'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone


Friday, October 31, 2014

Guest Post with H.D. Gordon, New Book Release Today!



CALLING ALL SCARDY-CATS!

This is for all the screamers, all the stare-into-the-dark-and-shiver believers…For the kids who lie squarely in the center of their beds, hands clutching stuffed things while dreaming of dreads…

For the ones devoted to their nightlights, and the ones who must battle the dark…For the mothers and fathers who lose sleep-hours calming the racing of little hearts…

This is for the Halloween-Lovers, the ones who get kicks outta scares…This is for the smart kids, the Are You Afraid Of The Dark kids, who’d run out the door, rather than up the stairs…

This is for everyone, this place welcomes all, if you stay for a while, you’ll see…There are things you’ll see here you won’t find anywhere…

Welcome to Peculiar, Missouri.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

~H. D. GORDON


CHAPTER ONE OF SANTA’S LITTLE HELPER…
Chapter 1

The Harvest

The town of Peculiar, Missouri sleeps. The windows of the homes are dark, like the night pressing up against their panes. A silence hangs in the air, the kind of silence that only hangs in the air around small towns such as this. From above, every celestial body can be seen, a black sheet sprinkled with the sugar of the universe. Large expanses of land stretch out in all directions. Cattle and crops and rolling hills make up the landscape, soon to be harvested for consumption upon ripening.

Beneath their feet, in the bowels of the earth, tucked away like the bodies of the deceased, something else waits. This something never sleeps, but is intimately familiar with the power of slumber. During slumber, the minds of the people are ruled by the subconscious, where all things that were, are, and ever will be are thought up and brought into existence.

The thing that waits also knows the most powerful of these creation thoughts are born within the subconscious minds of children. For children are special. Small children have yet to completely separate the conscious mind from the subconscious, and this makes them the greatest creators of all. No boundaries or impossibilities, only blank canvases and a stock of endless tools with which to fill these voids. This also makes them the most vulnerable, for wherever there is power, there is something waiting in the folds of time to consume that power and have it for itself.

As soon as it is ready to be harvested. First, they must be cultivated, tested, to see which will yield the sweetest, most powerful fruit.

Now, the night grows cold, and in the silent homes the people shift and pull bed covers up over their shoulders. It is as though a collective shudder has passed over the town, one that will go unquestioned and forgotten come morning. The shudder is not born of a gust of wind, or a draft seeping through the cracks of seemingly solid structures, but of a spike in the subconscious, where only possibilities exist. This is the place where red flags that should not go ignored, but inevitably will be, are raised. The thing that waits is making its selections, picking the best and brightest out for harvest. For it has been too long, and it is hungry.

But first, cultivation. Seeds to be planted and grown until they can fill a cosmic stomach. It will not take long. The soil of a child’s mind is rich and ready for these particular seeds. It is here where nightmares are born.
***

Meet H.D....


H. D. Gordon is the bestselling author of THE ALEXA MONTGOMERY SAGA, THE JOE KNOWE SERIES, and THE SURAH STORMSONG NOVELS. She is a lifelong reader and writer, a true lover of words. When she is not reading and writing, she is busy raising her two daughters and keeping the world’s zombie population under control.



Get the Book!


Thanks for stopping by and sitting on our porch awhile H.D.!
Peggy Ann

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bats in the Belfry

When you think Halloween, you think bats!  We always associate bats with scary and getting tangled up in hair, eww! But actually they are really important to our ecology and especially helpful if you live in mosquito invested areas!

Our bat population in the US is in a rapid decline, mostly from the terrible fungus White Nose Syndrome first documented in the winter of 2006-2007. It's killed more than 7 millions bats in the US and Canada. We were in a cave this last spring and they use to have over a hundred bats winter there, but are down to one lone bat now.

There is a bat sanctuary in Texas, Bat World Sanctuary. It looks like such a cool place! They don't do tours though as it would agitate the bats too much so they have lots of videos up on their Youtube channel. Be sure and check out the videos of caring for Lil' Drac a baby orphaned bat, it will warm your heart! They have lots of resources for teachers and fun things for kids to do on the website too.

Watch this video and you'll never look at bats the same again!


Build a bat house with these free plans.


Here are a couple other fun links for Halloween...

70 Vintage Halloween Costumes

Nadia G's Severed Braciole Arm Recipe

15 Scariest Lighthouses, Inns, and hotels

Spookiest Cemeteries in the US 

Fun Halloween recipes

America's most haunted bars

Most haunted hotels in the world

50 scariest books of all time!

15 creepy books to get you in the Halloween spirit

Irish Jack-o-Lantern
How Candy Corn is Made

and did you know the 'jack o lantern' originated in Ireland and Scotland using turnips, rutabagas, beets and potatoes as they didn't have pumpkins? I just learned that! They are the ones who brought the tradition to the US. Carved turnips and rutabagas are much spookier than pumpkins!

Here's how to carve a turnip!

Stay safe and leave the lights on!

Peggy Ann

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Free Book in Time for Halloween!

The Devil's Grin by Annilie Wendeberg

First book in the award-winning Kronberg thriller series

In Victorian London's cesspool of crime and disease, a series of murders remains undiscovered until a cholera victim is found floating in the city's drinking water supply. Dr Anton Kronberg, England's best bacteriologist, is called upon to investigate and finds evidence of abduction and medical maltreatment. While Scotland Yard has little interest in pursuing the case, Kronberg pushes on and crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes. The detective immediately discovers Kronberg's secret - a woman masquerading as a man in order to practice medicine - a criminal deed that could land her in prison for years to come. But both must join forces to stop a crime so monstrous, it outshines Jack the Ripper's deeds in brutality and cold-bloodedness.

Get it free @ Noisetrade

Murder Scholastic by Janet Caird

Ace Star books
1967
189 Pages

Back cover:
Murder was not included in the curriculum of Findlater's Academy, but somewhere in the school's dim, shadowed halls a vicious killer lurked...

When Christina Graham found the body of her colleague, Joseph Walsh, an antique compass buried in his back, the faculty privately agreed that a lot of people might want the meddling old math teacher dead - and that included David Ronaldson, who appeared mysteriously out of the rain on the night of the murder. The school now needed a math teacher in a hurry, and luckily David was qualified. A fortuitous coincidence...or was it?

Who was David, really? And where did he come from?

Despite her doubts about the new man, Christina found herself attracted to him, flattered, yet frightened by his ever-present attention. And then, suddenly, the killer was stalking Christina, and the small seed of doubt about David began to grow into a monstrous, evil flower..

...Until the murderer made one last, desperate move...

Very enjoyable read! Great plotting, great characters and relationships. Plenty of red herrings to keep you on your toes. I did 'think' it was who it ended up being, but had no idea why so thought I was off. There were just too many other people that could have done it! Nice climactic ending and little romance thrown in for flavor.

1913-1994
Ms. Caird is a Scottish writer and the book is set in Scotland. She was born in Malawi, but was from Dollar, Stirlingshire, Scotland and was educated at the University of Edinburgh. She was married to James Caird, a school inspector and had 2 daughters. She wrote one other mystery, her first book, A Glass Darkly, which I hope to find a copy of soon! Romance suspense is her specialty. If you come across one of her books pick it up, you'll like it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Taste of Murder by Joanna Cannan

Dover Book
ISBN 0-486-25296-5
171 Pages

back cover:
'What a squalid little story you've made up. If you believe it, why don't you arrest me?'

Bunny flung the challenge at Detective Inspector Ronald Price. He suspected and had accused her of murder. Two murders. She suspected him of being an idiot. They both had good reason for their suspicions.

On the Riviera, Bunny, the free-spirited widow of French poet Raoul Sallust, had met an English lord, Sir Charles d'Estray, accepted his proposal of marriage and returned with him to England as mistress of his vast estate, 'The Park'. To save the declining fortunes of the estate, practical Bunny had introduced the distasteful-but successful-measure of accepting paying guests.

In this atmosphere of bitterly resented change, a poisonous plant has become the bitter brew of murder. And as a quarrelsome cast of d'Estays, their servants and guests, along with the mystified local police, lose themselves in a maze of mutual suspicion, bunny suddenly finds herself not only the chief suspect, bu also a prime candidate for murder.

I had read Death at the Dog by Joanna Canaan earlier this year and quite enjoyed it. This one was a very clever mystery to unravel, but I didn't enjoy it as much. I think it was because I didn't care for any of the characters. The New York Times said: 'Told with a devastating detachment which is equally brutal toward the English gentry, its middle-class emulators and upstart cockney detectives.'  Seems to me Ms. Canaan didn't like any of the characters in her own book and it showed. Maybe there was an axe to grind? 

  'Oh well,' said Patricia, 'we're not great bell-ringers. It means the servants have to come and ask what you want and then go back again, so it saves their legs if you yell. Of course the lodgers are always bell-ringing.'
  'To return to the point,' said Price, surprised and not altogether pleased to find among the effete aristocracy such consideration for those misguided enough to serve them, 'can you tell me in what order the riders proceeded to the stable?'

a few pages over we hear Inspector Price thinking...

He had no doubt that Bunny d'Estray was the poisoner, that, hating Elizabeth Hudson for her domestic tyranny and for her influence over the d'Estrays - motive insufficient to a man, perhaps, but typical of the smaller minded female.

And Patricia and her father Sir Charles although they don't treat their servants like servants, are always discussing Bunny's French background and moaning over her vulgarity as one beneath them. Why in the world did he marry her then!?

It all detracted enormously from the story and left me with a very unsatisfied feeling at the end of the book. Really the only good thing about this book was that it was an old Dover paperback and they know how to make them to last!

A DOVER EDITION DESIGNED FOR YEARS OF USE!
We have made every effort to make this the best book possible. Our paper is opaque, with minimal show-through; it will not discolor or become brittle with age. Pages are sewn in signatures, in the method traditionally used for the best books, and will not drop out, as often happens with paperbacks held together with glue. books open flat for easy reference. The binding will not crack or split. This is a permanent book.

Too bad all publishers don't use this method!

Peggy Ann

Monday, October 27, 2014

Case For Sergeant Beef by Leo Bruce

Penguin Books #847
189 pages
First published 1951
Published in Penguin Books 1953


From inside front cover:
Sergeant Beef was a burly, red-faced, complacent ex-village-policeman with a huge dark ginger moustache. He inspired very little confidence - in fact he himself was one of the few people who believed in his genius - but, in his own blunt and logical way, he was a remarkable efficient detective. As a private investigator he joined forces with the police over the difficult Shoulter murder case, and faced problems which, he insisted, would have been far too formidable for the smart amateurs of detective fiction, such as M. Amer Picon and Lord Simon Plimsoll. For Case for Sergeant Beef, while full of its own excitements and complications, enjoys a number of friendly and lightly veiled digs at the plots and characters of other famous writers.

With the opening line: 'I had made up my mind to have no more to do with murder.' this was a fun read! Mr. Bruce made little funny remarks picking on literary sleuths and even added himself in the fun. M. Amer Picon is Hercule Poirot and Lord Simon Plimsoll is Lord Peter Wimsey. And Sgt. Beef, when retired from the police force, insisted on buying a house on Baker Street and hanging out a sign Beef Investigations. Fun characters names too, Wellington Chickle, Mrs. Pluck, Inspector Chatto and Mr. and Mrs. Flipp, not to mention the little cottage Labour's End.

The story is told from the point of view of Mr. Townsend. He followed Sgt. Beef around on his investigations and chronicled them into mystery books. It was the fashion then for the top detectives to have their own 'chronicler'. In chapter one he had made up his mind to retire from this and go into a business for himself, but when telling Beef about his decision Beef was able to persuade him to go along for one more very unusual investigation.

In chapter two we are introduced to Mr. Chickle and his journal. He has decided to commit a murder. An unsolvable murder, because there will be no motive as he won't know the victim. In this way he will become immortal and famous. He plans meticulously down to the smallest detail. Recording it in his journal for the police to have after he has died and the case is long unsolved. Once he is ready he moves to the cottage in the woods and establishes himself there as a friendly retired old watchmaker and our murder mystery unfolds! Will it go to plan or will someone throw a monkey wrench in the works. Will Mr. Chickle get away with it? You'll have to find a copy to find out!

from the book...

About a year earlier Mr. Wellington Chickle had begun to write his Journal. This Journal is now one of Sergeant Beef's most prized souvenirs, though it only came into his hands long after the Shoulter Case was concluded, and no one knew of its existence, still less had any access to it, while the investigation was proceeding. It is an astonishing document written in large curious handwriting, full of flourishes so ornamental and detailed that they are almost like the illuminated capitals of an old manuscript. It is clear at a glance that the man who wrote it loved his work and probably had nothing to do but perfect it. The Journal opens in March 1945. Its first entry gives the key to the whole thing.

First Entry

I have decided to commit a murder...

  I shall not commit murder for gain, for revenge, for love, for the sake of brutality, for escape from a blackmailer or bully, for spite, for hatred or as a protest against anything whatsoever. In fact - and this is the very crux of the matter - I shall have no motive. And because I shall have no motive I shall never be found out. In other words my murder will be art for art's sake, murder merely and entirely for the sake of murder. It sounds simple. So do all great ideas.
  I am perfectly sane, of course. I am considered rather a nice old gentleman, fond of books and gardening, and devoted to children. A hundred people could testify to my sanity. I am not even an eccentric or a solitary. I am generally liked, even respected.
  So my reasons are these. I am going to commit a murder because I have found the key to successful murder - to have no discoverable motive. Because I want to achieve something before I die which will make my rather odd name live in the annals of time, and murder seems the surest way of achieving this. Because I really have nothing much to do with the remaining years of my life, no absorbing interest, and I think that the planning and carrying out of this will give me what I need....

Are you intrigued now? I'll be looking for more Sergeant Beef books that's for sure. I read one of Leo Bruce's Carolus Deene books before and enjoyed it too. If you love vintage mystery keep your eye out for Leo Bruce!

A great website for Leo Bruce books and a short story featuring Sgt. Beef!

Peggy Ann