It’s the holiday season when new eReaders—Kindles, Nooks, iPads and other devices have been gifted. Let's create a killer recommendation list for those readers new to eBooks, not just the best author, but their best book (even great authors occasionally publish mediocre books and the most talented authors are often incredibly prolific). Please comment below and tell me what was the best eBook that you read in 2012—I want to know the single title that converted you, that made you an ardent fan of a new author for life.
I read a ton of horror/paranormal eBooks and my goal is simple. I want to discover those works worthy of a five star rating, which I can then share with readers who truly enjoy this genre. I'm looking to find the shining stars and I've found a bunch, but the best book that I've read all year—drum roll, please—was R.S. Guthrie's LOST.
is about Bobby 'Mac' MacAulay, a FBI agent who is called by his brother, the chief of police of Rocky Gap, Idaho, to privately consult on a local missing child case involving an eleven-year old girl. Her father, a very disturbed individual, claims that the Devil took her.
Bobby leaves his home base of Denver, Colorado to assist in his brother's investigation. This abduction soon escalates into a full-blown fight between good and evil. Bobby is a fascinating character and it is his inner dialogue which anchors the novel. He is a hardened law enforcement officer facing something outside of the realm of normal police work. He questions his sanity and his abilities, but gathers his courage to protect the innocent. LOST
is the second book in what is to be a trilogy (the third book is not yet published); I read it before the first book in the series, Black Beast
. Know that LOST
stands alone, there is enough background provided that you do not need to read the series in order (but, check out Black Beast
, later, as a prequel). LOST
was the best book of 2012 for me. You can purchase it at Amazon here
As we approach 2013, let's resolve to recognize all the authors and books that we loved and perhaps did not find the time to post a review (I was six month overdue for LOST
). I'd rather do that than give up chocolate or some other vice. Share the title, author, and perhaps a few short words about why you're recommending this one book above all others in the comment section below. It can be any genre, indie or traditional, but must be available as an eBook. If you can provide a link to Amazon or another book buying venue for purchasing that book, that would be great, too!
A must read for horror and poker fans alike! The star of Edward Owen's The Game
is a maniacal blue-eyed CEO who, in Richard Branson fashion, is not just pursuing the thrill of death defying stunts, but setting up an elaborate game of winner-take-all Texas Hold Em against Las Vegas' reigning poker pros. He wants to pit himself against the pros in order to gain the prestige of proving himself to be the best player.
To this goal, a technological wonder of a secret lair, 500 feet underground, has been created. In a grand entrance, equal to any James Bond criminal mastermind, our evil tycoon, Darius Wellington, appears "…the panel across from the table slid open and a man in a gray Armani suit entered the room."
The pros soon discover that they are not playing for money. It was not enough to drug and kidnap his unwilling competitors; Darius has provided them with life or death motivation. The poker tournament room is surrounded by nine glass cells that fill, or drain, with water, depending upon a player's stack of chips. Trapped in each cell is a poker pro's loved one—a spouse, a child, a parent, or a sibling.
Not only must they play against Darius and each other, but they must win, or their loved ones will drown in front of them. A dedicated security force follows Darius' every order. There is no escape or rescue, every player is wearing a bracelet that delivers a debilitating electric shock if they don't do as commanded—play the game!
No spoilers provided here—read this non-stop thriller to discover what happens, but know that you'll never look at a televised poker game or view the slow shuffle of a deck of cards, in quite the same way…The Game can be purchased at Amazon.
Stopping by today is Beth Elisa Harris, author of VISION (a stunning debut novel that introduces Layla, a seventeen year old with the ability to read minds and predict events, who leaves Portland for college in Cambridge, England to discover that she has a greater purpose in life than pursuing a four year education) and its recently released sequel, SOUL HERDER. Her third book, still in the works, will be WRITTEN IN TIME. She was kind enough to share her experiences in writing a trilogy and, specifically, how to make sure that your sequel isn't second best.
We're all familiar with the concept of sequels from years of watching movies. Sadly, many sequels are emotionally bankrupt enterprises that seem to lose steam, but there have always been the happy exceptions—James Cameron's Terminator
series, for example. The reinvention of the Terminator character and the growth of John Connor into his role as a leader and hero over time was genius and it brings to mind the character development that Beth has implemented for her clairvoyance trilogy.
It was important to Beth that her main character, Layla, should mature and evolve throughout the three books. She has given careful consideration on how to present her character's story to new readers as well as those who have read the first book (and don't want to be bogged down with back-story). Reader engagement, whether new or returning, will come from her characters' emotional transformation.
"I believe love and forgiveness transforms people, and this is what really changes Layla, even with all the other crazy stuff going on. It is her connection with people, and forgiving, that sets her free and opens her eyes," shared Beth.
"Without giving the story away, it’s a game-changer," Beth continued, "Layla goes from isolated bookworm to a significant global citizen almost overnight. My hope is when readers finish SOUL HERDER they will recognize that this is a story about transformation, connection, power, and fulfilling destiny."
WRITTEN IN TIME will conclude the trilogy. When pressed, Beth revealed that it will go further back into history to unveil how Layla’s prophesy came to be, along with the origins of the Bane's quest for revenge. Beth is aiming for a release towards the end of the year.
I can't wait!
To purchase VISION and SOUL HERDER visit Beth's Amazon Author Page
As I write this review, The Raven, a movie that stars John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe is scheduled to be released on Friday. I'm a huge Poe fan, but I'm viewing this news with a mixture of anticipation and dread. I'm hopeful that it might be good, a suitable tribute to the horror master who first sparked many readers' interest in the genre, but I'm worried that it may be a terrible. At the very least, I'm hoping it will remind the general public about Poe and create a renewed interest in his darkly elegant contributions to literature.
Well, if this movie whets your appetite for some Poe style horror, I'm going to whole-heartedly recommend picking up a copy of Raven Wings And 13 More Twisted Tales by Frank G. Poe, Jr. This extremely modern nod to Poe will alternately thrill, shock or amuse.
Three standouts that I especially enjoyed include a tale titled 'Final Envoy,' which had a science fiction flavor; 'The Spider and The Fly,' written from the viewpoint of a male black widow spider that is understandably reluctant to mate (as he's discovered what happens next) and how he handles that dilemma; and 'Of Ninjas and Bullets Left Behind' exposing the abuses of corporate power during an eager candidate's job interview with a CEO. It is a very polished and professional collection that cuts quickly to the action, but is still heavily character driven. Frank is a former literary journal editor and journalist. He knows how to write. He provides a wide variety of stories, something for every type of horror fan.
You'll delight in the twists and turns. Frank keeps his readers guessing before delivering curve ball endings. You'll never think of the word, "Nevermore," in quite the same way. These are wicked little treats.
Frank clearly has a dry sense of humor. He discusses an affinity for Poe in his introduction and claims, rather tongue-in-cheek, a relationship with the original Poe—not as a direct relative, but through reincarnation. His speculation as to the true cause of Poe's death is very interesting. Is he sincere? Doubtful, but be in on the joke and pick-up this thoroughly entertaining collection. I hate to speculate, but I have a feeling that it's way better than the movie!
Purchase Raven Wings And 13 More Twisted Tales
at Amazon formatted for Kindle
or as a Paperback
. I was fortunate enough to read the paperback version which is a beautifully produced volume and worthy of gift-giving.
Today, I'm featuring a guest post by author Emerald Barnes as part of her blog tour (be sure to click on her link for freebies, prizes, and other good stuff) promoting her new release, 'Read Me Dead.' Emerald was kind enough to share a behind the scenes look at how she created the nail-biting suspense in her novel:
Creating suspense in your writing can be quite difficult, as it is about knowing when to build up tension and when to reveal what is exactly going on at the 'right' moment.
If you give away something too soon, it will take all of the tension you’ve been building and deflate it.
And vice versa.
If you wait too long to reveal something, or if you build up this entire nightmare and never deliver, your novel will die.
Take this excerpt from my new release, Read Me Dead, a YA Romantic Suspense. For two chapters, I’ve built up this tension for my main character, Alex. She’s finally at her breaking point.
I close my eyes to keep further tears from escaping. When I open them again, I look out over the other cars, Christian is still saying my name, trying to get my attention, but it seems like he’s far away. I see someone in the shadows, and my heart beats loudly in my chest. He looks just like he did years ago, but I can’t see his arm. I can’t see the tattoo that would mark him as the murderer.
“Alex.” Christian’s voice is loud. “Alex,” he says even louder when I don’t answer him.
The man turns away and enters a car and drives away.
Christian forces me to turn around and look at him. “What’s wrong?”
“Him who, Alex? Tell me who you’re talking about.”
“My parents’ murderer.”
“What? Alex, you aren’t making any sense. Calm down.”
My breathing comes in gasps, and I feel like I’m going to collapse. I don’t know what is going on with me, but I want to tell him everything. It would be such a relief to confide in someone I know I can trust.
“Alex, everything’s gonna be okay,” he says.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Alex. Please. Talk to me,” he begs.
“I can’t,” I say pushing myself away from him.
“Alexia, please talk to me,” he says, “Something’s been bothering you, and I wish that you would just talk to me.”
From behind her, Landon asks, “What’s going on?”
Christian lets me out of his embrace. I wipe away a couple of tears and turn to face Landon and Matt. Matt looks at me, and Landon stares at Christian.
Christian says, “Alex is having a rough night.”
“What’s wrong?” Landon asks turning to face me.
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
Matt says, “No you aren’t, Alex. Talk to us.”
“Matty, it’s not that simple.”
“Talk,” Matt says.
I look at each of them. They are staring back at me waiting for an explanation of my strange behavior. So many thoughts run through my mind simultaneously. It would be a mistake to tell them the truth, but it would feel nice to tell them, and if I can trust anyone, it is the three boys surrounding me.
Matt asks, “Is it about mom and dad? Because, Alex, that’s been seven years ago. I know it hurts, but you have to move on! You’ve done nothing but mope and push away everyone important to you after they died.”
“You didn’t see it, Matt! You didn’t see their bloody bodies lying on the ground!”
“I know that must be tough,” Landon begins.
“I saw them crying and begging for mercy, and then I saw the killer shoot them.”
“You know who the killer is and you didn’t say anything?” Matt yells.
“He told me if I did he’d kill me!”
“But you know. You could’ve told the police.”
“Matt, I was ten. He threatened me. What was I supposed to do?”
“Tell them anyway! They would’ve protected you.”
Matt walks away and gets into the Explorer. He cranks the car, and Christian pulls me aside.
“Matty!” I yell.
Landon looks at me with sorrow-filled eyes.
“Go with him,” I say.
Landon nods and gets into the car with Matt, and I watch them drive away.
“He didn’t mean anything by it,” Christian says and pulls me into a hug. I don’t move my arms to embrace him back.
“Yes he did,” I say.
All of this action takes place in Chapter Three. My main character, Alex, is living with this secret—a secret that could get her killed. Her friends, Christian and Landon, and her twin brother, Matt, all know that something is wrong with her, but they don’t know what it is because she has kept this secret for seven years. She alludes to it in the first two chapters, and I keep my readers guessing about what the secret is and who wants to see her dead until this very moment. But, you still don’t know who the killer is, and I’m not going to reveal that secret!
I do provide a hint and I build upon this tension throughout the rest of the novel. And I reveal exactly what has happened and who did the killing at the exact right time.
But when is the right time?
I think it’s all about how you perceive it. Writing suspense means that you keep the reader guessing about who did what and why they did it until the near end, and then you give them something that will keep their attention until the very last word of the book. Throughout the novel, you keep building up this tension, pushing your characters to the very limit and to their breaking point. You break them and bring them back out.
That’s how you keep readers reading until the next chapter. You keep giving them enough to make sure that they have to finish reading the book to know what is going to happen with these characters and how they will manage to break free of every situation that we’ve put them in.
That’s what I did with Alex. I thought, “how can I make this worst for her?” Yeah, I know it’s bad, but it makes for good writing. You push your characters and your readers. You make it unbearable, and then build from that and keep the tension and suspense building until… the… very… last… word. Follow Emerald's Blog Tour for Read Me Dead here.Purchase Read Me Dead at Amazon here.
'A stranger rides into town' is a plot device well known in the Western genre, but it works extremely well in this horror story set in the 1700's. It's an attractive native American woman arriving in a stage coach, in this instance, rather than the typical outlaw on horseback. She's there to work at the Comfort Shack--an amenity provided for lonely single soldiers at the isolated Fort Cavendish. Her employment is in the world's oldest profession, prostitution.
The narrator of this tale, through her diary, is Rebecca, the wife of Commandant Jonathon Smythe. She happens to be meeting the coach that day to pick up a long-awaited package ordered from England. She has a brief encounter with this exotic woman, recognizing her as trouble, and then watches as events unfold that confirm her darkest suspicions. Rebecca attempts, yet fails, to crush the seductive evil that is slowly engulfing the residents of the Fort.
In a parallel storyline, direct descendants of Rebecca and Jonathon arrive at Fort Cavendish more than two hundred years later. A typical American family--mother, father, and two teenage daughters, they are taking an educational pit-stop while on vacation. They were only dimly aware of the life-altering conflict that had occurred back in 1759, decimating the Fort's population.
A helpful front desk clerk is only too happy to check the curious group in and share all the gory details (omitting only one) during a quick tour of the Fort. Mark Souza keeps you guessing. He delivers several unexpected twists and turns. He then neatly ties up all the loose ends with a satisfying punch of an ending. The Comfort Shack is available for a limited time, for free, on Smashwords (in multiple formats).
Souza will soon be publishing a full length novel, but check out this short story for a taste of this talented writer that will leave you wanting more!
'Malaika' is not a horror novel, however, it definitely has some haunting moments. It's a cross between 'Out of Africa' by Isak Dinesen and 'The Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad. I'll openly admit that I loved this book!
Thomas, an expat from America, is living in Kenya at the Tanzanian border overlooking the Serengeti. One day, he's watching the sunrise outside his isolated native-style home, drinking coffee, and enjoying a morning smoke, when he has the near-death experience of a lioness approaching him. She paws at his spilled coffee and sniffs at the burning ember of his dropped cigarette, but he is not injured. Thus begins a curious relationship between man and beast, where this lioness continues to visit and he starts to feed it and even invites the big cat into his home.
People who are attracted to dangerous exotic animals, attempting to domestic what is wild, often end up featured in Animal Planet documentaries. Their friends and neighbors will express how this person (usually killed and/or eaten by their pet) thought that they had a special affinity with the animal, that they could control it, how it would never harm them, or others.
Thomas seems to suffer a similar self-delusion, not only does he believe that he is close to this animal, but he imagines that he is communicating with it through his dreams. He brushes aside the warnings from his closest villager friend--who recently lost a relative to a lion attack and who is a survivor of a lion attack, himself. Not even hearing the graphic retelling of this attack or seeing the man's prominent scars is enough to move Thomas from his path.
The author, Van Heerling, is clever and allows the reader to determine, on their own, if domestication has taken place or not, as the novel rushes towards its eventual confrontation of man vs. nature. I delighted in the complexities of Thomas' character and I took joy in deciding if he was a trustworthy narrator or not. Extremely well-written, it's a roaring good read! Purchase at Amazon here. For a limited time Amazon Prime members may also borrow this novel for free.
I'm a huge fan of legal thrillers such as those written by John Grisham, Scott Turow and Richard North Patterson. In this fine tradition, author and attorney, Lisa M. Lilly has created her own genre--legal horror!
Love it! Simply a brilliant idea. All three stories feature a lawyer as the protagonist. These are intelligent, well-written, beautifully edited stories that will satisfy your craving for horror in pinstripes.
I especially enjoyed that Lilly exploited the Sears/Willis Tower as the setting for her third story. After 9/11, none of us will see working in a landmark highrise building quite the same way--it created a nice undercurrent of dread for me while I read that tale. I'm excited to read more of Lilly's horror writing! Pick up a copy of The Tower Formerly Known as Sears on Amazon today!
For a limited time Amazon Prime members may also borrow this book for free.
It's #TeaserTrain time again, when I feature a teaser from another author that my readers may enjoy. Check out The Nefarious: Prince of Shadow by Keith Weaver!
Winston was busy setting up the lighting like Von Helman had wanted him to. He was alone, and only had himself to talk to.
"I can't believe that I forgot to do this area. Man, I am so stupid! Just because Von Helman didn't tell me to, I should know better. Now he is probably going to be mad at me for days. Why do I always have to be this pathetic?"
Winston was in a frenzy to get the lighting set-up as quickly as possible. The only thing that would make Von Helman even more mad now would be to take a long time to get the job finished. If he caused any more delays, his neck would be wrung for sure.
As the man worked, he noticed how dark the caverns were around him. The only area that he could see at all was the one he was in because of the lights. This cavern was a little different form the rest. The floor and walls were mostly dirt, with some rock mixed in. Most of the caverns that they had been in so far were pretty much just rock and stone. There was also no way that he would be able to see anyone coming from any direction. There was nothing but total darkness around him. It was very creepy, and being alone made Winston a little nervous. He wanted to get done and get the heck out of there.
Just then, Winston thought he heard a noise down one of the caverns. He stopped what he was doing and listened. Sure enough, his ears weren't deceiving him. He had indeed heard something. It was kind of a scratching noise, but he couldn't quite make it out. All Winston was sure of was that the noise, whatever it was, was coming right for him.
"Von Helman, Sir, is that you?"
There was no answer to Winston's question. Instead there was just the sound getting louder and closer to him. Suddenly, a strange fear came over Winston. He hoped that Von Helman wasn't coming to yell at him for taking too long. Or even worse, maybe he was coming to fire him. Winston went back to work as he called out.
"Sir, is that you? Jake? Anyone?"
Still there was no answer. Yet, Winston was sure that it was Von Helman, or Jake checking up on him.
"I'm almost done here, guys. Just a few more minutes and this little mishap will be corrected. No need to worry."
As the sound continued to get louder and closer, it became more distinct. It sounded almost like something scraping against the cavern walls as it went along. Or, was it scraping along the cavern floor? This made Winston flat out scared. He had completely stopped what he was doing.
"Hey, who is it? If this is some kind of prank, it's not that funny. So knock it off!"
Still, there was no response. Again, only the scraping noise coming out of the darkness. Winston picked up his flashlight and shined the light down towards the noise. It didn't matter, though. The caverns were so dark and his flashlight so small, he still wouldn't be able to see who it was until they were in the same, lighted area as him.
By this time, Winston was almost in tears from being so scared.
"Alright, I'm serious now, that's enough of this! You guys come out now!"
The movement stopped just short of the lighted area, but continued to make its eerie noise. Winston knew that someone or something was waiting in the darkness in front of him. The noise had bothered him moments ago, but the fact that it stopped moving was even worse.The Nefarious: Prince of Shadow can be purchased (or borrowed for free, if an Amazon Prime member) at Amazon here.
Howard Hopkins is to Horror, as Janet Evanovich is to Mystery. The Chloe Files #1: Ashes to Ashes introduces us to Chloe Everson, a sexy, sassy heroine who finds her life in an unexpected flux. She had planned to leave stripping behind and settle down with her fiancé, Detective Sergeant Arlo Grimm, for a life of quiet respectability, but he has suddenly disappeared.
Arlo had been tracking down a lead about Chloe's missing twin sister, Patricia--separated and lost from her after they became orphaned at age 13. It soon becomes clear that his departure was caused by a demonic spirit drawn to the supernatural hot spot of New Salem, Maine. Strange things are happening. Residents of this seaside town are falling ill with a disease that resembles the bubonic plague, while Chloe struggles to understand, before it is too late, what exactly is her role.
She dives in head-first, willing to take on anyone or anything that stands in her way. "I was going to go all Stripper on her ass, which is a lot like going postal only with scratching and hair pulling." Armed only with a mysterious French pendant, rumored to have protected Joan of Arc (and we all know how that turned out), Chloe wise-cracks her way into the ultimate confrontation between the forces of good and evil. Can Chloe rise above her questionable past to banish pestilence, a demon invasion, and rescue her true love? This is an irresistible series start that leaves readers wanting more! It shouts for a big screen or a hip Cable series adaptation!