Monday, January 30, 2023

One Last Shindig

Another great novella by the fantastic and master of disgusting descriptions, Mark Towse. I have yet to be disappointed by anything he's written, and I will continue to read whatever he puts out. 

Towse seems to have a penchant for writing disgusting things about elderly people, not sure why, but I love it. This novella had a slight comedic tone to it, yet it was also scary in the atmospheric sense. In this story, a group of elderly people are on a a bus trip to see some glow worms in a cave. Along the way, things start to go terrible wrong, and they must choose to fight or die.

Making the book center around a little girl and a group of elderly people lends it a sense of vulnerability and also resilience. The little coastal town they are heading to descends into carnage and chaos and at first, we're not sure why or what's going on. We see people of all kinds just turning on each other with no explanation or reasoning. It becomes a matter of survival in the purest sense. 

I really enjoyed this story. At the end of the book is a short story called Watch Me Fly about a man who decides he's going to be a superhero in the town he lives in. Unfortunately, things do not go the way he hopes and well, let's just say, it doesn't end well. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The Long Way Home

I have read several books by Megan Mayfair, and she consistently writes great stories!

Peri Carlisle lives in Melbourne in a house her grandmother left her with her flat mate Dev. Shes attending university to get a business degree and in her free time she buys boxes of returned items from a large retailer. She gotten some pretty great things and what she doesn't want or need, she sells at a flea market. This particular box contains a beautiful tennis bracelet, that looks real, and contains a cryptic note that reads " There's something I need you to do. Love always, Logan." Peri immediately decides she needs to find who returned this bracelet. She decides to post the note to social media.

The other part of this story involves a woman named Tabitha Williams. Her husband, Logan, has recently passed away from a heart attack and she is still reeling from it. She lives in Pearl Point, on the coast and runs a successful yoga studio. Her assistant, Heather, is on social media and sees the post, mentioning it to Tabitha. Tabitha is taken back by the post but reaches out to Peri and discovers that it is indeed the bracelet she returned. While talking Tabitha tells Peri she should see Pearl Point and to look her up if she ever comes her way. 

Peri's life isn't going the way she wants. Shes having hearing issues and sitting in class at university is getting increasingly hard. Shes not even sure she wants to continue getting her degree. Her flat mate Dev seems interested in her and after a failed kiss attempt, Peri gets really embarrassed and decides maybe its time for a change of scenery. She books a flight and heads off to Pearl Point. When she arrives, she looks up Tabitha and they start to form a friendship. 

Tabitha is beginning to discover that things with her husband's business were not as they seemed. She had an inkling he was having money problems, but never did she think he might be into something illegal. As the story progresses, Tabitha is in for a very big shock. Her friendship with Peri continues to grow and she just might find love again, with her neighbor, Rich. 

I really enjoyed this story and couldn't wait to turn the page to see what was going to happen next. The book is fast paced and well written. I really liked Peri. She spontaneous and fun. Tabitha is closer to my age and there was a lot that I could relate to in regard to her character. A fun mystery with a little romance thrown in. I received this book free from Booksirens for an honest review. 


I have read several books by Mark Towse and so far, I have yet to be disappointed. This is my first-time reading, Daemon Manx. 

The story is set in 2032. Four horror authors, Noah, Mike, Alex and Yas, are having what turns out to be their last writers meeting at a local pub called The Gardener's Arms. They are sitting around debating who is the scariest author. Who is the most original and who is tired and worn out using the same old formula and tropes as always. 

Noah has a suggestion on just how to figure out who is the scariest author amongst them. He lets them in on a secret he's been working on during his day job. A device known as Arcranium. In the program, the AI seeps into your deepest thoughts, fears, anxieties and darkest desires. You can also allow others to experience your thoughts etc, as well. He offers to allow them to experience the program and in turn, find out once and for all which of them is the scariest storyteller. 

Each author takes their turn and each one ups the ante each time. The program also allows the authors to tap into each other's fears and deep memories using their emotions to really mess with them. The session was set up with a safe word so that if things get too intense, they can opt out. 

