Monday, January 28, 2019

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys ~ 2016

Winter, 1945.
Four teenagers.
Four secrets.

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As World War II draws to a close,
refugees try to escape the war's final dangers,
only to find themselves aboard a ship with a target on its hull

Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Publication: First Printing edition (February 2, 2016)
Pages: 400 pages
Language: English

ISBN-10: 0399160302
ISBN-13: 978-0399160301

Text copyright © 2016 by Ruta Sepetys

Map illustrations copyright © 2016 Katrina Damkoehler
Jacket images: Image Depot Pro, Doug Armand
Photo illustration: Travis Commeau
Design by Theresa Evangelista
Author photo: Magda Starowieyska / Fotorzepa

Book clubbin' with Ruta

3 Stars

Ruta Sepetys
A wonderfully sad historical story.

Told in alternating short chapters from the four main characters' point-of-view,  these teenagers and their secrets had everything riding on the line to secure their future from the present they were trying to out-run.  What would you do ... or say, knowing if you stayed where you are, diffidently your future was to bleak to imagine living through?

A story wonderful of past events screaming to be heard through Ruta's penmanship, because sadly, no one could have heard their screams.

Nor their tears.

Salt to the Sea.

When I first started out on this read, it was hard for me to appreciate the short alternating points of view.   The chapters could have been a bit longer for me, folks.  Way too short and to add, the sentences were a bit too choppy, even for a young YA read.  Worried I was headache bound, I did have a personal curiosity to quell from the title and with my partner, patience, we read on.  OK, war in mind and a ship that sunk carrying with her the greatest loss of human life ever to be floating on the open seas ~Welcome to ~ Salt to the Sea ...

This tale takes you on a fictional journey near the end of WW II.  When the Allied forces were gaining ground, the German civilians were evacuating.  Fleeing toward the Baltic Sea, where the German navy will transport them to safety.  The tale surrounds actual real things, folks.  There was/is/a Operation Hannibal (largest sea evacuation in modern history), The Amber Room (once called the eighth wonder of the world - disappeared during the war and remains a mystery of WW II), MV Wilhelm Gustloff (was sunk by the Soviet submarine S-13).  All three were as colorful as their history, though, the fictional main characters she created were not as colorful.

The four main characters are Joana Vilkas, a Lithuanian whom is haunted by her conscience.  Florian Beck, a former art restorer has a secret he is carrying and knows if the Soviets capture him, he will be killed and if the Germans capture him, they too, will kill him.  There is pregnant Emilia Stozek with her secret and there is Alfred Frick, the pipe dreamer.  Alfred, I thought at first, was a loose cannon I was going to keep my eye on.  He mentally writes these letters to Hannelore Jager; she seems to be his lover back home.  These letters he never writes down on paper nor does he send them.  Pretty much throughout the novel he is living in this fantasy world where he tells Hannelore of all the brave accomplishments in his military duty and how dangerous his job is and how he rescued a beautiful young woman.  He also hides a lot.

Sepetys did give you their background and their motivations, yet, the characters were pretty much one dimensional.  The secondary characters were very interesting and intrigued me more than the simple main characters.  I dug Heinz, the shoe poet.  This character had me smiling and enjoying his dialogue with every turn he made.  His comments concerning shoes and how the shoes tell the real story of the person wearing them.  And, his familial instincts toward Klaus, the wandering boy, was a treasure.

I did appreciate the historical events that were peppered throughout the tale.  I went away from the read content on those notes.  But, flooding chapters with 'memorable' repeated names - the pink hat, the shoe poet, the wandering boy, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., (you get my point)  My word, that was annoying.  These characters have names Ruta, please use them and just pepper your tale with those 'pet' names.  I shake my head and wonder why authors do that annoying thing.

As the tale went on, her pace was okay for my tastes, but, the settings were mediocre.  Sometimes I was with them in the cold and most of the time I was reading a story.  Until toward the end, when all hell was breaking loose while the ship was sinking.  Her descriptive writing, folks, was there;  As if Sepetys wanted to make sure you're flipping pages and has your attention.  I could picture the scenes quite well and I imagined how damn cold that water had to have been.  All those people, young and old.  Thousands upon thousands filling the stairwells and corridors trying to get to one of the 22 lifeboats.  22?  Oops.  They were missing 10 of them folks.  Now, this is winter.  January to be exact and could you imagine, some of those remaining lifeboats are not operable for one reason and the next.

The visual descriptions of the pandemonium and death were clear.  I could see those children legs up in the air while the rest of their body floated below the surface, upside down in their life vests.  People slipping off the side of the ship plunging into/onto ....
The young man who pleaded to be hoisted up into a lifeboat, yet he was over-ruled with the thought of the boat capsizing.  As he clung on the side of the boat in the freezing water, "Would you please at least warm my hands?"  Did he make it?  Folks, you will be turning pages to see if, or you're hoping to see if your favorite character of the story survives.

