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!

Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare) by Margaret Atwood

I was fascinated by the idea of taking Shakespeare's works and converting them into a modern day retelling. Hag-Seed (Hogarth Shakespeare) is actually the first book I have read from the series. I found it to be beautifully written (what else do you expect from Margaret Atwood?) and impossible to put down.
In Margaret Atwood's version of The Tempest, we are quickly brought into the tragic and sad world of Felix, who in minutes goes from being the successful Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Festival to absolutely nothing due to betrayal. Accompanied by the ghost of his dead daughter, Miranda, Felix eventually finds his way to a humble abode and plans his revenge. He basically goes underground and creates an alternate persona which helps him to find a job teaching theatre in a prison to inmates who perform his creations. It is in that setting that Felix plots his revenge.
There are so many brilliant elements to this novel. The story line is enthralling and I enjoyed how Atwood managed to bring in the concept of prison and if/how it should try to rehabilitate inmates. I really adored this book. There was so much humor and also very touching moments. It is a novel that not only pays wonderful homage to The Tempest but also very witty and makes you think about our prison system. Definitely very highly recommended!
Thank you so much to Crown Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read this amazing novel. I received a copy for free in exchange for an honest review.

Five out of Five Stars!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Silver Baron's Wife by Donna Baier Stein

"The Silver Baron's Wife" by Donna Baier Stein is an account of the life of a very strong-willed and interesting woman named Elizabeth McCourt Doe Tabor better known as Baby Doe Tabor (Lizzie). 
Her rags to riches to rags story is very compelling, inspiring, and ultimately sad. It is written as a fictional novel but don't be mistaken in thinking it is only fiction. It is based on a very real woman who lived during the late 1800's. The author chose to write the novel as fiction using much research including personal notes from Baby Doe Tabor herself and other sources. I found this style actually brought Baby Doe Tabor to life better than if it had been written as nonfiction. I could appreciate her strength of character, stubbornness, her triumphs, dreams, and disappointments. Baby Doe Tabor is a part of history and a woman we should not forget. She refused to conform to society and did what she had to do to survive. She should not be forgotten and Donna Baier Stein has made sure of that.
I received a copy of this book from Serving House Books for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Four out of Five Stars

“Donna Baier Stein is a discovery. Her deceptively mild story-telling veers swiftly into the savage but often unacknowledged discontent of suburban life – wives struggling with marital disappointment and missed opportunities, celebrating and often betrayed by unexpected friendships – all explored with language that engages and surprises.” —C. Michael Curtis, Fiction Editor, The Atlantic (for Sympathetic People) 

 Enticing Rags-to-Riches-to-Rags Historical Novel Showcases Colorado Woman’s Independence in the Face of Adversity  Award-winning author Donna Baier Stein releasing The Silver Baron’s Wife on September 15, 2016  

A three-time Pushcart nominee and Iowa Fiction Award finalist, Donna Baier Stein masterfully resurrects the rags-to-riches-torags life story of Colorado’s Lizzie Tabor (“Baby Doe”) in her captivating historical novel set to release this September, The Silver Baron’s Wife (Serving House Books, September 15, 2016, Paperback $14.95, Ebook $4.99). An early, unpublished version of the novel won the PEN/New England Discovery Award in Fiction, which isn’t surprising given Stein’s virtuoso ability to shed new light on the complex, scandalous, and unusual true story of one of America’s wealthiest women. 

As a young woman in the 1870s, Lizzie Tabor notoriously defied convention: When her first husband failed as a provider, she descended into the silver mines herself to earn their living. When she caught her husband in a brothel with a young girl, she divorced him. And when she captured the attention of Horace Tabor, a silver baron 30 years her senior, she married him after he left his wife and son amid huge scandal—officially branding Lizzie one of the wealthiest women in America, and a social outcast in Denver society. Lizzie and Horace sent out wedding invitations bordered in solid silver, raised two daughters in a villa where 100 peacocks roamed the lawns, entertained Sarah Bernhardt when the actress performed at Tabor’s Opera House— and lost everything with the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act.  

After her second husband’s death, Lizzie moved to a one-room shack at the Matchless Mine where she lived the last 35 years of her life, writing down thousands of her dreams and noting visitations of spirits on her calendar. Hers is the tale of a fiercely independent woman who bucked all social and gender expectations by working in defiance of 19th century convention, becoming the key figure in the West’s most scandalous love triangle, and, after the Tabor’s vast fortune was destroyed, living in eccentric isolation in her final years.  

DONNA BAIER STEIN is the author of Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist and 2015 IndieBook Awards Finalist) and Sometimes You Sense the Difference (poetry chapbook), and the recipient of a Bread Loaf Scholarship, Johns Hopkins University MFA Fellowship, Allen E. Ginsberg Poetry Prize, grants from the New Jersey Council on the Arts and Poetry Society of Virginia, and a Scholarship from the Summer Literary Seminars. Her stories and poems have been featured in Virginia Quarterly Review, New York Quarterly, Washingtonian, New Ohio Review, Ascent, and many other journals. Her work has also appeared in the anthologies I’ve Always Meant to Tell You (Pocket Books), To Fathers: What I’ve Never Said (featured in O Magazine), Men and Women: Together and Alone from Spirit That Moves Us Press. 

THE SILVER BARON’S WIFE by Donna Baier Stein Published by Serving House Books, September 15, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-9971010-6-5  $14.95 (paperback), $4.99 (EBook) 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Ill-Kept Oath (The Druineach Legacy) by C.C. Aune

I was entranced by this book from the very beginning. I have always been fascinated by the Regency era and am a huge Jane Austen fan. I have to say that C.C. Aune definitely nailed this time period very accurately. 
Prudence Fairfeather and Lady Josephine Weston are cousins who have "come of age". Prudence receives her late mother's ring and is sent off to London for her season debut to hopefully find a husband while Josephine stays at home in the country.
This seems like a typical Jane Austen style novel until the regiment and the trolls show up. Yes, trolls. Apparently, all is not what it seems in Regency England. 
I had so much fun and enjoyment reading this and am very intrigued by the magical world that the author has created. I am really hoping for a book two.
I received a copy of this book from W.I. Creative Publishing for free in exchange for an honest review.

Four out of Five Stars

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Adrift by Micki Browning

I had assumed (wrongly as it turned out) that this would be a scientist is forced to acknowledge the reality of the paranormal type of mystery. I was very glad to see that this mystery is much more than that and has so much depth.
The main character, Mer Cavallo, is a marine biologist working as a diving instructor in the Florida Keys while she waits for her dream job. When the leader of an underwater paranormal group disappears while she supervises as their safety diver, Mer is thrown into a mystery that could prove to be her last.
I loved Mer's character and how she was so intellectual that she was sometimes bemused by social behavior and interactions.
I think this is a great beginning to a new series and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Four out of Five Stars

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Sealed Up: The Course of Fate--Book One by Steve Dunn Hanson

I love archaeology and mystery so the idea of this book intrigued me very much. 
A renowned anthropologist is lured back to a Mesoamerica cliff where he found tragedy because of the lure of a possible ancient manuscript that has the potential to change the world.
I found the lead up to the main action a bit slow and I intensely disliked the character of Brother Luke (no one in their right mind would like him) who funds the expedition. I did enjoy the other characters very much and found the research to be well done and very accurate. 
All in all, I enjoyed the book and am curious about book two.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars