Book Review: 21st Century Ghosts by Joe Hill


A collection of short stories.

Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like a movie star and knows everything about every film ever made. She’s also dead and waiting in the Rosebud Theater for Alec Sheldon one afternoon in 1945….

Arthur Roth is a lonely kid with big ideas and a gift for attracting abuse. It isn’t easy to make friends when you’re the only inflatable boy in town….

Francis is unhappy. Francis was human once, but that was then. Now he’s an eight-foot-tall locust and everyone in Calliphora will tremble when they hear him sing….

John Finney is locked in a basement that’s stained with the blood of half a dozen other murdered children. In the cellar with him is an antique telephone, long since disconnected, but which rings at night with calls from the dead….

The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past…

My Review:

I love a good anthology, although one compiled by a single author usually defeats the purpose for me; I read anthologies to discover new authors to add to my ever growing reading list. However, I was recommended Joe Hill’s 21st Century Ghosts by a friend and thought the collection sounded interesting…and it was.

The stories are varied and creepy, covering a myriad of horror tropes. Some were scary, some were gross, and some were surprisingly poignant and heartbreaking; I particularly enjoyed ‘Pop Art’.

I must admit that as a horror writer myself I approached Joe Hill with a dubious sense of dread. As King of Horror Stephen King’s son, you’d be forgiven for thinking he has simply waltzed into a major publishing contract as a legacy author, something that could leave an old penny taste in the mouth of other writers that have struggled and fought for their place in the literary world. But I was pleasantly surprised. He’s talented and tells each story with expertise and flair; he deserves the hype (something that happens less and less these days)

The front cover is eye catching and has an expensive look to it, which is good as the cover is something that can go horribly wrong in this genre giving amazing books a cheap impression. Although, I’d expect nothing less from a major publisher such as Harper Collins.

Overall I’d give 21st Century Ghosts 4 out of 5 stars. If you’re already looking for a Halloween, read (I know I am, Halloween comes just once a year and preparation is key to wringing out every drop of wonderful creepiness) then look no further.

Find 21st Century Ghosts on GoodReads…

Believing in the supernatural

file0001298559974As an author, I do a lot of research, but as a very curious person, I do much more. The supernatural has always intrigued me, so it’s not surprising that it creeps into my books – whether I want it to or not! My latest book, Lost in Wonderland includes a character called Shilo who has a very staunch belief in monsters. He’s convinced himself they are very real, so much so that he’s spent most of his life in a mental hospital, whiling away the days being fearful of a monster that he’s convinced took his mother and talking things through with a very understanding imaginary friend.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m a Shilo, but I deliberately created him to represent a significant part of my personality – the believer.

I grew up on stories of ghosts and monsters, and I was reading about these creatures long before the internet gave us unlimited access to every witness, urban legend, blurry photo and conspiracy article. I adored the thought that these things existed in our world – as long as the existed outside my line of sight that is! I always found it fascinating that every culture has a legend to do with a vampire, a sea creature, a Bigfoot and even demons. Most dating back to when these countries had no communication with one another and probably didn’t even know of each other’s existence. And it seems everyone I’ve spoken to has ghost stories of some sort that they can tell. I live a ten-minute drive from the famous British castle where Charles Dickens saw the ghost that inspired the Phantom in his book, Bleak House.file0001322029483

I don’t know about you, but I have a very open mind about the supernatural; though, not so open that my brain drops out! My analytical side flares up with everything I read – that cold breeze that made you shiver could well be just poor quality window fittings and that lake monster you took a holiday selfie with might well be just an oozing pile of trash floating out to sea. I think we have to wonder, in this day and age with the technology we have at our everyday disposal, why we’re not brimming with irrefutable evidence of the supernatural. Maybe, like me, most of the human race like the idea of it, just don’t want to know for sure that it exists – I mean how would it affect the world if a pack of werewolves were discovered hiding out in a US national park? Worse, that it had been covered up?

I’d love to hear your stories of supernatural events and experiences, so please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog, I’d love to read them.

