Friday, March 29, 2013

Eric Clapton Concert

Comments on the concert.

The Wallflowers did a lively, but too short, opening. It's easy to tell that Jakob is Bob Dylans son. The vocals are amazingly similar but I give Jakob the edge as far as his guitar work. I would have loved to have them do a Bob Dylan song as part of their set. Or even a duet with Clapton on Knocking on Heaven's Door.

Claptons set was amazing. He cover his entire career and was heavier on his blues roots that his rock songs. His guitar work was outstanding and he still maintains his "Clapton is God" status given to him all those years ago.

I was particularly touched by his acoustic set of Layla, Wonderful Tonight and Tears In Heaven. I notice some tears in the audience, myself included. This song is powerful to anyone who has ever lost a child and it shows that the pain will always remain. Those songs alone were worth the price of admission. The encore was Sunshine of Your Love and it was as powerful today as it was when it was recordeed with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.

This was Jim Brock and I's annual birthday concert and it will be hard one to top next year. Happy Birthday Jim and thanks to Scott Hunter for driving us down.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Club Monstrocity eBook

E-books are really growing in popularity and the explosion of Kindles, Nooks and other ereaders as well as all the apps that make them available on tablets and cell phones make it so you always have something at your fingertips to read.

A growing number of writers and publishers are making short stories and novelettes available that are written especially for those devices.

Here is another opportunity for you to enjoy one of those offerings.

by Jesse Petersen is the new e-novella soon to be published by Pocket Star, a division of Simon and Schuster (April 22nd).

CLUB MONSTROSITY is a quirky and funny supernatural story about a support group for legendary monsters from pop culture living anonymously in the modern world. Led by Natalie, a creation of Dr. Frankenstein, the support group—which includes Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, the wolfman, and a mummy—finds themselves banding together for security and sleuthing after the Invisible Man is murdered in a manner eerily reminiscent of how H.G. Well’s Invisible Man met his demise.

A unique and fun twist on the classics, CLUB MONSTROSITY is an eBook original title, a rapidly growing market in the publishing industry. Jesse Petersen started as a self-published author with her previous eBooks, Married with Zombies, Flip This Zombie, and Eat Slay Love. You can visit her website here:

Friday, March 22, 2013

1999 - An Interview with Rick Hautala

Rick Hautala left us suddenly on March 21, 2012. He was the first interview I did for and the interview was part of a massive launch for 999, the anthology that is to be the definite volume of horror writers for the new millennium.

I offer it as a look at a different time and a snapshot of where Horror and Rick were at that time. My condolences to his wife Holly and his children. He was special and he will be missed by his fans and the entire horror field.


The massive horror anthology 999: NEW STORIES OF HORROR AND SUSPENSE, edited by Al Sarrantonio was released in July 1999. I was one of the lucky ones picked by Avon Books and Cybling to participate in a nationwide anthology release party. Many of the writers involved were doing special signings and interviews in bookstores, radio stations and online.

Rick Hautala was born and raised in Rockport, Mass. He graduated (BA and MA in English) from the University of Maine, Orono. Currently, he has seventeen published novels, including THE HIDDEN SAINT, IMPULSE, NIGHTSTONE, and WINTER WAKE. Fifty of his short stories have been published, including one collection, BEDBUGS, from Cemetery Dance Publications due out this October (1999).

Rick is married, with three children. He is planning on retiring to Finland when and if he hits the Hollywood jackpot.

Baryon: How did you first become interested in horror, and when did you first start writing it?

Rick Hautala: Easy answer ... I've always been interested in the "dark side" of life, and I've found that writing helps me dig deep in my own subconscious. I've always paid attention to dreams and nightmares, so I use them as sources.

Baryon: Speaking of 999, how did you become aware of it and was "Knocking" written especially for it?

Rick Hautala: Al Sarrantonia was at NECON last year (a horror con in Rhode Island I attend every year). He asked if I had something short because he had some long stories from Blatty, King, and Oates. I said sure, and submitted two stories (which he bounced). They were "trunk stories" and should have been bounced, so I wrote KNOCKING specifically for 999. It started with the first line. That's all I had, and it just sort of unrolled from there.

Baryon: Often young authors are told to send their stories to the big markets first and work their way down to the ezines and fanzines. Does there ever come a time in a writer's career when UNSOLD stories should be kept in a trunk, and how do you know when that time has arrived?

Rick Hautala: I always believe that you should aim high and then adjust your sights. Of course, you have to be sensible and not shoot for impossible goals. You have to know your markets and target them accordingly. But I suppose there are some stories that are certainly dead puppies that should be buried after a while before they start to smell up the place. I do believe that a well-written story will--eventually--find a home and, conversely, a lousy story will -never- sell. There are too many writers out there with good work for crap to find a home. The sad truth is, though, that the market for stories is terribly small, so even terrific stories might not find a home. Bottom line, you have to have faith in your work. You also have to keep developing as a writer. I find even some of my published stories (and novels) strike me as ... well, maybe not the best I could do. But I do think a writer has to do the best he or she can every time at the keyboard or else ... what's the point? When is it time to retire an idea? Never. In fact, just recently, I took an old idea--the second outline I ever tried to write for a novel way back in 1974 or 75. I revised it some and now a film company is looking at it as a possible project. So even if a particular story dies and is buried, the idea may be worth keeping in the back of your mind.

Baryon: How does it feel to be in with this line up of writers in what may be the last horror anthology of the Millennium?

