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Friday, December 18, 2015

Horror Maiden's Top Twelve Books of 2015


 
 
 
2015 has been a busy year here at Horror Maiden's Book Reviews. I have had the pleasure of reading a lot of fantastic books written by some really great authors. There were so many that I couldn't pick just ten,,,, so the Top Twelve Books of 2015 was born. The books on this list are all stories that crept into my mind and under my skin, staying with me long after the last page was read. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season with the people you love. I'll see you next year! 
 
 

12. Little Girls by Ronald Malfi

 
 
 
 
 
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…


At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?
 
 
 I have been a fan of Ronald Malfi ever since I shivered my way through Snow and Floating Staircase. Little Girls once again proves that Malfi is a master at crafting a great story.
 
What an incredible ghost story! Little Girls grabs you and drags you kicking and screaming down a dark and twisted path. The story is griping and atmospheric with a creeping sense of dread. I couldn't put it down. The main character, Laurie is incredibly realistic. When I first started reading I really didn't like her. I thought she was a cruel and self centered witch. As the story went on I began to think that maybe she was troubled, I started to feel bad for her and wonder what could have made her act the way she did to both her father and the rest of her family. By the end of the book I got it. Much like a 'real' person the twists and events revealed new facets of her personality and life which changed the way I viewed her and her actions. The things that are haunting Laurie are frightening and disturbingly realistic. It's not often that a story comes alive this way. If you're a fan of horror or just really great reads, do yourself a favor and grab this book! You might want to leave the lights on for this 5 star read.
 
Buy Little Girls
 
 
 

11. Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

 
 
 
 
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.

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.
 
 
Buy Sour Candy
 
 
 

10. Seeing Evil by Jason Parent

 
 
 
 
Fate in plain sight.

 Major Crimes Detective Samantha Reilly prefers to work alone—she’s seen as a maverick, and she still struggles privately with the death of her partner. The only person who ever sees her softer side is Michael Turcotte, a teenager she’s known since she rescued him eleven years ago from the aftermath of his parents’ murder-suicide.

 In foster care since his parents’ death, Michael is a loner who tries to fly under the bullies’ radar, but a violent assault triggers a disturbing ability to view people’s dark futures. No one believes his first vision means anything, though—not even Sam Reilly. When reality mimics his prediction, however, Sam isn’t the only one to take notice. A strange girl named Tessa Masterson asks Michael about her future, and what he sees sends him back to Sam—is Tessa victim or perpetrator?


Tessa’s tangled secrets draw Michael and Sam inexorably into a deadly conflict. Sam relies on Michael, but his only advantage is the visions he never asked for. As they track a cold and calculating killer, one misstep could turn the hunters into prey.
 
Seeing Evil is a fantastic police procedural serial killer novel with a psychic twist. I loved this story!! It's well written and grabs ahold of you and won't let go. The action moves at a breathless pace leaving you hanging on every word. The characters are realistic and it's easy to care about what happens to them. Christopher Masterson is Evil (with a capital E) incarnate. He has all the gruesomeness and creep factor of Hannibal Lector without any of the charm. I think that one of the scariest things about him is that people like him are really out there. I loved both Sam and Michael. Their relationship is complex and moving. I hope that they appear in future novels because I would definitely follow their stories. Tessa broke my heart. I just wanted to hug her and tell her that things would get better. I really wanted things to turn out all right for her. You'll have to read the book to find out if they do. This is a book that will haunt me for a long time to come. If you are looking for a phenomenal story grab this fast paced and horrifying 5 star read.
 
Buy Seeing Evil
 
 
 
 

9. Cannibal by Jeremy Robinson & Sean Ellis

 
 
 
 
Still recovering from the tragic loss of a good friend, Jack Sigler, callsign: King, leads the Chess Team—a crew of former Delta operators—back into action. But what should be a routine snatch-and-grab to capture a drug cartel leader, escalates out of control, throwing the team into a challenge unlike anything they’ve ever faced. An enemy from their past, who is close to unmasking their identities, joins forces with the psychotic cartel kingpin, setting a trap that will shake the team to its foundations.
While the team battles enemies old and new, King’s fiancée, CDC disease detective, Sara Fogg, struggles to stop a strange outbreak that transforms the infected into ravenous, inhuman monsters. Once responsible for the disappearance of the Roanoke settlers, the disease now threatens to spread across the planet, ending human civilization in a bloodbath of violence.
Hunted by humans and monsters alike, King and the Chess Team face a desperate choice—sacrifice themselves or let the world bleed.

Cannibal, the seventh book in the Chess Team series, combines two of my favorite legends with the awesomeness that is a Jack Sigler thriller. The legend of the Lost Roanoke Colony and the Native American legend of the Wendigo are brought together flawlessly along with fast paced action and terror that will leave you breathless. Along with saving the world the Chess Team must also deal with an old enemy who is hell bent on destroying all of them, and just might succeed this time round. I love the way that Jeremy Robinson and Sean Ellis create a richly detailed world and fill it with characters that feel like old friends to those of us that follow this series. I always hate finishing a Chess Team novel because I don't want the story to end. I can't wait for the next one!! I would highly recommend that if you haven't read these books yet you RUN (not walk) to your nearest bookstore and get started. You are missing out on some amazing stories. A fast paced and fabulous 5 star read.
 
Buy Cannibal
 
 
 

8. Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry

 
 
 
 
 
From New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, the first in a thrilling series of novels based on Deadlands, a hugely successful role-playing game (RPG) set in the Weird, Weird West.
Welcome to the Deadlands, where steely-eyed gunfighters rub shoulders with mad scientists and dark, unnatural forces. Where the Great Quake of 1868 has shattered California into a labyrinth of sea-flooded caverns . . . and a mysterious substance called "ghost rock" fuels exotic steampunk inventions as well as plenty of bloodshed and flying bullets.
In Ghostwalkers, a gun-for-hire, literally haunted by his bloody past, comes to the struggling town of Paradise Falls, where he becomes embroiled in a deadly conflict between the besieged community and a diabolically brilliant alchemist who is building terrible new weapons of mass destruction . . . and an army of the living dead!
 
Deadlands: Ghostwalkers was my first foray into the Deadlands universe, but if this book is an example of the stories I'll find there I'll be going back soon and often! A combination of weird western and steampunk horror with a definite Lovecraftian feel, this novel had me hooked from the very beginning. The descriptions and action were so well written I felt like I was fighting along side the people of Paradise Falls. The characters were believable and easy to care about, feeling like friends by the end of the story. I loved Thomas Looks Away, Grey Torrance, and Jenny most although there were several other characters that were a lot of fun as well. The plot has a few twists that I didn't see coming that made the story even better and touching in places. Jonathan Maberry has once again captured my imagination and left me wanting more, proving why he is one of my favorite authors. A fast paced and fabulous 5 star thrill ride that fans of the weird west, steampunk and horror will love to be on.
 
Buy Deadlands: Ghostwalkers
 
 
 

7. Blood And Rain by Glenn Rolfe

 
 
 
 
The light of a full moon reveals many secrets. Gilson Creek, Maine. A safe, rural community. Summer is here. School is out and the warm waters of Emerson Lake await. But one man's terrible secret will unleash a nightmare straight off the silver screen. Under the full moon, a night of terror and death re-awakens horrors long sleeping. Sheriff Joe Fischer, a man fighting for the safety of his daughter, his sanity and his community, must confront the sins of his past. Can Sheriff Fischer set Gilson Creek free from the beast hiding in its shadows, or will a small town die under a curse it can't even comprehend? One night can-and will-change everything.
 
Anyone who knows me or follows my reviews knows that I adore a good werewolf story. Not the emo, poor me I'm a monster or the I'm here to claim you for my mate now lets get it on werewolves that we see so much of these days. I love the honest to goodness rip your throat out beast out hunting for its next meal. That's exactly what you get with Blood And Rain. This novel is a throwback to the golden age of horror complete with dark and stormy nights filled with the bloodthirsty howls of a werewolf or two. The action is non-stop and exciting as Joe fights to keep his daughter, Sonya, and the rest of his town safe from the rampaging beast. Glenn Rolfe excels at creating characters so realistic that you not only want to follow but you also care about. It makes the horrors surrounding them way more frightening. A terrifically spooky 5 star read just in time for Halloween. I highly recommend it!
 
Buy Blood And Rain
 
 
 
 

6. Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz

 
 
 
 
An unholy predator on the prowl!

The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil.

The werewolf.

The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent. They’ll act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into a nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.
 
Wolf Land is not my first book by Jonathan Janz but it is my favorite so far. Fans of great werewolf stories will be slavering to sink their teeth into this well written and gruesome book. This is action packed horror at it's finest! As I read this novel I got extremely annoyed every time something would interrupt me, only the best books elicit that response. Some of the scenes in this novel were incredibly horrific and not for the faint of heart, but if you love your horror gritty and terrifying like I do you won't be able to put it down. Jonathan Janz has created a realistic world and peopled it with characters that could be people you know then introduces a whole new werewolf legend to rip them to shreds. I highly recommend this relentlessly fast paced story. A hair raising 5 star read.
 
 
Buy Wolf Land
 
Amazon    Barnes & Noble


   
 

 5. High Moor III: Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds

 
 
 
 

 The war has begun...
As the humans make their move against the werewolf threat in their midst, and civil war threatens to break the pack apart, John and Marie struggle to free the only person who can unite the werewolf factions against their common enemy: Marie’s brother, Michael.
However, their efforts may be for nothing. As tensions mount, the Moonborn prepare to combat the human aggression with an assault of their own. An attack that could spell doom for both man and werewolf alike.

High Moor 3: Blood Moon is a fitting end to the High Moor trilogy. I've been hooked on the story of Michael, Marie, John and Stephen since I opened the first book so now I'm sad to see this phenomenal series end. This action packed thrill ride is filled with enough chills and terror, along with an astronomical body count, to please any horror lover out there. The characters are fantastically written and believable. I liked revisiting my favorite characters and getting to know new ones like Rose and Sharron. I also enjoyed the fact that not all the monsters had fangs and fur. My two favorite parts of this story are the New Year's Eve crèche and the epilogue. You'll have to read the book to find out why. Graeme Reynolds is a master storyteller whose work will linger long after you've read the last page. Fans of werewolves and great horror should grab this fast paced and thrilling read. I just wish that I could give it more than 5 stars!
 
 
Buy High Moor III: Blood Moon
 
 
 
 

4. Q Island by Russell James

 
 
 
 
Epidemic! An ancient virus has surfaced on Long Island, NY, turning its victims into black-veined, infectious, psychopathic killers. Chaos and madness rule.
In desperation, the military quarantines the island, trapping Melanie Bailey and her autistic son, Aiden. Somehow Aiden survives infection. He could be the key to a cure…if Melanie can get him to the mainland.
Gang leader Jimmy Wade also survives the virus, but he’s acquired a hunger for human flesh. Believing consuming Aiden will make him all-powerful, he and his gang hunt the boy. Melanie and Aiden must evade both Wade’s tightening grip and the growing army of the infected in an impossible escape from what all call Q Island.
What a fabulous book! The story grabbed me right from the first page and led me to an apocalyptic world peopled by characters that I genuinely wanted to follow. I loved Melanie and her son Aiden, although there were times I wanted to smack her for the decisions she made that put her son in danger. Tamara and Eddie were my heroes throughout this book. The action was fast paced and well written. It never felt overdone as is the case in some apocalyptical fiction. Russell James is a fantastic story teller who has delivered a believable and engrossing look into the end of life as we know it. Do yourself a favor and grab this 5 star read before it's too late,,,
 
 
Buy Q Island
 
 
 

3. Unworthy by Michael LaPointe

 
 
 
 
"Ask me terrible questions, and I will tell you terrible things."

Unworthy is the story of Ezra Kale, the twisted offspring of thrill killers, born into a world of depravity, bloodshed, and cannibalism. From the Dustbowl of the Great Depression to a notorious lunatic asylum, Ezra reinvents himself as a revival preacher, traveling the American South and using his calling to conceal his true nature, leaving a trail of ruination and death in his wake. At Ezra's side is Sister Randa, a deeply damaged woman with an unthinkable past, who finds in Ezra the only person she has ever trusted, and for whom she would gladly kill.

Only Danny Bloom, a retired carnival performer with a yearning for a more fulfilling life, realizes there may be more to the self-proclaimed Savior than anyone would dare imagine and, in uncovering an unspeakable horror, finds his destiny. Unworthy is a thriller both timely and timeless, a savage journey into the darkest heart of evil perpetrated in the name of faith.
Have you ever read a story so engrossing that you are a bit surprised when you look up from the page and find yourself back in the real world? Unworthy is that kind of story! I was completely captivated from the very first paragraph. It's easily one of my top 5 best books of the year so far, and I don't think it's going to move off that list any time soon. The storyline is dark and very disturbing. I was extremely impressed by the way Michael LaPointe captures the hopelessness and despair of the depression era migrant workers and the fanaticism of Ezra's followers. The characters are completely believable. I loved Danny's character. He was easy to care about and root for. Unworthy is the kind of novel that stays with you long after the last page is read. This is Michael Lapointe's first novel, I can't wait to see what he does next! Do yourself a favor and read this fantastic 5 star read!!
 
 
Buy Unworthy
 
 
 

2. Tortures Of The Damned by Hunter Shea

 
 
 
 
SHOCK…
First, the electricity goes—plunging the east coast in darkness after a devastating nuclear attack. Millions panic. Millions die. They are the lucky ones.

AFTER SHOCK…
Next, the chemical weapons take effect—killing or contaminating everything alive. Except a handful of survivors in a bomb shelter. They are the damned.

 HELL IS FOR HUMANS
Then, the real nightmare begins. Hordes of rats force two terrified families out of their shelter—and into the savage streets of an apocalyptic wasteland. They are not alone. Vicious, chemical-crazed animals hunt in packs. Dogs tear flesh, cats draw blood, horses crush bone. Roaming gangs of the sick and dying are barely recognizable as human. These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the tortures that tear families apart. This is hell on earth. The rules are simple: Kill or die.
 
What a fantastic book! Tortures Of The Damned is easily my favorite book by Hunter Shea so far. I sat down to start this novel and the next time I looked up several hours and all 439 pages had passed by in what felt like a few minutes. It's not often that a story will grab my attention the way that this one did. The story line is fast paced and exciting. I was totally absorbed by the story of the Padilla family and their neighbors Buck and Alexiana. I was rooting for these characters as if they were friends. My heart was in my throat several times as they fought their way through the attacking animals and gangs to try to reach a safe place. My only complaint was the way the story ended. What the hell Hunter Shea!?! Give me more of this totally entrancing 5 star read!!
 
