Graveminder by Marr

graveminderRebekkah Barrow’s grandmother, Maylene, was the Graveminder. Exactly what that meant, Rebekkah never knew, but through most of her youth, she followed Maylene to every funeral and watched as Maylene performed a strange ritual with food and drink. Now Maylene is dead, and Rebekkah has returned to Claysville for the funeral. But unbeknownst to Rebekkah, she’s been chosen to take over the role of Graveminder, which means she has quite a task before her. Starting with finding out who murdered Maylene.

by Melissa Marr
William Morrow Paperbacks
January 17, 2012

This book hovers somewhere between love story and supernatural thriller, but can never seem to decide which it wants to be. As a result, it has trouble committing to either, and the story flounders a bit in the process.

On the one hand, we have Rebekkah and Bryon, an on-again, off-again couple. Byron is in love with Rebekkah, but Rebekkah apparently likes to randomly desert Byron every time they start getting serious. (As in Byron wakes up to find Rebekkah is gone and has moved half away across the country.)

On the other hand, we have undead spirits/zombies wandering around and eating people, and an entire town that is under a sort of magical oath that prevents them from even talking about it.

Where the problem comes in is that neither side is given a chance to truly develop. The magical aspects of the story are heavily downplayed through the majority of the book. Instead we focus on Rebekkah and Byron, and are given several flashbacks through their lives. Unfortunately, the history of their relationships doesn’t paint Rebekkah in a very positive light, and she comes off as flighty and downright cruel as we watch her abandon Byron again and again.

Then two-thirds through the book, the magic comes back full force, and we’re suddenly spending entire chapters in the land of the dead. It’s a bit like reading Romeo and Juliet, and then halfway through it switches to Night of the Living Dead.

Perhaps if the book has been longer, it would have had a chance to delve deeper into both of its aspects. But as it is, I finished the book with more questions than answers.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Rufus and Ryan Go to Church by Bostrom and Thornburgh

rufusryanRyan is a young child who carries his stuffed monkey Rufus with him wherever he goes. Today is Sunday! It’s time to go to church!

Rufus and Ryan Go to Church
written by Kathleen Long Bostrom
illustrated by Rebecca Thornburgh
CandyCane Press
September 2013

The story follows Ryan as he goes to church (with his stuffed monkey), sings along, listens to a “Bible story”, then fellowships afterward with snacks. It ends with them leaving and looking forward to next Sunday.

This book is a positive message for young kids to enjoy church and look forward to Sundays. As such, I highly recommend it. One caveat, though.

This story is specifically for churchgoers who bring children in to the main sanctuary for church instead of sending them to a Children’s Church or Sunday School while adults go to big church. When I read this book to my two young boys they didn’t seem confused but their experience does not match the story. They do go to Children’s Church instead of big church. I can see this being confusing to some kids who may ask about it.

I love the premise of the series and am looking forward to the other books in the series.

NOTE: BookGateway is hosting a giveaway through October 7th HERE. Be sure to enter!

Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he turns real life into stupid cartoons, writes on Christianity, Zombies, and whatever else he wants and posts Bible studies from his classes at church.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore

criticalSix year old Brinna Caruso was kidnapped and left in the desert to die. She was rescued by a police office named Milo and later he became her mentor. Twenty years later, Brinna is the person to call when a child goes missing for her mission in life is to rescue kidnapped children and to bring the man to justice who kidnapped her.

Critical Pursuit
Janice Cantore
Tyndale House Publishers
August 2013

Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore is a great book with a lot of suspense woven into the story. The main character is Brinna Caruso, the one person in the police department to call when a child is kidnapped. When Brinna was six she was kidnapped but fortunately she was found and now that she is a police officer, she and her K-9 search dog will let nothing stop them from searching for missing children no matter what the cost. Jack O’Reilly lost his wife a year ago when her car was hit by a drunk driver. Jack worked in homicide but he is no longer in the department due to his state of mind and his overwhelming desire for revenge against the drunk driver. Jack is assigned to be Brinna’s partner on patrol duty and this causes some tense moments between the two. Brinna is not sure that she can depend on Jack if trouble arises and he is not sure that he can hold up his end of the partnership. A man who fits the description of the man who kidnapped Brinna surfaces and this greatly adds to her problems for she is determined to capture the man and see that he receives the justice he deserves.

Janice Cantore is a retired Long Beach, California, police officer and is well qualified to write a great story that keeps one sitting on the edge of their chair or chewing on their fingernails. I really like the way that the author developed the characters to let the reader know exactly what they were thinking and feeling. Each character was so well developed that they became real people. Due to her career in police work, the dialogue rings true and is interesting to read. Her description of the action scenes was so real that I was right there in the middle of what was happening. The story is filled with lots of suspense that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. At the beginning of the book, Brinna and Jack are both fighting against God and His love and are unwilling to forgive others, but as the story develops, their hearts start to soften. I especially like that the author wrote a true to life police novel and did so without using profanity or vulgarity. In spite of all the terrible things that happen in the story, it does have a happy ending.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a great police story that contains a lot of suspense and has a good ending.

The following links are provided for readers interested in more information about this book and the author. If you would like to read the first chapter it is available as a PDF. Other items that may be of interest are the author’s photo, Janice Cantore’s website, Janice Cantore on Facebook, and you can visit Janice on her blog.

Deanna Love Gottreu is a 74 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

The Woodcutter by Danley

woodcutterThe Woodcutter is a man of legend. He is the keeper of peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie. So when a young woman is killed under mysterious circumstances, it is up to the Woodcutter to discover the cause. However, a dark new force is moving through the Twelve Kingdoms, and the stories of legend are changing. Magic, itself, has been perverted, and a war between the Realm of the Faerie and the Twelve Kingdoms is imminent. All that stands in its way is the Woodcutter.

The Woodcutter
Kate Danley
November 6, 2012

Imagine every fairy tale you’ve ever read. And not the modern versions that are all about happy endings, but the dark, original tales where men and women were maimed, blinded, and killed. Then roll them all together into one story, a fairy tale that combines them all, and you might come close to describing The Woodcutter.

The entire story is written in the same, almost lyrical style of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which was initially a bit off-putting for me. But once I became accustomed to the writing, I barely noticed it, as I was completely enraptured by the story.

Despite the book drawing heavily on famous tales like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood, the story itself is wholly original. The ease with which the writing slips between and combines these classics is amazing.

But even if the book hadn’t drawn on these time-honored tales, the core story would still strike me as belonging with those favored classics. Honestly, I loved how intricate the writing was.

The Woodcutter is definitely going into my list of favorites, and I encourage anyone who loves those old fairy tales to read this book.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Abhorsen by Nix

Abhorsen2Concluding the Abhorsen Trilogy and picking up where Lirael left off, Abhorsen details the final battle between our heroes and Orannis, the Destroyer. With an evil necromancer and a Greater Dead manipulating Nicholas Sayre, the problem of Orannis’s resurrection has been solved by an unlikely fusion of magic and science. To make matters worse, the current Abhorsen Sabriel and King Touchstone are no where to be found. Lirael and Sameth must stop the Destroyer and save Nicholas, but neither are experienced enough to carry out such a monumental task. But if the Destroyer awakens, all their lives will be lost.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #3
by Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

Abhorsen brings the events of Lirael into fresh light and finally reveals the truth behind Lirael’s past, Sameth’s skills, and the origins of the Disreputable Dog and Mogget.

Much of the history of the Old Kingdom is explained, and we learn just how this strange and complex world was originally created. Of course some mysteries still abound, but answers to the larger questions are finally revealed.

Nix skillfully ties together the various threads of plot, and brings the story to a satisfying climax in which good and evil, life and death, and creation and destruction must battle to win. Of course no victory is assured without sacrifice, and Nix does well to draw the reader in with the promise that not all of our heroes may survive.

Looking back over both Lirael and Abhorsen, a lot of information and quite a few events are thrown at the reader. By the time I got to Abhorsen, I found myself in need of a refresher, having long forgotten some of the smaller details and side characters presented in Lirael.

With that in mind, I would strongly recommend anyone interested in the later story to at least start off with Sabriel as a way of easing into the more complex landscape of Lirael and Abhorsen. As far as good fantasy books with a touch of darkness go, I definitely recommend all three books.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Death on Lindisfarne by Fay Sampson

deathAidan and his eight year old daughter, Melangell, have traveled to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne so that Aidan can show Melangell all the places on the island that his late wife loved and wrote about in her books.

Death on Lindisfarne
Aidan Mysteries #2
Fay Sampson
Lion Fiction
April 2013

Death on Lindisfarne by Fay Sampson is a good book but it took me while to get into the British style of writing. There was very little humor in the story but I did get a good laugh at the author calling the clerical collar a dog collar. Aidan has been a widower for six months when he decides to take his eight year old daughter, Melangell, to Lindisfarne to show her all the places that her mother loved and wrote about in her books. They were there for a week long retreat and were joined by eight other people in addition to Lucy, a Methodist minister, who was leading the retreat. Lucy is trying to help Rachel, a young girl who is working to overcome her drug addiction, and not too far into the story, Rachel’s body is found on the beach. At this point the suspense of the story begins to happen. Did Rachel commit suicide or was she murdered and if murdered who is the guilty person? There are also several less important questions that add to the suspense of the story. Aidan lets the group assume that he and his wife, Jenny are separated. Lucy has things in her past that she does not want to reveal such as why she left the police department four years ago. James, a minister, staggers into the house dripping blood from a cut on the head and cannot tell the group how he was injured. Sue is at the retreat with James as his assistant and she seems to worship the ground he walks on but he treats her with complete disdain. David and Frances are a very different couple and seem to constantly find something to complain about. Elspeth is a professor at Oxford and a most disagreeable woman. Valerie, her companion, is the complete opposite and is always doing her best to keep Elspeth from antagonizing the rest of the group.

The author did an excellent job in making all the characters come to life. Some were loveable and some were completely unlikeable. Scene descriptions were very well done and in my mind I could picture myself in the action right along with the characters in the story. There were several twist and turns to the plot and several mysteries to be solved. The author had me guessing until almost the end of the book exactly who had murdered Rachel and why. From the very first I wanted to know how to pronounce the name of the spunky little eight year old Melangell. She was my favorite character for she was about the only one who had no secrets to hide and was completely honest in everything she said. In fact, most of the time she appeared to be more mature than the adults. I have to be honest and say that I really did not care all that much for the history of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and the Northumbrian saints that were included in the book. I would have enjoyed the book much more if it had just been about the group at the retreat.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes a book with a lot of suspense and who also likes British history.

Kregel Publications provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Deanna Love Gottreu is a 74 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Lirael by Nix

liraelpbFourteen years have passed since the events of Sabriel, but all is not well in the Old Kingdom. In the second book of The Abhorsen Trilogy, we are introduced to Lirael, a daughter of the Clayr. However, unlike most Clayr with their dark skin, blond hair, and light eyes, Lirael is pale to almost white and her hair and eyes are black. Even more troubling is that Lirael has never once shown any sign of possessing the Sight, the ability to see into the possible futures and the birthright of the Clayr. But Lirael may be more than she imagines, and her life among the Clayr may soon be coming to an end. Something more terrible than the Greater Dead is coming and Lirael’s unique heritage may make her the only one able to stop it.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #2
Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

As is the case I find with the second book of many trilogies, Lirael doesn’t have a true ending. Instead it suddenly cuts off and is picked back up in the third and final book, Abhorsen.

The content of Lirael is much more in depth, however, and we are introduced to a host of new characters and dynamics. Sabriel, Touchstone, and Mogget all return, but they are no longer the central characters. Instead we meet Sabriel’s children, Ellimere and Sameth (although not much focus is given to Ellimere), as well as Sameth’s friend from Ancelstierre, Nicholas Sayre.

Part one focuses mainly on Lirael and her adventures with The Disreputable Dog, whereas part two switches to Prince Sameth, who struggles with his title of Abhorsen-in-waiting and the knowledge that he must one day take over for his mother.

Part three, brings Lirael and Sameth together, but ends with Nicholas missing and a terrible, ancient force threatening to be released.

Since much of the book is effectively just build up and only half of the whole story, it’s hard to really judge the book or its content. Nevertheless, I will say that the book did a wonderful job of immersing me back into the world of the Old Kingdom. Divided into three parts, each sub-story has it’s own mini-plot and challenges, while slowly introducing us to the characters.

The pacing is quite a bit slower than in Sabriel, but the story is just as captivating. It’s definitely worth a look.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold by Magnin

harriet-beamerHarriet is a seventy plus widow who moves from her home in Pennsylvania to California to live with her son and his wife. She is always getting in one adventure or another and this time she has been convinced to invest in a gold mine lease.

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold
Joyce Magnin
August 2013

Harriet Beamer Strikes Gold by Joyce Magnin is a most delightful story about a seventy plus widow and all the adventures she has and all the scrapes she gets into. Harriet is living in Pennsylvania but her son, Henry, convinces her to move to Grass Valley, California to live with him and his wife, Prudence. Harriet has reservations about moving but she and Humphrey, her basset hound that loves donuts, make the move across the country. Shortly after arriving in California, Harriet learns that she is to be a grandma and that a “Grammy suite” is going to be added to the house. Harriet is almost as excited about the suite as she is about the expected grandchild for now she will have a place to display her enormous collection of salt and pepper shakers. Harriet is always getting involved in one adventure or another and she gets drawn into the life of a young girl after listening to her explain that her dad has a gold mine to lease but he needs money right away. Harriet falls completely and gives money to the man but she decides to keep the venture from her son. When her best friend, Martha, comes to visit, she has doubts about the mine and convinces Harriet to go to the police. Both women are fond of the man’s daughter and do everything they can to help her.

All the characters were very well developed and they came to life as I read the book and I felt as if they were friends of mine. Descriptions of scenes were so realistic that I could see them clearly in my mind and even see myself in the middle of what was going on. There was even a good bit of suspense in the story. Prudence has had two miscarriages and at one point it seemed that she was going to have a third. There was a surprise when they learned there would be twins. The biggest suspense was if Harriet would ever see a speck of gold and would Martha decide to sell her home in Pennsylvania and move to California? I do not want to spoil the ending but I will say that it is a happy ending.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good Christian story and especially one that has an adventurous female senior citizen as the main character.

Deanna Love Gottreu is a 74 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Sabriel by Nix

sabriel_coverSabriel is the daughter of the Abhorsen, a man tasked with ensuring the dead stay dead and are not left free to feast on the living. But Sabriel has been going to school in the non-magical land of Ancelstierre, where magic doesn’t exist and few believe such a thing even exists. However when her father goes missing, Sabriel must travel past the Border into the Old Kingdom and take up the title of Abhorsen for herself. The Greater Dead are stirring and something very old is threatening to break free past the gates that separate Life from Death.

The Abhorsen Trilogy #1
Garth Nix
October 6, 2009

The story of Sabriel is a very simple one, yet Nix weaves a very complex world of ancient magic and necromancy. The author doesn’t waste time with history or back story, and instead dives head first into the action. What little we do learn about the magic, necromancy, and the Old Kingdom is slowly pieced together through information spread out through the story.

Yet Nix’s easy going pace and simple prose doesn’t require the reader to understand more than the basic of concepts. At it’s heart, this is really a story about a young woman growing up, experiencing love, and finding her place in a confusing and troubled world.

If I had one complaint about Sabriel, it is that there wasn’t more. While Nix’s approach is sure to make the reading more palatable for those not wishing to be bogged down with the finer details, I found myself utterly swept away by this amazing and complex world. But the author expertly slips us only a taste of the Old Kingdom’s history and never tells us more that we absolutely need to know.

Fortunately, Sabriel is only the first in the Abhorsen trilogy. The book stands alone quite well, however, and even those not interested in continuing to the sequels are sure to enjoy this remarkable tale.

Matthew Scott is the Dark Fantasy & Horror Editor of who describes himself as just another average reader who enjoys sharing his opinion on various books, authors, and whatever else may cross his path.

Blue to Remember by Suzanne D. Williams

51KNVnFrcDL._BO2204203200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-clickTopRight35-76_AA278_PIkin4BottomRight-6422_AA300_SH20_OU01_The first half of the book deals with the Old Man who cannot get past the terrible things that happened to him during the Civil War and the second half is about his son Tad.

Blue to Remember
Suzanne D. Williams
Self Published
August 2013

Blue to Remember by Suzanne D. Williams is a very good story that touches the heart. The book begins with The Old Man’s story and ends with Tad’s Story. The story begins during the Civil War when The Old Man and several young men are sitting around in a southern military prison waiting for The Boy to die from his battle wounds. Eventually the Old Man and the other soldiers are released from prison but he cannot forget the young Boy that died asking for his mother. The Old Man has trouble adjusting to life back at home and he is constantly upset by the nightmares that come so often. The nightmares are always about the young Boy that died in the prison camp and the Old Man just cannot forget the Boy’s death.. Through a strange twist of fate the Old Man travels back to where the young Boy is buried and hopefully he will gain relief from his sorrow and pain. The second half of the story is about Tad, the Old Man’s son. He meets Beth, the sister of The Boy, and thinks that she is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. Their meeting was quite unusual, she fell in the creek and he rescued her. For Tad, it was love at first sight and soon they were married and in time they celebrated the birth of their first child. Tad and Beth are very happy but they are not sure how to deal with the hatred of a woman in the community and the strange appearance of jars of strawberry jam.

The author did an excellent job with the characters, dialogue, plot, and scene descriptions. The people were so real that I felt as if I knew everyone of them personally. I could almost feel the Old Man’s pain and wanted to be able to help him find peace in his life. I also felt the pain of The Boy’s mother and father as they tried to find closure in the death of their son in the war prison camp. All the characters simply came to life on the pages of the book and they were so well developed that I felt involved in their lives and wanted to help them but there were two to whom I would have liked to deal out some kind of punishment. The plot had a few twists and turns which added greatly to my enjoyment of the book. There was even some suspense which centered around the strange appearance of jars of strawberry jam in odd places. There was also a little surprise when I finally realized the connection between The Old Man, Tad, and The Boy. All the scenes were so well described that I could see in my mind exactly what was going on and even felt as if I were right in the middle of the action. I really liked how love for others was so prominent in the book and that the love of God was woven throughout the book.

I highly recommend this book to everyone who likes a great story with a good bit of history and a Christian setting.

Deanna Love Gottreu is a 74 year old widow and the mother of two wonderful sons who share second place in her life – with God being in first place. She spends her time reading or making quilts for charity. Her book reviews can also be read on her blog at

This book was provided by the author as a review copy.

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