Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson

The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson
Publisher: Ghostwriter Publications/Haunted Computer Books
Publish Date: March 10, 2010
Paperback, 328 pages
Supernatural Thriller

My Review:
Why I read this:  I have seen Scott Nicholson's books around for several years, starting with The Farm and kept meaning to read him, then I got away from the horror or supernatural thriller genre for awhile.  Then I saw this one and some of his other books reviewed on a blog and saw they were relatively inexpensive for the Kindle and I had to have it.  Since then I was contacted by Scott to participate in his blog tour (see the interview and giveaway post) and he sent me some of his other books as well. 

How is the novel driven:  This is kind of interesting to think about.  I think about suspense or horror type books as being mainly plot or event driven and while there is quite a bit of that in this book, I really think the characters, or really the character of Julia Stone is what the book is all about.

My thoughts: After interviewing Scott I think he refers to his genre as supernatural thriller.  I think I agree.  I always thought of him as horror but after reading The Skull Ring, I see more of the thriller aspect than the horror aspect.

Sure this is a book I am glad I did not start on Friday night when I was actually home alone.  This is one of those read during the day books or read while others are home at night.  It's scary in that thriller way - where the bad guys are real and really bad.

The Skull Ring focuses on Julia Stone who has moved to a small town in the mountains of NC to work on healing.  When she was 4-years-old her father disappeared and she believes she was part of a Satan-Worshiping ceremony.  She is seeing a therapist, working at the local newspaper and trying to make sense of her life and move on so she can marry her fiance back in Memphis.  However unlocking Julia's mind is scary and she is never sure what to believe.

I loved this book - Julia's character development pushed this book along at a speedy clip.  The other people she meets are put into question at every turn and I had a hard time figuring out who was good and who was bad and what exactly was going on with Julia.  And in this type of book that is a great thing.  Scott Nicholson writes a tightly plotted book with wonderful plot and character development.  It's sufficiently frightening as well.  Who is the bad guy, is Satan at work in Julia, is there God to help Julia, is Dr. Forrest helping her or hurting her and is Walter a friend or foe?  These are all things that swirl around as Julia learns about herself and her past.

I loved the small mountain town setting.  I could picture it so well.  And everyone knows I am a sucker for a book set in my home state. It was also the perfect setting for this type of book.

If you like thrillers with a supernatural element then this is definitely the book for you.  Well-written, perfectly paced and just an all-around exciting read, The Skull Ring scores high on my must-read scale.  And I am really glad I have several more books by Scott on my Kindle ready to read as well.

Just a Note:  I had several comments on the interview post say they like suspense, but not the blood and gore of horror.  I can't speak for Scott's other books, but there really  isn't much blood and gore in this one, it's mainly the suspense-type blood, not the horror type. 

My Rating: 4.75/5.0

About the Book:
Dr. Pamela Forrest is determined to bring Julia's memories to the surface, hoping to heal Julia's panic disorder. The therapist keeps returning Julia to a night twenty-three years ago when Julia was four. A night of hooded figures, strange chants, pain, and blood. The night her father disappeared from the face of the earth.

Julia rebuilds the past a piece at a time during the mind-wrenching therapy sessions. But the line between the past and the present begins to blur. Julia finds a silver skull ring that bears the name "Judas Stone." The same ring had been worn by one of the hooded figures who scarred her both mentally and physically on that long-ago night.

Someone is leaving strange messages inside her house, even though the door is locked. The religious handyman, who has a key, spends a lot of time in the woods behind her house. Her boyfriend Mitchell becomes distant and violent. And the cop who investigated her father's disappearance has followed her to the small Appalachian town of Elkwood.

Now she has a head full of memories, but she doesn't know which are real and which are the creations of Dr. Forrest. The shadows of Julia's panic are growing larger and darker. But succumbing to madness seems safer than heeding the whispers of the master who claims ownership of her body and soul.

About the Author:
Scott Nicholson is the author of seven novels, including THE RED CHURCH, DRUMMER BOY, and THEY HUNGER. He's written more than 60 short stories and has released the collections ASHES, FLOWERS, and THE FIRST, as well as the comic series DIRT and DREAMBOAT. A member of International Thriller Writers, he works as a journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Scott's website
Community Facebook Page

FTC Information: I purchased this book for my Kindle at  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site. 


Author Interview and Blog Tour with Scott Nicholson (plus Kindle Giveaway)

Today we welcome supernatural thriller author Scott Nicolson to My Reading Room.  I'm participating in Scott's Blog Tour and he's giving away a Kindle and some other goodies to one commenter during the blog tour, so read the interview, and then check out the end of the post for information about how to enter the giveaway.  I will have a review later in the day of The Skull Ring.

NOTE TO ALL:  Though the interview talks about the horror genre, please know that the one book of Scott's I have read so far, The Skull Ring, is very low on the blood and gore spectrum.  Think of it more in the supernatural thriller genre and he's right when he says in the comments below, there is a lot  more gore in James Patterson books than in The Skull Ring.  I plan on reading more of his books and expect the same.  So don't let my use of the word horror frighten you away - Scott is an author worth trying if you like thrillers with a supernatural element.

How did you celebrate when you found out The Red Church would be published?
I jumped out of my chair. After all those hundreds of rejections, it was great to get the phone call. I figured it would happen sooner or later, because I was going to stick with it, but it might have been much, much later. Validation!

How would you describe your books to others?
Usually “supernatural thrillers,” but it depends on where I am and the crowd I am in. Sometimes just “thrillers.”

Where did the idea for The Skull Ring come from?
It was an attempt to write a more conventional suspense novel, with no supernatural elements. But it’s still set in the Appalachian Mountains like my other books.

Who do you think has influenced you the most to write in the horror genre?
Probably Stephen King, just because he happened to be a great writer and the most commercially successful writer on the planet. And I loved those old mountain ghost stories my grandmother used to tell.

What made you decide to write horror novels?
It was partly because there were so many horror short story markets, so I had some sales, and figured I would be able to find an audience from there. And I guess the supernatural just interests me because of all the spiritual mysteries.

I think I read my first horror novel when I was about 13 (Christopher Pike and soon moved to Stephen King), my son is already reading Goosebumps books at 8, when did you first read a horror novel?
I jumped in without knowing it, reading The Exorcist and The Sentinel at a very early age, two religious-themed horror novels. So I guess the die was cast since I also like religious or spiritual overtones.

Did you plan your books out or do you just write and see where they take you?
I usually have a general idea but I never outline. I like to see where I will end up.

Do you get time to read? What are your favorite types of books to read?
I love to read but I do so much reading on the Internet, keeping up with books, bloggers, and publishing changes, as well as all I have to read as a newspaper reporter, that I have to do most of my “reading” on audiobooks. But I usually work on several books at once.
What is your favorite room in your house?
We love the kitchen but I spend most of my time in the main room, where we have desks and computers. There’s a big picture window and an undeveloped mountain, and my neighbors are horses and cows. It has white walls and pine floors and glows when the sun shines.
What is your favorite spot to read in?
Bed or the bathtub.
What is your favorite snack food?
Popcorn or chips and homemade salsa.
What is your favorite season?
Do you have a schedule for writing each day or do you just do it when you can?
I work best when I have a couple of hours every morning but life doesn’t work that way right now, so I just do it whenever I can.
Where do you do the majority of your writing?
At my desk at home, but I will work on my laptop if I am too mobile.
Did you find writing The Skull Ring to be difficult or did the book just take off with no problems?
It was fairly straightforward and I didn’t have to revise it too much. I would like to bring Julia Stone back and maybe make a “cult buster” character out of her, since it takes her the entire novel to gain her strength and will.
Any book signings/conferences/public/blog appearances in the near future?
This blog tour is about all I can think about right now. It’s more fun that going to big conferences where so much is going on, it’s hard to keep up with it all. I will try to do one big event a year and I teach at occasional writing workshops. I also run a comic-book show so that’s another place I meet readers.
Do you have a new book in the works?
Right now I am collaborating on a novel called “Cursed” with J.R. Rain. It will be out in November. 
Anything else you would like to say?
This tour has been a wonderful chance to meet readers and bloggers, and I appreciate all the comments. I’ve learned a lot and I wish I could give everyone a Kindle. Don’t forget to sign up for my Inner Circle newsletter to increase your chances of winning a Kindle and other future prizes. And don’t forget to leave some form of contact info in the comments in case you win.

Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview with me.
Thank you, Crystal.

Scott Nicholson is author of The Skull Ring, Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy, and nine other novels, five story collections, four comics series, and six screenplays. A journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, he often uses local legends in his work. This tour is sponsored by Amazon, Kindle Nation Daily, and Dellaster Design.

To be eligible for the Kindle DX, simply post a comment below with contact info. Feel free to debate and discuss the topic, but you will only be entered once per blog. Visit all the blogs on the tour and increase your odds. I’m also giving away a Kindle 3 through the tour newsletter and a Pandora’s Box of free ebooks to a follower of “hauntedcomputer” on Twitter. And, hey, buy my books and put me in the Top 100 and I’ll throw in another random Kindle 3 giveaway. Thanks for playing. Complete details at

What are you Reading Monday - September 27

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books and join in!

Books Completed Last Week 
  • Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin (review)
  • Bitter Frost by Kailin Gow (review)
  • Definitely Dead (audiobook)
  • Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich (audiobook)
  • Secret Society by Tom Dolby (review)
  • The Trust by Tom Dolby (review)
  • The Ivy by Laura Kunze (review)
  • The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson (review)
Reading Now:
  • Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
  • Love Means Zero by Daisy Jordan
  • Burned by P.C. and Kristin Cast (audiobook in car)
  • Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
  • The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
  • Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
  • Ascendent by Diana Peterfreund
    Reviews completed this week (books read before this week):
    Other books still need to review:
    • Wings by Aprilynne Pike (library) 
    • The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (mine)  
    • The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz
    • Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs (audiobook)
    • Matched by Ally Condie (review)
    • Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs (audiobook) 
    • Evermore by Alyson Noel (library)  
    • Spells by Aprylynne Pike (library) 
    • Nightshade by Andrea Cremer  (review)
    • Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (review)
    • God is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein (review)
    • Candor by Pam Bachorz
    • Crusade by  Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie  
    • The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan 
    • Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck 
    • Tough Customer by Sandra Brown
    • Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
    Summary -
    Great reading week - I participated in the Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon and had a blast reading 5 full books and finishing up three others.  I also made it through some overdue review and hope to continue that this week and also complete my scheduled reviews as well.

    Best of the week:  The Skull Ring because I forgot how much I missed this genre - supernatural suspense or horror, whatever you like to call it - it was nail-biting and good. My review will be going up later today along with an author interview which you can comment on to be eligible to win a Kindle 3!

    For humor and making me laugh it was a great week as well.  I was sitting at a stop light one day this week listening to a scene in Hard Eight with Grandma Mazur, Stephanie, a guy in a Bill Clinton mask and a guy in a rabbit suit and I had tears running down my face I was laughing so hard.  This also happened Friday night at home while reading The Ivy which has some serious moments, but one scene that had me in hysterics.