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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Assassin's Code by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter

Assassin's Code - Jonathan Maberry

ASSASSIN'S CODE is another fine entry in the Joe Ledger series!

 

Filled with Ledger's sense of humor and fighting nuclear terrorism on a global scale, this book featured everything I've come to love about this series. Yes, Grace is gone, but now we have Ghost to love, and Violin. (I'll say nothing more about her because...spoilers.)

 

There were a few villains here from previous books that finally got what was coming to them, and maybe one or two who did not. I guess we'll have to wait until the next book and see what happens.

 

Ray Porter is the voice of Ledger to me, and because of his work I'm continuing on with this military/action/dark fiction story. Usually military action type tales don't do anything for me, but with Ray Porter speaking in Ledger's voice, I now find this series to be MUST READS, or maybe MUST LISTENS! I can hardly wait for the next one! Recommended!

 

*Thanks to my local library for the free audiobook download! Libraries RULE!*

#FridayReads 9.20.19

 

A COSMOLOGY OF MONSTERS by Shaun Hamill

A Cosmology of Monsters - Shaun Hamill

Noah and his family are special, but I'm not so sure that's a good thing! A COSMOLOGY OF MONSTERS is a unique story. With a great opening line like:

 

 

"I started collecting my older sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was seven years old.”

 

how can one NOT get sucked in?

 

This tale about a family, the haunted house/attractions they've managed and their unique relationships with, (I'll just call it "the other" for the purposes of this review), made for fascinating reading. As a longtime fan of horror, I loved the shout-outs and homages to those who have come before, most especially Lovecraft and King. (Check out the blurb from King on the cover!)

 

I also enjoyed the character development here, even if I didn't like most of the characters. Almost none of the characters are perfectly good or bad, they are a mix of both, just like in real life. I did, (mostly), root for them anyway, especially Megan because I thought she got a raw deal.

 

That said, the story fast-forwarded a bit after extensive time was spent on Noah's early years. At first it was a bit jarring, and then I became accustomed to it. Other than that, one other thing bothered me, but I can't get into it without spoiling a few plot points. I'll just say that I wanted to know more about "the other." More being everything, really. I just wanted more.

 

For a debut novel, this one kept me turning the pages and I think it will be interesting to see how others react to it. For that reason, I'm going to keep my eyes open for other reviews on this unique and intriguing story. In the meantime, I recommend it!

 

Get your copy here: https://amzn.to/2LCH3Cv

 

*Thank you to NetGalley for the e-ARC, (in exchange for my honest review), and thanks to THE LINEUP for their giveaway, in which I received a beautiful hard copy with no strings attached. This review is my honest opinion.*

WICKED WEIRD edited by Amber Fallon, Scott Goudsward and David Price

Wicked Weird: An Anthology of the New England Horror Writers - Amber Fallon, Matthew M. Bartlett, Brian K. Vaughan, Jeffrey Thomas, Victoria Dalpe, Sylvia Morgan- Baker, Scott T. Goudsward, Peter N. Dudar, David Soares, David Price

WICKED WEIRD is a fun anthology of weird tales, all written by authors from New England. I enjoyed the hell out of it!

 

I can't go into each and every story, so here I'm going to stick to the ones that I thought were wicked good. (Here in the northeast, when we use the word WICKED we mean extraordinary. For example: Dunkin' Donuts coffee is wicked good. Dunkin'? I'll be waiting for my check!) With no further ado:

 

A STRANGE HAZE by Matthew Bartlett. For those of you that can identify with feeling like an outsider, always saying the wrong thing, and often saying it in the wrong tone of voice. 4*

 

A SONG OF WAR AND DEATH by Errick A. Nunnally. My notes say "Reads like a Twilight Zone episode." 4*

 

(The above two authors I've heard of and I was happy to find that I own books by both of them already! I need to get some reading done!)

 

SALT CAVE by Morgan Sylvia. Here's one line from the story:

"The spiders sing madness into my thoughts."

 

 

I was not previously aware of this author and now I just want to hunt down everything they wrote. 5*

 

THE SWEETNESS AND THE PSYCHIC by LL Soares. Two words: Basement. Cockroaches. 4*

 

A FEAST OF FLIES by Steve Van Samson. A stranger visits the camp of starving men. 4*

 

THE MASS OF THE GREATEST SIN by Trisha J. Wooldridge. I really dug the narrative voice in this one, and I definitely could relate to a lot of the protagonist's feelings. 4*

(I'll be searching out more work from this author as well.) 

 

THE PAINTED GIRL by Paul McNamee. Native American Cosmic horror. How could it not be good? 4*

 

RECLAIMED by William D Carl. I feel like this story could have been written by Lovecraft himself, but I like this author's writing style better. 4.5*

 

STARRY NIGHT by Jason Parent. Features Merle Haggard, (no lie), AND it has creatures.

 

4* SANGUISUGA by Kate Moulton. I'm not saying anything to ruin this, but it kicked all kinds of ass. 5*

 

THE LOST MINE OF ST. ELOI by J. Edwin Buja. Intense tunnel action in WWI. 4*

 

THE PROMISED DEATH OF ZEBEDIAH DEWEY by John Goodrich. When even the devil doesn't want you, you're in trouble! 4*

 

THE PERFECT PARENT by Peter N Dudar. Twisted and a little hilarious all at once. 4*

 

YOUR EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDE by Jeffrey Thomas. This was an excellent little tale, well told and left me wondering for long after. 5* (I am already a fan of Thomas' work and own several of his book that I haven't read yet. Story of my life!)

 

I found WICKED WEIRD to be an above average collection and I have no reservations about saying:

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Thanks to Scott Goudsward for providing an e-copy of this anthology in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

#FridayReads 9.13.19

 

WANDERERS by Chuck Wendig, narrated by Dominic Hoffman and Ze Sands

Wanderers - Chuck Wendig

WANDERERS was a fun listen, alternating between two narrators, one male and one female. This format worked really well for me and I enjoyed this tale quite a bit.

 

It's an "end of the world" book and even though the terms "walker" and "sleepwalker" are used, these are not really zombies like THE WALKING DEAD walkers, and they're not sleepwalking either. This is why the book was so interesting and different.

 

The characters developed quite a bit throughout, none of them the same as they were in the beginning. None of them are perfectly black or white characters either, which made them seem more realistic to me than say, Mother Abigail from THE STAND or Sister from SWAN SONG. Even though the setting of WANDERERS brings those books to mind, it's completely different from both of them.

 

Overall I loved listening, and I very much enjoyed the ending because it was surprising and eerie. I can't say more about it without spoiling the story, so I'll just end with this:

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

*Thanks to my local library for the free audio download. Libraries RULE!*

Reading progress update: I've read 15%...

A Cosmology of Monsters - Shaun Hamill

A Cosmology of Monsters - Shaun Hamill 

 

And something about the writing-it flows so smoothly for me-

I think I might LOVE this book if it continues in this vein. 

 

Reading for...

 

Or for:

(There's a nice King blurb on the front cover.)

 

VIOLET by Scott Thomas

Violet - Scott Thomas

VIOLET is the second major release from Scott Thomas. The first being KILL CREEK, which I adored. I liked this book as well, but not quite as much. 

 

 Kris Barlow and her daughter Sadie have recently suffered a tragedy that will change their lives forever. Sadie has now gone from a lively young girl to a quiet withdrawn one. In an effort to take their minds off things, Kris decides that they will spend their summer at a cabin on Lost Lake where she used to go as a child with her parents. They discover the home in a serious state of disrepair which keeps them busy for a while and Kris begins to see positive changes in Sadie's behavior. When they go into town, though,  they get strange looks; one townie even tells Kris she needs to keep a close eye on her daughter in this town. Not long after that, back at the cabin Kris hears Sadie talking and giggling and thinks she is finally on the road to recovery. But is she really? Will they get the emotional healing they were seeking? Why were the townsfolk acting so strangely? You'll have to read VIOLET to find out!

 

 

I love a slow burning story, (see my reviews of Straub's GHOST STORY and/or Thomas Tryon's HARVEST HOME), and this one does start off slowly-but I was all hey, no worries, it's cool. But about 100 pages later I wasn't finding it so cool. Don't get me wrong, time was spent describing the town and its residents, (fine) the complicated goings on within the Barlow family, (fine), but the incredibly detailed sanding of the deck and the cleaning of rooms? Not so much. 

 

If I set that aside and just focus on the family mysteries and how they unfurled, I feel more satisfied. Mr. Thomas had me intrigued with the story, which is why I kept going, but even in that area, I felt like it took too long for anything of substance to happen. Lots of teasers and a little foreshadowing will only hold me for so long. When the action did start though, I was glued and I dug the denouement in a BIG WAY(!), I just felt like it took too long to get there and It pains me to say it.

 

One thing that worked for me on all levels is the music featured. (Kris finds an old mix tape and plays it almost continuously when working on or in the cabin). For me, even when the music wasn't mentioned, I was still hearing it in my mind, playing behind the scenes I was witnessing. I thought that was done deftly and I appreciate the skill required for it to blend in the way it did.

 

I seem to be in the minority on this book as most of my reviewing clan seem to have loved it.  All I can say is, please remember this is just my opinion, and if you were thinking of giving VIOLET a try, please do! I probably just read it wrong. I DO recommend this book, in spite of the things I've mentioned, but I was hoping so hard to LOVE it, and it just didn't happen. 

 

Recommended!


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

 

#FridayReads 9.6.19

 

Thanks so much!

I wish I was better with taking pictures!

#FridayReads 8.30.19

 

CRICKET HUNTERS by Jeremy Hepler

Cricket Hunters - Jeremy Hepler

CRICKET HUNTERS proved to be compelling reading. Once I got going, I didn't want to put it down!

 

In the town of Oak Mott, Texas, back in 1998, Celia and her gang of friends call themselves Cricket Hunters. All is fun and games until one of them disappears. Fast forward fifteen years, and another member of their group vanishes-but this time it's Celia's husband. In her search for him, eerie things are happening. On top of that his family is blaming her for his absence. Will Celia and her group ever learn what happened to their missing friend? Will present time Celia find or discover what happened to her husband? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I had a few issues with this book. At first, I wasn't sure if I was meant to be feeling empathy or sympathy for any of the characters. (I'm still not sure, really.) I found that task difficult. The only characters I truly liked were Natalie and Omar, and they weren't around as much as I would have liked. Luckily, I don't need to like any of the characters as long as the plot grabs me and this one did.

 

One other thing that bothered me, and this is purely personal is

the violence done to various cats. I'm a cat owner and I didn't like that one bit.

(show spoiler)

I understood the reasons behind why it was done and I did keep reading, but I didn't like it.

 

Because I found the plot engaging and the mystery interesting, I stuck with it and was surprised by a few things along the way. I always love when that happens because I'm rarely surprised these days. Overall, this was a fine coming of age story, (with some horrific aspects), as well as a suspenseful mystery and I recommend it!

 

Available Sunday September 1st!

 

Get your copy here: CRICKET HUNTERS

 

*Thanks to Silver Shamrock publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it!

My First Halloween Bingo Book!

Wanderers - Chuck Wendig

Right now, I think I'll read this for:

 

 

But I reserve the right to change that later! 

This is an 800 page behemoth, (but I'm listening, instead of reading.)

Either way, there's NO chance I'll be done before Sunday. 

 

So as Captain Picard would say: 

THE KING OF PLAGUES by Jonathan Maberry, narrated by Ray Porter

The King of Plagues  - Jonathan Maberry, Ray Porter

This is my favorite of the series so far!

 

There were lots of surprises here, a few gains and some substantial losses. All the things that keep this reader interested in continuing.

 

I've been listening on audio and I love Ray Porter's voicing of Joe Ledger. In fact, he is the reason I've continued on with these books. I'm looking forward to the next!

 

Highly recommended! (As long as you've read the previous books in the series.)

 

*Thanks to my local library for the free audio download. Libraries RULE!*

BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR by Curtis M. Lawson

Black Heart Boys' Choir - Curtis M. Lawson, Luke Spooner, S.T. Joshi

BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR required a bit of time on my part for everything to sink in. Once it did, I felt liking shouting BRAVO and throwing some roses at the author. A friend took me aside and told me this was frowned upon, so I decided to write this review instead.

 

Lucien has recently lost his father to suicide. Shortly after that, he loses his mother to grief, (among other things.) To top it all off, he and his mother are required to move from their rather posh house, to a humbler home in a condominium. He is full of anger and disgust-with himself, and his weak parents. He begins hearing music in his head, as well as voices, and shortly thereafter he discovers a piece of orchestration that his father began to write but never finished. He sets out to quiet those voices and the music-will he be triumphant? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I became a fan of Curtis Lawson last year and immediately bought another of his books when I finished the first. (I haven't been able to get to it yet-story of my life.) However, when he offered me a chance to read this one early, how could I say no? At first, I was a bit confused as to what was going on, and to be honest, I wondered if this novel was going to require some kind of musical knowledge or at least the ability to read music. I needn't have feared, since all that was required was close attention on my part. That wasn't hard to give because the narrative soon swept me up and carried me to the denouement, much like a wave at the beach carries you to shore.

 

Why did I need time to mull over this story? I can mention some of the reasons here, some I cannot because...spoilers. Lucien was not altogether likable, even before some of the more distasteful events occurred. Luckily, I'm okay with real people being the main character-meaning in real life, people are not all good or bad, so why do some expect that in their fiction? Another reason I needed to mull for a moment is mental illness. (Lucien reminded me a lot of a young man I knew who suffered from Schizophrenia.) In the end, this tale broke another way, but somehow I came away from it with a better understanding of the young man I once knew. (Or at least, I think I did.)

 

As a whole, BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR tackles a lot in its few pages: suicide, death, abuse, neglect, teen friendships, (and many of us know the friendships made during that difficult time in life are hard to break), resentments, music, mental illness (?), demons...well, you get the picture.

 

Hopefully, you now understand my reasons for mulling over this tale. I believe I will be thinking about it for quite some time. These are generally the types of stories that stick with me-the mull-ers. If what I've described above sounds good to you and if you enjoy thinking about a story long after it's finished, then I highly recommend BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR!

 

*Thank you to the author for the e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

#FridayReads 8.23.19

 

Currently reading

The Night Doctor and Other Tales by Steve Rasnic Tem
Progress: 265/336pages
A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by John Hornor Jacobs, Chuck Wendig
Progress: 50%
Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Neil Gaiman, HarperAudio
Progress: 10%

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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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