Monday, December 30, 2013

'Fright Night' by Linda Stevens

Published:  1993
Setting:  Modern Day

Beardsville, Vermont is a tiny little town where everyone knows your name and Lauren Kent is the towns fixer-upper who also often writes news articles for the local newspaper.  Single mother and independent, she knows how to work for the things she needs.  Beardsville is known for it’s extravagant celebration of Halloween, particularly the ghoulish haunted house that Lauren works on diligently come every October.  However, this year the pranks in this no-where town seem to have turned malicious, maybe even deadly!  Several businesses have been targeted for vandalism, even Laurens own house and the house of a fellow reporter who has been assigned to cover the recent disturbances, Sam Burdett.  Sam is as handsome as he is unbearable, yet the more time Lauren spends with the Sam, the more she grows to appreciate that perhaps he’s not much different than she.  But there’s really no time to give much attention to their blossoming romance between work, a defiant teenage son, and the constant pranks, Lauren has her plate full, and more!

As she plays partner sleuth with Sam over the month of October, a friendship grows between the two.  Just the same, the mystery of the town pranks deepen and have become more dangerous than they are funny.  Evidence suggests the dead has come alive, or perhaps someone is just covering their tracks really well.  But the time Halloween arrives, the whole town finds itself held hostage, and Lauren finds herself in love…but will any of them survive all hollows eve?
As much as this book sounded scary and creepy, I just found myself reading of one bizarre Halloween incident to the next without really any suspense at all.  Some scenes seemed to drag on, while others left you needing a little more detail.  The whole mystery, which was uncovered in the last chapter, just didn’t really make any sense to me.

I love Halloween and Halloween stories, but this one just wasn’t very fulfilling and it wasn’t scary at all, either.  Despite the book description and the cover of the book, it’s nothing like a gothic read!

Rating:  3.0

'Fatal Inheritance' by Sandra Orchard

Published:  2013
Setting:  Modern Day

When Becki Graw learns of the tragic deaths of her grandparents’ accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, the news comes with a hidden blessing.  Knowing how she loved their house in the country so, her grandparents have left her their beautiful country house and their classic show car.  However, Becki’s homecoming is anything but welcoming.  A series of attacks are made on her life, and someone is hell-bent on vandalizing her property.  Thankfully her old childhood friend-turned-sheriff, Joshua Rayne, lives right next door.  However, as the days pass and Joshua keeps a close eye on Becki, rescuing her from one attack or another, could it be that his feelings indicate he sees himself as more than just a brother figure in her life? 

Becki doesn’t have much time to ponder on her blossoming relationship with Joshua, if you could call it that at all, shes too busy dealing with the mystery of stolen jewels….found in her grandparents’ own house....then there’s the constant attacks and harassment, could it be from her sister who desperately needs money fro m the sale of the country house or perhaps it is her sniveling ex boyfriend from the city who is making a habit of showing up unannounced. 

Tragedy and near-death escapes plague Becki until the grand finale showdown at a glitzy ball, but will it be too late by the time the secrets of her pepetrator are revealed?  She might end up losing everything…

The book read fairly quickly and there was enough suspense to keep a decent flow.  If you enjoy romance novels with a little bit of mystery, I’d recommend this read.  However, it doesn’t have much gothic-related overtones, other than the country house in an isolated area. 

Rating:  4.0

Monday, December 23, 2013

Harlequin E-Shivers Released Via Web

The first book in the Harlequin E-Shivers series has been released via the web.

Lost In Me, by the lovely Barbara J. Hancock, is being released as a sort of trial-run from the harlequin website.  Beginning in October, a new chapter is available each week, and all for free!

Busy as I've been this last month or so, I just began reading today and am hoping to catch up this week.

The synopsis of the book, as provided by the harlequin site, is as follows:

'Released from hospital into the care of the man whose eyes have haunted her for a year, a troubled artist returns to Belle Aimée. The antebellum New Orleans mansion is the site of a tragedy Chloe's mind will not disclose. It's also home to an unseen presence that traces her steps, visits her studio and lingers near her bedroom.

Waking and sleeping, Chloe grasps at scraps of memory that flutter about her, alighting eventually on her countless canvases. Only under the stormy eyes—and electrifying touch—of Jonathan La Croix does Chloe begin to remember what they once were to each other. What they could be again. Such a man cannot be forgotten forever….'

The book seems to be a chilling, even as of chapter one, so I'm thinking this will be a book that doesn't disappoint!  And, if we're lucky enough, it'll be reminiscent of the vintage gothics, with a little more mystery than romance! 

I'll be posting a full review of the book at a later date.  In the meantime, you should find your way on over and read the first e-shiver here!

December Updates!

I've been absent for about a month, life gets crazy during the holidays!

I still have a bunch of book reviews coming up, I plan on posting a few today and a few tomorrow!  So, if you are an author who has submitted a book for me to review, just know I'm still working on that!

As for the gothic romance book give away, I only had three people enter the two give aways, so I have books for all three of you.  Just please email me your postal address and I will get those out to you ASAP!

I'm wishing all my fellow gothic readers and enthusiasts a wonderful holiday season!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Upcoming November Reviews

Here are the reviews I have lined up (so far) for November!

I'm trying to switch it up a bit, review a few vintage gothics and then a few contemporary ones.

Fright Night (Harlequin Intrigue) by Linda Stevens
Fatal Inheritance (Love Inspired Suspense) by Sandra Orchard
Phantom Lights by J.H. Rhodes
Fear Island by J.H. Rhodes
Ghost of Dragoncroft by Jonni Rich
Curse of Black Tor by Jane Toomb
Sea of Secrets by Amanda Dewees

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It's Halloween!!

Happy halloween, everyone!  I know I'm a few days late posting....but it's been a challenge to fill up 45 days of Halloween.

I know it was a bumpy ride (sometimes no posts for a week, then seven in one day) but I did actually accomplish the 45 Days of Halloween Bash!

Thanks to everyone who stopped in every now and then!

If you haven't yet, please comment on the two gothic romance book give aways below!

In the coming week I will be posting an outline of the upcoming books/interviews I'll be blogging about.  I have some really great book reviews coming this month, so check back soon!

Until then, happy reading!

Day 2 of Halloween: Gothic Romance Give Away #2

For this give away I have two Harlequin Eclipse Gothic Romance books.  Both are new, contemporary gothic reads.

If you'd like a chance at winning them, please leave a comment below!

Just like the previous give away (below) on November 12th, I will announce one winner of these books in a post!

Please feel free to comment both give aways!  And good luck!

Day 3 of Halloween: Gothic Romance Giveaway #1

I have up for grabs three lovely vintage gothic romance novels.  All three are set in isolated houses/chateaus and are full of family tragedies, conspicuous mishaps, and page turning suspense.  

I will be picking one lucky winner, all you need to do is leave a comment below.  On November 12th (10 days from today) I'll write an entry announcing the winners, we than can arrange for emails to exchange your physical address and so on so I can get your goodies to you!

I'm actually doing two give aways, for two chances to win!  Please feel free to comment both.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 4 of Halloween: Alfred Hitchcock Presents "A Little Sleep"

 "A fickle young woman gets entangled in a web of crime and deceit at her remote mountain cabin."

Reminiscent of a gothic romance rich in deceit and danger, you'll love this episode from the amazing Alfred Hitchcock Presents series!  Watch it HERE!

Day 5 of Halloween: Top 5 Free Haunted House 3D Horror Games (Vol.2)


This is the second installment of haunted house, virtual mystery games.  Five games you can play FREE from online.  So go ahead...begin your haunted house mystery!  Click HERE for full video and info!

Day 6 of Halloween: Top 5 Free Haunted House 3D Horror Games (Vol.1)

Do you enjoy haunted houses?  Virtual tours or PC games?  How about a good, interactive mystery, and all for free?

You could be playing a virtual haunted house mystery in literally minutes.  Click HERE for the top 5 virtual haunted house games that are FREE online!

Day 7 of Halloween: Boris Karloff's Thriller - "Parasite Mansion"

Witches, family curses, poltergeists, and a case of stigmata?  What if you found yourself driving down an isolated road one night, and after being shot at and badly hurt, you find yourself locked in an old ramshackle house full of crazies, with no way of escape?  Watch a real life romance novel unfold in this eery episode from the classic show 'Thriller.'

I was hoping the video would embed and you could watch straight from the blog, but it appears it's been copyrighted. So please click HERE to watch the full episode for free!

Day 8 of Halloween: The Haunted Tour of Rose Mansion

For months you've had your tickets for the haunted tour of Rose Mansion.  It's only the most talked about, haunted attraction in all the region.  Of course, the large house gained it's notoriety from the old stories about the tortured spirit of Madame Rosie.

The old legend states that upon her wedding day, her groom was killed.  Spectators and wedding guests say Rosie lost her grip on reality shortly after the news.  Then, suddenly one day, she vanished in the night.  Right into thin air!  Some say she killed herself, others think she accidentally locked herself in a secret passage somewhere in the house...some even say she's still alive inside there, hiding away from the the reality of the real world, living in the continued fantasy of her dead lover's arms.

Whatever the mystery, you're about to see the house first hand!  The wait is finally over, the gates are opening, your tour guide has arrived!

The gates creak open and you slowly make your way to the stairs of the dark mansion...
 As the old house comes into view, you experience a deepening sense of foreboding.  The fog adds an eerie effect to the abandoned tombstones that surround the house.  You almost feel like turning back, but you are afraid you might look you meander on...
The front doors of the mansion are covered in cobwebs.  You can't begin to imagine what creatures (real of alive) await you in this rambling old icon of history...
 The first stop is the foyer.  As you stand looking upon the remains of a room that once housed the hushed, lively footsteps of visitors, an apparition appears...

Everyone gasps as the eery outline of a ghostly presence appears...she seems to be searching the room with her candelabra...the hushed whispers of other tourists say it is the restless spirit of Rosie, searching for her lost lover.  But as quickly as it is gone.  
Next stop is the sitting room.  You feel as if you've fallen through a rabbit hole of time, what with the beautiful midevil mantel place and the vintage decorations.  Wait!  What was that?  You could have sworn the eyes of the portraits were moving with you across the room.  You feel it must be your imagination, that couldn't really happen, could it?
As you move along the room, looking at the various trinkets in their original place-settings, you are definitely for sure that the eyes of the old man in the portrait are real...and they are watching your every move!
The tour guide leads you on into the kitchen, noting that this part of the mansion has fallen a bit into disrepair due to lack of use and the desire to keep the house in it's original shape hinders any remodeling.  You notice the creaky floorboards below your feet and hope it can hold your weight...
As you glance around you can almost imagine how lively the kitchen must have once been, especially on the day of Rosie's the fresh birds might have hung from the ceiling, a full pantry full of food, stove full of wood awaiting the servants hands to light.  And beautiful Rosie in her curls and white excited for a future of happiness to come.  You glance around and note that there are no ghosts in any corners...
The next stop is the dining room.  As the group of tourists take in the eloquently set table with it's fine china and silver spoons, apparitions begin to appear from out of thin air...
As if on cue, the lights flicker and everything goes dark.  Out of the darkness you see hte face of an elderly old woman, grotesque and twisted in death.  She lights the candles of a phantom wedding cake.  The audience gasps...the tour guide explains this is the ghost of Rosie's beloved cook Mildred.  Mildred served as Rosie's best friend, confidant, and cook.  Legend tales that upon the disappearance of Rosie, Mildred soon died of a broken heart.  She was laid to rest in the graveyard at the rear of the houses.  She is said to still walk these halls, replaying the last day with Rosie, baking cakes, fixing the wedding dinner, calling out to Rosie in the abandoned hallways of the upper rooms...
The lights flash back on, the ghost of Mildred disappears, but you watch as the phantom wedding guests eat their meal, their faces veiled in sadness.  A groom is dead, his bride unconscious and blithering...there is no celebration at this dinner table.  You watch a few minutes longer as the apparitions disappear, leaving only the oppressive feel of dense air in a too-hot room.
Next stop is the music room, a tiny closeted room to the right of the dining area.  The tour guide says it's usually kept closed, that cold drafts coming from the room are strong enough to upset the china on the dining table, and cold enough to ice your drink over...if you're carrying one!  Paranormal investigators who have witnessed these events say they are tied to the strangled sadness of so many restless spirits who dwell here, awaiting a wedding.  Onlookers watch in terror as phantom fingers play a few piano chords of the brides march.  The room becomes ice cold.  The tour guide says the picture beside the piano is the last painted portrait of the beloved Rosie before ushering everyone from the room that suddenly has turned winter cold with no warning.
You're still shivering as the tour guide leads the group from the damp darkness of the music room.  You are happier to be in a part of the house that is well-lit and can't help but notice how beautiful the surroundings are, so elegantly decorated.  You feel, with a twinge of sadness, that had Rosie's beloved not been killed, she would have had a beautiful life here for a very long time.  You try to push the sadness from your mind as the tour guide leads you onto the second floor to the bedrooms.
As the group moves down the hallway of the second floor, you can't help but notice the decrepit condition of the floors and walls.  The tourguide reminds you again that some parts of house has fallen into disrepair.  Everyone gasps as the shadowy figure of a male appears at the end of the hallway, near the master bedroom.  The tour guide says it is the weeping apparition of Rosie's lover...legend has it he walks the hall day and night, looking for the spirit of his Rosie, though never able to see her.
The first bedroom is cozy and well-lit.  You imagine how happy a child might be here with the colorful bedding and the shelves full of picture books.  With a twinge of sadness you think of the unborn children of well she would have loved them, what a happy family they might have been...
As the group walks back into the hallway and heads for the master bedroom, a ghastly scream erodes from somewhere between the walls, and suddenly you are faced with the grotesque face of a ghost.  You watch in horror as her twisted face begins to cry.  She howls for her husband, for her life.  Then she fades into the floorboards as if she'd turned to a seeping liquid...and disappears.  Shaken and afraid, but curious and ready to get this tour advance with the rest of the tour group into the master bedroom...
The room is so beautiful, though dimly-lit and a bit eery.  You can almost imagine the peaceful face of Rosie sleeping here the night before her wedding.  Her face framed in a smile, her mind lost to dreams of her soon-to-be husband harnessing a sailing ship, quickly on his way to get her....neither of them knowing the nightmare to come in only a few hours.  A sinking ship, lives lost along with the cargo, dreams many people so soon to be destroyed.
You look upon the unlit lamps, the feminine trinkets of this unused room, the unwritten letters of the side desk and can almost imagine another lifetime...
 You are sad for the doll that will be forever left untouched of affection...the water basins that will never wash another face...the chair throw that will never warm another body...
As the group turns to leave, the room is lit of so many cries of terror...for inside an armoire, the ghostly face of a woman appears...followed by the twisted, screaming faces of two ghosts....they appear to be crying out in misery...they reach toward the crowd, then disappear...
The crowd is visibly shaken by now.  Seeing enough ghosts for the night, many turn back.  However, a few remain, one is up the tower steps you go with the remaining tourists.  The tour guide reassures you, it's almost over now...
The first stop on the third floor is the tower room.  It is said this this was the living quarters of Mildred, the cook and best friend of Rosie.  The tour guide says the room has been left in it's original condition from the day of Mildred's sudden passing.  You notice her hanging robe, the rumpled bed clothes, the vintage fan, closet doors never to be opened by lively hands again...
In one corner of the room you spy  a pair of dresses...a beautiful flowing wedding dress, and a bridesmaids dress, both awaiting their final alterations.  With a sickening feeling arising in the pit of your stomach, you realize these dresses are that of Rosie's and Mildred's, awaiting now nearly 75 years to be worn to a gala wedding...ghosts of a time past...
Speaking of suddenly feel a harsh shove from behind....then haunting, evil laughter.  You turn to see the wedding-clad ghost of Rosie looking into your eyes...she reaches out her hands to you...she screams for the return of her husband, of her life.  She begs to be found...and then she is gone!
Everyone is shaking and terrified, many say this is the first time they've had such a close encounter with a ghost.  You are terrified, but still follow the group into the attic.  The tour guide says this is the last stop inside the house.  You are filled with a quick relief as you look upon the dust and web-covered pieces of another life in this room of castaway items.
Your relief is short-lived when a rocking chair in the far corner begins to move on it's own.  At first it is slow moving, then progresses to the point that it actually begins to move toward you.  The group gasps as the rocking chair hurls itself across the room, landing only inches from the terrified tour guide!  You are so ready for this haunted tour to be over as the group makes it's fearful way back down the two flights of stairs and into the basement area...
You are relieved when, at last, you reach the basement area.  Some wonderful halloween decorations await you.  They atmospheric of a haunted house, but it is obvious that these are fake, unlike the terrors that unfolded between the walls of the rest of the old mansion. 
You stop by a few of the amusement stands they have scattered across the dusty, though festive, basement...first you get your fortune told....
Then you get something to eat at the 'hungry happenings' refreshment stand...
Then off to the graveyard you go for your very last segment of the note the demonic emblem at the cemetery gates as the crowd closes in on the final resting places of the tormented souls said to walk the mansion, looking for each other and the lives they were never able to fully live...
The graveyard is a dark and gloomy place.  And though it is decked out in halloween decorations for the sake of the tour, you know the spirits that dwell there in their pain are real....
As the tour draws to a close, the guide stops by the resting place of Rosie and her beloved friend Mildred.  As you watch, they materialize one last time, almost for the sake of telling you all goodbye.  Both dressed in the wedding attire, sadness outline their ghoulish cheeks, phantom tears rolling down their faces.
Finally the tour is over and the group advances toward the exit gates.  Dark is falling across old Rose Mansion and you are relieved the tour is over, yet you are excited to have actually had this opportunity to witness all the ghostly phenomenon.  
As you enter the street and make your way toward your vehicle, you turn back for one last look at the mansion.  Fog is beginning to fall, enshrouding the grounds in an eery gray.  You whisper one last goodbye to Rosie, Mildred, and the other tormented ghosts before going on your way!

**DISCLAIMER:  NONE of the images shared here are my own.  They were all derived from many google searches.  I do not claim any rights to any of them.  The story and the Rose Mansion are both pieces of fiction created by me, any resemblance to real life or reality would be a huge coincidence.  I really hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour, it took me many hours to create.  Enjoy your stay and come back again soon!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 9 of Halloween: Gothic Romance Poetry, "The Lighthouse"

This is undoubtedly the biggest lighthouse, I have ever seen
So regal
, as each night her beam shines, directing all those ships at sea
I'm going inside to look around, the inside painted white, everything looks so clean
Standing high and tall, the light seen for miles as it should be
It is almost dusk, oh boy, I get to see the light come on
The light, that warns, they are very close to shore
Alone, in this place, I sudden hear something as it moans and groans
Causing me to shudder, in my soul to the very core
My first thought is some one is playing a trick on me
So I look around, I am totally alone
I scratch my head, as logically this can't be
I hear it again, now I am chilled to the bone.
I am a tourist, and I only came here, because some one told me it was nice
But they never told me, this place may be haunted and with a ghost
So quiet, I could even hear a mouse
I did not know to the supernatural, I may be a host.
On the winding stairs I see an apparition, that us all in white
On this note, I turn and hurriedly go back outside
But outside, I turn and look up, and I see a horrifying sight
At the top of the lighthouse, standing looking out, a woman looking out, seems to be dressed white just like a bride.

**Poetry courtesy of Haunted House.

Day 10 of Halloween: Gothic Romance Poetry, "The Haunted Mansion"
 I decided to look at the old mansion near Honeycliffe that was up for sale
It had remained unoccupied for a couple of years
It was a beautiful building but looked quite desolate whilst boarded up
The mansion had belonged to an earl
He was a young man of twenty-five
He was married to popular and well-known socialite called Rebecca
She was apparently quite beautiful
And the life and soul of many a party
They had been married for two years
It was rumoured that Rebecca was having an affair with a local musician
When the earl heard about the rumours he went into a period of depression
He didn't want to believe the rumours
On one night he heard that his wife was with the musician at his home in the city
He flew into a rage and drove his Ferrari out of the garage
He was determined to confront his wife and the musician
The mansion was half an hour from the city
And the country roads were narrow and dangerous
He was driving too fast and the care left the road
It fell down into a ditch and smashed into some trees
The Ferrari was wrecked and the earl was close to death
A driver passed by the incident and noticed the smoke coming from the car
He pulled over and crawled down into the ditch
He found the earl trapped in the car
With his last breath he said, "Tell my wife I love her and I forgive her"
I hoped that the mansion would offer me a better life
I looked around the building and was most impressed
The mansion had several excellent bedrooms
And a splendid Dining Room
The grounds were undulating and expansive
I fell in love with the place
And I decided I wanted to buy the place
I got into my car and started to drive back to the city
Along the way I started to put my foot down
I felt a little out of control
Suddenly the car started to skid and left the road
The car smashed into a tree and I passed out
Five days later I woke up in hospital
My wife was at my side
I had been in a coma for five days since the accident
We decided not to buy the mansion
Too many bad memories were attached to the place
It remains boarded up and unoccupied
The spirits of the dead are free to wander through the empty rooms
Until some brave soul decides to try and set them free.

**See more pictures of real haunted houses and mansions at The Old Haunted House.
**Poem courtesy of Haunted House. 

Day 11 of Halloween: Gothic Romance Poetry, "The Bloody Princess"

The door opens
And I see your blood stained figure
There is a wicked cruel smile on your face
In your right hand is the head of my mistress
I can't believe what I am seeing
The world is spinning in my head
"My God what have you done?"
"Your lover is no more
"You are all mine - take it or leave it!"
"Are you crazy?
"I might be - but I am still your wife"
"If you think we still have a relationship you are more crazy than I thought"
"Love makes for strange bedfellows my dear
"There was a time when you loved me
"But you traded me in for a younger model
"Men and their sense of virility
"They just can't accept they are getting old
"Get over it my dear
"It is me or nobody"
"You're are going to prison for a long time my love"
"Thank you for your concern
"I guess reconciliation is out of the question
"You really are crazy"
"You said it my dear"
And with that she lunges at me
And stabs me with the knife
"What have you done?
"Just sorting out unfinished business"
"You’re not the only one with admirers you know"
"If you don't want me there are plenty of attractive men who would die to sleep with me"
"You may be the prince but there are pretenders to the throne"
"It has been nice knowing you my dear - may you rot in hell!"
"I still have work to do here on planet earth"
"Farewell my love and give my greetings to the devil when you meet him"
"And that you certainly will"
The bloody princess looked down at her husband as he crawled along the ground
"You are a pitiful sight"
"You didn't appreciate what a good thing you had"
"And now you have nothing"
"Greet death with a smile"
The bloody princess called on her servants and they disposed of the bodies
Soon she married another young prince
Who had land and a powerful army
She reigned for a further fifty years
And was both feared and respected by all those who knew her
And as for those who did not respect her
They all met with an untimely death
"Don't mess with the bloody princess!"
That was her last remark on her deathbed
Her husband was sad to lose his wife
He knew of her past deeds
But loved her dearly
He respected her courage and bravery
And was always stunned by her beauty
Her death was quiet and peaceful
All her enemies were long dead
Her reputation echoed down the centuries
And the acts of the bloody princess were recorded in books
And told over and over again
I imagine she looks down on her descendants and smiles
"Live life to the maximum and never allow anyone to cheat or deceive you"
"Be courageous and never hide from your enemy"
"My life was full of love and betrayal"
"But in the end I found someone who loved and respected me"
"Never settle for second best"
The blood y princess passed into history
But her legacy still lives on.

**Poem came from The Haunted House, drop by for more literature by gothic fans!.

Day 12 of Halloween: Gothic Artwork by Me (#9)

"The Offering"

Day 13 of Halloween: Gothic Romance Artwork by Me (#8)

"Death on Arrival"

Day 14 of Halloween: Gothic Romance Artwork by Me (#7)

 "Haunted Lane"
Perhaps she shouldn't look behind her...


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