This story was very interesting, and I really enjoyed it. The AI program really reminded me of "the box" that the Riddler uses to take over the Gothamites in Batman Forever. It's also has a very cyberpunk feel to it. The book is fast paced, and the descriptions are incredible. Very graphic and detailed, making it feel like you too are on this journey with them. The end of the book has one little story from each author, and I am very interested in reading more from Manx. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

If You Tell- A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and The Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood

As a long-time reader of true crime, I often think I've read it all. I've read everything horrific that one person can do to another, but once again, I have been proven wrong. This book really had me shaking my head and hugging my kids. 

The book centers around three sisters, Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek. They were tortured by the mother, Shelly (mostly) and their father, Dave, as well, their entire lives growing up. Nikki got the majority of it; Sami was the golden child but did get some and Tori got some after her sisters left but not near as bad as her oldest sister. Her mother also tortured to death two "friends" of the family, and a nephew. 

During the course of this book, I was just in shock over the "punishments" that Shelly would put her daughters through. Things no person, let alone a child should ever have to endure. As a mother myself I cannot imagine treating my children in any way but loving and caring. I felt the author did a good job of showing just how sadistic this woman is. Even going all the way back to her early childhood where she would put crushed glass in her siblings' shoes. Who does that? She is also extremely manipulative, able to take control of two "friends" emotions and lives to the point that they died, were murdered, by her. 

Her husband was no better. Not only going along with everything she demanded but participating in the abuse himself. As well as disposing of the bodies as the murders. They both ended up in prison, but for not near long enough. Dave got just under 15 years and Shelly got 22. Her release date was 2022. I cannot believe that someone who is so sadistic, and evil will be allowed to roam our world again. Personally, I believe she should have put through the same torture she put her children and others through and then she should have been put to death. 

The only saving grace of the story is the bond the sisters maintain and the strength they have found to move on the best way they can. They could have kept the truth to themselves, but they stepped out and told the truth. To try to get some justice for Kathy, Ron and their cousin Shane. 

This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. The descriptions of the torture and punishment that Shelly put her kids and others though is sickening. To read some of it and think to yourself, she's doing this to a child, is very hard to comprehend. It also makes you think about all the kids out there who live like this every day and no one has a clue. Even though this is a graphic story, its well worth a read. Maybe someone reading it will see the warning signs in someone they know and save a life. 

The Haunting of Bridge Manor-The Trilogy

I am taking a break from my ARC list of books and have had this on my Kindle for a long time. Finally decided to read it and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. 

Rachel McAllister has been in a medically induced coma for two years. After waking, she continues having horrific nightmares and her parents decide to take her to a different place to see if a change would help her. They find an old house on a lake that seems perfect. However, the neighbor tells Rachel to be careful, that it is not all that it seems with the house and the lake. 

Not long after they move in, Rachel starts experiencing strange things around the house. Unexpected noises, things moving around or disappearing, and a lady walking around the house. Rachel discovers a basement in the house and that's when they start to figure out who owned the house before and what happened there. Things go from bad to worse as the story progresses. 

The book is divided into three sections. First is The Lake Has Eyes, the second is The Dark Shadow and lastly the Lady of the Lake. We get the backstory on the house in certain chapters, and I really liked that. We also get different viewpoints from different family members. Overall, I felt this was a great straight forward story, great for young adults and adults alike.

Ghostly Tours-Sweetfern Harbor book #4

This is the 4th book in this series and once again, I thoroughly enjoyed it. You cannot go wrong with a Wendy Meadows book. 

In this book, we are back at Sweetfern Harbor with Brenda Sheffield and her bed and breakfast. Her employees are excited as its Halloween, and they've been talking about the possibility that the bed and breakfast just might be haunted and that having a haunted tour would not only bring in more people but much needed money for Brendas upcoming wedding. 

On the first night of the haunted tour a body is found in one of the upstairs bedrooms that a previous guest said was haunted. Brenda is once again thrust into the role of investigator and is determined to find out what happened to the person in her bed and breakfast. Can she figure out who the person is and catch the killer before they get away, or even worse, kill someone else?

I really love this series. A good cozy mystery is the perfect quick read. The world building that Wendy does here is wonderful. I love the dynamic between Brenda and her friends that help her run the B&B and then of course her relationship that's been growing with Mac. I very much look forward to reading more from Sweetfern Harbor.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Gas Light

Ella Jackson's father has passed away. She is left with her childhood home and the acreage it sits on in the middle of nowhere. She is extremely hesitant to return to a house that has caused her so much grief. Upon hearing that she has inherited what he believes to be an amazing house and opportunity, her boyfriend, Dan, suggests they move out there and renovate it in the hopes of either staying or selling it. 

Not too long after they arrive strange things start to happen to Ella. Memory loss, sleepwalking, hearing things, finding strange notes. She begins to believe she is losing her mind. Either that or Dan is trying to drive her crazy, just like her dad had done to her mom. Can Ella figure out what is actually happening before it's too late?

Having read a book by this author previously that I really enjoyed, when I saw this new book was available, I didn't hesitate. However, this book felt lackluster. The author does a good job of building tension and implying that something sinister might be happening. However, the "twist ending" was not at all what I thought it would be or what Id hoped it might be. For me, there were a lot of unanswered questions. Ella never really describes the reasons why she hated her dad, left as a teen or what really happened to her mom, although it was implied. Despite this, I was able to read it in just over an hour. It was a page turner for me even though I ended up being disappointed. I received this book free from Booksirens for an honest review.

Quarter to Midnight: Fifteen Tales of Horror and Suspense

There is not one thing I have read by Darcy Coates that I have not thoroughly enjoyed, and this book was no exception. 

The stories include:


The Mannequin

Mirror Man

Whose Woods Are These?

Cutty Street Lamp

Dead Call


Sub Basement 

The Watcher

The Mallory Haunting

Crawl Space

Mannering House

Station 331

The Hitchhiker

There isn't a bad story among these. I love a good anthology and this one is great. If you are looking for a quick read that's terribly creepy then this is the book for you!

The Strange Courtship of Kathleen O'Dwyer

I should preface this review by saying that I do not normally read Westerns, so I do not have anything to compare this to in regard to other Westerns. However, the author asked me to read it and the story sounded interesting, so I gave it a read.

Kathleen O'Dwyer is heading West in 1882, having left St. Louis and a string of men who wanted to marry her. Being an independent schoolteacher, she had no need of a husband and just wanted to teach. She accepts a job in Sante Fe, in the newly formed area of New Mexico. The journey west is everything you think it would be. Its perilous and she faces many challenges in the harsh desert. Including Indian raids of their caravan. One of the men in the group is named James Colter. He saved her life from two men who were going to harm her. He got injured and she worked to help him heal and sort of felt herself maybe falling for him.

The expedition is very difficult, but she makes it to Taos Pueblo relatively unharmed. After James has healed, he disappears back into the wilderness with not so much as a goodbye. The new town brings on its own set of problems and after one incident after another, she ultimately decides to leave Taos Pueblo and head into the unknown to find James.

The story overall is action packed and rather interesting. It's always amazing to me to think about all the people who took the chance and moved West. Hardy people who wanted nothing more than to be free and have something of their own. The characters are well written, and the author does a good job of describing the scenes so it almost like your there. Even though this is my first Western, I did enjoy it and who knows, maybe Kathleen O'Dwyer will show up again.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Undertaker's Daughter-A Novel of Supernatural Horror

This is fantastic book full of suspense, thrills, horror and some really disgusting scenes. 

Anna Dingle is a girl about to be 18 and she is in love. Her parents are extremely strict Baptists. Mostly her mother, who believes that electronics are of the devil and that dressing anything but like an old spinster will turn you into some harlot. Her best friend, Naomi, takes her to the mall and gives her a total makeover. Hair, clothes, make-up, the works. When she's done, Anna is transformed from ugly duckling to gorgeous swan. Her father is a mortician and they run the family business from their home. So, Anna has been around death her whole life. 

After her transformation, she goes to a local bar for an all-ages show to see her crush, Timmy, play in his band. Her father agreeing, she could go to the show, as long as she drives to Texas to pick up a corpse, someone who has recently been executed. While at the concert, another man shows interest in her. A fellow classmate, Bruce Barnett. He tries to assault her after the concert and Timmy steps in. Bruce ends up in jail. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of bad things happening to Anna.

For a while, things for Anna go well. However, Bruce and his cronies will stop at nothing to ruin her life after he believes that it is her fault that he is in jail and is missing out on a huge summer job opportunity plus the loss of income spoils his plans for a sports car he has his eye on. 

