10 Cringe-worthy Reads That’ll Make you Scream (with delight)

Vampires, Witches, and Ghosts…oh my!! Are you looking forward to Halloween as much as I am? Beyond consuming copious amounts of fun-size chocolate (don’t judge me, it’s Halloween), I always love to get in the spirit by reading a creepy story. For the blog today, I’ve pulled together some of my new favorites as well as a few of my usual October re-reads. Enjoy.

book cover

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

A jaw-dropping mystery about a woman whose life is turned upside down when she finds out that her husband is a serial killer. She and her kids must go into hiding to protect themselves from the cyber trolls that think she knew about his sinister hobby all along.

Lots of creepy cyberspace stalking, an abundance of interesting characters/suspects, and a soccer mom turned survivalist (reminiscent of Terminator’s Sarah Connor), make me love this new series from one of my all-time favorite authors. The next book in the series, Killman Creek, comes out December 12, 2017.


Frenzy by Casey Bond

Vampires verses zombies in an unsettling dystopia where there are more secrets than you can shake a stake at. Frenzy is the first book in the completed series of the same name.

I listened to these on Audible and found myself shouting out loud at almost every chapter end. Relentless thrills, unforeseen twists (how does she dream up this stuff), and drama that makes you cry one moment and laugh the next make Frenzy a must read.


The Vampire Wish by Michelle Madow

Original twist on the usual vampire stories. The vampire kingdom is separated from our own in a magically protected valley. A girl is kidnapped and pulled into the vampire kingdom to spend the rest of her days as a human slave. A chance encounter, changes her circumstances and brings her closer to her only wish, to become a vampire so that she can escape. The Vampire Wish is the first book in the Dark World series. The fifth book, The Vampire War, is slated to release in December/January.

Reminded me so much of my own Midnight Guardian series with the idea of a world of baddies separated from our world by only a thin layer of magic. A great meshing of contemporary and old world. This fresh take on vampires is a new favorite.


Dark & Deadly Things by Kelly Martin

Things go really, really wrong on the Dark & Deadly Things reality ghosthunter TV show’s live episode. The lead ghosthunter’s daughter and the last remaining survivor of the doomed episode pair up to solve the mystery of what really happened that night. Dark & Deadly Things is the first book of the completed Dark Things series.

Fans of Supernatural and The Conjuring/Annabelle movies will love this ghosthunting series. Don’t read it when home alone (trust me). Seriously creepy and imaginative, Dark & Deadly Things is the perfect Halloween read.


Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert

A loveable witch in a cozy, small town meets a stranger looking for some rare trees in the woods (so they say). In the search, the young witch uncovers and rights the wrongs of the past. Halfway Dead is the first book in the Halfway Witchy series. Halfway Drowned is the recently released fourth book in the series.

Forget Glinda and Elphaba, Carlie is my favorite witch. Ever. There I said it. Girl is powerful and smart, while sometimes vulnerable, and she makes waffles. Amazing descriptions make you feel like you are really there with her. Carlie plus a perfect mix of spooky adventure, cozy mystery, and comedy makes this a well-loved book.

witch hearts

Witch Hearts by Liz Long

Before I met Carlie, I met Ruby. Ruby isn’t all-in when it comes to the creepiness, but she is always there for her friends. When her roommate is killed by something that is apparently hunting witches, Ruby sets off to unravel the mystery. Witch Hearts is a standalone novel, even though I’ve personally begged the author for a second one. Many times.

One of my all-time favorite creepy mysteries, Witch Hearts delivers. Ruby is a very realistic character, so well-developed that I felt like I knew her. I found myself forgetting to breath during the suspenseful parts, and the mystery wraps around your brain and has you thinking of it long after you’ve left the page. Always a favorite re-read for October.


Bait by Kasi Blake

It’s not Bay-Lee’s fault that she is classified as “bait”, the lowest cadet level, at the Van Helsing School. Everyone has to start at the bottom. Secrets abound in this great, paranormal coming-of-age story. Bait is the first book in the Order of Spirit Realm complete series.

