Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Review: Death Chase

Death Chase Death Chase by Lizella Prescott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An unsettling psychological thriller that stirs up a lot of deep emotions, DEATH CHASE begins with a bizarrely unexpected reader's hook, and then subdivides itself to explore past and present, chapter at a time as three voices compete--or share the limelight--to tell the story of three women: three staunch friends; or are they?

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: Satan's Lullaby: A Medieval Mystery

Satan's Lullaby: A Medieval Mystery Satan's Lullaby: A Medieval Mystery by Priscilla Royal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of SATANS LULLABY by Priscilla Royal
(Medieval Mystery, #11)

Priscilla Royal possesses a delightful gift for bringing to life the Medieval Era in England (with reference to Wales and France as well, in this particular novel). She draws the period in such a way as to vivify her characters (all of them) and to bring the setting gloriously to life. She also uses medieval terminology (which inspires me to find definitions and further research) and reading her Medieval Mystery series has reignited my lifelong interest in the Middle Ages.

The Medieval Mystery Series focuses on Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas of the Tyndal Priory near the North Sea, a dual priory (monks and nuns, separate) of the Order of Fontevraud in France. Close friends as well as Prioress and Confessor, the two are compassionate and talented individuals, and one of their talents is solving mysteries so that justice might be administered while yet tempered with mercy. In SATANS LULLABY the priest who is brother of the founder of the Order and a close advisor to the King of France arrives to investigate the Tyndal Priory, with disastrous results, including a horrible accusation and death. Constrained by his order from investigating, Prioress Eleanor must consider a way around Father Davoir's restrictions in order to free the innocent and identify the guilty.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Review: Tangled Web

Tangled Web Tangled Web by Gail Z. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of TANGLED WEB by Gail Z. Martin
(Deadly Curiosities #3)

I haven't read Urban Fantasy in quite a while but find this series a great reason to delve in again. Set in Charleston SC, a city with a rich and varied history of several centuries, magic is afoot and sometimes treacherous. Cassidy is a psychometric, a person who reads objects and identifies their history and their magic. She, her assistant manager, and her business partner are the defense line against magical predators: not just in their city of Charleston, but throughout the world. When they encounter evil utilizing magic to upend the world as we know it, Cassidy, Teag, and Sorren will act—strongly and effectively...Or we'll all suffer the consequences.

Readers who've enjoyed the former television series “Friday the 13th The Series,” about the antique/curio shop and the uncle, niece, and nephew who track down accursed artifacts and return them to safety in the shop, will adore the Deadly Curiosities Series by Gail Z. Martin.

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Review: The Dragon Tamer

The Dragon Tamer The Dragon Tamer by Ava Richardson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE DRAGON TAMER by Ava Richardson
(Alveria Dragon Akademy Book 1)

Wow, this author can write! I was immediately engrossed in this epic fantasy of Dragons, Dragon-Blooded, Dragon Tamers, and oh yes—mere humans. Kaelan is a young woman in training with her mother and grandmother to be a healer, as they are. Always fascinated with Dragons, she knows she will never be closer to one than to seeing one fly overhead. Moving from cottage to cottage in various locales, Kaelan and her mother and grandmother eke out a precarious but loving existence, until Kaelan's sense of justice protects an elderly citizen and results eventually in the village turning on her. Then she discovers at last the truth of her heritage...

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Review: Fantastic Tales of Terror: History's Darkest Secrets

Fantastic Tales of Terror: History's Darkest Secrets Fantastic Tales of Terror: History's Darkest Secrets by Eugene Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of FANTASTIC TALES Anthology edited by Eugene Johnson

Subtitled “History's Darkest Secrets,” this “fantastic” collection goes where few if any writers have gone before. In the tradition of excellence readers expect from Crystal Lake Publishing, these incredible stories will expand imaginations (and instill terror at times). A stellar line-up of favourite authors are included in this Anthology, very well chosen and curated by Editor Eugene Johnson. I expect this one will achieve the Bram Stoker Award; it's unbeatable.

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Review: Covenant with Hell

Covenant with Hell Covenant with Hell by Priscilla Royal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of A COVENANT WITH HELL by Priscilla Royal
(Medieval Mystery #10)

A well-crafted and quite engrossing medieval mystery-thriller, A COVENANT WITH HELL is the tenth in an intriguing series featuring as its twin protagonists the Prioress of a convent on the North Sea Coast of England, and the monk who is her assistant. Prioress Eleanor is the daughter of a Baron, and the younger sister of one of the trusted companions of King Edward. Her monk, Brother Thomas, has a distinctly checkered background (much of it beyond his control) and has served as a Church investigator. Together, they are reputed to be a pair always eager to enquire into various mysteries and suspicious circumstances, and of course they are.

