Duncan Whitehead - Home For the Weekend: A Short Psychological Thriller

Saturday, April 29, 2017

16. Home For the Weekend: A Short Psychological Thriller by Duncan Whitehead (2015)
Length: 13 pages
Genre: Short Story
Started/Finished: 29 April 2017
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Duncan Whitehead as I downloaded a copy of this book for free from his website.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 25 April 2017
Why do I have it? I like short stories and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Ashley Banks has been blissfully married to her college sweetheart Tom for the past five years and they have two beautiful boys together - four-year-old Lou and eight-month-old Evan. Although she generally loves her work as an attorney, having to occasionally work such long hours can be terribly annoying. Especially when she just wants to get home to her family at a reasonable time for the weekend. 

Such is Ashley's predicament on this particular weekend. A colleague has just emailed her a copy of a contract for one of the firm's more influential clients and has requested that she read it over. Ashley is frustrated of course, but she reluctantly stays late anyway, and then sends them her thoughts and impressions of the contract. 

Ashley may be annoyed by her current situation, but she also cannot help but worry about when she will be able to go home and see her family. According to local law enforcement, there is a serial killer on the loose who has apparently abducted and murdered several women. While it seems as if their perpetrator primarily targets women who are driving at night - and presumably heading home - the police warn that people still must remain alert at all times.

However, Ashley knows that her husband and children are waiting for her. So she must find a way to quell the twinges of fear fluttering through her heart and drive home to see her family. All she wants is to be home with them for the weekend.

According to the author's note, the idea for this particular story came from Mr. Whitehead's journey along several unfamiliar roads. He was driving alone at night, when a "what if" scenario suddenly popped into his mind. The possible multiple points-of-view add some extraordinary twists to the plot.

To be perfectly honest, I really enjoyed reading this story; it only took me about ten minutes to read. It did take me several seconds to follow the switching points-of-view, but once I did I became intrigued by the story. I would give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Duncan Whitehead - An Actor's Life: A Dark Comedy

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reread. An Actor's Life: A Dark Comedy by Duncan Whitehead (2013)
Length: 24 pages 
Genre: Short Story
Originally Read: 25 June 2013
Reread Finished: 27 April 2017
Where did it come from? Originally I downloaded a copy of this book from Amazon in May of 2013. I downloaded this book again as a free book from Mr. Whitehead's website in April of 2017.

So back in May of 2013 - May 10th, to be exact - I downloaded a copy of this book from Amazon. I don't know why, but I finally got around to reading it for the first time approximately a month later, in June of 2013. Actually, it only took me one day to read this book - but only because I started reading it at approximately 11:45 P. M. on June 24th - and finished the story shortly after midnight on June 25th, 2013!

Although I deleted the first copy of the book right after I read it, I had always wanted to be able to reread the story again at some point. Immediately after I finished reading The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead on April 25th, 2017, I went to the author's website and downloaded four more of his short stories for free. My reread of this story took place over one day in April of 2017 - April 27th, 2017.

May you read well and often

Duncan Whitehead - The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

14. The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead (2012)
The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club Series Book 1
Length: 189 pages
Genre: Contemporary Mystery 
Started: 14 April 2017
Finished: 25 April 2017
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Duncan Whitehead for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 10 May 2013
Why do I have it? I like contemporary mysteries and have read and enjoyed An Actor's Life: A Short Story by this author in the past.

Something just doesn't seem right in beautiful Gordonston. It may not be anything particularly noticeable, but something is most definitely peculiar about this charming little community in Savannah. Somewhere beneath the leafy shade of its trees and behind the friendly faces of its residents, not everything is as it appears. Something dark and destructive lurks behind the genteel southern facade.

The friends and fellow members of her afternoon cocktail club gather to reminisce and mourn the passing of Thelma Miller, but not everything is as it seems. As her three remaining friends gather together to reminisce about their memories of Thelma, to walk their dogs, and to gossip about their neighbors no one realizes just how little they actually know about each other. Apparently, it would seem that everyone who is anyone in Gordonston has something to hide. And, as such an intertwined web of lies and deceits insinuates itself into the middle class neighborhood, is anyone really who they seem to be?

When Thelma's closest friends begin vying for the attentions of her widower - local alderman and mayoral candidate, Elliott Miller - petty jealousies surface and a longstanding friendship begins to fray. A kindly elderly lady with an infamous uncle hides a dark secret, and plots revenge for a perceived wrong that was perpetrated against her family over thirty years before. A formerly illustrious children's author with secrets of his own is also haunted by memories of his past. And Kelly Hudd, a vivacious, bubbly newlywed - and aspiring model - has just won herself an all-expense paid trip to the destination of a lifetime.

