The Captive Condition, by Kevin P. Keating

About the book,  The Captive Condition The Captive Condition

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (July 7, 2015)

From a thrilling new voice in fiction comes a chilling and deliciously dark novel about an idyllic Midwestern college town that turns out to be a panorama of depravity and a nexus of horror.

For years Normandy Falls has been haunted by its strange history and the aggrieved spirits said to roam its graveyards. Despite warnings, Edmund Campion is determined to pursue an advanced degree there. But Edmund soon learns he isn’t immune to the impersonal trappings of fate: his girlfriend, Morgan Fey, smashes his heart; his adviser, Professor Martin Kingsley, crushes him with frivolous assignments; and his dead-end job begins to take a toll on his physical and mental health. One night he stumbles upon the body of Emily Ryan, an unapologetic townie, drowned in her family pool. Was it suicide or murder? In the days that follow, Emily’s husband, Charlie, crippled by self-loathing and frozen with fear, attempts to flee his disastrous life and sends their twin daughters to stay with the Kingsleys. Possessed by an unnamed, preternatural power, the twins know that the professor seduced their mother and may have had a hand in her fate. With their piercing stares, the girls fill Martin with a remorse that he desperately tries to hide from his wife. Elsewhere, a low-level criminal named the Gonk takes over a remote cottage, complete with a burial ground and moonshine still, and devises plans for both. Xavier D’Avignon, the eccentric chef of a failing French restaurant, supplies customers with a hallucinogenic cocktail. And Colette Collins, an elderly local artist of the surreal, attends a retrospective of her work that is destined to set the whole town on fire.

Kevin P. Keating’s masterly novel delves into the deepest recesses of the human capacity for evil.

Buy, read, and discuss The Captive Condition

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About the author, Kevin P. Keating Kevin Keating

After working as a boilermaker in the steel mills in Ohio, KEVIN P. KEATING became a professor of English and began teaching at Baldwin Wallace University, Cleveland State University, and Lorain County Community College. His essays and stories have appeared in more than fifty literary journals, and his first novel, The Natural Order of Things, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. His second novel, The Captive Condition, will be released by Pantheon Books in July of 2015. He lives in Cleveland.

Connect with Kevin


My Thoughts MissMeliss

I generally really enjoy dark fiction, but I had a difficult time with The Captive Condition in part because some of the scenes in the early part of the book – twins picking on their little brother – really disturbed me. I am, after all, the poster child for being able to watch any movie as long as no kids or dogs are harmed. Then, too, I read it at the same time that both of my husband’s parents were going through major medical drama – drama which is not yet resolved – so I wasn’t in a good place to really appreciate this story.

That said, author Kevin P. Keating absolutely captures the dark malevolence of this small midwestern town perfectly. Critics have compared him to Poe, and there’s definitely a lot of that in his voice. His use of language is finely honed. His ability to set a scene is phenomenal. I was especially struck by the description of the bridge across the falls early in the novel. The man can clearly write the hell out of anything.

What I found difficult, however, was that there were really no characters that I sympathized with, especially in the first third of the book. Our narrator/protagonist Edmund is a little too clueless, a little too arrogant, for my taste. His girlfriend seemed mean. His advisor seemed petty. Maybe I was missing something, but I just couldn’t get invested in the story.

As readers, we bring as much of ourselves to the stories we read as do the writers who create those stories. In The Captive Condition Keating has given us a thought-provoking look at the kind of pervasive evil that colors entire lives and communities, and it’s a story I probably would have responded better to if all these external things hadn’t colored my reaction.

Goes well with strong coffee and warm apple pie. Trust me, you’ll need them.

Kevin P. Keating’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Wednesday, August 26th: Mallory Heart Reviews

Saturday, August 29th: Books that Hook

Monday, August 31st: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, September 2nd: Read Love Blog

Friday, September 4th: 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, September 8th: Book Chatter

Wednesday, September 9th: It’s a Mad Mad World

Thursday, September 10th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, September 14th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, September 16th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, September 23rd: Bibliotica

Date TBD: Wildfire Books

Date TBD: The Steadfast Reader

TBD: More Than Just Magic

TBD: Books a la Mode – author guest post

Paris Time Capsule, by Ella Carey #review @NetGalley @AmazonPub

About the book, Paris Time Capsule Paris Time Capsule

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 26, 2015)

New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down.

Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family?

As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.

Buy, read, and discuss Paris Time Capsule

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About the author, Ella Carey Ella Carey

Ella Carey is a writer and Francophile who claims Paris as her second home. She has been studying French since the age of five, and she has degrees in music and English. Carey’s work has been published in the Review of Australian Fiction. She lives with her two children and two Italian greyhounds in Australia.

