Monday, August 29, 2016

Blog Tour: Just Kill Me by Adam Selzer (Guest Post + Giveaway)

Contemporary Fiction 
Publication.Date  August 30th 2016
Published By:  Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers
AuthorAdam Selzer

Just Kill Me on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

From the author of Play Me Backwards and I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It comes a dark comedy about one teen’s unusual summer job as a ghost tour guide in Chicago.

Megan Henske isn’t one to heed warnings…

When the last letters in her alphabet cereal are D, I, and E, she doesn’t crawl right back into bed. When her online girlfriend won’t text a photo, she just sends more of herself.

And when she realizes that Cynthia, her boss at a Chicago ghost tour company, isn’t joking about making stops more haunted by killing people there, she doesn’t quit her job—she may even help.

But who is responsible for the deaths of prominent figures in the murdermonger industry? Could it be the head of the rival tour company? Or could it be someone near and dear to Megan?

Soon after she learns that she has an uncanny resemblance to a flapper who disappeared in 1922, Megan receives a warning she can’t ignore: the next ghost on the tour might be her…

The Ghosts Of Chicago:
Guest Post by Adam Selzer

     Just south of Soldier Field, Chicago’s Prairie Avenue has a block of old robber baron mansions from the Gilded Age. There’s the Kimball House, as in Kimball Pianos, the former home of Marshall Field Jr, and a place called the Keith House that looks like something out of Scooby Doo. But right in the middle of those is a smaller place called the Clarke House. Built in 1836, it’s generally considered the oldest house in Chicago. When I tell this to tourists from the UK, they think it’s hilarious. In the UK people have takeout menus from before 1836.

Chicago is a very young town, but people have been talking about ghosts here for close to two hundred years. Back in the 1840s, some of the early settles talked about “The Prairie Specter,” the ghost of a black-haired woman who was said to roam around the outskirts of town at dusk with her arms outstretched, as though she was looking for something to hold on to. She stopped being seen around 1850, perhaps when the land she was said to roam was built on and stopped being a prairie. Around the same time, there were even stories of a glowing ghostly mule floating around on the South Side.

Now, we sometimes advertise Chicago as the most haunted city in the world - but there’s a fair amount of hype built into that; it’s not like the parks department releases data on which city has the most ghosts. But we’ve got some good stories. Among these:

Resurrection Mary The most famous of the “vanishing hitchhiker” ghosts, Mary is said to hitch rides on Archer Avenue and disappear outside of Resurrection Cemetery. She stands out from similar ghosts in other towns because we have a lot of first-hand sightings, which is pretty rare in the ghost world, really.

Tapeworm I met Tapeworm. He ran a tattoo shop in a former funeral home that had been said to be haunted for decades. He liked the ghosts in his place for the most part, but said that “What really freaks me the %^& out is the stairs - twice I’ve been walking down them ^&*ing stairs and felt like the ghosts were trying to %^&ing push me. And everyone knows you can’t fight back with these cats! So I said, ‘LIsten, you %^&*, if I ^&*ing die in this place, it is %^&*ing ON.” Three weeks later he DID die in the place; staff at the tattoo shop were talking about his ghost within weeks.

Peg Leg Johnny The first time I investigated the old Congress Hotel, staffers told me they’d been getting calls about a “hobo” with a peg leg lying asleep in one of the hallways. They’d go to run the guy off and find no one there. Later, a guard told me he’d seen the peg leg ghost himself in one of the ballrooms. I like to imagine it’s the ghost of Charles Cramer, a one-legged clown who committed a couple of murders near the Congress in the early 20th century, escaped from prison in the 1920s, and was never found.

The Gray Lady The former Harpo Studios, where Oprah filmed her show, served as a morgue after a steamship capsized in 1915, and is often said to be haunted as a result. The most famous ghost, the Gray Lady, is said be a woman in gray who floats down a hallway. But she’s better known among ghost hunters than she ever was among Harpo employees. They’d tell me about a little girl they’d see by the vending machines, and about a woman they’d hear crying in one of the bathrooms (I liked to call her Moaning Myrtle), but they always told me they’d never heard of the Gray Lady!

The Hooters on Erie - the River North Hooters has always claimed to be haunted, but they could never figure out WHO would be haunting them. I eventually found an article about grave robbers in the 1870s stashing bodies in barrels in a barn right where the restaurant is now; what made it especially amusing is that when the grave robbers were caught, the newspapers went into great detail talking how attractive one of the nude corpses in the barrels was.

Now, whether these ghosts are “real” is sort of beyond my pay grade - my job in the ghost hunting world was always just doing the historical research, really. I tend to believe that almost everything can be explained away. But the stories behind them can be fascinating, and lead to more and more of those “curiosity doors” that you should never leave locked. And they gave me a lot of ideas for backstory and plot points for JUST KILL ME, in which a group of ghost tour guides makes places even MORE haunted by killing people at them.

The Elbridge Keith House on Prairie Avenue. That we don’t have better ghost stories about this place reflects poorly on the city!

The Gold Ballroom at the Congress Hotel. As Ricardo explains in the book, the “orbs”are not ghosts, they’re ghost farts.

The Clark House, form 1836, via adam’s instagram (

About the author:

His first book was HOW TO GET SUSPENDED AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE (now available in a "Now With More Swearing") edition, his next one is PLAY ME BACKWARDS (for satanic young adults), and his best known is probably I KISSED A ZOMBIE AND I LIKED IT, a Twilight satire that was not marketed as a satire.

He also writes the SMART ALECK'S GUIDE series and has published a bunch of Chicago history/ghostlore books.

You can also find him under the name SJ Adams, the name he used for SPARKS: THE EPIC, COMPLETELY TRUE BLUE (ALMOST) HOLY QUEST OF DEBBIE, which won a Stonewall honor and made the YALSA popular paperback list.
LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

3 Finished Copies of JUST KILL ME (US Only)

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Tour Schedule:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Musical Musings: August 2016

Musical Musings is a new feature where I'll be talking about music! There'll be two posts a month---the first of which will be about some random musical topic, and the second post of the month (like this one!) will be a recap of my month in music. To learn more about this feature and whatnot, click here to check out my introduction post! :)

August Overall

I wish I had more to say about my month in music but as I said in my Discover Weekly post, I've still been so hung up on Hamilton. Plus, everything that can go wrong HAS been going wrong for my family and me lately, so I've been so busy. I learned that my 2 year-old nephew likes Hamilton, though! I was babysitting him and played a song (Burn) and he was so enthralled by it. So then I played him more and it actually held his attention well enough for a few songs. I'm sure you can imagine my utter joy at this discovery!

Anyway, I did make a playlist for this month. It's called Wolf (because I've been reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer this month). It's a mix of things: Hamilton songs I've been especially fond of this month, songs that have been put on (or BACK on) my radar thanks to Discover Weekly, a whole lot of Fall Out Boy (because one of their songs was in one of my Discover Weekly playlists and it put me in a mood to binge a bunch of FOB music), and a few songs from a musical called Spring Awakening (more on that later).

Though my pickings are much smaller than I'd like for this month, I do still have some top songs from this month to talk about...

My Top Five Songs of August 2016

The Room Where It Happens - Leslie Odom Jr. (& more)

This is the first time in my entire obsession with Hamilton that I've been stuck on this song. Like, I've known it's existed. I've listened to it. But I never paid much attention to it. I never randomly quoted it or even loved this one particular song. Which seemed odd to me because this was one of the first songs that I heard talked about from the music before I listened to it myself. But then for whatever reason, I got this random urge to listen to this song earlier this month...and I've been listening to it incessantly ever since. (And I'm not complaining. Not even a little.)

Ever the Same - Rob Thomas

This song! I've loved it for so long. So, so long. And it's been on my mind every now and then this year---like at my nephew's birthday party where it played in a bowling alley. But I hadn't properly sat down and listened to it in A WHILE. Until, wonder of wonders, it showed up in my Discover Weekly playlist. Now I listen to it regularly.

All That's Known - Jonathan Groff

I was listening to my Hamilton playlist on my phone (SHOCKER) when Spotify decided to play a recommended song (something that generally grinds my gears). I planned to skip over it until two things happened: 1) I realized the song playing actually wasn't bad, and 2) Jonathan Groff was singing. In case you are unaware (though I'm sure you already know), Jonathan Groff plays King George in Hamilton. So of course I was more than willing to listen to the end of this song he sang. And of course, after I enjoyed the song, it made sense that I sat down and listened to the entire cast album for Spring Awakening---the play this song is from. There are so many good songs there! This was a good life choice.

Young Volcanoes - Fall Out Boy

This song is the reason there's so much Fall Out Boy on this month's playlist. What a Catch, Donnie was the song in my Discover Weekly playlist that brought FOB to mind, but this song is the one I was desperate to listen to when I began my binge. It's so catchy and I love it and I could listen to it on repeat for basically forever. So, so good. And especially great for summer! Lighthearted and fun. Ahhhh I love it.

Teenagers - My Chemical Romance

This gem popped up in my Discover Weekly playlist for this week and oh, the nostalgia! This was the first MCR song I ever listened to---I've since listened to A LOT more of their music and can honestly say I adore them. I remember hearing it for the first time at my friend Brittany's house. I thought it was so cool and, like, edgy or something because there's a curse word so prominent in the lyrics. I'm over that now (obviously...this is especially funny if you check out the full cast album for Spring Awakening---curse words abound), but I still enjoy this song. And I'll always be especially fond of it even though it's not my favorite by MCR. (Don't ask me which is, I need to think about it...)

That's what my month in music was like! Now I'd LOVE to hear from you! What have you been into? Any new obsessions? Favorite songs? What do you think of the songs and artists I've been into? Let me know your thoughts! :)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Scary Out There by Jonathan Maberry (review + giveaway)

Horror, Short Stories, Anthology 
Publication.Date  August 30th 2016
Published By:  Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers
AuthorJonathan Maberry

Scary Out There on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:,%20Inc_2227948_NA&sourceId=AFFGoodreads,%20IncM000004

Multiple Bram Stoker Award–winning author Jonathan Maberry compiles more than twenty stories and poems—written by members of the Horror Writers Association—in this terrifying collection about worst fears.

What scares you? Things that go bump in the night? Being irreversibly different? A brutal early death? The unknown?

This collection contains stories and poetry by renowned writers such as R. L. Stine, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Ellen Hopkins—all members of the Horror Writers Association—about what they fear most. The stories include mermaids, ghosts, and personal demons, and are edited by Jonathan Maberry, multiple Bram Stoker award winner and author of the Rot & Ruin series.

You're only as good
as your word. 
"All of you. Every one of you who takes a razor to your wrist or swallows too many pills. Every one of you who jumps in front of a bus. Every one of you who stands on a bridge and thinks about jumping." The boy shook his head again, his features filled with disgust. "You don't know shit about what's waiting at the bottom of that river. And if you think it means peace, then you know less than shit about it." 
He likes to peer his head around the corner of doorways, make a face at you. 

     Why is it that the most incredible books are the hardest ones to review? I've been sitting here, at my desk, for a little over two hours now, trying to find just the right words to describe this phenomenal, heart-pounding and profoundly affecting anthology, but every sentence I write falls flat and I feel like no matter what I say, I can never do this book justice. It's just one of those books that every one has to experience for themselves, for just like Jonathan Maberry said in his introduction to the collection, fear is very personal and everyone is afraid of something different.

   To me, this book is more than just a collection of exquisite horror stories. It's a beautiful reminder that we all have our demons to fight and that it's perfectly fine to be scared. Fear is very human and nothing to be ashamed of. It's there to warn us, it's there to motivate us, and as long as we don't let it control us, we can get through everything.

    The SCARY OUT THERE anthology contains 21 hand-picked horror stories written by some of the most talented authors of our times. Take a look at the contents list and you'll see names like Brenna Yovanoff, Madeleine Roux, Ellen Hopkins, Carrie Ryan, R.L Stine, Kendare Blake and more. If you'd ask me about my favorite stories from this collection, I would tell you that I loved them all (and that would be true), but the ones that  got to me the most were: Danny by Josh Malerman (I was seriously pissing my pants while reading this one-- alone, at night), The Old Radio by R.L.Stine (I grew up with the Fear Street, and this story was a quintessence of Stine's ability to thoroughly creep you out and leave you on edge), The Invisible Girl by Rachel Tafoya (such a powerful and meaningful story about self-harm and depression, and fear of being invisible, unimportant, forgotten..), Kendare Blakes story about bloody revenge (it can seriously turn your stomach inside out) and the so very Stephen King-ish The Boyfriend by Steve Rasnic Tem (for obvious reasons).
     But to tell you the truth, each and every single one of these stories has something incredible and meaningful to offer. Some of them are pure fear-fests - like Danny! Boy oh boy, was I sweating profusely while reading this one! I even took little breaks freaking out on Twitter about it, totally stalling and not wanting to find out what happens next - or rather wanting, but not being brave enough to. It's such an intense piece of fiction, I actually went ahead and ordered the author's novel (The Bird Box) right after finishing it. I'm still trying to find it in me to crack it open, though...

    At the same time, there are also stories in this collection that are more subtle and poetic, yet very powerful and important. Take Death and Twinkies. It's a story about a boy whose life is so miserable, he decides to end it, because he believes death will bring him peace. How absolutely heart-breaking, especially if you consider the fact that there are actual real teenagers and kids out there who really feel this way.

    Some of these stories end on a hopeful note, some are as dark as their character's black souls, but they all have something important to say, and they were all included in this collection for a good reason. I really believe that this anthology is a must, and not only for every self-respecting horror fan, but simply for anyone who enjoys good writing, interesting stories and food-for-thought kind of reads. This is a particularly delicious box of chocolates, my friends.

About the author:

JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror and thriller author, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. His books have been sold to more than a dozen countries. 
LINKS: Website | Twitter


3 Finished Copies of SCARY OUT THERE (US Only)

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Tour Schedule:
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