The Siren and The Specter by Jonathan Janz

Anytime I get an ARC from a publisher I feel super lucky. So when I had the opportunity to review Jonathan Janz’s new novel The Siren and The Specter published by Flame Tree Books I jumped at the chance. I am always down for a haunted house type novel. The Siren and the Specter is so much more then a haunted house story.

Summary: Paranormal skeptic moves into the countries most haunted house to either prove or disprove it is haunted.

What I loved: I read this in one sitting. I think I stopped a couple of times to refresh my coffee but but besides this I read and read and read. This is a, you can’t put it down, book. There many different story arcs in this novel. Janz expertly  brings them all together in a brilliant conclusion. This says so much about Janz’s writing ability. The pacing of the novel is perfect for the content. It wasn’t too fast and it wasn’t too slow. The story unravels before you when you are reading. Janz is a master craftsman who defiantly knows how to weave a horrific tale.

What I didn’t like: Nothing absolutely nothing.

Star Rating: 5 all the stars…

My thoughts: I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. I read it in one sitting and it made my black little heart happy.  Seriously I was worried…I mean seriously that all the story arcs wouldn’t come together but they did and I was so relieved. The story arcs I really enjoyed. They all made sense in the context of the story and fit well together. There are so many different elements of horror packed in this story and each is done so well.

The Siren and the Specter releases on September 6th. It is currently available for preorder. If you click on the picture it will take you to Flame Tree Publishing’s site. Go and order now folks!!!

****Huge Thanks to Flame Tree Press for sending me a Review copy for my honest opinion.*****

Siphon by A.A. Medina

I have a large old  Gray’s Anatomy that I love. While being helpful when I was doing my masters it is just beautiful. The illustrations of the muscle layers and the colorful veins. I personally believe that they are a work of art. So much time and skill went into the plates. It is still one of the books that I am truly proud of owning… I follow a lot of publishers and authors on twitter and I had seen Siphon by A.A. Medina a number of times and the cover is stunning. It was calling me. I was truly thrilled and excited when Mr. Medina contacted me and offered me a review copy.

Summary: Gary is a Dr. with a fixation on his co-worker. Things really go sideways after an accident in the lab.

What I liked:  The pacing was perfect. The more manic Gary became in the story the faster the pace.  It was sooo sooo good. Medina’s has a strong writing voice which allows the reader to become submerged in the story almost immediately. Medina’s skillfully created  characters which read three dimensional and are well written.  The reader truly understands the full force of Gary’s obsession. Just when you think that Medina is winding the story down he hits you with an ending that you didn’t see coming. That ending tho!!! Completely took me by surprise. Siphon hit all the right notes for me.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything I didn’t like in this book.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: I am really looking forward to reading more from Medina. The story was fresh and I had no idea where the story was going to take me and I loved that. The cover is just stunning and fits the story so well. Your feelings toward the main character change throughout the story. It is a manic and fun ride that I personally am seriously glad I took.

***BIG thanks to A.A. Medina for sending me a copy for my honest review***

Candles and Pins By Jacqueline West

I haven’t really been a poetry reader until National poetry month. It was really good for me. It opened a whole new door. Horror Poetry!!! It is like the gods have smiled on me. It was amazing. A whole new genre to read! A friend of mine approached me asking me if I would like to review a dark poetry book. I just about jumped for joy. So here I am writing another dark poetry book review. This one really sticks to your ribs. Candle and Pins by Jacqueline West.

Summary: Poetry collection about superstitions.

What I liked: This little tome hit all the high notes for me. The first being superstitions. I love anything written about superstitions. One of my favorites were about strigoi. As I have been to Romania a few times. The poem made me think of the people that I met and the culture that I was able to see. There is another poem that made me think of my grandmother and her habit of putting honey out for the little folk so they don’t make mischief. The superstitions that were chosen were wonderful and the inclusion of lesser known superstitions really hit a high note for me.  I can’t really discuss the technicality in which the poems are written as I don’t have a background in technically dissecting poetry.  It is a collection that you will want to digest slowly and languidly.

What I didn’t like: So I loved all but one poem in this collection. For me it seemed out of place. It wasn’t so much the subject matter but it didn’t really fit in with the rest of the collections superstition vibe.

Star Rating:4

My thoughts: One of the things that through my for a loop was the change in cadence in every poem. As I am very used to reading novels and novellas it through me just a little but once I got into the swing of things I really appreciated how cadence can be used as a demarkation between poems. I would defiantly recommend West’s work to anyone looking to branch out of novels and novellas.

Blog Feature for Into the Sounds by Lee Murray

Today in my small piece of the internet I get the privilege of being a member of the Blog tour for Lee Murray. For those of you who don’t know who Lee Muray is let me introduce you to her.

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Lee Murray is a multi award-winning writer and editor of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (Australian Shadows, Sir Julius Vogel). Her titles for adults include the acclaimed Taine McKenna series of military thrillers (Severed Press) and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra co-authored with Dan Rabarts (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Among her titles for children are YA novel Misplaced, and best-loved middle grade adventure Battle of the Birds, listed in the Best Books of the Year 2011 by New Zealand’s Dominion Post. Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, the first book in a series of speculative middle grade antics, is forthcoming from IFWG Australia. An acquiring editor for US boutique press Omnium Gatherum, Lee is a regular speaker at workshops, conferences and schools. She lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

Lee’s latest foray in to the world of kaiju is Into the Sounds. 

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Synopsis

On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribes’ survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. A soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?

I got to Lee about her favorite monsters and kaiju!! Come on who doesn’t love monsters!!

What is your favorite creature feature movie?

Obviously, I love the Jurassic movies. [Please no spoilers on the latest instalment because I haven’t see it yet!] In a former life, I was a research scientist, so I know exactly how it feels when you open the centrifuge to discover one of your test tubes has exploded in the drum… I love the Kong movies too, perhaps because they were the signature kaiju movies of my generation, but also because of their romanticism: the sweeping landscapes and that sense of awe at nature’s dogged determination to survive, and a need to connect in times of crisis.

In a battle between Godzilla and the kaiju from your first book, who would win?

Difficult question! Certainly, if size has anything to do with it, Godzilla has the advantage since even the 1954 movie version stood around fifty metres tall (164ft). By comparison, the Sphenodon kaiju in Into the Mist ‒ who Taine’s soldiers have nicknamed Sampson ‒ is tiny, just three metres tall (10ft) and fifteen metres (50ft) from head to tail, but I still believe he could hold his own in a battle. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, because my creature is conjured from a real biological Order, the Sphenodontia, he’s equipped with the natural superpowers shared by the other representative of that group, the tuatara, features such as: an armoured hide with spiny ridges and sharp talons, hearing sensitive enough to detect an insect’s wingbeat, and a parietal eye in the middle of its forehead, which scientists believe were for testing the air temperatures. Like his close cousins in the reptile family, our friends the crocodiles and snakes, he’s a formidable hunter, able to learn from past experiences, which means if he survives the first onslaught, my Sphenodon likely to come away with some new knowledge which will make him better equipped in the event that the pair clash again. And finally, my kaiju is not just a primordial monster, he’s also a living mythological creature, a mighty taniwha with its own wairua (spirit) and that gives him the edge.

Why do you think more girls aren’t writing kaiju books?

I’m not entirely sure that’s true. I have a story called Maui’s Hook coming out soon in a fabulous kaiju anthology from Outland Entertainment called Kaiju Rising II. The book is full of wonderful women authors, all writing monstery fiction of the oversized variety: Mari Murdock, Marie Brennan, Melanie R Meadors, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and Zin E Rocklyn, so if readers are interested in discovering women writers in this genre, I recommend picking up a copy of this book as the perfect sampler. And in answer to your question: this particular kaiju anthology was by invitation, so perhaps if we want to see more girls writing kaiju fiction, the answer is “if you ask them, they will come”

What was the oddest bit of research you have done for this series?

Since you asked, here it is: Te Urewera, the setting for Into the Mist, is the name of one of our most beautiful national parks and the spiritual homeland of the Tūhoe tribe. However, it is also the Māori term for “burned penis” named after the war chief Murakareke, who turned over in his sleep one night, rolling into the fire where he singed his family jewels!

Is there any other cryptid out there you kind of secretly hope is real?

Do you think a lot of Harry Potter fans are going to be disappointed if I don’t say Griffin? To be honest, it’s a difficult choice since so many cryptid species might more than a little dangerous if we were to actually encounter them in the flesh. Down here in New Zealand, our mythology supports a lot of potentially lethal cryptids: massive carnivorous birds, serpent beasts, mammoth primates. Let’s hope no one finds the elixir that brings them all to life ‒ unless of course it’s in a story.

What is your personal favorite kaiju book (that you haven’t written)?

I absolutely loved Jeremy Robinson’s Apocalypse Machine. Kaiju fiction is one of Robinson’s favourite genres and all his monster books are great, but that one really hit the spot for me. Now there’s a monster who could give that fifty metre Godzilla a run for its money. A fabulous high action, fast-paced read. Highly recommended.

Lee has allowed me to share a sneak peek of her newest release Into the Sounds.

Excerpt

Letting himself be carried along, David tried to get his bearings. Saltwater met freshwater in these Sounds where the sea carved great caverns into the land, some of them more than 500 yards deep. He could believe it: below him, the saltwater layer was dark as an All Black jersey. Broadnose was sticking to the murky freshwater layer and a shelf about three yards below the surface. The other men, still dragging Wallace, had entered a cave. David’s pulse pounded as they followed them inside.

Not a cave, but a tunnel. Does this go anywhere? Running out of air.

Broadnose moved them swiftly through the silence. A horizontal fissure as big as a truck gaped to their right. Through the murky gloom, David spied movement.

Something was in there. Something huge. Oh my God, it was coming out. David wanted to scream, to tell Broadnose to get them the hell out of Dodge, but the pale man just tightened his grip on David and continued on. Helpless, David could only watch in horror, his lungs bursting, as slowly, slowly, a monster emerged.

It was colossal. More than fifty yards from tip to tail. With a cone-shaped body the size of a whale, it glowed eerily. Squid tentacles, white and thicker than a tōtara trunk undulated in the swell. A gigantic pupil eyed David malevolently.

Into the Sounds is out NOW. Click on the picture of the cover (which is exquisite by the way).

Blog Tour for The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield

I am really excited to be part of the blog tour for The War in the Dark by Nick Setchfield. The first line of Setchfield’s book just pulls you in and keeps you there until the last page. The action starts and just keeps going. I will have a complete review up next week but lets just say I am really excited for everyone to read The War in the Dark.

Synopsis:

Europe. 1963. And the true Cold War is fought on the borders of this world, at the edges of the light.

When the assassination of a traitor trading with the enemy goes terribly wrong, British Intelligence agent Christopher Winter must flee London. In a tense alliance with a lethal, mysterious woman named Karina Lazarova, he’s caught in a quest for hidden knowledge from centuries before, an occult secret written in a language of fire. A secret that will give supremacy to the nation that possesses it.

Racing against the Russians, the chase takes them from the demon-haunted Hungarian border to treasure-laden tunnels beneath Berlin, from an impossible house in Vienna to a bomb-blasted ruin in Bavaria where something unholy waits, born of the power of white fire and black glass . . .

It’s a world of treachery, blood and magic. A world at war in the dark.

“James Bond meets Indiana Jones… a rip-roaring adventure. This is the book you’ll be reading on the beach even when it rains or the sun goes down” Mark Millar

“A rattling good read… it’s thrilling” Russell T Davies

“An assured, memorable debut.” Tim Lebbon

“Kept me riveted.” Genevieve Cogman

Excerpt:

He snatched his hand back.

The rose had pricked him, drawn blood. He sucked at his smarting thumb, and squatting on his haunches, examined the handle. There was a spiked metal thorn, located just below the bloom. A malicious little touch. This time he twisted the handle more cautiously, lifting his fingers away from the hidden barb. He felt the bolt shift, the hinges loosen. The door opened.

Another corridor confronted him. This one was darker, more tapering, its doors firmly shut. Winter couldn’t quite see what lay at the end of it.

He tried to recall the shape of the building. He had studied it through the binoculars but the structure he had seen from the hill refused to map onto the mansion’s interior. A corridor of this length didn’t belong here. The

dimensions simply didn’t fit.

There was an unusual taste in his mouth. He took a moment to identify it. It was almost like diesel, just at the back of his throat. Odd.

Winter began to explore the passageway. He tested a couple of the doors and found that they were locked. He pressed an ear against one of them. He couldn’t hear anything. Not even the sounds of the party below. The dark length of the corridor was completely hushed. This was clearly a private wing of Harzner’s residence, off limits to the pleasure-seekers.

He continued walking, his vision struggling in the gloom. Something stung his right eye, causing him to blink. It was a drop of his own sweat, beading from his forehead. Another followed it, hitting his cheek. His shirt-cuffs, too, felt clammy.

The taste in his mouth was stronger now. A rising sense of nausea accompanied it. He thought of that metal thorn, the prick of pain in his thumb. Could it have been laced with a toxin? Christ, he was an amateur.

Yet another door waited at the end of the corridor. Winter warily rotated the handle. This door, too, swung open.

He was back where he had begun.

Winter stood on the landing, at the top of the great stairs, by the stuffed remains of the fox, the white leopard and the wolfhound. And there were the mounted insects on the walls, their glass cases bright as mirrors as the light

from the bone chandelier hit them.

He could hear the party now.

His internal compass spun. This made no sense. It was impossible. For a moment reality lurched. Winter focused his thoughts. This was an illusion, he told himself. Momentarily inexplicable but just an illusion. It was something an opponent had designed to confuse and disorientate. Standard psychological combat procedure. Clever, but you could conquer it. You just needed to crack how it was done.

So how was Harzner doing this? Winter had a sudden vision of Krabbehaus as an immense Chinese puzzle box, its walls sliding and realigning in ever-shifting combinations. Hidden engines, concealed mechanics.

He balled his fists and scrubbed the sweat from his eyes. And then he entered the corridor he had originally chosen, the one that led to the door with the carved rose, the one with that damn silver thorn.

It seemed to be exactly the same passageway as before. Did it seem darker this time? A little narrower? Possibly. But then his vision was beginning to telescope, fuzzing at the edges. Winter wasn’t sure if he could trust his eyes.

He stepped cautiously along the corridor, past the open doors and the shadowed couples, his senses alert for any trace of architectural subterfuge. He heard nothing, saw nothing. There was no hint of secret clockwork turning in the walls.

Again there was a strange taste in his mouth. The diesel flavour was gone. In its place was something brittle and metallic on his tongue. He found himself wondering if this was how mercury poisoning tasted.

A door flew open. The same door as before. And the same woman strode out, as defiantly naked as the first time Winter had seen her. But now there was something very different about her. Something terribly wrong.

There was the skull of a beast where her head should have been.

If you want to see more about The War in the Dark check out the next blog tour stop. You can follow Nick on twitter @NickSetchfield.

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The Meg and The Trench by Steve Alten

The ocean isn’t a place that I frequent. It isn’t that I don’t like water or that I can’t swim. I like watching storms come into the beach. The waves getting higher and higher..the grey clouds rolling towards the shore. The sound of the thunder and waves crashing against the shore is beautiful and relaxing. However, I am not a fan of getting on a boat whether it is big or small. You can’t see what is beneath you. There are so many things that are underneath the water that could eat you. I don’t think that my healthy fear of getting eaten in the water is going to be cured by reading The Meg and The Trench.

Summary: A Megladon is enticed out of the Mariana Trench and all the chaos happens. It includes chomping on a lot of people.

What I like: The pacing of the story was fast and I really appreciated that. Alten’s writing reminds me of Crichton’s. There is science mixed in with fiction that could make you scratch your head and wonder whether there could be something to it. The male characters are well written and full fleshed out. The stories were fun and there was a lot of people chomping happening, which is always my favorite part of shark books. I really enjoyed the parts of the books that were written in the POV of the Meg and Angel from The Trench. There is an addition to the story that I really appreciated and it made my heart happy but you need to read it to find out what it is.

What I didn’t like: So here is my only problem with the Alten’s writing…the way he portrays a lot of his women. I believe that he is trying to write a strong woman character but it doesn’t work out well.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: Besides the issue I had with the way female characters are written I loved the chomping. I loved many of the aspects of The Meg and The Trench. They are awesome creature feature palette cleansers.

An Ode to the Public Library

This morning I was looking through my Twitter feed when I came across a very disturbing article. Without giving it too much credit, the article basically championed the nonsensical idea that libraries should be replaced by Amazon bookstores. Here is the full link for the article:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2018/07/21/amazon-should-replace-local-libraries-to-save-taxpayers-money/#5fb373bf60a8
I don’t want to give it a pretty graphic or anything. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement; I am actually pretty pissed off. When was the last time the author stepped foot in a public library? I am guessing not recently. I was just there on Friday. My library is a bustling hub of books, computers, and kids activities. But, instead of writing a scathing blog post berating this man’s idiotic idea, I just want to talk about all the wonderful aspects of libraries that the article’s author has clearly never experienced.

Libraries are so much more than a place to get books. Here is a small offering of what my local library has going on: (I don’t see this on a Starbucks event calendar)

  • Free Breakfast (which is offered everyday) not every child where I live gets breakfast.
  • Job Help (job searching and resume help)
  • Knit and Crochet club
  • Computer application classes
  • Reading help (I will explain more why)
  • Math Mondays
  • Spanish Class
  • English Class
  • Toddler Storytime
  • Baby Storytime
  • Playtime
  • Jewelry Making classes and clubs
  • Block Parties

These are only the events currently on the event calendar.  This doesn’t mention the tax preparers and estate planners, or the voter registration drives that the library hosts. My library also allows patrons to checkout out DVDs, audiobooks, ebooks, and digital movies ALL FOR FREE. No, I am not naive: tax dollars pay for the services of libraries–but when looking at my monthly tax bill COMPARED to the amount I would have spent on Amazon, the tax cost is much cheaper and I get much more. Streaming services such as: Amazon prime, Netflix ,and Hulu all cost per month. Then, add the fee for internet service. Where is the cost savings for the taxpayer? This sounds like a revenue opportunity for Amazon more than a service to the literary community.

I hope the author’s children are lucky enough to have a well-stocked school library–many schools in the city I live in don’t. I have seen lines of children holding hands walking back to school from the public library with books tucked under their arms. The youngest child who lives in the same habitat that I do doesn’t have a school library. We visit our local library to check out books in order to keep him reading and to help finish reading assignments.  This is an educational imperative.

Reading help is one of the most important things that libraries in my city and county are doing. In my city 1 in 10 adults can’t read above a grade 5 reading level.  I want to let that one soak in- A. Grade. 5. Reading. Level. This means that 10% of adults can’t read at a level where they can understand a contract. Luckily our libraries partner with literary connect to help setup programs for adults to learn how to read–lets see Amazon and Starbucks do that. I live in the 6th poorest metropolitan areas in the country…83% of pre-K children walk into Kindergarten already at risk. I would much rather give my money to library to help with community projects then give my money to large corporations where none of it is going to stay in the community.

So, to the author I would like to say shame on you…It’s crazy…I literally don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone try to get rid of libraries by arguing for capitalism. What the fuck dude? I think the author needs to do a lot more research before putting an article out there that dismisses libraries. It’s not just piece of bad journalism, it’s a threat to the entire literary community.