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Monday, November 30, 2015

Flowers In A Dumpster by Mark Allan Gunnells [4 stars]



From the Description

The world is full of beauty and mystery. In these 17 tales, Gunnells will take you on a journey through landscapes of light and darkness, rapture and agony, hope and fear.
A post-apocalyptic landscape where it is safer to forget who you once were... An unusual support group comprised of cities dying of a common illness... A porn star that has opened himself up to demonic forces... Two men battling each other to the death who discover they have much in common... A woman whose masochistic tendencies may be her boyfriend's ruin... A writer whose new friendship proves a danger to his marriage and his sanity.
Let Gunnells guide you through these landscapes where magnificence and decay co-exist side by side. Come pick a bouquet from these Flowers in a Dumpster.



I received an ARC of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novel.

Flowers In A Dumpster is my first book by Mark Allan Gunnells. Based on the quality of the stories in this book it won't be my last. Flowers In A Dumpster has a much higher number of great stories than you usually find in a collection. There were a few that I didn't enjoy as much as others but all were well written and fast paced. Some of my favorites were Past Lives, which has a delightfully twisted ending. Welcome and Welcome Back were both fun yet disturbing.The Bonadventure, a trio of ghost hunters find way more than they expected, and Similar Interests, serial killers meet while out hunting, were both fantastic. And Kindred Spirit, which was the perfect close to this collection, will hit home for a lot of writers. A fast and deliciously dark 4 star read.


About the Author




Mark Allan Gunnells loves to tell stories. He has since he was a kid, penning one-page tales that were Twilight Zone knockoffs. He likes to think he has gotten a little better since then. He has been lucky enough to work with some wonderful publishers such as Apex Publishing, Bad Moon Books, Journalstone, Evil Jester Press, Etopia, Sideshow Press, and Gallows Press. He loves reader feedback, and above all he loves telling stories. He lives in Greer, SC, with his fiance Craig A. Metcalf.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Katerina by Erik Hofstatter [3.5 stars]



From the Description


Kamil, a thirty-something medieval weapons trader resides in the notorious Red Light District in Prague. Despite his hatred for prostitutes, he accepts an offer from Ginny - a local sex worker.

As their unusual friendship unfolds and Kamil witnesses several bizarre scenarios, he begins to suspect that Ginny might not be an ordinary prostitute...


I received a copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this book.

When I was asked to review Katerina I was excited. I had read and reviewed The Pariahs and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was expecting Katerina to be a similar story but what I got was something totally different. Katerina is well written, I enjoy Erik Hofstatter's concise style. The story was a bit odd, but in a way that made me want to know more. Why was Kamil following this bizarre girl? Why was Ginny's behavior so strange? I had to know! The ending was unexpected, which I usually like. This time it made me feel as if I had read a sample chapter of a longer work instead of a complete story. A fast and oddly fun 3.5 star read.

Buy the Book
 


About the Author



Erik Hofstatter is a schlock horror writer who dwells in a beauteous and serenading Garden of England, where he can be encountered consuming copious amounts of mead and tyrannizing local peasantry. His work appeared in various magazines and podcasts around the world such as Morpheus Tales, The Literary Hatchet, Sanitarium Magazine, Wicked Library, Tales to Terrify and Manor House Show. His second novella 'Rare Breeds' is due to be published in March 2016 by KnightWatch Press.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Brian Kirk Interview




Only the very best books get under your skin. These are the books that make you cry or give you nightmares. It's a very rare story that will do both. Brian Kirk's We Are Monsters is that rare book. You can find Horror Maiden's review HERE. I was lucky enough to get to interview Brian Kirk as part of the We Are Monsters blog tour. To find out more follow the tour over at Oh, for the Hook of a Book. Now on with the interview,,,





About Brian Kirk



Brian Kirk lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife and rambunctious identical twin boys.
He works as a freelance writer in addition to writing fiction, and is currently working on the second book in a planned trilogy.
We Are Monsters is his debut release. Feel free to connect with him online. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters.
See more about Brian at: http://briankirkblog.com/ 
Follow Brian on Facebook and Twitter. He’s found on Twitter at @Brian_Kirk and looks forward to connecting with you.


1. Tell me a little about yourself.

Well, aside from writing fiction, I’m a father of five-year-old identical twin boys: the rarest form of human offspring (a very technical term for kids). Only fraternal twins are hereditary; identical twins are a random anomaly. So it came as quite a surprise. In fact, the first thing I did when I found out was Google search the phrase, “The best thing about having twins.” I needed a pep talk.

Actually, it turns out I didn’t. We were blessed with wonderful boys. Raising them has been a special privilege.   
 

2. Can you tell us a little about We Are Monsters and what influenced you to write it? (Dr. Drexler was scarier than the ghosts & demons for me!)

