A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, October 31, 2014


It doesn’t matter to Valerie Wiggins that most people believe Jason McLain killed his wife. She needs the three-time Oscar winner’s expertise in special effects if they are going to turn their local charity’s annual haunted house into a money maker. Besides, every since she first saw his picture in the tabloids, she’s been attracted to him: his piercing dark brown eyes, unruly brown hair, and unsmiling mouth. And even though he’s come to this small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains to hide, she won’t take no for an answer. Except once he says yes, he fears he’s pulled her into the darkness that continues to haunt him.

Praise for Haunted

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, January 3, 2013
By tricolSee all my reviews
This review is from: Haunted (Kindle Edition)
As always, another Maris Soule book and well worth the read. I just noticed that her “As the Crow Flies” is now available on Kindle. Definitely going to add that to my collection, too.
“Nowadays every town and city in the United States has a haunted house at Halloween time. If you want Slaterville’s to bring people from miles around, it’s going to have to be different. More spectacular, frightening, and mysterious than any other haunted house in Northern California.”
Valerie Wiggins parked her white Ford in front of a run-down, peak-roofed mountain cabin and cursed herself for standing up and giving that speech at the last WIN meeting. The squeaking door didn’t get oiled, it got volunteered. It was now her responsibility to create a “different” haunted house, and her job to make sure it was more spectacular, frightening, and mysterious than any other haunted house around.
Just what she needed, another job.
She didn’t have the time. She didn’t have the energy.
Cut the bull, she told herself as she stared at the cabin. The truth was, she did have the time. And the energy. And she didn’t mind being in charge of the project. What she didn’t want to do was talk to the man who lived in this house.
“We have just the person who can help us turn our haunted house into a success,” she’d said at the meeting that night. “Living right outside of town.”
As if every woman in the room didn’t know about Jason McLain.
So now, thanks to her big mouth, she was the one appointed to talk to Slaterville’s newest and most infamous resident. His reputation alone scared most of the other women.
His reputation scared Val.
Unless you knew, you’d never guess a man who’d won three Academy Awards for special effects lived in this house. If he was as rich as the papers had said, he sure wasn’t using his money to upgrade his property. In the six months since he’d moved to Slaterville, he’d done nothing to improve the exterior of the old Dalton place. The fence was broken in several places; beneath the snow, the small patch of lawn that had existed years before was no more than weeds; the bushes around the house were overgrown and dying; and the porch sagged. All of the wood needed a fresh coat of paint.
The only changes she could see from back when the place had stood abandoned for years were the broken windows had been replaced and heavy drapes and venetian blinds kept passersby from looking inside. There were certainly no signs of life. The snow hadn’t been shoveled from the walkway, no smoke curled from the chimney, and no lights showed behind the closed drapes and blinds. There was nothing to indicate anyone lived in the cabin except the tire tracks that led to the garage near the side door.
Or perhaps away from it.
Maybe he’s not home, Val thought as she opened her car door.
Jason heard two raps at the side door and grumbled into the near darkness of his living room. It had to be Bud, back from the store. He’d said he was going for a six-pack of beer, but he’d probably bought more and couldn’t open the door.
Again there were two raps.
Jason pushed himself up from the sofa and started toward the kitchen. Why had Bud come anyway? It wasn’t as though an invitation had been issued. The past was better forgotten, and that included friendships. Besides, in the past three years, Bud hadn’t exactly been Mr. Stand-By-Your-Side.
Jason had to admit, if only to himself, that had hurt.
He shook his head as he walked between the sink and the table, both of which were piled with dishes. Dammit all, he’d left Hollywood to find solitude, to get away from the memories. Two and a half years of being harassed by the police and media had been enough. His own doubts were enough.
If Bud expected him to be Mr. Jovial, he’d driven five hundred miles for nothing, and a few beers wouldn’t change that.