Buy Tortures Of The Damned
 
 
 
 

1. Hunger by Jeremiah Knight

 
 
 
 
Desperate to solve a global food shortage, ExoGen scientist Dr. Ella Masse oversees the creation and release of RC-714, a gene that unlocks millions of years of adaptation and evolution, allowing crops to use long dormant junk DNA to rapidly adapt to any environment. The world's food supply grows aggressively, occupying every inch of earth, no matter how inhospitable. World hunger is averted. Humanity flourishes. RC-714 is digested, absorbed and passed on.

The Change affects small, fast breeding mammals first. They multiply with the same aggressive speed as the ExoGen plants, but a new, insatiable hunger drives them to violence. War between species breaks out. And then RC-714 reaches humanity, along with every other large creature on the planet. Civilization implodes, as every living thing that consumed the ExoGen crops begins to adapt to a world full of predators, accessing genes dating back to the beginning of life itself.

Peter Crane and his son Jakob survive the Change, living in their family farmhouse and eating non-ExoGen food from a biodome, one of many provided by Ella Masse, who discovered the ramifications of her breakthrough too late. The pair ekes out a living in a world full of monsters, surviving until Ella shows up on their doorstep with her daughter, pursued by desperate predators and men alike.

As the farmhouse falls under attack, Crane learns that the end of humanity, of life on Earth, can still be averted: if Ella Masse and her daughter survive, and if they make it to the other side of the country without being captured...or consumed.

Jeremiah Knight merges the science of Michael Crichton with the horror of Stephen King in this fresh take on the post-apocalypse, creating a true worst-case scenario for GMO crops that will have people reading labels before eating their next pepper, tomato or kernel of corn.

Hunger is a fantastic look at a post-apocalyptic world! I already knew within the first few chapters that I couldn't wait for the next part in this trilogy. The story is a believable, fast paced thrill ride. The creatures are terrifying, both human and otherwise. The Stalkers were terrifying and relentless but the intelligence of the Riders made them scarier by far. I found myself totally involved with the characters. I'm dying to know what's going to happen to Peter, Jakob, Ella and Anne! Fans of post-apocalyptic fiction, Jeremy Robinson, or just great story telling should run to the nearest bookstore for this 5 star read, highly recommended.
 
Buy Hunger
 
 
 
 

Happy Reading from the Horror Maiden!

 
 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Matt Manochio & Twelfth Krampus Night

 
 
 
Not every writer makes their work so much fun that I giggle like a demented school girl when I get my greedy little hands on a new book. Matt Manochio is one of those writers. I know before I even crack the cover that I'm in for a thrill ride full of humor & terror. Medieval monsters that hunt naughty children, wraiths' from the civil war, and ghastly crones that want to replace your insides with hay stalk through the pages of Matt Manochio's work. I was lucky enough to be able to interview Matt as part of the Twelfth Krampus Night blog tour hosted by Erin Al-Mehairi at Oh, for the Hook of a Book. Follow along for more fun! Now before Krampus and Frau Perchta get started on their holiday hunt let's get to know more about Matt Manochio,,,,
 
 
 
 
 
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.

 His debut novel, The Dark Servant, was published with Samhain Horror in November of 2014. His second novel, Sentinels, was release November 2015, just prior to Twelfth Krampus Night in December 2015. He currently lives in New Jersey with his son.
 
Connect with Matt Manochio at  http://www.mattmanochio.com/ and on FacebookTwitter, &  Goodreads
 
HM: Tell me a little about yourself.
 
Male, 40, New Jersey, Single Dad, AC/DC (the band), Enya, Editor, Author.
 
HM: I love your use of Krampus and other Eastern European folklore in The Dark Servant and Twelfth Krampus Night. What made you chose these legends and can we expect to see more?
 
I would say these legends chose me. I say that because I first learned about Krampus in December 2012 when my boss asked me if I’d ever heard of him and showed me a website dedicated to the big guy. And the legend blew me away because of its absurdity (I say that lovingly; I mean Saint Nick has a demon helper?) and because it was so original to me (but not the continent of Europe). I literally had an epiphany and knew I had to write about him. I touched base with my editor that same day and he said go for it. I never planned on another Krampus book after the Dark Servant, but readers in their reviews said they were looking forward to more of him. So I began thinking, how am I going to do this without making him appear like Jason Voorhees. You can only kidnap bad kids and punish them in so many ways. So I began working backwards. The Dark Servant is set, more or less, in the present day. Twelfth Krampus Night is set in Medieval times, and involves Krampus and another dark servant, Frau Perchta, a belly-slitting hag, trying to infiltrate a heavily fortified castle to get their prey. Meanwhile, there’s an insurrection going on inside the castle and people are trying to get out, but realize something hideous is outside waiting for them. So while there is an aspect of Krampus and Perchta wanting to get bad kids, the setting and circumstances are entirely different. As for the future, I am in the beginning stages of another Krampus story that I hope becomes a novel. And yes, there will be at least one more dark companion involved. Perhaps more. I’m not sure yet. The voices in my head have yet to tell me what to do.

