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Review: Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi

29 Mar

Author Travis Glasgow recently completed a novel titled The Ocean Serene, written as Travis’s way of dealing with the death of his brother Kyle, whom he felt he had killed years ago.  Thinking he had put his past behind him, he and his wife, Jodie, move to Westlake, Maryland to be closer to his living brother, Adam.  However, upon arrival to the house, Travis starts noticing strange happenings.  He is hearing noises and seeing strange sights in the basement.  What he witnesses makes him believe that Kyle’s spirit has followed him all this way and is trying to tell him something.  Then one day Travis notices another oddity; a staircase, floating in the middle of the lake outside their house.  As Travis’s confusion and fears increase, he decides to do an investigation of his own, wondering if there is more to the house than just a ghost from his own past.  Taking his research skills to the local library, he soon discovers that the previous owners of his new house have something in common with him; they also dealt with the death of a drowning boy in their family.  Travis becomes obsessed with finding out as much as he can about the previous owners of his house in order to find out what message the being that has been reaching out to him is trying to get across.

Of all the books I read in 2011, Floating Staircase was at the top of my list!  From start to finish I could not put this book down.  Having not previously read anything by Ronald Malfi I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this one, but I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely be looking up his other reads.  I’ve always been a fan of ghost stories and this book is definitely that.  In the beginning, Malfi leaves you wondering if maybe Travis Glasgow has gone just a bit crazy over the years due to the blame he had put on himself after his brother’s death.  But once he discovers that there is another presence in the house other than what Travis originally thought was his brother’s spirit, things really take off.  Mixing elements of both horror and mystery, Malfi has put together a page-turner that, even when finished, leaves you wanting more.  Powerful and chilling, Floating Staircase is one ghost story that horror fans should not miss.  Highly Recommended!

Contains: Adult Language & Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian

Kindle Freebies – 3/25/12

25 Mar

Sorry I haven’t posted any freebies the last couple of days, but I don’t always have time to create these blog posts as it takes a bit of time to get all the links and such together.  This should cover everything that I personally thought looked like good freebies over the course of the weekend however.  As always, click the cover art and/or book title to get to the book.  Also, prices can change at any time, I have no control over that.  

HIGHLIGHTS:  

Since I have previously read both of the following books for review in the past, I’m posting them here at the top as highlights with my personal review of the books.  Both of these are amazing reads, so don’t miss out on them while they are free!

Love crime?  Love noir?  Love bizarro?  Love comedy?  If you said yes to any of these questions, then Squid Pulp Blues is for you!  The book is made up of three novellas and has been described as squishy-noir, and contains all of the genres I just listed.

The first novella, The Haberdasher, is about bad drugs, missing feet, and other weird things that Red Henry Hooper is up against after obtaining parole.  The Longheads is the second novella and has probably one of the most interesting, yet disturbing characters I’ve come across in a bizarro title to date… Peachy, a diaper-wearing gangster.  I’ll leave it to your imagination about exactly WHY Peachy wears a diaper, as it’s best to find out for yourself.  Peachy is actually not the main focus of this story, however.  The story centers on a group of veterans called the Longheads who are tracking down other characters who end up having a run-in with Peachy.  The final novella in this collection is titled The Apocalypse Donkey.  This was my favorite of the three stories, though they are all extremely good.  The Apocalypse Donkey is about Simon, the artist of a popular comic book, who is on his way to an autograph session when someone hands him a package.  Unfortunately, it’s a case of mistaken identity and the package isn’t really for him.  Once this is discovered by the other party, the chase is on!

All three novellas in Squid Pulp Blues are loosely connected, making for an even more interesting read.  Characterization is one of the strongest points of Squid Pulp Blues, as is the case for all of Krall’s books.  Each story contains several characters and each and every one of them has special attributes/features that are unique to them.  I keep thinking that Krall will run out of ideas for new and interesting characters, but he hasn’t disappointed yet.    Randomly gross, most often hilarious, and almost always full of squid references, this is one of Jordan Krall’s finest works.  I would recommend this to anyone as there is something in it for everyone.  Highly recommended!

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

YOU.  Yes, “you”… are a poor soul in the hospital on your last legs.  And as it is, you’ve “given birth” to one of the most horrible “people” ever possible…

MORBID.  Born from “your” rectum, Morbid dispatches many other patients in the hospital in extremely horrendous and painful ways.  However, the main suspect of these murders isn’t Morbid, but instead…

WESTPHAL.  Living with his ghost step-dad, Sammy, and his pet aborted fetus, Chip, Westphal works as a night shift nurse, getting stuck with all of the worst patients.  All those that no one else wants to fool with.  Just to get through the day, Westphal has to dope himself up with the strongest narcotics possible and that doesn’t always help make things easier.

These three characters, as well as a host of other interesting “people” make up Steven Rage’s You Morbid Westphal. Both the characters and story format are unique- Rage has created a one-of-a-kind voice with this novella, which has enough story to fill a full-length book.  A large chunk of the story follows Westphal day-to-day as he suffers through many horrendous tasks at work, in his dreams, and even just trying to obtain more drugs along the way.

As soon as I read the final chapters of this book I was ready to re-read it.  I ended up waiting a few months before doing just that, but after a second read, I would be more than happy to do so yet again… and again… and again…  You Morbid Westphal is one of those novellas that never get tiresome, as you pick up something different with each read through.  You Morbid Westphal is not for the faint of heart, as it is full of numerous crude scenes that Rage describes in graphic detail.  For many seasoned horror/bizarro readers, this will be a plus, but for those that can’t handle things over the top, beware!  Highly recommended!

Contains:  Adult language, Adult Situations, Sex, Rape, Violence, Gore, Heavy Drug Use

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

HORROR & THRILLERS

A janitor, a former junkie, a cab driver, a waitress, a high school senior. Strangers in life, they each receive a blue card in the mail. Now they are connected in death by blue cards found on their bodies. The enigmatic letters on the cards mean something to the killer, something Homicide Detective Jayson Weis has to decipher before he can rid the city of this madman. Confronted with the bodies of the present, haunted by the bodies of the past, Weis knows there will be more bodies in his future unless he can stop the Card Killer. When the few witnesses can’t agree about the killer, not even the race and sex, Weis begins to dread the possibility of a second killer. His relationship with long time girlfriend Lois Fremont is deteriorating. The pressure from City Hall mounts. His own uncertainty about his future dulls the edge of his investigation. Help comes from an unexpected direction, a paraplegic teenager who has also received one of the cards.

A personal loss throws medium Tess Schafer’s beliefs into question and severs her communications with “the other side”. Unable to move on with her life, she takes a healing vacation to a haunted resort on the coast of Maine. Her arrival triggers a spike in paranormal activity and the return of her spiritual connection.

As the spirits of two young lovers reach out to her, Tess soon finds herself in the middle of much more than a tragic love story. Why are they afraid and why are they warning her away? Personal doubts, skeptics, a growing sense of menace and a distracting attraction to another guest will not stop her from uncovering the resort’s secrets.

This omnibus contains the novels WHERE DARKNESS DWELLS and THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN. A monster of a volume, this single ebook is over 195k words (or 700+ pages if in print).

WHERE DARKNESS DWELLS
Summer, 1934. Two boys, searching for a local legend, stumble upon the Underground, a network of uncharted caverns. Time holds no sway there; people no longer age and their wounds heal as if by magic. By morning, one boy is murdered, while the other never returns.
Below a town ravaged by the Great Depression, an immortal society thrives, built on the backs of slavery and pervasive immorality.

THE NIGHTMARE WITHIN
Maury can pull dreams into the waking world, giving them corporeal form. From a boy named Kevin, he removes a nightmare dubbed Mr. Freakshow. Mr. Freakshow knows the rules: a dream becomes immortal by killing its dreamer. When the nightmare escapes his confinement, he has but one goal.

Will Kevin survive his nightmare?

