Posts Tagged ‘reviewers’

Read to Survive! Monster Librarian’s Horror Movie Survival Guide

Published by Kirsten on October 27th, 2014 - in Uncategorized


 Read To Survive! Monster Librarian’s Horror Movie Survival Guide.


As editor of Monster Librarian, I was recently challenged to come up with a list of things I’d    want to take with me if I was suddenly dropped into a horror movie. The only restriction      was that the items would have to fit in a crate. I’m a reader, and a trained librarian, so my   first instinct is to suggest The Horror Movie Survival Guide, because that would have all kinds of great strategies for making it through (we have a similar list, The Shocklines Horror Movie Survival Guide, on our site). However, chances are that while I consulted the book, I’d probably be the #1 victim for taking my eyes off my surroundings. Fortunately, I have a fabulous and knowledgeable group of reviewers, and they’ve seen LOTS of horror movies. If I had to go, I’d want to take them with me, and I’m sure they wouldn’t leave me behind so they could escape. Right, guys?


Unfortunately, I can’t fit them in a crate. So I asked them what they would take, if it happened to them. They’re a very practical group. After wishful thoughts of distracting the creature(s) by sending members of Congress, or sending John Constantine instead, there was majority agreement that if you couldn’t get reception on your fully charged cell phone to call for rescue, it would be great to have a full canteen of water, so you don’t dehydrate, and plenty of energy bars, to keep you fueled with more than adrenaline. Also, comfortable running shoes are essential, (since chances are you’ll be doing a lot of running). There was debate over whether it’s better to take a working flashlight, a lighter, or candles with waterproof matches (in case the batteries in the flashlight die, after you’ve been running for your life for days on end), but I think it makes sense to take them all. Candle flames don’t shed much light, but you can’t make a fire with a flashlight, and a lighter won’t work if it gets soaked. As one reviewer noted, with good shoes and plenty of light, you’re much less likely to trip and fall (like everyone does). And there are so many reasons you might need to set a fire. Did I say set a fire? I meant light a fire.

Ash with his chainsaw and boomstick.
Found at


And, of course, as one reviewer put it, “you’ve got to have weapons”. Popular suggestions included a machete, a knife, a sword, a chainsaw (“handy for cutting through things that go bump in the night”, according to another reviewer) an automatic weapon with extra ammo, and a “boomstick”, (the double-barreled shotgun Ash uses in Army of Darkness). I’d add a stake to that list, as well, since sometimes only wood will do, and a silver bullet for that boomstick, just in case you have to deal with a conventional werewolf.


While some of these might not fit in the crate, one reviewer suggested that you could always wear them to save room for other things that would. It was also mentioned that night vision goggles would be very helpful to weapon wielders in the dark. It’s true, you can’t really hold a flashlight or candle while flailing around with a chainsaw, and you want to make every bullet count. While I wouldn’t necessarily consider it the most effective of weapons, I liked the suggestion of a Swiss Army knife—it may have a tiny blade in comparison to some of the previously named weapons, but it does have one, and its many other tools could come in handy. It’s small, so it won’t take up much room, and it can be carried in your pocket.

It also might be the only thing listed here that I wouldn’t actually hurt myself with.

Weapons are not my thing, and in a horror movie, Murphy’s Law is multiplied times a dozen, at least.


I should note here that this challenge was issued to us by Man Crates, a company that ships gift sets in crates that must be opened using a crowbar. The crowbar is included, so assuming that our crate is coming from her, we’d have one of those to arm ourselves with as well. A crowbar could be quite useful in times of peril.


If you’re in the kind of movie where the monster is impervious to mere weapons (although it’s hard for me to imagine anything being unaffected by a chainsaw), you’ll want a selection of religious or occult items that you can easily keep on you while you’re on the go. A cross might ward off evil, holy water can be an effective deterrent (you could keep it loaded in a water pistol in order to get your creature from a distance), salt can be used to contain demons, and glow-in-the-dark chalk could be used to draw a circle. Rope has many uses, including restraining victims of possession.  However, if you’re feeling loaded down by now, you could take one reviewer’s advice and “forget those religious trinkets, as you can get some off the dead”!


Need access to resources? Problem solved.
Found at Univ. of Arizona Harry Potter Alliance site.

Finally, I know it’s an unusual suggestion, but as a librarian, it’s obvious to me: I suggest a library card, because you never know when you’re going to need obscure reference material on religion or the occult, and as any fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter can tell you, you can always find the necessary occult knowledge in the library’s Restricted Section. Our motto here is “Read to Survive”, and we take that very seriously.


Although this challenge came from Man Crates, Monster Librarian is not endorsing or advertising for them.  And, while I recognize the problematic nature of being gifted with ugly neckties, it’s not just men who get presents they don’t want and won’t use. Everyone enjoys getting a present that’s fun to open and suits their interests (I think the entertainment value of opening your present with a crowbar could be pretty awesome regardless of sex) so why limit your audience?

Of course, if you aren’t stuck in a horror movie, and a crate full of the items we listed above, or similar ones, came as a gift, there are a few practical problems with the contents. Especially if you have little kids. When the horror lover in your life opens up his survival kit to find a machete and a crossbow (and yes, I speak from personal experience here) what exactly are you supposed to do with the weaponry?


At Monster Librarian, we don’t accept paid advertising. We just want to provide you with honest reviews and resources about the horror genre, and we like to have fun. I have to offer Man Crates a great big thanks for what has turned out to be, for us, an entertaining Halloween treat.


–Contributors:  Aaron Fletcher, Benjamin Franz, Kirsten Kowaleweski, Jennifer Lawrence, Michele Lee, Lucy Lockley, Patricia Mathews, David Simms, Sheila Shedd, Colleen Wanglund, and Wendy Zazo-Phillips





Women in Horror Fiction: Michele Lee

Published by Kirsten on February 23rd, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Image of Michele Lee Michele Lee, one of our own book reviewers and the mind behind our teen-focused blog Reading Bites, is the author of such books as Wolf Heart (2012 Violet Ivy Press), the heartbreaking zombie novella Rot (2013 Skullvines Press), the self-published ebooks The List  (2013)  and On Halloween (a choose-your-own-path book co-written with Mini Lee). Her latest work, Last Brother, Last Sister (2014 Skullvines Press), was published earlier this month.  Michele’s short stories can be found in anthologies including Dark Futures: Tales of Dystopian SF (2011 Dark Quest) and Horror Library, Volume 4 (2012 Cutting Block Press). Michele also writes erotic fiction under the name M. Lush.


1. Can you give our readers a brief introduction?

My name is Michele Lee. I’m a multi-genre writer (Horror, SF/F and erotic romance), a reviewer and a vet tech by day.


2. Why do you write horror?  What draws you to the genre?

Way back when I was a teenager, horror was the only place you could find stories of the paranormal. Now we have urban fantasy and paranormal romance, both of which I also like, but sometimes you just want that spooky story. Also, I think a lot of the setups in horror, especially the monsters, are a powerful thematic way to deal with the darker stuff in our real lives. Violence, rape, fear of the true nature of human evil; the nameless thing that might be waiting to devour us in the dark is a perfect allegory for facing cancer, abuse, fiscal devastation and more. We can, as either writers or readers, work through and face our feelings on some Really Big Issues ™ without freezing up when the boogie man has the face of our abuser or looks like that shadow on the radiogram. And maybe, for a little bit, we can fantasize that beating cancer or a recession is as easy as staking that vampire or stopping that serial killer.

3. Can you describe your writing style or the tone you prefer to set for your stories?

The tone of my stories, I hope, is different because I really like to let characterization come through in how things are set up and described and how the characters react to things. I seem to be drawn to people working through things, maybe outside discoveries, but often things about themselves that are exposed because of things happening around them.

In my novella Rot, for example I wanted to take a typical rough/bad ass male character (stoic, former military man, zero illusions about life) and make him incredibly emotional without making him any less of a strong male lead. I also wanted to take on the “flamboyant gay” stereotype and the “damsel in distress” that you see in horror a lot and do something meaningful with them.


4. Who are some of your influences?  Are there any women authors who have particularly inspired you to write?

Anna Sewell, actually. My mom was really restrictive with me when it came to…everything, but she encouraged me to read Black Beauty. Maybe because it was about horses, or was a classic. But honestly it’s very brutal. You see horses die in war combat, serious cruelty to dogs, cats and horses and real world events like illnesses and alcoholism which leads to disaster for Beauty. It was the darkest book I had ever read.

An Anne Rice phase led me to the far more amazing authors Poppy Z. Brite and Nancy A. Collins, the latter of which not just writes fairly hardcore horror, but also wedged her way into comics. What geek girl doesn’t admire that?

On the male side of the spectrum, Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman are all glorious masters among us plebs.

5. What authors do you like to read?  Any recommendations?

I read a lot, over many genres. If you’re comfortable being seen in the urban fantasy section, Ann Aguirre is doing great things with demons and zombies (her zombie books are YA). Stacia Kane is a favorite for sure. Ilona Andrews is an auto-buy.

As for Authors You’re Probably Missing; Sara M. Harvey and Jennifer Pelland write dark speculative fiction, K.H. Koehler, Lucy Snyder and Chesya Burke are all amazing horror authors.


6. Where can readers find your work?

I’m mostly in ebooks these days, so all the usually places, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, OmniLit and iBooks. I have a werewolf book out (Wolf Heart), two zombie novellas (Rot and The List) and a zombie novel that just came out (Last Brother, Last Sister). I have short stories here and there, and my erotic romance stuff is published under the pen name M. Lush.

Interested in learning more ? Check out Michele Lee’s Amazon page, this interview, her blog, or Reading Bites.

“I’d Like To Submit A Request For Review”

Published by Kirsten on January 15th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Monster Librarian receives a lot of requests for review. In addition to mainstream and independent publishers, there are many teeny tiny small presses and self-published authors who request reviews. I’m sharing this information especially for them.

Everyone who works on the site is a volunteer. They all have busy lives and they donate their valuable free time to reading and reviewing.  We can’t review everything we are requested to review. Even when we do plan to review a book, it can be awhile before the book is read, reviewed, edited, and posted. To those of you patiently waiting for reviews, thank you for your patience.

Here’s how we handle review requests. When someone requests a review, I send the request on to our reviewers, and if any of them are interested, then they tell me and I let the person who contacted me know who to send it to.

So if you want to get your book reviewed, you’ve got to hook them with your request, and you have to do it fast. I don’t know about you, but in my personal email account I am overwhelmed with email, most of which isn’t very important. I don’t read every one that I get, and many of those I do get I just take a few seconds to look at, to see if they’re a.) important or b.) interesting. So there isn’t much time to get my attention, and if someone wants me to read what they’ve sent, they have to do it pretty fast. I think most people handle the clutter in their inboxes like that. There isn’t time for more without having your life consumed by email.

I bring this up because I have received a number of requests in the past few weeks for “an anthology of horror short stories”. Occasionally that’s expanded to something along the lines of  ”a collection of unique/original/chilling/entertaining/frightening short stories”.  Describing a book this way is pretty generic.  Describing the contents in detail isn’t necessary, just tell us what makes your book stand out enough that we should take time out of our lives to read and review it. If you can’t get it across in a brief paragraph, your request isn’t going to stand out and it probably isn’t going to provoke a reviewer’s interest.  There are plenty of people who DO write requests that tell us what makes their book unique who still don’t get reviewed because of the limited time and energy our reviewers have available, or because it doesn’t fit their interests.

I love to be able to write someone who has requested a review and tell them that we have a reviewer who is interested in reviewing the book. If you would like to be one of those people, please keep in mind that providing us with information about the book that will hook a reviewer makes that much more likely.

We do have a FAQ for authors, located here, which tells you, among other things, what information we need from you to forward a request. Thanks for taking a minute to consider how best to structure a review request, and have a great day!