CALLING ALL BOOK REVIEWERS!!! THIRTEEN STOPS LATER NEEDS YOU…!

FOLLOWING ON FROM THE EVENTS OF THIRTEEN STOPS…

Here we are again, and poor Selfie Queen Laura’s love life has dived head-first from the frying pan into the Towering Inferno; will she be able to cope? Just about, until she sees who’s coming out of the Disney Store on Grafton Street one Saturday afternoon . . . ! Someone who shouldn’t has got their beady eye on Fauve’s bouncing bundle of baby joy, and a face from the past returns to upturn Maroon-Vicky’s applecart of Happy Ever After with the dishy Graeme. The frazzled Carl is up to his tonsils in Tara’s Endless Legs and Things, and something very sinister is going on at Becks’s house . . . will her mother’s old summerhouse finally give up its grisly secret? All this and much, much more in THIRTEEN STOPS LATER . . .

Dear Book Reviewers and Bloggers, would you like FREE epubs of THIRTEEN STOPS and THIRTEEN STOPS LATER, the first two books in my Romantic Fiction THIRTEEN STOPS trilogy, in exchange for honest reviews?

If so, please contact Sandra on sandrasandraharris@gmail.com and we can talk more, I’ll be delighted to hear from you!

 

LITTLE BOOK OF HORROR: DRACULA. (2005) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LITTLE BOOK OF HORROR: DRACULA. (0CTOBER 2005) PUBLISHED BY IDW PUBLISHING.

WRITTEN BY STEVE NILES. PAINTED ART BY RICHARD SALA.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I recently discovered this little illustrated gem of a book on my son’s bookshelf, and remembered then having bought it for him when he was younger in an attempt to encourage him to read independently.

Now I’ve had a proper read of it, I’m making an executive decision and totally commandeering it for myself. It’s far too good to waste on the young, lol, and can only properly be appreciated by persons of mature(ish!) age such as myself.

It tells what I call the real Dracula story, as in the one Bram Stoker wrote, with little or no variations, which I like. I like the pure unadulterated story myself, and I tend to get heart attacks when people mess with it, such as in the 2020 New Year BBC television Dracula. Although I could forgive a hunky Dracula such as Claes Bang anything, especially if he’s going to do those delicious nudie scenes…

Anyway, the book starts, as it should, with real estate clerk John Harker making what is possibly the longest fictional journey ever to set the seal on a property deal. He travels to darkest Transylvania in Romania to meet with the mysterious and rich Count Dracula, who wishes to purchase a house near to where John lives in jolly old England.

I think it’s safe to say that the artist who did the fabulous illustrations in the book was a fan of the 1931 UNIVERSAL film version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. He’s created a village very similar to the UNIVERSAL one, which I love because I adore those old movies.

It’s got winding streets, worried villagers clad in sort of Tyrolean dress like they are in the old fillums, and there’s even a barefoot busty blonde maiden crossing the street with her basket of produce who wouldn’t be out of place in a Hammer film.

Hammer Films, of course, had their Dracula-slash-vampire canon which we horror fans will know intimately by now. Christopher Lee was their Count in seven movies made between 1958 and 1972, but they made several other excellent vampire films as well, such as BRIDES OF DRACULA, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE and VAMPIRE CIRCUS.

Anyway, above the village on its very own mountain towers Castle Dracula, and when the villagers in the local inn find out that John actually intends travelling up there to meet the Count, they all have collective heart attacks. The portly, pint-pulling innkeeper and the two busty Hammer-esque barmaids are particularly well drawn in the pub scene.

John, as we know, has come all this way to do a job, so he supposes he’d better do it, and he makes his way up to the infamous Borgo Pass- try getting a taxi up there at night and you’ll see what I mean!- where a mysterious coachman with four super-spooky skeletal horses picks him up and takes him to where he needs to go… Castle Dracula…

The Count is waiting. His ramshackle castle looks just like Bela Lugosi’s in the 1931 film and is beyond cool. A crumbling staircase, bats, ancient candelabra, high windows; it’s everything you could wish for in a Dracula’s Castle-type situation. Except maybe for an armadillo or two…!

John has his meal and pricks his finger, making it bleed. Dracula’s strange reaction, and the presence in the castle of the three busty, sexy, negligee-clad corpse brides of Dracula complete with fangs and a raging blood-lust combine to convince poor John that maybe the villagers were right all along. Maybe Dracula is an evil, blood-sucking vampire and he should never have come up here…

By the time John realises this, of course, it’s too late. He’s a prisoner in Castle Dracula and the Count himself is hastening to England, and John’s hot fiancée, Mina. John has only the sex-crazed wives to keep him company, although, as this is a child’s book, the sex is only implied, lol.

Do you know the rest of the story? Dracula, installed in Carfax Abbey; Mina losing more and more of her strength- and blood- every night thanks to his nocturnal visits; the doctors baffled, unable to help her; then the calling in of the eccentric Doctor Van Helsing to accurately diagnose the situation and suggest a solution.

The drawings of the Count’s Carfax Abbey cellar, complete with coffins and his deranged (only deranged BECAUSE of Dracula), bug-eating assistant, Renfield, are so bloody good that they make you feel you’re really there.

Will John be in time to save Mina, and also for the inevitable showdown between Van Helsing and the evil, power-crazed Count Dracula, who wants to suck the blood of everyone in England?

How would that work, anyway? Would it be like waiting for a vaccine, with portals and cohorts and online registration and all that? For something bad, they’d probably (ironically) get it organised super-quick, lol.

None of this old I’ve been waiting six whole weeks to get my blood-sucking and four of my neighbours, who are all younger than me with no underlying health conditions, have gotten theirs first and I’m spitting with rage bullshit. Can’t you just see it?

Wouldn’t that be funny, though? A frazzled Dracula would be on the news and all the talk shows, saying: I am doing my best to get around to everybody as quickly as I can, but I am only one man, for the love of God…! Until the government allocate sufficient numbers of flies and bugs for me to entice my helpers with, a good many more people will continue to walk around well and healthy and there will be nothing I can do about it…! Lol, lol, lollity lol.

Anyway, this is the best children’s book on the subject of Dracula I’ve ever come across. The story is simply and accurately told, with none of that nonsense of changing up the details and putting Dracula into the future and seeing how he copes with washing-machines and fridges and stuff.

The illustrations are superb, and evoke both the UNIVERSAL and Hammer-era films, which is amazing for fans of the old films like myself. Pick it up and have a read if you ever come across it; it captures the spirit and essence of the Bram Stoker book perfectly.

    AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

VISIT MY AUTHOR PAGE AND BUY MY GOODIES…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, BY B.A. PARIS. (2016) BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

behind closed doors

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. (2016) A NOVEL BY B.A. PARIS. PUBLISHED BY HARLEQUIN MIRA, AN IMPRINT OF HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHERS.

BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Jack, handsome, dedicated lawyer, loving husband.

Grace, elegant, consummate housewife, prisoner…

I had great hopes for this one, a domestic thriller set in England about a marriage gone badly wrong. I expected the cracks to show slowly, barely perceptibly at first, then to start widening and popping up all over the place. I expected the wife to come to a gradual realisation that the man she’d married had feet of clay, but no.

Jack Angel, rich and handsome top lawyer who makes it his business to defend battered wives from their horrible husbands, announces to Grace once they reach Thailand, their honeymoon destination, that her dream is over and her nightmare is only just beginning.

He was never looking for a wife, this evil disturbed man, only ever a prisoner whom he could emotionally abuse and whose fear would be a turn-on for him. Not only that, though, as if all that wasn’t bad enough on its own, but Jack makes it abundantly clear that it’s Grace’s teenage Down’s Syndrome sister Millie that he’s really gunning for.

When Millie turns eighteen and leaves the school where she’s been boarding happily for years, the plan is for her to come and live with her beloved sister Grace (their selfish parents have buggered off to New Zealand to live their own lives) and Grace’s wonderful new husband Jack. Jack’s even preparing a special bedroom for Millie, but it’s not the one she’s been dreaming of…

I don’t mind thrillers about frightened wives and abusive husbands (in fact, I normally love them), but this one almost goes too far, it stretches belief. Okay, if you tell me that a guy as sick and twisted as Jack Angel really exists, I suppose I’d have to concede that, yes, there are some pretty evil people in the world. But do I find Jack believable as a character? That’s the bit I have trouble with.

I probably had trouble believing that someone would really be prepared to devote so much time and energy to being evil as Jack does. Doesn’t he know that there are bound to be repercussions at some point? He couldn’t keep the two women prisoner forever without someone somewhere becoming suspicious, someone from Millie’s school, for instance.

And I didn’t like all the references to starvation and dehydration, two very horrible processes indeed that hopefully none of us will ever have to suffer in our lives, but they’re two of the things a prisoner has to worry about happening to them, say, if something happens to their jailer and no-one else in the world has a clue about their whereabouts. I also really hated what happened to poor little Molly the dog. Animal abuse is nearly harder to read about than the abuse of a human being.

I guess I just didn’t care much for this book, with the evil Jack as the villain who’s just too bad to be true and the theme of keeping a woman (and her differently abled sister) as your prisoner rather than as your beloved wife. It all gets a bit harrowing in places and, dare I say again, a bit unbelievable. It’s well written and everything and I suppose you could say that it’s well plotted also, but the plot has a few holes in it as far as I’m concerned. That’s about it, really…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, BY SHARI LAPENA. (2016) BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

couple next door

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR. (2016) WRITTEN BY SHARI LAPENA. PUBLISHED BY TRANSWORLD.

BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a pretty damn good effort for a debut thriller, lol. Mind you, the lady was a lawyer and an English teacher before she started writing fiction, so she probably had a good hefty head start on most writers.

This is the story of an American marriage that was possibly shaky to begin with, but on the night that the story kicks off, something happens that puts the marriage under more strain than it was ever intended to withstand.

Marco Conti and his wife Anne’s baby daughter Cora is kidnapped on a night when, to their eternal shame, they’ve left her alone to attend a dinner party with the couple next door.

True, they’ve brought the baby monitor with them (audio only, no visuals; someone clearly screwed up there) and they’re taking it in turns to pop back and forth to the house to check on her every half hour, but still, what kind of parent does that…?

The awful thing (well, next to Cora’s being kidnapped, of course!) is that Anne doesn’t even want to be at the neighbours’ cruddy dinner party in the first place. The husband, Graham, is a nonentity who doesn’t utter a syllable throughout the book, and the wife, horny sexpot Cynthia Stillwell, spends the whole evening flirting her ass off with Marco who, somewhat understandably, is flattered and responds in kind to her attentions.

After all, Anne is taking antidepressants for her post-natal depression, she’s down in the dumps all the time, she feels ‘fat and unattractive’ compared to the trashy Cynthia and she’s probably experienced an almost total loss of libido after the birth of her baby as well.

Who could blame Marco for responding to Sexy Cynthia’s brazen advances, her blatant invitation to kiss and have a bit of an old grope and a feel out on the back patio while Anne is at home giving Cora her last breast-feed of the night? He probably hasn’t had sex in months, the poor love. Yes, I’m being sarcastic, lol. The prick.

Anyway, when the couple eventually arrive home from the horrible dinner party, both tipsy and frustrated, albeit in different ways, their baby girl Cora is gone from her cot. Anne immediately begins to blame Marco, as he was the one who persuaded her that Cora would be just fine without a babysitter just this once. Oh, he was, was he…? Marco’s looking better and better as a husband by the minute, isn’t he?

Enter the taciturn Detective Rasbach, so taciturn, in fact, that we never find out anything at all about his personal life, like whether his wife divorced him because he was never at home and was married to the job, or if he’s a weekend dad and his kids are all screwed up because their dad always put his work before his family, stuff like that.

In any case, it’s this Detective Rasbach’s job to unravel this complicated case and try to find out what’s happened to poor little Cora Conti. Was she taken by an opportunist, who just happened to be passing by on the one night that Cora was home alone? Unlikely, but not impossible.

Was it a kidnapping for ransom, as Anne’s parents Alice and Richard are filthy, and I do mean filthy, rich? Or, more likely in Rasbach’s hard-bitten detective’s mind, have either of her parents done away with Baby Cora for some reason and staged a phoney kidnapping to cover up their nefarious actions?

It’s often the parents in cases like this, just as, when a woman goes missing or is murdered, the first port of call for the police is usually the husband or boyfriend. It’s nothing to do with police discrimination; it’s simply that the solution to cases like this is frequently found close to home.

After all, Anne has post-natal depression and a strange history of violent actions dating back to her school days, and Marco’s software business is in terrible financial trouble. Their marriage seems like it was rocky even before the taking of Baby Cora, and relations between them since the kidnapping have reached rock-bottom.

I’m getting back into reading psychological thrillers like this one (they call them, I believe, domestic noir), provided that they’re written by women and contain only the minimum of police intrusion and guns, etc.

I like good, tightly-written domestic plots like this one, about bad marriages, unfaithful husbands (or wives) with seedy, sleazy sexual perversions and women struggling to balance motherhood with marriage and with work outside the home, a difficult (t)ask even in so-called ‘ideal’ circumstances.

I’m very much looking forward to reading whatever Shari Lapena does next. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR is right up my street, but I’m kind of glad the Contis and the Stillwells don’t inhabit my street too. They wouldn’t make for very good neighbours, and I certainly wouldn’t ask them to babysit my young ‘uns…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

THE LANDLADY BY CONSTANCE RAUCH. (1975) A BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

landlady uk

THE LANDLADY BY CONSTANCE RAUCH. (1975) PUBLISHED BY FUTURA PUBLICATIONS LIMITED. BOOK REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a little paperback book I found in a charity shop the other day. The gems I’ve found in places like that over the years! Just recently, in a box of free-to-take-away old books, I’ve discovered paperback copies of JAWS, PSYCHO 2, THE EXORCIST and ROSEMARY’S BABY. Not bad at all for a free box!

THE LANDLADY, with a distinct BURNT OFFERINGS feel to it, is in a similar vein to these ’70s paperbacks I’ve mentioned. On the cover, it’s referred to as ‘A mind-wrenching tale of malevolent horror.’

There’s a circle cut out of the title page through which you can see a woman’s face, then when you open it up you see that the face belongs to an old-fashioned doll with ‘Twenties make-up, a torn white dress and a grotesquely cracked bare left breast. So far so good, eh?

 It concerns a young married couple called Sam and Jessica Porter and their two-year-old daughter Patience. They move into a gorgeous big old house in upstate New York that has a fabulous view of the mighty Hudson river. Unfortunately, the house isn’t theirs; they’re only renting from a Mrs. Frederick Falconer, the titular ‘landlady.’

The house is so big that it straddles two streets and has two entrances and even two addresses. Mrs. Falconer lives on the Maynard Hill side, and her new tenants, the Porters, occupy the Granite Terrace end that faces the Hudson.

A door in the middle of the house, referred to as the side door, connects the two houses from the inside, but Mrs. Falconer makes it clear she doesn’t want her tenants using this door to come into her part of the house and, to be honest, the Porters don’t much like the idea of their pushy, frequently stroppy landlady waltzing willy-nilly into their side whenever the fancy takes her, either.

Not that she waltzes, you understand. She’s a heavy-set old dear pushing eighty, who walks with a big heavy cane that makes clumping noises overhead as she moves around upstairs.

She has disturbing mood swings; sweet as pie one minute, then screaming blue murder the next. She’s intrusive, nosey and judgemental and feels free to criticise Jessica’s parenting, which outrages Jessica, and she never knows (or cares) when she’s outstayed her welcome downstairs at the Porters.’

Worst of all, Jessica’s new friend from the area, Mary Smith (the Porters still keep in touch with their old eclectic group of friends), tells Jess that tenants who rent the Falconer place don’t tend to stay there long, and they don’t tend to leave with their marriages intact, either.

Mrs. Falconer has a strange, but unerring, habit of coming between couples and pouring poison into the cup of their marital bliss. The locals, in other words, don’t have anything good to say about the widowed Mrs. Falconer.

A word about Sam and Jess as a couple. Sam is thirty-three and can’t settle to anything since he gave up acting as a bad lot. He currently works in building maintenance with a French chap called Pierre Villard, but he’s failing at this enterprise now too and Pierre wants shut of him. Friendship and business don’t mix well, but Sam makes big errors of judgement that usually result in he, Jess and Patience having to up-sticks and move to a new place.

There’s not much stability in this for Jess and her child. You get the impression that the clever, intellectual and well-educated Jess might be better off striking out on her own with Patience, rather than waiting around for Sam to find his ‘dream job’ and finally be happy and settled. (It’s never gonna happen…!)

Sam seems to love his wife and child but he’s absent, either working or drinking heavily, for most of the scary incidents in the book, and I see him as a deadbeat father and a neglectful, selfish husband, thinking of only his own needs and rarely of his family’s.

Twenty-four-year old Jess, on the other hand, is devoted to her family. She’s devastated when, one night not long after they move in, the bright and curious little Patience has an horrific screaming fit in her cot and, afterwards, when she’s calmed down, she seems to have regressed back into being a baby rather than a toilet-trained and sociable toddler.

The discovery of a smoked cigar butt and a hideous female sex doll, covered in slime, in and around the baby’s cot, leads Jess to the horrible realisation that there must have been an intruder in her precious baby’s room, an intruder who possibly committed a heinous sex act near, or even with, the baby. What the hell is she going to do?

Sam is no help, as he’s running around trying to pin down an elusive acting job with the help of an old flame (grrrrr…!) while Jess is trying to cope with everything on her own. Patience’s mental state –– and future mental stability and well-being –– are at stake here and Jess is worried sick about her.

And there’s also the disturbing notion of the intruder coming back to finish what he started with Patience. If he got in once he can get in again, especially… especially if he’s coming from inside the house…

There’s also the murder of local clerk Nora Kelly in the mix, the murder that occurs just as Sam and Jess move into the Falconer place, and the fact that old Mrs. Falconer seems to have an extreme allergy to the police calling to the gaff. What exactly is the old dear trying to hide, upstairs in the Maynard Hill side of the house…?

I guessed the twist just before it came but it was still a great twist. I really enjoyed the book as a whole. It’s the kind of short horror book that used to come out in the ’70s with some regularity, but they don’t seem to make ’em like that any more. Ah well. Thank heaven for the charity shops…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

CALLING ALL WRITERS!!! JOIN MY FACEBOOK BOOK PROMOTION GROUP AND POST YOUR BOOK LINKS AS MANY TIMES A DAY AS YOU WANT!

JOIN MY FACEBOOK BOOK PROMOTION GROUP AND POST YOUR BOOK LINKS AS MANY TIMES A DAY AS YOU WANT!

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BUY MY BOOK!!! A PLACE WHERE WRITERS CAN PROMOTE THEIR BRILLIANT BOOKS!

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AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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