HauntedHaunted by Maris Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Haunted by Maris Soule is a 2012 publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If are in the mood for a Halloween read , but want a dash of romance instead of werewolves and zombies, this book is one you might want to try.

Valerie runs a fundraiser for domestic violence victims and the annual Haunted House event brings in much needs funds each year. However, the props are old and outdated. Valerie needs some fresh ideas to make the event more successful.
Enter Jason McLain, former Hollywood special effects wizard. Jason has moved into the small community in Nevada to hide from the public eye. Jason's wife was murdered and he became the number one suspect. Tried and convicted in the court of public opinion, Jason barely escaped prison when the jury acquitted him on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Jason is just the guy Valerie needs for a few suggestions one how to create a spectacular Haunted House on a bare minimum budget.
She is aware of his past, but decides to risk approaching him to help with the fundraiser. Jason lives up to his reputation right away, but some kind of chemistry between the two is sparked as well. Valerie begins to believe Jason is innocent, but even Jason isn't so sure. It seems like bad luck follows him everywhere and his jealousy streak seems to trigger these episodes. But, Valerie is not going to give up on Jason. She is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to Jason's wife. However, her snooping just might be her undoing.

I enjoyed this short and easy to read romantic suspense novel for the most part. The mystery is just a little predictable and some of Jason's feelings were a little ridiculous, especially for a grown man. However, I do think the reminder that innocent until proven guilty is something we all need to hear from time to time. I also like the way Valerie stood her ground, both with her ex-husband and with the community when they were still unsure of Jason's innocence. It is also important to have a person in one's life who will stick with you through good and bad times. Jason didn't have a lot of folks stand by him when the chips were down. There is also the message that domestic violence victims to have a place to go to for help and they can successfully take charge of their lives. Valerie's staunch support brought out the truth and in doing so shamed many people who believed the worst. So, while the book was transparent is many ways it was still a good story with a sweet love story and worth your time and money. I think those who like the lighter type of mystery with a slightly sensual romance without a lot of graphic violence and won't give you nightmares on Halloween, you should check this one out. 3.5 rounded 4

“Write what you love and know.”   That’s the advice given to writers.
I fell in love with the Rhodesian Ridgeback the first time I saw one at a dog show. I love their temperament, their intelligence, and their personalities. I’ve shown them, bred them, whelped them, cried when I sent a puppy off to a new owner, and been as proud as a motherwhen one won at a dog show.
I also love living in the country. I have childhood memories of catching pollywogs in the creek that ran by our two acres in Walnut Creek, California; being able to pick ripe peaches from the tree (also almonds, pears, English walnuts, apricots and more); and sitting in my “thinking” tree making up stories.
When I married my husband, we were living in Santa Barbara, but his father was ill and we decided to move to Michigan to be closer to him. It was supposed to be a short-term move (just a couple years, my husband said). I won’t tell you how many years we’ve now lived in Michigan, but we now have grown children and teenage granddaughters. I haven’t regretted the move. Michigan is a beautiful state, and for 27 years we lived in the rural community of Climax. What a perfect location for a romance writer, and what a neat place to plot a mystery with a lot of suspense. (Yes, there are some similarities between the real Climax and my imaginary Zenith in The Crows and As the Crow Flies, but the events and people in those books are definitely fictional.)
We’ve now moved close to Lake Michigan (so my husband is near his sailboat), and we spend our winters in Florida, not far from the Gulf Coast. Both locations feed my love of being near water (remember that creek I played in and Santa Barbara) and are ideal places to nurture my desire to write. Whether I’m writing a romance, a mystery, or a combination of the two, I’m probably going to include an animal or two and there’s a good chance the characters will live in the country, the mountains, or near water. I’ve often used Michigan and California as settings, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida shows up in a future book. I’m sometimes asked if the characters in my books are based on me or someone I know. My answer is: Maybe bits and pieces, but my protagonists are always braver and smarter than I am (along with younger) and the antagonists are always nastier than the people I’ve known.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sounds Like Love

Sounds Like Love Cover - 750

When Sam Blake walks into The Quarter Note, the bar that Megan McGuire and her father own, they are in desperate need of an entertainer. Sam’s statement that “I’ve been told I’m a pretty good guitar player” is an understatement. He’s not only good, he’s soon drawing in customers and changing their financial situation. He’s also enticing Megan in ways she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t want to get involved a man who will take off any day. She doesn’t want to get involved with any musician. After all, she made that mistake once, and as much as she loves her ten-year-old son, she’s older and wiser now. Or is she?
Set in the resort area of Shady Lake, Michigan, its more than the summer heat that has Megan questioning the crazy desire Sam so easily ignites.
Originally published in the mid-80s by Harlequin Temptation, Sounds Like Love has been revised and updated, yet maintains the sensuous romantic theme of the original story.


Storybook Hero


Sasha Peters wears Victorian-style dresses; designs, creates, and sells cloth dolls called “My Friends”; and tells children stories at the Putnam library. The townspeople call her “The Doll Lady,” so when recently widowed lawyer Ross Hammond moves to Putnam and takes Jenny, his four-year-old daughter to “Story Hour,” he expects to find an elderly woman not a blonde, busty, green-eyed beauty in her late twenties.
Sasha never again wants a man telling her what to do, but when a corporate toy company offers to buy the rights to her “My Friends” dolls, she realizes she needs a lawyer’s advice. Ross knows his priority has to be his scarred, traumatized daughter, but he’s more than willing to help Sasha, especially since he can’t keep her out of his thoughts…and would love to get her into his bed.


The Crows {P.J. Benson Mysteries}

The Crows Cover

A relaxing afternoon walk in the woods with her Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy turns into a harrowing experience for accountant P.J. Benson. One that ends with a man dying in her dining room.
P.J. has a stack of taxes to finish before April 15th; she doesn’t have time to deal with people being murdered, her house being broken into, a biogenetic experiment that doesn’t seem to exist, or an attractive homicide detective.
Forced to question her sanity, she fears she’s developing the same debilitating schizophrenia that claimed her mother’s mind…that or someone really is trying to kill her.


As the Crow Flies {P.J. Benson Mysteries}

As the Crow Flies - Cover

In the rural Michigan town of Zenith neighbors are at odds over the straightening of a road. But is that reason enough to kill someone? And what is in the briefcase an elderly woman hands P. J. Benson?
Two months after solving a murder that occurred in her own home P.J. and her Rhodesian Ridgeback Baraka once again discover danger is not so far away as the crow flies.
As the Crow Flies is a fast-paced mystery involving events that often make headlines. Quirky characters who appeared in the first P.J. Benson mystery The Crows return to assist and thwart P.J. as she strives to stay alive.


Shelter from the Storm

Shelter From the Storm

A robbery in Detroit sends Jana Jenkins to the Bahamas in a desperate attempt to save her stepbrother’s life and clear her name.
To get there she hijacks Trevor Fox and his plane.
Her plan, however, doesn’t include being chased by a South American, surviving a vicious hurricane…or falling in love.


Lost and Found

Lost and Found

The teenage son of a movie star and movie producer has run away from Camp Vista, where he was supposed to learn survival skills. But has he learned enough to survive in the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada? Only one of the camp counselors, Diana Miller, knows what drove the boy into the Eldorado Forest the last night of camp, but she’s afraid to tell. Three days of futile searches by local authorities and volunteers prompts a call to Caleb Foster, a man trained by his Apache grandfather to find and follow the most minute of tracks.
Diana doesn’t believe this arrogant man can do any better than the sheriff and his men, but something about Caleb excites her, and even when he tells her to go back, that she’ll only be a bother, she follows him. And bother him she does, more than any other woman ever has. Together Caleb and Diana discover danger and passion…and much, much more.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


An Intimate Murder

by Stacy Verdick Case



A Catherine O'Brien Mystery.

When Jonathan and Susan Luther are murdered in their home, St. Paul homicide detective Catherine O'Brien and her partner Louise discover this isn't the first time the Luther family has been visited by tragedy. Is it a case of bad family luck or is there something more?



Way to go, O’Brien.” Bob Shackelford leaned over my shoulder and tapped the newspaper. “Front page. I think that’s a first for you. Usually your tirades are limited to interoffice email. You’re really stepping up in the world.”

Thanks, Shackelford. Say, you oughta have that growth looked at.”

What growth.”

I pointed to his head. “Oh, never mind, it’s your face.”

Haw, haw, O’Brien. Very childish”

He was right but it was the best I could manage on limited coffee.

He lifted the paper from my desk and unfolded it in mid-air. “At least the story appears on the bottom half of the front page. Hardly anyone looks at the bottom half.”

The headline read, Saint Paul Police Defensive Over Botched Investigation. Under the headline was a photo of me in front of Pam Hind’s house. The photographer had snapped the photo while I was speaking. My lips curled back from my teeth and I was pointing into the crowd. I looked like KC when he sees the neighbor’s cat on our porch.

Shackelford tweaked the edge of the paper. “It took me a whole ten seconds to skim down far enough to see this article.”

I snatched the paper from his hands and began to read.

Officer Catherine O’Brien, a seven-year veteran of the Saint Paul Police Department, gave an impromptu press conference outside the house of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Luther who were murdered inside their Saint Paul area home Tuesday morning.

Officer O’Brien, stumbled drunkenly down the sidewalk, scolded the media, and referred to the press as “vultures” after attempts to question the officer about the path of the homicide investigation. This outburst is just the latest in what has become a pattern of denial and hostility by the Saint Paul Police Department and crime lab when questions regarding investigative procedures arise.


An Intimate MurderAn Intimate Murder by Stacy Verdick Case
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An Intimate Murder by Stacy Verdick Case is a 2014 Before the Falls publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this mystery, which is the 3rd in the Catherine O'Brien series. I have not read the previous installments but had no trouble starting with the 3rd book. So, this one can be read as a stand alone. However, once I got finished with the this one I became such a fan I will certainly look up the two other books in the series.

A couple is found murdered and their nineteen year old son was the only survivor. Louise and Catherine are on the perplexing case as are the media. A certain overzealous reporter out to make a name for herself has insinuated herself into the investigation, making the officer's life a living hell.
This is a standard police procedural, which I happen to love. The unfolding of an investigation by the police working slowly through the evidence is always a fascinating thing to watch. However, this one took the standard slow moving and often dark edged drama of this type of mystery and turned it completely around. I giggled all the way through this one at Catherine's remarks. Louise is the straight woman who is always trying to keep Catherine from saying the wrong thing and have a little tact. I also loved the scathing portrait of journalist and their cold blooded antics. Although, the young reporter in this one redeems herself moderately in the end and may have walked away with a little more respect for the police, she still has an edge that will make the reader want to thump her.
This mystery focuses on the darker side of humanity and graphic violence is not in forefront. The chemistry between Louise and Catherine on the job is wonderful. Louise knows just what to do to keep Catherine from getting herself in hot water, but still has her hands full. Catherine's long suffering and super patient husband also plays a big part in keeping the peace on the family side of things. I read this book in one sitting and then wished I had another one in the series to read. I know, I know, five stars for big literary works but hey, I really, really liked this book so I'm giving it the rating I think it deserves – 5 stars!!



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Stacy Verdick Case was born in Willmar, Minnesota. After a brief stint as a military brat, where she lived in Fort Sill Oklahoma and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, her family moved back to Minnesota.

Stacy has written all her life earning a High School Writer Award and a Daphne Du Mauier Award for excellence in Mainstream Mystery/Suspense.

Stacy currently lives in a suburb of St. Paul with her husband of twenty-years, her five-year-old daughter, and their two cats.

An Intimate Murder is the third book in the Catherine O’Brien series.

Visit Stacy on the web:

Twitter: @SVerdickCase

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


How to Un-Marry a Millionaire

by Billie Morton



RICKY HART wants to the get the hell out of small-town Arizona to escape the fate of generations of women in her family – a boring, nothing future.

Inspired by Basia Johnson, a penniless cook who married into the Johnson and Johnson fortune, Ricky sets in motion a plan to get inside a rich old man’s house. Once there, she will do the rest. She is twenty-two years old, blonde and unashamedly brazen.

And she is ready to make a deal with the Devil.

What she hasn’t counted on is seventy-year-old SANDFORD KEANE, the Arizona Copper King, a notorious sonofabitch with an agenda of his own, and a family with a long history of other ambitious wives.

One of them is SUZANNE NELSON-DRUMMOYNE-GRAFF-CARMEL, a serial marrier who has finally found love. Unfortunately it is not with her latest husband. At war with her mother-in-law, PHILIPPA, a legendary old viper and trophy wife of another era, Suzanne is thirty-seven and terrified that she is about to hit her “use-by” date.

From the richest enclaves of Connecticut and Manhattan to the wilds of the Arizona desert and New Mexico, the novel brings these women together on a raunchy, life-changing encounter that will make them question the roles they have chosen for

themselves, and the high price they have all paid to live the pampered life of a rich man’s wife.


It was great to be back home. Pearl had taken Ricky’s old bed out and put in a queen so now they were both sharing it. After talking all day they lay there and yapped all through the night, too. Pearl was feeling anxious.

You’re crazy, upping and leaving like that. You’re gonna lose your job for sure. And just when I was due for a week’s vacation. I was plannin’ on driving up to see the ranch. And maybe Big Bird while I was at it.”

Will you quit worrying and get some sleep. I ain’t gonna want some old slack-jawed yawning wreck for a bridesmaid.”

Pearl nearly died laughing, and just as Ricky was getting ready to give her a whack, her phone rang. Sandy’s number jumped out at them in the dark. She quickly switched it off and tossed it into the dirty clothes hamper.

If he wants to get me he’s gonna have to try a whole lot harder than that,” she scoffed.

The next morning, when everyone had gone off to work and school, and Eileen said she wasn’t expecting any calls, Ricky unplugged the landline as well. She headed over to Nelly’s, and they sat out on the porch working their way through a pile of magazines. Nelly tried with no success to wriggle some information about Ricky’s love life out of her. But exactly two hours later her secret was out of the bag…and overflowing from her house to Nelly’s. Fifty dozen roses – he must have bought every last one in the state – were sticking out of vases, old bottles, trash cans, bathtubs and anything else that would hold a stem. The house looked like a funeral parlor, and so did Nelly’s. Eileen even perked up and started asking questions about Ricky’s mystery admirer, but she told her momma she was just gonna have to be patient. She did show her the card that was delivered with the flowers, however.

Eileen read it out loud to Nelly. “Wild Thing. You Make My Heart Sing.”

They looked at each other bemused. Then Eileen studied the card some more and declared, “That’s an old man’s writin’.” Ricky just smiled mysteriously, and Eileen shrugged. “No fool like a old fool.”

He might be a old fool, Ricky thought as she headed for the bathroom to give herself a full beauty treatment in preparation for things to come, but he’s my old fool.

After a whole day of being incommunicado she knew that things were coming to a head when a State Trooper pulled up with a sealed letter on Stillwater Ranch stationary. Ricky thanked him and went inside to read it. All it said was, “Please Call.” As she scrunched it up and tossed it in the trash she realized that the trooper was still standing on the step waiting, and it occurred to her that what he was waiting for was a reply.

Thank you, that’ll be all,” she said, and as the neighbors watched she walked him back to his car and waved him off.

