Char's Horror Corner

 Welcome to my Corner! I specialize in Dark Fiction reviews including Horror, Dark Fantasy, Splatterpunk, Horror of the 70's & 80's, and Graphic Novels. I also read and review classics, true crime, thrillers and audio books of all genres except Romance.

 

 

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ODE TO DEATH by Andrew Lennon

Ode to Death - Andrew Lennon

ODE TO DEATH is a collection of short stories and poetry that has a lot going for it!

 

I've been a fan of Andrew Lennon's for a while now and when he asked if I would be willing to read an ARC of his latest, I hopped on the chance! (Not as quickly as I would have liked, but what can you do?)

 

This collection started out with a humdinger, HOUSE OF ILLUSION. Spooky clowns + spooky carnival = Happy Char! This was my favorite story in the book.

 

I also very much enjoyed SANTA CLAUS COMES AT NIGHT, (this one actually gave me a nightmare, and I NEVER have nightmares), RED SHOES, (which had absolutely nothing to do with the Elvis Costello song), ONE NIGHT IN HOTEL, and THE SECRET LIFE OF MY IMAGINARY FRIEND, (written with Stephen White.) I also liked the poems that are sprinkled throughout in between the stories.

 

So why only 3 stars if I liked and even loved most of these stories and poems? It was the editing. There were a lot of errors here, like passed instead of past, (more than once), and also a lot of missing words or the wrong words. Every time I noticed those, it took me out of the story. This took my rating from 3.5/5 down to 3/5.

 

I will still read pretty much anything from Andrew Lennon, (in fact, I'm reading a collection he helped to edit right now), but the grammatical errors here took away from my enjoyment of the book. I still recommend it, but beware of these issues.

 

*Thanks to Andrew Lennon for the e-ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

DAISY JONES AND THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Narrated by a Full Cast

Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Robbin Cuddy, Julia Whelan

The audio of DAISY JONES AND THE SIX joins a handful of others on my audio favorites list!

 

To be honest, I'm not sure that I would have enjoyed this book as much, if I had read it instead of listening. The full cast of narrators on it, and the fact that the entire story is told via interviews with the band members, their producers and other hangers-on? Made it PERFECT for an audiobook and these narrators BROUGHT IT HOME.

 

The story itself is about a band, and I love well told stories about music/bands/songwriters. I didn't find it to be predictable at all. In fact, I would have predicted that half of the band would be dead before the end book, but that never happened. I expected a couple of hook ups-they never happened. I expected a down slide into drugs and alcohol...well, that partly happened, but mostly in the opposite direction. (If you read it, you'll get what I'm saying.)

 

I loved this audio, and it might have even caused me to shed a tear or two at the very end, which was also unexpected. If you are a music lover, I think you'll dig the story. However, I HIGHLY recommend the full cast audio production because these narrators knocked it out of the park.

 

*I downloaded this audio from my local library. Libraries RULE!*

#FridayReads 4.19.19

 

Snakes & Ladders Update 13

None of my upcoming reads have anything to do with fall on their covers, since they're all spring releases. I will use my completion of THE NEST to roll one die. Again. 

 

You rolled 1 die:

1

Timestamp: 2019-04-17 18:59:39 UTC

 

Which brings me to 71:

 

71. Involves the beach/ocean/lake 

THE NEST by Gregory Douglas

The Nest - Gregory A. Douglas

 One of my favorite sub-genres of horror is the creature feature, and boy does this one deliver! On a small island off the coast of Cape Cod, something is happening in the middle of the island's dump. There's hissing and movements, then someone's dog dies and so begins THE NEST.

 

I'm not going to make like this book is some kind of literary achievement, because it's not. (Does anyone really pick up a giant cockroach book and think it's literary? I guess it's possible, but it's not the case here.) What this book IS is....just plain romping and chomping F-U-N!

 

Set on an island in my home state-the isolation makes for a cockroach feast! And that's basically what we get: cockroaches feeding on this one and on that one, in increasingly inventive and gross ways. (See my previous statement: F-U-N!)

 

Being that this was originally written back in 1980 we also get: some preachy scientist talk, some man-splaining, a smidge of schmaltzy romance, a wee bit of anti-feminism, and a tad of classism. Did I mention the gross cockroach kills?

 

Okay, so this isn't the "great American novel" but what it is is a lot of gross out laughter and chills, and a few hours of mindless entertainment. In these political times, who couldn't use that? I would have given this three stars based on the writing alone, but I added a half star because of the FUN factor!

 

Recommended to fans of 80's horror and creature features!

 

Valancourt Books has teamed up with Grady Hendrix and Will Errickson (Co-Authors of PAPERBACKS FROM HELL), to bring you an entire line of horror books from the 70's and 80's called the PAPERBACKS FROM HELL series.

 

Find out more about the series here: http://www.valancourtbooks.com/paperbacksfromhell.html

 

*I was given an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

#FridayReads 4.12.19

 

PET SEMATARY by Stephen King, narrated by Michael C Hall

Pet Sematary - Stephen King

This was my first re-read of this book, since I read it as a teen. This is my first read as a parent.

 

I still think this is the darkest story King has ever written.

REVIVAL was pretty dark also, due to that ending, wow!)

(show spoiler)

 

I also think this is one of his scariest tales. Things with yellow eyes, wandering the forest and ancient burial grounds? That is NOTHING compared to seeing

  your re-animated child and realizing it has killed your wife?

(show spoiler)

 

It just doesn't get any scarier or darker than that.

 

My original rating of 5 stars stands!

Snakes & Ladders Update 12

It looks like I'll never finish this book by the dead guy, so I'm going to move on and roll one die, for finishing TRACING THE TRAILS.

 

Dice Roller

You rolled 1 die:

6

Timestamp: 2019-04-11 18:28:06 UTC

 

Whoohoo! I caught a break! A ladder!

 

70. Something related to fall/autumn on the cover

 

 

TRACING THE TRAILS: A Constant Reader's Reflections on the Work of Stephen King by Chad A. Clark

Tracing The Trails: A Constant Reader's Reflections on the Work of Stephen King - Chad CLark, Duncan Ralston, Richard Chizmar

TRACING THE TRAILS is a non-fiction book that reads like one Stephen King fan talking to another. (In this scenario, I am a King fan!)

 

This book is broken up by novels and decade, then short stories and then the novellas. After all that, there are essays on several of King's works written by other authors such as Duncan Bradshaw and Kit Power to name a few. (To be honest, I was a bit King'ed out by then and didn't read all of those essays carefully, just scanning them instead.) There were a few movie reviews as well, namely the IT miniseries and the new IT movies.

 

When I say it's broken up by novels and then by decade what I mean is these are essays and/or reviews written by Chad A. Clark in that order. The ones I enjoyed most were written about the novels IT, MISERY, THE STAND, SALEM'S LOT and PET SEMATARY.

 

My library hold for the audio of PET SEMATARY came in while I was still reading this book and seeing what Chad said here resonated with me, because this is the first time I've read PS as a parent:

 

" Regardless of what you want to call it, one of King's strengths is to take a character's story and present it in a way that you find yourself admitting that you might do the same thing. It's about taking the crazy and making it seem kind of sane. And ultimately, in the end, I find it almost as scary to realize how much I am being brought around to that mindset. "

 

Me too, Chad. Me too.

 

I enjoyed the short pieces written about King's short stories. Most especially ALTERCATION, (because I loved that story too and because my mom is in that situation right now), and UR, which was among MY first purchases for Kindle, (just like you, Chad.)

 

Regarding the novellas, I most especially liked the write up about THE MIST. I, too, am one of the few who liked the ending of the book AND the ending of the film. To be honest, I might have even liked the film's end a wee bit better. Let the discussions begin in the comment section below!

 

Lastly, there was a piece among the essays at the end about that scene in IT. Yeah, you know the scene I'm talking about. After reading Chad's take, maybe I understand a little better why King did it, but I still don't like it.

 

I don't think this book would work very well for people that do not enjoy King's work at all. That said, if you're a fan like me, (and Chad!), and you grew up reading King's early work. And if you continued reading his works for what seems like (and may BE) your entire life, then this is the book for you. You don't have to have liked all of the books King has written, in fact, it might be even more interesting for you if you haven't liked them all. Chad's reviews provide insight to what we King fans are thinking and even if you don't agree with everything Chad has written here, you might find this walk down Stephen King lane informative and fun.

 

Highly recommended to King fans, of course, but also to anyone looking for a more in-depth look at King's works throughout the years. Chad won't let you down!

 

Get your copy here: TRACING THE TRAILS

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

Shelve it!

Or not! Is anyone else having trouble with this feature?

RATTLESNAKE KISSES by Robert Ford and John Boden

Rattlesnake Kisses - John Boden, Robert Ford

RATTLESNAKE KISSES is a bloody Tarantino-esque type of novella, with portions so poignant you just want to reach out and hug these people.

 

This is the story of Dallas, The Kid, Wesley the (kind of psycho) cop, and a lovely couple by the last name of Morris. How do these people come together? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

It's hard to say much without spoiling anything because it's such a short book. RATTLESNAKE KISSES is violent and gory, but it's also funny at times. Everyone in this novella is gray-meaning there's really no black and white characters here; they all have depth, they all have their baggage and they're all just trying to get by. (Well, maybe they're all gray except Mrs. Morris, she didn't have many redeeming qualities at all. Quite frankly, she was just a bitch.)

 

Dedicated to Dallas Mayr, (aka Jack Ketchum), with bits of song lyrics or references to songs and other cool tidbits, this book is short, fast paced and bloody as hell. I loved it!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*I received a mobi copy from John Boden in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

 

**This novella is not currently available. (It was a signed, limited edition through Thunderstorm Books, but they are sold out. When it becomes available digitally,

I will re-post this review with a link.**

IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN by Andy Davidson

In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel - Andy  Davidson

Rarely do I find myself struggling to find the words I want to say about a book, but today I am. Know why? Because IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN was so beautifully written, powerful, surprising and engaging.. Oh! Apparently, I CAN find the words if I try hard enough!

 

In this dark tale set during 1980, there's everything a horror lover could want. You've got a villain with so many layers to him, reading about him is like peeling an onion. There is no bad guy with a black hat here...well, actually, he does wear a black hat, but you know what I mean. He's complicated. All of the other characters have depth to them as well and even though some of them do bad things, you are privy to the reasons they are doing them and you can understand. You can identify. You can relate.

 

There is a level of trust expected of the reader with this book. There are allusions made to events that you must trust will be made clear later, (and they were.) Even though those events were brought to light, they only complicated, (there's that word again!) my feelings for the characters and I love when that happens.

 

I don't want to give away too much of the story as I feel that it should be related to you as the author intended. Since the book never said the word, I'm not going to say it either. What is actually going on is deftly handled, sometimes gory and disgusting, sometimes poignant and heartbreaking. I find myself thinking about the book days after I finished it and that's always a sign that I've read something special.

 

If you like characters with layers, if you like dark fiction beautifully told, (think Cormac McCarthy or Peter Straub), if you like a little more blood and gore than McCarthy or Straub usually provide, and you like to curl up with a book that surrounds and engulfs you, read this book now!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Right now the Kindle copy is only $1.99!

 

Get your copy here: IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN

 

Find this review and others like it at Horror After Dark.

 

*I received a paperback ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

Snakes & Ladders Update 11

I finished IN THE VALLEY OF THE SUN which does NOT fit the square I'm on,

so I'll roll one die. Again. 

 

You rolled 1 die:

5

Timestamp: 2019-04-05 15:30:09 UTC

 

14. Author is dead (I think I have one for this, yay! 

#FridayReads 4.5.19

 

Snakes & Ladders Update 10

I left off on space 5: Published in 2018

(Which, of course, fits nothing I need to read in the next few months.)

So I roll one die, having complete CAREER OF EVIL. 

 

You rolled 1 die:

4

Timestamp: 2019-04-04 15:06:25 UTC

 

Which brings me to: 9. Author's last name begins with the letters H, I, J, or K

 

 

 

 

CAREER OF EVIL by Robert Galbraith, narrated by Robert Glenister

Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith, Robert Glenister

Of the series so far I liked this entry the most!

 

It's much darker and more graphically violent than the two previous books, and that works well for me. This time Strike is hunting a serial killer who may or may not have been related to the person who sent Robin a human leg. That's right, a leg. There are quite a few dark characters in this one, as well as more background information on both Strike and Robin.

 

A few times, I found myself questioning the wisdom of Robin's actions, both in her personal and her professional life; most especially the decision she made at the very end of this book. At times she's smart and at other times her judgement seems clouded. I guess it says a lot that I want to talk more about a fictional character's decisions, right?

 

I had fun with this and I will be on to the next audiobook, because this narrator IS Cormoran Strike.

 

Please note trigger warnings for:

rape, pedophilia and child abuse.

(show spoiler)

 

Recommended! *I downloaded this audiobook from my library. Libraries RULE!*

Currently reading

The Bone Clocks by Whole Story Audiobooks, Jessica Ball, Colin Mace, F. Leon Williams, Laurel Lefkow, David Mitchell, Steven Crossley, Anna Bentinck
In Darkness, Delight: Masters of Midnight by Israel Finn, David (ed.); W.H. Pugmire, Ann K. Schwader, Bobby G. Warner, Ralph E. Vaughn, Raymond Schmitz, Gary J. Robinson, Lisa Lepovetsky, Gary Lovisi, Albert J. Manachino, Kevin D. Duncan, H.P. Lovecr Barker, Josh Malerman, Andrew Lennon, Patrick Lacey, E
Progress: 30/298pages
Dracul by Clive Barker, Dacre Stoker
Progress: 30%
Detours by Dean Koontz, Michael Koryta, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, David Morrell, Michael Marshall Smith, Michael Marshall Smith, Owen King, William Peter Blatty, Mark Stewart, Chet Williamson, Poppy Z. Brite, Brian James Freeman, Peter Straub
Progress: 125/400pages

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If you love horror literature, movies, and culture, you're in the right place. Whether it's vampi...

Books we've read

The Stand
Dread in the Beast
The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales
Horror Library, Volume 1
Butcher Shop Quartet
Family Inheritance
'Salem's Lot
A Treasury of American Horror Stories
Heart-Shaped Box
20th Century Ghosts
The Revelation
Lowland Rider
Off Season
Neither the Sea Nor the Sand
The House Next Door
The Ceremonies
Nazareth Hill
The Light at the End
Ghoul
Billy


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