Wednesday, August 29, 2012

R.I.P. VII...It's On!

Are you ready for another two months of the spooky?  Hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, R.I.P. (R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril) VII is a fun fest of focus on the scary, spooky, mysterious, macabre, etc. in books, TV and film from September 1 through October 31.  Find out full details and sign-up HERE.

You can find out what my plans are for R.I.P. at my Challenge blog POST HERE.


Monday, August 27, 2012

{Book Tour} Guest Post and Review--The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

By Laura Bickle

There are warnings about danger all around us. Some are obvious, and some are subtle. 

Many such warnings come from the natural world. We’ve all heard anecdotes about dogs and cats who can sense earthquakes before we can, howling warnings and fleeing before disaster comes. There are tales of earthworms crawling out of ground that is soon to be flooded, and studies showing that sharks will leave areas of the ocean soon to be struck by hurricanes. Animals know things that we don’t, serving as warnings for us.

There are myths about ravens, especially. There’s one story about the Tower of London that always sticks in my mind. There are always ravens in residence – some even have their wings clipped to keep them there. There’s a legend that if the ravens ever abandon the Tower of London, the kingdom will fall. 

When I was creating the world of THE HALLOWED ONES, ravens were on my mind. The heroine, Katie, is an Amish girl who is very in tune with the natural world. Ravens are part of her landscape, picking through fields for grain and standing on her clothesline, gossiping with each other. When the end of the world comes, the humans are not sure what’s happened. The people in Katie’s settlement only know that there are no cars on the road, that a curfew has been ordered. There are no lights on the horizon. 
But the birds know. 

One morning, Katie awakens to a great cacophony. Thousands of ravens are calling to each other, taking wing in a massive swarm. The swarm is so dense that it blackens the sky, and the sound is deafening. The birds are leaving, flying south in vast multitudes. 

The evacuation of the birds tells Katie that something is very wrong with her world, something truly horrific. She can only guess at what it is…but the ravens already know, and are shrieking to anything that will listen.

My thoughts on THE HALLOWED ONES:
Simply put, this book is amazing! As a true lover of horror and the like, I think I love the end of the world, dystopian zombie/vampire tales the most.  It has been done many times...probably not much better than Matheson's I AM LEGEND, but let me tell you...THE HALLOWED ONES ranks pretty high, in my opinion.  What made it so good was introducing the phenomenon from the Amish community's point of view.  Bickle has done a terrific job introducing the reader to the Amish world and then illustrating how they might react if something terrible did happen in the English (what they call us) world.  And then she goes one better by creating some of the most creepy and frightening creatures I've read in awhile.  As I was reading, I kept trying to visualize what they would look like.  Every horrifying image I've ever seen in movies or read in books came to mind, but I still couldn't quite settle on the terrifying image my mind was seeing.  Not only do we get all of this from the book, but we get a well-written book to boot.  No cliche or run of the mill stereotyping.  Also, the characters, namely Katie, are wonderful.  When Katie goes against the Elders to help a young English man who is injured or ventures into town--alone--to get medicine and supplies, it's not hard to believe.  Early on we learn that Katie is head strong and of her own mind.  A girl on the verge of Rumspringa (a time when Amish teens get to go off and experience life in the English world), she is ready to explore and set out on her own.  She just didn't intend for it to occur in quite the way it did.

I am so pleased with this book.  It's not often that I come across a book in this genre (meaning horror/dystopian, although it is classified as YA) that is so well constructed and exciting and engaging as well.  I highly recommend it.

About the book:
If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror…

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble.  It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors
of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

Advance Praise for THE HALLOWED ONES
"This is a book to make you fear the shadows--a horrifying and gruesome tale of faith, and things that blink red eyes in the night. I began reading in the daylight, and read on into the
late hours, leaning close, biting my lip. I could not look away; I was ob-
sessed. Katie is an unbreakable soul."  --Lauren DeStefano, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Chemical Garden Trilogy

Laura Bickle
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Graphia
(September 25, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0547859260
ISBN-13: 978-0547859262
Laura Bickle is represented by Becca Stumpf at
Prospect Agency:

Publicity Contact:
Karen Walsh, 617-351-3647

About the author:
Laura Bickle's professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she's not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs. She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats. For more about Laura, please visit her website at:

Thank you to Bewitching Book Tours for including me on this tour.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

{Book Tour} Review: The Reporter from Marridon by Michelle Franklin with {Giveaway)

My thoughts:
Michelle Franklin's Tales from Frewyn never fail to entertain and The Reporter from Marridon is no exception.  It's a short story/novella that packs in a lot of fun.

I don't think I'll ever grow accustomed to how Rautu treats the Commander.  I'm kind of a feminist so it is mildly irritating how he expects her to be at his service in all aspects, if you catch my drift.  But I realize that it is part of his culture and his character so I will definitely not hold it against the story.  Somehow I can't help but be reminded of Conan the Barbarian.  Rautu conjures images of him when I'm reading.  I realize Conan is not a giant, but the general mannerisms and attitude towards women (again, I know it's part of his culture, in both cases).  I think what I love most about Rautu is his love of chocolate.  I hear you, dude! And I'm totally in agreement with his dislike of white chocolate.  I mean, white chocolate is okay, but in no way does it measure up to the real thing...good, old-fashioned medium to dark chocolate.  (Okay, where's my Hershey's with Almonds?)

What I really enjoyed in this story was the apparent tie to our present situation with the paparazzi.  Michelle does a nice job of projecting a reporter who does not care about anything but getting the story (not saying that all reporters are like that).  The manner in which he is finally dealt with is especially satisfying.

Michelle has built a wonderful world with Frewyn and has created fun and interesting characters.  I always enjoy reading her stories.

Tales from Frewyn: The Reporter from Marridon
Paper Crane Books
twitter: @papercranebooks

The Reporter from Marridon
Part of the Tales from Frewyn StoriesA reporter from Marridon, the advanced and allied nation to the north of Frewyn, is dispatched to Diras to meet with the famous Commander and Den Asaan, heroes and saviors of the Two Continents. It would seem to be a simple task, to ask a few questions of the strange woman and giant, but when the reporter slights the king's personal guard, he finds that getting a story to print may be harder than previously conceived.

Release: August 21, 2012 / $0.99 (ebook)
Epic Fantasy, Romance
Get it at:  Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords

About the Author
Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance, and chocolate.

You can find more about Michelle over at her blog:

One eBook copy of The Reporter from Marridon.  Open worldwide.  Leave a comment to enter and include your email address for winner contact.  Giveaway ends Tuesday, September 4, at 11:59pm CST.  Good luck!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Tour: Guest Post & Review--White Lies by Jeremy Bates with {Giveaway}

The Situational Thriller: Wrong Place, Wrong Time

My favorite type of thriller is what I call a situational thriller. You know, those books or movies you’ve seen when the protagonist is smack-dab in the middle of something nasty, and you’re thinking: that could happen to me. Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan comes immediately to mind. Two brothers find four million bucks in a downed plane. What would you do? A couple prominent films along the same lines are Open Water—a newlywed couple go scuba diving and get stranded in the middle of the ocean. And Frozen—two guys and a girl stuck on a ski lift in freezing weather. Oh, and some hungry wolves far below!

My debut novel, White Lies, is also what I would call a situational thriller—what if a white lie spiraled out of control until you found yourself in a game of life and death? I chose this idea for two reasons. One, as I’ve mentioned, I like these type of simple what if scenarios. And two, because they’re easier for me to write than other thrillers, such as action-adventure, medicine, legal, etc. I love reading action-adventure, but, man, does James Rollins and the crew do their homework. Same with the other genres I mentioned. You have to know your stuff. And truthfully, I like telling the story, not doing the research. Sure there is research that goes into situational thrillers. But you’re usually dealing with regular characters in regular environments (albeit exceptional situations), which makes it easy to take that initial what if idea and run with it.

I understand all thrillers place a character in a dicey situation in which he or she must get out of. So I should clarify three conditions that make a so-called situational thriller:

1) An ordinary person as a protagonist (no cops, FBI agents, etc.)

2) A situation a character gets himself or herself into (not something he or she is chosen to do)

3) A relatively simple, straightforward plot

Does anyone know of any novels or films they could recommend that fall under these criteria? I’d love to hear about them!

My thoughts on White Lies:
There's an important lesson learned from this book.  Telling white lies can come back and bite you in the a huge way.  

At first, I didn't know what to think when I started reading.  I thought it was going to just be a book about a woman being stalked by a guy she told a little fib too, which enraged him and turned him into a stalking psychopath.  Man, was I ever wrong.  Instead, the plot became a miasma of white lies snowballing one right after another.  I can't go into much detail because I don't want to give away major plot points, but let's just say that in this book, seemingly harmless lies led to big, big trouble.

Now let's talk about Katrina, the female protagonist/main character.  I have seen a couple of reviews that stated something along the lines of, "How could Katrina let herself be such a victim?" and other statements along those lines.  While I did find myself scratching my head over a couple of decisions she made, I can't say that she didn't react and behave like any woman would have.  She lost her beloved fiance and had been alone for two years.  I could totally understand her wanting to move on with her life.  That she plunged into her new affair with Jack so quickly not knowing anything about him might seem strange, but how many of us run background checks on potential boyfriends.  Not many, I would guess.  The point is, the entire premise of this book was Katrina's telling a white lie and the subsequent things that happened as a result of it.  When a person is constantly trying to cover a lie they told, they're certainly not going to be making very clear or smart decisions.

In the end, I think what White Lies is trying to point out is that Katrina's white lies, told in naivety and as some kind of protection, were far different from the lies told by others in the book, with malice and deceit behind them.  I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a very engaging thriller.  It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat.

About the book:
While driving to a charming village tucked away deep in the Cascade Mountains of eastern Washington, where she is to begin a new job teaching high school English, Katrina Burton picks up a young hitchhiker who turns out to be drunk and predatory. Fearful for her safety, she lies about her destination in order to get him out of the car. But when she later discovers that he is a teacher at the same school, she finds herself feeding that initial lie with more lies.

Then Katrina meets a mysterious man. Handsome, charismatic and strong, he is exactly what she needs to extricate her from the expanding network of lies, now spinning out of control. She falls fast and hard for him.

Her perfect solution, however, soon becomes a nightmare that lands her in the middle of a grisly murder. And Katrina’s problems don’t stop there. She must decide whether to betray her new love or to cover up the murder and hope for the best…until she discovers that the choice may not be hers to make.

About the author:
Jeremy Bates has spent the last ten years traveling the world, visiting more than thirty countries. He has lived in Canada, the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.

Bates is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with a degree in English literature and philosophy. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Inc, and Crime Writers of Canada.

His frightening debut novel, White Lies, is set in a small village in the Cascade Mountain range of eastern Washington. In the book, he succeeds in bringing world-class terror to this tranquil community.

To find out more please visit

One print copy of White Lies to a winner in the US/Canada.  To enter, please leave a comment below in answer to Jeremy's question at the end of his guest post.  Be sure to include your email address for contact if you win.  Last day to enter will be Monday, September 3 at 11:59pm CST.  Good luck!

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for the opportunity to participate in this tour!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The "It-along"

As Chevy Chase, of Lampoon's "Vacation" fame, said, "This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy!"  Which is exactly what I'm saying right now as I decide to embark on this read-a-long...or It-Along...of Stephen King's epic It.  Yeah, yeah, I know I have a ton of reading already on my plate AND I'm getting ready to host the EPIC Dark Tower read-a-long (September - July) over at my Stephen King Challenge blog, but I've been wanting to read It for a long time and I failed at Serena's read-a-long last year so I just can't resist this It-along hosted by Fizzy Thoughts and Reading Through The Night.  I'm hoping that this won't be another fail, but I guess that is yet to be seen.  If you think this sounds like something crazy as well, but would like to throw caution to the wind, you can get the details and sign-up HERE.

From Fizzy Thoughts:
Suggested reading/posting schedule (don’t worry, we won’t kick you out of the clown car if you don’t stick to it):
  • Sunday, September 16th: read through Part 3, but not the Third Interlude, and post your thoughts. In my copy, this is page 608 of 1098, making it slightly more than halfway.
  • Sunday, October 14th: finish, and post your final thoughts.
Twitter hashtag is #italong

Have I mentioned my clown phobia....


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Castle Macabre is a Year Old! Celebrating with a winner's choice {Giveaway}!

Today is Castle Macabre's one year Blogoversary and I would like to thank all of you for making this year so amazing!!

I have some great events coming up this Fall.  October brings Castle Macabre's Season of the Witch.  I'll be posting full details soon, but here's a little preview.  I'll be looking for guest posts from authors and/or bloggers and if any authors want to donate a book for a spotlight/guest post/giveaway, please let me know.  The focus is going to be witches, but anything scary is game! I will be focusing my reading in October on witch related books and I would love for people to join me.  And of course, there will be a giveaway.  Stay tuned for details!

The FrightFall Read-a-Thon is coming October 1-7.  I will be hosting over at Seasons of Reading, but I think I will participate via this blog this time.  Poor CM is feeling neglected! Details and sign-ups will be coming soon over at Seasons of Reading.  Hope you will join me!

****GIVEAWAY****'s time for the blogoversary giveaway! I've picked four of my favorite horror/scary novels and I'm going to give one winner their choice out of the four.  Since I'll be using Better World Books, this will be an INTERNATIONAL giveaway! Please keep in mind that these will be used books, but Better World Books has a great selection of used books.  I've ordered many from them and I've never been disappointed.  Please fill out the rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends on 8/31/12 at 11:59pm CST.  Good luck!

Here are the books (covers shown may not be the cover you receive).  Interview with the Vampire is the first book in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.  If you've already read it and would like one of the other books in the series (see the entire list HERE), that will not be a problem.

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

Duma Key by Stephen King
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Quick shout out to my friend, Kate (Read 2 Review) for helping me put this post together. =O)

- See more at: