Tag Archives: spirits

Mambo and Murder:  A Fiona Quinn Mystery #6 by C.S. McDonald (Book Review)

 

Three ballroom dancers had been murdered over forty-years ago. Wow, that’s one old cold case. What’s more, the murderer thought to have been killed during a police chase has resurfaced in Pittsburgh. Yikes! How can that be?Worse, ballroom dancing simply isn’t Detective Nathan Landry’s forte. After weeks of practice, Nathan still has two left-feet. Can Fiona step in to guide Nathan through this dancing debacle or will it take forty-years for the detective to find his footing? Double yikes!Join Fiona and Detective Landry in this high-stepping whodunit!

 

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
 
 
Right out of the gate (Prologue), we had a crime on our hands! While Nathan was investigating the burglary, secrets buried long ago came forth. Did Vincent Di Volante really die 40+ years ago in a fiery car wreck? If not, who did?
 
If these two questions were enough to wet your whistle, Fiona and the people in the neighborhood have been getting mail postmarked back in the 70s. I know mail runs slow, but that gives a new definition to “snail mail.”

I think it’s worth noting, Mambo and Murder: A Fiona Quinn Mystery (book #6 in the series) by C.S. McDonald is NOT just adults. Since there are no curse words or suggestive scenes, it’s perfectly acceptable for teens and young adults to read it. As a family who loves playing clue, this book is right up our alley, and I’m thrilled to share it with my teen. 

Oh, and BTW, I love the cover! 
 

 
Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

 
 
 
 
Meet the Author: 
For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. Classically trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School, The Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, and many others, she became a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time, she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. In 2016 she added the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series that everyone, including teens and tweens, can read and enjoy. Presently, the Fiona Quinn Mysteries nine books with a tenth slated for 2021. The books are also available on audio, narrated by Maren Swenson Waxenberg. Cindy’s newest venture is The Owl’s Nest Mysteries. Once again, she has set her cozy mystery in Pittsburgh. The female protagonist, Alexa Owl, is much different from Fiona Quinn. The Owl’s Next Mysteries has a little grit, a little time travel, a little romance, and a whole lot of cozy! Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.
 
 
Connect with the author:  
Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook
 
 
 
 

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Peel Back and See by Mike Thorn (Book Review)

In spaces both familiar and strange, unknowable horrors lurk.

From the recesses of the Internet, where cosmic terror shows its face on an endless live feed, to a museum celebrating the sordid legacy of an occultist painter, this chilling collection of sixteen short stories will plunge you into the eerie, pessimistic imagination of Mike Thorn. Peel Back and See urges its readers to look closer, to push past surface-level appearances and face the things that stir below.

 

Amazon Purchase Link
Journalstone.com

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

 

Peel Back and See is a collection of sixteen (16) short stories that are heavy on unforgettable encounters with hungry creatures, blood and gore, fear, Satan, and (weirdly enough) sexual arousal. 

Some stories stuck with me more than others. Below are my top five (5). 

1.) Mr. Mucata’s Final Requests: Everyone knows you don’t try to double-cross Satan. I mean, come on, don’t even try. Deals with him are also a bad idea. Seriously, the worst possible choice a person can make. If you believe in the devil, demons, and hell, say NO to anything offered. Period!

2.) @GorgoYama2013: We’re raised to know you NEVER go into a stranger’s car. Horror movies have ingrained in us to NEVER go into a strange basement, especially alone. Victor broke all the rules. What he met could best be described as a horrific version of Krang (the brain) from TMNT. If you don’t know who I am talking about, look him up! 

3.) Vomitus Bacchanalius: Okay, people are vomiting. Aliens are eating the regurgitated food. There are goo-faced men. Ugh, this story was gross, BUT good! I loved the nod to Gordon Ramsay too. 🙂

4.) The Furnace Room Mutant: This story stood out more because you’d think an unnatural being would be the monster in the story. I like it when authors step out from the paranormal norm. 🙂

5.) Havoc: This was the first story in the collection, and it made me close my laptop and take one giant step back from it. Read the story, and you’ll understand why. There was only one part I wasn’t too keen on — a flashback scene between student and teacher. I don’t want to divulge too much, but it made my score drop from a five to a four. (for this story only, not the overall score of the anthology)

 

 In Peel Back and See, thirteen of the sixteen stories scored three and above. That’s impressive! I encourage others to read the collection and see which story has you cowering under the covers. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link
Journalstone.com

 

 

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Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Prairie Gothic. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and Vague Visages. He completed his M.A. with a major in English literature at the University of Calgary, where he wrote a thesis on epistemophobia in John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness.

Connect with him on Twitter (@MikeThornWrites) or visit his website for more information: mikethornwrites.com.

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Cassandra’s Time Yarns (Time Yarns Anthologies Book 1) by Erin Lale, Plus 4 More Contributing Authors (Anthology Review)

Print length: 92 pages

Contents:

The End of History by Gordon Yaswen
Choice by Ralph Ewig
Noble Northern Spirit by Erin Lale
Testing Time by Tony Thorne MBE
The Artist Formerly Known as G-d by Erin Lale
The Beginning by J.L. Toscano

Art Contents:

Paradise Lost by Maria Arango
Mandalas by Lisa Yount

Kindle Purchase Link



(review request submitted by Erin Lale, contributing author/editor, for an honest critique) 

 


(Story One) The End of History by Gordon Yaswen explored TIME in the manners of science and philosophy. In doing so, Yaswen reached a broader audience. The more individuals who can debate/explore a topic = more readers, more press. That is the goal of most writers. To get people talking about their work! 

 

(Story Two) Space is majestic, but it also comes with obstacles and fears. Every time a person explores space and the unknown, they are essentially gambling with their life. If something life-threatening happens in space, there is no 9-1-1. You and your comrades only have yourselves to rely on and no one else. All of this was emphasized in Choice by Ralph Ewig.

 

(Story Three) Noble Northern Spirit by Erin Lale was vastly different from its predecessors in this anthology. Erin Lale did not venture out into space. Her adventures took place on Earth. Hers centered almost entirely around magic.

Through the fourteen chapters, Erin Lale mentioned witches, the mob, drug smuggling, Jesus, Satan, and (deep breath) THOR!

There were several mythical beings discussed, in-depth or in passing. She really threw everything into the story except the kitchen sink. 😀

Speaking of kitchen sink, if I had magical powers, I’d used them to tackle the dishes in my sink. 😛

 

(Story Four) Testing Time by Tony Thorne MBE could be plausible in one aspect. If any citizen created a working time machine or force field, the military would be all over them. They’d confiscate the tech and the person. 

The interesting part of Testing Time came millions of (Earth) years later. I wished this section was explored more. Yes, I want about another 10-20 more pages. Why? Because there was so much more Tony Thorne could’ve said. Testing Time felt like it was just getting started when the story was (technically) wrapping up. 

Tony, I would love for you to expand this tale. I’d read it if you did. 🙂

 

(Story Five) The Artist Formerly Known as G-d by Erin Lale discussion of time travel, disruption of events, changing history, and warnings about when/where not to travel got me thinking. If I could travel to any period, where would I blast off to first?

I don’t know about Aunti Cassie and her opinion of her time spent with da Vinci. It might be an unforgettable experience to witness the creation of one of his genius inventions.

The only thing I know for sure…I would limit my time in any place which didn’t have indoor plumbing. I’m a bit spoiled in that way. 😀

 

(Story Six) The Beginning by J.L. Toscano would appeal to anyone who works in the sciences or is fascinated by science as a hobby. My hubby and his friends regularly discuss, and debate topics brought up in The BeginningThere’s also a theory that we (Earthlings) are merely puppets, and someone is pulling our strings. After reading The Beginning, you’ll wonder if this theory could be plausible. I’m sure many will debate this question. 🙂

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: 

Kindle Purchase Link

 

 

Gordon Yaswen, a college professor in California.

Ralph Ewig, from Western Europe, a rocket scientist at SpaceX.

Tony Thorne MBE, awarded a chivalric order by the Queen of England for advances in cryosurgery tools and carbon fiber furnaces, resides in the Canary Islands.

J.L. Toscano, a teacher at the Scarsdale Schools in New York.

Maria Arango, from Cuba, a woodcut artist.

Lisa Yount, from California, an artist and jeweller.

 

Erin Lale

Erin Lale, invented technical processes in iDEN and CDMA wireless communications technology.

Erin Lale writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc. She published Berserkrgangr Magazine, owned The Science Fiction Store in Las Vegas, was Acquisitions Editor at Eternal Press / Damnation Books, reviews books for Eternal Haunted Summer Magazine, writes an official blog for Witches and Pagans Magazine, and is the originator of the Time Yarns shared world universe. She lives in Nevada with her black cat, Happy.


Author website:  

https://www.erinlaleauthor.com/  

 

Author social media links:  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erin.lale  

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erinlale/  

MeWe: https://mewe.com/i-front/erinlale  

Minds: https://www.minds.com/erinlale/  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/erinlale  

 

 

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Death Perception by Lee Allen Howard (Book Review)

Kennet Singleton cremates the dead—and then they speak… “Avenge us!”
 
Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care facility, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.

He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. But when his perception differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, Kennet must bring the killers to justice.

 

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

The gift of knowing a cause of death without insider information would come in handy for specific jobs — coroner and law enforcement. However, it’s more of a parlor trick for non-detective related occupations—unless you work in a crematory and the dead seek your help for vengeance. Then, it’s absolutely a welcomed gift. 

Kennet’s super power, gift, or whatever you want to call it, really came into play during the last 100 or so pages of the story. During this portion, things started to heat up. 😀

The dead wanted vengeance. Kennet wanted vengeance. 

Spirits communicated with the living to carry out their plan, and not all the angry souls were rooting for the good guy (Kennet). 

While the cover screams horror, in my opinion, I didn’t find Death Perception scary at all. I’m pretty sure I’d be singing a different turn if spirits wanted me dead and if one (or two or more) appeared before me. 

Was Death Perception weird? YES. 

Was it creepy? Yes! 

Seriously, roasting marshmallows over ashes and then eating them is WEIRD and CREEPY!

I only wish we would’ve seen more interactions between the spirits and the living. I wanted more creepiness. More horror. More suspense.

I was pleased by the ending, though. If anyone deserved a HEA, it was Kennet.

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤1/2

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

About the author

I write dark fiction: horror, erotic horror, dark fantasy, dark crime, psychological thrillers and suspense. And technical manuals. All terribly horrifying.

Lee Allen Howard has been a technical writer in the software industry since 1985. (Why do fiction writers pretend like they don’t have day jobs? I like to eat just like everyone else!) I also edit fiction and non-fiction projects. I’ve done book layout and publishing consultancy.

A long time ago I earned a BA in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I also received an MA in Biblical Studies from CI School of Theology and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.Pride Flag

My publications include, but are not limited to:

I’m also the founder, editor, and publisher at Dark Cloud Press (http://www.darkcloudpress.com), publisher of horror, dark crime, and psychological thrillers.

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Death Perception by Lee Allen Howard (Book Showcase)

Kennet Singleton cremates the dead—and then they speak… “Avenge us!”
 
Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care facility, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.
 
He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. But when his perception differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, Kennet must bring the killers to justice.

 

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

Read the first chapter here.

 

 

 

Lori S.
⭐⭐     Death Perception full of clever twists
 
Kennet Singleton is a young man with one of the worst part-time jobs I can imagine – he works in the local funeral home, operating the crematorium. Being a teenager, his mind is capable of dark humor adults might not understand and Kennet decides to try toasting some marshmallows over the remains of the corpses he burns in the oven.

Okay, he’s a little strange. Then he realizes that eating those marshmallows gives him the knowledge of how the deceased died. And that’s not so bad, until he realizes that the message he gets doesn’t match the information from the death certificate. Someone is murdering people and Kennet thinks his own mother might have been one of the victims. Kennet, with the help of a couple friends, investigates the murders, leading to all kinds of twists and turns that will keep the reader guessing.

Lee Allen Howard is a fine writer, with a knack for creating characters you’ll both love and hate. Everyone in the book comes to life under Howard’s skillful hands. Although the topic is a bit of a gross-out, this isn’t a disgusting book nor is it overly graphic. It’s a good book and I’d highly recommend it.

 
 
A Reader in the Mitten
⭐⭐     Death Perception full of clever twists

I’ve read a few of Lee Allen Howard’s other books, and I believe this is his best. They’re all gritty, realistic and chilling — not in a blood-and-guts way (although some details in Death Perception do spill out), but what I loved is Howard’s more-than-heroic hero. Kennet Singleton has had a rough life, and things just get worse due to some creepy people in the town – his greedy funeral director boss, the cold-hearted owner of the home care place where Kennet’s mother lives, and the half-stoned orderly who targets Kennet whenever possible. Howard does a masterful job peeling the layers in this deeply moving novel, revealing Kennet’s unusual gift of perception, plus the evil surrounding him. I cheered for Kennet every step of the way. A great, satisfying read.
 
 
Jennifer
⭐⭐ 

I’ve always enjoyed a good underdog story and Lee Allen Howard delivers just that with Death Perception. Our protagonist, Kennet, has had a hard life so why shouldn’t he enjoy some of the sweeter things? His boss may not like him roasting marshmallows on the job at the crematory but the dead don’t seem to mind. In fact, Kennet isn’t your average teen and that momentary pleasure brings him more than just a sugar rush. He soon finds he’s able to make contact with the deceased, giving him knowledge no one else is aware of. Part ghost story and part murder mystery Howard’s clean prose and spot-on timing make for a compelling read. The story is told with compassion for the less fortunate and insight into the way the world often torments the weak. But it also contains some truly laugh-out-loud scenes at the expense of the evil-doers and the ultimate triumph of the underdog. If you enjoy ghosts, revenge tales and mysteries this book is for you.
 
 
 
 

 

About the author

I write dark fiction: horror, erotic horror, dark fantasy, dark crime, psychological thrillers and suspense. And technical manuals. All terribly horrifying.

Lee Allen Howard has been a technical writer in the software industry since 1985. (Why do fiction writers pretend like they don’t have day jobs? I like to eat just like everyone else!) I also edit fiction and non-fiction projects. I’ve done book layout and publishing consultancy.

A long time ago I earned a BA in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I also received an MA in Biblical Studies from CI School of Theology and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.Pride Flag

My publications include, but are not limited to:

I’m also the founder, editor, and publisher at Dark Cloud Press (http://www.darkcloudpress.com), publisher of horror, dark crime, and psychological thrillers.

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