26 September 2020

Book Blitz || Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women Edited by Lee Murray and Geneve Flynn


Almond-eyed celestial, the filial daughter, the perfect wife. Quiet, submissive, demure. In 
Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Southeast Asian writers of horror both embrace and reject these traditional roles in a unique collection of stories which dissect their
experiences of ‘otherness’, be it in the colour of their skin, the angle of their cheekbones, the things they dare to write, or the places they have made for themselves in the world.

Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women is a dark and intimate exploration of what it is to be
a perpetual outsider.

23 September 2020

Author Spotlight || Georgina Jeffery


Do you love fantasy based on folktales? 


Georgina Jeffrey, today's Author Spotlight, might have just the book you need!


22 September 2020

Top Ten Tuesday || My Fall TBR


Top Ten Tuesday
 was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


This week's Top Ten Tuesday is...

 Books on My Fall TBR. 



I must admit, I'm kinda boring really. 
My reading doesn't really change much for the fall or for the seasons period. 
I know a lot of people are seasonal readers and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just like my spooky vibes year-round! 

My fall TBR (which is really just my current TBR) has mostly horror though there are a few middle grade or even *gasp* YA reads. Please don't tell anyone. I do have a reputation to uphold after all. 

Here are a few of the reads I have coming up:





White Land by Rosie Cranie-Higgs


‘You’re only going to get burned.’
‘By what?’
‘Monsters,’ she calls into the night. ‘And girls who go looking for them.’

In a lonely Swiss mountain village, Kira’s holiday erupts. It’s winter, it’s eerie, and out in the woods, something imbeds its claws into her sister.

When Romy returns, she’s different. She’s violent, inhuman, and by rights, should be dead. But all their parents care about is that she’s still alive. That is…until their parents disappear.

In the otherworldly forest, Kira starts to pry, but secrets like to be kept. Alongside sarcastic Scotsman Callum, Kira stumbles upon the folkloric world of Whiteland, eating all she knows.

Something has changed.

It’s all but imperceptible, but present nonetheless; a change in the air, or a shift in her perceptions.

She stills, listening, sensing.

If Kira runs away, she’ll be safe. If she doesn’t, her family might not survive. In the end, there’s no mercy in revenge.

This is Not a Ghost Story by Andrea Portes


I am not welcome. Somehow I know that. Something doesn’t want me here.

Daffodil Franklin has plans for a quiet summer before her freshman year at college, and luckily, she’s found the job that can give her just that: housesitting a mansion for a wealthy couple.

But as the summer progresses and shadows lengthen, Daffodil comes to realize the house is more than it appears. The spacious home seems to close in on her, and as she takes the long road into town, she feels eyes on her the entire way, and something tugging her back.

What Daffodil doesn’t yet realize is that her job comes with a steep price. The house has a long-ago grudge it needs to settle . . . and Daffodil is the key to settling it.
 

After Sundown 


This new anthology contains 20 original horror stories, 16 of which have been commissioned from some of the top names in the genre, and 4 of which have been selected from the 100s of stories sent to Flame Tree during a 2-week open submissions window. It is the first of what will hopefully become an annual, non-themed horror anthology of entirely original stories, showcasing the very best short fiction that the genre has to offer.

Dead Woman Scorned by Michael Clark


She's back, and they’ll regret what they’ve done.
Mildred Wells had a miserable life that carried over to a lonesome death. In the end, they betrayed her--played her the fool.
She was the last to know, but there's still time to catch up. She'll formulate her painful plan as they live their lives in blissful ignorance.
With no more family, only vengeance drives her; in fact, it’s all she has. She would have rather rested in peace, but for Mildred, dying isn't so easy.

Devil's Creek by Todd Keisling


GIVE US THAT OLD-TIME RELIGION

About fifteen miles west of Stauford, Kentucky lies Devil’s Creek. According to local legend, there used to be a church out there, home to the Lord’s Church of Holy Voices—a death cult where Jacob Masters preached the gospel of a nameless god.

And like most legends, there’s truth buried among the roots and bones.

In 1983, the church burned to the ground following a mass suicide. Among the survivors were Jacob’s six children and their grandparents, who banded together to defy their former minister. Dubbed the “Stauford Six,” these children grew up amid scrutiny and ridicule, but their infamy has faded over the last thirty years.

Now their ordeal is all but forgotten, and Jacob Masters is nothing more than a scary story told around campfires.

For Jack Tremly, one of the Six, memories of that fateful night have fueled a successful art career—and a lifetime of nightmares. When his grandmother Imogene dies, Jack returns to Stauford to settle her estate. What he finds waiting for him are secrets Imogene kept in his youth, secrets about his father and the church. Secrets that can no longer stay buried.

The roots of Jacob’s buried god run deep, and within the heart of Devil’s Creek, something is beginning to stir…
 

Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbit


The first book in a spookily funny new series, where the living meets the dead and survival is a race against time. Perfect for fans of Skulduggery Pleasant and Who Let the Gods Out.

Welcome to the Embassy of the Dead. Leave your life at the door. (Thanks.)

When Jake opens a strange box containing a severed finger, he accidentally summons a grim reaper to drag him to the Eternal Void (yep, it's as fatal as it sounds) and now he's running for his life! But luckily Jake isn't alone - he can see and speak to ghosts.

Jake and his deadly gang (well dead, at least) - Stiffkey the undertaker, hockey stick-wielding, Cora, and Zorro the ghost fox - have one mission: find the Embassy of the Dead and seek protection. But the Embassy has troubles of its own and may not be the safe haven Jake is hoping for . . .
 

Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker


If you trust her you’ll never make it home…

Avery is an exceptional child. Everything he does is precise, from the way he washes his face in the morning, to the way he completes his homework – without complaint, without fuss, without prompt.

Zib is also an exceptional child, because all children are, in their own way. But where everything Avery does and is can be measured, nothing Zib does can possibly be predicted, except for the fact that she can always be relied upon to be unpredictable.

They live on the same street.
They live in different worlds.

On an unplanned detour from home to school one morning, Avery and Zib find themselves climbing over a stone wall into the Up and Under – an impossible land filled with mystery, adventure and the strangest creatures.

And they must find themselves and each other if they are to also find their way out and back to their own lives."

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks


An ex-Spitfire pilot is dragged into a race against a shadowy government agency to unlock the secrets of the lost empire of Atlantis...

In post-war 1952, the good guys are supposed to have won. But not everything is as it seems when ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley is dragged into a fight against the shadowy US government agency she used to work for. Now, with former Nazis and otherworldly monsters on her trail, Captain Moxley is forced into protecting her archaeologist sister in a race to retrieve two ancient keys that will unlock the secrets of a long-lost empire - to ensure a civilisation-destroying weapon doesn't fall into the wrong hands. But what will she have to sacrifice to save the world?

The House That Fell From the Sky by Patrick Delaney

When twenty-nine-year-old Scarlett Vantassel comes to the conclusion that her life doesn’t resemble any of the things she actually wanted for herself, she drops out of school and moves back home, attempting to reconnect with the people she left behind. But a shadow falls over her return one early October morning when a sinister house miraculously appears in the center of the city, sparking a media frenzy that attracts attention nationwide.

Soon after the newspapers label it, "The House that Fell from the Sky," Scarlett’s childhood friend Hannah becomes obsessed with the idea that the house holds the key to discovering whether there really is life after death. Undeterred by her friends' numerous warnings, Hannah becomes increasingly consumed with the desire to enter the house, convinced it would allow her to reconnect with her recently deceased mother.

Despite a series of escalating events suggesting that the house may be more dangerous than anyone ever thought possible, a privately owned company seizes control of the property and hosts a lottery to lure the city’s residents, promising the winners a large cash reward if they dare to enter the house.

To Scarlett’s horror, Hannah uses her vast wealth to secure a spot among the winners to gain access to the house. Now, it’s up to Scarlett, her older brother Tommy, and her friend Jackson to face their fears and journey into a place where nothing is ever quite as it seems, and decide if they can help a friend in need, or if Hannah truly is lost.

Sisters of the Moon by Alexandrea Weis


A monstrous fate will turn a girl into a legend.

On an island in Lake Obersee, where The Sisters of St. Gertrude abide, a destitute Moor named Durra arrives. Sold for taxes, she and her two companions tend to the nuns and their collection of cats. At night, she combs the library for details on the order, the remote island, and the beasts howling outside her window.

But when a prank reveals the sisters’ gruesome secret, Durra is forced to accept a new fate. Bestowed an unearthly power, she must choose between life as a nun or living among the monsters beyond the convent walls.

Her path is about to change the tide in the ultimate war. The war between good and evil.








18 September 2020

Author Spotlight || Christopher D. Ochs


Today's Author Spotlight is Christopher D. Ochs, author of YA Urban Fantasy/Horror 

Read on for the full interview.




What's your latest release? 


MY FRIEND JACKSON, a YA Urban Fantasy/Horror, is available for pre-ordering Kindle on
September 15, and available in print on October 1.

Can you start out by telling us a little about your latest work? 


MY FRIEND JACKSON centers on Jasmine Price, an inner-city teen who suffers daily psychological, cyber, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her new school's queen bees. When the rivalry and jealousy reach a fever pitch, a deadly force intervenes.



Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


I was doing research on girl bullying for a short story "Book Worm" in the Bethlehem Writers Group's 5th anthology "Once Upon A Time." I picked up Rosalind Wiseman's "Queen Bees & Wannabes," thinking I'd read one or two chapters to bone up on the bare minimum. I found her work so riveting, that I devoured the entire book. I knew I had to write a much larger story incorporating the subject.

When you developed the characters, did you already know who they were before you began writing or did they develop organically?


I knew what the 'Monster' had to be. Its place of origin and its mythology guided the development of the 'Mentor' and Jasmine characters. That trio drove the creation and crafting of everything else.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned (about your story, about
yourself, etc.) while writing?


Because the story revolves around several women of color, I hired a Diversity/Sensitivity Editor. It was during that same period that the tragedies of Breonna Taylor's and George Floyd's deaths occurred. Even after our work was done, I engaged in long conversations with her about racism, both outright and systemic. I will always remember her comment about dealing with racism on a daily basis -- "It's
exhausting." I may never fully understand her experiences or those of any person of color, but I'm trying to learn.

What books or authors influenced your own writing?


H.P. Lovecraft rattled my soul down to its roots, and I admired Kurt Vonnegut's wry observations on the human condition.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?


That is a long and involved story. Maybe when I do a full interview.

What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?


I was psychically scarred as a child by the original Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits television series. And I loved it!

What's one of your favorite words?


Schadenfreude!

What are you currently reading?


"The Heroes" by Joe Abercrombie. I need to up my game when writing hand-to-hand fight scenes for the next "Pindlebryth" novel.

A lot of authors have a soundtrack while writing. Are there any songs you had on
repeat?


I require silence. I cannot write while music plays. I am a classically trained organist and composer, and as a result, I cannot merely listen to music. I am drawn into it -- analyzing it, cringing when I hear a misplayed or off-key note, singing along with it, stealing riffs, or just plain rockin' out.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?


Don't take criticism, rejections, or bad reviews personally. 
But don't ignore them either. Learn from them if you can.
Grow a thick skin.

Would you rather live in a haunted mansion or a cottage surrounded by fairytale
creatures?


My home is one block away from an ancient Iroquois walking trail. I've already had several friendly visits from the forces and spirits that linger along that route. But I'd give a firm "No!" on the fairytale creatures. I've studied Grimm and Perrault. Those faerie critters are right bastards.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you? What are your links?

You can also like/follow me on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

Thanks so much for participating in the Author Spotlight! Anything you'd like to add?


A pinch of itching powder, and a shot of laughing gas?


Christopher D. Ochs’s foray into writing began in 2014 with his epic fantasy Pindlebryth of Lenland: The Five Artifacts. He combined his knack for telling stories in the Lehigh Valley Storytellers Guild with his writing style to craft If I Can’t Sleep, You Can’t Sleep, a collection of the mirthful macabre.

His short stories have been published in several anthologies: GLVWG Writes Stuff, Write Here Write Now, The Write Connections, and Rewriting the Past, by the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group; along with Untethered, Finalist in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, and Once Upon a Time, by the Bethlehem Writers Group; and last but not least, Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity by Firebringer Press.

Chris has too many interests outside of writing for his own damn good. With previous careers in physics, mathematics, electrical engineering and software, and his incessant dabbling as a CGI artist, classical organist, voice talent on radio, DVD, audiobook, podcast and the Voice of OTAKON, it's a wonder he can remember to pay the dog and feed his bills. Wait, what?


Christopher, thank you so much for being a guest on Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews!


17 September 2020

Cover Reveal || A Ritual of Flesh by Lee C. Conley

As evil ravages the north and the dead walk, all eyes fall to Arn… The apprentice journeys south, home to the College, unaware of the dark events that transpired in the High Passes after his departure. His leg in ruins, and haunted by watching shadows, the College council in Arn awaits him, but he does not travel south alone.

Arnulf and his warriors must travel to Arn also, with tidings for the king of the risen dead and the terrible curse which has destroyed all that he knew. Arnulf seeks vengeance upon the College, but must choose wisely if he is to save his son.

Meanwhile in the west, Bjorn and his strange Wildman companion report back to High Lord Archeon at Oldstones with grim news of cannibal Stonemen encroaching from the Barrens, but is embroiled in news of war and invasion as Archeon requests his service once more.

In the capital sickness awaits them all, Nym has fled to the city and must now continue her struggle for survival on the plague ridden streets of Arn, keeping all who she cares for safe from the halls of Old Night.

The many threads of this Saga converge on the city of Arn, but amid plague, invasion and terror, a greater darkness is looming. Dark forces are seeking to unleash evil upon Arnar, honour and renown is all, and sword, axe and shield is all that stands between the living and the grasping hands of the dead.

16 September 2020

Book Blitz || Creature Feature by Steven Paul Leiva


THERE IS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENING IN PLACIDVILLE!

It is 1962. Kathy Anderson, a serious actress who took her training at the Actors Studio in New York, is
stuck playing Vivacia, the Vampire Woman on Vivacia’s House of Horrors for a local Chicago TV station.

Finally fed up showing old monster movies to creature feature fans, she quits and heads to New York
and the fame and footlights of Broadway.

She stops off to visit her parents and old friends in Placidville, the all-Ameican, middle-class, blissfully
normal Midwest small town she grew up in.

But she finds things are strange in Placidville.

Kathy’s parents, her best friend from high school, the local druggist, even the Oberhausen twins are all
acting curiously creepy, odiously odd, and wholly weird. Especially the town’s super geeky nerd, Gerald,
who warns of dark days ahead.

Has Kathy entered a zone in the twilight? Did she reach the limits that are outer? Has she fallen through
a mirror that is black? Or is it just—just—politics as usual!

13 September 2020

Ready for a fall reading challenge?



  • Read a book that fits the category. You can check off multiple squares with one book if it fits multiple categories. 
  • Complete a row - up, down or diagonal!
  • For extra credit, go for a blackout. That means every square filled!
  • All books must be started and finished in the months of September and/or October 2020 to count.

That's it! Pretty easy huh? And don't worry if you don't really do the spooky stuff. Any of these categories could work for urban fantasy as well. You don't have to have a blog to play either. Anyone is welcome to jump in!



The Z Word
Walkers, Zeds, Deadheads, Biters. Whatever you call them; If it should be dead and it's not, it counts!

Strange Fiction
This is that category for the book that you say "Wow, WTF did I just read?"


Don't Sneeze
Ebola? The Plague? Kellis-Amberlee? Whatever ails you, this is the category for you. 

Under the Sea
It's a big, big ocean out there. And I doubt it's full of red-headed mermaids pining for princes named Eric.  

Short Story Collection
Variety is the slice of life. 

Let's Summon Demons
Don't do this. Gates of Hell should stay closed and your arms should remain in the circle at all times.
Any book with a demon or possession gets you a square.

Howl at the Moon
Shapeshifters. Werewolves. Were-rats. (Yeah, they are a thing. Ask LKH.) Shifty people don't count.

Bite Me
Walk softly and carry a sharpened stake. Vampires aren't the only thing that suck.

Crazy Town
Straight jackets are surprisingly comfortable...so I'm told. This square is for location - asylum, mental hospital, etc.  or just a book that's bat sh!t crazy.

Scooby Dooby Doo
Any book that has an investigation, or just some bumbling kids searching for clues while saying things like "Zoinks!".

Afterlife Express
10:15 to Boo Town. Tickets, please! Ghostly apparitions, haunted dolls, and the house on Haunted Hill all count in this square.

Monster Mash
It was a graveyard smash. It caught on in a flash. Here's your catch-all monster square. 

Up Close & Personal
Pick a book that scares you. 

Eye See You
This one can be literal. Either an eye on the cover, eye(s), or seeing in the title somehow, or body horror for you crazy horror fans.

Witching Hour
Spells, Curses, or good old fashioned witchcraft. 

End of the Line
Post-Apocalyptic, natural disaster or dystopian get you this square.

Bloody Good
Either a red cover, blood on the cover, or splatterpunk

Killer Instincts
Is there a killer on the loose? Then, yes, check this square if you dare.

Cabin in the Woods
This one is for those great abandoned locations, like a cabin in the middle of the woods, or a bunker in the middle of the artic. Home sweet home.

Lost Highway
Count this one if your book has a road trip, hitchhiker, or songs by the Eagles.

I Come in Peace
The truth is out there. It doesn't matter if they are little gray men or plants from outer space. 
Stock up on tin foil and bandaids. You're gonna need them. 

Camp Crystal Lake
Any book with a campground or tent camping. Hockey mask optional. 

Oh, the Humanity
Sometimes the monster is more human than expected. This square is for when the monster is us.

Don't Fear the Reaper
Count this square for any book with Death incarnate or anyone with a scythe.

Ready for the board? 




Feel free to download and use the board for your fall reading! Just link back to this page if you do. :)

Review || Monstre by Duncan Swan






















There is no stopping it.

The Cloud is armageddon, steamrolling the world at a walking pace.

In his thrilling debut novel Monstre, author Duncan Swan crafts a relentless, terrifying, genre-bending tale of courage, desperation, and redemption that shows just how fragile our civilization is... and how far we will go to survive.

Day 0. From the wreckage of a research facility in Switzerland, a plume of toxic smoke and ash pours into the sky, forming an impenetrable cloud that is slowly smothering the world in darkness. As Europe disappears beneath the Cloud, a squad of United States Marines are sent on a desperate mission to find out what went wrong, and how to undo it before it's too late. Venturing into a cold, dark world, the Marines must travel deep under the Cloud, with no comms, no backup, and no idea of what they will face.

Day 89. Half a world away, the Cloud has reached the East Coast of the U.S. With nowhere to run and no hope of survival, the American people have descended into madness, turning on themselves and each other. From the sidelines, an old Tennessee sheriff watches as his country unravels. But he can't bring himself to take the easy way out. Quitting isn't in his DNA. So when one of his deputies asks him to help protect her family, he leads them west, chasing a miracle-a rumor of an old nuclear bunker that just may be their only hope for survival. Because if the Cloud doesn't kill them, what's hiding in the dark will.
 
 

12 September 2020

Book Blitz || Ape in the Ring by Douglas Ford

From the author of The Reattachment comes a frightening and twisted collection of stories that demonstrates Douglas Ford’s imagination at its best.

In these stories, a woman uncovers the buried memory of how she once disappeared inside the house of a murderer; a father waits and waits for his son to come out of a playground structure, unprepared for what finally does emerge; a group of foster children play an unconventional form of divination while protecting a secret together; the closet of a hotel room hides an unspeakable voyeur; and in the title story, a carnival offers ritualized combat with something that may or not be an ape.


10 September 2020

Book Blitz || Phantoms in the Moonlight

 

11 stories to fright and delight. As the air turns cooler and bonfires take over the night, gather around the fire for stories of fall fun, strange occurrences and abject terror.

These stories published by authors S. C. Morgan, Marie McGrath and Alaine Greyson are sure to get your heart pumping and take your imagination on a wild ride.