Saturday, December 30, 2017

ICE AGE by Brian Freemantle_Review

Ice AgeIce Age by Brian Freemantle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: ICE AGE by Brian Freemantle

The author specifically advises that this novel is not intended as a polemic against global warming; yet the story speaks for itself, and the situation is too near-future to qualify as science fiction. Rather, the premise is unfortunately a very possible "could happen." The protagonist, climatologist Jack Stoddart, is a long-time environmentalist who has for years cautioned about destruction of the planet. Seems he's now being proved accurate, as conditions of temperature rise at both Poles release a disease--possibly viral, possibly genetic--which emulates in adults the disease of Progeria which occurs only in children: intensely advanced aging.

I enjoyed this novel, including the various scientific speculations involved. I did think too much politicking and political maneuvering was included, specifically in the U.S., the UK, and Russia. Perhaps that was intended as a behind-the-scenes glimpse; certainly it's no wonder nothing important is ever accomplished. However, for readers who like stories with strong female characters who are important in their chosen fields, ICE AGE has a good selection.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2018 Sci-fi Experience

SEE HERE In January I'll participate in the Vintage Science Fiction reading, and I plan to read much John W. Campbell. Excited!

Throughout 2018 I plan to read a lot of Robert E. Howard, especially his Weird Fiction, and I will try to also read Dune. If time permits, I'll also be looking at Clark Ashton Smith and Edgar Rice Burroughs. (And always, HPL.)

After a dismaying start to the year, I've been reading John W. Campbell's THE BLACK STAR PASSES, and I've also read (on January 5) Campbell's "The Last Evolution" and "The Ultimate Weapon." Surprisingly, "The Last Evolution" fits in the AI square for the SFF vs. Fantasy Challenge, and the day after reading it I realized the resonances to this story with the later story "A Meeting With Medusa" by Arthur C. Clarke, another master of the genre. Now I think I'll balance Mr.Campbell's masculine viewpoint [predominantly displayed in the 1953 introduction to THE BLACK STAR PASSES] with Andre Norton or C. J. Cherryh.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


The Altar In The Hills and Other Weird TalesThe Altar In The Hills and Other Weird Tales by Brandon Barrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An author unafraid to reveal his roots, Brandon Burrows delivers tales purely Lovecraftian and intrinsically weird. In fact, while reading the eponymous tale "Altar in the Hills," I had to repeatedly check to remind myself I wasn't reading the Master himself {Smile}. That tale resonates for me with the thrill I experience when reading HPL' s "The Whisperer in Darkness." This collection is the first I've read of this author, but it certainly won't be the last.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Over at The Little Red Reviewer and at Red Star Reviews, January brings VINTAGE SCIENCE FICTION!! See what it's all about!

Follow my personal progress HERE

Remember, I grew up on Vintage Sci Fi {and Mystery and Horror} before it was Vintage! {No, NOT the Golden Age of Science Fiction!}

After a dismaying start to the year, I've been reading John W. Campbell's THE BLACK STAR PASSES, and I've also read (on January 5) Campbell's "The Last Evolution" and "The Ultimate Weapon." Surprisingly, "The Last Evolution" fits in the AI square for the SFF vs. Fantasy Challenge, and the day after reading it I realized the resonances to this story with the later story "A Meeting With Medusa" by Arthur C. Clarke, another master of the genre. Now I think I'll balance Mr.Campbell's masculine viewpoint [predominantly displayed in the 1953 introduction to THE BLACK STAR PASSES] with Andre Norton or C. J. Cherryh.

2018_Science Fiction vs. Fantasy Bingo Challenge_My Challenge


I'm a lifelong devotee of science fiction, and sci fantasy, and I really want to learn to love fantasy {and to expand my reading horizons}, so this is the challenge for me.

Follow my delightful progress and reviews at: 2018 SF vs. F Bingo Challenge Shelf The Squares Space AI: "The Last Evolution," John W. Campbell (Jan. 5) Wibbly Wobbly Time Travel--SINK It's the End of the World As We Know It Alien Invasion Plague Dystopia Alternate Reality Cyberpunk Necromancer, Islands in the Net, Snowcrash This is Totally Going to Happen One Day Asian: THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM African Rebellion Independent South American Portal Fantastic Beasts Haunted--any Sheri Struthers Undead: DEAD MAN RUNNING or DEATH MAGIC RULES Re-Telling Bite Me Kings, Queens and Long, Lost Relatives Demonic BANE OF THE DEAD Immortal Epic

Sunday, December 10, 2017


2018 Sword and Stars Reading Challenge!

I am glad I found this! I love science fiction and sci fantasy. Unfortunately I don't love fantasy, but in my quest to "expand my horizons" and "read without walls," I want to read fantasy in 2018.


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review: BREATHE BREATHE by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

Breathe. Breathe.Breathe. Breathe. by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: BREATHE, BREATHE by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

This single author collection, containing both dark poetry and several dark short stories, takes as its theme breath: the need, both physical and psychological, to breathe, to exist, to endure, through fear, through pain, through trauma, adversity, dark memories. Many of the characters here experience trouble breathing, through trauma, injury, depression, grief--or death. I am certain many readers {and not only female} will find themselves breathing shallower, or holding their breath, as the vividness of these scenes awakens memories. Other readers who may not have these particular types of painful memories, will nonetheless wince in empathy. I am equally certain very few will walk away untouched, and very few will forget.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017



FRIGHTFALL, and OCTOBER IS LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, ended yesterday, with Halloween {Samhain}. Today is All Souls Day and the first day of NOVEMBER IS LOVECRAFT MYTHOS. I pledge to myself to read one (or more) HPL story each day from November 1 through December 31.

I am also participating in NaNoWriMo this month, my first since 2012. I'm writing BRIDGEPORT ASYLUM, which is not an exact sequel, but is related to, my 2011 NaNo novel, BRIGHTMOOR ASYLUM.

Hope to really immerse in Lovecraft Mythos reading throughout November (really my favourite month). To that end, last night I commenced RED RIGHT HAND by Levi Black, and oh my, is it rockin' the Mythos!

Monday, October 30, 2017

SLITHERS by W.W. Mortensen_Review

SlithersSlithers by W.W. Mortensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: SLITHERS by W. W. Mortensen

Oh my oh my oh my, I loved this perfect novel. I love a book carrying my imagination into wider realms, and this is exactly what the author has done here. Mr. Mortensen takes the "what if's" common to us all, and for 9 characters, spins out their probabilities. If you've ever been in a "close call, a "near miss," or pondered "There but for the grace of God go I," read SLITHERS. If "What If?" has ever occurred to your mind, read SLITHERS. Curious about "the road not traveled"? Read SLITHERS. I think you owe it to yourself. I can definitely see rereading SLITHERS again and again; and I am off to read this exceptional author's debut novel, EIGHT.

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Monochromes: And Other StoriesMonochromes: And Other Stories by Matt Bechtel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I found Matt Bechtel through his story in the New England Horror Writers anthology WICKED HAUNTS. Right then I knew I was on to something. His story collection, MONOCHROMES AND OTHER STORIES, transported me to I can't count how many dimensions and probabilities. In company with authors Paul F. Olson and Tim Meyer (also New England scribes), Matt Bechtel takes my imagination by its clammy little hand and takes it on vacation to exotic possibilities. Each story is an adventure, into the characters but also inside us. When each story is excellent, it's not easy to pick "favorites," but there were several which especially impacted me:

"The Beginning of the End" turned me inside out and upside down and round about. It's about the length of a flash piece, with atomic impact.
"Last Man Standing": a longer story, with an emotional denouement and an ending I never expected. This one woke me during the night for further pondering.

"A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings,"
"Restore Factory Settings,"
"Cozzy's Question."

Each of these three stories made me proud, inspired, and hopeful, touching my heart in positive ways.

Mr. Bechtel is also gifted at delivering the-ending-you-never-saw-coming. Note "Last Man Standing," "This Story Approved by the American Dental Association," "A Man Walks Into A Bar." But don't rely on my opinions; go read this collection for yourself.

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

THE FOURTH PROPHECY by Ernest Dempsey_Review

The Fourth Prophecy: A Sean Wyatt Archaeological Thriller (Sean Wyatt Adventure Book 14)The Fourth Prophecy: A Sean Wyatt Archaeological Thriller by Ernest Dempsey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE FOURTH PROPHECY by Ernest Dempsey (Sean Wyatt Adventure Book 14)

In this 14th Adventure, Sean Wyatt and lifelong buddy/adventure Tommy Schultze of International Archaeological Agency in Atlanta are, as always, on the knife edge of danger, and I reiterate DANGER.
These guys never stop, never get sidetracked till the goal is solved and the artifact acquired. This time they reluctantly agree to a quest organized by a Congresswoman, who believes a lost temple in the Yucatan will eventually provide global energy. Sound farfetched? Wait till you read on and discover the real meaning of the temple, and see Tommy and Sean literal inches from death. Meanwhile, every moment is a new breathtaking adventure [read dangerous] but the guys still manage to be humorous.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Review of PARADOX BOUND by Peter Clines

Paradox BoundParadox Bound by Peter Clines
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of PARADOX BOUND by Peter Clines

Author Peter Clines unfailingly delivers a vastly imaginative landscape, in every single novel. In 14, in FOLD, and in PARADOX BOUND, he gives readers an unparalleled reading experience: escapism, but not only that. He also stretches our intellects and ignites our imaginations. In short, he molds us into individuals enlarged and improved for having read his work.

In PARADOX BOUND, he introduces us to the concept of "history travel," as feckless but well-intentioned protagonist {and hero} Eli Teague of tiny Sanders, Maine, discovers that yes, Virginia, time travel exists, and you can do it while driving. The Founding Fathers of the United States had a lot more metaphysical grasp than is taught in history books and classrooms. They arranged the creation of an actual, physical, American Dream, which inspires citizens to expand and excel and to live their dreams (just as this novel inspires readers). But the Dream disappeared in 1963, and searchers travel throughout and across U. S. history, hunting it, while the ranks of "faceless men" track the searchers.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

THELEMA By Colin D. Campbell_ Review

Thelema: An Introduction to the Life, Work & Philosophy of Aleister CrowleyThelema: An Introduction to the Life, Work & Philosophy of Aleister Crowley by Colin D. Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THELEMA by Colin D. Campbell

THELEMA is a remarkably lucid, readable, and inspiring account of the life, and lifelong work, of Aleister Crowley: ceremonial magician, leader, founder, channeler, prophet. The author's enthusiasm and continued encouragement of readers to press on for themselves, to prove for themselves the truth of the Great Work, drives this book and vivifies his explanations. Cutting through the scurrilous and slanderous propaganda, Campbell illustrates a man who childhood was stable and beneficial, only to be upended and personally destructive to the drives and imagination. As author Campbell delineates Crowley' s biography, he also discusses at length his writings, magical beliefs and activities, and most essential, his Great Work. Included are selections from Crowley' s own writings.

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Review of YOGA NIDRA MEDITATION by Pierre Bonnasse

Yoga Nidra Meditation: The Sleep of the SagesYoga Nidra Meditation: The Sleep of the Sages by Pierre Bonnasse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Sleep of the Sages
by Pierre Bonnasse
A Conscious Exploration of Wakefulness, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep

YOGA NIDRA MEDITATION is a manual that is designed to expand the consciousness. Yoga Nigra is a practice not as popular or well known as some other forms of Yoga, but here author Pierre Bonnasse offers an extensively researched and quite readable guide to the history, philosophy, and practice. His aim is to inspire readers to seek out the benefits of Yoga Nidra for themselves. As the subtitle iterates, it is beneficial in consciously exploring the realms of wakefulness, dreaming, and deep sleep. This book will resonate with readers who seek to explore thought, attention, and metaphysical awareness. Yoga Nidra is supportive of relaxation, release of fear and anxiety, and acquiring joy, peace, and calm within one's self.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017


The Child At The End Of TimeThe Child At The End Of Time by Chad A. Clark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE CHILD AT THE END OF TIME by Chad Clark

(Release Oct. 11 2017)

I seriously don't remember breathing from start to finish. I am certain I read with eyes the size of flying saucers and jaw lying on the floor. I never thought I could be as monstrously affected by an end-of-the-world scenario as I was by Philip Wylie' s TOMORROW, which I read when I was about 10. {Under the Dome sure didn't affect me that way.} Along comes Mr. Chad Clark, predicating an absolutely implacably horrific end-time--not just of humanity, but of anything of civilization...and the End comes from Out There. No, not aliens. From Beyond. H. P. Lovecraft is surely applauding from his interment. Certainly I applaud. Although, likely I may never sleep again. And at the next crack of thunder, cardiac arrest will surely be imminent.

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Review: MESTLVEN by Jesse Teller

Mestlven: A Tale from PeriliscMestlven: A Tale from Perilisc by Jesse Teller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MESTLVEN by Jesse Teller

MESTLVEN is grimdark epic fantasy, or in my categorizing, fantasy noir. Set in the author's created world Perilisc, it weaves neatly back and forth between present and past, relating the tale of a young woman, a mother, who undergoes grievous tragedies and is led astray. Meredith, once the wife of a well-to-do nobleman, instead mutates into a talented and seemingly invisible and invincible assassin. Internally, her psyche is all darkness, yet she can't retrieve the memories to explain why. Readers will become inextricably attached to many of these characters, vicariously suffering with them.

Caution: This is NOT your ancestors' Happily-Ever-After Fairy Tale.

I read a digital copy generously provided by the author, via Shut Up and Read Goodreads Group, at no cost. I chose to review MESTLVEN.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

THE X-VARIANT by Rosemary Cole_Review

The X-Variant (The Guardians, #1)The X-Variant by Rosemary Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE X-VARIANT by Rosemary Cole (THE GUARDIANS #1)

Welcome to the Hive Mind! Usually, such a phrase elicits terror, as when we think of The Borg {"Resistance is futile!"} or we remember "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or "The Blob." However, Rosemary Cole's version, the Dronenet, is actually positive, and the society is utopian. This fact is even more amazing given that it is the outgrowth of a viral pandemic apocalypse, nearly 5.5 centuries earlier.

Not only did I applaud the outcome; THE X-VARIANT is a tremendously fast-paced sci fi thriller, with tons of suspense and empathetic characters. I finished eager to read the sequel (in 2018).

Thanks to author Rosemary Cole and Goodreads Group Shut Up and Read, for so generously providing a digital copy at no cost.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

MIND BENDER by Dean C. Moore_Review

Mind Bender (It Takes Two, #1)Mind Bender by Dean C. Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MIND BENDER by Dean C. Moore

Finding myself engrossed is not uncommon when reading horror, but turning the pages so fast that my Kindle sparks is more rare in other genres. Yet, I read MIND BENDER with exactly that [figurative] experience. Whether due to the author's writing gift, the lovable yet awe-inspiring characters, the superlative science fictional plot, or the glimmering possibilities of metaphysics glimpsed in the near background, this novel was riveting. Simultaneously I chuckled often, occasionally laughed aloud, gasped, and marveled. Exceptional novel!

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Post #3


I happen to think that SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE is an excellent, even special, novel. It introduced me to the writings of the late Kurt Vonnegut, inspiring me to find and read his other novels and his short stories.I'm not alone in my praise: SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE is considered a classic, as well as being popular. But there exists also a minority opinion. This novel has been roundly condemned, challenged, banned, and yes, Virginia, copies of SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE have been BURNED! A whopping 32 copies were destroyed by fire, in a high school coal furnace, in North Dakota, in 1973, at the behest of the school board head. A school board in Levittown, New York, proclaimed: " anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy.” That condemnation resulted in a 1982 Supreme Court, with the Court declaring on the side of First Amendment freedom of speech. The challenges and rampant outrage have extended into the 21st century: a Missouri State University professor, a man who homeschool his children, yet insisted this and other books disappear from the local school system.

In summary, a quote from Kurt Vonnegut's letter to the Drake County, North Dakota School Board head (who had ordered the book's burning) expressed it all:

" Books are sacred to free men for very good reasons, and that wars have been fought against nations which hate books and burn them. If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own . . . it was a rotten lesson you taught young people in a free society when you denounced and then burned books – books you hadn’t even read. You should also resolve to expose your children to all sorts of opinions and information, in order that they will be better equipped to make decisions and to survive."

Challenged: Multiple
Banned: Multiple
Burnt: 32 copies, high school coal furnace, at order of school board head
Author's impassioned plea for intellectual freedom

Review: SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut

As a lifelong voracious reader, I had no doubt been aware of SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE since its publication. But until I chose to read it for Banned Books Week 2017, I had never read it, nor indeed any Vonnegut. {I know, lapse in my education.}

I find Vonnegut quite enjoyable (despite the grievous setting of the story). He is wry, ironic, humble. {I might contrast another famed author of the period, "literary lion" Norman Mailer, or of an earlier period, William Burroughs.} Vonnegut never pretends omniscience, much less omnipotence, nor does he attribute either quality to his feckless "hero," the well-named Billy Pilgrim. Billy's travels through time each time he becomes "unstuck" are a marvel, and this reader can't help but empathize with this individual who not only follows the beat of a different drummer, but faces wrath and disdain as he maintains his truth. Even in the presence of mockery, Billy Pilgrim, bless his feckless heart, manages to "speak Truth to Power." The history of attempted censorship of this novel proves that Billy Pilgrim's quest to do exactly that lives on. I wish that I had read SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE decades ago, and I know I will be rereading it, searching for further and deeper meaning, very soon.

Monday, September 25, 2017



Post #2

The first time I ever read of book-burning, I think I cried. I couldn't conceive! I still can't. I do know that as a child, I cried when I first learned of the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria, by fire. {Even though its collection was all in scrolls, which I couldn't have read}.

Book Burning (tomecide) is a public expression of contempt for certain titles, authors, and for books in general. Destroying books has been performed for reasons of religion, politics, philosophy, or personal offense. Consider: removal of one or more books could be accomplished privately; burning books publicly is more about the individual's or group's or political party's or government's agenda.

Ray Bradbury stated in 1956 that he had written FAHRENHEIT 451 (publication 1953) out of his concerns with McCarthyism {an era promoting censorship, suppression of free speech and intellectual freedom, and "witch hunts"--quite similar to the Nazi Era of the 1930's and 1940's .--blogger interjection}. Later Mr. Bradbury expressed concern about the dumbing influence on modern culture of mass media. {Demonstrated efficiently in the book}

Fahrenheit 451: Challenged? Banned? Burnt?
Ironically, FAHRENHEIT 451 has been challenged more than once, redacted, and suggested for removal (in school systems).

The story is all about book burning {shudder}, and the title is the temperature at which paper burns. It's also a chronicle of the triumph of the human spirit, despite... It's a chronicle of wonder, and amazement, of the evolution of the imagination, and of change.

Review: FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

Something there is about Ray Bradbury' s incredible gift that is unlike any other I've read. I am certain that in some mysterious and unaccountable fashion, reading FAHRENHEIT 451 changed my life--or at least, altered me internally.

This novel made me grieve, for all the lost books, for all the lost knowledge, for the Firemen, who are such instruments of wanton destruction, and for a virtually blinded, "dumbed-down" populace, who would rather watch spectacularly-staged televised "talking heads" on their living room walls, than read or even think.

From the beginning, I knew this is a Dystopiana I never want to enter or experience. However, 64 years after its initial publication, popular culture holds little hope of avoiding it. We can only hope that, as in the conclusion of FAHRENHEIT 451, those there are who will memorize and retain millennia of wisdom, who will retain the wisdom of books.

The story is all about book burning {shudder}, and the title is the temperature at which paper burns. It's also a chronicle of the triumph of the human spirit, despite... It's a chronicle of wonder, and amazement, of the evolution of the imagination, and of change.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

BANNED BOOKS WEEK September 24-30


Banned Books Week is an initiative of the American Library Association and its Office for Intellectual Freedom. This year's event is September 24-30, inclusive. "Challenged" titles are those which an individual or group finds offensive, for whatever criterion. Usually criteria include profanity or obscenity; sexual references; religious or anti-religious connotations; ethnic reference or bias; and inappropriateness for a specified age group (occasionally, for all age groups).

Challenges are attempts to remove or restrict the material. Banning means the challenged title is actually taken out of the curriculum, library, bookstore. Occasionally, books have even been destroyed--yes, in America also. (More on that topic in a subsequent post.)

Find out more here:
Banned Books Week


OCEANS: The Anthology (Frontiers of Speculative Fiction, #2)OCEANS: The Anthology by Ken Liu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: OCEANS: THE ANTHOLOGY (Various Authors; edited Daniel Arthur Smith)

What a wonderfully imaginative, creatively speculative, multi-author collection! I loved it! I was intrigued by the title, as I have been an aficionado of the Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic sub-genres for nearly six decades, and because over the last couple of years that interest has focused on rising sea levels, climate change, and Lovecraftian apocalypses. I found plenty to gratify my intrigue here, and OCEANS: THE ANTHOLOGY has found a place on my special rereader shelf. You can't go wrong here, as there is much from which to choose, all of it guaranteed to stretch the imagination.

Kindle release Sept. 26 2017

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Monday, September 18, 2017


The War of the WorldsThe War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells

This is an amazingly enjoyable novel. Although at times I wanted to shake our reckless protagonist, or at least redirect him {much as one wants to redirect the path of horror film characters away from the cellar, or the forest}, I still reveled in his high intellect and philosophizing. Even his mostly unexpressed contempt for the rest of humanity resonated. Then, too, the action! I have long read of the effect Orson Welles' radio broadcast caused: Martians invading New Jersey!! Author H. G. Wells made his fictional invasion horrifying too: the implacability!! I read this novel specifically before reading Stephen Baxter' s excellent sequel, THE MASSACRE OF MANKIND, but reading THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was valuable in itself.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review_THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES by Stephen Baxter and Alistair Reynolds

The Medusa ChroniclesThe Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES by Stephen Baxter and Alistair Reynolds

Certain special authors inspire and fulfill my love of hard science fiction and of science, including Stephen Baxter, Greg Bear, Peter F. Hamilton, and the late master Arthur C. Clarke. Each of these make science fiction and its science sing.

THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES is a sequel to Clarke's novella "A Meeting with Medusa." I so admired Clarke's protagonist Howard Falcon, and his starring role in THE MEDUSA CHRONICLES has intensified my total admiration. Baxter and Reynolds weave a solar-system wide tapestry worthy of Clarke's original vision, wrapping hard science in imaginative ethics and philosophical considerations--on the grand scale.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

CARTER & LOVECRAFT by Jonathan Howard_Review

Carter & LovecraftCarter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: CARTER & LOVECRAFT by Jonathan Howard

I am so totally impressed with CARTER & LOVECRAFT: very faithful to the master, and expands the Mythos in an unexpected direction. I love to read of science, and of metaphysics tautly combined with science. I won't go into too much detail, so as not to spoil the many surprises; suffice it to state, if you love Lovecraft, or love the Mythos, you will surely be awestruck.

For those who aren't Lovecraft fanboys and fangirls, let me say that Jonathan Howard is a superb novelist. Despite the very serious nature of the plot, his tone is laid back, he treats the horrors so subtly, so that they really are startling and frightening because so unexpected! I have in mind several particular scenes, exquisitely undertaken. Jonathan Howard definitely is firmly established in the Lovecraft Mythos pantheon.

I am delighted to discover CARTER & LOVECRAFT. I can't imagine anyone not loving this novel, and I am ecstatically anticipating the release of the sequel in November!

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

THE EXCHANGE STUDENT by Mark Allan Gunnells

The Exchange StudentThe Exchange Student by Mark Allan Gunnells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE EXCHANGE STUDENT by Mark Allan Gunnells

Usually I eschew romance fiction, but THE EXCHANGE STUDENT is a different story. An alternate reality, sci-fi, finely wrought emotionally, tear jerking romance, this story carved itself into my heart and into my dreams (literally). In an alternate 2017, time travel exists. Regulated by a commission, certain applicants are allowed to visit other times, to stay with host families, under supervision of time guardians. Seventeen-year-old Trevor wants to learn firsthand about the intensifying Civil Rights Movement, so he visits 1963. Oh my! Not only does he encounter both ignorance and rampant bigotry, he experiences interpersonal relationships, dysfunctional home, and jealousy turned vengeful. He also (lucky fellow) falls deeply and permanently in love ("stoned in love," to borrow an idiom of the era). Wound up in this is a rebellious group called Revisionists who want to "fix" history by changing events, such as preventing JFK' s assassination. Sounds good, but altering historical events alters the subsequent timeline.

I really loved this emotionally wrenching story and count it a re-reader.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1 by Patrick Beltran
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Cutting Block Single Slices Volume 1
(Anthology) Patrick Beltran, ed.

Ten thoughtful stories by various authors create a venue to take the reader away from consensus reality, to shake us up and make us wonder "Could it really be possible?" I will categorize this collection as both speculative and horror, because of the "Could it be?" factor which operates so strongly throughout. Each story is worth the read (and the provoking of thought), but each reader will undoubtedly find particular personal favorites. For me, those are:
"Jackson House," "Florie Detail," "Dead Letter Department," and "Just After Sunset, In the Second Drawing Room Garden."

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Guest Post by Mark Allan Gunnells

Mark Allan Gunnells is a prolific author whose novella ASYLUM is currently featured.


My review of the novella will be posted here, tomorrow (August 19). Meanwhile, enjoy Mark's guest post:


Zombie tales—be it in fiction, television, movies, even video games—has been hot for quite a while, and yet for all the fans of zombie stories, there is an equally vocal contingent of people who decry them. They say that zombie tales oversaturate the market and are actually killing horror. While I understand that certain types of stories aren’t for everyone, I am firmly in the camp of those that love a good zombie tale.

And the more traditional the better! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy when a storyteller employs a fresh and unexpected take on something familiar to the audience, but for me there’s something about the traditional, mindless zombie that just really appeals. I think there are several reasons for this.

First, other traditional horror monsters like vampires and even werewolves often have personality and a tortured quality that make them the focus of the story. That can be quite enjoyable (I’m a fan of all the classic monsters), but with the zombie being such a blank slate, it opens up the story to focus more on the protagonists, the human drama that comes from trying to survive something that cannot be reasoned with, that is driven purely by an instinct to kill. A lack of deeper motivation makes the zombie somehow more frightening.

As an extension of this point, the traditional zombie can often be used as a mere framework for telling very human stories. You get a band of disparate survivors together (trapped in a farmhouse or a mall or a bunker, or in the case of some of my work a gay club or a college dorm building), and then you can start to study group dynamics, personality conflicts, power struggles, bigotry, mental instability. This type of story paves the way for creating a microcosm of society in which you can deal with a lot of serious issues in an exciting and entertaining fashion.

What the late George Romero showed so powerfully in his own films was that zombie stories are perfect vehicles for social commentary that doesn’t become overly preachy. I can respect that, a story that engages as well as provokes thought and discussion.

>P> All of these things were in my mind when I sat down to write ASYLUM, my first real piece of zombie fiction. I went with a very traditional type of mindless zombie, and a familiar setup, having a group of characters trapped inside a gay club while the undead tried to force their way in. I used this as a springboard for a story about prejudice and self-loathing and insecurity and addiction, all wrapped up in what I think turned out to be a very entertaining piece of fiction. I was able to continue this in “Lunatics Running the Asylum,” a short story that picks up where the novella leaves off which is included in the new edition from Apex Publications.

I realize that just by nature of being a classic zombie tale, there are certain people out there that won’t even give ASYLUM a try, but as a writer I have to be true to my vision, my passions. I love zombie stories, and I’m happy to put my own stamp on the subgenre.

Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his husband Craig A. Metcalf.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

MASS HYSTERIA by Michael Patrick Hicks_Review

Mass HysteriaMass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MASS HYSTERIA by Michael Patrick Hicks

Over decades, humanity has worried about an apocalypse, constructing disparate possibilities: nuclear war, comets, asteroids, meteors, extraterrestrial invasions, even eclipses (as earlier generations feared). In the last several decades, we've also learned to fear chemical and biological warfare, and genetically engineered or naturally occurring pandemics. Don't forget our Sun's delivery of solar flares, electromagnetic pulses, and coronal mass ejections. It's enough to make a thinking person hide.

MASS HYSTERIA very neatly ties several possibilities into one implacable package, delivering the horror straight to Earth in a tide of meteor impacts. You can run, but not very far and not very fast. I say "implacable" and that is exactly the definition of this one-size-fits-all pandemic: first animals, next humans (who prove to be another species of animal after all--there is no human "high moral ground" here. Kindness, compassion, even family feeling, are eradicated in an instant, virulently and graphically so.)

MASS HYSTERIA (the title proves literally true, of many species) is contemporary science fiction coupled with extreme horror. It is not-not-NOT for the faint of heart. It is not for the easily-offended. If you are an animal lover, watch out. The world as we know it has become a massively ugly mess, and survival means strength, swiftness, and base instincts; even then, survival is not guaranteed. Every single living being is pitted against all others.

That said, I was tremendously excited for the opportunity to review MASS HYSTERIA. That excitement continued throughout the book and on to the ("Oh my! I can't believe it devolved to this!") end. The plotting stayed consistent throughout. So yes, I shouldn't have been startled at the ending. Author Michael Patrick Hicks transported me to a world where the old phrase "dog-eat-dog" can't begin to do justice. He made this new situation unending and plausible. May it never come to pass.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 12, 2017


check this out at Banned/Challenged Books Readathon at Book Dragon's Lair Read a book that has been "banned" or "challenged."

Check out the information at American Library Association


My Reading Goal:

IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote


TROPIC OF CANCER by Henry Miller






I feel "in the spirit" and I am issuing myself a personal challenge to read a minimum of 2 Banned or Challenged Books each month from now through 2018.

September 24:


Reviews and comments will be published Sept. 25 and 26.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

THE RAINBOW VIRUS by Dennis Meredith_Review

The Rainbow VirusThe Rainbow Virus by Dennis Meredith

Review: THE RAINBOW VIRUS by Dennis Meredith

I was intrigued by the initial premise of this novel (a bio-engineered virus which alters skin pigmentation in various ethnicities) and then engrossed by the "big picture issues" presented. Biological warfare has long been an interest/concern of mine, as has the alteration of naturally occurring viruses and toxic chemicals to use in biological weaponry. It's one thing to worry about foreign governments utilizing bio-weapons; here is an individual scientist on the loose with vast capability.

Author Dennis Meredith keeps the pages turning, and leaves readers with much to ponder.

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Friday, July 28, 2017


BEHOLD! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable WondersBEHOLD! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders by Doug Murano
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release July 28


Crystal Lake Publishing is an infallible go-to for exceptional "Dark Literature," and in BEHOLD, champion editor Doug Myrano curates an incredible line-up of outstanding authors who bring readers unforgettable stories. So powerful is the content offered herein that this reviewer highly recommends savouring one story per serving, as surely you will wish to fully revel in each entry, while it absorbs itself into your essence. Contained within are world-renowned authors, and authors who deserve wider recognition as well. Make this a collection you cherish.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

HIGH SUMMER READATHON July 17-30 (with Christmas in July Readathon)

2017 High Summer Readathon runs July 17-30.

This year includes a special, optional, Christmas in July Readathon, July 29-30.

For information and to sign up, see the post at

Sign Up

My goal: 20 books. Wrap-Up:

I read 13 books (4 nonfiction, 1 themed anthology, 8 novels).









THE LATE SHOW by Michael Connelly

AFTERLIFE by Marcus Sakey

FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager

FOXLOWE by Eleanor Wasserberg


THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN by Charlie Donlea

THE CHALK MAN by C. J. Tudor

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review_ANTIOCH by Gregory Ness

Antioch (The Sword of Agrippa #1)Antioch by Gregory Ness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: ANTIOCH by Gregory Ness

ANTIOCH is a creatively imagined novel which interweaves near-future prediction with ancient history and metaphysics and technological advancement. In a very ugly near future not far enough from today, narrow-minded oligarchy rules. In cooperation with fundamentalist religion, science has been either shut down or driven underground. Many scientists have been killed outright or have died in mysterious freak events. What science and technology remain are dumbed down, satiating uneducated masses while avoiding moving forward and eschewing any advancement. Innovation is deleted, the near-future equivalent of burning at the stake. Woven into this plot is ancient Rome, definitely a harbinger. This is first in a series.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 29, 2017


I'm thrilled to participate in the second annual Sci-Fi Summer Readathon, hosted by champion reader-blogger Michelle Miller at Summer Sci-fi Readathon Follow my Readathon progress at: June Sci-fi Readathon Shelf Readathon runs June -7. Rock your Sci-Fi love!

Day One Post

I haven't completed a book, but I have read portions of several. Last Sunday, in just a few hours time because I couldn't stop turning pages, I read NOMAD, Book 1 of the NOMAD Series by Matthew Mathers, a science fiction near-future apocalyptic thriller (and very terrifying). So I decided to read the next two books in the series (I don't yet own the newly-released Book 4) during Sci Fi Readathon (which I wish was two weeks or a month in duration {smile}. So on Day One I started SANCTUARY (Book 2).

I also started PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia Butler (included in the EARTHSEED Duology). Wow! Octavia Butler was a tremendously talented author. But reading this novel is seriously depressing; I keep reminding myself how much more despairing to live in the near-future Dystopiana Butler recounts. I plan to read both PARABLE OF THE SOWER and PARABLE OF THE TALENTS during this Readathon. I already know Butler's vast imagination will stretch my own.

I also began reading Jason M. Hough's THE DARWIN ELEVATOR, a futuristic sci fi thriller set in Australia (2283). This one has invisible aliens who built a space elevator and disappeared, a worldwide plague, “immunes,” and space smuggling (shades of C. J. Cherryh!). I plan to read both books in this Duology as well.

In addition, I expect to read (or at least to commence), Greg Bear's EON Series (LEGACY, EON, ETERNAL).

Day Two-Day Three Update:

Day Two, I completed SANCTUARY by Matthew Mather (Book Two in the NOMAD Series), and read a sci fi short story, PROJECT SNOW, by Cherita Smith.

Day Three I was on a roll, completing THE DARWIN ELEVATOR by Jason M. House (Dire Earth Duology #1), and reading THE DARWIN EFFECT by Mark Lukens, a super novel all around which will receive a glowing review. I started FALL OF ZONA NOX by Nicholas Woode-Smith. I also commenced DARWIN'S RADIO by Greg Bear, Book 1 in a duology (I will also be reading Book 2, DARWIN'S CHILDREN, during this readathon). Greg Bear is such an exceptional author, and his work exemplifies why I read science fiction. He is an intellect, extremely knowledgeable, a true Renaissance man. For instance, he demonstrates a vast breadth of knowledge in geopolitics, history (global, not just his native region), current events, languages, and of course, Science! He is fast becoming one of my favorite sci fi authors, along with Peter F. Hamilton.

Day Four-Five

Quality, not quantity, this time: 4 novels, 1 short story, so far. Yesterday I read a fantastic new release, Resurrection America by Jeff Gunhus, which is near future and science-based, small-scale engineered apocalypse. Great book.


I've read 5 novels plus one short story, all science fiction:






and a short story, PROJECT SNOW.

I also read about 20% of DARWIN'S CHILDREN, the sequel to DARWIN'S RADIO.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tour: SHIFT OF SHADOW AND SOUL by Hilary Thompson

This is the blog tour for author Hilary Thompson's new YA Epic Fantasy novel, organized by Itching for Books. Check out the awesome teasers and enter to win a hardcopy of the book. 

Release date: May 22nd 2017
Series: Soul Shifter #1
Publisher: Star Shadow Books
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Synopsis via Goodreads:
There are three kinds of magic in the world, and Corentine has the wrong one.

Long ago, the Restless King forced Corentine’s people into hiding as he scoured their blood for the SoulShifter. When Corentine learns she possesses some of the forbidden Shifter magic, she must hide her power or risk the same death her twin suffered.

Raised to trust no-one, she rejects the General’s son Sy, until she realizes his family secrets might be the key to unlocking hers. When his brother turns against them, they are forced to fight family to save what’s left of their home, or accept banishment to find a new future.

If Coren and Sy can’t convince their people to accept the light of Shifter magic, the growing Shadow will ruin everyone’s chance of freedom.

Travel this richly imagined world with a diverse cast that readers have compared to fantasy favorites like Sarah J Maas and Leigh Bardugo.

Sulit Witch
Weshen Shifter
Umbren Shadow

When dark meets light, will all become Shadow?

The boy leaned closer. Coren risked another glance at his face, expecting to find the widened pupils, the swollen lips of desire and anticipation.
But it was worse than that.
He stared at her intently, gray-blue eyes narrowed and full lips slightly upturned in conquest.
Claim them with a kiss. The hunt’s opening speech echoed in her mind.
He pulled her closer, and she stopped moving entirely, going limp. Playing dead. He thought this was a game, like all the others did.
Then she allowed her lips turn up in a grim smile. It certainly was a game. The boy just didn’t realize that her rules were different, and he was about to lose.
Her tongue reached into the cavity of her cheek and retrieved the plump goshen berry hidden there. As his lips neared, Coren broke the berry against her teeth, bracing for the instant burn. Then, tongue searing, she shoved the pulp past his opened lips, preventing the claim.
He burst away, the shock of the acidic berry sending him stumbling backward, swiping drool from his slack jaw.
And she ran, darting around him and ignoring the pain and the blisters that were already bubbling and popping on her tongue and lips. Reaching the cliff, she hazarded a glance over her shoulder. He was tougher than expected, for he was crossing the plain too, moving quickly through the sandy grass.
“Stop!” he yelled hoarsely. Strangely, he was grinning widely, lips blackened with goshen juice and bright blood. Coren had no more ground left, but out of curiosity, she paused to watch as he approached. He walked softly now, as though she were a beast he was cornering. Perhaps he was a real hunter, after all.
Even so, the berries had stopped him, making the kiss forfeit. She could claim he hadn’t actually caught her.
“So…goshen berries?” he asked, wiping away more blood with the hem of his white shirt. “I must be the first hunter ever to receive that treatment.”
Coren’s brain nagged at her to escape, but something in his grin made her ask. “Why the first?”
“Because surely no one has ever caught you before. And I can’t imagine another girl willing to martyr her own lips just to avoid a small kiss.”
He was very close now: not quite near enough to grab her, but mere steps from it. She stepped back carefully, heels nearly hanging off the edge of the cliff.
“Nothing is small when it is against your will.” She watched his eyes widen as he processed the words, and then she bent her knees and pushed away from the earth, arcing back and out into the void, then straight as an arrow toward the water below. His shout was erased by the wind rushing past her ears, and then the water closed over her head with a crash.
Under the surface of the sun-warmed water, Coren somersaulted quickly and reversed directions. She surfaced only to locate the face of the cliff and gulp a breath, and she didn’t dare look up to see if he had spotted her. Ducking back under the waves, she stroked hard against the current, finally feeling rock. Her lungs throbbed as her head bobbed up again, but she was safely inside the hidden sanctuary.

About the Author
Hilary ThompsonHilary used to be such a practical girl. Then she let the stories out.
Now she creates worlds, people, and problems that are grounded in real life, if you accept that real life has magic around every turn.
Hilary was born to parents who made a habit of taking roads less traveled. But she was also a first child, and an independent, willful child, so she's made a habit of taking a few roads on her own.
Now she teaches Creative Writing, English, and AP Literature, writes whenever and wherever she can, and reads as much as her eyes can handle. She plays superheroes and dress up games and reads books in bed with her own independent, willful children, and plays at homesteading and world traveling with her wonderful soulmate of a husband. She tends to ignore laundry and dirty dishes.

May 22nd ~
CBY Book Club
Mythical Books
Reading for the Stars and Moon
Book Lovers Life
The Mistress Novelette

May 23rd ~
YA Book Divas
My Book Addiction

May 24th ~
Jump Into Books
Sassy Book Lovers

May 25th ~
My Nook, Books & More
Rabbit Ears Book Blog

May 26th ~
Into the Abyss *Review
books are love


Shift of Shadow and Soul (SoulShifter, #1)Shift of Shadow and Soul by Hilary Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Shift of Shadow and Soul (SoulShifter #1)
by Hilary Thompson

A truly engaging YA epic fantasy with a heroine readers can be proud of, this novel introduces a world which has been divided and subdivided, most of which is ruled over by the megalomaniacal and always land-greedy Restless King, who governs according to his own lights and without mercy or justice involved. Corentine is a young girl living on the Weshen Isle, the “rejected” population, but she never lets her caste status overrule her own immensely strong will. Her desire above all is always freedom, and she refuses to submit to what others will for her or for her people.

SHIFT OF SHADOW AND SOUL is exciting and engrossing, and Hilary Thompson creates a world that is different, yet realistically possible, a world that inspires even non-fantasy lovers to enjoy this novel and the series to come.