C.H.U.D. LIVES!: A Tribute Anthology

First of all I have to say I didn’t want to read C.H.U.D. LIVES!: A Tribute Anthology because it was based on the 1984 cult classic horror movie. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie so I didn’t remember it well. I got this book because I’ve read a lot of the authors in it before and Crystal Lake Publishing puts out some awesome horror anthologies. I also loved the idea that it included interviews with a couple of the people who worked on the C.H.U.D. movie. It felt like a love letter to people who never forget the horror films they grew up watching. For the record if you love 80’s pop culture this book has a lot of references to the 1980’s which was a great decade for horror.

One of my favorites of the 19 stories in this book was Strange Gods by Christopher Fulbright and Angeline Hawkes. There’s a new religion in the sewers of New York. They worship two gods named Gog and Magog who bring purpose and purity to some but a vicious death to others. I love the concept of people trying to find meaning in a city where homeless people are getting eaten by monsters. I enjoyed the religious references here and the will to survive of the non-believers and how the non-believers come across as normal compared to the ones who started a new religion.

Another good one was Lost And Found by Greg Mitchell. This one is about a Grandpa taking his granddaughter to New York to visit her uncle just before the C.H.U.D’s wreak havoc in the city. This story deals with themes of redemption and standing up against the things you fear the most. For a short story it makes a great point on the importance of family and deals with both a physical horror with the C.H.U.D.’s and the psychological fear of abandonment and feeling powerless.

Samsa’s Party by Ben Fisher was another one that stuck out for me. This one is about a man whose back has been against the wall his whole life and recently he’s been living in the sewer. Things get worse though as people in the sewer go missing and the ones left are changing into something horrible. What I loved in this one was how so much depth is given to the homeless people before they become victims to what lurks in the darkness. Monstrous Me by Martin Powell is in the same vein. It’s told in a diary format and follows the story of a woman who is slowly changing from human into a C.H.U.D. I loved how the change happened as the main character loses her taste for food and craves human flesh instead. The author makes you care for this person and then you watch her slowly loose her mind and become a monster.

Reading C.H.U.D. Lives! is like reading a 1980’s horror movie if that was possible. Even the stories I thought were mediocre were still a lot of fun to read. Each story seemed to have heroes that had a lot of depth to them while the C.H.U.D.s came across as the ultimate unstoppable horror. In a world of vampire and zombie anthologies this book stands above the rest by being based on a movie that many people probably don’t remember. This book is a must read for hard-core horror fans.


An Interview With Ryan Hauge

Recently I had the chance to read and review Be Careful What You Joust For by Ryan Hauge and Ivy Smoak. It’s an epic fantasy novel with plenty of action and adventure. Ryan Hauge was nice enough to answer a few questions I had about his writing:

What was the inspiration behind Careful What You Joust for?

How can I narrow it down to just a few things? Everything I’ve ever encountered has inspired it in one way or another. Some of my influences, like classic RPGs, will be obvious to those who have played the same games. I really enjoyed how A Song of Ice and Fire had multiple POV characters, so I wanted to emulate that. And I loved the depth of the world. But I wanted to create something more lighthearted…more along the lines of Harry Potter as far as tone goes. And definitely something accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds.

You’ve built a complex universe where the story takes place, how long did it take to create it?

Five years. When I first started, I wrote a book set in the world. And then I scrapped it. The book wasn’t very good, but it turned out to be a fantastic world building exercise. After that, I tried to research everything I could about how the world works. Plate tectonics, medieval commerce, weather patterns, where oranges grow and what their growing season is. Everything. I created a pantheon for all the major ancient religions in my world. I gave them festivals. And then I let their cultures evolve throughout history. It made my head hurt at times. I felt like I was working in five dimensions but recording all of it in a 2 dimensional spreadsheet. But it was all worth it in the end.

How long did it take you to write the book?

About a year. But while writing it, I was planning my wedding and running my toy business at the same time. If I had really been able to focus, it might have only taken 4 months.

What was the hardest part about writing it?

Finding the voice of each character. A lot of the characters were quite different in the first draft. Garrion was incredibly dumb and had severe anger issues. He was horribly unlikable. And Marcus was all over the place. He had a different personality every time he appeared.

Rewriting all those parts was so hard to do. But it was so worth it.

You wrote this book with your wife, did you plan everything out together or did you both write certain parts?

We had an initial plot, and each had certain characters that kind of belonged to us. But near the end we would just discuss a chapter and see which of us had a clearer vision for it, regardless of which POV it was. Really every chapter was a collaboration – one of us would write it, and then the other would add some finishing touches. Generally that meant I’d be adding world-building/fantasy type stuff to Ivy’s chapters, and she’d be adding emotion and depth to mine.

When did you start writing?

Five years ago I wrote that book that turned out to just be a really involved world building exercise. This one is so much better.

What are you working on now?

Marketing. So much marketing. But I’m also thinking about ideas for book 2…

Where can people find you online?

My website: http://www.RyanHauge.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/RyanHauge
Amazon: http://bit.ly/HaugeAMZ
Facebook: http://bit.ly/HaugeFB
Twitter: http://bit.ly/HaugeTweet
Instagram: http://bit.ly/HaugeInsta

Wayfarer: AV494

Kerys wanted to leave everything behind. Her career wasn’t going well and she was just getting over a bad relationship with a man named Will. What better way to get a new start then to take a three-year trip to Wayfarer Outpost which is situated on another planet. Kerys new job is to spend 6 months exploring ancient alien relics. The problem is that Will is a botanist and is already on the planet working.

While Will is outside working, Kerys goes along with an expedition into  the alien ruins and discovers something deadly. Now everyone is trapped in the Wayfarer Outpost with an alien threat and no chance for escape.

Wayfarer AV494 by Matthew S. Cox is a Science Fiction novel with elements of horror. What drew me to this book was the idea of a woman trying to escape her crazy ex-boyfriend and then getting trapped with him in a life or death situation. The idea of being at the mercy of an alien threat in space has been done many times in books and movies but I figured the relationship would add an original spin to the story. Much to my surprise I thought the connection between the two characters was the worst part of the book.

My problem with Kerys was that she came across as whiny and incompetent. She complains constantly, she’s responsible for a crew mate getting injured early in the book and she is always saying how much she misses her brother when it was her choice to leave him. Will on the other hand came across as so crazy in this story that I wondered how he would have gotten chosen to do this job in the first place. Another problem I had with the story was how we get hints to some problems that Will is creating and even though Kerys has evidence of this she never tells anyone which made me think that this character isn’t to bright. Despite how I felt about these two characters there was still plenty to like about this book.

I loved all the supporting characters in this story and I loved how the science behind Wayfarer Outpost is explained. I also enjoyed how the alien ruins were described and hearing the characters discus what they thought this alien civilization was like when it had living creatures. The first part of the story is fascinating with the scientific explanations while the second half is good because the book turns into a horror novel in space.

With the exception of hoping that Will and Kerys would die right away, I really enjoyed this book. A lot of depth goes into explaining how everything works and hearing about the science made you feel like this could all happen in the future. Then we have the second half which becomes a gore fest where anything goes. Whether you love science fiction or horror you will find something to love about Wayfarer AV494.


Creature of the Night

You’ve watched Big Brother and Survivor but now there’s a new Reality TV show called Creature Of The Night. This show is a little different from the others as we have 12 contestants competing for the chance to be immortal. One lucky winner will become a vampire but surviving the challenges will test them to the limits physically, morally and mentally.

Each participant is coming from a different walk of life and they all have different reasons for competing. Mainly they have to impress a panel of vampire judges but they also have to entertain a live audience whose rooting for them to get seriously injured or hopefully die.  It’s a rough road to be one of the undead and on that road some of the players may find out that being a vampire isn’t what they thought it would be.

While I’m not a big fan of reality shows I was drawn to Creature Of The Night by Anne Stinnett because I thought the idea of a vampire reality show sounded fun. This is a satire that pokes fun at reality tv. There are a lot of laughs to be had here but it also makes a statement about how self-absorbed people can be who are on television. For instance one of the contestants says he is on the show to make his kids proud but later we hear from the kids and they’re complaining how dad doesn’t spend enough time with them and this is only one example of how the shows contestants  are superficial in thinking a TV show will change their lives. Though as the story moves along you see all the characters feelings change.

This book has a great mix of comedy and drama and towards the end it becomes an all out gory horror novel. My favorite part was finding out how all the characters are more than they appear and that includes the vampire judges. One of the challenges for the contestants is to kill a terminally ill child named Landon. Landon’s last wish is to become a vampire but the law forbids it so he has to settle for pretending to be one and get killed on stage. As this goes on there are people protesting outside, some are in favor of Landon being a vampire while others believe he should die naturally and not be killed even though it’s what Landon wants. At this point the mood of the book changes and becomes more serious but still manages to have a little humor.

If I have any complaints about Creature Of The Night it would be that in the beginning there are so many characters introduced that it was hard keeping track of them. Though even that felt like it was a good parody of reality tv, because on the season premiere of a show like Survivor they are introducing so many people who you don’t remember the details on everyone by episode 2. This is a well planned out book with a lot of attention to detail. You get opinions from the show’s producers and the  vampire judges, you hear the thoughts of the viewers at home and you get to read the confessionals from each contestant. This is a great read whether you enjoy reality tv or not as it has a good story and it gives a good look at how ridiculous society can be.


An Interview With Tosca Lee

What was the inspiration behind The Progeny?
It was inspired by a fan! One of my readers asked me to consider writing a book about Elizabeth Bathory (AKA “The Blood Countess”), whom I’d heard of before. By the time I rediscovered the request in my idea folder, I had already done several historical novels and was ready for something contemporary, so chose to focus on the fictional descendants of Elizabeth Bathory living in the shadow of her legacy.

The plot of this book seems to be very complex, did the plot change as you were writing the story?

Twists always happen as I’m writing my novels. For this one, half the fun of writing it was discovering the reveals along the way. 🙂

Since you touch on some historical figures in this book what kind of research did you have to do to write it?

I traveled to all the locations in the book, from Maine to Bratislava, to Hungary, Austria, Italy, and Croatia. I took my mother with me—we love traveling together—and had a ball. To see the locations, sites and objects included in the book, please visit: https://www.pinterest.com/toscalee/real-life-progeny/

What did you find most fascinating about Elizabeth Bathory?

The fact that, as with so many infamous characters and lives, there is always another side to the story. In the case of Elizabeth Bathory, history paints her as two very different people: a serial killer of young woman… and a devoted mother, supporter of the church, and uncommonly educated widow richer than the Habsburg king jealous for her fortune. Which portrait is correct? The truth usually lies somewhere in between.

There is a lot about secret societies in this book, did the information on them come from your own imagination or was it based on research you’ve done?

I’ve always been fascinated with secret societies and have studied them for years. But in this case, the secret societies are all a product of my imagination… as far as you know.

How long did it take you to write this book?

About 9 months to plan and research and 3 months to write… and then several more months to go through the editorial process with my publisher.

How long have you been writing?

All my life since I published my first article at the age of 10. But professionally since 1992.
What else have you written?

Iscariot, Havah: A Story of Eve, Demon: A Memoir, The Legend of Sheba, Ismeni (FREE e-short), The Books of Mortals trilogy (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign), The Progeny, Firstborn, and my upcoming thriller, The Line Between (releasing January 2019).

What are you currently working on?

Right now, edits for The Line Between, my upcoming thriller coming out next winter. (Please be sure to add it to your Goodreads bookshelf!)

Where can people find you online?

www.toscalee.com and all over social media as @ToscaLee

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the House of Bathory Duology (The Progeny and Firstborn, currently in development for television),IscariotThe Legend of ShebaDemon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign). A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games and football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

You can find Tosca at ToscaLee.com, on social media, or hanging around the snack table. (And be sure to check out Ismeni, the free e-short prequel to The Legend of Sheba!)

Get your copy of The Progeny here: http://toscalee.com/product/the-progeny/ (Kindle readers: now you can enjoy special insights in the author’s highlighted comments!)

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest

Book spotlight: The Progeny

From New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee comes a story of love, ancient secrets, and survival. Book 1 in the House of Bathory duology.

When you wake up, you remember nothing. Not your name, or where you were born, or the faces of the people you knew. Just a single warning written to yourself before you forgot it all:

“Emily, it’s me. You.

Don’t ask about the last two years… Don’t try to remember and don’t go digging. Your life depends on it. Other lives depend on it.

By the way, Emily isn’t your real name. You died in an accident. You paid extra for that.”

You start over in a remote place with a new name, a fresh life. Until the day a stranger tells you you’re being hunted for the sins of a royal ancestor who died centuries before you were born.

You don’t believe him, until they come for you. Now you’re on the run.

Every answer you need lies in a past you chose to erase. The only thing you know for sure is that others are about to die and you need those memories back.

But first, you have to stay alive.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Author’s Website
Add to Goodreads

Praise for The Progeny:

“Be warned: once you start this book, it’s impossible to put down!”
Maria V. Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Study

“Intriguing and romantic, I literally couldn’t put it down.”
Jennifer L. Armentrout # 1 New York Times bestselling author

Publishers Weekly

“[A] complex thriller with various turns and twists…A great choice for readers who enjoy their psychological thrillers with a historical twist.”
Library Journal

“Exciting…action packed…intriguing.”
Romantic Times Book Reviews

“Filled with intrigue, romance, and reversals fans are sure to love.”
Family Fiction

“The Progeny has risen to the top of my favorites list…I devoured every word of it.”
Book Reporter

Win 1 of 15 Progeny Swag Packages (open to USA only / 15 winners total) Each swag package includes: Set of Progeny Character Cards; Progeny necklace; Progeny bookmark; and a Progeny button For more info follow the link: https://goo.gl/JWuRe2

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of the House of Bathory Duology (The Progeny and Firstborn, currently in development for television),IscariotThe Legend of ShebaDemon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign). A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playing video games and football with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband.

You can find Tosca at ToscaLee.com, on social media, or hanging around the snack table. (And be sure to check out Ismeni, the free e-short prequel to The Legend of Sheba!)

Get your copy of The Progeny here: http://toscalee.com/product/the-progeny/ (Kindle readers: now you can enjoy special insights in the author’s highlighted comments!)

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest