Just a quick message to let everyone know that I’ll be on a three week absence.
I wish you all the best and hope you read plenty of good books! I know I hope to.
I look forward to seeing you all again.
The Reader’s Hollow
Print Length: 234 Pages 13-Digit ISBN: 978-1-940215-18-1 10-Digit ISBN: 1-940215-18-8
Braineater Jones wakes up face down in a swimming pool with no memory of his former life, how he died, or why he’s now a zombie. With a smart-aleck severed head as a partner, Jones descends into the undead ghetto to solve his own murder.
But Jones’s investigation is complicated by his crippling addiction to human flesh. Like all walking corpses, he discovers that only a stiff drink can soothe his cravings. Unfortunately, finding liquor during Prohibition is costly and dangerous. From his Mason jar, the cantankerous Old Man rules the only speakeasy in the city that caters to the postmortem crowd.
As the booze, blood, and clues coagulate, Jones gets closer to discovering the identity of his killer and the secrets behind the city’s stranglehold on liquid spirits. Death couldn’t stop him, but if the liquor dries up, the entire city will be plunged into an orgy of cannibalism.
Cracking this case is a tall order. Braineater Jones won’t get out alive, but if he plays his cards right, he might manage to salvage the last scraps of his humanity.
I admit, I was conflicted with this one. I had a variety of choices when it came to genre. There was historical, mystery, horror and even noir and each one was amazingly executed!
In the end, I picked horror for the obvious undead reason though that mystery was one of the better ones I’ve read.
This book is rife with ‘punny’ wit. This is one of my favorite sources of humor and the book is loaded with that when it’s not action…ok, maybe even then at times.
It begins when a man wakes up face down and naked in a swimming pool. In his torso is a hole where a bullet passed through. How did he wake up? He’s a walked dead, of course. The difference here is that he’s coherent, can speak, engage others and move around. His pain tolerance isn’t quite what it was and he has a penchant for the liquor, but he’s alive.
Braineater Jones gets his name through a variety of clever encounters as a newborn zombie. Zombies in this world wake up with a clean slate. There’s no memories of their previous life at first – these come back slowly. For Mr. Jones, they’re really taking their time. So for now, he’s essentially clear of all past sins and we get to tag along while he discovers clues to solving his own murder and the mysteries of this ghoulish world.
He ends up at the Welcome Mat, a part of town that is anything but welcoming. There he finds himself a job as a detective, a bodiless Watson-esque sidekick, plenty of “Death Becomes Her” dames and an underground criminal network. Kozeniewski doesn’t allow mystery-fan enough time to breathe. It was really hard to put this one down. I found Braineater Jones to be highly entertaining. He almost had a Harry Dresden quality to his quips and outlook on the craziness around him. By craziness I mean things like the Whorehouse having zombie girls that you can mix and match body parts to. I think Mr. Jones was as shocked as I. The difference is that I started laughing afterward. That is just one example of the absolutely quirky world that’s been created.
Each new case brings Jones closer to the truth and each new case brings about new problems. I loved the story, how it was told. I’m totally a fan of this author’s undead stories and look forward to buying a few.
I had such an entertaining time reading Braineater Jones. It was funny, had classic noir dialogue and 30’s jargon. It had an intricate mystery that kept me guessing and plenty of unique characters. There was every kind of person and undead personality to be had and not one fell flat. The adventure and renewed self-discovery was a non-stop ride and it was definitely entertaining in the horror department.
Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced “causin’ ooze key”) lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie. During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German.
Hashway won me over with “Fear Street”. :D This looks like a pretty intense read! Thoughts?
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Published: June 17, 2014
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side—a completely unfair shot at life. But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.
She’s now a monster that drains others’ lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.
But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.
The car stopped, and Ethan’s hand slipped from mine. I turned to him, blinking against the fluorescent lights of the gas station.
“Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to wake you. I just needed to get some gas and a few things from the convenience store. There’s no food at the cottage. I thought I’d grab some crackers and soda. Stuff like that. I’ll even see if they have black licorice for you. I know you love it.”
I nodded and started for my seat belt.
“No. You stay.” Ethan opened his door and stepped outside. I let my hair fall across my shoulders, trying to warm myself against the night air. “I’ll be right back.”
The trunk opened, and a moment later, Ethan opened my door, handing me one of his sweatshirts. “Here, you look cold.”
I smiled. “Thanks.” He knew me so well. I watched him walk inside the store and heard the soft click of the car locking again. He wasn’t taking any chances with me. I knew he’d protect me from anything. He’d already protected me from death. He was my every- thing now. I would never see my family or friends again. I had to start over. The thought terrified me, but at least I had Ethan by my side.
I hugged the sweatshirt to my body. I was too tired to actually put it on, and, this way I could breathe in Ethan’s scent while I kept warm. I inhaled deeply at first, and then my breaths became shallow, which was weird considering how tired I felt. I yawned. Exhaustion overwhelmed me. Apparently it took a lot of energy to return from the dead.
I leaned my head on the window, hoping the cool glass would keep me awake, but my head spun, making me dizzy. My arms and legs tingled with the sensation of pins and needles. I felt like I had a million spiders crawling all over me. I threw the sweatshirt off me and onto the floor. My arms were bare. No spiders. But the feeling didn’t go away. I panicked. The walls of the car were caving in on me. The air around me was tight, strangling me.
I searched the convenience store windows for Ethan, but all I saw was a guy in a cowboy hat, and a woman taking her little boy to the bathroom. Where was Ethan? The lightheadedness was getting worse—more intense. My breathing was labored. In a panic, I reached for the door handle. It took me a moment to remember it was locked, but when I finally got it open, I stumbled out of the car into the fresh air. I gulped oxygen into my lungs, hoping it would make me feel better, but it didn’t.
I was suffocating. Life was draining out of me. I collapsed to my knees, skinning them against the pavement. Wheezing, I crawled forward, trying to reach the convenience store door. Trying to reach Ethan. I needed help. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but it felt like I was dying…again.
Kelly Hashway grew up reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Hashway went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn’t writing, Hashway works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as for her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling, and volunteering with the PTO. Hashway currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two pets.
I have such a soft spot for historicals. You’ll notice, this week has two reviews set in the 1930’s. This one is a fun mystery full of historical what if’s. In a few days you’ll find a noir with a ghoulish twist.
Thank you for popping in and be sure to check below for the review & your chance to win a $25 Gift Card, compliments of the author, Michael Murphy!
In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.
In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.
Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.
This is a borderline Thriller the way the story unfolds. There’s a grand conspiracy type of mystery that reigns over the characters where they didn’t just pull close-to-home. By that I mean the overall mystery, not the characters themselves. There was a fair bit of drama for them as well. The book became more of a movie-like quality in a literal form, which is a hard task to do. What I found the author did well was providing us with a down-to-earth, mildly flawed main character who was given all the credentials to tackle the enigma before him. I was not shocked by the findings, but wasn’t unimpressed by how the author got there. Therefore, this gets a solid “Good” for a Mystery Rating.
Jake Donovan is a mystery writer who’s revisiting old acquaintances in the Big Apple. Set in the Dirty 30’s the Prohibition had been a “noble failure” though the speakeasy’s are still frequented and those who became rich off the bootlegging are beginning to itch. This is where the story sets up it’s tent poles.
The main character, Jake, is a former detective (and Pinkerton!) who has set his sights beyond WWI and his past career to writing fast-paced mysteries starring a charismatic man named Blackie Doyle. He comes back to New York and is immediately entangled in the death of a close friend and a conspiracy that could change the United States as we know it.
So, when a “hit” is personal, Jake has to go digging not only into the mystery, but into his own personal life.
“The Yankee Club” reminded me loosely of the noir movies/novels I’d gotten my hands and eyes on. Whenever Jake spoke to a jerk-face I wanted him end the sentence with “Scheeee?”
“Look here, schee? I’m a dick, a P.I. and gumshoe, schee? You bettah know I’m here for the dame over there and you betta believe ssshe’s the only one. Now scat, cat before I find something else to cleverly rhyme.”
The book isn’t so cliche, I promise, but a few times I anticipated this and as the book progressed I was actually anticipating it. It’s funny how these old movies influenced even my reading. For Jake, he’s a realistic man, not one for the black and white’s and Miss Laura is a woman who’s in tune with the method actresses of the 50’s (beyond her time, though needed and probably not unheard of). They’re a fascinating pair with a history I think readers will like to learn about.
There’s a few slow places though overall this story is great! Not only is there a decent amount of research, there’s action, a respectable heroin and a family-esque background to his “friends” of New York. I found the friends were both serious and “snappy” and kept me entertained when Jake becomes a little too predictable. He has a heck of a network and utilizes it when it’s available. I give him points for imagination.
Mystery/Historical Fans will LOVE This one. If you’re a fan of “Boardwalk Empire” I suggest checking this out.
Michael Murphy is a full time author and part time urban chicken rancher in Arizona. He lives in Arizona with his wife of forty-one years and the four children they adopted this past year. In August, Random House Alibi will publish his ninth novel, a historical mystery set in the prohibition era, The Yankee Club.
$25 Gift Card to the eBook Retailer of your choice!
Genre: General Fiction/Paranormal
Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.
Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.
Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another. An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.
Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.
It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.
Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.
To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?
After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.
Yes, it’s paranormal though I keep wanting to throw this under a Historical rating. It’s set in the 1970’s, and Merriweather’s story starts long before that. Therefore, I think I’ll wedge this in my Historical Genre Rating. If I based this on Paranormal alone it’d be much lower as the place called Nowhere was only something to be feared, not explained.
Merry is a misunderstood soul who has one last shot to correct the story of how he’d died. It’s that or be trapped in the Nowhere forever…a place which Merry hates.
Now, we have Emmaline Cagney. She’s a little girl and daughter of a famous musician. When custody is granted to her overbearing mother, with a prostitute business on the side, Emma must learn a whole new set of rules – including, “how to be anyone but yourself.” Along with this there are some threats to this little girl’s innocence that are blatantly obvious to an adult while poor Emmaline is uncomfortable, but doesn’t know or understand the full impending threat.
When the two meet, it’s such a relief. They’re two misunderstood individuals have found salvation in one another. Together they have to fight the evil “Judge” and his obsession linked to Emma as well as his past hatred for Merry (long story, but I think you’d like it).
It’s a complex clash of past and present which I think the author managed to pull together beautifully! I can’t get too detailed as I don’t want to put out spoilers but there’s a bit of a historical lesson and an adventure as they travel the only road Merry knows: The Trace.
“The Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of years ago, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from points in the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi. It was logical for the first Native Americans to settle along the Trace to follow part of their migrating food supply. When the Kaintucks settled west of the Appalachians, they had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez, but before steam power, they had to walk home. The Trace became one of the busiest roads in North America.”
It’ll take the courage of a grown man struggling with many past demons and one innocent little girl to achieve this journey. Because if she lands in the hands of the “Judge”, a man who gave me the creeps (and I read a lot of horror!), she could be lost as the girl we began to know and adore.
It lulled a bit in the middle, though there was plenty of action, fun and danger. I thought Emmaline was very courageous and realistic for her age. She wanted so much to be like Merryweather that it was heartbreaking and you found yourself rooting for her. The research was well done, even adding the headstone of Merryweather Lewis. The writing was smooth and without a hitch, I found myself absorbed. I really liked the emotion attached to the two characters, especially Emmaline.
Hey. I’m Andra Watkins. I’m a native of Tennessee, but I’m lucky to call Charleston, South Carolina, home for 23 years. I’m the author of ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’, coming March 1, 2014. It’s a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.
eating (A lot; Italian food is my favorite.)
traveling (I never met a destination I didn’t like.)
reading (My favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo.)
coffee (the caffeinated version) and COFFEE (sex)
performing (theater, singing, public speaking, playing piano)
time with my friends
Sirius XM Chill
yoga (No, I can’t stand on my head.)
writing in bed
I don’t like:
getting up in the morning
cilantro (It is the devil weed.)
surprises (For me or for anyone else.)
Genre: Paranormal/Historical Romance
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Date of Publication: November 30, 2013
Number of pages: 192
Word Count: 50,000
Cover Artist: Elaina Lee/For the Muse Designs
When we are inexplicably drawn to love and a particular place, is it coincidence, or have we loved before?
Enigmatic and spirited Anna Lucera is gifted with an uncanny sixth-sense and is intrigued by all things mystical. When her green, cat-eyes and long, black hair capture the attention of a young lawyer named Kevin Townsend, a romance ensues which leads them to the hauntingly beautiful region of California’s Carmel-By-The-Sea where Anna is intuitively drawn to the Madiera Hotel. Everything about the hotel and Carmel-By-The-Sea heightens her senses and speaks to Anna as if she had been there before.
As Anna’s memory unravels the puzzle, she is drawn into a past that’s eerily familiar and a life she just may have lived before.
March 18, 1999, West Hollywood, California
“What’s this all about?” Lucia pulled out a chair across from her sister. They sat outside on the sidewalk in front of The King’s Head Café in West Hollywood amidst the hum of traffic and the flow of patrons looking for available seating on Beverly Boulevard. “You sounded funny on the phone.”
“I sounded funny?”
“You sounded mysterious,” Lucia clarified.
“I didn’t want to get into it on the phone. I thought I’d wait to talk to you in person.”
“All right, I’m listening,” Lucia settled back into her chair and looked at Anna expectantly.
“You’re not going to believe this, but Kevin brought up the subject of marriage the other day.”
“Why wouldn’t I believe that? It’s perfectly understandable to me, isn’t it to you?” Lucia laughed. “What did you say when he brought up the subject?”
“I skirted the issue, of course,” Anna’s tone suggested Lucia should know that.
“Wait a minute, did he just bring up the subject or did he ask you to marry him?”
“Well, it seemed to me he was testing the waters, but what he said was, ‘God help me, I’m married to a witch.’ I’m not sure I was supposed to hear it, but that’s exactly what he said,” Anna told her.
“Wait a minute, back up, I’m getting lost. Were you doing something that made him call you a witch or was he just making a general observation because he’s had enough time to realize that you are a little touched in that way?”
“In what way?” Anna sounded defensive.
“Come on, Anna, anyone who knows you knows you’re bent towards the uncanny, and I mean that with nothing but love,” Lucia tried to suppress a smile. “You’re the same way that Mom was—obviously these things run in families.”
Anna felt the immediate tug of her heartstrings at the mention of their mother, who had died of Leukemia two and a half years earlier. Her illness had been a harrowing experience to both her and Lucia, absolutely draining them emotionally for the two years prior to her death. Her slow decline compounded the loss of their father when they were only teenagers and now that both parents were gone, Anna and Lucia only had each other. Anna conjured the memory of their mother’s face, her tall elegance and demure ways and recalled that she, too, had an intuitive ability that everyone who knew her remarked upon.
“I don’t know that I’m anywhere near the way Mom was,” Anna leaned back. “Do you remember how she always knew what we were up to when we were little? There was no point in ever trying to fool her about anything because she always knew the truth.”
“Of course, you’ve always been a terrible liar. Everything you’re thinking is always written on your face. You were the one who always gave us away to Mom, not me,” Lucia reminded.
“That’s not entirely true,” Anna volleyed, “I remember the time you tried to sneak out the upstairs window at night and found Mom sitting on the garden bench under the tree you used because she’d picked up on what you were thinking practically before you even decided to do it. She could just tell by looking at you!”
“You’re right about that,” Lucia nodded. “Mom was something else altogether, wasn’t she? I’m convinced she was clairvoyant. I think she knew how to read us both. I really do miss her every day. I think of her every time I see a sunset, every time I feel the change of seasons in the air, every time I see the full moon. She made such an event out of the little things in life, didn’t she?”
“She definitely did. She placed great importance on ceremonies and symbolism and things like that,” Anna said. “I see so many things the same way she did because she taught us how.”
“I do, too. What she did to the exact spot where Dad got in his car wreck is a perfect example.”
“Well, a lot of people do a similar thing. I see markers on the side of the road all the time. Standing crosses with bouquets of flowers under them at the scene of a fatal accident. It’s a commemoration of a particular place where something significant happened.”
“Yes, but it was so much more to Mom than that,” Lucia reminded Anna. “That’s why she buried the key where Dad got in the accident. Do you recall that night? It was only two days after Dad died, but somehow Mom managed to set aside her grief in order to take care of business. She woke us up after midnight and told us to get in the car because we were going to conduct a ceremony. “
Claire Fullerton is the author of Paranormal/Historical Romance, “A Portal in Time.” Her second novel, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” set in Connemara, Ireland, will be published in March, 2015. Claire is a contributor to numerous magazines as well as a multiple contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. She is a multiple award winning essayist, a former major-market radio disc jockey, and an avid ballet dancer. Claire hails from Memphis, Tennessee, and currently divides her time between Malibu and Carmel, California with her husband and two German shepherds!
Where to Find:
2 print copies of A Portal in Time open to US Shipping
2 e-book copies of A Portal in Time open internationally
Craving a summer read about fairy tales and magic? The Seed & Other Fairy Tales might fit. See the synopsis below!
By Joseph Hillenbrand
Genre: Short Stories, Fiction, Fairy Tales
How do you measure yourself? By family, friends, enemies? By what you fight for? Or what you fight against?
Follow the tales of those struggling to find an identity of their own. A little girl with a ghost as a best friend. A woman who hates wishes. A man lost in the secret kingdom of frog people. A girl at war with her god. And a pair of soldiers on a deadly mission of peace.
The seeds have been sown. The storm is coming. Who will grow and who will drown?
I was born, raised and still live in the outskirts of Chicago. Every few years a move a little further west. Slowly inching my way to California. I love the big sky, the vast plains, the harvest moons of the Midwest.
I grew up reading comic books and playing G.I. Joe. Watching wrestling and listening to Led Zeppelin. I drew, I wrote, I strummed. I learned Stone Temple Pilots and I read Beckett. I grew and I withered.
I have spent the majority of my time in software – from support to development to management. And with my first book out now, I’m trying to get back to my roots: telling stories.