The Beast of Barcroft

The Beast of BarcroftThe Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

Fans of Stephen King and Bentley Little will devour The Beast of Barcroft, Bill Schweigart’s brilliant new vision of dark suburban horror. Ben thought he had the neighbor from hell. He didn’t know how right he was. . . .

Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.

First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.

Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first, I figured this would be another silly horror book with very little plot, but only a few pages in, I discovered that wasn’t true. I liked the main character right away, and that led me to being interested in the rest of the story.

What I enjoyed about this book the most, was the mystery surrounding what the creature actually was. Things would lead one way for a while and then something would change and it would appear to be something else. There was a good mystery about this story and it kept it intriguing until the very end.

I also liked the varied cast of characters and the descriptions of their situations. The characters each had strong, individual personality traits that set them apart from one another, so they were easy to keep track of.

If you enjoy books where the terror builds as the story moves along, this would be a great book for you to choose. Perfect for a spooky Halloween night or an any time fright.

I liked it. Thumbs up.

Hoping for a sequel.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, which was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Derek Takes Action by Mac Black

Derek Takes ActionDerek Takes Action by Mac Black

Derek has a cause but, being Derek, he also has a host of misunderstandings to sort out, mistakes to rectify and a wife to mollify. As a natural leader, he knows that beating the Railway Developers is down to him. As a natural disaster area, we know it is unlikely to go quite to plan. In Mac Black’s fifth and final Derek book the plot is stirred as poor gullible Derek tries his best and makes us laugh all the way to the end!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve grown rather fond of poor, bumbling Derek over the years, and it saddens me a bit to see him go in this final sendoff, but what a sendoff it was.

Once more, he finds himself in the worst sort of trouble from the very beginning of this book, but manages to save face in time for the ending, becoming the local hero that all his readers knew he could be–albeit, with a bit of drama along the way. I still feel for Sally.

This book had Mac Black’s unique humour spread evenly through it, and is full of moments that make you glad you are not the main character in one of his novels. Derek is as witty and enjoyable as ever in this story, and after finishing it, I think it is a tie for me over which is my favourite–this one or the first.

I liked the new characters in this book and felt like this story did a good job of tying everything before it together.

If you haven’t read this series yet and you enjoy humour and unlikely heroes, you should pick up a copy of the first book and get started. I’ll miss Derek, but I understand that everyone has limits, and he has already used more than his share of 9 lives.

Read it, have a giggle.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

A new book I am VERY excited about!

Lots of authors lately have made the jump to self publishing, and I have found some really great books thanks to these decisions. Here’s one that I am particularly excited about. If you haven’t met this author yet, please take a moment to stop by his blog and say hello. He’s a hard working writer–and just a great person in general, with a personality that won’t quit.

Visit him at: Fiction Favorites

Announcing His Revenge by John W. Howell is now available in paper and ebook on Amazon.

His Revenge front final

The sequel to My GRL titled His Revenge is available and a new story continues where My GRL left off.

His Revenge is available in the US in Paper and Kindle editions

In Canada in Paper and Kindle editions

In the UK in Paper and Kindle editions

Here is the blurb:

America loves John Cannon, its newest hero, and the President wants to present him with the highest civilian medal for bravery for saving the Annapolis midshipman from a terrorist plot to destroy them. While in Washington for the award ceremony, John unwillingly becomes an accomplice in another plan by the same group to attack the credibility of the US President and the stability of the worldwide oil market. There is no way out as John either becomes a traitor to America or causes thousands of innocent people to die if he refuses.

The second John J Cannon Thriller moves from a barrier Island off the coast of Texas to Washington DC, then to Northern California, and finally to Ecuador. John is on the receiving end of an offer he cannot, refuse. His avowed enemy Matt Jacobs now wants John to help him shake the reputation of the US in the world political arena and disrupt confidence in the government at home. If John refuses, Matt plans to murder innocent Americans including John’s latest relationship. John’s only way out is to pretend to go along with the plan and hope for a miracle.

Excerpt from Chapter one

The water rushes over my head. I’m sinking and don’t know why. With my breath held, I have trouble stopping the air from escaping since the pressure drives the air up and out. I try to keep my mouth closed, but the water pressure pushes the air out more and more. Will I pass out? In the distance, the light is dim. To rise to the surface in time might not be possible─I need to breathe right now. Toward ending the pain in my chest, my rambling mind rationalizes taking a deep breath—even knowing it will end my life. In conflict with the irrational thought of ending it, my body won’t let me suck in the water, as it fights to retain the little bit of oxygen left to fuel my brain.

The despair is nearly overwhelming, and my mind considers other ways to battle the feeling. What more could I have done with my life? The pressure becomes more intense, and I’m about to lose it all, and I decide I’ve lived the way I wanted and have no regrets. I close my eyes and hear only the roar of the sea. I’m so tired. Exhausted. Sleep will fix everything, and I want to give in.

Photo by Tim Burdick

About the Author

John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well as a blog at John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets. He can be reached at his e-mail, Facebook Twitter at @HowellWave

My GRL_johnwhowell

His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold

Until We Meet Again

Until We Meet AgainUntil We Meet Again by Renee Collins

They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**This author owes me a full box of Kleenex.**

At least.

This book is crazy, delightful, impossible, improbable, joyful, hopeful, terrifying, sweet, charming and bittersweet all at the same time. Truly–You would have to read it to understand the wide range of emotions it will cause in you as a reader.

This is the kind of love story that you want to root for, but are afraid to, for fear of what may happen to the characters that you have quickly grown to love.

I really enjoyed the concept of this book, and thought the author did a good job of fulfilling the promises the description made. The characters were likable right away, and the promise of something happening between them was there early on, keeping me intrigued.

The end of this book made me bawl like a baby, which, doesn’t happen often for this reader. I found the dialogue to be really well written, especially in the ending scenes and loved the way the author chose to go when wrapping up the book–even though it HUUUUURRRRRT.

You’ve been warned. This book is addictive.

Get it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Countdown to Death by Iain McChesney

Countdown to DeathCountdown to Death by Iain McChesney

Ten strangers are lured to a remote Scottish island at the invitation of a reclusive industrialist.

Stranded on Lord Black’s wondrous estate, the disparate guests have more in common than they first realize.

Accused in a mysterious letter of having committed crimes in their past, one by one they are hunted down. But who is the killer? Will any of them live to find out?

***A modern retelling of the Agatha Christie classic–with a surprising twist.***
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And then there were none…kind of. I really liked this book. I became hooked on this author’s writing with his first novel, so I was definitely curious to see what he would do next. I’m excited to say that he surprised me in a pleasant way.

This book is a modern retelling of a classic work, and although they are different enough that they can’t be directly compared–I have to say, that for once, I liked this story better than the original.

One of my favourite things about McChesney’s writing, is the way he blends dark humour into an ordinary scene, making it fun. I like the ironic things that happen to his characters and the way he gets an already quick plot moving even faster with unexpected events.

I couldn’t figure this one out until the very end, and I laughed when I realised that the clues were there all along–but I was so involved with the writing and the characters that I didn’t see what was right in front of me.

I truly like this author, and recommend his work to anyone looking for a great read.

So much fun!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath by Kimberly Knutsen

The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath: A NovelThe Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath: A Novel by Kimberly Knutsen

Set in the frozen wasteland of Midwestern academia, The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath introduces Wilson A. Lavender, father of three, instructor of women’s studies, and self-proclaimed genius who is beginning to think he knows nothing about women. He spends much of his time in his office not working on his dissertation, a creative piece titled “The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath.” A sober alcoholic, he also spends much of his time not drinking, until he hooks up with his office mate, Alice Cherry, an undercover stripper who introduces him to “the buffer”—the chemical solution to his woes.

Wilson’s wife, Katie, is an anxious hippie, genuine earth mother, and recent PhD with no plans other than to read People magazine, eat chocolate, and seduce her young neighbor—a community college student who has built a bar in his garage. Intelligent and funny, Katie is haunted by a violent childhood. Her husband’s “tortured genius” both exhausts and amuses her.

The Lavenders’ stagnant world is roiled when Katie’s pregnant sister, January, moves in. Obsessed with her lost love, ’80s rocker Stevie Flame, January is on a quest to reconnect with her glittery, big-haired past. A free spirit to the point of using other people’s toothbrushes without asking, she drives Wilson crazy.

Exploring the landscape of family life, troubled relationships, dreams of the future, and nightmares of the past, Knutsen has conjured a literary gem filled with humor and sorrow, Aqua Net and Scooby-Doo, diapers and benzodiazepines—all the detritus and horror and beauty of modern life.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This can be a difficult book to read at times, since you know from the beginning that everything is not going to come up roses, but it is also unique, moving, funny and heartfelt.

I love books that can mirror real life so accurately that you feel like the author really poured their heart and soul into them. You definitely feel that when you read “The Lost Journals of Sylvia Plath.”

Kimberly Knutsen writes with a passion and it is felt through each of her carefully worded passages. I enjoyed reading this and found myself nodding my head in agreement with many of the characters thoughts and much of the dialogue. This author is able to put into words what many people must think but not be able to voice.

The characters are strong and believable and the emotional link between them is apparent from the beginning. These are not one-dimensional characters and it is obvious that the author put a lot of work into each of them.

If you enjoy realistic dramas, and books that can make you forget about your own worries and become involved with the characters, this one is likely something you will enjoy.

This review is based on a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Of Darkness and Light by J.S. Riddle

Of Darkness and LightOf Darkness and Light by J.S. Riddle

Of Darkness and Light is the follow up book to Rise of a Queen, part of The Vampire Realm series. Where Rise of a Queen tells the tale of Tessa’s struggles and defeats, he introduction of Tessa’s family brought forth a new tale to tell.

The rise of Tessa’s empire came at a cost. Her vision of a future where vampires and humans lived united had all but disappeared. Her family, torn by the wars that ravaged her land, had to choose a side. Her sister and Emma with the rebels and Jason growing into his future by Tessa’s side. Emma’s struggle with her own choices, as Jason moves forward towards a life of service to his aunt, neither one sure of the outcome. The journey that the family takes will force the evolution of life as a vampire to the forefront, forever changing Tessa’s perspective on the world she thought she knew. Can Tessa survive another daunting war while ensuring the future of the vampires? Will Jason and Emma make the right choices and not be swayed by the childhood they once knew? Can either side of the war overcome what stands in their way, even when what they love is what they will lose? Will Jason and Emma make the right choices and not be swayed by the childhood they once knew? Can either side of the war overcome what stands in their way, even when what they love is what they will lose? Or will there be a beacon of hope; shining brightly in the world that has fallen so dark.​
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was happy to return to the life of Tessa and her daughter and the battle for her future and that of her people. The writing of JS Riddle has really matured between her last book and this one and the characters have also shown a lot of growth.

This book picks up speed pretty quickly and involves the audience into the world the author has created without much effort from the reader. I would still recommend starting at the beginning, with “Rise of a Queen,” so that you understand the complexities of the story, but this would still be an entertaining and interesting book either way.

I like Tessa a lot more in this book. She is savvy, smart and overall has the kind of fiery personality a character needs to take charge of a story with so much going on. She doesn’t take crap off of anyone and I suspect that her story will continue to get even more exciting as time progresses.

The supporting characters were good here and they each had an opportunity to step outside their role and venture forward on their own. The plot has a lot of unexpected twists and I was excited to keep reading, wondering where the author would take her characters next.

This is not your typical vampire book–and that’s what makes it great.

Recommended for those who like the paranormal, strong female characters and stories that you can’t predict.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Determined Heart by Antoinette May

The Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her FrankensteinThe Determined Heart: The Tale of Mary Shelley and Her Frankenstein by Antoinette May

The Determined Heart reveals the life of Mary Shelley in a story of love and obsession, betrayal and redemption.

The daughter of political philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley had an unconventional childhood populated with the most talented and eccentric personalities of the time. After losing her mother at an early age, she finds herself in constant conflict with a resentful stepmother and a jealous stepsister. When she meets the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, she falls deeply in love, and they elope with disastrous consequences. Soon she finds herself destitute and embroiled in a torturous love triangle as Percy takes Mary’s stepsister as a lover. Over the next several years, Mary struggles to write while she and Percy face ostracism, constant debt, and the heartbreaking deaths of three children. Ultimately, she achieves great acclaim for Frankenstein, but at what cost?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book, there is no doubt of that. I was pleasantly surprised–no, that doesn’t cover it. I was supremely shocked that this book was so well thought out and written. I love historical novels based on real people, but many of them tend to lack the crucial research that makes them feel authentic. This author made certain to remain true to the characters, whilst still being imaginative enough to write a book that also keeps the reader’s attention.

Mary Shelley surely was an interesting person and she is depicted that way here, but it was the descriptions of Lord Byron and Bysshe that really captivated me more than anything else.

This book brings to life all of the loss, excitement, many moves and struggles of this infamous historical couple and shows both the beautiful and uglier aspects of their lives together and apart. The author did a wonderful job of describing each setting she used and taking her characters from flat to three-dimensional, emotional beings that you feel sorrow for having to part with when the story is complete.

