David’s Haunted Library: Alethia and Drawing Dead

Little Ridge is an odd little town, there is an island somewhere off the coast but no one seems to remember where it is. It all started when a couple of the town’s residents started to disappear. One day Thettie Harper and her family discover one of the missing people it causes problems within the whole town. Thettie’s one ally is Lee and it’s up to them to find answers.

What really might be causing the problems in the town is the lake itself. There is something evil in that lake below the island that is haunting Little Ridge This is a book about the horror of losing your memory, what we leave behind and terror itself.

Aletheia by J.S. Breukelaar is about the damage that has been done and the damage that will happen. The story has elements of the supernatural and a love story to it. This is a complex character driven novel that you really have to pay attention to in order to get all the details right. Most of all I loved the mood of the story and the fact that it has to deal with how choices we made in the past change how thing will be in the present. Aletheia is a book that builds slowly to a good ending and if you like a well thought out ghost story you will like it.

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Faolan O’Connor grew up in New York City and joined the mob at an early age. He worked as a hired killer in order to get power, respect, and money, but little by little it destroyed his family and everything he loved. One fateful night in 1935 he goes out to perform his last hit, hoping to die in the process. What he gets instead is immortality from a vampire and the boss of New York, Darcy Killian. Faolan’s whole world changes but not how you think it would.

Faolan already led a life of violence and destruction, but as a vampire, his feelings start to change. He wants power but he wants to help his city too. The only way he can do that is by taking down the boss of New York, Killian. He may have a lot of enemies but he makes a lot of friends on the way, if he plays his cards right he may get redemption and the power he desires.

Drawing Dead by Brian McKinley is a novel about vampire mobsters set during The Great Depression in New York City. Just the way this novel feels when you start reading, hooked me right away. The Way Brian describes the surroundings and the characters showed that he really did his homework on what life was like in organized crime and in the Depression. When you read this book you feel like you are right there with the characters and you know them personally.

It’s hard to pick out my favorite scenes in this book since there were so many. The one I loved was after Faolan wins a promotion from his boss, he decides to return to his mother’s home because he feels the need to reconcile with all of the evil and destruction he has caused in the past. When he gets there he finds that his mother has passed and there are squatters living in his boyhood home. At this point, he has to decide to let his vampire instincts kick in and kill the family or have mercy on them. What he does is a total surprise and shows how Faolan is evolving as a character. Another part that really stands out is a scene where a vampire named Frank shows that he is not the evil monster that we think he is, but if you find out his secret, it could be the last secret you ever find out.

There is also a great scene where Killian shows Faolan what he has planned for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Killian’s vision sounds like it’s a step in the direction of what America is like in the present day with small businesses becoming a thing of the past and corporations running everything. As Faolan is hearing this, he is thinking that he doesn’t like this New York of the future and loves his city the way it is. While reading this I found myself wondering how Faolan would change as a character when he reaches the present day. Since he is a vampire he would still be around.

Drawing Dead could be considered a masterpiece, It’s a tale of redemption that works as a horror novel, a crime novel and it fits nicely into the historical fiction category. Though what really makes this novel great is how complex the characters are. Each of them has good and bad points, even the main villain doesn’t come across as pure evil. This was a novel that for me was hard to put down and you don’t have to be a vampire or organized crime fan to love it, my favorite parts were all the references to the 1930’s. Brian McKinley is an author to watch in the future and there will be more books to come in this series.

Free Fiction Friday: Welcome Back To The Night

This weeks Free Fiction Friday selection is Welcome Back To The Night by Elizabeth Massie. Family reunions aren’t always a happy occasion, especially for the Lynch family. Three cousins are about to meet up with a deranged woman who was also part of their family not long ago. This woman is not back to join the clan, she wants to remind the cousins of their horrible past and warn them about their deadly future.

I’ve read reviews for Welcome Back To the Night that called it a psychological thrill ride and one person called it part supernatural and completely sick. Most of the reviews agreed that Elizabeth Massie does a great job of showing how derranged people can be and what kind of evil and bigotry can be hiding in a small town.

I’ve read Elizabeth Massie’s anthology Shadow Dreams and really enjoyed it. Besides horror novels, Elizabeth Massie has written some TV tie in novels for Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The Tudors and a few historical fiction novels.

If you would like to have your very own copy of Welcome Back To The Night, leave a comment on this blog post. First comment gets the book.  To find out more about the author go to elizabethmassie.com

Roses Of Winter by Murdo Morrison

Tom Brokaw called the people that lived through the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War 2 The Greatest Generation. In his 1998 book called The Greatest Generation he recounted stories of how soldiers and families in America were effected by the war. Life in the 30’s and 40’s wasn’t easy and some families were torn apart by the financial struggles of the Great Depression in the 30’s and young men having to go off to war in the 40’s.

Overtime, I’ve read quite a few accounts of American families during the war years, so I was happy to find a fictional novel that centered around two families in Scotland during World War 2. The book is called Roses of Winter by Murdo Morrison. Roses Of Winter was originally a podiobook and was released in print in July 2011. The two families in the story are working class families who are greatly effected by the war.

The first family is the Burns who live in Maryhill. In September of 1939, Mary and Charlie sat in their home reading the paper and wondering when the Germans would attack Scotland. The Burns have three kids, Alastair, Elspeth and their teenage daughter Ellen. In the evening, they go to church where the Reverend announces that the country is now at war.  The congregation is in shock. They had hoped the Great War that ended in 1917 would be the last, but things didn’t work out that way.

Things get worse for the Burns. Ellen is not getting along with her mother Mary while Charlie who is in the Merchant Navy has to sail away on a ship called The Jasper to deliver petroleum to the British army in France. The ship gets bombed by the Germans en route, causing the crew to abandon ship and head for land where things aren’t any better. Back in Maryhill, Mary has to leave her family to attend the funeral of her mother in Glasgow. On her return she finds Ellen is dating a man who is headed off to fight in the war.

The second family is the McIntyers. Bessie and Murdo have two sons, Donald and Alec, who are off fighting in the war. The couple lives in Scotstoun where Bessie dreams of a better life. Bessie has no friends and her life was turned upside down when she was a teenager when her family lost all their money in the Great Depression.  Bessie has had to work hard ever since and her life gets worse when one of her sons is killed in the war. One of her neighbors: Ella reaches out to her, giving Bessie the opportunity to talk about her sad life.

Ella has a daughter that lives near by Clydesbank. One night in March of 1941, Scotland’s worse fears come true when Clydesbank is bombed by German forces. Fearing for her daughter, Ella leaves the safety of her apartment and takes the tramcar to find her daughter. As she gets to town there are explosions and people screaming all around. There is no safe place to turn but she can’t leave the war-torn town until she finds her daughter.

Roses Of Winter has vivid descriptions of naval battles along with cities getting bombed into rubble, but its more then just a war story. What really makes Roses Of Winter a great novel is how the characters in the story react to the chaos around them. The characters change during the course of the story and you feel for them. When I read a book, I like to bookmark parts that I really enjoy. I bookmarked 20 different scenes in Roses Of Winter that I felt were examples of great writing.

For example, I liked when Mary is at her mother’s funeral and while grieving makes the realization that someday her kids will have to attend her funeral and feel the same way she feels. I also liked when the ship Charlie is on is under attack and as he sees the bombs dropping, he imagines being on a picnic with his wife. Other things I liked in this book was how Bessie and Ellen changed throughout the story. There is also a good scene where Andy finds the people he works with are more then they seem and there is a good commentary on how its the working class that really pays the price in a time of crisis.

Murdo Morrison put a lot of work into the research of Roses Of Winter and should be commended for it.  He read several accounts of people in Scotland who lived through that period; also the ships in the story we’re based on real ships from the era. The tenaments that many of the characters lived in were based on the place where the author’s mother grew up and was very similar to where the author used to live in.

Roses of Winter is kind of like a journey through World War 2, where you will find a little bit of everything. The book has a couple of love stories, there is loss, suspense, a suicide and some good battle scenes. At its core, the story is about how families and friends pull together to survive in the face of disaster. Roses Of Winter is a great human drama and an excellent read.