OTHER HORROR & THRILLERS

Crack in the Glass by Jonathan Carter

Dead Man #1: Face of Evil by Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin

The Fall by Reverend Steven Rage

Medi-Evil 2 by Paul Finch

The Empty Heart: A Collection by Derek Murphy

Merciless Pack by R. Thomas Brown

Flashes From the Grave by Lisa McCourt Hollar

Eyes of the Seer by Peter Dawes

Falling Awake by Charles J. Harwood

McGrave by Lee Goldberg

Covert Reich by A.K. Alexander

Rotten Apple: Seven Sins, One Deadly City by Simon Dunn

The Innocent by Vincent Zandri

Hunt, Hunted. Murder, Murdered. by Michael McBride

Dead But Not Buried by Iain North

Mayhem: A Collection of Stories by R. Thomas Brown

Brujas Behind Bars by David Bain

Dirty Eden by J.A. Redmerski

The Grid by Amy Cross

Welcome to Demos by Jonathan Lister

Monster Story by McCarty Griffin

EROTIC HORROR

Final Cut by Jonathan Carter

Nocturnal Cravings 2 by Various Authors

TWISTED FAIRY TALES

Horrors! While out on a lovely boating jaunt with her sister Lorina and Charles Dodgson (otherwise known as Lewis Carroll), poor Alice finds herself caught up in the tentacles of madness. Inspired by the brilliant and haunting Dreamlands works of the pre-eminent author of horror-fantasy, H.P. Lovecraft, CTHULHU IN WONDERLAND: The Madness of Alice hurls the reader down the Zoog Hole and into Wonderland to experience the sanity-leeching terror of Cthulhu, Shoggoths, the Jabberwock, the demoniac Duchess, the tyrannical Queen in Crimson and the King in Yellow himself. Filled with macabre, sophisticated and antediluvian humor, CTHULHU IN WONDERLAND is certain to leave a permanent aethereal scar upon the reader’s already frail and faltering psyche.

From the author of THE NECRONOMICON ~ THE CTHULHU REVELATIONS and the editor of THE COMPLETE ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

(Disclaimer: Publisher not responsible for death, dread metamorphosis, transmogrification, loss of sanity, permanent neural damage or horrific titillation. If you experience a trans-dimensional journey lasting longer than 4 hours, cease all bodily activity and go the emergency room immediately. Read at your own risk. Ingredients: Earth-Shattering Revelation 43.6%, Apocalyptic Waking Nightmare 33.1%, Things Man Was Not Meant to Know 23.3%. May contain trace amounts of morbid amusement and partially hydrogenated peanut oil.)

OTHER TWISTED FAIRY TALES

Blackstone & Brenwen: The Mirror & The Meretrix by Andrew D. Mellusco

Snowy & the Seven Wharves by Patricia Green

Royal Historian of Oz by S.D. Brown

PARANORMAL ROMANCE/EROTICA

Meet Vivian. She’s a 580-year-old vampire who exudes sex, has a talent for drama, and is passionate about two things: her human husband, Rafe, and their resort for the undead. Her ability to project physical illusions has created the perfect vacation spot — a dark, isolated Alaskan hideaway where visitors can have their wildest fantasies come true.

Vivian knows the best performance requires perfect timing, but the powerful vamp is put to the test when she discovers a corpse in a locked guestroom minutes before the next arrivals. Always cool-headed, Rafe hides the body, convinced he and Vivian can find the culprit without disturbing their guests.

Juggling the increasingly outrageous demands of their customers while tracking a killer isn’t easy. Will their poking and prodding give them the answers they need, or will it uncover secrets Vivian would kill to protect?

Warning: This book contains very explicit sex scenes, intended for mature readers over 18 only.

OTHER PARANORMAL ROMANCE/EROTICA

Just One Taste by C.J. Ellisson

Another Sip by C.J. Ellisson

Echo in the Dark by Marc J. Riley

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Part One by Amileigh D’Lecoire

Love Immortal by Kelly Wallace

PARANORMAL YA

Seattle’s demons are scared and wreaking havoc in the rainy city. They’ve burned their way through the Seattle underground, threatened to topple the Space Needle, and sent a twenty foot statue rampaging downtown.

It’s up to Nathaniel Grimlock, the teenage Demonkeeper, to control them, but when he discovers what’s stirring them up—a legendary monster known as the Demoneater—he finds that he’s in over his head yet again!

MORE PARANORMAL YA

Dead, Sweet Angel by Susan MacQuoid

Changes by Patricia Reed

Marty Boggs & The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb by M.T. Acquaire

Movie Review: John Carter

7 Mar

Was given the chance to go check out the Sneak Peek of the new Disney movie, John Carter, tonight thanks to a co-worker of mine.  Craig and my friend Wendy also went with.  I think the consensus from all three of us was that it was a very fun movie!

The pre-movie awesomeness was seeing the Avengers trailer in all its glorious 3D.  It was all I could do to contain myself having Thor, Chris Hemsworth almost falling out the screen at me.  I was SO ready to catch him!  *grin*

I’ll try to make a few comments (spoiler free) on my thoughts of the movie:

I’ll start with the biggest concern I was hearing about… the worry regarding Disney having produced this movie.  Yes, you can probably tell what influence Disney had on it.  The “alien dog” in the movie is definitely something that Disney influenced as he’s playful and adds a lot of comic relief to the movie.  It’s a great character though, despite the Disney influence.  Additionally, there are quite a few light jokes throughout, which didn’t seem to take away from the movie, but rather helped keep things light-hearted a bit as some of the scenes got a bit serious.  I didn’t think that the stuff Disney probably was mostly involved with took away from the movie though, so hopefully you Disney haters out there can overlook that aspect of the movie.  🙂

Throughout the movie, I was getting a lot of Deja vu feelings as many things reminded me of the Star Wars movies.  The flight machines being used in the movie seemed  a LOT like the Pod Racers… the aliens themselves looked a lot like Jar Jar Binks (though MAJORLY less annoying!!!)… and other little things throughout.  Again, this didn’t take away from the movie, just something I noticed as I was watching.  Not sure if it was an intentional thing or not.

This could definitely be considered a family movie, though a few of the fight scenes might disturb very young children.  (not that it stopped the few people tonight that brought crying babies with them *grumble grumble*)  Overall, there is something for MOST all ages in the movie.  If you like 3D movies, DEFINITELY go see it.  This was probably the best 3D movie I’ve seen in a long time.  It fully utilized everything that 3D has to offer.  It’s visually stunning throughout and the fight scenes have you feeling like you are right there with everyone.

My only complaint was there was a part maybe 45-60 minutes into the movie that seemed a little slow, but I was also running on about five hours of sleep so it could’ve been that I was just tired and having trouble focusing.  Other than that, I had a fun time with this movie and hope all of you out there that go see it enjoy it as well.

Oh… and ladies… yes, Taylor Kitsch, is VERY nice eye candy!  *drool*  There were even scenes where I found myself comparing his image to some of Johnny Depp’s in various movies.  And on a non-guy front… I absolutely LOVED the wedding dress of the lead girl, Lynn Collins.

One last thing… as I wasn’t familiar with the books before.  This movie is actually based off of a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  You can buy the first five of the series for Kindle for just $0.99 so you might want to check that out as well if you do decide to see the movie, whether before or after.

Review: Help! Wanted: Tales of On-the-Job Terror edited by Peter Giglio

6 Mar

For most people, there is nothing more terrifying than waking up and going into work day after day.  Peter Giglio shows just how valid this fear is as he brings together twenty-five authors and stories in Help! Wanted.  As with all anthologies, some stories will be favored by one reader while other readers will prefer the ones that reader didn’t care for.  For me, some of the stories that truly stood out were Lisa Morton’s “Face Out”, where a spell goes wrong for a bookstore owner; Mark Allan Gunnells’ “Must Be Something in the Water”, which will make you hesitant to ever drink from a water cooler again; Gregory L. Norris’ “Carpool”, in which a man finally goes crazy from driving to work each day; and Jeff Strand’s “Work/Life Balance”, which shows how things really can be too good to be true.  These are just a few of the magnificent and utterly terrifying stories in this collection.  Do yourself a favor and read this book… unless, of course, you think it will make it that much more difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  Consider yourself warned! Highly recommended for all library collections.