 
HM: What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Hobbies?
 
Honestly, being a single dad is my primary concern. I don’t get much time for anything else. And I’m not complaining. But I do have a drum set that I enjoy pounding on (did I mention I like AC/DC?). And I do like to read at night while my boy’s falling asleep next to me. I don’t have a favorite genre, if the story appeals to me, I’ll read it.
 
HM: How long have you been writing?
 
Novel writing: I began trying to live the dream in 2007. But I was a newspaper reporter for 12 years, from 1999-2011, and enjoyed writing, in general, long before that. That’s probably why I was drawn to journalism, because it served as a writing outlet.
 
HM: Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
 
Nobody really inspired me to be a writer. I could do that better than math and that’s why I went down that road. But I would say Dave Barry, the humorist, had a big impact on me because he showed me you could write humor in a newspaper for a living. And even though I don’t do that, I am able to blend humor into my books. I love doing that. I just hope people find it funny.
 
HM: What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?
The most challenging, right now, is finding the time to write. It’s difficult when you’re paying attention to a toddler almost full time. Enjoyable: When you’re into a story, and you see where it’s going, and you can’t wait to sit down and write. That’s a great feeling.
 
HM: What books do you enjoy in your free time?
I don’t have a favorite genre, if the story appeals to me, I’ll read it. Right now I’m reading Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson. I just finished Finders Keepers by Stephen King.
 
HM: Who is your favorite author/book and why?
I don’t have a favorite author/book. Put I always cite Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton), Salem’s Lot (Stephen King), and The Hobbit (JRR Tolkein) as my three favorite books. I enjoy dinosaurs and science fiction, certain horror books (ones that aren’t over-the-top bloody), and I dig certain fantasy stories. All of those things are accounted for in those three books.
 
HM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Publishing is a tough, heartbreaking business. You must keep at it, if you’re serious about getting published that is. It can, and likely will, take years. Everyone gets rejected, so get used to it and don’t take it personally. It’s trite, but it’s true: Don’t give up.
 
HM: Can you tell us about any of your new work?
 
My two newest books published in November and December, respectively. They are Sentinels, which takes place shortly after the civil war, and Twelfth Krampus Night, which is my novella sequel to The Dark Servant of last December.
Beyond that, I don’t like divulging too much about my future projects. But I have a couple that I want to complete in the next year or so. One involves Krampus, and the other involves a vampire that is a truly horrid creature for numerous reasons.
 
HM: What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?
I’m trying to think of one, but can’t! I think you’ve done a good job. Ooh! I have one…
Matt, are you doing any giveaways for Twelfth Krampus Night?
Why, yes I am! Thanks for asking. I’m giving away a $50 Amazon giftcard via Rafflecopter. All I’m asking is for people to read Twelfth Krampus Night (it costs less than some Starbucks drinks) and review it on Amazon. Follow this link:

And scroll to the bottom for the instructions. (Or they can use the link at the bottom of your post too)! You get five extra entries if you review it on Amazon and inform my publicist, Erin Al-Mehairi, at hookofabook@hotmail.com. Everything else you need to know is there. Thanks!
 
I appreciate you having me on your blog!
 
HM: It was great having you here!
 
 
Twelfth Krampus Night [4.5 stars]
 
 
 
 
From the Description Dark servants clash!

Medieval maiden Beate, who’s grieving over the mysterious evisceration of her best friend, Gisela, must escape a Bavarian castle under siege by sadistic creatures.

Standing in her way—beyond towering walls and crossbow-toting guards—are Saint Nicholas’s demonic helper, Krampus, and Frau Perchta, a belly-slitting hag who prowls the countryside during First Night festivities to punish naughty teens.

Beate wants out. Krampus and Frau Perchta want in, determined to breach the castle to snag their prey. Beate has no idea why these monsters want her, but she must use her wits to save herself from horrors both human and inhuman—lest she wind up like Gisela.


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. For more information about Twelfth Krampus Night or Matt Manochio follow along with the blog tour at
Oh, for the Hook of a Book.
 
Twelfth Krampus Night is a super fun fairy tale perfect for those of us that want a little blood and gore to spice up our holiday season. This novella starts off fast and never slows down. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I was captivated by the whimsical and darkly humorous story of Krampus and Frau Perchta as they hunt down their prey. I found myself both cringing and laughing out loud more than once while reading this one. I loved the characters, Beate is a girl ahead of her time and my favorite. Curl up with some spiced eggnog and enjoy this 4.5 star romp through a winter wonderland.
Buy Twelfth Krampus Night
 
 
 
 
Praise for Matt Manochio
“Twelfth Krampus Night is an enjoyable read and a strong horror story. Manochio is a very strong writer and his talent is evident in this novel. I easily slid into the world that Manochio creates and was fascinated by Frau Perchta and Krampus.”
–Minneapolis Examiner.com


“The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be–eerie, original and utterly engrossing!” — Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author


“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers–creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm!” — Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author


 “Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.” — Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling author


 “Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!” — David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author


“In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. … I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.” — Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author


 “Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.” — John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author

 “If you want some pure escapism on a quiet afternoon and you don’t mind a little–okay, maybe a lot–of blood, SENTINELS is exactly what you’re looking for. Manochio is a talented author with a bright future and someone who’s work I will follow with great interest.” –Shotgun Logic
 
 
Giveaway!!
 
 
Test your luck and enter to see if you’ll win a $50 Amazon Gift Card and a print copy of The Dark Servant (Matt’s Krampus book from 2014). Anyone can enter and you can enter multiple times per day in various ways.

 Also, if you review Twelfth Krampus Night and send the link to Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at
hookofabook@hotmail.com, and click you’ve done this on the Rafflecopter section for it, you will get 5 extra entries!! Any questions, defer them to Erin as well. Click on the Rafflecopter daily to enter!
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz [4.5 stars]


 
 

From the Description
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BOOKPAGEFrom #1 bestselling author Dean Koontz—the must-read thriller of the year, for readers of dark psychological suspense and modern classics of mystery and adventure.

The girl who said no to death.

Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman—whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies, “We’ll see.”

Her sudden recovery astonishes medical science.

An enigmatic woman convinces Bibi that she escaped death so that she can save someone else. Someone named Ashley Bell.

But save her from what, from whom? And who is Ashley Bell? Where is she?

Bibi’s obsession with finding Ashley sends her on the run from threats both mystical and worldly, including a rich and charismatic cult leader with terrifying ambitions.

Here is an eloquent, riveting, brilliantly paced story with an exhilarating heroine and a twisting, ingenious plot filled with staggering surprises. Ashley Bell is a new milestone in literary suspense from the long-acclaimed master.
 
 
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.
 

Ashley Bell is a novel about how the inherent power of imagination and the written word to shape the world around us. Filled with powerful imagery and heart pounding tension the story of BiBi Blair kept my on the edge of my seat. There were parts of the story that were so heart breaking that I was crying and had to put the book aside for a bit before I could go on (the parts dealing with Olaf especially). The characters were well written and believable making it easy to care about their story. It is a testament to Dean Koontz's writing that even with a plot twist that should have had me rolling my eyes and giving up on the story I still couldn't put the book down. A fast paced and addictive 4.5 star read.
 
 
 
Buy Ashley Bell
 
 
 
About The Author
 
 
 
Dean Koontz was born and raised in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Shippensburg State College (now Shippensburg University), and his first job after graduation was with the Appalachian Poverty Program, where he was expected to counsel and tutor underprivileged children on a one-to-one basis. His first day on the job, he discovered that the previous occupier of his position had been beaten up by the very kids he had been trying to help and had landed in the hospital for several weeks. The following year was filled with challenge but also tension, and Koontz was more highly motivated than ever to build a career as a writer. He wrote nights and weekends, which he continued to do after leaving the poverty program and going to work as an English teacher in a suburban school district outside Harrisburg. After a year and a half in that position, his wife, Gerda, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “I’ll support you for five years,” she said, “and if you can’t make it as a writer in that time, you’ll never make it.” By the end of those five years, Gerda had quit her job to run the business end of her husband’s writing career.
 
Dean Koontz lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Anna, and the enduring spirit of their golden, Trixie.
 
 
 

Praise for Ashley Bell



“Expertly blending the mystical and the everyday, Koontz creates alternate universes for his characters while playing hide-and-seek with the truth. . . . A mind-bender filled with satisfying surprises.”People (book of the week)

“Dean Koontz outdoes himself with his latest journey, which solidifies his reputation as one of the best storytellers in the book business. . . . [With] lyrical writing and compelling characters . . . Koontz stands alone, and this novel is a prime example of literary suspense. . . . [He] knows what he’s doing, and the baffling story with the stellar character of Bibi Blair makes this thriller one of his best.”—Associated Press

“In every industry there exist ‘artists’ that are not only unforgettable, but know their craft better than the rest. Dean Koontz, yet again, proves that he is among these craftsmen. . . . There is so much to say about this treasure. The mystical plays a part, the reality of life on the edge plays a part and . . . nothing can be given away.”Suspense Magazine

“The most stunning, flat-out crazy reading experience yet from a writer who specializes in surprises. If you’ve ever wondered how much fun it would be to feel a book unfold in real time along with its characters, you need to read Ashley Bell right now. . . . When a writer has managed to catch this kind of lightning in a bottle, every reader should experience the full jolt.”BookPage

“[The] opening is gorgeous and crushing, and will shake awake anyone who thinks Koontz is just grinding out genre tomes. . . . It’s gripping stuff, but Koontz doesn’t stop there, adding a series of flashbacks regarding the alchemy of creativity and the fuel of trauma, and that’s before the Say what? twist that upends everything. . . . Fans will adore it. Koontz hits the canny nexus of horror, mystery, and fantasy here.”Booklist