Rick Hautala: I always appreciate being invited into an anthology. I don't generally write short stories unless someone asks me for something. I consider myself primarily a novelist and screen writer. In the case of 999--particularly because of the names involved--I wanted desperately to be included. I think 999 will, in many ways, define horror for the turn of the century the way Kirby McCauley's DARK FORCES defined horror for the 70s and 80s. Look at the list of authors included in 999! Tell me -anyone- who -wouldn't- want to be in such company! I was thrilled and honored when Al accepted my story. (The money was purty good, too.)

Baryon: Are there any other anthologies or short stories scheduled for the near future?

Rick Hautala: Besides 999, I'll have a short story in a HELLBOY anthology coming out from Dark Horse sometime soon ... I forget the exact month. Also, my short story LATE SUMMER SHADOWS is being adapted by Glenn Chadbourne for the first issue of GRAVE TALES, the horror comic that Rich Chizmar at CEMETERY DANCE is putting out. I generally don't write short stories unless someone asks me to, but right now I'm working on a story called MRS. HENRY. I don't know if it will be a short, a novella, or a novel ... I'm just going with it to see where it takes me, but this is something I very, very seldom do. It's just that I'm between projects. I have three proposals "under consideration" at publishers, so I'm filling my time with this story.

Baryon: I've read that you only write in the Horror genre? Have you never been tempted to try your hand at SF or Fantasy?

Rick Hautala: I don't specifically limit myself to horror, but usually when I start a story, that's what comes out. I've done some SF and fantasy, and some mystery and suspense as well--usually in short stories. A script I wrote that's getting some serious attention in Hollywood now is a family adventure. But the bottom line is, I just write the story that's in my head. More often than not, it takes a turn for the dark side. Just the way I'm made, I guess ...

Baryon: In your opinion, is it necessary that "evil" be psychotic for a fast-moving story, or can the antagonist just be a neurotic mess and still provide a good foil for the hero?

Rick Hautala: I guess the question really comes down to: "Where does the conflict in the story originate?" The protagonist has to be in opposition to something, but whether it's "evil" or just a neurotic mess, the antagonist has to represent bad. Bottom line, the -conflict- has to be compelling. I don't think a supernatural evil is absolutely required. There are plenty of human evils and messed up people in the world to be antagonists. But there -has- to be conflict. The source of that conflict can be as varied as existence, imagined and real.

Baryon: I've noticed that your writing style is very fast paced and smooth. How did you develop your style and what stumbling blocks should young authors avoid?

Rick Hautala: Thanks for the compliment. I try to keep the story moving, and I think that's key to the success of any fiction. I write about eight to ten pages a day, and if -something- doesn't happen within those ten pages, I'll be bored silly. So I make sure things keep moving every day. Beautiful, elegant prose is nice, but if the story isn't driving along, carrying the reader with it, then I think the author has failed at his or her primary task, which is to entertain the reader. The biggest problem I see beginning writers make is that they seem to get what I call "word drunk." They're so enamored of writing that they get lost in flowery descriptions that don't keep the story moving. If the story doesn't move ... well, it's a train I, at least, don't want to be on.

Baryon: In your opinion, then, what's the fastest way to derail a train. What is the error you avoid at all costs?

Rick Hautala: I always remember that, first and foremost, I am telling a story. My job is to entertain the reader. Period. I get paid to do that job. If I don't do it right, I don't earn (or get) my pay. Never lose sight of the -story-. Put interesting people in interesting situations. Give them problems that make them twitch and react. My job as a writer is to create a dream that I share with the reader, so it's important that I not break the illusion, wake up the dreamer. The fastest way to derail the train is to lose your plot. The second fastest way is to make uninteresting characters. I don't want to sound like I'm preaching here. This is just my subjective reaction, and I'm sure there are other writers who can disagree with me, but they're probably writers I don't enjoy reading.

Baryon: Who do you read for pleasure?

Rick Hautala: My reading tends to split about 1/3 fiction, and 2/3 non-fiction. A lot of the fiction I read is what I call "social reading." I know a lot of people in the horror field in particular, and I feel compelled to read their new books when they come out. So I read friends, like Matt Costello, Charlie Grant, Chet Williamson, Joe Lansdale, and of course King and Koontz. My favorite author is James Lee Burke, the mystery writer. He is so damned good, I practically cry when I read him because I know I'll never have the command and mastery that he has.

Baryon: Do you have any plans for collaborations?

Rick Hautala: I have collaborated on quite a few scripts, particularly with my friend Bill Relling. We've got three scripts that have gotten some good coverage in Hollywood, but --so far, anyway-- we don't have anything in production. A few options, but I want to see something on the screen. Also, I've worked with Tom Monteleone and Matt Costello on a couple of scripts, and these are getting some attention now. Collaboration is very difficult, but Bill, Matt, and Tom have all been great to work with. Also, I collaborated with a friend, Jim Connolly, on a HELLBOY short story titled "Scared Crows" for an upcoming HELLBOY anthology. Jim's an unpublished writer who loves HELLBOY, and when I was offered a spot in the anthology, he and I just sort of worked out the plot together, then I wrote the thing. It's a fun story.

Baryon: Do you think the Internet is a viable place for Horror to grow since publishers seem to be downscaling?

Rick Hautala: I have no idea. I'm a technological moron, which was proven last night when we tried to do this interview live. I just use my internet account to send e-mail to friends and to send scripts and stories back and forth with my collaborators. The most recent novel and three short stories I've done haven't seen hard copy until they were finalized. I'm an old-fashioned "book-in-the-hand" kind of guy, but I can envision a future where people get their entertainment from computer versions of stories.

Baryon: Will the declining number of publishing companies help or hinder the horror field?

Rick Hautala: It can only hurt because the mega-publishers will spend all their money on the Clanceys and Danielle Steels of the world and let mid-list writers flounder even more than they are now. Publishing now is like the Hollywood star system ... If you're not a big enough name, your sales and career spiral downward.

Baryon: You seem to prefer to create your own characters, but you have worked in the White Wolf universe, (BEYOND THE SHROUD, "White Terror") which do you prefer, and why?

Rick Hautala: I also have a POLTERGEIST: THE LEGACY novel titled THE HIDDEN SAINT coming out from Berkley in October. That and the White Wolf stuff were fun to write. With both novels, I adapted outlines I already had for stand-alone novels. I just modified them to use the characters and terminology from the "world" I was working within. Obviously I prefer making up my own stuff, but--well, there's a long story about why I did the POLTERGEIST novel. I'll try to be brief. Almost three years ago, we had an unexpected death in the family. I hit the wall. Hard. So hard,. in fact, that I thought for a couple of years that that was it; I wouldn't write any more novels. (I'm doing better now.) But Berkley asked me to write the POLTERGEIST book, and I accepted, knowing that I had to get my ass back in gear because I -am- a writer. So I was glad for the opportunity to see if I could still do it. The death of someone really close to you makes you see every aspect of life differently, and until I did the POLTERGEIST novel, I wasn't even sure I could still write. But I'm glad I did it, and I hope to get a deal for a new novel soon so I can keep writing.

Baryon: I recently finished IMPULSE and found it an incredibly tense and fast moving novel. Do you have plans to bring this family back in a future novel? Or is there no market for series in Horror?

Rick Hautala: Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it (even in spite of the HORRIBLE editing job and proofreading job they did at Zebra.) So far each book has been stand alone. One time a long time ago, I said half tongue in cheek that I would never consider a sequel unless or until there had been a movie of the first book. Well, there have been no movies of any of my books, so I've had to go along and invent new characters and settings every time (although I have used the same towns in a few stories and novels. For instance, TWILIGHT TIME and SHADES OF NIGHT are set in the same town.)
I'm not sure what the market is for series or stand-alone novels. I do know that most publishers have been telling me for years that horror's dead, and nobody wants to buy or read the kind of story I write. But there is one major publisher who -does- like what I do, and she's looking at a new proposal for a stand-alone novel called THE WHITE ROOM. Also, someone has asked me to do a series of books (based on a TV character) and we're in negotiations about that. We'll see where it all goes. I do think that, with the success of THE HAUNTING and -especially- THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, as well as SIXTH SENSE and DEEP BLUE SEA, we'll see a resurgence in horror. How much of this will translate into horror books? I don't know. I have always written a particular type of book--a very narrowly and deeply focused family horror with a New England setting. I probably won't do a wide canvas, BIG concept novel of suspense or horror. We'll see if anyone thinks they can still get big sales with what I do. In the meantime, I'm also working on scripts.

Baryon: Yours is the only story in the 999 anthology to mention the Millennium, was this a conscious decision?

Rick Hautala: Yeah. I thought we were supposed to mention the Millennium. The story started with the first line, like I said. That's all I had, so then I thought it'd be cool to set the story (and jack up the protagonist's paranoia) during the Millennium celebrations. It all worked out, using the celebrations as a backdrop. Of course, that will totally date the story in a few months.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mixed Reviews

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Darynda Jones
St. Martin's Press, $24.99
ISBN: 9781250014467

PI grim reaper Charlotte “Charley” Davidson takes a time out after her last case ended in the cesspool. She has spent several wallowing months not dealing with her feeling like a burned out loser.

A desperate Harper Lowell arrives at Charley’s home pleading with the sleuth to help her. Harper explains that someone wants her dead and her family and friends insist no one is out to get her; they believe she is paranoid. Though the circumstantial evidence supports the assertion that Harper is insane, Charley senses the woman is telling the truth though if she is mad she could confuse reality and fiction. As Charley looks into her clients claim, she also struggles with her feelings for Reyes “Son of Satan” Farrow, who she kicked out of her life yet also seems to be involved in the Albuquerque arson fiasco.

The latest Charley Davidson urban fantasy (see Third Grave Dead Ahead) is an amusing exciting thriller though the overarching theme barely moves forward. Charley is at her grim irreverent best while Reyes lings in her head and other body parts. Fast-paced fans of the series will enjoy Charley’s fourth grave and grim tale while hoping a fifth of Davidson accelerates the apparent upcoming celestial war. Harriet Klausner

Warrior Reborn
Melissa Mayhue
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451640885

Former special ops soldier Chase Noble has never truly found a place where he feels he belongs. Though frustrated, he continues to seek somewhere he can call home. Whether it is his Fae progeny or not, Chase senses he is destined to do something important once he arrives at “home.”

Her evil half-brother keeps Christiana MacDowylt imprisoned so he can use her paranormal gift of seeing the future. Christiana sees a warrior rescuing her, but her champion lives seven centuries into the future. Using fairy magic, she brings Chase back to her time to save her from her wicked sibling. Chase feels at home when he is at the side of Christiana, who never foretold he was more than just her champion.