Fast action, the Van Helsing connection, and Nick and Bay-Lee’s dramatic relationship had me from the start. A monster mash-up with a strong female lead makes Bait a Halloween tradition.


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Haunting prose about a boy that grows up in a cemetery filled with ghosts. My recommendation, don’t read it. Well, no, read it, but then also listen to the audiobook narrated by Neil Gaiman. Neil’s voice brings an all new dimension to the entrancing story. One of the most well-worn paperbacks in my personal library, The Graveyard Book is perhaps my favorite book of all time.


Grave Peril (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher

I absolutely adore the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher, which I first picked up on recommendation of another one of my favorite authors, Charlaine Harris. As part of my own Halloween tradition, every October, I make it a point to listen to a Dresden Files book narrated by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). This year, I chose the audiobook for Grave Peril, remembering its super creepy villain, the Nightmare, and its equally creepy spell that wrapped ghostly barbed wire around its victims. More Charlaine Harris Recommendations (always good)


Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Coyote skinwalker Mercedes Thompson is tough. She had to be, being raised by werewolves. The Mercedes Thompson series is one of my most loved. Each book is an intense, action-packed mystery wrought with shifter testosterone, faerie magic, and snarky Mercedes. Moon Called is the first book in the ongoing series.

Those are my top 10 for this year. Have any more to add? Do it in the comments below. As for the creepiest one of my books, check out Shadows Rising.

Featured Spooky Woods Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash



Fun Friday: Cringe-worthy YA Monsters


Happy Fun Friday!

In anticipation for Halloween’s arrival, the Society of YA Storytellers are posting on the topic of Top YA Monsters this week. Lately, I’ve had the fortune to happen upon several indie YA novels that I really like, and wouldn’t ya know it? They always have a monster or villain that makes you want to double check the locks on all the doors.

Here are my Top 5 Cringe-worthy YA Monsters of indie novels I’ve recently read. Listed in no particular order.

The Arum – Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout

These creepy aliens harness the power of dark and shadows. They are super fast and seem to pop up whenever you least expect it.

Reapers (specifically Maxx) – Bait by K.C. Blake

The Reapers in this book are incredibly powerful and sly as they come. Don’t cross the reaper.

Ashmen – Archers of Avalon series by Chelsea Fine

I imagine an Ashman to be a mix between a reanimated corpse and a golem. They are unnaturally strong and nearly invincible, plus there’s no conscience weighing them down.

Calliope – The Lost Soul by Suzy Turner

This siren-like goddess controls minds and can hold throw you to the ceiling and hold you as easily as if she were drying her nails.

The Syns – Edge of Truth by Natasha Hanova

My boys tell me that evil robots count as monsters. These droids may not have a mind of their own, but the many nail-biting moments they gave me ranks them high on the uber-creepy scale. The Syns are watching.

See what gruesome frights the other members of The Society have wrangled onto their blogs. Go to http://yastorytellers.com/fun-fridays/ for direct links to YA Monster posts.

YA Indie Carnival: Spooky, Scary, Eerie

Happy Halloween EveryBODY! Muwhahaha!

In the “spirit” of the holiday, this week’s YA Indie Carnival posts are about the Spooky, the Scary, & the Eerie. That puts me in mind of a fave ghost story from my hometown.

In the mid 1800s, there was an old man by the name of Deluse. He lived alone in a modest house outside of town. Deluse kept to himself. Continue reading “YA Indie Carnival: Spooky, Scary, Eerie”

Sneak Peek: Shadows Rising

Here’s the scoop…

I’m currently wrapping up Shadows Rising (Book 4, Midnight Guardian series) with a tentative Halloween release. The fourth installment begins with the kidnapping of Keira’s charge, toddler Drew Hayes.

