Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Guest post by Rose Martin - 8 Scariest Books That No One Should Read Alone!




Do you watch scary movies and TV shows? Do you watch them alone or with someone? The latter, we are sure. When it comes to reading books, we all want to be alone, don’t we? That’s because book-reading, especially at home, is a solo activity, unless you’re reading to a child. Well, here we have 10 scary books that you’ll definitely not want to read alone. We mean it. We dare you to read them on your own, and not grab for your phone. Go on. We double dare you.

1. Christine by Stephen King
2 young friends, a car and the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere of the ‘70s – what could possibly be wrong with this picture? The car turns out to be haunted, that’s what. The thing with a premise like this is the abject disbelief that sets in even before one opens the book. Not with Christine, however. So cunningly does Stephen King present the vehicle’s malice that Christine becomes a character in the milieu, not just a car. This book will keep you up nights, and when you walk to your car in the morning, just for a moment there, you will wonder if the headlights are following you …..

2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ holds far more subtlety and terror than all haunted house movies put together. Jackson’s book isn’t all about horror through and through though – there’s humor too, and very approachable characters. Still, right underneath it all, running like a fine line of blood under the nails, is the subtle horror that’s tailored into the text. Get this book from holocaust books and approach it with great respect, and in company.
3. The House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

The scariest part about a haunted house isn’t just what haunts it – it’s the house itself. Mark Deneilewski understands this in his bones, as you can tell from this book. The Navidson family can tell that something’s not ok with their home when they return home. They see doors where there were none and sinister passageways open.  The house itself is turning into a live, sentient creature, full of miasmic malice. Mark Danielewski’s use of blank spaces and other visual cues bring forth such a chaotic sense of suspense, you’ll be biting all your nails by the end.
4. The Shining by Stephen King

The premise is simple – an alcoholic father, an abused mother and a psychic son, a ‘shiner’, and therefore the title of the book. The father takes up a winter caretaker’s job at a hilltop hotel, which is haunted with many ghosts. This book’s beauty lies in the way King makes every room and every corridor in the hotel vibrate with tenseness. Supernatural events occur when you least expect them, hitting you in the solar plexus, robbing you of your breath. After sometime, you start doubting your own grip on sanity. The book shocks you at many levels – the supernatural presences, the human-on-human violence and the little boy witnessing his father descend into madness.



5. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Exorcist is a true classic, but don’t be hasty and derive comfort from that. Just imagine your little girl possessed by an unimaginably malevolent entity that will not rest until it has fully devoured her soul. The exorcist begins mildly, taking you through sweet glimpses of the child’s life, till you cannot turn a page without the horror seeping into your very bones. This book deals with the concept of a god who allows an innocent to suffer needlessly. It makes you ponder your own vulnerability and question everything you’ve taken for granted till now.

6. Rustication by Charles Palliser
This book revolves around a junkie teenager, Richard Shenstone, who lives with his newly-destitute family in an old rambling mansion. Richard’s world is one of murder, sadistic letters, sexual obsession and delusions. Make what you will of the reality that Richard sees there – beds made for people who don’t exist, weird noises and inexplicable whispers. The house isn’t evil in this book, but you’ll have a hard time discounting that. It’s just as evil as the evil in it. It’s hard to see if Richard is just a kid or the root of the evil in the house.

7. The Little Stranger by Sarah Water
Ever dismissed creepy noises or scribbles on the wall? Read this book and you’ll wish you hadn’t. The book is about a former aristocratic family that’s residing in an old 18th century mansion. Events occur, such as a young kid being mauled by a complaisant family dog for no reason, and childish scribbles appearing on walls. All these spooky events are explained away by the narrator Dr. Faraday. However, it’s all going beyond the realms of science and the grasp of logic. The reader is left trying to make sense of scorched walls, strange noises and other events with no explanations. Unsettling is the word we’re after.

8. The Mist by Stephen King
Consider this – life is going on as usual, and you kiss your wife goodbye and head out to the store with your kid. Then an abnormally thick and very unnatural mist descends all over town. That’s when people become aware of the otherworldly predators coming out of it. The whole book moves slowly, yet seems to race along. A group of people bar themselves into the store, hoping to survive the mist. People turn against people, and chaos results. This is a book that will rob you of sleep for weeks to come.

Conclusion

Cinematic representations of horror stories are well and fine, but it is books that let the horror seep into your bones. That’s because it’s your imagination bringing the environment to life. The more books you read, the more imaginative you become. So try it! Give some of these scary books a try, and tell us what you think.


Rose Martin loves blogging on lifestyle, self-improvement, women, parenting and travel. Rose is also interested in music, fitness and art. In spare time, she loves to spend time with family and friends.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Excerpt from The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards.


Back in her room, she was about to start unpacking her suitcase, trying hard not to think about Liam or the gift she’d turned down, when a scream came from the room next door. 

Sophie jumped up, yanked the door open and peered out. Several other girls had done the same. 

Becky stood outside her room, both hands held to her mouth, eyes stretched open in horror, fingers clawing at her head like the character in that painting, The Scream. All the blood had drained from her face. Her bulky pink suitcase lay at her feet. She was staring at the room like there was a monster inside. Or a corpse. She made little gibbering noises, unformed words, like the sound of her sanity shattering into tiny fragments.

Sophie reached her first. ‘What is it?’ she asked in a soothing voice. ‘What’s happened?’ 

‘My. Room.’ That was all Becky could say. She pointed a shaking finger at the closed door then sank to her haunches. She stared up at Sophie, her eyes empty. What had she seen in that room? Sophie didn’t want to know. 

Two other girls had reached them, Jenny and Ameera, the latter crouching and putting an arm around Becky, who was making the awful noises again, noises that penetrated Sophie’s skull, made the inside of her head itch. Sophie guessed that not many people had returned yet or the whole corridor would be filled with gawping, concerned students. 

‘Go on,’ Jenny said. ‘Take a look.’ 

Sophie turned to her. ‘Me?’ 

When she realised no one else was going to make a move, she approached the door, gripped the handle and pushed it open slowly, sticking her head inside then immediately withdrawing it. 

‘Oh, God, it stinks in there.’ 

‘What of?’ Jenny asked, clamping her hand over her nose as the smell escaped the room and reached them. 

It smelled like a cut she’d once had that became infected, sweet and rotten. 

‘What did you see?’ whispered Ameera. 

Sophie had been hit so hard by the stench that her other senses hadn’t kicked in. She moved back towards the door and pushed it open. 

‘Oh, my God,’ said Jenny, as Becky began to wail.

All the clothes and possessions that Becky had left behind were strewn around the room – clothes and underwear on the floor, CDs and books smashed and ripped and scattered. A large cuddly rabbit lay in the middle of the floor, its belly slit open, stuffing bulging out. Its eyes had been pulled out and there was a vibrator stuck into one of the holes, still buzzing. Photos of Becky which were stuck to the wall had been defaced – devil’s horns drawn on her head, red pen slashes across her face. A family photo had been torn to shreds and a picture of a woman who was clearly Becky’s mum had been rendered obscene, saggy breasts and a dense pubic triangle drawn over her clothes, a crudely rendered penis spurting close to her lips. 

That was far from the worst of it. 

A washing line had been strung across the room, tied to the wardrobe handle at one end and attached to a nail in the wall at the other. Dead mice had been attached to it by their tails, their plump white bodies hanging motionless, little black eyes open, staring sightlessly. Their stomachs had been slashed open like the rabbit toy beneath them. Stepping closer, forcing herself to confront the horror, Sophie could see that wire had been wrapped around the tails and the washing line to pin them to it. There were seven of them. 

‘I’ll call Security,’ Jenny said quietly from the corridor. 

Sophie looked back. Becky sat on the floor, arms wrapped around her legs, rocking back and forth, her expression glazed and slack. Her sleeves were pulled up and Sophie was shocked to see scars criss-crossing Becky’s forearms. She realised she had never seen Becky in short sleeves. There were no fresh cuts but the scars were evidence that Becky had, at one point, self-harmed. 

‘Take Becky to the kitchen, give her something to drink.’ 

The other two girls nodded and led Becky away, leaving Sophie on her own in the room, trying not to look at the dead mice, focusing on the bed.

Photos of Becky and Lucas lay on the pillow, ripped in two. A used condom lay unfurled on the quilt, apparently still containing sperm. She turned her head away. Someone had scrawled words on the mirror in red lipstick. 

SLUT. BITCH. SLAG. 

DIE IN PAIN. 

Small words designed to cause maximum pain. 

Next to them were more photos, dim and underexposed, of Becky pressed up against a wall, face screwed up, a man entering her from behind. 

Sophie left the room. Her head felt light, legs shaky. The urge to be sick bubbled up through her but she fought it. A minute later, one of the caretakers arrived along with a security guy. Sophie drifted away towards her room. She wasn’t going to be sick. She wasn’t. She had a horrible feeling about who had done this. She remembered hearing Liam say that Becky needed to be taught a lesson, recalled Jasmine’s threat to Becky after she revealed her identity. 

No. Surely not. Liam was a self-proclaimed rebel, but she couldn’t believe he would do something this hateful. Beneath the pose, he was a nice guy. She had to believe that. Jasmine too. She could be hot-headed, had told Becky she’d cut her tongue out, but there was no way she would do this, surely? 

It had to be Lucas, Becky’s betrayed boyfriend. Apart from seeing his band play once at the Student Union she didn’t know him very well, but he came across as pretty intense on stage, his lyrics all about S&M and suicide. She had thought that was just him playing at being a rock star but maybe it went deeper. And besides, jealousy could turn the mildest people into monsters. The room was full of vile sexual imagery, including the shots exposing Becky’s betrayal of Lucas, plus naked photos that had probably been taken for Lucas’s benefit. Everything in the room spoke of revenge for Becky’s betrayal of her boyfriend. It had to be him.

Excerpted from THE DEVIL'S WORK © Copyright 2016 by Mark Edwards. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About The Devil's Work by Mark Edwards

A gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies.

It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake.

What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie’s predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years.

As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job…before it kills her.

About Mark Edwards

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which terrifying things happen to ordinary people. His first solar novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No. 1 spot on Amazon UK as did his third novel Because She Loves Me (2014).  He has also co-written various crime novels with Louise Voss such as Killing Cupid (2011) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). 

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and started writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end-jobs.  He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing.  As well as a full-time-writer, Mark is a stay at home dad for his three children, his wife and a ginger cat.  

Website: www.markedwardsauthor.com

Twitter: @mredwards

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markedwardsbooks





SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Monday, September 19, 2016

Guest Post by Tade Thompson - Horror as a Reminder.


Horror as a genre exists in part to remind us of fear. Fear is an emotion essential for survival because it indicates danger and triggers fight or flight. On a primal, lizard-brain level, for horror to work it must evoke an existential threat of some kind. This threat is of harm to the self, if you can indulge me as I stretch the definition of ‘self’ to include the individual or the group. When executed properly, all horror emanates from here.

If I were more web-savvy I would have an info-graphic here, but this is what I’ve got: Predators trigger a direct danger to the self. The unknown triggers the idea that it might be a predator, and tracks back to danger to self. In evolutionary terms, it is smart to consider the unknown dangerous until proven otherwise. To understand the danger to children you’d have to see that in some way children are the means by which the self propagates or transmits to the next generation. To transmit your DNA (or cultural/psychic DNA if adopted) to the next generation is important to the self, therefore to endanger children is to endanger the self. Evil children in horror fiction represent a form of contaminated seed, which is a danger to the self.

Horror is a big part of my literary DNA. Shirley Jackson, Henry James, Mary Shelley, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and others, I read their books to pieces. ‘It’ by Stephen King is probably my most re-read book. I do write straight up horror (the short stories Monkey House, Slip Road, and the novella Gnaw, for example) but I also see horror as in integral part of the fantastical fiction storyscape. To me, the best sci-fi works with a horror element (like Aliens, for example). 

In my novel Rosewater there are several scenes of full-blown horror. In the contaminated biosphere there are several alien creatures, often used by criminals. Kaaro, my protagonist, is captured and held by a criminal who has a carnivorous alien for a pet. I took time to design the monster. Aliens trigger the fear of unknown, and in addition, this monster is a carnivore, a predator. Floaters are used by gangsters for body disposal. Floaters use protein breakdown products to produce a gas which they use to inflate biological bladders harnessed for flight. It also stinks and remains suspended in the air even after death.

Imagine if you will, a man walking down the street peacefully, when a hungry floater descends like a hawk, grabbing the man with clawed limbs, lifting the person into the sky silently and eating the man during ascent. The next time the man is seen is when the stripped skeleton falls to the Earth, forty minutes later. Imagine swarms of these creatures haunting the rooftops of your city.  Imagine their mummurations at breeding season.

Welcome to Rosewater. I hope you enjoy your stay. Don’t get eaten.


© 2016 by Tade Thompson


Tade Thompson lives and works in the south of England. His first novel MAKING WOLF won the 2016 Kitschies Golden Tentacle award for best debut novel. He has written a number of short stories including “Budo” at Escape Pod. His horror novella GNAW will be released in December from Solaris Books. ROSEWATER comes out 15th November, but is available for pre-order now.








Monday, August 8, 2016

Vanishing Girls

Title Author: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver.
Read by:  Saskia Maarleveld, Elizabeth Evans, Dan Bittner, Justis Bolding, Tavia Gilbert, Joel Richards.

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery.

Source: Library.

Synopsis: Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged.

When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick things Dara is just playing around.  But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked.  Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.  ~Goodreads.

Midnyte Musings: Vanishing Girls caught my attention from the beginning, and held it throughout the story. 

I liked main character Nick and felt kind of sorry for Dara.  The dynamics of the two sisters were interesting.  They are envious of each other because they see in each other what they do not see in themselves.  Nick was athletic and smart and Dara was pretty and popular.   Mix that with the boy next door and the jealousy, insecurity and resentment escalate.  


But Nick also discovers that Dara holds a secret and it might be the key to not only Dara's strange and distant behaviors but also a missing child.   The plot was intriguing and at times exciting with the twists and turns.

I did like the alternating pov's of the two sisters telling the story.  It gave insight into the characters and even more once you get to the end.  Oliver also has a lovely and haunting writing style and the chapters flew by.

I admit it, I did not predict the mystery/ending.  A lot of people did, but I guess that was good for me in that I was surprised.  However, I was also annoyed.  I don't mind unreliable narrators, but for some reason, my reaction was less than positive.  I really wonder if Oliver didn't intend to have Dara be dead at first, because it really read like that.  I know this is part of the twist and drama, but it felt a little...like a cheat?  

Narration:  The narration was very good.   No complaints.


Enjoyable.  Worth the read.





SaveSave
SaveSaveSaveSave
SaveSave
SaveSave
SaveSave
SaveSave

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Guest Post by Erica L. Satifka - Stay Crazy.


I like killing things.

Not real things, mind you. In person, I'm a pacifist. But fictional things? I'll happily send wave after wave of troops toward certain death in Civilization, usually in the direction of my spouse Rob's cities.

Writing characters, though, is a little different from clicking a mouse on a unit and pushing them into battle. While there are certainly a lot of lighter moments and clever zingers in Stay Crazy, the central conflict is grim: an alien entity that is attempting to destroy the universe by sucking the life energy out of workers at a big-box store. When the victims are depleted, they commit suicide, bringing the world one step closer to annihilation.

Stay Crazy is also the story of a young woman haunted by her neurological issues. Em, our heroine, is faced with such an improbable situation – a second, helpful paranormal being contacting her via the RFID chips in frozen foods – that she's not sure whether or not she's falling back into illness. Like nearly all people with schizophrenia, Em is not violent, and I worked hard to tell her story respectfully and not buy into false stereotypes. (No "psycho-killers" in this book! Or any of my books, ever!)

Even though the two otherworldly beings in the book manifest mostly as disembodied voices, the self-inflicted human deaths are all too real. And it's all massively triggering for Em, who at the start of the book has just gotten out of a mental hospital. Because of the gravity of the overall situation, I didn't want the deaths in Stay Crazy to be mere cannon fodder, and I thought long and hard about the consequences for the plot. Who was this character in relation to Em? Would their death matter? Was I falling into any of the tropes I hate most as a reader? One important character in particular came in and out of my focus as a person to murder. I almost felt like I had them at the edge of a plank on a pirate ship, hovering between life and death, waiting to be rescued (or not!) by my keyboard strokes.

Ultimately, I won't be the final arbiter of those questions. Readers will. But I'd like to think that I took death seriously in Stay Crazy, the same way that I took Em's mental illness seriously, working hard to ensure I captured the nature of her struggle while still creating a compelling narrative.

As for the character I mentioned above? Did they live or die? I guess you'll just have to wait until August 16th to find out!



Erica L. Satifka is a writer and/or friendly artificial construct, forged in a heady mix of iced coffee and sarcasm. She enjoys rainy days, questioning reality, ignoring her to-do list, and adding to her collection of tattoos. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Lightspeed, and Intergalactic Medicine Show, and her debut novel Stay Crazy will be released in August 2016 by Apex Publications. Originally from Pittsburgh, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her spouse Rob and an indeterminate number of cats.

Preorder Stay Crazy at Apex Books






Monday, July 25, 2016

Guest Post by Darren Beyer - An Emerging Sub-Genre: Smart Science Fiction.

Most nights after I get into bed, I pick up whatever is my current novel and read to clear my mind of the stresses of the day. It tends to be a little too effective – usually after just a few pages, my eyes grow heavy and I’m forced to close the cover. A couple years ago, while searching for another science fiction novel to grace those few minutes each night, I came across Andy Weir’s The Martian. It seemed to have an interesting premise, was science fiction, and was getting good reviews. I was happy the day it arrived, as my previous book was now sitting on the shelf, and I needed something new to bring on my slumber. The Martian failed miserably to meet that need. When, on the first night of reading, the clock hit two, I had to force myself to put it down. It grabbed a hold of me from page one and wouldn’t let go. I finished it two nights later – so much for a good night’s sleep.
Science fiction novels tend to rely on action and the genre itself as a means to draw readers. The Martian is science fiction, but it differs from the norm. It is a novel first and science fiction second. It is every bit as engrossing a story as Robinson Crusoe – just in a science fiction setting. As such, it appeals to a wide variety of readers, including those who would have never otherwise even looked at the cover of a pure science fiction novel. People who had never shown interest in anything resembling a space ship, were drawn to theaters to watch the movie adaptation. The technology and science Weir depicts is nearly flawless. The challenges that must be overcome, real and relatable. The plot, the details, the ingenuity are what made The Martian so successful – the genre played a role, but the work as a whole appealed to everyone.
Last year I had the luck to fall into another novel from a first-time author. Like The Martian, this book had a science fiction theme to it, but it wasn’t what made it so appealing. It treated me to as detailed and interwoven plot as one could hope for. It brought in historic world events, science, and technology to tell a history of humanity that had never before been explored. The book was The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle. It was followed by two more enthralling installments: The Atlantis Plague and The Atlantis World. Even though the books have decidedly sci-fi components, Riddle bills them as techno thrillers. I like to call them, and The Martian, something else: smart science fiction.
Novels like The Martian and the Atlantis series rely on plot, theme, tempo, and realism to draw the reader in, versus attracting them simply because they belong to a genre the reader finds appealing. They have detailed back stories that draw on real history, science and technology to create believable worlds in which the reader can fall into. I’ve read a myriad of science fiction novels. They’ve painted wonderful pictures of far-off worlds, star ships, alien attacks and interstellar wars. As a fan of the genre, I’ve enjoyed the reads, but aside from providing those few minutes of escape each night, most left me with little else. In fact, aside from a select few like Dune, Ender’s Game, I Robot, 2001, and Ring World, I can’t even recite most of the titles I’ve read over the years.
Science fiction authors are now beginning to weave more stories that transcend the genre and attract a wider audience. This metamorphosis is taking place in film as well. Movies like Avatar and Interstellar are less about laser beams and explosions, and more about the story, science and character development. Certainly, no one can say this type of science fiction didn’t exist over the years – it’s been there from such greats as Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, and others . But it never made the leap to mainstream, primarily because the majority of works in the genre catered to the same old themes and diluted those that could have broader appeal. For the longest time I was happy reading those nameless novels, but now authors like Weir and Riddle have ruined it for me. Now I demand more from my reads. Now I demand smart science fiction.

Check out Darren Beyer's blog at https://tek22.com.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Audio by Holly Black.


Title/Author: Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

Read by: Christine Larkin.

Genre: YA, UF.

Publisher:  Little, Brown Young Readers.

Source: Library.

Synopsis:  Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist.  In them, quarantined  monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey.  The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret.  Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.  ~Goodreads.com

Midnyte Musings:
Holly Black does it again with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.  The story had me hooked from the first page (or rather disc).  It starts out strong,  is exciting and fast paced.  Although not a "light" book, as it delves in some deep issues, it is easy to read/listen to and enjoyable to follow.

There is mystery and Holly's signature twists.  Her characters drew me in immediately. All of them.  They are adventurous, human, monstrous, damaged and some are, at times, deceitful. I love the main character Tana.  She's kind of a badass and can be remote and distant, but there's a reason she has walls built up around her.  I especially loved how her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, perceived her.  I thought it was so interesting because Tana was presenting herself as one way and he took it as another.  Gavriel, the vampire that Tana saves is another intriguing character and there is so much more to him than what you see at first glance.  Also a character named Midnight.  What?  And guess what?  She's a blogger.  Not a book blogger, she blogs about vampires.

There is romance, but it is definitely not the main storyline, which is another reason I loved it.  And you could say there is a love triangle, but no, not really.  Maybe just the potential for there to be one.

I haven't read a Holly Black book in a while and you know how you sometimes get worried that an author may disappoint you when you read a new book?  Well Black's writing doesn't diminish.  Her style is compelling, her dialogue smart.  When she talked about a character's hair color being akin to a blue gum ball, by God, I wanted a blue gum ball!  The world building, the vampire mythology, the Dystopian atmosphere -- all are so unique and clever.

Narration: Fabulous.  I loved Christine Larkin's voice and would listen to anything she reads.  She brought Tana to life and is skilled and convincing in her portrayal of all the characters, yes even the male ones.

In a word - fabulous!



SaveSaveSaveSave
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...