Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

I am a bit late with my 2016 list as the first month of 2017 is just about over, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2016 was a slow year for The Horror Bookshelf and I didn’t hit any of my goals that I made this time last year, but it was for a happy reason! The last few months of 2016 were some of the happiest in my life as my wife and I had our first child. The blog has slowed down considerably, but I do not plan on closing The Horror Bookshelf. I fell a bit behind, but I plan on starting 2017 off catching up on some reviews I owe and then hopefully getting back into a normal routine. I have met so many great people through this blog and it would take forever to name everyone, but I want to thank all of my friends, authors, and readers for sticking with me and offering me encouragement and support. My main goal for this site has always been to have fun, interact with other horror fans, and give back to the authors whose art has inspired me and helped me through some rough patches. That goal remains the same and I hope I can continue the blog for many more years.

Being that I fell a bit behind, some of the books featured here haven’t had their full reviews run yet, but they are on the way. I still want to recognize the authors and their works for helping make 2016 an incredible year for this horror fan. Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2016. I decided to go with a Top 15 for novels, a Top 10 for novellas and a Top 5 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

Novels

1. Ronald Malfi The Night Parade 

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2. John C. Foster Mister White 

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3. Kristopher Rufty Desolation 

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4. Jonathan Janz Children of the Dark

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5. Justin Cronin The City of Mirrors

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6. Damien Angelica Walters Paper Tigers

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7. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason Mayan Blue

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8. D. Alexander Ward Beneath Ash & Bone

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9. Hunter Shea The Jersey Devil

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10. Joe Hill The Fireman

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11. Kristin Dearborn Stolen Away

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12. Robert E. Dunn A Living Grave

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13. Stephen Kozeniewski Hunter of the Dead

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14. Joe Schwartz Stabco

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15. John Quick Consequences

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Novellas

1. Adam Howe Tijuana Donkey Showdown

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2. Glenn Rolfe Chasing Ghosts

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3. Josh Malerman A House At The Bottom of a Lake

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4. Mark Matthews All Smoke Rises

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5. Robert E. Dunn Motorman

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6. John F.D. Taff The Desolated Orchard

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7. Kristin Dearborn Woman in White

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9. David Bernstein Blue Demon

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10. Lucas Mangum Mania

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Anthologies and Collections

1. I Can Taste The Blood

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2. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories

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3. Richard Thomas Tribulations

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4. Brian Moreland Blood Sacrifices

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5. Glenn Rolfe Out of Range

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Today I am happy to be hosting a guest post by Samhain Horror author Matt Manochio as part of the blog tour for his debut novel, The Dark Servant. Matt talks about one of the only novels that managed to scare him as he was reading it. Check out Matt’s post below to see what book that was and the inspiration it provided for The Dark Servant! Be sure to check out the end of this feature for details on a pretty cool giveaway from Matt Manochio and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity! My review for The Dark Servant will be posted on December 3, so be sure to stop back and check out what I thought of the book.

 

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Thank you to The Horror Bookshelf for hosting me and for reviewing my book. As I write this, I don’t know what The Horror Bookshelf thinks of The Dark Servant. We’ll find out soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to highlight the one novel that, as I sat reading it, scared me to the point where my pulse raced.

Books typically don’t spook me. Movies scare me because they provide the visuals and audios—books don’t. Authors provide the words and you use them to paint the picture and turn the phonograph.

Frank Peretti’s Monster, came out in 2005, and I didn’t pick it up until a few years later. I’d never heard of either the author or book, but the cover caught my attention and I read the jacket copy. It intrigued me enough to buy. Mission accomplished on the publisher’s side. Here’s a bare-bones description:

A husband and wife venture into Idaho woodlands. They camp out the first night and hear unholy screams in the darkness. The husband witnesses a gigantic beast snatch his wife and bound into the darkened forest. Now he’s hell bent on rescuing her.

There’s certainly more to it than that, and truth be told I don’t rank it anywhere near the top of my favorite books list. But Frank did something only one other author—Stephen King, in Pet Sematarymanaged to do. And Frank did it better.

The Pet Sematary scene was simple enough: Louis and Jud went walking in the woods (at night, of course) to the graveyard. Stephen’s description of their journey through the dark woods gave me the chills. (Truth be told, I was in either middle or high school when I read it, and didn’t bother finishing the book. And it wasn’t because those few lines frightened me into not wanting to keep going. It didn’t hold my attention. Hey, it happens.)

Monster scared me when the campers first hear pained cries made by some unseen horror in the woods. Frank wrote it in such a way that I could hear the screams—or at least imagine the terror those campers felt not knowing what made them. Frank’s description of those tormented cries, and the frightened campers’ reactions to them, let loose the butterflies in my stomach and chest. My house was quiet, nobody was home when I read it. My attention was on that book and that scene. And it creeped me out. I remember thinking at the time: this doesn’t happen to me. It amazed me that Frank was able to pull it off. I don’t want reprint the passages here word for word. I want you to discover them for yourself, if you’re so inclined. (And yes, I finished Monster.)

I attempt to pay homage to Frank early in my book. Monster was running through my mind as I wrote the scene in December 2012. And I honestly hope it jangles readers’ nerves as they read.

– Matt Manochio

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About Krampus

December 5 is Krampus Nacht — Night of the Krampus, a horned, cloven-hoofed monster who in pre-Christian European cultures serves as the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, America’s Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas rewards good children and leaves bad ones to Krampus, who kidnaps and tortures kids unless they repent.

 The Dark Servant Synopsis and Praise

Santa’s not the only one coming to town …

It’s older than Christ and has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction—and bloody hoof prints stomped in snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, imperiling his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why his supposedly innocent high school peers have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion—that cannot be stopped.

The Dark Servant is everything a thriller should be—eerie, original and utterly engrossing!”
Wendy Corsi Staub, New York Times bestselling author

“Beautifully crafted and expertly plotted, Matt Manochio’s The Dark Servant has taken an esoteric fairy tale from before Christ and sets it in the modern world of media-saturated teenagers—creating a clockwork mechanism of terror that blends Freddy Krueger with the Brothers Grimm! Highly recommended!”
Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling author of The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor

“Matt Manochio is a writer who’ll be thrilling us for many books to come.”
Jim DeFelice, New York Times bestselling co-author of American Sniper

“Matt Manochio has taken a very rare fairytale and turned it into a real page-turner. Matt has constructed a very real and believable force in Krampus and has given it a real journalistic twist, and he has gained a fan in me!”
David L. Golemon, New York Times bestselling author of the Event Group Series

“I scarcely know where to begin. Is this a twisted parental fantasy of reforming recalcitrant children? Is it Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Nightmare on Elm Street? Is it a complex revision of the Medieval morality play? In The Dark Servant, Matt Manochio has taken the tantalizing roots of Middle Europe’s folklore and crafted a completely genuine modern American horror story. This is a winter’s tale, yes, but it is also a genuinely new one for our modern times. I fell for this story right away. Matt Manochio is a natural born storyteller.”
Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Savage Dead and Dog Days

“Just in time for the season of Good Will Toward Men, Matt Manochio’s debut delivers a fresh dose of Holiday Horror, breathing literary life into an overlooked figure of legend ready to step out of Santa’s shadow. Prepared to be thrilled in a new, old-fashioned way.”

Hank Schwaeble, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Damnable, Diabolical and The Angel of the Abyss

“In The Dark Servant, Manochio spins a riveting tale of a community under siege by a grotesque, chain-clanking monster with cloven-hooves, a dry sense of wit, and a sadistic predilection for torture. As Christmas nears and a snowstorm paralyzes the town, the terrifying Krampus doesn’t just leave switches for the local bullies, bitches, and badasses, he beats the living (editor’s note: rhymes with skit) out of them! Manochio balances a very dark theme with crackling dialogue, fast-paced action, and an engaging, small-town setting.”
Lucy Taylor, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Safety of Unknown Cities

“A fast-paced thrill-ride into an obscure but frightful Christmas legend. Could there be a dark side to Santa? And if so, what would he do to those kids who were naughty? Matt Manochio provides the nail-biting answer with The Dark Servant.”
John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes

“A high-octane blast of horror. A surefire hit for fans of monsters and gore.”
Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Have yourself a scary, nightmare-y little Christmas with The Dark Servant. Matt Manochio’s holiday horror brings old world charm to rural New Jersey, Krampus-style.”
Jon McGoran, author of Drift

About Matt Manochio

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Photo Credit: Eric Schnare

Matt Manochio is the author of The Dark Servant (Samhain Publishing, November 4, 2014). He is a supporting member of the Horror Writers Association, and he hates writing about himself in the third person but he’ll do it anyway. He spent 12 years as an award-winning newspaper reporter at the Morris County, N.J., Daily Record, and worked for one year as an award-winning page designer at the Anderson, S.C., Independent-Mail. He currently works as a full-time editor and a freelance writer. The highlights of his journalism career involved chronicling AC/DC for USA Today: in 2008, when the band kicked off its Black Ice world tour, and in 2011 when lead singer Brian Johnson swung by New Jersey to promote his autobiography. For you hardcore AC/DC fans, check out the video on my YouTube channel.To get a better idea about my path toward publication, please read my Writer’s Digest guest post: How I Sold My Supernatural Thriller. Matt’s a dedicated fan of bullmastiffs, too. (He currently doesn’t own one because his house is too small. Bullmastiff owners understand this all too well.)

Matt doesn’t have a favorite author, per se, but owns almost every Dave Barry book ever published, and he loves blending humor into his thrillers when warranted. Some of his favorite books include Salem’s LotJurassic Park, The Hobbit, Animal Farm, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

When it comes to writing, the only advice he can give is to keep doing it, learn from mistakes, and regardless of the genre, read Chris Roerden’s Don’t Sabotage Your Submission (2008, Bella Rosa Books).

Matt grew up in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and son. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in history/journalism.

See more about Matt and his book on his website: http://www.mattmanochio.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@MattManochio) and Pinterest.

Tour Giveaway!

For everyone! Create a Pinterest board by choosing one of the following themes: Krampus, Old World Legends, Vintage Holiday, Old World Christmas, Christmas Around the World, Traditions and Legends,  Myths, Monsters, and Horror, or something very similar.

Second rule: You must pin Matt’s book cover and Amazon purchase link or Samhain Horror Purchase link.

Third Rule: Follow Matt Manochio and Erin Al-Mehairi.

Extra points for pinning extra things about Matt, such as tour page, articles, etc.

Your board will be judged on the above PLUS your creativity and effort in the project! Send Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com your Pinterest page to enter by Dec. 8. Of course you can continue to use it through the Holiday if you wish!

Prize: A “Santa Checked His List and I’m on the Naughty Side” package. This will include your choice of Krampus themed apparel (t-shirt or sweatshirt, men or women, visuals to come) and a signed paperback of the book.

There might be shipping limitations. Check back to tour page before entering if you live outside the U.S. for updated information.

Example:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/its-old-world-christmas/

And a board about Matt:

http://www.pinterest.com/erinalmehairi/the-dark-servant-matt-manochio/

Giveaway for Reviewers!

Anyone on the tour, or outside the tour, who reviews The Dark Servant on Amazon and GoodReads and sends their review link into Erin (Publicist for Matt Manochio) at hookofabook@hotmail.com, now through Dec. 31, 2014, will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

savagebeasts

It’s been a little over two months since Grey Matter Press announced their open call for latest anthology, the music-inspired Savage Beasts. I know I am going to be a little early with this post as they have not announced the stories that have been accepted or a release date, but this is a book I am really excited about! Inspired by their upcoming release and my love of music, I have decided to put together a playlist of songs that I enjoy listening to while writing and/or have some connection to horror. It could be the song title, lyrics or music video, but a lot of these songs do have some connection to horror themes. I have created a Spotify playlist and provided a short explanation for each song I picked. The songs span a pretty wide variety of genres, so while you may not enjoy every song, hopefully there are a few you like. I had a ton of other songs that could have made the cut, so I may break these up in installments. Enjoy!

Tracklist

1. Mogwai “Now You’re Taken” – Mogwai is hands down one of my favorite post-rock bands and this is easily my favorite track by them. This is one of their few songs with vocals (provided by Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat) and is absolutely perfect for chilly fall evenings.

2. Early Day Miners “Errance” – I don’t know what it is about this song, but it has been on just about every playlist and mix CD I have ever made from high school all the way until I decided to make this playlist. “Errance” is a warm and atmospheric track that has accompanied a large bulk of everything I have ever written.

3. Gregor Samsa “Jeroen Van Aken”– Largely piano driven, Gregor Samsa’s “Jeroen Van Aken” is an absolutely beautiful song that utilizes its simplicity as its greatest strength. Haunting lyrics such as “it seems the devil’s got a grip on me” and the song’s allusion to writing make this track one that not only has roots to horror but writing as well.

4. Radiohead “Pyramid Song” – A haunting song by one of the most original bands around. No description I could give would do “Pyramid Song” justice, just know that it is alleged that Thom Yorke once called this song the best Radiohead ever recorded at the time.

5. Deerhunter “Fluorescent Grey” – A pretty catchy song that centers around death and obsession, this was one of the first songs that began my obsession with indie rock.

6. Snowden “No Words No More” – The only cover song to appear on this list, Snowden’s brilliant take on Love and Rockets “No Words No More” is an atmospheric track that somehow manages to feel both gloomy and beautiful at the same time.

7. Explosions In The Sky “Your Hand In Mine” – Explosions In The Sky’s lush and cinematic arrangements make for some excellent writing music and this is one of their best.

8. Converge ” You Fail Me” – “You Fail Me” is a dark and visceral track from the band’s critically acclaimed 2004 album You Fail Me. The churning, metallic guitars, Jacob Bannon’s throat-shredding vocals and track’s slow-burning menace conjures up images of an apocalyptic wasteland and made this a “no-brainer” selection for this playlist.

9. Interpol “NYC” – I have been a huge fan of Interpol and their take on post-punk since their landmark 2002 debut Turn On The Bright Lights. “NYC” used to be the perfect soundtrack to my late night walks back to my dorm room in college.

10. Soundgarden “Fell On Black Days” – This was always my favorite Soundgarden song and its appearance on one of my favorite TV shows, Supernatural, made it a natural pick for this playlist.

11. TV On The Radio “Wolf Like Me” – TV On The Radio is an incredible indie-rock band that can boast about the fact that David Bowie is one of their fans, which should really tell you all you need to know about how good this band is. I can’t speak about the true meaning behind the song, but based on the B-movie inspired music video for “Wolf Like Me”, it’s about turning into a werewolf. How could it not make this playlist? Check out the music video here.

12. The Rolling Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” – I don’t think this selection really needs any explanation!

13. Cloud Nothings “No Future/No Past” – I was blown away by this song the first time I heard it. I had never really listened to Cloud Nothings prior to this track, but they supposedly leaned more toward the pop side of indie-rock before deciding to record 2012’s Attack on Memory with Steve Albini and shifting to heavier sounding songs. The music video for the song was directed by John Ryan Manning and was what really makes this song stick in my mind. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the video opens on a man seemingly being dragged by an unknown force just outside the camera’s view. It is one of the coolest and creepiest music videos I have seen in a while and I definitely recommend checking it out. I think this premise would have made an excellent short story.

14. Deftones “Change (In The House of Flies)” – Besides the fact that I just think this is an awesome song and one of the Deftones best, it gets its horror connection from being included in The Following and Dexter.

15. Young Widows “Kerosene Girl” – Young Widows is one of my favorite post-hardcore bands and this monolithic track is a must-listen for fans of heavy music.

16. Les Savy Fav “Adopduction” – One of my absolute favorite songs from the brilliant Les Savy Fav, the song is about a dream in which the narrator was kidnapped and slowly develops Stockholm Syndrome.