Category Archives: New Books I’ve Found

This category has information on books I’ve come across, new or old.

Hooked on Reading: 35 Favorite Books I Read in 2018! #amreading

Over 35 Favorite Books I Read in 2018!

Better late than never is my new motto. Plus, hey, it’s still in the first quarter. I wanted to post a list of some books as reading recommendations I read and really liked in 2018. I discovered after the fact that 30 are by women! It’s not a “best of” list, as with my work and home schedule I didn’t nearly have enough time to read all the books I wanted to in order to do a proper comparison, but a best of what I personally read.

My Best Books 2018 final

When I did read in 2018, it often was books I was editing or a publicity client’s book, and so, you’ll see none of those on this list because I think it’s more ethical to not include books you might have made any money with by association. I am sad to not include some, but I feel it’s the right call. I don’t want to be perceived in offering any bias. These are books I sought out for my own reading interest or pleasure that I really liked (but that’s not to say that books I worked with and/or on this year are not some of my favorites I’ve read from the year either) or were anticipated ARCS.

There were many books I know are worthy or I know I’d have loved if I’d only had time to get to them, but that doesn’t mean I won’t read them in 2019. Also there are some books I started in 2018 but finished in 2019 so they won’t be on this list. Some of the titles below were not published in 2018, but I simply read them then. Therefore, it’s a list of favorite books I read in 2018. It shows you that I have a wide array of interests; I am very happy and proud of the fact that I read widely, cross-genre, both trad pubs and indie, and with diversity and inclusion in mind. To me, this only helps my own writing and editing and allows me to bring much more insight to the writing work I do with others.

One more note, because I am sure some will wonder why there aren’t more indie titles and that’s because I work so much in the horror genre in editing and publicity that I did read quite a few, I just can’t list them, as I said before. Also, there are indie and trad published books that just simply didn’t make the list. If a book didn’t grab me in the first five pages this year, I didn’t pick it up again. I didn’t have time. Also, keep in mind I read book submissions, beta read books, read books prior to and while editing, and read almost 600 short story and poetry submissions for an anthology project as well this year – most all of that horror. So while I read horror, I read so much of it in other ways, I switched gears in some of my pleasure reading (and I was sent very little straight horror ARCS as I am in other genres – go figure?). Though I love fantasy and sci-fi as well, I wasn’t able to read much of it this year due to time.

Some of these favorites below were given to me as ARCS, especially in the historical fiction genre, some were titles I found in trad magazines or watched the buzz about and requested from my library, maybe some I bought. Any print ARCS I am given usually find preference and I understand I still have plenty in my pile that I didn’t get to this year – many I truly want to read. Several I was given at the end of the year and have since read, but that will be January 2019 and the reviews are to come. I’ve switched and organized my schedule to hopefully begin to be more caught up on ARCS this year and be responsive to others, but work, my own writing career, and family always comes first. Please don’t fault me for reading a few books for my own pleasure here and there too (and yes, I ask this, because people do say stuff). I was sad this year I didn’t have more time for reading, but I managed to squeeze in some during insomnia, waiting in the car or other places for my children, or on weekends. I just didn’t have time to type up reviews for all as when you work for yourself time is money. This year one of my goals is to get up more reviews in a timely fashion!

Now that I hopefully have all the disclaimers out of the way, here are some books and collections I enjoyed in 2018:

Horror/Thriller/Fantasy

the-Chalk-ManThe Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor – I read this debut thriller shortly after it came out, mostly because these types of thrillers are some of my personal go-to books when I want some entertainment. This one was getting a lot of positive buzz. I highly enjoyed it and read it in one night. I was captivated throughout and she surprised me in the end.

The-HungerThe Hunger Alma Katsu – I’ve liked Alma’s work for a LONG while, probably before most people in my circles knew her name. I highly anticipated The Hunger, due to it having several factors that make me raise my hand: history, extreme cases in history, and survival. I’m primarily an historical fiction reader, so couple that with my next love of horror, and I’m happy. Alma’s writing is so professional, clean, and interesting. I loved the complexity about it. I highly recommend for fellow fans of Dan Simmons.

MelmothMelmoth by Sarah Perry – I just loved the description of this next book by Perry (the follow-up, but not linked, to The Essex Serpent) and so it was on my highly anticipated list. Perry is a very skilled writer and I love the intertwining of so many cool places around the world (set in Prague – I mean I’m silently screaming) and again, through flashbacks, an historical aspect. I mean if you truly love 18th century gothic to its core like me, this one will suck you in and most likely dry and you’ll need to recover. It’s fantastical and unique.

ProvidenceProvidence Caroline Kepnes – I mean CAROLINE. Caroline has a very original sort of writing. The type that you could pick up a book blinding and know it’s her writing as you start to read it. She’s funny, dramatic, soul crushing, and inspiring all at once. I mean the gamut of emotions I experienced reading this book left me wondering just how I truly did feel – terribly sad and broken? Inspired by devotion? Light humor always takes away the gloom realities of Caroline’s books and I love reading her for it. There are many popular authors I won’t name who are trying to do the same thing (ahem, sorry men) and it doesn’t work even 90% as well as Caroline doing it. I really enjoyed reading it.

The Forgotten GirlThe Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers – This is a page turning read that was just a lot of fun, with twists, turns, and originality. Youers gives great voice to his characters and you truly feel for them, even though the story is being unfolded at a very fast pace. You can’t help but want to know what happens to them and want it to end well, but you’re just not sure if it will at the same time – or if they will ever be the same. It has a lightness to it, as a read, and some humor of course. The plot propels the reader.

UNBURY CarolUnbury Carol by Josh Malerman – I don’t think I really love anyone’s work in horror at the moment more than I love Malerman’s. To me, he transcends writing and puts it into some other plane of creative existence. Literary, without being too posh, horror that doesn’t wreck your emotions in the way many horror books do – by being in your face – but subliminally strokes your insides until your weeping in places you didn’t realize or searching for lost places inside yourself or others. He knows how to tell a tale, but within it, he’s trying to get a glimpse at humanity himself. At all those lost questions. He’s phenomenal and he’s only getting started. Unbury Carol was not a favorite to some, but to me, it was my favorite so far! I can so relate to Carol on various levels and it just really spoke to me. Couple that with the fact I like deconstructed fairy-tales (Sleeping Beauty here) and even westerns, I was sold from the start and enjoyed every moment of it.

Siren and the SpecterThe Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz – This could also be put under Gothic category. I’ve read all of Janz’s books over the years and this was one of the best I’ve read of him flexing his paranormal fingers. He writes a solid haunted house story with an original plot. I’d say he truly keeps showing his mastery at the southern gothic style and should be receiving way more accolades for his work than he is – he really should have made the Bram Stoker ballot this year. He writes with intelligence and creates meaningful, complex characters, wrapping them up in just the right amount of scares. Ominous, atmospheric work.

(In full disclosure, his last two books were with the publisher I worked with so I promoted those books, as well as he’s been my personal client at times when he needed publicity support, but I felt I could give one tiny inch past my ethical presence on this one since I am not associated with Flame Tree and I didn’t work on this particular title. Plus, I REALLY loved it!)

The Night MarketThe Night Market by Jonathan Moore – I have loved Moore’s work since his first crime thriller/horror novel Redheads, and then, first in his next loosely-connected series of three books, The Poison Artist (one of my top favorite reads ever), from which The Night Market is the third book. I’ve neglected, as with many reviews in 2018, to get a review written and up, so I will remedy that in 2019, but suffice to say that this was one of my favorite books of 2018 – and it came in the first month of the year. Moore is precise in his plot, creative with characters and setting, unique in his mysteries, and yet, also manages to put in such cool scientific and forensic work too. The Night Market has him at the top of his game with his captivating suspense and decadent prose. This one, being set in a near future San Francisco, has a different appeal from the previous too so might enchant fans of dystopian and sci-fi as well.

Damned by the AncientsDamned by the Ancients (Nemesis of the Gods #3) by Catherine Cavendish – It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Cat Cavendish is one of my favorite horror suspense and/or gothic authors. In this series, she’s combined several other favorites of mine by using history, art, and Egyptology as her base for some captivating thrills. Though top on my list as personal fun reads, I hadn’t gotten to the first two books yet, but opted to dive into the third since it came out this year. You can read them stand alone, but I am sure they are better in order. At any rate, I’ll be going back to the other two for sure after I read my copy of her highly anticipated The Haunting of Henderson Close, which came our January of 2019. Damned by the Ancients has an intricate plot, good historical research, mesmerizing characters, and a pace that can quicken the heart of any reader because it’s also very scary!

methodThe Method by Duncan Ralston – This book, a Kindle Scout Winner from 2017, was just way better than I even thought the concept might be from reading the back cover copy. This was a psychological suspense thriller that is also categorized as horror, because it’s more violent mid to end; terrorizing. He combines it all nicely, leaving you uncomfortable, unsure, and wanting to know with every page, from the very first page, what is about to happen next and who you can trust. The characterization, plotting, and suspense all are stable foundations for a very entertaining read. Would be a great film (in fact he’s just finished writing the screenplay)!

Gothic Mystery and Mystery

The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware – Have you heard me say how much I love Ruth Ware? I’m President of the Ruth Ware Fan Club. Not really, but I’d be happy to if anyone wants to form said club! I was really looking forward to what book she was putting out in 2018 after reading The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game in 2017. I was thrilled to find this one a little more on the gothic side as well, which I love of course. Ruth always gives me a good mystery and this one didn’t fail to twist, turn, and surprise me. I always identify with her main character. It’s a great summer read.

RebeccaRebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – This was a re-read for me that I picked up after many, many years so I could try to do the read-a-long with the Ladies of Horror Fiction. I read it all again within a couple days because I couldn’t stop. I just love this book as much as ever. There are so many things I could say about the novel – from its mystery to its atmosphere to its clever clues placed within scenery and characters, Du Maurier reminded me again why she’s a big influence on my own writing.

The AtrocitiesThe Atrocities by Jeremy Shipp – What a very strange novella that I had to read twice. I picked this book up as it seemed very different, surreal maybe, and gothic. Maybe much like Slade House. I’d say that all held true. Shipp’s mind is imaginative and flowing – almost like you’re reading a dream state. It was an experience for sure that I’m glad I tried, and I’d certainly recommend if you like literary horror that colors outside the lines like me.

The Body in the LibraryThe Body in the Library by Agatha Christie – I never tire of Agatha Christie and love reading her books, books about her, watching the movies, etc. I enjoyed reading The Body in the Library as a fun summer read and re-visiting the mystery with Miss Marple. I am largely a Poirot fan in general as it pertains to Christie’s detectives, and Miss Marple needs to shine more in this title, but overall I enjoyed the plot. I picked it up…well, because of the library of course. I enjoyed her descriptions and humor as always and the fact that it seemed very modern even though it was written decades ago.

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Polombo

SpellbookI love anything “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as most people who know me will agree. I was eager, both in reading previous books by Polomobo (and liking them) and because this re-telling of Sleepy Hollow was from Katrina’s point of view and added the new twist of the disappearance of Ichabod on All Hallows Eve. Polombo introduces the character of Charlotte, who is the witch friend of Katrinia, and together they use magic to search for him. It was a fun read perfect for last October. It’s a little more on the romance/sex side than what I normally like in books and it was hard to know what category to put it in. Fellow horror readers didn’t think it was horror, though obviously it has horror and paranormal elements, it has witches and magic, it’s a mystery, and historical readers claimed it as her other works feature women in history (and the setting), plus it has this romance and some suspense as well. It’s an entertaining read encompassing all these things and is probably most likely suited for mainstream readers, not genre readers.

Domestic Thrillers/Suspense

The WifeThe Wife by Alafair Burke – I have followed Alafair Burke’s career since her first book. Though I haven’t read all of them in between, I’ve read quite a few. This one was SUPERB. Alafair’s writing never disappoints. Just what I needed for an escape into something else. I highly recommend this one for your next snowed-in or summer read if you like family crime or thriller dramas. It will suck you fully in and leave you astounded at the end.

Bring-Me-BackBring Me Back by B.A. Paris – Another stand out thriller from Paris that kept me guessing. I loved the including on the Russian nesting dolls in this one – and since I received this as an ARC, a doll showed up in my mailbox too (THRILLED!). It’s signature her if you’ve read her other books, though if you’ve read all her other work before this one, it might start to feel a little bit same in some respects. Nonetheless, it was a fun summer read I really enjoyed. Of course, her twists and turns always surprise me.

sometimes_i_lie.jpg.size-custom-crop.0x650Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney – Another in the vein of the thrillers I like, this title might be at the top for one of my best novels read last year. And it’s a debut, so I look forward to more to come from her. I feel it was a little cleaner and tidier than some of the other popular domestic thrillers (my editor eye coming out I guess) and that it flows and ties up things more smoothly. Plus, I felt I was in this character’s head with her! From my GoodReads review: “Page-turning quick read that hooked me and had me guessing. So many twists, made me think and go back to re-read parts. Excellent psychological thriller. Very enjoyable!”

the perfect strangerThe Perfect Stranger Megan Miranda – This was totally another fun summer read that took just a night to get through because I wanted to find out what would happen. It was so entertaining and it was one I truly enjoyed reading. Memorable characters and page-turning suspense. This is a great read for long summer evenings or on vacation. I will read anything Miranda publishes.

 

Historical Fiction

Tiffany BluesTiffany Blues by M.J. Rose – I am a HUGE fan of Tiffany glass and have had a decade long interest in reading anything having to do with the Tiffany family. As past reviews over the years on my site indicate, I’m also an enormous fan of Rose’s writing and books as well. Once I finally got a chance to sit down with this book, I breezed through it in no time at all. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the book, the mystery intertwined with romance, and the descriptions. I still owe a full review for this one on my site and I’ll still get to it this year.

The Lost Season of Love and SnowThe Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam – Jennifer is wonderfully smooth historical fiction author. It’s easy to get swept away in her novels and it suddenly be the next morning (which is in fact what happened to me). Of course, I love any fiction that has to do with Russia – this one of course even showcased a favorite poet, Alexander Pushkin! I read this over a year ago now, in January 2018, and I still owe a review on my site. I really must do that because if you like historical fiction, stories of women in history who were with powerful men, slight romance, and/or even want to learn a take on the life of Pushkin, this is highly recommended by me. Beautiful, tormenting, and sad, it’s also light-hearted in its pen because of Jennifer’s sweet writing skills.

Trial on Mount KoyaTrial on Mount Koya by Susan Spann – Susan is one of my most beloved historical mystery fiction authors. I love her descriptions of Japan and her characters – I’ve come to feel like I know them. This one I did get a review up on the site for and you can find it HERE. It’s book six in her fantastic series. You can find review and interviews with her throughout the years on my site by putting her name in the search bar.

MyDearHamilton-500x750My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie – I mean this book is a NYT best-selling national sensation and it’s well-deserved. It’s historical fiction at the very finest. You can read my full review and interview from this year here.

The Romonov EmpressThe Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner – Again, I love anything surrounding Russian history in literature. I also am a giant fan of Gortner and read all his books. If you like historical fiction, you can’t get much better than reading Gortner. This book was OUTSTANDING. I am late on a full review of it as well, but I’ll still have one up for those interested this year. It’s never too late to add this one to your collection.

Ecstasy-by-Mary-SharrattEcstasy by Mary Sharatt – Mary is also an author I look forward to every year and she never disappoints. This historical fiction book was a highlight of my year. Her writing is so deep yet so delectable, it’s like eating a really good meal (and I love a good meal). I always am swept away by her writing. If you like stories of strong women in history, this one is another to add to your list. Alma Schindler, wife of Gustav Mahler, but brilliant composer in her own right, is explored in ultimate ode to the beauty of women’s perseverance for their own talents and passions.

Collections

The Purple Swamp HenThe Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories by Penelope Lively – If you’ve never read Booker Prize winning London author Penelope Lively, you need to rectify that immediately. When I first started reading Lively, I wondered about the style of writing in the stories (this published in 2017 and she’s towards the end of her career). I took a breath and re-trained my brain to go with her flow. I was glad I did, as it took on a whole new cadence that I really enjoyed. Sharp, perceptive, witty, and emotionally captivating, I was drawn in to each one differently. These are stories I could re-read again.

Anthologies

The Devil and the DeepThe Devil and the Deep edited by Ellen Datlow – I love anything that has to do with water and that carries over to literature. In fact, I have a collection of “water associated” books! I think Ellen Datlow is one of the finest editor and curators in the business and I really enjoyed over half of the stories in this anthology, if not all of them on some level. I feel she did a great job at funneling a wide array into the anthology and as well was inclusive as far as authors. I still owe a review on this one too – which hopefully I’ll get done soon. It was only one of a few anthology reads for me this year, which is a shame as I LOVE anthologies, but it was the favorite of those I read.

Poetry Collections

I-Am-Not-Your-Final-GirlI Am Not Your Final Girl by Claire Holland – One of my favorite books of poetry this year, Claire’s debut work really humanizes and values all the strength of the final girls in so many horror movies we’ve watched over the years, taking them for granted. No more, as she gives them their due, with a swift blade for a pen and a black heart for those against these women. I need to present you a further review for this one soon as well, but I highly recommend it – to anyone. If you’ve never read poetry, so what? Read it.

Lessons on ExpulsionLessons on Expulsion by Erika L. Sanchez – I have a lot to say about this poetry collection and so at some point I’ll be posting a stand-alone review, but honestly, this TORE MY GUTS out and really made me feel for women and children in Mexico. From sex workers, murder, narco- traffickers, rape, abuse to artists and love, this is all about survival. I was just BLOWN AWAY. Consider eyes opened. This was my favorite poetry collection of 2018 – and one of my favorites ever read.

Your Heart is the Sea by Nikita Gill – “People aren’t born sad, we make them that way.” That is a line from the poem “Why We Are All Afraid to Be” from Gill’s latest collection. Your Heart is the Sea 2I read everything she puts out because it’s beautifully heart-wrenching and soul cleansing and reminds me a lot of things I’ve been through, things I’ve written about myself, and yet, offers hope to hold onto at times as well. This collection came out in December 2018, and I was drawn to it because as most people know, I love the sea. There are so cool illustrations inside, but the poetry is the highlight of course. Her honest rendering of humanity and the heart gives me purpose.

WarWAR: Dark Poems by Alessandro Manzetti and Marge Simon – The back cover copy states, “I appear as strife of many kinds, from Stalingrad to Scotland. Africa to Afghanistan, the civil war of Italy and the War Between the States, ghostly wars, drug wars, the battle of the sexes, World Wars I, II and visions of a holocaust yet to come. It’s all herein and more, with poems both collaborative and individual.” This collection takes us around the gamut of the globe, our relationships, and our hearts to parch our dehydrated tongues and bolster our internal defenses. I love historical work – mixing historical with horror is something I enjoy – so being able to read this historical horror poetry collection was grand. It’s something I aspire to – both Manzetti and Simon are master poets, bring vividness to the page. 

fierce-fairytalesFierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill – All of Gill’s collection have qualities of female empowerment, as does this one, all wrapped up in references to fairy tales. I love fairy tales, but since they are a little cliché and delve into stereotypical references, Gill re-molds the pieces giving us some empowering stuff. I loved what Gill did with these poems and the cover is beautiful as well as her own original art which graces the inside pages.

to-make-monsters-out-of-girlsto make monsters out of girls by Amanda Lovelace – Lovelace’s collection of poetry books are must- haves for any strong female who has been through a lot and is coming out swinging. Her collection from 2018 offer no less empowerment and words to survive by. This one particularly hit home to me as a domestic abuse survivor. The poetry is all about being in a relationship like this and completely moved me. Deep, dark, emotional, but there’s also healing.

Sea of StrangersSea of Strangers by Lang Leav – Leav is an inspiration writer on love and life and heartache and personal growth after break-ups. This collection has poetry written in stanza, some short essays, some quotes – all types of poetry that breaks your heart again or soothes it or both at the same time. Probably her best so far. She’s much more inspirational and empowering than dark in anyway and offers enough light that her poems and quotes are very sharable.

The-Poet-X-by-Elizabeth-Acevedo-309x468Poet X by Elizabeth Acevado – I first entranced learning of Acevado in my son’s college magazine from George Washington University. They featured her this year, and the book, as she is an alumnus from there with a degree in performing arts. A child of Dominican immigrants, raised in NYC, she now lives with her husband in Washington D.C. Something about the connection drew me to her, but upon reading her words, she mesmerized me all on her own. I educated and found out she is a renowned slam poet, then she went on this year to win a National Book Award for Poet X, which was highly deserved (I had been rooting for it when I heard it was nominated). This is primarily a YA book, catalogued as such, but anyone can read it – it’s just that the characters are young. It’s a book told solely in poetic verse about a young girl in Harlem discovering slam poetry and using it to understand her mother’s religion and her own coming of age. It’s a lovely, but strong, book of female empowerment and how words can truly help us in so many ways. LOVED IT!

If They Come for UsIf They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar – I have been trying to incorporate reading with diversity in mind. Not just women, of course, but works and poetry stemming from other cultures as well. This book, written in various flashbacks and time periods over the course of Indian’s history of colonization, was eye-opening. Even having a history degree, I was not aware of the atrocities bestowed in the 1940s upon India during their occupation. Asghar grew up in the more modern eras, but she intertwines life of her ancestors and her own modern world as an immigrant in America and offers a horrible bird’s eye view. Her writing is fierce, angry, visceral, haunting, but overall so very important. I absolutely am humbled by this poetry, a little terrified at humanity, but so very glad I read it.

Most Disliked Book of the Year

Strange WeatherStrange Weather by Joe Hill – Of the books I read this year, completely, but still didn’t like, the short story by Joe Hill takes the cake. I absolutely abhorred his story ideas, his comedy, his snark, and his overall writing. I think I maybe liked one of the stories, but it felt like maybe his dad had already done it and/or several movie scripts somewhere down the line – “been there, done that.” I know some people liked it, but I just didn’t connect.

Best Liked Book of Others I Couldn’t Like

Final Girls

The Final Girls by Riley Sager – I tried to read this book three times, and each time I was so bored, I never made it past the fifth chapter. I won’t be reading anything from him again, no matter the buzz. I loved the idea of it but I just couldn’t get into the writing.

Most Anticipated Book I Didn’t Get to Read

The outsider.jpgThe Outsider by Stephen King – I got through 30 pages of it before it was due back at the library (too  many holds!) but was so busy didn’t bother to check it out again. Will wait to buy it and then read it. Looking forward to it though, because I was enjoying what I read of it.

 

Stay tuned for our FAVORITE READ LISTS in YA and Middle Readers as Emma (15) and Addie (11) weigh-in with me on the books we each enjoyed most!

Happy Reading!

About Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi –

Erin Al-Mehairi Bio PhotoErin Sweet Al-Mehairi has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has twenty years of professional experience in the communication and marketing fields and is currently an author, writer, journalist, publicist, and an editor.

Breathe. Breathe., published by Unnerving in 2017, is her debut collection of dark poetry and short stories and was an Amazon best-selling paid title, debuting at #2 in Hot New Releases in Women’s Poetry and held both that and the top ten of horror short stories for months. She has poetry and short stories featured in several other anthologies, magazines, and sites and was the co-editor for the gothic anthology Haunted are these Houses.

You can e-mail her at hookofabook (at) hotmail (dot) com and find her books at Amazon, or GoodReads. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter (@erinalmehairi), and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Feature Articles, New Books I've Found, poetry, women in history, women in horror

Books (and Movies) I’m Watching for Christmas Reading Challenge/Myself

Christmas Reading and Viewing List is Here! PROGRESS UPDATE 01/17/19 

How is it December 16th already? Wasn’t I just saying how November flew? I planned to cut down on my work load and try to relax and rejuvenate for December. I was sure I was headed toward that goal. For once, I was determined to do the Christmas Reading Challenge that my friend Michelle, at The True Book Addict, hosts every year! Alas, some work came in, we needed the money, and so that, coupled with a busy early December of long after school and weekend choir practices and concerts  and activities for my two girls, and some other life issues, has made the first half of December move like a flash. No reading on my Christmas books yet, but we have watched a few Hallmark movies (my girls love them). However, I am still determined, I will just make the most of the second two weeks of December instead, which is perfectly made for some self-care time. Also, if you’d like to sign-up, please join us anytime, just go to the link above.

xmas spirit challenge

That said, I had already pulled out some of my personal Christmas books from my shelves to peruse and also I put on hold a slew for myself, and me and the girls, from one of our local libraries and they’ve all come in – the last one yesterday. So I guess it’s better late than never right? I’m going to share my list of “proposed reads” for me and the girls. Though I am sure the girls will get theirs done, I’ll have to let you know how many I actually make it through.

The good news for me is that these last two weeks will hopefully truly be some down time for reading and watching movies with my family as we celebrate the holidays. Other good news for me, but maybe not for reading, is that after over two months of not seeing my son (he’s eight hours away in college in D.C.) I finally get to road trip to pick him up on Dec.. 21! That could mean passenger time reading, unless I fall asleep which I am known to do, but it also will mean a lot of my free time will be spent with him too.

(*Note: To those who I am reading and reviewing for, my Christmas reading has nothing to do with your books. This is for pleasure and I often read more than one book at a time. I will certainly get to yours as soon as I can if not over the holidays, then in the first of January. Though I appreciate and am excited to read your books, and have a lot of catching up to do from a busy work year, I earned this down time to rejuvenate my mind, soul, and spend with my kiddos.*)

I’ll just provide my proposed list of book here and I’ll update later any completed (Christmas only) reads. I may only get to one of them (I hope more) – but I know the girls will have theirs read! I’ll also update what movies we watched! Stay tuned!

Merry Bookish Christmas!

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Christmas Read List

Progress Update 01/17/19 – We didn’t get to all of these on our lists, but the ones we did will have asterisks (*) and comments beside them!

The books are pictured above, minus those the girls are reading. Some I checked out from the library and some I own (and some I own because I bought at one of the library book sales haha!). Note I have an obsession with Charles Dickens and The Christmas Carol (which isn’t pictured here but will be read!).

*Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva – This is one of my most anticipated reads of the season and if I finish any I want it to be this one!* (Update: This was a great fun historical fiction read for the holidays or anytime really I suppose.)

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak – Probably doesn’t seem like normal Christmas reading fare, but it takes place in winter during Christmastime in Russia. I’ve always wanted to read it.

Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days by Jeanette Winterson – I read one of these stories in here and loved it and I can’t wait to read the rest. Maybe one for each of the twelve days!

The Spy Who Came for Christmas by David Morrell – I love David’s writing. It’s so much fun that he turned a spy classic into a fun holiday novel.

Home in Time for Christmas by Heather Graham – Heather always brings either a bit of romance to the holidays or a bit to thrill or scare you, either way she’s one of the best!

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie – What more can I say, I love her books! There is nothing better than reading her by candlelight especially if Poirot is on the case!

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak – This was a new book I found sounded light and interesting about a family over the holidays.

The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol Rescued his Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford – Enough said? I love Dickens and The Christmas Carol. Will probably read the original story too. I bet Nassem will read this one when he gets home.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Book One by Michelle Griep – I love the cover on this one. Looks pretty good – 1850s Manor Home! Also a short read.

Inventing Scrooge: The Incredible True Story Behind Dickens’ Legendary
‘A Christmas Carol’
by Carlo Devito

A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer – I like some of her books and thought this looked like a good Christmas escape with its mystery and humor.

St. Nicholas Anthology, edited by Henry Steele Commager – I own this and it’s one of my important Christmas book keepsakes! It contains the best of St. Nicholas, a magazine for boys and girls published at the turn of the century. Included stories, poems, and original illustrations. (This is pictured as the last book in the stack)

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – As celebrated on Christmas Eve in the Chapel of King’s College Cambridge in text form (90 year old service adapted after WWI and broadcast on BBC) with beautiful illustrations and photographs. I love this – it’s very interesting but I haven’t gotten through all of it yet. It has a companion CD of the carols, hymns, and lessons. (Of note, I got this at our used book store, Ashland Books.)

*Yes, Virginia! – It’s tradition that the kids and I read this every year as we trim our tree with our Yes, Virginia ornaments we’ve collected at Macy’s over the years. We love this bit of nostalgia and even as the girls are 15 and 11 now, they still ask to watch the movie and read the picture book. I love this. I hope that one day they continue on her tradition with their children! (Update: The kids and I read this and watched the movie together as always. A delight for us!)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Simply my favorite book of the season. A classic! As well as the movies – George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, and Muppet Versions as my favorites.

Emma’s Reads (Age 15) –

*Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz – Emma completed this in one night after she got it from the library! I’ll have her write up a little review. (Update: Emma very much enjoyed this one and read it in one night!)

*My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, Stephanie Perkins Editor – She was excited for this one. She read the summer version earlier this year. (Update: Emma finished this one too and really enjoyed the stories – highly recommended!)

*What Light by Jay Asher (Update: Emma has read this one twice. She loves it and he’s one author that’s a must-read for her)

Addie’s Reads (Age 11) –

When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke

Movies!

A movie and show list to come later of what we’ll watch or have watched, with traditional favorites included:

*The Great British Baking Show Holiday Edition (Update: We so enjoyed!!)
George Balantine’s The Nutcracker
*The Man Who Invented Christmas
(Update: I watched with Nassem while he was home and we adored this movie. We love anything Dickens and this one didn’t disappoint!)
Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

*Peanuts Christmas (Update: Love love this tradition so of course we watched!)
Rise of the Guardians
*Muppet Christmas Carol (Update: So busy at Christmas we watched afterwards. We had to rent it and so we did so a few days before taking my son back to college as a family movie. We left always as we do with a tear and singing the songs!)
A Christmas Carol
*How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Update: Another annual must watch we love – never gets old, does it? This was the cartoon version – the original)
*Rudolph, Frosty,
etc. (Update: We watched Rudolph and as a tradition, Jack Frost. I don’t know why all of us love that one best, but we do. No matter our age. The songs are still stuck in our head. Beautiful story.)

And maybe without the kids, Krampus!

Already Watched:

The Princess Switch on Netflix. The girls and I loved it!
Lots of The Great Christmas Light Fight. We love lights!

I’ll keep updating here on this page, and might have some other Christmas posts, so check back in! DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE CHRISTMAS BOOKS OR FILMS? NEW ONES TO TRY? OR ANY BOOKS YOU WILL READ ON A RELAXING DAY TO WIND DOWN THE YEAR? Let me know in the comments!

cup-coffee-cookies-star-book-lights-bokeh-christmas-1

In the meantime, check out these review from past years of holiday titles!

Don’t Call Me Christina Kringle by Chris Grabenstein 

Christmas Wrap-up from 2016 Reviewing Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chaiverini, The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge, The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries, and a SLEW of children’s picture books as my kids and I read one a day!

Expanded Review of Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge

 

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Jim Morgan is BACK in Even More Adventurous Pirate Action: Book Launch for James Matlack Raney

Congratulations to James Raney today as he publishes the second book in his Jim Morgan adventure series, called Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull!  I LOVE the cover and am so ready for some swashbuckling, imaginative, fantastical adventure! Can’t wait to get my copy, but wanted to tune readers in on launch day (though I’ll be posting a review and interview with James over the next month) as this series would make a great gift for a boy OR girl for Christmas! I read Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves back in May, which is his first book in the series, and you can read that review HERE!

Now check out this fun cover……makes ME want to jump on that ship!

JMKTSecondBookKindleCover

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, Synopsis:

Over a year has passed since Jim Morgan outwitted the King of Thieves and escaped from London with his friends, Lacey and the Brothers Ratt. Now, at long last, Jim is ready to return home to Morgan Manor.

But a dark vision haunts Jim’s dreams – a Crimson Storm with the face of a black skull. Soon, Jim is thrust into a deadly race against his father’s old enemies, Count Cromier and his son, Bartholomew. This time, he will face terrors beyond his imagination – pirate battles, hidden islands, sorcerers, and sea monsters.

New foes and magic forces will tempt and test Jim. For there are terrible secrets he has yet to learn, secrets about his father, the Treasure of the Ocean, and his own incredible destiny…

Adventure has a new name – Jim Morgan!

Amazon Purchase:  http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Morgan-Pirates-Black-Skull/dp/0985835931

James Matlack Raney, Biography~

Headshot1

James Matlack Raney grew up all over the world, in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Now he calls Southern California home, writing adventures and occasionally living a few of his own.

http://jimmorganbooks.com/

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The Novel I’ve Been Waiting All Year to Come Out! The Devil’s Woods by Brian Moreland is Here!

The Devil’s Woods, by my friend and best-selling, award-winning author Brian Moreland, has finally released today, Dec. 3!! It’s been a novel he’s wanted to publish for 25 years, and for me, it’s been a year and a half since I first pre-read it for him! I can only imagine his excitement to share this novel with readers, as I know how stoked I’ve been just this last year as I waited for this publishing day!! Check out the cover, then keep reading below.

dw

I know you all will LOVE this book. It has elements of Native American/First People legends (and modern-day reservation locale and characters), eerie woods, history, supernatural, romance, redemption and revenge, and the good versus evil battle!! What I like most about Brian’s books is that his hero/heroine always shines through. His main character of Kyle has stayed with me in my head and I’ve dealt with an urge to beg Brian to give me another story featuring Kyle. I loved that character, I bet you will also.

Brian takes his readers through ups and downs, twists and turns, horrible endings for some, and redemption for others, but he always lets the good win out. For me, I appreciate that.

I’ll have my professional review up of The Devil’s Woods (but believe me it is 5 star and one of his best) soon, plus an interview and maybe some other cool things to get you interested in the book and the author behind the book.  Check out what the book’s about and see the exclusive sample…coming right below!

The Devil’s Woods, Synopsis~

Deep within the Canadian wilderness, people have been disappearing for a century. There is a place the locals call “the Devil’s Woods.” It is a place so evil that even animals avoid it. When their father’s expedition team goes missing, Kyle and his brother and sister return to the Cree reservation where they were born. Kyle can see ghosts that haunt the woods surrounding the village—and they are trying to warn him.  The search for their father will lead Kyle and his siblings to the legendary forest, where their mission will become a fight for survival.

If it sounds good so far, purchase today for Kindle or in Paperback (nice matte smooth cover, a keepsake) at the links below. Check out this exclusive section from the book first though, you won’t see this sample anywhere else!!!

********************************************************

EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK AT A PORTION OF THE DEVIL’S WOODS~

At Kakaskitewak Swamp, Kyle felt a knot in his stomach as he stared across the black water at the pines covered with animal skulls. These trees gave off the same humming vibration as the forest yesterday where he’d rescued Chaser. Kyle wondered if he were to touch those totem poles what secrets they would tell. He reached down and grabbed the canoe’s rope. “I’m going to paddle over.”

Ray grabbed his arm. “It’s forbidden.”

“Why?”

“It’s sacred Cree law.”

Kyle remembered the warnings the elders used to say to the kids, If you go past Kakaskitewak Swamp, the woods will snatch you. “Why has our tribe always been afraid of this place?”

Ray stared across the swamp. “Macâya Forest is like a living thing that feeds on whoever enters it. It happened to Hagen Thorpe’s lumberjacks over a century ago. And it’s happened to a few members of our tribe since. Grandfather lost his brother to those woods. He says it was the Macâya that got him.”

“Some kind of devil creature?”

“I don’t know what it is.” Ray stared at the black pines. “But it’s not an animal.”

At the opposite bank, Kyle thought he saw something move behind the trees, a flash of gray, but when he blinked it was gone.

*********************************************************

LINKS to PURCHASE~

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Woods-Brian-Moreland/dp/product-description/1619215659/ref=dp_proddesc_0/178-1669034-3473368?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-devils-woods-brian-moreland/1114776789

Samhain Publishing/Horror:

http://store.samhainpublishing.com/devils-woods-p-73127.html?osCsid=d84e40d26d2ade7a2e631f26c5469595

Brian Moreland, Biography~

368_Facebook_authorBrian Moreland is a best-selling and award-winning author of novels and short stories in the horror and supernatural suspense genre. In 2007, his novel Shadows in the Mist, a Nazi occult thriller set during World War II, won a gold medal for Best Horror Novel in an international contest. The novel went on to be published in Austria and Germany under the title Schattenkrieger.

Shadows in the Mist and Dead of Winter are currently available, as well as his Kindle short-story The Girl from the Blood Coven and the novella it led into that he released this summer, The Witching House.  Now, he has released the full-length The Devil’s Woods. His next novella, Vagrants, releases in 2014.

He loves hiking, kayaking, watching sports, dancing, and eating cookies. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel.  When not working on his books or books for other writers, Brian edits documentaries and TV commercials around the globe. He produced a World War II documentary in Normandy, France, and worked at two military bases in Iraq with a film crew.

Brian lives in Dallas, Texas. You can communicate with him online at www.brianmoreland.com or catch him at an upcoming book signing or Horror Con.

Connect~

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HorrorAuthorBrianMoreland

Twitter: @BrianMoreland

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1150022.Brian_Moreland

Brian’s Horror Fiction blog: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

Coaching for Writers blog:  http://www.coachingforwriters.blogspot.com

Just for Fun~

Here’s the acknowledgement Brian gave me in the front of The Devil’s Woods:

Ack DW

Here’s Brian and I at HorrorHound in February 2013:

me and Brian

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Daughters of the Nile, by Stephanie Dray, Publishes Today-Based on the True Story of Cleopatra’s Daughter

I just love Stephanie Dray. First of all, because she’s a dynamo woman with lots of various interests and an amazing work ethic. Second of all, I just love her writing. Beyond that, I’ve always had a love for anything anicent Egypt or Egypt-oriented (even two of my kids are part-Egyptian!)! So I can’t lose reading Stephanie’s series and feel she’s a stand out in the historical genre. Check out all about Stephanie’s Daughters of the Nile, which releases today~all the information is below! Stay tuned to my site for an upcoming review.

Daughters of the Nile slide

From critically acclaimed historical fantasy author, Stephanie Dray comes the long-awaited new tale based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter.

After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty. With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind. Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?

Read the Reviews

“A stirring story of a proud, beautiful, intelligent woman whom a 21st century reader can empathize with. Dray’s crisp, lush prose brings Selene and her world to life.” ~RT Book Reviews

“The boldest, and most brilliant story arc Dray has penned…” ~Modge Podge Reviews

“If you love historical fiction and magical realism, these books are for you.” ~A Bookish Affair

Read an Excerpt

Below me, six black Egyptian cobras dance on their tails, swaying. I watch their scaled hoods spread wide like the uraeus on the crown of Egypt. Even from this height, I’m paralyzed by the sight of the asps, their forked tongues flickering out between deadly fangs. I don’t notice that I’m gripping the balustrade until my knuckles have gone white, all my effort concentrated upon not swooning and falling to my death.

And I would swoon if I were not so filled with rage. Someone has arranged for this. Someone who knows what haunts me. Someone who wants to send me a message and make this occasion a moment of dread. My husband, the king must know it, for he calls down, “That’s enough. We’ve seen enough of the snake charmer!”

There is commotion below, some upset at having displeased us. Then Chryssa hisses, “Who could think it a good idea to honor the daughter of Cleopatra by coaxing asps from baskets of figs?”

The story the world tells of my mother’s suicide is that she cheated the emperor of his conquest by plunging her hand into a basket where a venomous serpent lay in wait. A legend only, some say, for the serpent was never found. But I was there. I brought her that basket. She was the one bitten but the poison lingers in my blood to this day. I can still remember the scent of figs in my nostrils, lush and sweet. The dark god Anubis was embroidered into the woven reeds of the basket, the weight of death heavy in my arms. I can still see my mother reach her hand into that basket, surrendering her life so that her children might go on without her. And I have gone on without her.

I have survived too much to be terrorized by the emperor’s agents or whoever else is responsible for this.

If it is a message, a warning from my enemies, I have already allowed them too much of a victory by showing any reaction at all. So I adopt as serene a mask as possible. My daughter blinks her big blue eyes, seeing past my facade. “Are you frightened, Mother? They cannot bite us from there. The snakes are very far away.”

I get my legs under me, bitterness on my tongue. “Oh, but they’re never far enough away.”

###

Daughters of the Nile cover

Available now in print and e-book!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Powells | IndieBound | Goodreads

Available now in print and e-book!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Powells | IndieBound | Goodreads


Stephanie Dray HeadshotSTEPHANIE DRAY is a bestselling, multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.

Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has-to the consternation of her devoted husband-collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

Check out Stephanie’s life and work at www.stephaniedray.com.

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Hunter Shea’s Trick for Treat Season: Asylum Scrawls Short Story Collection!

If you like creepy stories or are looking for some good scary reads in time for Halloween spooks, check out this new collection of short stories from one of my favorite authors, Hunter Shea!  It’s a .99 cents e-book packed full of fear. Yep, it truly is a cheap thrill! *wink*
AsylumScrawls Cover

Asylum Scrawls is a collection by popular horror author Hunter Shea and an author named Norm Hendricks. Mike Chella did the book cover. After talking this over for many years, they finally took the plunge and wrote it just for your mental pleasure. I might not even need to go Trick-or-Treating now!

This really cool collection of horror stories is ONLY .99 cents until Halloween!! Anyone who downloads a copy and lets Hunter know (or doing so by posting on any of my posts about it too, or commenting below) through Facebook, Twitter or his email is eligible to receive a free e-copy of one of his novels.

Asylum Scrawls Collection, Synopsis~

Demonic possession, serial killers, monsters, beasts, the insane and the damned – they’re all here, safely tucked behind the bars of the asylum. These seven tales of the macabre and bizarre are sure to haunt you until the icy fingers of the grave claim you for eternity.

Here’s the Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Asylum-Scrawls-Hunter-Shea-ebook/dp/B00FTHBXWS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1382300587&sr=1-1&keywords=asylum+scrawls

Here’s an excerpt below from story of The Faceless Girl~

The windowpane shuddered, tiny ticks pattering against the glass. It had begun to snow. A chilly finger of wind wrestled through a gap in the wood frame.

“It’s all yours,” I said, imagining how cold it would be if we were wet and naked – at least when Eva and I were wet and naked.

Janice bounded out of the bathroom. “Let’s look at the others.”

It was like a game of one-upmanship, going from room to room, each succeeding ode to the gods of interior decorating richer than the one before it.

“How much does he make a picture?” I asked Eva.

“I think I heard over thirty-five million.”

It was a staggering thought. Each movie required him to be on set for three to five weeks. He made three to four movies a year. I decided at that moment to loathe Mick Harrison, despite his generosity, though in actuality, I felt this weekend trip was a ploy to get Eva into his bed. Was it working? To give voice to my concern would only make things worse. I had to ride it out in silence and give Eva the keys to my trust.

“This is a lot of house for a single man,” I said.

“I don’t think he comes up here alone,” Janice said, winking. I wondered if I should offer Janice to Harrison in Eva’s place. I could see that for her part, it would take little convincing.

A pair of white double doors capped the end of the long hallway, twin portals to a higher dimension. “That must be the master bedroom,” Eva said.

“Maybe we should leave that room alone,” I suggested. “I wouldn’t want him to think we were going through his coke stash or hidden videos of women in his bed. Every man needs his privacy.”

That got a laugh out of Johnny. We had our moments.

“He didn’t say not to go in there,” Eva said, her curiosity getting the better of her. She and Janice placed a hand on the doorknobs. “What do you think?”

I shrugged my shoulders. “I think that if you don’t see what’s inside, you’ll leave here with regret. Why, I don’t know, but I do know how you tick.”

“Just open the doors. Who the fuck cares? It’s just another bedroom,” Johnny said.

I swallowed a snide comment before it touched my tongue. Eva gave me an appreciative nod.

“Okay, here goes. This is where the magic happens!” Janice said with a mischievous grin.

They turned the knobs and swung the doors wide.

Eva screamed first. Janice piggybacked on her. Even Johnny grumbled a few choice curses, dropping his beer.

I found myself stepping back before I could see what had caused the raw fear to spread through them fast as a lightning strike. Janice, hopping on the balls of her feet and covering her mouth, blocked my view.

Moving closer, wedging myself between the girls, I experienced a moment of absolute death – my lungs, heart and brain ceased functioning for the space of one, maybe two seconds, but it was enough to douse my body with the chill and certainty of the grave.

It –she? – stood facing us, the guardian of the master suite, an opaque creature of light and shadow. She, yes, it was most certainly a she, wore a knee length dress, the print impossible to discern through the radiance that emanated from her. Small, fine-boned, with long, wispy hair that hung in loose strands past her shoulders.

The problem, aside from the glaring fact that she was not flesh and blood but more of a hologram, like Princess Leia played through R2D2’s tiny projector, was that she had no face. Amid the fine hair of her wavy bangs was a wavering haze, veiling all facial features. She was incomplete in many ways, yet with enough form to prevent any denial of her existence.

Author Hunter Shea, Biography~

hunter-headshotI’m the product of a childhood weened on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. I don’t just write about the paranormal. I actively seek out the things that scare the hell out of people and experience them for myself.

My novels, Forest of Shadows, Evil Eternal , Swamp Monster Massacre and Sinister Entity are published through  Samhain Publishing’s horror line.  I live with my family and untrainable cat close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

I’m also proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with my partner in crime, Jack Campisi. Our show is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. We explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun.

Feel free to contact me any time at huntershea1@gmail.com. Writing is lonely work.

Or

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Our Fabulous Fantastic Trip to the Samhain Horror Hang-out at HorrorHound Cincinnati Convention!

This Friday, Tim and I drove three hours to Cincinnati for FearNet.com’s HorrorHound Magazine Convention to see some of our favorite author friends who were there signing books with their publisher Samhain Publishing/Horror.

For those of you not familiar with HorrorHound, it’s primarily a horror film festival that’s gravitated from a film focus into so much more. It’s a weekend long event with big film and television draws such as this year’s Walking Dead cast, director John Carpenter (Halloween, Christine), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, X-Files), the real 1958 Plymouth Fury that starred as the car Christine (Stephen King), and the list goes on (check out www.horrorhoundweekend.com). Vendors, music, and even a Zombie ball entertained people during the event; many stand in line for hours to pay for photos with their favorite TV stars like Norman Reedus.

