Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Gothic September Is Here! #GothicSept

Today is the official kick-off of Gothic September here at Castle Macabre! This year, I'm featuring read-a-longs of three Edgar Allan Poe short stories.

Here are the stories and discussion schedule:

Week of Sept. 7 - 13 
The Cask of Amontillado 
Week of Sept. 14 - 20 
The Fall of the House of Usher 
Week of Sept. 21 - 27

*The schedule can also be found in the sidebar*

So, start reading Ligeia and next week, on Monday, I will put up a discussion post. Stop by at your leisure all week to discuss. I will follow this model for all three stories. (Each week's discussion post will be a sticky post.)

What else is going on this month? I'm hoping to post more about Edgar Allan Poe and his poems. If you're reading anything Gothic this month, I'd love for you to do a guest review. Just let me know if you'd like to share anything at all Gothic related this month. You can be my guest! 

The blogoversary giveaway is still going on at the announcement post so be sure to check it out. 

Happy (Gothic) September!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Announcing Gothic September and I missed my four year blogoversary!

That's right, folks. This humble little horror arena turned four on August 15th. Where does the time go? I thought I would mark the occasion by announcing Gothic September! This year, I'm doing all Edgar Allan Poe. Specifically, there will be read-a-longs of his short stories, Ligeia, The Cask of Amontillado and The Fall of the House of Usher. I will also share some of his poetry and other tidbits throughout the month. I'm hoping I will get some people willing to guest post too. You will find the read-a-long discussion schedule after I tell you about the giveaway...

Why, yes...a giveaway! My sister site, True Book Addict also celebrated a blogoversary in August. As of August 5th, True Book Addict has been online for SIX YEARS! Wow! So, this will be a dual giveaway between both blogs. Here's how it will work. If you comment here on this post (either telling me you'll be joining in for Gothic September and/or the read-a-longs, or just to tell me how much you love Poe) and on this post at True Book Addict, you will get two entries into the giveaway.

What's the prize? You will have the chance to win a $10 digital Amazon gift card OR $10 worth of books from the Bargain Bin at Better World Books (these are gently used books and let me tell you...I love the site. You can get 3 books for $10 from the bargain bin! I order from them all the time and purchases benefit literary causes around the world. Check them out!).

To enter, as I mentioned above, comment on this post AND on this post at True Book Addict and then fill out the form below with the name you used to comment. You only have to fill out the form once so if you fill it out here, don't fill it out again at True Book Addict. This giveaway will end on September 10, 2015 at 11:59pm CST. Open internationally.

Thanks for entering, in advance for joining me for Gothic September (if you plan to) and for being a loyal follower/reader of this blog.

The read-a-long discussion schedule is as follows. I will put the post up for the full week to enable plenty of time for people to stop by and discuss. I'll also post the schedule in the sidebar.

Week of Sept. 7 - 13
The Cask of Amontillado
Week of Sept. 14 - 20
The Fall of the House of Usher
Week of Sept. 21 - 27

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Q Island by Russell James - Review {Giveaway} #SurvivingLongIsland

My thoughts
As I was reading Q Island, I immediately thought of The Walking Dead, or The Strain or 28 Days Later. Don't get me wrong. It's not a cookie cutter story or copied off of these excellent shows/movies. No. I thought of these shows/movies because Q Island is that good. Honestly.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge horror fan. I mean, I believe a new horror movie should be released at the theater every week. That would make me very happy. So, when a book like this comes along - one that gives me the experience I so crave...scared, adrenaline pumping, edge of seat (you get the idea), I'm truly a happy reader.

This isn't the first book I've read, and loved, by Russell James this year (Dreamwalker in February) James has a real knack for writing horror that not only scares, but lets the reader enjoy a really well-written story. I can't wait to read what he put out next.

About the book
Q Island is the sixth novel (a novella collection with three other authors makes seven) that Russell James has published with Samhain Horror under legendary horror editor Don D’Auria! He’s also published various other books and short story collections that may be found on Amazon.
It’s an epidemic. An ancient virus is loose on Long Island, NY. Its black-veined victims become sociopathic killers, infecting others through body fluids or a post mortem release of spores. Chaos rules. The island is quarantined.

Melanie Bailey and her autistic son Aiden are trapped. Aiden is bitten, but survives. He might be the key to a cure, if she can escape what the world now calls Q Island. Further east, gang leader Jimmy Wade has also survived infection, and become telepathic with a taste for human flesh.

Wade sets his followers on a search for the immune boy who can make him a god, if only Wade can consume him. A scrappy, one-eyed nurse and a retired pipeline technician agree to help Melanie escape, but it’s a long shot that they can avoid the infected, Wade’s tightening grip and a military ordered to keep everyone on Q Island.

Q Island Nabs Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review
Q Island, a novel by Russell James and published by Samhain Horror, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly! In short, “The horrors are not created by the virus itself, but by what it allows people to do to one another. This is a seriously creepy page-turner that will keep readers up at night.” You can see the full review here.

Praise for Russell R. James—
“James has a talent for combining action-packed vignettes into a powerful, fast-paced whole.”
Library Journal on Black Magic

(Five Stars, A Night Owl Top Pick) “I loved the story so much that I’m eagerly waiting to read more from him. He carefully and very intricately wove his storyline to have elements of mystery and suspense throughout. I now have a new favorite book I’ll read over and over again.”
Night Owl Reviews on Dark Inspiration

“The book had me at the edge of my seat. The writing is so vivid I even jumped a few times. If you're a fan of the genre, love ghosts and are drawn to the supernatural, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book!”
Long and Short Reviews on Dark Inspiration

“James fills the novel with compete characters that are easy to care about and cheer for (or against) when appropriate. There is a very strong human element to the novel that allows the reader to sink into the story and become involved in its events.”
--The Examiner

“Dreamwalker is the first Russell James novel that I have had the pleasure to read and it was an absolute blast! I am definitely looking forward to exploring his previous and upcoming works. There is something for everyone in this novel - action, horror, fantasy and a hint of romance. Highly recommended!”
--The Horror Bookshelf

“This could very well be the best horror novel of the year.”
--Examiner on Q Island

Purchase or Wish List Q Island

About the author
Russell James grew up on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and The Twilight Zone, despite his parents' warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn't make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers Dark Inspiration, Sacrifice, Black Magic, Dark Vengeance, and Dreamwalker. He has several horror short story collections, including Tales from Beyond and Deeper into Darkness, as well as some science fiction collections. Now, Q Island, released July 7, 2015 and he’s already under contract for his next book for 2016.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says "There is something seriously wrong with you." He and his wife share their home in sunny Florida with two cats.

To find out more about Russell R. James, please visit his Website or follow him on Facebook! Join him on Twitter, @RRJames14. Also, feel free to drop him at a line at rrj@russellrjames.com.

Rafflecoper giveaway for two audiobook copies of Dreamwalker. Two winners will each win one code for a free audio book, open everywhere. Must use a valid email that you can be reached by. By entering the giveaway, you consent to allow Russell to have your email for very infrequent newsletter updates. Contest ends August 31, 2015. Other contest questions can be referred to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, Hook of a Book Media at hookofabook@hotmail.com.
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Ronald Malfi's Little Girls - Review and {Giveaway}

My thoughts
As I've grown older, I've come to really appreciate the beauty of a horror novel that is creepy yet not so "in your face" with the scary. Little Girls delivers in that respect. Right off the bat, we are treated to a gothic premise, complete with the Lurch-esque man waiting on the porch when Laurie Genarro arrives at her childhood home. Her estranged father recently committed suicide there and Laurie is confronted with dealing with his estate and the memories of a childhood without a father (for the most part).

As I said, the creep factor starts off almost immediately when Laurie is alone in the house and hears footsteps when she knows she is the only one there. Later, we learn that something bad happened in the past in the old greenhouse on the property (I saw something nasty in the greenhouse. lol). And there's a creepy little girl running around and befriending her daughter who largely resembles a girl who died tragically when Laurie was a girl. Yes, creepy.

This is my first read of a Ronald Malfi book and I can clearly see why he has been previously nominated for a Bram Stoker award. He clearly has a talent for the subtle scary that I appreciate in a horror novel. Not to mention a true talent for prose. There is no cheesiness in his writing whatsoever. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good Gothic horror ghost story.

About the book
File Size: 1769 KB
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Kensington (June 30, 2015)
Publication Date: June 30, 2015

From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…
When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…

At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels
“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”

"Malfi is a skillful storyteller."—New York Journal of Books

"A complex and chilling tale….terrifying."—Robert McCammon

"Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting."—Publishers Weekly

"A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed."—Suspense Magazine

Links to Purchase
Barnes and Noble

Or pick up or ask to order at your local independent bookstore or anywhere e-formats are sold!

About the author
Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi's dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres.

He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at www.ronmalfi.com.


Sign up to win one of two paperback copies of Little Girls by Ronald Malfi by clicking the link to the Rafflecopter below. Be sure to follow the specifics you can do each day to gain more entries.

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Glenn Rolfe's Boom Town - Review

My thoughts
Being a fan of The X Files (it's still my favorite show even though it's not on the air any longer), I love a good alien plot. In this book, the town of Eckert, Wisconsin has experienced it's share of strange occurrences. First a UFO sighting in the 70s and now, earthquake-like tremors underneath the town. When pets and people start disappearing, things start to looks suspicious. Brady decides to investigate based on the rumors he's heard around town and, along with his best friend, Kim, goes to the source of the last rumblings (not a smart move for pre-teens). Some dangerous stuff goes down and all I can say is, not everyone gets out alive.

I really enjoyed the suspense and general creepiness in this story. For a short novella, Boom Town certainly packs a punch.

About the book
File Size: 722 KB
Print Length: 81 pages
Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (April 7, 2015)

Terror from below!

In the summer of 1979, Eckert, Wisconsin, was the sight of the most unique UFO encounter in history. A young couple observed a saucer-like aircraft hovering over Hollers Hill. A blue beam blasted down from the center of the craft into the hill and caused the ground to rumble for miles.

Now, thirty years later, Eckert is experiencing nightly rumbles that stir up wild rumors and garner outside attention. The earthly tremors are being blamed on everything from earthquakes to underground earth dwellers. Two pre-teens discover a pipe out behind Packard’s Flea Market uprooted by the “booms” and come into contact with the powerful ooze bubbling from within. What begins as curiosity will end in an afternoon of unbridled terror for the entire town.

"...Stephen King-lite. (Boom Town) is quick, punchy and goes places you may not see coming before the final page is swiped or turned." - Horror After Dark

"Boom Town is quick and entertaining read that harkens back to the 1980's brand of small town (or intimate invasion) alien pieces. Like a reader’s digest version of Late Night Horror Television presentations (every region had one, for me it was "Fright Night Theatre") of "Invaders From Mars", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "Night of the Creeps" or "Xtro"” – Zachary, Mouths of Madness Podcast

“Rolfe weaves a wonderful tale of big, bad things happening to a small, good town. A sure winner!” – Hunter Shea, author of Island of the Forbidden and The Montauk Monster


Samhain Horror
Barnes and Noble

About the author
Glenn Rolfe is an author, singer, songwriter and all around fun loving guy from the haunted woods of New England. He has studied Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, and continues his education in the world of horror by devouring the novels of Stephen King and Richard Laymon. He and his wife, Meghan, have three children, Ruby, Ramona, and Axl. He is grateful to be loved despite his weirdness.

