Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fright Fest + Catacombs

Another FEARnet find, Catacombs stars Shannyn Sossaman and Alecia "Pink" Moore. Set in Paris, a girl that's wound up rather tightly goes and visits her sister currently living in Paris who just wants to help her unwind a little. It's there the girl finds out about the catacombs under the city used to house millions of plague victims who just couldn't fit anywhere else. And what better way to use a mass grave than to have a rave? Of course!

While the lead-up is a little on the lame side, I really liked the premise and the overall execution of the plot. Very short on gore and heavy on dark corners and rustling shadows, Catacombs plays more to the psychology of horror, and what one person can do when pushed too far. Of course it's not the best horror movie in existence but the lack of gore certainly elevates it for me. It definitely tended to drag at parts while the girl was down in the tunnels, to the point of where it overplayed the tension and even counteracted it, but I still liked it far more than what I thought I would.

For an off beat horror movie, it's pretty good.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Strangers Outside by Vanessa Morgan

First a note on Book Wars - the winner last week was, hands down, Demon in My View. Total landslide. With that being said, I'm currently suspending Book Wars due to lack of participation. I appreciated all of the feedback I got with the survey I did however long ago but I'm just not seeing that kind of participation translating to the actual feature. So thank you to those who did vote but for now, it's not something I'm going to carry on. Maybe in the future.

Published September 6, 2010.

Two sisters, Jennifer and Louise, return to their remote holiday cabin after a day at the seaside. But little do they know they're being surrounded. Shortly after their arrival, the girls willcome face to face with THE STRANGERS OUTSIDE. When the assailants make their intentions known, things take a shockingly terrible turn and an intense battle for survival will begin. (from

First and foremost, this is a self-published book. The only reason I decided to give it a chance is because the premise sounded halfway decent and it's super short. Twenty-four pages. Yeah, I can sacrifice for that. I've read longer in my writing classes so why not? But don't expect this to be a trend. This was a special exception to my rule.

While it wasn't horrible, it wasn't all that great either. The writing is, for the most part, awkward, the pacing is erratic, the characters aren't very likable and the climax comes way too quickly. The explanation for the strangers outside is very rushed and just dumped on the reader the last few paragraphs of the story. It just didn't work for me.

The start up is way too slow and I just couldn't care much for either sister right from the beginning. Both of them had very negative outlooks on life and while there's an explanation for one, it still didn't endear me to the character, even in hindsight. I mean, the younger didn't know how to look for a phone number. Really? Guess what? You're getting pushed out the door and fed to the strangers. When the deaths started happening, I was cheering a little.

Just overall the story didn't work for me, as a story in and of itself and as a horror short. I didn't feel any tension, I couldn't feel the characters' emotions and the resolution was just so far out there that it didn't fit. I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to accept it. This one certainly needs a good critique group of solid horror writers. As much as I love to read it, I've all but given up trying to write it because I'm not any good at it so unfortunately I can't offer tips. Horror is exceptionally hard to write. The pacing has to be perfect, the emotions have to be real and the characters need to connect. I just think this story fell far short of all of that.

On the plus side, I am reading her novella, Drowned Sorrow, and it's working out much better. While I still have some of the same issues with the characters and writing, I'm finding the story itself more compelling but we'll see how the ending goes. That can make or break all of it. Look out for that review soon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some Winners, Some Zombies and an eBook

First the winners -

The winner of How to Be a Zombie by Serena Valentino - insertbooktitle!

Some of people's entries?
I would rather be a Pirate. I just think eating people (me) is nasty!

Gotta go with Voodoo Zombie on this one. Why? HMM...being buried alive would suck but atleast I'd have the reanimated thing to look forward to and maybe just maybe a Harry Dresden type sorcerer to hang out with. But that kinda makes the Party zombie sound pretty good. Excellent one I've seen so far this month.

I'd for sure be a Zombster! No one says a zombie has to dress so yucky!

I would be a Classic zombie. You can't beat a classic; and these zombies have one advantage, people aren't afraid of them anymore. If they're not afraid I can totally eat their brains or turn them.

The winners of my Bites Hearts Halloween Contest -
  • First Place - Steph from Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
  • Second Place - Jennifer (Book Noise)
  • Swag Winners - Lauren, Ming Ming, Julie @ Knitting & Sundries, Jennelle S (sablelexi)
And some excellent poetry -
I am Saint Sinner.
I have flown with Angels
to see Man triumph;
I have trod with Demons
to see Man fall.

I have shouted the truth,
And I have whispered lies.
I have given hope,
And I have taken it away.

I am your dream;
I am your nightmare.
Your hope and your ruin
Irrevocably entwined.

I’ve reached for the light,
And I’ve fallen to the shadows.
Both Hope and Despair are my
Constant companions.

I am Saint;
I am Sinner.
Neither black, nor white;
Rather a shade of gray.

Too pure for Hell,
Too tainted for Heaven.
I wander this realm to see
What way the scales will fall.