On a quiet pilgrimage to the shrines at Walsingham in advance of the Easter pilgrims, Prioress Eleanor and Brother Thomas are shocked and dismayed at the sudden unexplained death of one of the nuns at Ryehill Priory, who had been the Prioresses' attendant. Brother Thomas is furious when the Priory's priest, Father Vincent, rails against a young street child and refuses her alms. Then the suspicion becomes clear that the impending potential visit of the King to the Holy Places at Walsingham, as he is preparing to campaign against the Welsh, may place the anointed King in the path of an assassin.

Even for readers whose usual forte is not the Middle Ages, or history, the protagonists will reach out to you and pique your interest. The exquisite characterizations and the developing suspenseful plots (which are multiple) are bound to keep mystery readers enthralled.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: Go to My Grave

Go to My Grave Go to My Grave by Catriona McPherson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: GO TO MY GRAVE by Catriona McPherson

This engrossing thriller kept me breathless to the end, as it subtly unfolded revelation after revelation, subtly mounting the terror for the characters and keeping readers puzzled but hungry for more discoveries.

A mother and daughter have purchased a seaside villa at Galloway, an older upper-class home, to operate a Bed & Breakfast. Their first scheduled event is a tenth-wedding anniversary plus family reunion. Turns out, all but the bride stayed here before, decades ago--with disastrous and ugly consequences. Now somebody is determined to reestablish the memories--and make someone pay.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: The Storyteller

The Storyteller The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE STORYTELLER by Jodi Picoult

THE STORYTELLER is a fine and compelling novel which is also tremendously heartwrenching in many aspects. It is not a novel to be taken lightly or readily dismissed, because once entered upon, this story will linger in your consciousness and heart. I admit to not having been a regular reader of Ms. Picoult, though I probably have been aware of each new release, and I'm certain I've read one or two of hers, some years ago. Now I have reason to find the ones I've missed (a lot of her novels) because as a novelist she is in a category all her own. Call her work “Women's Fiction” or “Psychologically Deep,” nevertheless she is in a class of her own.

THE STORYTELLER I expected to go in one particular direction, after the frequent mentions of the narrator Sage's ancestry and especially of her grandmother. However, the author “fooled” me, and the story went in an entirely new, and to me shocking, direction (I think many readers are shocked also). No doubt the direction Ms. Picoult took made the novel all that much stronger. It certainly “tore my heart out.” But all is not lost, and there are positives here, and good people as well. I give this a 5-star rating (I'd give it 12 stars if I could).

(Personal Aside): My 19-year-old granddaughter, who had been an avid reader until a couple of years ago, recently took up reading again. The book she started with was a memoir focusing on the Holocaust and its aftermath. Shocking? Yes, but she loved the book, so I've suggested THE LAST WITNESS by Jerry Amernic and THE STORYTELLER by Jodi Picoult, both fine novels dealing with this topic.)

--wc 290--

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Review: Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost Holy Ghost by John Sandford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: HOLY GHOST by John Sandford
(Virgil Flowers #11)

Virgil Flowers is definitely not the ordinary criminal investigator. As an investigator for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension of Minnesota, he doesn't have a specified territory, so he's kind of a roaming agent. In this case, he is called to the small town of Wheatfield after two shootings of out-of-towners who are visiting to see the Marian apparitions. Yes, apparently the Virgin Mary is appearing in a tiny Minnesota community, just as at Fatima and Lourdes. Her apparition has enormously blossomed the town economy, which had seriously declined. Tourism means cash for the community, and Mayor Holland, a disabled Afghanistan vet, and his sidekick Skinner, an eighteen-year-old quite intelligent and crafty high school senior, are cashing in at their new emporium.

Meanwhile, first one visitor is shot and wounded, then a second. After Virgil Flowers arrives to investigate, a third victim, a local senior citizen, is shot and killed. Despite the crowds waiting near the church, no one ever hears a shot or sees anyone carrying a rifle. Virgil discovers an earlier murder and robbery, which had gone unnoticed for two weeks.

For quite a while, it seems that Virgil's investigation, and that of two other BCA agents, despite providing a lot of humour, isn't helping and perhaps is making matters worse, as the violence continues. But eventually, all comes to light, exposing a seriously twisted and convoluted rationale.

I think this is the first in the Virgil Flowers series I had read, although I had read some of Mr. Sandford's earlier novels, and I've become a convert. Virgil is a diligent yet laid-back investigator, there's a lot of humor, and the case is seemingly inexplicable with a twisted denouement and conclusion. HOLY GHOST is well worth checking out.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: Garden of Eldritch Delights

Garden of Eldritch Delights Garden of Eldritch Delights by Lucy A. Snyder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I mentally screeched. Literally. I've read some fantastically far out Reader's Hooks, but this one is out beyond Pluto someplace. What makes it even more astonishing and fantastic is the subtlety. Ms. Snyder relates stories as if the outre is simply commonplace (which I guess, for her characters, is true). I easily understand why this author is a full-time Bram Stoker Award winner. This collection will surely win too (and maybe the World Fantasy Award too?) But, don't rely only on my take; go get the book, watch the top of your head fly off too.

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Review: Red City Blues: A Thrilling Crime Novella

Red City Blues: A Thrilling Crime Novella Red City Blues: A Thrilling Crime Novella by Tom Fowler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: RED CITY BLUES by Tom Fowler

I am always engrossed and never disappointed by the exploits of young P. I., C.T. Ferguson of Baltimore. A personable young man from a wealthy family, he isn't the expected type of routine investigator. A university graduate, he is also a talented hacker. Often snarky, a little egotistical, he's always a joy. Here he takes on an unforgivable set of cases, and unwinds the truth about supposed gang killings--before it's really too late for the City of Baltimore.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: EVOLVED: A modern sci-fi thriller

EVOLVED: A modern sci-fi thriller EVOLVED: A modern sci-fi thriller by Jesse Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: EVOLVED by Jesse Lawson

I admire a good tecnothriller, and EVOLVED is beyond "good": it is exceptional. I tend to be a fan of cephalopods as a Lovecraftian (though 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea certainly scared me as a child), and I got to learn a lot about the species while reading EVOLVED. From the terrifying reader's hook right through, the novel rings a lot of my "must-have" bells and gave me a lot of characters from whom to choose where to place my empathy. Plus, I loved the science. All win all the way--can't wait for the next in series.

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Review: What Can't be True

What Can't be True What Can't be True by Bo Thunboe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sometimes I read a novel and think how glad I am it's the first in a series. Sometimes I read a debut novel, and am amazed at the author's gift. Both examples are true in this delightfully twisted, complex, and convoluted mystery set near Chicago. From the seemingly bumbling "can't-catch-a-break" killer in the terrific reader's hook, there was never a dull moment and the author utilizes some of my favorite odd types of characters. Really happy this is a series.

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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Review: The Flats

The Flats The Flats by Kate Birdsall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE FLATS by Kate Birdsall

A gripping Rust-Belt Police Noir, THE FLATS engrossed me immediately and kept the pace, and the tension, ratcheted high. I was reminded strongly of Carol O'Connell's Detective Mallory, the orphaned abused child adopted by a city homicide detective and his wife, who grew up to become a talented, but off-the-wall homicide detective herself. So Detective Elizabeth Boyle resonates with me as a character, and the mystery is taut and seemingly inexplicable.

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Review: The Field

The Field The Field by Ian Dawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE FIELD by Ian Dawson

I found this novel both heartwarming and tremendously disturbing. I recommend very sensitive readers pass; the novel includes a deadly monster-in-human-form, abuse of children, and torture. It details an outstanding friendship, and another friendship that is not friendship at all but a murderous psychopath's control over another. Think an adolescent Bundy, or the two British boys who abducted and murdered a toddler. It boggles the mind.

On the positive side, this debut novel is very well-written, and details the coming of age of two good-hearted boys through their unconditional friendship. I applaud Daniel and Kyle and their families. I wish more families were this strong in integrity and character.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: Unspeakable Grudges

Unspeakable Grudges Unspeakable Grudges by P H Turner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


UNSPEAKABLE GRUDGES is a fascinating mystery-thriller with a really weird, and really unusual, serial killer. The story gets down to the nitty-gritty of crime and violence (including child abuse and rape) so easily sensitive readers take note. The novel proceeded at such a rapid pace that I raced through in just a few hours, not about to take a break. (Smile) I really became engaged with the characters ( even those I didn't like, of whom there were several), and the plotting kept me engrossed. High recommendations--I can't wait for the author's next mystery.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club

The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club by Holly Tierney-Bedord
My rating: 0 of 5 stars


I loved this novel. There were several characters whom I quite liked and admired, and a few whom I wanted to toss into the nearby ocean (the proximity of which gives Port Elspeth its elan--that and the extensive and pretentious wealthy class). The story is a winning combination of Women's fiction, and cozy mystery. Yes, there was quite a mystery, nearly five years earlier, which provides a powerful reader's hook to commence the novel, and which continues to rear its puzzles throughout. The Past is Always Present in Port Elspeth, it seems, even for those who didn't live through it.

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Review: Camp Redwood: A Short Slasher Horror Novel

Camp Redwood: A Short Slasher Horror Novel Camp Redwood: A Short Slasher Horror Novel by Nathan Galion
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: CAMP REDWOOD by Nathan Galion
There are good reasons why I refuse to camp. All of them come from horror fiction, horror films, and true crime. CAMP REDWOOD is an admirable reprise of the classic horror trope of camping danger + serial killer with an axe to grind (punning), but author Nathan Galion in his debut novel brings some enticing new elements into the trope. Yes, we have a small group of university students going camping, in celebration of two of their number just becoming engaged. Yes, we have a Serial Killer with a driving need to kill. Yes, the Serial Killer has good reasons to target this particular group. Yes, we have a past history of child abuse, manslaughter, and one stalwart friend.

Here's where the differences from the usual trope treatment arise: stalwart friend is a Witch. Yes, I am serious. Actually, in my consideration, she is not a Witch as much as she is an Occult Magickian, because it is Dark Arts she is practicing, not Herbal Medicine and White Magic. She practices Necromancy. That's Dark Arts, Gentle Readers. She (Tonya) is a 15-year-old camper at the illustrious and well-appointed Camp Redwood (in the South), who befriends the congenitally deformed twelve-year-old son of one of the camp counselors (a woman who possesses a plethora of psychological problems). Tonya is Dylan's only friend, because everyone else (including his mother) is too shallow to see beyond his obvious disfigurements and find a positive character and good intentions. When Dylan is bullied by a trio of elitist, “silver-spoon” campers, Tonya runs for help, but not in time, and Dylan dies tragically, due to manslaughter. Tonya doesn't stop there though, and her subsequent actions directly affect the locality of Camp Redwood and the nearby Lake Tulpa over the years. [I get quite a kick out of the Lake's name, since a Tulpa is a concept in Tibetan Mysticism, in which an Entity is created by Thought and functions independently.]

Dylan's killing and Tonya's subsequent decisions and actions occur in the Summer of 1983. The seven University students, all unknowing, camp near Lake Tulpa in 2013, 3 decades later. In many ways, their presence is no accident nor is it coincidence, as will be revealed later in the book.

I would have given CAMP REDWOOD 4 stars, as it is a fast and compelling read. I readily identified with the characters, and I appreciated the character evolution that occurs (both in some of the 1983 characters and also in some of the 2013 characters). The plot is twisty and the paranormal elements are fascinating. However, the lack of sufficient proofreading and the subsequent misplaced grammar (chiefly verb tense alterations and misuse of verbs) constantly tossed me out of the story and back into reality. Were that corrected in future, I would give the book a 4. I also hope that if there is a sequel, we would get to find out what happened to Tonya.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Review: Dead Reckoning: and Other Stories

Dead Reckoning: and Other Stories Dead Reckoning: and Other Stories by Dino Parenti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


collects 16 of the author's short stories penned over four decades, beginning in the 1970's, and subdivided by decade. These are in the vein of thought-provoking speculative fiction such as that by Darren Speegle and J. R. Hamantaschen. In other words, don't expect ordinary consensus reality, and don't be disappointed when you don't find it. Expect "Something Else" instead.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Review: The Vengeful Caller: A gripping mystery with suspense and romance

The Vengeful Caller: A gripping mystery with suspense and romance The Vengeful Caller: A gripping mystery with suspense and romance by Rachel Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE VENGEFUL CALLER by Rachel Woods
(A Palmchat Island Mystery)

THE VENGEFUL CALLER is a really intriguing romantic suspense tale set in paradisical surroundings on a Caribbean island. The characters are readily likable, and even the bad guys are comprehensible. From the electrifying reader's hook (where i found myself sympathizing with both killer and victim), suspense is unstoppable and the more the revelations, the more there is to discover, making for a fast-paced story.

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Review: Jinxed

Jinxed Jinxed by Thommy Hutson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: JINXED by Thommy Hutson

JINXED is all the adolescent-themed Horror of the 80's and 90's, wrapped up and honed to a finely-tuned perfection. Did I love it? Did i ever! It wouldn't turn me loose until the end--which rendered me speechless--and even then, I can't stop remembering. The plot is remindful of Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE--if Ms. Christie had written while on steroids. Set on an island some not inconsiderable distance from Seattle, in an extremely expensive, exclusive, performing arts academy, with urban legend, interpersonal drama, and a sociopathic Dean, JINXED is unstoppably riveting and a great joy to read.

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Review: Death by the River

Death by the River Death by the River by Alexandrea Weis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DEATH BY THE RIVER by Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor

Very visually and sensorily detailed, this novel also carries a powerful emotional impact and a finely-tuned background of life in a class-ridden Southern community. The town is socioeconomically lopsided, with one small nuclear family at the top, some upper-class professional families significantly lower, and then the impoverished class as the base. The community is also a sterling example of how sociopathy thrives.

What i took away from DEATH BY THE RIVER was a furious despising of the antagonist, applause for the strong despite-all female protagonist and her almost equally strong boyfriend, and an immense gratitude for the Power of Poetic Justice. Yes!!

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