Friday, May 5, 2017

REVIEW: Ashley's Tale

Ashley's Tale
By: Mike Duke

Genre: Horror
Publication date: 10.31.2015
Pages: 139

Ashley, a young college girl with a horrific past, is immediately thrust into a living hell when she is kidnapped one night.  In the lair of her captor she will be forced to choose between submission and defiance, between folding beneath his punishment or finding the strength to endure and seize an opportunity to kill the man and escape.  But Ashley will also have to face the horrors of her past in this twisted game he has prepared for her.  Can she prevail against the demons that have made her frail and weak as well as the sadist before her?  And if so, what may she become in the process?

I began this book awhile back and, through no fault of the book, picked it up and put it down and picked it up and put it down, never getting much past the first ten pages.  There are just days that I can't get into reading, or can't get into a specific genre, or can't focus enough to read more than one or two pages... and unfortunately this book suffered because of it, sitting on my Kindle staring at me, pleading for me to come back to it.

Yesterday was an especially lazy day (we all need those every once in a while), and I found myself snuggled on my couch with my cat, Kindle in hand, searching for something to read.  As I slid from page to page, I accidentally hit the cover of this book wrong, and it opened.  Seemed like a "meant to be" kind of moment to me, so I went back to the beginning and dived in once more...

Boy am I glad I did.  

I ended up reading it all without moving off that couch once, enjoying every bit of the crazy story, the twists and turns, the characters, and the outcome.

I was surprised by the characters, to be honest.  One of the characters, I wanted to love, but hated, then loved, then hated, then loved... then felt an indifference I've never felt before for a character that is so well written... and at the same time feeling a compassion, and a draw to, as she grew in her uncomfortable (for lack of a better word) surroundings.  The other I wanted to hate, but ended up liking, on some levels, never loving, becoming a character that had me very intrigued.

The end was something completely unexpected, as were several moments in the story, and I was left with a feeling of needing and wanting to know more.

Very well done, Mr. Duke.  Very well done.

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 5.4.2017

About the author:
I'm 44, married 25 years, and have a son and daughter who are both grown and out of the house (pretty much).  I was a cop for 12 years (and even spent a few years on the SWAT team) before getting into the training industry.  I've been working full time the last 10 years teaching military, law enforcement, bodyguards and private citizens High Speed, Tactical and Off Road Driving and Hand to Hand Combatives.  I also did a few bodyguard gigs, one for three weeks in multiple South African countries, one in Jamaica, and three for the Ultra Music Festival owner - twice in Miami and once in Sao Paolo.  Had some incredible experiences, especially in Africa.
            I've self-published three works thus far.  Two short novellas - Ashley's Tale and Ashley's Tale: Making Jake.  One short story - The Awakening.  I recently was picked up by Stitched Smile Publications and they are going to be publishing my full length novel Low in the not too distant future.

REVIEW: Fallow Ground

By: Michael James McFarland

Genre: Horror, Occult
Publisher: Blood Bound Books
Publication date: 1.31.2014
Pages: 342

What begins in madness and desperation must eventually end that way.  The Taylors want nothing more than to start a family, but the couple remains childless.  A stranger, known only as Mr. Smith, arrives on their doorstep late one night with a strange propositions: safeguard a crate for the peculiar man and they'll get their offspring.  They strike a dark and irrevocable bargain.  Almost twenty-five years later, the Taylors' farmland is occupied by a new family - but the curse of the past lives on.  Does wickedness dwell in the soil itself, or does evil grow from what takes root there?

This is my first experience reading anything by this author, and I have to say, months later, my heart still begins to thump quickly thinking about the story in this book.  

Not only is it very well written, but the characters stay with you, along with the range of emotions you feel for them.  And I'm not over-exaggerating when I say stay with you.  There are nights that I lay in bed, having not thought about this book in weeks, only to think I see something out of the corner of my eye, and lay there, very still, waiting...

Lots of things happen throughout this story, but to me the reason we end up where we are is because of the love the Taylors had for each other... and how much they wanted to share that love with children.  I felt so much for them, knowing how much I myself would love to have children, and wondering just how far I would go to have the children I want and need to love.  This is a horror - so no, they don't kidnap anyone.  They went even further than that.