The next morning the family was all straggling in and out of the kitchen getting their own breakfasts when Ricky heard a familiar noise right over the house. Pearl recognized it too.

Big Bird!” she shouted, shooting Ricky a look as she darted into the bathroom to do something about her hair. Ricky was wearing a short frilly robe, and her hair was blown dry. Her eye makeup had taken her twenty minutes to put on, and she was teetering sexily in white satin kitten slip-ons with white fur trim. She stayed quite still, like she was having a Buddhist moment. Her life was about to change forever, and she felt a strange mix of calm and excitement start at her toes and work its way right up to the top of her head. Right then dust and old papers started blowing all down the street, and the kids ran out to see the first helicopter that had ever landed in that shitty little Wilcox street.

Sandy was wearing his best western outfit – a beautiful grey suit with dark blue piping, white embroidered shirt, plain silver bola and alligator high heel boots. His silver hair was tied back in a band, and his beard was gone. Ricky heard Eileen’s jaw drop onto the linoleum as she opened the door and ushered him inside their family home. It wasn’t much by anyone’s standards, especially his, but he hadn’t come for the d├ęcor.

Ricky sat down on the green vinyl couch and patted the seat beside her. Out the window she could see Pearl leaning on the chopper blowing smoke at John. Inside she could hear Sandy’s knee creaking as he eased himself down onto it. Nelly was hovering in the doorway, and Eileen was clutching her wrist for support. It was, Ricky thought, just like a opera. ‘Cept no one was singing.

Sandy fumbled in his jacket pocket and pulled out a little box. He handed it to her, and she slowly opened it. Sitting there on black satin was a lovely band of pink gold. Mounted on its six-pronged setting was a ruby to make your heart stop. Eileen, Nelly and Ricky all gasped together. Then Sandy, all nervous, took hold of Ricky’s hand. “It was my mother Lillie’s engagement ring. Now I’d like it to be yours.”

Ricky stared at the ring, and for a long moment she was silent. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Nelly fixing to stride clear across the room and throttle her if she kept them all waiting any longer. Finally, she looked up at Sandy and smiled. “Is that a pre-nuptial agreement in your pocket, Sandy Keane, or are you just happy to see me?”

How to Un-Marry a MillionaireHow to Un-Marry a Millionaire by Billie Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How to Un-Marry a Millionaire by Billie Morton is a 2014 Booktrope publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is certainly off the beaten path. Quirky and funny with a zany cast of characters all seemingly devoid of a moral compass when it comes to maintaining and living the high life.

Three very different women, Phillipa, Suzanne, and Ricky are all out to maintain or achieve a life of extreme wealth and leisure. Phillipa is an old woman who is quite wealthy, but in bad health. She is in extreme denial about her son's homosexuality and was relieved by his marriage to Suzanne. Suzanne is a serial trophy wife and married her current husband, nicknamed “Boy”, to maintain the lifestyle she has grown accustomed to. Ricky has schemed and plotted her entire life to get herself a wealthy, much older man for a husband. She finally succeeds, but was all the money worth it in the end?

Against all odds these three women wind up at the same place at the same time. This event will shape and change them forever as they forge an unlikely bond. There were some incredibly funny lines in this book and I actually guffawed out loud a couple of times. I can understand this type of humor, but I do warn you this book is unlike any I've ever read. If you have a taste for satire you will really enjoy this story and will see where the author was going with it. For some it might be an acquired taste. I did think the set up leading into the second part of the book was overlong since what takes place in the second part was really where it got good. It was important for us to see where each woman was coming from by giving us insight into how they came to this point in their lives, but it I got the drift early on and was beginning to wonder where all this was leading. Well, I never would have guessed the outcome, but I thought it was a marvelous conclusion. So, overall I'm going with 3.5 rounded to four stars on this one.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Billie Morton studied Social Anthropology in London( BSc, MA) with the aim of heading off to places far flung and making ethnographic films about tribal life. Along the way she took a detour to visit the natives of Hollywood where all human activity seemed to revolve around writing a screenplay. Through a mutual friend she hooked up with fledging writer Robin Maxwell and over Chinese chicken salad pitched an idea for a movie. After a 15 minute lesson on the back of a paper napkin Robin had imparted her total wisdom about screenplay writing and a plan had been hatched to co-write the work.

With beginner’s luck Robin brilliantly sold the finished product to Columbia Pictures and suddenly they were screenplay writers. Billie departed her life as a researcher at the BBC in London and moved to Los Angeles.

The story was promptly ripped off by another company when it appeared on the cover of the Hollywood Reporter, but they were soon hired to develop other ideas for studios and production companies around town. To remain sane while this precarious career careened all over the freeways, Robin began writing historical fiction novels – including the bestseller The Secret Diary of Ann Boleyn – and Billie became a documentary film maker all those years later.

Among the wide-ranging social customs she filmed was America’s affair with guns (Living with the Gun) the Porn Industry (Porn in the USA) Australian Aboriginal Soldiers patrolling the outback (Tripwire) The American Health Scene (Your Money or Your Life) and many others.

How To Un-Marry a Millionaire is her first novel. It was inspired by meeting young – and not so young – women across the globe all busily performing a colourful array of mating dances. Some were dancing as fast as they could. Others were looking to take a little time and add love to the dream. And some were grabbing the microphone at the nearest karaoke bar to belt out Tina Turner’s classic – What’s Love Got To Do With It?

These were the ones she chose to write about from her new home in the rainforest of northern Australia.

Social Media Links:

Buy Link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Crimson Son

by Russ Linton



His mother kidnapped, his superhero father absent, powerless Spencer Harrington faces a world of weaponized humans to prove himself and find the truth.

Nineteen-year-old Spencer is the son of the Crimson Mask, the world's most powerful Augment. Since witnessing his mother's abduction by a psychotic super villain two years ago, he's been confined to his father's arctic bunker. When the "Icehole" comes under attack from a rampaging robot, Spencer launches into his father's dangerous world of weaponized human beings known as Augments.

With no superpowers of his own save a multi-tool, a quick wit and a boatload of emotional trauma, Spencer seeks to uncover his mother's fate and confront his absentee superhero father. As he stumbles through a web of conspiracies and top secret facilities, he rallies a team of everyday people and cast-off Augments. But Spencer soon discovers that the Black Beetle isn't his only enemy, nor his worst.



This part always comes so fast.

I hand the phone back to Mom. “You’ll need to send later, I guess. The signal dropped. Should be in your outbox ready to go.”

As she takes the phone, the wall of the room explodes.

Here. Dream becomes nightmare. For a moment, I feel I can make it stand still, but why would I? Events unfold with the emptiness of the bunker gnawing at my insides. I can identify every stray chunk of plaster and splinter of wood in this time-robbed moment.

Fragments of home spray like a swarm of locusts. Mom screams and the world spins under her protective dive. I struggle to see through a haze of dust. Glimpses of the valley filter past a humanoid silhouette. A long, pincered arm lashes out. The arm clamps tightly around Mom’s waist and retracts, drawing us closer.

Release the boy and he will live,” the Black Beetle speaks with an unnatural vibration. “He can relay a message for your husband.”

Mom squeezes tighter but her screaming stops.

I search her face, knowing what I’ll find, all the while scrambling to find an anchor as we slide across the room. She’s bleeding from a gash on her forehead and the pincer cinches tighter. Her eyes are full of fear, but focused. She’s calculating, deliberating. A hundred times? A thousand? It always hurts.

No, Mom, please!” I throw my hands around the leg of a toppled chair which drags uselessly behind us. Countless trips through this nightmare, I know I can’t keep us here, but I reach out anyway. And always, she lets go.

I grab her arm, trying to pull her back, cursing my stunted size, my weak limbs, my feeble grip. Sweaty hands slip as the pincer continues to retract. Her trembling lips form a final smile and she watches me with a sad but determined expression.

