Author Archives: Author

About Author

The author of these blog posts is a lawyer by day and fiction writer by night.

If She Dies- by Erik Therme – A Review

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The blurb for this story set me up for a certain kind of story and, surprisingly, it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, there were twists and turns and some surprises, and it definitely held my attention despite not leading me where I thought it would. The beginning was not like a traditional thriller. It was a slow start that built through the first almost ¾ of the book. I liked it a lot and being surprised by a few things made it even more enjoyable. It didn’t take me long to read it, because it moved fast and held my interest.

There were a couple of places where I thought the protagonist, Tess, was a little naïve and slow on the uptake, but it served the plot, so I can get past that. She wasn’t one of those heroines that make the reader want to slap some sense into her and the naivety was somewhat understandable.

The minor characters like Tess’s brother and husband were well-drawn with good back stories and motivations for their actions. Her husband, Josh, was a bit OCD, but that showed the author put a lot of thought into how he would act as well as react to Tess. I did get a bit peeved at Josh a few times, but to me, that’s a sign of a good story since it means I am relating to the characters.

I have a friend who lost her child in similar circumstances to how Tess and Josh lost Lily and so much of how these characters dealt with their grief was familiar to me from what my friend and her husband went through, the scenes dealing with the sadness, loss and lack of communication really resonated with me. Well done to the author for being able to realistically write about such horrific loss as well as making the story suspenseful.

This one is a 4.5 star read for me. A hard subject handled skillfully. 

Saint Vandal’s Day by D. E. Haggerty- A Review

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I read this book in about an hour and a half. There was a breeziness about it that was appealing. It had a lot of fun parts and I definitely loved the recipes in the back. The cupcakes all sounded really, really good.  I may have to break out the cupcake tins! 🙂

The main character, Callie, was charming and likeable and I enjoyed her relationship with her friends and her fiancée. Most of the characters seemed to be people you’d actually meet on the street and enjoy a chat with. The mystery of the whodunit wasn’t that hard. I pegged the culprit from the first scene the character appeared in. The reason for the actions wasn’t as easy to figure out, though. I had a different motive in my mind, so credit to the author for that.

I did not care for some of the behavior of the character who owned the bakery with the main protagonist. She was the one who baked the cupcakes and she was very volatile and almost unbelievable as a character—she seemed almost like a caricature instead. She truly became annoying before the end of the story.  Out of control, having to be held back from attacking people, stalking, and threats of violence when anyone criticized her cupcakes seemed over the top to me. The parts where she was trying to help the protagonist not cheat on her pre-wedding diet seemed unkind and almost rude the way she snatched food from her friend’s hand. It may just be me, but that rubbed me the wrong way.

This was the last of the series of seven stories, and while I enjoyed the time I spent reading it, it didn’t appeal enough for me to go back and read the others in the series.  There were a number of allusions to the other stories in this short book, but the references were enough for me to guess at how they unfolded so I don’t find it necessary to read them. And sadly, I’m not sure I could handle that baker in other tales. She was the one part of this book that made me bring this rating down to a 4 rather than a 5.

Penny Pinching Tips for the Morally Bankrupt by Libby Marshall– a Review

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Let me first say, I think I would love to spend a day with this author. She has a very vivid imagination, a clear love for Cold Stone Creamery, and a disturbing way of looking at many regular occurrences in all of our lives.  And I don’t say that in a bad way.  🙂

This book is a collection of short stories and some even shorter views of things we all experience, but certainly don’t think about in strange ways. At least not until they’re pointed out by Libby Marshall.  Then it’s so obvious that she observes events and normality in a different way than most of us.

Some of the stories are poignant and some are really funny in a twisted way. I won’t say which I felt was which lest I be judged for my giggles.  

I enjoyed these little tales and vignettes during my lunch hour and on small breaks from work. They are just short enough to fill in gaps in the day when you need a little smile….or a bit of melodrama. 🙂

Some of my favorites—by no means an exhaustive list—are “Witnesses of Historic Moments Who Missed the Point; 90 Day Fiancé: Dracula; A Man Goes on His First Date Since His Wife was Hanged for Witchcraft; Please Continue this Conversation as Normal or I’ll Be Forced to Assume it was About me; Yes, of Course I’m satisfied by just the Tip of this Piece of Cheesecake; and Yelp Reviews of the Chuck E. Cheese Haunted by the Spirit of Princess Diana.

There are so many more awesome little tales in this book. I recommend it highly for its sense of fun as well as the author’s sense of humor and her appreciation for the ridiculous. I really enjoyed this one.

Miss Graham’s Cold War Recipe Book- a Review

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This reader wanted to love this book. Alas, even though it had a number of good points and some parts were immersive and well done, the beginning was slow and the last chapters—excluding the epilogue-ish last chapter, were devastating and made this reader angry.