Book Spotlight: First Contact by Kat Green

First Contact coverSynopsis:

Sloane Osborne is a paranormal realtor in the business of selling haunted houses but, in truth, she’s only searching for one ghost. And her time is running out. It’s the 366th day after her fiancé’s death. Michael used to like putting things off for “a year and a day”—so tonight’s the night. Sloane will do anything to make contact with him before the clock strikes midnight. When she gets a call to check out a home in Waukesha, Wisconsin, it’s the last place she thinks Michael would contact her. Sloane is dead wrong. Michael appears…and tells her to get out of the house. Immediately.



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About the Authors:

Kat de Falla

Author Kat de Falla was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she learned to roller-skate, ride a banana seat bike, and love Shakespeare thanks to her high school English teacher. Four years at the UW-Madison wasn’t enough, so she returned to her beloved college town for her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and is happily employed as a retail pharmacist where she fills prescriptions and chats with her patients. She is married to her soulmate, classical guitarist, Lee de Falla and raising four kids together ala the Brady Bunch.

Kat de Falla is also the author of The Seer’s Lover, a dark fantasy released by The Wild Rose Press.

Author Website: www.katdefalla.comKat Green author photo

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R.A. Green

Born in St. Charles, Illinois, R.A. Green has wanted to be an author since sixth grade when her English teacher told her she should consider writing as a career. After many years of trying, she is finally making that dream come true. She attended Carroll University where she majored in English and History, with a minor in French. She went on to become an in-home daycare provider where she spends her days singing, dancing, and doing projects that cover her house in glitter. For years, she’s frantically written as much as she can during nap time. She is a breast cancer survivor, a Brewers fan and a “Disney Dork” who can’t wait to start planning her next Disney vacation. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her wrestling coach husband and two children, and all three are the greatest blessings in her life. First Contact is her debut novel.

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Interview with Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen 1What do you love about being an author?
Being an author is strange because you are usually so detached from your audience. Reading is such a private thing–You never see someone reading your book. That being said, I love it when I can connect with my readers. When I meet someone at a book signing or conference who tells me how my books have inspired them, that makes everything worthwhile.
If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?
Wow, that’s quite a question! I guess I would love to have dinner with Sherlock Holmes, and I imagine we would eat at a dingy old English pub.
If your story was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?
“Sonic Fear” has very few characters (it’s really an exploration of urban loneliness – how an individual can be detached from family and community and still surrounded by noise), but I think Shia LaBeouf might be good for the role. He’s such a tragic figure anyway. I think I would like Samuel L. Jackson to play the bartender.
Vampires – do you prefer them as sexy leads or blood hungry monsters?
Hm. I think there’s certainly a romantic and even erotic element to vampires, but they are, after all, creatures of horror. There’s an element of transformation in them–from human to blood sucker. We’ve all had romantic relationships go bad, and have known people with significant others who seemed to suck the life out of them. So I think there’s no contradiction in the idea of romance turning to horror. There needs to be a balance between the two.
If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?Haunting Illinois by Michael Kleen
I’ve always had an interest in Civil War-era America. That’s what I focused on in my graduate work, and I would love to go back in time to the 1850s and 1860s and see what life was really like. I don’t know how long I could survive without the Internet though..
What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?
Find a stable career BEFORE embarking on a writing career. As most writers know, the business doesn’t really provide a firm financial foundation, especially for someone starting out. I dove right in, expecting to make a big splash early on. Being a professional writer turned out to be grueling and full of disappointment. You need to be able to weather the storm between book projects and disappointing royalty checks. Having another, stable source of income makes the good times even better. I wish someone had told me that when I was in my early 20s. Then again, I’m not sure I would have listened.
Do you believe in faeries?
If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
I guess I would be a ghost because then I would know part of me would live on forever. Plus I think it would be ironic to haunt something and have people write about it.
Where do you write best?
It may seem strange, but I love to sit at restaurants and write. I find someplace with a nice atmosphere and sit down with a pen and pad of paper. I enjoy the background noise and the sense of being somewhere active, surrounded by people but not disturbed by them. While I was at Eastern Illinois University, I used to love to go to the coffee shop in the University Union and get a chai and scone and work on my stories or articles.
Lost in the Witching Hour

Lost in the Witching Hour

What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?

