Tag: Horror

Author Interview & Book Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Posted August 6, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments

Title: Girl of Nightmares

Author: Kendare Blake

Publisher: Tor Teen/Macmillan

Publication Date: August 2012

Genre: Young Adult Horror

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two


Synopsis can be found here.

Review:
My review of book one can be found here.
Go on. Read it. I’ll wait.

Back now?
Great.
So…

Months after Anna Korlov disappeared, Cas Lowood still can’t get over her. She saved his life. She saved his soul, and sure she might have been under a curse that made her kill people in horrible ways, but you know what? Stuff happens. Don’t judge.

Flash to now and Cas is seeing Anna again, in dreams and hallucinations. Or are they? Cas doens’t know what to do but he has a very bad feeling that Anna is somewhere she’s not supposed to be. And she needs his help. But how do you rescue your girlfriend in hell?

You may have, and by may have I mean should have, already read my review of Anna Dressed In Blood. Therefore, you will already know that I thought it was fan-freaking-tastic.
Obviously I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on Girl of Nightmares. And it did not disappoint.

Oh, Cas, I missed you so.

Cas is back with all of his hilarious inner monologues, clever observations and bravery. He’s a little more damaged this time around and normal high school girls just aren’t very interesting to him. I mean, he did sorta fall in love with a princess ghost of destruction. And I mean that in the most loving way possible.
As always, best friend Thomas is there to lend some comedy and grounding. Cas and Thomas’s relationship really make this book for me. They both are going through some tough times and naturally lean on each other for some support. It’s easy to see why they’re best friends.
And of course, who could forget Carmel. Queen Bee by day and ghost hunter by night, she’s funny, complicated and overall adds a nice strong female touch to this boy group.

The story warms up and doesn’t let you go. Every time Anna appears, I died a little. As soon as you see her, you know Cas has to save her. You want Cas to save her. No matter what.
And that is the problem, my friend.
Because for Cas to save Anna…

Ooooh, you thought I was going to tell you! I don’t think so.


A wonderful book filled with adventure, voodoo, blood, gore and romance. Yes, all those things.
Go pick up Girl of Nightmares and Anna Dressed In Blood.
Leave the light on.

Rating 10, One of The Best
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Author Interview with Kendare Blake!


Thank you for stopping by Kendare!

What inspired you to become a writer?

Hmm. Well, reading, mostly. I read so much as a kid, and eventually found the worlds in the story WAY more interesting than the world we live in. I loved that writing gives you a chance to explore things.

What was the last book you read? 

The last book I read was…We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It’s a flippin masterpiece.

What sparked the idea for “Anna Dressed In Blood”? 

An urge to play Silent Hill. And the fear that if I played Silent Hill by myself I would cry like a tiny baby and break my TV. So I wrote Anna instead.

And when you wrote it, did you already know you would write a sequel? 

I didn’t. Well, that’s not true. I suspected all along that there might be another book’s worth of story to tell. But when Anna started to go to editor’s boards at publishers, most of them saw series potential, so I had to start really thinking about it, all the way out to expanding to a trilogy. Which I’m glad it didn’t do.

Cas’s voice is so unique, filled with dark humor, smart-ass remarks and clever observations. He is a multi-layered character and it’s awesome to have him back! How did you create Cas’s distinct voice and how do you feel he has changed from book one to book two? 

Oh! Cas would appreciate you saying such nice things! His voice was just his voice, from the start. From book one to book two, he goes through a lot. The loner slowly leaks out of him. And so does the sense that he has to complete some big journey. At the start of Girl of Nightmares, he doesn’t quite know what he’s supposed to do, now that Anna’s gone, and taken the Obeahman with her.

What are you favorite things about Anna? Do you believe in ghosts? 

I love that Anna is strong, not only in fists but in mind. As for ghosts, yes, I believe in them. Because why not? It’s more fun. Also, sad, if you think about it, but let’s stick to fun. In fact, here’s my most recent, super lame ghost story: 
Driving in my car with the windows rolled up. Hear a sound of something moving across the upholstery in the back right passenger seat. Loud sound. Loud enough to make me jump. But the back seat was empty. WOOOOOOOO!

Carmel and Thomas are loyal and trusted sidekicks. Have you ever thought of doing a spin off series involving Thomas and his witch heritage?

Oh my god, that would be so nerdy and fun! The shenanigans Thomas would get up to! I really love that boy. But no, I’d never thought of it before. Thanks!

How do you like your potato? 

