Press Release: Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy by Mercedes M. Yardley

Elegant Murder and Tragic Prose are in the Stars This Fall

Mercedes M. Yardley’s New Release is Nothing Short of Beautiful

Monday, September 8th—Crestview Hills, KY—“Murder and whimsy.” These things may sound incompatible, but dark fantasy author Mercedes M. Yardley’s latest novel manages to entwine the two concepts with lyrical language, beautiful imagery—and a high body count.

Ragnarok Publications is proud to announce the release of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, coming on September 29th. A dark but lovely fairy tale, this is Yardley at her finest: a tapestry of lush imagery, poetic prose, and beautiful violence about a woman destined to be murdered and her flight from Fate’s inevitable—yet seemingly terrible—marksmanship.

Yardley’s fans are no strangers to her lovely, tragic style. She is also the author of the acclaimed novella “Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love”, winner of the 2013 Reddit Stabby Award for Best Short Fiction, and the novel Nameless: The Darkness Comes, the first of The Bone Angel trilogy.

The creation of Pretty Little Dead Girls was something special for Yardley, however: “Pretty Little Dead Girls was created out of sheer joy,” Yardley says. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. This novel was written in three weeks. It bled from my pores, it was so intense. But so joyful.”

Hugo award-winning artist Galen Dara was commissioned to create a cover image that would capture the idea of lovely murder. The result, coupled with the design skills of J.M. Martin, is absolutely stunning. So stunning, in fact, that Ragnarok Publications has decided to release a special, limited hardcover edition of the book. Only one hundred of these signed hardcovers will be available, and preorders have already begun.

Also included in the package for the preordered hardcovers is a signed print from artist Orion Zangara, renowned for creating fairy tales with his lavish pen and ink drawings. Dark and evocative, this stunning image by Zangara was made with a particular scene from Pretty Little Dead Girls in mind.

Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is not just a novel; with the poignant words of Mercedes M. Yardley, and the haunting images of both Dara and Zangara, it is, without a doubt, a work of art.

The special signed hardcover edition of Pretty Little Dead Girls: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy, along with the Orion Zangara print, is NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER.!apocmon-boneangel/c234g

Contact Ragnarok’s Publicity Coordinator, Melanie R. Meadors, with questions and/or requests.

Chelsea Avenue by Armand Rosamilia

On July 8th 1987, in Long Branch, New Jersey, The Haunted House Pier and Murphy’s Law club fires destroyed not only local landmarks, but everything Manny Santiago found dear.

And it isn’t over.

The entity responsible for killing Manny’s family and wreaking devastation in the small seaside community has reappeared. Again. As it has every year since. And is growing in power.

Every July 8th it returns, as survivors of the fires, including Manny, are mysteriously led back to the now-vacant seaside lot on Chelsea Avenue, where the entity intends to finish what it started in 1987 once and for all. (Book description from Goodreads.)

If you had asked me two years  ago if I were a horror fan I would have probably told you no, but over the course of those two years I have been reading more and more horror fiction.  When I had to the opportunity to review a new horror novel from Ragnarok Publications, purveyor of all things dark and fantastic, I jumped at the chance.  I was certainly not disappointed.

Manny Santiago lost his parents on July 8th, 1987, his birthday,  in a fire that destroyed his parents club, Murphy’s Law, on Chelsea Avenue. The fire claimed many lives and the town of  Long Branch is never the same.  The survivors of the fire are not safe as they have been “marked” and return to the site each year on the anniversary of the fire only to meet their doom.

Armand Rosamilia weaves a dark, and horrific tale.  I enjoyed the way the book was written, each chapter representing a year and set on the July 8th, the date of the fire.  After a few chapters the hook was really set and each subsequent chapter pulled me further and further into the story. Watching Manny’s slow decline year by year filled me with dread, as much so as the terrifying entity that was drawing people to their death each year. Rosamilia captures the essence of what a true horror story is to me, ancient and evil forces are at work and there is nothing that can be done to stop it.  That feeling of helplessness is what really scares me and that feeling is prevalent throughout the entire book.  The reader is inexorably pulled along with Manny and the survivors of that fateful night to a horrific climax.

