Posts Tagged ‘Ghosts’

The Suburban Book of the Dead by Jamie Sands

January 23, 2019 - 10:33 pm No Comments

As part of my LGBTQ+ month reading, I have come across a new to me author Jamie Sands. I have just read their 1st novel and have also got an interesting interview with the author themselves At the moment this author’s book is on sale on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Suburban-Book-Dead-Jamie-Sands-ebook/dp/B07HPYFXYV/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1548282456&sr=8-6&keywords=The+Suburban+book+of+the+dead

The Suburban Book of the Dead by Jamie Sands

Published on 26th September 2018

215 pages

The Suburban Book of the Dead is a YA novel with a blend of the paranormal. Rain had a fascination with the visiting carnival, well not the whole carnival, just the operator of the Ferris Wheel. After plotting her move, she decided that the last night of the holidays would be the night that she approached him. Everything was going just how she planned until she heard a blood-curdling scream and her best friend Rachel was killed. Now a ghost Rachel latched on to her best friend, all she wanted Rain to do was to avenge her death. But could Rain accomplish her best friend’s request, learn to grieve and get the boy of her dreams.

It took me a couple of pages to like Rain, as at the start she was just like any other girl, superficial and only thought about herself, however after Rachel died, she seemed to have a purpose and whilst on the surface she came across as cruel and snippy, she was trying to cope with the death. Hooking up with Jake saved her, as without his knowledge she would have joined her friend in the afterlife. Jake was a hunter, imagine a younger version of Dean Winchester, knowing something was not right at the carnival he was working undercover to sort out the supernatural issue.

From the 1st demonic attack, you are drawn into a story that will capture your imagination. With the story revolving around Rain and Jake, you witness the changes in them and whilst Jake learnt to rely on someone else, Rain started to mature the more she learnt about the dangers. The relationship between Rain and Rachel was very close even after death, sometimes comical especially when Rachel would materialise without a word of warning. The scene in the ghost train involving the monster had me imagining a slightly scarier Sully from Monsters Inc and I do wonder sometimes where my imagination goes.

The story was a fast pace as there was always something going on, whether it was a simple exorcism or doing their research in the library. There were twists in the story to help build up the tension for the final battle and I did not expect the final scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this 1st novel and I hope to read more of Rain’s adventures. A YA story that will suit teenager and adults alike.

Want to know more about Jamie Sands, here is their interview

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

My name is Jamie Sands. I’m an almost 40 year old living in Auckland, New Zealand. I’m non-binary, preferring they/them pronouns and I’m recently married to a wonderful woman and I write fiction. I’ve always been a reader, my father used to take me to the local library ever Thursday and I’d get out a stack of books. 

Why horror? What is appeal of the genre to you as both a fan and as a writer?

I guess the appeal for me is the same as why I love to ride roller coasters: the unknown, the thrill, the screams. I get the same exhilaration from reading a really good horror. If it gives me shivers or nightmares then I know it’s done a good job. For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with monsters, so my work is usually paranormal or folkloric in nature, rather than about humans behaving badly.

As LBGTQ+ fan and writer of horror, how did you when you first became immersed in the genre and found that representation that you could identify was few and far between?

It wasn’t a surprise to me, most of the genre I read you really have to search for queer representation. However, I have found that the speculative fiction communities – science fiction, fantasy and horror included, to be full of lovely inclusive and diverse people. It’s improving!

How did you discover authors that wrote about characters that you could relate to? Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?

I’ve discovered authors with queer content through word of mouth and recommendations from other queer people mostly. Outside the horror genre, science fiction and fantasy were big influences on my writing. In particular young adult fiction and urban fantasy. Especially Mercedes Lackey’s urban fantasy which would include bi and gay characters without making it a big thing. Neil Gaiman’s work too.

A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?

I’m hoping that we’ll see a lot more happy endings, people overcoming the odds and banding together with other good people to defeat evil. One of my favourite horror movie series is The Purge sequence, which has a strong anti-authority /eat the rich mentality to it. I love the idea of horror as resistance.

What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?

Roald Dahl’s works definitely had an influence on me, that mixture of whimsy and horror. Holly Black’s Young Adult fantasy, the way she writes fairies is just wonderful. I watch a lot of films so it’s hard to pinpoint any that influence me as a writer, but definitely all Jim Henson’s works on TV and film. There was an old series called The Storyteller that I watched avidly.

In recent years there has been a slow but gradual diversification within the genre, which new LBGTQ+ writers do you think we should be paying attention to?

Emma Osborne has published some gloriously creepy short stories. Jordan Kurella, Marianne Kirby, A. Merc Rustad and Aliette de Bodard are all brilliant. There’s a couple of books coming out soon that I am especially looking forward to reading called The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling and The Outside by Ada Hoffman. There’s a brilliant short story Which Super Little Dead Girl™ Are You? Take Our Quiz and Find Out! by Nino Cipri which just blew my mind. They have new stuff coming out soon too.

How would you describe your writing style?

I used to be purely a pantser – just write as it comes and trust the muse – but lately I’ve been experimenting with plotting and planning and I find I don’t hate it. I do a kind of basic ‘this scene then this scene’ plan and ensure I’m hitting the beats, the right arcs and then write around that.

Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?

I haven’t had too much published yet, but I do love my positive reviews.

What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?

Editing, probably. I love the process, and I love how my mind gets caught up in solving problems, or thinking up twists, but when I have to go back and revise and improve stuff, I just get kind of bored. I’ll still do it, but I have to really force myself to get motivated and not just put it off and focus on the new shiny things.

Are there any subjects that you would never write about?

I’ll never write explicit sexual assault scenes. I just think there’s enough of that in the world already, and I don’t see the point in adding more. I wouldn’t want to either, the idea of writing that squicks me out.

Writing, is not a static process, how have you developed as a writer over the years?

I believe in always learning and improving. Probably the best, biggest development I’ve had was learning how to receive criticism and feedback without taking it personally. I’ve learned how to process and examine my work, and the feedback, critically and improve things without getting hung up on it.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?

Look for the conflict in the scene and then focus on that.

Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you attempted to break through the barriers that are so often in place against LBGTQ+ writers?

Networking with others in the community is key. I also believe in using whatever platform I have to promote other authors, the more we talk about different voices the better.

Many CIS white male authors use LGBTQ+ characters in their works, what’s the mistake that they make when trying to portray these characters?

I don’t think I can generalise that all cis male authors do one thing with queer characters, but the one trope I see perpetually is having just one LGBTQ+ character as a token. Then killing them off before they get to do anything interesting or affect the plot at all.

Moving on to getting your work read by unwashed masses, what do you think is the biggest misconception about LGBTQ+ fiction?

That it’s all some SJW special snowflake stuff, and that it’s a bad thing. This notion of ‘PC gone mad’ is a huge barrier. People seem to think that queer stories will only be about being queer and queer issues. As if we’re just inventing diversity for the sake of it, we’re not. We’re just trying to write about the truths we’ve experienced through fiction.

There are a number of presses dedicated to LGBTQ+ fiction, do you view these as a good thing, or do you think they help to perpetuate the ongoing exclusion from mainstream presses?

I think until the mainstream presses publish minority fiction at the same rate they publish cis white male authors then dedicated presses are needed. If only to get the work out there!

And here is the million dollar question do you agree with movements like this and things such as Women in Horror Month?

I do agree, because without them there’s a whole lot of people who just wouldn’t be exposed to new voices. I know how easy it is to just keep reading Stephen King, because he’s great and he keeps putting stuff out there. I’ve been there. But unless you make an effort to read outside what you know you may never find the best book you’ve ever read. Events which put minority voices and authors in front of readers who may love them are fantastic.

If so how would you like to see sites such as Ginger Nuts of Horror tackle diversity?

Ideally you wouldn’t need to make it an event, because you’d regularly highlight and share output from diverse voices.

The most common phrase you hear when people object to active movements to encourage all forms of diversity is “I don’t care about the sexuality, gender, color etc etc of the writer I only care about good stories” what would you like to say to these people?

I’d say: sure. Good stories are what we’re all after, but if you’re only ever reading say, white straight American male authors all you’re reading is from the same point of view. There’s a whole world out there, and it’s filled with exciting and interesting points of view. Have you read Nalo Hopkinson? Her book Brown Girl in the Ring is an astounding mix of horror, folklore, dystopia and Afro-Jamaican culture. I love Stephen King, but he can’t write that!

To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favorite child, and who is your least favorite to write for and why?

This one’s tough. Probably my favourite child is a kelpie from my first novel. He was so much fun, an utter wreck and a monster. First novel though, so it’s never going to be published. I don’t know that I have a least favorite, because when I write them I get to love them. Even the baddies.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of the ‘end of the rainbow’ story I had published in the Baby Teeth anthology. Maybe something I haven’t published yet is what I’m most proud of though…

For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?

I only have one novel published which is just my own. I also have a couple of short stories in the Baby Teeth horror anthology.

Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?

The Suburban Book of the Dead is a young adult ghost story which also features demons and monster hunters. My lead character’s best friend is killed in the first part of the book and then comes back as a ghost. They have to take down an evil carnival and get revenge, it’s good fun.

I’ve started a series of paranormal mysteries set in New Zealand, lots of creepy stuff and a bad ass lesbian detective lead character. The first book is in the submissions process at the moment.

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?

I really liked the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’m pretty strict on just stopping reading books I’m not enjoying, and then I forget them.

What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?

I’d like someone to ask me to direct a movie. I’d be great at that.  They could say ‘here’s the new blockbuster horror franchise and lots of money, would you please direct it?” and I’d obviously say yes.


Descension: Psychic Surveys Book Five by Shani Struthers

July 7, 2018 - 9:06 pm No Comments

Descension: Psychic Surveys Book Five by Shani Struthers
Published by Authors Reach/Storyland Press on 13 May 2018
332 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Whilst I have read the accompanying novellas to this series I have not read any of the main books. However that is not an issue as each one can be read as standalone.
The calls for help were increasing from the residents of Brookbridge housing estate. Built on the grounds of a renowned mental asylum, an expansion of the estate is planned and the spirits are getting restless. Ruby and the rest of the Psychic Survey team know they need to act, but with an ongoing case taking up Ness and Theo’s time and Ruby’s private life taking her on an emotional journey. Can they save the past.
As the owner of the Psychic Survey company Ruby was very sure of what she was doing. Never one to be ashamed of her gift, her positive attitude makes her good at what she does. However the spirits at Brookbridge are tough and she needs all of her and the team’s efforts to try and get the job done. The team whilst being work colleagues are more like a family and when Ruby need a shoulder to cry on, they were all their for support.
As this book was set partly in a mental asylum, some of the scenes were quite saddening especially the procedures that were once used. Whilst I knew some of what happened in the 19th and early 20th century asylums, it still shocked me the length of time some of the procedures went on for and the reasons people were hospitalised. The scenes were well researched and tackling a subject like mental health needs to be handled with sensitivity and this author achieved that 100%. The tension built up and I found myself reading quicker and quicker to find out what happened. To break up the tension, there are some comedy moments thanks to Jed the Ghost dog, one instance is when he begs for some bacon.
I hope this series can go on and on and I’m off to read the earlier books.

The Frighteners:Why We Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death and Gore by Peter Laws

March 22, 2018 - 6:40 pm No Comments

The Frighteners: Why we Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death and Gore by Peter Laws
Published by Icon Books Ltd on 22nd March 2018
320 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

If you have followed my reviews you know that I have not reviewed any non-fiction. The reason is that I like to take myself off to a fictional world. However when I was asked to read The Frighteners written by ordained Baptist Minister Peter Law, it piqued my interest to see what he wrote.
Every chapter was dedicated to a different horror topic and chapter one is a bio of the author. Whilst reading it I was so pleased that I had found someone else who had the same interests and even had the same type of friends and colleagues. Whilst I do not have a large Hammer House of Horror poster in my office, I collect creepy dolls and have macabre pictures in my lounge and yes my work colleagues think I am weird. Other chapters are Theatre of Blood, Wired for Fright, Hiding the Bodies, Zombies Everywhere, Killer Culture, The Beast Within, Deadtime Stories, The Haunted and Sister.
With each chapter you read, you get to learn more about the author as he always had a personal story to tell. Whether it was meeting George A Romano (so jealous) or touring a funeral parlour, he has done so much for his love of horror. Every chapter was packed with plenty of research, making this book an absorbing read and whilst I read it I learnt a lot about the history of the macabre. Included in the research were interviews with people who are experts in their field. Having all the research enabled him to argue both sides eloquently and he showed how his love of horror strengthen his faith.
Throughout this book I was googling facts as there were so many topics that I wanted to know more about. Living not far from Hull, I was extremely interested in the goings on there and unfortunately I made the mistake of mention the werewolf sightings to my teenagers and now my son wants to go on a werewolf hunt.
Whilst there was a lot of serious discussion, there was also some laugh out loud moments and I can just picture two grown men walking round Hull dragging two peppered steaks, hoping to lure a werewolf.
Finishing this book is a HP Lovecraft quote That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die, which I think sums up this book
This was a great read and whilst I do not read non fiction, I am glad that I have got the chance to read it. Now I’m off to read Purged, his horror novel.

Haunted Ends by Elizabeth Price

February 16, 2018 - 4:24 pm No Comments

Haunted Ends by Elizabeth Price
Published on 4th November 2014
135 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Rocky and Rose produce and star in Dead Inns, a paranormal show. Sam Thomas small in stature transports diamonds for a living. One trip ends in his fatality and its up to Rocky to solve his murder and find his diamonds.
Sam was a great character, in life he knew his limitations but just got on with it. Used to be bullied about his height, he was a bit of a loner. However when he was a ghost, none of that bothered him and whilst he only attached himself to Rocky to solve his murder, a true friendship developed. Rocky came across a bit arrogant at the start especially over his car. Although as the story progressed I grew to like him and even after everything that happened to him his still wanted to solve the case.
The was a quick easy read that you can just pick up and get into. With back stories of other ghosts thrown into the story, tells just how much history the Juniper Hotel had. This had a mixture of fantasy, mystery and comedy all thrown into one and Sam one-liners had me laughing out load. The topic of dwarfism was handled with sensitivity and never once was it mocked. What it did show was some of the issues the condition causes.
As a first book in the series this is a good start and as the rest are on kindle unlimited I will be reading them and to follow more of Sam and Rocky’s ventures.

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files 4) by Lisa Shearin

February 11, 2018 - 7:59 am No Comments

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files 4)
Author: Lisa Shearin
Publisher: DAW
Page count: 292pp
Release date: 31st Jan 2017
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

The fourth in the SPI Files series starts in June, and Agent Mac Fraser has been working with her partner Agent Ian Byrne for about a year now.
SPI, the agency of the title, is a government agency with its HQ in New York, which acts as the supernatural equivalent of of the FBI/CIA etc dealing with supernatural or mythical criminals and crimes whilst protecting innocent supernatural creatures and the general, unaware, human population.
Mac, the narrator, is a seer – she can see through the glamour or ‘face’ used by supernaturals to the face underneath. Now, I know some people say their boss is a dragon – well, in Mac’s case, she’s telling the truth.
So where the varied staff of SPI see boss Vivienne Sagadraco as a petite, glamorous older woman, Mac sees the three storey tall dragon that their boss actually is. Apart from that little fact, she’s a pretty cool boss, assisted ably in her job by centuries old vampire Alain Moreau.
At the start of the last book, due to a ley line incident, Mac (Makenna), was dealing with the shock of an extra skill; the ability to see portals. She couldn’t open or close them like baker Kitty, but she could detect them.
Mac has been dating goblin Rake Danescu for a good few months now, and they are on a date aboard a yacht in the Hudson owned by a notorious vampire gangster (Mac undercover) when the nephew of said gangster is kidnapped. The family name is Bathory – yes, that Bathory.
By fish men – or creatures from the black lagoon. And a tentacle.
Their case gets more interesting and complicated when uncle Bathory’s deposit boxes are stolen from a bank by Ian’s nemesis – the ghoul who killed his NYPD partner five years ago – and more gilled groupies.
From here you have an action-packed adventure as Ian discovers he is linked to a magical weapon, is also kidnapped, and makes some startling discoveries about his heritage.
The whole of SPI and the supernatural community gets involved in finding the missing agent, whilst mythical sea creatures appear to popping up everywhere.
There’s a lot to say about the different plot points and character development here, but – spoilers darling.
So, I’ll simply say what I thought of it.
The Ghoul Vendetta is an emotional, funny, zipping read which delivers on fights, shocks and surprises. Meanwhile, the growing relationship between Mac and Rake gets airtime and is sizzling, without taking centre stage and attention away from the story.
I finished the book really quickly and I’m about to dive eagerly into Myth Manifestation the fifth book in the series, which was released 16th Jan 2018.
5/5