Tag Archives: horror

Review: Duma Key, by Stephen King

Title: Duma Key

Author: Stephen King

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Horror

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is classic Stephen King. There’s ghosts, monsters, and shifting reality alone with phantom limbs and the mystery of the brain after trauma. As a hobbyist who dabbles in art, I also appreciated the creative aspects of the book. Remember Dorian Gray, who could paint himself young? Yeah, this is kinda like that.

Creepiness included.

I’ve always found the brain fascinating, so coupling that mystery together with weird psychic stuff and ghosts was a perfect mix. I also like that King took what would not normally be considered a scary place–the Florida Keys–and still managed to make it scary. The main character isn’t immediately likeable, but he grows on you. King also makes excellent use of his trademark narrative voice and foreshadowing.

This is not an action-packed book, but there’s enough strangeness to keep the reader engaged. If you liked Dead Zone or Insomnia or even Pet Cemetery, you’ll enjoy this one.

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Book Review: Line of Descent

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Title: Line of Descent

Author: James Derry

Publisher: Self

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I thought this was an okay book, but the ending didn’t really satisfy me. I think it was because the book was labeled as a “fantasy” novel when it was delivered to me; I see now that on Amazon the main category is now horror/occult. If I had approached this novel as a horror, I think I would have been better prepared. The book was well written and the plot drew me along. I think it was an interesting premise: an ancient (and possibly alien) intelligence has been replicating itself through a single bloodline, being passed down from generation to generation and gaining power all the while.

There are a lot of dreams in the book and even the waking moments have a dreamlike quality to them, giving the entire book a sort of surreal feel to it. Something about the style of writing put distance between me and the characters, but I couldn’t point to exactly what. I think one of the best scenes was Elise teaching Mallory sign language via the pipes in separate bathrooms.

If you like Kurt Vonnegut type stories, or films like “Pan’s Labyrinth,” you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Book Review: The Talisman

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Title:  The Talisman

Authors: Stephen King and Peter Straub

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5

Anyone who’s read my blog knows that Stephen King is probably my favorite author. I love most of his stuff. I didn’t love this one, probably because it was a collaborative work with Peter Straub, who I’d never read before. The book just didn’t have the full feeling of a King novel. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but I just didn’t enjoy this one as much as I have so many of his others.

The overall plot was good–an adolescent boy on a quest to save his mother’s life, able to switch back and forth between a magical world and this one. There are the typical horror elements, which I liked. Descriptions were on the heavy side sometimes, which I didn’t like as much. The first half of the book lagged in pace, though it did pick up after that. The ending was by far the best part. But for some reason I never fully invested in the fates of the characters.

There was also an interesting twist on werewolves, a dichotomy between “good” Wolves and “bad” Wolves. I really liked Jack’s friend, the good Wolf.

Completely a random thought–I’ve always loved King’s characters, how he brings together a group of different people with different backgrounds and has them interact. There wasn’t as much of that in The Talisman. I wonder if that’s one of the things that felt like it was lacking to me. The addition of Wolf and Jack’s friend Richard definitely helped with the second half.

I have to concede that by now I’ve read the best of Stephen King’s works, (The Stand, The Dark Tower series, IT,) and now maybe I’m just coming down to some of how not-quite-as-great stuff. I guess I’ll see after I finish the next one on my list, Duma Key.

Book Review: Insomnia

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Title:  Insomnia

Author:  Stephen King

Publisher: MacMillian

Genre: Horror

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’ve read lots of reviews for this book that say that it dragged for the first half. I don’t know if these readers haven’t read a lot of Stephen King, or if they only read slasher horror or perhaps just fast-paced thrillers. I didn’t think the book dragged at all. It built up slowly, tension upon tension, things getting weirder and weirder. But that’s pretty typical for King.

I personally enjoyed the slow buildup. If you’ve ever had a bout of insomnia, you’ll get exactly what Ralph is going through. I went through the experience after the birth of my daughter–one week, five hours of sleep. That’s five hours that I slept THE ENTIRE WEEK. So yeah, insomnia makes you a little crazy. The world doesn’t look as it normally does. You start to feel supernatural, or at least something outside the commonly accepted reality. This is what the main character experiences as he starts to get less and less sleep night after night. He experiences hyper reality, not-helpful advice from friends and strangers, and ominous encounters with the sane and insane.

Another fun bit about this book is the parallels it runs with the whole Dark Tower series. No spoilers, but it amused me that in the Dark Tower an ally tried to give this book to the protagonist, but the protagonist never read it. I actually liked reading this after finishing the Dark Tower series, because it was much easier to see all the links.

Then there’s the whole issue of the pro life vs. pro choice brought up in the book and how it completely tears apart the community. Discerning readers will note that the pro-life gets more of the crazies in this book…but in the end, both sides aren’t willing to just let each other be. It says something for how some debates will just never be resolved.

Last, I really liked the whole concept of the book, with the multiple “levels” of realities and auras. The residents of the upper levels were suitably spooky but also comic. Plenty of action near the end, but this book probably didn’t quite belong in the “horror” shelf. I’m not exactly sure what you’d call it. Me, I’d call it a very existential novel and an engaging story about life, death, and what’s in between.

Author Interview: Marilyn Peake

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Okay, I have a treat for everyone today. The Ebola outbreak is all over the news right now and people are getting nervous. So what better time to grab a book about Ebola zombies?  Lol, I know, there are writers out there trying to capitalize on this news story with cheap little pamplets on how to stay safe.

This isn’t that. Meet Marilyn Peake writer of dark fantasy and now horror. You can find out more about Marilyn through the links at the bottom of this post.

  1. So what first inspired you to write?

I’ve wanted to write since I was a very young child. When I was a teenager in high school, I fell in love with literature, journalism and creative writing. At that time, I received a wonderful opportunity to write columns on teenagers’ interests for three local newspapers with my own byline and to have some of my poetry published in one of those papers. That was very exciting! Over the years, I’ve continued to love the experience of writing.

  1. I know you write in a variety of genres, including young adult, fantasy, and horror. What about these appeal to you?

I love reading almost every genre. So far, I’ve written mostly in the genres you mentioned, along with some science fiction. Writing horror is new for me, although I’ve written a fair amount of dark fantasy. I like writing in all those genres because they allow a writer to take real-world issues and weave imaginary tales around them. Hopefully, that allows a reader to view the real-world situations in a different light. I’m a news junkie who feels things very deeply. I follow a large number of news outlets on Twitter and watch a lot of TV news. Sometimes it’s hard to continue watching painful news stories about the world. Writing fantastical stories based on current events helps me to explore them and deal with them. There’s also something invigorating about the creative process in writing any type of fiction.

  1. Tell me about your latest book, “Mutation Z: The Ebola Zombies.” Considering the recent Ebola outbreak, this seems timely!!

MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES actually came out of my deep concern following news stories on the growing Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Years ago, I read THE HOT ZONE by Richard Preston, a nonfiction book about a monkey strain of Ebola that mutated in a lab in Reston, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., in 1989 to become airborne, sickening monkeys who had no direct contact with other monkeys in the building. That book left a huge impression on me. When I heard about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, I immediately thought about Preston’s detailed information on the disease.

The news coming out of West Africa has been truly horrifying, as the countries affected by Ebola don’t have the infrastructure to deal with it. People are dying on the streets, in their homes and on the floors of makeshift treatment centers. The situation has been described as pure hell by those who have witnessed it. As the epidemic’s worsened, some bizarre stories have come out of the areas affected. Because workers in frightening-looking protective suits arrived around the same time the Ebola epidemic worsened, some people blamed the workers for bringing Ebola into their country. There was a case where locals attacked an Ebola clinic, claiming that Ebola was a myth. They dragged contaminated items out of the clinic, creating an extremely dangerous situation. Others believe that Ebola is a curse for evil behavior. There have been claims by some that the medical workers are using Ebola as an excuse to cover up cannibalistic practices.

Looking at news photos and videos of the horror the Ebola victims are suffering through, it really started getting to me. I combined the myths with the true facts about the Ebola epidemic to create a story that’s a combination of the following genres: Apocalyptic Science Fiction, Zombie Fiction, Horror, and Conspiracy Fiction. I wanted MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES to convey a sense of horror about the situation in West Africa. While the medical workers and military personnel going into West Africa to help out are heroes in real life, there’s an apocalyptic conspiracy happening within the pages of MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES.