Connect with Ella

Website | Facebook

My Thoughts

When I’m looking for a novel to read, the three things that always capture my attention are the beach, coffee, and the city of Paris. I saw Paris Time Capsule when I was browsing NetGalley titles, and downloaded it, and I’m really glad I did, because it’s a delightful story – part historical mystery, part contemporary romance, and made more magical by being set in the City of Light.

Author Ella Carey crafted this piece with a delicate hand – the characters never seem over-the-top, the descriptions of places and things are just vivid enough to let the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks, and the plot has just enough twists and turns to keep you satisfied without being frustrated.

Cat very quickly grew into someone I’d have wanted to meet for coffee: engaging, fresh, and very real. Loic, the man who might be the real inheritor of the Paris apartment the story is build around, is the kind of guy any woman would fall in love with, the perfect blend of sex appeal and mystique, and his mother was a delightful breath of fresh air. The supporting characters – Cat’s fiance in America, her wedding planner, and all the people Cat and Loic talk to during their investigation all felt like people you would run into, as well.

Of course, the apartment itself becomes as much a character as any of the humans, and I felt like I was there, blowing away the dust, peeking at the old papers, cataloguing each artifact of a life long gone.

Paris Time Capsule is the perfect novel for a rainy afternoon, or an early summer morning, or just any time when you want to go antiquing but don’t want to leave your chair.

Goes well with a pot of coffee and a chocolate croissant.


Hotel Moscow by Talia Carner (@AuthorTalia) #review @TLCBookTours

About the book, Hotel Moscow Hotel Moscow

• Paperback: 464 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 2, 2015)

  • From the author of Jerusalem Maiden comes a mesmerizing, thought-provoking novel that tells the riveting story of an American woman—the daughter of Holocaust survivors—who travels to Russia shortly after the fall of communism, and finds herself embroiled in a perilous mafia conspiracy that could irrevocably destroy her life.

Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight year old New York investment manager and daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finds her life suddenly upended in late September 1993 when her job is unexpectedly put in jeopardy. Brooke accepts an invitation to join a friend on a mission to Moscow to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women, which will also give her a chance to gain expertise in the new, vast emerging Russian market. Though excited by the opportunity to save her job and be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she also wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago.

Inspired by the women she meets, Brooke becomes committed to helping them investigate the crime that threatens their businesses. But as the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke will find that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where “capitalism” is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed—and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.

A moving, poignant, and rich novel, Hotel Moscow is an eye-opening portrait of post-communist Russia and a profound exploration of faith, family, and heritage.

Buy, read, and discuss Hotel Moscow

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the author, Talia Carner Talia Carner

Talia Carner is the former publisher of Savvy Woman magazine and a lecturer at international women’s economic forums. This is her fourth novel.

Connect with Talia

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter

My Thoughts

At first, I had a difficult time getting into this book – the sense of place was fine, but I was confusing the three American women, Amanda, Jenny, and Brooke. Within a chapter or two, I had them sorted, and as it was Brooke’s story I paid closest attention to her.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read – an action packed spy thriller with a cast of mostly women, and the author should be commended just for that. It’s also a stark reminder at what life in Russia was, just as we were starting to peep through what had once been the Iron Curtain. Those of us who were born in the seventies and grew up in the eighties lived with terms like “cold war” and “glasnost” being tossed about like different colored balloons on the wind, and reading a novel set just at the dawn of the new Russian capitalism was almost a time capsule for me.

Politics and history aside, Carner tells a good story. As I said, her sense of place is vivid, and for the most part her characters stand out. Svetlana, with her Soviet speaking voice and matching hair, really stood out for me, as did Brooke, the lead character who seemed to be caught between the desire to help and the need to stay alive, at times. I’ll confess that there were times I wanted to punch their driver/guide Aleksandr, just for being a lazy, annoying idiot. It takes a lot for me to want to cause harm to a character, so kudos for that, Ms. Carner.

If you like old-school thrillers, where the danger is equal parts cerebral and physical, you’ll like Hotel Moscow. It’s an intriguing story with some great character moments, and I was never bored with it.

Goes well with a bowl of borscht and a shot of vodka.

Talia’s Tour Stops TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 2nd: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, June 3rd: Dwell in Possibility

Thursday, June 4th: Raven Haired Girl

Friday, June 5th: Charmingly Modern

Monday, June 8th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, June 9th: A Utah Mom’s Life

Wednesday, June 10th: As I turn the pages

Monday, June 15th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, June 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, June 22nd: Bibliotica

Tuesday, June 23rd: Mel’s Shelves

Wednesday, June 24th: A Book Geek

Thursday, June 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Thursday, June 25th: Doing Dewey

Friday, June 26th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, June 29th: Book Dilettante

TBD: Luxury Reading

TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

The Rhyme of the Magpie, by Marty Wingate #review @tlcbooktours #giveaway

About the book, The Rhyme of the Magpie: A Birds of a Feather Mystery The Rhyme of the Magpie

Published by: Alibi  (June 02, 2015)
Pages: 224

For readers of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, the high-flying new Birds of a Feather mystery series from Marty Wingate begins as a British woman gets caught up in a dangerous plot when her celebrity father disappears.

With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father’s hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings.

But the past is front and center when her father, Rupert, tracks her down in a moment of desperation. Julia refuses to hear him out; his quick remarriage after her mother’s death was one of the reasons Julia flew the coop. But later she gets a distressed call from her new stepmum: Rupert has gone missing. Julia decides to investigate—she owes him that much, at least—and her father’s new assistant, the infuriatingly dapper Michael Sedgwick, offers to help. Little does the unlikely pair realize that awaiting them is a tightly woven nest of lies and murder.

Buy, read and discuss The Rhyme of the Magpie

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 About the author, Marty Wingate Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House, and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.

My Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Marty Wingate’s since I cracked open the first of her Potting Shed mysteries, so when I was offered the chance to review this book, the first in a new series, I jumped at it. I have t admit, it took me a while to warm up to the new characters and premise.

Once I did warm up to Julia and her life, I was hooked. I love the use of the magpies as a recurring theme, and the way birds, signs, and portents are all woven together. I thought each character, even those we don’t spend a lot of time with were distinct and dimensional.

Wingate has a special knack for vivid descriptions of place – you can smell the rain when the air is damp, and you can feel your feet squelching through soggy soil, or crunching over gravel. She also has an excellent ear for dialogue, to the point where I could hear the characters’ accents in my head – and no, they’re not all generic-sounding ‘received’ pronunciation. That she manages to do this without writing much in dialect always impresses me.

Marty Wingate might just be the new Queen of the Cozy, but her cozy mysteries are deceptive in that they balance quaint village live with strong female characters who achieve self-significance while still maintaining femininity.

Long may she reign.

Goes well with proper fish and  chips, and a hand-crafted lager.


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Marty Wingate’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS: TLC Book Tours

Tuesday, June 2nd: 5 Minutes for Books

Tuesday, June 2nd: Mystery Playground

Wednesday, June 3rd: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, June 3rd: Buried Under Books

Thursday, June 4th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Friday, June 5th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, June 5th: Back Porchervations

Wednesday, June 10th: Reading Reality

Thursday, June 11th: Joyfully Retired

Friday, June 12th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, June 15th: A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, June 16th: Bell, Book & Candle

Wednesday, June 17th: Bibliotica – That’s ME!

Thursday, June 18th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Tuesday, June 23rd: FictionZeal

Wednesday, June 24th: 2 Kids and Tired

Dark Screams (Volumes 2 & 3), edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar #review #giveaway @TLCBookTours

About the book, Dark Screams, Vol. 2 Dark Screams, Vol. 2

  • On Sale: March 03, 2015
  • Pages: 138
  • Published by : Hydra

Robert McCammon, Norman Prentiss, Shawntelle Madison, Graham Masterton, and Richard Christian Matheson scale new heights of horror, suspense, and grimmest fantasy in Dark Screams: Volume Two, from Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the renowned Cemetery Dance Publications.

THE DEEP END by Robert McCammon
Everyone thinks the drowning death of Neil Calder in the local swimming pool was a tragic accident. Only his father knows better. Now, on the last night of summer, Neil returns in search of revenge.

INTERVAL by Norman Prentiss
Flight 1137 from St. Louis by way of Nashville has gone missing. As anxious friends and family gather around the gate, a ticket clerk finds herself eyewitness to a moment of inhuman evil.

IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK by Shawntelle Madison
Eleanor has come from New York City to prep an old Victorian house in Maine for America’s Mysterious Hotspots. Although she’s always thrown herself into her work, this job will take her places she’s never dreamed of going.

THE NIGHT HIDER by Graham Masterton
C. S. Lewis wrote about a portal that led to a world of magic and enchantment. But the wardrobe in Dawn’s room holds only death—until she solves its grisly mystery.

WHATEVER by Richard Christian Matheson
A 1970s rock ’n’ roll band that never was—in a world that is clearly our own . . . but perhaps isn’t, not anymore . . . or, at least, not yet—takes one hell of a trip.

Buy, read and discuss Dark Screams, Vol. 2

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About the book Dark Screams, Vol. 3 Dark Screams, Vol. 3

  • On Sale: May 12, 2015
  • Pages: 108
  • Published by : Hydra

Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Jacquelyn Frank, and Brian Hodge contribute five gloomy, disturbing tales of madness and horror to Dark Screams: Volume Three, edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the celebrated Cemetery Dance Publications.

A mere child yet a precocious writer, young Freddie records a series of terrifying encounters with an inhuman being that haunts his life . . . and seems to predict his death.

GROUP OF THIRTY by Jack Ketchum
When an award-winning horror writer on the downward slope of a long career receives an invitation to address the Essex County Science Fiction Group, he figures he’s got nothing to lose. He couldn’t be more wrong.

NANCY by Darynda Jones
Though she’s adopted by the cool kids, the new girl at Renfield High School is most drawn to Nancy Wilhoit, who claims to be haunted. But it soon becomes apparent that poltergeists—and people—are seldom what they seem.

Charlie Pearson has a crush on Stacey Wheeler. She has no idea. Charlie will make Stacey see that he loves her, and that she loves him—even if he has to kill her to make her say it.

When Marni moves in next door, the stale marriage of Tara and Aidan gets a jolt of adrenaline. Whether it’s tonic or toxic is another matter.

Buy, read, and discuss Dark Screams, Vol. 3

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million  | Goodreads

My Thoughts

I love horror. I love short stories. I understand (as much as anyone without formal training can) the psychology of the human brain that gives us pleasure and a bit of a thrill when we’re scared. In these two ebook anthologogies, Dark Screams, volumes 2 & 3, I was given a couple hundred (and change) rich pages of all the things I love.

There wasn’t a single story in either volume that I found unreadable, though the subject matter in a couple of them (most specifically “I Love You, Charlie Pearson”) did make me uncomfortable. But horror shouldn’t be just empty scares. It needs to hit you in the sweet spot where the Amygdala and the Cerebrum whisper to each other, where intellect and emotion intertwine, and all of these stories do that, and they do it well.

Not that I’m surprised. I mean, look at that list of authors. Even if the only name you recognize is Peter Straub, consider that he would never allow himself to be in the company of authors of unequal caliber – or at least, he’d never allow his work to be so. And I’m not just highlighting his name because his contribution, “The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero,” is my favorite from Volume 3 – written from (mostly) a young boy’s point of view, it’s both chilling and poignant.

My other favorite from volume 3 is “Nancy,” because I identified with the character of the ‘new girl’ trying to navigate her way through the popular and not-so-popular crowds in a town that also has its fare share of actual (as opposed to metaphoric) ghosts.

Volume 2 felt, to me, a bit more polished – the stories of a more equal quality, although I confess, I had to read the novella at the end – Richard Christian Matheson’s “Whatever,” twice in order to really ‘get’ it. Then I was blown away. Still, I want to give “The Interval” (Norman Prentiss) which gives new meaning to the limbo we all feel when we’re caught between hope and reality, and “The Night Hider” (Graham Masterton) which posits a dark and interesting origin story for C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, special attention. Both those stories really played with convention, reality, and what we think we know.

Also on my personal “hit list” is “The Deep End,” by Robert McCammon, which does for swimming pools what Jaws did to the ocean when it was first released (just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Y…) and made me seriously glad that the constant rain has kept me OUT of my own swimming pool so far this year.

If you love horror, if you appreciate the pace and brevity of a short story, if you were the kid whose favorite part of summer camp was telling ghost stories after dark – you will love these two anthologies.

Just make sure you turn on the lights as you enter rooms for a few days afterward.

Goes well with buttered popcorn and either slightly sweetened cinnamon iced tea or crisp apple cider.


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TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for Dark Screams: TLC Book Tours

Monday, April 27th: A Fantastical Librarian – Volume 2

Wednesday, April 29th: No More Grumpy Bookseller – Volumes 2 and 3

Monday, May 4th: Bell, Book & Candle – Volume 2

Tuesday, May 5th: From the TBR Pile – Volume 2

Wednesday, May 6th: Wag the Fox – Volume 2

Thursday, May 7th: Bewitched Bookworms – Volumes 2 and 3

Friday, May 8th: The Reader’s Hollow – Volume 2

Monday, May 11th: Bibliophilia, Please – Volume 2

Tuesday, May 12th: In Bed with Books – Volume 3

Thursday, May 14th: Bell, Book & Candle – Volume 3

Friday, May 15th: Wag the Fox – Volume 3

Tuesday, May 19th: From the TBR Pile – Volume 3

Thursday, May 21st: The Reader’s Hollow – Volume 3

Thursday, May 28th: Bibliotica – Volume 2 & 3

Friday, May 29th: Sweet Southern Home – Volume 3

Monday, June 1st: Kahakai Kitchen – Volumes 2 and 3