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Thursday, October 31, 2019

HAPPY HALLOWEEN-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is the original 1818 'Uncensored' Edition of Frankenstein as first published anonymously in 1818. This original version is much more true to the spirit of the author's original intentions than the heavily revised 1831 edition, edited by Shelley, in part, because of pressure to make the story more conservative. Many scholars prefer the 1818 text to the more common 1831 edition.


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:


FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is an 1818 publication. (This book is a 2013 e-artnow publication)

I thought that I had read this book at some point during my early teens- maybe in junior high? Even so, I couldn’t remember anything about the book and knew that if I ever re-read it, it would be like reading it for the first time. Every year I consider reading Frankenstein for Halloween, but it never seemed to make the cut- until now.

Once I finally settled into reading the book it became immediately apparent that the book was completely unfamiliar to me. I’m still not sure If I ever truly read this book all the way through, and I’m waffling on how clear my memory is on that- but- I did finally take notice of the blurb/synopsis for this edition of Frankenstein, which clearly states that this book is the original 'uncensored' 1818 version, the one submitted by an ‘anonymous’ author as Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus. According to the blurb, Shelley heavily edited the book in 1831, under pressure to make it more conservative.

So, even if you have read this book once before, this original version may be worth your time. If you have only seen the countless films based on the book, you really should read the book for a greater understanding of Shelley’s true intent when writing the book.

The novel is controversial for its time, and I think it still gives one a lot to ponder over. It is a Horror novel, but maybe not in the way you have been conditioned to think of it. The story is also told by the narrators, (Walton, Frankenstein and the Monster), with the benefit of hindsight, giving them the ability to see their errors and the consequences they wrought.

Several weighty themes are addressed in the story and people have theorized and analyzed the symbolism and pontificated on these subjects, searching for all manner of possible allegory, for ages.

In this case, the subtitle Shelley gives the book, suggests a parallel with the Greek mythological figure- Prometheus the Titan- who created humanity with clay. The quote by The monster to his creator- “Remember, that I am thy monster; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed" seems to be a reference to the creation depicted in Genesis.

The scientific ramifications suggest a cautionary tone-perhaps bordering on alarmist territory, in my opinion, but certainly raises questions- ones that are still being considered today.
John Milton’s- Paradise Lost’ is also thought to have influenced Shelley as the theme of alienation and isolation are prominent throughout the book.

For me, the motives behind Frankenstein’s experimentation, which, despite some arguments suggesting his grief played a role in his decision, were in my opinion, wholly egotistical and arrogant, spurred on by his raw and naked ambition. He attempts to sway the reader, at once claiming he is the devil, while at the same time, rationalizing his actions. His work backfires spectacularly, when his creation turns out to be so ‘hideous’, he is unable to acclimate himself within a normal society. He is abandoned by his creator, which leads to intense bitterness and anger, leading to his demand for a mate.

The conclusion felt a little bit abrupt, maybe a bit vague. Unlike Frankenstein, Walton’s choice is one that considers the overall effect of his ambitions- but, does the monster follow through on his promise?

Looking at the various points lined out here it hard to find too many similarities between the book and the various movie adaptations. The revised version of the book is the most commonly read, but still I hardly recognize the story compared to Hollywood’s interpretation of it.

As for the writing- compared to what we are accustomed to today, the prose may take some getting used to, but I had no trouble with it. As to whether the book stands the test of time is perhaps debatable. I couldn’t help but notice many recent three- star ratings for the book compared with tons of five- star ratings from years past.

I think this book has more merit than it is given credit for, and still raises many valid questions. Today’s world is full of Victor Frankenstein prototypes- ambitious to the point of obsession, and the consequences of personal achievement be damned- and they never seem to fully learn from their mistakes either.

For a book synonymous with the horror genre for centuries, I’d say it does stand the test of time. It is much more thought provoking than I had anticipated, and even if I had read this book from start to finish in my youth, I no doubt missed out on the various messages implied throughout. All of that would have sailed right over my head as I’m sure my only goal was to read a scary story.
I’m glad Frankenstein finally made it to the top of my Halloween reading list. Someday I may read the edited edition, and compare notes, but I doubt I’ll ever be tempted to watch a movie version again, with the possible exception, of Young Frankenstein. 😁😁



GRAB A COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Frankenstein-original-1818-Mary-Shelley/dp/1500990698/


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/frankenstein-mary-shelley/1124304591

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mary Shelley (nΓ©e Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, often known as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley) was a British novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, travel writer, and editor of the works of her husband, Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was the daughter of the political philosopher William Godwin and the writer, philosopher, and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Shelley was taken seriously as a writer in her own lifetime, though reviewers often missed the political edge to her novels. After her death, however, she was chiefly remembered only as the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley and as the author of Frankenstein. It was not until 1989, when Emily Sunstein published her prizewinning biography Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality, that a full-length scholarly biography analyzing all of Shelley's letters, journals, and works within their historical context was published.

The well-meaning attempts of Mary Shelley's son and daughter-in-law to "Victorianise" her memory through the censoring of letters and biographical material contributed to a perception of Mary Shelley as a more conventional, less reformist figure than her works suggest. Her own timid omissions from Percy Shelley's works and her quiet avoidance of public controversy in the later years of her life added to this impression.

The eclipse of Mary Shelley's reputation as a novelist and biographer meant that, until the last thirty years, most of her works remained out of print, obstructing a larger view of her achievement. She was seen as a one-novel author, if that. In recent decades, however, the republication of almost all her writings has stimulated a new recognition of its value. Her voracious reading habits and intensive study, revealed in her journals and letters and reflected in her works, is now better appreciated. Shelley's recognition of herself as an author has also been recognized; after Percy's death, she wrote about her authorial ambitions: "I think that I can maintain myself, and there is something inspiriting in the idea". Scholars now consider Mary Shelley to be a major Romantic figure, significant for her literary achievement and her political voice as a woman and a liberal.









View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerristen- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

A woman trying to outrun her past is drawn to a quiet coastal town in Maine–and to a string of unsolved murders–in this haunting tale of romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

Ava Collette is punishing herself for an unspeakable tragedy. So she flees Boston and rents an old home named Brodie’s Watch on a remote coastal peninsula of Maine, hoping to work on a cookbook inspired by New England cuisine that she’s been trying to finish for months. She immediately feels at peace in the isolated house–until she starts to hear strange noises.

Rumor has it that a sea captain named Brodie has haunted the house for decades. Then, one night, Ava is awakened to find herself face to face with an apparition who looks–and feels–all too real. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of accidental deaths nearby that don’t add up. And as Ava starts to check into the previous renter’s mysterious disappearance, she starts to realize that there’s a disturbing secret some in town are desperate to keep hidden.

Soon all of Ava’s waking hours are consumed by her investigation, and her nights are ignited by Captain Brodie’s ghostly visits


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:



MY REVIEW: 

The Shape of NightThe Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen is a 2019 Ballantine Publication.

A creepy paranormal mystery with a Gothic undertone? Count me in!

An isolated old mansion, a fragile house guest, an unsolved mystery, a few erotic encounters and an unusual ghost/entity in residence, and you have all the makings of a spellbinding paranormal thriller!!

Ava Collette, a food writer, has rented ‘Brodie’s Watch’, an old mansion located on a small peninsula of Maine. Having fled Boston after a tragedy that has left her haunted and riddled with guilt, Ava hopes the peace and quiet help her regain her focus, as she begins work on a new cookbook. As she begins cooking up her new recipes, she soon realizes she isn’t alone in the house. Apparently, the house is haunted by Captain Brodie, the original owner of the house, and her encounters with him become very… intimate.

Meanwhile, a couple of accidental deaths, coupled with the disappearance of the home’s previous tenant, have Ava spending more time investigating the troubling rumors surrounding her new abode. Before long, it becomes obvious that the surrounding community is harboring a few very dark secrets and the ghosts of Brodie’s Watch may be the least of her concerns…

I’ve never read the popular and well-respected Rizzoli and Isles series, but I know enough about it to realize this stand-alone book is not cut from the same cloth. No offense to anyone, but if you aren’t a fan of Paranormal books, or expect Rizzoli and Isles, only with different names and places, then you’ll want to approach this one with more of an open mind. Just as you might not wish to read one author, one series, or one genre, I’m sure authors like a change of pace, from time to time, as well.

As for me- I love Gothic tones, ghosts, and cold-case mysteries- so this book was right up my alley. The story is very atmospheric, with a strong, sinister sense of foreboding. The emotions are also palpable, as Ava’s immense sadness and overwhelming guilt threatens to overcome her. But, all the paranormal instances center around a death that took place at Brodie’s Watch, years back, which was ruled an accident. This mystery is very compelling, and I fear it might be a little overshadowed by the heavy emphasis placed on the sensuality and ghostly occurrences.

While, this may be too much of a departure for some of Gerritsen’s readers, for those of us who like these types of stories, this is a welcome addition to her library of work.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I hope Gerritsen will step outside her series writing more often to publish more stand -alone novels like this one!


GRAB A COPY HERE:






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, "Adrift", which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess's first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), and The Bone Garden (2007). Her books have been translated into 31 languages, and more than 15 million copies have been sold around the world.

As well as being a New York Times bestselling author, she has also been a #1 bestseller in both Germany and the UK. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon.) Critics around the world have praised her novels as "Pulse-pounding fun" (Philadelphia Inquirer), "Scary and brilliant" (Toronto Globe and Mail), and "Polished, riveting prose" (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the "medical suspense queen".

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Monster, She Wrote: The Women who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kroger- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:


Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales, from Frankenstein to The Haunting of Hill House and beyond.

Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Colter, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales.

Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories.
 

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:







MY REVIEW:


Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative FictionMonster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa KrΓΆger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kroger is a 2019 Quirk Books publication.

Just in time for Halloween, Monster, She Wrote, will give you a host of books to add to your Fall/Winter reading list!

This book is also a tribute of sorts and is a reminder of the major contributions that women have made to the horror, Gothic, and science fiction categories. These pioneers of horror fiction were trailblazers, creating some of the most thought-provoking and spine-tingling literature ever written, and influencing many authors in the future.

Personally, as a big fan of Gothic literature, I was familiar with many of the names listed in the book- at least half of them, but some background information and biographical details were new to me. The author also provided a recommended reading list along with each author profiled, which gave me plenty of new authors and books to try. Some of these authors are lesser known, but have an impressive body of work to explore.

Elizabeth Gaskell



I’m grateful to Lisa Kroger for giving these writers the long overdue credit they deserve, and for reminding me of authors and books I had forgotten about.

There is plenty of history introduced in this book, as well as many interesting stories about the featured writers, and of course, this is also a ‘book about books’ and who can pass that up?

Amelia Edwards
(Precursor to Barbara Michaels/ Elizabeth Peters)



The book is well organized, well researched, with a terrific presentation that made it easy to follow, and held my interest, while avoiding pointless minutiae. I fully intend to hunt down the books on the recommended reading list- especially the Gothics! - And I will use this book as a reference in the future.

Vernon Lee




There is a little something in this book for everyone- no matter what horror sub-genre you prefer. Not only that, it is informative, entertaining, and even inspirational, serving as a reminder that we owe these great writers a debt of gratitude. They have helped pave the way for female writers today who must bravely compete in a mostly male dominated genre and, with a few notable exceptions, still struggle for the same respect.

Anne Rice



So, now that I’m inspired to tap into more horror novels written by women- tell me who some of your favorite female horror writers or your favorite horror novel written by a woman.



GRAB A COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Monster-She-Wrote-Pioneered-Speculative-ebook/dp/B07M9HGBGV/


https://www.amazon.com/Monster-She-Wrote-Pioneered-Speculative/dp/B07S9GDD1S/


https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monster-she-wrote-lisa-kroger/1130039184




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Lisa Kroger lives on the gorgeous Mississippi Gulf Coast with her husband and two boys. For upcoming releases, please visit her website at www.lisakroger.com


Monday, October 28, 2019

Comfort Songs by Kimberly Fish- Feature and Review + Giveaway



COMFORT SONGS


a companion novel to Comfort Plans


by

KIMBERLY FISH


Genre: Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction
Publisher: Fish Tales, LLC 
Date of Publication: September 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 348
Scroll down for giveaway!








Award-winning author of Comfort Plans, Kimberly Fish, delivers a novel about family, forgiveness, and the seeds of second chances. Eight years ago, Autumn Joy Worthington, still reeling from the bitter divorce of her Grammy-Award-winning parents, endured the betrayal of a man who’d promised her a wedding. Running from pain seemed the logical response. Reinventing herself in Comfort, Texas, as a lavender grower, she creates a wildly successful gardening haven that draws in tourists and establishes an identity far removed from her parents’ fame. Her mother’s retirement from stardom inspires AJ to offer her refuge and nurse the dream that they could move past old hurts and the tarnish of the music industry to find friendship. A grandmother in the early stages of dementia and the return of AJ’s father complicate the recovery, but nothing sets the fragile reality spinning like the arrival of Nashville music executive, Luke English. 
As Alzheimer’s slowly knocks away the filters of their family, AJ comes to appreciate the true meanings of love and forgiveness -- and that the power of redemption can generate from the most unlikely sources. When AJ uncovers the grit to make hard choices, she also discovers that the flowers that bloom the brightest can have the most tangled roots.












Comfort Songs 

Comfort Songs by Kimberly Fish is a 2019 Fish Tales publication.

An all around great story!

We are often a product of our past and AJ’s hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses-

AJ’s parents were country music legends. They reached the pinnacle of success, but their marriage didn’t survive. Her parent’s lifestyle, and the betrayal by the man who promised to marry her, left AJ irreparably changed. She fled the music scene and now owns a highly successful lavender field that attracts tourists from all over.

Eventually, falling prey to the perils of life on the road, AJ’s mother has retired and moved in with her daughter. AJ is relieved to have her mother home, away from Nashville, and on the road to recovery. She’s hoping that at long last she can forge a bond with her mother. But her grandmother is exhibiting the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s and AJ is worried, but also living in denial.

Then handsome Luke English, a music executive from Nashville, shows up unannounced, promising to revive her mother’s career. Suddenly, all of AJ’s hopes and plans go up in smoke, as she desperately tries to protect her mother from the perils of the music business.

If that weren’t enough stress to contend with, her father decides to join in the fun, showing up out of the blue to further complicate matters. As much as AJ wants to despise Luke for interfering in her life, she’s inexplicably drawn to him.

Meanwhile, Luke realizes he’s stirred up a hornet’s nest and will have to rethink his strategy- which now includes trying to win AJ’s heart….

This is a wonderful family drama with all the elements a good story should have. Every character in the book is carrying a burden, a heartache, or is flawed in one way or another. Years of pent up resentments bubble to the surface as AJ grapples with the sudden changes thrust upon her, which force her to take a good long look at herself and the person she’s become.
The scenery is another plus, as one can imagine the beauty of the lavender fields and the peace and comfort AJ finds in her work.

AJ’s journey is difficult, and I understood her wariness, her mistrust of Luke, and why she felt and thought the way she did. She fought change, refused to look at the big picture or see things from a different perspective, and couldn’t bring herself to fully trust Luke.

But in the end, I loved how everyone came together, admitting past mistakes and expressing deep regret. Forgiveness and compromise, letting go of past hurts, learning to love and trust, as well as understanding and acceptance, bring together a broken family, as well as two people who both deserve a long overdue chance at love and happiness.

Overall, this is a great story with a unique plot, filled with interesting, complex characters and situations. Once I started reading the book, I didn’t want to put it down, and found myself thinking about the characters and their lives quite often.

A strong family drama, with a sweet love story- what’s not to love?

5 stars!









Kimberly Fish is a professional writer with almost thirty years of media experience. She's been telling stories far longer. She published her first novel, a WWII historical fiction novel, because of a true story in her adopted hometown that was too good to ignore.  She quickly followed that success with a sequel. Since then, she's continued writing fiction and added a contemporary second-chance romance series set in Comfort, Texas, to her list of fun, fast-paced novels. Kimberly lives with her family in East Texas.
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OCTOBER 22-NOVEMBER 1, 2019
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Friday, October 25, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Salem's Lot by Stephen King- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

'Salem's Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in 'Salem's Lot was a summer of home-coming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to 'Salem's Lot hoping to cast out his own devils... and found instead a new unspeakable horror.

A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved.

All would be changed forever—Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of 'Salem's Lot.

READ AN EXCERPT:



MY REVIEW:


'Salem's Lot'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King is a 2011 Anchor Books publication. (Originally published in 1975)

I read a decent amount of horror novels when I was a teenager. My first introduction to Stephen King was with ‘Carrie’. But it was the heyday of pulp horror novels, with lots of books to choose from out there and long story short, I never got around to reading this book until the early eighties. I had read other King books by that time, and if memory serves, I’d watched the made for TV movie before I read this book. Eventually, I got around to getting a paperback copy of the book, and while I’m sure it would have given me a few restless nights under ordinary circumstances, I had a unique, humorous and unforgettable experience while reading this book, which was truly nightmarish-

I was only a little way into the book, when my roommate invited me to stay at her parents’ house one weekend. Apparently, her family had just purchased a fixer upper Victorian and were eager to show off their latest renovations. As it turns out, the house was located out in the middle of nowhere, which is great, during the daylight hours. My room was on the top floor, and as always, even way back then, I’d packed a paperback with me. As everyone settled in for the night, the quiet, the inky, pitch-black dark, an unfamiliar house, out in the middle of nowhere… and reading Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King, made for a sleepless night spent tossing and turning and jumping at every little sound. I kept imagining Danny Glick floating outside one of those second story windows. This book scared the crap out of me!! And I loved it!! πŸ¦‡πŸ¦‡



When I joined Goodreads, I automatically slapped a five- star rating on the book, but I have only read it the one time. With Halloween approaching, I was in the mood for an old-school horror novel, one from ‘my era’. Several books were up for consideration, and this was one of them. Remembering my experience while reading the book, grinning at how scared silly, I’d been, I had to wonder if the book would have the same atmosphere now… or if I would find it dated, and maybe even a little cheesy? So, I decided to find out. Thankfully, my library had a copy of the book and Scribd came through with the audio- something I thought might be fun to try. (The audio is read by Ron McLarty, a veteran narrator.)

The book gets off to a good start and as the story progressed, my memory kicked in and many details I’d long forgotten started to come back to me. King follows the traditional vampire lore in the novel. An old house, rumored to be haunted is purchased by a wealthy man, whose assistant is seen a lot more often than the owner. Meanwhile, a boy goes missing, then his brother comes down with strange anemia-like symptoms and pretty soon, the entire town is gripped in terror. Crucifix’s, stakes through the heart, and all the customary vampire traditions apply here. For its time this was a gripping, updated spin on the conventional vampire tale. Through the years, vampires have morphed into something less confined, with the power to enjoy light and withstand the sight of a crucifix… and some of them even sparkle. 😁😁

But I miss the time-honored folklore of bloodsucking vampires, the scary undead creatures who never age, kill indiscriminately, can’t walk around in the daylight, and can only be conquered by beheading them and driving a stake through the heart. King’s vampires are more ruthless and are in no way conflicted or remorseful. They are pure evil.

This second reading of the book was a different experience, of course. Although I had both an e book and the audio version, the story was a bit too long and lost momentum on several occasions. Of course, a book written back in 1975 will have some references that are dated now, but by no means was the book cheesy. The story is as atmospheric as I recall and stands the test of time- and yes, it still scared the crap out me!! πŸ˜¨πŸ˜“πŸ˜±
4.5 stars


GRAB A COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Salems-Lot-Stephen-King-ebook/dp/B0019LV31E/

https://www.amazon.com/Unknown-Salems-Lot/dp/B008U2R7TM/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/salems-lot-stephen-king/1100292312


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



King was the recipient of America's prestigious 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American Letters. In 2007 he also won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife Tabitha King in Maine.