Whipped, with butter, or maybe mayonnaise. Don’t judge me. Mayonnaise and I have a very special relationship.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? 

Institutionalized? No. I’m not sure. I was just thinking about what I might like to do after the writing dries up or I’m booted out of the industry. And I have no idea. Scary. I’d probably go back to school for something.

Batman or Superman? 

Batman. The entire Justice League exists just to prove that Batman can beat Superman. And that he’s cooler. Although, the Man of Steel teaser looks pretty cool.

Do you have a favorite literary character? 

Hector of Troy jumps to mind, but probably only because I’m currently writing about him. I also love Jane Eyre, Patrick Bateman, Morgaine, and Garfield cat.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Besides ghost hunting? 

Ha. I wish I ghost hunted. Sadly, I lack the tools. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Or, eating. Often eating. Or hiking! Or playing really bad tennis. Hanging with my needy catsons.

Is this the end of Anna and Cas’s story? 

Yes. I think it is. And yet, I like to think it’s not…somewhere.

What are you working on now? 

My new series, releasing next August. ANTIGODDESS. I think we might call it The Goddess War Trilogy, or something. I’m doing edits now. It’s about dying greek gods and reincarnated heroes. Present day. Cassandra of Troy and Athena, pitted against each other, and things worse than each other. Lots of blood. Also love stories. Why not?

Thanks again for stopping by Kendare!
You can find Kendare here or follow her on Twitter at @KendareBlake

Posted August 6, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 7 Comments


Author Interview & Book Review: The Stein & Candle Detective Agency: Volume One by Michael Panush

Posted April 6, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 0 Comments

Title: The Stein & Candle Detective Agency: American Nightmares”

Author: Michael Panush

Publisher: Curiosity Quills

Publication Date: March 2012

Genre: Adult Fiction/Horror

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Volume One


Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Review:

Seven stories of investigation and zombies? Stein and Candle are detectives of the paranormal and their customers are… not ordinary. Their strong stomachs and keen observations make the undead shake in their boots!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this up. I’ll say it right off the bat- I have a hard time with short stories. Every once in a while, I try to read them, but they always leave me wanting. Not this!

Each individual story was well written, funny and off-beat in a not what you’re expecting kinda way. I labeled it as adult, but I think younger people can read it too. I know a certain middle grade kid that would totally love these stories. (He also loves The Walking Dead, Zombieland and horror movies.) So I am not afraid to recommend this book to him.

I could name my favorite stories, but I don’t want to give anything away. I loved the dark, noir feeling of Candle and Stein. The stories are set in the 1950s, so think vampire Nazis. Yeah, that’s right. I’ll say it again. Vampire. Nazis.
I know. You wanna pick it up just for that.


But the best part is actually not the paranormal aspect. I love a good zombie kicking as the next girl, (honestly I’m terrified of zombies so I think I would be more with the running away) but I loved the relationship between Stein and Candle. Think Candle as the hard boiled detective, rough Chandler-esque type with a young protege. Their banter and Candle’s fun observations push these stories above other ones out there.


Author Interview with Michael Panush!

Thanks for stopping by Michael!
What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always been interested in stories and literature. In middle school, I’d stuff my backpack full of books and read during recess. I’ve always had ideas for stories too. I’d narrate them to my parents and have them type my tales up on the computer. I’m not sure if I remember any, but I do know one prominently featured a cassowary. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I decided to actually start writing the stories down myself. I’m not sure what inspired me. Maybe I just got tired of having the stories only in my head and finally decided to turn them into something tangible. Since then, I haven’t stopped writing at all. Writing truly is my dream and my publisher, Curiosity Quills, is helping that dream come true.

What was the last book you read?
Actually, it was The Goliath Bone – the last Mike Hammer novel. It was mostly written by Mickey Spillane before his death, but polished by Max Allan Collins. It was published in 2008 and it’s got Mike Hammer — your archetypical 50s’ hardboiled private eye — fighting Al-Qaida in modern day New York. It was pretty weird. The best parts are where Mike Hammer is reacting to modern fears about terrorism, political correctness, the gentrification of New York and the fact that he’s getting older. He can’t handle any of them. My favorite section was where the femme fatale tries to seduce Hammer and it doesn’t work. He’s a little tempted but can’t bring himself to do anything. He’s just too old.

What was the inspiration for Stein and Candle?
That one’s easy. I was taking a class on British Horror Films and we were discussing the work of Hammer Studios – makers of lurid, full-color horror flicks in the 50s and 60s which stared Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. They were mostly adaptations of classic Gothic horror stories, like Dracula and Frankenstein. Anyway, I had the idea of a kind of pun or play on words: Hammer vs. Hammer. One Hammer was Hammer Horror and the other was Mike Hammer, the tough-as-nails, gun-toting detective of Mickey Spillane’s novels, which were bestsellers in the 50s. The idea stuck with me. Then I figured it would be great if it was a kind of a buddy cop situation, with Mort Candle being the Mike Hammer-style detective and Weatherby Stein being the Hammer Horror-style aristocrat with knowledge of the occult. After that, everything fell into place.

Stein and Candle battle all sorts of paranormal creatures. What was your favorite type of creature to write about? And out of the seven stories, which is your favorite?
Hmmm. That is a tough one. For the favorite monster in this batch, I’d have to go with the average zombie. They show up a lot within these stories and Mort is frequently blowing out their brains. Zombies are deceptively simple, but having them swarming around always creates an immediate sense of panic and chaos. They’ve also got that awesome Voodoo background which ties perfectly into the magical elements of Stein and Candle. For favorite story, I’d have to go with ‘I Rode in the Devil’s Hot Rod,’ mostly because it has so many elements that are undeniably awesome. It’s got muscle cars, Satanists, psychopathic women out of a Russ Meyer movie, and what I hope is a detailed look at Morton’s deeply flawed character and his relationship to Weatherby. 

I love how the stories are set in the 1950s. It adds such a fantastic layer to all the paranormal mysteries! Why did you choose that time period?
I enjoy writing about all the contrasts of the 50s. There’s this squeaky-clean exterior – the family friendly suburb that we’re all familiar with — but it has so many nasty elements lurking in the background. Racism, McCarthyism and the Cold War, crime and corruption, sleaziness and forced conformity are all huge parts of the 1950s and I think Noir and Horror both captured those hidden evils and that’s why they were so popular. The 50s is really when the hardboiled detective became fully realized, after Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet created him in the 20s and 30s, and great Film Noir movies did the rest. Then you had horror, with Hammer films in the theatres and those EC Horror comics stirring up controversy and finally inspiring a moral panic and a crackdown. Combining the two felt very natural and this was the time period to do it. Plus, I love writing about fedoras and the 50s have tons of those.
Describe your book in seven words or less!
Hardboiled Horror in the Freewheeling Fifties. 

How do you like your potato?
My diet is just like one from the 50s – lots of starch and protein. I liked my potatoes baked and overloaded with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon bits.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Definitely not a detective. I’d get bored on stakeouts, I couldn’t come up with snappy dialogue quick enough and I certainly wouldn’t last long once some thugs started roughing me up.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
It’s difficult to say. I’m tempted to just put down one of my favorite PIs – Phillip Marlowe, or Mike Hammer or the Continental Op. But I think I’m gonna have to go with all three protagonists of James Ellroy’s LA Confidential. Maybe that’s cheating, but Edmund Exley, Bud White and Trashcan Jack Vincennes are such great characters in their own right and they only get better when they clash and interact with each other as they’re working towards a common goal. I really hope I managed to capture some of that in Mort and Weatherby’s relationship in Stein and Candle.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I am a full time student, so that does take up a lot of my time. Luckily, my classes often end up giving me inspiration for some great story ideas – like Stein and Candle.

What is one thing you would tell aspiring writers?
Here’s some advice that I try to follow: practice constantly. Write or edit or plan out a story with a detailed summary every day. Getting advice and inspiration is important, but practice is the driving force behind improvement. Write all you can and always think about other projects. Never rest on your laurels or let your skills get rusty.

Do you buy a book based on its cover?
Occasionally. One hardboiled novel I read based only on its cover was an obscure gem, Solomon’s Vineyard by Jonathan Latimer. The narrator explains that the book has everything in it but “a tornado and an abortion.” He’s not kidding. I read that one Freshman year in High School and it was transformative. I do remember the cover featured some guy in a trench coat holding a tommy gun. I think Stein and Candle shows the results.

Can we expect more Stein and Candle books?
Definitely. There are two more volumes, Cold Wars and Red Reunion. You can expect stories dealing with a seedy New England town of gangster fishmen, an undead pharaoh in Las Vegas, and witches in Appalachia – as well as stories that reveal more of the past of Morton Candle and Weatherby Stein.
Curiosity Quills is currently serializing stories from the upcoming volumes on their blog and you can read them here: http://curiosityquills.com/stein-candle-tiki-terror-part-one/

What is your next book about and when is it coming out?
The Stein and Candle Detective Agency, Vol. 2: Cold Wars is set to come out in Mid June. I do hope you check it out. After that, I’ve got two other projects from Curiosity Quills and maybe even more on the way. 


Thanks for stopping by Michael!
You can visit Michael here or follow him via Twitter @Michael_Panush

Posted April 6, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews, Interviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

Posted January 30, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 8 Comments

Title: New Girl

Author: Paige Harbison

Publisher: Harlequinn Teen

Publication Date: January 2012

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Horror/Mystery

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone


Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.

Review:
One of my favorite books of all time is Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier. My middle school librarian recommended it to me, promising me a tale of intrigue, dark secrets, murder mystery and love. It is that and much more. Since then, I have sought out tales that create a new spin on Rebecca.

New Girl is the latest retelling of this Gothic tale.

As in the original Rebecca, our nameless narrator is thrown into circumstances she feels unable to control. New Girl is sent to boarding school in her senior year of high school, only to be overshadowed by Becca, the beautiful, fun and popular girl who went missing earlier that year. Becca is mysterious and adored, leaving her presence around the boarding school. The other students wait faithfully for her to return. Here is our new girl, living in Becca’s old room, with Becca’s old roommate. And even, gasp, crushing on Becca’s old boyfriend Max.

The tale is creepy, slowly moving through Manderley boardings school like an old movie. The unfolding of the past events, the ghost of Becca everywhere from the photos in her room to her name on everyone’s lips. New Girl cannot get away from Becca. The roommate, Dana, is every bit unhinged and wicked as I hoped she would be. (Seeing as how she represents Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper in the original).
Though there are similarities between the books, I found it to be a captivating read. Harbison changes things just enough that she keeps readers on her toes.

Luckily, New Girl has more self awareness and a stronger backbone than our dear Mrs. duWinter from the original. New Girl slowly develops into more than just a wallflower, fighting for what she wants, making her a refreshing heroine.

I love the chapters about Becca. An uneasy feeling crept over me, reading about the past, this manipulative girl wandering the halls of her boarding school, using her power and influence over everyone. Harbison makes this Becca more defined and real than duMaurier’s spirit. But that’s not bad. I love both time lines of the story, eager for the other to start again.

Be warned: there are a few sexual situations in this book. Good for you, Harbison! They’re juniors and seniors at a boarding school! Of course there’s going to be some “adult content” going on! It really added to the story, not only shining light onto Becca’s character but also onto her relationships, manipulating those she loves, and those she doesn’t. There is also sexual abuse. It didn’t take me out of the story at all, and I think it added a lot of depth to Becca’s past.

The only moments of the book that lost me were towards the end. One I won’t disclose, but it seemed too far fetched for me. And the second was when our beautiful vixen makes a long speech. It seems good to explain everything, but I feel like this was out of character for Becca and more for the reader.

The ending is just right.

Overall, if you aren’t a fan of the original Rebecca, you’ll be swept away by New Girl. And if you are, you’ll be happy to visit this new Manderley. Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted January 30, 2012 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 8 Comments


Book Review: Thief of Always by Clive Barker

Posted October 6, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Thief of Always

Author: Clive Barker

Publisher: Harper

Publication Date: 1992
 

Genre: Young Adult Horror

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.


Review: 

Sometimes, it is too good to be true.
A boy named Harvey is bored with his life and is lured by a stranger to the Holiday House. Holiday House is full of magic, where seasons change daily, Halloween and Christmas are celebrated every day and there are many wonderful other children to play with. And of course, nothing is as it seems. See, Holiday House has a secret, a thief of always, who takes something more precious than any of these children could have imagined. And Mr. Hood…. oh I won’t spoil it.
This was my first Clive Barker book, and still one of my favorites. I can still remember pulling the mass market paperback blue cover with irredescent writing. I have since updated my version to the most recent trade paperback. Make no mistake, this is one that I have re-read and still enjoyed. I’ll be telling my kids to read this story, when they’re old enough.
Because it is creepy.
Fast paced, excellent writing, the story grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let go. Harvey is brave and intelligent and has to grow up quickly to become a leader once he figures out what Holiday House is all about. His character develops into someone more than just a kid, and you find yourself rooting for him. But there are no perfect happy endings with Barker. And the images and haunting story stayed with me years later.
Enjoy your time at Holiday House. From a safe distance.



Rating 10 One of The Best

Posted October 6, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments