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As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Bone House by Brian Freeman_Review

The Bone HouseThe Bone House by Brian Freeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The Bone House” was my introduction to the novels of Brian Freeman, and my conviction to read all I could find by this excellent author. Mystery, thriller, relationship-oriented, deep-characterizations, layer upon layer of convoluted plot-what more could a reader ask? Actually I sped through it, simply because it hooked me immediately and I found I didn’t want to stop even to sleep. Mr. Freeman “knows his stuff,” for sure. Not only did I enjoy a superbly plotted mystery (plural, mysteries), with deep characterizations, and so many twists and turns it was like driving at 180 mph on a snaky mountain road, but  I learned so much geographically and historically about the locale, Door County in Wisconsin, Green Bay, and environs-as well as the Gulf locale of Naples, Florida. Mr. Freeman knows how to illustrate small-town life, and the insular society of Washington Island is even more indrawn. I imagine this type of culture could be carried over to, for example, islands off the Maine Coast, and other locales where natives frown on both tourists and newcomers, and secrets can be kept buried throughout generations.


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Amaranth by Rachael Wade: Book 1 The Resistance Trilogy_Review

Amaranth (The Resistance Trilogy, #1)Amaranth by Rachael Wade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Resistance Trilogy #1

Wow is my first and continued reaction. I literally could not put this book down, it is so intense, so endearing, so inspiring of empathy. What the protagonist Camille endures-and her exquisite talent at self-analysis-is riveting. Absolutely impossible to break away from this book. Without need for a spoiler, I can express this: Camille has a major crack in the foundation of her psyche. For whatever reasons, her inner strength and her intuition don’t seem to match up. What she is, is a magnet for domestic abusers, in her case relationship abusers, males who first build up their hold over her by verbal and psychological denigration, then “progress” to physical battering. Due to the quake faults in her psychological makeup, Camille gravitates to these, and magnetizes them; but when she encounters anyone who might be more “normal” and non-abusive, she can’t recognize that individual’s worth and tends to shunt him aside. Her only outlets seem to be a complete change of foundational beliefs, so that she can break away and then stay strong, on her own; or suicide; or enduring till one of these violent males eventually kills her. Not much of a choice, and to the reader, the only right option seems obvious; get real, get right, and get out.

But such a solution is not the way our heroine sees it: instead she turns to Hoodoo, the Southern Louisiana version of Voodoo as it has been practiced in Haiti and elsewhere. Camille intends to rely on protection spells to keep the abusers away and at bay-not legal protection orders-despite the fact that her local supplier insists there is more at stake than Camille realizes and that the protection spells may not stop the abuser’s advance. Where many modern-day women and girls would think first of abuse shelters, arrest warrants, and restraining orders, Camille heads for the paranormal resources: first, the Hoodoo spells; and then, the reappearance in her life of the sexy yet diffident Gavin Devereaux, whom she had first unexpectedly encountered two years earlier on a visit to Paris. Gavin, of course, is very much more than he appears. Camille is about to peel away a veil that has kept an entire different probability hidden from her-and she has tangled with powers greater than her own human strength.

This is a well- and carefully-thought-out novel, with skillful world-building, believability, and characters who ring with intensity and reality. The plotting (on both sides of the veil of reality) is extraordinary and very realistic-the reader will accept that any and all of it could actually come to pass. Whenever you begin this book, do set aside a block of time, for you won’t turn away from it till you’re finished, and you’ll find yourself longing for the next volume in the trilogy.


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Survival by A. M. Hargrove-Review

Survival,  YA Paranormal Romance (Book 1 of The Guardians of Vesturon)Survival,  YA Paranormal Romance by A.M. Hargrove
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 Stars


Just from Page 1 I fell in love with this awesome book, whose poetic imaging is priceless. I have lived near the area which is the initial setting, so I was poised to discern if the descriptions were accurate; my judgment is-more than accurate, perfect, poetic, lyrical, and oh! How I wish I were there inside the scene! It’s not every author who can make the reader experience a story with her senses as well as mentally and emotionally, but A. M. Hargrove does! This author deserves a very wide audience.


At first glance, the reader would think this novel is about a very likable young lady who suffers two tragedies in her life (the loss of her parents at eleven and at seventeen), but manages to stay strong, even though completely alone; to make good friends, and to succeed in college. But this is just the anteroom to the novel, as it were. Author Hargrove leads Maddie into some serious (potentially fatal) danger-and then into the experience of a lifetime-well, of anyone’s lifetime! I won’t spoil the progress of this novel for future readers; but I do want to add that surprisingly, the author even elicited empathy for the characters whose actions are negative and dangerous. That’s not an easy accomplishment.


This book is a “100 percenter” and deserves my highest recommendation!



Over decades of reading I have discovered that accomplished writing does not come from the number of novels or short stories penned, and certainly not from the quantity of bestsellers! It occurs when a writer works at her craft, and then-even in a “debut” novel, it’s apparent. Such is true of A. M. Hargrove. I don’t know how many years she has been writing, but boy, can she write! In fact, I am now a convinced fan and plan to read everything she publishes, including the sequel, “Resurrection”!



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Monday, February 27, 2012

A Marked Past by Leslie Deaton-Review

A Marked Past (The Mercer Legacy #1)A Marked Past by Leslie Deaton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Enticing” is my first reaction, followed quickly by “smoothly written, empathetic, and a rockin’ story line.” What I love about this book is the author’s easy way of sliding into the heart, mind and soul of the protagonist, fifteen-year-old Lyla Mercer, who has unexpectedly and horribly lost her dad in a pedestrian/vehicular accident, and now has to move from the Chicago suburb in which she has lived her entire life to move to the old family homestead in-of all spooky places-Salem, Massachusetts. Only in the best YA novels can authors achieve this looking out from inside point of view in a first-person narrative, and Author Leslie Deaton accomplishes this admirably. I’m so thankful this is only the first of a series, because now I have more to anticipate. (smile)

But that’s not all to love in this book! There’s generational magick, and murder, and mysterious symbols. There’re powers, and talents, and a plethora of the paranormal. But foundationally, there is an excellent story with characters delineated in depth, so that the reader finds empathy easy and fulfilling, belief in the characters and the plot easy to master, and an accomplished prose style, all of which will make readers eager to return to these characters and their joys and tribulations in further novels in this series.


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Larkspur by H. H. Laura-Review

Larkspur (Sensate, #1)Larkspur by H.H. Laura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the first novel of the Sensate Trilogy. It is definitely an original story; I don’t remember ever reading anything that comes close to this particular ongoing story line. Very intriguing.  A mixture of contemporary, Paranormal, Magical Fantasy, and much more, I’d be hard-pressed to assign just one label-so I won’t. I’ll just recommend it and let the reader decide to what subgenres to assign it.

At age twenty-two, Alexandra is a continuing student, soon to begin work on her Master’s Degree. After the deaths of her parents, she developed a sudden need to research her family’s genealogy, and is currently urgently tracking her father’s great-grandfather, Teater Higgins, a younger son who fathered two children in West Virginia and then disappeared. Trying to track him to an old, abandoned Higgins farm in Pennsylvania, Alexandra first falls into a cistern, then is spookily enabled to climb out after she finds a mysterious stone in an enclosure in the well. Later her lifelong disinterest in anything male is reversed when she accidentally makes eye contact with a stranger-but she has no way of realizing that this is quite literally a matter of destiny-hers and his-and that there is a vast universe of meaning and events yet to occur. The most seemingly impossible events and themes will come to play throughout this novel, and the two sequels to come.

This is an intensively detailed, extraordinarily imaginative, novel. I can’t imagine not reading the next two in the Trilogy as soon as they appear.


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77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz-Review (Jan. 1 2012)

77 Shadow Street77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

77 Shadow Street is a startlingly complex novel effortlessly combining Supernatural, Scientific, and Science Fiction genres. I say startlingly, because this novel is a giant step forward, even for the very accomplished and prolific Dean Koontz. The only previous novel of Mr. Koontz’s that I can think of even coming anywhere close to the achievement of 77 Shadow Street is The Taking-also a novel by Mr. Koontz which  I have never been able to put out of my mind.

77 Shadow Street focuses on The Pendleton, a lovely Beaux Arts residence of the late Victorian period, over the duration of some three quarters of a century, a single-family residence (through several changes of ownership), then from 1973-2011, a condominium—a gentle, dignified, lovely building on a finely landscaped hill-but this is only the surface, and behind the scenes (and underground) lies slithering, shimmering, horrifying secrets. This is not a book easily walked away from, and it is not a book that can be forgotten. It will hound you, tease you, and make you pause to think-and that’s the way a novel should be-and what I can always expect, and never disappointed, from Dean Koontz.


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Overwinter by David Wellington-Review

Overwinter (Werewolves, #2)Overwinter by David Wellington


The sequel to the outstanding “Frostbite,” “Overwinter” continues and expands on the tale of the human woman, Cheyenne Clark, who had trekked into the Canadian Arctic Wilderness tracking the werewolf who had killed her father, and nearly herself, the summer Chey was twelve. I don’t wish to spoil the plot and characters of “Frostbite” for those who haven’t read it, so I will say that “Overbite” can be read first, or by itself, but the reader would enjoy much more reading the two books consecutively in order.

“Overwinter” brings in a new cast of secondary characters, including a centuries-old French female werewolf, born to nobility, who acts only on the moment, in the moment; and a blue-skinned Russian hunter who is determined to track her-at any and all costs.