It was such a draw in fact that they had unforeseen numbers for their opening day of Friday. Thousands lined-up to get in a get a glimpse at some of their favorites. We waited in line for over three hours, but oh, it was worth it!!  Thank goodness there was a little sun, as just a few days later we’ve had a snow blizzard!

Here’s a cool Instagram (follow me…Erin Al-Mehairi) that I took, with a view of a case with all Christine book covers that have been created over the years…..

Christine

Samhain Publishing , an established romance publisher, launched its Horror line of books several years ago and is now a major sponsor. With that, some of my favorite dark fiction and horror writers and directors came in for the weekend to sign their items at the Samhain Horror booth.

Those amazing authors who were there on Friday were Brian Moreland, Jonathan Janz, and Kristopher Rufty. David Searls, also from near Cleveland, Ohio like us, was there on Saturday afternoon. In this post, I’d like to highlight each of them, some of whom have new releases coming up. Then, I’ll note some deals and dates you might be interested in as we wrap-up the post! Read to the end and get a coupon for a free book!

And here’s a photo of me and the guys (L-R: Jonathan Janz, Brian Moreland, me, Kristopher Rufty)… of course I keep look toward JJ and laughing……

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 177

We had a blast hanging out and talking with them on Friday night. People who don’t always read horror may generalize or stereo-type that word sometimes, but these guys are not only amazing people who are very kind, they are great spinners of their craft…writing the tales we sometimes see in our heads and creating entertainment for the dark recesses of our minds that give us break from all our worldly stress.

Brian, Jonathan, and Krist have been extremely important inspirations to me as a person, a writer, a journalist, and as an aspiring author. All with varying personalities, they’ve shown me support and/or given advice that is priceless to me. And they’ve made me love to read horror!!

We also had a great time meeting Meli Hooker, who writes for Dreadful Tales! What an amazing mind in a tiny little body! Meli is super fun and seemed to take in everything as a newbie to her first horror con. 🙂

So a little about these authors, their books, and upcoming releases….

Brian Moreland is the author of Shadows in the Mist and Dead of Winter. I’ve known Brian for a few years now, ever since Samhain opened its horror line.  Though we’ve talked numberous times, it was great to see him in person and he’s just as friendly and endearing in the flesh.  Brian writes for the screen, so with his books you find a cinematography you might not expect that is extremely gratifying.  He writes very visually and you’ll feel drawn in to the story.

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 168You can read some of my past posts with Brian on my site, such as my review of Dead of Winter by clicking HERE, which is one of my favorite books of EVER, an interview I did with Brian HERE, and a guest post about Shadows in the Mist HERE, a book which has had years of extreme success that was re-released this year from Samhain Publishing/Horror.

And here is an Instagram photo of Brian holding the artwork my two daughter’s ages 9 and 5 made for him….they tried to make him scary photos but they still included flowers of course!! LOL!

Brian with kid's pics

Coming in July and August 2013, Brian has several items publishing this summer called The Girl from the Blood Coven (July 2013 – free short story prequel) and The Witching House (August 2013 – novella).  And Brian created his own covers!!

200_Witching_House_small

Then, The Devil’s Woods (novel) is coming out in December of 2013, all from Samhain Publishing’s Horror line. I hope he won’t mind me saying, but I was able to read a first version of his novel last summer and I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait to publicly announce that it will be on my Top Favorites Ever list along with his other book.  He’s made some really great updates to it since then and it will be a hit for fans of Native American legends and spooky happenings in isolated forests.  Want a sneak peek at The Devil’s Woods, you can go here:  http://brianmoreland.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/excerpt-of-the-devils-woods-coming-2013-10-2/.  You can find more on Brian at his website at www.brianmoreland.com or find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Jonathan Janz is the author of The Sorrows, House of Skin, and the soon-to-be released The Darkest Lullaby (novel – coming April 2, 2013 –  I’m the new proud owner of a signed copy from HorrorHound) and Savage Species, a serial horror novel first for Samhain Publishing that’s coming June 4 and hitting every couple of weeks until end of July, 2013!  You can pre-order to download the first installment right now, for FREE by going to:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/night-terrors-p-7384.html.

He’ll also have Dirt Devil (a vampire western!!) coming out in February 2014 from Samhain.  You can read my review of The Sorrows HERE and our interview HERE. I LOVED the fun time I had reading The Sorrows, it’s superb!!

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I’ve gotten to know Jonathan well over the past year, after he launched The Sorrows and I was one of the first to interview him. It was wonderful to meet him in person as his energy and aura are certainly contagious.  His writing style is completely nothing like his real life persona. He’s bubbly and sweet, but his writing is tough, dirty, intelligent, and emotional.

Me and Craig

This weekend at a separate location, Jonathan was recognized with House of Skin as the First Runner-Up in the Darrell Awards, which is a panel in the Mid-South that recognizes authors, or authors with characters from their region, that they feel are the best published in science fiction, fantasy and horror!

You can keep up to date with Jonathan about his life, his writing, and his upcoming books by following his blog at http://www.jonathanjanz.com  and you can see his latest post where he talks about his award, HorrorHound, and yours truly in fact (beaming!) here:  http://jonathanjanz.com/2013/03/24/house-of-skin-named-runner-up-at-darrell-awardshorrorhound-cincinnati-updates-galore/. Jonathan is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Kristopher Rufty is the writer/director of the movies Psycho Holocaust, Rags, and Wicked Wood, and also the author of Angel Board (novel), The Night Everything Changed (novella), The Lurkers (novel and The Night Everything Changed is a prequel to it), A Dark Autumn (novella), and coming in August 2013, Oak Hollow (novel which I scored a signed print copy of at HorrorHound!!).

I have a review of A Dark Autumn HERE, which is a novella you’ll want to read this year for its visceral content. I dare you NOT to be moved by this piece of work.  I also loved his novella The Night Everything Changed (which you can download FREE now here:  http://store.samhainpublishing.com/night-everything-changed-p-6931.html ) and the first chapter of The Lurkers, which I plan to read in whole soon.

Stuff and HorrorHound 2013 175I’ve just gotten to know Krist this year through the other Samhain authors, but I was immediately impressed. His quiet demeanor is not an indication of his writing, which is far from mild.  It’s extremely raw, intense, and in-your-face. I can see why he has such increasing popularity and is already a horror icon. I was so happy to get to meet Krist in person. He’s really a kind and gentle person who pours his heart feverishly into his writing.

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You can follow along with Krist at his Last Krist on the Left blog:  http://lastkristontheleft.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Urge him to tweet or drop him a line. He’s been a mad-man writing machine for months and he has not only a bunch of books already published but quite a few upcoming! Samhain quickly publishes many manuscripts so they are fresh and you can still feel the authors sweat on the page….ok, not literally.

We didn’t get to see author David Searls, who signed books at the Samhain booth on Saturday. However, I want to mention David as he’s from near the Cleveland, Ohio area where we are also from. Tim, in fact, used to work with David and we are happy to support his authorship pursuits! He’s written hundreds of magazine articles, columns and essays, with a byline that has been carried by People Weekly, The Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine, USAToday.com, Cleveland Magazine, and many more.

He’s written and published three books, including the horror novel Yellow Moon, which was first released by Warner Books and will be re-released by Samhain Publishing/Horror on June 4, 2013 with an AWESOME new cover.

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In 2012, two of his horror novels, Bloodthirst in Babylon and Malevolent, were published by Samhain Horror. I’ll be happy to review these novels as I hear he’s a superb writer, especially in the vampire genre. I also am intrigued by his books having Ohio locales….or maybe since I live in Ohio, that should scare me a little more….

Samhain Publishing did a great job highlighting their authors and had some fun bloody needle pens to giveaway that my daughter just loves using (haha!), red mechanical pencils (I am in love with mine) and of course, having various other titles for sale. They have some great writers on board like one of my favorites, Ronald Malfi, as well as Hunter Shea, Frazier Lee, Bryan Smith, David Bernstein, Damien Walters Grintalis (who is pictured as being at the event but was unable to make it) and many more.

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You can find all kinds of book, including horror titles and those aforementioned fabulous authors, at www.samhainpublishing.com or www.samhainhorror.com.  Thank you, Samhain, for letting me report on the event and your fabulous authors!

Happy Reading!

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The Kidnapping, FREE short story available from Alex Berenson: The Night Ranger Coming Soon

Read below to get a FREE short story that accompanies Alex Brerenson’s newest John Wells novel, The Night Ranger, which is coming soon!

tumblr_mhengdGcwE1roikcyo1_500Synopsis~

John Wells enters new territory, as he goes underground in East Africa to track four kidnapped Americans and the Somali bandits who snatched them, in the tough, thoughtful, electrifying new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

Four friends, recent college graduates, travel to Kenya to work at a giant refugee camp for Somalis. Two men, two women, each with their own reasons for being there. But after twelve weeks, they’re ready for a break and pile into a Land Cruiser for an adventure.

They get more than they bargained for. Very soon, John Wells will be all that stands between them and a very bad outcome. But what exactly happened that day?

In The Kidnapping, a special prequel to the upcoming The Night Ranger, we find out how it all began (with two bonus chapters from The Night Ranger included)!

Read it FREE by going to Putnam Books and choosing your choice of available dowloads (Nook, Kindle, iBookstore or Kobo)! 

Click here:  http://putnambooks.tumblr.com/post/41806127308/four-friends-recent-college-graduates-from

Then, continue the story on February 12th when THE NIGHT RANGER by Alex Berenson goes on sale!

Keep up to date here~

Twitter: @PutnamBooks
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PutnamBooks

Alex Berenson Twitter:  @AlexBerenson

Full Synopsis of The Night Ranger~

9780399159725LJohn Wells enters new territory, as he goes underground in East Africa to track four kidnapped Americans and the Somali bandits who snatched them, in the tough, thoughtful, electrifying new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.

Four friends, recent college graduates, travel to Kenya to work at a giant refugee camp for Somalis. Two men, two women, each with their own reasons for being there. But after twelve weeks, they’re ready for a break and pile into a Land Cruiser for an adventure.

They get more than they bargained for. Bandits hijack them. They wake up in a hut, hooded, bound, no food or water. Hostages. As a personal favor, John Wells is asked to try to find them, but he does so reluctantly. East Africa isn’t his usual playing field. And when he arrives, he finds that the truth behind the kidnappings is far more complex than he imagined.

The clock is ticking. The White House is edging closer to an invasion of Somalia. Wells has a unique ability to go undercover, and to make things happen, but if he can’t find the hostages soon, they’ll be dead – and the U.S. may be in a war it never should have begun.

In Alex Berenson’s electrifying new novel The Night Ranger, John Wells goes undercover to track four kidnapped Americans and the Somali bandits who snatched them. But we never see the kidnapping itself — and there are some real surprises in store.

Alex Berenson, Biography~

Alex-BerensonAlex Berenson was born in New York in 1973 and grew up in Englewood, N.J. After graduating from Yale University in 1994 with degrees in history and economics, he joined the Denver Post as a reporter. In 1996, he became one of the first employees at TheStreet.com, the groundbreaking financial news Website.

In 1999, he joined The New York Times. At the Times, he covered everything from the drug industry to Hurricane Katrina; in 2003 and 2004, he served two stints as a correspondent in Iraq, an experience that led him to write The Faithful Spy, his debut novel, which won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel.

He has now written seven John Wells novels and one work of non-fiction, The Number. He left the Times in 2010 to devote himself to writing fiction, though he still contributes occasionally to the Times.

Alex lives in Garrison, N.Y. with his wife, Dr. Jacqueline Berenson, their daughter Lucy, their badly behaved dog Maggie, and Maggie’s dog Teddy.

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Wilderness Mayhem? Check out YA Book Uncontrollable by S.R. Johannes today!

I’m stopping by to let readers in on an exciting new series I’m currently reading!  Uncontrollable, by S.R. Johannes, launches today as the second book in “The Nature of Grace” series that started with Untraceable.  The series seems like an exciting addition to the Young Adult genre that’s full of mystery. I especially like its wilderness setting and that they’ve  been described as page turning thrillers. I can’t wait to finish these books myself and I’ll be posting reviews and fun so you all can get excited too. In the meantime, check out the series and stop by the links below for her many contests and fun.

Book Summary: Uncontrollable

As 16-year-old Grace recovers from tragedy, her science class is chosen by Agent Sweeney at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help with research on the new “Red Wolf Reintroduction Program”.

While she’s excited about helping with the conservation of the endangered wolves, Grace knows this means being outdoors in the worst winter recorded, in a place she no longer feels comfortable. It also means working closely with Wyn (her ex) and his annoying girlfriend (Skyler), a girl whose idea of getting close to nature is picking silk plants and growing fake plants.

After a couple of wolves show up dead, Grace almost quits. However, when a fellow project team member goes missing, Grace continues the assignment under a renewed suspicion that someone might be sabotaging the conservation program. She quietly begins to hunt for clues.

Little does she know, she is being hunted too.

 Untraceable, the first book in the series, has won and been nominated for several awards including Winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award (YA), 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (YA Nominee), and a finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s “Best Indie Book of 2012 (YA)”.

Previously, Kirkus reviewed Untraceable as “A thrilling story is a dramatic entanglement of mystery, deception and teen romance.  The action flows like a brisk mountain stream interspersed with rapids, holding suspense to last page.”  What will your opinion be? As I prepare my reviews of this series, I hope to see your thoughts as well.

 Also, head over to Mundie Moms for a big Uncontrollable Launch Party with tons of prizes and then over to SR Johannes blog for even more fun!

 To continue on with the blog tour, check out the line up! Where SR talks about everything– from marketing to writing to her books as well as giving personal interviews and giveaways!

Uncontrollable (Book 2) On Sale Now! And don’t forget to purchase Untraceable (Book 1) too!

Uncontrollable is on sale in paperback and ebook at all major booksellers including Amazon, iBooks/Apple (coming soon), Smashwords, and B&N.

If you haven’t read Untraceable, you can get it in paperback and e-book at all major booksellers including Amazon, Apple, Smashwords, and B&N.

Author Bio: S.R. Johannes

 S.R. Johannes is the author of award-winning and Amazon bestselling Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller) and new tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. She has also published short novelettes as well as a teen romance anthology with 16 other authors titled, In His Eyes.  Uncontrollable, the sequel to Untraceable, is scheduled for September 2012.

S.R. Johannes is a winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult) and was also recently nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult). Untraceable was also recently named a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Indie Book of the Year (YA)

After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. 

 Connect!

Follow S.R. online on her websiteTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest!  You can also sign up for her newsletter to keep up on author or book news.

 

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Hurry! Download Jonathan Janz’s newest, creepiest HOUSE OF SKIN!

If you’re in the mood for another creepy, fear-filled horror novel to start off your summertime reading this June, try out my buddy Jonathan Janz’s newest release HOUSE OF SKIN! I can’t wait to read it this month myself. I’m sure I’ll probably report back to you to be sure to read only in daylight hours in some public place where there are plenty of people to call for help. 

So before another season of American Horror Story (with super yummy Adam Levine I must say) begins, read HOUSE OF SKIN for yourself and let me know what you think!

Introducing the most awesomest cool cover…

Here’s the synopsis of HOUSE OF SKIN:

“Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again…and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key.

Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate—and Annabel—have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?”

Sound good? You can pick it up in e-book format starting today, June 5, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or his publisher Samhain. Looks like right now, it’s cheapest currently from Samhain: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/house-skin-p-6804.html.

Congrats Jonathan!

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Jonathan Janz also published The Sorrows last year and you can read that review HERE and my interview with him HERE for all the latest info on his writing. Or you can go to www.jonathanjanz.com.

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