Sunday, December 30, 2018

The "Creature" Recap

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The LOHF Instagram Challenge Weekly RecapIf you missed out previous post about “Murder”, click here.

Ah, any IG post that has a chance of featuring monsters does my little chomp’n’stomp heart happy.  What would the book world be without some creatures sprinkled in every now and again?!  I don’t even want to find out!

Tapeworms are gross and crawly and I am always reminded of that “diet fad” where people were ingesting tapeworms in pill form to lose weight (I think unknowingly???)  TERRIFYING!  Theliteraryhooker shared with us Parasite by Mira Grant and I can basically feel my insides tossing, turning, and rumbling already… and lucky for us this is the first in a series entitled Parasitology!

“A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite – a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system – even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives…and will do anything to get them.”

Inspired by one of the most famous creature features, Frankenstein, tarasbookaddiction shared This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee.

“In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…”

There’s just something about vintage dolls… and this middle-grade horror book has been called a violent, dark fairy tale.  What creatures could teamsheltie be talking about in her post of Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge?  Gotta find out!

The first things to shift were the doll’s eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss’s face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak.

‘What are you doing here?’ It was uttered in tones of outrage and surprise, and in a voice as cold and musical as the clinking of cups. ‘Who do you think you are? This is my family.’

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out.

Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late…”

There are quite a few books in the James Asher series by Barbara Hambly, but kimberlyyerina6466 gave us the first installment, Those Who Hunt The Night.

“At the turn of the twentieth century, a former spy is called into service to hunt down a vampire killer…

Once a spy for Queen Victoria, James Asher has fought for Britain on every continent, using his quick wits to protect the Empire at all costs. After years of grueling service, he marries and retires to a simple academic’s life at Oxford. But his peace is shattered one night with the arrival of a Spanish vampire named Don Simon. Don Simon can disappear into fog, move faster than the eye can see, and immobilize Asher—and his young bride—with a wave of his hand. Asher is at his mercy, and has no choice but to give his help.

Because someone is killing the vampires of London, and James Asher must find out who—before he becomes a victim himself.”

Mother.horror wrapped up our CREATURES highlight with Kristi DeMeester’s stunning and horrifying story, Beneath.  Your jaw will definitely drop while reading this one…

“When reporter Cora Mayburn is assigned to cover a story about a snake-handling cult in rural Appalachia, she is dismayed, for the world of cruel fundamentalist stricture, repression, glossolalia, and abuse is something she has long since put behind her in favor of a more tolerant urban existence. But she accepts the assignment, dredging up long-buried memories as she seeks the truth.

As Cora begins to uncover the secrets concealed by a veneer of faith and tradition, something ancient and long concealed begins to awaken. What secrets do the townsfolk know? What might the handsome young pastor be hiding? What will happen when occulted horrors writhe to the surface, when pallid and forgotten things rise to reclaim the Earth?

Will Cora–and the earth–survive? The answers–and pure terror–can only be found in one place: Beneath.”

We shared a WIDE range and variety of creatures here today as we recapped yet another incredible day from our Instagram challenge.  What are some of your favorite “types” of creatures?  What gets under your skin the most?  We’d love to discuss in the comments!  And stay tuned next week where we discuss the one place you should always feel safe: your HOUSE.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Church by Renee Miller Review

Church by Renee Miller book cover

Ray is a Christian, but he loves a woman who follows a god called Zabir. Determined to save her from eternal damnation, he joins her church.

Ray doesn’t realize that indoctrination into the Zabian way is a process that not only breaks a man physically, it strips his identity and shatters his mind. He holds onto his faith at first, but as his prayers for mercy go unanswered, and the pain inflicted on him becomes too much to bear, the void of nothingness promises relief, and tempts Ray to do the unthinkable, even if leaves his soul as damned as the one he tried to save.

Emily’s Review

“Damned before you have a chance to live. How right does that sound to you?”

Church is a novella that really packs a lot into a small amount of pages. This was my first time reading a book by Renee Miller, and I loved it. This book is incredibly bleak, and it’s sad to read about these people giving up everything for something meaningless. It’s an unfortunately familiar setting.

At a very different time in my life, I worked at and was way too involved in a church. This story brought back a lot of anxious feelings and anger (maybe brought back isn’t correct – probably intensified since those feelings don’t really go away). The story accomplished what it was supposed to – it showed the horror of a realistic situation (at its core – some parts are extreme, but the heart of Church is very familiar to me). It was stressful to read at times, but it makes for a fantastic horror story. Church made me want to scream at someone, and it was an effective story for me. I don’t know if that expresses my feelings well or not, but that’s the best way I can describe it.

I’m going to give warnings to potential readers for rape / lack of consent, torture, drugging, and suicide. There’s a lot going on in this story, so just know that it’s on the heavier side. This is not a happy book, and it’s not a happy topic.

If you enjoy cult horror, Church is definitely one to pick up. This is a grim and haunting story, and I plan to reread it again later on. I’ll be thinking about this book for a while. Renee Miller did a great job at capturing a disturbing setting, and I can’t wait to read more from her.

About Renee Miller

Author photo of Renee Miller

I’d like to say I hate talking about myself, but that would be a lie. I don’t mind in the least. Will it be interesting? Meh.

I grew up in Tweed, Ontario, a small town north of Toronto for all of you wondering where the heck that is. Once the home of Elvis’s ghost and not much else, Tweed is quiet and familiar and that is just fine by me.

HWA member, published independently and traditionally with publications such as UnnervingMagazine, Broadswords and Blasters, DarkFuse Magazine, Deadman’s TomeCwtch Press and Hindered Souls Press. You can also find me over at Deviant Dolls Publications and Underground Book Reviews.

Pandora by Anne Rice Review



Pandora by Anne Rice

Anne Rice, creator of the Vampire Lestat, the Mayfair witches and the amazing worlds they inhabit, now gives us the first in a new series of novels linked together by the fledgling vampire David Talbot, who has set out to become a chronicler of his fellow Undead.

The novel opens in present-day Paris in a crowded café, where David meets Pandora. She is two thousand years old, a Child of the Millennia, the first vampire ever made by the great Marius. David persuades her to tell the story of her life.

Pandora begins, reluctantly at first and then with increasing passion, to recount her mesmerizing tale, which takes us through the ages, from Imperial Rome to eighteenth-century France to twentieth-century Paris and New Orleans. She carries us back to her mortal girlhood in the world of Caesar Augustus, a world chronicled by Ovid and Petronius. This is where Pandora meets and falls in love with the handsome, charismatic, lighthearted, still-mortal Marius. This is the Rome she is forced to flee in fear of assassination by conspirators plotting to take over the city. And we follow her to the exotic port of Antioch, where she is destined to be reunited with Marius, now immortal and haunted by his vampire nature, who will bestow on her the Dark Gift as they set out on the fraught and fantastic adventure of their two turbulent centuries together.

Alex’s Review

Pandora by Anne Rice was written in 1998 and it is the first book in The New Tales of The Vampires series.  This is the first Anne Rice book I have read since 2000, where I read Interview With The Vampire and part of The Vampire Lestat.  I am so glad I have been finding near-mint conditions of her books at library book sales and started adding them to my collection over the last year.  Her writing is on another level of gorgeousness.  She writes with such poise, elegance, and mystique.  And, from what I remember about her previous book(s) I read, Pandora is no exception to the wonders of her writing style.

One of the things I enjoyed so much about Pandora was all the history woven into the story. The story of Pandora’s past begins around 15 BC in the times of the Roman Republic. This story, however, is being told in writing as Pandora (in the “present” time) is writing her story in a letter that she was asked to produce by a younger vampire, David.  In this letter he has asked her to talk about her mortal life and what led up to her change. Pandora tells us of her travels and her weird dreams/nightmares about blood drinkers and whatnot. Like many vampires we know, Pandora is “a morose, despairing immortal who initially wanted immortality but soon regretted her choice and turns into a dark, indifferent cynic.” In this book, we get to learn more about Roman times and religions, about Queen Isis, Osiris, and we get to learn a little more about some other vampires famous in Rice’s world like Akasha and Lestat.  I think I am mostly impressed with Rice’s Roman research and how she found a way to put that into the story and keep me entertained.

Pandora’s story is full of what you would expect from Rice: hope, tragedy, love, death.  I really enjoyed learning about Pandora and Marius and everything that happened between them.

If you are a fan of Anne Rice’s works, this is a no-brainer to pick up and continue your journey.  If you are new to her world or returning after a long absence, then this book is quite nice to pick up and use to reacquaint yourself with her style and the world of vampires she has so wonderfully crafted.  This one gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me and I am ready to add this woman to a list of authors whose complete bibliography I want to read!

About Anne Rice

Photo courtesy of Anne

Anne Rice was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in English and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Anne has spent more of her life in California than in New Orleans, but New Orleans is her true home and provides the back drop for many of her famous novels. The French Quarter provided the setting for her first novel, Interview with the Vampire. And her ante-bellum house in the Garden District was the fictional home of her imaginary Mayfair Witches.

Anne is very active on her Facebook Fan Page and has over one million followers! She answers questions every day on the page, and also posts on a variety of topics, including literature, film, music, politics, religion, and her own writings. She welcomes discussion there on numerous topics.

She is the author of over 30 novels. Her first novel, Interview with the Vampire, was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time. She continued her saga of the Vampire Lestat in a series of books, collectively known as The Vampire Chronicles, which have had both great mainstream and cult followings. Interview with the Vampire was made into a motion picture in 1994, directed by Neil Jordan, and starring Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Kirsten Dunst and Antonio Banderas. Anne’s novel, Feast of All Saints about the free people of color of ante-bellum New Orleans became a Showtime mini series in 2001 and is available now on DVD. The script for the mini series by John Wilder was a faithful adaptation of the novel. Anne Rice is also the author of other novels, including The Witching Hour, Servant of the Bones, Merrick, Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle, Violin, and Cry to Heaven.

Her latest novel, Prince Lestat, is the continuation of the Vampire Chronicles, published on October 27, 2014. With the old queen of the vampires, Akasha, long dead, the Undead are in chaos all over the world. Rice’s fabled Brat Prince, Lestat, is the only immortal known by name to all vampires young and old and many appeal to him to come out of his long exile and bring order as wanton destruction plagues revenants in city after city around the globe. With a return of some of Rice’s most memorable characters, such as the melancholic Louis, the childlike Armand, the twins Maharet and Mekare, the former Talamasca scholar David Talbot, the ancient Romans Pandora and the noble Marius, and even Lestat’s distant mother Gabrielle, the reader will meet many new vampires, all of whom must cooperate in guiding the vampire kinship with technology and ritual toward the path of unity, building a new vampire kingdom in the modern world.


Stories of Horror: Part 2 of The Lady's Maid's Bell

Book stack for the LOHF Podcast announcement

Recap of Part One of The Lady’s Maid’s Bell

Our main character Alice Hartley was in the hospital for typhoid which if you didn’t know is a awful sickness. After her release due to her physical appearance she was having trouble getting work as a ladies maid. During a chance meeting she is offered a position in the country. That is when things take a weird turn. The work is easy and her mistress is accommodating but there is a dark shadow which begins to cloud her days. From seeing a woman that no one knows to footsteps outside her door poor Alice fears that she is losing her grip on reality.

Part 2 is going to cover Chapter three to the end of the story.  If you would like to follow along the story is up on the Project Gutenberg site.

The Lady’s Maid’s Bell

If you would like to reach out to the LOHFpodcast, our email address is or you can tweet me at @Toni_The_Reader We would love to hear about new releases, news in the community, and suggestions for the podcast. You can find out more about the members of the Ladies of Horror Fiction via our website at

The music for this episode is by Nicolas Gasparini at

Monday, December 24, 2018

The "Murder" Recap

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Did you miss our previous post? Check out our “Oh God, Mother!” recap.

MURDER RECAP!  Well, that sounds ominous, doesn’t it? But we have to say, the Ladies really brought their A-game.  Not like we expected anything less, but these books below are some that we especially loved!

Ann Rule is one of the queens of true crime and readswithdogs shared one of her biggest titles, The Stranger Beside Me.  Reading this book will definitely make your skin crawl as well as leave you thirsty for more stories that she has researched and written about!

“Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting.”

Flowers and people can both be described as the following: Dying. Decaying. Rotting.  Shriekingviolets428 gave us The Cellar by Natasha Preston.  And if the book is halfway as haunting as the cover and the quote shared in her Instagram post then consider me sold!

Nothing ever happens in the town of Long Thorpe – that is, until sixteen-year-old Summer Robinson disappears without a trace. No family or police investigation can track her down. Spending months inside the cellar of her kidnapper with several other girls, Summer learns of Colin’s abusive past, and his thoughts of his victims being his family…his perfect, pure flowers. But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out….”

Mother.horror gave us that gold standard of murder delivered by Gillian Flynn in her suspenseful, wild ride of a novel, Gone Girl.  This book is full of twisted minds, deception, and murder-y mayhem!

“On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?”

When our very own book.happy recommends a book and says “there was definitely a lot of murder” then you know it’s the real deal!  She shared with us The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes and it definitely sounds like something we could all add to our TBR and bookshelves!

“The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die Hunts the Killer Who Shouldn’t Exist

The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.

Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.

Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.

At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . .

The Shining Girls is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.”

Gowsy33 upped the ante here with a legitimate bloody axe.  What was it used for?  Who wielded it?  IS EVERYONE OKAY?!  Since we will probably never know the truth here, we can always try and solve a classic “cold case” story instead and pick up The Borden Murders by Sarah Miller.  If you are sneaky enough, you can often catch me singing, “Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done She gave her father forty-one.”

“August 4, 1892: Lizzie Borden calls out frantically for help. When the maid and the neighbors come running, they find Lizzie’s father, Andrew Borden, lying murdered in the sitting room of the Borden home at 92 Second Street in Fall River, Massachusetts. Soon after, the body of Lizzie’s stepmother, Abby, is discovered upstairs.

As the minutes give way to hours, one person rises to the top of the list of suspects: Lizzie herself. But how could a mild-mannered young woman from a prominent family be an axe murderer?

In a compelling narrative, Sarah Miller investigates the chilling crime – from the gruesome details of that fateful August day to Lizzie’s dramatic court battles to the role sensational newspaper headlines played in swaying public opinion. Enhanced by period photos, newspaper clippings, and, yes, even an image of the crime scene, this is middle-grade nonfiction that races like a true-crime novel. Prepare to devour it and to grapple with the same questions a nation asked itself over a century ago: Did Lizzie do it? And if not, who did?”

So much murder and so little time it seems.  What a shame!  Are any of these going to be added to your TBR?  Do you like to know who is murdering everyone from the get-go or do you like to be totally surprised in the end?  Let us know in the comments!  Make sure you come check out the next recap from our Instagram challenge next week where we will showcase some favorite CREATURES!