Flashback Friday, Giveaways

Flashback Friday and Giveaway: The Happy Haunts Halloween Edition

Flashback Friday

Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Paranormal edition of Flashback Friday!

Because it’s Halloween, and Halloween happens to be one of my favorite holidays, I’ve relaxed the rules a bit for this segment and giveaway. Rather than all the titles being older recs we’ve read and loved, we’ve opened this FbF up to our overall favorite Paranormal reads—or, at least the ones we came up with off the tops of our heads this time around. We all know it’s impossible to choose just one all-time favorite, right? So some of these books are recent releases, but hey, if you haven’t had the chance to read them yet, click on the Rafflecopter widget and you just might win TWO of our selected titles. :)

And now, here they are, our happy and haunting Halloween faves!

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TNA_Signature_KathieThere were so many emotions for me while I was reading this book, but the one I remember the most is…Scared. Wow! Can Rick R. Reed write gay horror, or what?! The sex in this book is sensual, rough and on the edge of dangerous. The food that is served in the Blue Moon Café is sensual, rough and sounds amazing. The creature…well, it’s what nightmares are made of.

Let me share with you an excerpt of this book that I still think of every time I open the door at night, especially when there is a full moon overhead:

The door finally gave way. A large, hulking black wolf framed in the doorway, illuminated in silver by the light of the moon. Steam rose from its nostrils. Its mouth was open and drooling.

And that’s just a very small piece of a story that’s crazy-scary. The Blue Moon Café made quite an impression on me. Rick R. Reed is quite the storyteller.

The Blue Moon CafeSomeone—or something—is killing Seattle’s gay men.

A creature moves through the darkest night, lit only by the full moon, taking them, one by one, from the rain city’s gay gathering areas.

Someone—or something—is falling in love with Thad Matthews.

Against a backdrop of horror and fear, young Thad finds his first true love in the most unlikely of places—a new Italian restaurant called The Blue Moon Cafe. Sam is everything Thad has ever dreamed of in a man: compassionate, giving, handsome, and with brown eyes Thad feels he could sink into. And Sam can cook! But as the pair’s love begins to grow, so do the questions and uncertainties, the main one being, why do Sam’s unexplained disappearances always coincide with the full moon?

Prepare yourself for a unique blend of dark suspense and erotic romance with The Blue Moon Cafe, written by the author Unzipped magazine called, “the Stephen King of gay horror.” You’re guaranteed an unforgettable reading experience, one that skillfully blends the hottest romance with the most chilling terror…

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TNA_Signature_CarrieIt’s 1799 New York and William is drunk. Waking in a bed of roses which belongs to the local magistrate is not a good thing, and his life is forever changed when instead of prison, he’s sent to an apprenticeship.  “Holding a lantern at the edge of the road was a tall, menacing figure in a dark hooded robe, complete with a veil that completely concealed his face.  It was Death himself, come to escort me into the underworld.” This is how William meets Merrick, the mysterious apothecary he has been indentured to.

William was a bookseller by trade, so he is an intelligent man. When things don’t add up with his new Master, he discovers secrets he never knew existed.

Clare Cray is an excellent writer and this book is one of her finest. In her own words, this is her “strange little story.” This book is a gothic romance between a vampire and his apprentice. The story is entertaining with just enough spooky to set the atmosphere, and you want the characters involved to have their HEA—but how can they when one is a vampire?

William is the sequel to this book, and I would recommend them both. You don’t have to get both, they can stand alone, but for the full effect read them together. It’s a perfect October treat!

MerrickNew York, 1799: the future looks bright for the charming young book dealer William Lacy, until a raucous night of drinking lands him in shackles. He narrowly avoids the brutal prison system thanks to his mother, who negotiates with the judge to secure him a five year apprenticeship in lieu of a jail sentence. And so William finds himself in a carriage bound for the remote woods upstate, where he’ll spend the next years of his life learning a new trade under some old master.

When he first sees Merrick, William thinks he’s been dropped into a medieval horror story. Tall and gruff, dressed in a hooded robe that completely conceals his features, and riding a black mare, Merrick might as well be the Grim Reaper.

But appearances are deceiving. A skilled apothecary and healer, Merrick proves to be a generous host and a gentle teacher, and William soon finds himself surprisingly comfortable in his new surroundings. And yet troubling mysteries abound: Why does Merrick never show his face or hands? Why do his movements seem so young and sure beneath his robes? What lies within the cave behind the stone cottage?

Something unnatural is afoot. But most alarming by far is William’s own reaction to his new keeper. For Merrick’s strange charms are bewitching enough by day; but by night, in the darkness of the room and the bed they share, William finds himself entirely overwhelmed by desires he never imagined...

Garland

TNA_Signature_SammyI love scary stuff, I really do, and so this novel, Cowboys & Vampires, was just the ticket for me. I mean, c’mon, hot cowboys and vicious vampires, what’s not to like?! I flew through this story, just could not put it down. Hank Edwards is a consummate storyteller. This novel embraces a bygone era where small towns sat in the middle of nowhere, or wherever there was a gold rush, and the law was the sheriff and his men. No judge or jury—you were either guilty and hanged, or innocent and lived to see another day. So when Dex falls in love with the very person he should be hauling into jail, all hell breaks loose—including a vampire and his minions.

This novel had me by the throat in more ways than one. Hank Edwards writes some scary, heart pounding stuff and then infuses it with such humanity and yes, a love story to boot. I was hooked and nearly died when I got to that ending…oh, Mr. Edwards, you naughty author, you!

This was an incredibly fast-paced, action-packed and bite your nails kind of book—yes, it was that good!! Just remember to keep the lights on…all of them.

Cowboys & VampiresIn the frontier town of Belkin’s Pass, as a vampire quietly feeds on the local saloon girls and their customers, a tragedy teaches resident Josh Stanton he has the ability to raise the dead. Knowing he is now a wanted man, Josh flees into the arid plains of Venom Valley. Pursued by Dex, the town deputy and Josh’s best friend, the two realize their friendship is truly something deeper, and Dex has to decide if he’s a man of the law, or a man in love. The vampire, drawn by Josh’s power, circles ever closer, gathering his forces against them.

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TNA_Signature_CHRISIf you haven’t noticed, I’m a total THIRDS Nerd. I absolutely devour the books and will totally push them on anyone who will sit still long enough for me to extol their virtues. What can I say… Charlie Cochet has me utterly hooked into her fabulous world, and I completely love Dexter J. Daley. Sorry, Sloane, I would totally steal your man in a heartbeat!  After all that you’d think that would be my choice for my favorite paranormal book. It is but it’s not. Because it’s such a popular series, I thought I’d share one of my other favorites with everyone.

Would you believe that my favorite paranormal is a fantasy story? Considering my first book addictions were The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander’s series that featured Black Cauldron, my choice for favorite paranormal book is To the Other Side by S.J. Frost, the first book in her Terra series.

To the Other Side is that one perfect m/m fantasy book for me. It combined all the right elements to make it a very well crafted story. It had captivating characters, Garrett – the intrepid human explorer, and Bryson – the courageous and giving white witch. The world building was so well crafted that you could see Terra being real and hiding right inside the tree line just past that huge oak. It also has that classic good vs evil theme, in this case an evil Duke with his minion Warlock trying to steal an immortality ring from Bryson and his true love, Garrett.

What really made the story for me was one of the secondary characters, and boy, was he a character! Wynn is a romance reading, Oreo eating dragon that lives with Bryson. Now, dragons in Terra aren’t the large, fire-breathing kind you might think. They’re more along the size of the fire lizards from Anne McCaffrey’s Harper Hall books, so the size of a large raptor or cat. Wynn is also seriously sarcastic and smarter than hell, and loves to annoy his house mates.

There is a true plethora of secondary characters that end up being featured in future books in the series. I completely admit that I adoringly stalked the author a bit because I wanted to know if she was going to write a book for two other characters that I absolutely craved to read about.

I don’t have enough words to say how much I absolutely love this book and these two characters, and that’s why it’s my favorite paranormal book.

To the Other SideGarrett Evergard is a finder of secrets. As a biologist and environmentalist, it’s his job to go into wild lands and uncover their mysteries in order to save them. In the Pacific Northwest, he races against logging lobbyists to save a section of temperate rainforest, but the forest seems reluctant to give up her secrets. Until a fateful meeting with a rare spirit bear opens the door to wonders beyond anything he’s ever imagine, the greatest of those being the beautiful man who comes to his rescue. As a witch and Gatekeeper, Bryson Summers is used to living a solitary life. He lives between two worlds, Earth and Terra, feeling not fully part of either, and dreams of meeting someone who understands him. From the moment he sees Garrett, he believes — and hopes — he’s looking upon a twin soul. Dragons, unicorns, and a witch with enchanting brown eyes, Garrett tries to make sense of a world so different from anything he’s ever known. But his mind and heart are open, and he finds himself drawn more to Bryson with each day they spend together. When Bryson and the gate that links the two worlds fall under threat, Garrett is willing to do all he can to protect them, even if it means facing down dark magic.

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TNA_Signature_AngelThough this isn’t a flashback story, as it was published earlier this year, I am recommending it because of the Halloween theme we have going on today. I love to be scared, and while I know that sounds strange, it is an exhilarating thing. Maybe it’s the endorphin rush from fear; I’m not real certain. Blood and gore don’t do much for me, but something that makes you think, psychological horror, now that is a fun time for me. And Silent Woods hit all my instant love buttons.

There’s an established couple, cute kids, and an eerily creepy setting that is as much a character as the people in the books. Silent Woods is Ofelia Grand’s take on a Swedish legend of the Fae, and it was fantastically done. I had never heard of this particular tale, and I really enjoyed reading this version of it. I love seeing the different takes on legends from around the world, and in this, Grand didn’t disappoint. The tension builds with wonderful characterization and storytelling, and though this is short, it is intense. It kept me in suspense the entire time, and the epilogue just cinched this story’s place in my heart as a go-to for a little scare re-read.

I read this short story all in one go, and it kept me up for hours afterward. In fact, it still does. The first time I read it, I got up out of bed to check on my daughter, not once but several times, and I’ve done it each time I have re-read this fantastic story.

Silent WoodsDaniel is married to an amazing man—a nature-loving man—and when that man suggests the family goes camping Daniel can’t say no. But even before they’ve left their home Daniel has a feeling that something is wrong.

He almost succeeds in convincing himself everything is as it should be, but then their five-year-old son, Axel, goes missing.

A search party arrives, and the two fathers encounter something far more sinister than either could ever have dreamed of. Will they find their son before it’s too late?

Bats

TNA_Signature_JulesParanormal! Eeeeeek! There are SO many amazing books in this genre. I’ve only read a handful of M/M paranormal to date, but have every intention of adding more and more to my list. I can’t wait to see everyone else’s picks for this week’s Flashback Friday!

What I did read recently, though – just last week, in fact, in honor of Halloween being upon us – was Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk. I mean, c’mon…what’s spookier than ghosts, right??!? This book was utterly fantastic. It was a super creepy ghost story, sure – but it was also a romance, a historical, and a social commentary piece, a wonderful amalgamation as only Jordan L. Hawk can deliver.

Let’s talk about the ghosts, though, since that’s why we’re here. First of all, the title of this book is perfect, as these are spirits who are imprisoned at the place of their human demise. Unable to leave the mansion, held captive by the ghost of the man who caused their deaths, it is up to our heroes to try and set them free. I love the different ways the ghosts appear to Henry and Vincent and the other members of the group gathered at the castle for the experiment. The idea that Vincent can taste the presence of the spirit when it’s nearby was so cool and original to me. And, the way the ghosts manifested based on the energy available to them in the room was also very cool and creepy.

Along with being an amazing storyteller, of course, one of this author’s strengths is character development. Henry and Vincent are both fantastic, as are Henry’s cousin, Jo, and Vincent’s partner, Lizzie. What I also LOVED about this book was the diversity of the characters. There are two people of color – Vincent is Native American and Jo is half-black – and a transgender person. The struggles presented therein were woven into the story perfectly, and made it that much richer, in my opinion.

Restless Spirits is the perfect choice for a spooky read at Halloween, or any time! I whole-heartedly recommend it and can’t wait to read the sequel, Dangerous Spirits!

Restless-Spirits-400x600After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.

Garland

TNA_Signature_MaryannI have read many books by Carol Lynne, and felt I needed to nominate The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly, especially for this time of year. I love reading scary novels, and this tale of horror has it all.

Horror/romance isn’t the usual type of story that Lynne writes, but I have to say this is worth the read. “Claiming” is the long awaited sequel to Ghost of Alcatraz (published in 2011), and it takes us to the year 2020 and the new age, haunted prison.

The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly picks up after Ghost of Alcatraz, where Fisher Marx was first introduced. Fisher has a new life, but he’s not at peace with everything. He hears rumors about Patrick Donnelly and has every intention of finding the young man and help him. Patrick is haunted by the ghost of his father, who is abusing and tormenting him. When Fisher and Patrick find they can’t escape the evil, they are off to Pont-Aven, France, where evil continues its reign.

If you’re a fan of horror, I highly recommend reading Ghost of Alcatraz and The Claiming of Patrick Donnelly. Both are two excellent horror stories that will definitely will get you in the mood for Halloween!

The Claiming of Patrick DonnellyAfter taming the Ghosts of Alcatraz, Fisher Marx left his position as head of the World Police Unit to take a job in the small town of Toblerville. He’d hoped to live out his life in quiet splendor while still using his skills to protect the Hickory County residents, but everything changed when he heard rumors of a young man who claimed to be the victim of regular attacks by a ghost. Unable to put the young man out of his mind, Fisher decided to investigate the situation. What he discovered in the run down house outside of town would change his life forever.

Spider Webs

TNA_Signature_LisaAnd now, for something completely different…

2011 must have been one hell of a great reading year for me, because it seems like every time I settle on a title for Flashback Friday… I discover I read the book in 2011. Go figure.

As much as I love horror—and tis the season, etc., etc.—and as much as I could have gone the way of Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCop or Channeling Morpheus/Sweet Oblivion series (both are stellar!), or gone to the waaaaay darker side of Paranormal with a good Poppy Z. Brite title, my choice today is none other than The Ghost on My Couch, L.A. Gilbert’s shmoopy and heartwarming novel that pits love against near-impossible odds.

Who says Halloween can’t be a little sweet too, right? :o)

This short novel tells the story of Alex Tanner, a man whose life can be summed up in two consistent events: working a demanding job and watching recorded episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, with little variation in the pattern of his days. After one particularly grueling shift at work, Alex comes home to unwind with a glass of wine in front of the television…only to discover a rather oddly dressed man sitting on his couch.

Sid Jones is that man. Or, rather, it’s the ghost of Sid Jones who’s parked on Alex’s sofa. He has no idea how he came to be in the limbo between life and death where he now resides, but he does know that in death, as in life, he’s entirely alone. Having grown up in the foster care system, and being a naturally shy and unassuming man, Sid knows there is no one to mourn his passing. But god, he’s sweet and gentle and entirely lovable, and it doesn’t take long for Alex to discover it.

Alex and Sid are completely endearing as a couple of men who have no idea how utterly fabulous they truly are. It takes seeing each through the other’s eyes, seeing how much each treasures the other’s friendship and how they come to value their connection that allows them to open their hearts to each other. And it works. Trust me, it works.

If you’re not into the darker side of Paranormal, are looking for something other than shifters and vamps and boo-wigglies, oh my!, to scratch your Halloween reading itch, and you’re looking for a completely smishable happily-ever-after, The Ghost on My Couch is the book you’ll want to read.

The Ghost on My CouchAlex Tanner is a male nurse who divides his time between his job and his television schedule. His idea of the perfect partner, like so many other people’s, is a tall, dark, and handsome man.

Preferably alive and breathing.

Surely that’s not asking too much?

Then an uninvited guest—a ghost, of all things—forces Alex to question what he’s always looked for in a lover and his definition of what makes a person so beautiful.

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10 thoughts on “Flashback Friday and Giveaway: The Happy Haunts Halloween Edition

  1. wiccachic2000 says:

    I still enjoy the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton. The Living With the Dead series by Jesse Petersen is an amusing zombie series as is the White Trash Zombie series by Diana Rowland. I absolutely love the Blood Nation Novel series by Derekica Snake. Plus whenever I’m in the mood for a credible werewolf apocalypse then Ravenous and Bestial by Ray Garton are for sure my go-to books. Also good is the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.

    Like

  2. susana says:

    Great post. Some of them I already knew and liked, but I’ve added a couple to my TBR list. One of my favourite paranormal series is the Whyborne & Griffin by Jordan L. Hawk. The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles is also really enjoyable.

    Like

  3. Allison says:

    Any of Jordan L. Hawk’s books, the Magpie Lord series and, of course, Jackdaw, Psycop by Jordan Castillo Price … I am sure there are more, but those definitely stand out for me.

    Like

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