Friday, September 20, 2019

Apex Back Catalog Tour Author Interview - Elizabeth Massie

During the month-long celebration of Apex's back catalog titles, I had the opportunity to read both a short story by Elizabeth Massie as well as a full length novel, both set in the same Appalachian town and both focused on the Mustard family.  So I'm thrilled today to bring you my interview with an author I'll definitely be checking out more from in the future!

So the short story about Granny Mustard appeared in "Appalachian Undead" before "Desper Hollow" was released.  Did you always plan it this way or did Granny and Jenkie just take on a life of their own and demand more?

I hadn't planned on writing a full-fledged novel based on Granny Mustard but once I completed the short story, I realized that Granny and Jenkie did, indeed, need to have their lives fleshed out and their stories told. And oh! They evolved into even wilder characters than I'd first imagined!

I live in WV so personally it's been fun to read "Desper Hollow" and "Appalachian Undead."  I kind of think the area is ideal for zombie tales.  How did this setting become so prominent in your tales?

I live in western Virginia, not too far from the West Virginia border. The Appalachians/the Alleghenies are right there, visible from our home. My family has been in the region since 1746, so the land and the people are a huge part of who I am. Lots of bright, cheery things. And lots of dark, spooky things. I mean, the caves and the hollows and the thickly-forested patches on the mountains can be breeding grounds for all sorts of bizarre people and creatures. The shadows are especially dark there...and we all know what can grow in the shadows. 

I love horror - movies, TV, books.  Is horror something you always enjoyed and if so, how did your love come about (mine came from my father)? Also, what are some of your favorite movies, books and authors?

As a kid I was easily scared, and yet fascinated by scary books, movies, and television. We'd watch Shock Theater on Saturday afternoons. Shock Theater featured the great old Universal Monster films such as Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and more. I watched with a pillow in my lap so I could cover my eyes when I got too frightened. On Friday nights, my family would watch The Twilight Zone (first run). That show could be really scary but also could make me feel great sympathy for many of the characters. I guess, that's the key right there. I came to enjoy horror because it was thrilling but also had the potential to reveal the human condition and help me develop a sense of empathy for others. Neither of my parents liked horror but didn't mind the kids watching Shock Theater, The Twilight Zone, or Outer Limits. They never found out that at ten, I checked out a copy of Psycho from our local library (which was one block from our house) and read it at night. That, I'm sure, they wouldn't have approved of! 

As to favorite movies, books, and authors of mine today... 
Movies: All the old Universal Monster classics (with the exception of Creature From the Black Lagoon...I always found that one to be a snooze.) Also, The Exorcist, Freaks (1932), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Wicker Man (1973), Get Out, and A Quiet Place are top of my list. 
Books: Psycho (Bloch), Innocence (Koontz), The Stand (King), Johnny Got His Gun (Trumbo...not often considered horror, but oh, it is), Death Watch (Mannetti), Rosemary's Baby (Levin), The Stepford Wives (Levin), Harvest Home (Tryon), and more.
Authors: Honestly, there are so many I hesitate to try to make a list!

Do you have any future works coming out you'd like to share?  And when you're not writing, what else keep you busy. 

Right now I'm focusing a lot of time and energy on my Ameri-Scares series of novels for middle grade readers. There are 9 books out so far, and I'm working on number 10 (Montana). Each novel is set in a different state in the Union and is based on an actual folktale, legend, or historic event from that state. Author Mark Rainey has joined me in this venture, with the goal of getting novels written for all 50 states. What's particularly exciting is that Warner Horizon (Warner Brothers) has teamed up with Margot Robbie and her production company, LuckyChap, to develop Ameri-Scares into a television series. I don't know the time frame on these things, but as soon as I know more, I'll be making an announcement  As to fiction for adults, I have horror stories coming out this fall in several anthologies. They include "Terror From the Briny Depths," in Dark Tides (a charity anthology edited by John Questore), "Those Who Would Be Terrified" in Midnight in the Graveyard (Silver Shamrock Publishing, edited by Kenneth Cain), and "It's In the Cards" in Porcupine Boy and Other Stories (Crossroad Press, edited by Christopher Jones.) I hope to get back on my new adult historical horror novel as well - The House at Wyndham Strand and get it finished by early 2020. Thanks for asking!

Finally, my pup Cassius is my co-blogger (well, it used to be him and Booker T but we tragically lost Booker T in early summer).  He would kill me if I didn't ask you if you have any 4-legged family members who assist you with your writing process.

Alas, no. My sweet black kitty, Pammy, died a while back and I've yet to introduce a new cat to our family. I will, though, when the time is right.

I want to thank Elizabeth for taking the time to join us at Booker T's Farm!

Also as a side note, I feel in love with the cover of "Desper Hollow" and have since discovered that Elizabeth's husband, Cortney Skinner, is the illustrator. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Magic Breaks

And just like that, Stormi and I are back with reviews for the 7th Kate Daniels book, "Magic Breaks."  The months are flying and so are the books. I can't believe only 3 left.  However, Anne from Books of My Heart recommended that we really should read "Iron and Magic" between books 9 and 10 so we are planning on working it in as well.  Wish us luck, it centers around Hugh and we both despise him...I mean, REALLY despise him.  Oh well, on to this month's read.  And make sure to go check out Stormi's thoughts @   Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

TITLE: Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7)
AUTHOR: Ilona Andrews
PUBLISHER: Ace Hardcover
PUBLISHING DATE: July 29, 2014

FROM GOODREADS: As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate. 

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear… 

MY THOUGHTS: First things first, where oh where is my precious Grendel?  What's up with that.  No mention of him whatsoever if I recall correctly.  Of course that might be because this book is so jam-packed full of action from start to finish that had he been present, I probably would have worried about him endlessly.

So "Magic Breaks" is kind of a turning point in the series. In fact, it very much feels like the last installment, but the author makes a note in the beginning that it isn't the case.  I'm glad because I'm not quite ready for it to end.  Curran goes out of town on a hunting expedition and no sooner than he leaves, does the Conclave erupt with murder and mayhem.  It's up to Kate to figure out what is going on, protect her people, not get herself killed and oh yea, possible battle her father to the death.

I don't want to give a lot away because I hope that if you haven't read this series yet, Stormi and I have inspired you to give it a go.  But I will say that I even though I had a few minor issues with this one (see above Grendel statement, and oh yea, not a lot of Curran), I am enjoying this series as much now as I did when we started it in January.  Kate really is a wonderful character with plenty of sass to provide some small chuckles even in the grimmest of situations.  And once again, a lot of my favorite side characters are present.  I even managed to like Desandra and never thought that would happen after book #6!

I will say that as I mentioned above, I'm not real happy with Hugh and can't imagine what happens in the next two books which warrants him having his own spin-off book.  However, I will trust my fellow bloggers and at least give "Iron & Magic" a chance.  Bring on book #8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

RATING: 4 PAWS (again, see more Grendel and more Curran comments above).

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Can't Wait Wednesday (228)


Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

So the public has spoken - Cass is now a full-time contributor to Can't Wait Wednesday.  That means each week you'll see two books here. Of course Cass is already lobbying for an increase in salary (at least he works for treats - and bandanas).

FROM GOODREADS: For lovers of the supernatural and the macabre comes this collection of ghostly and chilling stories from legendary mystery writer Agatha Christie. Fantastic psychic visions, specters looming in the shadows, encounters with deities, a man who switches bodies with a cat—be sure to keep the light on whilst reading these tales.
The Last Séance gathers twenty stories, some featuring Christie’s beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, in one haunting compendium that explores all things occult and paranormal, and is an essential omnibus for Christie fans.
WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  I've been wanting to try an Agatha Christie book and I think this is a great place to start. 
SYNOPSIS:  On call at Crater Emergency Animal Hospital, I, Doctor Kallie Collins, receive a curious request from the sheriff’s department. I’m to meet with a detective at a small ranch outside of town.
You see, there’s this dog with a bone he’s not willing to part with.
On scene, the dog tells me the bone is human. Actually, he shows me the location of the body, complete with a human skull, through an animal-communication technique I learned a couple years ago. Now I have to explain how this works to the detective, convincing him I’m not the murderer.
Who knew a simple farm visit would put me in the middle of a murder investigation? Well, I did kinda jump into this mess. I had to. I know what happened. The two four-legged witnesses to the murder told me.
And I’m the only one listening.

WHY CASSIUS CAN'T WAIT:  Hmmm, I'm thinking the vet can hear us dogs talk - what about you? That sounds really cool and although Mom and Dad understand me pretty well, if they could learn how to REALLY communicate with me, we'd be set!  I'd definitely get a snack raise for that!


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

TTT - What I Eat and Drink While Reading

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to ThatArtsyReaderGirl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week we are sharing our favorite things to eat and drink while reading.  I'll be honest and admit I don't really have a go-to choice when reading but I will try to share some favorites.

I am obsessed with these things.  Until last year I could only find them at Easter, but then they got smart and started selling them all year round.  Definitely my favorite snack candy.

I don't drink plain water much so these flavored packets are a lifesaver. Since cutting out almost ALL soda last year, I'm always searching for new flavors.

I love Iced Coffee all year round.

What can I say, sometimes you need something stronger.  Nothing like a Corona with Lime.

Remember when I said I cut out almost ALL soda.  Well, now you know the exception to that rule.

So there you have it, candy and beverages.  It's just too messy to eat a lot of foods when reading.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Apex Back Catalog Tour - Desper Hollow

This month I am teaming up with Apex to help promote some of their back catalog. When I heard about their plan for a month-long event, I reached out to them and am thrilled to be taking part.  

TITLE: Desper Hollow
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Massie
PUBLISHER: Apex Publications

FROM GOODREADS: It begins when mountain matriarch Granny Mustard decides she wants to live forever, but then is killed. Her slow-witted but equally hardheaded granddaughter Jenkie decides to pick up the ball and run with it, taking Granny's unperfected immortality moonshine recipe, a socially-inept friend named Bink, and dreams of fame and fortune to an abandoned trailer up in Desper Hollow. 

But slow-witted can't stand against the terrible power Granny initiated. Jenkie's experiments only worsen the troubles with Granny's original recipe, bringing dead critters and a few stray folks back to a state of hungry, vicious, mindless animation. Now a stash of the living dead is locked up in the back of the trailer, a howling herd that has Jenkie terrified. And Armistead, one of the red-eyed living dead, seems way too alert for comfort. 

Mountain resident Kathy Shaw and Hollywood pitchman Jack Carroll, who is looking for the next hit reality show, find themselves caught up in the growing horror surrounding Desper Hollow. They can't avoid it and must face it head on. So must Armistead, who fights the fog of his ghastly condition to discover the truth of who he really is. 

MY THOUGHTS:  I read this book pretty much in its entirety over Labor Day and it was a perfect way to spend a relaxed afternoon.  One night most of the mining town near Desper Hollow goes up in flames.  Granny Mustard, the moonshine running matriarch of the Mustard clan dies in the fire.  However, what most don't realize is that Granny was working on the key to mortality and may have been "dead" when she died.  Her granddaughter Jenkie wants to continue her plan and in the process, is creating mutated undead critters and people and locking them up in a rundown backwoods trailer.  A Hollywood producer shows up because Jenkie has pitched a rather unique reality show.  But will he make it out alive when people are turning up dead all over the place?

Like I mentioned, this book was just so much fun.  It was pretty much non-stop action and there is quite a wide variety of characters.  The fact that it takes place in the backwoods of Appalachia makes it even more atmospheric and scary.  Jenkie was not a likable character, but even so, I had to admire the fact that she really wanted to prove to her family she was capable of doing important things.  There is also one particular zombie, Armistead, who is different from all the rest and I kept waiting to find out what his purpose was, and when I did, it was a prefect ending.

I also feel like I have to mention this cover.  Apex truly has some wonderful covers out there and this one is no exception.  The cover represents the tale perfectly.

If you like action-packed zombie tales, then definitely give "Desper Hollow" a try.


Also, Apex is offering 25% off everything in the Apex store all month long with discount code SEPTEMBER.  Check them out HERE.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

What's Happening...(09-14-19)

So I'm doing things a tad bit differently this year and will be combining all of my regular weekend posts.  This will enable me to add more content on Fridays and it is just starting to make more sense.  I'll still be linking up with Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post at Caffeinated Reviewer.  Both blogs are awesome so make sure you check them out.  

So remember the cooler Fall temps I bragged about?  Well they ended.  We've had heat indexes of almost 100 all week.  Needless to say, the pup playdate has been put on hold until it is a tad cooler but I hope it can happen in the upcoming week.  And there will be plenty of pics.  Also, Cass will soon be modeling his bandana collection on our Instagram account so make sure you follow us so you can see his excitement!  

We managed to watch "The Dead Don't Die" this week. I think it was an homage to George Romero films and I usually don't like comedy/horror movies but this one was cool.  It had lots of great actors and Bill Murray was awesome.  I also started Season 3 of "13 Reasons Why" and have seven episodes left.  So tell me, did anyone else go to a school where so much drama and so little education took place???  Besides that we've been watching lots of football and working on my #Monsterathon challenge.  I hope to squeeze the new Elton John movie in this weekend too.

Speaking of the Monsterathon, I've now terrorized 2, 252 villagers so I'm inching closer to wiping out my hometown.  Keep cheering me on.  Pretty soon the place will be off the map entirely!  I hope to have finished "YOU" by the time you read this. I had to put it aside to read some blog tour books.  Then I plan on starting "The Imaginary Corpse" and "Time's Convert."  

I actually hauled a few physical books this week.  I had preordered "The Institute" and "Gideon the Ninth" and then one of my favorite authors, Laura Daleo, reached out and sent me a copy of her newest book "The Soul Collector."  

And finally, after not having any review copies for a week or so, a few did come in this week.  "In Cold Chamomile," "Coached to Death," and "Apple Cider Slaying" are both cute cozies.  "Blind Search" is a sequel to one of my most anticipated reads - which I STILL need to get to.  I think "A Sanctuary of Spirits" sounds good and is there any question why I am hauling "What I Lick Before Your Face."  

So all in all a pretty good week.  Hope you guys have had a wonderful week and have lots of fun things planned this coming week!

Friday, September 13, 2019

#Monsterathon Group Read

TITLE: Unnatural Creatures Anthology
AUTHOR: Stories selected by Neil Gaiman
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins

MY THOUGHTS:  So for the Monsterathon, each team had to read a certain short story for this collection.  In addition, you could then terrorize additional villagers by reading the other teams' stories.  One thing I learned - I definitely think I picked the right team.

Team Beast's assignment was "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" by Frank R. Stockton.  Basically a small town is visited one day by a large griffin, who has come to see his likeliness on the church wall.  Everyone in the village is terrified and the Minor Canon is elected to try to reason with the griffin and persuade him to leave.  I don't want to give a lot away but I will say I really felt sorry for the griffin in this tale and in my opinion he was just a very large, very misunderstood creature.  See, told you I picked the right team.

Team Conspiracy had to read the tale included by Gahen Wilson.  It has at title which can't be pronounced , , and everyone has basically called it "The Spot." In this tale, a grumpy all man becomes obsessed with a spot on his breakfast napkin, which sort of in turn becomes obsessed with him.  The spot moves throughout the house and ends up getting very hungry.  The ending was abrupt and I didn't really enjoy it at all.

Finally, Team Haunts read "Come Lady Death" by Peter S. Beagle.  A wealthy lady is throwing a dinner party and decides she want to invite Death because she thinks the individual is completely misunderstood.  She also thinks it will be quite a feat and her popularity will increase if she can get Death to actually arrive.  Turns out Death does in fact show up, but she has an ulterior motive of her own.  Of this three, this was my second favorite and I liked seeing how everything played out.  I knew Death had something in mind when she arrived, but was still somewhat surprised by the outcome.

So there you have it - my rundown. I do think at some point I'll read the rest of the stories in this novel but since I read another short story collection for the Monsterathon, I felt I needed to focus on some other books instead. 

RATING: The Griffin and the Minor Canon - 4 PAWS
                 The Spot - 2 PAWS
                 Come Lady Death - 3 PAWS