An extraordinary cast of characters features strongly in this story of intrigue, deception and revenge; and some very intriguing questions come to mind. Questions such as: what exactly does a recently retired accountant have to keep from his lovely new bride? And just why would Carla Zipp - a former showgirl from Las Vegas and an attractive widow of only sixty-two - suddenly feel the need for plastic surgery? However, as long-buried secrets are unearthed and the lessons learned from history - both deeply-rooted and more recent - disintegrate and disappear from the collective psyche; a murderer stalks his next victim.

An enigmatic European gentleman befriends a young businessman in South America; a distinguished Italian count wanders the streets of Paris; and a charismatic, kind-hearted nephew - an altruistically-minded charity organizer based in India - returns to Savannah for a brief visit. As a mysterious organization with tenuous links to organized crime attempts to extend its influence around the globe; a handsome fire fighter who can do no wrong and a trio of widows with deeply hidden agendas round out this complex cast. Amid the thrilling twists and turns of a story that will lead to a stunning sucker punch of an ending, the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club’s primary concern still remains the aesthetics of their neighborhood park - and locating the culprit who refuses to 'scoop' after his dog walking sessions in their treasured park.

I must say that it took me quite some time to finally read this book. It's been on my TBR pile for almost four years and I have only just gotten the chance to read it. To be perfectly honest, I don't know why I waited so long to read the book; I found that the story was very interesting and fast-paced.

I was caught up with the mystery right away and avidly wanted to see what would happen next. I'm curious to find out how the series will develop and give this book a solid A! In my opinion, this was an intriguing start to Mr. Whitehead's series, and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

A! - (90-95%)

May you read well and often

Introducing Witches Among Us by Kathryn Meyer Griffith!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

So, what with the long-awaited April release of the fourth book in The Spookie Town Mysteries Series - Witches Among Us - Kathryn Meyer Griffith, the author of The Spookie Town Mysteries - would like to mention that the first book of the series, Scraps of Paper, is now perpetually free to download from Amazon. Also, if you'd be kind enough to write a brief but honest review of any of Ms. Griffith's books on Amazon, she would be absolutely delighted. Just email her at rdgriff@htc.net, and she'll be happy to send you a complimentary copy to read. The first three books in the series are also available on Audible as well!

Scraps of Paper by Kathryn Meyer Griffith is the first book in her Spookie Town Mysteries Series, and I had the pleasure of reading Book 2 in the series - All Things Slip Away - back in March of 2014! Here is my review. I'm delighted to say that I actually have Books 1 and 3 on my TBR pile as well, and I hope to read them some time soon. You can also download the other two books in the series - Check 'em out! ;)

Meet Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Since childhood I’ve been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. But I’d already begun writing novels at 21, over forty-two years ago now, and have had twenty (ten romantic horror, two horror novels, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and three murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press; and I’ve self-published my last five novels with Amazon Kindle Direct and my dinosaur novels are my best-sellers.

I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-six years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha and Cleo, and live cat Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS *FINALIST* for my horror novel The Last Vampire - Revised Author’s Edition ~ 2014 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS *FINALIST* for my thriller novel Dinosaur Lake.

Connect and Socialize with Kathryn!

Scraps of Paper - Revised Author's Edition by Kathryn Meyer Griffith (2013)
Length: 192 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon and Audible!

Scraps of Paper - Revised Author's Edition Blurb: 

Abigail Sutton's beloved husband walks out one night, doesn't return, and two years later is found dead, a victim of a long ago crime. It's made her sympathetic to the missing and their families.

Starting her new life, Abigail moves to small town and buys a fixer-upper house left empty when old Edna Summers died. Once it was also home to Edna's younger sister, Emily, and her two children, Jenny and Christopher, who, people believe, drove away one night, thirty years ago, and just never came back. But in renovating the house Abigail finds scraps of paper hidden behind baseboards and tucked beneath the porch that hint the three could have been victims of foul play. 

Then she finds their graves hidden in the woods behind the house and with the help of eccentric townspeople and ex-homicide detective, Frank Lester, she discovers the three were murdered. Then she and Frank try to uncover who killed them and why...but in the process awaken the ire of the murderer.

All Things Slip Away - Revised Author's Edition by Kathryn Meyer Griffith (2014)
Length: 264 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon and Audible!

All Things Slip Away Blurb:

Ten years ago Frank Lester, a Chicago homicide detective, thought he had rid himself forever of the Mud People Killer who’d kidnapped and murdered six people. Frank had shot him as he’d fled through a snowy night; had killed him, he believed, though a body was never found.

But the killer wasn’t dead. He’d only been waiting to take his revenge on Frank and those he cares about now…ten years later. Frank retired early and is living back in his hometown of Spookie when the killer resurfaces to take up where he left off. Kidnapping more innocents and tormenting Frank and the people he cares about.

Unless Frank and his artist girlfriend, Abigail Sutton, can find and stop him before he kills more people and perhaps both of them.

Ghosts Beneath Us by Kathryn Meyer Griffith (2015)
Length: 343 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon and Audible!

Ghosts Beneath Us Blurb:

Someone is terrorizing the elderly in a certain neighborhood in Spookie and vandalizing their homes. As usual, Abigail Sutton, a freelance artist, and her boyfriend Frank Lester, a retired homicide detective, are called in to help find out who’s doing these awful acts. The two seem to have an uncanny knack for unraveling mysteries and getting to the bottom of such strange happenings.

Some of the old people think it’s ghosts in their basements, in their homes, doing these destructive deeds but Frank doesn’t believe in ghosts; while Abigail isn't so sure. Then the old folks begin to disappear one by one or to die suspiciously and Frank thinks there’s a sinister plan behind the crimes and is determined to uncover who or what is responsible. In the end, they, with a little help from their friend eccentric old Myrtle, must solve the mystery or more of the old ones in town might end up dead. Sequel to Scraps of Paper (Spookie Town Murder Mystery #1) and All Things Slip Away (Spookie Town Murder Mystery #2)

Witches Among Us by Kathryn Meyer Griffith (2017)
Length: 324 pages 
Purchase your copy from Amazon!

Witches Among Us Blurb:

Spookie is a quaint village often cloaked in fog and filled with mysteries. The usual eccentric characters are here for their fourth murder mystery and the case is one which really hits close to home this time for Myrtle, the town’s Perry Como singing and wagon-pulling bag lady. Her sister Evelyn, the local animal hoarder, is missing. Strange miniature figures fashioned of twigs are found hanging from one of Evelyn’s trees as warnings. 

Because of them Myrtle fears a coven of wanted-to-be witches she once knew, and escaped from, almost sixty year ago could be behind the kidnapping because she stole their ancient black grimoire - and they want it back. But Myrtle doesn’t want to let them have it because she believes the grimoire is dangerously real. The book mustn’t fall into the wrong hands and the old coven’s hands are covered in blood. So Myrtle again seeks Frank and Abigail’s help in getting her sister back, alive, and protecting the grimoire. 

What they don’t know is a fourth addition to their team of sleuths, a mysterious psychic and new addition to the town, will emerge and join the battle...but whose side will she be on? Is she merely a psychic or is she something more? And will they get Evelyn back alive or will the old witches find and possess the grimoire first? The fourth Spookie Town Murder Mystery.

May you read well and often

Introducing The Good Dictator: The Birth of an Empire by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm delighted to tell you all that the first book in Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias' dystopian science fiction series The Good Dictator - The Birth of an Empire will soon be free to download for a very short time from two online retailers - Amazon and Smashwords. Since Mr. Dias will soon be releasing The Good Dictator: The Birth of an Empire to the Spanish market at some point within the next couple of months, he has decided to offer the English version of his novel to download for free from both of these websites. As this may very well be the final time that readers can get their own copy of this book - at least for the foreseeable future - for two days only, from Friday, May 19th, to Saturday, May 20th, 2017 - The Birth of an Empire by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias will be available to download from Amazon and Smashwords for free! I would advise you to grab your own copy as soon as you can!

Meet Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias

Gonçalo JN Dias was born in Lisbon in 1977, and graduated in Environmental Engineering and Natural Resources of the Polytechnic Institute of Castelo Branco. He lives today in the Basque Country, Spain.

The Good Dictator I, was his first novel. It became the most downloaded book in Portuguese last April, on Amazon, and it has now a good English translation.

Before writing the second part of The Good Dictator, he's now writing a crime fiction

Besides writing Gonçalo is a fan of birdwatching, cork trees, movies and athletics.

Connect and Socialize with Gonçalo!

The Good Dictator: The Birth of an Empire by Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias (2016)
Length: 258 pages
Purchase your copy from Amazon or Smashwords!

The Good Dictator: The Birth of an Empire Blurb:

An unidentified object parked on the moon - and no one seems to know where it came from. Gustavo, a middle-aged computer programmer with a comfortable and grey life, decides to make a list of what he would need to survive a hypothetical attack. He becomes obsessed with the list, spends a fortune, robs a drugstore: his own family thinks he is going insane.

However, after the attack, it’s the insane who are well prepared for a new era in society. First book of a trilogy.

May you read well and often

Welwyn Wilton Katz - Come Like Shadows

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

13. Come Like Shadows by Welwyn Wilton Katz (1993)
Length: 289 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Started: 3 April 2017
Finished: 12 April 2017
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 3 February 2014
Why do I have it? I like fantasy and had read and enjoyed Witchery Hill by this author in the past.

Sixteen-year-old Kincardine O'Neil is absolutely ecstatic when she manages to get a summer job with the prestigious Stratford Theatre of Canada. Although she has a sneaking suspicion that she may not have gotten the job based on her own merits, but because her mother went to high school with Jeneva Strachan - the director of Stratford Theatre's annual Drama Festival. Whatever the truth of the matter, Kinny is determined to do the best that she possibly can in her new position.

However, when Kinny first arrives in Stratford, nothing is as it seems. In fact, things start to go wrong almost immediately. Her position as Jeneva Strachan's assistant seems a little tenuous; her 'boss' is acting very strangely: chilly and standoffish one minute; warm and attentive the next. Kinny is fairly certain that Jeneva just doesn't know what to do with the teenager; or at the very least she definitely doesn't want Kinny around.

The director's attitude towards Kinny soon becomes quite obvious, and begins to spread among the actors. The majority of the company - with one or two exceptions - appears hostile and slightly condescending. While Kinny initially tries to ignore their attitudes - putting their rudeness and pettiness down to their beliefs that she is "only a kid" - she doesn't know how to change the situation.

Instead, she throws herself into the preparations for Stratford Theatre's annual Drama Festival: a complete reimagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Kinny knows that actors are intensely superstitious; after all, superstition is an integral part of theatrical culture - she just doesn't believe that some minor wardrobe and prop malfunctions, or even the occasional bad review - will ultimately doom the play. However when one woman dies in a freak accident, Kinny is horrified. Could there possibly be any truth to the rumors; could it be that the play, Macbeth, is actually cursed?

When yet another prop malfunction leaves the production without an appropriate mirror to use, the harried prop designer asks Kinny to try and locate a new one. After instituting an exhaustive search of all the secondhand shops around Stratford, Kinny eventually discovers a plain wooden hand mirror in an out-of-the-way junk shop. According to the shopkeeper, the mirror was originally part of a shipment of antique theatre props, so should be exactly what she needs.

Although there are some slight imperfections with the mirror - most notably an unusual burn mark in its handle - Kinny feels strangely compelled to buy it. Soon, as she begins to spend more time around the mirror, Kinny begins to notice changes happening to herself and several other members of the Stratford Theatre Company. She slowly becomes convinced that the mirror has some sort of mysterious power; a mesmerizing power that seems to come from somewhere deep in the past.

The mirror begins to exert that power over select members of the company - actors have visions of an ancient stone circle and a distressed but regal looking figure. Kinny herself begins to have visions of three peculiar women - women who seem to wield an extraordinary influence over the past and the present. Determined to find out what's happening, Kinny begins to investigate the history of Scotland and tries to discover something more about the true Macbeth.

Yet the closer that Kinny comes to the historic figure of Macbeth, the more she witnesses the power of these three mysterious women. She is left wondering just who these women are, and what sort of power they have over this particular production of Macbeth. And just what do they want from her?

Actually, I had already read another book by Ms. Katz several years before this one. I had also studied Macbeth in high school and was intrigued to discover how the author would use the play in the plot. I read this book for the first time back in 1995 and thoroughly enjoyed reading it back then. While I found the plot to be just as interesting as when I read the book the first time, I would have to give it a B+!

B+! - (85-89%)

May you read well and often

Reading Wrap-up For March at Emeraldfire's Bookmark

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hello everyone out there and I hope that you all had a terrific reading month for yourselves. I am known as Emeraldfire around the Internet and this is my new personal reading blog.

Anyway, I started out March with about two hundred unread books lying around the house and ended the month with...umm...uncountable amounts of books unread. All of the books that I acquired this month came from Paperback Swap and The Wayback Machine.

Let me try to break down the influx for you:

Changes to the TBR pile

- To Teach an Ancient God by Sapphire Phelan
- The Gladiator's Girl by Amy Hearst
- Wish by a Hazel Tree by Tia Nevitt
- The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt

Read from my TBR pile (Yes! I am a reading machine :))
- The Gladiator's Goddess by Amy Hearst
- The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf by Tia Nevitt
- Narvla's Celtic New Year by Therese Gilardi

Added to my TBR pile (oh well, you win some and you lose some! :))
- Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

Taken off my TBR pile and sent to a new home (Yay! Happy Dance! :))
- To Teach an Ancient God by Sapphire Phelan
- The Gladiator's Girl by Amy Hearst
- The Gladiator's Goddess by Amy Hearst
- Wish by a Hazel Tree by Tia Nevitt
- The Sevenfold Spell by Tia Nevitt
- The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf by Tia Nevitt
- Narvla's Celtic New Year by Therese Gilardi

Well, there it is...the breakdown! All in all, a very good reading month for me, considering. Here's a further breakdown:

Books Read: 7
Pages Read: 648
Grade Range: A+! to A!

So, there you go! The reading month that was March. I hope that you all had an equally good reading month; if not a little better. :) See you all next month! :)

May you read well and often