Quantcast

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Paperbacks From Hell: A History of Horror Fiction From the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix with Will Errickson

Oh, horror fans, is this the read for you! I normally steer clear of non fiction, but this was definitely an exception that I had to make.

One summer a few years back, Grady Hendrix and Will Errickson came together for a Tor.com series called "Summer of Sleaze." The two horror aficionados covered some of the schlockiest installments in horror history, beginning with a book about Nazi leprechauns (which turns out not to be leprechauns at all). And oh, I did love each and every post.

It wasn't all schlock, though. They took time out to focus on Thomas Tryon and James Herbert, Graham Masterton, and even Michael McDowell. For sixteen weeks (and then two subsequent series later on) they teased my TBR with posts about a bevy of horror delights that my itchy hands were (mostly) dying to find.

And that's a bit of the origin story behind Paperbacks From Hell!


Paperbacks From Hell is focused on the paperback (in particular) popularity of the horror genre that hit in the wake of the likes of Rosemary's Baby, The Other, and The Exorcist. (Levin, Tryon, and Blatty, if you're unfamiliar.), tracing the trends in both titles and cover illustrations that ruled over the course of roughly two decades.

Books about possession, devil worshipping, evil children, killer creatures and more captured the readers' imaginations! Hendrix touches on everything from the gory and grotesque to the literary classics that have survived the test of time. Many of the houses have died, some of the authors have too, but the shelves of used bookstores nationwide are still full to the brim with these gems. I should know, I've browsed enough of them to build my own small collection.

Let me be clear, I was not able to delve into the heyday horror fiction until the 90s due to age limitations. Mom but the kibosh on anything beyond the YA category until the summer I hit the age of fourteen and put my foot down - it was time to allow for adult horror reading!

So I missed out on a lot of the titles Hendrix is focusing on here, at least when they originally released.

But not all. Because there are some shining genre examples that have defied the inevitable death of most backlist, still read and released today! And Hendrix does take a breath to hit on the teen horror market of the day as well - Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine in particular, the gateway drugs for many of the horror fans of my own generation. And oh, what a glorious gateway it was for me! I can still recall my first Stine and Pike purchases (Haunted at a school book fair and The Chain Letter on a trip to Mandeville to visit a friend). I trolled the bookstore YA shelves for any and every creepy looking title I could find, all the while gazing longingly at the shiny Stephen King and Dean Koontz titles that beckoned from the forbidden adult section. And I'm always heartened to hear that I wasn't alone - lots of readers of my generation share almost the same story!

Horror is and probably always will be my go to when it comes to books and movies. I like to blame it on the fact that my parents admit to having taken me to the drive in with them to see Return of the Living Dead when I was a baby (in other words, way too young for it to have mattered, especially since I no doubt slept through it and probably couldn't see the screen). I can certainly trace it back to the first ghost story my parents bought me to try and encourage me to read back in second grade. And I can definitely trace it back to my discovery of R.L. Stine's Fear Street hiding out on a Scholastic book fair shelf in third grade. And while I may have missed many of the titles Hendrix talks about when they originally released, I'm making up for it now!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison + a Giveaway

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for J.T. Ellison's latest, Lie To Me. If you visit frequently, then you may recall I already posted an excerpt of this one last month. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here.

Well now I get to follow up with my review!

And do be sure to read through to the end - I'm giving away a copy of Lie To Me to one of you lucky readers!

To the outside world, Sutton and Ethan have the perfect marriage. Two authors, each successful in their own right, who together seem to have it all. But the reality of their marriage is anything but perfect and certainly isn't happy these days. Ethan's latest book deal has been cancelled and their relationship is on the rocks after the death of their child. 

And then Ethan wakes one morning to find Sutton gone. All of her things - her purse, her computer, her phone, her clothes - are still there but Sutton is missing. And then Ethan finds the note: she's left him and doesn't want him to try and find her. 

Ethan wants to respect her wishes, but he fears something terrible may have happened. And when her friends suggest maybe Sutton didn't leave at all but that Ethan may have done something, Ethan knows he can't sit idly by. 

If you're a fan of domestic noir/thrillers, you're going to absolutely love this latest from J.T. Ellison. Love it! There's a definite Gone Girl feel to this one. A missing wife, a suspected husband, the niggling feeling that our narrator can't be trusted... But don't worry, Lie To Me definitely stands on its own.

Ethan, when the story begins, is no perfect hubby. In fact, he's kind of a dick. I say this because in the very first pages he's musing over how he needs a hottie on his arm because he himself is a hottie and Sutton has kind of let herself go of late. What!? But even as Ethan does his damnedest not to endear himself to the reader, it's kind of impossible not to sympathize with him as suspicions turn his way.

And Sutton hasn't helped in that regard. The picture she's painted to those around her definitely doesn't put Ethan in a good light either.

The did he or didn't he would be enough to grab any reader's attention, but there are chapters narrated by someone unknown as well. Someone we're told from the start we're going to hate. Who is this person!?

Lots of interrobangs here, you'll notice. Because this is a book that deserves more than simple question marks and exclamation points. Lie To Me is super good, y'all. The pacing is intense and the story keeps you guessing all the way to the end. If you aren't reading J.T. Ellison yet, this is definitely the perfect place to start.

Lie To Me is excellent all around and one I highly recommend for any thriller fan!

And now for the giveaway. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, October 2. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


To see more stops on the tour, and more excerpts, be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on J.T. Ellison and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


Sunday, September 17, 2017

New Releases 9/19/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

Autonomous by Analee Newitz

Null States by Malka Older

The Good People by Hannah Kent

An Echo of Murder by Anne Perry

The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Keep Her Safe by Sophie Hannah

White Bodies by Jane Robins

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

Obsession by Amanda Robson

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Release by Patrick Ness

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

New on DVD:
Wonder Woman
The Big Sick

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Casa Marcela by Marcela Valladolid

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Crows of Beara by Julie Christine Johnson + a Giveaway

Annie Crowe has hit rock bottom. Her husband has kicked her out and her company has given her an ultimatum: one final job to prove she can get back on her feet and stay sober. 

The job, doing PR for a mining company that wants to bring copper mining back to Ireland, won't be easy. The locals need the money and the jobs but the threat to their land is something they aren't going to compromise on. At the center of the efforts is the red-billed chough, a rare bird that happens to have one if its last nesting grounds in an area that would be impacted by the mines. 

Annie is entranced by the beauty of the village and its coast. But failing would mean the end of her career. As she fights not to fall prey to her own personal demons, she finds a guiding force in Beara. But can she decipher the meaning of the words whispered on the wind before she loses everything?

The Crows of Beara isn't a long book, and yet it feels sweeping nonetheless. Epic in its hints of mythology and its approach on the magic of Ireland - literal and figurative. Though one could say the magic of nature is literal...

Annie is out of rehab and fighting to stay sober, one day at a time, when the story begins. But the fall out from her mistakes hasn't ended. And that's when she decides that maybe a trip to Ireland, while potentially hiding many dangers to a newly sober and struggling person, might instead be exactly what she needs.

We learn that Annie has a lot of baggage. A lot of things she's still trying to work out, tracing all the way back to an injury that crushed her leg and her then athletic dreams. But none has been as crushing as the loss of her brother. And her crutch, that of alcohol, not only allowed her not to confront these things, but obviously made it worse.

At the same time, Annie isn't alone. Daniel, who turns out to be not only her neighbor in Ireland but the brother of the head of the conservation efforts, has his own demons as well. An accident landed him in prison and has kept him sober ever since, but he has never accepted the forgiveness offered by the family of his victim. As such, when his friends and family ask him to take more of a role in their efforts, becoming the face of their campaign, he resists.

But he finds it hard to resist Annie. And hears the same whispered words that she does.

Chapters alternate between Annie and Daniel as both their stories and that of Beara play out. How it ends for all of them is something you have to find out for yourself, but the journey is a beautiful one all around!

(Don't miss Julie Christine Johnson's fantastic guest post on Ireland and the seeds that would lead The Crows of Beara here.)

As promised last week, I do have one copy of The Crows of Beara to give away to one of you very lucky readers. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before Monday, September 25. Open US only and no PO boxes please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Releases 9/12/17

Some of the new titles hitting shelves this week are:

The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker

Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Names of Dead Girls by Eric Rickstad

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen

The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb

Madness Treads Lightly by Polina Dashkova

The Bloody Black Flag by Steve Goble

We Were Strangers Once by Betsy Carter

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

Odd & True by Cat Winters

Warcross by Marie Lu

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older

New on DVD:
It Comes at Night
The Mummy
Beatriz at Dinner

New reviews at Bookbitch.com:
Y is For Yesterday by Sue Grafton

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Pre Pub Book Buzz: Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

So one of the many hats I wear these days is at a local bookstore as Local Author Coordinator. It pairs nicely with the agenting and with the blogging, giving me a chance to meet local authors and writing groups, work and in hand with local authors I've already met at conferences and events, and of course be around bookstore people even more. One of them, aware of my fondness for post apocalyptic tales and such, has raved about Louise Erdrich's latest. So of course I'm dying to read it now, too!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

This sounds pretty amazing in my humble opinion and I will definitely be looking forward to getting my hands on a copy!

Future Home of the Living God is due out in November from Harper. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Short Fiction Friday: Acadie by Dave Hutchinson

Duke never wanted to be president, and that's exactly why the Colony has chosen him. Theirs is a settlement that has created some of the smartest minds evolution will allow. Their founder has figured out a way to hack DNA, molding and creating to her heart's content. But she has no interest in leading.

Which is unfortunate because she's the one Earth is after. For generations, the Colony has been on guard, prepared for the day when Earth discovers their whereabouts. And when a small vessel is discovered in their vicinity, Duke is convinced it's no coincidence.

I was certain, at the start, that I wasn't going to make it through Dave Hutchinson's latest. It reminded me of my earliest days trying to read sci fi, when everything went literally over my head and I became convinced there was some super secret primer all the sci fi fans must have read but me.

We're dropped down in the middle of Duke's story. A ship has made its way into the Colony's space and, while many want to blow it off and forget about it, Duke is convinced it means they're about to be discovered.

But why the worry?

As the story progresses, we get to flash back to Duke's own origins. How he came to be part of the Colony and even how the Colony came to be in the first place. And as Duke's backstory is revealed, all becomes suddenly clear!

Thankfully this happens right about the time I was ready to throw in the towel, which was fortunate because I really didn't want to give up on this one.

Acadie is a fun read, even with the rocky start. There's a bit of a playful edge to the whole thing, made clear first by flying cats (no gravity!). And Duke, as an average person of average intelligence, making his way amongst a society of super brains, is a great narrator to get behind.

But that end. Oh, that end! That was the real kicker. That was what made this all worth it and, if I'm honest, completely unforgettable!

I won't ruin it for you, don't worry.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Guest Post by Julie Christine Johnson

Good morning, readers! I've been quiet this week - I've had my agent hat on preparing for an upcoming conference and reading through manuscripts. But today I have a treat for you - two posts, starting with a guest post from Julie Christine Johnson, whose latest book, The Crows of Beara, released this week.

Before I hand things over to Julie, here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

When Annie Crowe travels from Seattle to a small Irish village to promote a new copper mine, her public relations career is hanging in the balance. Struggling to overcome her troubled past and a failing marriage, Annie is eager for a chance to rebuild her life.

Yet when she arrives on the remote Beara Peninsula, Annie learns that the mine would encroach on the nesting ground of an endangered bird, the Red-billed Chough, and many in the community are fiercely protective of this wild place. Among them is Daniel Savage, a local artist battling demons of his own, who has been recruited to help block the mine.

Despite their differences, Annie and Daniel find themselves drawn toward each other, and, inexplicably, they begin to hear the same voice--a strange, distant whisper of Gaelic, like sorrow blowing in the wind.

Guided by ancient mythology and challenged by modern problems, Annie must confront the half-truths she has been sent to spread and the lies she has been telling herself. Most of all, she must open her heart to the healing power of this rugged land and its people.

Beautifully crafted with environmental themes, a lyrical Irish setting, and a touch of magical realism, The Crows of Beara is a breathtaking novel of how the nature of place encompasses everything that we are.


And now, over to Julie!

A Writer’s Ireland

May 2002. My first trip to Ireland. Alone, I join a small group of strangers to hike the Beara peninsula, West Cork. I fall deeply in love with a land of impossible greens, peaches-and-cream sunrises and salmon-flesh sunsets, lashing rain and wind, always wind.

On the flight home two weeks later, I turn my face to the window, sobbing. I am as if torn from a lover, forever. Ireland has changed me. Beara has given me a sense of peace and wholeness I have never before experienced.

The years pass and I return to Ireland several times, hiking the Wicklow Way, Connemara, the Dingle and Kerry peninsulas; exploring Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Kenmare, Tralee. But Beara remains a dream crystallized in photographs and memories.

I dream of a land of poetry and legends, of An Cailleach, Clan Ó Súilleabháin, St. Caitighearn; a land of sky and water where battles were fought on gorse-cloaked mountains and warriors marked their Ogham runes on tall pillars. Where the ruined shadows of famine houses pale against the shadows of history cast by circles of ancient altars—slabs of stone sculpted by Bronze Age hands now scratching posts for the russet and inky-black flanks of Angus and Friesian.

I dream of villages where rows of Crayon-bright houses march up narrow streets, lace curtains fluttering in open windows. Where breath-stealing laughter falls from open pub doors, chased by heart-stealing songs.

I dream of a hiker high on the Slieve Miskish, peering into the green and blue infinity, boots soaked through with bog, fingers wrapped around a trekking pole, pack cinched around her waist like a lover's arms. She is so happy she could explode from the very fullness of her heart.

I dream of a humped, ragged block of stone perched on hill overlooking Ballycrovane Harbor. One edge resembles the profile of a woman, her furrowed brow arched over a proud nose, her gaze fixed on the Atlantic Ocean. She is An Cailleach Bheara, the Hag of Beara, mother of Ireland. Her story is Ireland's story, her survival the enduring drama of a tortured land of legendary beauty.

January 2014. I set the first draft of my first novel aside to rest, exhausted by the effort to corral a 170,000-wordsoup into a 99,000-word manuscript. That novel becomes my 2016 debut In Another Life, recently awarded Gold Winner for Fantasy by FOREWORD Indies at the American Library Association Annual Conference in June 2017. I leave behind a timeslip of modern and medieval southwest France to enter the cool, scabrous beauty of southwest Ireland.

I create the story of a recovering alcoholic who has a marriage to repair and a career to salvage, and another of an artist who cannot forgive himself for the tragedy he caused. As my characters begin to take shape, I know the threads connecting them will be found in the presence of the Hag. Her voice filters through these characters’ pain to reveal their authentic selves.

June 2015. Thirteen years after that first trip to the Beara peninsula, I'm in a blue room at an artist’s retreat center outside Eyeries. Tucked in bed, I watch the sun sink behind distant hills until suddenly it is morning. And I set forth to revisit the land of my dreams, discovering it anew.

September 2017. Fifteen years after that first trip to the Beara peninsula, I celebrate the release of my second novel, The Crows of Beara, a work shaped by this place of incomparable beauty and spirit.


About the author:  Julie Christine Johnson is the author of In Another Life (Sourcebooks, 2016). Her short stories and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and she lives and writes in the seaside village of Port Townsend, Washington.  

Huge, huge thanks to Julie for being on the blog today! For more on Julie and her work, be sure to head over to her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

The Crows of Beara is on shelves now, so run out and buy a copy! And be sure to check back here for my review of The Crows of Beara (psst, I'll also be giving away a copy to one of you lucky readers!)