Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Trapped" by Jack Kilborn (@jakonrath)

I saved the scariest (and the goriest--fair warning, everyone) for last.  I figured in the week leading up to Halloween, we've got to go for the gusto, right?

And holy cow, Jack Kilborn (J.A. Konrath) does.  If you like going camping, I'm going to tell you this right now:  do not read this book if you want to be able to sleep out in the wilderness ever again.

So, for you thriller readers, I would say that this goes beyond thrills, beyond horror and into a new category all it's own.  Let's call it screaming night terrors.  Okay, I need something punchier, but you get the idea.  This novel is one of the few that I wanted to finish reading quickly in order to NO LONGER LIVE IN FEAR.  Finishing it is a little bit like the relief after having a dislocated shoulder snapped back in place.

Don't get me wrong.  It is a thrill ride and a half.  Just don't expect to be coddled at any point.

Now, for the rest of you who are probably thinking, "Okay, there is no chance whatsoever that I will read this book," let me tell you a trio of things.  One, it's Halloween.  If you're ever going to take a chance on horror, now is the time to do it.  Two, the gore here is very well done.  Sort of a gosh-I'm-embarrassed-I-liked-that-so-much kind of thing.  Like Pulp Fiction.  And third and lastly, this novel is $2.99 on Smashwords.  Yes, you read that right.  Three bucks.  So take the plunge.  Even if you don't like the water, you're not out much.

Now please excuse me while I go burn all my camping gear.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"iDrakula" by Bekka Black (@bekka_black)

That's right! More horror! (Hey, it's that time of year, what can I say?)

This week, we've got an fascinating take on an oldie but goody.  With iDrakula, Becca Black has pulled Bram Stoker's Dracula kicking and screaming into the 21st century.  Instead of letters back and forth, it's emails, text messages and websites sizzling across the pages.

And it works. Totally.  At 160 pages, this YA chiller will be a quick read for you or your teenager (or tweenager, or whatever), but it's such a great new spin on an old tale that it's completely worth it.  If you're a big fan of classic horror, you'll chuckle at the wonderfully innovative updating while still feeling the chill creeping down your spine at the horror of what you know is happening.  And, come on, you know you dig getting back to the vampire nitty-gritty, right? Much as the thought of vegetarian vamps may be's just not that time of year.

And if you're not such a fan of horror, this is such a clever modernization that it's worth reading just for the new spin Black puts on it.  The format is engaging, and before you know it, you're halfway through the book.  There is an essential disconnect in our use of modern technology, and you can feel it increase the stakes (and yes, that pun was intended) as the horror mounts.  And again, if there's ever a time to branch into the rich (and creepy) world of horror, it's this time of year.  iDrakula will be as gentle and fun a way to do that as you can find.

So, pick up a copy.  In fact, do yourself one better.  It's a novel that uses modern methods of communication to tell a story.  So, use a modern method of downloading!  If you haven't tried out e-books yet, now's the perfect time.  iDrakula's available on Kindle through and other e-book platforms through  Download the sucker (and that pun was intended, too)!

One final item, thriller fans!  I have 3 copies of iDrakula to give away!  If you would like to be entered, leave a comment (you MUST include either your Twitter handle or your email so I can get in touch with you).  The winners will be picked on Friday at 7pm Pacific Standard Time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Heart Shaped Box" by Joe Hill

It's October.  Time to get creepy.

First off, for you thriller fans, if you have anything that you want to get done over the course of the next few days, do not, I repeat DO NOT pick up this book.  Your life will be sucked down the creepy, compelling and just plain-ol'-awesome black hole of a book that Joe Hill has put together.  His writing's lean and mean and drags you on a ride that'll have you turning on the lights during the daytime.  Word.

Here's the thing:  Hill goes there.  And once he goes there, he doesn't retreat.  He's out on that ledge looking for a toehold to take you to the next insanely dangerous (but totally thrilling) place.  And the whole time, his story's so completely grounded that it doesn't feel like a story.  You're there.  You're seeing it.  And what you're seeing will scare the beejeebers out of you.  Oh yeah, and the gore.  Did I mention the gore?  #notmeantforaweakstomach

Now I know for you non-thriller types that telling you to take an even bigger leap to horror is asking a lot.  I get it.  But listen...Hill's writing something that goes beyond horror here.  His prose approaches poetry at times, without feeling all self-conscious.  Know what I mean?  The guy can craft a story and get your heart racing, but there's also a real sense of kindness underneath the horror.  The main character's going through this whole transformation that leaves us feeling like change is not only possible, but actually a good idea.

Oh, and one more thing to think about.  It's coming up on Halloween.  If now isn't the time to experiment with some horror, when is?

So, go out and buy a couple of nightlights, clear your schedule and pick up this book.  You may curse my name while skipping your daily hygienic routine in order to keep reading, but once done, you'll come back and thank me again and again.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Postmortem" by Patricia Cornwell

Yeah, I know.  We normally go for books that are at least somewhat new-ish.  Not the first of a series of novels whose 18th installment is due out in November (the Kay Scarpetta Mysteries).  But, hey, it's us.  We're nothing if not unpredictable.  So, for you Patricia Cornwell fans out there that are like, "Dude, we KNOW already!"--Chill!  Just take this review as an aperitif for "Port Mortuary" which is due out at the end of next month.

For you thriller fans that haven't read this yet, I have only one thing to say to you.  What the freak!!??  Seriously, you have to read this one, like, yesterday.  A smart and twisted serial killer, plenty of chills and thrills, and an unerring sense of this-really-happened writing makes this a novel that I was truly bummed to have end.  There's a reason that this one spawned a 20 year series of novels that have won between them pretty much every award to ever be given to crime thrillers.

As for the rest of you "ho-hum, another thriller" types, here's what you have to look forward to.  This is a novel that will have you turning pages.  "Yeah, every other thriller people try to foist on me, " you say?  Yes, but while turning those pages, the honesty of the writing will have you believing it really happened.  Seriously, I was doing some research for another novel and tried to look up the case from "Postmortem".

Plus, this is an awesome example of a woman writing in a typically men's genre, who has the chutzpah to use her own (obviously feminine) name, with a kick-butt female protagonist.  And she is KICK-BUTT!  And no demure and false self-modesty from this one.  She knows she's awesome! 

So, for you that love and follow this series, take this chance to go back and re-read the one that got you hooked before the next installment comes out.  As for everyone else--what are you waiting for? :)