The second MacDowylt clan time travel fantasy romance is an exhilarating thriller as this time the hero goes back from the present to the medieval era; reversing the trip of Warrior's Redemption. Fast-paced fans will relish this modern day warrior fighting with seemingly primitive arms, but love proves the strongest weapon in his arsenal. Harriet Klausner

Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter
Jessica Sims
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451661811

Sisters Sarah and Bathsheba Ward run the Midnight Liaison’s paranormal dating service. Sarah feels guilty as her older sibling lies in a hospital bed after tying to protect her from the Wendigo; the irony being that Bathsheba is human while Sarah is a were due to her ex-boyfriend changing her without her permission. Bathsheba also has alpha cougar shifter Beau Russell at her side too (see Beauty Dates the Beast).

A rival werewolf pack holds member Savannah hostage while their Alpha demands Sarah join them if they want their prisoner freed. Savannah agrees while Werebear Ramsey Bjorn claims Sarah as his mate to keep her safe from the werewolves who forced the couple to prove their assertion by “mating”.

The second Ward sister paranormal romance is a fast-paced thriller that directly builds off the previous tale. The romance between the wolf and the bear is deftly handled as neither realizes their sham is the real thing; while the sisterly love is beautiful as each risks their life for the other. Filled with suspense as the protagonists fall in love while surrounded by brutal werewolves, readers will enjoy Sarah’s Desperately Seeking Shapeshifter plight. Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 18, 2013

Play with Fire & Midnight at the Oasis

Morris & Chastain Investigations:

Play with Fire & Midnight at the Oasis

By Justin Gustainis

Things hot up on March 26th
(US & Can) and April 11th (UK)

£7.99 (UK) ISBN 9781781080818
$7.99/$9.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 9781781080825

Available in paperback and ebook

Another hot case for the occult investigators!

“…an absolutely cracking read…” – Falcata Times on Sympathy for the Devil

“…the great characters … combined with the diabolical ambitions of an evil black
wizard make Evil Ways a hugely readable book. ” –

This month sees two thrilling new occult investigations from Justin Gustainis as his urban fantasy sleuths Quincy Morris, great-grandson of Dracula’s killer, and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain return!

Houses of worship are burning all across the US. Usually while full of people. Initially dismissed as random acts of violence, Morris – freshly released from jail after their last case – and Chastain uncover the terrible meaning behind the destruction, and the dark cause the arsonists seek to serve. A race against time ensues, to stop a ritual that will cause the deaths of hundreds... and bring about the end of the world.

Having debuted exclusively as separate ebooks this collection of smart, these smart, dark tales with a vicious edge are the antidote to the Twilight and Supernatural generation.
About the series

Morris & Chastain Investigations is an electrifying series of supernatural thrillers following the exploits of occult investigators Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain, as they search out evil in the darkest corners of America.

About the Author

Justin Gustainis is a college professor living in upstate New York. He is the author of the novel The Hades Project, as well as a number of short stories.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spies and Virus'

Spy in a Little Black Dress
Maxine Kenneth
Grand Central, $14.99
ISBN: 9780446567428

In 1951, CIA rookie Jackie Bouvier feels better about her espionage work after surviving her first assignment (see Paris To Die For) and having received some need training. Deputy Director Allen Dulles asks the Washington Times-Herald photojournalist to meet and flirts with Jack Kennedy as he wants the Massachusetts Congressman to become “a friend of the CIA.”

Jackie is sent under the guise of her photojournalist job to Cuba. There she is to learn what she can about revolutionary Fidel Castro by getting inside the Communist Party. The CIA wants to better understand his objectives and whether he is a viable threat to the brutal regime of Battista.

The second Jackie Bouvier, CIA operative thriller is a fun over the top of Pico Turquino espionage tale. Fast-paced with plenty of action and anchored in time and place by real persona like Hemingway and Sinatra, fans who relish an exciting implausible action thriller will enjoy Jackie meeting Jack and Fidel as the Spy in a Little Black Dress. Harriet Klausner

The Gemini Virus
Wil Mara
Forge, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765324313

In Ramsey, New Jersey, Bob Easton dies in horrible agony from an unknown illness that had him suffering from large pustules on his entire body and total delirium. However before he passed away, Bob spread the disease to others. Six more people are dead while the local health responders are overwhelmed with the sick.

Centers for Disease Control Epidemic Intelligence Service epidemiologists Michael Beck and Cara Porter investigate the horrific deaths. As they work the New Jersey epidemic trying to identify what the killer is and whether Easton is patient zero, the disease spreads exponentially across the United States and beyond. America panics as does the world.

With a nod to the movie Contagion, The Gemini Virus is a vivid (the audience will become mysophobia agoraphobic), exhilarating lethal virus thriller. Part of the fun is the reactions of people as some welcome the biblical End of Days while others blame the government. Fast-paced from the first cough and sneeze, the storyline never takes a respite as The Gemini Virus goes viral. Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Plaid Raccoon Press Launches New Book Line—Supernatural Thrillers (Press Release Distribution) - Mar 01,2013 -

The Ottawa-area publisher of the crime fiction novels of Michael J. McCann, author of the popular Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series set in Maryland, USA, has announced the launch of a new book line of supernatural thrillers set in eastern Ontario. The first novel is The Ghost Man, which was originally published by McCann in 2008, and has been reissued in a revised and updated edition. “I like the horror genre because it allows me to appeal to a new reading audience,” McCann said, “and I'm setting these novels in eastern Ontario, which is rich in tales of hauntings.” He plans to have another supernatural thriller ready for a Halloween 2013 release.