She mouths the words, “I love you.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

In the fourth grade, Russ Linton wrote down the vague goal of becoming a “writer and an artist” when he grew up. After a journey that led him from philosopher to graphic designer to stay at home parent and even a stint as an Investigative Specialist with the FBI, he finally got around to that “writing” part which he now pursues full time.

Russ creates character-driven speculative fiction. His stories drip with blood, magic, and radioactive bugs. He writes for adults who are young at heart and youngsters who are old souls. 

Local / Personal Bio

Russ lives in Denton, Texas where he writes beside an unnervingly quiet dog with the support of his history-obsessed son and his extremely patient wife. He regularly pursues community service and is currently scoutmaster for his son’s Boy Scout troop. He is a regular at the North Branch Writers’ Critique Group and has honed his craft through creative writing courses with Stanford University’s continuing studies program as well as writing workshops at local conventions.

Russ holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which was marginally more useful in a former life not making his living from behind a desk. He enjoys the outdoors and when he isn’t leading his scouts on virtual campouts in Minecraft, he’s making them haul their gear across state parks in the North Texas area.


Crimson SonCrimson Son by Russ Linton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crimson Son by Russ Linton is a 2014 publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I will confess I do not read a lot of Science Fiction. That made reviewing this book a little bit of a challenge for me, but I didn't have a problem getting into the story at all. I was immediately engaged with Spencer and his horrible situation and relationship his father, who just happens to be the Crimson Mask and a super hero. Spenser's father carries many secrets and protecting his son appears to be his number one priority, although Spencer thinks he goes way too far by practically imprisoning Spencer. When the Crimson Mask says “Jump” you say “How high?” and this applies to Spencer most of all because he apparently has not inherited his father's super powers.
As a result, Spencer has a limited amount of social skills but longs for a normal life, to go to college, and meet girls. But, he also misses his mother and is determined to find out what happened to her despite his father's efforts to lock Spencer away.
Black Beetle is a his family's mortal enemy and the one responsible for taking Spencer's mother. So, with limited power and resources Spencer is having a hard time meeting his goal.

This was an interesting spin on the superhero story and while Spencer is a little old for a “coming of age” story, his actual age does not match his emotional age due his being so sheltered. However, the story has that element to it.
There are a few sucker punches in this one as well leading me to question a few things concerning the age range this one was categorized in. This sent me in search of some answers about what I should tell the reader concerning these issues. So, looking it up on Amazon and Goodreads I see the book is listed as YA, which covers a lot of ground age wise. Spencer uses really bad language sometimes and as I mentioned before there are some difficult and emotional areas, so if this were a movie I would rate it PG13 at least and I would also think the book might do better with a “New Adult” label. OK, lecture over on that subject.
While Spencer set out on his own without a parent to answer to he learns about himself and others, uncovers conspiracies and secrets. I think people who read graphic novels, ( my son would really like this one, I'm sure) will like this one a lot. For a person like me, I grabbed the emotional aspects of the book, relating to Spencer's feeling different, his need to show his dad he is capable despite his lack of super human abilities and his love for his mother, his need for contact with other people and the way his determination brings him full circle and ultimately frees him.
The book gives each side a perspective and so the reader can see the story unfold from many angles. This is often difficult to manage for some storytellers, but it was very well done here. For me this was a refreshing change of pace. I thought the book was well written and characters well drawn, especially Spencer and his quirky sense of humor, that perhaps kept his darker emotions at bay. I highly recommend this one to science fiction fans, comic and graphic novel lovers and even those who usually stick with mainstream will find this unusual story interesting. I'm going with 4 stars on this one.

Local / Personal Bio


Social Media

Website -

Facebook -


Twitter -


Google Plus -


Purchase Links


Amazon UK

Create Space Paperback

Barnes and Noble



Powell's Books





a Rafflecopter giveaway