The only thing that annoyed me, and would have annoyed me even if this were non fiction, was Mary’s tolerance for Claire. Not the author’s fault, as she was remaining as true to life as possible, but still–I wanted to punch Claire.

More than just some simple filling in of the gaps in knowledge, I felt Antoinette May really out her heart and soul into the creation of this book and strongly encourage you to give this book a try. It will not disappoint.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

The Good NeighborThe Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

When small lies have big consequences…

Things are a little rough for Izzy Lane. Still reeling from the break-up of her marriage, the newly single mom moves back to the Philadelphia home she grew up in, five-year-old Noah in tow. The transition is difficult, but with the help of her best friends—and her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Feldman—Izzy feels like she’s stepping closer to her new normal. Until her ex-husband shows up with his girlfriend. That’s when Izzy invents a boyfriend of her own. And that’s when life gets complicated.

Blogging about her “new guy” provides Izzy with something to do when Noah’s asleep. What’s the harm in a few made-up stories? Then, her blog soars in popularity and she’s given the opportunity to moonlight as an online dating expert. How can she turn it down? But when her friends want to meet the mysterious “Mac,” someone online suspects Izzy’s a fraud, and a guy in-real-life catches her eye, Izzy realizes just how high the stakes are. That’s when Mrs. Feldman steps in, determined to show her neighbor the havoc that lies can wreak. If Izzy’s honest, she could lose everything, and everyone. Is the truth worth any cost?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For the most part, I really liked this book. The main character had a strong presence and I enjoyed getting to know her son and the other characters.

I, personally, did not see that what she did during the book was as big of a deal as it was made out to be, and since that was the main conflict, I struggled a little at times to understand why it was so important.

This book has some great quotes, especially during the points where the MC is reflecting on her life and her choices. The tension with her ex husband was very well written.

Overall, this is the kind of book that you can lose yourself in and enjoy. The side characters were created in such a way that you got more than just a glimpse at their lives and especially the neighbour, added a lot to the overall book.

The end was sweet without being overly sticky-sweet or leaving too many questions unanswered. I am looking forward to seeing what else this author does.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

The Gates of EvangelineThe Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young

From a unique new talent comes a fast-paced debut, introducing a heroine whose dark visions bring to light secrets that will heal or destroy those around her . . .

When New York journalist and recently bereaved mother Charlotte “Charlie” Cates begins to experience vivid dreams about children she’s sure that she’s lost her mind. Yet these are not the nightmares of a grieving parent, she soon realizes. They are messages and warnings that will help Charlie and the children she sees, if only she can make sense of them.

After a little boy in a boat appears in Charlie’s dreams asking for her help, Charlie finds herself entangled in a thirty-year-old missing-child case that has never ceased to haunt Louisiana’s prestigious Deveau family. Armed with an invitation to Evangeline, the family’s sprawling estate, Charlie heads south, where new friendships and an unlikely romance bring healing. But as she uncovers long-buried secrets of love, money, betrayal, and murder, the facts begin to implicate those she most wants to trust—and her visions reveal an evil closer than she could’ve imagined.A Southern Gothic mystery debut that combines literary suspense and romance with a mystical twist, The Gates of Evangeline is a story that readers of Gillian Flynn, Kate Atkinson, and Alice Sebold won’t be able to put down.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is fascinating, there is no question about that. From the first few pages I was hooked and I didn’t want to put it down.

Charlie is a strong character and although she has a lot of unexpected events occur in the beginning of the story, she doesn’t heavily overreact or do anything that would seem particularly out of character, save for the one act that ties the rest of the story together–a necessary plot device used by the author, and one that I could appreciate.

I loved the atmosphere of this story and the plantation home setting. The structures were beautifully described and I really felt I could see the same things the main character was viewing. I was particularly impressed with the descriptions of the swamp and surrounding territory, including New Orleans–though it was perhaps a more positive perception than some visitors get from the city.

I won’t say that I gave this four stars instead of five for the language and the comparisons the author made to the people of Louisiana and Texas compared to a New Yorker with a college education–others already have. Frankly, having not lived there and only been a visitor to the south and to Texas, I likely would have done the same thing–dialogue is a tough nut to crack.

What I will say, is that I couldn’t totally get around the idea of a sick, dying old woman seemingly being completely out of it and then acting as though she were able to clear the fog and have a perfectly rational conversation as she wished.

Otherwise, I thought this was a brilliantly crafted novel and recommend it to anyone looking for a good, deep mystery with a lot of unexpected revelations.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.