Friday, May 27, 2022

 What Did I think of my Stay at. . .
Turnstone Manor?

The Rooms of Turnstone Manor

As I’ve mentioned before, I love it when a story has that certain something I can connect with from the outset. In this case, we have a wonderful twist on the usual ‘haunted house’ theme. A subject that I have something of a soft spot for, having spent eight years of my early childhood living in such a dwelling.

But a haunted hotel? Aha, that’s taking it up another level.


Upon his arrival at Turnstone Manor, Terry Peters is instantly intrigued by the mysterious history of the grey-stone mansion turned bed and breakfast. Visiting the town of Miller’s Cove for a friend's wedding, he is determined to make the best of a vacation that has started out as less than ideal. His stay soon turns nightmarish however, when he makes a gruesome discovery in the home's library. Even more sinister and fantastical secrets are to be revealed to him within the manor's warped walls and twisted hallways, until he is uncertain of whom he can trust among Turnstone's peculiar occupants. Will he escape the strange plague which haunts the mansion, or will he succumb to it, unable to trust even his own sanity?


So, what’s on the menu?

Something rather tasty. That’s what.

After tempting us with a little spice at the beginning, Erica Schaef then winds back a little and introduces us to the town of Miller’s Cove in a straightforward, ‘conversational’ way that allows you to settle in and get comfy. Only then does she start to develop the main course of her story. And I really enjoyed that. The characters are instantly relatable; the scenes evocative of holidays and short breaks spent in quaint hotels; the dialogue easy to follow. And the plot? Oh, there are all sorts of tasty, bite-sized things going on, but they’re developed at a measured pace that allows you to keep track of who’s who, what’s where, and most importantly, what’s coming. Yes, the mounting anticipation of skullduggery is a delightful condiment that Schaef sprinkles into the story ark in a way that makes you want to keep coming back for more.

I read and review a lot of books, and The Rooms of Turnstone Manor reminded me in some ways of certain aspects of Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun, as Schaef manages to encapsulate the same moody, evocative, almost claustrophobic atmosphere here, that makes her story such a success.

Well worth a read. And please, bring on another course!

Friday, May 20, 2022

 There's No Second-Guessing What I think of. . .


This is another of those reviews, long in the waiting.

As I mentioned last week, I first met Lynn Tincher’s – Detective Paige Aldridge – back in February in The Devil’s Mark, a crossover horror/thriller incorporating Tony Acree’s Hand of God, Victor McCain. Having thoroughly enjoyed that outing, I was determined to find out more about those characters, starting last week with McCain, and this week, with Aldridge herself in her opening adventure: Afterthoughts.

So, what can we expect?


Detective Paige Aldridge’s family is prey for a serial killer. Desperate to help her sister, she is determined to find out who is behind it all. After being the victim of a kidnapping, she is traumatized by memories she does not know she has. She sees visions of the murders and believes she is followed by someone she’s only seen in the shadows. Trying to run from her dreams, she is sent spiraling down a path of self-doubt, fear, and betrayal. Paige finds an unlikely friend that tries to help her by telling her unbelievable things. Teamed up with her partner, Jay, she tries to put all of the pieces together. Are all of these things connected? Will Jay believe in her and most importantly will Paige believe in herself? Can she get her thoughts together before it’s too late?


Nice premise eh? Well, it gets even better . . . because what initially appears to be a straightforward set of tragic deaths, quickly become much more complicated. Complicated, in an eerie 'I'm out to get you' stalker kinda way. As the blurb highlights, Paige starts seeing visions of the deaths, and at the same time, notices someone watching her? Suspicions roused, she begins to dig deeper. But every time Paige does so, she either loses interest or starts feeling unwell.


She soon finds out, as these ‘coincidences’ become much more focused, making her feel as if she’s the target of a personal vendetta. But how could that be? As far as she’s aware, nobody holds a grudge against her. And why would they? She’s honest. Fair. Doesn’t cut corner s or take liberties.

Nevertheless, someone’s got it in for her.

And without spoiling the story arc, what we get is a neat, compact, murder-mystery-supernatural whodunit that transitions through a series of revelations very nicely. I particularly liked the way Paige Aldridge’s vulnerabilities were not only highlighted, but played upon, as it paints a much more believable picture of how events would unfold if this happened to someone for real.

A most satisfying introduction to what I’m sure will be a great ‘new’ series.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

 Stand Together

Some of my followers may not be aware of the fact that, along with writing novels and short stories, I also dabble in poetry from time to time. (Take a look at the lower portion of the right-hand sidebar under Other Works, and you'll get an idea of the publications I've managed to get some of my prose listed in.

However, I recently managed to have two of my poems accepted in a work that was put together with the idea of donating all the proceeds to those living in the Ukrane who have been intimately affected by the war there. (A worthy cause, as I'm sure you'll agree).

And THIS is a little interview compiled by The Library of Erana regarding that contribution.

Why not click on the link and find out more?

Friday, May 13, 2022

 See My Review of. . .

The Hand of God

The Hand of God

Those of you who follow my blog will have been expecting this review. . .

I can’t believe it was back in February when I read and reviewed “The Devil’s Mark” a crossover collaboration between authors Tony Acree and Lynn Tincher. As you’ll remember, I really enjoyed that book, and especially the way the main protagonists – Victor McCain and Paige Aldridge – worked together in foiling plots most foul. I also mentioned that I would endeavor to get to know said protagonists better, even if it meant ‘going back in time’ as it were, to the beginning of their respective journeys to find out how everything began.

And here we are, in Tony Acree’s The Hand of God, the opening adventure introducing us to Victor McCain (You’ll have to wait until next week to re-acquaint with Detective Paige Aldridge).

Here’s the blurb:

Bounty hunter Victor McCain always wondered how his brother, Mikey, went from down-n-out loser to one of Louisville’s richest men. Now he knew: his brother sold his soul to the Devil. And in twenty-four hours, Mikey would die and spend eternity in Hell unless Victor agreed to hunt down a thief, a woman as deadly as she is beautiful. On a journey of murder and betrayal, Victor must now put his own soul at risk to save his only brother, battle a dark underground organization with the goal of nothing less than global war between Christians and Muslims, and fight creatures from man’s darkest nightmares. Then there’s the Hand of God, God’s own bounty hunter. In the end, will he be friend or enemy? Only Heaven knows.


So, what do you get?

A roister-doister thrill ride. That’s what. And it opens, oh so calmly.

Imagine . . . Victor McCain is sitting in his office, going about business as usual, when a new client walks in with a job offer he can’t refuse. That new client just so happens to be the Devil, you see. And the job? Oh, that involves saving his brother’s – Mikey McCain’s – life, and hopefully, his soul as well. But at the expense of someone else.

Not the kinda offer you turn down, even if it is at someone else’s expense. Or is it?

Victor’s not a guy you want to cross. He’s worn around the edges, true. But before he became a bounty hunter he was something of a hunter-killer, employed on special missions abroad to track down and eliminate bad guys. He’s sharp too. He notices the little details that matter. And no sooner does he start to look into this new assignment than alarm bells start ringing. Alarms bells that shoot back and warn of double, triple, and even quadruple-crosses galore.

And THAT makes him determined to find out what’s really going on.

What follows is an ever evolving/devolving runaway action-thriller that leads Victor ever deeper into a diabolical under underworld hiding in plain sight among society. And it all takes place in twenty-four hours!

As you can imagine, the pace is frantic and events do become chaotic. However, Acree keeps a tight rein on his plot delivery, so that while developments do tend to run away from Victor McCain, you can keep track of the chaos he faces. Overall, everything is well thought out, and delivered in a slick and polished style that keeps you engaged throughout. Even better, the dialogue is sharp – I especially liked McCain’s inner turmoil/thoughts as the truth finally dawns on him – and though this is clearly an action thriller, it manages to get you thinking about deeper, philosophical issues over the supposed eternal battle between good and evil.

I liked it. And look forward to seeing how McCain becomes the man we see in the Devil’s Mark.

Amazon Review

Friday, May 6, 2022

 This is One Secret Victoria Will Never Know!

See my review of. . .

Deadly Secrets

I DO like it when I can make an instant connection to a storyline. And as soon as I saw the blurb to S.C. Fisher’s Deadly Secrets: Base Fear, it took me back to my childhood. One where I lived in a genuine, real life, haunted house . . . and years later, after joining the military, the happy times I spent yomping all over the Brecon Beacons in atrocious weather.

See if you can pick up a similar vibe:


There is something wrong with the house. Something far beyond creaking floorboards and woodworm.

Ordinarily, Paige Daniels embraces the challenges that come with having a parent serving in the military. However, when her family are posted to the sleepy Welsh island of Ynys Mon, Paige discovers that their new quarter comes with a grislier history than most.

Plagued by an unknown entity with a malicious streak, Paige must join the pieces of a decades old puzzle if she hopes to save the ones she loves...machines?


There’s an old adage that shows its true value here: Write what you know.

And it’s obvious that S.C. Fisher ‘knows’ Wales and the military way of life very well. You can see that in the terms and expressions she uses throughout the narrative. And that’s a good thing, as it adds a simple realism to her story that helps you connect to what’s going on. You’re there with the Daniels family as they endure the drudgery of yet another move; the tedium of having to unpack and settle in, again; of having to find their feet in a familiar (military) and yet, unknown new community with its own way of doing things. And we can all relate to what’s it’s like, getting a ‘feel’ for your new house. . .

But when that house possesses a well known – only whispered about – secret that can literally come back to haunt you? Ah, THAT’s another thing entirely, as the Daniel’s family start to find out on their very first night there.

The question(s) is/are: If people know what went on there, why don’t they speak openly about it? And why do the military allow new families to move in when it’s obvious conditions there aren’t right? Because, when events escalate from things that go bump in the night to actual physical harm? Well, something’s gotta give!

Deadly Secrets; Base Fear. A refreshing example of how to write a paranormal thriller.

Goodreads Review