  1. Do you think a pandemic is likely in our lifetime? How bad do you think things could be?

I think it’s quite possible. If a worldwide pandemic occurred, it would be disastrous. A large portion of the world’s population would die. On the other hand, we’re living in an age of extraordinary technical advancement with amazing medical breakthroughs. Whereas the Ebola strain in the current epidemic has a 50% to 70% mortality rate with no known cure, medical personnel coming to the United States from West Africa to be treated for the disease have recovered after receiving experimental serum. That’s amazing: a previously incurable disease cured! Bill Gates and a number of organizations have donated large amounts of money to find both a cure and a vaccine for Ebola. If scientists succeed in doing that, another disease will be conquered.

  1. Another of your books, “Shade”, delves into some darker fantasy as well. Tell me about that.

SHADE is a Young Adult Mystery novel with Paranormal elements. Tagline: “Shade: Girl on a hero’s journey, going from smart-ass to badass.”

Here’s the Book Summary for SHADE:

Thanks to her offbeat mother, Shade’s full name is Galactic Shade Griffin. Having a name like that while being the new girl in school is pretty much catnip for bullies. The summer before Shade’s junior year of high school, her mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend and moves them once again to a new town.

This time, they move into a dilapidated old house where Shade has an entire attic bedroom to herself—at least until she discovers it’s haunted by the ghost of a teenaged boy named Brandon Yates. When Shade’s best friend goes missing, her life becomes even more complicated. With the help of Brandon who’s struggling with his own issues in the world beyond, Shade faces the question of whether or not she has what it takes to become a true hero.

Although this novel deals with a number of serious issues—drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and disturbing world events—it’s primarily a novel about a teenaged girl finding out who she really is and that she’s capable of so much more than she ever thought possible.

  1. Who is your favorite writer, and why?

That’s a tough question. I have so many favorite writers! One of my most favorite writers is Barbara Kingsolver. Her novel, THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, knocked my socks off. Her description and character development were extraordinary and she tackled some heavy-duty social issues in that book.

  1. What are you working on now?

With Hugh Howey’s blessing, I’m working on a fan fiction story set in his WOOL universe that I plan to publish in the Amazon Kindle Worlds program for fan fiction. Then I plan to write sequels for both SHADE and MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES in order to turn them into two separate series.

  1. What advice do you have for writers?

To read a lot and to just keep on writing!

My website: http://www.marilynpeake.com

My Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/387792.Marilyn_Peake

My Twitter page: https://twitter.com/marilynpeake

MUTATION Z: THE EBOLA ZOMBIES on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Mutation-Ebola-Zombies-Marilyn-Peake-ebook/dp/B00NNWXKQS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1411721414&sr=1-1&keywords=mutation+z

SHADE on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Shade-Marilyn-Peake-ebook/dp/B00JC15NSC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1412325862&sr=1-1&keywords=shade

Author Interview: Carol Davis

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It’s Thursday again already?  Man does the time fly. Today I have Carol Davis, writer of mystery, science fiction, and women’s literature. You can find out more about Carol at her website here:  http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Davis/e/B001HMQK40/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caroldavisauthor

1. What first drew you to writing?

The short answer would be… love.  Thanks to my dad, I’m a TV baby, and I found myself wanting more stories about my favorite TV characters, so I started to write them myself.  This being back in the pre-computer days, I did all my writing in spiral notebooks with a ballpoint pen, and sometimes I churned out so much material that it caused my hand to cramp and burn — all for something that had a readership of one.  (Me.)  Years later I found out that what I was doing was called fanfiction, and that thousands of other people did it too.  What a revelation!  I’d always thought I was the only one.

2.  So you write mystery, science fiction, and women’s lit. What about those genres appeals to you?

For me, all those genres tie in together, because I write about family — both the family you’re born with and the ones you build, through marriage, friendship, “shared experience” bonding, all of that.  It’s always been a way to try to make sense of my own life and the people around me, so when an idea pops into my head, a concept I want to explore, I think: “What’s the best way to approach this?  Which direction is going to be the most fun?”  So my characters could be investigating mysterious deaths in the Adirondacks, or noticing that an alien species is being mistreated, or discovering that a couple of days in a luxury hideaway has more benefits than they imagined — but in the end it’s all about family.

3. Your latest mystery, “Dead in the Water” came out in July. Tell me about the book.

It’s set in a small town in the Adirondacks, an area that has particular appeal to me because my family has vacationed there every year since 1939!  It’s a beautiful area, very historic, and the geographic isolation (and lack of cell coverage) in some of the little towns lends itself nicely to talking about weird things: ghosts, strange critters in the water, people going missing.  I liked the idea of sending a couple of investigative reporters up there, thinking they’re just going to find out what happened to a bunch of people who drowned — and at the same time, they’re finding out some truths about themselves and about their families… while they’re being spied on by the family who runs the inn they’re staying at.  It has a lot to do with loss, and grief, and trying to move forward, and building a bond with the people who stick with you.  I’ve tried to put some strong threads of humor in there as well, because I love random bits of goofiness in the middle of a lot of drama!  If you’re intrigued, you can find the book on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Water-Carol-Davis-ebook/dp/B00LGYQB2K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411819959&sr=8-1&keywords=carol+davis+dead+in+the+water.

4.  I haven’t spoken with any other writer who has written for Kindle Worlds. How was your experience with that?

I have a lot of love for Kindle Worlds!  Being a lifelong writer of fanfiction, Amazon’s “birth announcement” for KW really caught my eye.  I hadn’t done any self-publishing up to that point — other than fanzines — and KW struck me as a really cool way of getting a story out there, and maybe making a little money at the same time.  I became acquainted with a terrific group of people (the League of Original Woolwrights, or LOOW, of which I’m now a member) who’d been self-publishing for a while, and I thought it was worth a try.  I’ve got 9 titles in KW now, all in Hugh Howey’s “Silo Saga.”  Most of them follow the journey of the Brownell family, who are among the people herded into those underground silos when the bombs go off in Atlanta: a young mother and her two children, and her brother, who becomes the silo’s deputy mayor.  KW gets a lot of criticism for being “just fanfiction,” but it’s a great way for writers to take advantage of a built-in audience, and to do what I’ve been doing all my life: creating more stories about my favorite characters (or situations).

5.  Who is your favorite writer and why?

Stephen King.  For 40 years now, Stephen King.  He may not write great literature, but he’s a master of making you turn those pages… even if there are 1200 of them!  He’s got such a way of making you feel like a kid sitting at a campfire, asking over and over, “And THEN what happened??”

6.  What are you working on next?

I’ve got half a dozen things in the pipeline: part 3 of my “Something Simple” romantic trilogy (the journey of a young woman with a head-spinningly crazy life who’s looking for… well, something simple); a couple of romantic standalones; a SF story I originally wrote in college, about an escape that’s not as benign as everyone thinks; the aforementioned SF story about a teenager who begins to notice that her colony’s alien “staff” are being abused and killed; and a collection of short stories about a young girl’s relationship with her dad.  I also have a story in the upcoming superhero anthology being published by the LOOW group.

7.  What has been the most helpful advice to you as a writer?

It came when I was still in high school, from the head writer of my favorite TV show: “WRITE YOUR FACE OFF.”  At the time, I was a painfully shy kid from a small town, and I’d taken a leap of faith by sending him a spec script out of the blue.  To my astonishment, he called me, and his key piece of advice was to keep at it.  Just keep going.  Keep writing.

8.  Tell me a fun fact about yourself.

I worked on the U.S.S. Enterprise!  Well, sort of.  Thanks to another spec script I decided to send out into the big scary world of Hollywood, I landed a writing internship at Star Trek: The Next Generation.  For 6 weeks I worked with TNG‘s production team, and got to see the journey a story takes from that original germ of an idea to finished product.  And, I got to have lunch with a bunch of Klingons!  Definitely a one-of-a-kind experience… particularly for an ardent fan.  I’ve blogged about it several times at my website (http://caroldavisauthor.com).

Author Interview: Geoff North

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Welcome to Thursday, and the introduction to another up and coming writer. Today I’m interviewing Geoff North, writer of horror. You can find his Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Geoff-North/460245047430262?ref=hl and his Twitter at https://twitter.com/Geoff_North .

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1.  So you wanted to be a writer. Why ever for? 

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but in a different way. I created my own universe of superheroes, and produced (rather poorly) over two hundred hand drawn and written comic books from the ages of 11-17. After that I ventured into cartoon strips and finally settled into a weekly political cartoon panel gig for a handful of newspapers that lasted off and on for almost twenty years. I was never truly happy doing that, and in my early 40s I decided I didn’t want to draw another single picture ever again. It was the writing I always loved more. It only took me thirty years or so to realize that. Better late than never, I suppose.

2.  You mentioned that you write mostly horror but also some dark fantasy. What do you like about these genres?

I enjoy all fantasy, dark, epic, historical – I read it all. I have written some fantasy but have never tried to publish it. Maybe some day. Horror is where it’s at for me and always will be. I’m not a fan of slasher, buckets of blood, and senseless torture horror. I like a nice, slow, supernatural build that unsettles my readers along the way. And the bad guys always pay for the torment they’ve caused in the end. I’m pretty sure the old farm house I grew up in was haunted, so maybe that’s where my passion started!

3.  Tell me about your latest book.

My latest – as in available for purchase right now – is Children of Extinction. Four teenagers stumble across a wounded alien and its time-travel capable craft in the woods. Two of the kids are sent back 80,000 years carrying a disease to wipe out the human race at its closest call of extinction. The other two teens are forced to stay in the present day and guard over the strange being until the mission has been completed. (Forgot to mention that while I was growing up there were dozens of strange UFO sightings in the late seventies around our area. Go figure.)

I’ve just finished another story called Conspiracy Hotel split into three parts. This story is strange, even for me! It’s horror/romance/suspense all rolled up into a nightmarish tale of time travel in the wrong hands. I’ll sum it up like this: Big Foot, Jimmy Hoffa, The Loch Ness Monster, Grigori Rasputin, and a dozen more famous characters and creatures from history soaking up the sun at an all-inclusive Cuban resort.

4.  I see that the blurb to one of your recently published books mentions “zombies with a twist.” Why do you think zombies are so popular these day?

Are we just bored with our lives? “zombies with a twist”  Did I write that? Yeah, sounds like me. The cover blurb for CRYERS calls it a new breed of post-apocalyptic zombie. To tell you the truth, I’ve never really cared for zombies. They’re not very bright, they’re slow-moving, and I can only imagine how bad they must smell. I think the only real appeal is their strength in numbers. More recent trends have made them faster and more deadly (28 Days Later and World War Z). I wanted to go a little further – a thousand years into the future further. My “zombies” are cryogenic clients from the 20th and 21st centuries waking up in the 31st century. The world is less populated but a far more dangerous place. Mutated creatures outnumber human descendants, but the guys and gals thawing out from the past put them all to shame.

5.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

Stephen King. Nothing makes a 12 year old kid grow up faster than The Stand. That was the first real horror book I read that made me tuck all those “kid” horror comic books under the bed for good. IT is still my favorite King book, but Salem’s Lot and 11/22/63 are close runner-ups. And even though most of his endings are weak (to me), the man exudes confidence and talent. He’s simply the best there is. My other favorite authors are Dan Simmons, Joe Abercrombie, Hugh Howey, George R. R. Martin, and Robert McCammon. Sorry, couldn’t limit myself to one…

6.  What are you working on next?

I’m working on a novel called Dearly Departing. It’s the story of a suicidal middle-aged man and his drug-addicted daughter traveling across the country to see his dying mother one last time. It is very similar in theme to my first (and so far most successful) book, Live it Again. I’m going to enjoy this one because it touches close to home. Earlier this year I drove across the country with my daughter to say goodbye to my mom. We made it just in time. And though it was sad, it was one of the most joyful weeks of my life. I met up with old friends and family, and bonded even closer with a daughter I didn’t think possible to love more. Life and love is precious, and sometimes death can drive that point home in ways even guys like me can still appreciate. But since I’m a horror author, this coming of age story will be laced with ghosts, suspense, and a bit of terrorism along the way. Oh, and by the way – I’m not suicidal, and my daughter isn’t an addict, it’s just part of the drama.

7.  So what REALLY scares you? Besides spiders?

When I was a little kid it was the fear of being buried alive. Twenty years ago it was the idea of alien abduction. Nowadays my biggest fears are still buried under the earth and from outer space in the forms of that super-volcano building under Yosemite National Park and a solar burst that could cripple civilization. Same kind of scares, just a little more refined. 

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

Writing can be a very lonely profession or pass-time, but things are getting better. We have the ability these days to reach out to so many other writers. Don’t be shy. Find and make friends. Don’t be afraid to ask silly questions. I won’t tell anyone to write every day and write a lot. We all know that. But I insist you keep writing when you’re not sitting in front of that keyboard. My best ideas usually come when driving down the highway or walking in the woods. Stay fresh in mind and body and let that imagination keep chugging. It will never run out of steam.

Thanks again, Judy!

http://www.geoffnorth.com/