March Quarterly Book Reviews, 2023

Free image courtesy OlgaVolkovitskaia on Pixabay.

This time last year, I began writing quarterly book reviews, and although I am not a book blogger per se, I’m happy to share with you what I’m reading and perhaps discover new authors together. This is especially true when it comes to the works of indie authors, like myself. Every little bit helps when it comes to spreading the word!

I’m slowly, but surely working my way through my book list, and I’m surprised to see some going back a number of years. I guess that’s always going to be the struggle of your average bookworm. 😉

Lying Beside You (Cyrus Haven #3) by Michael Robotham

I’ve read the first two books in this series, and once again, Michael Robotham has written another page-turner.

A man has been bludgeoned to death, and his daughter is missing. Cyrus is called on the case to help determine if she has been kidnapped or murdered. Meanwhile, his brother, Elias, is about to be released from psychiatric hospital after twenty years. Evie Cormac, a troubled young woman Cyrus has taken under his wing, gains employment in a pub, and becomes witness to an abduction.

I enjoyed the struggles both Cyrus and Evie faced, which at times were told with humour, while others were heart-warming. New characters have been introduced, which brings complexity and opportunities. As with the first two books, I listened to the audio version, where the narrator does a terrific job of bringing these characters to life.

Fast paced, great twists, and engaging characters, this is a worthy addition to the series.

The Haunting of Chatham Hollow by Mae Clair and Staci Troilo

In 1793, Ward Chatham lies on his deathbed, a rich, but bitter recluse. Delirious, he mutters broken phrases, which some believe is a curse brought towards the town. So begins The Haunting of Chatham Hollow, a dual timeline novel set between 1888, and 2022.

Of the two timelines, personally I enjoyed the 1888 setting. I liked these characters, both good and bad, and was fully invested in the séance scenes, and the incidents happening within the town, believed to be part of Chatham’s curse.

I don’t usually read books that have been co-authored, and I am unfamiliar with Mae Clair’s work, but this novel is not only well written, it flows easily, so that the reader cannot distinguish the different writing voices.

Well researched with engaging plot lines, if you enjoy mysteries with paranormal elements, I highly recommend The Haunting of Chatham Hollow.

Vampire of the Midnight Sun by Priscilla Bettis

Vampire of the Midnight Sun is a collection of two short stories, full of vivid descriptions and suspense.

The first story, Vampire of the Midnight Sun, sees two friends, Billy, and Frasier, stranded after a rafting accident in Alaska. They struggle for survival with no food or equipment. To add to their woes, Billy is convinced he is a vampire. Told from Frasier’s point of view, these characters are likeable, and at times, scary. Both the dialogue and the plot flows seamlessly, and I enjoyed the fresh take on the vampire myth. From the icy waters to the putrid smells, I felt I was walking alongside these characters. The author describes a beautiful, but harsh environment, while at the same time building the suspense so that I could feel the terror of their predicament.

The Fire Witch and the Cowboy is a story of the Old West, where a fire threatens a small town. Local man, Henderson, pleads for help from wealthy Widow Vandermeer, but her assistance may come at a price. I was engrossed with the description of the fire in this one, which is terrifying, and coupled with Henderson’s past, it is also quite sad.  I sympathised with him and found Widow Vandermeer a creepy old woman. Although I did enjoy this story, of the two, I would have to say Vampire of the Midnight Sun was my favourite.

I have read this author’s work before, and everything she writes goes to the top of my reading list. This book did not disappoint.

What books have you been reading so far this year? Have you discovered an author that is new to you? Do you have any recommendations to share?

‘First Christmas’ in July.

Free image courtesy pixel2013 on Pixabay.

When one conjures up images of Christmas, it usually consists of snow, warm fires, and hearty dinners. Here, in the southern hemisphere, Christmas is a time of sun, surf, and barbeques. This is why Christmas in July has become popular in Australia; so that we can enjoy a traditional Christmas.

I’ve written two short stories that portray two very different Christmas’s, and lately I’ve been experimenting with creating book videos. They’re time consuming to make, and at times frustrating, but I’ve had fun working with another creative outlet. I’m even thinking of making some more! 😉

Here’s the video for First Christmas. I hope you like it!

Christmas spirit comes in the most unexpected ways.

In 1916, young newlywed, Caroline Owens spends her first Christmas alone. Or is she?

Shy nurse, Linda Graham, struggles with a tragic loss. Can a ghost help restore her broken heart?

‘Lots of emotion packed into a short story… I was left wanting more.’

Amazon Review

First Christmas is available on Amazon.

March Quarterly Book Reviews, 2022.

Free image courtesy Peggychoucair on Pixabay.

This year, as I’ve decided to spend less time on social media, it has meant I have more time for reading. As much as I love books, I’m a slow reader. Try as I might, the number of books I read each year can be pretty low (this is one of the reasons why I enjoy audio books so much)!

To help spread the word on what I’ve been reading, I thought I’d share my reviews here on the blog, and hope you’ll be interested in reading them too. These past couple of months I’ve been reading shorter works, which are a mix of audio books and e-books. My taste is usually eclectic, but lately, it comes as no surprise, my books of choice are of the Gothic/horror persuasion. 😉

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Even though I had seen the various film versions, this was the first time I read the book. I really liked it and was surprised by its humour. I pictured the Disney version of Ichabod Crane more than any other.

I enjoyed the setting and descriptions, especially those leading up to the introduction of the headless horseman. I listened to the audio version, which I also highly recommend. This is such a fun, quick read, and a perfect story for Halloween.

The Hay Bale by Priscilla Bettis

I know Priscilla Bettis through blogging, so when I heard she was releasing her first book, I had to get myself a copy. The Hay Bale is a quick read, and it’s one that hooks you in from the very beginning. Her use of imagery places you beside the main character, Claire, so that when we reach the final scenes, we are in suspense and horrified in equal measure.

The ending I suspected, but the events leading up to that conclusion was altogether creepy and disturbing thanks to the peculiar quirks of the local townspeople. This story packed an emotional punch and stayed with me long after I had finished reading. Highly recommended for horror fans. I look forward to reading more from Priscilla.

Later by Stephen King

I’ve always enjoyed reading Stephen King’s shorter works, and this one certainly packs a punch. Combining crime and horror, it’s a coming-of-age story, where young Jamie Conklin can see dead people. He’s a sensitive, intelligent child with a good sense of humour (I had some laugh out loud moments). I felt drawn towards this character, so that when his naivety is gradually chipped away, it is truly heart breaking.

This is a story with memorable characters, some frightening scenes, and one that you can’t put down. I listened to the audio version, read by Seth Numrich. His reading helps draw the reader in, especially when Jamie is confronted by the character, Kenneth Therriault. Highly recommended.

Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard. Edited by Rayne Hall

This collection of short stories is a lovely mix from new and established writers, as well as from classic authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe. Each story takes you on a journey to graveyards throughout the world, so readers can experience different cultures and various forms of burial.

There are 27 stories in this collection, which range from creepy to unusual, as well as humorous, so there’s something for everyone. At the end of each story are the author’s comments, which is a nice way to find out more about them.

As with any collection, some stories will stand out more than others and demand a re-read, and there are many in this book. For me, some of these include The Shortcut, Another Oldie but Goodie, Lucretia’s Hum, The Legend of Merv the Swerve, The New Catacomb, Respects, and Heart Music.

If you enjoy a spooky story, this collection does not disappoint.

What books have you been reading this year? Do you have any recommendations to share? Are you a slow reader?