I heard a voice calling out my name from inside the house, and when I opened the door…
Music floated from the ballroom as wraithlike shadows slinked along the walls. Though the doors were open to the frosty night air, it was hot as hell in here. A man in a tuxedo beckoned to me from the dance floor.
I should have been scared, but the sound of the waltz impelled me to approach him. He took my hand and his touch was a live wire. We whirled and twirled to the ethereal melodies, the notes falling over my skin like electric rain.
“I don’t mean to monopolize all your dances, my dear,” he said in a voice rumbling from the abyss.
“Yes, you do!” I laughed as I trembled in his molten embrace.
“True.” He acknowledged my words with a sinister grin, and claimed my mouth in a devil’s kiss.
Welp, I could not pass up the opp to plug my novel Ghosted. It’s received some good feedback, so if you haven’t read it yet, please give it a try. It’s an atypical romance/mystery and you may be left wondering if our heroine did experience something supernatural or simply a series of coincidences. I like to leave that to the individual reader’s interpretation. I look forward to any comments and also will love you forever if you leave a review on Amazon. Click here to purchase. Thanks in advance!
Ella lay on a blanket in her secret spot, trying to sort out her emotions as she watched the waves crash onto the rocks. Her diamond ring glittered in the sunlight, and just when she told herself to stop moping and be happy, tears began to flow. She wiped her eyes on her sleeve and looked up to find a dirty old bottle on the sand with an envelope inside.
Ella was shocked when she opened the envelope and saw that it was a letter in her own handwriting. “To whom it may concern, I am trapped in a terrible evil with no way out. There was a time I stood at a crossroads and took the wrong path, the easy way. Now all is darkness and despair. Maybe this message will save someone else.”
The wind off the water grew colder and Ella woke from her nap. Where was that weird bottle and the letter? Oh! It had all been a dream! She smiled as she looked down at her left hand. Next weekend she would be married, off on her honeymoon to Paris, and never be stressed by anything again…
“Hey, Lori! Guess what?” I grinned as I clicked on the email. “We finally got the results of Wesley’s DNA test.”
“Thank God,” Lori muttered. “Now we can find out if he’s really blood related to us. Honestly, Chris, I hope he isn’t. The idea of being his sister is too creepy, especially when Mark and I are trying to get pregnant. You know some of those scary traits can be passed on.”
I nodded. “I hear you. When I was little, I pretended not to know him in elementary school. I didn’t want the other kids to know I had such a weird brother. But then they threw him out of school, so I didn’t have to worry about it.”
“For setting those fires, right?” Lori asked.
“Mm, and other… things. But he always denied doing any of it. Said he was being set up.” I entered my password and clicked through the menus on the site. “I’m just glad they took hair because there’s no way I was gonna get him to spit in a cup.”
“He’d probably spit in your face!” Lori laughed. “Of course he denied it. Typical of psychopaths.”
“OK, he’s a quarter Irish and a quarter German, just like my test said.”
“Ugh,” Lori growled. “But does he match up with you in the relatives’ section?”
I scrolled down. “Hang on. He’s twelve percent Norwegian, eight percent Belizean, and… what’s this?”
“What???” Lori peered over my shoulder.
“He’s six point six six percent jackal.” I stared at the screen.
“Explains a few things,” Lori said, her breath hot on my neck. “Seriously.”
I heard the music as I entered the room, but all that remained was ashes from the fire. I closed my eyes and drifted into the memory of our wedding day, with you at the piano in your bridal gown. When I looked again, the walls had melted away and the tune played on. I felt compelled to walk through the fog to find you.
The rocks were slippery with mist and the closer I came, the more my heart pounded in fear. I wanted to leave this ghostly place, but I kept moving forward. Your lacy white dress floated around you like a cloud as the haunting notes surrounded us. Your dark hair twisted down your back like snakes. I’m so sorry, I whispered, and you began to turn…
No! I screamed in terror when I saw your ruined face, your eyes aflame with rage. You knew what I had done.
Dear Mr. Smythe, I hope this finds you well and you’ve had a pleasant holiday. I don’t mean to disturb you unnecessarily, but the strangest thing has happened. Last night, I had trouble sleeping and heard scratching noises coming from the garden. I pulled back the draperies in the great room, and I swear to you that my mad cousin Edwin stared in at me. I nearly died of fright! Of course, I told myself not to be silly and it must have been a trick of light from the moon. But I can’t shake the feeling today that something is wrong. Would you be so kind as to ascertain that Edwin is still locked securely away in the asylum, under constant guard as the judge decreed? It would put my mind at ease if you would send me such a statement at your soonest convenience. Thanks ever so, Lady Jessica Tarleton
“I wish I had received this letter sooner,” Mr. Smythe said to his wife. “I certainly would have done as she had asked immediately. The poor woman.”
Mrs. Smythe shuddered. “Lucinda told me at tea that the maid was in hysterics and had to be sedated. I can’t even imagine finding a body in such a… state.”
Mr. Smythe reached for his brandy. “It is too horrific to be contemplated.”
“But they say…” Mrs. Smythe paused to take a deep breath. “That she had been partially… consumed? By her own cousin!”
“Yes.” Mr. Smythe confirmed. “Edwin somehow acquired the taste for human flesh. You know he traveled to odd corners of the world in his youth.”
“But where is he now?” Mrs. Smythe pulled the edges of her dressing gown closer together. “Why hasn’t he been captured?”
Can you tell I’ve just binge-watched all 6 seasons of the Sopranos? Yep, I am now ready for The Many Saints of Newark (possibly this weekend), after which I will dump HBO. There are not enough good shows to justify the $15/month, especially when I am also paying for Prime.
Remember when we had only a few shows to choose from, yet they were high quality? Or maybe that’s just my old-person, rose-colored view. All due respect for the writers, directors, actors, et al, but almost everything available for streaming is crap. This is why I usually rewatch an old fave rather than start something new. I will let you know my opinion of Many Saints, but I don’t have high expectations because I was disappointed in El Camino, which came after another fabulous drama (Breaking Bad).
But actually I started this post to bitch about books, though I suppose I could wait until Monday. Eh, like I’ll ever run out of peeves! I read my 86th book for the year this week, and my gawd it sucked. I was hooked by the title ~ The Ghost Writer (by Alessandra Torre) ~ and dutifully trudged through to the end, but it was a chore. I reacted in a moment of extreme irritation by awarding it only one star.
I am calm now, but I’m still not upping the rating. The writing, though technically error-free, drove me nuts. To be brief, the story centered on a horrible protagonist, but not a semi-lovable horrible one like Tony Soprano. Helena was a self-centered, melodramatic monster, and there was nothing redeeming about her. The fact that her dead husband turned out to be more of a monster didn’t excuse any of Helena’s character flaws. She was simply a ghoul waiting to die.
The narrative was presented in that style I despise of half first-person, by someone who DIES, and half third-person. Why does this sh!t even pass editing? We all learned not to write “and then I died” back in third grade. It’s awful and disjointing to the reader. It’s also lazy, as if the author couldn’t decide how to tell the story, so she hedged by using first and third. PICK ONE, argh!
I also hate when a novel is unnecessarily mysterious. A detective story should be mysterious, since we are discovering clues along with the protag. But these books where the narrative keeps teasing us with a Big Secret, which the protag already knows, are just annoying. We keep getting allusions to “the thing,” but it’s too horrible to mention even though the protag is obsessed with it throughout. Every moment, every interaction is steeped in drama because of THE THING that we can’t know. The reason a writer does this, in my opinion, is because her story and characters aren’t strong enough alone, so she layers on a phony mystery. Ugh.
Far be it from me to criticize such a colossally successful writer such as Dean Koontz, but I gotta be honest… I gave the last book I read of his (The Other Emily) only 2 stars. Sure, it was “exciting” as his plots often are, but ugh. If you’re gonna write about an impossible thing, you can’t just gloss over the details, and you especially should not “fade to black” at the climax. What the crap is that? I felt like I was staring at that cartoon where one side of the board is filled with a bunch of math and the other side says “and then a miracle occurred.” Yep, Dean relied on the miracle to make his story work instead of explaining to us how the future humans, who were sort of aliens, time-traveled and created a new Emily. I am so done with him (which I have said before, I know).
But he’s not the only one. I read 2 books by Colleen Hoover this month and gave them both 2 stars. They were about evil women who ruined a man’s life, and, like the Emily book, they also suffered from crazy situations that Hoover failed to adequately explain. In Verity, a mentally ill wife/writer who has murdered her daughters convinces everyone, including the best doctors, that she’s a vegetable, while she plots revenge against hubby and his new love. How did she fake her own X-rays of her brain? Oh, let’s not dwell on that! In Layla, the soul of an insane, murderous ex somehow takes over the body of a guy’s new girlfriend, he finds a ghost helper on the internet, they figure out a way to switch the real soul back in, etc. It’s all preposterous, not to mention vaguely disturbing that a writer is so fixated on the evil woman theme with no real acknowledgement that these men were no prize. I’m done with Hoover as well.
I gave The Singing Trees by Boo Walker 2 stars also. It just went on and on, churning up ridiculous drama over nothing. Every character was absurd. I toyed with giving it only one star, but then I felt guilty. I did read the whole thing, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor. I have quit many books before I hit the 10% read mark, and those I don’t rate at all. Not that my reviews probably mean much, since I rarely write anything these days in the body of the review, but I keep track of the stars in my spreadsheet where I list all the books I read. Is that OCD? Well, how else will I know when I hit 100 books for the year (up to 85, thank you)? I no longer belong to Goodreads because of all the spam and garbage I received there.
Anyway, it’s time to get tougher with my ratings on these Kindle Unlimited books. Beware! The one-star ratings are near!
Stan was starving. It had been half a day since he’d passed a rest stop, and he had long since run out of his stash of trail mix. Plus, his VW bug was now dangerously low on gas. As he daydreamed of a sumptuousbowl of lovely fettuccine noodles drenched with Alfredo sauce and topped with fresh seafood, he saw a sign for “Gas & Eats.”
That would have to suffice. Stan exited the dark, desert highway and proceeded along the bumpy unpaved road until he came to a commonself-service gas station with a diner behind it. After filling his tank, Stan moseyed over to the restaurant, noting with pleasure the scent of garlic and onions starting to dominatethe air. Mmm!
“Welcome to the Friendship Café!” a beautiful brunette greeted him as he walked through the door. An equally beautiful redhead stood by her side. “I’m Maori and this is Shayla. We love to make new friends for dinner.”
“Me too,” Stan said. “I’m Stan, and I’m starving. What’s on the menu!”
“You!” Shayla giggled. “Just take off your clothes in the back room, put on the light robe, and we’ll be all set to begin.”
“Wow, this is friendly!” Stan went in the back to disrobe. What a fun place he’d found. Dinner and a threesome, woohoo!
Maori and Shayla sharpened their knives in the kitchen as the water began to boil under the large pot. Stan looked so good, and the girls were very very hungry.
At a time when most people were struggling for wealth and/or glory, Bob felt content with his quiet life and his paper route. He subsisted on beans and toast, while others dined upon steak and champagne. When that rich food and decadent lifestyle began to kill them, Bob stayed slim and fit. He would never crow about his good health however as death and despair hovered over the wealthy, for he knew he could get hit by a truck tomorrow. He greeted each day with a smile in fascination over simple things like flowers and butterflies, never troubling himself to read the articles in the news he brought to others.