Hey guys and welcome to 2022 on CLC!   I am making some resolutions for the New Year but not in the way you might think.  Bookish resolution...

Hey guys and welcome to 2022 on CLC!  

I am making some resolutions for the New Year but not in the way you might think.  Bookish resolutions only so here we go! 

1. I want to read more and stay off social media. Last year, I did a lot of hiking so that cut into my reading time—which is great since I lost 30 pounds—but also bad since I didn't read as much. This year, I'm going to try for more audiobooks or KU books that I can have Alexa read to me while I walk. 

2. I'm going to be better about getting reviews written. It takes me a long time to format posts and write the review—sometimes hours. I procrastinate a lot as well because it is such a big undertaking. 

That leads me to this post. In order to get more done this year, I'm going to start doing mini-reviews. I have some guilt about not giving all the books equal treatment but I believe that a short review is better than no review. 

These are primarily reads picked up from KU and a few from Netgalley here and there. Any direct requests will not be a part of the mini-reviews series.

Today's mini-reviews are 3 horror novellas that I read late last year: Mouth Full of Ashes by Briana Morgan, The House of Little Bones by Beverly Lee, and Man, Fuck This House by Brian Asman. 

Mourning the sudden loss of her sister, Callie Danoff wants nothing more than to embrace a fresh start in a new town, leaving the haunting memories of her sister’s death behind. But when her brother Ramsay drags her to a spooky boardwalk, the two become entangled with a local vampire gang and its enigmatic leader, Elijah. Callie refuses to accept their existence... until she and her brother unknowingly ingest vampire blood. Now, they only have three days before they turn into vampires themselves.

With her carefree summer thwarted, Callie must trust a group she barely knows in order to save her family. 

Publication date: October 4th, 2021

My Thoughts...

Mouth Full of Ashes is my first foray into Briana Morgan's writing and I couldn't start with a better novella than this nod to the 80s' The Lost Boys vampire film. This tale of two siblings trying to make a fresh start in a new town and finding only trouble at the local boardwalk was full of nostalgia. The brother and sister duo get wrapped up in the local vampire clan and mom is even being pursued by the vampire master. 

While it is essentially a reimagining of The Lost Boys, Morgan has a fun carnival/boardwalk setting, believable characters with a heartbreaking past, fun banter and wit, and even a little romance with queer rep thrown in for good measure. The relationship between the siblings is truly the backbone of the story. There's lots of young adult angst and the need to "find yourself" without coming across as too cheesy. While the pacing seemed a bit rushed at the end, there's plenty that makes this fun vampire novella worth reading. 

He thought he was untouchable...

David Lansdown, esteemed British horror writer and supernatural sceptic, is used to basking in the glow of the press. Until a hastily snapped photo hits the headlines and makes his affair with his publisher’s son public.

When David finds himself at Bone Hollow, a house with a glass wall overlooking a wild and desolate moor, his only concern is writing his next best seller to bury his misdeeds in the past.

But something stirs beneath the earth. Something bound to the land. Something determined to take everything from him.

Luca Fox-Waite is still in love with the man who cast him aside, but his own childhood demons lurk in his shadow. As he discovers more about Bone Hollow’s history, he finds himself ensnared in its story—a story steeped in time and tragedy.

Because curses lie in bones, and they do not die.

The House of Little Bones is a tale of avarice, adoration, and of how the sins of the past cling to the living as well as the dead.

Publication date: September 21st, 2021

My Thoughts...

The House of Little Bones follows two main characters: best-selling author David and Luca, the 19-year-old son of his childhood friend and publisher. They've had a covert age-gap romantic relationship that has now exploded in the tabloids. At the behest of his agent, David takes a writing sabbatical far away from London. David intends on hiding out in a recently built rental house in the sparsely populated moors to let things die down and refocus on his writing. Strange things start happening to David at the house, which as a skeptic, he dismisses as a prank. Luca is in the background as well, researching the moor that David is living on and trying to keep him safe from harm. 

Lee does an amazing job at writing a character driven narrative. David and Luca's relationship is at the center of this mess and Luca's heartbreak is evident while David's self-centeredness is its own form of misery. It's the ideal backdrop to the folklore-based haunting that is transpiring right under David's nose. The fog and rain-drenched moor setting is perfectly ominous and when the tension crescendos into the most perfect juncture of grief and retaliation, it's exquisite. Horrifying and devastating, this eerie novella sucked me in and left its mark. 

Sabrina Haskins and her family have just moved into their dream home, a gorgeous Craftsman in the rapidly-growing Southwestern city of Jackson Hill. Sabrina’s a bored and disillusioned homemaker, Hal a reverse mortgage salesman with a penchant for ill-timed sports analogies. Their two children, Damien and Michaela, are bright and precocious.

At first glance, the house is perfect. But things aren’t what they seem.

Sabrina’s hearing odd noises, seeing strange visions. Their neighbors are odd or absent. And Sabrina’s already-fraught relationship with her son is about to be tested in a way no parent could ever imagine.

Because while the Haskins family might be the newest owners of 4596 James Circle, they’re far from its only residents…

Publication date: October  19th, 2021

This haunted house story focuses on a family moving into a new home that doesn't exactly have the Home-Sweet-Home vibe they were looking for.  Right from the beginning, this novella had me laughing out loud as the family is getting their first glimpse of the house. Mom, Sabrina, turns to the kids in the backseat and immediately delivers an internal soliloquy about her 10-year-old Damien who had "eaten his own twin in the womb" and her ensuing nightmares of him pickaxing his way out of her with his dead brother's bones. Weird? Yes. Hilarious? Also yes but I'm twisted that way. It's just the start of the dark humor that you can expect from this novella, especially where Damien— who really, really likes to mess with his mom by living up to the name and freaking her out on purpose— is concerned.

Don't think it's all fun and games. When the haunting starts with a giant man jovially carrying a box to the basement and then climbing into the tiny crawlspace to disappear, it's creepy. Only Sabrina sees what is happening and as it gets weirder, everyone thinks she's losing it. While the haunting is at first benign, it's no less perplexing and overwhelming for poor Sabrina. The more answers she gets, the more questions she has. 

I love when stories manage to bring something fresh into a typical trope and boy, this novella crushes it. It takes a lot to throw me but I didn't see this one coming at all. It's wonderfully weird. It's irreverently funny. Man, Fuck This House. Come for the title, stay for the exceptional twist on the haunted house story. 

Publication date: September 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment....

Publication date: September 1st, 2021

Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction . . . especially on Addington Isle. Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book - a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It's Barley Day . . . and you're invited to the hunt.

Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse-pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.

Read now

I want you to picture for a moment the characters of your favorite childhood novel. Do you have a good grasp of that in your mind? Now imagine that they are real, live, breathing things that you see and touch. Wouldn't that be incredible? That's exactly how Winterset Hollow begins. Eamon, Caroline, and Mark take a sabbatical to the home of their favorite author to see the place where it all began. To see where the creation of the one thing that molded their very beings occurred. They practically have a hero complex constructed of the author. Why wouldn't they—as the story and characters gave them a reprieve from their own lives and stressors?

It's difficult to remember while riding the wonderment of the opening pages that this is a dark fantasy. As the awe slowly starts to fade, trepidation and that feeling of wrongness slowly start bleeding in—bringing a wave of unease. The moment it all changes is palpable. From there, it's a veritable sea of crashing confrontations and revelations. The tension is high and once it begins, it doesn't let up until the very end. 

Durham's prose is certainly on the more literary side. Interspersed with poetry taken from Addington's version of Winterset Hollow, the verbiage is resinous and thick. The expansive depictions elevated the novel from what could have been a simple slash and hack.  I found the language selections meticulous and beautiful. I think a lot of readers might consider it is overreaching and perhaps even pretentious but it worked so well for me. 

I truly did not expect the emotional rawness of Winterset Hollow. The wonderment of the beginning when they are meeting the characters, the shock when it all goes south, the fear and anxiety, and in the end, the bitterness of heartache. This was a completely unanticipated emotional rollercoaster of a book. There's no succor as the reader is ricocheted from one blow to another, whether physical, emotional, or mental. Was I happy with the ending? Honestly, I couldn't imagine a more flawless conclusion. It was like the sun setting on the perfect day—Barley Day.

Publication date: August 25th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBl...

Publication date: August 25th, 2021

A compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBlassie.

The women of Sueño, New Mexico don’t know how to live a life without sorrows. That’s La Llorona’s doing. She roams the waterways looking for the next generation of girls to baptize, filling them with more tears than any woman should have to hold. And there’s not much they can do about the Weeping Woman except to avoid walking along the riverbank at night and to try to keep their sadness in check. That’s what attracts her to them: the pain and heartache that gets passed down from one generation of women to the next.

Mercy knows this, probably better than anyone. She lost her best friend to La Llorona and almost found a watery grave herself. But she survived. Only she didn’t come back quite right and she knows La Llorona won’t be satisfied until she drags the one soul that got away back to the bottom of the river.

In a battle for her life, Mercy fights to break the chains of generational trauma and reclaim her soul free from ancestral hauntings by turning to the only things that she knows can save her: plant medicine, pulp books, and the promise of a love so strong not even La Llorona can stop it from happening. What unfolds is a stunning tale of one woman’s journey into magic, healing, and rebirth.

CW: assault, domestic violence, racism, colorism
Centered around La Llorona, the gothic fairytale is a feminist treat. If you are not acquainted with the story of La Llorona, the most common version is of a woman who marries a rich rancher. After bearing his children, she witnesses him with another woman and in a fit of jealous rage, drowns their children in the river. Unable to live with the grief, she spends eternity pacing the shores of the river, weeping and wailing. Weep, Woman, Weep takes this story and bestows upon it a fresh face and name. 

Mercy's life has never been easy. Generations of sorrow have tormented Sueño, New Mexico and La Llorona waits by the riverbank to drag the next generation down. The town and its people are well depicted but even here, bigotry is nevertheless alive and well. Ever present is the shade of La Llorona as the girls of Sueño are taught to conceal their sorrows and never, ever walk by the river at night. Mercy and her best friend, Sherry, have bigger dreams of leaving this little small-minded town but one day Sherry is touched by La Llorona and nothing is ever the same again. Mercy is determined that she will not lose her own vitality to the watery depths. She's been marked but won't give in.

Even with the heavy burden of grief on her shoulders, she finds quiet rebellion in her day-to-day life on the farm. She's jaded and wary but strength comes from within and Mercy has it in spades. She avoids the river, even standing the standing water of baths, and secretes her tears in jars so they will not be used to cause pain. Through it all, she perseveres.  The addition of a new neighbor leads Mercydown a path to another way of thinking. Mercy takes her roots that could entangle her, waters them with her tears, and lets them flourish into something beautiful. 

Choosing to have Mercy speak from the pages makes Weep, Woman, Weep more of a confessional than impassive story.  There are times that she stops herself from saying more than she means to say.  The use of first person makes Mercy's tale more intimate and believable. She's cutting and genuine and that's what makes her story all the more heart-wrenching.

Weep, Woman, Weep easily conveys the folklore vibe while still managing to be well-rooted in Mercy's world. At times, it's uncertain if La Llorona is merely in Mercy's head. Is she truly a supernatural spook? Whether or not La Llorona exists or is a convenient excuse for Mercy's stoicism is anyone's guess. One could look at it as a view of the role of women. How we are taught to swallow down our sorrow and put on a brave face to the world. How showing emotion is frequently viewed as negative and how our own hopes and dreams are put on the back burner sacrificially for others. This gothic fairytale is so beautifully written. Its haunting goes far beyond the grasp of La Llorona and weaves a beautiful story of endurance, fortitude, and love. 

I can't believe that we are already in the month of December.  I'm not ready for the cold and the dark, but I'm always ready for...

I can't believe that we are already in the month of December. 
I'm not ready for the cold and the dark, but I'm always ready for a read to keep me up all night under the blankets. December is an odd month for horror releases but that doesn't mean there aren't still some great stories being released. 
See if there's anything on the list you'd like to ask Santa for! 

(If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awesome if you’d use the affiliate links. This helps to support the blog and doesn’t cost you a thing. Thanks!)

Publication date: November 23rd, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of ...

Publication date: November 23rd, 2021

A shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of winter.
A woman must locate a snowflake for a magical trickster to save her frozen true love.
A witch knocks upon a young man’s door to take his life on Christmas day.
A small boy meets a faerie housed within a snow drop.

Once upon a time stories travelled from place to place on the tongues of merchants and thieves and kings alike. Under the blanket of night they were exchanged between children, and passed on to their children, and their children after them. Details were altered from one generation to the next until thousands of tales existed where once there were few.

In the spirit of these age-old stories comes Once Upon a Winter, a seasonal anthology of folk and fairy tales from 17 authors across the globe. It covers the Gothic, the romantic, the whimsical, the frightening and everything in-between, and features both intriguing twists on classic tales and exciting original stories.

The first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing, Once Upon a Winter is sure to have a story for just about everyone. Grab your copy in time for Christmas today!

Inside this anthology:

The Biting Cold by Josie Jaffrey
The Match Girl by Rebecca F. Kenney
Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bharat Krishnan
A Pea Ever After by Adie Hart
The Snowdrop by H. L. Macfarlane
Silverfoot’s Edge by Ella Holmes
The Storm Hags by Caroline Logan
The Boggart of Boggart Hole Clough by Jake Curran-Pipe
Around the Hawthorne Tree by Jenna Smithwick
The Best Girl this Side of Winter by Laila Amado
The Snow Trolls by S. Markem
Lord of the Forest by Katherine Shaw
Queen of the Snows by Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Long Meg and the Sorcerer’s Stones by M. J. Weatherall
The Frost of Mercy by A. J. Van Belle
Wintercast by R. A. Gerritse
You Can’t See Me by Kate Longstone 

Read now

I absolutely adore folktales and fairytales, whether they are variations of the original stories, simply influenced by the classic tales or completely brand new imaginings. I didn't hesitate to say yes to Once Upon a Winter. What's even more exciting is that Once Upon a Winter is the first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing. Obviously, this one starts with the colder season of the year and all the stories within containing the cold bite of winter's wind and snow.

As with all anthologies, there are stories that will resound more with the reader over others, which is the beauty of an anthology. While there were a couple of the stories that didn't work so well for me, the vast majority did. The atmosphere of the stories varies from sweet and romantic like "The Snowdrop" by H. L. Macfarlane, in which a boy meets an unexpected faerie friend, to the humorous "The Snow Trolls" by S. Markem where the edict is "Don't eat the yellow snow" and then there are those much, much darker, which are always going to be my personal favorites. 

That's not to say I still didn't enjoy the other stories. "A Pea Ever After" by Adie Hart is a feminist tale that is on the lighter side of the retellings in the anthology but I loved this take on The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen. A fairy godmother has gathered four princesses together to compete for the hand of the prince. It was a welcome change to see smart, capable princesses that had no need of rescuing. In fact, the princesses had no interest in marrying the prince at all. Not that he's not perfectly handsome or refreshingly educated or even remarkably kind and funny because he is, they just aren't interested or have better things to do with their lives. 

Once again on the darker side of things is "Silverfoot's Edge" by Ella Holmes. In this tale, a trickster freezes a woman's love in a small pool and tasks her with finding one special snowflake in the midst of so many. This story starts in winter but spans the following months as well. It's everything that I love about fairytales. There's the peril of her loved one, the riddle to solve, a clearly defined baddie, and a determined and cunning heroine.  Not to mention that the little-folk creatures sent with her to "weigh" the snowflakes—the only way she'll know she's found the correct one—are adorable. My favorite passage of the entire anthology is here: 
        My mother once said to me love is an edge you will fall over, and she was right. 

        I think about it often as I walk the woods. She is dead and shrouded in the earth, and I feel her with every bare-footed step throughout the dirt. 
Landing among my favorites as well were two others in the collection: "The Best Girl this Side of Winter" with its undead, poisoned claws, and impossible quest and Katherine Shaw's "Lord of the Forest" which introduced me to the Leshii, a Slavic forest protector spirit. Don't let the fluffy bunnies on the cover fool you, there are wolves within these pages. 

If you love the stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen, there's a story here for you. Unlike the aforementioned authors, this anthology sees a more diverse authorship being primarily comprised of female and LGBTQ+ authors from various countries. Grab yourself a copy and a fuzzy blanket and expect a little magic for those long dark winter evenings. 

You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything.  Finding...

Christmas Tree with wrapped presents underneath on Red Background with blood spatter across words Ho Ho Horror
You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything. Finding the perfect gift, budgeting, baking and cooking, family, ugh—The holidays are stressful! 

It's no surprise then that horror fans turn to seasonal horror for comfort. Just look at all the Christmas movies out there: Black Christmas, Gremlins, Krampus, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (one of my personal favorites), Anna and the Apocalypse, and there are so many more. 

What about us bookworms who just want to curl up in our comfy chair with a fuzzy blanket, a cup of something hot, and tune out the world for a little while? Here are twelve Christmas horror reads for those of us that want to slay the holidays. 



Winter isn’t coming…it’s already here, and with it comes a horror no door can keep out.It’s there in the yard, in the faces of the snowmen a young boy doesn’t remember building. It’s in the oddly empty streets below Santa Claus’s crumbling sleigh. It’s in the unnatural movement of the snow that suffocates a widower’s town, and in the cold eyes of a lonely man’s estranged children. Here, there is no holiday cheer, only spine-chilling fear, in the DEAD OF WINTER. Featuring seven stories, an introduction by the author, and a list of recommended books for the winter season.



There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it's time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible.

Post-infection Chicago. Christmas.

Inside The Hospice, Emily and her fellow nurses do their rounds. Here, men and women live out their final days in comfort, segregated from society, and are then humanely terminated before fate turns them into marrow-craving monsters known as ‘Smilers.’ Outside these imposing walls, rabid protesters swarm with signs, caught up in the heat of their hatred.

Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible. But in a world where mortality means nothing, where guns are drawn in fear and nobody seems safe anymore – at what cost will this pursuit come? And through it all, the soon to be dead remain silent, ever smiling. Such is their curse.

This emotional, political novel comes from two of horror’s freshest voices, and puts a new spin on an eternal topic: the undead. In the spirit of George A Romero meets Jack Ketchum, Where the Dead Go to Die it is an unforgettable epilogue to the zombie genre, one that will leave you shaken and questioning right from wrong…even when it’s the only right left.

It won't be long before that snow-speckled ground will be salted by blood.

Goodreads Amazon



A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway. An attempt to seek help leads a few of the travelers to a house in the woods where a twisted toymaker with a mystical snow globe is hell bent on playing deadly games with a group of people just trying to get home for the holidays. 

(My review can be found here)

Goodreads Amazon


Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books. A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter's eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf's holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa's Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.

(My review can be found here)



They come in with the snow. They are the snow . . .
The blizzard begins pummeling the Midwest on Christmas Eve, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Todd Curry doesn’t need another reason to disappoint his son, so he joins three other people in renting the last four-wheel drive available and they set out into the blinding snow.
Only two hours into the treacherous trip west, Todd swerves to avoid a man in the middle of the highway. The stranger claims his daughter is lost somewhere out in the snow. Though his odd demeanor and ripped clothes make Todd and his group uneasy, they agree to take the man to the nearest town—if the now damaged car can make it.
What awaits them at the next exit, however, is nothing they could have imagined. Around an empty town square, fires burn, cars are abandoned., storefronts are smashed. And there is no one to be seen—for now . . .
But soon the shadows lurking on the edges of their vision will step into the light, and Todd and his fellow travelers will find themselves facing a sharp-scythed evil shaped from the snow, tearing its way into human form—and taking the neighborhood by storm.


During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. If you can’t get enough, more of these Christmas ghost stories are included in the five volume collection!

