Cold, cold (undead) heart: A classic country play list for the collection

JonesIt’s just past midnight in the middle of nowhere. A battered old blue pickup truck is parked haphazardly, abandoned, by the side of a deserted highway. The engine is running and the driver’s door is thrown open. The headlights are on but fading fast, barely able to light up the barbed wire fence and the sagebrush beyond. Just beyond that, where the night seems even darker, something moves in the shadows. Inside the empty truck, the radio is blaring. The song, crackling with static: Hank Williams, “Your Cheating Heart.”

The soundtrack to true terror is classic country. Only classic country from the 1950s and 1960s has the raw, heartbroken emotion of bone-deep despair that makes the blood run cold. The people of LonePine, Wyoming, like in most small towns in the slowly dying American West, know about heartbreak and economic despair. And ever since the undead showed up, they know about terror too. That’s probably why every pickup truck radio, every jukebox in every saloon, and every portable radio is belting out classic country while the rest of the world has moved on. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: Cutting to the chase on human consciousness


From the vault…

My mind perked up recently when I read a blog post about “cosmic consciousness,” a state-of-being named by Richard Bucke in 1901. I read Bucke’s book Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind more than a decade ago after I stumbled upon it in a footnote of some other equally dusty and neglected book. I’ve seen little mention of it since, and then this post came out of the blue, turning up in my daily Google search set for the keywords human and consciousness.

Bucke’s cosmic consciousness is a next-gen adaptation, a collective form of shared brain space, which posits eventually we’ll be able to perceive and understand the world through the ties that bind all living things together, be they atomic or energetic or magical. It’s an evolutionary leap in human consciousness, handily explaining the mystical basis of most religions — some humans, like Jesus and Buddha, Blake and, apparently, Bucke, already attained it, and the rest of us, inevitably (if past is prologue) will one day get there too. Just as we shed our scales, pumped out lungs and wobbled up onto land a gazillion years ago, so too will we cast off our embodied singularity and expand our horizons into the planes of cosmic consciousness. Read the rest of the Soapbox>>

Book Review: The Life of Insects

Disturbing and disorientinginsects

This is an amazing and devious little book that’s either so macro it’s micro, or vice versa. In author Viktor Pelvin’s hands, the book is structured as a series of loosely connected chapters that follow a variety of characters around a sea side resort town that’s falling slowly into disrepair. The catch is that the characters are either anthropomorphic insects or, conversely and perversely, insectomorphic humans.

Either way, reading it was a disorienting as the two worlds blend into one that is dark and filled with a singular and crippling kind of hopelessness as the characters are drawn helplessly, inexorably along to their biologic, social and emotional destinies. Are we all mosquitoes seeking others from which to suck bloody sustenance before being squashed by a careless hand? Are we all plodding beetles doomed to roll our giant balls of dung proudly and unquestioningly in front of us for the duration of our short lives? Or are we worker ants driven to work and breed and die to protect the next generation of worker ants. More likely, we’re a little bit of all those and more. It’s all very dark and doomed, and I loved it. Read the rest of this entry »

“Thrilling, outstandingly entertaining, it will get your heart jumping like a pickup truck on an old county road!”



All good things must, eventually, come to an end — including vampires. Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall have penned the fourth and last book in The Cowboy and the Vampire series. “The Last Sunset” brings a close to the tale of Lizzie, Tucker and the rest of the gang with a finale that will leave you covered in blood and begging for more. It’s sexy, it’s funny, it’s scary, and it will get your heart jumping like a pickup truck on an old county road. Read the full review


373027_119063748131102_529320004_n“Bullet-riddled and blood-soaked, this installment smartly weaves a narrative between the threads left loose at the end of the last book, while sprinting through its action-propelled plot. The writing team of Hays and McFall keeps getting better and better. As the tension builds, the estranged lovers will have to work together to protect the ones they love and find a way to prevent the Guild from sacrificing the world in the name of its ancient god. But Tucker is a proud man, and Lizzie still believes her decision to desert him was for the best. At times graphically violent, provocatively sensual, and even existential, this novel maintains the series’ reputation as a thrilling page-turner that will satiate its readers’ desire for compelling action conveyed through a saga of undying love. The stakes are higher than ever in the latest chapter of this outstandingly entertaining vampire series.” Read the full review from Kirkus


“A terrific, original piece of vampire lore, and unlike a lot of the books I read and love in the genre, it manages to be full of blood and violence, while never losing its essential heart. The characters — even the secondary ones — are all so rich and multi-layered, it’s hard not to get involved with them and care about their fates. Even Rex the dog has a distinct personality that makes him an essential member of the ensemble. I’ve kept up with Tucker, Lizzie, their friends, enemies, and frenemies over the years. The journey has been a twisted tale, rocketing up and crashing down, jolting with adrenaline and lust, sobbing and chuckling, and looking over your shoulder, frightened of what might be hiding in the shadows. This final installment doesn’t disappoint.” Read the full review from Bloodthirsty Muses


A rollicking ride, passionate, powerfully compelling. As blood flows and bullets fly, immortality and love are put to the test. Fans of Westerns, Gothics, romance and thrillers alike will find a gripping story line that’s unpredictable and hard to put down. Hays and McFall do such a fine job of integrating setting, characters, and past events into the bigger finale’s picture that even those with no prior familiarity with the series will find it easy to become thoroughly engrossed in this last episode. – D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Buy The Last Sunset

Book Review: The Other Einstein


Bold or misleading?

“The Other Einstein aims to tell the story of a brilliant woman whose light has been lost in Albert’s enormous shadow — that of Mileva Maric.” — From the Marie Benedict (author) in an afterword

Marie Benedict, the author of The Other Einstein, achieves what she set out for herself. The novel integrates thin but intriguing documentary evidence about Mileva Maric with rich imaginative story-telling to create a compelling and intricate fictional biography of Albert Einstein’s first wife.

When we first meet Mileva, she is a nervous but brilliant young woman training in physics at university, an unusual accomplishment in this era, one that in itself suggests an exceptional and tenacious mind, able to overcome the masculine dominance of both society and science in her noble quest for the pure knowledge of physics. Ironically, her intellectual pursuits are enabled by a modest physical disability affecting her leg, rendering her unmarriageable in her parents’ eyes. Read the rest of this entry »