Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bloodstained Oz by Christopher Golden and James A. Moore ~ 2006

Rainbows?  What Rainbows?

Authors: Christopher Golden, James A. Moore, Ray Garton (Introduction), Glenn Chadbourne (Illustrator)
Publisher: Earthling Publications; 1st, Limited edition (May 30, 2006)
Publication: May 30, 2006
Pages: 114
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0976633965
ISBN-13: 978-0976633969
We're Not in Oz  Anymore (Introduction) copyright © 2006 Ray Garton
Cover and interior art copyright © 2006 Glenn Chadbourne
Above picture is a special limited edition paperback printing for the 2nd Annual Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival, Halloween 2016
This edition and interior design copyright © 2016 Paul Miller
Author photographers: Close friends

"This book was provided by Paul Miller in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

4 Stars

Christopher Golden
I absolutely agree with Ray Garton, who in his introduction claims he can never watch the Wizard of Oz film in the same innocent way again.  This trip to Oz is for adults only folks,  unless, you want your children traumatized.  This is a two and a half hour wicked hell read that makes you wish for a damn rainbow.

Unbelievable logical comparisons to L. Frank Braum's story which nabbed me right along until I was hoping for that rainbow myself.  A wicked gore ride that sparkles not only in emeralds but with characters that are so vivid, the scenes are for the gasping - believe me, you'll agree with Ray ~

Bloodstained Oz opens up in 1933 in Hawley, Kansas where 9 year old Gayle Franklin wondered if her father was right in describing the drought they were going through was indeed the wrath of God.  On a scorching July afternoon she witnessed the blue skies being taken away.  A storm was brewing on the horizon and heading for them.  Bringing darkness.

Golden and Moore brought a wicked read with chapters completely filled with vivid imagery for the reader.  Instead of sucking Gayle up into the twister and landing her in Oz, the darkness brought Oz to Hawley, Kansas.  The tale has the components of L. Frank Baum's version: The twister, the Scarecrow, the Tin-man, and of course the king of the jungle - the Cowardly Lion.

And let's not forget the flying monkeys.  But these emerald-eyed winged monkeys are not your ordinary flying monkeys, they are vampires.

James A. Moore
The characters played an interesting role for me.  Gayle and her parents with porcelain dolls moving around heaving chaos.  And in the second chapter, prisoners were introduced from the local prison each playing a familiar part - one without brains, one without heart and one coward.

Elisa, her husband Stefan and their baby Jeremiah traveling in the medicine wagon were described with utmost carnage.  The scenes are not for the faint of heart folks.

The characters were very well-written and I believe that's not saying enough.  Each having their own individualized persona, the scenes for each character are palpably depicted.

Hell, this story is horrifically palpable.  Absolutely delicious.  Or, evilicious I should say for the true horror readers.

The tale is told in three individual stories which were sewn together pretty damn nice by the ending.  Loved that twist for the story.  As I said, all three parts were fused together quite nicely toward the end as they decided they needed to leave Hawley and search for a place the evil had not touched.  Nearing the end of this quick tale of horror, I loved the part in the barn, where you hear the tiny voice state, "No, he's a friend."  Because I wondered what happened to that character.

The ending ~ There were reviews reflecting some folks did not care for the ending.  For me, it kept my imagination going (actually, it kept my hope going) The Lion tells Gayle, "You'll be all right Gayle.  You only need a little courage."

Well, happy endings are for storybooks.

Folks, this is a twisted fast paced violent horror read that is intended to scare the shit out of adults - it is not for children.  Let their childhood be filled with L. Frank Baum's innocent version once a year.  Then as those children grow, (hee hee) wanna scare them?  This is the book that will shatter their memories.  Guaranteed.


As the Scarecrow said: "It'll spread here now, little girl ... the darkness ... just like Oz, the blood will spill and it's never enough ... the monsters are here ..."

I recommend this read for hard-core adult horror reader's.  For people who like only safe and familiar things here's my warning - DO NOT READ!