Goodreads Amazon


Matt Shaw has called upon some of the biggest names in horror to put together an anti-Christmas anthology of horror and weirdness!



Eighteen stories of Christmas horror from bestselling, acclaimed authors including Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Josh Malerman, Michael Koryta, Sarah Pinborough, and many more.

That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children--Want and Ignorance--beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts.
Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.


Leah Hamilton is looking for a new life following the tragic deaths of her husband and son. Determined to bury her grief in hard work, and desperate to escape Christmas and the pitying looks of her colleagues, she rushes through the purchase of a run-down Yorkshire farmhouse, arriving just as the snow shrouds her new home.

It may look like a Christmas card, but it's soon clear it's not just the house needing renovation; the land is in bad heart too. And Leah's mind starts playing tricks on her: she hears a child playing in the snow, but although there are snowballs, there are no footprints. Is this the ghost of her son, returned to her? She starts having visions of the farm's former occupants - the young widow and her son, the cousin who's wooing her, the maid who shares her secrets and the handsome labourer who's hanged for the murder of a child, a murder he didn't commit.

Is Leah strong enough to lay the increasingly malevolent ghosts and find a way to move on? Or will her ashes end up scattered over the now-covered fields?

Goodreads Amazon



The Office meets Stephen King, dressed up in holiday tinsel, in this fun, festive, and frightening horror-comedy set during the horror publishing boom of the ’80s, by New York Times best-selling satirist Andrew Shaffer.

Out of work for months, Lussi Meyer is desperate to work anywhere in publishing. Prestigious Blackwood-Patterson isn’t the perfect fit, but a bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ’80s, after all, and horror is the hottest genre.

But as soon as she arrives, Lussi finds herself the target of her co-workers' mean-spirited pranks. The hazing reaches its peak during the company’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, when Lussi receives a demonic-looking object that she recognizes but doesn't understand. Suddenly, her coworkers begin falling victim to a series of horrific accidents akin to a George Romero movie, and Lussi suspects that her gift is involved. With the help of her former author, the flamboyant Fabien Nightingale, Lussi must track down her anonymous Secret Santa and figure out the true meaning of the cursed object in her possession before it destroys the company—and her soul.


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree... what lurks among thy branches...

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. Candy canes and hot cocoa. Snowmen and sleigh rides. The love and hope that the Nativity brings. Cold milk and warm cookies for Santa. Family, friends, and the cheerful laughter of children.

But, beneath the festive wrapping paper and the gleam and glitter of the lights and tinsel, things less jubilant may lie in wait. The holiday season can bring love, peace, and benevolence... but it may also spawn a darkness lurking amid the shadowy boughs of the Christmas tree, ornaments that should have never seen the light of day, let along hung on festive branches, and bones that jingle and dance, in search of Santa's crimson suit... and the flesh that resides within.

In this collection of harrowing holiday tales, Ronald Kelly leaves ten frightful and horrific gifts in the Christmas stockings that hang from the mantle of your cheerful fireplace. Ghastly and gruesome presents that slowly unwrap and burst into life while you are tucked, snug and warm, in your bed and take on nightmarish form in the icy winter hours of Christmas Eve, turning comfort and joy into terror and dread.

Goodreads Amazon


The gifts are unwrapped, the feast has been consumed and the fire is well fed – but the ghosts are still hungry. Welcome to the second new collection of dark Christmas stories in the Tales of the Weird series, ushering in a fresh host of nightmarish phantoms and otherworldly intruders bent on joining or ruining the most wonderful time of the year. Featuring classic tales from Algernon Blackwood, Rosemary Timperley, Sheridan Le Fanu and Elinor Glyn alongside rare pieces from the sleeping periodicals and literary magazines of the Library collection, it’s time to open the door and let the real festivities begin.

Publication date: October 19th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned...

Publication date: October 19th, 2021

What if your lifelong curse is the only thing keeping you alive? Abandoned at birth, life has always been a battle for Jane Walker. She and her best friend, Sadie, spent years fighting to survive Vancouver’s cutthroat underbelly. That would have been tough enough without Jane’s mysterious afflictions: an intricate pattern of blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body and vivid, heart-wrenching nightmares that feel so real she wakes up screaming.

After she meets the first man who isn’t repulsed by her birthmarks, Jane thinks she might finally have a chance at happiness. Her belief seems confirmed as the birthmarks she’s spent her life so ashamed of magically begin to disappear. Yet, the quicker her scarlet marks vanish, the more lucid and disturbing Jane’s nightmares become—until it’s impossible to discern her dreams from reality, and Jane comes to a horrifying realization:

The nightmares that have plagued her since childhood are actually visions of real people being stalked by a deadly killer. And all this time, her birthmarks have been the only things protecting her from becoming his next victim.


In his famous Romeo and Juliet soliloquy, Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a Name?”

Quite a lot, as it turns out. I don’t have children, so the only names I’ve bestowed are on my fictional characters and my dogs. Happily, my choices have yet to be challenged (at least by the dogs).

Still, it’s important to find a good fit between the character and the name you choose. A name invokes an image in a reader’s mind. The way the name is spelled, how it rolls off the tongue, how it looks visually on a page—all these things add nuance to the character.

There are many elements that influence a name choice:

The era in which the story is set: Consider that Zeus and Apollo are now names reserved primarily for pets (the gods would not be pleased). The most popular names of any decade are readily available online.

The gender of the character, whether male, female, or gender variant: Consider Taylor, Charlie, Emerson.

The location within the country: If your characters are in the southern US, they may have uniquely southern names like Gunner and Knox, or Dixie and Hattie.

The personality of the character: Are they a no-nonsense one-syllable Jane or Bill, or a complicated three-syllable Abigail or Joshua? Is your character a wallflower or minor character you don’t want to draw attention to? Plain names such as June or Joe slide under the radar. If your character is the serious type, they may choose Judith over Judy, or Theodore over Teddy.

Age also plays a role. Younger characters might use a nickname, like Billy for William or Caddie for Caroline. Sometimes, nicknames stick throughout adulthood, and sometimes they’re used ironically: Stretch for a shorter person, Tiny for a larger person.

The entire cast of characters must be considered: Mix it up so the names don’t all start with the same few letters of the alphabet or aren’t all the same syllable length.

To help readers differentiate between characters, it’s important the names don’t look or sound too much alike. As in Abe and Abigail. Or Emery and Emelynn (yeah, that was one of my mistakes—Emery’s name got changed to Avery).

Writers also need to consider the nationality of the characters. Does your cast reflect the mix of people you’d see in your neighbourhood? In the grocery stores and libraries? If not, fix it. You can find lists online of names by nationality.

A resource I use all the time is the local telephone book. The flimsy paper books aren’t as prevalent or thick as they once were, but they’re rich in interesting names. Best of all, these are the names of people of all nationalities who live in your neighbourhood.

The best part about finding the perfect name for your character is that the name does some of the work for you in defining the character’s role and personality. Names have connotations, so it’s important to make the most of them. And even if your fictional children hate the names you’ve given them, they’re not likely to disown you for your choices.

I'm very fortunate to live in a writer's paradise on one of the small northern Gulf Islands off the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The rugged beaches and towering fir and arbutus trees that surround me often end up in my stories. When I'm not pouring my imagination into my computer, I'm futzing in gardens, making a mess of the kitchen or hiking local trails. I write stories that entice you to believe the impossible and escape the everyday for a while. Enjoy the read!

Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James! Read on for the full interview. Publication date: October 27th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  | ...

Today's Author Spotlight is author Daniel James!

Read on for the full interview.

Publication date: October 27th, 2021

Beneath the streets of Liverpool lives a hunger. One bloody and insatiable. It skulks through the many secret tunnels and passageways that run like sandstone gullets to the domain of an ancient and horrifying madness: The Shelton Family. Good, honest, Christian, and monstrous in mind and body. The hunger is theirs, and it yearns for heathen blood. It yearns for salvation. It yearns for vengeance.
The Merseyside Druids, a sect decimated by the Sheltons and their terrible creatures over centuries of warfare, have one last chance at survival: Abigail Harwood, a young woman raised in ignorance of this long-standing holy war. She is about to learn the truth of her family roots, and the power of blood. She could be the Druid’s last hope.

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What's your latest release? 

Heathens. A novel about a decimated group of modern druids fighting a losing war against the mutant aristocratic Catholics dwelling under the city of Liverpool.

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

It's about a young woman raised by foster parents, who learns to her horror, that some suspicious friends of her biological parents need to take her into hiding before some very unpleasant creatures/people discover her. From then on its all guerilla druids and bloodshed and fighting for survival.

Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?

I had never written a novel set in my hometown, and felt it was something I should do for variety. Plus, it seemed to work out okay for Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell.

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

Sometimes I have characters pretty fleshed out beforehand, but just as often I have to develop them around a new story idea.

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

The whole cast of Hourglass, because it's the beginning of a series, which allows me to pour so much into a growing world of supernatural arse-kicking and monsters. It's basically my passion project.

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

Both are integral and compliment each other.

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

I learned how anti-social I am, ha-ha. Seriously, I learned how great it feels to purge your ideas onto the page. Like a colonic for the brain.

In your opinion what makes a good story?

Likable characters are paramount. Naturally, the story needs to be engaging, with a good pace and interesting stakes, but even with those elements, the characters have to be likable and memorable enough (villains too!) to carry the reader through.

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

I realised how bad my first effort was, and knew I had to practice, practice, PRACTICE.
I'd like to say I've improved some.

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

Yes, I read them, only because I'm not exactly inundated with them. The first time you get a bad one sucks, but equally, when you get a good one you're floating on air. The most annoying ones are bad ones because the reader/reviewer was a dope e.g. penalising your work because they don't like that genre...? It's like, "Then why pick it up in the first place?"

What led you to start writing?

I had grown bored at university, and decided to put some of my ideas down on paper. Turned out I loved it, even though it was woefully amateurish. But time and experience are great teachers.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

Yes, I think that by being a stressed-out and moody ar#!hole it might somehow elevate my craft. Hope it's working!

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

Robert McCammon, Dan Simmons, Clive Barker, and F. Paul Wilson. Pure imagination, with healthy doses of violence.

What is one of your favorite words? OR Is there a word you find yourself using too often?

I swear under my breath too much. So much so I annoy myself sometimes.

What are you currently reading?

Broken Souls (Eric Carter #2) by Stephen Blackmoore, Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

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

Whoops, touched on this earlier. Yes, too many too count. Normally fist-pumping rock anthems or super atmospheric 80's synthwave. It's better than caffeine.

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

Do it for the love of creating characters and worlds, because its a damn hard job, particularly the promotional side!

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

Anything by James Gunn (particularly Super), or Romero's Day of the Dead.

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

Are the fairytale creatures ravenous carnivores or playful and whimsical? I'll take a gamble and hope the fairytale creatures aren't fresh from a Brothers Grimm story.

What is something about the genre that annoys you?

I'd rather not say for fear of inciting a torch and pitchfork mob.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I like to make my action set-pieces as cinematic as possible. I also like to emphasise on the antagonists almost as much as the protagonists. I didn't realise that was even a noteworthy thing, but a few reviewers have picked up on it.

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

I'm on Twitter @DJauthor85

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

Make some awesome playlists to help tune out and motivate you. Personally, I stick to hard 80's rock and synth wave, but you do you.

Do you have a WIP? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

Well, my next book, The Ferryman's Toll (Hourglass #2) is already finished, but I don't want to release it until I've wrung Heathens dry. So in the meantime I've been working on a horror screenplay, which makes a nice change of pace from writing novels. Some of it is based on my experience as a hospital domestic, but a bit more bizarre, Faustian, and body horror-ish.

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

Thanks for reading my waffle, Valerie. You're a legend!

Daniel James is a fantasy/thriller/horror author from Liverpool, England.

When not writing, he loves reading genre fiction and comic books, watching movies, listening to music, and playing guitar (he also used to play bass in a few local rock bands).