All The Lies We Tell by Megan Hart

all the lies

 

All the Lies We Tell by Megan Hart is a novel about lust and love and family and finding out too late who you really love. Why in premise, brothers in love with sisters and then ending up with the wrong ones, may seem a little stretched, Hart’s ability to tell the tale makes this one engaging and bittersweet.

“…It’s Babulya,’ Niko said with an edge in his voice. ‘She’s…they say she doesn’t have long to live. You need to get over there right away…”

Alicia Harrison’s marriage to Ilya Stern was doomed from the beginning. The ghost of Alicia’s older sister haunted their relationship from the very beginning. No matter what Alicia did, she could never be Jennilynn. In life it was difficult, but in death, the spectre of Jennilynn was far too much to overcome. Alicia and her sister Jennilynn. Ilya and his brother Niko. Two sets of siblings, growing up on the same street in two homes across from one another. But then Jennilynn goes missing and Niko leaves and all that is left is the broken pieces. The pieces that are Ilya and Alicia. But they could not repair the broken parts of one another. They could only cut themselves on them. Alicia and Ilya divorced but live across the street from one another and in this small town, they are still considered married. Alicia finds herself responsible for the immature acts of her ex-husband. Their business, built while they were married, keeps them together on a daily basis. But the emptiness that is in Alicia’s soul is opening and there has to be more for her than living in this small town, caring for a man she does not love, and trying to be the sister that is gone from them all.

Then Babulya dies and the final ties that bind them together begins to unravel. Babulya was Ilya’s and Nikolai’s grandmother and the woman who raised them and Alicia alike. Now, with her passing the whole clan is coming home. And now, Alicia will be face to face with the brother she let go and the one she stayed with. She will have to face the truth of her desires and the lies she made herself believe all those years before.

What Alicia feels for Nikolai is what she once made herself believed she felt for Ilya. But after all this time will they continue to deny the truth. But she knows Nikolai, he will not stay and she cannot leave. All they can share is a brief time of pleasure. But can they keep it secret from the rest of the family and will it be enough.

Megan Hart is a storyteller whose talents and craft are on full display. She infuse erotica, romance and human angst into a tale of lost love and grief. She also offers her characters the hope that change can happen if they are willing to take the chance. Change that comes with heartache and risk but with the rewards of love and happiness.

For Alicia, the reward is not the love of Nikolai. It is in fact the chance to take her life back. From the responsibilities of her broken marriage and the failing business that ties her down. From the grief and obligations of her sister’s memory and for once, to live her life for herself. Nikolai is simply the catalyst. The spark that makes her believe that she a right to live. A right to find herself and her own happiness.

Megan Hart writes beautiful erotic romance, but what makes it so; is that Megan Hart can create characters you will care about.

Another good read from Har

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Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

dragon teeth
Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton is being marketed as a lost manuscript that may even predate the Jurassic Park books. Considering Crichton passed away a decade ago, this book has been lost for quite some time to finally surface now. As a rule of thumb, I am highly skeptical of books published well after the author’s death, but with Dragon Teeth, I will admit to being happily surprised.

It is 1876 and in the American West, the United States Army is waging a war against remaining Indian tribes. Sitting Bull has just massacred the 7th Calvary and their leader, General George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn and the Great Sioux Wars were raging across the West. It was during this time that Paleontology had its own ongoing battle. Between Othniel Charles Marsh, Professor at Yale University and his rival, Edwin Drinker Cope. This would become known as the Bone Wars. While in most of the United States the theory of evolution is still considered illegal to promote, these two men are racing throughout the West, pillaging sacred lands in search of dinosaur fossils.

It is into this world that William Johnson, Yale student and entitled, steps into. Upon a bet, he agrees to join Marsh’s latest expedition into the West for the summer. But Marsh is both ego-maniacal and paranoid and soon feels that Johnson is not to be trusted. Marsh deserts Johnson in Cheyenne, Wyoming and that is where Cope enters the picture. Cope asks Johnson to join his expedition and the young rich Yale student embarks on an adventure that he was ill-prepared for and may not survive. He is separated from his party and along the way he ends up in Deadwood, South Dakota, hunted by Indian and white man alike. There he teams up with Wyatt and Virgil Earp in hopes of transporting a treasure trove of bones back to the East. Where his family already has given him up for dead.

Dragon Teeth is a wild west adventure that is rooted in the very early years of dinosaur hunting. It is Indiana Jones surviving the OK Corral. There are fist fights, Indian attacks, saloons and bordellos and gun fights in the street. There is also the painstaking work of uncovering the fossils of creatures only just dreamed of and whose existence, threatens the very fabric of the American belief system.

Dragon Teeth is Crichton. Not the uber scientific novels of his later years that everyone loves and rightfully should. But this is a Crichton book like his earlier work. Like the Great Train Robbery and Congo, the science and the research is there, but the adventure is what rules the tale.

Dragon Teeth is a must for any Crichton fan and here’s to the hope that there are other lost manuscripts yet to be found.

A terrific read!

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

down among

 

Down Among the Sticks and Bones is book #2 in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire which began with the brilliant novel, Every Heart a Doorway.

Jacqueline and Jillian were twin sisters who found a door at the age of twelve, passed through it and then found their way home at the age of seventeen. They were transformed as young women and then sent to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the story of what happened to the girls, Jack and Jill, in those five formidable years of their young lives.

Jacqueline is her mother’s daughter, polite and well mannered and impeccably dressed. All the women of the neighborhood comment on how perfect she is. But this if from the strict discipline of her mother, because perfection comes at a price. A price of obedience and pain.

Jillian was her father’s child, a tom-boy, adventurous, thrilling and risk taking. She was the son he had always wanted.

Jacqueline and Jillian’s parents wanted perfect children to show off to their well to do friends. But the caring for the children was something they were ill prepared for. They reached out to the girls’ grandmother and for a time the children knew what love felt like. But when they turned five, their grandmother was sent away and the girls were left with their parents and the obligations of being their children.

At the age of twelve, they found a staircase in their home that had no right to be there. A staircase that led to a door that once opened, may never be found again. A door that led to another world, a different reality that would both divide and challenge the sisters. A world of danger and magic. Of vampires and science. Of love and betrayal.

Jack and Jill went up a hill, but what comes down is a intricately written and beautifully told tale of sisters and of love and the pain of loss. This is a small novel, but leaves no stone unturned. This is a complete fantasy tale that will, as it does to Jacqueline and Jillian, take you away for a time to a world that breathes and lives just out of our eyesight. A world that is as loving as it is dangerous. A world that lies beyond the door.

A really good read.

Making Friends by Anna Ellis

making friends

 

Making Friends by Anna Ellis is book one in the Husbands and Wives series that is what everyone who reads these books really wanted Desperate Housewives to be.

When Jacey and Dominic move into their new home, they are surprised by the emptiness of the neighborhood. All the other homes were quiet. For Jacey that is fine, she is not the most social of people. Having left her career behind, she is by all accounts a genius, but as such, does not relate to other people well. But Dominic is her opposite in this, a school teacher whose personality wins his friends everywhere. With a young toddler at home, time for Jacey and Dominic to share alone are few so when they find themselves interrupted on a morning they have just put their baby to rest, Jacey is a little annoyed to find several women at her door. The neighbors have come home and decided to visit the newcomers. It seems that the neighborhood had taken a group vacation together. Jacey finds this odd but quickly becomes part of the group. Soon she finds herself and Dominic invited to one of the neighborhood’s Saturday night parties. Jacey is expecting a barbecue of sorts but is informed that the neighborhood’s Saturday night parties are entirely something different. They are key parties. House keys are placed into a bowl and chosen by one of the wives or the husbands. Whoever belongs to the keys, goes with the one who has chosen. Wives and Husbands are exchanged for a night of passion and sex. Sometimes it is more than that, sometimes threesomes are in involved as one of the wives joins another couple. Are Jacey and Dominic ready for this? Is this the spark their marriage is craving and once taken, can they find their way back from this path?

What Jacey finds is that she has a talent for this life and what Dominic finds, is that he loves to hear about his young wife’s adventures.

This tale could easily become one of hundreds of women’s erotica that could be lost in the pile of cheap thrills and fast times. But Anna Ellis does what so many erotica writers simply seem to miss. She creates characters that the reader relates to and cares about. Not only Jacey and Dominic but the entire neighborhood. All couples have issues and all find a different excitement and release in their arrangement.

Jacey is an intriguing character. She finds the arrangement strange and with so many possible dangers to her relationship to Dominic. But what she finds is that the new arrangement has opened up a fresh excitement for herself and Dominic. Her desires and adventures only feed her husband’s voyeuristic side and fantasies.

Overall, what this book is, is exactly what erotica should be. Sensuous, exciting and fun.

Pick it up and enjoy.

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

 

meddling kids

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is a love it or leave it kind of book. So much of the reader’s feelings about this book will come from the emotional attachment you have to the original characters that Meddling Kids is based upon. For me this is definitely a love it kind of book and may just well be my favorite read of the year.

In 1977, in Blyton Hills, Oregon; the teenage detectives who call themselves the Blyton Summer Detective Club solve their final case. They uncover a two bit criminal acting as a monster to scare people away as he searches for a long lost treasure. There is even a picture in the newspapers the next day, the four kids and their faithful dog, the criminal tied up on the ground in full costume. Except for his mask that they are holding up. The criminal says, that he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.

Only Andy, Kerri, Nate and Peter know that there was a lot more to that night they spent stranded in that house all by themselves. That everything that happened could not be explained away by a small time crook with a mask. The Blyton Summer Detective Club has been hiding from a dark secret that has haunted them the rest of their lives. Now they have to face the truth about what happened and what may still be waiting for them.

For Andy, the tomboy of the group. The memories of that night have turned her into a drifter, never settling down or able to maintain a commitment or relationship. She is on the run and wanted in two states. Kerri, the brilliant kid genius is now a bartender in New York. Her life wasting away and her potential gone. She holds onto a drinking problem and Tim, the lovable Weimaraner; a dog descended from the original canine member of the Detective Club. Nate, the young boy fixated on horror novels has checked himself into a mental institution in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend from the Detective Club he still sees is Peter, their fourth member with the boyish charm and movie star looks. Only Peter is dead. He committed suicide. Peter has been dead for years.

Andy knows that the time has come to get the gang back together. That they have to face the fears of what happened to them and uncover the real mystery of Blyton Hills. But they’re not the same people anymore. They are broken and damaged. First she will need to convince Kerri and then they will have to break Nate out of the asylum and then, she has no idea what is waiting for them. Because it knows, she is sure of it, it knows that they are coming. This time there won’t be a man in a mask, no this time the monsters will be real.

Okay, four meddling kids and a dog playing teenage detectives; you would have to be from another planet to not see that this is a variation on Scooby and the Gang. No Scrappy Doo so that is definitely a plus. But Cantero takes his characters into a deeper world, a far more real emotional world of lost hope and damaged psyches. The underlying theme is what if Scooby and the Gang had come across real monsters. A real with and warlock or a real sea creature? What if, for once, the legend was true. But Cantero doesn’t settle on just any legends for his bad guys, no he goes full blown Lovecraft here.

This is a fun read, disturbing on some levels, but just a whole lot of fun.

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

german

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa is one of the best crafted novels I have read in sometime. What is more amazing is that this is a debut novel. Correa tells the story of a family lost to the ravages of war and bigotry, yet still with the hope of someday coming together. It is the story of two young girls, separated by countries and time, who share the common bond of loss and loneliness. Together, they will find strength, hope and family.

“…Aunt Hannah tells the story rapidly in a low voice, as if she herself did not want to hear it. She mentions figures and dates so coldly it surprises Mom. Aunt Hannah’s smile starts to fade, and her eyes are now a misty blue.
‘On the night of July 16, 1942, my father was one of the victims of the infamous Velodrome d’Hiver roundup when all the impure were arrested by the French police. He was transported to Auschwitz, the death camp….’ She sighs. ‘He didn’t survive. He was very weak., and I’m sure he let himself die. In our family, we don’t kill ourselves, we let ourselves die…”

Berlin, Germany, 1939, before the world changed forever. The Rosenthal’s lived a privileged life. Opera, the best food, property and prestige. But that all changed when the Brown Shirts descended and their name and their heritage made them outcast in their own country.

Hannah Rosenthal was an undesirable. A Jew. Unclean in the eyes of the pure Germans. With her one true friend Leo, she dreamed of a better land and a better place for her family. Her father had been a Professor in the University and her mother a rich and fashionable woman. All that changed in an instant. Only Hannah did not look like an undesirable. In truth, she looked exactly like what the German people wanted. She looked the part of the German Girl. This simple fact separated her from her own people and from the Germans who blamed and despised her for their lot in life.

Aboard the transatlantic liner the Saint Louis, Hannah’s and Leo’s family travels to the new world. A stop off in Cuba before they head to a new life in New York City. What they find instead is one of the most horrifying acts in pre war time history as the Saint Louis is not allowed to dock in Cuba and the passengers are denied passage to Cuba and the United States.

Decades later, in New York City, eleven year old Anna Rosen recieves a package. It comes from Cuba with untold secrets of her deceased father. A death her mother never had the courage to tell her about and instead let her believe, that one day her father just walked out the door and never came back. Instead she would learn that her father died a heroic death on September eleventh. A death her mother could not face and so hid from her. She would rather let her daughter believe that he had simply deserted them.

Now with this package, Anna will travel to the island of Cuba to meet your Great Aunt Hanna and in doing so will learn of a past that at once has haunted her and molded her. For the history of Cuba and its revolution will mirror too closely the past that was Nazi Germany.

“….In her despeair, Esperanza visited all the local police stations, but with no success. The next day, she learned that they were rounding up all the young males, sixteen years old and up, of their faith and taking them to a stadium in the Mariano district. When she understood what was going on, she threw herself onto the floor at home and burst into tears. She cursed herself, blaming herself for the religious fervor with which she had brought up her son. Rafael was a boy who knew only good and was incapable of doing anybody harm. They had been trying to leave Cuba for a long while, but it had become impossible for them to obtain an exit visa ever since the “great leader” had accused their religious group of being a “terrible blight on society…”

In visiting her great Aunt Hanna, Anna learns the history of the family she never knew. The horror of Nazi Germany and even worse, the ambivalence of Cuba and the United States. Refugees extorted for money they did not have to offer asylum. This is a dark time in the history of the greatest nation ever. The land of the free. The fate of the passengers of the Saint Louis is one that history and your Civics classes would like to forget. But before you decide to wage war on the Capitalist country that denied entry to these refugees; look into their fate in the Socialist regimes that finally took them in . There is enough blood to go around.

At its heart this is a novel about family. It is a novel about daughters and mothers and the burdens and choices that they plague one another with. It is at its core, a novel about horror and tragedy and the sickening reality that they are all human.

The German Girl will take your heart, your soul, your core and wrench it from that safe place of denial that you have laid it in and force it to look at the world at large. In a real lens. You will not walk away from this book in the same way that you walked in.

Its just that damn good. (less)

The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

only child
The Only Child by Andrew Pyper is to date, one of the more ambitious novels of terror I have ever read. Much in the manner that his prior novel The Demonoligist (pick it up if you haven’t read it as of yet), Pyper is writing horror in the manner that seems to have been forgotten by this generation of horror writers. No glittering vampires or shirtless werewolves here. Here, there be monsters.

Dr. Lily Dominick is a forensic psychiatrist in New York’s leading mental health institution. Over the years she has seen every type of delusion, but today she is about to meet someone who exceeds all the parameters she has set in her mind. A patient who is asking specifically for her. The patient has no name or identification of any kind. His fingerprints do not come up anywhere in the system. He has never been arrested or treated before. Secondly, he claims to be over two hundred years old. When asked why he committed his crime, the patient simply says that he wished to be to the institution and that he wished to see, Dr. Lily Dominick.

Lily finds the patient interesting, but her curiosity takes a darker turn when she finds her mentor and senior adviser gruesomely murdered in his home, and her patient escaped. Given small clues by the killer, Lily must now track him across the globe as he gives her small clues to who he is.

The killer tells the tale of meeting and falling in love with Mary Shelley and how that inspired the tale of Frankenstein. Of searching out Roberto Louis Stevenson and laying the foundation that would become the tale of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of finally meeting Bram Stoker and showing the Irishman the true face of Count Dracula. All the while, leaving brutalized and mutilated corpses in his wake.

All of this Lily would be down to blood lust and delusion except for the mysterious group that seems to be hunting the killer. A group as shadowy and dark as the killer himself. Could it be possible?Could this killer be centuries old and the inspiration for the most horrifying tales of our time?

More confusing to Lily is that the killer knows of her own secrets. Those things that she has never shared. What is the monster’s connection to her, to her childhood, to her mother, and to her mother’s horrible murder?

The Only Child is ambitious to a fault. Had the killer been the inspiration for one of these classic tales or even two, then perhaps, but all three and the web that Pyper has woven strains and unravels somewhat throughout the book. Perhaps if the book had been longer and those times spent with the authors fleshed out more, then perhaps there would be something in the story that held substance. But as it is, it simply loses steam. But then it switches from this Gothic horror tale with great European settings to something like a dirty James Bond movie. The killer captured by a secret army of commandos, whose leader falls for Lily and keeps the creature captured so that they can do experiments on him. From here it turns into a chase, the killer hell bent on exacting revenge on Lily for her betrayal of his trust. Something like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Again, just to ambitious in history and scope and then not exploring that history and scope enough to make the book flow.

You would think that with those last two paragraphs that I didn’t like the Only Child. But that is not true. I liked it just fine, but what I was left with is what it could have been.

A good read with lots of untapped potential left on the table.