Contains:  Adult Language & Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Review: Cut Corners Vol. 1 by Various Authors

6 Mar

The first ever book release from Sinister Grin Press is a mini-collection of three short stories by three VERY well-known authors: Ramsey Campbell, Bentley Little, and Ray Garton.  Ramsey Campbell starts off this collection with a story titled “The Address”, which tells of the events an elderly man goes through as he tries to find his way home.  Second up is Bentley Little, with a darkly humorous tale called “Conversation Between Two Women Overheard At My Dentist’s Office”, which gets increasingly more terrifying as the conversation between the two females plays out.  Ray Garton ends the collection with his story “Autophagy”, which is still giving me the creepy crawly feeling as the characters in this tale describe how they have strange “things” coming out of their bodies.  All three stories were terrifying in a different way and most enjoyable.  For readers not familiar with these three authors, this is a great introduction to each of them.  Seasoned fans of these authors won’t be disappointed in their latest release.  For a new press, this is an impressive first lineup and will leave readers curious as to what will be coming out next from this small press.  Highly recommended for all library collections.

Includes:  Adult Language

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Wild Girls by Lisa Morton

26 Feb

The “wild girls” mentioned in this novella’s title are Jessie and Dens.  Jessie has had a rough life growing up and Dens has decided to take her in and try to help her out.  Little did Dens know that when she offered Jessie a place to stay for the night that her life was going to change so much.  That’s just what happens, though, as Jessie seeks out the ultimate revenge on her father, and men in general.

As a seasoned fan of Morton’s work, the contents of this book were not at all what I was expecting from her.  Yes, it included her typical tougher-than-nails female lead character, but it also included mutilation, rape, and lots of killings.  This is not her typical style, which made it a bit humorous in the sense of being able to tell that it was a bit of a jab at some of the other authors in the field that tend to write solely about these kinds of things.  However, Morton’s spin on this was that she reversed the roles, and instead of the typical dynamic of males attacking females, she wrote about the females attacking the males.  That being said, she held her own in this sub-genre of the horror industry and wrote a fun and gruesome novella.  Readers that don’t take kindly to rape and mutilation, please pass on this particular Morton title, but be sure to check out one of her other books as I promise you will enjoy this author.  For those of you that don’t mind a bit of violence and abuse in your books, be sure to give this one a try, as it’s only a $0.99 download for your Kindle. Highly Recommended!

Contains:  Adult Language, Adult Situations, Mutilation, Rape, Violence

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Monsters of L.A. by Lisa Morton

26 Feb

        In Monsters of L.A., Lisa Morton takes twenty “monsters” (some more known than others) and adds her own spin on their stories based on her experiences in Los Angeles.  For example, this collection starts off with a very well-known monster, Frankenstein.  However, Morton’s Frankenstein doesn’t come with bolts in the side of his head, but rather is a Vietnam vet that suffered a lot of physical ailments in his past that involved him being pieced back together, and earning him the name “Frank” from a lot of people.  At the end of this collection of stories, Morton details a bit about who/what influenced the stories she wrote in this book and the story behind Frankenstein, in particular, is very touching.

    Additional stories in this collection that I truly loved I’ll list below, in no particular order, with a brief description:

    “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” – Dr. Jekyll in this story is in the process of creating a new method for gender reassignment, but instead of testing it out on animals, decides to test it out on herself with some adverse effects.  She isn’t aware at first of what all goes on after she injects herself, but soon learns.

    “Dracula” – Dracula is an actor in this story and doesn’t get along so well with his co-star, Eddie, which leads to some major tension.  Not only was this story fun, but it also made me groan out loud!  I won’t say why and give things away, but if you read this story you will definitely figure it out!

