Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski #HorrorOctober2016 #BookReview

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Just as you thought Horror October was done and dusted…no it really is. But here’s a review I didn’t get to publish in time. Some may say I saved the best til last…

a5Title: Hunter of the Dead
Author: Stephen Kozeniewski
Series: N/A
Format: ePub, 314 pages
Publication Details:  August 15th 2016 by Sinister Grin Press
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads // Amazon

 

Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.

Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…

Review

Hunter of the Dead is one epic vampire novel. If you’re looking for sparkly, over-possessive pretty boy vampires then you should probably just move along. But if you’re looking for a vamped-up Game of Thrones with The Red Wedding-level of bloodshed then you’ve come to the right place.

Hunter of the Dead has a large cast of characters and an intricately woven plot built upon a well thought-out mythos. There are warring vampire houses, each with their own version of vampire royalty, and human vampire hunters called Inquisitors. But the hunter himself is a whole other entity. A boogeyman. A thing of legends that no one quite believes. Until seemingly indestructible immortals start being…well, destroyed.

Caught up in the middle of this are two unlikely heroes, Carter and Nico. Gas station attendees turned vampire hunter and apprentice, the dynamic duo banter their way through the brewing war and attempt to find out the truth behind the one thing that both vampires and Inquisitors are equally as afraid of – The Hunter of the Dead.

This book had everything I could want in a vampire story. Blood, guts, bants and even a splash of romance in there too. The vampires themselves were diabolical yet alluring, and the plot was paced well despite its scope of epic proportions.

I did have some issues getting into the story to begin with though. The mixture of a vast array of characters and a jumping timeline would usually have me tearing my hair out, but after a chapter or two it really seemed to work. It certainly gave the book more mystery and depth.

But the one thing I did find frustrating was that a few of the characters were called by two or three different names – first name, surname and even a nickname –  so until I got to know the characters better it was really hard to understand who was who sometimes.

And while we’re talking about names, I spotted a few familiar ones in there. Whatever you do, don’t befriend Kozeniewski or he’ll steal your name for a character only to rip out their (YOUR) heart or make you live out the rest of your days with only half a face. Fellow horror writers beware!

Overall, this is not your average vampire novel. It’s not really your average anything. But whatever it is, it’s all wrapped up in Kozeniewski’s trademark tongue-in-cheek horror bow that I’ve come to know and love.

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Hunter of the Dead is available now in both paperback & digital versions.

#HorrorOctober The Finale: The Top 5 of Everything With Jason Arnopp #HappyHalloween

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Happy Halloween!

 

Well, it’s Halloween. Hurrah! It’s always bit bittersweet for me though as it signifies the end of Horror October. But,  it’s been a great month and I’ve saved the best til last for you…

After reading The Last Days of Jack Sparks earlier this year, Jason Arnopp crept into my Horror Hall of Fame; it’s such an entertaining novel, I can’t recommend it enough! You can read my review here. Therefore,  I was naturally thrilled when Jason agreed to write a guest post for the occasion. Read on for more info on Jack Sparks and his Top 5’s of all things horror. 

The Last Days of Jack Sparks

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Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.


In 2014, Jack Sparks – the controversial pop culture journalist – died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed – until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours.

First Published March 1st 2016 by Orbit // Available in Hardback, Paperback & Kindle / eBook

Amazon // Goodreads

The Top 5 of Everything with Jason Arnopp

[In no particular order]

Top 5 Films that got you into Horror

 

1. Salem’s Lot (1979) Couldn’t sleep with the curtains open for years after that!

2. Poltergeist (1982) First saw this at an equally young friend’s house, and his mum physically blocked our view of the TV when the guy ripped his own face off!

3. The Evil Dead (1981) My favourite horror movie in terms of sheer rewatchability

4. The Thing (1982) My favourite horror in terms of slowburn tension

5. Hammer House Of Horror (1980) Not a film but a Brit TV show, which gave a young me some influential chills

 

Top 5 Books that made you want to write

1. Doctor Who: Terror Of The Autons by Terrance Dicks – I liked all the Target novels, but this one always stood out. Autons and the Nestene consciousness are very creepy.

2. Stephen King On Writing – a great non-fiction book. Part memoir, part kick up the ass for scribblers.

3. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk – one of my favourite authors. Such great unique style and ideas. Brave as hell too, for the way he trains an unflinching eye on the human condition.

4. House Of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski – insanely ambitious and just all-round insane!

5. The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton – basically Doctor Who, in terms of the central concept of a tree with different worlds arriving at the very top of it.

 

Top 5 things you’re scared of

 

1. Death

2. Debilitating illness

3. Russia having a nuclear missile called Satan 2

4. The prospect of Donald Trump becoming president of America

5. People with no empathy

Top 5 things you’ve worked on

 

1. The Last Days Of Jack Sparks (Orbit Books)

2. Beast In The Basement (Retribution Books)

3. A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home (Retribution Books)

4. Auto Rewind (Retribution Books)

5. American Hoarder (Retribution Books)

 

Top 5 things that inspired Jack Sparks

 

1. The amount of certainty displayed on social media

2. The lack of empathy displayed on social media

3. The amount of ego displayed online in general

4. Non-fiction books in which the author goes on some kind of egotistical quest

5. Found footage movies

 

Top 5 things you’d want to survive a zombie apocalypse

 

1. Me

2. My loved ones

3. Seabirds

4. Animals in general

5. Anyone likely to buy my books in a post-apocalyptic age

 

Top 5 things you’d still like to accomplish

 

1. Write lots more novels

2. Write more movies

3. Become vegan instead of just vegetarian

4. Record a thrash metal album

5. Die before zombie apocalypse commences

 

Top 5 things that make a good horror story

 

1. The unknown

2. Total unpredictability

3. Some kind of depth, i.e. ultimately being about something

4. Not having a scene in which the heroes visit a library and discover everything there is to know about the ghostly antagonist that’s terrified them and us for the first two acts.

5. People getting possessed and stuff

Top 5 things you’d like to set on fire

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1. My microwave, because it just stopped working yesterday

2. Booking.com’s slogan ‘Booking dot com? Booking dot YEAH’

3. People who get their kicks from harming animals

4. All reality survival shows that pretend contestants have to hunt animals to survive

5. The cold virus. Is it even possible to set fire to a virus? I don’t know, but I’m willing to try

 

Top 5 Movies in the Halloween Franchise

1. Halloween – obviously, iconic stuff

2. Halloween II – a pleasingly mean-spirited sequel

3. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch – it’s the only one without Michael Myers, but it’s one of the best!

4. Halloween: The Curse Of Michael Myers – the sixth film introduced an occult angle, which I really like

5. Halloween: H20 – Jamie Lee Curtis returns! A great, concise sequel with an awesome showdown. It really should have been the last Halloween movie.

About the Author

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Jason Arnopp is a British author and scriptwriter. His background is in journalism: he has worked on titles such as Heat, Q, The Word, Kerrang!, SFX and Doctor Who Magazine.

He has written comedy for Radio 4 and official tie-in fiction for Doctor Who and Friday The 13th.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is the first novel which is entirely Jason’s own fault (though some readers will blame Jack himself).

Website // Twitter // Facebook

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in Horror October 2016. It really does get bigger and better with every passing year. I’m not sure how I’m going to top it next year…

Horror October: Week 4 #WeeklyRoundUp #HorrorOctober

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The last full week of Horror October has come to an end, and what a week it’s been! Here’s a handy summary in case you missed anything. Wouldn’t want that would we!? (Titles link to the posts)

Horror October Week 4 (22nd – 29th)

 

Poppy Z Brite Spotlight & Review

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Top Ten Tuesday: Spooky Picture Books

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This Week in Books 26.10.16

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Review: The Travelling Bag by Susan Hill

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10 Films on Netflix UK to Watch This Halloween Weekend

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Flash Fiction Battle: I Now Crown You…(Results)

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Posts from around the blogosphere

 

Halloween Picks! – This Kid Reviews Books

Movie Review: The Ring – Vinnieh

Review: The Haunting of Hill House – SFF Book Reviews

Review: The Creeper Man – Wonderless Reviews

10 of the Best Gothic Poems for Halloween – Interesting Literature

Samhain, Feast of the Dead – Fabulous Realms

Still to come… Horror October: The Finale – The Top 5 of Everything Horror with Jason Arnopp

Flash Fiction Battle: I now crown you… #HorrorOctober

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Welcome back to Horror October 2016’s main event: The Flash Fiction Battle

 

At the beginning of the month, you voted in your masses for your favourite horror story prompt, and the winner was ‘3 AM. Full Dark. One Sound’

Four wonderfully creepy stories were entered by the participating writers and over 1300 votes were cast for your favourite. 

And, finally the results are in…

In 4th place: Wake Up Mommy by A. Giacomi (102 votes)

In 3rd place: The Quiet Life by Stephen Kozeniewski (170 votes)

In 2nd place: The Secret of the Basement by Lily Luchesi (347 votes)

And in 1st place….

 

Come in Here by Stevie Kopas (714 votes)

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A huge thank you to all four writers, and congratulations to Stevie! Thanks also go to everyone who voted and to Cleo, Lynn and Drew for helping me to promote – 1300 votes is amazing!

Here is your winning story again…Happy Halloween!

Come in Here

By Stevie Kopas

Sorry I’m late,” Jill whispered as she crept through the front door, locking it behind her.

It was just past Midnight and she hoped the baby was already sleeping and that her sister wasn’t angry with her for not arriving home on time, but Maddie was curled up on the couch with a book as usual and smiled when Jill entered the living room.

How was work?” Maddie asked, marking her page with a bookmark and hopping to her feet, stretching.

Awful,” Jill sighed. “If I could actually leave when I was scheduled for once I might come home with a better answer. How’s my little bear?”

Oh he’s great, been sleeping like a baby.” Maddie made a face and laughed. “Well, I mean, he is a baby, but you get what I mean.”

Jill chuckled and walked her sister to the door, giving her a big hug before sending her on her way. She was halfway up the stairs to check on baby Louis when her phone blared from her purse in the living room.

Shit,” she cursed under her breath, praying that the noise didn’t wake the baby.

She fished the iPhone from her bag and quickly silenced it, looking at the screen.

Unknown Caller.

She frowned, but answered anyway, curious as to who could be calling at this hour.

Hello?”

She was greeted by loud static on the other end and repeated her greeting only to receive child-like laughter in response.

Maddie? Is that you?” She asked, but the call immediately disconnected.

Shrugging, Jill put the phone on vibrate and slipped it into her pocket. She started back for the stairs when it began to buzz.

Seriously?” She pulled it from her pocket and rolled her eyes when she saw that it was an unknown caller again. She swiped and answered, trekking up the stairs. “Maddie, this isn’t funny.” The same static greeted her followed by a child giggling; she rolled her eyes. “I hope your parents find out what you’re doing and ground you!”

She hung up and stuffed the phone into her pocket once more before heading for baby Louis’ room. Her little bundle of joy was snuggled up and sound asleep. She smiled and leaned into the crib, gently touching his tiny hand.

Good night, my angel. Mommy loves you.” Jill whispered.

She checked that the baby monitor was on and working before heading for her bedroom.

She changed into some sweatpants and before she could even get her oversized t-shirt over her head, her iPhone buzzed in her jeans on the floor. She let out an exasperated sigh and answered without even looking at who was calling.

Listen up, you little shit—“ Jill started.

Come back in here and play with me.” The little girl on the other end said.

What?” A slight chill ran down Jill’s spine.

The little girl giggled. “I want to play. Come back.”

She rolled her eyes and scolded herself for letting it freak her out. “Go to bed, brat. I’m done playing for the night.”

She hung up and shut the phone completely off, she’d have to set the alarm on the clock for once.

***

Jill rolled over and squinted at the clock: 2:57. She groaned and sat up, she could have sworn she shut the phone off before she went to bed. As her eyes adjusted, she could see the screen read Unknown Caller. Jill tried to decline the call but her screen wouldn’t swipe. She hit the power button on the side, but again, the phone wouldn’t respond. In a huff, she threw the covers off and went with her only option: answering it.

What!” She yelled into the phone.

Come in here,” the little girl whispered through heavy static. “Come in here and play with me.”

For the last time… Go. To. Bed.”

Furious, Jill made sure the phone was off. She got up and put the iPhone in a pile of clothes in the closet just in case there was something wrong with it and the little brat kept prank calling her. Just as she was getting back into bed, Jill froze; there was static coming from the baby monitor.

