A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix- Feature and Review


A new novel of supernatural horror (and pop culture) from the author of HorrorstorMy Best Friend's Exorcism, and Paperbacks from Hell.In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success -- but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania.

Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western - she's tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry's meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris's very soul.

This revelation prompts Kris to hit the road, reunite with the rest of her bandmates, and confront the man who ruined her life. It's a journey that will take her from the Pennsylvania rust belt to a Satanic rehab center and finally to a Las Vegas music festival that's darker than any Mordor Tolkien could imagine. A furious power ballad about never giving up, even in the face of overwhelming odds, We Sold Our Souls is an epic journey into the heart of a conspiracy-crazed, paranoid country that seems to have lost its very soul...where only a girl with a guitar can save us all.



We Sold Our SoulsWe Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix is a 2018 Quirk Books publication.
It’s the 90s and heavy metal rules the rock and roll music machine.
Dürt Würk is right on the cusp of fame when suddenly their singer, Terry Hunt, pulls out, goes solo, changes his name and becomes a mega-superstar. He leaves his former bandmates in the dust, taking everything with him, including the rights to their music.

Decades pass, and Dürt Würk’s guitarist, Kris Pulaski, is barely scraping by, working as the night manager at a Best Western motel. Her dreary, miserable days suddenly explode into a fight for her very soul when she makes a shocking discovery about Terry’s meteoric rise to fame. It is imperative she reconnect with her former bandmates and get the band back together.

Meanwhile, Terry, aka, ‘Koffin’, is headlining a massive rock show in Las Vegas with record breaking crowds expected to attend. If Kris doesn’t get there in time, many more souls may be lost.

Full disclosure- I read Grady Hendrix’s ‘Paperbacks from Hell’ and loved it. The book highlighted pulp horror novels from an era I was familiar with, and it was done with humor, and intelligence. So, when I saw this book by Hendrix, I couldn’t resist. The thing is I don’t read horror novels a lot, except around Halloween, and I was never into the type of metal featured in this story, but…

I have a son who was just at the right age to appreciate pure metal and I heard my fair share of it bleeding through his bedroom walls. The 'nu-metal' was also in the house, which is, evidently, according to this novel- frowned upon by purists. Anyway, my point is, I am familiar enough with the culture to recognize the bands and understood most of the references.

At the end of the day, the story is one that has endured for ages- the classic myth of selling one’s soul for fame and fortune, with the devil getting the last laugh. Except in this case, souls were sold without their knowledge, and they are desperate to free themselves from the contract which has sealed their fate. This is a nice twist, and I loved that Kris is a kick-butt female guitarist in an overwhelmingly male dominated environment.

Of course, this is a cautionary tale and there is a moral to the story. I love that about this book. It’s a gory, supernatural, futuristic horror story, featuring hardcore metal music, but there is still message and a lesson to be learned from it. While the legend of ‘selling one’s soul’ conjures up woo-doo, a thing about chickens, and visions of crossroads, and is often taken in the literal sense, I think it’s allegorical and yes, many a musician has fallen into the trap.

There are other points the author zooms in on, that while not entirely original, will still make you think. The one downside was the ending. I was expecting a huge, epic showdown, but it ended up being a whimper instead of a roar. Other than that, this story is an homage to heavy metal, to rock and roll, and horror novels. It’s a little tense, has some gross out gore, but also a healthy dose of humor and satire. It will also give you nightmares about UPS trucks, but overall, this is rip-roaring, spine-tingling tale of horror, but was also a whole lot of fun to read!




Award-winning author Grady Hendrix has written about the confederate flag for Playboy magazine, covered machine gun collector conventions, and scripted award shows for Chinese television. His novels include HORRORSTÖR about a haunted IKEA, MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM, which is basically "Beaches" meets "The Exorcist", and WE SOLD OUR SOULS, a heavy metal horror epic out now from Quirk Books. He's also the author of PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, a history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties, and the movie MOHAWK, a horror flick about the War of 1812, and the upcoming film, SATANIC PANIC. You can discover more ridiculous facts about him at www.gradyhendrix.com.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, & Baking Biscuits by Reese Witherspoon- Feature and Review


Academy award–winning actress, producer and entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon invites you into her world, where she infuses the southern style, parties and traditions she loves with contemporary flair and charm.Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea always said that a combination of beauty and strength made southern women 'whiskey in a teacup'. We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.

Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids — not to mention how she talks, dances and does her hair (in these pages, you will learn Reese’s fail-proof, only slightly insane hot-roller technique). Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favourite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks.

It’s easy to bring a little bit of Reese’s world into your home, no matter where you live. After all, there’s a southern side to every place in the world, right?



Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love & Baking BiscuitsWhiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love & Baking Biscuits by Reese Witherspoon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whiskey in a Tea Cup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love & Baking Biscuits by Reese Witherspoon is a 2018 Touchstone publication.

I feel like I’ve watched Reese Witherspoon grow up. She was always so funny and seemed approachable. She has proven herself to be not only an accomplished actress, but a highly successful entrepreneur and businesswoman. However, she did face an uncomfortable moment in her life, a situation that may have been the catalyst that rededicated Reese to her southern roots.

This is an adorable book, with wonderful color photos, recipes and lots of southern-isms. I’m from the south- born in the deep rural south, at that, moving around a great deal until I finally landed in Texas. So, I could relate to some of the rules and etiquette unique to the southern region.

However, Reese’s version of southern is more suited to certain social classes than the one in which I was born.

There's some old southern traditions Reese heartily embraces, that I simply couldn’t see myself reverting to, like wallpaper, for example. But, that’s probably just a matter of taste. I’m also not too big on bluegrass or country music, but again, that’s just me.

However, I did enjoy her emphasis on civility, politeness, and manners. Those things should never go out of style. The book has a very upbeat and fun tempo, although at times, on the audiobook format I thought it went a little overboard, bordering on contrived. ( I started this one on audio, but switched to e-book a quarter of the way in. Reese did an admirable enough job with the narration, but kept having to refer to the PDF add on for audio listeners, a bonus provided for the recipes included. Once I switched to e book, and saw all those amazing photos, I must recommend going with print or e-book if possible.)

The book almost has the same lay- out as a women’s magazine might, centering on family traditions, popular eateries, decorating for various holidays, hosting dinner parties and of course the requisite recipes included. There are lovely photos of Reese and her children and her beautiful home, with anecdotes about her parents and grandparents.

But, the book is also a memoir, and I think Reese’s message is that her southern upbringing is hardwired into her very being. No matter where she is living she still adheres to those values and principles. She’s matured and realizes that she can be a strong feminist voice, run her businesses and enjoy a successful career and still be a lady and enjoy doing things that makes her feel feminine, and brings her comfort and joy, as well.

She enjoys the benefits of her success, has weathered a few bumps in the road, and learned to embrace a simpler life, creating a nice homey environment for her family and friends and still seems just as approachable as ever.

This is a fun book and gives fans an intimate glimpse at Reese’s life away from Hollywood, which, by the way, is seldom mentioned. This is strictly about her personal time, her southern roots, and about fond family memories and influences that inspired her to become the person she is today.





Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon is an American actress, producer, and entrepreneur. She is the recipient of several awards, including an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, a BAFTA Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised in Tennessee, she began her career as a teenager, making her professional screen debut in The Man in the Moon (1991), for which she was nominated for a Young Artist Award. 

Witherspoon's breakthrough role was playing Elle Woods in the 2001 film Legally Blonde, for which she received her second Golden Globe nomination. In 2014, Witherspoon produced the thriller Gone Girl and received critical acclaim for portraying Cheryl Strayed in Wild, for which she earned her second Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and a fourth Golden Globe nomination. In 2017, she co-produced and starred in the HBO drama series Big Little Lies, for which she received two Primetime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and Outstanding Limited Series, winning the latter as a producer.

Witherspoon owns a production company Hello Sunshine, a clothing company Draper James, and she is actively involved in children's and women's advocacy organizations. She serves on the board of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) and was named Global Ambassador of Avon Products in 2007, serving as honorary chair of the charitable Avon Foundation. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs: My Adventures with the Alice Cooper Group- by Dennis Dunaway- Feature and Review


A hair-raising backstage memoir of the Alice Cooper band, from the bassist and co-songwriter, co-written by the journalist who first covered the band for Rolling Stone."Before the world heard of KISS, the New York Dolls, Marilyn Manson, or Ozzy Osbourne, there was Alice Cooper, the original shock-rock band." -Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

As teenagers in Phoenix, Dennis Dunaway, bassist and co-songwriter for the Alice Cooper group, and lead singer Vince Furnier (who would later change his name to Alice Cooper) formed a hard-knuckles band that played prisons, cowboy bars, and teens clubs. Their wild, impossible journey took them from Hollywood to the ferocious Detroit music scene, and along the way they discovered the utterly original performance style and look that would make them the stuff of legend.

Speaking out for the first time about his adventures in the Alice Cooper group, Dunaway reveals a band that was obsessed with topping themselves, with their increasingly outlandish shows and ever-blackening reputation. Dunaway takes readers into back rooms, behind brainstorming sessions, and into the most exclusive parties of the 1970s, revealing the talent, drama, and characters that drove two teenagers to create what would become America's highest-grossing act.

From struggling for recognition to topping the charts with a string of hits including "I'm Eighteen," "School's Out," and "No More Mr. Nice Guy," the Alice Cooper group was entertaining, outrageous, and one of a kind.
Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs! is a riveting account of the band's creation in the '60s, their strange glory in the '70s, and the legendary characters they met along the way.



Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in the Alice Cooper GroupSnakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs: My adventures in the Alice Cooper Group by Dennis Dunaway is a Thomas Dunne for St. Martin’s Griffin Group publication.

An insightful, provocative and fascinating look at the Alice Cooper Group!

Okay. A show of hands. How many of you knew that Alice Cooper was the name of a band before it became the trademark persona of Vince Furnier, the band’s lead singer?

I'd never heard of the Alice Cooper Group, truthfully. It wasn’t until Vince took the name legally and began to show up on more mainstream forms of media, that I took any notice. So, for me, Vince was Alice Cooper.

It wasn’t until decades later when I watched a documentary- not sure if it was ‘Behind the Music’ or something else- that I discovered the process in which Alice gained control over the name and his solo career skyrocketed.

This is a really an old story in many ways. In fact, if Grady Hendrix had set ‘We Sold Our Souls’ a couple of decades earlier, The Alice Cooper band would fit right into the narrative.

Dennis Dunaway is the bassist and a founding member of the group, which he helped start with Vince back when they were teenagers living in Phoenix.

The group was an anomaly for their time. They were one of the first, if not THE first rock bands to embrace the androgynous look. They were always looking for fresh ideas and trying to take whatever the current trends were a bit further, which occasionally made them a target in conservative Phoenix.

They were not the first musicians to add theatrics to their show, by any means. Look up Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, for an example. But, for all intents and purposes, the Alice Cooper Group was the first of its kind.

I think the timing was just perfect for this group to capture the imaginations of rock fans. But, their climb up to rock and roll iconoclast honors was a long, hard journey. There was no ‘American Idol' back then, so these guys had to earn their status the hard way, by paying their dues.

The band played small seedy clubs, nearly starved to death, and stayed in fleabag motels. They rubbed elbows with rock legends, before they were rock legends, and even got a leg up from the one and only Frank Zappa. They were also supported by the now notorious GTO’s who also helped with stage outfits and performance ideas.

But just as they were on the cusp of really breaking out, the group was chewed up by the rock machine and spat out, transforming Vince into the stage persona he had spent years perfecting. He, literally, and legally, became Alice Cooper.

The band?

Well, they never reached the pinnacle of fame Alice did. But, this is a book about Dennis’ adventures while he was a part of the band. And what a wild and crazy ride it was. The irony is that the band was so close knit, exhibiting a solidarity rarely seen in rock groups. So, the story, while as old as rock itself, is also a cautionary tale, a realistic look at the business of rock and roll and the inevitable toll it takes. It either envelopes you until it sucks out your very soul or kicks you to the curb leaving you thirsting for more.

Dennis is obviously still harboring a grudge, although he tries to downplay it, but who can blame him? But, despite everything, I don't think he ever stopped caring about his old friend, Vince.

When he mentioned the famous interview Alice did on the Tom Snyder show in the early eighties, I hurried over to YouTube to see if I could find a clip. The videos I found were not very good, quality wise, but the images of Alice are shocking. He literally looked like death warmed over. Although, this is Dennis’ memoirs, his personal recollections, Alice is a larger than life presence in the book. But, another bittersweet spirit hovering nearby was that of lead guitarist, Glen Buxton.

This book is full of wild and crazy rock and roll antics. Dennis, and his fellow band mates may not have gotten the fame, or money, or the amount of credit they deserved, but they made an indelible mark on rock music, and its culture, and left a rich and legendary legacy for many future stars who benefited from their pioneer experimentations and boldness.

This book seemed like a catharsis for Dennis. A way to vent out a little of his bitterness, to recall the fun times, the crazy times and accept some love and long overdue appreciation for his part in changing rock and roll, and was a tribute to his friend, Glen. Dennis is still out there doing what he does best- playing music.

This is a fun, nostalgic book. It’s not overly whiny or heavy, although Dennis does reiterate the cruel twist of fate the Alice Cooper group was dealt a time or two. However, Dennis and the other band members, occasionally work with Alice, despite all the water under the bridge. They still get together, still hang out and still write songs together, which is good to know.

Fans of nostalgia, rock music memoirs, history and pop culture will enjoy reading this one. I did enjoy hunting down information about the group and watching a few videos-(although the quality is not always too great), even though I was never a huge fan growing up. It is easy to see their influence, and in some ways, they still seem cutting edge. If nothing else they were imaginative, creative, and daring, and will go down in rock and roll infamy.





Dennis Dunaway was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 as a founding member of the band named Alice Cooper. Dennis won a Grammy for co-writing "School's Out." The original Alice Cooper group have sold millions of singles and albums and were on the cover of Forbes for having the largest grossing tour in 1973 over Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. The group are in the Guinness Book of World Records for largest indoor audience of an estimated 120,000 to 148,000 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1974. The Billion Dollar Babies album reached number 1 in America and Britain, and the group are recognized as the innovators of theatrical rock shows, which includes giant balloons, hangings, guiollotines, snakes and spidery eye makeup. The group's movies are Diary Of A Mad Housewife, Good To See You Again: Alice Cooper, and Super Duper Alice Cooper. Dennis' book, Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures In The Alice Cooper Group has been translated into German, and the audiobook, narrated by Dennis (in English), is available at Audible.com. Dennis currently records and tours with Blue Coupe featuring Joe and Albert Bouchard of Blue Öyster Cult fame and singers Tish and Snooky of Manic Panic. The original Alice Cooper group recorded three songs on Alice's Welcome 2 My Nightmare album, and re-recorded "School's Out" with Joe Perry and Johnny Depp for the Hollywood Vampires album. Recently, the Alice Cooper group reunited to co-write and record several songs on the Alice Cooper Paranormal album produced by Bob Ezrin, and the group toured the United Kingdom in November 2017.

Friday, October 26, 2018

OCTOBER'S FRIGHTENING FRIDAY- The Other Thomas Tryon- Feature


Holland and Niles Perry are identical thirteen-year-old twins. They are close, close enough, almost, to read each other’s thoughts, but they couldn’t be more different. Holland is bold and mischievous, a bad influence, while Niles is kind and eager to please, the sort of boy who makes parents proud. The Perrys live in the bucolic New England town their family settled centuries ago, and as it happens, the extended clan has gathered at its ancestral farm this summer to mourn the death of the twins’ father in a most unfortunate accident. Mrs. Perry still hasn’t recovered from the shock of her husband’s gruesome end and stays sequestered in her room, leaving her sons to roam free. As the summer goes on, though, and Holland’s pranks become increasingly sinister, Niles finds he can no longer make excuses for his brother’s actions. 

Thomas Tryon’s best-selling novel about a homegrown monster is an eerie examination of the darkness that dwells within everyone. It is a landmark of psychological horror that is a worthy descendent of the books of James Hogg, Robert Louis Stevenson, Shirley Jackson, and Patricia Highsmith.




The OtherThe Other by Thomas Tryon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Other by Thomas Tryon is a 2012 NYRB Classics publication. (Originally published in 1972)
For several years I’ve added this book to the pile of novels I plan to read for Halloween, but every year it missed the final cut. This year I was determined to read it and boy am I glad did!!

Holland and Niles are twin boys growing up during the thirties. As with most twins, they seem to have a certain telepathy between them. However, they have very different dispositions. Holland is the instigator, while Niles dutifully follows his lead. Unfortunately, they lost their father in a tragic accident which has left their mother in a state of mental shock. Under these circumstances they are pretty much left to their own devices. As a result, the boys seem to have drifted further apart, especially after Holland's disturbing tendencies escalate. Not only that, their family has been plagued by more and more tragedy.

The boys, while directly affected by these sad occurrences often cope by playing a game with their grandmother in which they pretend to be animals or even plants or flowers, literally transferring themselves onto these objects with their minds and imaginations.

But, as our narrator relates these events, we are uncertain if all is as we have presumed it to be, if we can even trust the storyteller, but worse still, we are held helplessly spellbound as we imagine what emotional punch will be served up next and by whom-

While everyone says this is a fantastic horror novel, perfect for Halloween reading, it is yet another one of those stories devoid of traditional supernatural elements. In fact, this one could just as easily fall into the psychological thriller category. However, it has some truly stunning twist that no psychological thriller written today has the capacity to challenge. Remember, this book was published in 1972- and without any prior knowledge of the contents or context of the story, I literally gasped out loud on a couple of occasions, and physically experienced goosebumps!

The story is very, very disturbing and is a reminder of how one’s imagination can stray into dangerous territory. Although the fantasy of immersing oneself into a role- the game the boys played with their grandmother, but which expanded much, much further, was contained within the era in which the book was set- but it seemed like an eerie premonition of immersive video game play, when the projection of oneself onto a fantasy character occasionally went horribly awry, where the person was no longer able to separate fantasy from reality. Or it could just be another evil child or a Jekyll and Hyde spin, or a chameleon style tale.

I’m rambling- thinking out loud. The long and short of it is- this is a really twisted tale. It’s slow, with a Gothic flavor, and will certainly play tricks with your mind. For its time, it is a thought provoking, smart thriller, and I can see why it has remained to popular all these years.

Interesting trivia- a movie was made, based on this book. It was shown frequently on television in the seventies, but while the author helped write the screenplay, he was not happy with the movie adaptation. I haven’t seen it, but I’m going to see if I can find it somehow.





Thomas Tryon (1926-1991), actor turned author, made his bestselling debut with The Other (1971), which spent nearly six months on the New York Times bestseller list and allowed him to quit acting for good; a film adaptation, with a screenplay by Tryon and directed by Robert Mulligan, appeared in 1972. Tryon wrote two more novels set in the fictional Pequot Landing of The Other--Harvest Home (1973) and Lady (1974). Crowned Heads (1976) detailed the lives of four fictional film stars and All That Glitters (1986) explored the dark side of the golden age of Hollywood. Night Magic (published posthumously in 1995) was a modern-day retelling of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Fake Date by Lynda Stacey- Feature and Review


A psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat 
Nine hours and eleven minutes … 
That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead. 
She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly. 
Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill? 
Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive … 



The Fake DateThe Fake Date by Lynda Stacey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Fake Date by Lynda Stacey is a 2018 Ruby Fiction publication.

Reporter Ella Hope decides to work undercover, trying to catch a wily woman killer. She has agreed to go out on a date with her prime suspect, but before the night is over, she is beaten within an inch of life. Eight months later, still with no clear memory of what happened that night, she is finally able to return home, where she meets her new neighbor, Will. As it happens, Will, is also a reporter, but after Ella’s ordeal, she no longer trusts reporters and has decided to focus on her photography instead. Will, however, becomes interested in Ella’s case, hoping to bring her peace and overdue justice. But, he decides to keep his occupation a secret, fearing she will no longer wish to see him.

Meanwhile, a killer is still on the loose, and Ella’s ordeal may not be over yet-

By now everyone is probably sick of hearing me complain about the overabundance of Psychological Thrillers on the market, and you know that I’ve begun to weed them out of my TBR list in droves. However, I still like to check in now and then to see if I can manage to pluck one out of the pile that doesn’t feel like I’m reading the same book over and over.

Luckily, I made a good choice with this one!!

The premise is unique and interesting. The author did a terrific job of planting seeds of doubt, making it hard to completely trust anyone. One huge standout to this story is Ella’s courageous fight to recover from her debilitating injuries and the mental toughness she exhibited as she fought for her life, the truth, and finally justice.

The pacing is even, although the major spin is awkwardly timed, it was still a big stunner. Readers will most likely figure out a key piece of the plot, but this only seems to intensify the suspense as the book shifts into high gear in a tense scramble to stop the killer before it is too late.

Overall, this one turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, not at all like the many cookie cutter PT’s on the market right now. It is a well- executed pager turner, which went a long way towards restoring my faith in the PT genre. (One slight suggestion would be to also list this one in the romantic suspense category. The romance is not explicit, but is a big part of the story, plus, it would widen the potential audience, pulling in those, like myself, who are burned out on Psychological Thrillers.)





Lynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire and went to both Bentley New Village School, and Don Valley High School.

She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she'd also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor ... and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage. 

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she'd followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her 'hero at home husband', Haydn, whom she's been happily married to for over 20 years.

Come and find me at www.lyndastacey.co.uk to hear my latest news. You could follow me on Facebook at 

 or watch out for my tweets @Lyndastacey 

Come say hello. I'd love to hear from you. Oh and if you love the book, I'd be really grateful if you'd take the time to leave me a review.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Depths of Winter by Craig Johnson- Feature and Review


The new novel in Craig Johnson's beloved New York Timesbestselling Longmire series.

Welcome to Walt Longmire's worst nightmare. In Craig Johnson's latest mystery, Depth of Winter, an international hit man and the head of one of the most vicious drug cartels in Mexico has kidnapped Walt's beloved daughter, Cady, to auction her off to his worst enemies, of which there are many. The American government is of limited help and the Mexican one even less. Walt heads into the one-hundred-and-ten degree heat of the Northern Mexican desert alone, one man against an army.



Depth of Winter (Walt Longmire, #14)Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson is a 2018 Viking publication.

By now most people are familiar with Longmire, even if you never picked up one of the books or watched a single episode of the TV series upon which it was based. The uproar over the sudden cancellation of the show catapulted it into the national spotlight and was the recipient of some fiercely loyal support across social media, which eventually managed to revive the series for a couple of more seasons when Netflix picked it up.

But, the books were already well established before the show ever aired on television, and now that the show has finally been shelved for good, the hardcore, diehard fans can relax back into the book series with a sigh of relief. Comparisons between the books and the show will fade away and we can have our beloved Walt Longmire all to ourselves again.

But, as many will see, despite all the hoopla- or maybe because of it, this series has come a long way in fourteen installments, and things have been a little... Unusual, as of late.

I was not especially thrilled when the last book ended with a big frustrating cliffhanger. So, I’ve been waiting impatiently for this new one to appear. If you read the thirteenth book, you’ll recall the circumstances that led Walt to Mexico, which should have been a big clue to readers that this latest chapter, might not be the standard fare for this series. However, this one still took me surprise and it was a little slow going at first.

Cady has been kidnapped and Walt has gone in search of her. Once he arrives in Mexico, he is aided by a quirky cast of characters, as he encounters one dangerous situation, or villain after another, on his way to meeting up with the drug lord who is holding his daughter captive.

Be aware that none of the usual cast of characters is along for the ride this time and we are a long way from Wyoming. Therefore, the atmosphere is entirely different, because the setting is different, with completely unfamiliar cast members. I, for one, really missed the cast I've come to know and love, but the new dynamic did have its moments.

Walt's one man show was interesting, but it did wear thin before all was said and done. To avoid implementing the same chaos and violence others around him in Mexico often resort to, Walt almost channeled McGyver and, while clever, could also be a little outlandish- although anyone moderately familiar with football will appreciate the Bob Lily con.

This installment is grittier and edgier than usual, but I confess, once I got the lay of the land, I was immersed in the story, invested enough to stay up past my bedtime. So, despite my initial reservations, I ended up liking this one more than I expected to.

This one is for fans and followers of the series.




Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association's Book of the Year, won France's Le Prix 813, and Another Man's Moccasins was the Western Writers of America's Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent's Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson's collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Whole Damn Cheese


Genre: Biography / Texana  Publisher: Texas Christian University Press  Facebook   Instagram   Twitter Publication Date: October 12, 2018
Number of Pages: 160 pages with B&W photos

Anecdotes about Maggie Smith abound, but Bill Wright’s The Whole Damn Cheese is the first book devoted entirely to the woman whose life in Big Bend country has become the stuff of legend. For more than twenty years, Maggie Smith served folks on both sides of the border as doctor, lawyer, midwife, herbalist, banker, self-appointed justice of the peace, and coroner. As she put it, she was “the whole damn cheese” in Hot Springs, Texas. A beloved figure serving the needs of scores of people in Big Bend country, she was also an accomplished smuggler with a touch of romance as well as larceny in her heart. Maggie’s family history is a history of the Texas frontier, and her story outlines the beginnings and early development of Big Bend National Park. Her travels between Boquillas, San Vincente, Alpine, and Hot Springs define Maggie’s career and illustrate her unique relationships with the people of the border. Vividly capturing the rough individualism and warm character of Maggie Smith, author Bill Wright demonstrates why this remarkable frontier woman has become an indelible figure in the history of Texas.


The Whole Damn Cheese: Maggie Smith, Border LegendThe Whole Damn Cheese: Maggie Smith, Border Legend by Bill Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Whole Damn Cheese by Bill Wright is a 2018 Texas Christian University Press publication.

What an interesting piece of Texas history!!

Texans are familiar with Big Bend National Park, but people travel from all over to visit it, and the storied hot springs, said to have healing powers. However, I must sheepishly admit, I never gave much thought to it’s history or to the frontier days before the park became a popular campground.

Maggie Smith has become a legendary figure and a huge piece of the park’s history. In 1943, all the way up until 1965, Maggie served this area in every way imaginable.

Maggie’s life was certainly an interesting one. She was there for Big Bend’s transition from state to national park. She was especially useful to the NPS due to her ability to speak Spanish. She operated the general store and post office, but she also had a warm relationship with those on the other side of the border. She performed weddings, took candy to the Mexican children at Christmas, cured snake bites, and delivered babies, among many other things. In other words, she was ‘the whole damn cheese’ out there.

The early parts of the book chronicles Maggie’s early life and marriages, etc. While this is important, and necessary, it was a tad bit dry, initially, But, once we got past that and began to learn about her life in Big Bend, the book flowed much easier and it became obvious why Maggie’s exploits became the stuff legends are made of.

The bulk of the book is naturally centered around Maggie’s many adventures, and kind deeds, which are still spoken of today, with much warmth and appreciation. The author, who is a Big Bend photographer, had heard stories about Maggie over time, which gave him the idea for this book.

I think Bill showed great respect for his subject and his enthusiasm shows. Maggie’s spirit is captured through these oft told tales and thanks to Bill, everyone can read about this extraordinary woman, and learn the history of the frontier days in West Texas in the days before Big Bend became the popular tourist spot it is today. I will admit I raised my eyebrows on one occasion, when a snake bite was treated in an extremely unorthodox way. But, amazingly, the victim lived- so, despite my incredulity, it worked!!

The book is very well organized and is utterly fascinating. I would have loved to have met Maggie Smith. She is an inspiration, a person who helped people from all walks of life without complaint, and certainly lived her life with gusto!

For thirty-five years Bill Wright owned and managed a wholesale and retail petroleum marketing company. In 1987 he sold his company to his employees and since then has carved out a remarkable career as an author, fine art photographer, and ethnologist. He has written or contributed to seven books, and his photographs appear in Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

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