Category Archives: Lisa Mannetti

Chasing Tale for November 1st, 2011: Peter Crowther, N.K. Jemison, Kelli Owen …

I am not goingto complain about the cold this year. At all. That being said, I havegotten two colds so far this fall. Maybe it’s like the recession andit was just the same one that turned into a double-dip. That,however, was my own fault. I will not blame the weather. Afterthose sweltering days of summer, I welcome the impending snow stormswith welcome arms. I’m built like a polar bear, so that helps. Allyou skin-and-bones types are on your own.
If I will complainabout anything it is that I don’t have an open fire by which to readby books. That’s something I have never done in my life. I’ve neverlived anywhere that had a fireplace, at least not a functioning one.Wood stoves, sure, but not a fireplace with a quaint mantlepiecepropping up stiffly-orchestrated family photos and darts trophies.Someday, perhaps. Until then, I’ll settle for that TV channel thatcomes on in December with the crackling fire and incessant Christmascarols.
Heading intowinter, here are some of the books I’ll be reading sans fireplace:

Darkness Falling byPeter Crowther Angry Robot Books is only acouple years old now, but they’ve already got quite an impressivelooking library. One of their most recent releases is this horrortale about a small town becoming possessed one person at a time.Sounds creepy as heck and ought to be a fun, spooky read.

The First Husband byLaura Dave -Fridays on Twitter, Iusually tweet what my #fridayreads are for that week. I had no ideathere was a book giveaway attached, so imagine my surprise when I wasannounced as a winner. The book isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’llgive it a chance then hand it off to one of the ladies in the family.Guaranteed someone will enjoy it.

TheHundred Thousand Kingdomsby N.K. Jemisin– Kat over at No PageLeft Behind sent me a paperback of this much-heralded fantasynovel. A fantasy involving kings and gods and a power struggle thatthreatens everything. Neat. It’s the first book in a trilogy, so ifit’s good then that means I have yet another series to get hooked on.
TheNew Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn andTheGentling Box byLisa MannettiLisa sent me signedcopies of these two books, which is wonderful as I covet her work. Inow have two signed copies of TheGentling Box: myoriginal Dark Hart Press edition from 2008 and now the ShadowfallPublications edition from last year. I shall hoard them both.
TheNeighborhood byKelli Owen -I won this signed chapbook from DreadfulTales (formerly Paperback Horror). I’ve yet to read Kelli’s work, but PatDreadful and the gang approve, and I’ve heard her guest spots on GregHall’s The Funky Werepig and she is a hoot. Plus, Brian Keene put herover as a writer to watch, so there’s that too.
Demons byJohn Skipp (editor) -A big thanks to Darkeva’s DarkDelights for sending me a copy of this very cool lookinganthology. This book is brand new, but I literally hadn’t heard of ituntil Darkeva told me about it. I’m a sucker for a good themedanthology, and this one ought to be good. When the contributingauthors is as diverse as Charles Beaumont, Neil Gaiman, BentleyLittle, and Alethea Kontis, it’s gottabe good.

So there’s the new crop added to my reading pile. What did you snag this past month?


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Filed under Angry Robot Books, books won, Chasing Tale, e-books, John Skipp, Kelli Owen, Laura Dave, Lisa Mannetti, N.K. Jemison, Peter Crowther


The Return of the Monster Movie Marathon was a great success, in my opinion. A ton of great contributions from a diverse crowd. Thanks again to everyone who participated. I’ll try to bring all the links together in a single post soon.

For now, however, it’s time to announce some winners.

The winner of the audiobook copy of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is: Anthony J. Rapino!

 The winner of the trade paperback copy of Cthulhurotica is: Mark Devery!

 The winner of a monster book of their choice via Book Depository is: Darlene!

The winner of a signed trade paperback of The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn is: Maegan Morin!

And the winner of the digital edition of The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn is: Christine Davis! 

I will be contacting all of the winners shortly. Thank you to everyone who entered, and hopefully I’ll be able to offer you at least one more giveaway before Christmas. Fingers crossed. Until then, I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween!

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Filed under Book Depository, book giveaway, Cthulhurotica, Lisa Mannetti, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, winners

An Interview and Giveaway with Lisa Mannetti, Author of "The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn"

First thing’s first. Contest time! Award-winning author Lisa Mannetti was gracious enough to not only answer a few interview questions to promote her new novel, The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, but she’s also provided a signed paperback copy to go out to one lucky winner. Plus, a second winner will receive a digital copy of the novel in the e-book format of their choice. This giveaway is open worldwide!

To enter, simply fill out the form(s) at the very bottom of this post. The giveaway will remain open until midnight on Halloween night, then I’ll announce the winners on November 1st.
Also, be sure to check out all of the other great giveaways that are going on as part of the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop. Plus, I am currently hosting three other book giveaways right now as part of this blog’s Monster Movie Marathon. Each of those contests will remain open until Halloween night as well.

Giveaway #1: audiobook of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Giveaway #2: trade paperback of Cthulhurotica
Giveaway #3: a “monster” book of your choice via Book Depository (up to $15 US)

In the meantime, however, I encourage you to read my interview with Lisa Mannetti and learn a little more about her, her work, and the two cats who inspired her latest novel. Enjoy.
An Interview with Lisa Mannetti,
author of The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
I recently had a chance to ask Lisa Mannetti a few questions regarding her new novel. After reading Lisa’s debut novel, The Gentling Box, two years ago she has quickly become one of my favorite horror authors. But unlike The Gentling Box and Deathwatch with their historical horror elements, this new novel shows Lisa’s lighter side. But don’t take my word for it, let’s read what she has to say.
Gef: Okay, The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn: Mark Twain, reincarnation, witches, werewolves, a haunted bed & breakfast–and cats. Where in the heck did the impetus for a book containing this motley crew come from?
Lisa: Well, I actually owned a pair of twin white cats named—you guessed it, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. And you’ll have to trust me on this, but never ever were two cats more aptly named. Tom, the big smoothie, was the ringleader—he could convince Huck to try anything: including jumping from the floor to the top of the doors in the house. Huck, who was scruffier, even had what looked like freckles on his nose. Huck wasn’t very good at jumping to the top of the doors (he was smaller and heavier) but they both had a whale of a time trying. Never have I had cats that were as smart (okay, I know you aren’t going to believe they understood English, but they did) and as much fun.
So, I started to do these little playlets for the outgoing message on my answering machine featuring Tom telling the latest—replete with a Southern accent. I had phone calls from telephone solicitors who would call back laughing, and then apologize for calling back, then call again and this time you’d hear the entire office laughing. Mostly they had to do with imaginary hijinks—like throwing my other cat, Charlotte Bronte (whose twin had died) into the dryer, or asking people to send them catnip, or their plans to ambush mice and eat all the lights off the Christmas tree…my friends would complain if I didn’t change the message at least every few weeks.
Then one day, the concept of the book came to me. I started writing and the thing just wrote itself and I think it was because Tom already had a voice…after that I started a website which is named for the Inn, the cats run: The Chancery House. It’s had 4 million visitors over the years. (
Gef: Aside from 51 Fiendish Ways to Leave Your Lover, I don’t recall finding a whole lot of humor in your fiction when I’ve read it. The majority of what I’ve read has been some very darkly-themed historical horror. Do you find humor a more challenging attribute than horror–especially with characters originated by Mark Twain?
Lisa: Yes, but that’s because you haven’t known me my whole life… I’ve always written both horror and satire—even as a kid. I’m also hugely attracted to humor in writing, as well. I’m a huge fan of Jean Kerr, J.P. Donleavy, Kingsley Amis, Evelyn Waugh—to name a few. Horror and humor are both skewed versions of reality, exaggerations to give stories more dramatic impetus and in my mind, though they appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, they’re actually closely related.
Humor is slightly (and I emphasize the word slightly) more dependent on pacing, but not by a great deal—after all, once you’ve got the heroine in a horror novel running up the stairs as if someone is chasing her with a big stick, so to speak, eventually she’s going to have to open the attic door.
I first read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn when I was in third grade, so I’ve been a lifelong fan. Over the years, I’ve read—and reread—just about every thing he’s written, so again, it felt very natural to me to write the book. Plus, let’s not forget our most beloved humorist (and clearly one of the best American writers over the centuries) was fascinated with twins (as I am) and loved cats (as I do).
Gef: Bringing famed literary characters into your own sandbox, as it were, and re-imagining them, where do you find the biggest challenge in making them your own? Or do you even try?
Lisa: I think my characters are a blend of Twain’s original Tom and Huck, and my cats, and my imagination. They were a lot of fun and very gregarious animals and very smart and always into mischief, so in a way, it wasn’t hard to extrapolate from the stunts they pulled on an everyday basis and think up harum-scarum situations. They’d play fight, but they were also completely devoted to each other and they were hell on wheels when they ambushed mice—I mean they had battle plans and flanking maneuvers, no kidding….By the way, did you know mice scream? I found out the hard way when the terrible twosome cornered some poor field mouse in the downstairs laundry room and I was up in my office (writing Deathwatch at the time and heard it shriek. Loudly.) We will pass over further mention of this poor unfortunate for those who are squeamish. Anyway, I absolutely wanted the book to feel familiar (and the more one knows Twain, the more inside jokes you’re likely to get) but I also wanted it to be unique—not just in terms of the premise—but also in terms of the adventures my Tom and Huck experienced. My book is a little more poignant than Twain’s works; but I’m more sentimental than he is, I think.
Gef: There are actually two versions of this book: one for younger readers and one for mature readers. Why did you feel the need to create a “family friendly” version of this book? Or is it the other way around, and you felt the need to create a “grown-up” version?
cover for YA edition
Lisa: The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn is a lot milder than any of my previously published novels; but since I loved Twain (and he’s written some pretty irreverent things) I wanted adults to feel they could come to it on their own terms. However, my publisher and I agreed, there were certain passages that were too strong for younger readers. I remember actually being really embarrassed as a kid when the king prances out naked and painted all over ring-streaked-and-striped during the Royal Nonesuch scenes, but I didn’t want to bowdlerize my book; so the publisher and I agreed I’d give it a scouring and we’d have two versions. I may be wrong, but I don’t think that’s ever been done before, so that’s something—hopefully a creative solution to what might have been material that was too mature for the barrettes and paintball gang.
Gef: Do you have a particular animal in mind should you be reincarnated?
Lisa: I’ve actually had people in pet stores (on seeing me load up on all kinds of cat toys and gizmos) tell me they want to come back in their next life as one of my cats, but I have never wanted to be any kind of animal….now, if I could switch back and forth from human to smart, persnickety feline, that might be okay, but basically, I can’t stand the idea of eating smelly canned food out of a dish stuck on the floor, or never taking a bath in a tub with lavender oil, never wearing high heels, or flaying mice as part of a food and exercise regimen. I love cats—and honestly, Tom and Huck were smart as hell—but I’d really miss reading and writing, too.
I’d like to offer a big thanks to Lisa for her time and this interview. I’d also like to thank her for offering the two books I’m about to offer to two lucky winners.
If you would like a chance to win a copy of The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, we’ve got both a signed trade paperback and an e-book copy up for grabs. For the e-book prize, the winner will specify which format they’d like to receive (i.e., epub, mobi, PDF, etc.). Fill out the corresponding form of whichever format you’d like to win, then pay a visit to the plethora of blogs participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop by clicking HERE.


Filed under author interview, blog hop, book giveaway, Huckleberry Finn, Lisa Mannetti, Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer

Chasing Tale (Digital Edition) August 16th, 2011: Robert J. Duperre, Mark Hodder, Lisa Mannetti …

I wonder how much longer we have to wait before we get a universal format for e-books. I mean, how long did it take for Bluray to beat out HD DVD? Not long, I’ll bet, since I’m probably the only one left who even remembers HD DVD. Amazon has things pretty much locked down with the Kindle formats, but those other formats just aren’t going anywhere it seems. So, if these people refuse to pick one format and run with it, then I want an e-reader that’s going to read all the formats. How hard can that be? If Kindle could read an EPUB file, it’s be case closed. Am I wrong?

Jaded Mistress by Gary Charles – I caught a special offer via Shaun Jeffrey on Twitter, where Gary was giving away this novel on Smashwords for a limited time. I like free, so I gave it a peak, and considering it’s a retelling of the Medusa myth from her point of view, I figured I could take a chance on it.

Silas by Robert J. Duperre – Robert will be stopping by the blog on September 9th as part of his blog tour. I was provided a review copy of his novel, though I’m doubtful I’ll be able to read it by then. But, given its speculative fiction involving a dog, I’m definitely interested in reading it eventually.

The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder – Mark won the Phillip K. Dick Award for this novel not too long ago. I’ve read a couple good reviews for it already, so when I saw it on sale for two bucks on the Kindle Store, I got it.

The New Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn by Lisa Mannetti – Lisa has a new novel out, but this one is a departure from haunting historical fiction. Two cats, the resurrected embodiments of Tom and Huck. What? Yeah, this should be interesting.

The First Tale by Icy Sedgwick – After I won a writing competition at the Feckless Goblin, I found out the story judge has a couple books for sale on the Kindle Store, so I bought this 99 cent novella to test the waters.

Shock Totem #1 edited by K. Allen Wood Shock Totem has their first issue online as an e-book finally, just as issue #4 comes out in print this summer. And at only a couple bucks, it was an easy purchase for some quality short fiction.

So what interesting e-books have you found lately?


Filed under book shopping, Chasing Tale, Gary Charles, Icy Sedgwick, Kindle Store, Lisa Mannetti, Mark Hodder, Robert J. Duperre

Are You More Likely to Read a Stoker Award Winning Book?

Last weekend marked the 2010 Bram Stoker Awards ceremony. I only started paying attention to literary awards a few years ago. Since then, I’ve had pretty good luck using the lists of nominees as recommended reading. Heck, it was how I discovered Lisa Mannetti’s The Gentling Box, the 2008 winner for Superior Acheivement in a First Novel, which I consider an amazing piece of writing.

So what about you? Do these kinds of awards encourage you to seek out winning books, or do you dismiss the whole notion as arbitrary, rigged, or plain uninteresting? Me, I look at them as good reference material when searching out new authors and prospective book purchases.

Let’s have a gander at this year’s winners:

Superior Achievement in a Novel
Rot and Run by Jonathan Maberry
Dead Love by Linda Watanabe McFerrin
Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney
Dweller by Jeff Strand
A Dark Matter by Peter Straub (WINNER)

Straub’s novel is sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. Thoroughly entertained by Ghost Story and Shadowland, I figured it was about time I took a crack at one of his recent works. Funny though, as I’ve read some contentious blogger comments about how the novel is over-rated and Straub only won because of name recognition. Perhaps, or perhaps it was the best of the bunch. Maybe this year I should read all five and judge for myself.

Superior Achievement in a First Novel
Black and Orange by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (WINNER)

A Books of Tongues by Gemma Files
Castle of Los Angeles by Lisa Morton (WINNER)
Spellbent by Lucy Snyder

A tie, wouldn’t you know? And here’s the funniest bit for me: Of the four nominated books, those are the two I don’t own. Go figure. Well, I have Ethridge’s Black and Orange on my wish list, so I guess I’ll just have to add Lisa Morton’s novel as well.

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction
Invisible Fences by Norman Prentiss
The Painted Darkness by Brian James Freeman
Dissolution by Lisa Mannetti
Monsters Among Us by Kirstyn McDermott
The Samhanach
by Lisa Morton

Of the novellas listed here, I’ve only read The Painted Darkness and Dissolution. I was rooting for Mannetti’s Dissolution, but it was not to be. Oh well. I get the feeling the other three novellas, winner included, are stories to watch out for.

Some of the other winners of the night include: Haunted Legends by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas for Superior Achievement in an Anthology; Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King for Superior Achievement in a Collection; and “The Falling Man” by Joe R. Lansdale for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction.

Random Thoughts:

I’m actually reading Ellen Datlow’s anthology, Supernatural Noir, right now and wouldn’t be surprised to see that wind up on next year’s short list.

I periodically hear people bemon the state of the horror genre, but I gotta say that 2010 turned out to be a pretty great year for finding some entertaining and rivoting stuff, and 2011 is shaping up to be just as good.

What I find interesting is how the self-publishing craze is offering quite a few gems as well. And you simply will not see any self-published work getting a nomination.

While I keep an eye on the short lists for several awards, I am very much behind in reading those books–especially outside the horror genre.