She stared at it for a moment, straining her ears for more sound, but there was nothing. She thought about checking on Louis, but he wasn’t crying and she desperately needed the sleep. Settling back into bed, she had just closed her eyes when the static came through the monitor again, this time, child’s laughter followed. Her eyes shot open and her skin broke out in goose bumps. She glanced at the clock before jumping out of bed: 3:00.

With the baby monitor in hand, she crept toward her bedroom door and again she heard the laughter. There was no denying it this time, it was the same laugh she’d heard on the phone.

Come in here and play with me,” the little girl said.

Jill panicked and the baby monitor fell from her hands, the static screeching from it, louder now. She sprinted from her bedroom and made a beeline for Louis’ door. She charged through and turned on the light, expecting to find someone trying to hurt her baby, but the room was empty, and Louis remained fast asleep in his crib. She checked on her son, making sure he was okay, her heartrate slowly returning to normal. She cursed herself for being so paranoid, she figured whoever had been calling her had somehow hacked into the baby monitor. She would go to the police tomorrow.

As Jill turned to leave the room, the door suddenly slammed shut and her hands flew up to her mouth. She stifled a scream as she read what was written in blood on the opposite wall just before the lights in the room went out:

I knew I could get you back in here.

Stevie can be found here: http://www.someonereadthis.com/ // @ApacoTaco 

10 Films on Netflix UK to watch this Halloween Weekend #HorrorOctober

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It doesn’t have to be Halloween for me to watch horror films – I love them all year round. But there is something about this time of year which makes them more ..tempting. Here is a list of films now available on Netflix, should you wish to have you own Halloween movie night this weekend. Links go to the trailers. All info from IMDB.

White Settlers (2014)

http://www.imdb.com/videoembed/vi2302653209

Director: Simeon Halligan

Writers: Ian Fenton, Ian Fenton

It’s Ed and Sarah’s first night at their new home – an isolated farmhouse on the Scottish borders. This should be a new beginning away from their stressful London lives. And at first it is; come sunset they fall in love all over again on a wander in the woods. But as darkness falls, Sarah suspects they’re not alone, Ed goes to investigate and quickly, the evening becomes a nightmare. It suddenly dawns on them; they do not belong here. And they certainly aren’t welcome either….[15]

Watch it if you like…Home Invasion movies such as Funny Games, The Strangers and You’re Next.

 

Holidays (2016)

http://www.imdb.com/videoembed/vi3322393881

Directors: Anthony Scott Burns, Kevin Kolsch …

Writers: Anthony Scott Burns (segment), Kevin Kolsch (segment) …

HOLIDAYS is an anthology feature film that puts a uniquely dark and original spin on some of the most iconic and beloved holidays of all time by challenging our folklore, traditions and assumptions. [18]

Watch it if you like … anthology films such as The ABC’s of Death, Quicksilver Highway and The Vault of Horror

The Intruders (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/videoembed/vi942648857

Director: Adam Massey

Writer: Jason Juravic

Stars: Miranda Cosgrove, Donal Logue, Austin Butler

After the traumatic loss of her mother, a teenaged girl tries to uncover the dark secrets behind her new home, in spite of her father’s disbelief. [18]

Watch it if you like… films with very unhinged killers such as Black Christmas, and Psycho.

Would you Rather (2012)

http://www.imdb.com/videoembed/vi2877073177

Director: David Guy Levy

Stars: Brittany Snow, June Squibb, Jeffrey Combs

Desperate to help her ailing brother, a young woman unknowingly agrees to compete in a deadly game of “Would You Rather,” hosted by a sadistic aristocrat.[15]

 

Watch if you like… films with deranged puppet masters such as Saw, Nine Dead, and 13 Sins

 

The Babadook (2014)

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Director: Jennifer Kent

Writer: Jennifer Kent

A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. [15]

Watch it if you like… slow burners such as The Woman in Black, Starry Eyes and The Innkeepers

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

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Director: Stephen Chiodo

Stars: Grant Cramer, Suzanne Snyder, John Allen Nelso

Aliens who look like clowns come from outer space and terrorize a small town.

Watch it if you like… so bad it’s good films such as Snarknado, Critters, The Gremlins

 

I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House (2016)

This Nextflix Original only became available tonight. It may deserve its place on this list or it may not. There’s only one way to find out. Premise: A young nurse takes care of elderly author who lives in a haunted house.

 

The Invitation (2015)

http://www.imdb.com/videoembed/vi2295641369

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writers: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi

Stars: Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michiel Huisman

While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests. [15]
Watch it if you like… Trey from the OC looking a lot like Tom Hardy. And also films such as The Gift and You’re Next.

The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

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Director: Ryûhei Kitamura

Writers: Jeff Buhler (screenplay), Clive Barker (short story “The Midnight Meat Train”)

Stars: Vinnie Jones, Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb

A photographer’s obsessive pursuit of dark subject matter leads him into the path of a serial killer, Mahogany, the subway murderer who stalks late night commuters, ultimately butchering them in the most gruesome ways imaginable. [18]

Watch it if you like…total gore-fests such as The Green Inferno, The Collector and Hatchet.

Scarecrows (1988)

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Director: William Wesley

Writers: William Wesley (story), Richard Jefferies (screenplay)

Stars: Ted Vernon, Michael David Simms, Richard Vidan

Criminals hijack a plane and force the pilot and his daughter to fly them to Mexico. However, an unexpected landing finds them in a cemetery inhabited by killer scarecrows. [18]

 

Watch it if you like… terrible 80’s horror such as Bad Taste, Brain Dead and The Leprechaun

Flash Fiction Battle: Last Chance to Vote! #HorrorOctober

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A friendly reminder…Voting for the Flash Fiction Battle ends tomorrow!

 

Votes will stop being counted at 20:00 GMT tomorrow (Friday 28th). So, if your favourite short horror story isn’t winning you’d better pull your finger out (yes you can vote more than once), but with over 1200 votes cast already…can you change the fate of the participating writers? Only time will tell. 

The winner will be announced on Saturday 29th at 09:00 (GMT)

Here’s the poll again for you last minute voters!

Horror October: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories by Susan Hill #BookReview #HorrorOctober

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a2Title: The Travelling Bag and Other Ghostly Stories
Author: Susan Hill
Series: N/A
Format: Hardback, 160 pages
Publication Details: September 29th 2016 by Profile Books
Genre(s): Short Story Collection; Supernatural; Ghost Stories
Disclosure? Nope I bought it! 

Goodreads 

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Walter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.

Why ?

Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb.

Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge.

Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance, he might have succeeded.

Review

As I mentioned in my recent review of Self-Made Man by Poppy Z Brite, short story collections are always a bit ht and miss for me. I find short stories in general to be too vague, too brief, or just downright confusing. However, I do think an exception to the rule is generally when concerning ghost stories.

I think ghost stories tend to work in this medium. Being short and snappy and not too complex is often what make a great ghost story in my opinion, and so I was hoping for good things from this new Susan Hill collection. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I enjoyed the titular story very much. Hill mastered the whole eerie atmosphere/building suspense thing a long time ago, and you can see it here in spades. Plus, the pay off is worth it too. This story creeped me out because I, like one of the characters, am terrified of moths. They’re just gross. No need!

Other stories include Boy Twenty-One, a gentle story about two friends, one whom disappears, and then returns…but no one else can see him. This had to be my least favourite. It wasn’t bad, just a little predictable.

Alice Baker, however, the third story in this collection was by far my favourite. Hill has such a stunning way of making ordinary things seem spooky. Like a new girl in an office of close, seemingly-too-nice-to-be-true colleagues.

The fourth and final story, The Front Room is one I can barely remember to be honest. It features an evil mother taken in by her son and daughter-in-law and that’s about all my caffeine-addled brain can squeeze out right now. Obviously it didn’t blow me away!

So there you have it. A mixed bag but very enjoyable overall. A great book to batten down the hatches with this Halloween.

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The Travelling Bag is available in a stunning pocket hardback, and is 30% off at The Book Depository now. 

 

This Week in Books 26.10.16 #TWIB #HorrorOctober

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week. 

Greetings blog friends. I can’t believe the month is almost over. And what’s even more surprising is that apart from the two books I’m currently reading… I have read ALL the books I intended to for Horror October. I think that’s a first!

The bad news is that I haven’t got much further in my current books than I had last week. I’ve been busy blogging and watching horror films and well, not reading. Oops. It’s all good though, I am now on the home straight and determined to finish them both by Halloween. It helps that I’m actually really enjoying them both. 

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Now:  Hunter of the Dead ~ Stephen Kozeniewski // Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ~ Ransom Riggs

Still going on these…almost there…can do it. 

Then:  The Travelling Bag and other Ghostly Stories ~ Susan Hill

I am also behind on reviews and still haven’t got this one up…but expect it later today. Hopefully. 

Next: ??? 

Well, it’s back to regular old ARCs I guess. I have quite a few due but either The Witches of New York by Ami McKay, or Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick will be next.

Next week I’ll be back to taking part in Waiting on Wednesday and also adding my new books to this post.  

 

If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look. Also, don’t forget to vote for your favourite short horror story here!

Top Ten Tuesday: Spooky Picture Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… A Halloween-related freebie! 

It took me a while to decide what to do for this open Halloween topic. But after much deliberation I went for a change of pace in the Horror October proceedings and decided to go for my top Halloweeny picture books for children.

There are so many great classic ones that I still remember from my childhood, but I also wanted to showcase some of the newer books out there so my TTT is split into two parts this week.

Top 5 Classic Picture Books for Halloween

Room on the Broom – Julia Donaldson

In a Dark Dark Room – Alvin Schwartz

Pumpkin Soup – Helen Cooper

Mystery Tour – Allan Ahlberg

Badjelly the Witch – Spike Milligan

 

Top 5 Modern Picture Books for Halloween

Baba Yaga – An Leysen

Gracie meets a Ghost – Keiko Sena

The Wolves in the Walls – Neil Gaiman

One, Two, Boo! – Kristen Depken

Halloween Hustle – Charlotte Gunnufson

What would have made your list?

 

 

Horror October: Poppy Z Brite Spotlight & Review #HorrorIcons #HorrorOctober

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I’ve long held a fascination with Poppy Z Brite. As an emerging teen goth in late 90s, her (as she was known then) books were like the holy grail. They were extremely violent and gruesome, they were deviantly sexual and on the surface seemed to completely humanise and romanticise serial killers and cannibalism. Plus, they were riddled with hot gay men. Some of them innocent wayward boys, some of them diabolical killers. Poppy Brite was my hero.

All of that was the angsty, blood-thirsty teenager in me. I read them because I thought it was cool; because I knew that I shouldn’t. Because I was too young to read them. A small act of rebellion. 

 

But as I’ve grown up, I’ve returned to Brite (now known as Billy Martin after transitioning to a man), on numerous occasions – his books never made it to the charity shop – and I can now appreciate them on another level. They are not just made-to-shock  throwaway novels. They’re important novels that act almost as a social commentary of New Orleans, focusing on the issues of  feeling different, alienated; on diversity. Brite writes with such a morbid passion. She can describe gutting someone as poetically as falling in love.

If you’ve never read any of Brite’s books, I highly recommend starting with Lost Souls. It’s set in New Orleans, like most of his stories, and centres around three wannabe rock star, bisexual vampires, one of which impregnates a human girl and the child, known as Nothing grows up wondering why he feels so alienated, until eventually meeting up with his blood-thirsty father.

In the past, Brite has been attacked for lacking morals, and writing gratuitous gore and casual sex, and to an extent I guess that’s true, but there’s more to her stories than that, and I can’t think of another writer who creates such evocative atmospheres, and bitter-sweet nostalgia for youth and days gone by. 

 

For Horror October, I decided to read Self-Made Man, a book of short fiction by Brite that I’d never got round to buying. My friend Dora found it in a charity shop and lent it to me. I was dubious after not really loving Love in Vein, another story collection. Short stories just don’t seem to be my thing, even by authors that I love. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised by Self-Made Man. It begins with a very short story written from the perspective of a maggot in a slaughter-house which is basically a showcase for Brite’s ability to make disgusting, putrid things sensual.

Arise, is a story about Cobb, a reclusive ex-pop star who faked his own death, who hears that his old band-mate has died. He then gets a mysterious letter saying that he has left his secluded house to him. Did he know all along that Cobb was alive? And why would he leave his house to him? I really liked this story. It had twists and turns and lots of intrigue. 

The titular story, Self-Made Man was a hit too. It’s very much in the same breath of novel, Exquisite Corpse, based on cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. It’s not for the faint-hearted. As was Vine of the Soul which reunites us with two characters from Drawing Blood. 

The rest of the stories I could take or leave, but my favourite part of this book was the author’s notes on each story. Fascinating, as ever.

horroctrating-4