“An astonishing novel that sucks you in from the first page and delivers so many twists, you are bound to get whiplash.”RT Book Reviews

“A fascinating exploration of destiny that is heart-pounding and mind-boggling . . . Ashley Bell is a rarity of a thriller—one that asks big questions about life and destiny while succeeding in creating such an eerie sense of reality that sleeping with the lights on might seem like a sane idea.”Shelf Awareness
 

 


Friday, December 11, 2015

Jonathan Janz & Wolf Land


 

 
 
Not long ago I got to review Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz. I loved it! A lot,,,, So much so that it will be included in Horror Maiden's Top Twelve Books of 2015. When I got a chance to interview Jonathan Janz for the Oh, for the Hook of a Book blog tour I just about did a happy dance. I've included my review and a giveaway link after the interview. Read on & follow the tour to learn more about Jonathan and just ignore that howling coming from outside,,,
 
 
 
 
 


Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012." The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."

2013 saw the publication of his novel of vampirism and demonic possession The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species. Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, "Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror--Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows--will find much to relish." Jonathan's Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre.

Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a "Rousing-good weird western," and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014's top three novels by Pod of Horror. 2015 saw the release of The Nightmare Girl, which prompted Pod of Horror to call Jonathan "Horror's Next Big Thing." His newest release is Wolf Land, which Publishers Weekly called “gruesome yet entertaining gorefest” with “an impressive and bloody climax.” He has also written four novellas (Exorcist Road, The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.

His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at www.jonathanjanz.com. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.

HM: Tell me a little about yourself.
 
Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

Well, I’m a writer, obviously, but more important than that, I’m a husband and a father, and those roles mean more to me than anything in the world. I’m also a teacher, which means my writing schedule is more erratic than I want it to be. But I love both of my jobs.
 
HM: I loved that your werewolves in Wolf Land were terrifying. What did you like best about writing such an unapologetic monster?

I liked that they felt true. It sounds paradoxical, but there’s more truth in fiction than most people realize. Therefore, it’s absolutely paramount for the author to always strive for truth. The truth of the story, the truth about the characters, the truth about human nature. And the truth about bloodthirsty lycanthropes.
Telling the truth in this case required venturing into some very dark places, darker than I’d ever visited. That was difficult. But I’m very thankful that I went there because I can be proud of what’s on the page.
 
HM: What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Hobbies?
 
I’m probably the most boring, predictable dude in the world, but that’s fine by me. When I’m not teaching or spending time with my family, I’m writing. If I’m not doing that, I might be visiting my ninety-one-year-old grandparents, lifting weights, or…spending more time with my family. I don’t really get out much.

HM: How long have you been writing?
 
Good question, but a tough one. I knew when I was a senior in high school I wanted to be a writer. I dabbled in writing in my twenties but because I was getting my degrees, starting a family, and coaching, I didn’t get serious about it until about seven years ago. At that time, I had the desire, but I didn’t have the skill or experience. So after being rejected mercilessly for three years or so, I final got my first big acceptance from Don D’Auria at Samhain. Things have been steadily building since then.
 
HM: Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
 
Stephen King. Oh, my family had a lot to do with it, and my childhood played a major role, but more than anyone else, it was Stephen King who opened that door for me. I wasn’t even a reader until the summer before my freshman year, when I picked up THE TOMMYKNOCKERS and was, for the first time, transported by a book. I proceeded to devour everything Stephen King wrote (I’m still devouring his work, by the way), and over time, I realized that this was what I wanted to do for a living. If I ever meet him, I’ll probably be a stuttering idiot, but I’ll hopefully be able to thank him too. He changed my life.
 
HM: What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?
 
Interacting with fans is awesome, as is meeting my writing heroes. A few years ago, if you’d told me I’d be in contact with Brian Keene, Joe R. Lansdale, Edward Lee, Jack Ketchum, and F. Paul Wilson, I would’ve bellowed laughter. I’ll never get over being a huge fan of those guys, but it has been a revelation to learn how extremely kind they are too.
As far as writing itself is concerned…I love the discovery writing entails. From the earliest conception of a story to the final edits, writing is all about the discovery of a world that never existed before. The characters, places, and events are all new entities, and the fact of that new energy and life just blows my mind. I love the process of handing over the story to my characters, and I love the arduous, glorious process of fine-tuning a book. Searching for the right word. Enhancing the dialogue. Extracting the errant word and finding the best metaphor to describe a smell. I love all of it, every last bit of the process.
 
HM: What books do you enjoy in your free time?
 
I read widely, but probably two thirds of what I tackle is dark in nature. Over the past month or so I’ve read Gillian Flynn, Brian Keene, John Sandford, Agatha Christie, Michael McDowell, J.K. Rowling, and M.R. James.
I also read a ton of Stephen King, Elmore Leonard, Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, Ray Bradbury, and too many others to name. If I don’t read at least an hour a night, I feel incomplete.
 
HM: Who is your favorite author/book and why?
 
My favorite author will always be Stephen King. He simply touches my heart and stirs my imagination the way no other author can. With regard to favorite book, I’d have to choose Ray Bradbury’s DANDELION WINE. I view that novel as love on paper. There’s the relationship between a grandson and his grandparents in that book. There’s the heartbreak of a friend moving away forever. There’s a chilling chapter that shows how frightening Bradbury could be when he wanted to be. And there’s another chapter about an atypical romance that, in some ways, is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. It involves lime-vanilla ice cream…
 
HM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
 
Don’t let “don’t” steal your joy. In other words, don’t fill your head so full of “DON’T DO THAT—EVER!” that you become self-conscious. Yes, it’s important to learn all the rules, and yes, there are habits you’ll want to break or avoid, but the vast majority of writing advice on the net and elsewhere focuses on what not to do rather than what you should do. That’s because it’s easier to tear down than to build.
I’d also argue that the best way to learn how to write is to learn how to read. By this I mean reading as a writer. I’m exceptionally choosy about what I read because I have to be learning as I’m reading. If an author can’t teach me something, I don’t waste my time with him/her. Every time I pick up a Cormac McCarthy story, I learn something. Same with John Steinbeck. I read, consider, and adapt what I’ve absorbed to fit my own style and voice.
 
HM: Can you tell us about any of your new work?
 
Absolutely! 2016 will see the publication of at least three books: CHILDREN OF THE DARK, EXORCIST FALLS, and the release of a brand-new version of a novella called WITCHING HOUR THEATRE. Additionally, I’ll be starting my first ever “big series” of books, which I’m beyond amped about, and I’ll be finishing a novel called THE DARK GAME. I have three other book ideas I’m dying to write in 2016—I just hope I can find the time!
 
HM: What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?
 
Can we make WOLF LAND into a movie, and the answer is yes.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I had a blast!
 
 
HM: You are so welcome Jonathan!
 

Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz [5 stars]



From the Description

An unholy predator on the prowl!

The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil.

The werewolf.

The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent. They’ll act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into a nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.

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.

Wolf Land is not my first book by Jonathan Janz but it is my favorite so far. Fans of great werewolf stories will be slavering to sink their teeth into this well written and gruesome book. This is action packed horror at it's finest! As I read this novel I got extremely annoyed every time something would interrupt me, only the best books elicit that response. Some of the scenes in this novel were incredibly horrific and not for the faint of heart, but if you love your horror gritty and terrifying like I do you won't be able to put it down. Jonathan Janz has created a realistic world and peopled it with characters that could be people you know then introduces a whole new werewolf legend to rip them to shreds. I highly recommend this relentlessly fast paced story. A hair raising 5 star read.
 
 
Buy Wolf Land
 
 
 
 


Praise for Wolf Land and Janz



"One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites." –Brian Keene, best-selling author



“It’s the best of its kind I’ve read in years, such that I’d call it “The Quintessential Haunted House Novel.” You’ve taken the old school traditions of the form which readers want and then have injected modern style, characters, and macabre, hard-edged mayhem into the guts of the story. THAT’S the way to do it, my friend!”-Author Edward Lee on HOUSE OF SKIN



“Jonathan Janz is one of the rare horror novelists who can touch your heart while chilling your spine. His work offers incisive characters, sharp dialogue, and more scares than a deserted graveyard after midnight. If you haven’t read his fiction, you’re missing out on one the best new voices in the genre.” –Tim Waggoner Reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, this should please readers who appreciate a good haunting.”
—The Library Journal



“Jonathan Janz is one of the rare horror novelists who can touch your heart while chilling your spine. His work offers incisive characters, sharp dialogue, and more scares than a deserted graveyard after midnight. If you haven’t read his fiction, you’re missing out on one the best new voices in the genre.”
–Tim Waggoner, author



“A 10-year high school reunion is the catalyst for lots of furry, toothy scares in this gruesome yet entertaining gorefest.” –Publishers Weekly



"Probably the best werewolf novel I've read in a decade."- Pete Kahle, author of The Specimen

"If you like werewolves, you will think you have died and gone to heaven. Highly recommended." -Confessions of a Reviewer

"This fast-paced read was a frenzy of carnality in epic proportions. Visceral and surreal, Janz has outdone himself with this newest title."
-Nikki, Horror After Dark

"For years now, the werewolf has been hijacked by the shifter romance genre. Well, Jonathan Janz has claimed a bloody morsel back for the horror genre!"
-2 Book Lovers Reviews

"Janz is the literary love child of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum (with a little Joe Lansdale DNA in the mix), with all the terror that implies. Try him out. You won't be disappointed." -Pod of Horror



“Jonathan Janz has created a realistic world and peopled it with characters that could be people you know then introduces a whole new werewolf legend to rip them to shreds. I highly recommend this relentlessly fast paced story. A hair raising 5 star read.” –Horror Maiden Book Reviews
 
 


Giveaway!!!



Enter to win ONE (1) print copy signed by Jonathan Janz of WOLF LAND! Click the link to enter. There are several things you can do to get multiple entries each day. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.



http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjI2/?