Category Archives: stories

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.

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.

Dasher and Dancer- a Flash Fiction Piece

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Here’s a bit of flash fiction for the season. It’s called Dasher and Dancer:

Dasher and Dancer

“Dude, hurry up. Time’s a’wastin’,” Rudy said.

Slamming the locker door, the other man tossed his used towel into the hamper. “I’m ready.”

“It’s about time, Dasher. We’re going to be late.”

“Why do you insist on calling me Dasher?”

“You’re the only guy I know who can run the fifty yard dash that fast. The name fits.” Rudy clapped him on the back. “I want you to meet that girl I told you about. She’s just your type. All doe-eyed and brown hair.”

“Then let’s get to that vixen’s party.”

“You don’t like me calling you Dasher but you always call my girlfriend Vixen.”

“Like you said, it fits.” The man referred to as Dasher led the way out of the gym and to the parking lot.

Soon, they arrived at the party. The house was decorated with enough lights to illuminate a small Middle Eastern village.

“I’d hate to be the one to pay your gal’s January power bill.” Dasher rang the doorbell.

“Yeah. I’m glad it’s her nickel and not mine.”

Once they were inside, Dasher glanced around at the crowd. Spying a gorgeous girl near the punch bowl, he turned to Rudy. “Who’s that chick over there with the brown hair rocking around the Christmas tree?”

“Oh her?”

“Yeah, her.”

“We call her Dancer since she’s always boogieing. She’s the one I wanted you to meet.”

“Then lead on.” Dasher followed Rudy across the room to the table laden with cookies, fudge and other sweets. There was one plate of vegetables arranged in the shape of a wreath with lettuce in a circle with tiny tomatoes and kale arranged as holly and another with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower shaped like a Christmas tree.

Glad to see at least one or two healthy foods since he had to keep in running shape, Dasher decided to ignore the snacks for the moment and concentrate on the girl. She really was pretty.

Rudy tapped her on the shoulder. When she turned to face them, Dasher sucked in a breath.  Up close, she was absolutely stunning. And doe-eyed for sure.  He held out his hand as Rudy introduced them.

When she clasped his, hers was so cool and smooth it was all he could do not to put it to his lips and kiss it as if he were from another age or another country.

“Since you’re called Dancer, would you like to dance with me?” Dasher asked.

“I’d love to.”

He was glad the band played a slow song next. That way, he didn’t have to let go of her hand.

Leading her to the area cleared for dancing, Dasher spun Dancer around the room and stared into those beautiful eyes.

As the song, Silver Bells, continued, Dancer hummed along. They moved in unison. Dasher realized she was the perfect Christmas gift for him.

He liked to dash, she liked to dance and they fit together perfectly. Both clearly loved Christmas music. They were meant to be.

THE END… OR…THE BEGINNING…

 

 

New Story Submission

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I submitted my novel called Overkill to one of my publishers on October 2. I hope they like it!  Here’s the blurb:

No one liked Drusilla Isaacs. She spent a lifetime alienating people as if making the most enemies was a personal goal. Now she’s dead. Shot, stabbed and her neck broken and that’s what the coroner can tell from a first look.

It’s up to Maggie Blaine—former friend and one-time victim of the odious Drusilla—and Maggie’s partner, Jacob Brown, to figure out who, out of a seemingly endless list of suspects, would carry out such heinous acts.

Their choices are varied. From Drusilla’s husbands—the former and the current—to the women in her life—her secretary, the mother of her husband’s son, or the new wife of her ex-husband. There’s also another option. A serial killer who randomly appears to insert himself into the mix.

A tale of murder, gems, drugs, illicit sex and a cast of villains who all have one thing in common. Their hatred of Drusilla Isaacs.

New Short Story- Fungus Amongus

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I love to support Toys for Tots. Every year, my kids and I would go and shop for children less fortunate than them. My youngest is working here in our hometown and we still donate every year. I was pleased to hear that one of my publishers was putting together a horror/fantasy anthology to benefit this charity and I wanted to participate.

My husband inadvertently gave me the idea for a story when he accidentally poked his eye on a bamboo plant putting it in the floorboard of the car. When he went to the eye doctor, she said the plant had scratched his cornea and gave him a fungus.

Well, it was off to the races with my imagination. What if someone got a fungus in his eye and it grew and grew into a mushroom crawling out on his face???  And what if someone decided to try to rescue him and was given seemingly impossible tasks to do so? And what if all we’d ever believed about magical creatures was turned upside down?

It was a super fun story to write and I can’t wait for it to be out in the world.

To hold you over until Sept, here’s a fungus/mushroom growing on an oak tree in my yard. Almost like it was hanging out to be part of the story, right?  🙂 IMG_3948

FREE! Through the 22nd!

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As a Christmas gift to my readers, I’m offering my short Christmas tale called The Thirteenth Gate free on Amazon through the 22nd.

From a review: “The Thirteenth Gate was a wonderful short story of one young girls journey to a better life. Clarissa thought there was no hope for her until Jed came into her life and let her see that all was not lost, just trust and believe! Great story for this Christmas season.”

LINK to get free. securedownload

Merry Christmas Freebie!

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From the 20th- 24th, I am offering my Christmas short story, The Thirteenth Gate, free at Amazon. Here’s the link to get your copy. I hope you’ll leave a review if you enjoy the tale.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

Blurb:

Clarissa, a teen raised in foster care, runs away in the middle of a Christmas snow storm and learns valuable lessons from a mysterious old man who may hold the secret to her future.

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