Though the ending did clear the air on Emilia's baby Halinka and Klaus from Emilia's heroics, the ending did not totally satisfy me.  Even though some loose ends were tied up and neatly explained, a lot of secrets came out where I felt there really wasn't much time for the resolve and the last few pages were confusing.

On a bittersweet note folks, 23 years later, there was a letter received offering comfort for some unknown answers to questions one character had floating around in their head.  I did read the letter twice and no, it was not from Mr. Pipe Dreamer.  I will say, the letter made closing the book - worth my time.

So you ask, would I recommend?

Thumbs up for those historical buffs looking for a little action during a read!

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Here's where you can get your fingers on Salt to the Sea: 
  • Amazon ~ Hardback $15.19 ~ Paperback $8.79 ~ Kindle $9.99  USD
  • Barnes & Noble ~ Hardcover $17.09 ~ Paperback $8.79 ~ NOOK $9.99  USD

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About the author  ~

Connect with Ruta

 Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction published in over fifty countries and thirty-six languages.  Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide.  Her novels, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy are both New York Times bestsellers and international bestsellers.  Her latest novel, Salt to the Sea, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the Carnegie Medal.  Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over twenty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television.

Ruta is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee.  Born in Michigan, she was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers.  Ruta attended college to study opera but instead graduated with a degree in International Finance.  Prior to publishing her first novel, she spent twenty years in the music industry helping artists and songwriters distill story through song.

Sepetys is the first American crossover novelist to address both European Parliament and Library of Congress.  She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Resident Fellowship for Salt to the Sea.

Ruta was recently bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation.  She is intensely proud to be Lithuanian, even if that means she has a name no one can pronounce.

Ruta lives in a treehouse in the hills of Tennessee.

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Based on Ruta Sepetys acclaimed novel  ~  Between Shades of Gray  2012

Ashes in the Snow


Bel Powley and Jonah Hauer-King

 "Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both." --The Washington Post

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life -- until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart.  Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives.  Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing.  Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp.  But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

A moving and haunting novel perfect for readers of The Book Thief.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Moore House by Tony Tremblay ~ 2018

Think of all the scary stories you've read about demonic possession
Remember all the horrible scenes you seen in horror movies
This will be worse

Author: Tony Tremblay
Publisher: Twisted Publishing; an imprint of Haverhill House Publishing LLC
Publication: July 23, 2018
Pages: 272
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781949140996
ISBN-13: 978-1949140996
ASIN: 1949140997
Introduction: Bracken Macleod - Ruining Tony Tremblay The Nicest Guy in Horror
Illustrator: Dyer Wilk
Author photographer: Chris White

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

5 Stars

Tony Tremblay
If any of you are looking for a read that will engulf you into a few terrifying hours - you've came upon it.  Tony Tremblay's debut novel The Moore House will deliver Hell upon your bottom door step.

All across the land in small towns, there is always one house that is purported to be haunted.  A house which folks would say it needs to be torn down before someone gets hurt. Or, it needs to be blessed by a legit priest, so the town folk could relax and feel not threatened by its presence.  The Moore House is being described as Ghost Story meets The Exorcist, and after reading it, I can totally see why.

Folks, here's the offspring ~

Right off, the prologue will grip and taunt you just as the German shepard dog did to the homeless man looking for refuge inside the Moore house.  Yes, Tony Tremblay will grip you and then he will taunt you and then you must turn the page.  Can you say, Got Hope?  Wait a sec, was that a dog?

This story is of Father MacLeod and three excommunicated nuns Nora, Agnes, and Celeste whom are looking for redemption in God's eyes for past sins they have committed.  As you read, these are not all of the characters that need redemption and forgiveness.

Their superior, Father MacLeod had been asked to investigate the Moore house by Mr. Kevin Lewis. A very wealthy influential citizen of Goffstown, New Hampshire.  He was referred to Father MacLeod through Cardinal Rosa.  Mr. Lewis explains the police have been investigating seven deaths surrounding the Moore house to no avail.  Including the disappearance of his grand-daughter, Gam.

He hands Father MacLeod a folder, actually, it is a police dossier.  Filled with gruesome pictures of men, women, and children, seven in total - all dead.   These are the unsolved killings and he is sure those are not only the ones associated with the house.  With not much to go on he believes the house is possessed.

Father MacLeod and his team of empaths head for the Moore house.  Being instructed not to enter the house, they encircle it and using their abilities deem it not haunted.  They were so dead wrong, folks.

The nuns become possessed by the house and made to relive their past sins in a regretful vivid guilt-wrenching memory.  The writing was actually possessing me, I mean, what the hell was going to happen? The writing made me turn pages.  The descriptions of what these three ladies went through and witnessed as their dealings with Bel - OH SHIT! I almost said it!

Breather! - lemme see, ahh there it it is - Glenfiddich.

Where was I?  Ah yes, their dealings.  Their only hope was Father MacLeod.  What they had found out, was their dear had his own hope he needed.  He had his own troubles with the devil you might say, but sure, when he came back he brought the cavalry too - the police, Mr. Lewis, the pawn-shop owner and his assistant.  The name from Cathrine Grant.  Maybe hope?

As my reading went on, Tony was having the nuns relive their terrible past activities that were sinful in God's eyes with such flair.  Here's that taunt again, having them anticipate what was being shown in front of them, what was to become of them, with such style in writing it was colorful as the hell that was being presented.  It would make anyone curl up a bit tighter to what-ever or where-ever you find security in as you read a tale.  I'm telling ya.

Once the house had its grip and I must say, in a very conniving way of separating the three - so it may have its way - the sentences melded together so smoothly it is the definition of a comfortable nail-biting suspense read.  And when chapters started to pass, it was all very clear and vivid for my mind's eye.  Let me mention the pace of the read, his pace is point on - talk about a page-turner if anyone would ask.  As the ending of chapters came, some of those cliff-hangers mesmerized me to keep reading.

The scenes during the read were described in the utmost tangible way.  The characters I was getting to know, some to route for and some not; I was there.  Some, I could imagine the smell, the writing was on.  One of the many great things about this read folks, is each character are intertwined with each other and as the story continues, the twine is seamlessly sewn together to a most excellent freakin' ending.  This is not only good writing, but, exceptional.  Tony sets the stage and his characters perform for you in exactly what you have been looking for in a thriller mystery read with those scary-ass religious over-tones.

Let me get back to twining and exceptional writing; Tony has an innate ability with his writing to take the reader on a very clear perception of making the reader realize how close their everyday reality is to his fiction writing.  You've gotta read his novella The Seeds of Nightmares, then you'll see what I'm talking about.  The words he chose for this tale and how he incorporated them made the atmosphere and setting of this read very tangible and very real.  Like a must-read, atmosphere, setting, great dialogue is a must-have.  Their inter-monologues rounds out that closeness feeling.  I have to have that in my reads if I want me to be in the element for a few hours.

The ending completely satisfied me and here's the reason:  It made me close the book and shake my head ever so slowly and grin.  Contently.  And then smile.

Did you picture that?

Well then,

This is a most and highly recommended read, folks.

Tony's writing was referred by award-winning John McIlveen a couple years back.  Folks, other great reads and I mean, great reads come from John's pen.  You are very welcomed, readers.  Thank me when you see me.

Here's where you can get your fingers on The Moore House:
  •  Amazon ~ Hardback $26.99 ~ Kindle $7.99 ~ Paperback $17.00 ~ USD

About the author:

Tony Tremblay
Tony Tremblay is the author of The Seeds of Nightmares, a collection of his short stories from Crossroad Press that made the Bram Stoker Awards Recommended Reading List.

The Seeds of Nightmares debuted at number two on the Amazon Hot Horror Chart and made the top twenty in the Amazon Horror sales listing. His horror and noir themed tales have been featured in anthologies, magazines, and websites on both sides of the Atlantic.

In addition to his print work, Tremblay is the host of The Taco Society Presents, a cable T. V. show on G-TV based out of Goffstown, NH ( it can be viewed on YouTube ) that features discussions on horror as well as guest interviews with horror authors.

In addition, he has worked as a reviewer of horror fiction for Cemetery Dance Magazine, Beware The Dark Magazine, and the Horror World Website. He (along with John McIlveen and Scott Goudsward) founded NoCon, a horror convention held every September in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Also, Tony Tremblay is the writer of numerous short stories that have been published in various horror anthologies, horror magazines, and webzines under his pen name, T T Zuma.

He lives in New Hampshire with his wife Paula.

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 Connect with Tony on

Facebook      Goodreads


or better yet

Deep within Tony's dense imagination:

The Seeds Of Nightmares did not bring the reader into the story,
it brought the story into reality for the reader.

My review with his interview


This link is what I had to say on one of his many short stories, one
that is part of a three part series The Terror Project

 Go ahead, pick a story, any story
you'll be glad you did

 Triplicity: The Terror Project Vol. 1 by Stacey Longo / Tony Tremblay / Rob Smales ~ 2016

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And for a beautiful cause folks, you'll find his short story Blue Stars appearing in Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a charity anthology benefiting the Jimmy Fund / Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Folks, do enjoy ~

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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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