Monday, June 29, 2015

Haunted - Audio.

Title/Author: Haunted (A Bishop/SCU Novel #15) by Kay Hooper.

Read by: Joyce Bean.

Genre: Supernatural Mystery.

Publisher: Brilliance Audio.

Source: Library.

Synopsis:  When Deacon James's younger sister Melanie calls him, terrified, he goes to her aid in the small Georgia town of Sociable.  What he finds is a sacred young woman in the grip of what she insists is a paranormal nightmare -- and murder.  Two local men have been killed under mysterious circumstances.  And Melanie is the prime suspect.

Trinity Nichols left a high-stress job for quiet, small-town life.  But news of the murders has left her - and the town - on edge, especially when there is nothing remotely ordinary about how the men died.  And her investigation is yielding more than she bargained for, including a group of strangers who have descended on Sociable, some with abilities Trinity finds hard to believe, and agendas she refuses to trust.  For some reason, they know a lot more than they should about what's happening in town. Ad what's is growing stranger by the minute.

Midnyte Thoughts: I had high hopes for this book.  Unfortunately, they weren't met.  Part of it was my own fault as I didn't realize this was part of a series.  I was confused by the cast of characters and had a hard time keeping up with who was who. I see now it is number 15 in the series.  15!!!  I missed a lot.  I missed the world that was created, a lot of key plot points, history, relationships and the personalities of a few of the main characters.  However, whether a book is number 1, number 6, or number 15 in a series I would like it to engage me. Haunted did not.

I had no real interest or empathy for the characters and they seemed interchangeable at a lot of parts. There was a lot of explaining and telling in this book and while it did reference to events that happened in the past, it didn't do so in a very interesting way.  There was a lot of telling and going over the past, which while appreciated to fill in some gaps, it didn't make for a very compelling story.

I also think part of my lack of enjoyment in this book is because whenever a scary part was about to take place, I was expecting a lot more.  To me, there was nothing very frightening going on.  Just some murder and possession -- I think I'm too jaded!  But I felt there was no tension and it could have been ramped up.  I'm supposing my idea of the book being scary and gory is not the same as the author's (and that's okay).  It just simply didn't work for me. 

Narration: I felt the diction was very clear and succinct and the author managed to differentiate between male and female characters very well.  However, the voices still didn't always work.  I thought the speech was so deliberate that a lot of it didn't feel natural to me.
However, if you like an easy book to read, you may want to try this series from the beginning.  I think people who want a "safe" scare may appreciate these books.

I also love how the author advocated for animal rescue and even based a dog in the book, Braden, after a dog she "met."  Now this was part of the book that really touched me.

A light supernatural murder mystery.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guest Post by Michael Aronovitz - Horrific Images

I don’t invent novels and short stories by their plot points. That would put me into a rhythm of “And then he did this and then he did that and then…” which plays falsely somehow. It lacks beauty, a word seldom used when readers refer to the horror genre, though I believe it is an essential element if we want things to have a spooky, frightening effect.
Of course, this method would eliminate splatter. Having a character stab someone FIFTY TIMES isn’t scary. After one or two good ones the victim has already shown us heart of the event, and the chance for beauty is lessened with every thrust. Good scare moments are poetry. If they just shock us, we have the thrill of release, but that’s not frightening. In a way, it is a relief. The moments that have meaning for us are the ones with symmetry, odd beauty, and staying power, affecting us long after the book is closed.
A guy awakens a spirit in the graveyard. Okay. In terms of plot, that works. But I don’t see it. I don’t feel it, under my skin, in my bones. When I conceived my first novel ‘Alice Walks’ I had a horrific image in my head, not even sketched in full sentences, just fragments of darkness and symmetry connected by commas, almost like a heartbeat. There was a ghost, a girl, tinted green somehow in her burial dress, floating a foot or so above the ground on a night of early November snow in front of her dark mausoleum on the south side of the graveyard near a scatter of woods. She was wearing a veil, trying to breathe like the living, sucking the silken material to her face briefly showing the shape of her bony features, then releasing on the exhale becoming formless again. There were boys who had raced up from the edge of the courtyard, those who didn’t understand her, and they’d brought rocks in a dented beach pail. They were throwing the stones and she got wounded, bleeding, arms stretched now like Jesus as she flies toward them hard through the semi-darkness.
At the time, I had no idea why the boys were there throwing stones, so I wrote the story around the image that would bring it to life. The novel I have coming out through Nightshade Books titled ‘Phantom Effect’ this coming February was conceived with an image in mind of a 6’5” Native American serial killer caught in a late autumn rainstorm at night out on an abandoned highway with both back tires flattened. I pictured that his huge hands were dangling down, his long hair hanging in his face, and he was staring into the trunk at a girl cut into pieces and floating in the pond, head lolling with her long straight hair matted across so her face wasn’t visible almost in a mimic of her attacker looming above her; an ankle portion was partly submerged, bobbing in the black rainwater showing the floral and ivy tattoo going up to her calf. He’d purposely slanted his blade during the dismemberment portion so he could save the pattern.
My novel that just came out this past December titled ‘The Witch of the Wood’ is loaded with images strung together so rapidly, so violently, that I was hoping the pacing itself would become a living, breathing entity. The central figure or image for this one at the point of conception made no sense in my head at the time, it had no context yet…a “vision” in its purest sense. I saw a tall figure rising above me, wearing some sort of industrial headset, with ridged goggles. He had his hands stretched up above his head almost like one of those old school vampires about to strike melodramatically, and the central visual was the black cape rising behind him, flapping in what appeared to be a hard wind and dotted with points of stabbing light that were blinding. That is the description of my “Dark Guardian” character, making his appearance at the halfway point in the text. Before him, I have scenes of intensive erotica and situations that keep working toward an ever darkening center. After him, there are visions of creepy blank slate beings trying to work themselves into the bloodline, exploding heads, witch burnings, fireworks, apocalyptic thunder as every tree in the world crashes down to the earth at the same time, and hell, at that point I’m just getting started.
I would never insinuate that my process of image first – plot second is any kind of a standard. One of the wonderful things about writing is that there really is no base script for the joy of invention. We make it up as we go. Still, I am willing to bet that Stephen King had the image of the pale, expressionless twins holding hands in the hallway and saying, “Come play with us Danny. Forever. And ever,” long before he conceived the story around them. Or maybe not.
I know that’s the way I would have done it…

Michael Aronovitz published his first collection titled Seven Deadly Pleasures through Hippocampus Press in 2009.  His first novel Alice Walks came out in hardcover by Centipede Press in 2013, and Dark Renaissance Books published the paperback in 204, and his novel The Witch of the Wood came out through Hippocampus Press recently.  Aronovitz's first young adult novel Becky's Kiss will be appearing through Vinspire Press in the fall of 2015  and his third adult horror novel Phantom Effect will be published by Night Shade Books in February of 2016.  Michael Aronovitz is a college professor of English and lives with his wife and son in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.  Visit

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sing Me Your Scars.

Title/Author: Sing Me Your Scars by Damien Angelica Walters.

Genre: Horror, Dark Fiction.

Publisher: Apex Book Company.

Source: This book was given to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.

SynopsisSometimes a thread pulled through the flesh is all that holds you together. Sometimes the blade of a knife or the point of a nail is the only way you know you’re real. When pain becomes art and a quarter is buried deep within in you, all you want is to be seen, to have value, to be loved. But love can be fragile, folded into an origami elephant while you disappear, carried on the musical notes that build a bridge, or woven into an illusion so real, so perfect that you can fool yourself for a little while. Paper crumples, bridges fall, and illusions come to an end. Then you must pick up the pieces, stitch yourself back together, and shed your fear, because that is when you find out what you are truly made of and lift your voice, that is when you Sing Me Your Scars.

Midnyte Musings: Sing Me Your Scars is a well written collection of stories that can fall into several genres.  Horror, Dark Fiction, Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Speculative.  First I want to say that the style of the novella is very unique.  It is separated into three different titled parts that relate to each other, although the stories do not necessarily.  The titles of the stories themselves as well are very beautiful and some of the stories themselves are framed with originality.  I am specifically thinking of Grey in the Gauge of the Storm, which is about spousal abuse, losing yourself, being co-dependent and it is styled by using sewing terms. 

Many of the stories have a very Gothic feel which I appreciated since while it sounds easy to write, it is not always successful executed.  I also love when the story is a bit of a puzzle at first and allows me as the reader to figure things out...or maybe not.  And then I'm left pondering and thinking.  I think this attests to a good story, whether it stays with you after you read it.  And some of these stories are still with me weeks after I completed them. 

Although many stories have the thread of the same voice throughout them, there are a few stories that have a much different feel, simpler and starker writing perhaps, that matches the mood of the story more successfully than the author's more fanciful writing. 

There were only one or two stories that didn't resonate with me, but there were more that I liked and a few more that I felt were extremely imaginative and creative.  Some of the standouts for me were Glass Boxes and Clockwork Gods which to me, explored what it meant to be human.  I also enjoyed Sugar, Sin and Nonsuch Henry about a woman who buys a "Historical Companion" at a garage sale - trust me -- it's fun!  I also wanted Running Empty in a Land of Decay to be longer simply because I wanted to know what happens to the main character.  Another favorite is Scarred which combines elements of the supernatural and Horror. 

Other gems were Dysphonia in D-Minor, a story about people who could build physical structures with their voices.  The two women build bridges and it is very poignant and haunting, as well as a metaphor for relationships.  Melancholy in Bloom is about the gift of memory to an Alzheimer patient and was heart wrenching as I thought about what it is to live.  What is your life without memories?

A very enjoyable, thoughtful and entertaining collection of stories. 

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