Once they make that step... everything begins to unravel, and the twists and turns begin.  Twists and turns I never expected... twists and turns that continue long after the Taylors have ceased to exist.

Have you ever read a book that you're afraid if you say even the smallest thing about it, you will ruin it for the next person that read it?  I have never felt so much that until this book, sitting here trying to write this review.  This is my blog and I could outline the whole story if I want to, go off on a rant about this or that, but even the slightest thing, in my mind, will make you not enjoy the book as much as I did.

By far one of my favorites, not just of this year, but maybe ever.

You like horror?  Go get this.  Now.

About the author:
Michael James McFarland has been writing for over 30 years and his short fiction has appeared in a variety of formats.  Among these, 'The Hypnotist' was selected for Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror (15th Annual Collection), 'The Duel' and 'Mira' were produced by Pseudopod as audio podcasts, and 'Deadline' and 'The Yellow Wind' have appeared in print anthologies.  Blood Bound Book published Fallow Ground, his first novel, in 2014.  He has self-published two well-received novels (Wormwood and Blood on the Tracks), a novella (Duplex), and a short story collection (The Yellow Wind & Other Horrors).
            He lives and works in Washington state.

REVIEW: Fat Girl Walking

Sex, Food, Love & Being Comfortable in Your Skin...
Every Inch of It
By: Brittany Gibbons

Genre: Memoirs, Humor, Essays, Culinary
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Day Street Books
Publication date: 5.19.2015
Pages: 240

Dear person holding Fat Girl Walking,

First of all, thanks for picking up this copy of my first book.  I hope you buy it - and to just because each purchase gets me one step closer to buying the leather pants of my dreams.
            I hope you buy Fat Girl Walking because I want to start a conversation.  Or continue a conversation, one I inadvertently started a while ago when I took my clothes off on a stage in front of 700 people.  A lot of people thought I was awesome for doing that.  A lot of others thought a size 18 woman had absolutely no business showing off her body.  Unfortunately for them, I've made it my personal mission on my blog, in social media, on television, and now in this amazing book you're holding, to destroy the ridiculous myths that every woman who is overweight hates her body and herself.  I, Brittany Gibbons, and the Curvy Girls I speak to every day on the internet, beg to differ.  We love our bodies.  We love fashion.  We are in loving relationships, having lots of sex.  We aren't just a fetish, we're normal women.  Sure, sometimes we doubt ourselves, we're not robots, but not anymore than EVERY OTHER WOMAN ON THE PLANET.  See, Fat Girls aren't freaks of nature.  We're just like you.  Maybe we are you.
            Fat Girl Walking is a collection of stories from my life, my thoughts about the issues that I have faced as a woman, wife, mom, daughter, daughter-in-law, and internet personality in regards to my weight.  I have tried to be as honest as I possibly could - apologies in advance to my husband and parents, but hopefully any discomfort you feel is quickly replaced by laughter.  The insecure texts to my husband and summer camp hijinks are hilarious if I do say so myself.  And I also ask some tough questions, things like "What if my husband weighs less than I do?" and "Is my body hate ruining my daughter's life?"  Read Fat Girl Walking and let's start having these conversations.  No pressure, but we may just save all womankind.

Love, Brittany

I am a fat girl... and I am occasionally proud of it.

Me reading this book makes much more sense now, doesn't it?  Haha.

I had a vague amount of knowledge about Brittany Gibbons before I happened upon this book at some bookstore or another.  I looked at the cover and thought, "God she's gorgeous.  And she's bigger than I am!  Why is she gorgeous... and I'm not?"  Then I looked at the book description - the letter to her readers you see above - and I knew I needed this book.

I learned a lot in this book.  I laughed (until I almost wet myself), cried (big sobs), and realized that the only difference between me and her (other than her internet celebrity, obviously) was that she didn't care what people thought of her, and that not caring gave her better self esteem than I have ever had.  She did care, for a long time, and there are stories, and crazy texts to her husband, all here between the covers of this book to show you just how much she UNDERSTANDS.  And it's nice to hear someone say (or... read... you know what I mean) that they understand what I - an overweight, lonely, depressed, woman with little to no self-esteem - am feeling.  Especially someone who has worked hard to do something about the way she sees herself and life.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who has ever looked at themselves in the mirror and not felt beautiful, no matter what size they are.  But I warn you... you will laugh and cry just as hard as I did.  And maybe you'll learn something like me, too.

I have a new hero... and her name is Brittany Gibbons.

Date read: 1.6.2017

About the author:
Brittany Gibbons was born a poor, fat child.  Since then, she has become one of the most prominent body image advocates in the country.  As the leader of the Curvy Girl Army, Brittany speaks to thousands via her Facebook group and her blog.
            She has been the subject of extensive media for her Ted Talk/striptease, for her 365 Days of Sex adventure with her beloved husband, Andy, and for having the sheer audacity to wear a bikini as a size 18 and putting the photo on the internet.  She is the mother of three children and has been with her husband since they were teenagers.  This book is her dream come true.

REVIEW: Scattered Souls

Flames of Time 2:
By: Erica Lucke Dean

Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Time Travel
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Publication date: 1.10.2017
Pages: 233

Ava Flynn is cursed.
            After barely surviving an epic battle between her warring soul mates, Ava is stranded in the past with Laith, while Maddox frantically searches across the decades.  Laith will stop at nothing to prove his love to Ava, and a desperate Maddox must race against time to find her before his brother can win her heart.
            Torn between the two brothers, and with her eternal soul at stake, Ava comes to the horrifying conclusion that only she can break the curse.  But the cost may be more than she is willing to pay.

Before I get into talking about the book, I want to talk about how wonderful I think the new covers are.  I absolutely love them.  Look close and check out the great details...


Whoever did those did an amazing job.  I can't wait to see what the third book cover looks like.

So, some of y'all may be wondering how I got myself roped into reading a romance, especially a romance that is more than just one.  It's simple: The author came to me and, knowing how much I despise romances, and after having a very in-depth conversation about our loves and hates of the genre, asked me if I would be interesting in reading them and giving her my opinion.  She wanted to know what someone who hates romance would think about her book series that, well, has a lot to do with romance.  Not just romance.  Love triangles.  Bleh.

Since she asked so nicely (haha), and because of how much I love her writing (I read her book Ashes of Life and absolutely adored it), I decided to give it a go.  Especially since the two of us agree, in a lot of ways, on the romance subject.

After reading the first in the series (Splintered Souls - you can see the original cover there), I realized that I actually really liked it... even though I think she totally doesn't understand the meaning of cliff hanger... and I may or may not have told her that I hated her for making me like such an abomination as romance (haha).

It has been a LONG time since I've been one of those readers, waiting in breathless anticipation for the next book in a series to come out... and to be that way over a romance?!?!  What is wrong with me?!?!  (I actually joked quite recently about this, saying that she has ruined me, and that I was worried I would end up being one of those people talking about character crushes and book husbands and nonsense like that.)

When she contacted me to tell me that number two was out, I happily accepted the book... mainly because I needed to know what happened next.

I was not disappointed.  Things have changed a bit in this book, my understanding and feelings on different characters has changed, and I'm once again wishing she'd hurry up and write so I can see how this whole thing ends.

From my experience with the author, I have learned that Erica is a very down-to-earth kind of person, and she creates her characters based on that.  Her characters sound like real people, and not those overly-gorgeous, everyone loves them, but they don't understand why kind of people.  Her main character, Ava, could be me.  She could be any of us.  I thoroughly believe we need more books where the character could be me.

And the romance isn't sickeningly sweet or jump-into-bed or these people are so annoying or get a f**ing room or "really?" *eye roll*  It's never any of that the-world-will-end-if-we-don't-fall-in-love blah blah blah blah barf nonsense.  It's just romance... that GOES with the story, enhances the story.  The romance only affects the people who are involved in the romance, and sometimes their family and friends, but that's it.

I like Ava more in this one.  In the first one, well, I wasn't so sure about how I felt about her, but she has definitely "grown up."  Her brother is still a pretty awesome little kid, and her mother, who always had love for her, seems to want to know, understand, and love her more.  The brothers are still... the brothers... and I like how Erica leaves us a bit "in the dark" when it comes to her characters, especially when you think you're sure about something, only to find out that you were maybe believing the wrong character or looking at a situation in the wrong way.  She really is a good writer and, yet again, I can't wait for the next book in this series.

Oh the humanity... (haha)

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 2.21.2017

About the author:
After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica moved from the humble and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains where she lives in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180lb lap dog, and at least one ghost.
            When she's not busy writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens, diabolical ducks, and a quintet of piglets, hell bent on having her for dinner, she's either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub.  Much like the main character in To Katie with Love, Erica is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.
            How she's managed to survive this long is one of life's great mysteries.

REVIEW: Where Wolves Run

By: Jason Parent

Genre: Horror, Dark Fantasy, Short Story
Publisher: Corpus Press
Publication date: 5.31.2016
Pages: 86

The beasts will feed.

The dense Bavarian forest outside the town of Rattenberg has long been rumored to harbor something sinister, something wild - mythical beasts that vanish into the shadowy woods after each attack, leaving carnage as the only evidence of their existence.  Many villagers turn a blind eye to what is happening, but those who believe tremble at the mere whisper of the word: werewolf.
            There are those who stand and fight, however.  Konrad is one such boy.  Too poor to live in the village, he and his mother fend for themselves in their forest hovel alone for months at a time, his father preoccupied with mysterious business abroad.
            After a vicious assault on their homestead, Konrad finds himself buried beneath his mother's mutilated body, escaping death only due to his father's chance return.  Alive, but taking no comfort in the presence of the man who had left him and his mother to face death on their own, Konrad soon discovers that his father's work has followed him home...
            ...and it's hungry.

There are not many authors that I can honestly say I'm impressed every time I read something that they've written, but Jason Parent is definitely on that list.  And once again he does not disappoint...

I know what you're thinking - another werewolf story?  Trust me, I know that feeling.  I think the same thing every time I see "something new" that involves them, vampires, and... zombies.  Here me out, though...

Konrad and his father are very interesting characters.  They brought out a lot of anger in me - anger at the father for abandoning his family, no matter what his reasons were; and anger at Konrad for not giving his father the chance to explain, to make things up, even though he was there doing everything he could to save the both of them.  They work well together, though, and that's what really matters when your life is on the line, right?

The werewolves.  Now THAT was good.  I was already impressed with the writing and the character details, but the werewolves.... and the adventure... As typical when I'm reviewing a work by this author, I just sit here, months after finishing the story, thinking... Wow!

"Werewolves."  He spat the word.  "Foul creatures... the Devil's answer to wicked men who serve him and the blight of the innocent to whom they spread their vile curse."

Recommended by: The publisher, Corpus Press
Date read: 9.27.2016

About the author:
In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home.  The region offers an abundance of settings for his writings and many wonderful places in which to write them.  He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.
            In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge... as a civil litigator.  When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble.  The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field... sorta.  But that's another story.
            When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists into a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal).  And read and write, of course.  He does that too sometimes.

REVIEW: A Study in Grey

Sherlock Holmes: The Science of Deduction 4:
By: John Lindwood Grant

Genre: Mystery, Sherlock Holmes
Publisher: 18thWall Productions
Publication date: 4.13.2016
Pages: 99

"You are no John Watson, Captain Blake."
            "Indeed not.  He is courageous, steadfast, and many other noble things.  I have no d-d-delusions about my own character.  I lie, p-p-perjure myself, and deceive d-d-decent folk.  In the last week alone I've killed a man with the revolver you saw, and p-p-probably sent at least one other to the gallows."

The Edwardian Era has begun its rot into modernity, exchanging all the virtues of Dr. John H. Watson for the vices of Captain Redvers Blake.  But a case from Watson's era resurges in the present, ensnaring a high official in what may be a ring of German spies.  Not any mere ring of bombs and petrol, but a ring of spiritualism and seances.
            The former case was one of Holmes' failures.  Despite an illustrious employer, despite Holmes' warnings, and despite a vengeful fire, a young woman married a monster and slipped beyond the Great Detective's ken.  Now, she returns to his notice, hostess to the seance ring.
            As England prepares for war, Sherlock Holmes and Captain Redvers Blake must solve these two entwined cases at once.
            All this, to say nothing of 427 Cheyne Walk's new residents and their role...

Sherlock Holmes is yet another obsession of mine.  You should SEE my collection of books that have something, anything, to do with that man.  There are so many that they actually have a separate file on my Kindle so that I can house them all together.  So, when this book was offered to me, I had no choice, but to take it on.  My mind wouldn't actually let me deal with much else until I finally picked it up and read it... and then it got lost somewhere on my Kindle until I happened upon it the other day and realized I had yet to review it.  Bad, book blogger.  Bad.  I'm usually better than that.

This is actually a continuation of an original Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Illustrious Client, which I went back and reread once I realized that, just so I could remember the story in full as we went into this story.  To sum it up real quick, a stranger arrives at 221 Baker Street to hire Sherlock and Watson to help the daughter of General de Merville, Violet, out of a situation.  She has fallen in love with an Austrian Baron named Albert Gruner.  He is a philanderer and murderer, and the stranger accuses Gruner of having murdered his last wife, though he was acquitted of this due to a legal technicality and the sudden death of a witness.  With the help of Kitty Winter, the Baron's last mistress, and a notebook that Gruner has kept listing his conquests, Sherlock strives to prove that he did in fact murder his last wife and stop Violet from marrying him.  In the end, he becomes horribly disfigured and the engagement is called off.

Fast forward to this story, where Violet and Albert are married, and very much into seances with rich people in the area.

In this particular book, Sherlock is not the main investigator.  I introduce you to Captain Redvers Blake.  In typical Sherlock fashion, there are clues, and spies, and blackmail, and answers that must be found in order to save this girl. 

The characters are very interesting.  At first, I didn't much care for Captain Blake and his investigation style, though I do love his first name, but as the story continues, I start to really like him and see the method to his madness.  His team of people, especially Abigail, and the locals that he was able to convince to help him out in smaller fashions, were a very interesting group of people.  I would love to see these characters again in action.

I look forward to reading more from this author, especially after the two short previews that he includes at the end of this book.

"The other, young lady, is that I may have begun to value my beehives and my peace of mind more than I once valued answers." ~Sherlock Holmes

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 9.27.2016

About the author:
John Linwood Grant lives in Yorkshire with a pack of lurchers and a beard.  He may also have a family.
            When he's not chronicling the adventure of Mr. Bubbles, the slightly psychotic pony, he writes a range of supernatural, horror, and speculative tales, some of which are actually published.
            You can find him every week on his website which celebrates weird fiction and weird art, often with his dogs.

REVIEW: 4 Essential Steps of Big-Hearted Change for Our New World Rising

By: Marcia West

Genre: Personal Growth, Spiritualism
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Publication date: 5.4.2016
Pages: 58

4 Essential Steps of Big-Hearted Change is a guidebook for change that serves the highest good of all involved.  The process and tools are appropriate for individuals, families, organizations, communities, countries, and the world at large.  A new approach to change is offered that originates in the heart.  It works because it comes from love and a consciousness far beyond that of the mind alone.
            This is an inspired work - a gift to humanity - that is designed to take us into our new world rising.  The love and guidance within its pages gently moves us out of old fear-based mindsets and crumbling systems of control.  The result is an upward movement into a love-based life that brings a heavenly reality to earth.  It begins with you, the individual, helping you to remember who you are and why you are here.  You are shown how to use the problems, changes, and decisions of life to support your growth, bring forth your truest self, and live from your heart.  As each of us does this, we create a life that manifests our highest potential.  We also join hear two heart with others who are doing the same.  The outcome is true change for humanity that propels us into a higher state of living - one of peace, harmony, and the unity consciousness necessary to co-create sustainable systems which support the higher good.
            Logic is a wonderful thing.  But logic is not a workable foundation for change that truly makes a difference.  We are moving into the unknown.  Logic will not take up there.  In fact, the mind cannot lead us in this endeavor.  It doesn't know the way.  We must allow our hearts to guide us.  4 Essential Steps of Big-Hearted Change shows you how.

I have a bit of a self-help book obsession.  I used to have the hardest time admitting that, but I'm at the point in life where I just don't care, and where I look forward to what it is I can learn from the next person who takes the time to put down what THEY have learned in a book.

This was one that was offered to me for read 2 review, and I jumped on it.  Something about it captured my attention, though I can't exactly put my finger on what.  

It turned out being a hard book to put down, and a hard (emotionally) book to read, one I took lots of notes on.  It teaches you how to better yourself, but also teaches you to do it with and through God, though it never defines itself as a particularly religious book - more a spiritual book, speaking of a divine power and a divine love.  It doesn't just give you a lecture on why and what you should change, but gives you specific tools - with an in-depth description of each - to help you get to the point where you are changing to better yourself and your life.

I found the book to be quite interesting and a lot of what Marcia says in the book really got me thinking... and any book that gets you thinking is a book you should read.

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 2.27.2017

About the book:
Marcia (Phillips) West, Founder of Bridges of Unity, is a pioneer and leader in the field of unity consciousness.  A visionary by nature, and former teacher and engineer by trade and education, Marcia translates her inspired awareness of love-based systems of unity into practical processes and tools for daily life.  A gifted speaker whose core essence is unity, Marcia's passion and focus is to bring understanding and the experience of unity into our earthly lives.

REVIEW: The Devil in Montmartre

Inspector Lefebvre 1:
By: Gary Inbinder

Genre: Mystery, Historical
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 12.8.2014
Pages: 266

Amid the hustle and bustle of the Paris 1889 Universal Exposition, workers discover the mutilated corpse of a popular model and Moulin Rouge Can-Can dancer in a Montmartre sewer.  Hysterical rumors swirl that Jack the Ripper has crossed the Channel, and Inspector Achille Lefebvre enters the Parisian underworld to track down the brutal killer.  His suspects are the artist Toulouse-Lautrec; Jojo, an acrobat at the Circus Fernando; and Sir Henry Collingwood, a mysterious English gynecologist and amateur artist.
            Pioneering the as-yet untried system of fingerprint detection and using cutting edge forensics, including crime scene photography, anthropometry, pathology, and laboratory analysis, Achille attempts to separate the innocent from the guilty.  But he must work quickly before the "Paris Ripper" strikes again.

I am a big fan of historical mysteries, especially ones set around the time of Jack the Ripper.  That's what drew me into reading this book in the first place.  Well, that and the list of suspects - an artist, a circus performer, and a gynecologist?  Seems like an interesting mix of characters, don't you think?

This book is written really well, and I'm hoping to soon be reading more by this author.  I especially would like to continue this series and see where he takes Lefebvre next.  

The story is interesting, with lots of twists and turns, and the characters are well thought out.  Lefebvre has a lot of things standing in his way as he investigates this murder - suspects not giving the full story, officers he works with not being completely truthful, a very opinionated mother-in-law, news sources that seem to be questioning his every move (and the kind of police officer he is), and not having all of the scientific investigating tools that we have today (though a few of them turn up in this story, and it's really neat to watch as he learns what he can from articles and such so that he can use them in this investigation, and how he has to defend them because they haven't really been proven as of yet).  (That was probably the longest run-on sentence I have ever written haha.)  

You don't really get to know Virginie Menard before she dies, but through conversations with characters, you learn quite a bit about her.  Even though she didn't always make the best choices or put herself in the best positions, through the love her friends have for her, you really care about her and want to find out who truly murdered her.

I really liked Lefebvre's wife.  She's understanding and loving, and when she does appear in the story, she always makes him feel better, especially since she believes in him without wavering, even standing up against her mother in defense of him.  
            I also like how honest he is.  He has the opportunity to back away from the case, or take the easy way out when it comes to suspects, but he sticks to his guns and investigates it to the fullest.  He did not know this lady, but you could tell that he cares for her as a person, as he cares for all people.

The artist Marcia has me intrigued and I wish I knew more about her.  She cared for Virginie quite a bit, though she really didn't know her, and I feel like a lot it was from an artist standpoint (though she considered it love) and how this beautiful girl could change her art into something completely different.  As she deteriorates through the story, I really felt for her as well.  Even though she had lived a long and interesting life, she has so much more left to give, and became a character I cared about.

The end is completely unexpected in some ways.  As with every mystery, I pay attention to the clues and try to figure out who the actual person that did it was.  There were several times that I had it, but questioned myself, then was absolutely sure, then questioned myself again... only to find out that I wasn't exactly right at all... or maybe just not completely right.  What saddened me most was the reason that she had to die... and how many people were affected by a "Moulin Rouge Can-Can Dancer."

"Even though we know it won't come in our lifetime, or the next generation, or the one after that, we should hope for an era of love and peace, we should strive for it."
            "Of course, Adele, but until that time I'll settle for just laws and honest, capable, and compassionate people to enforce them."

Date read: 4.10.2017

About the author:
Gary Inbinder is a retired attorney who left the practice of law to write full-time.  His fiction, articles and essays have appeared in Bewildering Stories, Halfway Down the Stairs, The Absent Willow Review, Morpheus Tales, Touchstone Magazine, and other publications.  Gary is a member of The Historical Novel Society and Mystery Writers of America.  He is also a member of the Bewildering Stories Editorial Review Board.  His Inspector Lefebvre Series - The Devil in Montmartre and The Hanged Man - is published by Pegasus Books.  The Flower to the Painter and Confessions of the Creature are published by Fireship Press.

REVIEW: Maniacs with Knives

Maniacs with Knives 1:
By: Shaun Hupp

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Snuff Art House Publication
Publication date: 4.7.2017
Pages: 104

To a regular person, they're just tools...
A chef uses them to prepare a meal.
A surgeon uses them to save lives.
To the maniacs in this story, however...
Theirs is a much darker purpose.
For them, the first cut is NOT the deepest.  It's just the beginning...

This story is from Shaun Hupp's Unapologetic Horror Line.  The author is NOT sorry this book contains: Gore, violence, dismemberment, rape, swearing, and a dozen other things you wouldn't want your grandmother to talk about at her Sunday church group.  If you're a sensitive reader, this book is probably NOT for you.

I have to admit, Shaun Hupp had me from the very beginning, literally.  His "A Note to the Reader" is epic.  In fact, it's probably the best one I've read yet, and something I think any author who deals with horrific behavior or "triggers" should include at the beginning of their stories.  If you can get past the author telling you, in a very impolite way, what you can go do with yourself... then you're ready for a story that will make you completely rethink the way... well... people think.

I've read a lot of books - horror and thrillers - that start with some poor girl who managed to get herself caught by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and when she wakes up, finds herself locked in an unfamiliar basement.  That is the way Shaun's story begins... and, had it been another author, I may have rolled my eyes and put my Kindle down, but I expect more of him and had to continue so I could figure out JUST where he planned on going with this.

I can say with all honesty that where he went was not at all where I thought he would.

There are several characters that, unfortunately, found their way, unbeknownst to them, into the pages of a Shaun Hupp book.  All of their lives are going down different paths, until one day, they all connect in a house - a perfectly normal house... a connection that may not have happened if Owen and Alex hadn't met in a bar one fateful evening, a meeting I'm still not sure was coincidental, though I can't honestly remember if it's revealed that it was or wasn't.  

Just a warning - you'll probably never look at artists, or knives, the same again, but you'll have to read to find out why.

At the end, Shaun includes a preview of Maniacs with Knives II.  Wow.  I can't wait to get my hands on that one.

Recommended by: Read 2 Review
Date read: 4.12.2017

About the author:
Shaun Hupp lives in Michigan with his wife, two kids, and dog.  While he mainly writes in the horror genre, he also dabbles in the supernatural and comedy.  When he's not writing, he wears t-shirts of sports teams he could care less about.  He also needs to take the trash out.