Readers of McCann's crime novels will immediately recognize his polished story-telling ability in The Ghost Man. The protagonist, former chef de cuisine and restaurant owner Simon Guthrie, is trying to rebuild his life after a car accident kills his wife and leaves him with a serious head injury. Recuperating in hospital, he tries to make sense of a near-death experience involving a malevolent entity he cannot identify. After his release, he sets out to rebuild his life but instead discovers he has become a beacon for ghosts trapped in this world who are trying to get to the other side. His new house is under nightly assault by the ghost of a young girl seeking to escape from a recurrent violent death at the hands of someone known as The Angry Man. His friends and neighbors also come under attack as murder and fire cause mayhem in the small Ontario community where he had hoped to rebuild his life. Include a demon who cannot be named, a séance, an exorcism rite, and thirteen ghostly white wolves, and you have a page-turner to the end!

The Ghost Man is available in eBook format from Amazon as a Kindle Select exclusive publication at Readers can enjoy it on any device on which the Kindle reader app is installed. The Ghost Man will also be available in trade paperback version.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wicked Whisper, A Fatal Stain and If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance reviewed

Wicked Whisper
Nina Bangs
Berkley, $15.0
ISBN: 9780425253137

At the Castle of Dark Dreams on Galveston Island, guest Murmer the demon informs his friend Bain that he needs to find an isolated place to release his music power before he harms someone when he loses control due to his ability if turning into an internal torture. On a beach with no one in sight, he begins his tune.

Newly hired personal assistant to Sparkle Stardust whom she has not yet met, Ivy Lowe is on the beach when she hears the music. She cannot stop herself from dancing until Murmer joins her before freeing her. Ivy dreams of Murmer in spite of her efforts to focus on the job only. Holgarth the Wizard warns her to stay away from the dangerous Murmer whose music leaves others dead. Neither the dark Underworld soulless one nor the innocent human can avoid their attraction. However, Bain needs Murmer’s talent and has plans for Ivy involving the rescue of his love trapped with the Slaugh Sidhe Unseelie horde.

The latest erotic Castle of Dark Dreams romantic urban fantasy (see Wicked Fantasy and My Wicked Vampire) is an enjoyable wicked entry tale starring an intriguing demon whose power leaves fear in just about everyone; yet this nonentity holds her own with him. Though the lead couple’s relationship seems similar to that between the virginal angel and the sinful demon, fans will enjoy this fast-paced star-crossed lovers’ thriller. Harriet Klausner

A Fatal Stain
Elise Hyatt
Berkley Prime Crime, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425255230

Daring Finds furniture refinishing storeowner Candyce "Dyce" Dare is running out of diversions as her mom and her BFF Ben Colm demand she join them to plan her wedding to Goldport Serious Crimes Unit Chief Investigator Cas Wolfe. Dyce struggles with their concept of Pythagoras dressed in a tuxedo as the Best Cat and fears whatever else the dynamic duo has in mind.

While sanding a table she bought at the semi-permanent garage sale, Dyce uncovers a stain that looks like blood. Though she knows it is probably her imagination running wild due to growing up in her parent’s mystery bookstore, Dyce visits the garage sale location accompanied by E. She learns the last owner vanished; so she wonders if the disappearance ties back to the stain.

The latest A Daring Finds investigation (see French Polished Murder) is an amusing amateur sleuth starring a likable but immature heroine. The mystery is fun to follow though Dyce has no real reason to make inquiries. Still fans will enjoy this cozy and appreciate tips on restoring furniture. Harriet Klausner

If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance
Paige Shelton
Berkley, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425251614

In Broken Rope, Missouri, Miz Winston owns Gram’s Country Cooking School; her granddaughter Isabelle “Betts” Winston works closely with her. Betts’ best friend, Broken Rope’s Historical Society historian and fake sheriff Jake asks them if they can host a busload of foodies whose reservation was messed up and provide cooking lessons. The two relatives wonder where anyone will stay except the floor as their establishment is not a hotel; Betts arranges accommodations for the foodie crowd.

Soon afterward, Miz and Betts encounter the ax-wielding ghost of patricide murderer Sally Swarthmore. She pleads with the pair to find her diary that will prove she is not the notorious cold-blooded killer of legend. They also find one of their guests dead with a noose around his neck; two other foodies are missing.Betts turns to her boyfriend Cliff of the local police department while also doing an inquiry.

The latest Country Cooking School Mystery (see If Fried Chicken Could Fly) is an entertaining amateur sleuth starring a heroine struggling to adapt to communicating with ghosts though she has a mentor helping her adjust. The pair of whodunits engages the audience though the solutions of each seem obvious early on. Still fans will enjoy Betts working paranormal and human murder cases. Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 11, 2013

Darkship Renegades, A Memory of Light and Sunset of the Gods Reviewed

Darkship Renegades
Sarah A. Hoyt
Baen, Dec 4 2012, $14.00
ISBN: 9781451638523

Kit the Jarl mule clone and the daughter of wealth Athena know they are fortunate to escape Earth and her past. They leave with a price on Thena’s head are going to Eden to live together in love and peace. Instead they face treasonous charges as a powerful individual uses the duo as fodder to manipulate his way into becoming Eden’s first dictator.

The couple accompanied by his sister mule Zen and another mule Doc Bartholomew team up with their mission to learn how to grow powertrees so that Eden no longer depends on harvesting earth tree powerpods, which as a byproduct will free the solar system. However, the quest starts badly when Kit is injured before they depart. Bartholomew tries a dangerous medical procedure to save his life. The method seemingly works, but as Kit recuperates, he increasingly does not behave like her beloved husband. Instead he has the memories of his “sire” Jarl reengineered to rule Earth. With their mission on the brink of failure, Thena knows she must prevent the transformation of her husband and will do whatever it takes including killing him; while she also understands her only out if they do not succeed on their original mission is her death.

The second Darkship space opera (see Darkship Thieves) is an entertaining science fiction thriller that continues the adventures of Thena. There are too many reflective treatises by Thena that slow down the pace of the overall exciting storyline. However, these interludes also provide insight into the historical, political, economic, science and technology. Fans will enjoy traveling on a Darkship piloted by Athena and her mates exploring the believable Hoyt galaxy.
Harriet Klausner

A Memory Of Light
Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Tor, Jan 8 2013, $34.99
ISBN: 9780765325952

The forces of the Light and the Darkness prepare for the final battle, which appears will occur north of the Mountains of Dhoom in Shayol Ghul. Meanwhile hostilities flare up elsewhere as Talmanes leads a depleted Band of the Red Hand in a fight against the Trollocs in Caemlyn; Elayne had taken much of their force especially the cavalry to the Field of Merrilor where the rulers will decide whether to support Rand al’Thor’s dangerous plan to free the Dark One or kill him before his insanity demoralizes the humans. Regardless of who stands victorious in the Last Battle, The Wheel of Time is moving to end this age.

This is an exciting finish to the two decade old Wheel of Time saga as Brandon Sanderson provides an action-packed final battle (and several precursor combats) in his third effort (see The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight). The battle scenes are top rate while making up the brunt of the 900 plus page tome, but also have a déjà vu sense after several war scenes occur. Not surprisingly, some of the numerous long-running subplots receive short shrift as do key characters and races. Still, this is a well-done climax as several fronts explode while the adversarial forces prepare and meet for the final battle that will determine the fate of humanity as the Wheel of Time turns. Harriet Klausner

Sunset of the Gods
Steve White
Baen, Jan 1 2013, $14.00
ISBN: 9781451638462

Temporal Regulatory Authority leader Kyle Rutherford asks his most experienced Ancient Greece time traveler Hesperian Colonial Rangers Commander Jason Thanou to lead an expedition to study the Battle of Marathon. The mission is to answer historical questions and to determine whether any alien Teloi survivors that escaped the Minoan entrapment were involved in the pivotal battle. Jason met the Teloi masquerading as gods like Zeus when he, geologist Dr. Deirdre Sadaka-Ramirez (who stayed behind with Perseus) and historian Dr. Sidney Nagel (who died heroically) traveled to three millennia ago (see Blood of the Heroes). Reluctantly, Jason agrees to lead the expedition consisting of historian Dr. Bryan Landry, soldier Alexandre Mondrago and xenologist Dr. Chantal Frey to 490 BC.

The quartet arrives in 490 BC weeks before the battle. They claim to be exiles from Macedon whose King Alexander I swore allegiance to the Persians. On the road top Athens, Jason and Alexandre see the mythological Pan. As they are given sanctuary by Themistocles, the budding Athenian democracy debates how to defend itself against the Persian military. They soon encounter Zeus and a stunning anomaly in which conspirators are using Pan and the Teloi to achieve their long term objective.

The clever second Thanou time travel science fiction is an exciting thriller that provides a deep look at the Battle of Marathon. The storyline uses too many passive explanations re the rules of time travel and 490 BC Athens though these explicatory soliloquies add a sense of scientific and historical genuineness to the plot. Still fans will enjoy learning the secret of Pan as Jason and his team must thwart a diabolical plot to influence the outcome of the key Battle of Marathon. Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 8, 2013

Congregations of the Dead by James A Moore and Charles R Rutledge

CONGREGATIONS OF THE DEAD, James A Moore and Charles R Rutledge, Miskatonic Books, forthcoming, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Having read the majority of James A Moore’s output over the years, he has become one of those authors that when something with his name on it comes my way, I drop, stop and start reading. He seems to found a kindred soul in Charles R Rutledge. They have got the southern, small town feel nailed in this follow-up to BLIND SHADOWS.

It’s the miserably hot summer that comes along in the South that makes you need to change your shirt five times a day. Sheriff Carl Price is facing a lawsuit from members of the Blackbourne family after the events that almost wiped them out as depicted in BLIND SHADOWS. He is also looking for a child abducted from her home and was almost run over by the fleeing truck.

Wade Griffin has been asked to accept a missing person’s case and find a teenage girl who has left behind her Goth ways and possibly found religion. He is trying to get away from his mercenary ways and settle down with Charon, who runs the local Occult shop.

Reverend Lazarus Cotton, who is a tent revivalist minister, has moved his church to Georgia after his last church was burned in Florida and figures prominently in the search for Wade’s missing person and much of the action that takes place in the book.

In addition to the missing persons, there are drugs, pornography and supernatural forces that cause Carter DeCamp to be called in to render assistance.

Plenty of action sequences and surprises fill this volume that will get you so involved that you won’t let it go until you have finished it and start looking for the next volume in this blood soaked series that begs for another volume.

Be sure to keep your eye out for this one. It’s jam packed and exciting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nerve, Darkwater, and Deadtime Stories reviewed

Jeanne Ryan
Dial, $17.99
ISBN: 9780803738324

High school junior “Little” Vee is the one who hides behind the curtain designing costumes and applying makeup to others. Matthew challenges her to audition at a prelim Dare for a spot on the popular Nerve reality show that fans pay a fee to watch. Deciding to enter, she pours cold water on her T-shirt; her friend Tommy sends her Dare to the show.

Now she, Ian and several other chosen ones team up and back stab as they begin taking on challenges with coveted customized prizes as their rewards. The stunts increasingly turn dangerous as each participant debases themselves in the not so friendly competition.

Nerve is an unnerving thriller as Jeanne Ryan asks readers how far someone will go for fame and fortune. The storyline is frantically-paced as Vee and the other contestants seemingly answer that question with anything though psychologically what motivates each of them is not very clear. With a nod to Chuck Barris’s Gong Show and Andy Warhol’s wry comment “In the future everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame”, fans will relish this insightful look at the contestants inside the coliseum. Harriet Klausner

Catherine Fisher
Dial, $16.99
ISBN: 9780803738188

Trevelyan gambled away Darkwater Hall and lost all his money. He and his sixteen year old Sarah reside with their former servant Martha in her dilapidated cottage. Her dad remains domicile depressed even as the villagers scorn and humiliate Sarah; while her employer schoolmistress Mrs. Hubbard is even crueler. When Mrs. Hubbard canes Emmeline Rowney, Sarah intercedes; only losing her position. Observing her and seemingly impressed by her courage, Darkwater Hall owner Lord Azrael offers her a chance to regain her family home and atone for the hideous misdeeds of her ancestors. She accepts his demand of her soul, which he will collect in a century.

One-hundred years later, fifteen years old Tom and his mom live in Martha’s Cottage. His mother works as a cleaner at Darkwater Hall School. Tom wants to attend the school where his great-grandmother was once a student, but knows he has no chance. Professor Azrael offers him a deal that has Sarah trying to prevent from happening as she does not want the teen to make the same mistake she made when she sold her soul to Azrael.

This is a superb young adult Faustian thriller told in two parts: Victorian England and the late twentieth century. The storyline is fast-paced yet the key cast members are fully developed. With several stunning twist especially a great climatic spin, fans will root for brave Sarah to keep Tom safe and find a loophole in her damning contract with mysterious Azrael. Harriet Klausner

Invasion of the Appleheads: Deadtime Stories
Annette and Gina Cascone
Starscape/Tor, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765330680

The Lawrence family is divided by generation as to their feelings towards their new hometown Appleton. The parents love the time warp cozy village while the two children (Katie and Andy) are bored.

On Halloween minus one night, the adults take the kids on a haunted hayride at an apple orchard; once allegedly owned by a witch who created a potion to change the apples so that kids taking a bite would become zombies. Katie and Andy notice their peers acting weird as if they are zombies and also observe adults including their parents changing into applehead dolls. Frightened, the pair concludes witches have spiked the cider with an evil potion. They must save their parents and the townsfolk from the wicked witches of Appleton as time ticks away.

This Twisted Sisters’ Deadtime Stories provides a fast-paced scary tale that middle school readers will relish; especially the premise that adults are blind to the threat while kids must save the night. The siblings make a terrific team as they hold the storyline focused while preparing to combat evil. Horrifically vivid (to the delight of fans) the Cascone siblings entertain their audience with a taut horror thriller. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Press Release

A massive Comic-Con-like fan event for London at last?

-- NineWorlds GeekFest raises 232% of its target fundraising on KickStarter and announces first guests, including genre author and super-geek, Stephen Hunt.

LONDON/NEW YORK- For years, British fans have been flying to huge US cons like Dragon*Con , Comic-con and GenCon, and wondering why nothing like them exists in the UK. San Diego Comic-Con gets 130,000 fans. France can drum up over 20,000 fans for Utopiales, even Finland can find 15,000 fans for FinnCon. But when it comes to large fan-driven residential multi-genre cons in the UK, pickings were pretty slim.

But now a bunch of fans have got together to assemble an event that aims to out-geek all the large US and European events, GeekFest - running 9-11th August 2013 in London. NineWorlds was one of the first outfits to use KickStarter once the online fund-raising portal opened its doors to UK-based projects… the results are now in, and GeekFest was quickly successfully oversubscribed by 232% of its target amount.

NineWorlds organiser Erich Schultz said, 'The Nine Worlds team is overwhelmed by the level of support from the geek community for Geekfest, with our crowd-funding efforts pulling in 232% of our target. We're now redoubling our efforts to delivery an out-of-this-world event in August.'

GeekFest has announced some of its early guests of honour for the event, and these include British Über-geek and genre author, Stephen Hunt.

Stephen Hunt noted, 'I'm delighted to be a guest of honour at the inaugural GeekFest. Over the last few years geek culture has been sweeping across the UK, with Doctor Who consistently producing the highest viewing figures on TV, and books in the Twilight, Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter series accounting for up to 70% of total fiction sales in some months. Whether it's Batman on the big screen or Halo on the gaming screen, all your base are belong to us. It's well about time we threw an event to rival the shindigs put on by our friends in the States.'

Other early guests announced include leading writers such as Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross, and a host of names from the world of comics, games, books and broadcast media will be announced in the months before the event.


Nine Worlds is a residential con celebrating all aspects of geek culture: gaming; film; cosplay; anime; literature; and partying. It's rented two big conference hotels in London, and recruited some of the UK's top fans and fandom organisations. With their help, NineWorlds is creating talks, games, discussions, workshops and parties spanning a swathe of geek obsessions. Whether you're into board gaming, film and film-making, Doctor Who / Torchwood, science, feminism, Tolkien, SF&F academia, video games, partying like a dance floor demon, role play gaming, Discworld, My Little Pony, social gaming, SF&F literature, knitting, Harry Potter, creative writing, Star Wars, queer fandom, buying cool stuff, steampunk, the occult, open culture, Star Trek, Whedon, scepticism, costuming, comics, anime and J-culture, or fanfic, chances are you'll find something that rocks your world.

At Nine Worlds you'll be able to wander from session to session, make new friends and discover new worlds. Rock out on Rock Band, see a film, play a hotel-wide game of Assassins. Ask a famous author that question about fighting 21 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck again. Or just buy a drink at the bar and catch up on knitting while watching the costume parade, before hitting the dance floor and rounding the night off in the gaming rooms.

To get tickets for the event and discover more, visit the GeekFest at


Stephen Hunt is a best-selling writer of adventure, thriller, science fiction and fantasy novels. His 'Jackelian' series of fantasy novels are published by HarperCollins in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and by Macmillan Tor in the USA. They have appeared in translation in China, Japan, Portugal, Spain, France, Germany and Russia.

The first novel in his six-book 'Jackelian' series was 'The Court of the Air', a fantasy novel set in a Victorian-level far-future where steam power, rather than oil, drives the economy of a resource-starved Earth riven by ice ages and natural disasters. It is a world where humans, various evolved sub-species of mankind, sentient robots, aliens and genetically engineered creatures mix among the ruined glories of past, collapsed civilisations. It was voted best novel to be made into a film at the Berlinale (the world's largest film festival) by the event's organisers and producers… who pitched it as "Bladerunner meets Charles Dickens."

The subject of an auction and bidding war among the major British publishing houses, The Court of the Air's subsequent mass-market sales helped jump-start the steampunk genre, turning the field from a sleepy backwater in 2007 into a thriving global literary and social scene today. Subsequent novels set in the same world include 'The Kingdom Beyond the Waves', 'Rise of the Iron Moon', 'Secrets of the Fire Sea', 'Jack Cloudie', and 'From the Deep of the Dark'.

An online trailblazer before becoming an author, Hunt was a digital publisher and editor for the Financial Times and launched some of the world's first online magazines such as His own web site can be found at


Erich Schultz
NineWorlds Geekfest

Stephen Hunt

Friday, March 1, 2013

More from Harriet

Merge /Disciple: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion
Walter Mosley
Tor, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765330093

“Merge.” Lottery winner Raleigh Redman finds an alien in his home. He calls the ET Wood since the creature arrived on earth as a dead tree branch who, like others from their homeworld, needs to merge on earth to survive.

“Disciple.” Data entry minion Trent Tryman hates his tedious job. His life changes when he finds himself saving civilization.

The second double Crosstown to Oblivion novellas (see The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin) contains two engaging science fiction tales though both themes have been used before. Harriet Klausner

Phantom Shadows
Dianne Duvall
Zebra, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420118636

Though he agreed to join the Immortal Guardians, Bastien Newcombe trusts no one especially his new teammates. For centuries, Bastien has always been a lone wolf and prefers living that way. His new warrior cronies treat him with wary disdain so the feelings are mutual.

Human Dr. Melanie Lipton seeks a cure to prevent the lethal insanity brought on by the vampire virus. Unlike everyone else who would like him gone preferably in a body bag, the medical researcher treats Bastien with respect as if he belongs here. Hell she even listens to his intelligent but differing ideas. As their admiration turns to attraction and love, a new threat, deadlier than the deposed Vampire King has surfaced.

The third Immortal Guardians romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Dawns and Night Reigns) is a terrific action-packed thriller. Bastien brings the freshness to the mix as a lone ranger who has never felt a need to belong with anyone (the antithesis of the third step of Maslow’s Hierarchy) until Melanie. Readers will enjoy this enjoyable entry as love and a new danger keep Melanie, Bastien and fans hopping. Harriet Klausner

Little Magic Shop of Horrors: Deadtime Stories
Gina Cascone and Annette Cascone
Starscape/Tor, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765330758

The school hosts a talent contest with the prize being a twenty-one-speed mountain bike that student Peter Newman covets. Making matters worse is Mary Margaret looks like a sure shot winner. While the girl did her act during the preliminaries, Peter’s BFF Bo Olson sling shots an M&M causing a fiery debacle that Janitor Bob puts out. Janitor Bob tells the two boys that this is strike three.

Peter, accompanied by Bo, visits the Little Magic Shop of Horrors where he buys a $9.95 magic kit to include a special amulet. He changes from Peter Newman to "Peter the Great", who can perform magic that no master magician has ever done before. However, his tricks are real and as far as Peter knows from the fine print permanent. Still he enters and wins the contest with his incredible final curtain call, removing Bo's head.

The latest Twisted Sisters’ Deadtime Stories once again targets the middle school children with a fast-paced scary tale based on sometimes you get what you wished for. Peter is terrific as he holds the storyline focused while critiquing other acts, using magic, and finally wondering how to undo what he wrought. On the other Bo is obnoxious with his not so harmless pranks, which Peter condones by omission. Fans will answer the Lovin’ Spoonful question “Do You Believe In Magic?” with a yes when reading the Cascone siblings’ latest horror thriller. Harriet Klausner