He is the author the ghost/mystery/thriller novella, ABRAM'S BRIDGE (Samhain Publishing, Jan. 2015) and his latest novella, a Horror/Sci-Fi mash-up, BOOM TOWN (Samhain Publishing). A full-length novel, BLOOD AND RAIN, will come out this Fall from Samhain Publishing and THINGS WE FEAR, a novella, is set to publish from Samhain in 2016.

His debut novel, THE HAUNTED HALLS (James Ward Kirk Publishing, 2014), is available now, as well as his short story collection, SLUSH (Alien Agenda Publishing, 2014).

Look for his punk rock band, The Never Nudes, on Amazon and Facebook.
Check out his website: www.glennrolfe.com

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hunter Shea's Island of the Forbidden - Review and {Giveaway} #theislandawaits

My thoughts
Can I just say wow!? This is my first foray into this author's work and I'll tell you, it won't be my last. I was hooked from the very first word. I can always tell when an author really has something to offer, especially in horror, and Mr. Shea definitely has it.

One premise that makes a great horror novel in my eyes is the creep factor and this book has that written all over it. Eddie sitting in his apartment surrounded by various dead figures brings new meaning to, "I see dead people." Man...I would NOT want to be him. The visual of the pretty blonde women with the black eyes, speaking to him psychically, "Perfect, not perfect. Perfect, not perfect" over and over again was completely unnerving. Throw in the creeptastic Ormsby House (and island) and its history and it's nail biting time, folks!

Jessica and Eddie are terrific characters. Just the right shade of messed up, but with a quiet strength in both of them that comes from enduring a lot in their short lives. I realized that this book is a continuation of the Jessica Backman series and so I will most certainly be getting my hands on the other books...sooner than later.

This was an impressive horror novel. As I said before, the creep factor is what draws me in and keeps me. It's what I deem a must in great horror stories. This book has it and I highly recommend it.

About the book
Island of the Forbidden by Hunter Shea continues the story of Jessica Backman, the ghost-hunting heroine who has appeared in Forest of Shadows, The Graveyard Speaks and Sinister Entity, all published by Samhain Horror.

To read more about the series and Jessica Bockman, read Hunter’s recent article.

Sometimes, the dead are best left in peace.

Jessica Backman has been called to help a strange family living on a haunted island in Charleston Harbor. Ormsby Island was the site of a brutal massacre two decades ago, and now the mysterious Harper family needs someone to exorcise the ghosts that still call it home. The phantoms of over one hundred children cannot rest.

But something far more insidious is living on the island. When the living and the dead guard their true intentions, how can Jessica discover just what sort of evil lurks on Ormsby Island? And why is Jessica the only one who can plumb its dark depths?

Buy the book

Barnes and Noble

Raves for Hunter Shea 
Forest of Shadows "A frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won't soon forget." --Night Owl Reviews

Sinister Entity "This is the real deal. The fear is palpable. Horror novels don't get much better than this." --Literal Remains

". . .Culminates in a climactic showdown between human and spirit that keeps you glued to the pages!" --Horror Novel Reviews

Evil Eternal "Hunter Shea has crafted another knockout. At turns epic and intimate, both savage and elegant. . .a harrowing, blood-soaked nightmare." --Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows

Swamp Monster Massacre "If you're craving an old-school creature-feature that has excessive gore. . .B-horror movie fans rejoice, Hunter Shea is here to bring you the ultimate tale of terror!" --Horror Novel Reviews

About the author
Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, Sinister Entity, HellHole and Island of the Forbidden, which are all published by Samhain Horror.

The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thriller Montauk Monster was published by Kensington/Pinnacle. His second Kensington novel, Tortures of the Damned, will be published later this year.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Enter to win one of five Hunter Shea books being given away! Two signed copies of Montauk Monster, one signed copy of Sinister Entity, and two e-books of choice of his titles are up for grabs! One book to each winner, given in order of random drawing. Enter to win at the Rafflecopter link. Must use valid email that winners can be contacted by. Print books are U.S. residents only. Contest ends March 25, 2015. Any questions, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.