David’s Haunted Library: Dead Over Heels

David's Haunted Library

33115353Veronica is looking for true love, it hasn’t been easy and now she thinks using a little magic may help. It works in the form of Sebastian and they hit it off instantly. Their first date is in a haunted restaurant and as luck would have it their romantic dinner is the scene of a supernatural encounter. They notice a young couple dining, but no one else does, and Veronica along with an apprehensive Sebastian decides to investigate further. They discover that they have a connection to the couple in question and they may be the only ones who can set the ghosts free.

Dead Over Heels by Theresa Braun is a paranormal love story with  elements of horror and mystery. There is a lot going on in this book in a short period, and I loved how the story begins with a little foreshadowing to let you know this love affair is not your average affair. Everything was described in great detail from the characters emotions to the various settings.

I enjoyed how the couple’s relationship developed from the description of their first date to the point of when they realize that something strange is going on in the restaurant. My favorite part was when Veronica sees a couple very much in love and wishes that someday she can have something like that, not knowing what’s coming to her. There was also a scene where Veronica compares being abandoned to putting on a worn pair of jeans. With this line, I felt fully invested in this character and was hoping for a happy ending.

I loved how the author got you to like the two main characters before anything bad happened. During the second part of the book you get to witness the two changed by a paranormal revelation and they realize nothing will ever be the same. My one problem with the story is how it ended, without giving much away, it felt like there was no closure.  With that said, the writing was very good and I like how what happens in the past affects what happens in the future, showing that some things and people are connected. This is a good little ghost story and I would love to read some longer works from Theresa Braun.

 

David’s Haunted Library: Writers On Writing Volumes 1-4

David's Haunted Library

writers-on-writing-omnibus-193x3002xHave you ever thought about being a writer? There are lots of places where you can go to get advice on writing. You could take classes, buy books on the subject or find websites dedicated to the craft of writing. With all the different places to go for information, it may be hard to find what works best. That being said, the best place to go for advice is to authors that have already been published. Writers on Writing Volume 1 – 4 Omnibus: An Author’s Guide from Crystal Lake Publishing is a great resource for newbie writers.

Some of the subjects covered in this book include how you can learn from rejection, making time for writing, character building, finding your voice, how to network, what to expect from writing your first novel and much more. In Brian Hodge’s article, The Infrastructure Of The Gods he gives tips on getting started. Such as getting rid of distractions like turning off your wi-fi and remembering that instant gratification is not something you get from writing a novel. Brian also gives good advice on never giving up because new authors are always breaking through into the mainstream.

Another one I liked was What Right Do I Have To Write by Jasper Bark. Jasper talks about how the circumstances are never right for writing. There are always excuses not to do it but the only thing you can do is make the time and let nothing get in your way. I also like how he shoots down the fantasy that writing is a dream job. He says its fun sometimes but you are working under nightmare conditions, you may spend up to a year completing your first work and even the pros laugh at the idea that writing is a dream job.

One beneficial article in this collection is Finding Your Voice by Lynda E. Rucker. I would  have thought that finding your voice would come natural but in reality it takes awhile. Lynda mentions that it took a long time for her to create a voice that wasn’t an imitation of another author’s voice. She then states that finding your voice is the same as finding your identity. The way to find it is by realizing you have something to say and what you think is important. One thing I learned here is that there are several important aspects to writing.

Even if you’re not a writer and read this book you can get a lot out of it, such as a whole new respect for writing as an art form . My favorite part of this book was entitled A First-Time Novelist’s Odyssey by William Gorman. William takes you all through his five-year journey in writing his novel from doing research, living with the characters in your head, and getting their story just right. He talks about the struggle to find his voice and the massive amounts of revisions before the book was finally published. Writing maybe the most complex art form there is and Writers On Writing is a book that can help you on the path to being a better writer and possibly getting published too.

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

 

It Came From the Vault: David’s Library: Urban Legend Books

 

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While looking at archives, I found this nice post from 2010 by David. He has a great list. Have you read any of these books?

 

David's Haunted Library

 

While looking for books on urban legends, I was trying to find novels based on famous legends. Sadly, I didn’t find many. That doesn’t mean they’re not out there, I just wasn’t able to find many good titles. I found a couple of novels about Bloody Mary but they were about the historical figure behind the legend rather then the legend.

The real Blood Mary was Mary Tudor who was the first queen of England.  Mary had several false pregnancies and miscarriages and it is said that this drove her to madness. The legend of Bloody Mary goes that if you look into a mirror and say Bloody Mary 13 times or say “Bloody Mary I killed your Baby,” she will appear in the mirror and kill the person who summoned her in a violent way. If you want more information on Bloody Mary, a good book is: The Myth of Bloody Mary, The First Queen of England by Linda Porter.

While I didn’t find a lot of novels out there, I did find several compilations of scary urban legends. For instance, the Weird US series of coffee table books is full of local urban legends from all the 50 states. There is a book for every state and there was a TV series on the Travel Channel for awhile. If you want more  info on the books check out weirdus.com.

Another compilation I found was Urban Legends: 666 Absolutely True Stories that happened to a friend of a friend of a friend by Thomas J Craughwell. This book goes into detail on all the well known urban legends such as Alligators in the New York City Sewers, the disappearing hitchhiker, and my favorite urban legend which is about the family that went on vacation in Mexico and came home with what they thought was a cute little Chihuahua. When they took the dog to the vet they discovered it was really a rat with rabies.

One of the other urban legend titles that’s out there is Too Good To Be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand. This book goes over a wide range of topics and gives newspaper accounts of each legend. The author has written several books on urban legends and has a syndicated newspaper column about urban legends. One good story from this book is about a wife and a husband who is a cement truck driver. The husband comes home from work early one day with his truck and finds a new convertible in the driveway, the husband believes his wife was having an affair and the car was her lover’s car. To get even, he dumped the cement from his truck on the new car. He then finds out that his wife had bought it as a gift and had been saving for it for years.

The last one I want to mention is Let Slip The Dogs Of Love: Suburban Legends of The Living and The Dead by Eugene Kachmarsky. This book is a series of short stories very reminiscent of the Twilight zone.

If you know of any good novels based on Urban Legends, please comment below.

David’s Haunted Library: Baker: Demons and other Night Things (The Magic Now Series Book 3)

DavidsHaunted

30832333Baker Johnson has a gift and a curse. He has the ability to read people by just looking at them, but he is haunted by a dark past and doesn’t like to be close to people. At least not living ones. Baker is a demonologist, exorcist, and keeper of cursed objects living in the 1930’s. Baker: Demons and other Night Things by Terry West includes 4 stories about Baker Johnson as he gets introduced into the Night Things universe.

The first story is The Giving Of Things Cold and Cursed and is about Baker inheriting his uncle’s Black Room where he kept cursed objects. To Baker’s surprise many of the objects have been given away and now he needs to clean up the mess. In this story we find out about Baker’s personality and why he does the things he does. Baker is a complex character, he uses his gift because he has to, but he isn’t happy, he just accepts it as his station in life.

The second story is The Servant Of The Red Quill. Here Baker is called to a home of a wealthy collector of Cursed objects, where he has to perform an exorcist on the man’s daughter who is being possessed by a spirit tied to a book written by Marquis de Sade. I loved the concept of this story, I loved that we learned more about The family Baker had and I liked how Baker acts when the demon uses Baker’s family against him. The Baker character grows in this story and I found myself starting to like him despite his flaws.

The next one is called The Dark Alp, this one once again has Baker grow as a character as we see him being haunted by a nightmare demon. Not everything is as it appears in this story, I loved the ending and I loved how once again Baker is confronted with the ghosts of his past but he shows that he is more powerful than his past. In all these stories I loved that there seemed to be a theme of not letting your past define you.

The last story called A Weird Tale ties Baker to the Night Things universe. The story opens with H.P. Lovecraft telling Baker that the old gods are coming and nothing can stop them from destroying the world. These words haunt Baker and that leads to a meeting with Johnny Stucke who pays Baker to hand over a cursed object that might change everything. We see a very different Baker in this story, he now has a team backing him up but he still has to contend with the darkness within. Once again I loved the ending and how it sets up future Night Things stories.

This book also includes a sample of Terry West’s next Night Thing book. If you are not familiar with Terry West’s work this is a good book to start with. West knows how to make memorable characters that are flawed and that you can relate to at the same time. What is interesting about Baker is that he has this dark history but despite that, he still tries to do the right thing and we see the character grow into a different person through each of these stories. Terry West knows what horror fans like to read and this book is a great example of how horror should be written.

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: Dark Dreams

David's Haunted Library

product_thumbnailThe dreamworld is an odd place, it’s close to reality but much scarier and deadlier. Dark Dreams is an anthology edited by Mark Slade that contains 14 stories that take place in a different reality. The book begins with a story by editor Mark Slade called Dream Guru. It follows a man named Charlie who has to get a hold of $10,000 to pay a bad debt. He comes up with a plan to extort money from a doctor who enters people’e dreams to help them with their problems. Of course things don’t go as planned and a lesson is learned about greed. This story had  an original feel to it and I liked how Charlie’s character changed as he saw a chance to fix his situation in life.

Another story with a concept I loved was Beyond The Mind’s Eye by Thomas M. Malafarnia. A scientist studies an art student to find out how he thinks. The point is to use a computer to turn dreams into reality and what better way than to study the mind of an imaginative person. I loved how the person being studied doesn’t see himself as being important and the scientist has to explain to him how even though he may not be good in certain things like logical thinking, his imagination is the key to  changing the world. There is a good point in this story about how important imagination is and how it takes all kinds of people to make the world work. There is also a point about how greed will always be man’s downfall. The only thing I didn’t like in this story was how the author made it obvious what was going to happen at the end of the story, there was a little too much foreshadowing.

Vampire Therapy by Emerian Rich is a story that stands out in Dark Dreams. It begins with a woman named Amy who is going to a therapist for help dealing with bad dreams stemming from the death of her husband Thomas due to a terrorist attack. Little does she know her whole apartment building is being haunted. I love how this story goes from being sad and dark to funny and then back again. For a short story this one really runs through a wide range of emotions such as despair. loneliness, love, fear and happiness. Great idea for a story that could easily be turned into a novel and a nice twist on the vampire literature genre.

Another good one in this collection is Beautiful Angel by John C. Adams. What was interesting in this one was that the story is told from a ghost’s point of view. I liked it when the ghost points out how lucky she was that she never had to pay bills again and then goes to work solving mysteries. While I loved the concept here, the ending wasn’t very good but I would still love to read more about this mystery solving ghost. Dark Dreams has some entertaining stories in it and a lot of original ideas. I’ve read a few books edited by Mark Slade and each one seems to be a little better than the last, Dark Dreams is well worth your time.

David’s Haunted Library: The Beauty Of Death

David's Haunted Library

30732852There are a lot of horror anthologies out there and it’s not always easy to find one that you think you would like. That being said sometimes you find a horror anthology that when you see it you know you can’t go wrong. The Beauty Of Death: The Gargantuan Book of Horror Tales is that book. Edited by Alessandro Manzetti, this book includes stories by such great horror authors as Tim Waggoner, John Skipp, Poppy Z Brite, Peter Straub and many more. This is one mammoth collection that all horror fans should have.

One of my favorite stories in this collection is Carly Is Dead by Shane McKenzie. This story is told from the viewpoint of a rotting corpse in a field who is being eaten by the forest animals but is still aware of what’s going on. Who would have thought you could have sympathy for a corpse. Another good hard-core gore story is White Trash Gothic by Edward Lee. This one has to do with an author who gets amnesia due to a traumatic event and he travels to where he wrote his last book to find out what happened. I loved how Mr. Lee makes you feel compassion for the author and then throws him into a bizarre situation that will make you fear going to a small town.

Another one of my favorites was Calcutta, Lord Of Nerves by Poppy Z. Brite. This one is about a boy born in Calcutta, he is moved to America but returns after his father dies and the zombie apocalypse starts. In Calcutta things are so bad it’s hard to tell the poor people from the zombies and weird things happen as we find out that the zombies may be worshiping an old God. My favorite scene in the book is when the lead character excepts that zombies are just part of the world now and he doesn’t think they’re that bad.

It’s really hard to pick favorites in this book and if I wrote about each story here this review would be a book in itself. Other stories that stood out for me were The Office by Kevin Lucia which is a psychological horror story about a  man who relives his life through his favorite place, his office. Another one is No Place Like Home by JG Faherty which follows a man who bought a haunted house that changes his life for the better. Things get bloody though when someone tries to get him to give it up. In The Garden is one by Lisa Morton that really got to me. In this one a woman lives in a house and is taking care of her crippled brother when something in her garden causes him to get better, I loved how Lisa made you feel compassion for the lead character and then hits you with a shock ending.

The Beauty Of Death deserves a spot on every horror fans book shelf. When I first saw it I knew I had to have it and I wasn’t disappointed. This book reminded me of The Year’s Best Horror anthologies that come out each year, but The Beauty Of Death has more to offer. Every story here has the anatomy of a good horror story and focuses on characters dealing with their worst fears and considering its length it will keep you scared and reading for a long time.

 

 

David’s Haunted Library: Night Things: Undead And Kicking

David's Haunted Library

 

 

30190570What would our world be like if vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghouls, mermen and other creature walked the earth? They aren’t all trying to hurt humans, some of them just want to make an honest living and be accepted. People still fear what they don’t understand and even though some accept the Night Things, others aren’t so trusting. So the night things are given devices that track their every move.

Times are changing after the events of Z Day and Johnny Stucke, a Night thing himself is getting involved in politics. One of his first orders of business was getting Dr. Herbert West to work on a way to control zombies. Enter recently deceased professional MMA fighter Carol Haddon. Her DNA may hold the secret to changing the world’s zombies. Carol has also drawn the attention of Herbert West’s greatest enemy Jack The Ripper. Due to an accident Dr. West has made Jack more powerful than ever and if Dr. West can’t defeat him, it could bring on the apocalypse.

Night Things: Undead And Kicking by Terry M. West  is the second book in The Magic Now series and there is so much going on here that a 2 paragraph description hardly does it justice. The plot moves along at a brisk pace, it includes several sub plots and some great characters. There are also some great cameos from popular creatures and people known to classic horror fans. What makes this masterpiece of horror stand out over other works in the genre is how Terry M. West presents his characters.

For instance the main character is Carol Haddon. When she is introduced we see her as someone who feels compassion for the Night Things, she works in a shelter for them and we hear her comparing them to immigrants(love the metaphor). We also see her as a bad ass MMA fighter, but at the same time she is a vulnerable human being who goes to a therapist to deal with feelings she has for her mother. At this point Carol comes across as a complex person and things get harder for her as we find out that the two people helping her, Johnny Stucke and Herbert West have their own agenda and might not have her best interest at heart. That being said they are better than Jack The Ripper who would like nothing better than to rip the dna from her bone marrow. Carol is a hero you can relate to because she’s a compassionate person in a bad situation. Then we have Johhny Stuck and Herbert West who are shades of grey. They want to help Carol but at the same time they have an agenda that has already made major problems for Carol. You see the good and bad in both and it makes you like them that much more.

Undead And Kicking is the type of book that you can point to when people ask you why you like horror. Terry M. West is a horror fan writing books that he knows other horror fans will love. This story puts a fresh spin on classic horror mythology and also manages to add humor, great characters and plenty of blood and good scares to the mix.  I can’t say enough good things about this book and I hope there are several more books in The Magic Now series.