The Massacre of Mankind (The War of the Worlds #2) by Stephen Baxter

The Massacre of Mankind (The War of the Worlds #2) by Stephen Baxter

Author Stephen Baxter has continued where H G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” ended. The Martians might have been defeated by Earthly germs 14 years earlier but they are a smart species and have figured out how to get around that so they came back to Earth to take over not just England but the rest of the world.

The new battle is worse than the first and it appears that the only person who could defeat the Martians is a journalist and sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins. Some kind of new germ was put into her bloodstream and all she has to do now is get near enough to the invaders to let the germs work its magic against them. But it won’t be easy getting close to them and she needs a lot of help from some British soldiers and other people she meets along her journey across occupied England. And now that the Martians have landed in the United States’ New York, things are looking gloomier every day.

The Massacre of Mankind” by Stephen Baxter is a good enough book even though it’s well over twice as long as Wells’ original novel. Stephen Baxter, who is an excellent science fiction writer, does tend to like descriptions and this book is filled with them bringing the page count to close to 500. I tend to scan descriptions preferring to read the story itself not really caring how green the grass is or isn’t. But Baxter did a nice job at describing what the Martians were doing to their human captives, the experiments that were being run on them, and how the humans were forced to live. I’m not sure if there was supposed to be a Nazi comparison but it kind of felt that way to me. Ah, what do I know?

I’d recommend reading this novel if it’s your cup of tea but be warned that is long and a bit drawn out at times. And if you’ve never read H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” Amazon’s Kindle edition is free as of this posting. The original is very good and with only 230 pages you can get through it in no time flat.



The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1) by David Tallerman

The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1) by David Tallerman

I’ve always enjoyed short stories and I especially enjoy horror short stories. With “The Sign in the Moonlight: And Other Stories (Digital Horror Fiction Author Collection Book 1)” by David Tallerman horror lovers get a great mix of scary tales.

The mix includes ghosts that roam a hotel; An expedition onto a cold, snowy mountain where aliens want to take over the Earth; A hidden cave where a young girl gets lost while the boy who loves her attempts to save her from a life with some strange creatures; A man living in a seemingly jail cell, not knowing how he got there and discovers that the door isn’t locked and wonders what is going on outside; A strange beast who has to create scarecrows to protect his crops; A soldier during WWI stuck in a bunker where two groups of rats battle each other; A 7 year-old little girl who has a strange friend; and many other tales. All told there are about 23 thought provoking, chilling stories that are sure to keep you up at night reading them.

Author, David Tallerman knows how to tell a story suitable for scaring listeners by the campfire on a chilly night.

As with any anthology, some of the stories are a little better than others but all of them achieve the purpose of introducing readers to strange people, creatures, and places that only live in the depths of a horror writer’s mind. It looks like I’ll have to find the second book to of this set and see what else is living in Mr. Tallerman’s head.

I have no problem recommending this terrific horror book of short stories to anyone.

“I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book, through Reading Deals, so I could give an honest review.”

the sign in the moonlight

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King

Gwendy Peterson lives in the spooky town of Castle Rock, Maine. Strange things have been going on there for decades but the inhabitants take it all in stride.

Twelve-year old Gwendy is more or less an average teen. Maybe a little too chubby but she does love her chocolate. I can relate. But Gwendy is determined to try to get a little slimmer so every day she runs up the Suicide Stairs to get to Castle View where there’s a park where you can sit for a spell and a baseball field if you’re inclined to play ball but Gwendy just wants to run up the steps for the exercise.

One day she gets to the top of the stairs and sees a man sitting on a bench. He’s wearing black jeans, a black coat, and a black hat. He calls Gwendy over and gives her a box and tells her to hold on to it for him. The box has some buttons on it. If she presses one button a piece of chocolate will come out in the shape of an animal. The chocolate button is good but he tells her that the other buttons might have serious consequences if she presses them. She’s told she can press any button she wants whenever she wants but she’ll never know what will happen if she does.

Gwendy takes the box and every day presses the button for the chocolate and even though she comes close to pressing one of the other buttons she always stops herself.

Changes are happening to Gwendy in the course of the years she has the box. She’s lost a lot of weight, has become beautiful, has lots of friends, her grades in school are phenomenal but those other buttons are calling her name. Just to see what happens Gwendy presses one of the non chocolate buttons – just to see what happens – just to see.

“Gwendy’s Button Box” by Stephen King is a wonderful story. You can read the 180 pages in one day. You won’t be able to put it down because you want to know what happens.

Author Stephen King is an amazing storyteller. His short stories are much better than his longer novels because he cuts to the chase without long drawn out descriptions. Don’t get me wrong, I read his novels too but I think his short stories far surpass them.

The ending of “Gwendy’s Button Box” is unique and not really expected but let’s just say that Stephen King does his best writing when he talks about the innocence of children.

Pick up this short book, visit Castle Rock, Maine and find out what’s going on with Gwendy’s button box.



Six Scary Stories by Stephen King (Editor)

Six Scary Stories by Stephen King (Editor)

Stephen King’s British publisher came up with an idea to promote one of King’s books. They decided to have a short story competition for new horror writers. Over 800 people sent in manuscripts and King selected the winner. In “Six Scary Stories” short story horror fans can read the winner of the competition and five other stories that King thought were good.

The winning story was WILD SWIMMING by Elodie Harper. Out of the six stories this was the best even though it reminded me of a few horror stories I’ve previously read. A young woman finds an out of the way lake to swim in and even though she was warned not to she went swimming anyway. Yeah, it sounds familiar but there are some differences that might not be in similar stories but the outcome is the same. No real surprises.

In EAU-DE-ERIC by Manuela Saragosa a little girl, who misses her deceased father, gives her new teddy bear her father’s name. I have a feeling that some of you know what’s going to happen here without actually reading it. The old evil toy story is rehashed here.

In a futuristic society a soldier is forced to count the spots on the last living leopard in THE SPOTS by Paul Bassett Davies. Not an easy job to do but the leader of the country needs to know the number of spots and if they aren’t counted the soldier will be in big trouble. I wish the author gave a little more detail about why the leader wanted the spots counted. Maybe I missed something while reading it.

You know how when you were a kid your toys always came alive at night after you went to bed ? Admit it, toys always start to move and talk around 3:00 am or so, we all saw our dolls and stuffed animals wander around when we were four years old. They move around because they’re bored sitting in the toy box all day. The toys in THE UNPICKING by Michael Button have a new game that they’re now playing and no one is safe, not even the toys. I did kind of like this one.

There are two other stories in the collection, LA MORT DE L’AMANT by Stuart Johnstone and THE BEAR TRAP by Neil Hudson. Both are quite forgettable. I read this book a little over a week ago and I totally don’t remember them. To tell you the truth most of the stories in “Six Scary Stories” are forgettable. Nothing much to them at all. I understand that in horror, like in all writing genres, there are only a certain amount of stories to tell. I get that but it’s how you make the same old story different that makes you into a good writer. Stephen King knows how to do this.

I really hate not saying positive things about the writers and their stories. I could never write a horror tale so I do give all the authors major kudos for doing something that many writers cannot do.

If you’re looking for six scary stories you won’t find them in this short book. The collection is good enough but if you want to be scared pick up one of Stephen King’s short story anthologies.

six scary stories

Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton

Y is for Yesterday (Kinsey Millhone #25) by Sue Grafton

After 35 years author Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series is coming to a swift end. There’s only one more book left and I feel bad about that. I’ve read most of this series twice and a few of the books I’ve read three times. I’m not sure I can let Kinsey go and I hope that Ms. Grafton will somehow continue with the alphabet series and maybe turning it into a numerical one. I can do with lots more of Kinsey.

“Y is for Yesterday” is not an easy book to read. I don’t mean that it’s too complicated or the words are too long and hard and you need a dictionary by your side. I mean the book is pretty dark and disturbing with a story that involves stalking, rape, murder, bullying, and violence against women.

Private Investigator Kinsey Millhone’s new client wants to find out who is blackmailing her family for $25,000. Ten years earlier the client’s teen-aged son was at a party where a girl was killed. The son went to a youth prison for the death of the girl and has recently been released and then a tape was sent to his family. The tape showed the gang rape of a girl at the same party he attended ten years earlier and the son was very much involved in the abuse. The blackmailer threatened to show the tape to the police if the family doesn’t cough up $25,000. If they refuse to give the money their son will go back to jail for rape.

The book travels back and forth between 1979 when the rape and murder happened and then to 1989 when Kinsey is asked to investigate. While investigating that case Kinsey is also being stalked by a man who almost killed her in the previous Millhone novel, “X.” The murdering man in “X” is back where his main and only objective is to kill Kinsey.

Two separate story lines packed into 500 pages and I have to admit I did like “Y is for Yesterday.” I liked it a lot. But not everyone agrees. I have a Facebook friend who was looking forward to this book as much as I was but when she started to read it the novel made her uncomfortable with all the stalking and what happened at the teen party. My friend put it down. She was also a little angry and I think she said she put a note in the library book copy warning the next person who borrowed it about the darkness of the novel.

Look, my Facebook friend was right. “Y is for Yesterday” is a tough one to get through and I’m sure it made a lot of women very uncomfortable and if that happens while reading a book then you should put it down. While at first I was taken a little aback by the subject I continued on because author Sue Grafton’s books are not happy, and sparkly,  filled with unicorns and rainbows and I expect a certain amount of darkness in her novels. Kinsey’s character is very troubled and has had, and still has, her share of problems. All 25 books in the series never backed away from this. Through the course of 35 years fans of this really terrific series has seen Kinsey at her worse and have read about some terrible people she investigated and had contact with. Some books just take on the darker sides of life.

The Kinsey Millhone series is well written. Sue Grafton has a way with telling a good story and creating some wonderful characters who have been with Kinsey all these years which is why I continue to look forward to each installment and I make sure I read it.

I do recommend “Y is for Yesterday” but like my friend who put a warning note in the library copy of the book I will warn you that this 25th novel can be very uncomfortable but bear with it if you can because the story is amazing.

Y is for Yesterday

The Thrill of the Haunt by E. J. Copperman

The Thrill of the Haunt by E. J. Copperman

I’m a reader. I’d read all day long if everyday things like shopping, doing laundry, and cleaning the apartment didn’t get in the way, not that I clean my apartment all that often. My home is filled with books, thousands of them. I also have a regular Kindle and two Kindle Fires filled with books, thousands of them. So why do I end up trolling my library for something new to read when I have have so much reading material at my fingertips? I troll the library to find that one in a million author who I’ve never read before and who will remind me of why I love the written word so much. This is how I discovered author E. J. Copperman.

The first book I read by this author was “Spouse on Haunted Hill.” The book cover said it was a part of the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series. I like ghosts, it kind of sounded like a cozy, kind of, so I figured I’d borrow it and give this author a try. The book wasn’t the first in the series but I’m rather smart so I was sure I could figure out what happened in the earlier novels.

I read the book and found myself obsessed with the series and the characters. Just this morning I finished reading “The Thrill of the Haunt.” This is the fifth book in the series and I’ve yet to read the first. No big deal, I’ll get to it.

Let me tell you a little something about the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series. It follows Alison Kerby who owns a guesthouse in New Jersey, right by the shore. It’s not a bed a breakfast because Alison doesn’t cook but she can steer you to a great nearby Jersey diner if you feel the need to eat.

Alison was married to “The Swine” until he took off to California with his young tootsie leaving Alison to care for their daughter, Melissa. Alison’s mom, Loretta, lives nearby and comes to the guesthouse to show Melissa how to cook since Alison can barely boil water, although opening a carton of Edy’s ice cream is a breeze for her. A gal after my own heart.

Paul and Maxi live in the guesthouse with Alison and Melissa. Paul was a private investigator hired to protect Maxi but Paul was new to the game and failed miserably when both he and Maxi were killed in the house. Alison then bought it and Paul and Maxi came along with the mortgage. They are live-in ghosts.

Not everyone can see and hear ghosts. Can you? Alison can, and Melissa can, and Loretta can but not too many others. It’s all in the genes. Alison is known as “the ghost lady” in town since she advertises her guest house as being haunted but no one really believes that. Paul also persuaded Alison to get her P.I. license so he can, in a roundabout way, still be a private investigator.

Alison’s father, who died, also visits the guesthouse to make sure Alison, Melissa, and the house itself are in fine working order. Every so often there are other non living visitors. Paul summons the spirits when Alison needs some ghostly advice. Alison calls it using the “ghosternet.”

That’s the background in a nutshell. In “The Thrill of the Haunt” Alison has two cases. In the first case a wife hires her to follow her husband to see if he’s cheating. The wife doesn’t want a divorce just some leverage to hold over his head but she needs proof.

In the second case Alison has to figure out who killed, Everett, the town’s homeless man. Everett’s body was found in a locked gas station bathroom. Word on the street has it that a ghost killed Everett so who better to find the murdering spook than “the ghost lady?”

This is a wild and wonderfully funny book. Author E. J. Copperman knows exactly how to write as a person living in New Jersey. New Jerseyans can be very sarcastic. I know since I have a good friend living there and, being a Brooklynite, I know quite a bit about the art of sarcasm myself.

When I started the series I was floored at how good the author was able to weave in a great murder/mystery with lots of humor. The writing had such a nice female touch that I thought the author was a woman. Silly me. E. J. Copperman is a man. Definitely fooled me there.

The murder mystery story is top notch. I didn’t figure out the ending to either case until the last 25 pages when the author basically spelled it out. I love when I can’t figure out who done it within the first 50 pages and if I’m still wondering close to 300 pages in I’m in heaven.

The author weaves a terrific mystery with a good deal of humor and sarcasm and best of all each book in the series is a stand-alone. Start with any novel in the series and you won’t be missing out on a thing. Okay, maybe in one book you meet a ghostly character and then in the next one you read, an earlier book, the character is alive and kicking but that’s no biggie. The author does a good job in filling you in.

E.J. Copperman has quite a few series out there and I’ve started reading a book in one of his others and I have a hold at the library for two books from yet a third series. Thankfully  a new installment in the Haunted Guesthouse series will be out in January of 2018. When can I preorder it?

Like every book in the Haunted Guesthouse series “The Thrill of the Haunt” will leave you trying to solve a terrific murder/mystery, laughing at Alison’s narrative, and kind of wishing you had your own live in ghostly friends. If you like cozies this series fits the bill too although its story line is more complicated than your average cozy and there are no recipes included.

E. J. Copperman’s books will grab you from the first page.

thrill of haunt


Murder by Fireworks (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #3) by Susan Bernhardt

Murder by Fireworks (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #3) by Susan Bernhardt

It’s summertime in Sudbury Falls but the living is far from easy for Kay Driscoll. Her son, Andy, is getting married in under a week and the reception is being held at Kay’s home. Her husband, Phil, isn’t doing all that much to help with all the chores that need to be done. If anything, he’s adding on to Kay’s work load.

Phil’s cousin, Loren, is in the hospital and someone has to take care of his 12 year-old daughter, Janey, until Janey’s mother arrives in town to pick her up. Of course Phil agrees to take the girl into their home but Kay knows she will be the one watching her for the time she’ll be with them.

Janey is not the easiest of kids to like but then again most 12 year-old children are hard to deal with. But Kay is expecting two hundred people for the wedding reception and has to make sure the house is in good order, decorations are in place, and the catering will be perfection. All Phil has to deal with is rehearsals for his band because they will be entertaining.

A few days after the wedding Kay, Phil, Janey, and her friends are at the July 4th fireworks display when they they think they hear gunshots. A book club member, James, is found dead in the sand. The police think he killed himself but Kay believes otherwise.

No one loved James as much as James loved himself. He was having affairs with numerous women who adored him and he also just started a new job that he loved. Life seemed to be going his way. Kay felt that James had absolutely no reason to commit suicide no matter what the police thought.

But James was not well liked. He was rude to people, made crude comments, basically stole his new job from another man, and many of his love interests were married women and their husbands probably didn’t appreciate James showing that kind of attention to their wives. In other words, there’s a huge list of people who would love to see James dead.

Kay didn’t like James either but she did want justice to be served so she started investigating his death along with her friends Deidre and Elizabeth. Investigating came easy to Kay and she helped solve other murders in her town but asking questions made her a target to the murderer and put her life in danger.  

Between weddings, taking care of 12 year-old Janey, being a loving wife and mother, and watching out for her life Kay has her hands full this summer. It was summertime but the living was far from easy.

“Murder by Fireworks” is the third Kay Driscoll novel is this excellent series by Susan Bernhardt. I’ve read them all and each book is better than the previous one. This is my favorite of the three.

Ms. Bernhardt is becoming a wonderful mystery writer. Through reading all her books, not only the Kay Driscoll series, I’ve seen how the author honed in on her craft. It’s obvious that she takes her time thinking about story lines and how the plot leads to the bad guy. The stories are well-thought out and complicated. The murderer is not someone you would suspect by page 50 and her explanations for why the murder was done forms a near perfect murder/mystery.

Do not expect a simple cozy while reading this. “Murder by Fireworks” is up there with most any other good mystery novel. The book isn’t just for women and I’m sure it would appeal to any mystery lover.

The characters are wonderful and that includes the character of the Town of Sudbury Falls. It makes city dwellers, like myself, wish they lived in a small town where everyone knows your name, people you can share the joy of holidays with and are willing to help out with a crises at a moment’s notice.

While Reading any of Susan Bernhardt’s books you’ll find yourself engrossed in a good mystery and you won’t want to stop it reading until the mystery solved.

Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of any book in the Kay Driscoll Series and discover what a good writer this author is.

For more about Susan Bernhardt’s books please see Susan’s section on my blog.

murder fireworks