The world has wilted
My bloodied feet walk alone
Longing to wilt too


I never took to looking outside my window
After dark
After that night
After what happened
To you
It may seem silly
I fear every slight
Unassuming noise
Wind scares me now
The brittle rustle of
Dead leaves swaying
You think I fear what is outside that window
But it is my reflection I avoid
The soft image of my face
My blank eyes
Looking as if someone stole my soul
And if I were to bring my lips to the cool glass
No breath would leave its hazy mark


Dead hands rising
from the ground
Rising slowly
without a sound
Dead hands reaching
through the gate
We all saw them
just a bit too late
Dead bodies being
put underground
We'll join the chorus
and bring more down


He wants to suck your blood
She prefers to eat your brain
A paranormal buffet
All of you have been emailed and I know I've received some back already. A huge thanks to everyone who put in the effort to enter and congratulations to the winners! I'm a little behind on my mailings thanks to my move but I hope to be able to get to a post office this Saturday. Don't worry! I haven't forgotten you!

Now, if you're local to Connecticut, then you'll want to know about the Halloween even going on at the Mark Twain House this Saturday, October 30th.
From 2 to 4 pm you can attend the Steampunk Tea with Miss Kitty and then starting at 4 it's Mark Twain and the Army of Darkness! Three authors have given Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and Jim a zombie makeover. Plus you'll get to see a sneak preview of a movie being shot in Connecticut - Ninja Zombies! What a combination. So if you can make it, maybe I'll see you there. Check out the Mark Twain House website for more information.

And last but not least, Bree Despain's novel The Dark Divine is now available for $2.99 in eBook format until November 22nd as a promotion for her upcoming second novel, The Lost Saint.

If you haven't read it yet, now would be the perfect time. So grab it cheaply while you can!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wanted Undead or Alive: Vampire Hunters and Other Kick-Ass Enemies of Evil by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman + Contest!

Published September, 2010.

These days you can't swing an undead lycanthrope without hitting a Minion of Evil. They're everywhere - TV, film, the basement . . . right behind you! It's never been more important to know what you can do to keep them at bay.

From today's foremost experts on nightmares come to life, this indispensable guide identifies and described mankind's enemies - supernatural beasts, ghosts, vampires, serial killers, etc. - and unearths effective, time-proven responses to each horrific threat.
  • Separate fact from fiction, the deadly from the merely creepy.
  • Learn when to stand your ground and when to run screaming for your life.
  • Determine which monster-specific heroes to call and their likelihood of success.
Whether we're talking ancient vampire hunters or modern-day FBI profilers, it's good to know someone's got your back in the eternal struggle between Good and Evil. And this book, with over fifty illustrations as well as commentary from luminaries like filmmaker John Carpenter, author Peter Straub, and the legendary Stan Lee, provides all the information and reassurance you need to sleep soundly at night. Just not too soundly. (book back blurb)

What a thoroughly amazing book. From the definition of evil to its incarnates and how to fight it in its various forms, Wanted Undead or Alive has it all, with pictures to spare. It's a textbook on fighting evil without the boring text. From Dracula to Ted Bundy, Maberry and Bashman don't leave any stone unturned when it comes to seeking out evil and unearthing the heroes that smite them.

And don't think we're limited to your standard film and literature fare. Oh no. Take that huge section on comics for example. Not only do you get a timeline of great comic heroes, but you get to see the trials and tribulations the arena went through in trying to bring those masters, and monsters, to life. See, things got too real for people in the comic world and the Senate, yes, the Senate, initiated the Comic Code of Authority which is, in fact, still in force today although not strictly adhered to anymore. Go ahead and read the restrictions that comic artists and authors had when it came to developing and writing their comics -
As a result of the 1950s Senate hearings and protests from vocal but deeply misinformed critics, comic book publishers were bullied into censoring their own content. The Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) was established and instituted the Comics Code Authority (CCA). In a stunning move to ignore the First Amendment, the Comics Code seal of approval would only be given to a new wave of sanitized comics. Here's what the code specified:
  • Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
  • If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  • Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position that creates a desire for emulation.
  • In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  • Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gunplay, physical agony, gory, and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
  • No comic magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title.
  • All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
  • All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  • Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly, not so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.
  • Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism, and werewolfism are prohibited.
  • Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols that have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
  • Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
  • Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
  • Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
  • Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
  • Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
  • Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.
  • Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product, clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals. (295-296)
So you think authors of today have it bad? Try having to write within those confines. Comic book artists and authors of yore were the heroes fighting the evil of misinformation, lack of education and just a sheer lack of intelligence. Of course, it wasn't too long before the comics started fighting back, starting with Stan Lee and Marvel. They pretty much said 'stick my fist' to the code and the rest started to follow. Eventually.

So whether those evils are the ignorant masses trying to stifle the First Amendment, some ghoul trying to eat your face or your run-of-the-mill serial killer trying to do the same, Maberry and Bashman have a hero (or antihero) to counter those guys. The amount of research gone into formulating this novel is amazing. From film and literature greats to FBI profilers and artists that let their artwork speak for themselves, everyone has a different take on what's evil and what's needed to fight that evil.

While the monsters under the bed and creeps on the pages and screens may give you nightmares, I don't think there's anything more truly terrifying than the last portion of this book detailing real life evil in the likes of notable serial killers. Some of the details are rather graphic and I'd recommend not reading that particular part while eating. I made that mistake and, well, let's just say I lost my appetite.

If you're a writer, you'll definitely want this mini-encyclopedia in your collection for GvE reference. It will certainly broaden your scope to avenues that you probably wouldn't think of. The unconventional along with the conventional is highlighted between these blood red pages and you'll get sucked right in. Hopefully you'll be able to get back out again. If you're thrifty enough and take note of the tips doled out in these pages, you'll be sure to walk away from this sight relatively unscathed. Relatively.

Contest Time!!!