Anyway, congratulations to all of the Stoker Award winners, and kudos to all the authors fortunate enough to be shortlisted. Keep up the good works.


Filed under Bram Stoker Awards, Ellen Datlow, Lisa Mannetti, Peter Straub, reading list, stephen king, winners

"Deathwatch" by Lisa Mannetti

by Lisa Mannetti
Shadowfall Publications (December 2010)
119 pages
ISBN 9781936457014

Deathwatch is actually a collection to two new novellas from Lisa Mannetti, and each offers the same kind of chilling historical horror I loved from her debut novel, The Gentling Box.

In the first novella, Dissolution, a disgraced medical student, Stuart Granville is summoned north to Hyde Park in New York for what he assumed is a position as tutor to a doctor’s twin daughters. Soon after his arrival, however, he realizes he is primarily there to assist in a controversial and secretive surgery–the twins are conjoined at the hip. Desperate to regain his good standing in the medical community, Granville agrees to the doctor’s terms. But, there’s a malevolent spirit lurking in the house that means to interfere, and Granville finds more than his reputation on the line.

Then there is The Sheila Na Gig, a story of a young man’s exile from Ireland and the tragedy that sent him on his way to America within the bowels of a shipping vessel. Tom Smith recounts his story to a drunken shipmate, a story that sees him under the thumb of a withering grandmother, a lecherous and consumed father, and an entire family dysfunctional on more levels than can be counted. His cousin, Ellie, whom he’s in love with dies after fleeing the family and the sexual abuse of Tom’s father. When his grandmother tempts him with promises of having Ellie back in his life, if he brings her a talisman known as the Sheila Na Gig, he’s both drawn and repulsed by the old witchy woman’s offer.

2011 has only just started, but I do believe Lisa Mannetti has set the bar quite high for the rest of the year. It’s hard to say how many of the hundred or so books I read this year will be new releases, but I would not be surprised to see Deathwatch wind up on my favorites list at the end of the year. Evocative writing abounds, and Lisa’s talent of weaving alluring and repugnant facets of humanity in the very same scene is something to envy. Dissolution is a particularly disturbing story, given the depths to which Granville sinks as he resides in the haunted house. As for Tom Smith’s tale, there’s a greater tragedy to be seen there, and while it carries its own measure of unseemly behavior, I sympathized with the young man’s insurmountable plight. If I’m to pick one over the other, I’ll go with The Sheila Na Gig, but both are exemplary of why Lisa Mannetti is a name to watch when it comes to quality horror fiction.

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Filed under book review, collection, Deathwatch, Dissolution, horror novellas, Lisa Mannetti, Rabid Reads, The Sheila Na Gig

On My Radar: Lisa Mannetti’s "Deathwatch"

Lisa Mannetti and Shadowfall Publications have a great deal for the holidays. For a limited time, Lisa’s new book Deathwatch is available for purchase for a mere $1.99 on Amazon. This e-book is a collection of two novellas, Dissolution and The Sheila Na Gig.

Here’s a quick write-up from Lisa’s blog:

In the first work, Dissolution, Stuart Granville is a would-be medical student from the South who’s been sent down for drinking and believes he’s heading north to Hyde Park, New York to tutor twin girls. Instead, he discovers that his charges, Abby and Eleanor, not only have never been to school of any kind, but that they are Siamese twins their father, a doctor with grandiose dreams, means to separate surgically, taking advantage of Stuart’s expertise and his vulnerability–as well as the supernatural forces at work in the house itself.

In The Sheila Na Gig, Tom Smith is on a ship in steerage and bound for New York from his native Ireland after facing down the the constraints imposed by his family, overcoming the loss of his first love, circumventing his grandmother’s wiles and occult knowledge, and trying to save his younger, mentally challenged sister, Delia, from both witchcraft and sexual abuse.

I’ve been on a real novella kick lately, so I’m really looking forward to reading this one over the Christmas holidays. And a nice caveat is that Shadowfall Publications guarantees: “… if you purchase a copy they will always see to it that you can read it on whatever E reader you have now–or later on.”

So if you’re looking for something inexpensive to add onto your Kindle–or someone else’s–you may want to consider this one.


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Filed under Deathwatch, Lisa Mannetti, On My Radar, Shadowfall Publications