Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feast by Graham Masterton

Released: April 1988

Feast (AKA Ritual in the UK) by Graham Masterton is hands down the creepiest, most disturbing horror novel I have ever read in my life. I first discovered and read this novel in the summer of 2006, and I think about it on a regular basis. I even decided to keep this copy for my personal collection.

In Feast, a restaurant critic named Charlie travels to a sleepy Connecticut town with his young son Martin for business. As Charlie spends time in town, he begins to notice that not only do the town's residents behave strangely, but they are also missing various limbs from their bodies. Soon enough, Charlie's son Martin goes missing, and Charlie has no doubt that the creepy townsfolk are involved with his disappearance. Charlie then embarks on the journey to find and save his son - and discovers that he has become entangled in the most unimaginable nightmare. And I when I say unimaginable, I really do mean UNIMAGINABLE.

Anything else I reveal about the plot from here on out will indeed spoil the outcome for future readers of this novel, and of course, I wouldn't dream of doing that.

However, I will say this: Feast is the most disgusting horror novel I've ever come across, with Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted at a close tie. As I read Feast, I had to put the book down several times because I was legitimately gagging, and none of my friends or family would allow me to discuss the book with them because it was so gross. Yet, this is exactly what I loved about the book, and it was truly horrifying, and thrilling.

The book was written in 1988, but its horror elements are not at all time-sensitive. If you can get your hands on a copy, DO IT! It is well worth your time!

My other favorite horror novels by Graham Masterton are Prey, Master of Lies, and Death Mask. Click on any of the book images below to review them in more detail on

What are the nastiest horror novels you've ever read? What books have truly made you sick to your stomach? Share your comments with us below.

Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik by Marie Javins
Released: 2006

In this humorous travel book, Marie Javins recounts her trek through Africa through a series of anecdotes and short stories. If you've ever thought about traveling through Africa, Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik provides helpful insight into how your experience might go (including tips on how to handle the tricks street vendors might pull in an effort to scam you).

I purchased Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik because I've got to admit - the title drew me in. I figured an author who wrote a book with words that sounded like "dick" in the title would have an amazing sense of humor. However, unlike my experience with many other travel memoirs, I did not find Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik quite as humorous.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton
Released: February 2008

Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter is the thirteenth book in Nancy Atherton's "Aunt Dimity" cozy mystery series.

For those of you not entirely familiar with the series, Aunt Dimity is a ghost whose spirit is attached to a blank journal, which Lori - the heroine of the series - refers to when she needs advice and guidance with solving mysteries.

In Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter, Lori investigates whether vampirism exists in the Cotswolds after her twin sons claim they've seen a vampire during a horseback-riding expedition in the nearby woods.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Salt of the Earth by Jack Olsen
Released: May 1996

Salt of the Earth is just one of Jack Olsen's many true crime books, and an excellent one at that! Salt of the Earth is a perfect qualifier for the category well-known in the reading world as "Nonfiction That Reads Like a Novel", because it definitely does!

Salt of the Earth is a true story about the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl named Brenda Gere, and the effect it has on her family, especially her mother, Elaine.

From the time Brenda went missing, authorities believed that she was abducted by Michael Kay Green, a local steroid abuser. However, the justice system failed to prove at the time that Green was involved with Brenda's disappearance.

Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait
Released: August 1989

I initially learned about Satterthwait's Miss Lizzie from one of Nancy Pearl's Book Lust books. Pearl's recommendations are never to be ignored, and I'm happy to report that Miss Lizzie has become one of the best books I have ever read!

Miss Lizzie is a fictional look into the elderly life of the infamous ax-murderer Lizzie Borden. If you're not already familiar with Lizzie Borden and the crime of which she was accused, put this novel on hold until you've taken the time to learn more about her. This Lizzie Borden Wikipedia page is a great place to start. If you don't know the history about Lizzie Borden, much of this novel will be lost on you.

Rogue Angel: Destiny by Alex Archer
Released: July 2006

Destiny is the first novel in the prolific "Rogue Angel" series written by Alex Archer.

Here's the synopsis for Destiny courtesy of Fantastic Fiction:

An ancient order tied to the Vatican...
A blood fortune buried in the caves of France...
A conspiracy of power, greed and darkest evil... 

Archaeologist and explorer Annja Creed's fascination with the myths and mysteries of the past leads her to a crypt in the caves of France, where the terrifying legend of the Beast of Gevaudan hints at the unimaginable. What she discovers is shattering: an artifact that will seal her destiny; a brotherhood of monks willing to murder to protect their secret; and a powerful black-market occultist desperate to put his own claim to centuries-old blood money. Annja embarks on a high-tension race across Europe and history itself, intent on linking the unholy treachery of the ages with the staggering revelations of the present. But she must survive the shadow figures determined to silence her threat to their existence.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Autobiography of Henry VIII : With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George
Released: 1986

The Autobiography of Henry VIII is the first novel published by esteemed historical fiction novelist Margaret George. Although this book may seem like a real autobiography at first glance based on the title (of course it's not - how is that even possible?), this novel is actually a fictional firsthand account of the life of Henry VIII, as told by his fool, Will Somers.

Sitting at a very thick 960 pages, The Autobiography of Henry VIII may seem an overwhelming feat to some readers, especially those skeptical about picking up this novel to begin with. However, if you know anything at all about the history of Henry VIII (and his six wives!), I highly recommend sticking it out. This novel will change your outlook on this king forever, and is much better than most other fictional accounts of Henry VIII's life.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Released: 1991

When I first saw Outlander and the rest of Diana Gabaldon's romance time-travel series at the bookstore, I had no intention of ever reading its synopsis. The premise seemed as if it would be boring, based on the appearance of its book cover.

I finally caved in and purchased a copy of Outlander after a friend of mine recommended the series, insisting it was one of the best series she had ever read. I usually take book recommendations with a grain of salt, but since I considered that particular friend one of the smartest people I knew at the time, I listened to her, and I'm glad I did, because I was glued to this novel from start to finish.

Handle Time by Lincoln Park
Released: May 2008

Handle Time is an alleged satire about working at a call center.

I only say "alleged" because at the time I read this novel, I was about 10 years into my career at various call centers. I hated working for call centers, and I think during that time period, my cynical attitude toward call-center life disagreed with the portrayal of the same environment in Handle Time.

Although author Park has had call-center experience, I felt that she did an awful job at replicating a true call-center environment.

Thief of Light by Denise Rossetti
Released: November 2009

Thief of Light is the second novel in Denise Rossetti's Four-Sided Pentacle paranormal romance series.

Erik Thorensen possesses a special magical gift known as "the Voice," which gives him the ability to persuade and seduce innocent women at his command. Although he can pretty much have any woman he wants, Erik is (of course!) irresistibly attracted to Prue, an intelligent, demure bookkeeper.

The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales by Collected Authors
Released: 2005

The Worst Noel contains multiple short stories about individuals who find Christmas painful, and hard to deal with. Being a non-fan of the commercial, Christmas holiday season myself, I found this book mildly entertaining. The stories weren't too exhilarating.

My favorite story in The Worst Noel is "The Gift of the Magi Redux." This story is about a couple who buys each other the "wrong" Christmas presents, and the couple eventually breaks up as a result of not understanding one another. What a hilarious concept - who hasn't been with a person who bought them the "wrong" gifts?

The rest of the stories in this novel are so-so. Would I recommend The Worst Noel? Probably not - maybe only to those who have a deep hatred for Christmas.

A Highland Christmas by M.C. Beaton
Released: November 2002

A Highland Christmas is a standalone holiday novel in M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth mystery series, though it was the 16th book released in the series.

It's Christmas in the small Highland town of Lochdubh, Scotland, and Hamish Macbeth is called upon to investigate not a murder, but a set of missing Christmas lights and a crabby old lady's missing cat.

A Highland Christmas is very short in length, though perfectly enjoyable to read during the holiday season. The Scroogey-lady whose cat goes missing even softens by the novel's end.

Fans of M.C. Beaton's novels will truly enjoy their time with A Highland Christmas! The books that follow A Highland Christmas in this series are Death of a Celebrity, Death of a Village, Death of a Poison Pen, and Death of a Bore.

Click on any of the images below to review the book in more detail on

What are your favorite Christmas holiday reads? Share your thoughts with us below.

Glory in Death by J.D. Robb
Released: October 2004

Glory in Death is the second book in J.D. Robb's (AKA Nora Roberts') "In Death" romantic suspense series.

Police lieutenant Eve Dallas' latest assignment is to track down a murderer who has killed two beautiful and very successful women. Eve's case becomes even more serious when her boyfriend Roarke makes the list of suspects.

With faithful dedication to her job, Eve has no problem investigating Roarke from a professional standpoint; however, on a personal level, Eve must work just as hard to keep her emotions in check.

Girls of Summer by Barbara Bretton
Released: March 2004

Girls of Summer is the second contemporary romance novel in Barbara Bretton's Shelter Cove series.

Ellen Markowitz has been lusting over Hall Talbot for months. Ellen and Hall are both gynecologists who work for the same practice, so Ellen is usually faced with her heart's desire nearly every day.

After an impromptu and spontaneous drunken night on the town, Ellen and Hall have a steamy one-night-stand (which is actually how Girls of Summer begins). Ellen is then forced to confront her ongoing feelings for Hall, even as Hall continues to obsess over a childhood crush on another woman.

Columbine by Dave Cullen
Released: April 2009

Dave Cullen's Columbine is a breakdown of the true events behind the April 20, 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado.

Cullen's work in Columbine is fascinating, mainly because all the facts he presents in this book are garnered from real and concrete documentation. Before he even delves into the events surrounding the Columbine shooting, Cullen kicks off his book with a helpful prelude about his sources, which lets us know that the material we're about to read isn't fabricated, or opinionated.

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver
Released: June 2007

The Sleeping Doll is Jeffery Deaver's first thriller novel in the Kathryn Dance series. Kathryn Dance's character is an expert interrogator and body-language analyst for the FBI.

When a serial killer named Daniel Pell escapes from prison, the FBI suspects that Pell is after a girl known as "The Sleeping Doll," the only survivor left from the family Pell slaughtered years ago. Having belonged to a cult and committed a murder in the style of Charles Manson, Kathryn Dance must use her knowledge about Pell to track him down throughout central California.

Death of a Scriptwriter by M.C. Beaton
Released: June 1998

Death Of A Scriptwriter is the fourteenth book in the Hamish Macbeth detective series by M.C. Beaton.

When a troop of filmmakers invade the Highlands to film a television show based on a famous mystery book series, the town of Lochdubh becomes obsessed with the concept of Hollywood entering their lives.

Death of a Dentist by M.C. Beaton
Released: August 1997

Death of a Dentist is the thirteenth book in M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth detective series.

In the town of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands, a local dentist is found sitting dead in his office with his teeth horrifically drilled into. Because the dentist was a womanizer, the suspects include several women he had an affair with, as well as a few dental patients. Hamish Macbeth must interview and investigate all the murder suspects before they catch on and kill Hamish.

As always, Hamish uses his wits to solve the crime, but not without encountering quirky townspeople and several mishaps along the way.

M.C. Beaton truly does write the best cozy mystery series. This particular book was humorous throughout and fun - definitely a stellar read.

Following Death of a Dentist in this series are books 14 through 17, all of which are displayed below.

Who are your favorite characters in the Hamish Macbeth series? Who is your favorite cozy mystery author? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Exposed by Alex Kava
Released: October 2008

Alex Kava has written a number of thriller novels. Exposed is the sixth book in Kava's FBI profiler Maggie O'Dell series.

In this sixth installment of the Maggie O'Dell series, FBI expert-profiler Maggie is tracking down a killer who indirectly murders others using a strain of the Ebola virus. Maggie's latest case is extraordinary because she tracks the killer while being confined in a private lock-down cell - after already having been exposed to the virus.

Death Mask by Graham Masterton

Photo from
Released: April 2008

Graham Masterton's Death Mask is the second book in the Sissy Sawyer series. In countries outside of the United States, Death Mask's title is actually The Painted Man.

Death Mask is a blood-bath thriller about an ugly, evil killer who appears out of thin air to bludgeon people, most often in elevators (trust Masterton to turn anything into scary). This particular killer is untraceable and non-existent when police and detectives are investigating murder scenes, which indicates that this killer is either really good, or just a ghost.

A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight

Released: March 2006

Susan Straight's A Million Nightingales is the story of Moinette, a young girl with a white father and an African mother who is sold at the age of 14 to another slave-owner. The novel takes place during the Antebellum era in the old South.

I'm ashamed to say that I discarded A Million Nightingales about mid-way through - I just didn't find it captivating or original, especially when compared to other novels on similar subject matters by Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. Although a wealth of possible plots and stories could be inspired by the Antebellum era, I didn't feel as if this particular "slave-girl" novel was compelling enough to stand out.