify the characters of whom I speak--that will unfold throughout the novel. The denouement is unforgettable. Poetic justice, indeed. Once again, Harlan Coben brings a don't miss thriller.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Review: THE BORDEN MURDERS by Sarah Miller This is not a sensationalist rendering but rather a logical approach to discovering this widely-known and gory double crime, committed in August 1892. The author bases her accounting on court transcripts, photos, and newspaper reporting of the crime. Readers will understand those involved as regular and real-life humans, instead of the polarization of demonization vs. pure innocence as the press at the time, and a good portion of the townspeople, purported. Perhaps students will be inspired to this method of historical research.


Review: THE GIRLS SHE LEFT BEHIND by Sarah Graves (Lizzie Snow #2) I have read and very much enjoyed Sarah Graves' HOME REPAIR IS HOMICIDE series. Those are delightfully comfy (and educational) cozy mysteries. Her Lizzie Snow series is a story of a different stripe altogether. This is serious New England noir. Lizzie Snow is a tough detective, formerly working homicide and violent crimes in Boston. She moved to Maine's most northern county because her former lover-detective partner, Dylan Hudson (now with the Maine State Police), intermittently reports sightings passed on to him. Lizzie' s sister was murdered nine years ago, and her one-year-old daughter disappeared. Now Lizzie is a sheriff's deputy for Arostook County, Maine, stationed in the "outpost" of Bearkill, a tiny economically-struggling rural community. Investigating a fourteen-year-old girl's disappearance leads into a fugitive escape, a vicious narcissist who had imprisoned three young women for fifteen years in his Connecticut residence. Also interfering are personal and family secrets, lies and deception, and Stockholm Syndrome. THE GIRLS SHE LEFT BEHIND turned me inside out and left me hungry for the next in the Lizzie Snow series.

Monday, January 11, 2016

2016_A-Z_Challenge: New Weird Genres


 B = BYE BYE BONES by Alexis Powers
       THE BORDEN MURDERS by Sarah Miller
       BABY JANE by M. E. Demers


 D = THE DARK RITES OF CTHULHU ed. By Brian Sammons 


 F = FAR FROM TRUE by Linwood Barclay
       FINAL ASSIGNMENT by Linwood Barclay



 I = ICE by Kevin Tinto





 N = NOT ALONE by Craig Falconer




 R = REVIVED by J. M. Northrup

S = SUBTERRESTRIAL by Michael McBride

 T = THEY RISE by Hunter Shea
       THIS CENSUS TAKER by China Mieville






Sunday, January 3, 2016

RELIC OF DEATH byDavid Bernstein

Review: Relic of Death by David Bernstein

David Bernstein has long been one of the horror authors I rely on to always hit the target [I still can't forget his WITCH ISLAND--tres scary!] In RELIC OF DEATH, itself a champion piece, the actual protagonist--actually, antagonist, is the title character: at the moment, a seemingly innocuous simple briefcase, the kind seen accompanying businesspersons worldwide. So why then is it locked in an old-fashioned safe, in the cellar of a rundown farmhouse in the rural wilds of upstate New York? We will discover that through the perspectives of a number of different individuals--business partners; marital couple; landlord-tenant; parents and child. Taut plotting creates a seamless tapestry  of scenarios that will thrill, chill, and terrify.

Saturday, January 2, 2016



Women in Horror Month is coming up next month, and since the publication of my first novel, The Harrowing,I’ve had the privilege of being included in lists of top female horror authors. But these days it startles me to hear myself called a horror writer.


It makes sense, of course. I grew up reading horror. Dad loved horror and suspense — books, movies, plays – the house was full of mystery and horror and sci-fi classics, so early on I developed a taste for being scared senseless (possibly in self-defense). It’s no surprise that when I started writing myself, I gravitated toward the spooky and supernatural.


Even this holiday week, when most people are pulling out the Christmas classic movies, in between family parties and writing, I’m binge-watching old seasons of The Walking Dead.


But I actually had a very short tenure writing horror. My first two books, The Harrowing and The Price, are really the only books I’ve written that I could classify as horror. My third book, The Unseen, was a mystery/suspense - with poltergeists. My fourth, Book of Shadows, was when I started moving into crime, although there is a strong possibly supernatural element in that book as well.


I deliberately moved away from horror as a genre because I didn’t feel comfortable being associated with a lot of the books in the genre. The horror genre – in all media - has been brought to a very low, base level by torture porn and rape, with overwhelmingly female victims.


I find it disgusting and harmful, and it doesn’t deserve to be listed with the true psychological horror of Jackson, Lovecraft, Shelley, DuMaurier, Poe, King – the great explorers of the dark side.


(I am often asked to blurb books and I find it surreal that I have had to start telling male writers up front: “I won’t read or review anything with rape scenes - unless you’re honestly exploring your own fear of male-on-male rape.” Same goes for torture. There is somehow not even the basic awareness that scenes like that would bother me.)


I love both genres, crime and horror. I went back and forth and crossed the two as a screenwriter, too. But I’m finding the crime genre a better fit for my own themes as a writer. My writing is largely an exploration of good and evil, and nothing supernatural could possibly be more horrifying to me than the evil that people do. And I mostly mean whatmen do: serial killing, rape, child molestation, torture, genocide, war crimes. These are largely male crimes – so why aren’t we being honest about that fact? How can we prevent and heal the ravages of those crimes without being realistic about root causes?


As a woman I’ve always been compelled to write about these subjects. Let’s face it – women have a lot to say about fear, and violence, and horror. We live with all of thosethings on a much more intimate and everyday level than most men (men in non-warring countries) do. A walk out to the parking lot from the grocery store can on any given night turn into a nightmare from which some women will never fully recover. I think security expert and author Gavin DeBecker got it exactly right when he said “A man’s greatest fear about a woman is that she’ll laugh at him. A woman’s greatest fear about a man is that he’ll kill her.”


Women know what it’s like to be prisoners in their own homes, what it’s like to be enslaved, to be stalked, to be prostituted, what it’s like to be ultimately powerless. And they know everything there is to know about rage, even when it’s so deeply buried they don’t know that’s what it is they’re feeling. 


And if it weren’t enough that we have to face this everyday, in real life – it seems that every time we turn on the TV or pick up a book we’re confronted by the victimization of women on the screen or page.


The fact is, one reason novels and film and TV so often depict women as victims is that it’s the stark reality. Since the beginning of time, women haven’t been the predators — we’re the prey. But after all those years (centuries, millennia) of women being victims of the most heinous crimes out there… wouldn’t you think that someone would finally say — “Enough”?  


And maybe even strike back?


So my Huntress Moon series turns the tables. The books follow a haunted FBI agent on the hunt for a female serial killer – who kills male victims. The interesting thing is that arguably, there’s never been any such thing as a female serial killer. Sexual homicide is a male crime. But that’s part of the mystery, and the dramatic question of the series.


Whoever she is, whatever she is, the Huntress is like no killer Agent Roarke – or the reader – has ever seen before. And you may find yourself as conflicted about her asRoarke is.


As one of the profilers says in the book: “I’ve always wondered why we don’t see more women acting out this way. God knows enough of them have reason.”


And the great, cathartic thing for me about good mysteries, thrillers, horror, suspense - is that you can work through those issues of good and evil. You can walk vicariously into those perilous situations and face your fears, and sometimes triumph. It’s all about the fight against everyday evil, for me, and about the deep connections people make with unlikely other people when they commit to that fight.


With the Huntress series I finally have an umbrella to explore, dramatically, over multiple books, the roots and context of the worst crimes I know. And at least on paper, do something about it.


- Alexandra Sokoloff


Alexandra Sokoloff is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the supernatural thrillers The Harrowing, The Price, The Unseen, Book of Shadows, The Shifters, and The Space BetweenThe Keepers paranormal series, and the Thriller Award-nominated, Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI Thrillers series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon, Cold Moon), which has been optioned for television. She has also written three non-fiction workbooks: Stealing Hollywood, Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, and Writing Love, based on her internationally acclaimed workshops and blog (www.ScreenwritingTricks.com), and has served on the Board of Directors of the WGA, West (the screenwriters union) and the board of the Mystery Writers of America.

Alex is a California native and a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in theater and minored in everything Berkeley has a reputation for. She lives in Los Angeles and in Scotland, with Scottish crime author Craig Robertson.www.Alexandrasokoloff.com

Blog URL:  http://www.screenwritingtricks.com

Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/alexandra.sokoloff

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlexSokoloff

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/AlexandraSokoloff

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/axsokoloff/


Amazon: The FBI Thriller Series: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011M9AOBM?keywords=huntress%20moon&qid=1451693113&ref_=sr_1_1_ha&s=digital-text&sr=1-1


Friday, January 1, 2016

COLD MOON by Alexandra Sokoloff

COLD MOON by Alexandra Sokoloff

Review: COLD MOON by Alexandra Sokoloff (Huntress/FBI Thrillers Series Book 3) 

 COLD MOON is the third in this series,  as such, is the summit so far. Building on all the processes that commenced in HUNTRESS MOON, and intensified in BLOOD MOON, all becomes "meta" in COLD MOON: Metaphorical, metaphysical, meta-viral. Remember the "Anonymous" viral wave? Something of the same type occurs here, with much different rationale and consequences, focused on "Santa Muerte." I would love for this series to continue; but as I have read all three books non-stop in immediate succession, I'm not sure my nerves would survive. Nonetheless, I'd still read on--I'm that attached! Meanwhile, 36 stars to each book in the series, and to the series: yes, it's that good.