05 October 2020

Review || 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.

02 October 2020

Review || Blood Lake Monster by Renee Miller




Maribel Daniels is weeks away from escaping her hometown, but vanishes while walking home from work. The same night, a truck overturns on a bridge, spilling chemicals into the lake and turning the water red. 

Her sister, Anya, returns years later to find out what happened to Maribel, but every truth she uncovers reveals another lie. When she finally solves the mystery of her sister’s disappearance, Anya realizes she’s the only one who can put an end to the Blood Lake Monster.

Is she willing to sacrifice everything for the town that ruined her life?

 

01 October 2020

Review || Psycho Hose Beast From Outer Space by C.D. Gallant-King



Newfoundland, Canada, 1992.

Gale Harbour hasn’t seen any excitement since the military abandoned the base there thirty years ago, unless you count the Tuesday night 2-for-1 video rentals at Jerry's Video Shack. So when a dead body turns up floating in the town water supply, all evidence seems to point to a boring accident.


Niall, Pius and Harper are dealing with pre-teen awkwardness in the last days of summer before the start of high school. The same night the body is found, the three of them witness unusual lights in the sky over the bay.


Is it a coincidence? Are the lights connected to the rapidly-increasing string of mysterious deaths? And what does the creepy old lady at the nursing home have to do with it?


There is an evil older than time hidden deep beneath the waters of the North Atlantic. It is hungry, and vengeful, and it has its sights set on Gale Harbour to begin its path of destruction. All that stands in its way are a group of kids who would rather be playing Street Fighter II...



30 September 2020

Author Spotlight || Gene Kendall


What's your latest release? 


Love is Dead(ly)



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



Brad Burns has a big problem.

Not his crippling credit card debt.

Not his ex-wife, and current business partner, who still blames him for the messy break-up of their marriage.

Not his lovable but spiky personality, that keeps him alive, but alone.

No, Brad’s big issue is that he sees dead people. And those dead people are starting to fight back.

Brad is a paranormal investigator who uses his powers to shepherd the lost souls of the newly-departed to the light on the other side. In return for a fee. Naturally.

But when a case goes badly wrong, Brad finds himself the prisoner of those he’d usually be hunting. Can he use his unique talents to save not only his own skin, but all of humanity?

Because Brad Burns is the Paranormal Desperado. And he’ll be damned if he’ll let a bunch of pesky ghosts get in between him and those he loves.

Although maybe “damned” is tempting fate a bit too much...

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?


The earliest genesis of the story comes from the writing prompt where you write a conversation between two characters, with absolutely no forethought. You write no surrounding prose and work out no backstory beforehand—just write the conversation. The characters reveal themselves as you write their dialogue.

The opening conversation in the novel is, after many edits, that writing prompt. While writing the conversation, I had to decide if this Brad Burns really could talk to dead people or if he was running a con on this man. It seemed like a far more interesting story if Brad truly could do these things, so by default, he became a psychic and not a con artist.

I’d also watched something about the making of Ghostbusters around this time that revealed Dan Aykroyd demanded a scene featuring his character being, ah, “spectrally seduced” remain in the film, even though the rest of that sequence had been cut and it really makes no sense in the finished movie. Aykroyd’s firm in his view of ghosts as seductresses, so he refused to cut this. This was likely in my head when creating the corner of the afterlife Brad visits.

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


I discovered the characters while writing the story, then returned to earlier chapters to make necessary edits to make the cast consistent.

Which of your characters was your favorite to write and why?


They're all my favorite and least favorite at certain times when writing. Sandra is probably the character I'd most like to spend time with in real life.

What was more important to you when you were writing: character development or plot?


Always character.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?


I enjoy reading reviews. Bad reviews are fine, but reviews that outright state things that aren't true about the material are always bewildering.

What led you to start writing?


I was often bored as a kid, terrible at sports and likely perceived as slightly odd by my classmates. Reading was probably less of an “escape” and more of a way to kill the time. Summers were spent at the library, where I consumed Choose Your Own Adventure and Encyclopedia Brown books. My father also grew up reading compulsively, and made sure I was familiar with writers like Mark Twain. Comic books were an early obsession, once I realized many of the cartoons I watched also had comic versions.

At around the age of 9, I began to craft my own stories, sometimes just in my head and other times on lined notebook paper. Even from an early age, I was intrigued by ideas like story structure, studying when a novel paused for a chapter break, or those mini-cliffhangers on TV shows before the commercials. I would incorporate these concepts into my imaginary Transformers stories, always careful to obey the rules I’d set for myself.

What's one of your favorite words?


Rigmarole 

What are you currently reading?


I gave up today on a "Prime Reads" or whatever Amazon calls those free books you get with a Prime subscription. Allegedly a thriller, but the lead character spoke like she was live-Tweeting the events and I just couldn't take it any longer.

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


Well, the title of my novel was inspired by a song. "(You're) So Deadly" from the band Self.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?


Fast food references. Can't explain it.

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


@NBX_Tweets on Twitter. And review copies are available here.

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


I hope everyone checks out Love is Dead(ly) and leaves a review. I'd love to read your thoughts!

Gene Kendall has lived many places, but is usually surrounded by more deer than people. His work explores drama, music, and pop culture with wit and no small amount of sympathy for the losers and also-rans. He’s drawn to protagonists that say the wrong thing, actively resist their character arc, and possibly save the day by accident.

Currently, Gene’s contributing to CBR.com’s “Comics Should Be Good” blog, and you can find him on some horrific website called Twitter.



29 September 2020

Book Blitz || Dead to Me by Annie Anderson

There are only three rules in Darby Adler’s life. 

One: Don’t talk to the dead in front of the living.
Two: Stay off the Arcane Bureau of Investigation’s radar.
Three: Don’t forget rules one and two.

With a murderer desperate for Darby’s attention and an ABI agent in town, things are about to get mighty interesting in Haunted Peak, TN.

28 September 2020

Book Blitz || Dr. Cushing's Chamber of Horrors by Stephen D. Sullivan

The monsters aren’t only in the museum!

Despite a lifetime of traveling with their father to collect strange artifacts, twins Topaz and Opal Cushing have never fully believed in monsters or the supernatural. Oh, sure, they share an eerie psychic connection, and their tarot card readings often come true, but… Werewolves? Vampires? Living mummies? None of those could be real. Those legends are just for rubes. Right?

Since the girls’ father has been away, though, strange things have been happening in the family’s little exhibit—and in the waxworks studio that shares their dilapidated Victorian mansion on the outskirts of London. Now, the twins’ dreams of a fun, romantic summer season are turning into a nightmare, and the monsters are running... Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors!

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!