 
We Are Monsters is a story about a brilliant, yet troubled psychiatrist named Alex Drexler (the man you mentioned above) who is working to create a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as one may expect) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.

As far as what inspired it, I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness. The idea that our own brains can turn against us is terrifying. It’s the ultimate enemy; it knows our deepest secrets and it’s something we can’t escape.

I also have a great deal of sympathy for people who suffer mental heath disorders. I’ve dealt with OCD all of my life, which produces physical tics, chronic anxiety, negative thought loops, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell you. And I feel that mental disease is misunderstood by our society at large. In fact, many people who are mentally ill are often labeled as evil or deranged, which I feel is unfair, and precludes us from exploring proper treatment options.

I suppose I found the subject both fascinating and deeply personal, and I wanted to explore it further, so I wrote about it.

 
3. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Hobbies?


While I may have OCD, I’m extremely ADD when it comes to interests; I’m always exploring new things, feeding frenetic curiosities. I’m like a cat with a laser; my attention goes wherever you point the light. My constants, however, tend to be reading and fostering habits that promote personal and familial wellbeing. Things like exercise, meditation, cooking, trying to be a good father, husband and friend. And more reading. Mostly reading.

 
4. How long have you been writing?


Reading and writing have been the two things I’ve enjoyed above all else for as long as I can remember. In fact, I’d say that learning how to read is one of my favorite memories. I’ll never forget begging my teacher to let me take my lesson book home to show my parents what I had learned. What I had unlocked. Because that’s how it felt, as though I had broken some kind of seal. One that allowed me access to all the stories in the world.

And I realized I had somewhat of a talent for telling stories early on, as students started looking forward to hearing my stories read aloud in class. My English teachers all encouraged my writing, and I won a poetry contest in 5th grade from a homework assignment that my teacher submitted on my behalf.

I took a brief detour after college when I set out to start my “big career” in advertising. But the urge to tell stories never left, and I soon returned to writing in the evenings and weekends, or whenever the bosses weren’t around. At some point I started submitting my work for publication and, after accruing a massive stack of rejections, finally sold one. Then another. After a while I decided to quit my full time job at the ad agency to work freelance and write a book. That’s how We Are Monsters came about.

 
5. Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
 

This may sound cheesy, but I’d say the stories inspired me. It’s a calling for sure, one that is difficult, if not impossible to ignore. I always had a hard time paying attention at school because I would slip into these immersive daydreams that would eradicate the world around me while I watched various dramas unfold. For some reason these dramas typically involved me being a Pelé level soccer player with Bruce Lee fighting abilities rescuing cute girls that valued these very traits.

These daydreams were problematic in nearly every aspect of my life except writing. My stories come from this dream state, so my ability to slip into this state, even inadvertently, aided my writing and helped me to earn recognition from my teachers and classmates. I craved that positive reinforcement, craved the feeling of doing something well. Once I discovered authors who had mastered the art, I knew I had found my life’s pursuit.


6. What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?


There’s a lot about writing that I find challenging. But that’s also why I enjoy it so much. I remember when I was gearing up to write We Are Monsters I kept thinking, “I can’t wait to be engaged in the struggle of writing a book.” I figured it would be hard, but that was part of the allure.

To be more specific, though. I find writing every day challenging, although I usually do it. I find overcoming insecurity challenging, but I try. I find writing when depressed or tired difficult, but I keep slogging ahead until it gets better.

The challenge is what makes it rewarding, I think. So I work to embrace the challenges and overcome them with stubborn determination, by commiserating with other writers, and by trying not to take the whole thing so seriously in the first place.

What I enjoy most about writing is the flow state. That strange, mysterious state of being where time stops and you cease to exist as you meld into an imaginary realm where the story takes form. A realm that doesn’t seem all that imaginary when you’re there. I’m hooked on that. That’s my heroin. 

 
7. What books do you enjoy in your free time?


ALL OF THEM! And I’m only half joking. I have fairly eclectic tastes and enjoy all types of fiction. I typically alternate between lighter novels for entertainment and loftier novels for the intellectual challenge. I usually don’t like to read the same two kinds of books consecutively. Feel free to friend me on Goodreads to view my bookshelf. I love to share book recommendations.

 

8. Who is your favorite author/book and why?



The honest answer is Stephen King, with my favorite book being The Stand. But I’d rather use this space to promote an author and book that people may be less familiar with so that they may find something new.

I am a huge fan of John Fowles, and his mind-twisting novel, The Magus, is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a story about a self-absorbed man who moves to a small Greek island to teach English at the local university. While exploring the island he meets an enigmatic millionaire who invites him to be a guest at his home and then proceeds to engage him in a series of elaborate mind games. It’s one of the most ambitious and thoroughly engrossing books I’ve ever read, and I can’t recommend it enough. I read it years ago and still haven’t recovered from the experience.


9. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

 
First, don’t listen to me, as I don’t know shit. But, if forced, I’d say the following:

Never settle for something that feels safe. Always strive to surprise yourself. Try and make yourself laugh, gross yourself out, make yourself mad. Write stuff you’d never want your parents to read, then send it out. Write what you fear is way too strange or personal to be published and then make it as good as it can be. Know that everyone secretly believes their work sucks but they keep doing it anyway. Rebel against your inner critic.


10. Can you tell us about any of your new work?


Yes, I’d love to. I have a new short story titled Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave coming out in the anthology, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, alongside two of my idols: Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. When one of the editors, Doug Murano, announced the story he said, “This is the kind of story that starts book burning parties,” which lets me know the story works. I’m honored to be part of this project, and can’t wait for the anthology to come out.

In addition, I am currently working on the second book in a trilogy of dark sci-fi thrillers. The first book is complete and currently in the hands of a literary agent whom I’ve recently signed with. We are putting the final touches on the book and plan to submit it to publishers early next year. 



11. What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?


Question: What happens after we die?

Answer: I can’t wait to find out (hopefully when I’m old and gray).  



We Are Monsters, Synopsis~

 
 

The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum. 

He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.

Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves.

But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.

Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.

 
Buy the Book
 
 
Amazon         Barnes & Noble       Samhain
 
 

Giveaway

Click the rafflecopter link below and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card from Brian Kirk! You can perform several tasks for entering each day here or at each stop that posts the giveaway link. Best of luck!
 
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b25/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="231aa30b25" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_z0b6duch">a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 
Praise For Brian Kirk











 
 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

From Places Inside by Fatman Butter [3.5 stars]



From the Description


Buyer beware, though most of the works here are new, some of this collection can be found in other Fatman Butter, and independent publications.
As I write in many genres, this is an eclectic compendium of writing intended to allow cherished readers an introduction to more comprehensive works. That is not to say that From Places Inside lacks in any way; it very much merits attention by its own right, but it is an oeuvre offered with the hope whet appetites. As it is my goal to entice readers of From Places Inside to other works, this publication will be sold at the lowest price Amazon will allow, and as often as possible be on cut-price or free promotion…so keep your eyes peeled for those.

I received an ARC of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this book.

From Places Inside is a difficult book to review. It's a collection of short-stories, poetry, jokes and anecdotes. Not everything you will find here is fiction or even written by Fatman Butter. Some parts were quite funny, others touching but overall it was very entertaining. I loved Limbo, an interesting look at religion, Heaven, Hell, and yes LIMBO. I loved Sherman, a fun character who died for a crime he didn't commit, and Pete!! A super fun novella. I also really enjoyed Doctor Agha's Misconception, a creepy tale of revenge from beyond the grave. The notes that Fatman Butter includes at the start of each piece are as interesting as the writing it talks about. I enjoyed these as much as the writing it introduces. A fast and fun 3.5 star read.

From Places Inside is available free Nov. 19-22 from Amazon.

To Learn more about Fatman Butter and his work you can read my fascinating interview at http://horrormaiden.blogspot.com/2014/12/fatman-butter-interview.html





 

Monday, November 16, 2015

The World On Fire by Sheldon Woodbury [4 stars]


 
From the Description


A serial-killing-arsonist called the "Angel of Death" is captured and sent to the infamous Spookhouse, a maximum security prison in the middle of the desert where the most horrific criminals are kept. But the impossible happens when he escapes with a journalist and six other psychos from death-row. They embark on an apocalyptic road trip that reveals a scary underground America that's both mythic and haunting. This is an action packed thriller that will keep you up all night until the knock-out ending.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this book.

The World On Fire is a fast paced thrill ride into the dark ,seedy underbelly of America. This story is disturbing and horrific wrapped up for us in a big psychotic bow made from blood and bits. I was hooked from the first page and the action never slowed down. The characters are well written and for the most part gruesomely evil with the exceptions being David, a reporter who is being held hostage, and the FBI agents assigned to stop The Angel Of Death's bloody rampage. I really liked both David and Agent Locke Wright. They were very different characters but both sympathetic in their own way. My only complaint with this book is that it didn't have an ending that was as explosive and exciting as the rest of the book. Even so I would still highly recommend this fun and terrifying 4 star read.

About the Author




Sheldon Woodbury is an award winning writer (books, short stories, screenplays, and plays) who writes mostly in the dark fantasy and horror field. His book, Cool Million, is considered the go to guide on writing high concept movies. His horror short stories have been featured on Popcorn Fiction (Mulholland Books), Horror Novel Reviews, Hellnotes, Gothic City Press, and published in the anthologies, Cultists, Charlatans & Clerics (Gothic City Press), One Hellacious Halloween (Horror Novel Reviews), Bones 2 (James Ward Kirk Publishing), and Shots of Terror (Angelic Knight Press). During the day he teaches screenwriting at New York University. At night, after the kids are in bed, he writes scary stories for adults.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke [5 stars]


 
From the Description


At first glance, Phil Pendleton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to eat candy whenever he wants and set his own bedtimes. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.

What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.

A new novella from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of THE TURTLE BOY and KIN.


I received an ARC of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novella.


Sour Candy is a super creepy little story!! The thought of someone hurting a child is grotesquely horrific. But what if that child is a creature from another place? A creature that has alienated you from everyone you love and destroyed your life in a matter of moments? A creature that now wants the only thing you have left,,, You. That's what Phil Pendleton must face when Adam decides that Phil is his father. The thing that really makes this story work is the niggling doubt. Is Phil crazy or is Adam really the monster he seems to be. Even Phil isn't sure. This story has a sense of claustrophobic paranoia that grips you tight and won't let go until the last page is read. I couldn't put it down! Grab this fast paced and phenomenal 5 star read now.


About the Author



Born and raised in Dungarvan, Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of five novels (Master of the Moors, Currency of Souls, Kin, The Living, and Nemesis: The Death of Timmy Quinn), over a hundred short stories, four collections (Ravenous Ghosts, The Number 121 to Pennsylvania & Others, Theater Macabre, and The Novellas), and editor of four acclaimed anthologies (Taverns of the Dead, Quietly Now: A Tribute to Charles L. Grant, Brimstone Turnpike, and Tales from the Gorezone, proceeds from which were donated to children's charity PROTECT.)
 
Kealan has worked as a waiter, a drama teacher, a mapmaker, a security guard, an assembly-line worker at Apple Computers, a salesman (for a day), a bartender, landscape gardener, vocalist in a grunge band, and, most recently, a fraud investigator. He also played the male lead in Slime City Massacre, director Gregory Lamberson's sequel to his cult B-movie classic Slime City, alongside scream queens Debbie Rochon and Brooke Lewis.
 
When not writing, Kealan designs covers for print and digital books through his company Elderlemon Design. To date he has designed covers for books by Richard Laymon, Brian Keene, Scott Nicholson, Bentley Little, William Schoell, and Hugh Howey, to name a few.
 
In what little free time remains, Kealan is a voracious reader, movie buff, videogamer (Xbox), and road-trip enthusiast.
 
His short story "Peekers" is currently in development as a feature film from Lionsgate Entertainment.
 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sentinels by Matt Manochio [4 stars]



From the Description
 



These are no ordinary killers.

 They don't distinguish between good and evil. They just kill. South Carolina's a ruthless place after the Civil War. And when Sheriff's Deputy Noah Chandler finds seven Ku Klux Klansmen and two Northern soldiers massacred along a road, he cannot imagine who would murder these two diametrically opposed forces.

 When a surviving Klansman babbles about wraiths, and is later murdered inside a heavily guarded jail cell, Noah realizes something sinister stalks his town. He believes a freed slave who's trying to protect his farm from a merciless land baron can help unmask the killers. Soon Noah will have to personally confront the things good men must do to protect their loved ones from evil.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this book. Follow along with the blog tour at Oh, for the Hook of a Book




 Sentinels is a fun and fast paced story! I had read The Dark Servant and thoroughly enjoyed it so when I was asked to review Sentinels I couldn't wait to see what Matt Manochio had in store with this story. While the story had some historical inaccuracies (T-shirts weren't invented until 1913) it was so well written that they didn't bother me after I got into the story. I really liked the setting and the characters. The time period around the Civil War is an interesting one that really worked for this story. The main characters were a bit PC for that time but not so much so that they weren't believable. Noah, Toby and Doreen were my favorites. The wraiths were scary and relentless in their pursuit of their prey. All in all this was a very good story. Fans of historical fiction, westerns, and great horror will like this 4 star read.


Buy the Book
 
 
 
 
 


Praise for Matt Manochio



"Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller." -Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead



"A real page turner. Matt Manochio has gained a fan in me!" -David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Thriller series, on The Dark Servant



"Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted. A clockwork mechanism of terror! Highly recommended!" -Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered, on The Dark Servant
 

About the Author
 









Matt Manochio was born in 1975 in New Jersey and graduated from The University of Delaware in 1997 with a history/journalism degree.

He spent the majority of his 13-year newspaper career at the Daily Record in Morris County, New Jersey, where he won multiple New Jersey Press Association Awards for his reporting. He wrote about one of his passions, rock 'n' roll giants AC/DC, for USA Today and considers that the highlight of his journalism career.

He left newspapers in 2011 for safer employment, and currently lives in New Jersey with his son.

