Today, I’d like to give a shout out to one of my favorite indie authors with his newest book release. You can check out my review of his JENNY POX series or read up on his awesome GUEST POST about time travel. Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for organizing this blitz. I do plan on eventually reading THE UNSEEN, as it looks amazing!
The Unseen by J. L. Bryan
Genre: Dark Fiction/horror
Publisher: Self published
Published: October 31, 2013
Cassidy is a young tattoo artist living in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. She’s always suffered terrible nightmares, and sometimes the hideous creatures seem to follow her out of her dreams and into her waking life, though she’s the only one who can see them. Drugs and alcohol can blot them out, but never entirely chase them away.
When a demonic cult begins to take control of the people in her life, including her younger brother, Cassidy discovers that the unseen world of monsters is very real. She can no longer avoid it. To protect those she loves, she must accept her own hidden supernatural talents and face the forces of evil before the sinister cult achieves its twisted goals and casts the world into darkness.
The Unseen by J.L. Bryan has a special release price of 99 cents through Halloween. See his website for details and links.
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on the English Renaissance and the Romantic period. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He enjoys remixing elements of paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, horror and science fiction into new kinds of stories.
He is the author of The Paranormals series (starting with Jenny Pox), The Songs of Magic series, Nomad, and other books. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, his son John, and some dogs and cats.
The story selected for this week’s SSS is the first I’ve read from H.P. Lovecraft. If you enjoy weird fiction or horror, then you have to read this short story. Available for FREE on Amazon as well as other online sites.
Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I find books 100 pages or less on Amazon that are worth reading, which means you’ll only see mini-reviews of 3 stars and up on this feature!
If you know of an awesome short story (can be your own), send me an email. If I like it, then I’ll post it on Short Story Saturday.
The Shunned House by H. P. Lovecraft
Originally published: 1924
Retail Price: FREE
Review: No book blurb is available for this short story by H. P. Lovecraft, however the descriptions within the book will overload your senses. Lovecraft braids together mood and visual details to paint a picture of quite possibly the most repulsive and horrifying haunted house.
The narrator (never named) and his uncle are obsessed with this haunted house. The story deviates from the present to include the horrible history of the house and its inhabitants, so when it returns to the present to follow the narrator through a night spent with his uncle in the house’s cellar, you experience the same dread and anticipation as the characters.
THE SHUNNED HOUSE also has quite possibly the longest sentence ever written:
A weak, filtered glow from the rain-harassed street-lamps outside, and a feeble phosphorescence from the detestable fungi within, showed the dripping stone of the walls, from which all traces of whitewash had vanished; the dank, fetid and mildew-tainted hard earth floor with its obscene fungi; the rotting remains of what had been stools, chairs, and tables, and other more shapeless furniture; the heavy planks and massive beams of the ground floor overhead; the decrepit plank door leading to bins and chambers beneath other parts of the house; the crumbling stone staircase with ruined wooden hand-rail; and the crude and cavernous fireplace of blackened brick where rusted iron fragments revealed the past presence of hooks, andirons, spit, crane, and a door to the Dutch oven — these things, and our austere cot and camp chairs, and the heavy and intricate destructive machinery we had brought.
Have you read H.P. Lovecraft? Do you have any favorite stories to recommend?Read More
Welcome to This is YOUR song
a brand new book meme hosted by Lizzy’s Dark Fiction.
Meme name is inspired by the Elton John song. Here, I’ll pick 5 books from different genres or age groups and match them with the song that I think describes the book the best.
1) Representing mystery, we have My Dead Friend Sarah by Peter Rosch.
Mere months into recovery, Max, an alcoholic with twisted control issues, meets Sarah – the same woman that for years he’s habitually dreamt will die after a botched abduction. “Doing the next right thing,” a popular AA phrase he’s picked up in the rooms, means befriending Sarah long enough to warn her and hope she takes him seriously. But when Sarah falls in love with Max, his newly sober thinking drives him to choose his overly devoted wife, and he abandons Sarah – even when it condemns her to death. When Sarah goes missing, the NYPD suspects Max’s dream may have been a pre-crime confession. The truth, all of it, lurks inside of Max, but only by drinking again does he recapture the nerve and clarity vital to free his wife, sponsor, and himself from a life imprisoned by lies.
Song Match: Burden in my Hand by Soundgarden
Lyrics: Close your eyes and bow your head, I need a little sympathy / ’Cause fear is strong and love’s for everyone who isn’t me / Kill your health and kill yourself and kill everything you love / And if you live you can fall to pieces and suffer with my ghost
Reason: Max is an alcoholic who wants sympathy for his situation, but he’s the prime suspect in the death of his friend’s death. Plus, he’s not so sure that he wasn’t the one to kill her.
2) Representing fantasy re-tellings, we have Wicked by Gregory Maguire.
In Baum’s land of Oz, animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. Green-skinned Elphaba, future Wicked Witch of the West, is smart, prickly and misunderstood; she challenges our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
Song Match: What It’s Like by Everlast
Lyrics: God forbid you ever had to wake up to hear the news / ’Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to lose / Then you really might know what it’s like / To have to lose…
Reason: The Wicked Witch shares her side of the story. Walk a mile in her shoes and then “you might know what it’s like”.
3) Representing YA, we have The Faults in Our Stars by John Green.
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Song Match: All the Right Moves by One Republic
Lyrics: It can’t be possible that rain can fall / Only when it’s over our heads / The sun is shining everyday, but it’s far away / Over the world it’s said, they’ve got, they’ve got
Reason: Hazel is a teenager with terminal cancer. She will never be able to do the things most teenagers take for granted. She knows she will probably never grow up. The life she has to live is shitty, but it’s the only life she has. It’s true that misery attracts company and she starts to appreciate what she does have when she meets Augustus, who also has cancer.
4) Representing horror, we have Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice.
In 1976, a uniquely seductive world of vampires was unveiled in the now-classic Interview with the Vampire . . . in 1985, a wild and voluptous voice spoke to us, telling the story of The Vampire Lestat. In The Queen of the Damned, Anne Rice continues her extraordinary “Vampire Chronicles” in a feat of mesmeric storytelling, a chillingly hypnotic entertainment in which the oldest and most powerful forces of the night are unleashed on an unsuspecting world.
These narrative threads wind sinuously across a vast, richly detailed tapestry of the violent, sensual world of vampirism, taking us back 6,000 years to its beginnings. As the stories of the “first brood” of blood drinkers are revealed, we are swept across the ages, from Egypt to South America to the Himalayas to all the shrouded corners of the globe where vampires have left their mark. Vampires are created–mortals succumbing to the sensation of “being enptied, of being devoured, of being nothing.” Vampires are destroyed. Dark rituals are performed–the rituals of ancient creatures prowling the modern world. And, finally, we are brought to a moment in the twentieth century when, in an astonishing climax, the fate of the living dead–and perhaps of the living, all the living–will be decided.
Song Match: Bring Me to Life by Evanescence
Lyrics: All this time I can’t believe I couldn’t see / Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me / I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems / Got to open my eyes to everything
Reason: Lestat goes against the advice of every other vampire. He goes public as a vampire rock star and his music awakens the lair of the queen of vampires. He’s brought her back to life and spawned a romance that’s everything he’s every dreamed of – however, the price of keeping her is high. His queen is determined to destroy every vampire except Lestat.
5) Representing dark fiction, we have The Color of Snow by Brenda Stanley.
Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?
When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora–a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.
Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.
Song Match: Because of You by Kelly Clarkson
Lyrics: Because of you / I find it hard to trust / Not only me, but everyone around me / Because of you, I am afraid / I lose my way / And it’s not too long before you point it out / I cannot cry / Because I know that’s weakness in your eyes
Reason: Sophie has lived in isolation for most of her life. Her papa has taught her that outsiders cannot be trusted. When Damien comes to “rescue” her, she finds herself conflicted between believing what her Papa taught her and believing what the rest of the world says.Read More
I apologize for the slight vacation in posts. My husband took a weekend vacation and took my computer desk with him (it’s one of those white Wal-Mart folding tables), so I didn’t get everything reassembled until last night.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Genre: YA Dark Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Releases March 26th, 2013
THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN’T LEAVE BEHIND … A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and the girls are found by their father, a stranger, and taken to re-enter the “normal” life of school, clothes and boys. Now, Carey must come to terms with the truth of why their mother spirited them away ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go … a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
I don’t usually review books this far in advance, however If You Find Me is pre-order worthy. As a child, Carey believed every word her mama told her. Carey raised her little sister without electricity, water and sometimes food; because her mama told her that there was a bad man out there looking for them. When this bad man arrives with child protection services years later, Carey knows that her mother will come and save them again. Then, she reads the note her mother says relinquishing her custody of both girls and Carey starts to doubt the stories her mother told her.
This debut novel is written from the POV of a missing child that didn’t know she was missing. The brilliance of the novel is the contrast between Carey’s version of truth and her father’s version of the truth; the former we learn initially and the latter we learn over the course of the novel. The truth behind why Carey ended up in the woods with her mother isn’t revealed until the very end.
This would of been an okay story if it transcribed Carey’s reintroduction with her father, but it’s a compelling story when Carey’s mute younger sister, Janessa, is stitched into the drama. Janessa’s father was someone their mother screwed for a hit of meth and neither girl has seen that man since. Janessa’s unwillingness to talk spawns from something that Carey did a year ago and as the horrors of both girls’ past unravels I really wondered what Carey could possibly do to top everything else they had experienced. It was a relief when her secret was finally revealed and it wasn’t a disappointment.
I have a little sister myself, so the relationship between Carey and Janessa reminded me of my sibling bond. It’s refreshing to have siblings in a YA story that are so genuine, you wonder if they’re fiction. I was a less impressed by how pigeonholed Delaney was as a mean stepsister. Compared to the other characters, Delaney was very underdeveloped and her motives questionable.
I was also slightly discouraged by the opening chapter, as it was written with a “backwoods” accent. The accent disappears from the narrative after the first couple chapters, so don’t let the opening dissuade you. Once the hickish accent faded from the pages, there is nothing that could stop me from finishing. This is a book that I will recommend to friends and I think they will both love and hate me for making them read a book so poignant and real. If You Find Me is a reminder that when a child goes missing, their story doesn’t end with being found.
(I received a copy from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have also pre-ordered a personal hardcover copy as a result of this review.)
(Information and picture borrowed from Goodreads.)
Emily is a writer, a poet, and a lover of books. There’s never a time she’s without a book. Her debut novel, If You Find Me, will be available from St. Martin’s on March 26, 2013 and from Orion/Indigo UK on May 2, 2013. When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her caring for her horses, dogs and family on a ranch in rural Arizona, where the desert’s tranquil beauty and rich wildlife often enter into her poetry and writing. Emily’s other passion is saving equines from slaughter. She uses her writing to raise awareness of this inhumane practice, with the goal of ending the slaughter of America’s equines through transport to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. She offers sanctuary to abused and slaughter-bound equines who dazzle her every day with their forgiving nature and gratitude in exchange for security, consistency, food and love. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Emily hopes her penchant for writing will do just that. All-in-all, she’s a lefty in a right-handed world, writing her way through life and smearing ink wherever she writes.Read More
Flawed by Kate Avelynn
Genre: YA Dark Fiction
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Released January 22nd, 2013
Sarah O’Brien is alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago — James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely.
Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.
Sam Donavon has been James’ best friend — and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on — for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realizes James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact . ..
Warning: Flawed includes incest, domestic violence, and characters that you will hate more than any other characters in fiction.
As someone who grew up in a dysfunctional home, Flawed caused me to remember some things best left buried. This story might be too taboo for some readers, but if you’re like me, it’s a good reminder that there are people who come from more f*ked up lives that our own and still have a chance to turn out okay.
I was so drawn into the story that I actually wrote zero notes for Flawed. It was finished in one sitting. The characters were realistic to the point where I felt like it was a non-fiction narrative. My oldest brother was my idol growing up and he was there to help me with things that my parents should have. Likewise, James is Sarah’s idol. James is the only one to propel her from one day to the next when a normal girl in her situation would break down and give up. The tension comes into play when Sarah decides to try to live a normal life. She develops feelings for one of James’ friends and makes plans for the future. James isn’t able to adjust from surviving in a dysfunctional house to normal life. He’s afraid of losing Sarah and tries to keep her with him at any cost.
The ending and continuous plot twists took me completely by surprise. I can’t say that I’m satisfied with how the book ended (plot wise), but Sarah’s story did have closure at the end. All I ask is that the author does not write a sequel to Flawed. No girl should have to endure was Sarah did two-fold!
This is not an erotic tale of two siblings. There is no romance between them and no porn scenes. It’s a tale of two siblings who have been wronged by everyone else and have become codependent on each other. There are scenes in this book that will make you cry. They will make you question your own morals. Not all young adults are lucky to be born into a family with loving parents. I strongly recommend this book to any teen or adult that had to “survive” instead of “live” their teenage years. (A+)
(I received a copy from Netgalley/publisher in exchange for my honest review.)
(Images and information borrowed from Goodreads.)
When not devouring books, holding down her editing gig, or attempting to coax life out of the weed patch she calls a “garden,” Kate Avelynn writes dark contemporary YA and NA that blends first love, betrayal, and danger.Read More