Saturday, October 8, 2016

#Poe Read-Along - The Mask of the Red Death #witchseasoncm

Yesterday was the anniversary of Poe's death.
On September 27, Poe left Richmond for New York. He went to Philadelphia and stayed with a friend named James P. Moss. On September 30, he meant to go to New York but supposedly took the wrong train to Baltimore. On October 3, Poe was found at Gunner's Hall, a public house at 44 East Lombard Street, and was taken to the hospital. He lapsed in and out of consciousness but was never able to explain exactly what happened to him. Edgar Allan Poe died in the hospital on Sunday, October 7, 1849. (

I was first curious abou the spelling of the title of this story, as I was seeing it spelled online as "Masque" of the Red Death. However, in my unabridged anthology (published by Running Press in 1983), the title is The Mask of the Red Death. I believe it is a play on words on Poe's part. At the beginning of the story, he says, "The scarlet stains...especially on the face of the victim, were the best ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-man." There is a kind of scarlet "mask" that is a dead giveaway of someone with the disease. But then, Prince Prospero also holds a masquerade (masque) within his seclusion. I feel that was Poe's intent...for mask to represent both.

I'll admit to this being one of Poe's stories that was pretty deep so I did some analysis reading about it online. The first thing I read was the symbolism of the seven rooms of seven different colors representing the stages of life, the black room with the scarlet windows representing death. It makes sense and is quite clever, especially when the Red Death makes its appearance, walking from room to room, blue room all the way to finally black. When Prospero and his revelers follow, it is like they are going through life, and then they finally reach death at the hands of the disease.

There has been much analysis of Poe's works and this one is no different. They really dig in deep with the symbolism. For instance, the line "a thief in the night" is from the Bible and many scholars align the Red Death as the apocalyptic Jesus figure and the castle with Prospero and his revelers represents the world. And so, the Red Death brings about the end of the world. Interesting idea.

My final take is that these wealthy people seal themselves away to escape the Red Death, only to succumb to it in the end anyway. The can't escape what's inevitable, or what proves to be a virulent disease. I'm quite sure I remember reading about households during the Black Death that sealed themselves off from the rest of the city/town, but ended up contracting and dying from the disease anyway.

A great story, in my opinion, but not overly scary. What did you think about what I discussed above and/or did you like the story?

On a side note, and I'm sure I mentioned this last year, but I'm a huge Vincent Price fan. Price starred in a bunch of films based on Poe's works. This one was no exception.

The Masque of the Red Death/1964
A European prince terrorizes the local peasantry while using his castle as a refuge against the "Red Death" plague that stalks the land.

I'm not sure if I have seen this one or not. If I have, I don't remember it. You can watch it on Amazon Prime for $2.99, or here's the full movie from YouTube. Fun!

This post is part of....

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children #Read-Along - Final discussion and thoughts on the film #MissPeregrines

First, let me apologize for the delay in posting this. I had thought to finish the book before seeing the film (I was at the final chapters), but it didn't quite work out that way. Also, my sons are on Fall break so I've been busy getting things done around here (that requires their brute strength. lol) and spending time with them.

So, what a magical book, right? I really enjoyed this final part of the book where we finally learn the truth of Jacob's gift...he can see the Hollows! Not sure I would want that gift though. Yuck.

This book is unique because of the photographs. I really liked that aspect because it gives us a point of reference to what some of the children looked like, and it added to the vintage Gothic feel of the book. I think the photographs also evoked a World War II feel.

I liked the incorporation of the Nazis at the end. Makes sense that they would be involved with the nefarious doings of the Wight. This aspect, to me, gives the book a slant of morality. The correlation between the pursuit and persecution of the peculiar children with the pursuit and persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazis...clever.

Which brings me to the film. There is no part of the above in the film. Not sure why. Maybe because of the current state of things with race relations, etc. in our country and the world. Actually, the movie really is quite different from the book. Tim Burton changed a lot and I found myself wondering if that was truly necessary. Don't get me wrong...the film is pretty good...but the book is better. Who didn't know I would say that? He even flip flopped characters, giving Emma Olive's power of floating and Olive had the power of fire from her hands. Why?

Again, the film was enjoyable enough and definitely worth seeing for the visual elements alone. Also, Asa Butterfield was great as Jacob and Ella Purnell was ethereal as Emma. Of course, Eva Green was fantastic, as she is in pretty much everything she's in.

Definitely see it if you enjoyed the book, keeping in mind that the book is (almost) always better.

Thanks to everyone who read along with me.

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Kicking off Season of the Witch featuring #Poe and #Lovecraft Read-Alongs #witchseasoncm

Today's the day! Happy October and Halloween season! For some reason, I'm especially psyched this year. How about you?

Here's a refresher on the Poe and Lovecraft stories we will be reading and the schedule.

Week One - The Mask of the Red Death, Poe - Discussion on October 7/8
Week Two - The Dunwich Horror, Lovecraft - Discussion on October  14/15
Week Three - The Pit and the Pendulum, Poe - Discussion on October 21/22
Week Four - The Dreams in the Witch-House, Lovecraft - Discussion on October 28/29

In addition, I'll be reading a TON of scary books this month and sharing reviews. I'm also looking for guest reviews on scary reads, and/or guest posts on favorite spooky topics. Get in touch!

It's going to be a frightfully awesome Autumn!

Don't forget, the FrightFall Read-a-Thon starts Monday. You can sign up here at Seasons of Reading.

I'm also hosting a read-along of Stephen King's Salem's Lot over at my new reading community site, Gather Together and Read. Check it out here.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jason Parent's #Wrathbone and Other Stories - Review #terrifyingtales

My thoughts
There's nothing quite like a book of really great short stories. And, to be honest, horror short stories are really the only short stories I read. I'm not really a fan of the medium. However, the horror genre just seems to fit with short stories. For those of us who love the genre, the horror short story is like being deliciously frightened, over and over again.

Parent does not disappoint with this collection. Each story plays on an aspect of human nature and that person's demise, or downfall, at the hand of it.

Wrathbone - a story surrounding Abe Lincoln? I'm so there! In his introduction, Kealan Patrick Burke mentions the writing in Wrathbone having similarities to Poe. I couldn't agree more. The slow descent of Wrathbone into madness because of guilt and what can only be described as personal demons brought on by that guilt was truly masterful. I kept thinking of The Tell-Tale Heart as I was reading. Excellent.

The Only Good Lawyer - this story has greed and arrogance at its heart. A lawyer so motivated by the two that he's willing to do whatever it takes to win a case. He meets his match when voodoo comes into play. Chilling.

Dorian's Mirror - Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorites and this story is a unique play on that tale. At the heart of this one...pride and vanity. A model wishes that the mirror would age, but not him. He gets more than he asked for. Be careful about focusing too much on looks. A creepy, cautionary tale.

For the Birds - Okay, this one is more centered on a stupid human mistake, rather than a facet of human nature. Some birds aren't meant to eat meat. I'll leave it at that. Bloody disgusting, yet horrificly satisfying.

Revenge is a Dish - you guessed it. At the heart of this one...the desire for revenge is human nature, perhaps at its worst. Maurice is thrown the ocean. My stomach dropped because I just knew the sharks were coming (shark phobia alert). Nope. It didn't go there, sort of. This one is a little tricky becasue technically the outcome is in Maurice's favor. But is it really? You'll see what I mean.

This is a perfect read for the Halloween season, or really any time of year for horror fans. I'm very impressed with Parent's writing. Very well put together and paced, the stories keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting to quickly proceed to the next story to see what's in store. Highly recommended.

About the book
Print Length: 160 pages
Publisher: Comet Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2016

Terror follows those who let it into their hearts.

Guests of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris attend a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. On that fateful night, a great man falls, but he is not alone. For Henry and Clara, the night is only the beginning of lives wrought with jealousy, madness, and horror.

The Only Good Lawyer
Bradley is a savvy defense attorney with no scruples. Under his representation, many a guilty man has gone free. But when a voodoo priest takes the stand, Bradley soon discovers that he, too, is on trial, and the punishment for guilt may be more than he could bear.

Dorian's Mirror
Dorian loves himself, and why wouldn't he? Every guy wants to be him, and every girl wants to be with him. He would trade all he has to make his looks last forever, but bargaining with the devil may leave him short a soul.

For the Birds
Nev's best friend is his parrot. In fact, it's his only friend… and his only ally when his home is invaded.

Revenge is a Dish
Maurice has landed a dream job, chef for a rich couple on their yacht. The wife has carnal desires for him. Maurice has some carnal desires of his own.

Praise for Wrathbone and Other Stories
“From the eerie opening tale to the grisly closer, and all of the wonderfully mean-spirited tales in-between, Wrathbone is a winner!” — Jeff Strand, author of Dead Clown Barbecue

“Wrathbone and Other Stories is a hard-hitting collection that you can completely immerse yourself in. The title story is a beautifully written period tale of love and tragedy. I finished and realized that I was breathing shallowly because I was genuinely affected that much. A tale that leaves you breathless? Yes, please!” - Mercedes M. Yardley, author of the Bram Stoker Award winner Little Dead Red.

"An elegantly written novella of madness, murder, and demons, Jason Parent's Wrathbone reads like Edgar Allan Poe's take on 'Jacob's Ladder.'" --Adam Howe, author of Tijuana Donkey Showdown, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, and Black Cat Mojo

“Jason Parent is a master of controlling how you perceive the characters and the events in these stories, making sure you read it exactly how he wants you to read it. It’s like mind control. Powerful stuff!” – Nev Murray, Confessions of A Reviewer

Buy the book

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See More at Comet Press!

About the author
In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook, on Twitter, or at his website for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him. 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Ronald Malfi's #TheNightParade - Review

My thoughts
Sometimes when I really, really like a book, I have a difficult time writing the review. I so want to do it, and the author, due justice.

Let me start off by saying that Malfi's writing really evokes thoughts of Stephen King's writing. Now I know that some authors may hate being compared to famous authors, but let me just say that I mean it as the highest of compliments. There have been so many times that I've sat and read a King book and couldn't put it down. I felt exactly the same with The Night Parade. The story is just genius. Of course, I had to put it down...more than I wanted to. I couldn't wait to get back to it.

This "plague" that's setting itself up to bring about the end of humanity is not your run of the mill post-apocalyptic annihilator. Wanderer's Folly is something only a nightmare can dream up. If you get it, you're screwed. If you're immune, you're doubly screwed. That's all I'm going to say about that. There's another creepy aspect of Wanderer's Folly as well. The birds are dying/have died and the insects are getting bigger (without birds around to control their populations). I don't know about you, but I don't like insects, and I definitely do not want them growing larger.

There are moments in the book that had me so edge of my seat, I thought I was watching a Walking Dead episode. So intense. That feeling of not being able to trust anyone. Wanderer's Folly needs its own set of three questions to ask when you meet a stranger.

I really cannot recommend this book enough. Malfi has outdone himself with this one. It is clearly one of my top favorite reads of the year.

About the book
File Size: 1261 KB
Print Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Kensington (July 26, 2016)
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services

First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .
They call it Wanderer's Folly--a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.

After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he's bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he's on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.

Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they're running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .

Buy the book

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 The Night Parade, this summer’s 2016 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

Praise for Ronald Malfi
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The setting, the words, the ending. Color me impressed.” –Melissa Reads on The Night Parade

“The Night Parade has a creepy vibe and some genuinely terrifying moments. I even teared up a time or two. It's everything I look for in a great read.” – Frank Errington on The Night Parade
“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

Want to feature this book/author? 
If you are a blogger, author, or member of the media and you would like to feature The Night Parade or Ronald Malfi in a review or interview, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at Thanks!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - #GothicSept Read-Along Discussion 2 #MissPeregrines

I apologize for the lateness of this post. I ran into some dental and health issues in the past two weeks and it has seriously slowed down my reading.

I hope you're enjoying the book as much as I am. In week two's section, we finally get into the meat of the story and we get our first glimpses of the peculiar children. Aren't they amazing!? Which is your favorite? I'm kind of fond of the dapper Horace.

Miss Peregrine is an odd bird. HaHa...see what I did there? As she was explaining the time loop, I found myself having problems following. This often happens to me with time travel type stories. It's just kind of confusing. How weird would it be to always be on that one day?

Since this is Gothic September, I want to touch on some of the Gothic elements we've encountered so far.

Setting in lonely or remote places
Cairnholm Island is an isolated, remote place. There is only one phone on the entire island and the electricity comes from generators instead of power lines and the electricity is shut off at 10pm each night. Can you imagine that? I can't, although reading into the wee hours by lamp or candle light might be nice.

In addition, Miss Peregrine's house is also very isolated. Its location outside the edge of town, past a steep ridge, and through a bog and forest make it an extremely remote place indeed. In its abandoned state, it certainly could be referred to as lonely.

An atmosphere of mystery and suspense
Perhaps the mystery and suspense truly begins with the last words of Abraham Portman, and what they mean for Jacob.

“‘Find the bird. In the loop. On the other side of the old man’s grave. September third, 1940.’ I nodded, but he could see that I didn’t understand. With his last bit of strength, he added, ‘Emerson - the letter. Tell them what happened, Yakob.’” - pg. 37

Once Jacob gets to the island, there is the mystery of the abandoned house, and then the suspense of Jacob chasing Emma through the Loop, then Jacob being chased by the men in the town. The next mystery comes up with the killing of the sheep. Who did it? I couldn't help but think about the creature that killed Abraham. 

What are your thoughts about this week's section?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Michael Phillip Cash's The History Major - Review

My thoughts
The History Major was an interesting read. It definitely was not what I expected. When Amanda wakes up from a bender, after a huge fight the night before with her boyfriend, things are not how they should be. This leads the reader to wonder...Alien abduction? Did she travel to another dimension? The reason I mention the latter is because things in her world are the same, but not the same.

So, I can't go into detail here because it would give the whole story away. I will say that the story definitely keeps you reading, and being a novella, it doesn't take long to get through it. The book has a message contained in its short pages, and it even ties in some history and an occurrence not unlike some recent current events.

I wouldn't necessarily classify this as horror, but it is eerie enough to feel a few chills on the back of your neck.

About the Book
Title: The History Major
Author: Michael Phillip Cash
Publisher: Chelshire, Inc.
Pages: 130
Genre: Thriller

After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can't quite put her finger on it. She's sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she's registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her. Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality. Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?

For More Information The History Major is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Watch the Trailer.

Book Excerpt
“You again!” The professor pointed a long finger at her angrily. “If you had bothered to read my treatise on logic, you would understand the chain of thought! Care to share what you have learned these past few classes with your puerile friend, Mr. Fortune?” he demanded.

The room was deathly silent. Amanda shrank into her chair. Nick turned to her.

Wait, she thought frantically. Past few classes? Where have I been? Did I miss something? Did I miss class? Amanda’s fisted hands forced small semicircular indentations from the pressure of her nails into the tender skin of her palms. Was this a dream? Her mind worked feverously, trying to piece things together. “What’s today’s date?” she demanded, her eyes wide with mounting horror.

Nick went on, ignoring her. “What I think our esteemed professor is trying to point out is that the chain of thought results in a systematic group of memories that create the laws of association. The professor believes”—he glanced up to the teacher as if for confirmation—“that past experiences are hidden within our minds.” The older man nodded sagely. “He claims there is a force that awakens these memories. That power is association.”

Amanda looked at Nick and then glanced uncertainly at the professor. It was like looking through a tunnel. Their voices came as if from a distance.

“Yes, Mr. Fortune. Logic, once again. First we have the experience, then the memory, which fades. We stimulate the brain with an image, and there you have it.” He snapped his fingers. “The memory is activated by the…” He bent down, peering at Amanda expectantly.

Nick whispered from the side of his mouth helpfully, “Association.”

“Association,” Amanda repeated weakly.

“Yes,” Nick said quietly. “Aristotle’s theory on association.”

“Aristotle?” Amanda exhaled the name. She looked from Nick to the educator on the stage and giggled. “Is this a joke, like where teachers dress like historical figures?” Or a dream?

“Silence!” the teacher’s voice thundered. He stalked over to stand right before Amanda, his silver brows drawn together. The room was deathly silent. Amanda gulped so loudly, she swore she could hear it amplified in the room.

About the author
Michael Phillip Cash is an award-winning and best-selling novelist of horror, paranormal, and science fiction novels. He's written ten books including the best-selling “Brood X”, “Stillwell”, “The Flip”, “The After House”, “The Hanging Tree”, “Witches Protection Program”, “Pokergeist”, "Monsterland", "The History Major", and “Battle for Darracia” series. Michael’s books are on the Amazon best-seller list and have also won numerous awards. Additionally, he is a screenwriter with 14 specs under his belt. Michael resides on the North Shore of Long Island. 

Michael’s latest book is The History Major.

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