Publication date: July 20 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads F or as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember the village of Oakvale has b...

Publication date: July 20 2021

For as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember the village of Oakvale has been surrounding by the dark woods—a forest filled with terrible monsters that light cannot penetrate. Like every person who grows up in Oakvale she has been told to steer clear of the woods unless absolutely necessary.

But unlike her neighbors in Oakvale, Adele has a very good reason for going into the woods. Adele is one of a long line of guardians, women who are able to change into wolves and who are tasked with the job of protecting their village while never letting any of the villagers know of their existence.

But when following her calling means abandoning the person she loves, the future she imagined for herself, and her values she must decide how far she is willing to go to keep her neighbors safe.

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Once upon a time, there was a little girl who walked through the dark woods to grandmother's house. Oh, you've heard this story before? I guarantee you haven't heard this version of the story, for you see—in this story, the little girl is the wolf.

This was such a lush and spellbinding version of Little Red Riding Hood. A dark, deep wood encompasses the village, barely kept at bay by those who live there. Only the careful eye of the watch who stand guard with torches keep the threatening woods from encroaching further, or so they believe. There's another watcher in the woods, however. Adele thought she has her life all planned out until she discovers her true fate and everything she thought she knew changes overnight. Thrilling, pulse-pounding danger awaits Adele in the woods and she is uniquely equipped to meet it. Risks and uncertainly await Adele every day and she's forced to make decisions that change her destiny and those of the villagers. 

Blood and savagery are about and it's not only the wood's monsters who are fearfully made.  Rachel Vincent has crafted an environment where deviating from the norm is dangerous, and where secrets must be kept to survive. This is witch-burning territory and it only takes a word to incite the villagers viciously into action. Like the dark woods, Vincent's world is perilous and full of wonder. This is a tale of fur and teeth, haunting and harrowing. 

Publication date: Feb 2nd 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN TH...

Publication date: Feb 2nd 2020
Links: Amazon Goodreads


Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid's boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather's tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. "I read this in the cards," her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn't see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.

Boy, that's a tagline for high expectations, isn't it? This just sounded too unusual to pass by. 

From the start, Eleanor seems to be the most normal of the bunch. After being sent away to boarding school for years and running away from said school, she's looking for love and acceptance. Now that she's home, she's trying to scrape out a place to belong, but like as it was at school, she's on the outskirts again. It's no surprise after not attaining a huge warm welcome from her immediate family and the unexpected death of her grandmother, she reaches out to the only other family she has. Eleanor is ignorant of the world and somewhat bossy in the name of responsibility. While I didn't actively dislike her, I found myself extremely apathetic towards her. Again, this is YA so she fits the naive typecasting that I expected going in. 

Her family, on the other hand, would fit well in with the Adams' family. Her mother is covered in barnacles and spends her time sitting in a washtub full of water. Her grandfather is a shifter who has trouble keeping it reeled in as are her sister and cousin. Her grandmother is a witch. Everyone is very odd, yet seems normal to each other. The characters are definitely one of the best parts of the story. The family dynamics are strange and unusual yet interesting. The gothic atmosphere is incredibly well done here. The run-down house in the woods with the kooky uninviting family; Everything is dark and dreary. 

What Big Teeth is a veritable overload of bizarre, weird, and eccentric people and happenings. Things just happen without explanation and are never touched on again. It's all very vague and initially, the mystery of it all kept me turning the pages, but the novelty of it soon wore off. Just when you think you are finally going to get some answers, there's a very weird romantic arc with Arthur, who we know nothing about other than multiple family members seem to be in love with him. It's a new level of creepy, but an uncomfortable one this time. In the end, it did come together, but I had to push through to get there. 


Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Gaby Triana! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: February 17th 2021 Links:  Am...

Today's Author Spotlight is horror author Gaby Triana!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: February 17th 2021

The Craft meets The Shining in this slow-burn Florida gothic horror.

As the only daughter in her Cuban-American home, 18-year-old Valentina Callejas has been raised to do what her Catholic grandmother and mother say to do. But Valentina feels a different pull--an affinity with nature, a desire to read tarot cards and study the occult. After ditching her church's retreat and fighting with her family, Valentina flees her Miami home and ends up five hours away at Macy's house, a sister she's never met until now.

When a mysterious wolf leads Valentina to nearby abandoned Sunlake Springs Resort, she meets the "clairs," young psychics drawn to the hotel's haunted history. They've been waiting for her, they say, to open a magical entryway to the spirit world. But Valentina's sensitive hands tell a different story--of anguished spirits, menacing cracks, and hooded ghosts of Florida's hateful past. Even the local legend, the beautiful Lady of the Lake, all hint to the hotel's sinister history. To protect her new friends from the horrors awaiting them on the other side, Valentina must use her growing powers and decide, once and for all, if she's the witch she was always meant to be.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I'd always wanted to write a story set in a haunted hotel. In fact, my first ever completed novel is a middle-grade story called FREDDIE AND THE BILTMORE GHOST, set in the famous Biltmore Hotel of Coral Gables, FL. It was never published, but it's the book that got me started in fiction writing. The hotel in MOON CHILD, The Sunlake Springs, is loosely based on the Biltmore. Also, for three years, I kept having visions of an opening scene of a book where a Catholic girl would hide her witchcraft away from her strict grandmother and decided last summer that I had to write it next.

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

Valentina presented herself to me long before I wrote the book, as I said. She was always a witch in the broom closet, and I always knew that would be the basis for her character. Aspects of her personality and story developed later, of course, and some, like her suppressed rage, ended up becoming an important theme of the novel.

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

Besides Valentina, I loved her older sister, Macy. I felt it was really important for Vale to have one person in her life that she could trust, who wouldn't lie to her and would always be there for her, even if she was new in her life. At times, we're not sure if to trust Macy, but that's not because of anything she did. It's because we're experiencing life through Vale's eyes, and Vale doesn't know who to trust.

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

In my Haunted Florida series, it's plot a little more than character. In MOON CHILD, I decided early on, it was going to be character all the way. If the plot ended up weak as a result, I'd be okay with that, because this story had always been, since the beginning, about a Catholic Latina's struggle with her hidden identity, and that's what the focus needed to be.

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

I was shocked to discover how much of this book was about me in many ways. Valentina are not copies of each other, but aspects of her personality are, such as all the anger she was holding back. That was like therapy for me.

What books or authors influenced your own writing?

I've always been a fan of Stephen King, Anne Rice, Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lois Duncan. Nowadays I don't try and write like anyone else, but these folks definitely influenced my writing.

Do you read your book reviews? What do you consider "good" /"bad"?

I do read them, because I'm curious to see what people liked or didn't like. Also, because I like to see when people are happy with what I've given them. It's the reason I write--to entertain. Bad reviews don't affect me, though. I just shrug and move on.

What led you to start writing?

I've been writing my entire life. My ENTIRE life. :)

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

I love gothic horror because of its moodiness and atmospheric quality. I love old Hollywood black and white 30s movies, I love the notion of abandoned castles, and violins playing in the middle of the night from somewhere behind a hidden passageway. I'm intrigued by secrets and by veneers covering something dark and rotten underneath."

What are you currently reading?

Right now I'm reading Christina Henry's The Mermaid, part of her series of dark retellings of classic fairy tales, although this one isn't about The Little Mermaid, as it sounds. It's about PT Barnum's famous Feejee Mermaid scandal. I just finished reading her other book, The Lost Boy, her take on the origin story of Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

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

I actually can't listen to any music while writing. I have a lyrical brain as well as a musical one after years of playing violin, and I can't listen to any kind of phrasing without wanting to hum or sing along when I'm supposed to be crafting a novel. It just doesn't work.

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

One day, you're going to be co-writing YouTubers Sam and Colby's book PARADISE ISLAND based on their creepy trip to Kauai, and it's going to be fun as hell.

What are a couple of your favorite movies to kick back with to relax?

Young Frankenstein is one of my October classic favorites. I also love Dirty Dancing as a guilty pleasure. It's feminist, sexy, the dancing is great, and the soundtrack is the sound of my high school years. Moana is another favorite. The characters, the music, the grandmother's spirit as a stingray, omg I can't. It's a perfect movie.

Which animal would you say is your spirit animal and why?

A cat. They're cool and aloof, warm and loving to a few select people, loyal if you're loyal to them, and they give silent, deadly looks. When nobody is looking, they're total goofballs.

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

Oh, haunted mansion without even question. My husband proposed to me at the Haunted Mansion in Disney World, I convert my house to a haunted mansion every October, and I throw badass Halloween parties.

What advice would you like to pass on to aspiring writers that is unconventional but true?

Everyone tells you "write from your heart." I'm going to give you a little bit of weird advice here: Yes, write from your heart, but to a certain extent. If you want to make it as a commercial writer and live off your writing, you also have to learn what readers want. You'll be writing for them more than for yourself. Learn everything about the genre you're writing in, listen to what the readers want, read reviews for other authors, and create a product that only YOU can give. Writing for ONLY yourself yields books that no one but you want to read. There has to be a balance. :)

GABY TRIANA is the bestselling author of 17 novels for teens and adults, including the Haunted Florida series (Island of Bones, River of Ghosts, City of Spells), Wake the Hollow, Cakespell, Summer of Yesterday (a tribute novel to Walt Disney World's River Country), and Paradise Island: A Sam and Colby Story. She's a short story contributor in Don't Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute Anthology to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a flash fiction contributor in Weird Tales Magazine, and the host of a horror-based YouTube channel called The Witch Haunt. Published with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Permuted Press, & Entangled, Gaby writes about witchy powers, ghosts, haunted places, and abandoned locations and has ghostwritten over 50 novels for bestselling authors. Her books have won IRA Teen Choice, ALA Best Paperback, and Hispanic Magazine's Good Reads Awards. She lives in Miami with her family and is at work on her next novel.

Visit her at
Twitter: @GabyTriana
IG: @GabyTriana
YT: The Witch Haunt

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

Be sure to check out Moon Child on February 17th!

Publication date: October 12th 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads 1865 Hanau, Germany S ixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions...

Publication date: October 12th 2020
Links: Amazon Goodreads

Hanau, Germany

Sixteen-year-old Elva has a secret. She has visions and strange powers that she will do anything to hide.
She knows the warnings about what happens to witches in their small village of Hanau. She’s heard the terrible things people say about the Witch of the North Woods, and the malicious hunts that follow. But when Elva accidentally witnesses a devastating vision of the future, she decides she has to do everything she can to prevent it. Tapping into her powers for the first time, Elva discovers a magical mirror and its owner—none other than the Witch of the North Woods herself. As Elva learns more about her burgeoning magic, and the lines between hero and villain start to blur, she must find a way to right past wrongs before it’s too late.

Broken Wish is the first in a series called The Mirror, written by different authors, spanning generations and the curse that afflicts them. Julie C. Dao kicks off the series with Broken Wish, a story of friendship and broken promises. Fractured fairytales one of my favorite things—if it's done right—and I will even read YA if the premise sounds promising. I know, I'm a YA snob. Most of the time it's the angsty romance that I can't do in YA. In fairytale retellings, I'm expecting it to be angsty so it's okay, I guess? (Don't judge me.)

Beginning in Hanau, Germany (the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, btw), a young woman named Agnes Heinrich befriends Mathilda, and their friendship is sweet and true. Unfortunately, they live in a time where different is to be feared and Mathilda is "different". Agnes and her husband can't have children and Mathilda agrees to help them in exchange for Agnes' friendship. Agnes agrees but breaks her promise to Mathilda, breaking her heart in the process. Years later, Agnes' daughter Elva discovers that she might be able to stop a vision of danger surrounding the village and her parents. She sets off on a journey to discover more about herself and the curse that befell her family all those years ago. That means hunting down the witch who set the curse in the first place. 

I loved this story.  The characters are fleshed out and the writing is beautifully stylized. All the components for a perfect fairytale are here: the witch, the woods, and a mirror. True to Disney style, there is so much to download from this. It's darker, somewhere between Disney and the original Brothers Grimm. There are a lot of Easter Eggs if you are a fairytale fan like me. While there's a bit of romance, there's definitely skew towards friendships and other forms of love like that of family. While it's technically YA, the focus on friendship is almost MG. 

Overall, it's a story that feels true to Disney, about finding out who you are, staying true to your word, and forging ahead even if you don't know how the story will end. 

Publication Date:  January 14, 2019 Links:  Amazon   |  Goodreads T hose who bear marks on their skin are doomed to a life of slavery. Lexi...

Publication Date: January 14, 2019
Links: Amazon Goodreads

Those who bear marks on their skin are doomed to a life of slavery. Lexil has seven.

Sold into servitude, Lexil must deal with brutal punishments, back-breaking labor, and the loss of every freedom. When a young child she has befriended faces a horrible fate, Lexil must intervene to protect her, no matter what the risk.

With the help of a boy named Finn, the trio flee into the Wastelands. There, they must evade those who hunt them while trying to survive a barren landscape. Lexil must face challenges she's never imagined existed, all while learning what it means to truly be reborn.

The Red Queen meets The Hunger Games in this stunning new release. Buy REBORN now to find out if being branded a reborn is a myth, a curse... or a destiny.

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How Dark Can YA Get?
by Jenna Greene

                The idea that teens can’t handle deep and dark themes in literature is a pretty obsolete notion. It isn’t just the Internet that has exposed adolescents to the trials and tribulations of the world. Children live; therefore, they are exposed to poverty, abuse, strife, inequity, and prejudice. They might not experience it all themselves, but they can see it. They know about it. The eyes and ears of the young are far keener than anyone might expect.

                So why would we put it in literature as well? Why would we write about slavery, intolerance, or racism instead of more cheerful topics? Won’t this just remind the readers of the injustices in the world and how there is so much darkness surrounding them?

                Yes. But it’s also a way to show characters experiencing unfortunate events … and surviving. Even thriving. YA books can show protagonists enduring and overcoming. Not only that, but having an impact on the world they live in, changing it for the better. What could be a more positive, uplifting thought than that? Isn’t that why the original fairy tales were created? To show horrific circumstances and people overcoming them. Facing adversity and overcoming the odds.

                That’s really the power of all literature. Sure, not every book will tackle issues at extreme depth and emotion, but every story has a conflict of some sort. A struggle. And even those that don’t end happily, still end. That is a resolution, of sort, which the reader must sort through internally. And, whether they know it or not, that emotional turmoil will stay with them and, to a degree, help them as they continue with their life.

                And who needs these tools better than children?

                I can’t think of anyone.

                Sure, the images have to be presented in an age-appropriate manner. Some action must take place ‘off-stage’ or be inferred to, rather than seen. But the base conflicts can be present. And, yes, adolescents can handle it. 

About the Author

Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult Fantasy series, Imagine! She is a middle school teacher, dragonboat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder).

Website | Twitter

Publication date: October 12th 2020 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads F rom the multi-award-winning author of Everyday Enchantments: Musings on O...

Publication date: October 12th 2020
Links: Amazon Goodreads

From the multi-award-winning author of Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic & Daily Conjurings comes a cozy Gothic short story about searching for soul, meaning, love in a world that's forgotten the power of everyday conjuring. 

 Looking for love can be deadly… You know how it goes. You go out, hoping to meet someone. You wade through your fair share of brainless automatons, lifeless bodies, and ravenous undead good at passing as human. 

The more you go out, the less hope you feel and the colder your body gets. But you keep at it. All you need is one beating heart to match your own before yours stops pumping altogether. How hard can it be to find one living, breathing human in a city full of bodies? 


It’s hungry business. 

CW: Assault.


At just 17 pages, Hungry Business is a poignant tale of one woman's search to find love in a dead world. Our protagonist is lonely. Why else would she continue to date when those dates make her feel cold. Vowing to never date again and swearing it's not worth the risk but loneliness and desperation drive her back out again nights later. Through it all, she wonders about the cat in the apartment across the way and the person who is still human enough to own it, as all the cats left the dead parts of the city during the initial rage of the virus. 

Drawing parallels between the pitfalls of dating and dating in the zombie apocalypse, this short story packs a big world into a few pages. The dating scene is a cold enough place to be even when the body sitting across the table from you isn't slowly rotting from the inside out. Of course, the dates she encounters try to put on their best impressions—covering the evidence of their afflictions with dress and carefully applied makeup. It's not enough to hide the hungriness inside them as they ache for the life they no longer have.

This is obviously horror, populated as it is with the undead, though "Cozy gothic" are two words not often seen together. The pervasiveness of the narrator's constant fear of being overcome by rot, along with the pensive mood of the piece heightens the isolation that she feels even when with others. 

Eventually, she realizes that the inside of her bright, cheery apartment and the view of the cat in the window fills her heart and brings her comfort the way the dates couldn't. It's a strange contrast between the cold, gray world outside and the cozy blankets, warm baths, and hot tea she comforts herself with indoors to keep ahold of her humanity. Through it all, the orange tabby cat is in the window across the way as a beacon of hope that there is another beating heart out there. Isn't that what we all search for in this big cold world?

Publication date: February 2nd 2021 Links: Amazon | Goodreads T he time has come for Kai and her friends to make a final stand, and as the ...

Publication date: February 2nd 2021

The time has come for Kai and her friends to make a final stand, and as the war begins, everyone must choose a side. But with the lines between good and evil more blurred than ever, Kai has to stick with her convictions and follow her heart. Kai’s first priority is to free Finn from the clutches of Tessa Raven, who has become no better than the evil she once fought against.

As Kai reluctantly turns against the people she once considered her closest friends, she becomes entangled in a struggle with a mysterious new power that threatens to destroy what is left of Finn and change everything she thought she knew about the planet.

Meanwhile, Charlie and Aric remain behind and help Raven breach the underground world of the Science Council. All bets are off as they prepare to cross every line and burn every bridge in an attempt to claim the world that has abused them for too long.


Too many missing coefficients.

Raven ran her ungloved hand over the smooth, cool metal of the missile. She needed it to shatter the barrier—opening the way down so that she could destroy the Science Council. She knew enough about terminal ballistics to be able to calculate its exact impact on the crystal tube that led to the Science Council’s underground lair when it struck. The only problem was that the makeup of the tube was so unique…

“It’s a thing of beauty, Raven,” Sayers commented. He stared at her hungrily from his spot amongst her people, seeking approval.

“Yes, it is,” she offered, and he smiled.

“The only problem is, because the substance we’re striking has never been studied, there’s no way to tell if it will work without testing it. Our likelihood for success is still low.” She glanced around the interior of the Dome of Artifacts, taking in the relics from the original Earth with an appreciative eye. “And I’m not willing to risk destroying all of these artifacts by blowing up the whole place when the chance of it failing to destroy the tube is unacceptably high.”

Her soldiers stood around her, silent, waiting for her suggestions. She’d been trying to puzzle this out for three weeks, and the answer was painfully obvious: a last straw plan. And yet, she hesitated, because there was a small part of her that wanted to try every other possible scenario before resorting to what she knew would work, even though she knew that wasn’t logical.

Damn my weakness.

“We’ll need something softer,” she said at last. “Something that will turn to mush on impact rather than ricocheting off the crystal and taking out this whole place. Also, we’ll need something much bigger… heavier.” She scrutinized the crystal tube housing of the elevator platform that had, thus far, been impossible to penetrate.

“Would you like us to try crafting a hollow missile that’s twice this size?” asked Larson. “We’d have to melt this down first.” He gestured toward the missile they’d taken three weeks to craft and painstakingly calibrated.


The time to divulge her last straw plan was now. She knew a missile wouldn’t work. A rain of bullets wouldn’t work. But she happened to have a special tool—a former friend who could run at the speed of a bullet and who was close to two hundred pounds.

A human body hitting the tube at that speed would spread adequate weight over a large enough surface area to crack open the entryway to the Science Council’s underground world like an egg. Also, a body would explode upon impact, resulting in a mostly liquid byproduct, causing minimal damage to the artifacts.

Finn’s sacrifice would save the planet.

About the Author

Tracy Auerbach is an author of science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. As an avid reader with a vivid imagination, she chose to study film, English, and education, and went on to teach and write STEM curriculum for the New York Department of Education. This helped to polish her writing skills and ignite her passion for science fiction and fantasy. 

Her first scholarly article, published in Language Magazine, was about the value of active, creative learning in science.

On the fiction side, Tracy’s work has been featured in the online literary journal Micro-horror, The Writing Disorder fiction anthology, and the “(Dis)ability” short story anthology, in addition to her novels.

When she is not teaching or writing, Tracy is usually reading or spending time with her family. She lives in New York with her husband and sons.

Publication date: February 11th 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T he first season of Sole Survivor has aired, a traumatized December Foss...

Publication date: February 11th 2021

The first season of Sole Survivor has aired, a traumatized December Foss is trying desperately to escape her fifteen minutes of fame, and everyone thinks the drop bears are dead. Everyone that is except The Ark: a radical group of eco-terrorists with an axe to grind, and Joseph Steinberg, who still has plenty of them in reserve.

When the Ark release the drop bears from captivity, all hell breaks loose and December must face them again. This time, though, they’re on her turf. This time, it’s personal!

Book 23 in the Rewind-
 series: imagine your local movie rental store back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, remember all those fantastic covers. Remember taking those movies home and watching in awe as the stories unfolded in nasty rainbows of gore, remember the atmosphere and textures. Remember the blood.

Before I begin here, I want to make sure I thank Valerie at Cats Luv Coffee for giving me the chance to share a blog post on her site. Of course, if you don’t know anything about me, you might be wondering why she’s gone and done that. The simple answer is she’s awesome, and she’s helping me promote my new book, Sole Survivor 2: Drop Bears on the Loose.

We’ll talk more about that in a moment, but if I sum it up by telling you it’s a killer koala creature feature (again, more on that in a second), it’ll help this post make a whole bunch of sense. Basically, I’m going to share some of my favourite creature features here with you today.

In coming up with this list, there were a few rules I had to set myself. I didn’t want to feature the 
same creatures more than once. Seeing as I love crocodile movies, that would rule out a whole bunch of films about everyone’s favourite man-eating reptiles from the Mesozoic. I also didn’t want to worry about the laws of physics or reality and limit myself to real creatures you might encounter. The ‘koalas’ in the Sole Survivor books are actually drop bears, and even then, they’re twisted away from what the general public might see as a drop bear here in Australia. You can find out about the ‘real’ ones here.

The other thing I tried to keep in mind was that I had to have seen it recently enough to actually remember it. I remember loving movies like Congo and The Ghost and the Darkness when I was a kid, but I really can’t remember them well enough to talk about them although I should probably revisit them soon. Oh, and finally, they needed to be horror, whether loosely or firmly. So, as brilliant as I think Life of Pi is, I couldn’t include it.

Without further waffling, let’s have a look at what we’ve got here.

Night of the Lepus:

Some people talk about movies like Friday the 13 th and Nightmare on Elm Street being the ones they were exposed to at far too young an age. For me, it was this one. Flicking through channels, I saw giant bunny rabbits storming a ranch, and I immediately knew what I wanted to watch. Next minute, there were flashes of blood and close-ups of gore-laden rodent teeth everywhere. Years later, I saw gifs of these same scenes on the internet and, when I investigated, I knew I had to revisit. Funnily enough, this is a movie that still holds up today. Its environmental themes and focus on human relationships goes really well with the incredibly fun scenes of mayhem it includes. I won’t run through the plot for you, but when a little girl is given a pet rabbit that’s been injected with a birth-control serum, it escapes and all hell breaks loose. The rabbits grow to massive sizes and eat everything in their path, including the residents of the local community. As I said, it’s a tonne of fun and it’s surprisingly touching. 


The only real way to describe this one is as an Australian cult classic. Even as I type, I’ve just discovered it will be screened in a local cinema next Friday night! Here in Australia, giant boars are a pretty well-known part of the folklore. We all know they’re vicious and they can properly gut you, but on reflection, this movie may have a lot to do with that. Just like the more recent Boar, it features a giant pig that’s terrorising the local community. The plot is a little too crazy to explain in detail, so I’ll put it simply: Mad Max-style human villains, a giant baby-eating razorback boar, a father hell-bent on revenge and as much carnage as you care to partake in, this one’s loads of fun. I first became aware of it when I was at University, and now that I know it’s going to be at the cinema next week, I’m going to try to convince the wife that we need to see it again!


It’s not easy to pick a crocodile (or alligator) movie as a favourite. I love the genre, and when you consider the creatures don’t even need to be exaggerated to create real scares, they make brilliant horror movies. So, although I enjoyed Crawl, I could easily have slotted Black Water or another older Aussie creature-feature Dark Age in here, but Rogue is the one I’ve gone for. It uses the familiar trope of the US journalist coming to Australia to taste the local colour, but for this guy, the boat ride through Kakadu doesn’t end well. Halfway through the ride, a giant crocodile tips the tour-boat and leaves our cast of characters stranded on an island in the middle of a tidal flat. Needless to say, there’s blood, there’s carnage, there’s suspense, and there’s an American to save the day. Sort of. Mostly, though, there’s a humongous crocodile that generates real tension and will have you on the edge of your seat. Recommended.


I didn’t mention this before, but I needed a Nicolas Cage movie in here. And, you know what, this one’s more of an action movie, but that doesn’t matter, it’s still loads of B-Grade fun. Cage, playing big-game hunter Frank Walsh, has captured a rare white jaguar in the Brazilian rainforest, and he’s trying to get it back to the States where he can sell it to a zoo. To do that, he boards a container ship with the creature. Unfortunately, US Marshals are also on the ship, and they’ve got cargo of their own, a highly trained assassin. Naturally, the jaguar is let loose (as is every other dangerous creature on the ship) and chaos ensues. It’s a pretty straight-forward romp, and it’s not in danger of being remembered as a classic, but is loads of fun and the jaguar causes more than its share of bloodshed.


I revisited this one recently with the family, and it’s easily the most well-known film on this list. Objectively, it’s the best film on this list too. As you’re probably aware, it’s tonnes of fun. When extremely venomous Venezuelan spiders find themselves let loose in a small Californian town, they immediately set to work killing the locals. There’s a whole bunch of context to the plot, but the long and short of it is that Jeff Daniels’ character Dr. Ross Jennings suspects spiders are to blame, and once they have their proof, he needs to stop them. John Goodman is brilliant as the pest control guy in this one, and the whole thing is incredibly entertaining. 

So there you have it: five animal-inspired creature features that are great fun. And that brings me to my new book, Sole Survivor 2: Drop Bears on the Loose.

If you’re like me and you love a good old-fashioned bit of creature carnage, you’ll probably dig the killer koalas in this one. Mutated and bloodthirsty, they’re let loose on the mainland, and as always, the result is chaos. It’s loaded with huge kills, tonnes of action and loads of fun.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, my newest Australian creature feature, Sole Survivor II: Drop Bears on the Loose comes out on February 11. The sequel to Sole Survivor (go figure), it features an army of killer koalas and a desperate fight to survive their onslaught. They’re both part of Unnerving’s Rewind or Die line.

You can pick them up from the links below.
Sole Survivor
Sole Survivor II: Drop Bears on the Loose

I’m also down to my last five paperbacks. If you’d like me to sign one and put it in the post, they’re only $15 US plus postage. DM me on Twitter or email me through my website to make it happen.

Zachary Ashford earned his writing chops as a journalist covering heavy metal bands for street press magazines and as a copywriter for a rock n roll radio station. Since those days, he’s done plenty, including operating as a freelance copywriter and editor. Nowadays, he writes fiction and teaches English and Literature in a high school.

You can find some of his nonfiction writing at Nerdbastards and Ozzy Man Reviews (under the name Chuck Steinway).

His fiction has featured in:
Dark Moon Digest 32/33
Kyanite Press Halloween Edition

Thanks so much for being a guest today, Zachary!

Be sure to check out his Sole Survivor and Sole Survivor II: Drop Bears on the Loose.  You can read my review of Sole Survivor here!

An uninhabited island… Several hundred hidden cameras… Ten contestants who think they’re stranded… One man employed to thin their numbers…

One predatory species determined to feed…

For the contestants of television’s latest prime-time reality show, the plane crash is a mere inconvenience on their way to fame and fortune. Unfortunately, there’s no rescue coming. Instead, the producers have other ideas, like watching them find the island’s killer creatures for themselves…

Like watching them die.

Tune in and discover who will be the Sole Survivor!

Book 6 in the Rewind-or-Die series: imagine your local movie rental store back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, remember all those fantastic covers. Remember taking those movies home and watching in awe as the stories unfolded in nasty rainbows of gore, remember the atmosphere and textures. Remember the blood.

Publication date: January 25, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads B lair Graves’ father went missing seven years ago. The legal death of he...

Publication date: January 25, 2021

Blair Graves’ father went missing seven years ago.

The legal death of her paranormal radio host father tilts her world sideways on its axis. When no will can be found, Blair is forced to adapt to a quickly shifting reality. One in which she’s forced to sell her family home.

When a historical fixer-upper catches her eye, she goes all in, hoping to escape her father’s legacy and the long shadow cast by his very public disappearance.

But when the house starts presenting more problems than just the creaks and groans associated with old age, Blair starts questioning what she knows about life, death, and what comes after.

When the very arrogant and handsome Cash Kelly–a ghost-hunting expert–offers his help, Blair is sure he’s the same kind of attention-seeking, conspiracy-promoting, dollar-chasing content creator hack as her father.

As she begins to question his motivations for helping her, the haunting escalates to a dangerous point, forcing Blair to confront the reality of the world her father believed in.

And what it means to be his daughter.

The X-Files meets Supernatural in this urban fantasy series about the strength of a father-daughter bond and how, sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.

Read Now

She leads us past the other living room and down the hallway. Another room is nestled off to the side.
“The conservatory, or sunroom,” Diana says, ushering us inside.
Glass walls and a glass ceiling incase the room.
“One of Mr. Solomon’s favorite rooms, I’m told,” Diana says.
“Tell me more about him,” I prod her as we make our way out of the room and upstairs.The second floor hosts all the bedrooms and two of the bathrooms. She shows me each in turn as she chronicles the life of
the former homeowner.
“Oh, there’s not much to tell,” she says. “His wife had a stroke when she was quite young. Died tragically by drowning in the pool one evening during a party. Mr. Solomon was so grief-stricken that he lost his senses, I’m told. He married one of the housekeepers.”
“That’s horrible,” I tell her.
“Oh, quite. He also lost a son that night. The boy was but a toddler. It’s thought that he jumped into the pool after his
mother in an attempt to save her. Unfortunately, they both perished. I can’t imagine what that was like for Mr. Solomon.”
“Jesus,” I whisper.
And I thought my old house was marked by tragedy.
“Indeed,” Diana confirms, almost like she’s reading my mind.
She goes on.
“The Solomons sold the house and moved away in the early part of the twentieth century. It belonged to the family who made it a funeral home after that. But when none of Mr. Horn’s boys wanted to take up the mortuary arts, the Horn family sold it as well.”
There’s a mural in the master bathroom and I stop to stare at it when we arrive.
“That was painted for the original Mrs. Solomon,” Diana says. The mural features a nude man and woman standing on either side of a mountain. Above them, a heavenly being seems to be watching over them. They both cast their eyes upward.
Roses line the outside edges. “It’s the sixth card of the tarot: the Lovers.”
“Did Mrs. Solomon enjoy tarot?” I ask.
“Oh, she enjoyed a number things she probably shouldn’t have,” Diana assures me. “All of that was quite popular at the time.” She begins to make her way back to the second story landing. I cast a glance back at the mural. Faded and peeling, it’s still beautiful. It could easily be restored.
“She was known for her wild parties. I imagine tarot and the like played a role at times.”
We head up to the third floor.
“This space was mainly used as storage by the Horn family,” Diana says. The giant attic-like room hosts a number of objects, all covered in yellowing white sheets. A musty smell accompanies it. I feel an itch in my nose and promptly sneeze.
“There’s also a basement,” Diana says. “I should note that it was used by the Horns for embalming,” she says hesitantly. I imagine this is the sort of information that served as a deal breaker for other prospective buyers.
There’s a bit of comfort in knowing that the saddest things to ever happen in this house had nothing to do with me, Blake, or my father.
It’s a strange perspective, but I welcome it.
We head back downstairs to the first floor.
“I imagine you have a husband with whom you might discuss the purchase,” Diana says.
“No,” I say. “It’s just me.”
“No children?” she asks with an arched eyebrow.
“None of those either.”
“No husband and no children,” she clucks. “Smart girl.”
Diana winks at me.
I take in the house one more time before we step outside.
As Diana turns to head to her car after giving me her card I call out to her.
“Diana,” I say. “Wait.”
She raises her eyebrows and looks as if she might want to ask me why I’ve stalled her in getting back to the office.
I inhale deeply, look back at the house once more, and I leap.
“I’ll take it.”

Marnie Vinge is a novelist and storyteller as well as the creator of the podcast, Eerie Okie.

She first started writing at the ripe age of 7, creating a science fiction horror story about a monster that lived in seaweed off the coast of Corpus Christi. Since then, she's stretched her wings by writing urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and horror.

To check out Eerie Okie, search your favorite podcast platform. If you're an Oklahoma ghoul who loves the morbid and macabre, it's the podcast for you.

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