Haunted Kansas by Lisa Hefner Heitz. It is an excellent book, and one of the last books on ghost stories in the Midwest to retain the feel of the old academic study of folklore. Even though it was published in the early 1990s, the stories are fresh and beautifully retold. Pretty much everything you read online or in other books today about the ghost stories of Kansas came from Lisa Hefner Heitz’s work.
If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?
This is hard to answer because I write about a lot of different subjects and in different genres. One genre I’ve always wanted to break into (no pun intended) is true crime. I recently wrote an article about a famous murder case in Rockford, Illinois for the anthology Secret Rockford. I always feel somewhat uncomfortable when I write about that topic though – like the act of writing about crime is fundamentally exploitative. That feeling keeps me from really exploring the genre.
Where can fans find you online?
My main blog is, but I also maintain a personal website at My author page can be found at

Interview with Jane Tara

IMG_8535Tell us about your publishing journey…

It’s been a long and interesting journey for me. I started as a playwright, and won a few awards, which got my plays published. Then I had some children’s picture books published. (To date I’ve had about two dozen published.) I wrote my first novel, Forecast while I was living in New York, and it was published by Dorchester. Over the years I’ve written for TV, magazines and newspapers. In 2009 I started my own boutique publishing company called Itchee Feet, which produces children’s travel books.

When Dorchester went bust, I got the rights to Forecast back and contacted Momentum. They republished Forecast, and have since published Trouble Brewing, The Happy Endings Book Club, and now Hamlet’s Ghost.

Momentum is a good fit for me. It really is about gaining momentum as a writer.

 What do you love about being an author?

I love the solitude. Or at least, I love it when I get it. In my house it’s rare.

I love those moments when I’m writing and I’m totally in the world I’m writing about. There are other times when I feel like I’m smacking my head against a wall, so it’s wonderful when it flows.

Another thing I love about being an author is hearing from readers. I love hearing that I’ve made someone smile.

If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?

Sei Shonagon who wrote The Pillow Book… and we’d eat Japanese food. I can’t imagine that she’d want to eat anything else. And she certainly wouldn’t approve of me being vegetarian, so sashimi and yakimono it is.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads? Title_Hamlets_Ghost_Jane_Tara

Forecast actually had a director attached at one stage, and I wrote the screenplay. I was really hoping for Isla Fisher and Shirley Maclaine to play Rowie and Gwendolyn. Unfortunately the project didn’t pan out.

I think Hamlet’s Ghost would be a fun romcom… Not sure who I’d cast however in my mind Kip looks suspiciously like David Gandy. Can he act?

Vampires – do you prefer them as sexy leads or blood hungry monsters?

Oh sexy leads, definitely.

If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?

I’d go back to the royal court in Heian Japan (794-1185). The world’s first novel, Tale of Genji was written during this time. There were many Heian women writers whose memoirs and diaries survive today. I’d love to hang out with Sei Shonagon, who was the lady-in-waiting to the Empress, and wrote a diary that was passed around the court for entertainment purposes. Her wit and strength and sharp observations astound me.

What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?

Learn how to meditate. I wish I’d understood the power of mindfulness from a young age. I now teach my sons. It’s a very powerful life tool.

If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?

A fairy. I’ve been waiting my whole life for my mother to tell me I’m part Fey. Maybe next year, on my birthday…

Where do you write best? 

Perched up on my bed.

What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?

I read non-fiction while I’m writing. I’ve just finished The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, the women who started the Arrowsmith School for kids with dyslexia and learning issues. Incredible story and inspiring work.

If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?

Travel memoirs. I’m a traveller. I get restless living in one spot. I’ve lived in six countries, visited dozens more… I love being on the road. And I love reading travel memoirs. I plan to write one, one day.

Where can fans find you online?

Interview with Terri Bruce

terriTell us about your publishing journey…

That is an insanely complicated question to answer :-) The short version is that I queried Hereafter for eight months in 2011/2012 and racked up over 100 rejections. I finally landed a deal with a small press and Hereafter was published August 1, 2012. Everything was going well, and then a dispute with the publisher over the second book in the series arose in May 2013 and we parted ways, with the rights to both books returning to me. I weighed my options on how best to get Hereafter back to market and ultimately, after rejecting several offers from various publishers, decided to self-publish. And here I am today :-)

What do you love about being an author?

Meeting people! I’m very shy and almost never strike up conversations with strangers. But being an author makes it easy to talk to people. I’ve met so many fun and interesting people since become an author—it’s been amazing!

If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?

LOL—my response to the “what person (living/dead/real/fictional) would you have dinner with question” is always “no one,” because I am so shy and awkward and can’t make small talk and get very tongue-tied around people I admire, so the dinner would be an excruciatingly painful and embarrassing ordeal for both me and the other person! Gah! I’m picturing it right now and I’m feeling mortified just imagining it! here

If your book was to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot (what author doesn’t dream of having her book turned into a movie???) and I can’t really think of anyone. Alison Scagliotti might be perfect if she was just a little older (Irene is 36). Jaime Murray and Alicia Coppola would be almost perfect (the right mix of sweet and snarky) but they are a little too mature—and I don’t mean to say that they’re tool old; I mean, when you look at their faces and in their eyes, they are mature, grown-up, thoughtful women. Irene is very immature. You’d never mistake her for someone’s mother or someone who could be maternal. As for Jonah…I haven’t yet seen anyone who might be Jonah. Jamie Campbell Bower is pretty close, except he’s way too old (Jonah is 14). I wonder if he has a little brother.

I don’t know—readers, what do you think? Any suggestions on who should play Irene and Jonah?

Have you had any ghostly experiences in real life?

Yes, my house seems to be haunted. I’m not going to say it is for sure, but it’s the only explanation I have at the moment for the weird stuff that goes on there—voices, noises, lights, stuff moving around… It was a little difficult when we first moved in, but we’ve all learned to live together and things are mostly peaceful. In Hereafter, Mrs. Boine’s statement, “Don’t disturb the living and they won’t disturb you” is actually something I started saying after we moved into this house (yes, I talk to my ghosts :-)).

If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?

You know, I don’t know that I would. The past is fraught with a lot of peril—as a woman, anything outside the modern age and suddenly I have no rights, can’t vote, can’t work outside the home, have to wear horrendous layers and layers of clothes, am considered property, etc. And then there’s the lack of sanitation, superstitions (not keen on being hung for a witch), and bigotry/discrimination. So, yeah…I think I’ll stay in 2014. :-)

What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?

Oh geez, pretty much everything. There’s a line in Hereafter, “I guess you’re one of those people who has to learn everything the hard way,” and that is completely autobiographical. Part of it is that I’m a kinesthetic learner—you can tell me a thing a hundred times but it will never sink in. But if I do it once, then I’ll pick it right up. Plus I’m really stubborn and optimistic, so I don’t like to be told a thing is impossible. My first reaction is to prove the person saying so wrong So for me, advice has been sort of useless—I have to just go and find out for myself. Which really sucks—I wish I could just absorb life experience via explanation, then I wouldn’t have had to make so many mistakes and do things the long/most inefficient way possible!

What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?

I actually just finished The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle—I’ve been a fan of the movie since I was a kid, but somehow never read the book. I received a copy for Christmas and finally read it and loved it and wished I’d read it sooner. The movie is pretty faithful to the book, but there are a couple of additional scenes in the book that add a new dimension.

Where can fans find you online?





Twitter:                   @_TerriBruce

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Book Review: Between by Clarissa Johal

Between by Clarissa Johal Cover ArtSynopsis:

How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn’t come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life…but a battle for their salvation.

About the Author:

Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.

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My Review:

I really liked the character of Lucinda, she was caring and wounded and the kind of girl you’d want to just give a great big hug to. My only gripe with her was that there were all these men in her life falling over themselves to be with her and she still couldn’t admit to herself that she was beautiful. An endearing quality for a bit, but at some point a girl just has to look in the mirror and say, ‘Hot Damn!’.

‘Between’ comes from Musa Publishing’s Thalia (horror) imprint and to me, this was a bit misleading. I’m a hard core horror reader, and author, and I found the distinct lack of scare and tension frustrating; however, when I changed the profile of the book in my head to a paranormal romance – it worked so much better and I really started enjoying it.

As a writer, I felt there was a lot going on that didn’t feed into the main plot, so this made it quite complicated. However not so much to distract from the core story, which itself was intriguing and well-written. It is slow to get going, but all good things come to those who wait.

The front cover does the book no justice at all. It’s boring and not eye-catching, in fact I almost didn’t review the book – as like most people I do judge a book by its cover (shallow but realistic). It was pure hap stance that made me scroll down the page to the description, which made me think, ‘yeah, that sounds like an interesting story’.

I’d give this book 4 out 5 stars. It lost the last star because of the front cover, not on the appeal of the actual book itself.

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Interview with Kira Synder


How did you get into writing? 

Thanks for having me on the blog, Nicky! I’m so happy to be here. I was a voracious reader as a kid – an addiction I’ve happily never gotten over. From that it was a short jump to writing professionally, everything from plays to videogames to my current work as a screenwriter and novelist.

What advice would you give other authors?

It sounds blindingly obvious, but finish things. Many aspiring novelists and screenwriters have a single half-completed book or script that they just keep tinkering with. I recommend that you finish a project, give it a solid and thoughtful rewrite, then move on to the next. You’ll only get better with practice.

If you could be a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?

Does witch count? I’d love to be a witch like Tilly, the best friend of the heroine Celia in my Parish Mail series. Powerful, in touch with the natural forces around us, and able to do good in the world with that power. Plus, she has an awesome raven as a familiar.

What’s your favourite social media outlet and why?

Twitter’s my favourite. Breezy and simple, it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends and interesting people, catch breaking news, and be entertained.

What’s the last book you read? And what was your thoughts on it?

I recently finished THE WORLD WITHOUT US by Alan Weisman, which describes what might happen to the Earth if every human vanished suddenly. Fascinating speculation, and a sobering portrait of the harm we’re doing to the planet. I read it chiefly as research for THE 100, the TV show I’m currently working for, but it’s the kind of book that I read for fun. I love science. I usually alternate nonfiction with novels, and so right now am reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, which I’m honestly embarrassed to not have read before now! It’s marvelous, of course.


If the Parish Mail books were made into a series, who would you cast as the leads?

My ideal cast would require some time travel to get all the actors at the right ages. Kandyse McClure (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) as Tilly, Liam or Chris Hemsworth as Donovan, Avan Jogia (ABC Family’s TWISTED) as Luc. Jason Dohring, Alexander Skarsgard, or Joel Kinnaman as Sloan.

Celia, the books’ heroine, is a special case. I could see her played by actresses like Kristen Bell, Rosario Dawson, or Jamie Chung. Careful readers of Parish Mail will notice that I never describe precisely what Celia or her family look like. I want the reader to be able to picture Celia as any race.

What inspired you to write Dead Letter Office?

I was intrigued by the idea of how the ghosts of not just people but events – dark energy left by traumatic incidents like murder and war – might travel through time and affect the present. And how cool would it be to give a very modern girl, who’s skeptical of anything paranormal, the clues to solve present-day crimes in the form of letters that are decades or centuries old? New Orleans is the perfect place for these mysteries: it’s one of the few American cities where the new and the very old exist side by side.

If you can have dinner with a literary character, who would it be and why?

A double date with Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and my husband would be delightful. A lovely dinner, some dancing, witty wordplay…

What are you working on right now?

I’m writing the next Parish Mail book, codenamed PMX, which will be out later this year. Follow me on Twitter or check out my blog for clues as to what it’s all about.

I’m also busy on THE 100, a fantastically cool new YA science fiction show coming to the CW for midseason. It’s LOST meets BATTLESTAR GALACTICA with a LORD OF THE FLIES vibe.


Where can fans find you online?

I’m on Twitter @sugarjonze, and my blog is I’m also on Goodreads and Readmill. I love talking to readers, so please do drop me a line!

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