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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Friday Reads!

 

Tarnished City, (Dark Gifts #2) by Vic James

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts) - Vic James

 

TARNISHED CITY is an amazing follow-up to last year's GILDED CAGE. In fact, I think I liked this one just a little bit more!

 

Even though I see this listed and shelved as YA, it's much darker than most YA I've tried, (which admittedly is not a lot because it's usually too angst-y for me.) In this case however, the author nixes a lot of the extraneous stuff and focuses on the characters and the intricately plotted story.

 

It took me a little while to get back into the flow, (it's been just over a year since I've visited this world), but once I did, I was so happy to be there! There's no real re-cap, which I appreciated. I feel that if an author's characters are strong enough, they should come back without my having to be reminded and these certainly did. There's a large cast here and the characters refer to other characters using the names by which they know them-sometimes resulting in 2 or 3 different names for a person, depending upon the point of view at the time.

 

I noted that a lot of what is going on in this book is going on in the real world right now. Perhaps not slavery exactly, (those with no Skill must serve 10 years as a slave), but classism, (against those born with no Skill), and the increasingly outspoken attitudes and acceptance of those with racist views. It comes all the way up to the sanction of violence against those who disagree or who dare to stand up against those in power. I guess I'm trying to say that it's obvious to me that the author knows what she's talking about as far as how the story relates to the world today, and it's downright scary.

 

I feel like I needed to make these points, but now that I have, I want to say how much I loved this tale! I loved the characters, they're well drawn and oh, so human. They aren't perfect, in fact, many of them are downright horrible people, but they're fun to read about. The machinations and the conniving going on rival that in any adult fantasy that I've read-with the added bonus of not having to wait 5+ years for the next book.

 

I say BRAVO, Vic James! You've created a compelling, fun and interesting world, populated with deep, complicated characters and I can't wait to come back to it once again. Highly recommended!

 

*Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

Saga, Volume 1 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

What can I add to what everyone else has written? Nothing. This was awesome! That is all.

 

I posted this yesterday. It posted to Facebook and Twitter, but did not post here. I tried to post it again today. Nothing. Now I'm just creating an entire new post only because I'm so excited about how good this graphic novel was. 

 

This site is getting on my nerves.

All the Names They Used For God by Anjali Sachdeva

All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva

ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD is a collection of short literary fiction stories, the last two of which were absolutely brilliant.

 

The tales in this book are all over the place, but I think it's all the different facets of humanity that link them all together. No two stories here are even remotely alike and I enjoyed that diversity.

 

Among my favorites were:

 

LOGGING LAKE which involved a strange happening at an ill advised campsite.

 

ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD which was a heartbreaking story of two young girls who were kidnapped and forever changed by it.

 

ROBERT GREENMAN AND THE MERMAID: Once we glimpse something fantastic,(in the true sense of the word), it is very difficult to let it go.

 

MANUS was probably my favorite story here. After so many tales involving ordinary life, here's one that is totally out of left field. Gripping, poignant, and so creative-I'll never look at a human hand in the same way again.

 

And finally, PLEIADES: I don't even know what to say about this story. It's powerful, beautifully written and well told. I doubt anyone could read it and remain unmoved.

 

I liked the tales in this collection, but until the last two I didn't feel that this volume was anything special. MANUS and PLEIADES elevated this book to something really special in my eyes, and I highly recommend this book to fans of literary and speculative fiction.

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

 

**Also, thanks to my fellow book blogger Cody for turning me on to this collection. You can find his excellent reviews here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56352820-cody-codysbookshelf **

Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 488 pages.

Vision: The Complete Series (Vision: Director's Cut (2017)) - Stephen King, Mike Del Mundo, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Michael Walsh

I'm enjoying my re-read so far. I'd forgotten how sad this story is, though. 

 

I have the day off today and am reading a few different things. It's great!

March: Book Two by John Lewis

March: Book Two - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Robert Lewis

 

Just like with The Complete Maus, (a graphic novel about the Holocaust), I learned a lot about the civil rights movement that I do not remember learning in school.

 

I knew about the Freedom Rides and the Lunch Counter Sit-ins, but I didn't know about  children getting hit with fire hoses or the repeated beatings and jailings of the peaceful protesters. 

 

Starting and ending with the swearing in of President Obama, I can't imagine what that must feel like to John Lewis. Starting life not being able to eat in certain restaurants and having to ride at the back of the bus, and getting all the way to a black president in one lifetime. It's an amazing accomplishment and John Lewis was a huge part of it. 

 

I wasn't all that crazy about the art in this volume, hence the 4 start rating. I will continue on to the next, (and last), volume. 

October by Michael Rowe

October - Michael Rowe

Just look at that gorgeous cover! One would never guess the pain hiding behind it, but it's there. It's there in spades.

 

In a small Canadian town, two awkward teens are just trying to make it through high school. Mikey, a young gay man, and his best friend Wroxy, a loaner and a goth girl, try to support each other as best they can. But Wroxy can't protect Mikey from the jock bullies and it seems no one else can either. After witnessing something in the woods, and then soon after going through the worst experience of his life, Mikey decides he's had enough and takes matters into his own hands. Will he exact his revenge upon the jocks? Can he do it on his own? You'll have to read this novella to find out.

 

As in both ENTER, NIGHT and WILD FELL Michael Rowe's bewitching prose captured my attention and held it tight. His characters are so well developed it's easy to understand their motivations. They are also so human that the reader cannot help but to empathize with them. Then, once Rowe has you in his clutches, he puts those characters through hell and you're just along for the ride.

 

OCTOBER will join Rowe's last two books on my list of favorites. It's beautifully written, evocative, brutal and surprising all at once. I only wish it could have been a little longer.

 

Highly recommended to fans of LGBT and dark , dark fiction!

 

You can find a copy here: October

 

*I bought this e-book with my own hard earned money and this is my honest opinion.*

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison, narrated by Angela Dawe

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife: The Road to Nowhere, Book 1 - -Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged-, Meg Elison, Angela Dawe

Just like in the novel REBECCA, we never learn the main character's name in this book. Hence the title!

 

I discovered Meg Elison through a few short stories she's written for horror anthologies and magazines and I decided that I wanted to try one of her novels. This one was recently on sale and to add the audio to the Kindle version didn't break the bank, and here we are.

 

THE BOOK of the UNNAMED MIDWIFE was a bleak post-apocalyptic tale wherein a disease wipes out nearly every woman on the planet. The scarcity of women soon becomes a problem for those that did survive. Will they also be able to survive the wandering groups of men, many of whom haven't seen a woman in over a year? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I loved the main character in this novel. Yeah, she swore a lot, was bisexual and independent. (These are a few aspects other reviews have pointed out as being negative; I actually enjoyed them.) I liked how her previous work as a nurse and midwife helped her to try to save other women she came across in her travels. I also respected her intelligence-dressing as a man to disguise her gender and doing whatever else needed to be done.

 

I enjoyed the way the story was presented with one exception. This tale was introduced as being the main character's diary, and a woman is having some young boys transcribe it decades later. As such, this is mostly a first person narrative; except that in a few spots the tale slipped into a third person narrative and that did not quite make sense to me, as there was no way our heroine could know these things. (Though I was happy to learn the facts related during those portions, to be sure.) That is the only gripe I had with the book.

 

Post apocalyptic fiction doesn't capture my attention as much as it once did, but this book rose above the normal PA tale. I was engrossed and invested and I wanted our unnamed hero to win, though "winning" was hard to classify-other than just surviving.

 

I should also mention that the narrator was most excellent and managed to believably deliver a number of different characters and accents. Kudos to Angela Dawe!

 

To wrap up here, I highly recommend this book and/or the audiobook if that's your thing, most especially to fans of post apocalyptic fiction and strong female characters!

 

*I bought this book & the audiobook with my hard earned money and this is my honest opinion.*

The Night Child by Anna Quinn

The Night Child: A Novel - Anna Quinn

THE NIGHT CHILD is the dark and moving debut novel from Anna Quinn. I feel like I should include a trigger warning, but on the other hand, a trigger warning gives you a heads up as to what is going to happen and I think it's best to let the author tell the story as she intended. Just be aware that there are very disturbing elements within.

 

I'm not going to run down the entire plot for you, but it begins with Nora, a high school English teacher, seeing an hallucination of a face with startling blue eyes. Here begins Nora's decline. Whose face is it and what does it mean? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Being a seasoned reader of dark fiction, I pretty much knew where this story was going as soon as I began reading. Anna Quinn does a good job at depicting all the different psychological aspects of this situation, including the reactions of other family members and coworkers. My only problem was this: I didn't care for any of the characters. I felt pity for Nora and for her immediate family, but maybe that's what the author intended? Perhaps Nora's coldness was yet another symptom of her underlying issues and partially the result of her husband being such a jerk?

 

That said, this was a touching and disturbing story dealing with heartbreaking situations and I believe that it deals with mental illness, (or coming to terms with difficult, horrendous circumstances) in a stark, but believable way. For that reason, I recommend this book to those who think they can handle the worst of humanity.

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

January 2018-That's a Wrap!

The Warblers - Amber Fallon You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes City of the Dead - Brian Keene, Joe Hempel The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman My Best Friend's Exorcism - Grady Hendrix Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry, Tim Curran, Glenn Rolfe, Bracken MacLeod, Kristopher Rufty, Adam Millard, John Boden, Matt Shaw, W.D. Gagliani, Elizabeth Power The Conversationalist: Horrorstruck Novella One - Justin Richards If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating (Random House Large Print) - Alan Alda Wylding Hall - Elizabeth Hand

I've started the year off by reading 18 books in January.

 

Graphic Novels

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman 5*

Bitch Planet Volume One: Extraordinary Machine by Kellie Sue DeConnick 4*

The Walking Dead: Book 14 by Robert Kirkman 4*

Total: 3

 

Novellas

The Warblers by Amber Fallon 4*

Infestation by William Meikle 3.5*

The Conversationalist by Justin Bog 4*

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand 4*

Total: 4

 

Audiobooks

You and Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, narrated by Santino Fontana BOTH-5*

City of the Dead by Brian Keene, narrated by Joe Hempel 3.5*

Seriously...I'm Kidding written and narrated by Ellen DeGeneres 3*

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, narrated by Rob McQuay 3*

If I Understood You...written and narrated by Alan Alda 4*

Total: 6

 

ARCS

After the End of the World by Jonathan L. Howard 3*

Dark Screams Volume Nine (Anthology) 4*

Hardened Hearts (Anthology) 4.5*

Total: 3

 

Random Reads

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix 4*

Splatterpunk Fighting Back (An anthology benefiting the fight against cancer) 4.5*

Total: 2

 

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

Status: 2/40

 

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

Wylding Hall - Elizabeth Hand

2.1.18-I've been thinking about this book since I finished it and because of that I've decided to change my rating to the full 5 out of 5 stars!

 

WYLDING HALL is a fun novella that doesn't neatly fit into any single category other than, perhaps, dark fiction.

 

A thousand other people have already written reviews so I'll just say: this is a beautifully written example of a quiet horror story with building tension and dread.

 

WYLDING HALL is my second reading of Hand's work, the first being her collection SAFFRON AND BRIMSTONE, which I also enjoyed. I'm looking forward to reading more from her and I think I'll do that starting with BLACK LIGHT.

 

Highly recommended!

 

You can get a copy here: WYLDING HALL

 

*I bought this book with my hard earned money and this is my honest opinion.*

Dark Screams: Volume Nine

Dark Screams: Volume Nine - Kelley Armstrong, Richard Chizmar, Stewart O'Nan, Brian James Freeman, Peter Straub

DARK SCREAMS: VOLUME NINE was a ton of fun! I was most especially impressed with the last entry TORN by Lee Thomas.

 

I'm not even going to get into what TORN was about because I think it should be related exactly as the author intended. I will say that even though this is a longer story than I usually care for in an anthology, it kept me riveted, it was original and I LOVED it!

 

THE DEAD YEARS by Taylor Grant was another original entry and this one had a science fiction bent to it that I enjoyed. I would love to see this idea expanded to a full length novel.

 

SUMMER OF 07 by Stewart O'Nan. A super short story that reminded me of Ted Bundy.

 

THE BLACKOUT by Jonathan Moore was an unsettling tale mostly set at the morgue.

 

INVITATION TO THE GAME by Kelly Armstrong. This was another tale that had a science fiction bent to it, in my view. It's about a corporation that controls, (or attempts to control?) all aspects of its employees lives. When they send you an invitation, it is unwise to decline.

 

Lastly, there was a story from Peter Straub: VARIATIONS ON A THEME FROM SEINFELD. I admit that the reason I requested an ARC of this book was due to Straub. I have such love for him and for Seinfeld, for that matter, but this story didn't do much for me.

 

Overall, I had fun with this volume, (most especially the story TORN!), and I recommend it to dark fiction and science fiction lovers everywhere!

 

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

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face? Written and Narrated by Alan Alda

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?: My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating - Alan Alda

Alan Alda is a joy to listen to and he's a good writer. This book, despite its fun title, is a serious tome-focused on getting across how important it is to communicate clearly and effectively. Examples are cited, and exercises and games are detailed to help you do exactly that.

 

Focusing on the other person in a conversation, (not just waiting for your turn to speak), and noting their facial expressions and body language are key. According to Alda, if you are not willing to be changed by a person/conversation then you are NOT really open and listening.

 

It turns out that empathy is really important in effective communication. One of the exercises in this book mentions watching a person's face during a conversation and specifically noting and NAMING, (silently), the emotions you see on their face. This will sometimes tell you what they are going to say or do next. It tells you if they're understanding what you're saying, or if instead they are bored or confused. At times and with practice, it will sometimes seem to people that you can read minds, but what you're really doing is truly LISTENING.

 

Because Alan Alda has such a warm, comfortable style I learned a lot from what in less capable hands could have been a very boring book. It also might be due to the fact that Alda is an extremely effective communicator. I have already started to put some of these games and exercises into practice and I believe they have already helped me in certain areas of my life.

 

If you are open, (read: WILLING TO BE CHANGED), then I highly recommend this book!

 

*I borrowed this audiobook from my awesome public library. Libraries RULE!*

I've read 17% and I’m done!

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel - Jesmyn Ward

 I tried to stick with this because it seemed like everyone was raving about it. I even came back to it after talking a week or so off.  It’s still not working for me and I think that 17% is more than a fair shot. 

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This it it.*

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, narrated by Rob McQuay

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail - Deutschland Random House Audio, Mike McQuay, Bill Bryson

A WALK IN THE WOODS was okay.

 

The author and his friend did not get to hike the entire trail as they had originally intended, which was not only disappointing for them but for me as well.

 

I learned about the history of the trail and how the whole thing works. I previously had no idea that the trail sometimes crosses roads and rivers and whatnot-I had this picture of a pristine wilderness in my head and while some parts are just that, others are not at all.

 

I thought there would be a bit more humor than there actually was and on top of that, there were no actual bears, (see that one on the cover there?), unless you count the night something was heard just outside of their tent.

 

Overall this was fun and I learned some things, so 3 stars it is.

 

Thanks to my local library for the loan of this audiobook. Libraries RULE!

Currently reading

Zero Day: The Hatching Series, Book 3 (Hatching Series, The) by Ezekiel Boone
Progress: 42%
West Cork by Audible Originals, Jennifer Forde, J.H. Bungey
Progress: 60%
Corpse Cold: New American Folklore by Chad Wehrle, John Brhel, Joseph T. Sullivan
Progress: 100/214pages

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Horror Aficionados
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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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