    “The Killer Clown” – With my fear of clowns, I was dreading getting to this story in the collection.  As expected, it made me even more afraid of clowns, as the girl in the story is practically terrorized by numerous clowns while at a liquor store.

    These are just a few examples of the amazing contents of this book.  I am typically not a fan of short stories, but Morton has made me second guess myself on this opinion with her stand-out collection.  Do yourself a favor and check out this Stoker-nominated collection! Highly recommended for all library collections.

Contains:  Adult Language & Adult Situations

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Book Review: Creep by Jennifer Hillier

6 Feb

 

    Newly engaged professor Sheila Tao is looking to end the three-month long affair she has been having with her student/assistant, Ethan Wolfe. Problem is… Ethan has grown more attached to his professor than she realizes, and he starts stalking her. Ethan goes out of his way to learn as much as he can about Sheila’s fiancé, Morris, in order to find out what she truly sees in him, and also digs into some of Sheila’s deepest secrets, ones she has even kept from Morris. With the information he collects, he sets out to stop their wedding, no matter what it takes.

    Jennifer Hillier strikes it big with this first book in a new series. The reader follows Ethan’s thoughts and movements, as he stops at nothing to keep Sheila for himself. Hillier weaves a vicious web of twists and turns, leaving the reader unsure up to the bitter end of how things are going to turn out for both Ethan and Sheila. This novel kept me turning page after page wanting to know the final outcome, and at the end I was already eagerly awaiting the sequel, Freak (due out in August 2012). I would recommend Creep to any fans of psychological thrillers or mysteries. Jennifer Hillier may be new on the publishing scene, but she’s far from being an amateur. Even if you don’t try any other new authors this year, at least check out Jennifer Hillier! Highly recommended for public libraries.

Contains: Sexual situations, adult language, adult situations, violence

Review also posted at MonsterLibrarian.

Wicked Winter Read-a-thon – Feb. 3 – 5

3 Feb

Saw where my friend Shaunesay was doing yet ANOTHER Read-a-thon this weekend.  I swear that girl finds one for almost every weekend.  LOL!  At any rate, I decided to try to give it a go.  I’m sure I won’t be devoting all weekend to it, but I will post when I can and read what I can around doing other things that are going on this weekend.

To start things off, I was currently in the middle of two books when this day had started:  Peter Straub’s GHOST STORY  (at the halfway mark) and an anthology edited by Jack Burton titled STEAMY SCREAMS (about 1/3 of the way through).

Today I ended up starting another book however, A HOLLOW CUBE IS A LONELY SPACE by Jack Burton.  I also read a short children’s picture book by Scott Nicholson called IDA CLAIRE and posted a review on Amazon.  Please note that if you go today you an check this Kindle book out for FREE!!!  I’ll paste it here as well:

“Fabulous kid’s picture book by mystery/horror author Scott Nicholson. This story, however, is not a scary tale, but rather a cute poetic story about a father and daughter. The rhymes within this book are both clever and cute and show the love the father has for his daughter Ida. Both the poetic rhythm of this short tale and the colorful artwork by Lee Davis will have kids wanting their parents to read this book over and over again!”

I chose to read & review IDA CLAIRE as part of Scott Nicholson’s amazing Kindle Fire giveaway he has going on.  I had been wanting to read something of his for a while now anyway, so that gave me an excuse.  Of course, I still want to read something of more note by him.  This was just a cute little kid’s tale and I have a feeling his horror books are going to be amazing.  Maybe I’ll get into some of his other shorter fiction this weekend as well!

I doubt that I’ll get to finish any of these books today, but I’ve obviously got a dent going in them all now and hope to at least knock out the two short story collections this weekend, make more progress in GHOST STORY, and possibly read some other stuff as well.

I’ll post more as I can.

Thanks to the person(s) running this Read-a-thon for putting it together and thanks to Shaunesay for pimping it so that I could find another thing to keep my already busy life busy this weekend.  🙂