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Here's where you can get your fingers on Bloodstained Oz:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $2.99 ~ Hardback from $200.00 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ Hardcover (Limited) $35.00 Temporarily Out of Stock Online - 2 New & Used from $346.03 USD

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About the authors  ~

Connect with Christopher Golden

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN is the award-winning, bestselling author of such novels as The Myth Hunters, Wildwood Road, The Boys Are Back in Town, The Ferryman, Strangewood, Of Saints and Shadows, and (with Tim Lebbon) The Map of Moments.  He has also written books for teens and young adults, including Poison Ink, Soulless, and the thriller series Body of Evidence, honored by the New York Public Library and chosen as one of YALSA’s Best Books for Young Readers.  Upcoming teen novels include a new series of hardcover YA fantasy novels co-authored with Tim Lebbon and entitled The Secret Journeys of Jack London.

A lifelong fan of the “team-up,” Golden frequently collaborates with other writers on books, comics, and scripts.  In addition to his recent work with Tim Lebbon, he co-wrote the lavishly illustrated novel Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire with Mike Mignola.  With Thomas E. Sniegoski, he is the co-author of multiple novels, as well as comic book miniseries such as Talent and The Sisterhood, both currently in development as feature films.  With Amber Benson, Golden co-created the online animated series Ghosts of Albion and co-wrote the book series of the same name.

As an editor, he has worked on the short story anthologies The New Dead and British Invasion, among others, and has also written and co-written comic books, video games, screenplays, the online animated series Ghosts of Albion (with Amber Benson) and a network television pilot.

The author is also known for his many media tie-in works, including novels, comics, and video games, in the worlds of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, Angel, and X-Men, among others.

Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family. His original novels have been published in fourteen languages in countries around the world.

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 Connect with James A. Moore

 “James A. Moore is the new prince of grimdark fantasy. His work is full of dark philosophy and savage violence, desperate warriors and capricious gods. This is fantasy for people who like to wander nighttime forests and scream at the moon. Exhilarating as hell."
—Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of SNOWBLIND and ARARAT

“Gripping, horrific, and unique, James Moore continues to be a winner, whatever genre he’s writing in. Well worth your time.”
– Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of the InCryptid and Toby Daye series.

James A. Moore’s, The Last Sacrifice, the 1st book in The Tides of War series, delivers on every level. A pulse quickening dark fantasy ripe with fascinating, multifaceted heroes and villains, and a vein of the horrific that barely hides, squirming just below the surface of it all. I can’t wait to see where this goes in Book 2.
Thomas E. Sniegoski – New York Times Best Selling author of The Fallen series, and the Remy Chandler books.

"You emerge from any Moore novel feeling like you've spent some time in that world––traumatised, beaten up, bloodied from battle––and The Last Sacrifice is no exception. Brilliantly imaginative, intricately drawn, this is a novel and an experience you won't forget in a hurry." - Tim Lebbon, author of The Silence and Relics

“THE LAST SACRIFICE is brilliant, devious, dark and compelling. This is epic fantasy at its very best. Highly recommended!” –Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of KILL SWITCH and MARS ONE

JAMES A. MOORE is the author of over forty novels, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, Blood Harvest, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) Cherry Hill, Alien: Sea of Sorrows and the Seven Forges series of novels. He has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and spent three years as an officer in the Horror Writers Association, first as Secretary and later as Vice President.

Never one to stay in one genre for too long, James has recently written epic fantasy novels in the series SEVEN FORGES (Seven Forges, the Blasted Lands, City of Wonders and The Silent Army). He is working on a new series called The Tides Of War. The first book in the series The Last Sacrifice, came out this last January and the sequel, Fallen Gods, is due out in late December. Pending novels also include A Hell Within (a Griffin & Price Novel) co-written with Charles R. Rutledge and an apocalyptic Sci-Fi novel tentatively called Spores. Why be normal?

Being a confirmed Luddite, he is working up the nerve to plunge completely into the electronic publications age.

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Connect with Glenn Chadbourne

I’m told most sites such as this one contain a little bio of the artist, so here goes.  I was born up here in Damariscotta, Maine, some 49 years back on a late October day.  Nothing spectacular there.  No particular fanfare.  No sirens bleating in the streets, no cries of joy or horror from those in attendance.

We lived on a quiet street near the town proper and there weren’t any kids nearby to play with, so as a small child I drew things to amuse myself like a lot of kids do.  I lived in my own head, my own imagination through those young years.  It was like Forest Gump who takes to running because it’s just in him.  I took to drawing.  There was a mom ‘n pop store (no convenience stores in those days) about a half mile from my house and around the time I was in grammar school my father would take me down there with him on Sunday mornings.  The store carried comics/magazines and that’s where I was introduced to the great old Warren mags of the day.  Famous Monster Of Filmland, Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella etc etc.  Also the EC’s of course; Tales from the Crypt and so on.  It should go without saying that I loved these things and because of that love I began to shift direction in my drawings, which up until then had mostly contained G.I. themes.  I started to draw spooky stuff–and again, it stuck.

Time rolled along and I kept this up throughout high-school and into college.  Then, in my twenties I decided to send some stuff I’d done off to various outlets that bought and published artwork for magazines.  I didn’t have much luck, but I kept at it and sold a few things here and there.  It wasn’t until I met my great pal Rick Hautala that things began to blossom.  I met Rick at a Borders book store up here and we began talking over books, the horror bizz and so forth, and he asked to see some of my work.  I drew a design for a short story collection of his called Bedbugs which was to be published by Cemetery Dance Publications and he loved it.  From there I formed a relationship with the fine folks at CD and I went on to draw/paint things for a variety of their books/comics/magazine.

Along the way other publishers noticed my art and tossed a few gigs in my direction and as of today my work has appeared in some fifty odd books, along with a bevy of comics and magazines.  Most notable of course being the stuff I did for Stephen King’s Secretary Of Dreams, volume one, and volume two–soon to be published–along with the really nice edition of SK’s Colorado Kid, published by PS Publishing.  Lately I’ve done some artwork for Doug Clegg for his book, Isis, and that’s been morphed into a computer game.  The game is very very cool and it’s another new direction I’d like to explore.  And of course I’ve also caught up with the rest of the world with this online stuff now and I’m pretty excited about that.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Promise Kitchen by Peggy Lampman ~ 2016

Two Women - Two Worlds - One table

Author: Peggy Lampman
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (August 16, 2016)
Publication: August 16, 2016
Pages: 396
Language: English
Cover design: Laura Klynstra
Cover photography: Jonathan Pollock / Getty Images
Author photographer: Close friends

"This book was provided by Peggy Lampman in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

3 Stars

Peggy Lampman
Peggy Lampman brings to the table a heart-warming tale of two southern ladies,  Shelby Preston and Mallory Lakes, who couldn't be more different from one another.

The tale is told in two parts with alternating chapters from Shelby, Mallory, and Miss Ann.  You will see how they get together through their love of food.

Shelby, who feels constricted in her poverty stricken life in a suburban town of Coryville, Georgia, dreams of becoming a chef.  A job that will bring a better life for herself and her daughter, Miss Ann.

Mallory, a newspaper food columnist in Atlanta is trying to pick up some threads of a breakup and tries to hold on to her job.  There are major changes at work, so she gets involved in writing a daily blog on the growing farm-to-table movement.

The tale covers a year's time of insightful thought, love, friendship, and of course - food.

A very slow read for me, where at times, I had a hard time getting back to it.  I did not feel the atmosphere I was expecting.  No smell from the peach trees, nor the stink from the pigs, nor any flower in bloom.  The setting was there, yet, not in the detail where it actually made me feel I was with the characters.

Repetitiveness was one issue for me.  Example - How many times, and in different ways, is it necessary to describe the jackalope's eyes?  I get Shelby's point on how she feels about that stuffed jackalope and his eyes 'following her', from the first couple of times.  Maybe after distinguishing Shelby's view of the jackalope, mention that issue with a bit less.  The reader knows all ready how that affects her.

This tale I felt was told to me instead of making me disappear into a fictional world that I need to have in order to escape reality for a moment.  I tried to feel with the characters - their heartbreaks, their joys - it wasn't there for me.  I read the words, but, wasn't evocative enough to  'being there'.

Inside the covers, the story was chock full of issues - racism, discrimination against Mexican immigrants, life of a single mom, spouses who cheat, there's bullying and prescription drug abuse, drinking and driving, drug dealers, the organic farm-to-table movement.  Folks, that is just a handful of the issues that are covered.  Hey, that's fine if you want to throw those issues in, but, cover them with how the characters have closure on them.  A sound closure.

I felt this tale had so much going on, yet, not enough 'meat' going on.

The ending came and my reflection was of love and hope, learning to forgive others, endearing friendship, how tight families are, and dedication to your offspring.

I will enjoy these recipes that are in the back - man, some of those sound so delicious - Chicken Gumbo Ya-Ya, Blue Cheese Chicken Salad Stuffed in Endive, Fried Green Tomato BLT, Bacon and Beer-Braised Brats with Apple Kraut - to name just a few folks.  Plenty more from where these came from, so, get hungry!

I would recommend this read if you are looking for a recipe book with a story.

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Here's where you can get your fingers on The Promise Kitchen:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $3.99 ~ Paperback $9.70 USD

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About the author  ~

 Peggy Lampman is the award-winning, best-selling author of THE PROMISE KITCHEN and THE WELCOME HOME DINER, both published by Lake Union Publishing.  She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan.  After graduating, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter and photographer for Hill and Knowlton, a public relations firm.

She moved back to Ann Arbor, her college town, and opened up a specialty foods store, The Back Alley Gourmet.  After selling the store, she wrote under a weekly food byline in The Ann Arbor News and MLive.

Her free time is spent herding kids and indulging in her barbecue addiction with Big Green Egg cult cookery.

Connect with Peggy

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 The Welcome Home Diner: A Novel

Betting on the city of Detroit’s eventual comeback, cousins Addie and Samantha decide to risk it all on an affordable new house and a culinary career that starts with renovating a vintage diner in a depressed area of town.  There’s just one little snag in their vision.

Angus, a weary, beloved local, is strongly opposed to his neighborhood’s gentrification—and his concerns reflect the suspicion of the community.  Shocked by their reception, Addie and Samantha begin to have second thoughts.

As the long hours, problematic love interests, and underhanded pressures mount, the two women find themselves increasingly at odds, and soon their problems threaten everything they’ve worked for.  If they are going to realize their dreams, Addie and Samantha must focus on rebuilding their relationship.  But will the neighborhood open their hearts to welcome them home?

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

J159 by Renee Logan ~ 2017

I thought, hell, jury duty never sounded so good, but ...

When Eddie was taken by the system, he thought he was doing his civic duty, not being indoctrinated into a maddening isolation that would leave him fighting for his very breath.

Author: Renee Logan
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (April 29, 2017)
Publication: April 29 1, 2017
Pages: 248
Language: English
Author photographer: A friend who enjoys quiet recognition

"This book was provided by Renee Logan in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

4  Stars

Renee Logan
Could you imagine having to report for jury duty?  What a drag everyone says it is.  Right?
Sure there are those who feel civic duty is the stand-up thing to do so they jump on it; to each their own ~ it's jury duty.

Here in Renee Logan's novel J159 - some of you might wear a smile.  Some folks finish this jury duty wearing one of those smiles and tapping their back pocket as they get on with their lives.

Could you imagine reporting for jury duty - knowing you have no need to worry about making your mortgage payments, nor utilities, nor any monthly premiums - even personal.  Your property will be maintained and all (including Acts of God) repairs will be done promptly.

Sometimes the duty calls for months at a time right?  Your job is in the back of your mind?  No worries.  After you complete your jury duty, you will have your same job at the same level as you were, and where applicable - better.  Plus folks, you are are going to be paid for your services - cash.

Dr. Joyce Wyndham, creator of the Pure Juror System thought - The point is making sure the juror has no worries at all so his/her concentration is completely in the case at hand.  There will be no communication with the outside world.  All of your entertainment are movies and shows and the like that are reruns from years past.  No news or anything that could relate to the case at hand.
Sounds like a good idea for all around and you might be saying to yourself - there is always 'a thing'.  Here's the thing, jury duty is not less than three, not more than five years.

Did your smile go away?  Well, some smile, some frown, and some just shrug their shoulders and say hey, gotta go.  You see it happening around you in your daily life.  Folks coming out and getting back to what they were doing - hell, some even move away and start anew.  The court cases?  Exactly folks! pure justice - no if's and's or rebuttals.  The truly guilty go to prison.  And the truly innocent will do their job ....

This read folks will get you going right off the bat.  And if you are anywhere near the definition of curious, you'll be turning the pages.  Ms. Logan captures the isolation you might feel you should be going through.  Yet, what slowed the read down for me - but first a prelude - what else would you write about - was the constant talk of food.  No, I didn't get hungry, I was stuffed.  I was hoping (wishing?) for an enigmatic twist with the food.

A lab rat waiting for lights named Eddie is the protagonist of this tale.  Folks, when I started this read I was feeling as if the main character was a female - he is not female.  As the story went on ... Delighted by discovery, my face glowed with warmth, is one example that made me feel the character was from our species - feminine; there were a couple here and there that were peppered through the beginning of the tale that made me root for her.  Eddie, he's a he.  I still felt a feminine tone/air for this character as the tale went and I loved how this tale went.  Okay, maybe homosexual?

Lab rat?  Yeah, poor Eddie had to do exactly as the lights indicated.  Red - Wait. Green - You're good. From eating to getting some fresh air to having to get inside in a hurry to ... Eat. Wait. Wake. Wait.
Poor Eddie was living a life of complete isolation - even from other jurors.  No tainting of your decision on the case on hand.

Eddie, I mean Ms. Logan, was describing great inter-monologue as I read.  Major despair riddled off the pages.  Pulled me right in there with Eddie.  A lot of what was going on in his head had set my atmosphere and setting for me - the isolation is a killer.  The sub-plot was excellent, Renee.  The court cases that came and went, time itself and all the background for the tale was moving.

Talk about moving, your pace Ms. Logan was spot on coinciding with Eddie's growth into his nightmare.  It dug my rooting for Eddie a little deeper.

I was hoping for the friends of this tale were actually Eddie's foe and then a super nice twist for Eddie in the end.  The plot was excellent, though, I knew all along whom the ending was in favor for, so, that's why there was that hope for a twist. Some mystery-meat, twisty twist in the end, and more problems for Jack.  That's what I needed.  Folks, Jack is one of the most courageous men you will ever meet.  Pick this read up ~ All in all, this is a really good read folks ~

I needed more twist.  Recommend you ask?, Well yeah, of course, because listen, you really will enjoy getting isolated with Eddie.  I'll go ahead and say you're welcomed.


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Here's where you can get your fingers on J159:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $2.99 ~ Paperback $10.95 USD

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About the author  ~

Renee Logan is an Australian born writer, artist, and photographer.  She has lived in Europe and traveled the world, but proudly calls Texas, USA her home.

Renee has written and illustrated children's books and continues to do so in parallel to her love of writing thrillers, science-fiction, dystopian, mysteries, and general fiction.

With a predilection for oil painting and a vast array of photography interests, Renee's artistic works can be found among both private and commercial collections, as well as print media and advertising.

