Friday, July 3, 2020

Review: THE HOUSE ON WIDOW'S HILL by Simon R. Green

5 Spooky Stars 

This installment of the Ishmael Jones Mysteries relies heavily on Science Fiction rather than Horror as did some of the earlier novels.  Going in, one expects supernatural horror,  as Ishmael and partner Penny are tasked by a previously unknown member of the Organization (identified only as Whisper) to spend one night in a reputedly haunted Victorian house in Bath, England. Accompanying are a psychic,a journalist who is a member of the family owning the derelict property,  and a local historian who is also a White Witch. As the story unfolds,  we learn more about Ishmael Jones' background, and encounter some seriously Spooky moments and unexpecte56d events.  This one is also noted for its humour: despite all the serious issues,  I frequently chuckled,  even laughed aloud [rare for me].

Review: STONE HILL: SHADOWS RISING by Dean Rasmussen

4 Spooky Stars

The horrors that have overtaken the small, gentle, community of Stone Hill, Minnesota,  make my skin crawl, and I refer to both the otherworldly elements and the sheer unadulterated human evil. A formerly "normal" small mostly-farming community has become--well, at the risk of trope, a portal to Hades. Or, not exactly that specific location,  but somewhere in another dimension, allowing horrific entities to cross over, abduct, terrorize, feed. What is under the apple orchard [shudder] boggles the mind....but does create a far-reaching territory for our "heroes" to explore in future installments. Meanwhile,  the fascist totalitarian control of Stone Hill (monstrously in the name of religion) seems to be reminiscent of Nazi Germany,  specifically how the non-combatant civilians were terrorized into submission by the controlling government run by the demagogue Adolf Hitler.  But even Hitler couldn't match the Denouement of STONE HILL: SHADOWS RISING, an event of jaw-dropping terror,  a real cliffhanger...

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


5 Hopeful Stars!

Over several decades I've perused a cornucopia of books categorized as pre-Apocalyptic, Apocalyptic, and post-Apocalyptic. I think it's only been in the last two decades or so that an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse), whether of human design or due to a Solar Flare/Coronal Mass Ejection of the Sun, is the cause. Many of these books are extremely depressing, hopeless, even horrifying. Few are hopeful: THE LIGHTEST OBJECT IN THE UNIVERSE is a shining light of hope and courage in the morass of Apocalypse. What can we do in the face of Society's collapse? Persevere. Hope. Love.

Friday, June 19, 2020


Review: 5 Stars

If you loved THE CHANGELING,  Book 1 in the ODDMIRE Series,  you will delight in this sequel. From a woman who only wishes to live alone, to her daughter who becomes Queen, to a father of one son or two who left work alive only to disappear--the story will rivet even as it riffs on once worn tropes and concepts.

The ODDMIRE Series is intended for middle-grade readers but readers of all ages can revel.

Human-raised brothers Tinn and Cole join forces with Fable, daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, to stop the fighting between the people of Endsborough and the creatures of the Wild Wood before violence turns into all-out war. 
Human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn are finding their way back to normal after their journey to the heart of the Oddmire. Normal, unfortunately, wants nothing to do with them. Fable, the daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, has her first true friends in the brothers. The Queen allows Fable to visit Tinn and Cole as long as she promises to stay quiet and out of sight—concealing herself and her magic from the townspeople of Endsborough.
But when the trio discovers that humans are destroying the Wild Wood and the lives of its creaturesfor their own dark purposes, Fable cannot stay quiet. As the unspoken truce between the people of Endsborough and the inhabitants of the Wild Wood crumbles, violence escalates, threatening war and bringing Fable’s mother closer to the fulfillment of a deadly prophecy that could leave Fable a most Unready Queen.
In this second book in the Oddmire series, the New York Times bestselling author of Jackaby takes readers on an adventure full of monsters, mayhem, and magic.
More about William Ritter:
William Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark.The Oddmireis Ritter’s first series for middle-grade readers. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling, award-winning Jackaby series for young adult readers. Visit him online at and find him on Twitter: @Willothewords.

Tour: ODDMIRE: BOOK 1 THE CHANGELING by William Ritter

Review  5 Stars

William Ritter has a deft talent for exploring "fairytale fantasy." In this new series by the author of the JACKABY Series,  he explores and actually,  rejuvenates, some common fairytale concerns and tropes, while engaging his readers and making us empathize with the characters and making us yearn for the next in series.

Goblin Kull desires only that his tribe successfully return to the Old Ways, and to restore magic to the world. The blessing, rare, of a newborn goblin Changeling, must be the secret! So Kull acts, goes to substitute the Changeling.....but, umm, which of the two babies IS the Changeling??!

Designed for middle-grade readers but delightful for all!

"Funny, exciting, and ultimately epic. Wow. I can't wait for the next one."
—Adam Gidwitz, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm
“William Ritter draws readers ages 8-12 into an enchanted forest prowled by all manner of sinister and peculiar beings… Suspenseful and sometimes droll, ‘Changeling’ is a promising start to a planned series.”
Wall Street Journal
“Set in a magical world filled with incredible creatures from folklore, this fast-paced fantasy will keep readers turning the pages as they follow the twins through the dark and mysterious woods. Unique characters with complex personalities will give readers insight into the feelings and actions of not only Tinn and Cole and their mother, but the creatures—both good and evil—they encounter on their journey. A captivating series opener.”
Booklist, STARRED review
“William Ritter takes familiar pieces of lore and infuses rich new life and magic into them. The characters ofChangeling, both human and magical, are complex and multi-faceted: wildly brave single mothers, rowdy sensitive boys, goblins yearning for forgiveness and redemption and a Thing whose power is limited by its own insecurities. Wonderfully written, with powerful messages of love and the importance of family, Changeling is a bold start to a promising series.”
Shelf Awareness, STARRED review
“Fans of Michael Buckley’s ‘Sisters Grimm’ novels will delight in this fast-paced, page-turning fantasy…A must-buy for any collection and a title that will lead readers to other classic titles used as source ­material.”
School Library Journal
“Ritter (the Jackaby series) crafts a well-paced adventure filled with whimsy and peril, in which the bonds of family and love prove stronger than any spell or curse. With memorable characters—especially the irrepressible protagonists, who make a delightful team—and an atmospheric setting, this is a strong series opener.”
Publisher’s Weekly
“A tale of maternal and brotherly love that's never mawkishly sentimental. A delightful series opener.”
Kirkus Reviews

Monday, June 8, 2020

Review: LORDS OF DECEPTION by Christopher Fuchs

4 Stars

An exciting reader's hook commences a compelling epic fantasy. A medieval type setting offers scope for thrilling action,  adventure,  and character development. As a rogue scholar determines to change the march of history, a young nobleman of integrity navigates politics and weaknesses of those in power.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Review: CITY AMONG THE STARS by Francis Carsac

4 Stars

Francis Carsac was a pseudonym of French geologist, archaeologist, and author Francois Bordes (1919-1981), who penned  six novels and several shorter works. CITY AMONG THE STARS is considered to be in the Golden Age of Science Fiction.  This is the first translation into English. 

A member of the Emperor's security force, traveling through Space with an urgent method, is the victim of sabotage and his spaceship is destroyed.  Fortunately he is rescued by a spacefaring civilization which eschews planetary living. Unfortunately, the leaders have designs on Empire technology, knowledge he has.