“The Stand In” Book Review

I just listened to “The Stand In” audio book and I cannot say enough good things about this book!

I for one, am not usually into what some would call, “chick-lit,” but this book transcends all gender labels. It had me hooked from the first chapter with the protagonist, “Gracie,” feeling so real. Reading between the lines, I could feel the agony and despair that this character feels at first, simply going through the motions in life; entering work ever day, only to feel underappreciated, even harassed at times.

And sometimes life hits us as life hits Gracie in this book by having to deal with a mother whom needs constant care in a nursing home due to her Alzheimer’s. Anybody that works a day job can relate to this protagonist, and even come to root for her from the onset of her struggles presented in The Stand In.

The Stand In scores a 5 out of 5 Coffees

The pacing of The Stand In was prefect, ebbing and flowing up and down with the normal vicissitudes of life – the ups and downs we all experience. Gracie, the protagonist faces an ethical dilemma that torments her very being as certain scenarios get tougher. The only thing keeping her focused on her new job offer, is her mother’s health and well being. Perhaps that’s another reason why I relate to this book, because I too, believe that family is everything, and that making sacrifices for them is just what we do.

What we don’t usually do, though, is get presented with an opportunity to climb up the social ladder based on a fluke, or random chance in life. At least it hasn’t yet happened to me. And here is where we are asked as readers to stretch the fabric of reality just a tad bit. The American Hollywood pipedream where one wakes up in the morning as a famous movie star is what we are being sold. Yet, I bought it, and enjoyed the ride.

Not to mention, the plot twist at the end really wraps up the ending and character’s fates in a healthy culmination of different factors. I’ll admit, it does have a happy Hollywood type ending, but after all, two of the main characters in this fiction are indeed, famous movie stars, so I guess it’s only fitting.

As an audible original, the production quality was very impressive. The performance by Phillipa Soo was excellent, the plot twists were well paced, and the story idea itself was unique to me. Audible does a great job with this production. (No, I am not being paid for this spot, it’s my honest opinion.)

Synopsis of “The Stand In” by Lily Chu

Gracie Reed is doing just fine. Sure, she was fired by her overly “friendly” boss, and, yes, she still hasn’t gotten her mother into the nursing home of their dreams, but she’s healthy, she’s (somewhat) happy, and she’s (mostly) holding it all together.

But when a mysterious SUV pulls up beside her, revealing Chinese cinema’s golden couple Wei Fangli and Sam Yao, Gracie’s world is turned on its head. The famous actress has a proposition: due to their uncanny resemblance, Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam, the most attractive—and infuriating—man Gracie’s ever met. If you are enjoying this review on The Stand In by Lily Chu, check out some of our other Horror and Supernatural content on our blog thread here.

If it means getting the money she needs for her mother, Gracie’s in. Soon Gracie moves into a world of luxury she never knew existed. But resisting Sam, and playing the role of an elegant movie star, proves more difficult than she ever imagined—especially when she learns the real reason Fangli so desperately needs her help. In the end, all the lists in the world won’t be able to help Gracie keep up this elaborate ruse without losing herself…and her heart.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

More Hot Summer Reads!

More Hot Summer Reads on audible, as we have ramped up our audio listenting this Summer while we do yard work, jog, and lay poolside!

Last month we shared our recommendations on Audio book for Audio book month and we received some pretty positive feedback. That being said, this month we decided to share a few more of our reads/listens from Audible. The books below were all good and recommended by us. From dark fiction, to young adult fiction, and also some non-fiction made the list this month. Our two top picks would have to be “Remote Control,” and “City of Death.” Which will you listen to first?

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

Summer Reads include Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton
Summer Reads include Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

The year is A.D. 922. A refined Arab courtier, representative of the powerful Caliph of Baghdad, encounters a party of Viking warriors who are journeying to the barbaric North. He is appalled by their Viking customs – the wanton sexuality of their pale, angular women, their disregard for cleanliness…their cold-blooded human sacrifices. But it is not until they reach the depths of the Northland that the courtier learns the horrifying and inescapable truth: he has been enlisted by these savage, inscrutable warriors to help combat a terror that plagues them – a monstrosity that emerges under cover of night to slaughter the Vikings and devour their flesh….

Eaters of the Dead was adapted to the screen as The 13th Warrior, starring Antonio Banderas.

If you are enjoying this article on Hot Summer Reads, we have bookstacks worth of Literature related content at the Ritual Blog.

City of Death by Ephraim Mattos: Hot Summer Reads

Summer Reads include City of Death by Ephraim Mattos
Summer Reads include City of Death by Ephraim Mattos

After leaving the US Navy SEAL teams in spring of 2017, Ephraim Mattos, age 24, flew to Iraq to join a small group of volunteer humanitarians known as the Free Burma Rangers, who were working on the front lines of the war on ISIS. Until being shot by ISIS on a suicidal rescue mission, Mattos witnessed unexplainable acts of courage and sacrifice by the Free Burma Rangers, who, while under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, assaulted across ISIS minefields, used themselves as human shields, and sprinted down ISIS-infested streets – all to retrieve wounded civilians.

In City of Death: Humanitarian Warriors in the Battle of Mosul, Mattos recounts in vivid detail what he saw and felt while he and the other Free Burma Rangers evacuated the wounded, conducted rescue missions, and at times fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi Army against ISIS. Filled with raw and emotional descriptions of what it’s like to come face-to-face with death, this is the harrowing and uplifting true story of a small group of men who risked everything to save the lives of the Iraqi people and who followed the credence, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. 

The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James – Volume 1

An award-winning collection of four ghostly tales inspired by M. R. James.

Casting the Runes, adapted by Stephen Gallagher
—2019 New York Festivals Radio Award winner (Silver)

Summer Read include The Conception of Terror by M.R. James
Summer Read include The Conception of Terror by M.R. James

When academic Jo Harrington (Anna Maxwell Martin) is sent a paper—The Truth of Alchemy, by Anton Karswell—for peer review, she pulls no punches. Jo writes that the paper has no place in a serious academic publication and that Karswell is a half-bright fool. When the editor writes a rejection note to Karswell, he inadvertently includes Jo’s entire email. Occultist Karswell (Reece Shearsmith) doesn’t take kindly to criticism.

On the tube home with her partner Edward Dunning (Tom Burke), Jo spots a poster with her name on it. It reads: “In memory of Joanne Harrington, MLitt, PhD, died September eighteenth, three days were allowed.” Is there anything that Edward can do to save Jo from this curse?

Lost Hearts, adapted by A. K. Benedict

Teenager Stephanie Elliot (Rosa Coduri) is taken to Aswarby House to be fostered by Mrs. Bunch (Susan Jameson). Stephanie strikes up a friendship with Ben (Bill Milner), the adopted son of charismatic community leader Mr. Abney (Jeff Rawle). He tells her that Mr. Abney is a good man—he even took in a child refugee last year, but she stole from him and ran away. Stephanie is troubled by voices and visions of a dead girl clutching at her chest, and when Ben disappears she begins to suspect that all is not right in Aswarby House.

The Treasure of Abbot-Thomas, adapted by Jonathan Barnes

When former Somerton school pupil Greg Parsbury (Robert Bathurst) meets history teacher Mika Chantry (Pearl Mackie) at a memorial service for schoolmaster Sam Abbot-Thomas, he begs for her help. Greg has been sent a postcard by the estate of the mysterious and charismatic Abbot-Thomas. On it is a strange inscription in Latin, which he believes to be an inaugural clue in a treasure hunt much like the elaborate treasure hunts Abbot-Thomas used to set back in the 1970s. There were rumors that Abbot-Thomas possessed a hidden fortune, and Parsbury and Chantry set out to find it.

A View from a Hill, adapted by Mark Morris
—2019 New York Festivals Radio Award winner (Gold)

Comedian and podcaster Paul Fanshawe (Andy Nyman) and his wife, Sarah (Alice Lowe), visit the Cotswolds on holiday, trying to rebuild their lives after the death of their young son, Archie. While out walking, they spot a beautiful abbey across the valley on Gallows Hill, but when they reach it, they find the building is little more than rubble. While Sarah explores, Paul records commentary for his podcast. Sarah thinks she hears children’s laughter, but there’s no one there. Later that night, she listens to the recording and hears a child’s voice whisper, “Mummy.” Sarah is convinced that Archie is trying to reach them and wants to return to the ruins. But something far worse is waiting for them on Gallows Hill.

If you are enjoying this article on Hot Summer Reads, we have bookstacks worth of Literature related content at the Ritual Blog.

What The Hex by Alexis Daria

Summer Reads include What the Hex by Alexis Daria
Summer Reads include What the Hex by Alexis Daria

When Catalina Cartagena returns home for her older sister’s wedding, she’s shocked to discover that her soon-to-be brother-in-law is possessed by a demon. To make matters worse, everyone else seems to be under the demon’s spell—except for Diego Paz, younger brother of the groom and Cat’s childhood rival.

With only three days until the wedding, Cat must join forces with her sexy nemesis to break the spell and defeat the demon. If they fail, demonic forces will control two of the most powerful witch families on Isla Bruja.

There’s only one bed at the magical B&B, and it’s time for these witches to get wicked…in more ways than one.

The Republic of Pirates by Collin Woodard:Hot Summer Reads

Summer Reads include The Republic of Pirates by Collin Woodard
Summer Reads include The Republic of Pirates by Collin Woodard

In the early eighteenth century, the Pirate Republic was home to some of the great pirate captains, including Blackbeard, “Black Sam” Bellamy, and Charles Vane. Along with their fellow pirates—former sailors, indentured servants, and runaway slaves—this “Flying Gang” established a crude but distinctive democracy in the Bahamas, carving out their own zone of freedom in which servants were free, blacks could be equal citizens, and leaders were chosen or deposed by a vote. They cut off trade routes, sacked slave ships, and severed Europe from its New World empires, and for a brief, glorious period the Republic was a success.


If you enjoyed this article, we have bookstacks worth of Literature related content at the Ritual Blog.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Afghanistan Literature: Memoirs, Poetry, Non-Fiction and Fiction

With the media attention being on Afghanistan’s situation, we can’t help but feel worried for the future of the people of Afghanistan. Literature helps us learn empathy; empathy for other human beings living in remote areas of the world under strict, horrifying conditions that we as readers, only dare read about in books. We know that books can only do so much, but as bibliophiles, trying to understand the struggles that these Afghanistan people go through, is the least we can do.

While many are familiar with “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” and “The Kite Runner,” there are many other books worth mentioning that share the culture via Afghanistan’s Literature. Below, we have listed some books, from poetry, to fiction to non-fiction, to memoirs. We hope to shed some light and empathy during their struggles.

Fiction – Afghanistan Literature

Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Andrea Busfield is a British journalist who traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 to report on the decline of the Taliban. During her many trips there, she met children who earned for their families by catering to tourists in profusely creative ways. One of these children, Fawad, was the mischievous but charming devil after whom she named the protagonist of Born Under A Million Shadows.

Through Fawad’s vibrant vision, Busfield transports us to a country that lives in perpetual fear of an apparently dismantled organization, and yet rises above the gloom to somehow keep its humanity thriving.

A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan byNelofer Pazila

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

As a young girl growing up in 1970s Afghanistan, Nelofer Pazira seems destined for a bright future. The daughter of liberal-minded professionals, she enjoys a safe, loving and privileged life. Some of her early memories include convivial family picnics and New Years’ celebrations overlooking the thousands of red flowers that carpet the hills of Mazar. But Nelofer’s world is shattered when she is just five and her father is imprisoned for refusing to support the communist party. This episode plants a “seed of anger” in her, which is given plenty of opportunity to grow as the years unfold.

A Bed of Red Flowersis a gripping, heart-rending story about a country caught in a struggle of the superpowers – and of the real people behind the politics. Universally acclaimed for its astute insights and extraordinary humanity, Pazira’s memoir won the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize for 2005.The Winnipeg Free Press writes: “Powerfully written, A Bed of Red Flowers is a rare account of a misunderstood country and its intrepid people, trying to live ordinary lives under extraordinary circumstances.” The Gazette (Montreal) describes the book as “an outpouring of passionate non-fiction that captivates like the tales of Sheherazade.… It’s a remarkable journey. An inspiring read.”

Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

At fewer than 70 pages, Atiq Rahimi’s book charts a story of great magnitude on a small canvas. The author is an Afghan exile living in Paris, and this intricate first fable of his was thunderously received in France. It tells the story of Dastaguir and his grandson, the only survivors of a vicious Soviet attack on their village, and their subsequent journey in search of the boy’s father.

If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.

Although the book was criticized for being unidiomatic and too detached, its film adaptation, directed by the author himself, was the recipient of numerous accolades, including an award at Cannes.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one…Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled.

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand. Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

Above Us the Milky Way by Fowzia Karimi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Above Us the Milky Way is a story about war, immigration, and the remarkable human capacity to create beauty out of horror. As a young family attempts to reconstruct their lives in a new and peaceful country, they are daily drawn back to the first land through remembrance and longing, by news of the continued suffering and loss of loved ones, and by the war dead, who have immigrated and reside with them, haunting their days and illuminating the small joys and wonders offered them by the new land.

The novel’s structure is built around the alphabet, twenty-six pieces written in the first person that sketch a through-line of memory for the lives of the five daughters, mother, and father. Ghost stories and fairytales are woven with old family photographs and medieval-style watercolor illuminations to create an origin story of loss and remembrance.

Non-Fiction – Afghanistan Literature

Dancing in the Mosque by Homeira Qaderi 

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

In the days before Homeira Qaderi gave birth to her son, Siawash, the road to the hospital in Kabul would often be barricaded because of the frequent suicide explosions. With the city and the military on edge, it was not uncommon for an armed soldier to point his gun at the pregnant woman’s bulging stomach, terrified that she was hiding a bomb. Frightened and in pain, she was once forced to make her way on foot. Propelled by the love she held for her soon-to-be-born child, Homeira walked through blood and wreckage to reach the hospital doors. But the joy of her beautiful son’s birth was soon overshadowed by other dangers that would threaten her life.

No ordinary Afghan woman, Homeira refused to cower under the strictures of a misogynistic social order. Defying the law, she risked her freedom to teach children reading and writing and fought for women’s rights in her theocratic and patriarchal society.

Devastating in its power, Dancing in the Mosque is a mother’s searing letter to a son she was forced to leave behind. In telling her story–and that of Afghan women–Homeira challenges you to reconsider the meaning of motherhood, sacrifice, and survival. Her story asks you to consider the lengths you would go to protect yourself, your family, and your dignity.

The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

An investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl.

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.

If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.

At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America’s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabul charts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: The True Story of a Woman Who Risked Everything to Bring Hope to Afghanistan by Suraya SadeedDamien Lewis

From her first humanitarian visit to Afghanistan in 1994, Suraya Sadeed has been personally delivering relief and hope to Afghan orphans and refugees, to women and girls in inhuman situations deemed too dangerous for other aid workers or for journalists. Her memoir of these missions, “Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse,” is as unconventional as the woman who has lived it. This is no humanitarian missive; it is an adventure story with heart.

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

To help the Afghan people, Suraya has flown in a helicopter piloted by a man who was stoned beyond reason. She has traveled through mountain passes on horseback alongside mules, teenage militiamen, and Afghan leaders. She has stared defiantly into the eyes of members of the Taliban and of the Mujahideen who were determined to slow or stop her. She has hidden and carried $100,000 in aid, strapped to her stomach, into ruined villages. She has built clinics. She has created secret schools for Afghan girls. She has dedicated the second half of her life to the education and welfare of Afghan women and children, founding the organization Help the Afghan Children (HTAC) to fund her efforts.

