10/3/13

Day 2 of 31 Days of Spine-tingling Reads

A Cold Season (Library Hardback)

A Cold Season by Alison Littlewood

  • File Size: 434 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (December 22, 2011)

Cass is building a new life for herself and her young son Ben after the death of her soldier husband Pete, returning to the village where she lived as a child. But their idyllic new home is not what she expected: the other flats are all empty, there’s strange graffiti on the walls, and the villagers are a bit odd. And when an unexpectedly heavy snowstorm maroons the village, things get even harder. Ben is changing, he’s surly and aggressive and Cass’s only confidant is the smooth, charming Theodore Remick, the stand-in headmaster. Not everyone approves of Cass’s growing closeness to Mr Remick, and it soon becomes obvious he’s not all he appears to be either. If she is to protect her beloved son, Cass is going to have to fight back. Cass realises this is not the first time her family have been targeted by Theodore Remick. But this time, the stakes are immeasurably higher….

My thoughts:

I actually read this a couple of months ago and am just insanely lagging in my reviews, lol.  I have to say that I really enjoyed A Cold Season from start to finish.  I found it to be unique in the aspect that it was a story line that I have not visited repeatedly and it had a true horror aspect/feel to it, which I loved!  There are not many horror genre books out there today that I can say this about.

Ms. Littlewood does a fantastic job of creating a story of a widowed mother and her young child trying to begin a new life again in a place that was thought to be one of safety.  What takes place has Cass endlessly turning thoughts over and over in her head, trying to decide what is real and who to trust; trying to make a good life for her son when things are anything but making sense and making her feel safe and secure.

A Cold Season has a strong theme of evil woven throughout that underlies the entirety of the story.  With this being said, there is really no gore to speak of, just creepiness – which, for me, is a hard aspect to find in many books.  I love the fact that this story was able to creep me out, to a point, without wanting to make me gag with extreme violence.  The characters are very well written and I found myself liking Cass for the most part.  There were times I wanted to give her a good shake, but that fact just shows me that the author was able to create a character and a story that made me feel connected.  I also found the story to be written in a smooth way that had me wanting to continually read to see what happened next.  I also have to say that I liked how the ending was played out and the twists and turns that Ms. Littlewood used throughout her story.  I am anxious to read more by this author and would recommend A Cold Season to anyone looking for a creepy, not gory, read.

Rating 4

10/1/13

Day 1 of 31 Days of Spine-tingling reads!

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Stephen King returns to the character and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals. 

On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel, where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant shining power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to this icon in the King canon.

 

 

 

 

01/19/13

Review: You Only Die Twice by Christopher Smith

You Only Die TwiceYou Only Die Twice by Christopher Smith

File Size: 582 KB
Print Length: 190 pages
Publisher: Fifth Avenue Productions, Inc. (December 23, 2012)
Genre: Horror, Thriller

About: In her past, Cheryl Dunning died once. A violent act killed her, but heroics brought her back. Now, if she can’t save herself from two serial killers hunting her in the Maine woods, she’s about to die again, this time from two men armed with a Bible, guns, a deep belief in God, and their twisted interpretation of his word.

Fueled by their righteous fury, they are determined to find Cheryl and murder her for what they perceive as her “life’s worth of sins.” What they don’t know is what Cheryl knows. She’s a Maine girl, born and raised–and she knows how to use these woods in ways that might, if she’s lucky, turn them against each man.

From the #1 international best-selling author of many thrillers, including “Fifth Avenue,” “You Only Die Twice” is a blistering page-turner first, and a comment on Biblical interpretation second. It’s Christopher Smith’s most controversial and gripping novel to date.

*Warning: “You Only Die Twice” is not for the faint of heart. This is a story of madness and the fight for survival, and it depicts realistic adult situations without hesitation.

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

At first, all she was aware of was a cold wetness against her cheek and explosions of light along the periphery of her vision. She could hear someone talking to her–a man–but she couldn’t understand what he was saying.

She felt her body being jolted. Kicked. Punched.

Her head hurt.

There was blood in her mouth. And something else. Something thick and round, which made it difficult for her to breathe.

Her left leg began to twitch.

The flashes of light continued until the pain in her head became too much for her to bear.

Something was shoved into her right hand. She felt her fingers being closed around it and then, somehow, the object was attached to her hand.

She wondered what it was. She wondered where she was. Had she died again? Or was she about to die again?

She knew all about death.

She passed out and went into a light of her own.

CHAPTER TWO

When she woke again, Cheryl Dunning blinked and though her head was still thick and her eyesight still cloudy, she was able to process that the darkness she now saw had nothing to do with death or being unconscious, but everything to do with that fact that it was night.

She was outside and she was alive, but where was she? How did she get here? She tried to make sense of it, tried to remember what events led her to this, but she couldn’t remember anything.

Her mind was blank.

She needed to leave, get home. But where was home?

She tried to raise her head, but the effort was excruciating and she realized that she couldn’t. She put her left hand beneath her breast and tried to push herself up, but she cried out in pain and slumped back onto the ground.

She wasn’t able to move. At least not now. Instinct kicked in. That part of her that could still reason realized that she might have broken a bone or, worse, bones. She needed to be careful. It felt as if someone had pummeled her.

As she lay there, it came to her that she was on a moist forest floor. She could smell damp timber, the rot of whatever lay beneath her, and she was aware that it was raining. Water tapped against the side of her cheek and soaked her clothes. It wasn’t a heavy rain, but it was steady, and she was alert enough to know that her situation was dire.

She was alone and exposed to the elements in some unknown woods. Her thoughts turned to the wild animals she knew were around her. Circling her. Smelling her. Wanting to tear her apart and eat her. The fear she felt at that moment made her want to get up and run, but her body wasn’t having it. Something was wrong with her head. It wouldn’t stop throbbing. She felt as if it had been kicked.

And so she lay there, a prisoner to whatever had happened to her. She listened to the night and occasionally heard rustling sounds in the woods. What would prey on her tonight? Something would. She felt utterly without hope and knew that she’d be dead before she had the chance to help herself.

She closed her eyes. She tried to remember her life, but there was no life to remember. It was as if someone had erased it from her mind and left in its place a pain she had never before experienced. It consumed her before and it did so again.

She slipped into unconsciousness.

CHAPTER THREE

Morning came and with it, the end of the rain.

Cheryl Dunning opened her eyes, and this time she could see clearly. There was no fog, no haze, just clarity. Her body still ached, but the pain wasn’t excruciating. For a moment, the idea that she’d made it through the night alive gave her back the hope she lost the night before.

With one side of her face planted on the wet ground, she looked around and saw that she was in a wooded area. A forest. Above her was a canopy of sunlit trees, from the fiery blaze of maples being seduced by autumn’s crisp touch to the evergreens that would challenge the pending winter, stare it down and see it through to spring. It was late September in Maine, pine needles were the carpet on which she lay, and she was chilled to her core.

She also was thirsty. Her mouth was caked with the coppery taste of dried blood and she wished she was near a water source, if only so she could rinse out her mouth.

How had she gotten here? She closed her eyes, thought back hard, and the pieces of a puzzle that was lost to her yesterday started to form.

Her last memory was spending time with her friend Patty at their favorite local bar, The Grind, doing shots to celebrate Patty’s thirtieth birthday, which she called a landmark event because she said she never thought she’d make it to twenty-seven. Not with her luck.

Cheryl rarely drank, but Patty coaxed her into joining her because it was her birthday. Not wanting to spoil her friend’s fun, Cheryl went along with the celebration because Patty was a lifelong friend and after all she had been through in this town, she deserved a fun night out. Together, they did several shots of tequila even though Cheryl knew she’d pay for it the next day.

But not like this. This didn’t make sense. Why was she here? Who brought her here?

She needed to get up. Needed to get out of here. She remained on her stomach and carefully lifted one of her legs behind her. It was fine. She moved her other leg, and though it hurt like hell, it was clear that nothing was broken. She went to lift up her right hand and it was at that moment that she saw the cell phone strapped to it with a rubber band.

Confused, she stared at it.

Then it buzzed to life.

Startled, she lifted her head off the forest floor and some of the pine needles that were stuck to her face tumbled off. With an effort, she sat up, swiped away the rest of the needles with her free hand, and the cell phone buzzed again.

She tore it off and tossed it away. She looked around the forest and could see steam rising up in those areas where the sun made its way through the trees to warm the cool, wet ground. She felt as if she was being watched. She listened and heard leaves falling from the maple trees. A light breeze touched her back.

And the phone buzzed again, vibrating just ahead of her on the ground. It seemed to tremble, not unlike she was now.

And Cheryl Dunning of Bangor, Maine, who for ten years worked as an underpaid secretary in the English Department at the University of Maine and who never made it out of college for reasons only few people knew because of the deep shame that had crippled her for years, knew she was in worse trouble than she ever imagined.

My Review:  Edgy, gripping and timely, You Only Die Twice is a story that will hold you in its clutches from the first word to the very last.

I always love when I can find and delve into a great psychological tale.  I have always been curious about how the mind works and why people act and do what they do.  With You Only Die Twice, author Christopher Smith takes the reader deep into the mind of a religious fanatic with a huge God complex.  Kenneth has always been a bit different – with that “bit” turning into a lot as he got older.  Always standing out from others with eyes that could only be described as “dead”.  Always a loner until he finds a soul mate, if you will, in fellow religious fanatic Ted.  Together, the two embark on a journey of cleansing the world of whores and fulfilling what God has called upon them to do.

Cheryl Dunning has had an anything-but-easy time of life.  After a nightmare experience in College where she died for the very first time, she has always basically kept to herself – working and more or less secluding herself from dating and the social scene.  On a lark, she goes out one evening to celebrate her friend’s birthday and her life takes a terrible and lethal turn.

Christopher Smith takes the reader on a cat-and-mouse, life threatening spiral the entire way through You Only Die Twice.  He gets into the mind of the psychotic and allows the reader into the psyche of the hunted, as well as the hunter.  As I read, the descriptions of the surroundings, the feelings of the characters and the actions of what was taking place was so well written that I truly felt as though I was there.  Mr. Smith seamlessly intertwined pieces of the characters’ past into the story as well and this allowed me to really feel as though I was able to get to know them – the “push” behind their actions as well as their thought process.  These facts allowed the story to come alive for me and had me racing through the pages to see what was going to happen next.  I also love the short chapters.  For me, short chapters add an intensity that keeps me reading longer and makes it harder for me to put the story aside.

Another aspect of this author’s writing of this story was the apparent research that he did to achieve this level of believability of the story.  The majority of You Only Die Twice takes place in the secluded and deadly woods.  Throughout, Cheryl must rely on what her father and grandfather have taught her about survival in the woods.  The idea that Mr. Smith did his research on the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of such a scenario adds a wonderful depth to the story and truly adds a terrifying aspect.

This was the first book by Christopher Smith that I have read and I greatly look forward to reading more of his work in the very near future.  This is an author that definitely has a talent for bringing intense stories to life and dragging the reader right into the pages.  There were a few grammar/mechanical errors that I found throughout, but those did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.

I highly recommend You Only Die Twice to anyone who is a fan of a great thriller that will make you toss aside the idea of sleep to see what happens next!

Favorite Quote:

Since then, they had murdered sixty-eight women, all deemed worthless whores by two men who believed in their souls that cleansing the world of these women was their divine right and purpose.

Rating 4

Image of Christopher SmithAbout Christopher Smith:

Christopher Smith is the #1 international best-selling author of “Fifth Avenue,” its sequels “Running of the Bulls” and “From Manhattan with Love,” as well as “Bullied,” “Revenge,” “Witch” and “War,” all four of which deal with the subject of bullying. His newest thriller is “A Rush to Violence,” which will be a three-book series. “Park Avenue” hits at the end of 2012. For fourteen years, Smith was the film critic for a major newspaper in the Northeast. For eight years, he appeared weekly on NBC affiliates, and two years nationally on the E! network. He has written over 4,000 reviews and he has been named Best Critic for 2010 by the MPA. He has published two previous books in his Netflix “Queued” series, which are compilations of hundreds of his film reviews. He lives in Maine.

Visit the following links for more info and connect with Christopher Smith:

Facebook ~ Amazon ~ Website ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Barnes and Noble

07/16/12

Seed by Ania Ahlborn – Spotlight

Seed

Seed by Ania Ahlborn

With nothing but the clothes on his back—and something horrific snapping at his heels—Jack Winter fled his rural Georgia home when he was still just a boy. Watching the world he knew vanish in a trucker’s rearview mirror, he thought he was leaving an unspeakable nightmare behind forever. But years later, the bright new future he’s built suddenly turns pitch black, as something fiendishly familiar looms dead ahead.

When Jack, his wife Aimee, and their two small children survive a violent car crash, it seems like a miracle. But Jack knows what he saw on the road that night, and it wasn’t divine intervention. The profound evil from his past won’t let them die…at least not quickly. It’s back, and it’s hungry; ready to make Jack pay for running, to work its malignant magic on his angelic youngest daughter, and to whisper a chilling promise: I’ve always been here, and I’ll never leave.

Country comfort is no match for spine-tingling Southern gothic suspense in Ania Ahlborn’s tale of an ordinary man with a demon on his back. Seed plants its page-turning terror deep in your soul, and lets it grow wild.

*Amazon purchase link

03/17/12

Banshee by Joel M. Andre

Banshee
By Joel M. Andre
© 2012 by Joel M. Andre
All rights reserved.

With nothing more than soft candle light by her bed, Abbey O’Farrell shivered in the cool night air. It was there and she could feel the evil coming from it as it slowly covered her. She wanted to get up and rush from the bedroom, but the warm comforter on her bed gave her a sense of security and instead, she pulled it closer to her face and prayed silently.

Her hazel eyes were closed as the soft candle light danced across her face. It was deeply wrinkled from smoking and her hair had started to thin and turn white as she aged. It seemed to her that these things changed overnight. In fact, she could still recall the days of her youth and the kids that used to be there for her.

That was until the death of their father. Granted, she was content with the fact that his corpse was rotting beneath the ground, but they blamed her for it. He died at 50 from a heart attack and weighed a good 320 pounds at the time of his death. The popular opinion was that she should have spent more time taking care of him and less time complaining about the emotional turmoil he put her through.

Some people believe that in death comes forgiveness. But it was Abbey’s belief that it was just another way for people to try to reduce the guilt they felt. There was no forgiveness and the dead still sought out revenge for the pain and agony they felt in life.

Well, that was her belief anyway. She knew this ghost was not her late husband. No, the son of a bitch died back in Dublin on vacation and his corpse was shipped off to Gorey to be buried next to his beloved mother. Thankfully, there was no plot next to his that she would have to worry about filling when she died. Instead, she would be buried in Newbridge in one of the plots that her family owned. At least, she would be surrounded by all the people who loved her then.

Outside, lightning flashed across the sky, lighting up the little room she was in. In the corner, she noticed the fireplace had just a few soft red embers left and the smoke was just slightly curling up the chimney to the cool December night. Some nights, as she would lie in bed, she would imagine it was the lost souls in this place finally finding a way to escape the cursed walls of this building.

Abbey looked around the room from her three point bed. The anxiety she was feeling had her heart pounding heavily in her chest. Twisting and turning, she tried to make herself comfortable in the bed. Her breathing grew heavy as she sat, waiting for something to finally happen. It was just a matter of time before it appeared.

The rug on the dark maple wooden floors caught her eye for a second. It had definitely seen better days. Holes and frayed edges appeared over the years of wear. It was only a matter of time before it had to be discarded and replaced with a new one. Unfortunately, the recent economy hadn’t helped her financial matters and it took everything she had just to survive.

Across the room, the red velvet curtains shifted softly as the lightning beyond the window cracked. It lit the room and she could see a soft white cloud move closer to her bed. Pushing her feet back on the bed, she pressed her back hard against the backboard. She knew what it was, but she tried to convince herself she was seeing things.

Slowly, it rolled almost like fog across the hardwood floor below. It didn’t stop until it reached the edge of the bed. Then, the white smoky presence started swirling softly through the room. It grew strange, long stringy hair that floated on an unseen breeze. Beneath the hair, a long head slowly with grey wrinkled skin and closed eyes formed.

Outside, the wind seemed to howl in pain as rain slammed against the windowpanes. In the room, the rest of the female figure appeared and opened her black soulless eyes. Her stare was cold and transfixed on Abbey.

Abbey shook her head, trying to break free of the intense glare coming from this entity. Her mind told her to run, but her body lay frozen in the bed. She was dripping cold sweat as she trembled.

“Please, there is no need to harm me.” The old woman pleaded. “I have done nothing to disturb you.”

There was no response, just the burning feeling on her skin as the apparition’s gaze bored into her. Her skin felt tight on her bones. Suddenly, Abbey felt the air being ripped from her lungs. Struggling with the sheets, she clawed at her throat, trying to get rid the deadly grasp.

Her nails ripped through her flesh and caused blood to ooze from the gashes. Her mouth formed silent screams. Her once white sheets were smeared with the blood freely flowed from her.

Thrashing around, Abbey flailed her hands, trying to free herself from the evil grasp that had her. She knew the banshee was in control, but she wasn’t about to let it claim her soul.

With her nails broken and bloody, she groped for the candle that flickered ominously next to her.

Wrapping her frail hands around it, she weakly lifted it and flung it at the spirit. The candle crashed to the ground sputtered out, leaving her in darkness.

The lightning again flashed outside and the additional light made the spirit only fade slightly. But the intensity of the force that it put on the old woman grew stronger.

Praying softly, Abbey knew it would soon be over. She could feel the burning sensation in her lungs slowly give way as the pain in her neck consumed her world. She no longer struggled to breathe. Her gaze was fixed on the specter over her as it hovered motionlessly, waiting to claim her soul.

As she lay dying, her only thought was that she would not be able to spend time with her only granddaughter who had moved to the United States with her parents when she was a little girl.

Around her, she could feel the world slowly pulling away as the sound of a woman wailing in pain echoed in her ears. The sound was tragic and painful. It crushed her heart and for a just a second, took her away from her own pain. She knew this was the sad song of the banshee and in a way, she felt comforted because she knew in that moment of death, something, at least, would mourn her passing.

About Joel:

Joel M. Andre was born January 13, 1981. At a young age he was fascinated with the written word. It was at fourteen that Poe blew his mind, and Andre began to dabble with darker poetry.

Between the years of 1999 and 2007 Joel was featured in various poetry anthologies and publications. In 2008 he released his first collection, Pray the Rain Never Ends.

Knowing there was something deeper and darker inside of his soul, Joel decided to take a stab at commercialism. Releasing the dark tongue in cheek, A Death at the North Pole, created a dark world among the death of Kris Kringle. Ultimately providing a tale of redemption.

October of 2008 saw Joel release his second book, Kill 4 Me. A tale in which a woman is haunted by a vengeful spirit through text messages and instant messaging.

Taking some time off and doing a lot of soul searching, Joel took things in a new direction and dabbled in the Fantasy Genre with, The Pentacle of Light. The tale dealing with five major races battling for control of Earth, and the acceptance of their God.

Finally, after missing his detective Lauren Bruni, he released the book The Return in October 2009, this time moving the action from the North Pole and placing it in the small Arizona community he was raised in.
Andre’s latest book is The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen about a dead man who seeks revenge on the woman that tormented him in peaceful Northern Arizona.

Currently, he resides in Chandler, AZ.

You can visit his website at www.joelmandre.info

Next Stop: March 18-Guest Post@ Kickin’ Back With Kiwi

Brutal


Genre: Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller,Horror
Publisher: Darkcountry Publications
Publication Date: March 1,2010
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis: 

One dark and warm October night in the heart of Arizona, a group of friends are out for an evening of fun. It was a night for celebration, and to draw them away from the world.

As they drink the night away, a dark and handsome stranger watches them in the distance. His observations going unnoticed as the girls focus on their own conversation.

Too drunk to make it home on their own, the stranger offers the group a ride home in his taxi. Reluctantly, the girls agree.

What follows is a dark and brutal act of revenge decades in the making.

Perfection

Genre: Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller,Horror
Publisher: Darkcountry Publications
Publication Date: February 12,2010
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Carol and Tammy Long have fought a constant battle with their weight all their lives. When a stranger on the television offers an amazing new diet plan with a weight loss success rate of 100 percent, Tammy feels like it was an answer to their prayers.

As the pair ventures off to the Verde Valley Weight Loss Clinic things start to take a darker turn. The owner Kathy Black gives them a new take on the classic idea of perfection.

Now, placed in a medical facility where they are constantly monitored, the women learn there is something wrong with perfection.