The fine writing and characterization found in “Frostbite” continue in “Overwinter,” as do the author’s ability to turn the characters inside out and expose their deepest motivations, in the wolf nature as well as in the human nature. David Wellington is a demon plotter, and has an imagination I could never hope to achieve. As with “Frostbite,” my recommendation is race, don’t dawdle, to read this book.


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Frostbite by David Wellington-Review

Frostbite (Werewolves, #1)Frostbite by David Wellington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I became a staunch David Wellington fan before I’d even passed the first few sentences. Any author who can write this well, with this powerful impact, who can turn his characters inside out, plot like a demon-deserves the widest possible readership. I found “Frostbite” incredible, and am racing on to read the sequel, “Overwinter,” and then everything else Mr. Wellington has published, including a Zombie trilogy and several vampire novels, as well as others.

Initially “Frostbite” is the story of a hapless female eco-tourist, separated from her group, subsequently lost in the high summer Canadian Arctic North. Ostensibly-because this is no ordinary tourist, no citified lady visiting what is nearly the last remaining primeval wilderness.  Cheyenne Clark is a woman with a mission-a woman determined to track and to locate an enemy whose predations she has suffered from since age twelve. But because this is a David Wellington novel, absolutely nothing is as it seems.

Gentle Reader, this is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, werewolf novel. Far from it. By the end you will find everything you ever believed about werewolves (and so much else) turned completely inside out and topsy-turvy. Please don’t take my word for it-you MUST read this book!


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The House of Lost Souls by F. G. Cottam-Review

The House Of Lost SoulsThe House Of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a superb book-and an author I am going to watch for! I was reminded throughout of the joy which reading John Harwood’s “The Ghost Writer“ brought to me. “House of Lost Souls” has that same slowed-down, gentle, “Between the Wars” pace, that same sense of barely-concealed secretiveness, the sense of mysteries piled in on themselves like matruska dolls. So many layers atop layers in this book, and every one a marvel. This is a book worth reading, buying, and keeping for reread.

“House of Lost Souls” is a tapestry in which no thread is left loose or unwoven. Ranging from the first decade of the 21st century, back to 1983, to 1937, 1983, 1927, and returning to the present day, Author F. G. Cottam teaches that time is indeed simultaneous, and what affects an earlier era also inevitably impinges on our contemporary period as well. Ghosts, evil, black magic, historical figures, demons from beyond, and much more revel throughout this wonderful novel. Not missing either are marvelous characterisations, interpersonal relations and conflicts, friendships, sibling amity (doubled!) and so much additional. This book is nearly perfect. Aleister Crowley and Hermann Goring frolic through the pages, against the backdrop of a charismatic German who builds an estate purposely to summon and capture a demonic being.

I highly recommend this book, and am on to enjoy Mr. Cottam’s several other novels.


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"Ghost of a Threat" by Beth Dolgner-Reviewed

Ghost of a Threat (Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter, #1)Ghost of a Threat by Beth Dolgner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Beth Dolgner certainly knows how to dole out the shivers: I pretty much screamed my way through the Prologue (and loved it). Turns out I was frightened with good reason, for the case which Betty and her Savannah Spirit Seekers set to investigate involves not just a scary haunt, but a malicious spirit who trails physical injury in its wake. But Betty and her crew find they have competition in locating this elusive haunting: egotistical paranormal diva Carter Lansford, the media darling, is on the hunt as well, and Carter entangles “Betty Boo” into researching an important investigation he has contracted, at a historic downtown Savannah law firm, where there is more than meets a surface examination. Certainly this is the first case in which Betty has encountered someone who claims to be a demon, introducing himself as the man with the answers to the malicious spirit haunting the McIntosh home.


Delightfully written, and filled with wonderful geographical and historical input of Savannah, Georgia, and its near environs, “Ghost of a Threat” will have you racing to turn pages in expectancy of the next event.   The pacing is fast, but the attitude is cosy, inspiring readers to warm up to the characters, wishing to get to know them better, as if we’re making friends for the first time. Protagonist Betty Boorman is a decisive, determined, individual, one who is distinctly comfortable in her own skin and her own life, cognizant of the choices she has made, and not particularly anxious for anything she may or may not be missing. I found her unusual as a female paranormal investigator-in-charge, but given her character and interests this fits right in, and she does a marvelous job of operating The Savannah Spirit Seekers, even when the competition is intense and the media spotlight is trained on the vain Carter Lansford.


“Ghost of a Threat” is a good read, and I anticipate more from this talented author.  This is Book One of the “Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter” Series,



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Monday, February 20, 2012

Shut Up and Read's 100 Followers Giveaway!!

I'm a proud member of Shut Up and Read on Goodreads, so I am happy to share their 
"100 Followers" Blog Giveaway! Check this out-and while you're there to enter the Giveaway-stick around, spend some time, read reviews, buy books, get to know the great folks who constitute "Shut Up and Read"!


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