Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 Halloween Horror Movie Marathon- Part Two

Halloween is a week away!! So, how about some more horror movie reviews?
As always, the movies are currently streaming on Netflix, and the descriptions are from IMDB.

Night Watch
"A fantasy-thriller set in present-day Moscow where the respective forces that control daytime and nighttime do battle."
This is an awesome Russian horror movie that is both gruesome and comical. I was really pleasantly surprised with this one. It follows a man named Anton, who discovers that he is an "other" and must choose between the forces of light or dark. He chooses the light, and becomes an enforcer of the truce between good and evil. He has companions like Bear and Tiger Cub who are shape-shifters, and a partner named Olga who was turned into an owl before she exploded back into a human.
Exploded. Yes.
Anton soon meets a young boy who is being lured by a vampire, and a woman who is cursed and he has to stop Armageddon from coming- if he can.
This is in Russian and has subtitles, but don't let that stop you. It is a really bizarro cult film that has moments of gory action, sprinkled with the surreal and peppered with comedy. And it was a lot of fun to watch.

Jug Face
"Jug Face tells the story of a pregnant teen trying to escape a backwoods community when she discovers that she may be sacrificed to a creature in a pit."
Whew. This was almost too much for me. It's not super-gory, but this was really disturbing. Ada is a girl living in the deep woods, somewhere in Appalachia. Her family and her village are all practitioners of an unsettling religion. They have a pact with an other-worldly being that lives in a muddy pit, and when it demands a sacrifice, it causes the village potter to make a jug with the face of its intended victim. If it is fed, then it heals the villagers from their illnesses and wounds. When Ada discovers that the next jug bears her likeness, she makes the decision to hide it. Since the potter was in a trance when he created it, even he doesn't know who was on the jug. When the pit doesn't get its sacrifice, it gets angry and takes its revenge on the village, and things become more desperate to find out who the pit wants. But the movie is not just disturbing because of the human sacrifices. It also features some incest and some domestic abuse scenes. It was an interesting movie...but one that left me feeling sort of ill.

A Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
 "A young family moves into a historic home in Georgia, only to learn they are not the house's only inhabitants. Soon they find themselves in the presence of a secret rising from underground and threatening to bring down anyone in its path."
It's a Haunting in Connecticut, that's not in Connecticut. Why didn't they just name it a Haunting in Georgia?? Seems silly. Anyway. This was decent. There were some good scary moments, and some particularly skin-crawling scenes. The story involves a family where the women are a somewhat psychic and they just happened to move onto a farm house where the underground railroad used to run, and where a psychopath once lived. The thing that bummed me was that this was "based on a true story" and I have seen interviews with this actual family on TV before, and this story is utterly nothing like theirs. The ghost that the little girl sees is still named Mr. Gordy. And that's about the end of that. But forget all that and just watch the movie, because it is a pretty eerie horror flick.

"Norwegian folklore turns out to be real when Leo and Elvis encounter Thale in a basement. A regular cleaning job turns into a struggle for survival, while they're trying to figure out what or who Thale is." 
This is a Norwegian film with subtitles. The opening scene is pretty cringe-worthy. The crime scene cleaners are scrubbing up what was once a woman, and one of them is repeatedly losing his lunch.  After that, though the film really is not gory or gross.
The film follows the two cleaners who discover a feral woman in a basement bathtub. She doesn't speak, and she is starving and naked. They get her a shirt and some food and while they wait for the authorities to arrive on scene they discover cassette tapes of her caretaker, documenting her growth and metabolism and so on. In one, he references removing a part of her, and sure enough, there's a tail in a mini-fridge. So what does that make Thale? And what are the mysterious creatures now closing in around the cabin?
Unfortunately, the CGI is pretty mediocre when you do see the creatures. Fortunately, it doesn't ruin the movie at all for me, and the movie also ends on a pretty positive note. I liked this. It's a weird film, and I didn't find it very scary, but it was a neat creature feature and unique in that it was based on the myth of the huldra or hulder. I don't think I've seen anything quite like it before.

"150 dead and 350 missing in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, Colorado. And that's only the beginning..."
Based on a Dean Koontz book by the same name, for me, this is a clear case of the book being better than the movie. They both start off well. It is genuinely scary when the sisters arrive in the now deserted town of Snowfield. The mystery of what killed all of the people there is the best part about the movie. Once the monster is revealed, though, that's where they diverge for me. This is probably because in your head, when you read, a monster can be whatever you want in a way. On film, it is whatever the special effects team made it. And it seemed cooler in my head. On screen it is The Blob, The Thing- and I've seen all that before, and it falls flat. I just...didn't like it. I enjoy most of this movie (especially Peter O'Toole) and then the ending doesn't do it for me.

7 Below
"A group of strangers trapped in a time warp house where a terrible event transpired exactly 100 years prior."
Kids, can we say "snoozefest?" I know you can. Snooooozefest. That's the way!
 No seriously. This was not even good. A group of people are heading to a resort they never make it to, because the van that was chauffeuring them there crashed. A strange man picks them up and says he will take them to his home because there is a storm coming and no hospital for two hours drive. So they go with creepy dude to his creepy abode and then they start seeing a ghost kid murdering other members of his ghost family. And as they linger in the home, they start popping off as well. That actually sounds not half bad, except that you never see any significant storm- not one that would stop anyone from getting around, anyway. And the acting is flat, and the action takes forever to show up and when it does, it doesn't deliver. I played Candy Crush while watching this because it couldn't hold my interest. Ooh, candy bomb!

Trannsylvania 6-5000
"Two reporters travel to a strange castle in Transylvania to investigate the apparent reappearance of Frankenstein, and encounter such kooky creatures as the sensitive Wolfman, the horny Vampiress Odette, as well as a whole cast of other weirdos."
Speaking of boring, there's this. Oh, I wanted this to be good! It has Jeff Goldblum, Carol Kane, Michael Richards and Geena Davis in it. And its a goofy horror comedy from the 1980s. It couldn't sound more well-suited to my tastes. And it just stinks. Carol Kane was the one bright spot for me here, and even her performance is not as good as many of her other movies. Goldblum seems like he's chuckling to himself through half of it. Look elsewhere for a silly movie for your Halloween bash.

Carrie (2013)
"A re-imagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom."
I was hesitant to watch this, because I am often disappointed with remakes. Not so with this one. It is mostly the same movie, to be sure, but it does manage to add a bit more horror to the mix. Firstly, bringing the story into the modern age makes the abuse Carrie suffered so much more awful. In addition to being tormented, she is filmed and the abuse is uploaded for all the world to see. It also adds a disturbing realism to the movie, since these issues have actually happened in recent times. Then, they add a longer prom destruction scene, and a more special-effects driven final death scene and the result is that this movie is everything the original was, and then some.

"As he helps a young artist with her upcoming exhibition, the owner of a mannequin shop's deadly, suppressed desires come to the surface."
This is actually a remake of the 1980 movie by the same name, but I have never seen the original, so I have no thoughts on whether or not it is better or worse than the other. But this was a horrorfest for sure. Elijah Wood is perfect as a psycho. It is a dark, psychological film that is gory and intense, so it is not for everyone. Definitely not for the squeamish. The murders are disturbing enough, but the scalping is almost unbearable. I had to look away many times and watched much of it while grimacing, and/or flinching. (Especially the ending.) Still, though, as a portrait of a serial killer this is top notch- the camerawork, the soundtrack, acting all come together flawlessly and it makes for a complete movie that is as beautiful as it is repugnant.

The Ward
"A thriller centered on an institutionalized young woman who becomes terrorized by a ghost."
A girl named Kristen gets sent to an insane asylum for burning down a house.The asylum is weird- it's a large building, but there only ever seem to be the same six girls there. And there's a ghost named Alice inhabiting the place, who doesn't want any of the girls to get out. If they are about to be released, she shows up and kills them. Soon there's only a couple left. And the hospital seems to be covering things up, not investigating why easily half of their almost no patients have all kicked the bucket. In fact, throughout a lot of the movie, there are more staff than patients. All of that seems weird, but stick with it, it makes sense in the end. So, it was a decent movie. Plot, acting and special effects are ok, and it is moderately scary.

The Legend of Hell House 
"A team consisting of a physicist, his wife, a young female psychic and the only survivor of the previous visit are sent to the notorious Hell House to prove/disprove survival after death. Previous visitors have either been killed or gone mad, and it is up to the team to survive a full week in isolation, and solve the mystery of the Hell House."
This is one of those great classic horror movies. It is from 1973, and so the special effects are dated. However, this manages to still be quite frightening, even by today's standards. It's the typical haunted house story with a team of investigators trying to solve the mystery of just what exactly causes the spiritual effects at Hell House. Is it psychic energy from a powerful personality, long dead, is it multiple spirits bound to a house by a night of trauma, or is it simply a location that channels the energy from the psychics themselves who show up to investigate? Whatever the answer, Hell House is evil and it has claimed many lives already. The four researchers who are trying to connect with the house now are in for a disastrous week. This is up there with some of my favorite oldies but goodies, like The Omen, Rosemary's Baby and The Shining.

Well VampChix, I hope you have a fantastically spooky Halloween!
I know I will! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

All The Things!

We are entering the final week before Halloween and this is always a fun and busy time for me. It's my favorite holiday, so I try and cram in as much spooky fun as I can. And since I seem to be filling every spare minute with something, I am struggling to keep up with writing about all of it. So let me do a brief run-down of awesomeness for you.

Doctor Who-
Last weekend's episode was pretty funny, what with the shrinking TARDIS and the Doctor trapped in Clara's purse, handing out items for her to use while fighting a bunch of two-dimensional baddies that want to reduce us all to no more than street art. You got to see Clara save the day with only a little help from the Time Lord, and yet...he still seems to down play her role after the fact. What IS up with him lately?

 American Horror Story-
 We met Dell Toledo and Desiree Dupree, the power couple of freaks. Desiree seems pretty cool, but Dell has some control and anger issues and it looks like he has a history with Ethel Darling that we don't quite know about yet. We also saw Dandy Mott meet Twitchy the Clown, and they seemed to hit it off fairly well by Twisty standards. Dandy didn't get murdered, for starters and now it looks like he's joining forces with the sadistic clown. Maybe it's just me, but Dandy's psycho eyes scare me more than Twisty's dead stare.
And we lost poor little Meep, who paid for Jimmy's crimes with his life. Maybe it was the ghosts of all the chickens who lost their heads to him getting their revenge. Poor chickens. Poor Meep.

Grimm and Constantine-
 October 24th. Yes! I can't wait for more Grimm and I have been anxiously anticipating Constantine's debut. Head to NBC, Friday 10/9 central for the back to back shows.

Halloween Movies-
So many things to watch right now! Annabelle is still out, as is Dracula Untold. The Book of Life is a Day of the Dead -themed kids movie that looks cute. Ouija comes out Friday and looks like it might be good. Horns comes out on Halloween night and it looks awesome!
And that's just the stuff in theaters right now. I am also still watching movies on Netflix and hoping to get another marathon review post up soon.

I have so much reading to catch up on. I am currently enjoying Michelle Hauf's Beyond the Moon, and I have Sweetness #9 lined up and then Night Watch- a Russian fantasy/horror book that is also a cool movie. Reviews to come!

I got to go out and attend Nightfall this past weekend. For those that don't know, this is a whole "town" full of spooky delights, held at Old Tucson Studios. It features multiple haunted houses, stage shows, hayrides and train rides, and even a sideshow. In fact, that was my favorite part of the evening- seeing the Strange Family Circus. I got pulled on stage and had to stand on the glass-walker's head while he laid his face in the glass. I could feel it crunching under his forehead. Yikes!! But we had a blast. It was a very nice way to get in the mood for Halloween.

Halloween Crafts-
Every year I am trying to add something new to my spooky abode. This year, I decided to create window silhouettes out of shower curtains. This was a fun craft, and I think it turned out pretty epic. I painted the critters by hand onto a fabric shower curtain and hung them in the windows with green spotlights shining on them. It makes a cool effect at night for my house!

 So, that's some of what I have been up to and what I hope to have coming soon. It's been a crazy month and it isn't over yet!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The story so far...

After months of anticipation, built up over the summer by re-watching previous seasons with my son and remembering why this show is so incredibly cool, I went on vacation and had to DVR the premiere  episode to watch when I returned. Yes, I could have watched in my hotel room, but vacations aren't for watching grainy TV when the beach beckons just a few feet away, so I waited.

After laughing at the Super Special episode from the night before I couldn't help but feel like I'm missing the monster of the week format more than I thought. My own teen monster agrees with me. 

Anyhoo, with my popcorn popped and a cold Pepsi happily fizzing away well within reach I pushed play on season 10 to see what trouble Deanmon and Crowley were up to while we were away. Without really recapping, because I'm terrible at it, I can briefly touch on the highlights and what I think will be the overall story arc for the season. 

*A drunk and disorderly Dean romping with waitresses and singing horrible karaoke while killing time with his new bestie Crowley was an absolutely perfect way to kick off his stint as a demon. It's like he took every douchey thing he could think of an incorporated that into his new attitude, but the great part is that you still get these momentary glimpses of his humanity.

*Crowley. I just love his repartee with both Winchesters. His little nicknames for Sam and the no nonsense King of Hell attitude...classic Crowley. Love him!

*Oh, Sam. Please never change from the loyal and angsty brother willing to do anything and sacrifice all for family. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? I am very excited to see how Sam handles this new and not so improved Dean because he has that wonderful balance of forming a solid plan to flying off the handle. He has the tech savvy smarts, but can still kick your ass with one arm tied behind his back. Literally.

*Poor Castiel. The fading of his grace seems like the main arc for the season but I am really hoping they break it up with some monster hunting because the angels can be so frustrating. Besides that, I was totally hoping we were done with the evil M, but alas, there he sits in his sad little prison trying his damnedest to twist the minds of everyone he sees.

So there you have it. All is right with the world because we get our weekly dose of vitamin W. Now I just need to catch the hell up! ~Anna

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dracula Untold Review and Discussion

Well, I was really excited to see Dracula Untold, and I got to this week. It was mostly what I expected.

There were plenty of action and battle scenes, some romance, and Luke Evans looked hot in armor. As far as plot goes, it is sufficient but not anything that left me wowed. Mostly, it was just a fun vampire flick that focuses on the transformation of the character from a damaged man who had a dark past because he was a soldier who was warped by his training under the Ottomans, to a strong man who chooses darkness for the right reasons- to protect his family and kingdom. And for a fictional movie that's all fine and it works.

The problem I had with the movie, though, was that it actually isn't just straight fiction. it is based on a real person who actually lived, and was the inspiration for the original Dracula novel. Even the book loosely based the story on the actual person, and so it's no stretch for the movie to do the same. But where the traditional Dracula story paints Vlad as a true monster, this movie romanticizes a person who in reality was about as sick as they come. And that felt...weird.

The real Vlad the Impaler:
  • Was the on-again, off-again ruler of Wallachia.
  • Impaled his political enemies
  • When he wasn't impaling enemies, ordered anyone who defied him to be burned, skinned, nailed, buried alive, strangled, or to have their limbs, genitals or facial features cut off.
  • Sentenced others to work off their transgressions by building a fort for him. The work was so grueling and the conditions so harsh, that most of them died from this sentence as well.
  • Took steps to make impalement an even slower, more gruesome death than it had been already. (Used rounded stakes instead of pointed ones, oiled the stakes, used horses to pull the person down on to the stake, etc.)
  • Impaled women and children- sometimes mothers and infants shared a stake.
  • Did spend time as an Ottoman hostage, and did likely witness impalements while under their care. However, did not start his bloody career while under Ottoman supervision. His tortures and murders began with the people in his own country who were political rivals and other noblemen who opposed his rule. Then he took what he had learned by terrorizing his own people and used it to wage a psychological (and physical) war against the Turks.
  • To effect that goal, staked the enemies he conquered in battle and created a field of corpses for his enemies to witness.
  • Is rumored to have rounded up the poor of Wallachia and offered them a feast to show how generous he was. Then locked all the doors and burned the building down, effectively "fixing" the poverty and homeless issues in his kingdom.
  • Is rumored to have nailed hats to the heads of emissaries that refused to remove their head ware in his presence. Cause, I mean, how dare they.
  • Is rumored to have impaled a high ranking member of his own government for complaining about the smell of all those staked corpses rotting all over the place.
  • Poisoned wells in his own kingdom to kill off invading Turks. 
  • Burned his own villages when retreating his army, so that the Turks that pursued them would have nowhere to rest.
All in all, this doesn't paint a picture of a man who actually cared much for the people he ruled. He wasn't just cruel to his enemies, he ruled his own people with terror and an iron fist. And that makes it hard to watch a movie where a real person like that has their despicable history glossed over to make him more appealing and sympathetic. In Dracula Untold, Vlad is made into a man who just wants to protect his own from an evil that he is familiar with from his childhood, and his failing in the movie is that he tries to do so by making a deal with the devil. He means well, and he does save his people, but he ultimately fails because you can't bargain with evil and win.

