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Horrortober Movies and Books – Countdown to Halloween

October – I mean, Horrortober – is my month long Mardi Gras, and I know I’m not alone. As usual, I’ve been saving special books and movies to keep me immersed in all things horror for the 31 days and nights of terror-fueled delight. And I was smart enough this year not to take on any writing projects so I have all the time I need.

First up, the Monster Men got our furry mitts on the newest edition of 31 Days of Terror. It’s a damn fun game where you roll the dice and then consult the book to see what movie you should watch. This is our fourth year playing it on Monster Men and it was pretty funny how we bent the rules to get a good movie for Halloween night. It’s a cool way to discover new movies or revisit ones you may have forgotten. Check it out right below. For my part, I want to see if I can top my Horrortober movie total of 55 this time around. We shall see…

Now, on to my reading list. Here are the books I’ve been smuggling away, saving them for my favorite month. Have you read them? What did you think? I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to be very happy with them.

How far would you go to bring back someone you love?

When Chris’s son dies in a tragic car crash, her world is devastated. The walls of grief close in on Chris’s life until, one day, a small cut on her finger changes everything.

A drop of blood falls from Chris’s hand onto her son’s roadside memorial and, later that night, Chris thinks she sees his ghost outside her window. Only, is it really her son’s ghost, or is it something else—something evil?

Soon Chris is playing a dangerous game with forces beyond her control in a bid to see her son, Trey, alive once again.

Quinn Maybrook and her father have moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs, to find a fresh start. But what they don’t know is that ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. 

On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.

Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now. 

A tale of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

Antarctica. A mining base at the edge of the world.

Anders Nordvelt, last-minute replacement as head of security, has no time to integrate himself into the crew before an act of sabotage threatens the project. He must untangle a complex web of relationships from his position as prime suspect.

Then a body is found in the ice. Systems fail as the long night falls. Now Anders must do more than find a murderer: he must find a way to survive.

Will anyone endure the night shift, or will ice and frozen corpses be all that remains?

Alex: A hardened goth-punk who’s convinced she’s a vampire with a penchant for blood.
Stacia: A seventeen-year-old raised by an alcoholic mother, her fellow captives the only family she’s ever truly had.
Kammie: The youngest of the three—a mute who finds solace in a houseplant.

But does life outside the house offer the freedom they’d envisioned? Or is it too late, the scars too deep?

A coming-of-age tale of revenge and survival that explores a friendship and the desperate measures taken to ensure they stay united, held together by the scars that bind them.

The end of summer, 1986. With only a few days left until the new school year, twins Jeremy and Jack Schaffer are on very different paths. Jeremy is the geek, playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends Kathleen and Randy, while Jack is the jock, getting into trouble with his buddies.

And then everything changes when neighbor Mister Higgins is killed by a wild animal in his yard. Was it a bear? There’s something big lurking in the woods behind their New Jersey home.

Will the police be able to solve the murder before more Middletown residents are ripped apart?

Women in Horror Month – 10 New Queens of Horror

Did you know there are other horror writers of the stronger and fairer sex than Anne Rice, V.C Andrews and Shirley Jackson? Two of the three have long since stepped off this mortal coil, yet they seem to garner the most attention, even on a special month like this.

Stephen King may be the king of horror, but every king needs a queen.

For those who don’t wade too deep into the genre pool, I have something to tell you. There are more brilliant women penning horror fiction than ever. In fact, there are so many, we may not see a need for WIHM in the near future because every month will be a celebration for all those who write scary stories.

My job today is to list some of the best and brightest horror scribes working today, along with a new and rising star. Please click the links with their names to explore their incredible worlds. You’ll thank me later.

I’m going to kick things off with one of my personal favorites. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of J.H. Moncrieff. I simply love her books and as amazing as she is as a writer, she’s an even better human being. We’ve had her on our Monster Men podcast a couple of times so she could talk about her exploration of haunted Poveglia Islandand a trip to Dracula’s castle and Romania’s haunted forest. I’ve read and adored every one of her books. Her latest, Those Who Came Before, published by Flame Tree Press (yep, we’re joined at the hip), is a must read.

 

Those who came before

Hopping over to the other side of the pond is another Flame Tree Press rock star, Catherine Cavendish. If you love ghost stories with a gothic yet modern flare, you are in for a treat. She has a formidable library of books to explore, so shine up your glasses and fluff up your comfy reading chair.

I first came to know Somer Canon when I read Vicky Beautiful a few years ago. Call me hooked! Follow her on Instagram and she’ll make you envious of the cocktails she’s mixing up. Read her books and sip her beverages and you’ll be in reader heaven.

I’d been hearing a lot of chatter online about this debut author and her compelling book. To honor WIHM, I purchased Whispers in the Dark by Laurel Hightower. Damn, this is one addictive read. I’m halfway through and hooked like a hungry trout. I expect many, many more good books to come.

whispers in the dark

I would be remiss if I neglected to add the always cool, Kelli Owen. If you’re not reading Kelli,  you’re doing yourself a disservice. And you’ll fail my horror 101 class (you know, when I teach it some day). As my buddy and reviewer Shane Keene would say, you best unfuck yourself and read her stuff, pronto.

In my mind, I can’t talk about Kelli without automatically going to Mary Sangiovanni. What I remember most about Mary is the time at Horrorfind many moons ago when she was so kind to my little girls who were a little overwhelmed by the crazies who attend horror cons. Such a sweet person, with a very disturbing imagination! A perfect combo.

One of my favorite coming of age horror books was penned by Pamela Morris. Talk about someone who deserves to stand up and get noticed. She’s a little shy, so I need you to read her books and do some shouting out for her!

witches backbone

Talk about buzz, whenever Ania Ahlborn puts out a new book, the bees starting going cray-cray. She has a legion of followers for a damn good reason. Best part is, you can find her books in just about any bookstore (if they still exist by you).

K.S. Merbeth is a writing road warrior. At least her books make you feel like you’re living in the barren, ugly world of Mad Max. I devoured Bite and Raid and I’m ready for more!

Rounding out our top ten list in no order whatsoever is Kritin Dearborn. Man do I dig her books…and her killer bats tattoo! I still plan to copy it some day. Everything she’s written has been aces. Discover her for yourself.

sacrifice island

 

On Dracula’s Castle and Pet Sematary

What’s shakin’ Hellions? Remember the old Marvel Two-In-One comics where The Thing was paired each month with a new superhero? Well, I may not have scrapped against the Yancy Street Gang, but I can present a horror two-in-one.

The Thing

First up on Monster Men, author J.H. Moncrieff takes us on a tour of Dracula’s Castle and the Haunted Forest of Romania. I am green with envy. Or is it pea soup?

 

Next, the Final Guys travel up to Maine to see if we can reunite with our beloved pets of the past. Does the new Pet Sematary rise above the original? Church still smells bad.

Book Recommendation : RETURN TO DYATLOV PASS by J.H. Moncrieff

If you’re looking for one hell of a read that is grounded in a real life mystery, J.H. Moncrieff’s lates, RETURN TO DYATLOV PASS is a can’t miss. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek so I could provide a blurb. It’s a creepy tale filled with enough facts to make you wonder as an icy finger trails down your spine. I highly suggest you also read up on the real Dyatlov Pass incident, then go watch the horror movie, The Devil’s Pass. Fully immerse yourself in one of the strangest mysteries of the 20th century.

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About the book:

In 1959, nine Russian students set off on a skiing expedition in the Ural Mountains. Their mutilated bodies were discovered weeks later. Their bizarre and unexplained deaths are one of the most enduring true mysteries of our time.

Nearly sixty years later, podcast host Nat McPherson ventures into the same mountains with her team, determined to finally solve the mystery of the Dyatlov Pass incident. Her plans are thwarted on the first night, when two trackers from her group are brutally slaughtered. 

The team’s guide, a superstitious man from a neighboring village, blames the killings on yetis, but no one believes him. As members of Nat’s team die one by one, she must figure out if there’s a murderer in their midst—or something even worse—before history repeats itself and her group becomes another casualty of the infamous Dead Mountain.

Available in ebook and trade paperback.

CLICK HERE TO BUY RETURN TO DYATLOV PASS! 

 

A Dinosaur Adventure : MONSTERS IN THE CLOUDS by Russell James

I have a special treat this week. Russell James is one of the best horror writers around, and he’s joined the Severed Press family, penning some incredible adventure novels. His latest, MONSTERS IN THE CLOUDS, is chock full o’ dinosaur madness. Russell explains why we can’t get enough dinosaur fiction. Take it away buddy!


Dinosaurs. Who doesn’t love them?

It seems that every kid goes through a dinosaur phase. Not singing along with Barney, that purple monstrosity, but a fascination with the actual creatures that ruled the Earth a few hundred million years ago.

My obsession started when I was about eight years old. (I’ll let you know when it ends.) I drained the library of dinosaur books. I had the coolest 3D Viewmaster reels of dinosaurs locked in mortal combat. I watched the original King Kong movie a hundred times and always rooted for the T-Rex to beat the ape. A high point of that time was when my parents took me in to the American Museum of Natural History to see ACTUAL fossils. Coolest. Thing. Ever.

So after my novel Cavern of the Damned released, I needed a new adventure for the main character, Grant Coleman. Why not let him do what I’d always wanted to do, see real life dinosaurs? So I put him on a plane and sent him to Brazil, a beautiful country I’d visited twice.

dino1

Grant gets to encounter an Ankylosaurus, a C list dino compared to the stars of Jurassic Park. I always loved this creature. Broad and squat, it had armor like an Abrams battle tank across its back and head. But that passive defense wasn’t enough, so it had a big bony club at the end of its tail. So while a predator futilely chomped at its back, it could knock the assailant unconscious with its tail. It was an herbivore, which isn’t that scary, so I switched it to carnivore and blamed evolution.

dino2

The isolated butte they explore also has pterosaurs, winged lizards with long, pointed heads. These were carnivores. A lot about this creature remains conjecture. Did it have feathers? Did it fly or glide? Did it walk or climb? I read all the research I could find and made them as terrifying as I could.

There are some other creatures they encounter, but I don’t want to spoil any surprises by detailing them here. But they are all based on real animals, and that fact may be scarier than any fiction I’ve spun.

So if you’re up for an adventure and a battle with untamed dinosaurs, Monsters in the Clouds will be just what you need. And it’s safe for family reading, no language, no sex, and monster-movie-type violence. I just realized I think that people being eaten by dinosaurs constitutes “family reading.” I may have issues.

monster

Book blurb:

Paleontologist Grant Coleman and activist Janaina Silva are recruited by Thana Katsoros for a top secret expedition, one in search of a live Apatosaurus on a plateau deep in the Amazonian rain forest.

But their plane crashes short of their destination, and the entire group faces a terrifying fight for survival. This isolated area hosts unknown animals more fearsome than they’d expected, including giant ants and flesh-eating pterosaurs.

Even worse, Katsoros’ agenda has more to it than meets the eye, and Grant soon fears that it doesn’t include all of them getting back alive. Will any expedition members survive to be rescued, or will they be devoured by the creatures indigenous peoples call the monsters in the clouds?

BUY THE BOOK HERE

Bio:

russell

Russell R. James was raised on Long Island, New York and spent too much time watching Chiller, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and Dark Shadows, despite his parents’ warnings. Bookshelves full of Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe didn’t make things better. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida.

After a tour flying helicopters with the U.S. Army, he now spins twisted tales best read in daylight. He has written the paranormal thrillers “Dark Inspiration”, “Sacrifice”, “Black Magic”, “Dark Vengeance”, “Dreamwalker”, and “Q Island”, the collections “Tales from Beyond”, “Deeper into Darkness”, “Outer Rim”, and “Forever Out of Time”.

His wife reads what he writes, rolls her eyes, and says “There is something seriously wrong with you.”

Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.

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