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.

 

 

Char’s quotes


 
Goodreads Quotes

THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS by John Connolly

The Woman in the Woods - John Connolly

 

At this, the 16th novel in the Charlie Parker series, I find myself still blown away by the quality of the writing and the depth of the story. Charlie Parker rocks!

 

But it's not just him, is it? It's Louis and Angel, a pair of gay henchmen, (but I mean "henchmen" in the best way), whose story has to be counted among the greatest love stories of all time, at least in my humble opinion. Their relationship is complicated and wonderful all at once, as is my love for them both.

 

It's Charlie's daughters, both alive and dead, and my fears for them and what might happen in the future.

 

It's Moxie Castin, the lawyer with a heart of gold and a soft spot for the Star of David, which plays such an important role in this story.

 

I won't rehash the plot, because the synopsis and about 10 million other reviews already do that. I will say that the end of this book left me rattled and somewhat angry. 

A couple of people still deserve their due and I have no doubt they're going to get it, but it didn't happen here.

(show spoiler)

However, I know that Charlie Parker doesn't fail, (at least he hasn't yet), and I will be there, bright eyed and bushy tailed when it happens. In the meantime? I'll be keeping an eye on those Times of London crossword puzzles.

 

THE WOMAN IN THE WOODS gets my highest recommendation. Period!

 

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

#Friday Reads! June 22, 2018

They Feed - Jason  Parent Lucifer Book Two - DEAN ORMSTROM, Various Authors, Peter Gross, Mike Carey Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense - Joyce Carol Oates Sea of Rust - C. Robert Cargill Hysteria - Stephanie M. Wytovich

 

Blog Tour Stop: Hunter Shea Talks People-Eating Monsters!

 

Today, I consider myself quite lucky to be hosting Mr. Hunter Shea!

Many of you here at Booklikes are familiar with him already, but if you're not-he's the author of these fun and exciting books, (among others!)

 

        By Hunter Shea The Montauk Monster - Hunter Shea  The Jersey Devil - Hunter Shea  We Are Always Watching - Hunter Shea  They Rise: A Deep Sea Thriller - Hunter Shea  

 

And this is his latest!: 

 

Today, he's here to talk about people-eating monsters!

  Take it away, Mr. Shea! 

 

Five Colossal People-Eating Monster Books

 

If you grew up in a certain era, B-movie monster flicks were everywhere. From the drive-in (remember those) to the single screen movie theater, Chiller Theatre and Creature Feature on television and in the pages of Famous Monster of Filmland. I was one of those kids who thrilled to the giant killer ants in Them! and the swarms of frogs in, well, Frogs. One of my favorite double features was Jaws and Grizzly. That day was almost better than Christmas. Almost.

 

Sure, there are still a ton of new monster movies being made today, thanks to the SyFy Channel and various streaming programs like Netflix, Shudder and Amazon Prime. But where do you turn to get your B-monster reading fix? Fear not, there are books out there for lovers of monsters like me to devour like fleeing pedestrians. You just have to know where to look. In the spirit of giving, here are five great B-monster books you should be reading. When you’re finished, look at other books the publisher has put out to bulk up your monster book shelf!

 

WORM by Tim Curran

 

Worm - Tim Curran 

 

These are not the wet willie worms of the 70s classic, Squirm. These monsters are enormous…and hungry! One of the things that really makes a great B-monster book is the level of carnage, and there is no shortage in this puppy. Tim Curran has a host of other monster books that will shiver your timbers. Start with Worm and, um, worm your way through his catalogue.

 

SIEGE OF STATION 19 by Raegan Butcher

 

Siege of Station 19 - Raegan Butcher 

 

Now this is an author who gets it. Raegan is the writer that any lover of monsters should be reading. This was the first book of his that I read and I LOVED it. Think of Assault on Precinct 13 with some frightening bug beasts. The action is intense and the dialogue is sharper than a blade, not to mention witty as hell. He’s also written four stellar books about killer, mutant Chupacabras. We need to make this man a household name, STAT!

 

SLEEP TIGHT by Jeff Jacobson

 

Sleep Tight - Jeffrey Jacobson 

 

 

My editor at Kensington suggested I read this itchy, icky novel when I was writing my own monster book, The Jersey Devil. I don’t know about you, but bed bugs skeeve the hell out of me. Well, think of an entire city overrun by the nasty chiggers. The level of insanity this book reaches is stellar. I subconsciously scratched myself the entire time I read it, not realizing I was doing it until my wife asked me if I needed Benadryl spray.

 

CAVERN OF THE DAMNED by Russell James.

 

Cavern of the Damned - Russell James 

 

 

A paleontologist, a long-sealed cave in the desert and a host of giant, pissed off creatures that have never seen the light of day. What more can I say? It’s a gleeful deep dive into a hidden world filled with lots of super nasties, all waiting to take a bite out of the hapless humans who are desperate to find a way out. The best part is, there is a fantastic follow up novel called Monsters in the Clouds. I felt like a kid again, watching an R rated version of Journey to the Center of the Earth.

 

THE HAUNTED FOREST TOUR by Jeff Strand and James A. Moore.

 

The Haunted Forest Tour - Jeff Strand,James A. Moore 

 

 

What do you get when two powerhouse writers combine to unleash their monster loving glee in a primeval forest? One amazing book that will leave you gasping. Easily one of the best monster books written in the past twenty years. I wanted it to go on forever, you know, like a Stephen King book. All I can pray for now is a sequel.

 

Thank you, Mr. Shea! 

 

In the mood for more monster mayhem? Check out Hunter Shea’s latest, JURASSIC FLORIDA. Publishers Weekly calls it a “hilarious creature-feature gorefest from pulp horror maven Shea.”

 

About the Book: 

 

Come visit Polo Springs, Florida, a town that may or may not be on the map tomorrow.

 

 

 

FLORIDA. IT’S WHERE YOU GO TO DIE. Welcome to Polo Springs, a sleepy little town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s a great place to live—if you don’t mind the hurricanes. Or the flooding. Or the unusual wildlife . . .

 

IGUANAS. THEY’RE EVERYWHERE. Maybe it’s the weather. But the whole town is overrun with the little green bastards this year. They’re causing a lot of damage. They’re eating everything in sight. And they’re just the babies . . .

 

HUMANS. THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER. The mayor wants to address the iguana problem. But when Hurricane Ramona slams the coast, the town has a bigger problem on their hands. Bigger iguanas. Bigger than a double-wide. Unleashed by the storm, this razor-toothed horde of prehistoric predators rises up from the depths—and descends on the town like retirees at an early bird special. Except humans are on the menu. And it’s all you can eat . . .

 

You can get the book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever ebooks are sold.

Visit Hunter Shea at Huntershea.com and sign up for his Dark Hunter Newsletter for a free book!

I hope you'll join me on Thursday...

Jurassic, Florida  - Hunter Shea

when author Hunter Shea joins me for a guest post in which he discusses his top five people-eating monster books! If you're a fan of creature features, you don't want to miss it! 

 

 

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

JURASSIC, FLORIDA by Hunter Shea

Jurassic, Florida  - Hunter Shea

The quiet town of Polo Springs, Florida, (It's where you go to die!), is about to suffer from an invasion the likes of which it has never seen. Hurricanes? No problem! Climate change? No worries! Giant Iguanas? What the..what???

 

That's right, lizards! At first they're cute and remind you of those television commercials. Then, they seem to be larger than your average geckos. Then, they seem like they must be on steroids or something. And then? Then, they are bigger than your car and threatening to destroy your house! Will the people of Polo Springs survive? You'll have to read this novella to find out!

 

Hunter Shea is the man when it comes to fun creature features. That's all there is to it. There's no shame in serving up fine horror cheese, (and this is cheesy, have no doubt), because, let's face it - sometimes we are just in the mood for some chasing and chomping! What creature is doing the dining? Who cares? Who's getting eaten? Perhaps some of us like to substitute certain members of our families or co-workers for the actual characters... what? Who said that? Anyway, pretty much everyone is getting eaten and that's what's fun about it! There's no fake, drippy sentimentality here. Everyone is fair game.

 

Once again, I came away from this creature feature interlude totally entertained and with another story to tell my friends. "I just read this great book about..." 

 

Highly recommended for fans of creature feature FUN!

 

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

THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Paul Tremblay

The Cabin at the End of the World - Paul Tremblay

 

THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD takes a look at an American family and asks what are you willing to do to protect them? But this book asks that question in an unique way- right before it rips your heart out and stomps all over it!

 

Eric and Andrew take their daughter Wen on vacation to a remote cabin located on a lake in the woods of New Hampshire. It's been deliberately chosen because it has no cell service, no internet, no nothing. They want to spend this time together, uninterrupted as a family. Unfortunately, their dream vacation came to a screeching halt when a large man named Leonard wandered into their front yard and started talking to Wen. Soon thereafter, three more people join him and together, they all enter the cabin. Things go so downhill from there, it's hard to even talk about. What happens after that? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

To give away any more about the plot would be spoilery, so I'm just going to talk about my thoughts and impressions and leave it at that. First, I love the way that Paul Tremblay writes families. He always provides honest insights and observations and as such, these parts of his writing are the ones that appeal to me the most. In this case, I loved 7 year old Wen SO MUCH, I just wanted to pick her up, give her a hug and go help her catch grasshoppers. Eric and Andrew were mysteries at first, but the one thing that soon became obvious about them was their love for Wen.

 

When things started to go sideways, I was captivated. I had so many questions but I expected and trusted the author to lead me through. Was I right to invest my trust? Yes and no. This is a very slight and "in general" type of spoiler, but just in case:

I suspect that the end of this tale is going to ruffle some feathers, and I have to admit I felt a bit ruffled myself. I don't need everything tied up in a neat little bow, but I wouldn't have minded a few more answers. That aside, I honestly LOVED how it all came together at the end, (or didn't as the case may be, you'll have to read it!) I think it takes a certain amount of courage on the part of the author to end things the way he did and I'm very interested to see how it goes over with other readers.

(show spoiler)

 

One other thing did bother me: after the group of strangers entered the cabin, the pacing slowed down a bit and there was a lot of talking without much actual explaining, if that makes any sense. Having chapters from different character's points of view helped me gain a little more insight as to what was going on in their heads, but I thought those portions were a little dragged out and for that, I deducted one star. (And to be honest, this issue is most likely mine, and mine alone.)

 

THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD is now my favorite among the works of Paul Tremblay. The writing here was powerful and my heart is still healing from the major break it suffered while I was reading this book, and as such: I highly recommend it!

 

Up for pre-order now HERE and available everywhere on June 26th,2018.

 

*Thanks to Edelweiss and William Morrow for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

#Fridayreads 6.15.18

 

BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD written and narrated by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah

 

BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD is hands-down, one of the most hilarious and informative audio books EVER. Seriously, it's outstanding.

 

I admit that I stopped watching THE DAILY SHOW after Jon Stewart left. I didn't know much about Trevor Noah other than the fact that he was a comedian before coming to that television show. I know a lot more now and I've started watching TDS again.

 

I remember hearing about Apartheid, but I didn't have a clear understanding as to how it affected people. Now, I understand a little better. This is Trevor's story about growing up in South Africa, his family-specifically his walking miracle of a mother, ("Jesus is my health insurance."), his father and his stepfather. It's about family life, church, music, and so much more. It's funny and entertaining, but it's also painfully honest at times, and it's those times that bring this book home. (I have never laughed at any story that involves the name Hitler. With this book and Trevor's Hitler story? I swear to all that's holy, I almost peed my pants.)

 

As the title suggests, this story only covers Trevor's time in South Africa. I can only hope that he will write another book about how his career as a comedian began and how he came to be hosting THE DAILY SHOW. Please, Mr. Noah, please write some more!

 

The audio is the only way to go with this book. Trevor Noah's accent and delivery make his special story even better. BORN A CRIME is worth your time. (Thanks to Ctgt, Petra and to Melissa for their reviews of this book, which you can find herehere, and here, respectively. 

 

My highest recommendation!

PROVIDENCE by Caroline Kepnes

Providence: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

 

PROVIDENCE is a tale of love and heartbreak, (literally and figuratively), infused throughout with a powerful longing for something that's just out of reach. I. LOVED. IT. !!

 

Young Jon Bronson is stolen away from his life and his first love, Chloe. He wakes up in a body he doesn't recognize because it's been 4 years since he was taken. The only clue he has as to what happened is a copy of Lovecraft's THE DUNWICH HORROR which contains a short note to him inside. He soon discovers this book is not the only reminder he has of his experience. What is the other reminder? Will Jon be able to resume his life at school, with his parents, with Chloe? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I'm not going to lie, at first I was disappointed to discover this wasn't a book about Joe Goldberg. Then when I heard this tale was somehow related to Lovecraft I was excited again. Turns out, this tale is actually only tangentially related to Lovecraft, so those unfamiliar with his work need not worry. It also turns out that Jon Bronson is a much better person than Joe Goldberg EVER could have been. That is the fact that made this book so difficult to put down. Look, I'm the type of person that loves it when everybody dies at the end of a story. The fact that I was rooting so hard for Jon surprised even me!

 

There is a whole other subplot going on here, involving Eggs, (a police officer) and Lo, his wife. While the story of Jon and Chloe involves young love with more than the normal obstacles in the way, Eggs and Lo showcase an entirely different tale of love-the long term marriage kind; the marriage facing major obstacles kind. Somehow, Eggs and Lo sneaked in through the back door of the main plot and stole my heart. I just wanted so badly for them to make it through.

 

All of this proves to me how powerful and capable of a writer Caroline Kepnes really is. These are not my types of stories: YOU, HIDDEN BODIES and now PROVIDENCE. I am not a romance reader, but somehow I became wholly invested in the fates of Jon and Chloe, of Eggs and Lo. I hope that that all of their stories will captivate you as well. If any of what I've written sounds appealing to you, go and get this book and find out what happens. Come seek me out when you're done and we'll shed our tears together.

 

My highest recommendation!

 

Available June 19th everywhere, available for preorder now here: PROVIDENCE

 

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

THE TEA PARTY by Charles L. Grant, narrated by Matt Godfrey

The Tea Party - Charles L. Grant, Matt Godfrey

A tea party on the lawn in the middle of summer? Sounds great to me! Even if the tea party does take place at the creepiest property in town: Winterrest.

 

THE TEA PARTY plays with one of my favorite horror tropes: evil in a small town. It does it with a haunting atmosphere, unusual weather and natural events, (like winds, and earthquakes), and it also features a large cast of characters. I like quiet horror and this certainly fits the bill.

 

I see a lot of reviews and ratings that aren't so great on this book and it makes me wonder why. The story takes its time, that's for sure, and there's also little blood and gore. But for me, these days, this horror tale fit the bill perfectly, though I do have to admit the denouement left me slightly stunned.

 

I listened to the audio version, narrated by Matt Godfrey, who was outstanding as usual. I found his laid back style to be a perfect match for this slow burning tale of a haunted mansion, an insane stonemason, and the entire town of Deerfield who could not avoid being affected by the recent events in their tightly-knit neighborhood.

 

If slow burning, small town evil stories aren't your thing, (think Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon), you might want to give this one a pass. On the other hand, if this is the type of story you've loved since childhood, like I have, (and that love has only grown), then THE TEA PARTY is definitely one for your "To Read" list.

 

Recommended!

 

*I received this audio courtesy of the narrator with no strings attached. This review is my honest opinion. *

Friday Reads! June 8, 2018

 

AN EXORCISM OF ANGELS by Stephanie M. Wytovich, narrated by Corinne Gahan

An Exorcism of Angels - Stephanie M. Wytovich, Corinne Gahan

AN EXORCISM OF ANGELS is a volume of dark, disturbing, down and dirty poetry.

 

Usually poetry is not my thing, but I won an Audible copy so I had nothing to lose. I soon discovered that I like this type of poetry quite a bit! At the same time, I learned that I could not listen to it all at once, like a novel. I listened to a handful of poems at a time and then I would need to take a break. There are a lot of poems contained within-at first I started to rate each one, but like I said there are a lot of poems here and that became too time consuming. Also, since this was on audio through Audible, (and not Overdrive), there was no way to bookmark the ones I especially enjoyed.

 

To address the poetry itself: here can be found bad boyfriends, murderous girlfriends, ghosts in the attic, drugs in all their different forms-be they delivered by stinging needles, burning lines up the nose, or popping pills-they're all present within these pages. There is self hate, self love, even both at the same time. There is also an affection for words and storytelling that comes through these mostly short but powerful verses.

 

Regarding the narrator, Corinne Gahan, she was excellent. It took a little while to get used to her voicing, but I loved the little extras she added to the words.

 

Dark and devilish, this volume of powerful poetry isn't messing around. It's blunt and in your face. Do you think you can handle it? If so, you should. You should handle it right now. Highly recommended!

 

*I won this audio-book via Twitter, but this is my honest opinion, regardless.*

May 2018-That's A Wrap!

Kill Creek - Scott Thomas, Bernard Setaro Clark Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake, Fredric Brown The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn Saga, Volume 8 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts' Casebook of Horrors - Kasey Lansdale, Joe R. Lansdale The Outsider - Stephen King Artificial Condition - Martha Wells Wicked River - Jenny Milchman Walk the Sky - Robert Swartwood, David B. Silva, Matt Godfrey Bad Pennies - John F Leonard

I've read 13 books this month!

 

Graphic Novels

 

SAGA, Volumes 7 and 8   4 and 5 * respectively

 

Total: 2

 

Novellas

 

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells 4*

Jurassic, Florida by Hunter Shea 4*

 

Total: 2

 

Audiobooks 

Walk the Sky by Robert Swartwood and David Silva, narrated by Matt Godfrey 4*

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas, narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark 5*

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn, narrated by George Newbern 5*

 

Total: 3

 

ARCS/Reads for Review

Wicked River by Jenny Milchman 4*

Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts' Casebook of Horrors 4*

Bad Pennies: A Supernatural Horror Novel by John Leonard 4*

 

Total: 3

 

Random Reads

Carrie by Stephen King 4*

The Outsider by Stephen King 4*

Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter by Fredric Brown (Short story collection) 5*

 

Total: 3

 

 

 

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

3. October by Michael Rowe

4. It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World by Curtis Lawson

5. Bad Pennies by John Leonard

Status: 5/40

 2018 Running Total: 74

 

HYENAS by Michael Sellars

Hyenas - Michael Sellars

 

HYENAS is a post-apocalyptic tale that is unlike any other I've read! There were at least two aspects that made it unique for me and I'll elaborate on those below.

 

The set up is as follows: 5 months ago there was a "Jolt" or "Spasm." Since that time, most people have been turned into "Hyenas" or "Jokers," and the world as we know it has ended. These people have changed from humans to insanely fast creatures that do nothing but laugh and eat other humans. And books, they eat books. (That's one of the unique aspects I mentioned above.) We follow along with Jay who has been hiding out in a bookshop and was rescued by Dempsey, who promises salvation in the form of a boat. To get to the boat, they will have to avoid the hyenas as well as the Beatles-loving militia that has recently formed. (Yes, you read that right.) Will Jay and Dempsey be able to float away from the horror that life in the city has become? You will have to read HYENAS to find out!

 

I don't want to get too far into the book-eating aspect of this tale as I believe the author should relate it to you as he intended. However, the second aspect of the story that I found original was the fact that these creatures are technically zombies; but somehow, I thought of them more as wolves. Granted, fast moving wolves that eat human flesh and books, but wolves just the same. Perhaps that's because they had some intelligence? (They could recognize when regular people were speaking to them, for instance.) Whatever term you want to use for these creatures, I found them to be simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.

 

Since this world-ending event is rather recent in the book, different people refer to it, (and to the resulting beings), with different words and phrases. There hasn't been time for people to get together and come to a consensus on what the event and the resulting individuals should be called. I thought this was a realistic way to portray how different characters viewed the occurrence.

 

There's a lot of action packed into this book and with it came my only problem with this story. I thought there was a bit too much focus on the street names, alleys and city squares. We only raced through them for the most part, so I don't think we needed to know the name of every road down which they fled. As far as problems go, it's rather picayune.

 

Overall, HYENAS was a hell of a good time! Action packed, with a unique premise that turned the typical post-apocalyptic story on its ear. I'll state it bluntly: I want a sequel!

 

Strongly recommended for fans of dark fiction, post apocalyptic fiction and horror!

 

*This book was free on Kindle and I picked it up as such when Mr. Sellars requested a review. This opinion is my own, regardless of the cost of the book.*

Stephen King Book Club Night-Carrie!

Last night was my second visit to the Stephen King Book Club at Blue Umbrella Books.

Going by the window display below, what book do you think we read?

 

Some attendees dressed up and others didn't, but we all had a great time!

 

 

Friday Reads!

 

Currently reading

They Feed by Jason Parent
Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss
Progress: 20%
Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill, Eva Kaminsky
Progress: 50%
Lucifer Book Two by DEAN ORMSTROM, Various Authors, Peter Gross, Mike Carey
Progress: 15%
Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates
Progress: 10%
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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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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