Monday, December 5, 2011

'Tis the Season for Holiday Reading

December is here, and Christmas is right around the corner. I always enjoy listening to holiday music, watching Christmas movies, and reading Holiday stories to get me in the holiday spirit. If you want to get into the holiday spirit, try out these titles.

Gaby Summerhill has a unique plan for getting her grown children together for the Christmas holidays. Since her husband’s death three years ago, Gaby’s family has not been together for Christmas. That changes, however, when Gaby contacts each of her grown children and tells them she will be getting married on Christmas Day. She tells them that the groom will remain a secret until Christmas day. The plot thickens as Gaby tells her children about the three (yes, three) wonderful men who proposed to her. Needless to say, her children are all intrigued, and their arrival marks a family reunion three years in the making.

Rather than a traditional Christmas story, this book focuses more on romance. However, the book also places special emphasis on the importance of families and the Christmas spirit. Also, if you are a loyal James Patterson fan, this book will definitely be on your holiday reading list.

Theodora has lived in her family’s Charleston home for 93 years, and she’s seen many Christmases during that time. However, she’s noticed that Christmas these days is pre-packaged, rushed, and not at all like the magical Christmas holidays of her childhood. She misses her parents, brother, and her feisty housekeeper and friend, Pearl. Pearl was the real leader for the Christmas traditions, and Theodora needs her now more than ever.

Theodora’s family includes her grown daughter and son, in addition to their spouses and children. Theodora loves her family, but believes they have no idea how to get along with one another, much less work together to have a true family Christmas. Christmas is the time for miracles, though, and Theodora realizes this the moment Pearl comes back to make sure this Christmas is as magical as Christmases long ago. 

Anyone who enjoys the memory of Christmas past will relate to this tale of rediscovering the true meaning of the holidays. The Christmas Pearl has just the right amount of humor, conflict, and optimism to make the story come alive.

If you want a story to get you in the Christmas spirit, this is the one for you. The story is based on the biblical story of the Prodigal Son. The story is narrated by Luke Crisp, the main character. He is the logical successor for his father, who founded a successful copy center business.

When Luke goes away to pursue his Master’s Degree, he becomes friends with people who steer him farther and farther off course. He tells his father he doesn’t want to run the family business. He joins his friends on a trip around the world (at his expense).  Unfortunately, the more he sees of his friends, the less he likes them and himself. Eventually, Luke’s  money runs out and so do his friends. Luke rapidly descends from a successful college graduate to a homeless vagrant .

Luke sinks to the very bottom and only starts to make his way back due to the kindness of a stranger. Luke learns the painful lesson about life and how choices affect him and the people around him. The themes in the story are part of Christmas- humility, gratefulness, generosity and love. Luke has to lose it all to realize how blessed he is. Of the three stories reviewed, this one is my favorite by far. 

Additional holiday reading you might enjoy:

Monday, November 14, 2011

First Novels

First Novels-every writer has one.  For the reader, first novels can be a chancy business.  You can either fall into a whole new world in the first sentence, or you can waste hours trying to.   Lately I have found several first novels that have captivated me from the first page.  Some are new this year, but some are from a few years ago that I somehow missed.  I have found some new favorite authors that I thought I would share.

I’ll read romance, mystery, fantasy, and most other genres but the one genre I generally stay away from is science fiction.  So imagine my surprise that one of the best novels I’ve read recently has been a science fiction novel, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline .  The year is 2044; the Great Recession of 2008 never ended; natural resources have been depleted; and governments are failing.  Most people spend their time in the online virtual world, OASIS.   The creator of OASIS, James Halliday, dies and leaves his entire fortune and control of OASIS to the winner of a virtual quest.  Halliday was a 1980’s trivia buff, and the quest is full of 1980’s references, music, and video games.  Millions of people begin the quest for the Easter Egg hidden somewhere in the many worlds of OASIS.  Wade Watts stumbles upon the first clue, and his life changes.  The whole world is watching as he and other competitors try to solve the puzzle—some willing to commit murder to win.  Cline has crafted a world that seems all too real and plausible; however, it is the characters that make the story come alive and remain memorable. 

Another first novel from this year is Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  The novel starts with the reader going to a very special circus.  The circus, open only at night, always arrives mysteriously with no advance warning.  The reader is taken through a black and white tented circus where the lines between real and magic are very thin indeed.  Behind the scenes of the circus, a competition and a great love affair are taking place between two rival magicians, Celia and Marco.  Only one can be declared the winner, and death will come for the loser.  The sounds, the smells, and the sites of the circus come alive through Morgenstein’s beautifully lyrical language and storytelling.

In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff was published in 2009 and won the Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, but I missed it and didn’t read it until this year.  Detective Simon Ziele left New York City following the death of his fiancĂ© in 1905.  Wanting to retreat to a slower, quieter life, he moves to a small town.  Only a few months into his new life, he realizes death and violence can happen anywhere when a young woman is brutally murdered in his new town.   As he begins investigating, Ziele is contacted by Alistair Sinclair, a criminologist at Columbia University, who claims that he knows who did it--a violent man named Michael Fromley.  Detective Ziele must find out if Sinclair is telling the truth or someone with other interests is framing Fromley.  I very much enjoyed this historical mystery; it was very well plotted with a wholly believable conclusion.  I’m looking forward to the other two books in the series.

Other recommended first novels:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield 
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Monday, October 31, 2011

Murder Most British

I love a good mystery and of the myriad of mystery subgenres, British Police Procedurals are my favorite.  Although these mysteries focus on investigating and solving a crime, they also explore the personal lives of the detectives.  Books within a series may be read out of sequence and still provide an excellent mystery; however, reading in chronological order allows for character development.  A prime example is the Inspector Linley series written by Elizabeth George.  The lives of the police and their families are integral to the narration of the series.

Best known for her psychological suspense novels, Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford series is a favorite.  Rendell introduced Inspector Wexford in 1964 in From Doon with Death.  In Rendell’s most recent Wexford mystery, The Vault, Wexford has retired from the police and finds himself missing the action of solving crimes.  He encounters a former coworker who later calls him to advise on an unusual murder scene; the remains of four people are found in a former coal hole of a picturesque cottage in London with three of the remains approximately 12 years old and the fourth only two years old.  Wexford eagerly accepts the challenge of this cold case but finds himself grappling with the difficulties of conducting an investigation without the benefit of his former rank and resources. 

Fans of Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, will enjoy the Anna Travis series written by screenwriter and author Lynda La Plante.  In BlindFury, Detective Inspector Anna Travis is assigned to a murder investigation team under DCS James Langton, her former lover and boss.  The body of a young woman is discovered close to a motorway service station; despite public appeals, no one identifies her.  Similarities to two unsolved murders prompt Langton to suspect they are contending with a triple murder investigation with no suspect.  Meanwhile, Anna receives a letter from an incarcerated murderer she helped to arrest insisting he can track down the killer, but will only talk to Anna herself.  Is this boasting a ruse to bring Anna to him, or does he really have insight into the psychotic killer’s mind?

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles presents a wry view of police investigations in her Bill Slider series featuring the fallible Slider with his bon vivant partner, Atherton.   Slider has obtained the rank of Detective Inspector and intends to go no further as it would remove him from active investigations, much to the detriment of the social aspirations of his wife.  In Orchestrated Death, the nude body of a young woman is found in a derelict flat without clothing or any other means of identification.  A small callous on her neck is identified as unique to violinists which leads the police to local orchestras.  The intricate plot leads to more crimes, an extremely valuable Stradivarius, some mysterious tins of Italian olive, the mob, the victim’s orchestra partner whom Slider finds more than tempting, and a lot of very British humor. 

Deborah Crombie’s long running Duncan Kinkaid and Gemma James mystery series follows the careers and romantic relationship of two Scotland Yard detectives.  Necessary as Blood finds Gemma and Duncan at a pivotal point in their relationship as they deal with personal loss while investigating an emotionally charged case.  A young mother leaves her daughter with a friend to run a few errands but never returns and cannot be found.  Shortly after, her husband, a Pakistani lawyer, disappears and is later found murdered.  In the course of the investigation a conspiracy is uncovered that will have bigger repercussions than anyone could imagine. The detectives must tread cautiously or the three-year-old child who has lost her mother and father under mysterious circumstances may be the next victim.

If you like well-developed characters, intricate plots, and plausible mysteries, try one of these British police procedurals this winter.

Other Recommended Authors:
Colin Dexter: Inspector Morse
Peter Robinson: Inspector Alan Banks
Jill McGown: Inspectors Lloyd and Hill
P.D. James: Adam Dalgliesh
Ian Rankin: Detective Inspector John Rebus, Scotland

Monday, October 10, 2011

Extraordinary Adventures

"An ancient curse"..."A prize beyond imagination"..."A fortune lost for ages"... are some of the descriptive phrases introducing books I love to read. If exotic places, a blend of action and adventure, survival against nearly impossible odds, mixed with a bit of history, a lot of camaraderie and good clean fun are what you are looking for author Clive Cussler has a book for you. Over the past 40+ years, he has written five adult series of over 45 books. Most recently some of his books have been coauthored by excellent writers who are experts in particular fields.

Cussler's original series features Dirk Pitt, an ex-Air Force man of action, employed by NUMA (the National Underwater and Marine Agency) ready to match wits on land and on sea, to right wrongs, to save the day, the planet, and the girl. He is surrounded by a delightful cast of characters who help him solve the mystery and get the bad guys.  Cussler, himself, always appears as a cameo character, a la Alfred Hitchcock, but he provides valuable information for solving the mystery. The latest book in the Dirk Pitt series, Crescent Dawn, involves the rise to power of a fundamentalist group in Turkey seeking to restore the glory of the Ottoman Empire, a mysterious Roman ship manifest lost for more than a thousand years that could change history as we know it, and a race against time and the bad guys.

Cussler has built a comfortable cast of characters you enjoy joining on each new adventure. They age naturally as the series progress so Cussler develops a new younger crew featuring Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala who work for NUMA and carry on adventures under the watchful eyes of Dirk Pitt, their boss.  The latest book in the NUMA Series is Devil's Gate (due out in November of 2011). Kurt and Joe and the NUMA Special Assignments team are battling against an ambitious African dictator who has created a super weapon of mythical power and plans to extort the great nations of the world or destroy their cities one by one.

For a more technologically savvy reader, Cussler created the Oregon Files series.  Led by the Chairman, Juan Cabrillo, the men and women of the Corporation are an elite fighting force operating from a ship named the Oregon which is a fantastic mix of state of the art scientific research equipment and the latest weaponry, all mounted inside a ship that is disguised as a hunk of junk.  Able to move around the globe at incredible speeds, thanks to their special magnetron engine, they solve the most intriguing mysteries. In their latest adventure, The Jungle, a young, 13th century Chinese ambassador witnesses a village annihilated by a mysterious weapon.  In present day, Juan and his crew of mercenaries find a girl lost in the jungles of Myanmar and go to the depths of the earth to stop a fathers plan for global domination. There are daring escapes, tortuous imprisonments, heart stopping action and last minute victories but the ending of this one will blow you away!

More recently, Cussler created a gentler mystery/adventure series involving a happily married couple, Sam and Remi Fargo, who are treasure hunters. Through fortunate inventions, they are free to roam the world searching for lost treasures. The latest book in the Fargo series is The Kingdom.  The Fargos find themselves abandoned in a flooding ravine, exploring long forgotten caves in Tibet, attempting to fly an ancient balloon aircraft from a century before its time, solving Chinese puzzle chests, and searching for a sacred skeleton from an ancient kingdom that may hold an interesting key to evolution. Sam and Remi are likable characters, who are smart, intelligent and quite possibly attended the MacGyver School of getting out of a jam with a few old sticks and some hundred year old sinew.

If sea adventures and treasure hunting are not of interest to you, Cussler's latest series is set in pre- World War I America. Railroads, telegraphs, motorcars and flying machines are beginning to move across the country and a new class of detectives has grown from the needs of the bustling new country. Isaac Bell, of the Van Dorn Detective Agency, has investigated cross country bank robberies, saboteurs on the new railway lines, and in his latest adventure, The Race,  the rivalry and competitiveness of the budding flying machine business. San Francisco newspaperman, Preston Whiteway, is sponsoring an air race; $50,000 to the flier who can fly across America in 50 days. Competitors include a jealous husband with a violent temper, a wife who lives to fly, a flying machine mechanic who dreams of owning fleets of his own planes, and a mysterious person who is sabotaging competitors' planes. Isaac Bell and the agency are charged with protecting everyone and guaranteeing the race through to the finish.

Cussler has researched and lived much of the action in these series.  He is the founder of an actual group of historians, divers, salvage experts, marine experts and volunteers known as NUMA (named for his fictional agency) who dedicate themselves to the preservation of American maritime and naval history. They have discovered more than 60 historically significant underwater wreck sites including the first Confederate submarine to be used in battle, the Hunley. You can read about many of these expeditions in Cussler's non-fiction works such as The Sea Hunters.  Clive Cussler has provided a great variety of good entertaining stories which are available at the library. Every book aims to entertain, and I don't think you will ever be disappointed. I am always anxiously awaiting each new book!

You might also like these titles or any of the other titles by these authors.

The Medusa Stone by Jack DuBrul  
Amazonia by James Rollins  
The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly  
Legend by David Lynn Golemon  
The Ark by Boyd Morrison
Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Hero's Journey

The Hero’s Journey or Monomyth is a plot device used in both books and Hollywood films. Many steps of the Hero’s Journey can be found in ancient classics such as Hercules. However the literary world didn’t formalize this plot device until 1949 with the publication of The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. 

The Hero’s Journey follows a couple of basic steps:
  • The hero is born under some strange circumstances.
  • Sometime during the hero’s life, circumstances will force the Hero to start his   journey in saving the world. He would receive some type of aid in terms of friends and tools.
  • The journey that the hero takes will be froth with peril. The hero eventually must complete the journey alone.
  • The hero returns home bringing with him a new wisdom that would benefit the community.

The classic example of the Hero’s Journey is J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. The first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, begins with the coming of age of Frodo Baggins and the birthday of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit adventurer. Bilbo leaves Frodo with a special ring, which turns out to be the one ring of Dark Lord Sauron. Gandalf leads Frodo and a group of warriors to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. The Two Towers continues with the trials of the Frodo and his companions as they battle their way to Mordor, the home of Lord Sauron. This book splits the main focus of the plot into two parts: Frodo and his journey to Mount Doom and Aragorn as he battles the forces of evil. The last book, The Return of the King, concludes the journey. Frodo is successful in destroying the ring while Aragorn finishes his own journey as King of Gondor. The books are quite detailed and moving. They make you feel that you’re actually in Middle Earth. While the movies did a great job in depicting the world of Middle Earth, the books will give a more complete picture of the journey of Frodo and the fellowship. The books depict Frodo Baggins as the hero. Through his trials save the world and return to his home, it is a perfect example of the Hero’s Journey. The books also give you a sub journey in the terms of Aragorn. He begins the story as a lonely ranger named Strider. Later it is revealed that he’s the hidden king of Gondor. He begins the second Hero’s Journey of the books trying to claim his throne. 

In cinema, the most often cited movie of the Hero’s Journey is the Star Wars saga. The original episodes contain the classic Hero Journey plot. However George Lucas also goes in the opposite direction where the hero doesn’t always saves the world.  These movies were also published as books with a more complete plot than is feasible in a two- hour movie.   Episode I: The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks introduces Anakin Skywalker.a child from a mysterious birth. He goes on a great journey that leads him to becoming a Jedi and saving the planet Naboo.  Episode II: Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore shows Anakin continuing his Jedi journey. The pressures of the lifestyle of the Jedi and the temptation of family eventually begin his downfall. In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover, Anakin totally succumbs to the dark side in a failed attempt to save his family.  Episode I follows the classic Hero’s Journey. However by Episode III, Anakin goes completely down the path of evil.  The trilogy successfully shows how the Hero’s Journey can become a Villain’s Journey. 

Orson Scott Card’s Sci-fi classic Ender’s Game is another example of the Hero’s Journey. This book is set after an alien invasion nearly wipes out humanity. To survive, man has made an uneasy alliance with other aliens. This gave humanity a chance to fight back at a cost. Children are now bred for war. The principle character is Ender Wiggin. We follow him through his training as he battles the invading alien, politicians, and his own comrades to gain his freedom. This book will grab your attention, and you will want to read the continuing series.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Romance

If you like to read romances, but find yourself craving a good book that will really help you escape reality for a little while, you might consider reading a paranormal romance for a love story with a twist! 

For a taste of adventure on the high seas, I recommend Blow Me Down by Katie MacAlister.  Main character Amy is a workaholic financial analyst with a teenage daughter named Tara.  When Tara accuses her mother of not knowing how to relax, Amy grudgingly agrees to try out the beta version of a virtual reality game called Buckling Swashes.  Just as lightening strikes the house Amy logs in and wakes up as the pirate Earless Erika in the fascinating, and surprisingly real, world of Buckling Swashes.  Almost immediately Amy meets the sexy avatar of the game’s creator, Corbin.  Not one to be swayed by a pretty face, Amy promptly tells Corbin that his avatar is too-perfect, and when he sheds the disguise she finds that she really likes his real appearance.  However, that doesn’t stop her from drawing on her experience as a member of the fencing team during college to thoroughly beat him in a duel and win his ship!  It’s not all fun and games, though… not long after Amy and Corbin part ways, she discovers that the game is just a little too real when she can’t find a way out!  Fortunately for her, the sexy pirate is all too willing to come to her aid, but as the romance between them heats up they both realize that there are threats facing them inside the game and out…    

If you thought dating in the 21st century was hard, imagine if you were looking for that special someone to spend an eternity with!  In Dead End Dating by Kimberly Raye, Lil Marchette is a 500 year old born vampire with a taste for designer labels and anything pink.  Unlike a “made” vampire, “born” vampires can have children and Lil’s mother would like nothing better than for her daughter to find that special someone to settle down with and make little vampires!  However, Lil isn’t just going to settle for anyone!  She’s a hopeless romantic and won’t settle for less than Mr. Right!  While she’s waiting, Lil avoids working for the family business, Midnight Moe’s (a chain of copy/print stores) by opening up Dead End Dating, a Manhattan-based matchmaking service catering to the supernatural.  Lil’s dream is to use her special skills to help the undead wed, but she’s not against helping humans and other supernaturals, too!  Her first client, Francoise Deville, is a real challenge!  An extremely old and nerdy vampire, Francoise is a gentle soul who just can’t wait to find someone who’s willing to settle down and scrapbook with him.  However, just as she’s getting down to the business of finding Francoise’s eternity mate, in walks Ty Bonner, an extremely hot made vampire who would set her pulse racing, if she had one!  Ty just happens to be a bounty hunter who’s investigating a series of kidnappings.  It turns out the kidnapper preys on single women, so Lil needs to help Ty catch him before anyone else, especially one of her clients, ends up dead! 
Not into virtual reality or vampires?  For those of you who feel especially in-tune with the lunar cycle, I recommend Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn.  Kitty is a late night radio DJ who has a secret.  A strange attack she suffered years ago has not only opened her eyes to the supernatural world, it’s made her a part of it!  After a caller from the other side reaches out to her, Kitty finds herself in a unique position to help people like her who have been thrust into a world they don’t understand.  After receiving encouragement from her boss (who is clueless about her real nature) she decides to start a late night advice show, The Midnight Hour.  However, opening up about her life and problems on the air not only stirs up trouble for Kitty with the leaders of her pack, but it also makes her some new enemies!  Kitty soon realizes that there are some who don’t want her talking, and they’ll do anything to shut her up….

Additional Recommended Reading

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stieg Who? Nordic Mystery Writers You Should Check Out!

Well, like many of you mystery readers, I read and fell in love with the Stieg Larsson trilogy beginning with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  After finishing the third and final book, I was left wanting much more so I immediately began to look for other authors from the region.  As it turns out, there are many Nordic mystery writers who have been very successful in their own country and who are recently receiving the attention of western readers thanks to Mr. Larsson.

The Swedish author Henning Mankell has been writing excellent crime detective novels for over twenty years. The highly popular Wallander series features inspector Kurt Wallander - a boozing, smoking, overweight, regular guy who follows his hunches, obsesses over minute details, and always gets his man. The series is so popular in England that a television series has been created starring English actor Kenneth Branagh that broadcasts on BBC (available here at the library.)

The series begins with Faceless Killers. (Readers may first enjoy a series of short stories called the Pyramid which chronologically precede all the other Wallander books.)  In Faceless Killers, Wallander investigates the brutal and inexplicable murder of a farmer who had no known enemies. The only clue available points to the killer being a foreigner and when the press leaks this information, the community erupts with hostility, unleashing volumes of long simmering anti-immigrant sentiment. Wallander must solve the murder before innocent immigrants become targets of violent retaliation, and do so during a time in which his personal relationships are all unraveling. The Wallander novels are tightly written and are an excellent example of nuts-and-bolts police procedure.

Karin Fossum is a Norwegian author of the crime detective series featuring Inspector Konrad Sejer.  The book, Don’t Look Back, is the first in the Sejer series to be released in the U.S.  The book starts off with a suspenseful twist that will leave the reader hooked. When a sweet teenage girl is found drowned and naked near a local pond, everyone in the tiny village is shocked and horrified to learn of her death.  Inspector Sejer begins his investigation with almost no clues but doggedly pursues the girl’s recent past and in so doing, uncovers dark family secrets beneath the surface of the quiet unassuming town; the darkest secret of them all leads him to the killer.   Inspector Sejer is a very likable, wizened and somewhat melancholic police officer who uses the most minute and seemingly unrelated details of an investigation to solve the case. Fossum does a superb job of building suspense and allowing the reader to suspect nearly every character of hiding something sinister.

Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason’s book, Jar City, is the first in the Reykjavik mystery series featuring Inspector Erlendur. An elderly man is found murdered in his flat and no one seems to even know who he is. Erlendur and his team of detectives begin an exhaustive investigation into the man’s past and a disturbing image appears before them. Inspector Erlendur makes no friends as he disrupts the lives of nearly everyone who ever came into contact with the dead man. Long hidden secrets come to the surface as the team closes in on the killer and forces Erlendur to look at his own life in perspective.

Reading translated books, especially those from original languages so remote from our English, is a different and distinct experience from reading books written in English. I found it entertaining just trying to pronounce proper nouns with six or more syllables. Also, all of the authors do a nice job of describing these exotic foreign landscapes lending great atmosphere to the mystery.

So to all you Stieg Larsson fans out there, I hope you quench your thirst for Nordic mysteries with one of these outstanding authors

Other Recommended reading
Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg (Patrik Hedstrom, book 1)
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole, book 3)  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Books to Scream About - Horror Fiction

I have always loved a good horror story. I know that it’s a genre that doesn’t appeal to everyone. But I have always been fascinated by stories that shine the light into the dark corners where the monsters await. For my fellow horror fans, or for anyone willing to try something different, here are a few recommendations.

Carrie by Stephen King  
There’s a reason this is a classic. Carrie is the story of a shy high school girl who is mercilessly picked on by practically everyone at her high school. Unfortunately, her home life is not any better. Her mother, Margaret White, is a religious fanatic whose idea of “discipline” could be more accurately described as child abuse.

But Carrie has one other characteristic that makes her more unusual than everyone else: Carrie is telekinetic. She can move objects with the power of her mind. Like any talent, it has to be strengthened by practice- and Carrie practices in secret. But when she is the victim of a cruel prank at the high school prom, she puts her talent to stunning, murderous use. 

This has been made into a movie, a mini-series and even a Broadway musical. There is something about this story that keeps it modern, even though it was originally published in 1974.

The Ridge by Michael Kortya
If you haven’t heard of Michael Kortya yet, try one of his books today. This young author has written a novel that combines a detective story with horror. In the eastern Kentucky woods, a lonely, eccentric man takes his life. The man is found in his lighthouse, a strange landmark in the mountains, along with pictures and other intriguing clues about the area surrounding the lighthouse, called Blade Ridge.

Kevin Kimble, deputy sheriff, and Roy Darmus, resident reporter, were the last two people the victim contacted before taking his own life. Both Kimble and Darmus have been affected by seemingly unrelated tragedies. But the more they research the history of the Ridge, the more they find that their personal tragedies are connected to each other because of the Ridge.

Audrey Clark, a widow who is fulfilling her late husband’s dream of opening a large-cat sanctuary, gets more than she bargained for when she relocates near the Ridge. All the animals grow more and more agitated in their new home, especially at night. Audrey, Sheriff Kimble and Darmus must all find out the truth, before the Ridge claims more victims.

Hater by David Moody
Danny McCoyne is an average guy with a job, wife and kids. His normal if somewhat hectic life is changed by some unexplainably violent and random acts committed in greater and greater numbers. Isolated random occurrences soon become widespread. Danny struggles to protect his family as people all around him turn into crazed killers. People murder strangers, wives murder husbands, children murder parents, and no one can truly trust anyone, even themselves.

The author manages to perfectly capture the unraveling of an average guy’s world into a nightmare world where you may be the next victim or the next killer. The book is disturbingly detailed in its descriptions of a society falling apart at a rapid pace, while highlighting the desperation of the people left trying to protect themselves and their families. If you enjoy horror fiction, you should read Hater. Do yourself a big favor: don’t read it right before bedtime.

Enjoy a chilling thrill with one of these authors, your flashlight, and Fido!

Other Recommended Titles:
Swan Song by Robert McCammon 
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson  
Strangers by Dean Koontz                                                          
Dark Matter by Peter Straub