Welcome to my Blogger page, thank you for visiting. This is where I will share my reviews of books, movies and other things I enjoy. If you would like to see my ramblings, fanfiction and other general posts, please visit my Livejournal: beren_writes. Visit my pages to learn about me and my books.
Top set of links above are external links, second set are pages local to the blog.

Monday, 31 October 2016

FREE Books! Trick-or-Treat Halloween Book Giveaway #TrickOrTreatReads


It's Halloween! Yay. Are you ready for all the ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolf, ghosts and everything spooky? Mawww ha ha...

In honour of this wonderfully ghoulish holiday, Soph and I are giving away some books and we have lots of others on offer too. We are also part of the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop, run by the wonderful Patricia Lynne, where many brilliant authors give away books instead of candy. See the bottom of the post for the list of all those taking part.

FREE books!

Every year at this time Soph and I create a two story Halloween anthology to give away for AllHallowsRead. This is an idea supported by the wonderful Neil Gaiman where people give a scary book for Halloween.

Made In Blood: Tales of Terror

Authors: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror

Two delicious tales of terror to tingle the spine:
The Warmth of Blood by Natasha Duncan-Drake
Mirror Twins by Sophie Duncan

The book is downloadable from Smashwords for free, just follow the link and download it.

Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse
(in progress and FREE to read on Wattpad)

Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: Vampire

Max Statton is in Moscow for the premiere of his new movie when a terrifying encounter turns his life on its head. Attacked by one of the city's resident vampires, Max is bitten and infected. Only a team of local vampire hunters prevent him being dragged into the underworld of the undead.

Fighting for his very existence, Max must resist the vampire curse trying to take over his body.

Free Books With Discount Codes:

All of following books are available on Smashwords for free for 24hrs, but to get the discount you have to do the following:
  • click the buy button at the linked book page (click the title)
  • put the coupon code (in bold after the title) in the box on the page that comes up
  • click apply coupon
  • checkout as normal and the book is yours for free
Books:

Discount Books


All our other horror/paranormal genre books are reduced by 35% as well.

Author: Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: vampire
Code: JM78G

Author: Sophie Duncan
Genre: ghost story
Code: EY92D

Author: Sophie Duncan
Genre: vampire
Code: BN37F
Author: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: paranormal adventure and romance
Code: SE52M

Author: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror
Code: SG76Z

Author: Sophie Duncan & Natasha Duncan-Drake
Genre: horror
Code: KS85H
Author: Sophie Duncan
Genre: paranormal adventure
Code: NH48E
Don't forget to check out all the other wonderful authors giving away books today as well - click the links in the list below to visit their sites.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

10 Awesome Classic Horror Films That Are a Must See


There is nothing quite like a classic horror film. For classic I'm counting everything from the early cinema to the 60s and maybe the early 70s because it was before the era of the slasher movie. My favourites of the genre are mostly from the late 50s and early 60s, but anything is fair game.

This is an era where the films could not rely on CGI special effects. They had makeup, some of which was iconic, but the rest was done with lighting effects, scenery and, most important of all, plot.

I don't suppose that anyone envisaged that horror films would give anyone a warm, cosy feeling, but some of these titles do just that for me. Many of them I first saw as a teen and, I have to admit, they don't really scare me anymore, but they did the first time I saw them :).

I would love to know which are your favourite classic horror movies, please comment and let me know.

Dracula (aka The Horror of Dracula) (1958)

Christopher Lee (Dracula) and Peter Cushing (Van Helsing) at their best.

When it comes to Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and horror films, I always think of them in the same thought, even though they both did plenty of films without the other. It's all this film's fault. They go together like bread and butter because of Dracula.

To me this is the classic Dracula. I know a lot of people always think Lugosi, but I'm not all that fond of the 1931 film. Christopher Lee will always have the honour of being THE classic in my head.

The scene with the crossed candle sticks and Dracula's foot just disintegrating in the light will always stay with me. It is one of those things that is etched in my head. It was so brilliantly done.

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

I hadn't actually seen this until recently and had no idea that the Will Smith movie, I Am Legend was based on the same book.

This classic is of course a much gentler film than the Will Smith version and stars the ever brilliant Vincent Price (he'll pop up again :)).

Now if there is an iconic classic voice for horror it has to be Vincent Price. I mean Michael Jackson chose him to voice over Thriller, so that should tell us everything.

In The Last Man on Earth, Price carries the entire film because he's the only really sentient character until right up to the end. He narrates the film as we watch him and it is brilliantly done. Very definitely worth a watch, just for that.

Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)

Okay, so yes, another vampire movie, but this one makes it in because it's a little different. No blood drinking fiends this time, but youth sucking instead.

Kronos is played by Horst Janson and comes to the aid of an old friend whose community is losing young girls to something horrible. He is a professional vampire killer.

This film has everything: the fearless vampire hunter, the beautiful girl, the fearful local and the haughty nobles, any of whom could be the vampire.

I love the end of this film, it is just so well done and set up. There are sword fights and hideous monsters and everything you could want from a classic horror movie. This is one of my favourites to watch over and over again.


House on Haunted Hill (1959)

I told you Vincent Price would be back and here he is throwing his wife a haunted birthday party.

It's the wobbly skeleton and the vat of acid that win it for this one.

This is a story all about a haunted house, only it's really about murder and manipulation. Price is as intimidating and strange as ever as we are led to believe he is a psychotic madman.

This is a great film if you like an ominous soundtrack and lots of bad effects. It's definitely a classic.


Frankenstein (1931)

This film is here for me for one reason and one reason only - the scene with the little girl. It is the part that has stayed with me over the years even as I have forgotten the details of the rest.

Boris Karloff gives the monster such humanity even with his classic monstrous look. He makes me cry every time and the scene with the little girl is heartbreaking.

In many cases I prefer the later remakes to the black and white classics, but in this case, the 1931 film wins hands down.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

I remember first seeing this film on BBC2 after school, probably on a Friday early evening, because that's when they showed a lot of these classics.

Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter are brilliant exampled of the sci-fi invasion classic couple, where they come together as they realised something very strange is going on.

It rankles a bit these days that, of course, it was the woman who gave them away in the end, but this is still a great film. The way it's all about staying awake so they can't get you.

It's such a simple thing, something we can all relate to on the long drive home, or just one more episode of The Blacklist, and so we all know how hard it can be. I'm pretty sure I checked under my bed for pods for quite some time :).

The Gorgon (1964)

This has Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing again and a great performance by Barbara Shelley.

In a small German village people are being murdered: turned to stone. Only the authorities are covering it up. So not only do we have a creature out of mythology terrorising the community, but the people in charge are lying about it - this is made for tension.

How a Greek monster ended up in a German castle is anyone's guess, but I like this film because it's not just simply, the monster and the hero battling it out. There are other layers in there.


The Fly (1958)

Vincent Price is in this one again and although Patricia Owens gives a great performance as Helene, the woman who kills her own husband with a hydraulic press, neither of them are why this film makes it onto my list.

No, the reason it is here is very simply the fly in the spider's web at the end. The fly with the human head going "help me, help me, help me".

That is still clear in my memory and has been since the day I first saw this movie. Yes the remake is edgier and more horrific, but that scene from the original makes me shiver.


Mask of the Red Death (1964)

Yes, it's Vincent Price again  and he is the reason this film makes it into the pack.

The film is part of the Roger Corman series based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe and this is my favourite of the set.

This is a film all about the elite and their vices and their abandonment of the masses. Prince Prospero is a Satanist and tyrant, burning a whole village and abducting a young woman just to play his games.

He believes that the Red Death, a plague devastating the countryside will pass him by because of his power and allegiances. Of course he is wrong and Price gives a great performance as Prospero and Death. The whole air of this film is heartless and twisted and the ending it simply just.


Twins of Evil (1971)

This one makes it onto my list because it has twins in it and Peter Cushing playing a very horrible man. I'm a twin so it always fascinates me to see how people write them :).

The twins in this case are played by Mary Collinson and Madeleine Collinson: one is good and one is bad, just the way it should be. In case you are wondering, when it comes to me and my sister, I am the evil twin ;).

After the death of their parents, Maria and Frieda are sent to live with their puritanical uncle, Gustav (Cushing) in Karnstein. The local count is the only one who will defy Gustav and his band of puritan men who burn anyone they suspect of witchcraft.

This does not make Count Karnstein the good guy however, and in his boredom he wakes his vampiric ancestor with black magic and is turned himself. Frieda becomes fascinated with him and also becomes a vampire like him.

Of course it can't end well.

~

And there you have it, my list of 10. What are your favourite classic horror movies?

~


Also this week I am posting a new chapter of Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse every day.
It's totally free to read and we're up to chapter 13 as of today.

Max Statton is in Moscow for the premiere of his new movie when a terrifying encounter turns his life on its head. Attacked by one of the city's resident vampires, Max is bitten and infected. Only a team of local vampire hunters prevent him being dragged into the underworld of the undead.

Fighting for his very existence, Max must resist the vampire curse trying to take over his body.



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Halloween here we come! New Chapters Every Day! Dead Before Dawn

Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse

To celebrate Halloween, this week there will be 7 new chapters of 

Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse

1 every day!

Max is still stuck in Russia and the hunters may not have given up as easily as he had hoped.
Chapter 12 - Accidents Happen (explicit version)
Chapter 12 - Accidents Happen (edited non-explicit version)
How do you accidentally kiss your friend? Ask Max!
There are two versions of this chapter - the original with an explicit sex scene and a edited version with less intimate details :).

~

Max Statton is in Moscow for the premiere of his new movie when a terrifying encounter turns his life on its head. Attacked by one of the city's resident vampires, Max is bitten and infected. Only a team of local vampire hunters prevent him being dragged into the underworld of the undead.

Fighting for his very existence, Max must resist the vampire curse trying to take over his body if he is ever to get back to his life.

~

I am very much enjoying posting Dead Before Dawn over at Wattpad. My number of followers keeps going up, which I am taking as a good sign :). So does the read and vote count on the novel.

Here's hoping everyone is enjoying reading as much as I am posting.

Wattpad is definitely not a post and run site from a writers perspective - it's much more a social media hub as well. I keep looking at the clubs, but the one that is supposed to be for chat seems a little, well, random and I have no idea what to post. So so far I have stuck to the genre specific places.

Anyone have experience with the Wattpad clubs? Where is it best to hang out?

I need to get my arse in gear and read some other people's work - I have gotten behind on that recently because I've had so much else to do.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Announcing: Halloween Book Price Slasher (FREE and discount books)


Announcing
Halloween Book Price Slasher!

On 31st October Sophie and I will be discounting all of our horror/paranormal themed books. That means many of our 99c books will be free and our higher priced books will have money off. Check back on the 31st to see all the deals.

For even more exclusive FREEBIES join out newsletter (form below), where we will be giving our members a chance to grab some of our more expensive books completely FREE.

You get two free books just for signing up anyway and on 31st Oct we will be sending out exclusive offers all day.

We'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.
Wittegen Press

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks, not available anywhere else, just for signing up .

* indicates required

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Calling All Authors - Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop

It's that spooky time of year again and the wonderful Patricia Lynne is running the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop for the 3rd year running.

We authors give away free books as candy to our trick-or-treating visitors.
Wittegen Press
FREE
Wattpad
New CH Every
Tue & Fri

It's open to any authors who would like to join, the only proviso is that your book(s) is (are) free to obtain in someway on October 31st, be it via giveaway or by free download as an eBook.

All you need to do is sign up to the linked list and create a post to go live for the 31st October.
All the details are over on Patricia's blog, along with a Thunderclap that readers as well as writers can join to help spread the word:

Third Annual Trick-or-Treat Reads



Soph and I will be giving away a NEW 2 story horror anthology, as well as having some offers on our existing books. For even more exclusive offers at Halloween, sign up to our mailing list too:

We'll send you details of book releases, competitions and other news from our authors, BUT we WON'T spam you, or pass your details on to anyone else.
Wittegen Press

We will also give you 2 FREE ebooks just for signing up.

* indicates required

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Favouritest Vampire Trope Ever! + New Ch of Dead Before Dawn

Favouritest Vampire Trope Ever!

Wittegen Press
FREE
Wattpad
New CH every
Tue & Fri
If there is one trope in vampire films, books and TV that will guarantee I am there like a shot it's:
Protagonist is turned into a vampire against their will and has to fight against the instincts. Bonus points if they have no idea what's going on.

The Lost Boys has it where Michael (Jason Patric) is tricked into drinking blood from the bottle and starts to become a vampire, nearly killing Sam (Corey Haim) before he realises what's going on.


Fright Night Part II has it where Regine (Julie Carmen) targets Charley (William Ragsdale), so she can punish him for what he did in Fright Night.


Even My Best Friend's A Vampire (aka I Was a Teenage Vampire) has it, kind of, where Jeremy (Robert Sean Leonard) starts having strange urges before being introduced to the vampire community proper.

I don't mind if the protagonist ends up accepting their fate, or fights valiantly back to humanity - the trope is just like catnip to me :). I love the confusion, the vulnerability and often the "OMG vampires are real" moment. It's all but a cast iron trope guarantee that I am going to love the story.

I even love writing it, which is why it is the basis of my new vampire novel Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse. Max, my protagonist is infect on the very first page and then has to struggle the near certain doom this brings with it. Totally FREE to read with new chapters every Tues and Friday.



What is your guaranteed trope?

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Flashfic: Katherine: Betrayal & Blood (vampire, PG13) + New Chapter of Dead Before Dawn


Hello and welcome to my blog. Today I have some vampire flash fiction for you. It's October, so expect lots of paranormal things :). I very much hope you enjoy it and are enjoying Dead Before Dawn over on Wattpad too.

Katherine: Betrayal & Blood

by Natasha Duncan-Drake

The pain was Katherine's whole world. The wood burned as it was driven into her chest, radiating agony through her whole body. Death could not come too soon. Her enemies had found her; she was betrayed.

~

Somewhere water was dripping. It counted out time with regular drops and took all of Katherine's confused attention. Only slowly did other things begin to come to her: the quiet ticking of a clock; the smell of chemicals; cold.

Her mind was unfocused and cloudy. She did not remember how she came to be wherever she was. It was not her crypt or a lover's bed; that much she knew. Something terrible lurked at the back of her mind, something that caused her thoughts to shy from it. A scream echoed through her consciousness when she strayed too close to it and she had the horrible suspicion it was her own.

Forcing her eyes open was difficult, but it was easier than facing the demons in her head. Half-light greeted her, almost like a candle's glow, but far steadier. The fear of dawn finding her sent shock through her body. She sat up, heedless of what she might interrupt. What she saw caused her to still completely and simply stare.

She has never seen a room like it, all clean lines in ceramic and metal. And the light, it was not dawn coming through a window, but from a thin tube on the wall, that glowed with unnatural consistency. There were no candles or lamps to be seen, just the tube giving out low light to illuminate the far too exact room. It must have been very dark for a human.

Looking down she saw that her clothes were dirty and decayed. Her skin had a waxy colour. Time had to have passed, a lot of time. As she took in her surroundings she caught the smell of death and she looked over to where a body lay under a sheet. That was when she saw it: the wooden stake lying on the trolley beside the bench where she must have been laid out.

She reached for the hole in her dress as the safe back corner of her mind burst forth, showing her, in all too bright detail, her death. The memory of the pain was so real she bent forward as if experiencing it again.

Someone had betrayed her, someone had killed her. Her anger broke through the recollection and she swung her legs off her resting place. The leathery flesh under the hole in her clothes was whole again. Her would-be murderer had been incompetent at least; once the stake had been removed her body had healed itself. The only true way to keep a vampire dead was to remove their head.

Right now she needed blood to restore the rest of her body. As she stood she caught a glimpse of what she looked like in the side of one of the shiny cabinets and she glanced away quickly. It was not a pretty sight.

There was blood here, she could smell it, but it was dead blood; most likely from the poor creature under the sheet. What she needed was warm fresh blood and she headed for the door. It was locked; not unexpected, but inconvenient. When she pulled it did not open, even as she employed what strength she had. In her current state she was not strong enough to force open the large metal lock.

Annoyed, she turned back into the room. There was no choice now and she walked back towards the corpse. Dead blood was unpleasant and did not have the potency of the living, but it smelled fresh enough that it would give her the strength to deal with the door. She drew back the sheet to find a pretty young woman with half her face caved in from some kind of impact.

"Forgive me," she said and picked up the woman's wrist.

She could see where the blood had pooled and, steeling herself, she opened her mouth and bit, ripping at the skin in a most indelicate manner. It was just as disagreeable as she had feared as the cold, congealing liquid hit her tongue. She fought the urge to retch, swallowing instead, already feeling the energy the blood imparted. Even dead blood held the remnants of life that she needed.

It was disgusting, but when she wrenched her mouth away she felt much stronger. With a growl she headed back towards the door. This time when she pulled there was a splintering and groaning sound as metal and wood gave way.

The corridor outside was better lit, but completely barren of anything except a sign on the opposite wall. It simply said "Pathology Department". Tilting her head she listened and immediately caught the low thud of a human heartbeat. She smiled.

The floor was cool under her bare feet; someone had seen fit to take her shoes. At least she was not naked like the poor girl whose blood she had just stolen.

The corridor was long with three doors on the same side as the room she had left. The heartbeat was not coming from behind any of them, but through the double doors at the end. With a confident stride she covered the distance quickly. The double doors swung open as soon as she touched them, revealing yet more monotonous corridor.

"Hey, who's there?" a voice called out and Katherine smiled again.

She smelt male musk under a heavy scent over clean skin; a pleasant surprise. With confidence she walked out from behind the door and pinned the man down with her gaze. He got as far as opening his mouth before her power ensnared him. He was young and handsome in an uninspiring way, dressed in some kind of uniform. He would do.

"Come here," she said.

He resisted for a moment, but his will was not strong and he began to move after only a second or so. His steps were heavy, but he obeyed. His eyes remained glued to her face and she smiled at him. As soon as he was in range she reached out, wrapping her hand around the back of his neck, pulling him close.

This time when she bit she did not tear and the blood that hit her tongue was sweet and vital and warm. Just a sip gave her more strength than a whole body of dead blood could have. It flowed into her and through her with every mouthful. Every part of her body came alive as the life giving fluid hit her system. She drank deeply, stopping only when she felt restored.

When she was done she dropped the man, leaving him to fall to the floor as she looked at her hands. Before her eyes her skin lost the waxy sheen, returning to its usual pale, milky smoothness. Shaking her head, she felt the tangles and dirt fall from her hair as she returned to perfection. There was nothing she could do about her clothes; they would have to wait.

Only when she was feeling more herself did she look down at the man. He was barely supporting himself on one elbow, breathing in short little gasps. That he was still alive was testament to his strength. In that moment she decided it was a strength she could use.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"Nick," he said, unable to resist her power.

"You are mine now, Nicholas," she said, smiling down at him, "do you understand?"

He just stared at her. She crouched down next to him and allowed a few of the traits of the monster under her skin to rise to the surface.

"Do you understand?"

This time he nodded.

"Good, then drink."

She used her thumb nail to piece the flesh of her own wrist and held it out to him. Nicholas stared at the wound, brow furrowing.

"Drink or die."

He drank.

Katherine allowed him only a sip before she took her wrist back. Nicholas stared, blood smeared on his lips. She could feel her power winding its way into his beleaguered system. The wound on his neck was already closing.

"You are my thrall now, Nicholas," she said, standing back up, "do you know what that is?"

He shook his head.

"You will require my blood once a night," she told him. "If you do not get it you will die in excruciating pain. You will obey me in all things and then you will never have to find out what that feels like."

There was a flash of rebellion in his eyes; she liked that. It was never good to have servants who were completely without fire. He put his hand to his neck, feeling the wound and he had to be feeling what her blood was doing to him.

"You will be stronger, faster and more durable than a normal mortal," she explained.

It was at that she saw him accept the inevitable.

"What should I call you?" he asked.

"Katherine," she replied; "I do not enjoy formalities. Now, Nicholas, what year is this?"

"2016," he replied.

She had thought she was prepared, but that shocked even her.

"Over three hundred years," she said in wonderment.

It seemed inconceivable, even to her. Technically she was now over four hundred and fifty years old.

"Then you must be my guide, Nicholas," she said, refusing to give in to the sheer scale of her change in time. "What time is it?"

She should have looked at the clock in the room where she had woken up, but she had been too focused on feeding. Nicholas pulled a slim black case from his pocket and pressed a small button on its side. Katherine was amazed to see the face of the device fill with an image.

"3:47," Nicholas told her.

"What is that?" she asked.

"My phone," he said and held it out to her.

She took it and slowly turned it over in her hands. It weighed barely anything and the picture on the front was more detailed than any painting. She had no idea what a phone was.

"It seems I have much to learn," she said and gave the device, whatever it was, back to Nicholas. "There is no time tonight to begin my life again, so I shall take it as time to learn and reflect. Nicholas, I will need a safe place to sleep for the coming day. There must be no daylight."

"My flat has a storage room in the basement of the building I've never used," he said, "but it's damp."

"I am not unused to hardship," she said, pleased at his concern; already her blood was forging a connection between them; "it will do for one night. How do we get there?"

"Tube," was the short response.

"Will I not bring unwarranted attention?" she asked.

She was all too aware her clothes were entirely different from Nicholas'.

"We'll just say you've been to a costume party," he said. "My girlfriend has clothes at my flat that should fit you."

"Girlfriend?"

"Ex," he said; "she ran out on me two months ago. Never came back for her stuff."

Katherine nodded, that would do.

"Then lead the way," she said, offering him her hand, "I have a new century to learn."

~*~


It's Tuesday and that means it's new chapter time.

of
is NOW available.

Max has survived Yulia's last ditch attempt to save him, but at what cost?

#vampire #gay #adventure #paranormal

Totally FREE read. New chapters every Tuesday and Friday.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Review: Ghosts of Shepherdstown + Ch5 of Dead Before Dawn


Rob and I have been watching Ghosts of Shepherdstown this week and we really enjoyed it. It looks like reality TV, it's even listed as reality TV on IMDB, but if this isn't scripted, I'm Father Christmas.

The leads are playing themselves and at least one is a real paranormal investigator. The set-up is that they've been brought in by the Sheriff of Shepherdstown because he and his department are getting lots and lots of calls about paranormal activity, that they just can't cope with.

Bill Hartley, Elizabeth Saint, Nick Groff

Shepherdstown is supposed to be the most haunted town in the USA, but apparently the activity just ramped up considerably.

Throughout the six episodes the investigators take over from the police when the cops find no evidence that there are human perpetrators involved in six different cases, that all neatly link together. They have a psychic medium and a historian who help them investigate the cases and in each episode they see more and more paranormal activity.

There are recreations of ghostly happenings in the program as well as what we are supposed to believe are real paranormal activities filmed by the team. If the evidence were real there would be paranormal investigators swinging from the highest towers crowing about everything that had been found.

That said, it's a very enjoyable watch, put together well and is very spooky in places. It feels like a War of the Worlds type thing to me, fiction presented as fact to give us a good scare and it works.

If you like reality tv ghosts shows and some good ghost stories, then this is a great program to watch. Not sure what they'd do if they were renewed for a second season, but I'd tune in to see it if they did.

Have you seen Ghosts of Shepherdstown? What did you think?

~*~


It's Tuesday and that means it's new chapter time.

of
is NOW available.

The vampire infection is taking over, Max is becoming a monster.

#vampire #gay #adventure #paranormal

Totally FREE read. New chapters every Tuesday and Friday.