Naomi is Jewish and has been researching a set of tablets that have recently been unearthed and what it means for her people. In the scrolls is supposedly the real name of Jesus and the scrolls were written thousands of years before he was even mentioned. The real name can be used to create and animate a Golem. She brings the idea to Anna, suggesting they create a Golem to help solve their problems with Bruce and his gang. What happens after the creation is nothing short of horrific. 

This story is written really well, and you feel the friendship and faith between Anna and Naomi, even if they are from differing backgrounds. This is also a story of forgiveness. The characters are written in a way that you really feel emotions for them. Whether or emotions are love or hate, you will feel them. I really liked the religious tones in the book. As a Baptist myself, I really identified with Anna. My parents were nothing like her, but we have a lot of other similarities. I despised the antagonists and was not at all sorry for what happened to them. I received this book free from the author for an honest review. 

A Broken Clock Never Boils

This is a great psychological thriller with a very interesting twist at the end. Psychological, paranormal thriller.

The book centers around Dr. Claire Rossi. She has her own psychiatry practice where she has been treating 5 women who all believe that they are seeing hallucinations in the manifestation of a man that talks to them. Dr. Rossi diagnoses them all as possibly schizophrenic. 

As the story goes on, we see that Dr. Rossi is also beginning to think that she is also beginning to exhibit these symptoms. Her hallucination taking on the form of a man named Ryan who over time begins harming her. Her patients are also being attacked by their "hallucinations".

After talking to her co-worker, Eric, another psychiatrist, he suggests that what may be happening to these women might not be all in their heads (as Dr. Rossi did not tell him that she was seeing the same things as her patients). He tells her about a priest he knows that is also a demonologist, Father Ingetti. After speaking with him, he suggests that it might actually be a curse that these women are under and maybe someone is taking vengeance out on them. 

Dr. Rossi eventually tells her friends, Robert and Jess what's been going on and they start to believe her once they see that she's being attacked, thrown around the room, by something they cannot see. Together with Eric, they help her seek the truth as to who has it out for her and these other women. Can Dr. Rossi find the one who has cursed them end it before anyone else dies, including her?

I really enjoyed this story. The writing is fast paced, and you will definitely not be bored while reading it. I felt the characters were well written as well and overall; the story made sense. Throughout the beginning of the book and even into some of the middle, I felt the author did a good job of keeping me guessing about whether or not, Dr. Rossi was actually going insane or if she was actually cursed. I liked the characters well enough. Claire could be a tad hoity toity, but I feel like that's par for the course with doctor types. The villain was really scary, and I felt the author really conveyed that well. I received this book free from the author for an honest review. 

Monday, January 9, 2023

Core Ruleset

I have read all of the books Timothy Bryan has written and have enjoyed all of them and this one is no exception. The author requested that I read and review this book and I was not only happy to do it, but I was also excited to read another one of his books.

This particular book was of interest to me, as my husband is a Dungeon Master and has been for years. So, RPGs have been a big part of our family. I also play RPGs myself, but in video game form.

Core Ruleset is a creepy, eerie, and downright thrilling book. The story takes place in Elk Grove where the small city of suddenly inundated with several cold-blooded murders. The main character is Terry Brandt. He works as a security guard for his day job but moonlights as a DM for some very rich locals. His personal life is very depressing. His job is boring and going nowhere and he lives with his abusive father and has no relationship prospects. There are two other main characters, Dani and Hideo, detectives investigating the strange number of weird murders plaguing the area. Can they figure out who the murder is and stop them before they become victims themselves?

I don't want to say much more as I don't want to give any spoilers. There is a twist near the end that I never saw coming. I love the premise of the book. The characters are well written and the details surrounding the role-playing were spot on. Either the author is a D&D player, or he did some deep research. The story was descriptive, and I could easily visualize the events that took place. Overall, this is another great book from this author. If you love a good horror thriller, then this book is for you.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

South by Southwest Wales Book 1

I love a good mystery, even better a crime novel with a noir vibe. I was sucked in from the first chapter.

Samson Valentine is an ex-cop turned private investigator who has been out of work for a while. Seems no one is interested in hiring an alcohol addled, cigarillo smoking has been. Hes also kind of delusional, believing to be an old noir crime detective from 1940's Chicago, all the while living in Cardiff.

When his upstairs neighbor is murdered along with a local prostitute, he begins a journey embroiled with a local crime boss and his syndicates. What happens next is one crazy incident after another. Hes hired by a rich woman because she believes her husband has put a hit out on her. His good friend, Steve, who owns the bar he frequents, is beaten within an inch of his life so they can get to Valentine. Can he discover who is behind all the crime within the city, save his friends and get justice for his dead friend before they take him out?

I really enjoyed this story. The characters are well written. I liked Valentine as a main character and found him to be solid throughout the book. I was able to read it over the course of two days. An action-packed page turner with several plot twists that I never saw coming. Seeing that this is a series, I am looking forward to the next two books for sure. If you love a good crime drama with action, then this is the book for you!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

The Girl with the Dragonfruit Tattoo-Trouble in Paradise #3

Plum Lockheart is back and at it again. This time helping to solve the mystery of the death of a server girl on one of the yachts docked off the coast of Paraiso. Her life is going well. Having just opened her own mansion rental company, Plum Lockheart Luxury Retreats, together with her friend, Lucia. Even her love life is going well as things are heating up with Juan Kevin, a local detective. One night she is invited by an old friend, Ellen out to the yacht her and her husband are on that is owned by a famous music executive. 

The captain of the Paraiso police department asks Plum, who has helped solve a few other murders, to help in the case of the dead server, Lysette, who worked on the yacht owned by the music executive. She goes undercover on the boat to flush out who might be responsible for her death. Things really heat up once she's on the boat. Everyone is a suspect and yet no one is. There weren't very many clues to lead you to who it might be. Honestly, I liked this. I was surprised by the ending and definitely want more from this series. Especially between Juan Keving and Plum.

Overall, this is a great series. This book in particular has great characters even though none of them are likeable. None of them. Not one of the members of the yacht are likeable. From cheating husbands to one lying about his life, to a diva that no one can stand. However, that is to me, good writing. The author made the characters so unlikeable; you want them to be the murderers. Of the three in this series, this one was a little on the weak side, but I still enjoyed it and look forward to more. I received this book free from NetGalley for an honest review. 

The Nightmare Man

The first book completed of 2023!

This book really had me captivated. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book and couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next. A definite page turner that you will not want to put down.

The book goes back and forth between characters and perspectives and the present and the past. Ben Bookman is a horror writer, known as The Nightmare Man. He recently finished his latest book, The Scarecrow, He wrote it, in a drug induced fever weekend at his ancestral home, Blackwood Estate. 

The stories he writes begin to come true in real life. Detective Winchester Mills and his daughter Detective Samantha Blue have been called to a gruesome crime scene at a local farm in Crooked Tree. A family hasn't been seen in a while and they are found slaughtered in their barn. Each family member wrapped in a cocoon stitched from corn husks, then hung from the rafters of the barn. This scene is directly taken from the opening of Bookman's latest book. Not long after this discovery, another family is found in the same way. Mills and Blue quickly read through the book to try to figure out what might happen next. 

Ben Bookman, of course, is the main suspect in these horrific murders. The thing is, Ben can't remember writing the book. All he remembers is that he wrote it in what is called The Atrium of the Blackwood Estate. A room filled floor to ceiling with books. Thousands of books with no titles, just numbers and books with no words in them. 

Ben's brother went missing 13 years before all of this. As he digs into not only his past, but the past of the Blackwood Estate and the nearby Oswald Asylum, started by his Grandfather Dr. Robert Bookman, he will discover that dreams and sometimes nightmares, really do come true. 

I really liked this book. A fantastically horrific story with twists and turns and an ending I never saw coming. The characters are well written, and the settings are downright scary! The author's imagination is incredible, with unique names for each serial killer in this small town and the descriptions of each scene made it feel like you were there. I definitely look forward to more from this author. I received this book free from NetGalley for an honest review. 

Red Hot Murder-Charlie Kingsley Mystery #6

Another extraordinary book from Michele PW! If I could give this 10 stars I would. I absolutely love the Charlie Kingsley series. The fictio...