Keira Ryan is pretty much like any midwestern teen girl. Pretty much, except for the fact that she’s a guardian, an ancient species dedicated to nurturing those in the human race whom are destined change the world for the better.

Problem is, just a heartbeat away, behind a magical barrier, thrives a race of gremlin-like creatures that want nothing more than to destroy the human race. Led by the Gammen royal family, the mogdocs, are doing their best to tear their way into our world.

The thing about this series is, about the time you have it all figured out, you look up and see that you’re back to square one. One moment, you’re falling for the nice guy; the next you’re rooting for the bad boy. Even the class clown can bring you to tears. Dip your toes in book 1, Of Sun & Moon. Let the overall feeling of wrongness envelope you in book 2, Whispering Evil. Take a wild ride in book 3, Midnight Child. When the villians’ special talent is manipulation–nothing is EVER as it seems.

Here’s a sneak peek at Book 4. Continue reading “Sneak Peek: Shadows Rising”

Best Indie Scares

YA Indie Carnival fans, you’re in for a special treat this week. It’s Best Indie Scares…BOO!

I’ve got two for you, a recommendation and an excerpt.

1) The Recommendation

For a chilling Halloween read, check out Beyond the Veil: A Ghost Story Anthology by fellow indie carnival author Rachel Coles. I highly recommend it. I remember reading the story Kisses on my iPad in bed one night and had to turn it off because I was getting the heeby-jeebies from every shadow in the room. It’s great.

2) The Excerpt

Thought I would also include a scary short that I’ve written. This is one of my favorite scenes from the Midnight Guardian series. Keira shares this guardian bedtime story with Colby in Of Sun & MoonEnjoy!

Once upon a time…

A band of explorers were returning home after a long journey. Their expedition had taken more than two decades to complete. They now were making their way through Greece. Once they reached Athens, it would only be a few days more by ship to reach their homeland. When they, at last, reached the city, the weary travelers sought supplies and a night’s refuge before embarking on the final leg of their journey.

They found the city of Athens to be glorious and progressive. The citizens welcomed the strangers with open arms, even though they were creatures, like none they had ever seen before. Mogdoc was the name they grunted. The guttural name bubbled up from the primordial mud out of which they crawled. Of course, that’s not how they made their first impression.

They looked like monsters, but they were not judged on appearance. The kind-hearted people embraced their differences and took them in. They gave them warm food, cold drink, and soft beds. The mogdocs, no longer thinking of home, found excuses to stay first one night, then another, and another.

On the third night, the mogdocs were the special guests of a general in the Athenian army. The youngest female mogdoc, equivalent to a human of 6-years-old, had become fast friends with the general’s daughter. They spent every waking moment together. They skipped arm-in-arm, shared toys, and even played tea party with sweet drink and cake. On that night, the third night, the young mogdoc snuck out of bed for a midnight snack. She crept down the stairs, stole an apple from the kitchen, and slipped into the rose garden. To her astonishment, her friend, the general’s daughter was already there. The young girl was seated on a concrete bench at the garden’s edge. As the mogdoc got closer, she could see that the girl was crying. A rose thorn had pierced her finger. The tiny mogdoc took her finger, pulled out the thorn, and sniffed the blood.

In those days, mogdocs carried pouches of healing herbs. The elder mogdocs still carry them today as a reminder of this story. This young mogdoc had one and immediately delved into it. She pulled out some sweet smelling herbs and wrapped them around her friend’s finger. This made the young girl feel better. She hugged her mogdoc friend before returning to bed.

The next morning, the girl told her father of how the curious stranger had nursed her finger. The general was delighted and in gratitude invited the mogdoc clan to extend their stay. So, over the next few days, the mogdocs continued to stay at the general’s home. The children’s midnight meeting in the garden became a nightly occurrence. On the sixth night, the mogdoc was the first to arrive in the garden. The human girl skipped to the bench. The young mogdoc smiled at her friend and offered her a bite of her midnight snack. The general’s daughter screamed in horror. There was no apple. That night’s midnight snack was a human infant, blue and drained of blood. The young mogdoc took delight in the girl’s fear. She slashed the girl’s neck and fed from her friend until she was no more.

This story has been handed down from generation to generation as a testament to the manipulative nature of the mogdocs and the evil found in even the youngest of their kind. The mogdoc child had befriended the human girl to gain access. She had played tea party to sweeten the blood. She had healed her a few nights before out of greed, in order to save every drop of blood until the time was right.

If you dare for more scares, check out these other YA Indie Carnival blogs:

1. Laura A. H. Elliott author of Winnemucca & 13 on Halloween, Book 1 in the Teen Halloween Series 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. Heather Self 4. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series
5. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga 6. Darby Karchut, author of GRIFFIN RISING
7. Lexus Luke 8. PJ Hoover, Author of SOLSTICE, Blogging at ROOTS IN MYTH
9. Cheri Schmidt, author of the Fateful Trilogy 10. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog
11. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed 12. Patti Larsen, The Hunted series and The Hayle Coven series
13. Courtney Cole, author of The Bloodstone Saga 14. Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy
15. Dani Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews 16. Fisher Amelie, author of The Understorey
17. M. Leighton, Blood Like Poison Series, Madly, The Reaping 18. Abbi Glines, author of Breathe and The Vincent Boys
19. Kimberly Kinrade, Bits of You & Pieces of Me, Forbidden Mind 20. Madeline Smoot, Missing, Summer Shorts, and The Girls
21. Cidney Swanson, author of Rippler 22. Nicole Williams, author of Eternal Eden, Falling Eden
23. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 24. Abbi Glines: Breathe, The Vincent Boys, Existence


My Buffy Top Twelve for the Holiday

Indie author K.C. Blake recently posted her top twenty picks for her favorite Supernatural episodes. Being the tv-ophile that I am, this has inspired me. I started thinking of my all-time favorite TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (yes, I am a diehard Whedonite).

So, just in time for Halloween, may I present my top dozen favorite Buffy episodes.

12. Once More with Feeling – Yep, this was the musical one. I’m actually one of those people who bought the CD. I know every word and sing along when I watch. Don’t you?

11. Superstar – When it first aired, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I flipped through my TV Guide, looking for an overlooked episode to explain why I was out of the loop. This one took me totally off-guard when even the opening credits were re-cut to play into the storyline that a spell had changed the world to make the unnoticed geek the hero of the story.

10. Chosen (the final episode) – Angel returns to give Buffy some advice as she confronts the evil of the series finale. One of the best, insightful lines I’ve ever heard. “I’m not done baking.”

9. Fear, Itself – Halloween is always nuts in Sunnydale. The gang goes to a party in a frat house and craziness ensues when the door disappears. Oh yeah, Anya dresses as the scariest thing she can think of…a giant bunny.

8. Passion – What do you get when you mix love and evil? Obsession. Nothing is scarier than a vampire stalker. Character reactions were so well thought out. Often overlooked, but probably one of the best written episodes.

7. The Prom – Hellhounds trained to attack formalware…what more can I say?

6. Band Candy – The adults are acting like teens and the teens are acting like adults. Great performances.

5. School Hard – Spike and Druscilla’s first appearance.

4. Amends – Ghosts from the past haunt Angel and snow in Sunnydale.

3. Restless – The scoobies fall asleep and are held in their dreams. Really cool camera effects and techniques used like over-exposure and long hand-held sequences. It was such a departure from the typical season finale. Want some cheese?

2. Becoming, Part 2 – “Close your eyes.” I still cry when I watch it.

1. Hush – The “quiet” episode was chilling to the core and also had some of the funniest and most touching moments of the series.

Now that I’ve finished my list, I realize how very hard it was to pick just 12. Therefore, if you will indulge me, here are some Honorable Mentions: The Wish, Selfless, Life Serial, The Gift, The Body, Fool for Love, Prophecy Girl.