This story had a slow start with way too many characters thrown into the first chapter which slowed the story even more as I tried to get a handle on who was who.

Edith, the character who was the point of view character for most of the book, was naive and put her trust in people too easily. She was recruited as a spy, so this was not a good characteristic for her to have. I see how it was relevant to the story line though.

The plot picked up after the first 100 or so pages. It was a dense plot with a lot of moving parts which I like. I didn’t have any problem following along at all. I usually read fast but this one took me a number of days off and on. I became invested in Edith and her journey. Recruited as a spy, she had some skills and was able to make people feel safe to talk to her (thereby giving away some of their secrets), but the misplaced trust issue became problematic. She couldn’t keep a secret and talked to pretty much anyone in her inner circle about what she was doing. I liked the character and was rooting for her.

There was a lot of graphic detail about the Nazis and the atrocities they inflicted; including the acts perpetrated on children and the disabled. I read a lot of books set in the WWII era so that was expected. What was not expected was how it turned out. Completely disappointing. I was enraged at the time I spent invested in this book to have it utterly dissatisfy me. The very last chapter went a little way to make me less furious, but not a lot. I am still gutted by the ending.

I give this one three stars as I enjoyed the style of writing, the premise, the attention to detail and the parts in the middle where things were happening.  I downgraded it for the time it took to actually get into the story and for the way I felt betrayed as a reader invested in a story by the two big events near the end.

My Grandfather, a Small Tribute to Mark the Anniversary of his Death

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Henry A. Richardson

January 3, 1897-December 21, 1968

My grandfather, my mother’s father, was a kind, gentle soul. He was a soldier in WWI and worked after the war helping build the Wilson Dam in Florence, Alabama as well as other projects that needed manual labor during that time period. He also did work for the WPA (Works progress Administration) during the depression. He was also a tenant farmer who worked the cotton fields. He was eventually the father of ten children. My mother was number 8. All the children worked those fields to help support the family. It was a rough life, but they were full of joy. The children all remained close as adults. We had a slew of cousins to play with for sure. The house was always filled with laughter. Loud, fun, crazy family members.

By the time I knew my grandfather, he was in his sixties. He was a quiet man who didn’t say much. They lived in an old house with no indoor plumbing. There was a well for water and four buckets sat at the back door at the kitchen. Three were for cooking and the fourth had a beat up old ladle we all drank from. It was the iciest, coldest, water ever. My grandmother had a red pump to pump water into the sink. She also had one of those clothes washers that basically ran around the room. It was fun to watch that thing. She hung all clothes to dry and sheets as well.

We didn’t spend the night with them often—we usually stayed with my dad’s parents who had a bigger house in town—but when we did, we either had to use a chamber pot or run to the outhouse past the chicken coop which was a fair distance. I think that may be where I got part of my active imagination as I ran through the night in my jammies past those chickens. I imagined all kinds of demons on my tail. And man, if you’ve never smelled the inside of an outhouse, count yourself lucky. You’ll never forget it. It is a visceral memory to me to this day.

Anyway, back to my grandfather. The year I was going to turn 8, we lived in Virginia. We traveled down for Christmas—a14 hour drive—and arrived at my dad’s parent’s house around 7 pm on the 21st of December.  My sister and I went to our room to put our suitcases down. My mother started screaming and crying so loudly, we were terrified.

We raced out to the den and found my mother hysterical.  My grandfather had to break the news to her that her father died in his sleep and her mother found him when she tried to wake him for breakfast.  He died 13 days before his 72nd birthday.

It was a terrible Christmas that year. I still remember my mother unwrapping the shirt we’d bought for him so she could take it back to the store. She helped my grandmother take back a lot of things that year. It was heartbreaking even for a little kid to see. I can’t listen to that song where the grandmother gets run over by a reindeer. Having lived a Christmas like I did that year, I can’t deal with that song.

There is a picture of me (wish I could find it as I write this) on my birthday that year sitting on the couch holding my new doll. It is a pitiful picture as I look so sad and alone.

He never said much—unless you thought you could turn the television channel because he was asleep.   He’d mumble, “I was watching that.” He didn’t get mad, but we never changed it when he said that. He always had a spittoon by his side and always wore a fedora. He also cooled his coffee by pouring it into his saucer once he’d added his cream and sugar. It made me laugh.

I could say a lot more about him and his life, but I’ll save some stories for another day. Suffice it to say, I miss him even after all this time, and for some reason, I’ve felt him close to me this year. I sense him, watching out for me, as I make my way through this tough year.

Ghost: Justice Chronicles Book 1 by Michael Jack Webb, a Review.

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This book had a good story, buried in way too much minutiae and exposition. The characters had interesting backgrounds and the premise of the story was great. Sadly, the action was interrupted constantly by overlong descriptions and encyclopedia “dialogue” being inserted way too often. The periods of natural dialogue were good, but there was not enough of that to satisfy this reviewer.

The heroine’s parents disappeared, and rather than being upset and focused on finding them (she’s an FBI profiler), she’s more concerned with what the local cop is wearing when he shows up and that he looks like Chris Pratt. There’s a long section on Chris Pratt and how she binged watched his movies in grad school. This was the first of many such interruptions in the flow of the story.

At one point, the main characters are driving along investigating the case of the serial killer that takes her attention away from finding her parents. She mentions a winery and stopping to get a bottle of her favorite wine. She then goes into a long one-sided discussion of the history of the winery. This totally took the reviewer out of the story and was not the only time such exposition did so.

Each time the characters went to another location, one of them would go into great detail about the history of the area (to the point it was laughable as it appeared whole sections of the encyclopedia were cut and pasted into the text.)

Another time, they ate at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and we got the whole history of the hotel as well as the town. These numerous interruptions of the actual plot of the story—that added nothing to moving the tale along—began to grate on this reviewer’s nerves and caused the focus of the tale to meander off on tangents.

I kept reading as I was interested in how the story would turn out, but sadly, the author seemed to get in his own way. What could’ve been a tight, taut, thriller turned into a slog of too much information. Research is important to add richness to the story line, but telling the reader everything that was learned in the research for the novel takes away from the pacing and excitement of the story unfolding in a thrilling manner. Little tidbits sprinkled in to add authenticity to the settings/circumstances is good, but wholesale chunks of research take the reader out of the story.

I’d give this one three stars.  If it was tighter and there was not so much dialogue that sounded more like recitation from the encyclopedia, I would’ve rated it much higher. I most likely won’t read the next in the series even though I like the storyline. The information-dump style is not for me. I much prefer a tightly written, fast paced story. For those who like an intense history lesson while reading a novel, this one may be right up your alley.

Highland Cove- A Book Review

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Highland Cove by Dylan J. Morgan

Five friends with ambitions to become documentarians travel from London to an abandoned asylum on a Scottish island. The doctor who ran the asylum died sixty years prior and the hospital was closed and is rumored to be haunted.

The author is excellent at evoking atmosphere. The descriptions—first of the pub where the friends met the man who was taking them to the island—then of the island itself—and, finally, the inside of the asylum. The descriptions were creepy and very well done. Dark clouds hanging over the island and the storm complete with lightning added to the exquisite sense of anticipation of meeting some supernatural beings in the corridors or hospital rooms in the abandoned building. Peeling paint, dead leaves and icy wind whirling through the scenes were particularly evocative.

This reader enjoyed the suspense of the book for most of the novel. Figuring out an essential plot point early on was interesting and upped the anticipation of what was ahead.

What was unexpected was the shock of what happened later in the story, and without any spoilers, it’s hard to say what that was, but it was almost too much for this reader. I confess, I glossed over some of that, swiping my e-reader pages faster until the tale moved past that part. I imagine many readers of this genre would revel in that section, but not this one. It didn’t ruin the story for me, but it was disturbing.

The flashes back to the past added to the overall creepiness of the novel. The author is definitely gifted with a talent for descriptiveness. I could see all the places in the story and some made my skin crawl.

If you’re a fan of horror, you shouldn’t pass on this one. The ending was particularly disturbing. Just don’t read before bed or you might wake up at 2 a.m, like I did thinking I heard someone calling my name…..

Madam Tulip- A book Review

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This book was a delightful read. It starts a bit slow and this reviewer wasn’t sure it would be enjoyable, but luckily, it picked up speed as well as the reader’s interest by the second chapter. Don’t give up on this one based merely on the first few pages. Keep going for a richly described tale with compelling and fully fleshed-out characters.

Derry O’Donnell is a financially strapped actor and, needing to earn some cash, with some help from her friend, recreates herself as Madam Tulip. She naturally has the gift of premonition and can read cards intuitively and accurately. What better way to try to make a living when her mother threatens to stop her financial assistance?

Little does Derry know she’s about to get herself in way more trouble than just her mother cutting off her funding.

When someone dies at an event where Madam Tulip is reading cards, Derry finds herself in the middle of the drama—certainly not like a stage drama—this is real. Life and death.

She gets by with some help from her gay former navy SEAL friend and her outrageous painter father.  She also stumbles upon an old love who is operating under cover. Friend or foe? That is something she can’t tell even with her psychic gifts.

The heroine is plucky and irreverent. Her internal dialogue is wonderful. The father and SEAL friend are both unique characters and so well-done personality-wise, this reader wanted to hang out in the pub with them all.

The author clearly has a wonderful sense of humor. There were a number of places that made this reviewer laugh out loud. I love a smart story and this one fits the bill. An adventure with serious moments as well as humor to lighten the mood. A perfect read- not great, heavy literature, but an amusing way to spend some time.

I was glad to learn there’s a whole series of these stories as I’m not ready to let them leave my life yet. This one is a keeper. Highly recommended for a fun read.

New Release- Faith Marlow

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My friend, Faith Marlow, has a new release – out today.  Link to buy 

drac heir

EXCERPT:

Beneath Valeria and Lamond, the narrow streets looked like the Minotaur’s labyrinth, full of twists, wrong turns, and dangerous adversaries for any poor mortal who might be lost. The city hummed with the combined heartbeats of every New Yorker within their earshot. It was a dull roar beneath them, an ocean of sound that resonated within their particles, like strumming the strings of a harp. Above it all, louder than every other despite the distance, was Emil’s slowly beating heart. He was the soloist that sang above the crowd, clearer and more beautiful to her ears than any other. She could home in on the sound and let it guide her until she was by his side, and anywhere in the city seemed to be in range. She had learned she could hover without interfering, knowing exactly how close she could get without alerting him to her presence, and she felt the ripple of awareness bounce back to her. She had no intention of bothering him tonight anyway. She would try again in a few weeks to make plans with him.

The eternal lovers chased one another above the smoggy, overcast city sky like playful children at recess. The haze and abundance of flashing lights helped to keep them hidden from the buzzing humans below. The night was never completely dark, not like it had been before the advent of electricity. At least there were more distractions for the humans, ways to remain unseen should that please them. They danced through the clouds, directionless and free-hearted, the sound of their laughter filling the space between their particles that were constantly entwined.

Like a bolt of lightning, Valeria suddenly descended to street level. The heels of her T-bar style black patent leather shoes clicked against the pavement as she ran toward a heap of rubbish.

“What are you doing?” Lamond questioned, descending behind her. He watched her at a bit of a distance, giving her some space as she plundered through the trash heap.

“Oh my god,” Valeria whispered, her voice nearly stolen by shock. She stepped backward, her face even more pale than usual, eyes wide with fear. Venturing closer, he dared to look upon the scene that had caused her to recoil. There, amid the debris, was a young woman lying in a pool of blood. Her throat had been ravaged, torn away as though a wild animal had attacked her.

“I heard her heart give its last beat.”

Lamond looked to Valeria for confirmation, understanding why the discovery had given her such a fright. He already knew what she was going to say.

“A vampire did this,” she said nervously, kneading her hands. She instantly felt like she was running a fever and freezing at the same time. She looked all around her, desperate to catch a glimpse of the killer but to no avail. “I’m certain of it.”

“Emil?”

“No. Emil is far too skilled for such a messy bite, not even one meant to kill. This was someone else.”

You can order Book 1 here for 99 cents for a limited time (July).

faith

Faith Marlow is a USA today best selling author of dark fantasy/ paranormal/ horror with Vamptasy Publishing, an imprint of CHBB. Her stories stir emotions and explore the thin veil between human and the inhuman. Dark, yet inviting and familiar, Faith seeks to deliver chills with a sense of class, and sometimes a bit of heat. With each story, she hopes to build exposure for fellow women authors and artists who create horror.

She has five full length novels currently available at Amazon and more in the works. Her debut, Being Mrs. Dracula, chronicles the lives of Count Dracula’s three beautiful, yet very different wives, Valeria, Ilona, and Fleur. The story continues with Being Dracula’s Widow. Her latest release and the third installment of the series Being Dracula’s Heir will be available 7/16/2020.

The Nightmare Hunters is the beginning of The Dream Journal series, and is a dark fantasy/ horror series with hints of sci-fi. The psychological thriller/ survival horror, Couples Therapy is a fast- paced, terrifying journey through the depths of guilt and longing for redemption and is the author’s only story not to include paranormal elements.

Faith is also proud to be featured in multiple anthologies, benefiting various charities. When she isn’t writing or reading, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching a horror movie, online shopping for Funko Pop! figures, at a rock show, or entertaining her house panther, Teddy. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, Scottie, and son, Avery.

How about an Excerpt?

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Jillian Chantal

Here is an excerpt from my new release. I am also guesting at a friend’s blog. Come and check it out here if you have a chance.  I am giving away a copy of the book there to one commenter.

Excerpt from “Evil Wind Rising”:

“I showed the Rigby estate to a buyer today and there’s something evil there. I need to figure out what to do since I think he’s intent on returning.”
“You stay away from over there, missy. You got the gift like your grandma did. You don’t wanna be attracting no spirit to follow you home and make trouble in your life.” Her mother coughed. “You hearing me, Stella girl? No nonsense, ya hear?”
“Settle down, Mamma. I’m not planning to go back. I was wondering how I could help the man who wants to buy the place. He’s a nonbeliever and I’m worried he’s going…

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