Hey girl...I heard you like tormented heroes, so I impaled a village for you.

 So, I guess as a complete fiction, the movie would just be really cool for me. As something partly based on truth, though, it feels sketchy. Do I want Vlad the Impaler to be sexy? Do I want to in any way idolize a psychotic individual who went down in history as a butcher? Its weird. It's like someone in the far, far future making a fictional movie in which Hitler is portrayed as a man who only killed Jews for some noble reason. Would we want someone to make that movie? I doubt it.

So that was my take on it. I liked the movie, but it also made me feel creeped out. Not because the vampire scenes were so scary, but because the idea of finding a torturer, murderer, and despot sexy is just a wee bit unsettling.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Uncle Vampire

When I first read UNCLE VAMPIRE (1993), an unusual, deeply disturbing YA novel by Cynthia D. Grant, I waffled about whether to include it in my vampire fiction bibliography update. Does its content fall under the "delusion" category of my classification list, or does the author simply use "vampirism" as an extended metaphor for incestuous sexual abuse? On the latest reread, I've concluded that teenage narrator Carolyn actually does believe, on some level, that her uncle is draining blood from her and her twin sister, Honey. Yes, this information is a spoiler, since the truth isn't revealed until near the end of the book. Long before that point, though, Carolyn's first-person, present tense, stream of consciousness story drops hints to the reader that she's an unreliable narrator at best and has a shaky grasp on consensus reality. Nevertheless, it turns out that her uncle does almost literally, as she accuses, suck the life from her family and transform the household into a zombie version of itself.

Wrongness pervades this family under their facade of normality. The mother has been mentally ill in the past, although now supposedly cured. Carolyn's parents sometimes fight over thirty-five-year-old, under-employed Uncle Toddy, who lives with them. Her grades have dropped, and her teachers and friends notice her growing detachment. Her brother, Richie, also in high school, has become sullen and rebellious. Their older sister, Maggie, in whom Carolyn might be able to confide, makes excuses not to come home from college for holidays. Twin sister Honey, the perky, popular cheerleader, insists on maintaining the pretense that everything is fine. She berates Carolyn for bringing up Uncle Toddy's vampirism and won't consider telling anyone else the secret of his predation. Maggie's one long letter to Carolyn summarizes their plight ever since their mother's hospitalization: "Suddenly everything's supposed to be peachy—except we're tiptoeing around the house like it's a minefield."

Until the novel's climax, Grant skillfully maintains ambiguity about the true nature of "Uncle Vampire." Until that point, the book reads like a horror story of a literal bloodsucking vampire and a victim who can't speak out for fear of being considered insane like her mother. The climactic revelation includes another twist that I won't spoil for you. I didn't catch on in advance, although a sharper reader might. Viewing the world through the eyes of desperate, trapped Carolyn is truly chilling, but hope finally dawns. As the narrator eventually tells us, "It's hard to get rid of vampires. You have to drag them into the light." Grant creates a unique treatment of this serious real-life issue by framing it in supernatural imagery.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mummy On The Orient Express


Doctor Who, Series 8, Episode 8

So Clara didn't stay away long, but we see her joining the Doctor for their final hurrah. They are taking the Orient Express in space, which sounds awesome, but there is a monster on board. Of course. This time it is a mysterious mummy that is only seen by its immediate victim. The legend says if you see "the Foretold," you have exactly 66 seconds to live. That's not much, and if there is a way to stop such a creature, you would have a terrible time figuring it out since it can't be seen and studied except by those with only moments to live. 

And it turns out, the guests on the train are not random passengers, but rather, experts hand-selected by a mysterious person named Gus, who put together a team to understand and control the Foretold. Each person on the train, including the Doctor, has some background that makes them qualified to possibly solve this riddle...or die trying. 

"Gus" doesn't seem to have a problem throwing innocent people at this monster like cannon fodder.  And we learn that this isn't the first time that such a trip has been taken, and the previous guests died in vain. Not only that, but we also discover that the Doctor has been invited to take this particular trip several times already, but had always declined before, and that Gus had called the phone box to extend that invite. Hmmm. Is he connected to Missy somehow? Will we see this character in a future plot-line? I am betting yes.

But all of that drama, interesting as it is, is only a backdrop for the real tension in the episode, which is- will Clara really break it off with the Doctor for good?

 (And as an aside- Clara looked adorable in this show. I loved the short hair and the flapper girl dress.)

It certainly seems that way, right up until the end. She talks to the Doctor about leaving and asks him if it is an addiction- being the man who makes the impossible decisions. He says simply that its what he does. She then talks to Danny on the phone, tells him she'll be home soon, hangs up and promptly tells the Doctor never mind the whole last hurrah business, let's go see some more planets as long as you get me back on time. And instantly, it sounds like she is the one with the addiction. She is lying to her loved ones, doing something that goes against her better judgment, and is unable to walk away from the adrenaline rush that she gets from saving the world all of the time. 

So, for now, it looks like Clara is back on board the TARDIS, but for how long? And will this have consequences for her and Danny? I'd be inclined to think so. 

Next week's episode trailer- "Flatline"-

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall New Release Books

Here are some books coming out in October and November that VampChix might like!

Redeemed, by P.C. & Kristin Cast
Release Date:  October 14th
"In the final electrifying novel in the HoN series, Neferet has finally made herself known to mortals. A Dark Goddess is loose on Tulsa and the world. No single vampyre is strong enough to vanquish her - unless that creature has the power to summon the elements as well as the ability to wield Old Magick. Only Zoey Redbird is heir to such power…but because of the consequences of using Old Magick, she is unable to help. Find out who will win and who will lose in this epic battle of Light versus Darkness."

As You Wish, by Cary Elwes 
Release Date: October 14th
"From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.
Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.
With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film."

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: October 21st
"The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.
In a starred review, THE BULLETIN called THE DREAM THIEVES, the previous book in The Raven Cycle, "a complex web of magical intrigue and heart-stopping action." Now, with BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE, the web becomes even more complex, snaring readers at every turn."

Prince Lestat, by Anne Rice
Release Date: October 28th
"Rice once again summons up the irresistible spirit-world of the oldest and most powerful forces of the night, invisible beings unleashed on an unsuspecting world able to take blood from humans, in a long-awaited return to the extraordinary world of the Vampire Chronicles and the uniquely seductive Queen of the Damned("mesmerizing" -SF Chronicle), a long-awaited novel that picks up where The Vampire Lestat ("brilliant…its undead characters are utterly alive" -New York Times) left off more than a quarter of a century ago to create an extraordinary new world of spirits and forces-the characters, legend, and lore of all the Vampire Chronicles.
The novel opens with the vampire world in crisis…vampires have been proliferating out of control; burnings have commenced all over the world, huge massacres similar to those carried out by Akasha in The Queen of the Damned…Old vampires, roused from slumber in the earth are doing the bidding of a Voice commanding that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris and Mumbai to Hong Kong, Kyoto, and San Francisco.
As the novel moves from present-day New York and the West Coast to ancient Egypt, fourth century Carthage, 14th-century Rome, the Venice of the Renaissance, the worlds and beings of all the Vampire Chronicles-Louis de Pointe du Lac; the eternally young Armand, whose face is that of a Boticelli angel; Mekare and Maharet, Pandora and Flavius; David Talbot, vampire and ultimate fixer from the secret Talamasca; and Marius, the true Child of the Millennia; along with all the other new seductive, supernatural creatures-come together in this large, luxuriant, fiercely ambitious novel to ultimately rise up and seek out who-or what-the Voice is, and to discover the secret of what it desires and why…
And, at the book's center, the seemingly absent, curiously missing hero-wanderer, the dazzling, dangerous rebel-outlaw-the great hope of the Undead, the dazzling Prince Lestat…"

Blood Magick, by Nora Roberts
Release Date: October 28th
"County Mayo is rich in the traditions of Ireland, legends that Branna O’Dwyer fully embraces in her life and in her work as the proprietor of The Dark Witch shop, which carries soaps, lotions, and candles for tourists, made with Branna’s special touch.
Branna’s strength and selflessness hold together a close circle of friends and family—along with their horses and hawks and her beloved hound. But there’s a single missing link in the chain of her life: love…
She had it once—for a moment—with Finbar Burke, but a shared future is forbidden by history and blood. Which is why Fin has spent his life traveling the world to fill the abyss left in him by Branna, focusing on work rather than passion.
Branna and Fin’s relationship offers them both comfort and torment. And though they succumb to the heat between them, there can be no promises for tomorrow. A storm of shadows threatens everything that their circle holds dear. It will be Fin’s power, loyalty, and heart that will make all the difference in an age-old battle between the bonds that hold their friends together and the evil that has haunted their families for centuries."

Waistcoats and Weaponry, by Gail Carriger
Release Date: November 4th
"Class is back in session...
Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style—with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what—or who—they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all."
Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger."

Revival, by Stephen King
Release Date: November 11th
"A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life.
In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.
Jamie has demons of his own. Wed to his guitar from the age of thirteen, he plays in bands across the country, living the nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll while fleeing from his family’s horrific loss. In his mid-thirties—addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate—Jamie meets Charles Jacobs again, with profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.
This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe."

The Bane Chronicles, by Cassandra Clark, Sarah Rees Brennan & Maureen Johnson
Release Date: November 11th
"Fans of The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices can get to know warlock Magnus Bane like never before in this collection of New York Times bestselling tales, in print for the first time with an exclusive new story and illustrated material.
This collection of eleven short stories illuminates the life of the enigmatic Magnus Bane, whose alluring personality, flamboyant style, and sharp wit populate the pages of the #1 New York Times bestselling series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices.
Originally released one-by-one as e-only short stories by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Sarah Rees Brennan, this compilation presents all ten together in print for the first time and includes a never-before-seen eleventh tale, as well as new illustrated material."

 Clockwork Princess, by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: November 11th
A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.
Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Jem and Will, will do anything to save her. For though Tessa and Jem are now engaged, Will is as much in love with her as ever.
As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and the tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cover reveal: Under His Touch by Jeffe Kennedy

Amber Dolors knows better than to get involved with her boss. Devastatingly handsome in his sharp suits, sexy beyond belief, he possesses an air of command that fuels her darkest fantasies. But being the assistant to his assistant’s assistant represents an opportunity golden enough to outweigh other considerations. Even if his way of giving orders and demanding her best performance gives her delicious warm shivers inside.

Alexander Knight prides himself on his integrity and self-discipline. After all, he hasn’t risen to the position he enjoys by indulging his whims over ambition. He also isn’t blind. He’s certainly noticed his sharp, young assistant is hot as hell. His self-imposed sexual hermitage doesn’t stop him from watching her. And fantasizing.

The day Alec’s cool reserve cracks and Amber catches a glimpse of something simmering beneath his apparent indifference is the day everything between them changes. Alec gives her what she’s been looking for sexually—as masterful in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom. But what will it take to soothe his wounded soul?

About the Author:

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Foreword Literary.

American Horror Story: Freak Show Premiere


American Horror Story is back with Freak Show! And the premiere episode showed us that it is going to be weird and wonderful. Oh, and terrifying.

We were introduced to Bettie and Dot Tattler, the Siamese twins who recently murdered their own mother. We met Ethel and Jimmy Darling- a mother and son pair of freaks- she, the bearded lady, and he the lobster man. "Ma Petite" is the world's tiniest woman, "Paul, the Illustrated Seal" has flipper arms and tattoos, and of course, Pepper is back.

We also met "Twisty the Clown" and he is one of the most horrifying things I have seen in a long time. He seems to be wearing someone else's skin on his head for a hat, and he has a hideous, frozen, toothy smile that just amplifies the crazed look in his eyes. He is fond of stabbing people to death, and when he's not doing that he's locking them up in his trailer of terror and making balloon animals for them. He is not part of the troupe, but he is seen hanging around their tents and I doubt he has good intentions.

The rest of the freaks are a family, bound together by Fräulein Elsa Mars, a German woman, played by Jessica Lange. Elsa has wanted to be a glamorous star all of her life, and she has only managed to become the ringleader for a circus of sideshow acts. Initially, you assume she is "normal" herself, and has used the freak show as a venue to try to showcase her own talent, but at the end of the episode, you discover that she, too is an amputee, and fits in better with her comrades that she probably wants to.

But the family is not just a refuge for the different and the disposed of. There is a darkness there, under the surface. Jimmy Darling kills a police officer that came looking for Bettie and Dot, and the troupe gathers around the corpse to mutilate it. And Elsa has a dark side too. She invites a candy-striper from the hospital to come to the show, and once there, she gives the girl drugs and films her getting um...freaky with the freaks. What is her motivation, you wonder. Maybe just to take some pretty, "normal" girl and defile her? Is it jealousy or is she just sick? It's hard to say after just one episode. But although they aren't full-blown serial killers, like Twisty, they definitely aren't just innocent victims of a society that shuns them.

And there are some really bizarre and surreal moments. Jimmy the Lobster Lad is a hit with the ladies- on the down low, of course. He gets paid to attend parties and pleasure women with his unique appendages, and then he sneaks out the back door and back to the tents before anyone else in polite society knows he's ever been there. That seems a bit weird. Just the idea that 1950s wives would be having a tupperware-style sex party kind of makes me giggle. Frances Conroy plays a wealthy mother to a psycho son who wants to buy Bettie and Dot- for what purpose we have no idea. And then there's the first show we get to see. The freaks are doing what we expect- showing off their attributes under the spotlights- and Elsa has a big song number. Except, it's David Bowie's Life on Mars, and she is even wearing a baby blue suit and eyeshadow, ala Bowie, himself. Oooookay. It was truly odd, but also kind of perfectly suited to a show that is going to be completely crazy.

 One thing that was bizarre, but not in a good way, was Kathy Bates' accent. I couldn't quite tell what region she was supposed to be from. It almost sounded Southern at moments, and then it would slip into something more New England- almost Canadian but then, no...not that either. it was just sort of muddled. Hmm. Honestly, I expect better from her. Oh well.

So, for next week, it looks like  Angela Bassett, Denis O'Hare, Michael Chiklis, and Emma Roberts will be joining us. Looks like it's going to be a weird ride, guys.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Divinity Blog Tour

DIVINITY: A Divine Novel by Michelle L. Johnson
When Julia climbs into a flaming car to save a trapped child, she's left wondering why either of them survived. Then she learns that her father is the Archangel Gabriel, and that she is half human, half Archangel.   

With guidance from Michael, the most powerful Archangel, Julia sets out to discover her own history and explore her angelic powers. But her journey is cut short when an evil force, invisible to human and angel alike, tears her world apart.   Now Julia must fight through her despair, harness her newfound gifts, and risk her very soul to stop the A'nwel and protect the family she never knew she had.   

What she doesn't know is that Archangels have secrets too.


“I appeared to her in the manner we agreed upon. No sudden surprises,” Gabriel continued his defense.
“Yes, we have lost far too many to heart attacks. At least we have learned that lesson. Humans simply aren’t used to things just appearing in front of them. They need a lead in,” Michael mused. “They seem oddly comfortable with sudden disappearances, on the other hand.”
“She hates me,” Gabriel said as he ruffled his wings, adjusting the way they lay on his back. It was the angel equivalent of drumming one’s fingers or tapping a foot to show impatience. “It is in her eyes. She believes that everything bad that has happened to her was my fault.”
“They always believe that. She will learn otherwise. All right, you followed instructions,” Michael grudgingly conceded. “But we will need to bring her back into balance. Her fate overshadows us all.”
“We have made her strong,” Gabriel began, the recognition of Michael’s thoughts flashing in his eyes.
“Now let us help make her whole,” Michael finished.

Michelle L. Johnson is the author of DIVINITY, a supernatural urban fantasy, and the author of THE FOOTLOOSE KILLER, a mystery. She's also a literary agent, a coffee lover beyond reason, and has a fascination with the workings of the human mind.

Her key influences have been Stephen King, Anne Rice, and C.S. Lewis, but is inspired by every author to put pen to paper.

Michelle lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her muse and her rambunctious Cocker Spaniel, Sammy.

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