My Favorite Reads of 2020

These are my top reads of 2020 (released in 2020). They’re sort of in order, the top three (Magpie/Survivor/Ring) being too close for me to choose. It was probably the best year in horror fiction that I can remember. There’s always a bunch of good books, but this year was super packed. If you don’t own these books, make a list and start grabbing them! And I strongly believe this year is going to be just as freaking good.

As I always do, here’s the list of other great books just outside of my Top 11:

MISFITS by Hunter Shea, TOMB OF GODS by Brian Moreland, TRUE CRIME by Samantha Kolesnik, THE BELL CHIME by Mona Kabbani, MYSTERY ROAD by Kevin Lucia, and THE INVENTION OF GHOSTS by Gwendolyn Kiste

Other books that I enjoyed Best non 2020 reads WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING by Delia Owens, DECEMBER PARK by Ronald Malfi, DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone

Favorite Non Fiction: AMERICAN PREDATOR by Maureen Callahan (not from 2020) END OF THE ROAD by Brian Keene

Favorite Anthology: Bludgeon Tools edited by K. Trap Jones and Survive With Me edited by Kenneth W. Cain

Feel free to check out my GoodReads page for my reviews. https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2020/16739484

If you haven’t read my 2020 release (UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND) check it out. Definitely for fans of 80s/coming of age/vampire stories.

Stay safe, stay positive!

-Glenn

HYPED FOR 2020: Most Anticipated Reads

2019 is over (almost), so I thought I’d follow in the footsteps of some of my writer and reviewer buds, and give you my most anticipated books of 2020!

We’ll do top 5, since I’m sure there are plenty of books by writers I love that I am not yet aware of for the upcoming year.

AND AS ALWAYS.click on the covers below to pre-order.

(DEVIL’S CREEK isn’t up yet)

 

 

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Stephen Graham Jones is an outstanding writer. His coming of age werewolf novel, MONGRELS, is one of my favorite books of all-time. His collection, AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF, is also one of my top collections ever. It is with baited breath that I await THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jonathan Janz is one of the most dedicated horror writers around. His two newest FLAME TREE PRESS books, THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER, and the amazing, THE DARK GAME, serve as proof that he is only getting better. There’s no reason to not think THE RAVEN isn’t a hit just waiting to be unleashed!

 

 

 

 

 

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Todd Keisling is best known for his novellas and the fantastic UGLY LITTLE THINGS set of horror stories. I’ve been patiently waiting for this man and his piles of endless talent to deliver an epic horror novel…and the wait is nearly over! Thanks to SILVER SHAMROCK, we will be given Keisling’s next horror offering, the novel, DEVIL’S CREEK.

 

 

 

 

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Adam Cesare is one of the most driven forces in the horror writing world that I’ve ever run into. His books, TRIBESMEN, THE SUMMER JOB, and VIDEO NIGHT rocked my horror loving heart. In terms of “new releases”, he’s been missing the last year or two.  I figured he was up to something big, and I was right.

CLOWN IN A CORNFIELD will mark Cesare’s debut within the realm of Young Adult Horror, and I think he’s going to nail the heck out of it.  Also, it’s coming from HARPER COLLINS, so expect a great push. And peep that rad cover!

 

 

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Brian Moreland is one of my favorite writers of he last decade. His books, SHADOWS IN THE MIST and DEAD OF WINTER are amazing, and his novella, DARKNESS RISING, is a true horror gem.

Watching how well Moreland has worked historical periods within some of his stories, I cannot wait to see what he does with Ancient Egypt. TOMB OF GODS marks his first full-length release in a couple years, and I feel like I’ve been starved. Easily my MOST anticipated book of 2020.

 

 

 

 

I’m curious to see what we get in way of new releases from Patrick Lacey, Gwendolyn Kiste,  and Ronald Malfi, too.  Hopefully, we get something from each of them!

I left off the new King book, IF IT BLEEDS. I think that one goes without saying (even though I kind of just said it).

 

Anyways, I also have a new book on the way (May 21st from Flame Tree Press), if you dig love stories, coming of age, vampires, Old Orchard Beach, and all things 1980s, you’ll probably want to check out UNTIL SUMMER COMES AROUND.

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When fifteen year old Rocky Zukas meets a mysterious dark-haired girl named November, his world is forever changed. The young couple falls under the spell of summer love, but not everyone approves. November’s brother, Gabriel, is the keeper of the family’s secret, and big brother is always watching, growing more sinister as his bloodlust gets the best of him. Directing his attention to Rocky’s family, Gabriel aims to make sure little sister knows who is in charge.

 

 

 

 

 

(Interview) Share the Horror Prepares to Play the Dark Game with Jonathan Janz

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I set out to become a writer the same year Samhain Publishing launched. When I saw the Leisure Horror Books head acquisition man, Don D’Auria, was at the head of this new horror line, I knew good things were on the horizon. And I was right. Don, introduced us to Kristopher Rufty, Hunter Shea, Russell James, and  a guy named, Jonathan Janz.

The books from Janz came one after another–The Sorrows, The Darkest Lullaby, The House of Skin, Savage Species, Castle of Sorrows, Dust Devils, The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, and Exorcist Road before we all got the news that Samhain was a sinking ship.

Janz put out the excellent and much acclaimed, Children of the Dark, and also the much anticipated, Exorcist Falls with Sinister Grin Press before Don D’Auria landed with Flame Tree Press and called one of his favorite sons home. The-Siren-and-The-Specter-ISBN-9781787580053.0

Following Janz’s recent release with Flame Tree Press, THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER from this past September, we prepare for his next new release, THE DARK GAME (Catch my brief review of this awesome book after the interview).

I called on Janz to join us here at Share the Horror and he obliged.

Share the Horror: Let’s go back a few years. You were one of the first Samhain authors and had built quite a catalog in a relative short amount of time. When the news that Samhain had a) fired Don D’Auria and then shortly afterwards 2) folding up shop, what were your thoughts and emotions at hearing those two things?

Jonathan Janz: The news about Don was really a shock. He’s a great editor and a great person, so mainly I just felt really bad for him. After that, the news of the publisher going under wasn’t too shocking. I figured if they were letting Don go, they were probably hurting for money, so while it was sad for the employees—many of whom remain my friends—that second piece of news wasn’t as surprising.
As far as emotions go, in addition to feeling terrible for those more directly impacted, I did experience a lot of uncertainty about the future. Everything has worked out really well, but at the time it was a giant unknown.

STHWhat did you do in the space between Samhain and then the start up of Flame Tree Press?

JJ: This sounds simplistic, but I just wrote. Even though I didn’t know where the books I was working on would end up, I knew I needed to keep writing. Fretting about events out of my control wasn’t going to be productive, so I threw myself into my work. So in the years between Samhain and Flame Tree, I wrote THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER, NIGHTMARE WORLD, THE DARK GAME, THE DISMEMBERED, and I began CHILDREN OF THE DARK 2.

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STH: Let’s talk Children of the Dark for a second. This was a very well received book. It’s a part of your Savage Species (one of my personal favorites) world. I know your King influence bleeds through with this one, especially with Will Burgess. Whereas with Savage Species there was gore galore like a dark Ketchum novel or something from Richard Laymon, with COTD I get a lot of that THE BODY vibe. More about the characters and the heart of this kid rather than the all-out blitz style of its predecessor. Would you say that’s an accurate take? If so, was that intentional or did it just come out that way?
JJ: I’d say that’s very accurate. With SAVAGE SPECIES, I wanted a no-holds-barred, bloody, grueling epic. With CHILDREN OF THE DARK, the story was largely, as you allude to with your reference to THE BODY, about the pain of growing up and the difficulties this kid was experiencing. So like you said, even though the stories are in the same universe, they’re very different animals. I realized this when writing the sequel to COTD. My initial idea was to combine the worlds of SAVAGE SPECIES and CHILDREN OF THE DARK, but that changed as I wrote the sequel. So while there are some intersections, the story really remained a COTD story and true to the tone of the first book.81hj+mlkx0l
STH: So, Don and Flame Tree Press happens. Did he come to you, or were you guys in constant contact and it sort of just happened?
JJ: We kept in contact. Not constantly, but I’d say every couple of months we’d email, and a few times we spoke by phone. The one thing we knew was that, wherever we landed, we wanted to work on more projects together. I got the news about Flame Tree when my family and I were in Virginia for Scares That Care in 2017. We were walking from a beach on the James River to our van when I checked my email and found out about Don’s new gig. I think I emailed him within a half hour or so, and we started talking about THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER. Since that story was set in Virginia, and I’d just wrapped it up, it was fresh in my mind and a natural first project to do with Don and Flame Tree.

STH: THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER, like COTD, feels like another step forward in your writing. As someone that has read almost all your published works, I feel like your growing more and more comfortable with each release, and with that becoming even more fearless as a writer. Does it feel that way to you?
JJ: Thank you so much, Glenn! I truly appreciate that. Yes, it does feel like I’m progressing, but it’s an incredibly subtle and gradual progress. I’m fond of all my books, but I really noticed it a couple months ago when reading through HOUSE OF SKIN, which is the first novel I wrote (and the second one published). I really like the story, but I’m a very different writer now than I was then. It feels good, but I know I’m nowhere near a finished product and will never be finished in my writerly walk. I have to constantly strive to improve, to grow, and to learn. I’m too self-critical to ever be satisfied.
STHSIREN is landing on a lot of Top 10 lists right now, I know that’s gratifying. Do you let that good feeling linger and use it going  forward, or are you more the type that is focused on that next release and coming at it with the need to prove yourself again?

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JJ: Like you say, it is gratifying, and it feels wonderful to have one’s work acknowledged, but I don’t bask in that glow for too long. That need to create is too strong. And I also always want to make my next book better than my last. Hopefully, I did that with THE DARK GAME, and I hope to do it again with the titles coming in late 2019 and 2020.
STHTHE DARK GAME comes out in April. I’m reading an ARC now, and I believe this is my favorite book of yours so far. How much fun did you have crafting the antagonist in this one? Without giving anything away, what were your favorite aspects of Roderick Wells to create and play around with?
JJ: That’s so great to hear! I worked very hard on THE DARK GAME, so it’s awesome to hear you’re enjoying it. I had a lot of fun with it. The Roderick Wells character was at the center of the story, so I needed him to be all sorts of things: strong, elusive…incisive yet cryptic. He had to represent both writers and critics, both nurturing teachers and cruel taskmasters. Plus (and here, like you said, I’m trying not to give anything away), there are elements of his character that aren’t revealed until later. That means I have to play fair with the reader by hinting at those unexpressed character elements without completely revealing the character’s secrets. Walking that tightrope was a challenge, but it was a rewarding one. I think the aspect of Wells’s character I enjoyed the most was his love of power and how he reacted when that supremacy was threatened. There are some exchanges between him and a character named Sherilyn that were a blast to write.
STH: There’s a lot of writers in here. I’m imagining that there are aspects of your own strengths and self-perceived weaknesses in each of these characters. At this stage in your career, with regards to your writing skills, what do you see as your best assets and what areas are your constantly targeting to improve upon?
JJ: Wow, that’s extremely insightful! Yes, you do get some of that in the novel. Rick Forrester, for example, is a lot like me before I got anything published. He’s been rejected, told he’s not good enough, and basically dismissed. Like Rick, I once received a very chilly reaction from the head of a collegiate writing program, so that experience made its way directly into the novel.
Regarding the second part of your question, this doesn’t sound sexy, but I think my best assets as a writer are my support network, my willingness to learn, and my work ethic. My wife and kids always provide me with a bedrock, so I know that when a story isn’t going well or I face some other kind of adversity, what really matters—my family—will remain intact. I’ve been teaching for twenty-three years and teaching Creative Writing for seventeen of those, and I believe these experiences help me to remain grounded and focused on growing. Just as I’m helping my students evolve, I’m evolving too. I also never quit. Because that option is never on the table, I concentrate on ways to solve problems rather than allowing them to defeat me.
With regard to areas of improvement, I want to keep getting better at blazing new trails. Horror is a vast realm, and there are many untouched or rarely-trod areas in the genre. Therefore, I want to constantly aim to examine those and maximize their potential.

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STHOne last thing, before we go. Looking back on THE CLEARING OF TRAVIS COBLE, which has remained one of my very favorite stories you wrote, what are your thoughts and memories on that story and its release?
JJ: I’m so glad you liked that one! That story was a major moment of growth for me because it forced me to use dialogue to carry a story. Yes, there’s description; yes, there are the other essentials of storytelling. But it’s the dialogue that reveals character, that unveils plot twists, that adds mystery and depth. I had to develop my dialogue-writing skills in “The Clearing of Travis Coble,” and looking back, I view that exercise as a moment of profound growth for me. Thanks again for mentioning it! 

STH:I love it and THE DARK GAME, so I will keep praising them from the mountains! Thanks for taking the time, good sir.

JJ: Thank you, Glenn. I had a blast!

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Don’t let our smiling faces fool you…

Jonathan Janz is the author of more than a dozen novels and numerous short stories. His work has been championed by authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Keene, and Jack Ketchum; he has also been lauded by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal.
His ghost story The Siren and the Specter was selected as a Goodreads Choice Awards nominee for Best Horror. Additionally, his novel Children of the Dark was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Horror Book of the Year. Jonathan’s main interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children.
You can sign up for his newsletter, and you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.
Flame Tree Press is re-releasing Jonathan Janz’s entire Samhain Publishing catalog.
This month sees the re-release of SAVAGE SPECIES. You can also grab his debut novel,
THE SORROWS.
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MY REVIEW of THE DARK GAME

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quite possibly Janz’s best work yet. His skills continue to sharpen, and it really feels like he’s comfortable as hell behind that keyboard now. There’s a piece about fearlessness in this book, and I think it’s safe to say Janz is feeling just that-fearless. This was by far my favorite cast of characters in any of his books, and the story read like something straight out of the Leisure Books Horror Club heyday!
THE DARK GAME is a horror gem.

 

2018 halfway point review and things to come.

 

You guys probably know me well enough by now to know that I only include books published this year to include in my best of list.

While I haven’t read as many as I would have liked in this first half, here are six that stood out. Some will make it to the Year End list, some will not, but all are fun reads.

In no particular order:

BROKEN SHELLS by Michael Patrick Hicks

THE GOAT PARADE by Peter N. Dudar

BONE SAW by Patrick Lacey (Note* I’m halfway through this one now and already know it’s a heck of a read)

VIETNAM BLACK by Brad Harmer-Barnes

THE SWITCH HOUSE by Tim Meyer

THE OUTSIDER by Stephen King

The Switch House and Broken Shells are quick reads with really fun concepts.

Bone Saw and Vietnam Black are b-movie horror fun

The Goat Parade and The Outsider are a bit bigger with a lot of character driven bits. 

For the second half of the year, I’ll be trying my best to get to these babies:

THE FEED by Jason Parent

THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER by Jonathan Janz

CREATURE by Hunter Shea

PRACTITIONERS by Matt Hayward and Patrick Lacey

KILL HILL CARNAGE by Tim Meyer

THE NIGHTMARE ROOM by Chris Sorensen

ANATHEMA by Kristopher Rufty

DOG DAYS o’SUMMER by Mark Allan Gunnells and James Newman

STIRRING THE SHEETS by Chad Lutzke

HALCYON by Rio Youers

I’m sure there’s more not on here that I’ll add.  Feel free to share what you guys have loved and look forward to.

#Indieswhereitsat  #horrorFiction #Sharethehorror

 

 

 

WELCOME TO THE SHOW! Early reviews are coming in…This anthology is going to rule the world (we hope).

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“Each story brings something new and exciting to the table.  I couldn’t just stop at just one story. I had to devour this anthology completely in one bite…this anthology will win a Bram Stoker Award.” — Cedar Hollow horror Reviews

“…the tales within are consistently high-quality, both in terms of their prose and the depth and breadth of imagination on display. Deserving to be on the shelf of any discerning horror fan, Welcome To The Show might just be the best anthology that Crystal Lake Publishing has ever published…” — SciFi and Fantasy Reviewer

(Full CHHR: https://www.cedarhollowhorrorreviews.com/2018/07/welcome-to-show-edited-by-matt-hayward.html)

(Full SFFR review: https://scifiandfantasyreviewer.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/welcome-to-the-show-17-horror-stories-one-legendary-venue-doug-murano-matt-hayward-eds-review/)

 

WELCOME TO THE SHOW

We all know the old cliché: Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now, add demons, other dimensions, monsters, revenge, human sacrifice, and a dash of the truly inexplicable. This is the story of the (fictional) San Francisco music venue, The Shantyman.

In Welcome to the Show, seventeen of today’s hottest writers of horror and dark fiction come together in devilish harmony to trace The Shantyman’s history from its disturbing birth through its apocalyptic encore.

Featuring stories by Brian Keene, John Skipp, Mary SanGiovanni, Robert Ford, Max Booth III, Glenn Rolfe, Matt Hayward, Bryan Smith, Matt Serafini, Kelli Owen, Jonathan Janz, Patrick Lacey, Adam Cesare, Alan M Clark, Somer Canon, Rachel Autumn Deering and Jeff Strand.

Compiled by Matt Hayward. Edited by Doug Murano.

Bring your curiosity, but leave your inhibitions at the door. The show is about to begin…

 

 

Add it on GoodReads now and stay tuned for the pre-order link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40725438-welcome-to-the-show?ac=1&from_search=true

(SHARE THE HORROR) MY BEST OF 2017

There are always so many great books I miss out on during their year of release (this year, Grady Hendrix’s MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM meets that criteria—such a fun book from 2016).
I did manage to squeeze in a few more in the early weeks of January that I’d been interested in. As always, you don’t have to be the most original, the best writer in town, or the scariest MFer on the planet to make my list. Just have your book come out in 2017 and entertain the heck  out of me. So, here is my list of the Top 12 horror books of 2017.

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12. THE SOUND OF BROKEN RIBS by EDWARD LORN   Despite our differences, I still enjoyed this novel from Mr. Lorn. A bit like a lost Laymon or Ketchum novel, maybe not THE CELLAR or OFF SEASON, but a good one.

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11. BLACK MAD WHEEL by JOSH MALERMAN   This one started off slow, got really, really good, and then fizzled out. But that good center was really good.  Different without being obnoxiously so.

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10. WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHING by HUNTER SHEA  Shea always delivers the goods. This has some of his best characters yet.

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9. EXORCIST FALLS by JONATHAN JANZ  My most-anticipated read of 2017 and my favorite book cover of the year. Not what I expected–it went in a different direction than I thought–but still an awesome, action-packed thrill-ride.

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8. THOSE WHO FOLLOW by MICHELLE GARZA & MELISSA LASON  Just as crazy and weird and fun as their debut, The Sisters of Slaughter give us another deliciously macabre offering.

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7. WHAT DO MONSTERS FEAR? By MATT HAYWARD  Another favorite cover of mine, Matt Hayward’s debut novel is a cool mash-up of  ...Cukoo’s Nest and The Thing….Beware PHOBOS!

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6. FUNGOID by WILLIAM MEIKLE    Meikle does horror/sci-fi so freaking well.  The spores will spread….  (This one is currently out of print. Go find a used copy, or message the author!)

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5. WE CAME BACK by PATRICK LACEY   Lacey’s deeply personal novel showcases his growing talent and dares you not to become a fan.

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4. AGENTS OF DREAMLAND by CAITLIN R. KIERNAN  I’ve never been so enthralled, yet so confused by a book in all my life. AoD is terrific horror/sci-fi madness.

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3. THE WARBLERS by AMBER FALLON   I read this just after reading Joe R. Lansdale’s THE BOTTOMS. Had you taken the name off the cover, I would have thought this was another one of his books.  Blew me away. Just the style and voice.

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2. CAVERN OF THE DAMNED by RUSSELL JAMES   I haven’t seen many people talking about this one, but if you miss Samhain Publishing or Leisure Books, you should buy this now. You will LOVE it. My favorite book from Russell James yet. And the most fun I had with horror this year.

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1. BONE WHITE by RONALD MALFI    Hands down my favorite read of the year. Malfi is one of THE best writers out there. Malfi casts his spell from the first page on and you will have no choice but to go up into these Alaskan hills…. Soooo good!
Honorable Mentions:
SYMBIOSIS by TIM CURRAN
THE BOULEVARD MONSTER by JEREMY HEPLER
FAIRY LIGHTS by EDWARD LORN
THE LUCKY ONES DIED FIRST by JACK BANTRY

Also,
You should read PAPERBACKS FROM HELL by GRADY HENDRIX (non-fiction) Excellent stuff, and it will make you seek out more books for your TBR pile.

PS: Most of my friends and followers may be surprised to find one of these authors on my list. I know. Haters gonna hate.  That said, if I read a book (all the way through, mind you) and I enjoy it, I’m going to say so.

Here’s to another great year of reading!

There are always disappointments and other good books that didn’t make the cut….

To see all the books I read  go to 2017 HERE  and 2018 HERE

#ShareTheHorror  #StayTrue #GrudgeFreeCommunity  #KeepItOnThePos  #RonaldMalfiFanClub  #BestOf2017

(Review) Splinterlands by John Feffer and Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz

I’ve been a bit behind on my reading in the last six weeks or so, but… I did manage to fit in these two fantastic novels. SPLINTERLANDS by John Feffer and EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

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Up first, we have one of my surprise finds from the library. John Feffer-SPLINTERLANDS

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The wolf is at the door. I don’t know why you can’t hear it. But I hear it. And I know how hungry it is.”

Am I glad that I’ve started using the library? Heck yes. Browsing the “New Arrivals” shelf introduces me to works I might otherwise never come across. Such as John Feffers’ SPLINTERLANDS.
Is it horror? Not genre-wise, but it is scary as Hell.

“Water boils fiercely just before it disappears. And so it is, evidently with human affairs.”

Its a short dystopian novel that is eerily tied in with far too many things actually happening right before our eyes in 2017. Hurricane Donald (very apropos), the result of our ignoring climate-change, wipes out Washington DC. The world is in flux under the ever-growing number of countries splintering into separate, self-governed states (see Brexit, or the increasingly popular idea of Cal-Exit), geo-paleontologist and author of “Splinterlands”, Dr. West, sets out to write his follow-up report, and also, to reconnect with his splintered family.
The journey is fantastic. I couldn’t put the book down.

This short novel is freaky with how close we are to following in its “fictitious” future’s footsteps.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but I would suggest anyone out there who loves good fiction, horror or otherwise, to track SPLINTERLANDS down. Hell, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing this book become “mandatory reading” for high school kids and adults alike.

“Empires, like children, think they’ll live forever.”

I fear the future, especially these past few months of “Hurricane” Donald Drumpf with a too-large number of our country’s citizens eyeing immigrants as enemies. SPLINTERLANDS is scary, and it should be. Anything with an honest message of what-could-be, should be taken seriously and carefully considered. We the people should take a lot more things in our country seriously before they land us in this future.

“I don’t doubt that we still have convictions. We just don’t seem to have the requisite courage to follow them.”

I give SPLINTERLANDS 5 stars!

View all my reviews

And I got the chance to read one of my most-anticipated releases for 2017, Jonathan Janz- EXORCIST FALLS

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my most anticipated release of 2017, so my expectations were extremely high. EXORCIST FALLS did not fail to entertain.

This book starts with the original novella, EXORCIST ROAD, one of my favorite pieces by Janz. It was great to re-read it here and love it just as much.

That brings us to the follow-up, the short novel, EXORCIST FALLS.
This story was pretty great, overall.
I loved not knowing what was going to happen. Every time I thought (or hoped) I knew where Janz was going, he took my someplace else. He really did an amazing job of keeping you off guard throughout.

Father Crowder is definitely the star of the show, and you’ll be praying for Danny Hartman to get his. There’s a lot of great gore and wildly imaginative action going on that is also well balanced with the internal struggle between Crowder and his curse. Janz’s writing is on point.

There were a few characters that fell flat (Liz) or seemed to be a little inconsistent from start to finish (Father Patterson, for instance). That said, neither character ruined the experience for me.

The ending….I won’t give it away, but it was both REALLY awesome and somewhat disappointing. Sound confusing? Yeah, it’s a frustrating thing. I LOVE where Janz goes here, but I think he should have written about three more chapters and brought the story to an even more amazing conclusion. Oh well. Not everything works the way we, the reader, want it to.

I still give EXORCIST FALLS 4 stars! Entertaining as hell.
I look forward to seeing it on many, many year end lists.

View all my reviews

I should have some new reviews for Hunter Shea, Patrick Lacey, William Meikle, and Jason Arnopp coming up…..

STAY TUNED!

(REVIEW) EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

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“One of the best writers in modern horror to come along in the last decade. Janz is one of my new favorites.” –Brian Keene

EXORCIST FALLS (Sinister Grin Press, 2017)

Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering young women, and the authorities are baffled.
When the police are called to an affluent home in the middle of the night, they learn that a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his family. The boy exhibits signs of demonic possession, and even more troublingly, he knows too much about the Sweet Sixteen killings. Father Jason Crowder, a young priest assigned to the case, must marshal his courage in order to save the boy and the entire city from the forces of evil.

But this is a darkness mankind has never encountered before. It craves more than blood. And it won’t rest until it possesses Father Crowder’s soul.

Jonathan Janz’s brand new release brings the original novella that started it all—Exorcist Road—and a brand-new full-length novel (Exorcist Falls) together for a shattering experience in supernatural terror.

MY REVIEW

Hmmmm. This was my most anticipated release of 2017, so my expectations were high. Maybe unfairly high.
This book starts with the original novella, EXORCIST ROAD, one of my favorite pieces by Janz. It was great to re-read it here and love it just as much.
That brings us to the follow-up, which is maybe a short novel or long novella, EXORCIST FALLS.
This story was pretty great, overall.
I loved not knowing what was going to happen. Every time I thought (or hoped) I knew where Janz was going, he took my someplace else. He really did an amazing job of keeping you off guard throughout.

Father Crowder is definitely the star of the show, and you’ll be praying for Danny Hartman to get his. There’s a lot of great gore and wildly imaginative action going on that is also well balanced with the internal struggle between Crowder and his curse. Janz’s writing is on point.  That said, we had a few characters that fell flat (Liz) or seemed to be a little inconsistent from start to finish (Father Patterson, for instance). That said, neither character ruined the experience for me.

The ending….I won’t give it away, but it was both really awesome and disappointing. Sound confusing? Yeah, it’s a frustrating thing. I LOVE where Janz goes here, but I think he should have taken the time to write about three more chapters and brought the story to an even more amazing conclusion. Oh well. Not everything works the way we want it to.

I give EXORCIST FALLS 4 stars, but this one should have and could have easily been 5.

Still, I know people are going to love it. So I look forward to seeing it on many, many year end lists.
Overall, a terrific start of what is gonna be another great year for Janz.

You HAVE to pre-order your eBook copy now. EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz

 

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Visit Jonathan Janz’s website: JonathanJanz.com

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And be sure to keep up with all of the great titles and merchandise at SinisterGrinPress.com

And keep you eyes out for all things Janz and Exorcist Falls related from Oh,ForTheHookofaBook

(Interview) Talking Horror with the New Kid in Town, Patrick Lacey.

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I came across Patrick Lacey in 2015. He was one of the new authors signing with Samhain Publishing.  I reached out and invited him to the Samhain Author Secret Club I’d started on Facebook.  He seemed cool. I read his novella, A Debt to be Paid, and found that he was also talented. I suddenly realized that I’d seen his name before. Looking through my bookshelf, I found that we’d published alongside one another in an anthology called, PAVOR NOCTURNUS: Dark fiction Anthology Vol. II.  He had a great story in there called, “Pen Pals”.

We  all know Samhain collapsed shortly after firing Don D’Auria. Lucky for us newer guys at the company, Sinister Grin Press was there to catch our fall.  Shortly after announcing that my latest (Chasing Ghosts) would be published by SGP, Lacey announced that they had also picked up his novel, DREAM WOODS.

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The book was originally signed by Samhain, but after they announced their intentions to close, they allowed a number of authors to retrieve the rights to the unpublished books.

Between the release of his Samhain novella, and Dream Woods, Lacey also put out an amazing collection of short stories (which you should go buy right now) titled, SLEEP PARALYSIS.

I’ve only known the guy for about a year, but it already feels much longer than that. So, let’s bring him in and poke at his brain. Let’s enter Lacey’s Dream Woods….

 

 

Glenn Rolfe: The first thing I noticed about this book was how much it felt like a lost Bentley Little book…hell, it could have been called, The Amusement Park. I know you’re a big Little fan. We’ve both mentioned how great we think his novel, The Store, is.  Do you feel like his fingerprints are on Dream Woods?

PATRICK LACEY: Oh man, there’s no denying it. For me, Little is one of the all-time masters and one of the few horror authors that consistently scares me. Some of his imagery is so odd, bizarre, so out there, that it gets under your skin in a way you can barely describe. I mean, this is a guy who wrote a short story about a farmer falling in love with a potato and managed to make me lose sleep. He’s a freaking genius. So I channeled my inner Little in some of the scenes within Dream Woods. I, too, like to take every day scenarios and make them seem just a bit off before ramping up the weirdness factor.  There’s a certain vending machine scene that I think/hope would make Mr. Little proud.

GR: There’s some punk rock going on within the characters. I know you play, did you have a band, and how much of what Vince and Audra are going through personally have you felt yourself. 

PL: For sure. I grew up north of Boston and there was a decent music scene in my little town. Lots of punk and hardcore and metal. I spent almost every weekend in high school going to shows and eventually playing at them with my own bands. As far as Vince versus Audra, I actually don’t fall into either category. Vince is an aging punk rocker who’s taken to adulthood completely, whereas Audra is pushing it off as much as possible. I’m still as immature as I was back in high school. I just hide it well. I also don’t think one has to become a slave to the system just because they have a full time job and turn thirty. Rock and roll knows no age.

GR: This story takes place at an amusement park, but within that, you get to play in a hotel setting, too.  I love hotel stories. Hotels seem to be among the most perfect playgrounds for horror writers. Did you find that to be true?

PL: There’s this book. I think it’s called The Shining? Kidding. Yes, hotels are breeding grounds for horror stories. Whenever I stay at one, I like to wander the halls at an hour that would make me seem quite creepy. I think about all people who have stayed there over the years and start to get the heebie jeebies. Plus, I always seem to wind up at a vending machine. Sensing a theme here.

GR: I loved that you really made sure to make each of the main characters decipherable from one another. Each faces their own personal demons or struggles. Did you spend a lot of time crafting each of them, or was it one of those things that just developed naturally during the writing process?

PL: Glad you found them decipherable! I’m not a big plotter but I do have an idea of my characters’ main issues when I start a book. That said, they often end up steering me in different directions. For instance, I didn’t know one of the Carter boys was going to be diabetic until I started typing away on his first chapter. His condition actually became a big part of the book and I started to run off with the idea of a theme park knowing your true fears.

GR: Dream Woods was originally supposed to be a Samhain Publishing title. How exciting was it to hook up with Sinister Grin Press?

PL: I was a huge fan of Sinister Grin before working with them and they were always on my list of dream (pun intended) publishers that I wanted to work with. They are great to work with and saved the day when something came up just prior to this book’s publication. I’m talking a real eleventh hour scenario. And I’ll be working with them again in the near future.*

GR: You got to attend your first Scares That Care this past summer. What were some of the highlights and takeaways for you? And you can skip Saturday night (if you want).

GR: Of course, I’ll skip over Saturday night. I mean, what kind of guy would I be if I mentioned the ten or so pitchers of beer that we split, or the countless karaoke videos I took of you, or one of us sleeping on a sidewalk. Anyway, it was the…best…con…ever. I got to meet so many awesome readers and writers and despite the debauchery, every single vendor and attendee is constantly aware of how amazing the charity is. My main takeaway, though, would be how delicious the hotel bar’s chicken wings were. #priorities

GR: Oh, the memories…all that beer…   Back to the interview. Which authors would you say have been a huge influence on you? Any that are under the radar?

PL: In addition to Bentley Little (did I already mention him?), there’s Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Stewart O’Nan, Graham Joyce, Elmore Leonard, Brian Keene, Richard Matheson, John Skipp, Sarah Langan, and Joe Lansdale for my formative years. For newer (relatively speaking, considering some of these folks have been at it for over a decade) peeps that are influencing me as we speak, you’ve got Paul Tremblay, Adam Cesare, Laird Barron, Kristopher Rufty, Jonathan Janz, Mercedes M. Yardley, Orrin Grey, Michael Weihunt, Aaron Dries…the list could go on forever. Also, this guy named Glenn something or other.

GR:  I know that guy! I also know you’re a scary movie guy. Do films play into your writing? If so, which ones and what aspects in particular do you feel find their way into your work?

PL: Maybe? I’ve had a plethora of people call my writing “cinematic” but I’m not good at self-analyzing my stuff. My favorite types of horror movies are those that bend reality. Think A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jacob’s Ladder, The Beyond, In the Mouth of Madness, etc. I definitely think they’re present in a lot of my work. I have a novel sitting with a publisher right now that’s my love letter to this type of story.

GR:  I loved Jacob’s Ladder. Very trippy!   Okay,  let’s do some rapid fire:

Best horror movie to watch: See above.  A Nightmare on Elm Street. Seen it more than any other film ever. It’s the first movie I remember watching and it never, under any circumstances, gets old.

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Favorite fancy beer: Belgian Strong Dark ale brewed with cinnamon, on oak chips with figs.

Favorite crappy beer: Gotta go with PBR. I mean it won a blue ribbon. Did you know that?

Favorite book to read in October: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge is one of my favorite seasonal reads. It’s like Halloween Hunger Games. I wish I was reading it right this moment.

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Would you rather (Death Edition) …be hit by a bus or punched out of a helicopter: I hate to take the obvious route but I’d rather be attacked by two transformers that moonlight as a bus and helicopter, respectively. First, I’m riding the bus when it morphs into its robot counterpart, therefore crushing me within its robot bones. As I’m hurled out onto the street, with my last few dying breaths, I see a helicopter transform into its robot counterpart and guess what? Its fists? You guessed it. Both propellers. One punch and I’m all guts and gore strewn about. But like I said: obvious.

 

GR: Obvious?  Yep. What’s next for you? Books to read, book releases, conventions, podcasts?  Feel free to mention anything you want.

PL: Let’s see. I’m reading an ARC of Where the Dead Go to Die by Aaron Dries and Mark Allen Gunnells (to be released by Crystal Lake Publishing) and it’s great so far. For my next release, Sinister Grin will be putting out my second novel Darkness in Lynnwood. It’s a small town horror novel about a teenage cult and is the most personal book I’ve written yet. It may or may not have driven me to the brink of insanity several times during the writing process. That should be released early to mid-2017. Then for conventions, I’ll be at Rock and Shock this October 14th, 15th, and 16th, hawking my books alongside my pals Adam Cesare and Bracken McLeod. And you bet your ass I’ll be back at Scares That Care next year. In fact, I think I have a table with that Glenn guy I mentioned earlier.

GR:  Oh yeah…that’s going to be fun.  Anyways, thanks for stopping by, jerk. 

PL: It was my pleasure, bastard.

 

 

Follow Patrick’s Blog tour for DREAM WOODS below:

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Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #DreamWoods #ScreamWoods #PeskyBear

Dream Woods, Synopsis

  • Print Length: 135 pages
  • Publisher: Sinister Press
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2016

Follow your screams…

When Vince Carter takes a shortcut to work he notices a billboard that nearly sends him into an oncoming van.

The ad is for Dream Woods, New England’s answer to Disney World. It closed decades ago, but now that it’s back in business, Vince is eager to take his whole family, hoping the magic he remembers will save his failing marriage.

His wife, Audra, isn’t so sure. She’s heard the rumors of why the place closed. Murder. Sacrifice. Torture. But those are just urban legends. Surely there’s nothing evil about a family tourist attraction.

The Carters are about to discover that the park’s employees aren’t concerned with their guests’ enjoyment. They’re interested in something else. Something much more sinister.

Welcome to Scream Woods!

Patrick Lacey, Biography

Patrick Lacey was born and raised in a haunted house. He spends his nights and weekends writing about things that make the general public uncomfortable. He lives in Massachusetts with his Pomeranian, his mustached cat, and his muse, who is likely trying to kill him. Find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter (@patlacey), or visit hiswebsite.

Praise for Patrick Lacey

“This collection has it all, showing the world that Lacey can write and do it well. From frightening, eerie, soul-stamping to funny and gross, this book has it all. The man’s imagination is incredible. A must read!!!!” – David Bernstein, author ofA Mixed Bag of Blood

“It’s a rare and joyful thing for me to read a book and realize I’m in the hands of an author who can go absolutely anywhere, who works without a formula and without a net. Such is the case with this stellar debut collection.” – Russell Coy, Amazon Review

“This fast-paced novella has terror on every page and will keep you searching the shadows in your home far more often than needed.” – Russell James, author of Q Island, on A Debt to Be Paid

Purchase Links

Amazon

 

RELEASE DAY! CHASING GHOSTS is HERE!

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The Cobbs were ignorant woods-people that died off and left nothing to fear. Locals in Naples, Maine think they know this story. But are they wrong?

Luke Howard and his mom move to Naples and Luke’s eager to make new friends. When Jason and Davey invite him out to the abandoned Cobb place for a game they call “chasing ghosts,” he’s ready and willing. However, the boys will come to discover that some vacant houses are better left to die alone.

Meanwhile, a punk band set to play in a rented cabin out of town feel eyes upon them. Somebody’s watching, but not their usual audience. When their lead singer strays too far from the group and disappears, his band mates set out in the darkness to find him.

Police Chief Walt Henderson is about to discover that there’s more going on out in the woods of his town than he ever imagined.

Chasing ghosts is more than just some children’s game.

GET YOUR COPY HERE

Yes, the day is here. My latest novella, CHASING GHOSTS (Sinister Grin Press), is out today and available in eBook and Print. This is my first piece for Sinister Grin Press and I think they are the perfect home for the piece. Last summer I started re-reading The Woods Are Dark by Richard Laymon. twenty pages in, I got the overwhelming urge to craft my own piece of Laymon-esque horror. He’s long been a favorite of mine, and I walked that Laymon line with my first novel, The Haunted Halls, but I hadn’t  written anything as rough as that since. Well, maybe some parts of Blood and Rain fit the bill, but as a whole, I purposely tried to force myself out of that box. Well, I was compelled to jump back in.

I dedicated this novella to Laymon, Brian Keene, Jack Kecthum, and Jonathan Janz. That should tell you the direction I wanted go in.  I’m not any of those amazing writers, but I sure had fun scribbling this little story into existence. I think it has that old Leisure Books paperback feel to it, and I hope, if you do decide to buy a copy,  it gives you a few hours of fun or at least makes you think twice about venturing to see your favorite band play a show in the woods. 🙂

Anyways, I hope you dig it, and as always, any shares/re-tweets/word-of-mouth is greatly appreciated. #SharetheHorror

You can follow all the forthcoming reviews and posts for the promotional tour (courtesy of Hook of a Book Media)  here:

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And be sure to visit my Amazon page for some sweet 99 cent deals (Things We Fear and Out of Range) .   Glenn Rolfe at Amazon.com

 

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