Connect with Renee

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Iron Line by L. M. Merrington ~ 2017

“There’s a ghost train that runs along here at night.
They say it carries the souls of those bound for hell.”

Author: L. M. Merrington
Publisher: PAC Books (December 4, 2017)
Publication: December 4, 2017
Pages: 177
Language: English
Cover design: Raewyn Brack
Author photographer: James Walsh

"This book was provided by L. M. Merrington in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."

5 Stars

L. M. Merrington
What a terrific weekend mystery read folks!

This story was incredible. 

The Iron Line is a Gothic murder mystery set with secrets nestled within the rural fictional town of Tungold, Australia in the late 1800's.

A newly widowed young lady by the name of Jane Adams will take you on a journey to hell and back.

Becoming the new gatekeeper from Goulburn, she was capable of handling one daily train that ran through town - and then she deemed herself capable of settling her curiosity of the train that rumbled the tracks every now and then, deep in the middle of the night.

Locals call it The Ghost Train and it be best to run home and jump in bed and cover your head 'til its gone - lest you die.  Happenings before you know.

Curiosity killed the cat, yet she had to spy the train and once she did, she didn't die. Though she spied a sight she might've not should've -

yet again, not sure what happened exactly in town there with that murder too, but teaming up with Constable Ward seemed like a for sure plan.  'Even though being a woman', Jane is vibrant and outspoken and after seeing the logic, Ward concedes that two views are better than one.  Off they set to investigate a mysterious ghost train and a murder to them making no sense.

Constable Ward reminded me of Pierce Brosnan with his suave demeanor and I felt Jane looking at him with a cautious female want through the read.  Now she's thinking hold on here, hold on, slow the hell down.  Still wearing mourning threads.  Slow.  It.  Down.  And there were the spots in the read she did halt all, then, the rekindles, then ....

Both of these characters will wrap you with life in the 1800's - detailing for you the life one would expect back then.  I appreciated the temperament Ms. Merrington, all the characters were distinct with their garb and demeanors, and their patois was accented audibly for me  - thank you. 

The Iron Line is speckled with a bit of history of the land and times along with a handful of issues facing women since time started really.  Tip of my hat for voicing the violence of where one should feel the safety of tranquility at it's fullest Ms. Merrington.  Along with other issues peppered here and there that are alive and kicking and happening today right now as you are reading my review here.

As I was reading, Jane becomes more lovable by the page.  Stands her ground as her backbone is made of impenetrable granite at times.  She can't stand bullies.  Many of us probably could relate to Jane, not only for her perseverance, but as you read, for her other ingredients that make up her character.     

As the mystery of the ghost train and the murder - and the attempted killing! - continues, you are enveloped in the Victorian Gothic genre for the weekend.  Now folks, I'm down here on Earth, just as the lot of  you - Ms. Merrington pens a sentence that pulls the next one right afterwards and then the sentence pulls the next paragraph right after turning that into the next page which in turns a smile as you close the back cover.  Take my word for it.

Now I would venture to say the question of whether or not that I would recommend this read for your weekend pleasure is naught, eh?
Yep. Thought so.

Folks, you won't see the end.  This is a great mystery with the end having a twist - oh, twisting right around the corner ... and down the hill ~ you can't possibly see it  ~  however, you will absolutely love it!

~ enjoy!

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Here's where you can get your fingers on The Iron Line:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $2.99 ~ Paperback $14.99 USD

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About the author  ~

L.M. Merrington is an Australian author, freelance writer and consultant.  Her books include two Gothic mysteries, Greythorne and The Iron Line, and a non-fiction communications handbook, Communications for Volunteers: Low-Cost Strategies for Community Groups.  She is fascinated by the Victorian era and particularly enjoys writing Gothic stories and steampunk.

Join Ms. Merrington's mailing list on her site & receive a free short story, Reset.

You'll also get access to exclusive behind-the-scenes content, first-look book excerpts and more.

Connect with Ms. Merrington

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My Review

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