You can find Matt at http://www.mattmanochio.com/ or on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Interview With Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross





   I have been a Tamara Thorne fan for a long time. When I read Haunted, I went out and got everything I could find by her. So when I was offered a chance to not only review The Ghosts Of Ravencrest, but to also interview Tamara Thorne and Alastair Cross I was ecstatic. I haven't read any of Alistair Cross's books but after reading both The Ghosts Of Ravenscrest and Five Nights In A Haunted Cabin on  their blog, I'll be finding his other books as soon as possible. You can find my review HERE. I have to say in advance that this was one of the funniest interviews I've had the pleasure to do. Some of the answers had me laughing out loud. Now on with the interview,,,,,


1. Tell me a little about yourself.

Tamara: I was born loving ghost stories and began writing them in the primary grades. I never stopped. I enjoy walking in the woods with my mountain lion, Mr. Spunky.

Alistair: I grew up in the midst of the great horror boom of the 1980s and began writing as soon as I saw my first slasher film. I like long walks on the beach with women in black capes and sharp teeth.

2. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Hobbies?

Alistair: Reading and photography. I also like to stalk other authors and persuade them - by means neither fair nor foul but always nefarious - to be our guests on our weekly talk show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE!

Tamara: Exploring southwestern ghost towns, smelling dead stuff at the ocean, watching really awful movies with Alistair, and sculpting little voodoo dolls out of road apples to sell on Etsy.

3. How long have you been writing?

Alistair: Since I was about 8 years old! Though I suspect it all began in utero … Though the nurses couldn’t be sure, they thought they saw the words “Once Upon a Time” written in my mother’s uterus. I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to the staff for stabbing them with my pen. I was young and terrified.

Tamara: Like Alistair, I was eight and while he stabbed the nurses at birth, I was slightly more refined and began stabbing them in kindergarten. I wrote horror, urban fantasy and satire. Nothing ever changes. Nurses beware!
4. Who or what inspired you to be a writer?

Tamara: I was simply born needing to write. My mother read to me from day one, the fantastical stuff she enjoyed, and that absolutely was an influence. Around age seven, I picked up my first Ray Bradbury story and he’s probably my biggest mentor and influence. I sucked him up. I also read every last Writer’s Digest Yearbook (dating back to the 1930s) in the library and every other book on how to write. And I read and wrote incessantly.

Alistair: The first thing I recall that made me want to write was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Not the movie, but the book. Not that there’s anything wrong with the movie or anything. Or Winona Ryder. I kind of like her, actually. I miss her. Nevermind Baby Jane, what happened to Winona Ryder?

5. What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?

Tamara: The challenge is to write a good story and the enjoyment comes both in the process of writing and in the completion of a piece. I must say that my enjoyment of the process is even more tremendous now that Alistair and I collaborate. We have a blast.

A lot of writers seem to think that writing should be a painful process. I don’t like to do anything that’s painful. It can be aggravating and difficult at certain times, but it is never painful. You must do what you love - and writing is what I love.

Alistair: I disagree with Tamara. I like to be in pain when I write. Sharp, agonizing, biting pain.

Tamara: That’s why I make him wear his nipple clamps. Every. Single. Day.

Alistair: (What Tamara doesn’t realize is that I enjoy every minute of it.)

Tamara: (Oh, I realize it. I can hear it in his whimpers.)

Alistair: But seriously, the joy of writing is in the creation of a world you want to live in. The challenge of being a writer, for me, is having to be creative and write when I’d rather watch dirty video clips and cute kitties on YouTube.

6. What books do you enjoy in your free time?

Alistair: I read all over the place. I will read - and enjoy considerably - the dirty limericks on a public bathroom stall if that’s what’s in front of me. But I am a huge fan of Daphne Du Maurier, Stephen King, and of course, Tamara Thorne. For real. She’s a great inspiration to me.

Tamara: Aw. I read all over the genres, but prefer books that have an element of the fantastic in them, particularly hints of ghosts. I enjoy a good horror novel, but I love a good historical or thriller, too. I just read Anne Rivers Siddons’ Fox’s Earth, King’s Revival, and Keith Donohue's The Boy who Drew Monsters. Now I’m starting Peyton Place because Alistair told me to.

Alistair: It’s true. I did. She needs to know these things …
Tamara: And he said he’d hold his breath if I didn’t read it. I don’t want a dead collaborator, so there it is ...

7. Who is your favorite author/book and why?

Tamara: That’s difficult to answer. Maybe my favorite all-time book - because it makes me nostalgic for my 1930s boyhood - is Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. I adore Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House, too. I read and reread them both as a child and they had tremendous influence on my writing. For that matter, so did MAD Magazine and Little Women.

Alistair: Hmm. I have a lot of favorites, but one that simply refuses to leave my mind is Violin by Anne Rice. It is the most beautifully horrific novel I’ve ever read. It changed me as a person and made me want to be a better writer.

8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Alistair: It’s the same old advice, but yes: Always write left to right and never take advice from authors.

Tamara: Write what you love; don’t write for money. And what Alistair said. It’s absolutely vital to write left to right in our culture.

9. Can you tell us about any of your new work?

T & A: We are currently working hard on our upcoming psychological thriller, known only as “M” for now. It will be out this winter and we’re having a blast. It’s all about the horrors you live with and know intimately - because home is where the horror really is. After that, we will be collaborating on the sequel to Tamara Thorne’s vampire novel, Candle Bay - and some of Alistair’s Crimson Corset vampires will be coming along on this road-trip of a book. We have a third book in mind for 2016, as well, and we’ll be releasing installments of The Witches of Ravencrest throughout the year.

In addition to our collaborations, we both expect to release new solo novels before 2016 is out.

10. Do you have a release date for part two of The Ravencrest Saga? (Dying to know!)

T & A: We will begin the first installment of The Witches of Ravencrest (Volume 2 of the Ravencrest Saga) in November. Subsequent installments, which vary between 10 and 15,000 words each, will be released about every six weeks. The Witches of Ravencrest is a continuation of Belinda Moorland’s adventures in Ravencrest Manor. We will be exploring more of Ravencrest’s past as well as digging deeper into some of the characters - living and dead - who reside within its very haunted walls. It will likely take about a year to release all the installments and then we will release it as a full volume - and start the next one.

11. Since you write some fantastic ghost stories (I loved this one as well as Haunted) do you believe in ghosties and ghoulies or other things that go bump in the night? If so have you had any experiences?

Tamara: I was visited by my mother at the time of her death - and because I was up late on deadline and tired, I thought I hallucinated seeing her waving at me. She said something - one syllable, but there was no sound. I promptly got up and took a Ritalin. An hour later, my sister called with the news. She’d died when I saw her - and all my life she’d promised to say “boo” as a goodbye when she left. She kept her promise.

But I don’t classify a deathbed visit with ghosts and hauntings - it happens too often and falls under the category of telepathy. As for spirits, I’ve been on many investigations and while I’ve seen some inexplicable things - maybe eight to ten anomalies that I haven’t found a solid explanation for - I’ve never experienced anything I would call intelligent. I’ve seen poltergeists in action, witnessed (with other people) two apparitions - you wouldn’t know they weren’t normal people if they hadn’t vanished, and seen and heard (or smelled) a number of lesser anomalies. I do think that residual hauntings exist - they’re no different from perfume on a hanky in your great-grandmother’s attic trunk - and they’re not spirits, though they can be delightful and, sometimes, frightening. Some of these ghost stories are in my blog, including the two scariest, and you can read more, including the one about my up close and personal encounter with a bathroom ghost here.

Alistair: I do believe in some things that aren’t currently explainable, yes, but I also believe that the laws of science are not malleable. I’m sure we don’t know all there is to know about science, and I think the answers to a lot of our questions reside in those unknown discoveries. I believe in some kind of life after death because that’s what makes the most sense to me, but I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around theology, and I’m not interested in religion. I have had a handful of inexplicable experiences, but nothing that I would say has proven to me beyond doubt that the dead linger on Earth and pay spectral visits to their living loved ones. My minor ‘paranormal’ experiences have all seemed very circumstantial, accidental even - I’ve never been visited by a familiar entity, so I can’t say I believe in that. And to be honest, I’m okay not knowing. I’m neither frightened nor comforted by the idea of spirits and ongoing life - I simply prefer the mystery.

On that note, Tamara and I spent five nights investigating an allegedly haunted cabin in California’s Gold Country a couple of years ago. We chronicled our adventures - some of which were most certainly unexplainable - which can be read on our blog at Five Nights in a Haunted Cabin.

12. What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?

Alistair: I wish someone would ask me what happened to Winona Ryder … and I wish I could answer it.


Tamara: I wish people would ask me why the severed hand in Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte terrified me so much. The answer is, it was a REAL severed hand. I just found that out recently. Definitely not kid friendly.




 
Tamara Thorne






Tamara Thorne's first novel was published in 1991. Since then she has written many more, including international bestsellers Haunted, Bad Things, Moonfall, and The Sorority. Tamara's interest in writing is lifelong, as is her fascination with the paranormal, occult, mythology and folklore. She's been an avid ghost story collector and writer all her life.




Tamara's novels range from straight-out ghost stories to tales of witchcraft, conspiracies, UFOs, elemental forces, and vampires. No matter what topic she chooses, chances are you'll find a ghost or two lurking in the background.


Today, she and her frequent collaborator, Alistair Cross, share their worlds and continue to write about ghosts and other mysterious forces. Whether collaborating or writing solo, there is no shortage of humor, sex, blood, and spookiness.