Suraya was born the daughter of the governor of Kabul amid grand walls, beautiful gardens, and peace. In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, she fled to the United States with her husband, their young daughter, their I-94 papers, and little else. In America, she became the workaholic owner of a prosperous real estate company, enjoying all the worldly comforts anyone could want, but when a personal tragedy struck in the early 1990s, Suraya seriously questioned how she was living and soon sharply changed the direction of her life.

The Favored Daughter by Fawzia Koofi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

The nineteenth daughter of a local village leader in rural Afghanistan, Fawzia Koofi was left to die in the sun after birth by her mother. But she survived, and perseverance in the face of extreme hardship has defined her life ever since. Despite the abuse of her family, the exploitative Russian and Taliban regimes, the murders of her father and brother, and numerous attempts on her life, she rose to become the first Afghani woman Parliament speaker.

Here, she shares her amazing story, punctuated by a series of poignant letters she wrote to her two daughters before each political trip-letters describing the future and freedoms she dreamed of for them and for all the women of Afghanistan. Her story movingly captures the political and cultural moment in Afghanistan, a country caught between the hope of progress and the bitter truth of history.

A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice by Malalai Joya

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Malalai Joya was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2010. An extraordinary young woman raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, Joya became a teacher in secret girls’ schools, hiding her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn’t find them; she helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province of Farah; and at a constitutional assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2003, she stood up and denounced her country’s powerful NATO-backed warlords. She was twenty-five years old. Two years later, she became the youngest person elected to Afghanistan’s new Parliament.

If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.

Joya takes us inside this massively important and insufficiently understood country, shows us the desperate day-to-day situations its remarkable people face at every turn, and recounts some of the many acts of rebellion that are helping to change it. A controversial political figure in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Malalai Joya is a hero for our times.

Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan by Tamim Ansary

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Today, most Westerners still see the war in Afghanistan as a contest between democracy and Islamist fanaticism. That war is real; but it sits atop an older struggle, between Kabul and the countryside, between order and chaos, between a modernist impulse to join the world and the pull of an older Afghanistan: a tribal universe of village republics permeated by Islam.


Now, Tamim Ansary draws on his Afghan background, Muslim roots, and Western and Afghan sources to explain history from the inside out, and to illuminate the long, internal struggle that the outside world has never fully understood. It is the story of a nation struggling to take form, a nation undermined by its own demons while, every 40 to 60 years, a great power crashes in and disrupts whatever progress has been made.

Poetry – Afghanistan Literature

Load Poems Like Guns translated by Farzana Marie

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Load Poems Like Guns is an important book. It gives an eloquent and wrenching witness to voices from another place and another poetry: voices with a unique mix of formal power and personal pain. Eight Afghan women poets are eloquently translated here by Farzana Marie, including the tragic and luminously gifted Nadia Anjuman.

This is a bilingual edition; the English and Dari are side by side, allowing us a glimpse of the mysterious and profound Persian poetic tradition. This is a book every poet and every reader of poetry should seek out. It amplifies our understanding. It broadens our sense of the identity of the poet. Above all, it makes available a rich and troubling narrative we need to hear.

A groundbreaking collection of poetry by eight contemporary Afghan women poets in English translation en face with the original Persian Dari text. These poets live in Herat, the ancient epicenter of literature and the arts.

Frazana Marie is a Ph.D. candidate in Middle Eastern literature at the University of Arizona. She served as an active duty officer for over six years including two years of deployed service in Afghanistan. She is president of Civil Vision International, a nonprofit focusing on influencing international relationships.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Memoir – Afghanistan Literature

Opium Nation by Fariba Nawa

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa delivers a revealing and deeply personal explorationof Afghanistan and the drug trade which rules the country, from corruptofficials to warlords and child brides and beyond. KhaledHosseini, author of The Kite Runner and AThousand Splendid Suns calls Opium Nation “an insightful andinformative look at the global challenge of Afghan drug trade.

Fariba Nawa weaves her personalstory of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engagingnarrative that chronicles Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into opiumtrafficking…and most revealingly, how the drug trade has damaged the lives ofordinary Afghan people.” Readers of Gayle Lemmon Tzemach’sThe Dressmaker of Khair Khanaand Rory Stewart’s The Places Between will find Nawa’spersonal, piercing, journalistic tale to be an indispensable addition to thecultural criticism covering this dire global crisis.

Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope by Shirin Ebadi

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work.


Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf of Canadian photojournalist, Zara Kazemi – raped, tortured and murdered in Iran – Dr. Ebadi offers us a vivid picture of the struggles of one woman against the system.

The book movingly chronicles her childhood in a loving, untraditional family, her upbringing before the Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah, her marriage and her religious faith, as well as her life as a mother and lawyer battling an oppressive regime in the courts while bringing up her girls at home.

She has been arrested and been the target of assassination, but through it all has spoken out with quiet bravery on behalf of the victims of injustice and discrimination and become a powerful voice for change, almost universally embraced as a hero. If you are enjoying this list on Afghanistan Literature, check out some of our love of literature content at the Ritual, here.


Her memoir is a gripping story – a must-read for anyone interested in Zara Kazemi’s case, in the life of a remarkable woman, or in understandingthe political and religious upheaval in our world.

My Life With the Taliban by Abdul Salam Zaeef

Afghanistan Literature
Afghanistan Literature

This book, authored by a founder of the Taliban, is a vividly informative work that offers a first-hand analysis of the ideological underpinnings of the sinister organization and a fascinating account of the author’s remarkable life. The Afghan ambassador to Pakistan in 2000, Zaeef was detained by American forces in 2001 and held at Guantanamo Bay for four years. He was a life-long moderate and was very active even after his release from the detainment camp, playing a significant role in secret peace talks between the Zardari government and the Taliban leaders.

However, in compiling My Life with the Taliban and detailing life at Guantanamo Bay, Zaeef leaves out crucial aspects – like a record of the organization’s own atrocities or the solution to the ‘Taliban problem’. As Nick Meo writes in The Telegraph, ‘This is a book that should be read by anybody with an interest in why Afghanistan has gone so badly wrong, even if it doesn’t say how to put it right.’

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Egyptology. My sister and I grew up watching documentaries about ancient civilizations during the Summers. She went on to earn a degree in history while I went on to write horror and study rhetoric. Yet, we both still love a good film based on ancient Egyptian culture. The list below are a few of my favorite films, some good, some are not so good (but who doesn’t love cheap horror cult-films?) My personal favorite is “The Pyramid” from 2014 – definitely the film you want to see out of all of these listed below.

Rage of the Mummy (2018)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

Defying an ancient curse, a group of occultists steal thirteen sacred relics from the tomb of Prince Horus-Kan in order to feed their supernatural powers. Now, the three thousand year old mummy prince must hunt down the stolen relics and bring deadly vengeance upon the perpetrators. For Detectives Blake and Crawford, the body count is piling up. Can they stop the mummy from his deadly rampage?

Gods of Egypt (2016)

Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into Egyptian horror, chaos and conflict.

The Mummy (2017)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

An ancient Egyptian princess is awakened from her crypt beneath the desert, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension.

The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)

When he is betrayed by a trusted friend, Mathayus (Victor Webster) must marshal all his strength and cunning to outwit a formidable opponent who will stop at nothing to unlock a supreme ancient power.

Frankenstein vs. the Mummy (2015)

The mummy of a cursed pharaoh and a reanimated corpse terrorize a medical university. Only an Egyptologist and a college professor, the deranged Dr. Frankenstein, may be able to stop the creatures before it’s too late.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Day of the Mummy (2014)

In hope of getting his hands on the famed diamond known as the Codix Stone, Jack Wells joins a group of archaeologists out to explore a newly discovered tomb in Egypt, that of the cursed king Neferu. When the Mummy of the king returns from the dead seeking human victims, Jack is in for the most horrifying experience of his life.

The Pyramid (2014)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

An archaeological team attempts to unlock the secrets of a lost pyramid only to find themselves hunted by an insidious creature in this fantastic Egyptian Horror classic!

The Mummy Resurrected (2014)

A team of archaeologists discover an ancient mummy, unleashing a deadly curse from its eternal tomb.

If you are enjoying this list on Egyptian Horror films, check out some of our other Horror and Supernatural content on our blog thread here.

Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy (2013)

In ancient Egypt, Isis and Osiris ruled the land. All were happy for the couple except one, Set, a jealous man who killed Osiris in order to take over his kingdom. Isis snuck into Osiris’ tomb and tried to raise him from the dead using her black magic. Set caught Isis in the act and had Osiris cut to pieces, with each piece buried in a different part of the land, so Isis could never again raise her husband. Isis vowed to avenge Osiris’ death and return with him to rule over all the worlds. Now, six college students Kyle, Dustin, Felicia, Jay, Serena and Amy take their last course in archeology in anticipation for graduation.

Prisoners of the Sun (2013)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

A multinational expedition discovers a lost city beneath a pyramid, where they must stop the reawakened gods of ancient Egypt horror from initiating the Apocalypse.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

In the Far East, Alex O’Connell, the son of famed mummy fighters Rick and Evy O’Connell, unearths the mummy of the first Emperor of Qin — a shape-shifting entity cursed by a witch centuries ago.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Mummy Maniac (2007)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

A serial killer abducts young women and wraps them up a bit like mummies.

Sands of Oblivion (2007)

In 1923, legendary film Director Cecil B. DeMille finished the epic film, The Ten Commandments (1923). After filming was completed, he bulldozed the sets into the Guadalupe Sand Dunes of the central California coast. His reasons for doing so were very mysterious. This story gives a fictional explanation as to why he did it. There was a legitimate Egyptian artifact amongst the props, but they didn’t know which one was trapping the spirit of an Egyptian avenging god. Mysterious murders and accidents while making the film brings things back to the surface today, and it starts all over again.

The Mummy’s Kiss: 2nd Dynasty (2006)

An aging woman kisses a mummy on display in a museum. This is what remains of the evil sorceress, Hor Shep Sut, who is reawakened to her murderous ways.

If you are enjoying this list on Egyptian Horror films, check out some of our other Horror and Supernatural content on our blog thread here.

The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb (2006)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

Thousands of years ago, the great Child King Tutankhamen ruled. Few know the details of his life no one knows the secrets of his death. But all is about to change. In 1922 Cairo, free-spirited archaeologist Danny Fremont is certain that if found, King Tut’s Emerald Tablet would hold the ultimate power to control the world. But unfortunately, the only person who believes Fremont is his ruthless archaeologist nemesis Morgan Sinclair, a member of a secret society who wants the tablet to harness unspeakable evil on the world and will stop at nothing to get it and then extend their world domination.

7 Mummies (2006)

Six escaped convicts and their female hostage make a desperate run for the Mexican border, where they stumble across a lost treasure of untold wealth, and find certain death instead on the Arizona desert.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Night of Anubis (2005)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

The mummy of a 3000 year-old criminal has been resurrected and is wreaking havoc in a large university town. An Egyptology professor and two of his students are the only people with the ability and know-how to destroy it. Their only hope is to race the undead creature to find the Amulet of Anubis, an ancient Egyptian horror artifact instilled with absolute power over life and death.

The Mummy’s Kiss (2003)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

3000 years ago an Egyptian sorceress was buried alive for indulging forbidden pleasures of the flesh. Reincarnated in modern-day Los Angeles she is on a mission to track down the reincarnation of her ancient lost love.

The Bone Snatcher (2003)

After miners disappear in the Namib Desert, scientists find their remains and seek to find what killed them.

The Scorpion King (2002)

A desert warrior rises up against the evil army that is destroying his homeland. He captures the enemy’s key sorcerer, takes her deep into the desert and prepares for a final showdown.

If you are enjoying this list on Egyptian Horror films, check out some of our other Horror and Supernatural content on our blog thread here.

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

Elvis Presley and a black “JFK” stay in a nursing home where nothing happens – until a wayward Egyptian mummy comes and sucks out the old people’s souls thru their a-holes. The two decide to fight back.

The Mummy Returns (2001)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

The mummified body of Imhotep is shipped to a museum in London, where he once again wakes and begins his campaign of rage and terror.

Belphegor: Phantom of the Louvre (2001)

At the Louvre museum in Paris, the phantom Belphegor wakes up and causes electrical havoc. Night guards at the museum start dying and Lisa gets possessed. Martin tries to help the cute Lisa.

The Mummy (1999)

Egyptian Horror Films You Have to Watch by Willy Martinez

At an archaeological dig in the ancient city of Hamunaptra, an American serving in the French Foreign Legion accidentally awakens a mummy who begins to wreak havoc as he searches for the reincarnation of his long-lost love.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Hottest Reads of the Summer

So far, it’s been a pretty fresh Summer. But that doesn’t mean the heat won’t hit us soon with walls of humidity and heat waves.

June is also National Audio Book month, and in honor of Audio Books, we have ramped up our audio book listening. Here are the books we have read and recommend for your list – the hottest reads of the Summer!

Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Hottest Reads: Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

The day Fatima forgot her name, Death paid a visit. From hereon in she would be known as Sankofa—a name that meant nothing to anyone but her, the only tie to her family and her past.

Her touch is death, and with a glance a town can fall. And she walks—alone, except for her fox companion—searching for the object that came from the sky and gave itself to her when the meteors fell and when she was yet unchanged; searching for answers.

But is there a greater purpose for Sankofa, now that Death is her constant companion?

To listen to it on Kobo, click here. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award (audiobook version).

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marakami

With Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami gives us a novel every bit as ambitious and expansive as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which has been acclaimed both here and around the world for its uncommon ambition and achievement, and whose still-growing popularity suggests that it will be read and admired for decades to come.

Hottest Reads of the Summer: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Marakami

This magnificent new novel has a similarly extraordinary scope and the same capacity to amaze, entertain, and bewitch the reader. A tour de force of metaphysical reality, it is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. T

heir odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle–yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.

To listen to it on Kobo, click here.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Hottest Reads of the Summer: Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

Listen to it on Kobo, here.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Lurking Fear and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

Elevate My thoughts
Hottest Reads: The Lurking Fear by H.P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos is a primary influence of countless iconic authors, and even now, nearly a century after its publication, its themes of cosmic horror and madness remain at the forefront of supernatural literature, as well as being highly influential in the mediums of music, film, and video games. But Lovecraft’s expansive imagination didn’t stop there. This five-story volume contains some fascinating rarities outside the Cthulhu Mythos.

The Lurking Fear includes examples of Lovecraft’s earliest weird fiction including “Hypnos,” “What the Moon Brings,” “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs,” and “Memory,” (inspiration for the 2014 film of the same name) as well as the title story, “The Lurking Fear,” a traditional horror study commissioned by George Julian Houtain to be run as a serial in Home Brew magazine in 1923 that has served as the source material for multiple films and been adapted into a comic book.

Only H. P. Lovecraft could conceive the delicious and spine-tingling horrors you will find within the pages of this unique five-story collection.

Listen to it on Kobo, here.


The Ritual is our blog where we talk about books, art, film and occasionally, some pop-culture. Warm up your coffee, roll your medicine, kick up your feet, and elevate your thoughts as we cross through the threshold, and into the realm of the Uncertain.


American Sniper by Chris Kyle

The Hottest Reads – American Sniper by Chris Kyle

From 1999 to 2009, U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle recorded the most career sniper kills in United States military history. His fellow American warriors, whom he protected with deadly precision from rooftops and stealth positions during the Iraq War, called him “The Legend”; meanwhile, the enemy feared him so much they named him al-Shaitan (“the devil”) and placed a bounty on his head. Kyle, who was tragically killed in 2013, writes honestly about the pain of war—including the deaths of two close SEAL teammates—and in moving first-person passages throughout, his wife, Taya, speaks openly about the strains of war on their family, as well as on Chris. Gripping and unforgettable, Kyle’s masterful account of his extraordinary battlefield experiences ranks as one of the great war memoirs of all time.

Listen to it on Kobo, here.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Book Review of “Human Alien” by Vika L. Coppens

A unique treasure, poetically written, “Human Alien” takes you into the soulful and creative depths of the narrator. This quaint tale of recovering from a break up, written by author, Vika L. Coppens, was visually captivating and woefully crafted to truly blend the feelings of isolation and humanity that we all feel at one point or another in our lives.

This book review of “Human Alien” scores this book a 5 out of 5 Coffees!

What I most enjoy about this work was how each chapter was able to capture a fleeting thought and/or emotion and how Vika is able to unpack such raw feelings and translate them into something relatable. “Without the reader, there wouldn’t be a reason for the author to continue a story. Every time your eyes touch my sentences or every time you blink while reading a chapter, my heart skips and my palms start to sweat. I feel connected with you, my dear reader. Do you feel the same? Can I take you on a trip with me, today?” – writes Vika, building on the thoughts of Samuel Johnson who wrote, “A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.”

This book really was a journey indeed. Because it reads poetic at times, there were periods where I found myself taking a break from the book so that I could absorb or better understand what I had just read. And there were times where I was in a different place personally, than where the character in the book was. I was able to continue reading when I felt I had a connection with the character, or when some insightful gems were being offered for me to grow and understand what I myself was feeling inside. I was connected.

To match her wonderful prose, the author, Vika, also shared with us her artwork. She illustrated the book cover as she designed visual glyphs corresponding with four major sections of this book. It turns out, Vika, is also a painter, illustrator, and more! I truly recommend this book as it really is one of the more unique books I have read in a while – and not just in story line, but in the way that it is structured and painted with a poetic paintbrush. Allow me to share my favorite quotes from the book below:

Favorite Quotes in Human Alien

Human Alien by Vika L. Coppens

“I mostly sit next to my window, watching the sunset and wondering what I did to deserve this pain, this never-ending shame for who I am, for my body, for what I did wrong. I blamed myself a lot, I still do. What did I do to provoke this, why was I there at he wrong time and place, why me? Why did it have to me be who carries the scars?” (pg. 87)

“The sun directly hid behind the clouds and a cold wind set. The trees started to shiver, the wolves howled in the distance. I dragged his heavy body to his bed and left some thorned roses on top of his chest. The dark, green ivy started to grow into every hole and through every window of the house. Fallen, brown leaves began to dance in every room as if autumn afternoon. Every color turned grey, mat and dark. I closed the wooden door as I left the house and brown thorns took over the whole house and garden like a living monster. They locked the door behind me, crawling over it like hissing snakes. I watched this magical moment while I put on my red hoody again.” (pg. 123)

“The lake chad been crying my name. For many nights in a row. I couldn’t resist the mermaid serenade anymore, so I walked hypnotized, without blinking, towards the lake. My wolf pack was walking in a long row behind me. A blue fog surrounded the whole forest and the moon lit our path. When we arrived at the lake, a huge ship was sailing towards us. I watched it break the phosphoresce in the water. Dragonflies were zooming around me, wolves were howling and mermaids were singing. The wind played with my hair while I waited for the ship to take me away.” (pg. 156)

If you are into Dark and Visceral fiction, check out our “Mad Men” anthology here.

“When you can’t sleep at night, read poetry. When your heart is broken, read poetry. When you need support, read poetry, and when you need to relax, read poetry. Poetry is the rhythm of our heart. It is the beat of life transformed into words. Poetry is the cure for everything. It’s the glass of water you drink at 2 a.m. in the morning after a horrible nightmare. What if poetry was illegal, would you still use it?” (pg. 194)

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“I put a blanket around myself and walked outside on my bare feet. The snow burned my skin and I closed my eyes. I wished for once that the empty house behind me would be filled with my family, just like it had been fifteen years ago. I hoped that the table would be set, the fireplace crackle and chicken baked. I threw the blanket away and let myself fall into the snow.” (pg. 214)

Vika L. Coppens. Author and Artist

“In the end, I was sitting there, alone in the swamp, with the black pearl. The black coloured smoke that rose out of the pearl crawled upon my arms and turned my dress, my hair and my lips black. I cried black tears while I walked deeper and deeper into the swamp. Further away from humanity, looking for other pearls.

“I smiled back at her while she moved closer, to offer me a snake out of her hair. She crawled up unto my body and I felt the scales of her tail touching my legs. Carefully, she implanted a snake into my head and her eyes filled with tears. I slowly grabbed her hand and her whole body started to shake. she fell to her knees, she cried out. She crumbled to pieces in front of me and her desperation was shattered on the floor. I didn’t know what to do. I stumbled. I decided to sit down next to her, to hold her very close to me. I felt her tears in my lap, falling like little pebbles. While I tried to comfort her, I heard the ghosts of past warriors whispering my name and a shiver ran down my spine.” (pg. 147)

“A million stars twinkle in the sky every night. There are a million planets in this universe. A billion stars. A trillion of comets. It’s strange we don’t see them during the day. The world puts a blue blanket around its surface and we forget that we are only living on a grain of sand. At night, we hardly see a couple of the closest stars wink at us, but how often do we sit down to watch the night sky? When we look through the sieve of the Earth into the universe, we look into the future. We see everything that is still to come. We see stars that aren’t born yet. If an alien would look for us with their telescope, they would only be able to see the past.” (pg. 281)

If you want to read “Human Alien” by Vika L. Coppens, you can purchase it on Amazon, here.

If you liked this review, check out our Movie and Book Review section, here.

Book Review of “Anoka” by Shane Hawk

If you are a fan of short horror collections, then look no further. Anoka by Shane Hawk is one of the better collections that I have read in quite a while. Mixing modern day horror with Indigenous lore makes these tales uniquely satisfying for those looking for something new in horror.

Author Shane Hawk

Excerpt: “Welcome to Anoka, Minnesota, a small city just outside of the twin cities dubbed “The Halloween Capital of the World” since 1973. Here before you lie several tales involving bone collectors, pagan witches, werewolves, skeletal bison, and cloned children. It is up to you to decipher between fact and fiction as the author has woven historical facts into his narratives. With his debut horror collection, Cheyenne and Arapaho author, Shane Hawk, explores themes of family, grief, loneliness, and edentity through the lens of indigenous life.”

My three favorite stories in this collection would be, “wounded,” “Imitate,” and “Dead America.” These stories are thickly woven into the indigenous culture, inviting the reader into a new world and perspective from which to recieve supernatural twists.

“Wounded,” while well written and traumatic in nature, revolves around a book (no wonder why I love this tale.) But this is no ordinary spell book or grimoire; this book has a malevolent spirit of its own. Once he decides what’s real and what isn’t, the protagonist Phillip is forced to do battle with a book from hell.

“Imitate” was just creepy. Like, haunted kids kind of creepy. What begins as a normal routine in which the father reads a bed time story to his son turns into a trip down the rabbit hole. The story ends leaving me with an eerie feeling of fantasy mixed with a bit of horror.

“Dead America” is about a native writer that is thought to have sold out his people due to writing or stealing their stories. After the death of his grandfather, he succumbs to a recurring nightmare in which a spider comes to him and lays hundreds of eggs in his belly. The story culminates with his grandfather visitng him to tell him to stop ‘spinning his web of lies.”

“Anoka” is a great read and short collection that can be finisehd in a couple of days (I’m a slow reader.) I highly recommend it to any lover of the supernatural, indigenous fiction lovers, or those looking for something fresh.

Join 3,796 other subscribers

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute, but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goose bumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.

Top 18 Cosmic Horror Films – Lovecraftian

There is no horror without imagination. These top 18 cosmic horror films are my favorites of all time! Have a look, I’m sure this list will be a great start to a great movie-filled weekend of the most creative films you have seen in a while.

Cosmic horror and Lovecraftian horror are sometimes used interchangeably because of the work that H.P. Lovecraft contributed to the genre. He is the father of said genre, just as Asimov is said to be the father of modern robotics or science fiction.

Top 18 Cosmic Horror films:

18. Kwaidan (2007)

17. Beyond The Gates (2016)

16. Life (2017)

15. Sunshine (2007)

14. Pandorum (2009)

13. The Void (2017)

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute, but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goose bumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.

12. The Endless (2018)

11. The Fourth Kind (2009)

10. Underwater (2020)

9. Uzumaki (2001)

8. In The Tall Grass (2019)

7. Absentia (2011)

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute, but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goose bumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.

6. The Void (2016)

5. The Mist (2007)

4. Annihilation (2018)

3. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

2. Event Horizon (1997)

1. The Thing (1982)

If you liked these trailers and list, you should check out our other movie picks here.

On Writing Horror Willy Martinez

  • On Writing Horror amassed from an obsession to learn where the power of fear resides. An anthology of works studying the way in which writers evoke fear and how they may affect us. On Writing Fear is an index of terror, drawing from Aristotle, Longinus, Edmund Burke, Che Guevarra, Wordsworth, Foucault, H.P. Lovecraft, Todorov, and many more.

    Chapters include digital illustrations created by the author.

    Also available at the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

    A must have collection of research on the power of Horror- a tormented treatment of the human passions!

    Table of Contents for On Writing Horror

    Ch 1. Fear and War: Crafting the War on Terror Using Fear Appeals Ch 2. The Art of the Coup D'etat Ch 3. The Feminine Supernatural versus the Male Supernatural Writers Ch 4. Projecting Ghost Children to Find Identity Ch 5. The Supernatural Power of the Sublime in Wordsworth's Poetry Ch 6. Disorienting Characters with Haunted Spaces and Auditory Hallucinations Ch 7. Modern Ghosts Ch 8. The Fantastic in Fear Ch 9. The Fun Side of Fear: Faustus' Tricky Imp of Satan Ch 10. Glorifying Satan

    Some of the art included:

    [caption id="attachment_4846" align="alignnone" width="188"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4847" align="alignnone" width="200"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4848" align="alignnone" width="194"]Art for On Writing Horror Art for On Writing Horror[/caption]

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

Ghost Children

  • The ghost children in “The Lost Ghost” and “The Wind in the Rose-Bush” are not restricted ghosts, and this is how these ghosts differ from the other ghosts of writers of Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman time such as Henry James, Sarah Jewett or Ambrose Bierce. These apparitions may seem cute, but think twice as these ghost children will leave you with goose bumps. This double feature of Mary E. Wilkins short fiction is creepy enough to leave you sleeping with the lights on.