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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The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors: The Passage Trilogy, Book Three - Deutschland Random House Audio, Justin Cronin, Scott Brick

I am throwing in the towel around 15%.

 

I was so excited when I was approved for the ARC of this book! But now some time has gone by and the long and short of it is I just don't care anymore.

 

My apologies to NetGalley and to the publisher.

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix

Steeped in 80's nostalgia, I thought this book was a blast!

 

It was never really scary, and I'm not sure that it was meant to be. My instincts tell me this book was written as an homage to the 80's and the silly fun that the horror genre provided at that time. Sure, there were crazy Satanism scares, Geraldo and diet fads but there were also great music videos, Blockbuster stores and a horror book boom to beat all booms. A lot of them were just like this...about young people, influenced by culture and cliques, just trying to fit in. Carrie, Audrina, and all those kids from the covers of John Saul novels know what I'm talking about it.

 

If YOU know what I'm talking about and if you're smiling at those memories as I am, then I recommend this book. It was made for you!

 

*I bought MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM with my own hard earned money. It's the enhanced version and it's a lot fun, especially those flies crawling on the cover!*

Hardened Hearts edited by Eddie Generous

Hardened Hearts - Eddie Generous, Somer Canon, Calvin Demmer, Gwendolyn Kiste, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, Meg Elison, Theresa Braun, Laura Blackwell, John Boden, Kathleen W. Deady, James R. Newman

 

HARDENED HEARTS contains dark fiction stories connected by the theme of love-all kinds of love. This book's strength is in its diversity. It covers so many facets of the subject, there's something here for everyone.

 

The tales that stood out for me were:

 

Calvin Demmer's story WHAT IS LOVE. This story knocked my socks off and I will be tracking down more from this author!

 

THE HEART OF THE ORCHARD by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. This read almost like a warped fairy tale, and as we all know, fairy tales can often be quite grim.

 

PINK BALLOON by Tom Deady was my favorite story in the book. It totally broke my heart.

 

HEIRLOOM by Theresa Braun. I love tales about mirrors and this was an excellent example of why. This was my first experience with Theresa Braun's work and we are off to a good start.

 

THE RECLUSE by John Boden. Short and sweet, Boden always impresses me.

 

ClASS OF 2000 by Robert Dean. I guess the moral of this tale is not to mess with someone that can throw a baseball at 100 mph. It seems like common sense to me.

 

BURNING SAMANTHA by Scott Hallum. I had never previously heard of Scott, but he's on my radar now.

 

50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MONSTER LOVER by Gwendolyn Kiste. Here is another author that I haven't had any experience with but whose story was impressive.

 

Lastly, IT'S MY PARTY AND I'LL CRY IF I WANT TO by J.L. Knight. A heartbreaking story about love and loss. Poignant and dark all at the same time.

 

 

9 of the 17 tales resonated deeply with me and that's above average, so I rounded up my original rating from 3 to 4 stars. I have some new authors to follow and I think they are offering up original work which only improves the genre. Bravo!

 

Recommended for fans of diverse dark fiction!

 

*Thanks to John Boden for providing an e-ARC of this anthology in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

Reading progress update: I've read 100 out of 336 pages.

My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix

I thought this got off to a bit of a slow start, but now around 100 pages in or so, it's shaping up nicely.

 

The only other thing I've read by this author was PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, which was one of my favorite books of 2017. There was a lot of humor in that, but it wasn't exactly a narrative-more like the recounting and relating of a time period in our history. 

 

MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM is showing some of that humor which I appreciate, just not as much of it as I would like. I am enjoying the nostalgic feel of it, and in my ENHANCED copy there are cool extras...like flies crawling across the cover and things like that. 

 

Onward I go...

Seriously, I'm Kidding written and read by Ellen DeGeneres

Seriously... I'm Kidding - Ellen DeGeneres

SERIOUSLY, I'M KIDDING was disappointing. 

 

It was funny and entertaining at times, but I didn't learn much about Ellen, other than she is allergic to penicillin. While I enjoy being entertained and I enjoy Ellen's sense of humor, I wanted to learn more about her. This is not the book for that.

 

I'll have to look into her previous books.

Hidden Bodies by Carolyn Kepnes, narrated by Santino Fontana

Hidden Bodies - Santino Fontana, Caroline Kepnes, Simon & Schuster Audio

I don't even know what to say.

 

I can't explain to you how I came to root for an insane psycho killer, (qu'es'tque ce?), but I did. 

 

YOU AND HIDDEN BODIES are original books with twists, turns, hot sex, vicious murders and close calls. I'm pretty sure I had some type of mini-stroke in there somewhere.

 

Santino Fontana is an incredibly talented narrator who totally became Joe to me. 

 

Where can I get in line for Caroline Kepnes' next book? 

After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard

After the End of the World (Carter & Lovecraft) - Jonathan L. Howard

 

At the end of the excellent CARTER & LOVECRAFT there was a major cliffhanger and I felt compelled to request an ARC of the next book. I have to admit I was disappointed with AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD.

 

The things I loved most in the universe that Jonathan Howard has created was the weirdness of it-the mysterious Mr. Weston who started everything off by showing up and awarding Dan Carter ownership of a bookshop, run by Emily Lovecraft. (Emily is black and you can almost hear Lovecraft turning over in his grave.) I also enjoyed an area called Waite's Bill, an isolated place on the shore where creepy, mysterious people live. (Not to mention the large amphibian-like creatures emerging from the water!) Unfortunately, other than Dan Carter and Emily, most of the mysterious fun things I liked from the first book were not here. 

 

The world has unfolded, (the major event which ended CARTER & LOVECRAFT), and we're now in a universe where we are great friends with Germany and the Holocaust never happened. A group of Germans working at Miskatonic University are trying to build a machine that will provide unlimited power without draining any natural resources. Mr. Weston makes a brief appearance and Carter gets involved as a security guard at MU.

 

From there, I feel like the tale crept away from the components that I enjoyed and veered into the area of weird science-fiction, with the entire group of scientists, (as well as Carter and Lovecraft),  traveling to the Aleutian Islands to continue their work on the power machine. The pacing slowed way down and I really couldn't have cared less about the machine, the Germans, or anything else for that matter. Events degenerated until the story was more like an action movie than the dark fiction horror story I was expecting. I don't care for action movies.

 

I still love Dan and Emily and am fascinated by Mr. Weston and the weird creatures, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series if there is another book. This case is one of those "It's me, not you" situations, I think, because everyone else seemed to love this book. While I admired the world building and the banter between my favorite characters, the meat of the story just didn't appeal to me. 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it. I'm sorry it's a little late.*

Reading progress update: I've read 30% and...

Hidden Bodies - Santino Fontana, Caroline Kepnes, Simon & Schuster Audio

Whew! Joe is still crazy...crazy HOT! 

 

 

Seriously, I only wish I hadn't waited so long to read these Caroline Kepnes books!

City of the Dead (Author's Preferred Edition) by Brian Keene, narrated by Joe Hempel

City of the Dead - Brian Keene, Joe Hempel

 CITY OF THE DEAD has been on my TBR pile for a year or two, (and on my physical bookshelf), so when I saw it listed on my Audioboom! email, I immediately requested it. I'm glad I did!

 

This book picks up right where THE RISING left off. Most of the group is now trapped in a house and you can't help but to root for them. The zombies they are fighting are not your normal zombies-they can be fast, use weapons, and drive cars. They are led by Ob, and in this book we learn more about him and his mission on earth.

 

Fast paced and filled with lots of fun action,(zombie crocs and birds anyone?), there isn't much time to rest here, and why would you want to? There are plenty of gross outs and characters to root for and not of lot of time for quiet moments, fancy prose, or reflection. If this is the type of book you're in the mood for, then CITY OF THE DEAD is the book for you!

 

I listened to the audio, narrated by Joe Hempel. It took me a while to get into his narrative style, but once I did, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

 

Recommended for those in the mood for bloody, smart-zombie fun!

 

*Thanks to Audioboom! and Joe Hempel for this audio copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine

Bitch Planet Volume 1 - Kelly Sue DeConnick, Robert Wilson IV, Valentine De Landro

I loved this feminist-driven volume!

 

Imagine a woman being rude, or fat, or insubordinate. During this future time period, women must be perfect at all times and if not, off to the Bitch Planet they go.

 

I liked this more than I thought I would, partially because of the cool retro feel to it, (complete with fake Xray glasses ads and things like that). I'm going to continue with this series.

You by Caroline Kepnes, narrated by Santino Fontana

You - Santino Fontana, Caroline Kepnes, Simon & Schuster Audio

Everyone in this book was bat-shit crazy. I LOVED it!

 

 

 

 

There's lot of insanity and a good amount of sexy times as well. I just could not pull away from this train wreck of humanity.

 

*Thanks to my local library for providing the audiobook for free via Overdrive. Libraries rule!

The Warblers by Amber Fallon

The Warblers - Amber Fallon

 

THE WARBLERS is a well written novella, scoring high in the creepy category!

 

Young Dell is upset over the loss of his dog Ginger, and he feels guilty over the dog's death. If Dell hadn't let Ginger out at night, the warblers wouldn't have gotten her. Since the warblers have taken up residence in the back shed of the family farm, they are a constant threat to the family, especially to Dell's little sister. Something must be done about them and Dell's father makes the call. What are the warblers, exactly? Who is Dell's father calling? You'll have to read this quick novella to find out!

 

I've been meaning to read Amber's work for years now, and finally I've read one. Now I'm sorry I waited so long! The dark atmosphere here is almost palpable and that's exactly what I crave these days-more creep than gore. After carefully setting the scene though, we get our gore and a closer look at the things we've only glimpsed previously. They are well worth the wait!

 

Fun, fast and packing a late punch, I highly recommend this creative novella!

 

I bought this book with my hard earned money and if you want to buy it, you can do so here: THE WARBLERS

December 2017 Round-Up

The Ghost Club: Newly Found Tales of Victorian Terror - William Meikle Everybody's Fool: A novel - Richard Russo Slade House: A Novel - David Mitchell The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir - Maude Julien, Adriana Hunter Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers - Joe R. Lansdale Wrestle Maniacs - Duncan P. Bradshaw, Jeff Strand, Werner Leins, Eryk Pruitt, Jason  Parent, Gabino Iglesias, Adam Howe, David James Keaton, James R. Newman, Katherine Kurtz Chasing Ghosts - Glenn Rolfe The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit - Michael Finkel March (Book One) - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Robert Lewis Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir

I read 18 books during the month of December!

 

Audio Books:

 

Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan

Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo

The Devil's Own Work by Alan Judd (actually read in August, but forgot to add!)

Slade House by David Mitchell

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

 

Total: 5

 

ARCS

 

 

Alive in Shape and Color: 17 Paintings by Great Artists and the Stories They Inspired

The Ghost Club by William Meikle

Artemis by Andy Weir

The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien

Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers

Green by Sam Graham-Felsen

Cemetery Dance Select: Michael Marshall Smith

 

Total: 7

 

Reads for Review

 

Chasing Ghosts by Glenn Rolfe

Wrestle Maniacs (anthology)

 

Random Reads

 

The Walking Dead (Book 13) by Robert Kirkman

March Book One: by John Lewis

The Wicked + The Divine Book One: The Faust Act

Scrooge and Marley by Kurt Hollenbach

READING CHALLENGES

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017 

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June & July: 0

August: 1 The Talented Mr. Ripley

September: 1  Carter & Lovecraft

October: 0 (But had LOTS of fun with Halloween Bingo!)

November: 0

December: 0

Running Count: 7

 

As you can see this was a massive fail! I've challenged myself to the same number of books I already own in 2018. Hopefully I'll be more successful this time around!

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

July count: 4

August count: 5

September: 1

October: 1

November: 0

December: 3

 

Final Count: 38!

Challenge Met!

 

I plan to read a TON of graphic novels in 2018 but I'm not formalizing it with a challenge. 

 

Thanks to Booklikes for creating this place which it makes it so easy to make friends with fellow readers! Happy Reading in 2018 everyone!

 

2018 Goals and Shutting Down for Review Requests!

 

I ended up reading 184 books in 2017, surpassing my goal of 150. I did not include short stories, but novellas, graphic novels and audio books ARE included. 

 

Goodreads says I have read 48,691 pages, but I read a lot of audiobooks and those are not correctly listed as far as page count on GR. Still, that's a good amount of pages and I'm happy with my totals.

 

My goals for 2018, (as you may have guessed by the title of this post), are to stop requesting ARCS from NetGalley and Edelweiss, and to stop accepting review requests.

 

Last year, I challenged myself to read 40 of the books I already own and I only read 7. That's pathetic! It's because I was too often distracted by ARCs and because I want to help independent and/or lesser known authors. While I still enjoy helping out when I can, I would like to meet my goal of reading 40 books I already own this year. I'm gonna do it, dammit!

 

 

Of course, I've already requested and scheduled books up until June of this year, but I hope to keep the last half of 2018 to myself. Hopefully I'll do a better job of it this year!

 

Lastly, I loved playing all the games we had this year. Booklikesopoly, Halloween Bingo and the 16 Festive Tasks all were a BLAST! This year, if any of these games come up again, I should be able to participate more as my reading schedule won't be so tight. 

 

Happy New Year everyone and good luck with all of your reading goals!

Green: A Novel by Sam Graham-Felsen

Green: A Novel - Sam Graham-Felsen

 

Every once in a while, I choose or wish for a book on NetGalley solely due to the description and GREEN was one of those books. 

 

12 year old David Greenfeld, aka Green, is nearly the only white boy in Martin Luther King Middle School in the early 90's. As such, he is subject to harassment, and not only because of his color. He's Jewish, even though his family doesn't practice, he doesn't have the right clothes or shoes, and he has few friends. 

 

Marlon, a black teen that lives nearby, comes to Dave's aid when he's bullied and they become fast friends. Bonding over Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, (the curse of Coke!), and playing basketball, (or nasketball), the two are nearly inseparable.

 

Mar and Dave's friendship occurs during a tough time in Boston and in our country. Amidst the tumultuous race riots and the rise, (and fall) of Boston Celtic Reggie Lewis, (the importance of sports teams in Boston cannot be underestimated), these boys face racist bullies and the threat of bodily violence every day. Coming of age is never easy, no matter the era in which it takes place. Dave is trying hard to better himself, find his inner self, (Is it Christian? Is it Jewish?) and survive the day to day without the right clothes or shoes. Will his relationship with Marlon survive too? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

While I enjoyed GREEN, I had some problems with it. I know the language had to be of the time and setting for the tale to ring true, but I'm not quite sure that it did. To be honest, at times it seems that the author was trying too hard to make the slang real. Every single time clothes were described it was "so and so rocked this or that", every time they went somewhere they "rolled." It irritated me a little but your mileage may vary.

 

Another problem I had with the story is the lack of information about some of the characters and their backgrounds. Green's brother Benno, for instance,  hadn't spoken to anyone in over a year and had other issues as well. I would have liked to have known more about that. Also, Green's Jewish grandfather, (Cramps instead of Gramps, because he was grouchy), had a lot of background that was only briefly glimpsed in this tale. I would have liked to have known more details about that and about the effects they had on Dave's father.

 

Lastly, as the mother of a young man I know that masturbation is a big part of a boy's coming of age. I just don't need to know the details.  I know it happens, I know the hormones are raging, I get it. I just want to give the head's up to others that this occurs. A lot! (This was the era of Baywatch, after all.) 

 

GREEN was a good coming of age story and I wonder how much of it was autobiographical because most of it did ring true. (As much as it could to a middle age white woman, anyway.) Bullying, religion, racism, having the right clothes and shoes-these are all things that are still problems to this day. It's how we deal with these issues that defines us. David Greenfeld was not the perfect boy and certainly not the perfect friend, but I couldn't help but root for him anyway. I think you will too. 

 

Recommended!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

 

 

Cemetery Dance Select: Michael Marshall Smith

Cemetery Dance Select: Michael Marshall Smith - Michael Marshall Smith

 

The Cemetery Dance Select series is a line of Limited Edition Hardcovers that will be available later in 2018. There are a number of authors involved and how it works is as follows: The author chooses which of their short works they consider to be their best or that had the most impact on their careers, or neglected favorites they feel deserve a second look. This volume, as stated above, features Michael Marshall Smith, (MMS). 

 

Even though I own several of Smith's books, I haven't read them yet, so this was a good way to familiarize myself with his writing. I loved it! This slim volume contains 4 short stories, all of which were excellent. Since they are short, it's hard to say much without spoiling anything, but I'll try.

 

THE MAN WHO DREW CATS is the first tale and my favorite in this collection. Vividly told and extremely compelling, MMS knows how to draw complete characters even in a such a short story as this. At times it was heartbreaking and at others, uplifting. (It was not surprising to discover in the afterword that this tale won The British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story.)

 

LATER-I don't want to say anything about this tale, because...spoilers. However, this is another example of how MMS can make you care for characters in only a few pages. 

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE NIGHT In addition to short stories that pack a punch at the end, my other favorite type of short tale is the one that just IS. No explanations, it just is. (The first tale I think of as an example is Joe Hill's POP ART.) This is one of those and it's also among the finest examples of that type of narrative I've ever read. If THE MAN WHO DREW CATS wasn't so damn poignant, THIS would be my favorite.

 

THE WOODCUTTER A tale of magic and of going home. This was a very different type of tale as compared to the others, but I loved it. I especially liked the fact that I had no idea where the story was going until quite close to the end. And what a end it was!

 

I have a few more Cemetery Dance Select books to read, and I'm very much looking forward to them.  If this, and Kevin Lucia's MYSTERY ROAD are an example of the quality contained within these slim titles, any lover of dark fiction cannot go wrong!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*A HUGE thank you to Cemetery Dance for providing a paper ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

Currently reading

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Deutschland Random House Audio, Mike McQuay, Bill Bryson
Splatterpunk Fighting Back by Dave Benton, Jack Bantry, Tim Curran, Rich Hawkins, Duncan Ralston, Glenn Rolfe, Bracken MacLeod, Kristopher Rufty, Adam Millard, John Boden, Matt Shaw, W.D. Gagliani, George Daniel, Elizabeth Power
Progress: 25%

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Horror Aficionados
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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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