I really enjoyed Chelsea Avenue and Rosamilia brings the landscape to life.  I could smell the salty air and the stink of stagnant water.  I would visualize the desolate ruin of the strip of land where Murphy’s Law once stood.  These wonderful visual effects added extra punch to the story and held me fast, turning page after page late into the night.  The icing on the cake was the amazing cover art by the talented Shawn King.  I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good horror story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Ragnarok Publications, in return for an honest review.

Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber


Swords and Deviltry, the first book of Leiber’s landmark series, introduces us to a strange world where our two strangers find the familiar in themselves and discover the icy power of female magic. Three master-magician femme-fatales and a sprightly lad illuminate the bonds between father and son, the relationship between the bravado of the imagination, and the courage of fools. A hedge wizard explains the cold war between the sexes. Mouse and Fafhrd meet again and learn the truth of how Mouse became the Gray Mouser. Together they traverse the smoke and mirrors of Lankhmar learning more and more of the foggy world in which they live, mapping the sinister silent symptoms of the never-ending night-smog. They follow the night-smog’s relation to the region’s longing for larceny and the hazy opiate of vanity. Last but certainly not least, they experience the pleasures and pains of the City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokers that will lead them to countless more adventures and misadventures. (Book description taken from Goodreads.)

Fritz Leiber has been on my reading list for years because many of my favorite authors cite him as inspiration for their writing. I first heard the name Fritz Leiber from the appendix of my 2nd edition Dungeon Masters Guide under “recommended reading”. I knew who Fafrd and the Gray Mouser were but never knew their stories. I am glad that I have finally taken the time to read them and consider it time well spend with an author that is said to have coined the term “swords and sorcery”.

Swords and Deviltry is made up of the first three stories of the famous (or should I say infamous) duo. The first is The Snow Women and is Fafrhd’s tale of how he escaped his home and came to be in Lankhmar. The second, The Unholy Grail is Gray Mouser’s story. The third, Ill Met in Lankhmar tells the tale of how the two met and the tragedy that formed their friendship.

I enjoyed the first two stories more than the third. I enjoy origin stories and it was entertaining to read how these two icons of fantasy came to be. The first two stories had a much more serious tone to them and did not have the levity of the third when Fafrd and the Gray Mouser meet for the first time. The third story is well named and certainly the darkest of the three.

I really enjoyed this book and am planning on reading the rest of the series.

This book is from my personal library.

Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan


When I change, I change fast. The moon drags the whatever-it-is up from the earth, and it goes through me with crazy wriggling impatience . . . I’m twisted, torn, churned, throttled—then rushed through a blind chicane into ludicrous power . . . A heel settles. A last canine hurries through. A shoulder blade pops. The woman is a werewolf.  (Book description from Goodreads)

Warning is post contains spoilers if you have not read The Last Werewolf.

Tallula Rising is the sequel to The Last Werewolf.  As the title indicates this book focuses on Talulla, who was introduced near the end of The Last Werewolf.  Jake Marlow is dead, killed by WCOP (World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena) the same people who are hunting her.  They are going to have to stand in line because the vampires are after her too.  Sound cliche?  Sound like every other werewolf/vampire book you have read?  While the theme may sound familiar, the execution is far from it.  Duncan creates a world where the classic monsters are real but does so in a way that kept me turning the pages.  Talulla is a monster, something she freely admits, but here is where Duncan deviates from the typical self loathing monster trope.  Talulla accepts what she is.  While this does not mean that she is not remorseful about killing and feeding on humans once a month, she understands and accepts it.  I really liked this aspect of the book.  Duncan created a monster that I wanted to befriend knowing all the while she would probably kill me.  Having  monsters that were not killing for the sake of killing and at the same not wallowing in self-pity at their monstrous appetites made room for an engaging story with very interesting characters.

The premise is straightforward, Talulla is pregnant with Jake Marlow’s child and moments after the birth of her son he is kidnapped (not going to give any spoilers here but another unexpected twist occurs as well) by vampires to be used a ritual to raise the oldest living vampire to power.  At first blush this sounded like the plot of the next Blade movie, but it was the characters that really did it for me.  I was so focused on what Talulla and company were thinking and feeling that the whole “vampire ritual” theme took a backseat. 

I liked the way the story unfolded, Talulla struggling with the loss of her child and wondering what kind of mother a werewolf would make, legends of the oldest living vampire, Remshi, and then there was the constant pull of the monster inside her.  I will say that this book is rather graphic and not for the squeamish.  There are graphic depictions of werewolves killing and having sex (occasionally at the same time) but Duncan does it in a way that works.  The sex and violence, both a prominent occurrence in the book, doesn’t get in the way of the overall story.

I really enjoyed Tallula Rising and am looking forward to the third book in the series, By Blood We Live

New Cover (US) – The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett

I can’t tell you how excited I am about Peter V. Brett’s latest book in The Demon Cycle series, The Skull Throne.  I got even more excited when I saw the US cover.

This, ladies and gentlemen, this is pure awesome.



As if that was not enough here is a sample of the first chapter. I am not sure of the exact release date but I’ll be biting my nails until it gets here.

For those of you that have not read this series (seriously, if you haven’t you really should), here the first three books. (Hmmm, I think I might just have time for a re-read myself.)

This should keep you busy until The Skull Throne is out.

Happy Reading!!

Back to Blogging

I have been away from this blog for several months and before that my postings were sporadic.  I have missed what little blogging I did and aim to do more in the future.  Things will change a bit.  This blog will continue to be about what I love most, books, but there will the occasional rambling post about odds and ends, maybe even a review of a movie or two.  In any event, I am committing myself to keeping this site current with what I am reading, what I want to read, and other random bookish “stuff”.

So, with that out of the way, what are you guys reading?


Reading John Connolly

I just finished an ARC of John Connolly’s latest Charlie Parker novel, The Wolf in Winter (review to follow soon).  There are many series that I love and anxiously await the next installment but Connolly’s Charlie Parker series is anticipation on an entirely different level.  The closest I can come to describing it is a child at Christmas.  I can’t wait for it to get here but it is over too quickly.

When I received the ARC from the publisher I put aside Terry Brooks’ The Measure of Magic, not because it was unenjoyable but because I just couldn’t wait to read more Charlie Parker.  After I finished The Wolf in Winter I was prepared pick up on The Measure of Magic, but I found myself wanting more John Connolly.  I was thinking about re-reading the Charlie Parker series, but then I found there was one of his works I had not yet read, Bad Men. While it is not in the Charlie Parker series, he is mentioned.  There is a certain atmosphere to all of Connolly’s books and picking up one of his books feels like slipping into a comfortable pair of shoes.  I stopped by the library and picked up Bad Men this afternoon and I am starting it tonight as soon as I put the kids to bed.  I’ll pick back up The Measure of Magic once I satisfy by Connolly itch.  

Latest Library Haul

Since I was young Saturdays have always meant a trip to the library. This has continued into adulthood and I now share this experience with my kids. Usually we all leave with a full bag each (if library cards were credit cards we’d be in trouble as they are always at the limit). Here are my latest acquisitions.


I have never read anything by Ishiguro but Never Let Me Go has been on my reading list for years.  When I saw The Remains of the Day on one of the shelf displays I decided to give it a shot, not to mention that I have always wanted to watch the movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.  There is something about the title that evoked a certain sadness in me, after reading the back cover I can see why.

I have only read two books in the Shannara series, The Sword of Shannara and the Elfstones of Shannara and I read those way back in the summer I was about the enter high school.  They were pure magic for me and I have always meant to pick the series back up.  Since this is the first book in the Legends of Shannara series, I thought it was a perfect place to start.

I first heard of this book after reading an excellent review on Bookworm Blues. I fell in love with the cover and after seeing in the flesh it was just begging to be read.

I saw this title several months back on Amazon and I filed it away on my to be read list.  It was billed as art Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Toro and part William S. Burroughs.  With that kind of comparison I could not resist.

This is actually the second time I have checked this book out.  The first time I was not able to get it read before it was due back.  It has a long wait list so that is an excellent sign of how good I expect it to be.

I have been patiently waiting for May to arrive and with it the new Harry Dresden book Skin Game.  I was pleasantly surprised when I found this title as I thought I had read all the Dresden graphic novels available.

So, has  anyone been to the library lately?  If so, what did you bring home?  Happy reading!!

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The tale of a youth whose features, year after year, retain the same appearance of innocent beauty while the shame of his abhorrent vices becomes mirrored on the features of his portrait.  (Summary from Goodreads)

I have been wanting to expand my reading of the classics and I thought I would start with The Picture of Dorian Gray. I knew the premise of the story and had watched the 2009 movie version starring Ben Barnes but I knew I was not getting the entire story, so I decided to read the book. 

What if we could stay young and beautiful and channel all of the worst parts of ourselves into a repository for our sins? Well that is just what Dorian Gray does. I am an avid reader of speculative fiction and while the book hints at the supernatural (the painting) it plays only a minor role and instead focuses on Dorian’s life of pure hedonism.

Oscar Wilde’s prose is beautiful to read and adds such an air of romance to the book that every page blossoms. The characters are very passionate, not just in a physical sense, but in everything they do. Dorian in his quest experience all the pleasures of life, Basil in his pursuit of art, and even Lord Henry and his social experiments.

Dorian comes across as a self-centered and egotistical dandy, whose physical beauty keeps him popular in social circles even if his acts do not. Dorian is such an interesting character and I have to wonder, was Dorian destined to fall in such a way, or was he pushed? The opening scene where Basil is finishing the painting of Dorian and meets Lord Henry is, in my opinion, the pivotal point of the story. Basil and Lord Henry are the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. One pushing him to goodness and purity and the other pushing him seek only pleasure. It is interesting to think what Dorian might have become had he never met Lord Henry.

While Dorian’s story is fascinating (though the story did slog a bit for me at chapter 11 but picked up afterward) , Lord Henry is even more interesting. I think he is just as much a villain as Dorian. He moves through the book pushing Dorian to heights of excess and all the while never doing those things himself. He is like the drug dealer that sells but never partakes. He is content to sit back and watch events unfold after setting them in motion. He makes mention early in the book of his love of social experiments and I would say that Dorian is his greatest achievement.

Reading The Picture of Dorian Gray made to realise the plethora of classics that I have not read but would most certainly enjoy. I will certainly be reading more in the future.

The Crow by James O’Barr

Eric has returned from the dead, driven only by hate and the need to wreak revenge on those who killed him and raped and then killed his beloved Shelly.   (summary from Goodreads)

I received The Crow as a Christmas gift in 1994 after falling in love with the movie earlier that year. This is only the second time that I have read it and it has stood the test of time for it remains my favorite graphic novel.

The Crow is a powerful story of love, loss, and revenge. It is dark, very dark, and almost painful to read at times because of the raw emotions that proliferate the pages.

One of the most powerful sections of this book is the introduction by John Bergin and it describes how O’Barr funneled his rage and pain at losing someone dear into the pages of this book. Here is my favorite part of the introduction and sets the tone of the story.

One day you are going to lose everything you have. Nothing will prepare you for that day. Not faith…not religion…nothing. When someone you love dies, you will know emptiness… You will know what it is to be completely and utterly alone. You will never forget and never forgive. The lonely do not usually speak as completely and intimately as James O’Barr does here in this book- so, if anything, at least take this lesson from The Crow: think about what you have to lose.

I have a very deep, emotional connection to this book.  Not long after reading it my father was killed in a car crash.  One day he was there and the next he was gone.  Nothing can prepare you for that kind of pain.  One day you are making plans and then, in the blink of an eye, that person is gone and all that is left is a void that nothing can fill.  There is pain, rage, sadness, but worst of all is the terrible feeling of loneliness.  I struggled for months after my father’s death but this book helped me put the pieces of my life back together.  It gave me an outlet for all my rage and pain.

Looking back, this was one of the first graphic novels I ever read and it set the stage for my love of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, whose wild black hair, pale skin, and brooding demeanor reminded be so much of Eric Draven.