Tamara also conducts real-life investigations of anomalous phenomena and has seen a number of odd things over the last twenty years. As an open-minded skeptic, she's spoken to many paranormal groups and has appeared on the television show, Ghost Adventures. Most recently, she and Alistair Cross went on a five-day investigation to an allegedly haunted cabin in California's Gold Country - an adventure that inspired The Cliffhouse Haunting. She has also been featured on many radio programs and in various newspapers on the topics of haunted places and local lore. A journalist by training, she occasionally writes about ghosts and hauntings for a syndicate of southern California newspapers, but her first love is, and has always been, telling ghost stories to make people scream. . . and laugh.


Tamara and Alistair co-host Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! every Thursday night on Blog Talk Radio.


You can also visit Tamara on Twitter, Facebook, or at http://www.tamarathorne.com/.


Alistair Cross




Alistair Cross was born in the western United States and began penning his own stories by the age of eight. First published by Damnation Books in 2012, Alistair has since published several more novels. In 2012, he joined forces with international bestselling author, Tamara Thorne, and as Thorne & Cross, they write the successful Gothic series, The Ghosts of Ravencrest. Their newest novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, is an Amazon Best Seller, and this summer also sees the release of Alistair’s solo novel, The Crimson Corset.
 
 

In 2014, Alistair and Tamara began the internet radio show, Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! Haunted Nights LIVE! premiered to great acclaim and has featured such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels, and New York Times best sellers Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.

Alistair is currently at work on several projects including a solo novel and a new Thorne & Cross collaboration. His influences include the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty.
 
You can also visit Alistair on Twitter, Facebook, or at http://www.alistaircross.com/
 
 

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Ghosts Of Ravencrest by Tamara Thorne & Alistair Cross [4.5 stars]



From the Description

Darkness Never Dies ...
Ravencrest Manor has always been part of the family. The ancestral home of the Mannings, Ravencrest’s walls have been witness to generations of unimaginable scandal, horror, and depravity. Imported stone by stone from England to northern California in the early 1800s, the manor now houses widower Eric Manning, his children, and his staff. Ravencrest stands alone, holding its memories and ghosts close to its dark heart, casting long, black shadows across its grand lawns, through the surrounding forests, and over the picturesque town of Devilswood, below.

Dare to Cross the Threshold ...
Ravencrest Manor is the most beautiful thing new governess, Belinda Moorland, has ever seen, but as she learns more about its tangled past of romance and terror, she realizes that beauty has a dark side. Ravencrest is built on secrets, and its inhabitants seem to be keeping plenty of their own - from the handsome English butler, Grant Phister, to the power-mad administrator, Mrs. Heller, to Eric Manning himself, who watches her with dark, fathomless eyes. But Belinda soon realizes that the living who dwell in Ravencrest have nothing on the other inhabitants - the ones who walk the darkened halls by night … the ones who enter her dreams … the ones who are watching … and waiting …

Welcome to Ravencrest ...
Who is the man digging in the garden beyond Belinda’s bedroom window? Who - or what - is watching her from the vents? From ghostly screams and the clutching bony fingers of death in the indoor pool, to the trio of gliding nuns in the east wing who come at Belinda with black blazing eyes, to the beckoning little girl in the red dress who died more than two centuries ago, Belinda is thrust into a world of waking nightmares where there is no distinction between the living and the dead, and there are no limits to the horrors that await. Witchcraft is afoot at Ravencrest and as unspeakable terrors begin to unfold, Belinda realizes that her beautiful new home is a keeper of tragedy, a collector of souls. And it wants to add her to its collection … 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novel.

The Ghosts Of Ravencrest takes everything I love about gothic horror and drags it kicking an screaming into the modern age. In this novel you get a fabulous old manor house filled with mystery and danger, gorgeous people, and an innocent young woman who must learn who she can trust. The writing here is fantastic with atmospheric descriptions and just the right amount of tension to keep you on the edge of your seat. The characters are engaging and I wanted to know more about them. I loved Belinda, Grant, Ripley, and the Manning's. The ghosts range from those you want to help to those that are terrifying. The Ghosts Of Ravencrest is the first book in a series that has me hooked. I can't wait to find out what happens next! A fast paced and addictive 4.5 star read.


About the Authors


 Tamara Thorne is the author of many novels including international bestsellers, Haunted, Moonfall, Bad Things, and The Sorority. She’s been interested in ghost stories all her life and has been published since 1991. Alistair Cross shares the love of ghosts and the paranormal and was first published in 2012. That same year, Thorne and Cross joined forces, intending to write a short story together. One thing led to another, and they have since completed two novels, The Cliffhouse Haunting and The Ghosts of  Ravencrest. They are currently working on their next projects, which are slated for release throughout 2015 and 2016.

Together, they host the popular Horror, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal themed radio show, Thorne & Cross Haunted Nights LIVE!, which has included such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series, True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels, and New York Times bestsellers Christopher Rice, Jonathan Maberry, and Christopher Moore.

You can visit Alistair Cross’ website at www.alistaircross.com and Tamara Thorne’s website at www.tamarathorne.com


Friday, November 6, 2015

The Damaged by Simon Law [3 stars]



From the Description

The storm of '87 had been the greatest, most ferocious storm to have hit Britain in centuries. The suffering that ensued was plentiful, but none more so than that of little Matthew Mason, whose parents were brutally murdered in the midst of the storm by a homeless man desperate to find shelter.
After 25 years of torment, Matthew is released from a mental institute under the watchful eye and care of Tammy Atkins, a care worker with a secret history of alcohol abuse and self-harm.
As Matthew struggles to adapt to his new found liberty, he finds himself continuously plagued by the demons of his past. Haunted by strange and ghastly images and urges, Matthew sets himself upon a path of vengeance; determined to seek out his parents' killer and put his demons to rest once and for all.
'The Damaged' is a disturbing psychological thriller, delving deep into the darkest depths of the human psyche.

I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this book.

The Damaged is part serial killer part possession story. This book started out great. The storm and the horror of Mathew watching his parents get killed grabbed  me right away. Then the story moves to 25 years after that fateful night. We get to meet Tammy, a caregiver with psychological problems of her own, who is now Mathew's homecare nurse. At first I felt really bad for these two characters because of the mental and emotional problems they both had. As I continued reading it quickly became apparent that Tammy is self-absorbed and a horrible nurse and after he quit taking his meds Mathew is bat-shit crazy. It didn't take long before my initial sympathy turned into dislike for these two characters. The demon was kind of confusing. Is it real or the result of Mathew not taking his pills? You don't really know until the end. While I enjoyed Simon Law's writing style, I had a hard time connecting to this story. It just didn't work for me. An ok 3 star read.

About the Author



Simon Law, Author, was born October 23 1983 in the town of Crawley, Sussex, England.

Law first became a published writer in 2009 with the release of his début novel 'Bringing Forth the End of Days', an apocalyptic novel set in his home town of Crawley. Although his early works were mainly Science Fiction, Law now concentrates his writing primarily in dark fiction and horror. During his studies at the local community college, Law focused his education mainly on maths and science, obtaining high qualifications in both, but says he only discovered his passion for writing later in life. After leaving college in 2001, Law became part of a small film production team and was involved in many low-budget productions such as 'Attack of the Martian Dinosaurs' and others, before the team finally disbanded in 2007. In his spare time, Law likes to dabble in photography, animation, and music production. He is an avid fan of Stephen King, Richard Laymon, and Dean Koontz, and also enjoys classic literature from authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Bram Stoker, and H.G.Wells.

Go to http://www.AuthorSimonLaw.com for more information

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Covalescence by Maynard Sims [4 stars]



From the Description:
 
 
Who will protect the children?
Fourteen-year-old James has seen his family wiped out by tuberculosis in the England of the 1960s. When he is sent to the country to convalesce with his Uncle Thomas it seems a welcome respite. But his uncle is strange, and clearly has a dark secret. The huge house is secretive too, with whispers and cries in the night. Gradually James meets other children, some real, some apparently ghosts, but all of whom have been hurt by the uncle. Will James be next?

In an eerie novella of repressed depravity, Maynard Sims conjures nightmares from the fears of childhood.
 
I received a copy of this eBook in exchange for an honest review. This is in no way reflected in my opinion of this novella.
 
Convalescence is a spooky tale of justice from beyond the grave. I really enjoyed this chilling novella! The story was atmospheric and well written with a cast of characters that fit perfectly. I really liked Jimmy, and Amy. It was easy to care about Jimmy especially, a boy who lost his family and everything he knew yet still remains hopeful and determined to do what's right. The secrets hiding in the old house are horrifying and make the ending one you can cheer over. This is a fantastic 4 star read.
 
About the Authors
 
 



Len Maynard & Mick Sims are the authors of several thriller novels including Nightmare City and Stronghold, the Department 18 books The Eighth Witch and A Plague Of Echoes, all from Samhain, who also have scheduled Stillwater, a ghost story, and Mother Of Demons, Department 18 book 5, as well as Convalescence, an e-novella.

They are currently working on a more thrillers. They have been published with romance under a pseudonym, have had nine story collections published, and are currently completing the tenth. They have had numerous stories published in a variety of anthologies and magazines. They have won awards with their screenplays. They also work as editors, and do ghost writing projects, and have been essayists, reviewers and small press publishers.

You can find out more at www.maynard-sims.com