FicTalk Feature: All Hallow’s Reads – The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

I’ve never been into scary stories and don’t watch horror movies. Nope, I’ve never seen any Saw movie, any Jason or Freddy movie or any of those other franchises which love to make people wet their pants. So at first I wasn’t sure what to contribute towards this feature when Lisa first mentioned it. Then Lisa suggested that I write about my trip to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum from this past summer. See, while i don’t watch scary movies, I do love a TV show called Ghost Adventures. Almost every summer my mother and I drive down to South Carolina to spend some time with relatives. We’ve always wanted to stop by something on the way back, but never knew what to do. I had suggested the Asylum, but never thought she would want to be that adventurous and it was about six hours out of our way. As it turned out, Mom was that adventurous and called in sick so we could take an extra day on our trek back home to New York.

Click to read more about the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum!

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FicTalk Feature: All Hallow’s Reads – Lisa’s Picks

Happy Halloween Everyone! For my post I thought to talk about some of my favourite YA and Adult books that are all scary/creepy good. Some of them are books that I’ve read a couple years ago and have stayed with me and some are books that I’ve recently finished or am currently reading.

Click to read more scary reads!

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FicTalk Feature: All Hallow’s Reads

This is Halloween, this is Halloween. Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween!

Don’t sue me, Time Burton! Ah, the end of October brings a the first of three holidays and Halloween is, at least to me, the least stressful of the bunch. Let’s face it, Halloween is mostly for kids, but it’s been getting bigger over the last several years to include big kids at heart, too. I often wish I had a friend and a party to go to — even if I have no idea what I’d dress up as. The last time I recall being in any type of costume was back in high school. Me and two of my friends dressed as the three blind mice, complete with walking sticks, mouse ears, sunglasses, and tails. We went to a party at a fire house and won best group costume. When were bored, we headed to another fire house where after only after being there for five minutes we won another contest! Today Heather and Chris offer up their favorite scary reads. Be sure to come back and visit tomorrow! Not only will Lisa suggest some of her favorite Young Adult and Adult scary stories, but because I don’t do scary stories, I’ll tell you about my visit to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia (complete with probably way too many pictures). Yeah, I won’t read scary stories, but I’ll totally visit a known haunted location. Go figure! Oh, and we’re hosting a giveaway! You’ll have the chance to enter to win one of two Amazon gift certificates!

This is my absolute favorite time of year! I love to grab a cup of coffee, snuggle up under a blanket and grab a good book. There are definitely a few books that I could recommend if you’re into the scary, mystery genre.

The StandFirst, you can’t go wrong with anything by Stephen King. There’s a reason he’s called The King of Horror. Some of my favorites by him are 11/22/63, Under the Dome, The Shining, Mr. Mercedes, and The Shining. But my absolute favorite is The Stand. You can tell from my copy of the book that it is well read and well loved. For those of you who haven’t read The Stand let me tell you a little bit about it. This book takes place in a world after a plague hits and wipes out most of the people. There’s not a lot I can say about it without totally confusing you. Let’s just say, to make it even scarier, try reading the beginning of this book and then come down with a cold. Not gonna lie, it will scare the crap out of you. I know, I know. The sheer length of this book is enough to scare anyone, but I promise you. If you give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

My next recommendation would be Gone Girl. No, this isn’t your typical horror story, but for those of you that have read it, you get why I picked this as a scary book. The lady in this book, Amy Dunne, is FRIGHTENING. The fact that she could come up with all those things in her mind is enough to make every single man in today’s world stay that way…for real. I definitely recommend this book if you don’t really like the scary, horror genre but you’re looking for something suspenseful.

True HauntingsThe next book is one that I am in the process of reading now. It’s True Hauntings by Peter Haining. This is a collection of actual news stories and articles about hauntings. It has different categories in it so that you can skip around and read what you’d like at the time. I am finding it very interesting and would recommend it to anyone that is a die hard ‘ghost’ fan.

So this was my ten book selection for this year at least.

Chris Halloween 2014 SelectionUncle Silas by J.S. LeFanu – spookiest book in the world. I get so cold reading it; it’s that scary. Yet, it isn’t your normal type of horror tale. It’s more of a fear of what you know is going to happen than what you think will happen. It’s a young girl who is placed under the control of her uncle, who may not have her best interests at heart.

Collected Stories of M.R. James – one of the masters of the ghost story. If you have ever visited an English Cathedral or Castle, James’ stories will speak to you.

Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem – I know, I know, you think haunted hotel, you think the Shining in some form. But this small, oft over looked book, is twice as spooky and far more compelling a read.

Ghosts of Virginia by L.B. Taylor Jr. – This series of books relates folklore surrounding ghosts that supposedly inhabit various parts of Virginia (and Washington DC). L.B. Taylor Jr is a wonderful storyteller and that is what makes these folklore collections charming.

Dracula by Bram Stoker – the vampire that is seen as starting it all. ‘Nuff said to borrow a phrase.

The Blood Doctor by Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell) – a strange choice, I know. But Vine’s tale of a Victorian doctor and his descendents combines the spirit of Willkie Collins with more intimate version of a thriller.

Midnight Blue by Nancy A. Collins – if Dracula is the start, Collins is an overlooked master. Her Sonja Blue series is about a female vampire who kicks ass. You will admire her even as you fear her.

Haunted Houses by Charles C. Harper – a collection of British ghost folklore, so compelling retold that if you find yourself in a hotel on a haunted street, you will have to stop reading.

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror – Datlow and Windling’s series, now sadly ended, contains some of the spookiest stories you have ever read – ranging of a glass cat that stalks to a recipe for a virgin to other darker tales.

The Scroll of Saqqara by Pauline Gedge – a spookily Egyptian ghost story about a family that might be doomed.

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Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood reviewed by Chris

Stone Mattress by Margaret AtwoodTitle: Stone Mattress
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Nan A. Talese (Random House)
Pages: 272
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Source: NetGalley ARC

Disclaimer: Digital ARC read via Netgalley. (And I shouted in glee when I read the email).

The technique of a short story is at times over looked by readers at large. Not all novelists can be short story writers, for the short work requires something that goes for the jugular. Tanith Lee, for instance, writes better short stories than novels. Willkie Collins’ longer works are better than his shorter ones. Doyle is rightly remembered more for Sherlock Holmes stories than his novels, which are at best not quite forgettable.

Atwood is a writer who can write both novels and short stories very well. Perhaps her short fiction draws more blood, has a slight more biting tone to it than the introspective and far ranging novels. Stone Mattress is a collection of nine of these stories. Of the nine, only three have appeared in print prior to publication (one, “Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth”, is available by itself as an eBook).

If the collection has a theme, it is the power of the story (something that Atwood alludes to her afterword). The first three stories are interconnected and make up, loosely, a trilogy. They are very much like Isak Dinesen’s Sculptor short stories, the sequence that starts with “The Cloak”. Atwood’s stories – “Alphinland,” “Revenant,” and “Dark Lady” – deal with the lives of aging Beats in the form of a fantasy fiction writer, a poet, and a muse. The trilogy, which can be read out of sequence, deals with creation and death as well as with bohemian life styles and aging. The changing perspective allows for the idea of personal view versus reality. Something that one character tries to undercover, but which can never truly be discovered or revealed. There is poetry, in particular, with the opening story, “Alphinland,” and its description of a Toronto overcome by snow. The description of Constance’s walk to the store makes something magical out of the mundane as well as bringing winter back into the middle of summer.

The trilogy is followed by “Lusus Naturae” – one of the stories that have been previously published. “Lusus” is an inverted and disturbing, if perhaps more realistic, Beauty and the Beast themed story. The first four stories are worth the price of the book itself.

This isn’t to say that the rest of the stories are bad. They aren’t, though two – “The Dead Hand Loves You” and “Torching the Dusties” – are not as good as the rest. “The Freeze Dried Groom” will ensure that you never look at reality television the same way again, and “Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth” is a wonderful and fitting follow up to The Robber Bridegroom.

The best on in the collection is “Stone Mattress” which was originally published in the New Yorker and seems to have been quasi collaboration with Graeme Gibson – and quite frankly is wonderfully and beautifully nasty. They need to work together this way more often.

This collection is well worth the cost and worth the read. If you are enjoying Atwood’s Maddaddam work and are considering her other, non-science fiction or speculative fiction work, this is a good place to start.

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Perfect Alignment by K.B. Alan reviewed by Lisa

Perfect Alignment by K.B. AlanTitle: Perfect Alignment
Series: Perfect Fit #2
Author: K.B. Alan
Pages 266
Release Date: September 4th, 2014
Publisher: Second Shift Publishing
Source: NetGalley

I received an advanced copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Safety first and always. That’s a rule I think most of us tend to live by. With that said, I couldn’t possible enjoy this story as it falls into the category of dangerous. And not just dangerous by itself but stupid dangerous.

Emma is a college student who is recently out in the world of BDSM as a submissive, so she wears this necklace that supposedly allows doms to know upon seeing that she has declared her kink? Whatever. She decides to go on vacation for a week and her boss rents her this cool convertible so she can drive with the top down. When she’s pulled over for speeding on a deserted stretch of road, instead of the cop reprimanding her for it he spots the necklace and his inner dom comes out to play.

She goes back to his place and they play a role and get it on. With no questions asked. Why? because he’s a cop and cops aren’t regular people who could possibly have a screw loose or anything, they are above that all. They are always on the up and up. No. No. You fail at life, Emma. But obviously everything is okay because they have this great fling – and a fling is all it is because neither wants or could handle more. Until it isn’t a fling anymore because officer dom-body brings his bff into the game – but only for one little taste then he realises that he wants Emma for himself. Alone. No sharing. Then it’s Emma’s turn to be all wishy-washy and unable to decide whether she wants the guy or not.

It was all very blah to me. The sex scenes were over the top, especially the threesome which came across as super awkward and unnecessary and made no sense. Maybe doing that was supposed to push the non-existent plot along, I don’t know. In the end this didn’t work for me at all. It was just mad crazy that a young woman – on her own – would follow a guy back to his place to play a game of “you’re the boss of me” with not even an introduction. Stranger danger, girl. Stranger. Danger. That is all.

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Release Day Launch: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. ArmentroutRoth vs. Zayne:

And don’t forget! The choice is yours…

Beginning today you’ll have 3 weeks to visit the series website, www.thedarkelementsseries.com, to take a poll and decide which guy Layla should ultimately choose in the final book in the trilogy, Every Last Breath.

At the end of 3 weeks, we will tally all the votes, and that’s when Jennifer L. Armentrout will start writing Every Last Breath. The guy who gets the most votes is the one Layla will pick.

Stone Cold TouchTo prevent early spoilers, we’re not going to reveal who won the poll in advance…you’ll have to wait until Every Last Breath goes on sale on July 28th, 2015 to find out whether Zayne or Roth wins Layla in the end. We promise the book will be epic and definitely worth the wait!

Who do you want Layla to end up with? Go to www.thedarkelementsseries.com and vote for your choice!

STONE COLD TOUCH Synopsis:

Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

EXCERPT:

I’d remained in bed after that, trying to sort through the odd tingling in my chest. There was a slight smile on my lips, because Zayne…well, he’d made my day, but then I’d remember what Roth had said to me the night before and the smile would wash away as if it had never been there.

I probably needed to get used to the whiplash mood swings.

It wasn’t until after dinner that I decided to scrub a day’s worth of gunk off myself.Gingerly, I peeled the bandage off, happy to find that the cut in my arm was healing as expected. I didn’t need to cover it anymore. The arm was still tender, but the Warden blood in me was quickly undoing the damage from the iron.

After changing into fresh pj’s, like a total hermit, I padded over to my desk, where I’d left my cell phone. It had been on silent all day and when I tapped the screen, I wasn’t surprised to see a slew of texts from Stacey.

Where r u?

R u skipping, u ho?

A minute later: Your locker misses u. Guess u sick with the herp?

Oh my God. I laughed out loud, grinning as I thumbed through her texts. Our bio sub is still hot. U r missing this.

Bio is lonely.

My boobs miss u. How weird is that?

That was notably weird and yet not surprising.

If I get my cell taken from me, it’s ur fault.

Holy shit, Layla, where r u?!?

Air punched out of my lungs as I read the next text and the several following them.

U have no idea who just walked into bio!!!

Roth is here!

Holy Canola oil, why aren’t u here to witness this?

Ok. He says he had mono. Srlsy? Do people still get mono? And who in the duck was he kissing? A second later—Duck? I didn’t mean duck. That’s SO not what I meant, autocorrect.

Another text had come in about fifteen minutes after the last one. He asked where u were. I told him u joined a cult. I laughed. He didn’t.

Finally, the last text was to call her if I wasn’t dead.

“What in the Hell?” I tossed my cell onto the bed, mouth hanging open.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Author Jennifer L. ArmentroutAbout Jennifer L. Armentrout:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Links:

Series Website | Website | Twitter | Facebook
Jennifer L. Armentrout Goodreads
STONE COLD TOUCH Goodreads

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From This Moment On by Addison Fox reviewed by Lisa

From This Moment On by Addison FoxTitle: From This Moment On
Series: Alaskan Nights #2.5
Author: Addison Fox
Pages: 84 (ebook)
Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Group
Source: Purchased

I think Addison Fox does such a fantastic job when it comes to writing about relationships that I don’t really feel that I can say a bad word about any of her books.

They’re always so smart and well-written and witty that I can’t help but love all the ones that I’ve read. There’s a method to her writing, style and language that I can appreciate.

Click to read more!

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Spotlight: Love and Other Unknown Variables

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee AlexanderLove and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander was released on October 7, 2014.

Official Blurb:

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover the solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswerable problems. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy pawing at her until she learns he’s a student at Brighton, where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. And in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns Charlotte is ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull on Charlie is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on, or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second).

Click to read more!

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