Want to win a copy? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. The question must be answered in order to qualify. Entry gives me permission to post your answers on this website. Contest ends November 1st at midnight EST.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Added to the Pile + 54

Just the one book this week. I don't think my pile can handle any more. Plus I've been trying to get this one for a while so I guess you could consider it part of my backlog. Thanks Simon & Schuster!

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human. (from

Things I've Learned from Books + 74

Monsters come in all shapes, sizes and ilks. They can be human or inhuman, immortal or just a huge pain in the ass to kill. Multiple weapons are usually required for each creature, let alone all of them. You just can't carry that much crap on your back. At the end of it, you pretty much have to be this dude to kill them all. Sorry.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 83

Depeche Mode!!!

Emo before there was emo, with a big heaping splash of synthesizers, Depeche Mode was the poster child for the offbeat 80s music. They weren't hair metal, they weren't bubble gum pop or punk. Up there with the likes of New Order, Depeche Mode touched the hearts of black-wearing, eyeliner toting teenagers everywhere. But don't forget the mainstream. Synths were it in the 80s so Depeche Mode was riding two waves at once. And winning.

Freaky Friday :|: 83

Title: Black Dawn, Night World #8
Author: LJ Smith
Published: October 1997
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pages: 227
First he put her in a dungeon. Then he realized they were soulmates. Now he wants to make her a vampire princess. Maggie Neely is a short, spunky sixteen-year-old with auburn hair and an iron will. When her brother turns up missing, she’s determined to find him. But she never suspects that the trail will lead her into the most secret heart of the Night World, a kingdom where no outsider has stepped in five hundred years.

The kingdom is ruled by the young vampire prince Delos…who keeps all humans as slaves. When Delos falls in love with Maggie, he frees her and demands that she join him in his life of dark pleasure. He’s handsome, he’s romantic Maggie can hardly resist him. But did he kill Maggie’s brother? And who are the strange people searching the kingdom for a Wild Power? Maggie won’t give up until she learns the truth even if it means destroying Delos and his secret land. If he doesn’t destroy her first… (from
The premise actually sounds really interesting and Delos sounds like an awesome villain. The world looks like it'd be incredibly creepy too. But for the love of god can we cut it with the soulmates shit? It's old. Well, it wasn't old when these books first came out but even then, it's one right after the other with this stuff.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vampires: The Occult Truth by Konstantinos + Contest!

Published 2010.

The facts are stranger than anything you may have read, heard, or imagined before now! Vampires. They really exist, and this book rips away the myth to expose their habits and lifestyles. Vampires: The Occult Truth divulges actual first-person encounters with vampires of all types - the ancient undead of folklore, contemporary mortal blood drinkers, and the most dangerous creatures of all: psychic vampires, who intentionally drain the life force from their victims.

In Vampires, you'll find many never-before-published case histories of recent contacts with vampires and their victims, including those encountered in the flesh by the author himself. You'll read letters from modern vampires that tell of their hidden lives. You'll even learn a failsafe way to protect yourself from a psychic vampire attack.

Vampires: fact or fiction? Uncover the chilling truth about the legend that refuses to die. (book back blurb)

I went into this book thinking it was going to be another campy vampire book that while it had genuine vampire tidbits in it, was told like the rest of the books of its ilk. Thankfully I was wrong although I have to say that while it was refreshing getting away from the camp, Konstantinos was, at times, a little dry in the execution of his point and it was sometimes hard for me to get through. But those spots are pretty few and far between.

What I liked most about the author was that while he takes his subject of vampires very seriously, he doesn't force that on the reader. Throughout he's very insistent that you take what you will from what he tells you, draw your own conclusions and hear the stories with some grains of salt added in. He presents his theories concisely and without pretense and he doesn't force his own conclusions on you but encourages you to come to your own. I liked that.

With that being said, this isn't a book for the girlies looking for more vampire giggles. This is actually a pretty serious reference book for people looking for genuine vampire information not ripped from movies, TV or literature. While Konstantinos does reference those characters, he quickly brushes them away for being far too removed from the "actual" vampires of history. Those vampires are reanimated corpses, ghouls, demons, or thought to be. They're steeped in lore and exist more in the fear of the villages they spawn from than in the air itself. These are not creatures to woo by.

Now I have to say I am a believer of psychic vampires. I have a feeling one of my friends may be one without even realizing it. I'm always so drained when I'm done hanging out with her. If you've ever known someone to be like that, completely draining, chances are they're psychic vampires and they probably don't know it. As for "real" blood drinkers, I'm a little less convinced of those people. The letters that were included in the book just seemed pretty patchwork from movies and TV and whatever else they could grab from. I just think these people are so psychologically invested in the idea that they need blood that they've actually convinced themselves they need it. I'm sure they'd say otherwise but I'd like to see them sit with a psychologist. Not because I think they're crazy but because I think their need is more psychological than physical.

Ultimately this is a pretty good reference book to use if you're looking for some good, genuine vampire lore. You will get accurate depictions of vampires from folklore without all of that Hollywood taint. And if you're looking for genuinely terrifying vampires, you'll need that.

Contest time!

Want my copy? Just fill out the form below for your chance to win. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. The question must be answered in order for your entry to qualify. Answering the question gives me permission to post your answers on my website. Contest ends October 28th at midnight, EST.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Wars + 40

We got pittance for votes last week. But those who did favored All Hallows Eve over the failsafe Scary Stories. This week it's all about the legends of writing horror. FIGHT!

It was only an accident -- but it would change their lives forever. Last summer, four terrified friends made a desperate pact to conceal a shocking secret. But some secrets don't stay buried, and someone has learned the truth. Someone bent on revenge. This summer, the horror is only beginning.... (from


Jessica isn't your average teenager. Though nobody at her high school knows it, she's a published author. Her vampire novel Tiger, Tiger has just come out under the pen name Ash Night. Jessica often wishes she felt as comfortable with her classmates as she does among the vampires and witches of her fiction. She has always been treated as an outsider at Ramsa High.

But two new students have just arrived in Ramsa, and both want Jessica's attention. She has no patience with overly friendly Caryn, but she's instantly drawn to handsome Alex, a cocky, mysterious boy who seems surprisingly familiar. If she didn't know better, she'd think Aubrey, the alluring villain from Tiger, Tiger had just sprung to life. That's impossible, of course; Aubrey is a figment of her imagination. Or is he?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fright Fest + Wicked Little Things

This is another one of my FEARnet finds and I thought it was pretty good. It's a combination of a zombie movie and a ghost story movie all rolled into one. It's not your standard zombie apocalypse type of movie and these are not your mindless, run-of-the-mill zombies. They're zombies with a vengeance.

Back in the day children were used in mines in this rural Pennsylvania town. As if that wasn't bad enough, the guy that owned the mines was a total douche and decided to blow the tunnels with the children still in them. Nice, huh? Yeah, well, the kids didn't think so either. Nearly a hundred years later stories haunt the local town about zombie children that come out at night to eat the flesh of the living. But they're more goal-oriented than that. They want revenge. They want the blood of the guy that buried them alive. And they just may get it in a relative down the channel.

Wicked Little Things has the ambiance of a ghostly movie and the relative grossness of a zombie movie. It's not over the top and it's more about mood and scares than the gore factor which is a giant plus in my book. For a different type of zombie movie, one that might actually scare you, Wicked Little Things might just be the one to do it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bites Heart Halloween Contest!

Okay, so while not nearly as epic as last year's, it's what I can muster with the limited funds I have. So here's what's up for grabs.

The first place winner gets to choose between the following -

A copy of Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Or $25 to spend at one of my favorite perfumers -

While her shop is closed until November 1st, she will re-open and you'll be able to see all the glorious things she has in there. Plus her Halloween line (which is awesome) will be available for two extra weeks because of the closure. I own nearly all of her scents so if you want recommendations, just yell.

The second place winner will receive whichever of the above is left. And then I have some signed We Hear the Dead swag for four other winners!

So what do you have to do to enter? Well, aside from filling out the form below, you are required to write a scary poem. I'm not looking for Shakespeare here. It can be a haiku, something with a rhyme scheme or prose-style. It can be about zombies, vampires, ghosts, demons, or whatever eerie thing you can think of. That's it! Any questions, just ask.

Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. A poem must be entered in order to qualify. Entry into this contest is giving me permission to post your poem on this website. Contest ends October 25th at midnight, EST.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to be a Zombie by Serena Valentino + Contest!

Published 2010.

This fantastically freaky look inside the fearsome world of zombies takes you, the newly undead, from first bite to fun-filled afterlife with hands-on hints covering:

Fitting in at home, work, and school as a zombie.

Dressing like a hideous undead creature.

Brains - do you have to eat them?

Get bitten.

Get gory.

Get your zombie on. (book back blurb)

First, let me just say the romanticizing of zombies really cranks my grinder. They're zombies. Undead, rotting corpses. What can possibly be appealing about that? But putting that aside, this was a pretty cute book. Very nicely put together, I loved the visuals that came with all of the tips. My favorites were the musical selections.

I liked how the book outlined each different type of zombie gathered from various sources and stuck to the confines of each zombie; meaning those rage virus zombies didn't have much of a chance for a romantic life since they're pretty much bat shit insane and would rip apart any significant other they came across. As much humor that was throughout the book, there is legitimate lore littered throughout which is a nice break from it all. It helps ground out the extreme that the book is taking zombiism to.

I loved all of the pictures and fonts that went along with all of the text. It complimented the entire feel of the book nicely. A mixture of digitally edited photographs and drawings, they're both heinously creepy and when need be funny at the same time. It was a nice juxtaposition throughout the book. Yes, it's pretty much making fun of romanticized zombies and banking on the extreme that people are taking it to but at the same time it's showcasing just how icky these things really are.

It gives excellent selections for zombie-related music and classic zombie movie choices. You can't really beat that. There's even a quirky comic and a couple of zombie quizzes you can take to see where you rank in the greater zombie-verse. The voice is poignant and portrays what it's trying to say as clearly as possible, with just a little sarcasm. It's definitely catering to a specific audience but at the same time those that are a little more leery of the romanticized zombie can get a kick out of what Valentino is saying.

It's quirky, funny and, yes, cute. There's just no other word for it. I love the make-up of some of the chicks in the photos and I can use other creeptastic photos for excellent triggers for writing. Can't beat that. This book certainly doesn't take itself seriously but it hits upon pretty realistic points concerning zombies that you might not have thought of otherwise. So if you want a good kick out of the zombie world, this book's a good one to do it. It's a quick read that'll have you laughing at points and taking notes at others.

Contest Time!!!

Want my copy of How to be a Zombie? Then just fill out the form below for your chance to win! Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. The designated question must be answered for the entrant to qualify. Entrance into the contest also grants me permission to post your answer on this website. Contest ends October 24th at midnight, EST.

Things I've Learned from Books + 73

Zombies can be just like us! They can be stylish and smart and have cognitive thought processes. Sure, they may smell a little but any well-deserving zombie can re-acclimate into normal society with the right amount of help. *disgruntled sigh*

Saturday, October 16, 2010

80s Awesomeness! ~ 82

Oh yeah. Bartles and James. We're talking the high class type of wine coolers here. You know you've at least tried it. Snuck it from your parents while they weren't looking. Took it to a high school party. Still may or may not drink it. But it wasn't the 80s without alcoholic Kool Aid.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 82

Title: Huntress, Night World #7
Author: LJ Smith
Published: July 1997
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
Pages: 226
Jez Redfern is unique. She's a vampire hunter...who's half vampire. Raised in the Redfern family, the girl with fiery hair and silvery-blue eyes was the undisputed leader of a gang of vampire raiders. Then came the discovery that shattered her life - her mother was a human. Now, Jez hunts her former friends, protecting humans from the Night World.

But when Circle Daybreak sends her on a search for one of the legendary Wild Powers, Jez has to rejoin her old gang. They want her back — especially Morgead, the gorgeous green-eyed vampire who used to be her second-in-command. Jez wants to stay faithful to Hugh Davis, the human she loves. But Morgead swears he's her soulmate and he'll do anything to lure her back to the old ways. With danger and temptation around, Jez finds herself irresistibly drawn to him. And she's afraid that if she tastes blood again, she'll become the evil huntress she once was... (from
What's with all of the soulmate stuff? Smith's work seems to be riddled with it. Regardless of plot, I don't know if I can take this much soulmatey-ness.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winners, a Search a YA App!

First, the winners of the signed copies of Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran -

Asenath and Jennelle S.!!!

Congratulations! I've already emailed you both. And a big thanks to everyone who entered!

Now, the search.


You have 48 hours to get back to me with your mailing address before I choose a new winner! So hurry up and get that to me!

Now, Teen Fire has released a new iPhone/iPod Touch app for one of their upcoming book releases!

A modern retelling of Dracula, iDrakula by Bekka Black is told in email, text message and voicemail format. And you can download the app for it and read it for yourself! Teen Fire is also giving away 5 codes to download the entire app for free (when you download for free now it's a lite version).

I took a chance and downloaded it to my Touch and while the app's really neat-looking and it's kind of cool to read Mina and Jonathan's text messages, I'm going to have to roll back to the classic on this one. I'm a big fan of the original so it's a little strange getting into the groove of 21st century Mina, Jonathan and Lucy. But it's definitely worth trying out. If you can download it, I'd recommend it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Wars + 39

RL Stine owned the spooky last week. Who will raise the ghouls this week? FIGHT!!!

A boy is trapped in a possessed car that has stalled in the path of an oncoming train. A girl is dragged into a crypt during a field trip to an eighteenth-century cemetery. A group of friends meet their fate after an unsettling visit with a backwoods psychic. And that's just the beginning.

Celebrated author Vivian Vande Velde is at her spine-tingling best in this collection of thirteen scary stories, all of which take place on Halloween night. With tales that range from the disturbing to the downright gruesome, this is one collection that teens will want to read with the lights on . . . and the doors locked.


Are you brave enough for Scary Stories?

Some boys and girls were at a party one night. There was a graveyard down the street, and they were talking about how scary it was.

"Don't ever stand on a grave after dark," one of the boys said. "The person inside will grab you."

"A grave doesn't scare me," said one of the girls. "I'll do it right now. . . ."

Welcome to the macabre world of Scary Stories, where folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up the most alarming collection of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time. Here is a selection of extraordinarily chilling tales along with spine-tingling illustrations by renowned artist Brett Helquist.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

And the winner is . . .

The winner of The Girl's Guide to Vampires: Everything You Need to Know About the Original Bad Boys by Barb Karg is . . .

Breia Brickey!!!

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you shortly. And a big thanks to everyone who entered! I had some great responses for my scariest vampire question. Here are some of my favorites -

He stirs in the shadows lurking, waiting to get you alone. He is the classics vampire, not the made up cookies and sprinkles version where vampires are nice and friendly. He doesn't want you to be his friend, but his meal. Eyes glow with a luminescent yellow that terrifies you to the core as he stares at you. His steps and moments are lightning fast, you won't even get a change to realize what is happening before you become his dinner. ~ Joanna C.

Ugh! Sparkling vampires would terrify me more than anything cold, dark, and bloodthirsty. You come to expect certain things from your vampires, you know? One painted up like a Lisa Frank sticker would freak me the eff out! ~ Elle

A vampire with all the perks of SMeyer's vampires (excluding sparkling) and not caring about eating people. You can't outrun them, you can't stake them, they don't burn in the sun, garlic doesn't affect them, they don't sleep, and they're wonderful seducers. Unless you magically become a vampire or werewolf you don't stand a chance. The only thing that could help is that they're highly flammable though they could put themselves out. ~ Gnesis (unfortunately there's a point here)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth #1 by Jake T. Forbes and Chris Lie

First published in 2006.

The Goblin King has kept a watchful eye on Toby: his minions secretly guiding and protecting the child . . .

Legions of goblins work behind the scenes to ensure that Toby has whatever his heart desires . . .

Preparing him for the day when he will return to the Labyrinth and take his rightful place beside Jareth as the heir to the Goblin Kingdom . . .

That day has come . . .

. . . but no one has told Toby. (book back blurb)

The only reason I had to read this book was because it's the sanctioned sequel to the movie Labyrinth (dear god, may Hollywood be smart enough to NEVER touch that one). Yeah, it's manga. Not my favorite thing. Angular people freak me out. But it's Labyrinth so try it I must. Please keep in mind this is only the second manga I've read. The first being James Patterson's Maximum Ride which I wasn't fond of at all.

But this one? This one I liked. A lot. The drawings weren't so crazy angular, there wasn't any of that weird movement-as-words thing going on like there was in Maximum Ride. Basically this didn't come off as a rushed, scribbled piece of work. What was already established world looked a lot like it did in the movie, which I really liked. It makes me think that Labyrinth is still alive.

I'm not sure what they did with Sarah because she's a bit mannish. Maybe she's gone mousy. But from what I understand she plays a bigger role in the rest of the books so we'll wait and see. Jareth was a bit too feminine. I get he was a little effeminate in the movie (he wore way too much blue eye shadow not to be) but in here he just looked like a chick, period. Especially when he was in his principal's uniform. It was a little weird.

I wasn't too fond of the way Toby got into the Labyrinth. I felt it was a little too young for his character. He's supposed to be something like 16 and he chased a goblin because it stole his homework? Weird. But overall I liked where the plot was going and I want to know more about Moppet. It's nice that I can actually get all of the story from a manga; that I get what's going in, the pictures compliment the plot instead of override it and it all works together.

Ultimately I like being able to see what's beyond the Labyrinth and Jareth's throne room. There's a greater world here and this book delves into that, which is awesome. If you're a fan of Labyrinth, then you're definitely going to want to add these to your collection. I liked this first one so much that I immediately bought the other three. I can't wait to get to them! I still wish it was in a novelization because I would have liked it to have been more in depth but I'll take this. The visuals work, the story works and I like where it's going. What more do I need?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Added to the Pile + 53

This is a nice pile up from the past three weeks. No pictures in this one because there are too many and I have a raging headache. So links it is!

Bought -

Jim Henson's Return to Labyrinth #4 by Jake T. Forbes and Chris Lie (yup, read #1 and loved it, had to get the rest)
Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindquist (I've heard wonderful things about this one)
Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindquist (because just right now, right this second, I realized this and Let The Right One In are the same damn book, WTF? Why'd they change the title? And there's already a movie for it, not the one coming out this month. Dammit! I feel dumb. Oh well. Contest, anyone?)

From Harper Teen -

From Flux -

From Running Press Teens -

From Darby Creek -

From Estevan Vega -

Things I've Learned from Books + 72

Beware of kings. Their shenanigans can put your ass in a sling. The last thing you want is an entire kingdom vying for your head.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is Your Writing Terrifying?

Then you could win big from Lerner Publishing!

With the release of the new Night Fall horror series from Darby Creek (an imprint of Lerner Publishing), Lerner is having a Scary Story Writing Contest! The contest is open only to those between the ages of 11 and 18 and all you have to do is read the prompt on that main information page and write the ending in 500 words or less. Easy, right? Just make sure it's spooky!

You could win two sets of the Night Fall series, editorial guidance from the sitting editorial director at Darby Creek, publication on the Lerner blog and have your name become a character in a Night Fall book! So what are you waiting for? You have until October 31st to get your entries in.

In the meantime, you can check out the Thaw eBook for free on the Lerner website. All you have to do is register and you're good to go. I have three of these books, including Thaw, in my pile now and I can tell you, I can't wait to read them. The YA market is barren when it comes to true-to-form horror so to see a series like this emerging, it's like a blood-covered light at the end of the tunnel. Below is the blurb for Thaw from the Lerner website.
A July storm caused a major power outage in Bridgewater. Now a research project at the Institute for Cryogenic Experimentation has been ruined, and the thawed-out bodies of twenty-seven federal inmates are missing.

At first, Dani Kraft didn't think much of the breaking news. But after her best friend Jake disappears, a mysterious visitor connects the dots for Dani. Jake has been taken in by an infamous cult leader. To get him back, Dani must enter a dangerous, alternate reality where a defrosted cult leader is beginning to act like some kind of god.
Different, right? None of that romance stuff muddling up the creepy. It's total terror from the get-go. The rest of the books sounds equally creeptastic. Such a nice breath of fresh, horrifying air! So get up, get out and start writing!

80s Awesomeness! ~ 81

Oh yeah. You're looking at that right. That's crimped hair right there. And don't start denying. You know you did it. You know you had a crimper. I had a crimper. I did this horrible, horrible style to my hair. Who thought this was a good idea, by the way? As if all the teasing and blow drying and hair spraying wasn't bad enough, lets press our tresses between two searing hot metal plates to give it a jagged edge, tilled road look. Genius!

This is not to be confused with scrunching. Scrunching hair isn't bad. When your hair is curly, it's one of your style options. This is crimping. This is bad. Bad, bad, bad.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Freaky Friday :|: 81

Title: Soulmate, Night World #6
Author: LJ Smith
Published: April 1997
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 208
Hannah Snow's life was perfect...until the notes started appearing. Notes in her own handwriting, warning her: Dead before Seventeen. Then she starts having visions of another time, another life. And of a stranger who tore her world apart.

Now the stranger, Thierry, Lord of the Night World, is back. Convinced Hannah is his soulmate, he has searched for her throughout the years, waiting for her to be reborn. But if Hannah’s destiny is death, can even Thierry's love protect her? (from
This has some potential. I could read this. It all depends on the ending, though. I can't deal with too much schmoopy 'I lurve heeeeeeeem' type of stuff. But I'd give it a try.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fright Fest + Bled

Fright Fest is back! And thanks to all that is FEARnet On Demand, I've discovered a few movies I probably wouldn't have otherwise. First up is a vampire flick called Bled.

The greater premise is that an artist falls in with a tough, and rather undead, crowd. Her uber-hottie tempts her to try this hot, barely heard of drug from Eastern Europe that induces trips that would put acid to shame. Of course, our protag goes for it and trip she does. And it's so eerily real. In this nether realm she hooks up with a vampire lover who keeps tempting her back into her dream state for more. The thing is, she keeps bringing stuff back with her when she crashes.

While high on the Gouda factor, I couldn't help but love the vampire concept this movie doled out. Yeah sure, the plot was boring at times and man, was the acting bad. But the vampires? Awesome.

Now ladies, these aren't your cuddly type of vampires. Sure, they can cloak themselves to look all sexy but underneath, they're the things under your bed's worst nightmares. The master vampire lives in this dream realm and can only escape when he's able to fully suck in a victim into his realm. The lines between this dream world and reality really start to blur the more the protag gets sucked into the drug. Not only does she show signs of sleepless nights but the girl comes back from her dreams with bite marks and anemia. It's a hint of Freddy Kruger thrown in there.

And the thing is, the girl hits a point of no return. Eventually she doesn't need the drug to transcend and that's when the shit really hits the fan. So if you're looking for a vampire movie where you can fantasize about the undead dude, this ain't it. But if you're looking for a vampire movie with a nasty ass vampire with a really cool execution on the lore, this is your bag. For a 2009 movie, it's really different from everything that's being pumped out. A breath of bloody air, if you will.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Wars + 38

It's back, chock full of horrifying skirmishes for the month of October. This week, it's master against master in this epic battle. FIGHT!

One night, in the middle of a particularly scary story, these five people make a pact with each other that says that the fist one of them who dies is to make every effort to contact the others- from beyond the grave. (from


Newcomers Corky and Bobbi Corcoran want more than anything to make the cheerleading squad at Shadyside High. But as soon as the Corcoran sisters are named to the team, terrible things happen to the cheerleaders.

The horror starts with a mysterious accident near the Fear Street cemetery. Soon after, piercing screams echo through the empty school halls. And then the ghastly murders begin...

Can Corky and Bobbi stop the killer before the entire cheerleading squad is destroyed?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Author Bites - Michelle Moran on History

History is something that always fascinates me so it's no surprise that when I picked up Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran, I fell in love with it. With engrossing characters and a plot that sucks you in like a vortex, what's not to love? So, of course, I contacted Michelle hoping that she'd be willing to do a guest post. And she graciously agreed! Not only that, either! See the end of the post for the goodies Michelle is offering up. Thanks so much for stopping by, Michelle!

The Idea Behind Cleopatra’s Daughter

I have always been a traveler. From the time I can remember, my family was on the move, and no location was too strange or exotic for them. As a child, I stayed in every possible kind of accommodation: tents, hotels, caves, villas, even teepees and huts. So it’s no surprise, really, that as an adult I would end up doing a great deal of traveling. Out of college, I began traveling for fun, but when I discovered that writing historical fiction wasa great passion of mine, I began to travel for research. Since then, most of my destinations have been countries with rich archaeological sites. These places have been constant sources of inspiration, and on a trip to Alexandria in Egypt, I was afforded the amazing opportunity of participating in a dive to see the submerged remains of Cleopatra’s ancient city. Thousands of artifacts remain completely preserved underwater: sphinxes, amphorae, even the stones of the Marc Antony’s summer palace. Although I’m not a fan of diving, it was an incredible experience, and it changed the way I looked at Cleopatra. I immediately wanted to know more about her life, and it was mere coincidence that my next trip took me to Italy, where her ten year-old twins were brought to live after her suicide.

While in Rome, I was able to retrace the steps of Cleopatra’s children. From the Pantheon, which was being built while Cleopatra’s daughter, Selene, was there, to the Mamertine prison, it is still possible to see many of the places where Selene herself would have walked. Most impressive, however, was my visit to the Emperor Octavian’s villa on the Palatine Hill. At one time, its vibrantly painted dining room had hosted magnificent feasts, one of which would have been the celebration of the Emperor’s triumph over Marc Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt. As the heir to Caesar, Octavian was determined to rule the western world without interference. He changed his name to Augustus, and with the help of his general Agrippa and his architect Vitruvius, he turned a city of clay into a city of marble. After three million dollars in restoration, Italian archaeologists have made enormous progress in restoring this two-thousand year-old villa. They have been able to recreate not just the intimate library and studies which Octavian once used, but the mosaic floors he once walked on with Ovid, Seneca, Cicero, Horace, and even Julius Caesar himself.

As we were quickly escorted through the frescoed rooms, we stopped in the triclinium – the dining room which had once seen so many famous faces smiling, laughing, even crying for mercy. With a little imagination, it was easy to see the tables and couches that had once adorned the chamber, and there was the undeniable feeling of standing in the presence of the ancients. It was the kind of feeling you only get in Grecian temples or Egyptian tombs, and it was here that I decided I needed to tell the story of Cleopatra's forgotten children. What they witnessed while they were in Rome, how they survived, and - eventually - what became of them.


And thanks to Michelle's awesomeness, she's offered up two signed copies of Cleopatra's Daughter for a giveaway! Just fill out the form below to enter. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends October 12th at midnight, EST.

And the winner is . . .

The winner of a copy of Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson is . . .


Congratulations! I've already sent you an email. And a big thanks to everyone who entered.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Girl's Guide to Vampires: All You Need to Know About the Original Bad Boys by Barb Karg + Contest!

Published January of 2009.

The good news is: He's tall, dark, and handsome.

The bad news is: He's a bloodsucking creature of the night. Not to mention arrogant, predatory, and immortal.

What's a girl to do? No worries--in this guide, girls learn everything they need to know about these romantic rogues, including how to:
  • Know when they've met a vampire
  • Avoid falling prey to a nightstalker's charms
  • Resist even the most aggressive advances
  • Protect themselves against the undead
  • Destroy a vampire--using everything from holy water to decapitation
Complete with a review of vampire books, TV shows, and films as well as accounts of real-life encounters with vampires, this book is all girls need to surrender to the night--and still make sure they're around to see another day! (from

Despite it's campy, cutesy attack style in order to suck young female readers in, it's actually a really good resource to have if you're looking for the Cliff Notes version on vampires. This book doesn't beat around the bush. Vampires are reanimated corpses. If you can get over that, you're good to head on out with a vamp.

From the Vlads to the crazies to the cinematic, this book has it all, jam-packed into less than 200 lean pages of bloody meat. The first two-thirds of the book is a mini-encyclopedia, going over the types of vampires, where they come from, how they're made, how you can kill them, what their personalities are like and so on. The last third gives you a run down of excellent vampires on film, in books and on TV. If you don't know of Dark Shadows, Forever Knight, Fright Night or Nosferatu, you're sorely lacking. All of this, though, is told with a keen teen-type of voice meant to suck in and intrigue, talk to instead of talk at because, quite frankly, lectures, even about awesome things like vampires, can get really boring.

The only issue I had with the book is the author referring to Stephenie Meyer as Queen of the Darned for her popular blue balls "vampire" books. You know, I guess you can't talk about the greater spectrum of vampires without giving SMeyer her due credit, however little that may be. Despite the fact that she printed literary horse shit, we can thank her in large part to the surge of vampire love in YA. Yeah, thanks for those brooding emo vamps in high school after 200 years. How cool. And I guess when you're trying to rope in the same crowd that swallows those pissy novels like a starving duck, you're going to want to play to that crowd a bit. Thankfully I have some other vampire "guides" that refuse to pander to the likes of the Mormon research!fail queen.

Other than that, I'm very happy with the book overall. It started vampire history where it deserved, tapped all aspects of vampire lore, however briefly, and tied it in nicely to modern day happenings across the entertainment board. If you want a quick undead breath into the world of vampires, this is a good place to start but I can guarantee that once you read this guide, you'll want to dive in deeper to the ever-expansive world of vampires. Oh it's so much wider than mere glittering and simpering and pining. Vampires are nasty, they're seductive, they're sexy and their fangs are fucking sharp!

Contest Time!!!

You want my copy of this mini-epic guide? Then just fill out the form below and be sure to answer the question. Your entry won't count without it. Also, by submitting your answer you agree to let me post it on this site. Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only. One entry per person per email address. Duplicate entries will be deleted. Contest ends October 11th at midnight, EST.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Here's Johnny!

So I'm back from vacation a little heavier, a little tanner and a little more stuffed up. And now it's October and time to get those horror engines revving. As you saw, I had a post pop up for Bites Hearts Halloween on the first. Yes, it was nice and scheduled as I was on a tin can with wings that day. A delayed tin can with wings no less. With some much needed downtime yesterday and a little more down time today, I think I'm ready to re-begin business as usual on Bites and dive head first into Halloween's horror realm.

So all this month I'll be reviewing horror-ish books and movies (with the high potential for contests for said horror-ish books) and spitting out some other horror-related stuff along the way (and non-horror related stuff as I have a few things to get off of my plate).

Like I said in my last post, I won't be able to have an epic contest like I did last year due to my extended vacation and the fact that I'll be moving within the month (so don't be surprised if I have another short interruption within the next couple of weeks while I get things situated in my new place). But I think handing over some of my horror books that I can part with will be a good substitute.

I'll re-begin my memes this week starting with Wednesday's Book Wars (be prepared for it to be horror-filled). I'm pretty sure I'll be posting my first horror-ish review tomorrow for a book I read while on vacation. Right now it's still on its way back to me as I ended up buying so much stuff I shipped two boxes back to myself. Don't look at me like that. To be fair, some of it was stuff I unloaded from my suitcase to avoid overweight charges on the way back (my bag was overweight going but they let it slide, thank you JetBlue dudes).

Sigh. I'm glad to be back home but that certainly doesn't equate to me wanting to go back to work tomorrow. I'm still partway on California time right now. I may be hovering somewhere over Montana at the most.

I know I need to post a winner for Songs for a Teenage Nomad which I'll do within the next day or so. I'm tallying the results as I type. So look out for that winner! Also, a big thanks to all of my followers for pushing me over the 1,000 follower threshold! You bite me! You really, really bite me! Apparently I have an effect on people. Not sure what that effect is, but it's effective. Yay.
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