Thursday, October 30, 2014

Books That Scared the Bejeezus Out of Me...

Just in time for Halloween, here’s my top ten list of books that seriously freaked me out while reading: 

1. Salem’s Lot, Stephen King. It was hard to pick my favorite Stephen King horror book. There are many, but Salem's Lot was the first for me, so I'm going with this one. 

A man goes back to his childhood hometown to discover that the residents are turning into vampires and come out at night to invade the town. I read this as a teenager – back when vampires were scary and didn’t sparkle. King dives into your imagination to the world of scary monsters that during the time, weren’t made sexy and seductive. Vampires sucked the life out of you. Violently. But as with many of King’s books, it’s more than just a vampire book – it’s a tale of darkness and evil that resides in us all.

2. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice. Vampires again? Yes. Because it’s Anne Rice. And it’s the Vampire Lestat. Period.

3. The Exorcist, William Peter Blatty.  This is another one I read as a teenager. At the time, I was being raised in the Catholic church, attending catechism classes, and going to confession on a semi-regular basis. So a story of a young girl possessed, having the devil take over her body and soul?…well, call me crazy, but that young Catholic girl believed that this can really happen. Possession? The devil within? Yah. I can thank the nuns I grew up with for instilling this fear. In my mind, this can be reality, and this book was a bit too close to my Catholic roots. Although I’m only a very semi-practicing Catholic now, this book still creeps me out. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ve only sampled a taste of the freak factor. Think about that one the next time you see Linda Blair creek walking backwards down those stairs.  Just a taste.

4. World War Z, Max Brooks.  Zombies have taken over. The plague has arrived. World War Z is more like an oral history and reads like a government report. It’s a gripping tale of what happens when the zombies take over and nearly eradicate the human race. It’s not a narrative, descriptive novel where you can root for a particular character or outcome. It’s factual in nature, at times cold and unemotional, and makes you question if this is real, or if it could be.  If you’ve only seen the movie, well, go read the book. The only thing the movie and the book have in common is the title.

5. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis. Handsome, educated, rich dude has everything he wants. It’s the 80’s consumerism at the height of Dynasty-esque, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" living.  The main character, Patrick, is living that lifestyle…by day. By night, he’s bringing home women, abusing, raping, torturing, and killing them. It’s twisted and dark. Creepy. *shivers*

6. Dead Sky Morning / Lying Season / On Demon Wings, Karina Halle. These are tied as the most creepy and disturbing books in a series. In Halle’s Experiment in Terror series, amateur ghost hunters Perry Palomino and Dex Foray go chasing stories of ghosts, demons, hauntings, and other unexplained behavior. The only thing is while they’re chasing down ghosts, Perry can really see them, and they start attacking her and Dex. In Dead Sky Morning, it’s them camping on an island, a freaky dead woman, skeletal remains of lepers that are washing onto the shore and trying to pull Perry under, and a deer that keeps staring at them. Lying Season continues with Perry dealing with a woman from Dex’s past. A dead woman. Then, in On Demon Wings,  Perry finds out she’s carrying a child, except, it’s not really a child. It’s a demon baby. Sounds outlandish and campy? Maybe. But it’s well written, suspenseful, full of dark imagery that makes for good novels.

7. Hell House, Richard Matheson. It’s a haunted house. It’s scary as hell. Isn’t that enough?

8. Rosemary’s Baby, Ira Levin. A young couple moves to a New York City apartment, and the husband befriends the neighbors. The neighbors are leaders of a satanic coven, who plan to steal Rosemary’s child after it’s born. While believing they want to sacrifice the infant for their cult, the true identity and reason for the cult’s interest in the baby is revealed. Once again – the church, the devil, cults, all make this a horror classic. Another one where the film pales in the scare factor to the written words.

9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Alvin Schwartz. Folklore. Urban Legends, creepy ass illustrations. Let me just share some of the titles: The Old Woman All Skin and Bones. The Dead Man’s Brains. The Big Toe. The Ghost with Bloody Fingers. 

Seriously, this shit goes on and on. When you’re a kid – reading these? Sleeping with the lights on people. Not ashamed. Sleeping with the lights on. 

10. The Raven, and other stories, Edgar Allen Poe. Are you kidding me? Poetry, horror stories, and things that are scratching under the floorboards.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Forked (Frenched #2) by Melanie Harlow

Forked is the follow up to Frenched by Melanie Harlow. In Frenched, you met Mia Devine, owner of Devine Events. Coco Thomas is her partner, and Forked centers around her experience and involvement in the company. 

As Mia is off to plan her wedding in France, Coco is left to run the company. In walks Angelina Spackatelli. She’s the daughter of local mob boss, a self-proclaimed Italian American Princess, and wants an over the top engagement party that will hopefully make her a reality television star. Mia has some reservations about all this, but Coco decides she can pull it off. 

There are a few complications. First, the motivation for handling the booking is that Coco wants the commission for a house she can’t afford. Since Mia has allowed her to run the show, the payout will give her just enough to cover the rest of the down payment if she can pull this off. Second, the party is in one week and Angelina has already sent out invitations. Since Angelina is also bringing along an endless budget, Coco thinks she can really pull this off, calling in favors and spending what it takes to get this done. The third, and biggest snag: Angelina wants Italian chef Nick Lupo to serve burgers at midnight. Coco knows Nick a bit too well. He’s the man who she ran off to Vegas with, married, and woke up alone with a note from him saying “This was a mistake.” Ouch. 

            Now she has to face Nick, forget their past, and get the job done. Nick is excited to see Coco, and he agrees to do the party, but he's asking for something in return.  

"You don't know what I'm asking in return. Maybe you'll think the price is too high."
"What do you mean? Angelina won't care what your price is - she said she'd pay whatever."
"Not my price for her. My price for you"
"Okay, Nick. I'll play along. What's the price?"
"You have to spend the weekend with me..." 

            Melanie Harlow delivers the same amount of sharp and entertaining dialogue in this book as her last two, and the scenes between Nick and Coco make you want to find your own Italian chef to cook up some sexy times. I really have enjoyed this series and hope that the story continues with Erin. This is technically the second (but for me the third, if you count the one novel and a novella) in the series, but you can read it as a stand alone. 

Want your own copy?

About the Author: 

Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her lipstick red, and her history with the naughty bits left in. Her stories are inspired by a sense of place, an appreciation for the past, and unexpected pleasures in life—especially the romantic kind. She lifts her glass to readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Darynda Jones Promo Tour!! 7th Grave and No Body

Twelve. Twelve of the deadliest beasts ever forged in the fires of hell have escaped onto our plane, and they want nothing more than to rip out the jugular of Charley Davidson and serve her lifeless, mangled body to Satan for dinner. So there’s that. But Charley has more on her plate than a mob of testy hellhounds. For one thing, her father has disappeared, and the more she retraces his last steps, the more she learns he was conducting an investigation of his own, one that has Charley questioning everything she’s ever known about him. Add to that an ex-BFF who is haunting her night and day, a rash of suicides that has authorities baffled, and a drop-dead sexy fiancĂ© who has attracted the attentions of a local celebrity, and Charley is not having the best week of her life.

A tad north of hell, a hop, skip, and a jump past the realm of eternity, is a little place called Earth, and Charley Davidson, grim reaper extraordinaire, is determined to do everything in her power to protect it.

We’re doomed.

I set Cookie to finding out everything she could on the missing suicide-note victims. There had to be a connection between them somewhere in their pasts. In the meantime, I would go talk to their closests, but first I needed to know if the victims were still alive. If they’d been abducted, this would quickly become a much different case. We would probably have to get the FBI involved, if they weren’t on to it already.
Reyes was still working, so I decided to cut out alone. I knew he’d freak. He wasn’t about to leave me alone for long, and neither would he put up with my running off without him, so I decided to pick up a passenger. Well, another passenger. The one I had at the moment would be of no help in a fight against hounds from hell, should they spot me in a crowd.
Jessica was harping again, this time about how her friends were at the restaurant, fawning over Reyes as though she had never died. She’d called dibs the moment she saw him, and they seemed almost relieved she was out of the way. I refrained from reminding her that (1) I’d had dibs long before that, and (2) she was as dead as the Twizzler I was gnawing on in an attempt to forget about my extreme caffeine depletion. Poor little Twizzler.
“She said that!” Jessica shouted. “Like, she said it. Right to Reyes’s face.”
“Wait, what?” I almost slammed on the brakes, then realized my foot was already on the brake, as we were idling at a stoplight. “Who said what to Reyes’s face?”
“Oh . . . my god. Have you heard a word I’ve said?”
“Not especially. Who said what?”
“She said she’d do anything, any . . . thing, for an interview.”
I turned to her. “Are you telling me you heard what Reyes and Jolene—I mean, that hooch—were talking about?”
“Duh. I was so upset with Joanie and the girls that I started to walk out when that—that ho practically assaulted our man.”

My Review

Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper, Private Investigator, affianced to Reyes Farrow (aka, the Son of Satan) and soon to be mother to…well, we don’t quite know yet. For now, Charley is calling her “Beep” (Black Eyed Pea, because that’s about her size right now). She knows she’s carrying the one thing that may save the world.

She should be protecting the future of the universe, but, of course, she’s still getting herself tangled in a mess of other stuff. She’s assisting Agent Carson investigate the deaths up at a cabin, only to discover the real reason for the massacre. She's also helping Ubie (Uncle Bob) investigate the disappearances of people who have left behind suicide notes, but not bodies. Oh, and she's also digging up grave-sites to confirm that the bodies of young girls are missing. As if that’s not enough, she’s also trying to escape The Twelve – a band of rabid hellhounds that are out to kill her and anyone else in their path. Charley is off doing her usual and Reyes isn't happy about it. He's pissed that she's running off on her own, and has decided to become her personal bodyguard. Poor Reyes. He has to put up with her nonsense.

Reyes isn’t free from the drama either. A reporter is all up in his business, and you find there’s more to her than just her on-air persona. The readers also (finally) find out what’s going on with Charley’s father. Garrett finds out some info about his son, and the dealer, whom she is calling Osh, is around and I expect to see more of him in future books. Seems like Charley is building her posse for the upcoming war.

The typical hijinks are included, as is the sharp dialogue and laugh out loud scenes that only Jones can deliver. 

"There must be a special, less volcanic portion of hell that was partitioned off and set aside for people who weren't all bad, just a little vindictive. They could call it the drama queen ward. It would be a huge hit." 

 While this book doesn’t move the story line forward as much as I had hoped with respect to the baby, Charley’s full range of powers, and her true identity, it’s enough to keep me reading until the next book. The 8th Grave book comes out in May 2015.

What's the same: Reyes. He's still hotter than hell. LOL! See what I did there? Son of Satan, Hotter Than Hell? yah...okay. Anyhoo. He has more than his share of women lusting after him in this book, prompting Charley to become jealous! 
"Dozens of pairs of shadowed and mascaraed gazes fitted shyly toward him while others stared openly. Unapologetically. Brazen hussies. I needed to get a wedding band on this man, and fast!"

Ubie and Cookie are finally out of the closet and Amber has a couple of really good one-liners!

"You know how you have a bun in the oven?"
"Yes. Yes, I do"
"Okay, and you know how Reyes calls you Dutch?"
The comedic factor is still fresh and gives a couple of laugh out loud scenes. The evil ex-BFF Jessica, Special Agent Carson, Rocket, and a few other dead friends make appearances. Charley is still behaving irresponsibly, and sooner or later, this is going to have to change.

I’ve said this before – the characters run a bit close to the Stephanie Plum series, and I’m defending this one again. There’s progress with the characters and story-lines, and for that I’m thankful. I'm waiting for the next book to see what happens with Charley - hopefully by book 8 her super-powers, her real name, and the real reason for her child will be revealed. Somehow, I doubt it'll all wrap up in the next book, but if the series continues to be moving and doesn't make me go all wire hangers on it, I'll still keep reading.

Meet Darynda Jones:

NYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for
her work, including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a Rebecca, two Hold Medallions, a RITA ®, and a Daphne du Maurier, and she has received stellar reviews from dozens of publications including starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the Library Journal. As a born storyteller, Darynda grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike, and she is ever so grateful for the opportunity to carry on that tradition. She currently has two series with St. Martin’s Press: The Charley Davidson Series and the Darklight Trilogy. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of almost 30 years and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at

Go get your copy! Start with the first, and read through the entire series.