Friday, November 4, 2016

The Mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack: From Victorian Legend to Steampunk Hero by John Matthews

Spring-Heeled Jack has been around in one form or another for a very long time. He first showed up in the Victorian era and has now emerged once again in our present day. 
The book is obviously well researched with painstaking detail especially with not only old newspaper reports from the Victorian era but also noting a comparison with Jack the Ripper, our current day Slenderman, and even Batman. 
I have to admit I found the Victorian sightings a bit tedious after awhile and I had to keep putting the book down during that first part of the book. It was written in a paragraph style and I think I would have had an easier time had it been organized a bit differently (encounters noted by consecutive dates and/or by hyphens or dashes). I finally did manage to get through it and found the rest of the book very interesting and hard to put down. All in all, it is a very extensively researched novel and a good place to start for anyone who wants to understand the phenomenon of Spring-Heeled Jack.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Seven Sovereign Queens by Geoffrey Trease

This is a very condensed biography of seven interesting women who became sovereign Queens. It is a tantalizing glimpse into the world these women lived in and how their uniqueness gave them the skills they needed to become rulers in their own right. The book covers Cleopatra, Christina of Sweden, Maria Theresa, Catherine the Great, Galla Placidia, Boudicca, and Isabella of Spain. The author chose these particular women for reasons which are explained in the book. The novel is arranged from the ancient world to the 18th century which I enjoyed. The biographies are more of a short introduction to these amazing women's life stories and I hope that others will be tempted to learn more about the particular Queen or Queens who catches their fancy and attention. The writing is engrossing and draws you into their struggles and triumphs. I received a copy of this book from the publishers (thank you!) for free in exchange for an honest review.

Four out of Five Stars!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Subject 375 (The Project Trilogy Book 1) by Nikki Owen

I honestly did not expect this book to be as good as it turned out to be. Dr. Maria Martinez is convicted of a murder she does not remember committing though DNA evidence ties her to the scene. Dr. Martinez is a plastic surgeon and also happens to have Asperger's. The novel is written from her point of view and it does take a little time to get used to the style but that style is also the book's strength. I really felt as if I were in Maria's head, feeling her confusion and conflicting memories. I don't like to give spoilers so all I will say is that all is not what it seems. I am eagerly awaiting book two in this series. Highly recommended. I received a copy of this book from the publishers (thank you!) for free in exchange for an honest review.

Four out of Five Stars!

Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard

I love psychological thrillers and I found the thought of someone disappearing on a cruise ship intriguing. I had assumed that this would be simple "whodunit" but it turned out to be way more. It is full of twists and turns and I had a hard time putting the book down. 
Adam has lived with Sarah for a very long time. Adam is an aspiring screenwriter who is on the verge of success after many years of effort. Sarah has been supporting both of them with her job until Adam is able to take over the role of breadwinner. When Sarah doesn't return from a business trip to Barcelona, Adam's world is turned upside down and everything he thought to be true is wrong.
There are many different threads and storylines at the beginning which eventually manage to connect. Adam's character is very interesting. At first, I found him to be a bit irritating because he seemed to be clueless as to how much he relies on Sarah and I thought he was using Sarah. His sheer determination and bravery in his search for Sarah changed my mind.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

I actually borrowed this book from the library for my children to read. I am glad I did as I found it very enjoyable in so many ways. The artwork is exquisite and adds to the stories told. One of the stories would make a fantastic campfire tale "A Lady's Hands are Cold". There are five stories in all and I have to say my favorite is "The Nesting Place". I didn't find it frightening but then I am an adult but my two daughters did read it and found it scary (they are 12 and 10). The book comes together with the drawings very well and have very original story lines. Highly recommended especially for Halloween.

Four out of Five Stars!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wrathbone and Other Stories by Jason Parent

I am usually wary about reading short stories even from authors I enjoy because short stories seem to be a lost art (to me anyway). I had high hopes when I started reading "Wrathbone and Other Stories" as I had read a previous novel by Jason Parent that was outstanding. Needless to say, I was definitely not disappointed but found myself enjoying these tales even more than "Seeing Evil". I made sure to read one story a night to make it last and my only regret is that I did not wait until Halloween to read it although this is a collection of tales that I will be reading again.

Wrathbone - The collection begins with a bang (pun intended) with the effect the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln has on guests who were sitting with the President when the unthinkable happened. The atmosphere and sense of growing horror in this first novella is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe and M.R. James and is easily my favorite of all the stories.

The Only Good Lawyer - A stereotypical nasty lawyer with no morals meets his match with a voodoo doll. This one was a fun and creepy read because the lawyer was not someone I could empathize with as he is so despicable that I found myself actually rooting for the voodoo doll which was a first for me. 

Dorian's Mirror - A very vain man (think Narcissus) is completely in love with himself and is convinced everyone else is but mirrors seem to tell him otherwise. I enjoyed this story very much. The arrogance and conceit of the main character made his fall all the more horrific.

For the Birds - Some people's best friends are their dogs or cats but Nev's best friend is his parrot who has an appetite for raw meat. The bloodier the better. When burglars enter his home, Nev finds out that sometimes friends are not really friends at all. I really had chills reading this short story because I did have pet birds at one time and I couldn't help but think what if?

Revenge is a Dish - Maurice has the perfect job as a chef on a rich couple's yacht. Even better, the wife has the hots for Maurice. When Maurice is found out and set adrift, his dreams of revenge become reality when they all meet up again on a not so deserted island. Even better, Maurice is able to learn some new recipes to the horror of the other survivors.

I think what impressed me the most was the style of writing. Wrathbone and other stories are so very different from "Seeing Evil" that it is like they were written by a different person. Jason Parent was able to pull off a very different style of writing that changed from suspense to gothic and sheer horror. This is definitely one that is a must read for fans of horror fiction.

Five out of Five Stars!

Follow along the tour with these hashtags: 
#Wrathbone #historicalhorror #suspensehorror #terrifyingtales

Wrathbone and Other Stories, Synopsis

Print Length: 160 pages

Publisher: Comet Press

Publication Date: October 3, 2016

Terror follows those who let it into their hearts.


Guests of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris attend a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. On that fateful night, a great man falls, but he is not alone. For Henry and Clara, the night is only the beginning of lives wrought with jealousy, madness, and horror.

The Only Good Lawyer

Bradley is a savvy defense attorney with no scruples. Under his representation, many a guilty man has gone free. But when a voodoo priest takes the stand, Bradley soon discovers that he, too, is on trial, and the punishment for guilt may be more than he could bear.

Dorian's Mirror

Dorian loves himself, and why wouldn't he? Every guy wants to be him, and every girl wants to be with him. He would trade all he has to make his looks last forever, but bargaining with the devil may leave him short a soul.

For the Birds

Nev's best friend is his parrot. In fact, it's his only friend… and his only ally when his home is invaded.

Revenge is a Dish

Maurice has landed a dream job, chef for a rich couple on their yacht. The wife has carnal desires for him. Maurice has some carnal desires of his own.

Jason Parent, Biography

In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook, on Twitter, or at his website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him. 

Praise for Wrathbone and Other Stories

 “From the eerie opening tale to the grisly closer, and all of the wonderfully mean-spirited tales in-between, Wrathbone is a winner!” — Jeff Strand, author of Dead Clown Barbecue

“Wrathbone and Other Stories is a hard-hitting collection that you can completely immerse yourself in. The title story is a beautifully written period tale of love and tragedy. I finished and realized that I was breathing shallowly because I was genuinely affected that much. A tale that leaves you breathless? Yes, please!” - Mercedes M. Yardley, author of the Bram Stoker Award winner Little Dead Red.

"An elegantly written novella of madness, murder, and demons, Jason Parent's Wrathbone reads like Edgar Allan Poe's take on 'Jacob's Ladder.'" --Adam Howe, author of Tijuana Donkey Showdown, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, and Black Cat Mojo

“Jason Parent is a master of controlling how you perceive the characters and the events in these stories, making sure you read it exactly how he wants you to read it. It’s like mind control. Powerful stuff!” – Nev Murray, Confessions of A Reviewer

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Jack-in-the-Box by William W. Johnstone

This is the second book I have read by this author (the other one was "Bats" which I really enjoyed). This one has also been re-released by Kensington and was apparently first published in the 80's so it definitely has an 80's feel to it.
Nora is not a normal little girl. In fact, she is devil's spawn and her father, Phillip knows something is not normal but her mother thinks nothing is wrong with her perfect little angel. Throw in a nasty jack-in-the-box that has Nazi connections and you have a campy but fast and enjoyable read. Be warned, though, there are some scenes that are definitely taboo so be prepared. The book reminded me a bit of one called (I think) "Demon Seed" and "The Exorcist" combined.
I am glad that Kensington has decided to release William W. Johnstone's books once again for a new generation.
I received a copy of this book for free from Kensington via Netgalley (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars!