Author: Charli

Book Reviews

Book Review: Haunting in Old Taliem by Janice Tremayne

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I will receive a small commission or free services from the sale.

Title: Haunting in Old Tailem Book Cover
Title: Haunting in Old Tailem Series: Haunting Clarisse Genre: Paranormal Suspense, Fiction Publisher: Millport Press Format: eBook Source: NetGalley

Running from evil is not a bad idea…until you realise you can’t hide. Old Tailem Town is an Australian pioneer village that has built a reputation as the creepiest ghost town in the southern hemisphere.But some ghosts get tired of hanging around and latch onto you. Running from evil is not a bad idea until you figure out you can’t hide. The houses and the Church that were moved and renovated to create the perfect paranormal tourist attraction carries dark secrets within its walls.Will Clarisse be able to confront her biggest evil challenge yet or will Little Charlie rally all the towns ghost into an impeccable evil stronghold? Will her meeting with the local Sharman unleash secrets with evil consequences for digging too deep into the towns past?Matters become complicated for Clarisse when a circus of young performers passes on the outskirts of town triggering unexpected paranormal events and unleashing memories of a one hundred year curse.The tourists keep flocking in for the paranormal experiences run by a local entrepreneur–unbeknown they are caught in the crossfire of a battle for evil supremacy. Will the town succumb to Little Charlie and his evil crew?


When I saw the cover and the fact that this book can actually be read as a standalone novel, I decided to take a chance on it. I am and am not glad I did. Let’s explore why.

The Characters

I actually enjoyed the characters in this book. Especially Shamy and Digger. They’re technically supporting characters for this particular installment in the series, but they’re fun and genuine, which I love about them.

Although it is stated this can be read as a standalone, I felt as though I should have read books one and two so I could fully understand Clarisse, Harry, and their relationship. I’m still unclear as to whether they are married or a live-in couple. Harry didn’t have too much time in the story, but what time he did have, he was used effectively to further the story along.

Although it felt as though Clarisse and Harry weren’t well thought out, it could simply be that I did start on the third book in the series.

The Storyline

The storyline was interesting enough. The town has a dark past and is basically the home of a demon and his crew of evil minions. Digger has had dealings with this evil crew before, as has Shamy.

The story itself took a while to unfold, and the ending felt a tad rushed, but it wasn’t something I could say was horrible or that was a deal breaker for the book. Between the characters and storyline, I’d read the book again.

The Writing

Now for the reason I gave this book two stars and why I wouldn’t read it again. Mind you, I was reading an eARC and I understand that they are uncorrected proofs, so some of the following could be due to that fact. So if the following were corrected in the released version of the book, I might actually give it another read.

The first thing that bothered me was the Australian lingo. I get it, the author is Australian, the book is set in Australia. However, for those of us who don’t live there or have friends who have lived there, the Australian lingo is a bit daunting. I knew a few of the phrases, but most of them I didn’t know. I also found it funny that Clarisse acted in some spots like she didn’t know what the lingo was either. A little glossary to define the Australian terms at the beginning or end of the book would have been nice.

This particular eARC, unlike many, was actually formatted to look like a normal book, with the exception of the missing cover. However, I did note that there were several places where sentences and even paragraphs were repeated. I’m not sure if that was a formatting error or if that was done on purpose and was supposed to convey the importance of those passages, but it bothered me a lot.

The other thing that bothered me a lot with this book was the constant finding words that shouldn’t have been there, words missing, and improper tenses or forms of words. Again, I know this was an uncorrected proof, but as a general rule, I don’t find this many mistakes in an eARC. I’m just saying.

If you’d like to check out the released version of this book, you can purchase it on Amazon (affilate).

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Blogging Help

SYWTBABB? Part 1 – Names & Platforms

Being a book blogger is fun, exciting, and gives you a sense of community among other readers. However, it is a lot of work and can be frustrating at times. Today I’m going to start a new series called So You Want to Be a Book Blogger, which will detail various aspects of being a book blogger. In this first installment, I’ll go over the various options you have for setting up your blog.

Choosing a Name

The first thing you want to do is choose your blog’s name. This can be as simple as “Your Name’s Blog” or “Your Name’s Corner” or something with more pizzazz or flair like “Keep on Booking” or “The Spooky Bookshelf”. Take a bit of time and decide what you want to name your blog. Do some checking around to see if anyone else has named their blog the same as yours – if they have, or if you find a company uses that name, you’ll want to change your blog’s name to something that won’t get confused with someone else.

Another thing you might want to do is check to see if the blog name you’ve chosen can be registered as a domain name. Unfortunately, it seems someone with no interest in actually developing a website with it has registered keeponbooking.com, so I ended up with keeponbooking.net. There are plenty of domain extensions, but I’d steer clear of any domains that have the .com, .net, or .org taken and actually have a website set up – it’s likely someone will get confused about who you are. Think of a different name – the last thing you want to happen is someone starting a trademark war over your blog name.

Also of note: you may find yourself wanting to choose a platform based on your blog name being available as the URL or choose a name based on what’s available on the platform. You can do this if you want, but it isn’t necessary, especially if you plan to attach a domain to the blog sooner rather than later.

Choosing a Platform

So you have a name for the blog, but now you need somewhere to write it. Well, you have a few options, some good, some not-so-good. We’ll start with hosted options first, then talk about self-hosted options.

Blogger

Blogger is a fairly popular, easy to use blogging service provided by Google. It’s pretty straightforward, but lacks some of the finesse of other blogging platforms. You can create multiple blogs on one account, so if you decide you want to have a second blog for another passion, you can do it. You can style your posts pretty much any way you want to using the HTML editor portion of the post editor, but you will need to know HTML and CSS to do so. You can also use a domain name for free on Blogger, so if you choose to purchase a domain, you can use it there without paying. You also have the option of creating a Google AdSense account and once your blog qualifies, monetizing your blog with Google AdSense.

Blogger is great for beginners, but it’s pretty limited. The selection of premade themes that comes with Blogger are very limited and although they can be customized, it isn’t always the easiest thing to do. You can Google for free Blogger Templates and there are a few Etsy sellers who sell Blogger Templates, so you might be able to find something you like better that way.

Many people start off on Blogger but then decide they are too limited and move to one of the self-hosted options you’ll learn about later on. A big drawback to Blogger is that Google can decide at any time to shut down Blogger or just delete your blog for no reason.

WordPress.com

Yes, I put a .com behind WordPress because there are two version. Hosted which is WordPress.com and self-hosted which is WordPress.org.

WordPress.com is a great way to dip your toes into the world of working and blogging with WordPress without having to shell out money for hosting. Unfortunately, you are very limited as to what you can do on a free WordPress.com account, but you can create multiple blogs on the same account as with Blogger.

WordPress.com comes with certain features built in for helping your blog get traffic that Blogger just doesn’t have. On WordPress.com, you can set your blog to automatically share your posts to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and LinkedIn as well as adding share buttons to each post, where Blogger only lets you add share buttons to each post and you’d have to manually share your posts to your chosen social networks.

WordPress.com also has a bigger theme selection and it’s a bit easier to customize your themes, although you can’t add your own code to the theme unless you choose to pay for an upgrade to your account.

The biggest drawbacks for WordPress.com for most people are the block editor and the limitations put on you unless you spring for the business (highest upgrade level) package. The block editor is shared with WordPress.org blogs and trust me, it’s a matter of you love it or you hate it. If you haven’t used it, it’s hard to describe why it’s so bad to those who hate it and if you use it and love it, you’ll never understand why others hate it so much.

As for the limitations, you can remove them in varying degrees by upgrading to personal, professional, or business plans that will allow you more control over your blog. However, since you are hosted on WordPress.com’s servers, your blog will always be subject to WordPress.com deciding it should be deleted. Another thing to note – unless you upgrade to one of the paid plans, your blog will show ads that make WordPress.com money, but don’t make you any money.

LiveJournal

Yes, LiveJournal is still around, and although I’m not entirely sure it’s a good fit for book bloggers, I have seen a few there before. It’s been a very long time since I’ve used LiveJournal and the last time I was there, the blogs were riddled with ads unless you paid for your blog, but that may have changed. Honestly, unless you just really like LiveJournal, I wouldn’t use them.

WordPress.org

So here we are in the self-hosted section, starting off with WordPress.org. To use WordPress.org, you will need a hosting account. You can get one through many different places including Namecheap, GoDaddy, SiteGround, DreamHost, BlueHost, HostGator, and more. WordPress.org recommends SiteGround, BlueHost, and DreamHost, but I use Namecheap myself and I love it.

Anyway, WordPress.org requires hosting but not a domain name – although your hosting company will likely require you to register a domain to use with your hosting. You can use your host’s software installer to install WordPress.org in the “blogs” section. The process is fairly painless and in a few moments, you’ll have your very own self-hosted WordPress blog!

WordPress.org gives you so much more control over your blog because you have the option to add any theme you want out of the theme repository, third party sites that sell themes, or even create your own theme if you’re a developer. You also have the option to integrate various things into your blog using plugins. Both custom themes and plugins are options only available to business plan users on WordPress.com, but honestly, you’ll likely pay far less per year on a hosting plan and have way more control.

WordPress.org does use the block editor, but if it’s the only thing you’ve ever used, it’s not too terrible because it works the same way.

One great thing is there is an importer plugin that you can use to move your blog from WordPress.com, Blogger, and a few other sites, to WordPress.org.

Just know that you’ll have a monthly or yearly hosting fee to pay plus a fee for the domain name.

I use the Stellar Plus package from Namecheap and it costs me $4.88/month plus the fee for my domain each year, which is about $13 – so I pay roughly $73/year to run my blog as far as Namecheap goes.

On WordPress.org, if you want some of the functions of WordPress.com like the social media sharing, you’ll need to install Jetpack – which is a pretty easy thing to do. Jetpack offers free and paid plans1I use the $9/month paid plan and get to use WordAds from WordPress.com, the sharing features, backups, and more. which you can utilize to help your blog be the best it can be… and you only need to pay for Jetpack, not both Jetpack and Akismet spam protection!

ClassicPress

The final platform I’m going to detail is ClassicPress. ClassicPress, like WordPress.org, requires a hosting account. The beauty of ClassicPress is that it is WordPress.org but a bit simpler.

ClassicPress removes the block editor and gives you the old-time WordPress feel, great for people who moved from WordPress.com because of the block editor or who are used to the visua/HTML editor interface type of Blogger.

Most plugins and themes for WordPress.org will work great on ClassicPress, but there are some exceptions – Jetpack doesn’t really work with ClassicPress unless you can get a much older version. The new versions don’t work with ClassicPress.

You can install ClassicPress through many software installers like Softaculous by looking under CMS for ClassicPress.

Conclusion

So there you have the first two steps in creating your book blog – figuring out a name and picking a platform. We’ll detail the next steps next week, which are finding a theme and recommended plugins.

Meme

NetGalley Check-in #1

I got this idea from Danni at _ForBooksSake – each week, I will detail what my current NetGalley feedback ratio is, what books I have in the NetGalley TBR, what books I’m currently reading, and what books I’ve finished, if any.

Feedback Ratio

My current NetGalley Feedback Ratio is 30% – I actually deleted my old NetGalley account and started fresh because I was so overwhelmed by the books I still needed to read.

NetGalley TBR

Tie Die by Max Tomlinson

Back in London’s swinging ’60s, Steve Cook was teen idol number one. But that changed when a sixteen-year-old fan was found dead in his hotel room bed. Steve’s career came to a crashing halt after he was dumped by his record company and arrested. Now, in 1978 San Francisco, Steve works construction, still dreaming of a comeback. Until his eleven-year-old daughter is kidnapped. Steve turns to one person for help: Colleen Hayes. She was quite a fan herself, back in the day. And she knows what it’s like to be on the wrong side of the law and live in judgement for the rest of your life. It doesn’t take Colleen long to realize something fishy is going on with the kidnapping of Melanie Cook. What transpires is a harrowing journey through a music industry rife with corruption and crime. Colleen’s search takes her through San Francisco’s underbelly and all the way to ’70s London, where she discovers a thread leading back to the death of a forgotten fan in Steve’s hotel room.

Immortal Fears by Various Authors

Twenty authors, twenty gods, twenty stories that will chill, thrill and kill you. The Gods of the Pantheon present their first anthology of Halloween stories, the time for Samhain draws near…

The Puritan by Birgitte Margen

A gripping thriller in the tradition of Thomas Harris, Michael Connelly, and Jo Nesbø, THE PVRITAN is a thriller fueled by a serial killer terrorizing Boston and the detectives trying to stop him. Who is the Wing-maker? Can he be stopped, or has his next victim already taken flight?

“But the eyes of the wicked fhal faile, and their refuge fhal perifh, and their hope shalbe forowe of minde.” —Iob 11:20, Geneva Bible

All alone, in a dark, earthen tomb, a boy’s prayers are unheard. Now, he has risen from his premature grave–and there is hell to pay.

A MAN’S BODY is found hanging in the Boston Common, his eyes missing and skin mutilated beyond recognition, transforming him into a winged demon. Weeks later, a young girl’s body is discovered under a layer of ice, her skin carved into angel wings.

Boston Homicide Detective Marti Zucco and her partner, Detective Neil Cavanaugh, are in a race against time to stop the wing-maker, a twisted psychopath who has left a trail of complex clues. A gang-ridden path that will take them through the gates of Hell and into an underground world of sexual perversion.

For Marti, her faith will be tested as more bodies continue to mount and she walks among the ghosts, following in the footprints of the killer known as the Puritan.

Can. He. Be. Stopped? Or has the soul of his next victim already taken flight?

This Eternity of Masks and Shadows by Karsten Knight

Some vendettas have more lives than others.

The gods walk among us. Some lurk in the shadows, masquerading as mortals; others embrace their celebrity status, launching careers from Hollywood to Capitol Hill.

One of them just murdered Cairn Delacroix’s mother.

As Cairn sifts through the rubble, she uncovers a conspiracy two decades in the making: a cursed island, the fellowship of gods who journeyed there, and the unspeakable act that intertwined their fates. One by one, the members of that voyage are dying, and Cairn’s investigations land her in the crosshairs of the rogue goddess responsible.

With the help of Nanook, a polar bear god turned detective, Cairn descends into Boston’s underworld of supernatural crime and political aspiration. To avenge her mother and unmask her assassin, she’ll first have to reckon with a gut-wrenching secret that will rewrite the life she thought she knew.

Shocking twists cascade toward an explosive finale in this thrilling new mystery from Karsten Knight, author of the WILDEFIRE trilogy and NIGHTINGALE, SING.

The President’s Dossier by James A. Scott

Fired for bias against the U.S. president, ex-CIA Russia expert Max Geller gets a chance to redeem his reputation and make a fortune when he is hired to investigate the president’s incriminating ties to Moscow. Jill Rucker, an undercover CIA agent, is assigned to work with him—and she does—when she’s not pursuing her own conflicting goals. The search takes them to England, Russia, Panama, and Switzerland. Along the way, Max runs afoul of British intelligence by inadvertently compromising two of its operations. He gets help from an anti-Russian underground cell in Moscow, is assisted and threatened by the Russian mafia, exposes a massive Russian-American money laundering scheme in Panama, and uncovers a plot to protect the president from mounting accusations threatening his presidency. Close behind is Zabluda, a Kremlin assassin, who means to kill them and their sources and destroy evidence incriminating the president. Max discovers that he has been betrayed by his former boss, his current employer, and his girlfriend. Seeking revenge, he takes on a powerful Washington law firm, the CIA, and the Russians. Max Geller is the spy who went out in the cold—and no one wants him to come in and tell what he knows.

Currently Reading

The Perfect Match by Anita Lemke

Matchmakers don’t fall in love with their clients… unless they do.

She doesn’t believe in love… 

Victoria Medrano is a professional modern-day matchmaker who earns her living by finding suitable husbands for her rich clients’ daughters using a foolproof system – one that takes love out of the equation. Snaring the right clients and establishing a sterling reputation is the career stepping stone she needs to finally earn the kind of money she’s always dreamed of. 

… but love can be found in unlikely places. 

When her best friend Tonya becomes her client and gets set up with the handsome and charming-when-he-wants-to-be Mark Dunham, Victoria is inexplicably drawn to him. As she suddenly questions her beliefs about love, she has to make a decision. Is it okay to fall in love with your best friend’s perfect match? 

A modern-day contemporary romance

Haunting in Old Tailem by Janice Tremayne

From the finalist of the 2020 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards in Fiction—Supernatural comes the much-anticipated sequel of the Haunting Clarisse Series.

★This book can be read as a stand-alone

Running from evil is not a bad idea…until you realise you can’t hide.

Old Tailem Town is an Australian pioneer village that has built a reputation as the creepiest ghost town in the southern hemisphere.

But some ghosts get tired of hanging around and latch onto you. Running from evil is not a bad idea until you figure out you can’t hide. The houses and the Church that were moved and renovated to create the perfect paranormal tourist attraction carries dark secrets within its walls.

Will Clarisse be able to confront her biggest evil challenge yet or will Little Charlie rally all the towns ghost into an impeccable evil stronghold? Will her meeting with the local Shaman unleash secrets with evil consequences for digging too deep into the towns past?

Matters become complicated for Clarisse when a circus of young performers passes on the outskirts of town triggering unexpected paranormal events and unleashing memories of a one hundred year curse.

The tourists keep flocking in for the paranormal experiences run by a local entrepreneur–unbeknown, caught in the crossfire of a battle for evil supremacy. Will the town succumb to Little Charlie and his evil crew?

Read Last Week

None so far. I need to get back to reading my NetGalley Books.

Do you have a NetGalley backlog to get to? What is your feedback ratio?

Book Reviews

Book Review: Atropos by John Japuntich

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through my links, I will receive a small commission or free services from the sale.

Title: Atropos Book Cover
Title: Atropos Genre: Science Fiction Format: eBook Pages: 314 Source: Reedsy Discovery

The aftermath of the virus left the world in shambles. The recovery lasted centuries. The plague was so transformative, gifting humanity immortality while simultaneously causing infertility, that it became known as simply the Event.

 John Fitzpatrick, retired FBI agent, is consumed with exposing what, or who is behind the Event. As John looks for answers, he must navigate a new world created by the Event, decades of world-wide depression and war, messianic cult leaders, and a meddlesome AI.

Civilization survives the Event depression by uniting under one government. The Federation of Nations is led by a charismatic economist who restructures the world economy to focus on one goal; interstellar colonization. Centuries later, John’s obsession with the cause of the Event leads him to discover the forces behind the Event may threaten the launch of humanity’s first interstellar ship; Atropos and plunge the world back into darkness.


I chose this book through Reedsy Discovery based solely on the description. I loved the thought of a viral component to gaining immortality as well as becoming infertile. I was curious to see how the world would react to something like that. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Virus

So what we know about the virus in the beginning is that it is highly contagious, it provides the infected immortality, and that it renders the infected infertile. So while everyone gets the chance to live forever1No death from natural causes, but murder, suicide, accidents, etc., are still able to cause death., no one gets to have children anymore. Kind of sucky but at the same time, do we really need a world full of immortal people who are also having kids and overpopulating the planet? This was a great virus idea. Most viruses do bad things to people, they don’t do anything that could potentially be seen as good. Of course, whether or not being made immortal and infertile is a good thing is subjective, but hey, it’s better than the virus killing everyone off, which is what most books involving a type of plague do.

The Space Aspect

Ok, I’m going to try not to give much of this away, but let me just say this – a ship capable of interstellar travel to colonize a planet in another solar system may not be new, but the way in which it is handled in this book is. Usually, we come into the story either on the way to colonize the planet or with the planet already colonized. This book doesn’t do that. Atropos allows us to take the journey from discovery of a new planet all the way to leaving to colonize it. You can’t beat this – and no, I won’t tell you where the planet is, what they named it, or how long it will take them to get there. That, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Another interesting part of the space aspect of this book is that it has a unique way of getting people into space. I won’t give it away, but it’s pretty interesting.

The Characters

The characters in this book are great. I loved Mary Ann Jones, John Fitzpatrick, and even Zacharia Jones. I wasn’t overly fond of Nathan Daniels or Ken Takahashi, but we can’t like everyone. I was surprised to note that the two characters I don’t care for also don’t have too much to say during the book, which is nice, because that meant I didn’t have to listen to them.

I’ll be honest, because Zacharia’s character grew and evolved so much during the book, I actually liked his character the best. You won’t see his character all the time, but when you do, I think you’ll be impressed with him as well.

I also really liked John Fitzpatrick because he’s like a bulldog. He grabs something and won’t let go of it. You can tell because he spends the entire book trying to figure out who is behind the Event.

The Twist

You won’t see this twist coming. Believe me, I sure as heck didn’t. If you’d asked me who was behind the Event, I’d have said Nathan Daniels and Ken Takahashi. And that’s all I’m going to say about that – except that this twist is brilliant.

The Conclusion

Atropos was a great debut novel for John Japuntich. I can’t wait for there to be a sequel2Which he told me on Twitter that he’s started one, but it’ll be a while. because once you read this book, you’ll know that it needs a sequel.

A 5-star read great for fans of science fiction, mystery, and anyone who likes the two genres mixed.

The Author

You can find John Japuntich at the following places:
Website // Twitter // Buy his book on Amazon (affiliate)

I received a copy of this book free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Miscellaneous

Rebranding

As you may, nor may not, have noticed, the title of this blog has changed, as has the URL. Yes, thespookybookshelf.com and thespookybookshelf.blog will still bring you to this blog, and will for at least another year. However, the blog’s official url is now keeponbooking.net, and the site title is Keep on Booking.

The rebranding has been a long time coming, I have to admit. Back in 2018, when I started The Spooky Bookshelf, I had promised myself that this would be the last name my blog ever had. And technically, it is, because Keep on Booking was the first name my blog ever had.

This blog originally started back in 2010, on Blogger, as Keep on Booking. The name came from a used bookstore I’d worked at when I lived in Texas. Later on, the same blog became The Bookworm Fairy, then I left the book blogging world for a bit.

When I came back, it was And She Reads…, which I think I might have posted four reviews and quit. Then it went from And She Reads…, to The Goth Girl Reads in 2015. I had that blog for a little over a year, and let it go in 2016, to create The Spooky Bookshelf in 2018. And I’ve loved The Spooky Bookshelf… but it just seemed to me that it was coming to the point where I wasn’t feeling the blog anymore. I needed to do something – so I decided to go back to that old favorite name.

But why go back to Keep on Booking? Well, because that was literally the most successful book blog I’d had. I had a large reader base, I got books from publishers (actual physical books and not just arcs, I’d get finished books as well), and I just wanted to see if I could recapture that very first blog’s magic.

Silly, I know. But that’s where we are now – Keep on Booking.