Saturday, December 24, 2011

Creepfest Winners!

So, I'm probably the worst blog-hopper in the world. I wanted to be better, I really did. But we are trying to get two books out this week at Angelic Knight Press and there are always a million last minute details. And it's Christmas. Those are the excuses I'm sticking with anyway.

I didn't get as many posts up as I would have liked to, but stay tuned. Those posts are still coming. Plus many more posts on the wonderful books I managed to win during Creepfest. I didn't get to visit as many blogs as I hoped to, but I still have the linky guy. I'll continue the rounds!

My grand prize winner is Gina! Gina gets first choice of the prizes.

First Runner up was Ash Krafton. After Gina lets me know what she wants, I'll get in touch with you, Ash.

And the second runner up was Julie Janson. I'll be in touch!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and congrats to the winners!

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quiet Houses by Simon Kurt Unsworth

I read Quiet Houses, by Simon Kurt Unsworth, because of a recommendation I saw in the Kindle Horror Facebook group. I've always been a huge fan of the haunted house story, and this book was recommended highly by another author. I assumed Mr. Unsworth was a new indie author. I was totally wrong. (Not really an unusual occurrence) Mr. Unsworth has been writing for a while and has stories in several of the Best Horror of the Year volumes as well as The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. You can find his blog here.

Quiet Houses is one of the best books I've read all year. I don't say that lightly, because let's face it, I read a lot of books this year. Some of them not even worth reviewing, but some of them quite good. I will say that this is the best "on a whim" purchase I made this year.

The book uses the "frame method" of story telling. That means that there is a beginning story that sets the premise of the book and then each of the other stories are told, and another story at the end wraps everything up tightly and ties everything together. Sometimes this method works well (think of the old movie, Dr. Terror's House of Horror. What? You've never seen it?! It's a classic, people! Chock full of old horror movie legends! *sighs* I digress...) and sometimes it doesn't work. In this book it works beautifully.

We start with the story of a research assistant, Nakata, sorting through answers to an ad he placed in the newspaper, trying to find haunted houses. He wades through them and finds a few to actually check out. Each of these houses is a seperate story in the book. Throughout the book we get more glimpses into the character and what drives Nakata himself. One of the stories in the book is his own pivotal experience with a haunting. There are eight stories in the book. It would be hard to pick a favorite, but I if I had to (you know, because someone was pointing a gun to my head, or something), I would pick number 5. It centers on a big abandoned hotel, The Ocean Grand.

And I know what you're thinking (no, not because I'm psychic), I can almost here you say it, But that's been done! It has, and it's been done so well that sometimes we begin to think that no one else can use that theme again. And that, my friends, is the beauty of this collection! Haunted houses, haunted hotels, haunted burial grounds have all been done. Yet, Mr. Unsworth manages to do them again and not bore his readers. Each tale is so quietly creepy, so dreadfully evocative, so atmospheric, that you get completely caught up in them and don't spend the whole time comparing them to other things you've read. That, in itself, is quite a feat. As is creeping me out so badly that I don't want to turn out the light. And that's what these tales did.

There's no gore. No shock for the sake of shock value. No mad slashers. No gimmicks. These tales are just pure horror. The good old fashioned kind of horror, the kind that relies on plot, atmosphere and good writing, to deliver the scare. I highly recommend this collection. I don't recommend that you read it at night, if alone in the house. Recommended for lovers of Poe, James Herbert or Barbara Eskine. (If you don't know any of those authors- look them up- they're fabulous!) Or for anyone who just likes their fear to creep up on them, slowly, from behind.

You can find the book here on

Remember the contest! You can still enter to win by leaving me a comment telling me your favorite book and the reason it's your favorite. Contest runs until December 23rd. Now go. Read something!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Creepfest Reviews...

I am participating in the "12 Days of Creepfest" blog hop, put together by the wonderfully talented Rebecca Treadway. Rebecca is the Artistic Director for Angelic Knight Press. She's a supremely talented author, but she's also a great writer.  And she put together this little blog hop to help all of us grab some new followers and discover new blogs.

The rules of participation say that the blog owner must host a contest during the creepfest. So, since this is a book review blog, I want the contest to be about books. The prize is going to be an eBook version of "Satan's Toybox: Demonic Dolls", eBook version of "Satan's Toybox: Toy Soldiers" or a print copy of Demonic Dolls, winner's choice. I'll give the remaining two prizes to two other lucky people.

How do you enter this fabulous contest? Simple. Just leave a comment on any post between now and December 23rd. In the comment tell me your all time favorite horror genre book and why it's your favorite. I will pick the winner at random and announce them on the Christmas Eve blog post. I'll also pick runner up #1 and runner up #2. If you'd like extra entries, follow me on Twitter (@Spot_speaks) or "Like" my Facebook fan page. Links for both are conveniently located on the side of my author blog.

I will be posting some reviews from now until Christmas. Most of them will not be accompanied by author interviews on my other blog, simply because I don't know the authors. And not all of them will be Indie Books. I've read some really great books lately and want to share.

That's all I've got for today, but you should go visit all the other horror authors, reviewers, artists, bloggers listed at the bottom of this blog. Why? Because it's the right thing to do. Also, they're giving away prizes as well!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Forsaken by Andrew Van Wey

Andrew contacted me through email and asked me if I would like to review his book. I, of course, said "yes". I didn't know Andrew and hadn't heard of his book, but this is not unusual. There are so many books out there and so little time to read. What I have to say is-- if you only have time to read one book-- read this one. It's worth it.
The Synopsis: For art professor Daniel Rineheart, life's a dream. His children's laughter fills the halls of his home, and his wife's embrace lulls him to sleep. But summer's end heralds the arrival of three disturbing omens. A lost bird, thousands of miles from home. A beautiful student with whom he shares an insidious past.

...and a mysterious painting, dripping with malignant secrets.

It wasn't the strangest creation he'd ever seen, but close. A girl with a wounded, sack-like face; a boy with pinhole eyes and a cruel sneer; and a distant shadow peering out from behind a dying tree, all stared back at him from that perfect painted canvas.

Yet it wasn't only the subjects that challenged him, but the riddle that came with it.

"Here in Art, Denial."

Four words shrouding a secret that awakens a surreal nightmare. Where objects from his past manifest in canvas and oil. Where painted clocks tick-tock away in the dark hours before dawn, and a missing dog whimpers from between the walls. Where the painted children leave the canvas to stalk the halls of his once quiet and happy home.

And where all answers lead back to a blind artist and an impossible creation, one that threatens to destroy his family and devour his sanity.


Forsaken lives up to all of the potential of the synopsis. The prologue sets the mood for the rest of the story, dark and tragic. What follows is a dark and scary story with all the creepiness one expects from a good horror novel. We follow Daniel down into the darkness beyond the painting and watch as his family is swallowed up too.

The reader is left wondering whether the painting is really supernatural or if Daniel's starting the long spiral into madness or both. The plot spirals in an effective manner that keeps you guessing until the end. The end wraps up the package with a satisfying bow.

Honestly, I was a little creeped out reading it at night, before bed, as is my custom. After the lights were out, I experienced some trepidation. Normally, I pass out without a second thought. To me, that screams success on the part of the writer. If you can make me lose sleep because I'm still thinking about the book- you win- and so do I.

I've seen lots of authors claim that their work is for fans of King, Koontz and Straub. This is the first time I've agreed. Go. Buy this book. You can find it here.

Then stop over at The Author Spot and read my interview with Andrew. He's extremely interesting, funny and articulate.