Archive for June, 2015

ronaldmalfiLG

BOOK INFO

Length: 384 Pages

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: June 30, 2015

Copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of blog tour

Laurie Genarro and her family head back to her childhood home to handle her father’s estate after a tragic accident. Estranged from her father for years, she wasn’t around as his dementia progressively worsened and had no idea how bad things had gotten. As Laurie and her family take up residence in her childhood home, she can’t help but notice the unsettling remnants of her father’s troubled life – gouges line the floor, patches of carpeting pulled up from the carpet and windows that are curiously nailed shut. Laurie feels unsettled being in the house that is a constant reminder of childhood memories and the tragedies she thought she left buried in the past.

The longer she stays in the house, more memories are brought to the surface that only enhance Laurie’s growing paranoia and the strains in her marriage. It isn’t long before Laurie begins to experience strange things in the house. There are glimpses of a girl running through her yard and strange noises coming from the locked belvedere room, a place she was forbidden to enter as a child. Then there is her first meeting with Abigail, a ten-year-old girl from next door that befriends her daughter. She seems awfully familiar to Laurie because of her uncanny resemblance to her childhood friend Sadie, who died in a freak accident years ago. She writes it off as a mere coincidence, but future encounters lead Laurie to question her own sanity. Is this all in her mind – a result of marital stress and sadness – or is there something sinister about the girl next door and the room that was always forbidden?

Ronald Malfi immerses readers in the world he has created in Little Girls with richly detailed prose, life-like characters and vivid settings. I loved Malfi’s descriptions of Laurie’s childhood home and how he was able to give it a haunting personality that, in a way, makes it another character of the story. The home is a source of the memories and negative emotions that serve as a catalyst for Laurie’s growing paranoia and the strains in her marriage. There is also a sense of isolation surrounding the house that forces the family to confront not only their secrets, but those of Laurie’s father as well.

Malfi builds incredible levels of tension using the psychological impacts of the secrets lurking within the pages of Little Girls and by balancing the supernatural with the ordinary. It is the possibility of the supernatural that makes Laurie’s interactions with Abigail so incredibly creepy. While readers expecting an adrenaline-fueled haunting tale may not like the pacing of the novel, I felt it was brilliant and a perfect fit for this story. Malfi gives the reader just enough information to keep them hooked and challenges them to question any theories they develop with plenty of plot twists. I was so caught up in trying to solve the mystery swirling around the events of Little Girls with my own crazy theories, that Malfi was able to keep me guessing right up until the very last page about the truth behind everything that happened.

Weaving together the horror, mystery and psychological thriller genres, Malfi’s Little Girls is a complex and richly layered ghost story that slowly but surely creeps under your skin. I absolutely loved this genre-bending novel and not only would I recommend this to other horror fans, but fans of other genres as well.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to learn more about Ronald Malfi and his work and a chance to win a paperback copy of Little Girls! I am also excited to announce that in July I will be hosting an interview AND guest post for Ronald Malfi, so be sure to stop back in at The Horror Bookshelf!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Ronald Malfi’s Official Website

Kensington Publishing Official Website

Purchase Little Girls: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite local bookstore

Little Girls tour logo

About Little Girls

ronaldmalfiLG

From Bram Stoker Award nominee Ronald Malfi comes a brilliantly chilling novel of childhood revisited, memories resurrected, and fears reborn…

When Laurie was a little girl, she was forbidden to enter the room at the top of the stairs. It was one of many rules imposed by her cold, distant father. Now, in a final act of desperation, her father has exorcised his demons. But when Laurie returns to claim the estate with her husband and ten-year-old daughter, it’s as if the past refuses to die. She feels it lurking in the broken moldings, sees it staring from an empty picture frame, and hears it laughing in the moldy greenhouse deep in the woods…

At first, Laurie thinks she’s imagining things. But when she meets her daughter’s new playmate, Abigail, she can’t help but notice her uncanny resemblance to another little girl who used to live next door. Who died next door. With each passing day, Laurie’s uneasiness grows stronger, her thoughts more disturbing. Like her father, is she slowly losing her mind? Or is something truly unspeakable happening to those sweet little girls?

Praise for Ronald Malfi and his novels

“One cannot help but think of writers like Peter Straub and Stephen King.”
FearNet

Malfi is a skillful storyteller.”—New York Journal of Books

“A complex and chilling tale….terrifying.”—Robert McCammon

Malfi’s lyrical prose creates an atmosphere of eerie claustrophobia…haunting.”—Publishers Weekly

“A thrilling, edge-of-your-seat ride that should not be missed.”—Suspense Magazine

Malfi headshot

About Ronald Malfi

Ronald Malfi is an award-winning author of many novels and novellas in the horror, mystery, and thriller categories from various publishers, including Little Girls, this summer’s 2015 release from Kensington.

In 2009, his crime drama, Shamrock Alley, won a Silver IPPY Award. In 2011, his ghost story/mystery novel, Floating Staircase, was a finalist for the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award for best novel, a Gold IPPY Award for best horror novel, and the Vincent Preis International Horror Award. His novel Cradle Lake garnered him the Benjamin Franklin Independent Book Award (silver) in 2014. December Park, his epic childhood story, won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for suspense in 2015.

Most recognized for his haunting, literary style and memorable characters, Malfi’s dark fiction has gained acceptance among readers of all genres. 


He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977, and eventually relocated to the Chesapeake Bay area, where he currently resides with his wife and two children.

Visit with Ronald Malfi on Facebook, Twitter (@RonaldMalfi), or at www.ronmalfi.com.

Giveaway

Sign up to win one of two paperback copies of Little Girls by Ronald Malfi by clicking the link to the Rafflecopter link below. Be sure to follow the specifics you can do each day to gain more entries.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjE4/?

 

modernmythmakers

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing

Length: 424 Pages

Release Date: February 23, 2015

Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Michael McCarty has crafted an absolute must-read in Modern Mythmakers. Collecting 35 interviews in the horror and science fiction fields, McCarty has given fans an inside look behind the scenes of the creative process of writers and filmmakers with interesting tidbits about some of the most memorable works in both genres.

The preface of this book, written by McCarty himself, explains why this book is such a vital read for horror fans. McCarty may have been able to sit down and meet some of the biggest names in horror, but the reason he set out to embark on this project was a simple one that I am sure all of us can relate to – he simply loved the works in the genre and wanted to share that passion with others. He recalls interesting tales of meeting with First Blood author David Morrell and Kurt Vonnegut. He lays out his experience and the art of what he tries to achieve with his own interviews. It’s inspiring and shows what is possible with meticulous research, determination and hard work.

Some of the interviews contained in the book are a bit older, pulled from McCarty’s archives, but there is also new material that has been added to this addition, particularly in the sections focusing on Ray Bradbury, Joe McKinney, Christopher Moore, William Nolan, and David Snell to name a few.

I enjoyed this book because it not only offered me insight into some writers and filmmakers I already knew and loved, but introduced me to some new authors as well. Also, I have always been interested in reading interviews with my favorite musicians, authors and other types of artists. Sure, I liked uncovering details behind some of the works I loved, but I always found the most intriguing information comes from the candid moments where the subject of the interview opens up.

 McCarty’s interview questions are fairly straightforward, but he has a talent at getting the interviewees to open up and share interesting tidbits of information. The book opens with an interview of Forrest J. Ackermen, who was the editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland for 20 years and racked up numerous prestigious awards for his work. I thought it was interesting to learn that he is the one credited with coining the term “sci-fi”. It is one of those words that was seemingly ingrained in my mind for an early age and I never really questioned the origins of the term. It also loved hearing his thoughts on the evolution of science fiction since he first became a fan in the 1920’s and his humorous personal stories about Ray Bradbury.

Speaking of Bradbury, in his interview, readers are treated to information about the process behind one of his most memorable works and arguably one of the most memorable works of fiction ever written Fahrenheit 451 written in the basement library of UCLA on a rented typewriter and wrote the book in 9 days.

Ramsey Campbell offers personal anecdotes about unexplained events in his home that led him to question his stance on the existence of ghosts. John Carpenter offers up insight into the creation of Halloween from the story itself to one of horror’s most enduring icons Michael Myers aka “The Shape”.

There are also some interesting little known facts presented throughout such as Neil Gaiman’s interview where he offers up a humorous story about Douglas Adams and how Bentley Little is connected to Spongebob Squarepants creator Stephen Hillenburg. Probably one of my favorite things that I read was reading Peter Straub’s thoughts about the writing process behind The Talisman and Black House. It is easy to take for granted how easy it is to collaborate with super fast internet and near instantaneous access to information, so it was interesting to read about the creative efforts that went into writing those books and the practical hurdles they had to overcome.

I highly recommend Modern Mythmakers to fans of science fiction and horror looking for the behind-the-scenes information and possibly a jolt of inspiration. Sometimes as a blogger it can be hard to sit down and write, but reading these interviews and hearing these artists talk passionately about their work and what drives them, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. Highly recommended!

Rating: 4/5

Michael McCarty Official Website

Crystal Lake Publishing Official Website

Purchase Modern Mythmakers on Amazon

tonyknighton

Author Tony Knighton’s latest release, Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties, is out today in e-book format through Crime Wave Press! Here is the collection’s description courtesy of the publisher:

A young grifter steals an overcoat. As he discovers forty-thousand dollars in its inside pocket, the coat’s owners come after him. The action never stops as his pursuers seem to be both ahead and behind him at all times, killing and destroying everything in their wake to catch up with their money and the young thief.
Happy Hour is as breathless as writing can be.
Knighton’s debut novella is accompanied by a selection of short stories that can run with the best of American Noir literature. It’s cold out there, folks.

The novel features Knighton’s debut novella Happy Hour and a collection of other stories. My first exposure to Knighton’s writing was through his excellent story “Sunrise” in Grey Matter Press’ anthology Equilibrium Overturned. “Sunrise” was about a father who must navigate through a dangerous city ravaged by an environmental disaster in order to save his son’s life. The story was gritty, full of action, and packed an emotional punch that had me thinking about the story long after I was finished reading. I am looking forward to reading this collection as I love Knighton’s writing style and have been on a bit of a noir kick lately.

Purchase Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties on Amazon. Print copies will be available at a later date.

forsaken

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Hampton Creek Press

Length: 388 Pages

Release Date: November 14, 2014

Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

J.D. Barker’s Forsaken is the first book in a planned series centering around the town of Shadow Cove. This is Barker’s debut novel and I was unfamiliar with his work, so I didn’t know what to expect. After reading Forsaken, however, it is clear Barker is a name to watch in horror and it is easy to see why Forsaken was a finalist for a Stoker Award for “Superior Achievement in a First Novel” this year.

The novel focuses on horror writer Thad McAlister, a literary sensation who just completed what may be his most important work of his career, Rise of the Witch. The novel is told in the form of journal entries of a man named Clayton Stone, a scribe in the 17th century town of Shadow Cove. He is tasked by the court to detail the trial of a woman in town accused of conducting witchcraft and harming the residents of the town. The town is frightened of the woman despite being small and frail because of her alleged powers and the swirling rumors that her followers are still out there.

Thad has dreams of being thought of not only as a best-seller, but as one of the greats in the horror genre. While he views his latest book as his masterpiece, the contents and writing process have him on edge. He was often haunted by the lead character during the writing process, hearing her when he was alone and suffering fitful nights of sleeplessness all while being driven to finish the story. He thinks it will help put his fears behind him, but is there another reason compelling him to finish? The story behind Rise of the Witch came to him easier than his other novels, flowing from him with no edits or rewrites.

The source of Thad’s inspiration comes from an antique journal that is hundreds of years old. He is constantly spending hours writing his notes in it and is protective of it and rarely lets it out of his sight. It is in the entries of the former owner where Thad finally found the inspiration he needed to craft bestselling novels after years of struggling and middling sales. His wife, Rachael, suspects the truth of the journal, but keeps it from her husband because she unknowingly made a dangerous deal behind his back to get it.

While Thad is on a business trip to New York to wrap up things for his novel, he meets a mysterious young woman who makes a request that rattles Thad to his core as she asks for something that only exists within the fictional world Thad has created. Thad refuses to believe the truth and tells the woman he won’t help her, but she manages to persuade him when she threatens his family and hints that the journal may be more than he thinks. Thad quickly questions if he is losing his grip on reality or if there are there far more sinister forces at work.

Forsaken is one hell of a read that strikes the perfect balance between full-blown horror and a tense atmosphere that sucks the reader in. Structurally, I loved the inclusion of excerpts from Thad McAlister’s novel. Normally, too many divergences would bother me and hinder my reading of a story, but Barker manages to weave them in as an organic and integral part of the story. He manages to capture a creepy, gothic tone that is a bit separate from the book. While these two sections have their own distinct personalities, they work surprisingly well together. Baker adds a pretty cool homage to Stephen King that will delight fans of King’s work. It was incorporated in an organic way and serves a fairly important purpose in the back story that unfolds throughout the novel.

I loved that the novel not only plays up the supernatural elements (seriously, the “minions” described in this book sent chills down my spine!), but also focuses on the psychological impacts the events have on Thad and his family. The line is blurred between fact and fiction and creates a fast-paced narrative that was seriously a blast to read. I am eagerly awaiting the second installment in this series and I have no doubt that Barker is just getting started with the scares he has in store for those who choose to visit Shadow Cove.

Rating: 5/5

LINKS:

J.D. Barker’s Official Website

Purchase Forsaken: Book One of the Shadow Cove Saga on Amazon