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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Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror, edited by Mark Matthews

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Bentley Little;P. Gardner Goldsmith;Lorne Dixon;Michael A. Arnzen;Pat MacEwen;Ray Garton;Ian Withrow;John F.D. Taff;Jeff Strand;Kevin Lucia;Benjamin Kane Ethridge;Shane McKenzie;Steve Vernon;Charles Colyott;Taylor Grant;Dev Jarrett;Eric J. Guignard;J. S.

 

Garden of Fiends is an unflinching and intense collection of addiction stories from some of the best authors in the business. It is not for the weak of heart, but neither is addiction. Let's take a brief, but closer look at the tales within:

 

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke: Alcoholism is no joke and many find that they cannot quit on their own and seek out help from programs like AA. This story does not shy away from the absolute power that is addiction and then it slays the reader with its powerful ending. 5* 

 

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh: This tale was twisted as twisted can be. (At least I thought so until I read Max Booth III's story, but more on that in a moment.) A hard, direct look at the downward spiral of addiction and the other crimes associated with it. After all, drugs often cost an arm and a leg. 4*

 

Everywhere You've Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III: Combine a heroin addiction, blood everywhere and spiders and what have you got? You have this graphic and dare I say... disgusting?, tale of heroin dependence. You'll need a strong stomach for this one, but I think it's worth it! 5*

 

Last Call by John FD Taff: This was another story of alcoholism. This one shows us that there are no shortcuts to sober. 4*

 

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch: Demons abound in this story and not all of them are drug related. 3.5*

 

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews: A tale about how addiction affects everyone surrounding the addict. It floods out like the ripples on a calm lake,  as do the effects of eating anything from this particular garden. 5*

 

Returns by Jack Ketchum: here we have another tale of alcoholism, but with the twist of also involving a ghost. Short and to the point, this one punched me right in the gut. 5*

 

To be all technical about it, my ratings add up to a 4.5, but after thinking about this collection overnight, I think it adds up to more than the sum of its parts, so 5 fat stars it is!

 

My highest recommendation to those readers who are strong of heart!

 

You can pre-order your copy here: Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror">Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror"> 

*I was provided a free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

**Further, I consider Mark Matthews a friend, albeit online only. This did not affect the content of my review.*

I've read 97% and...

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Bentley Little;P. Gardner Goldsmith;Lorne Dixon;Michael A. Arnzen;Pat MacEwen;Ray Garton;Ian Withrow;John F.D. Taff;Jeff Strand;Kevin Lucia;Benjamin Kane Ethridge;Shane McKenzie;Steve Vernon;Charles Colyott;Taylor Grant;Dev Jarrett;Eric J. Guignard;J. S.

all I've got left to read is the story written by Jack Ketchum. Nearly every tale in this collection worked well for me and that's always a good thing. 

 

Kindred by Octavia Butler, narrated by Kim Staunton

Kindred - Octavia E. Butler, Kim Staunton

Expecting to be knocked out by this book, I was a little disappointed.

 

 Yes, it's an excellent time travel tale and I learned some things about slavery. However, I expected/wanted the prose to be...exquisite, yet what I received were somewhat simple sentences and a lot of repetition. Lastly, I couldn't help but want an explanation for the time travel-something, anything. Any attempt at all would have been better than nothing in this humble reader's opinion.

 

I listened to this on audio, narrated by Kim Staunton and I thought her voicing was perfect.

 

I'm glad that I finally read this classic, but I'm not sure I'll tackle it again in the future.

March 2017 Round Up!

Knottspeed: A Love Story - Jeff Johnson The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett All Souls' Night - Matt Godfrey, Valancourt Books, Sir Hugh Walpole Wallflower - Chad Lutzke The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 3 (Walking Dead Compendium Tp) - Charlie Adlard, Charlie Adlard, Robert Kirkman The Dark Tower, Volume 1: The Gunslinger Born - Richard Isanove, Jae Lee, Robin Furth, Peter David, Stephen King Man & Monster (The Savage Land: Book 2) - Michael Jensen Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix, Ken Greenhall, Jessica Hamilton 20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill, Christopher Golden Lucky Supreme: A Novel of Many Crimes - Jeff Johnson

 

I've read a bunch 'o books this month in all kinds of genres!

 

Graphic Novels

The Walking Dead Compendium 3

The Dark Tower Volume 1: The Gunslinger Born

The Dark Tower Volume 2:The Long Road Home

Batman (Rebirth) Volume 2: I am Suicide

The Dark Tower Volume 3: Treachery

 

Total: 5

 

Audio Books

All Souls' Night by Hugh Walpole

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

 

Total: 2

 

E-Arcs

Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall

Knottspeed by Jeff Johnson

Wallflower by Chad Lutzke

Lucky Supreme by Jeff Johnson

 

Total: 4

 

Random Books

The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett

Man & Monster by Michael Jensen

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Donald Allen Kirch

 

Total Books Read in March: 15

 

Reading Challenges:

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

(Horror Aficionados Group on GR)

Goal: Read 40 books that I already own during 2017

 

January count: 1-Dominoes by John Boden

February count: 2 Hometown by Luke Walker, Disembodied by Anthony Hains

March count: 0

Running count: 3

 

Coolthulhu Crew 2017 Challenge: 

Goal: Read Horror Books!

 

January Books: 5

February Books Read for Challenge: 3

March Books Read for Challenge: 4

Running Count: 12

 

Graphic Novel Challenge: 

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017  

 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

Running count: 12

 

Keep Calm and Read On!

 

 

 

 

 

Lucky Supreme (Darby Holland #1), by Jeff Johnson

Lucky Supreme: A Novel of Many Crimes - Jeff Johnson

 

From Jeff Johnson, a man who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, comes this noir-ish tale of theft, ball bearings, tattoo shops and gentrification. I loved it!

 

Set in Portland, Oregon, (with some forays down to the California coast), the city itself became a character. Old Town, one of the holdouts from the gentrification going on all around, was vividly drawn. A neighborhood with lots of rain and dilapidated buildings, but also with residents who, (with the proper motivation), will help protect their own.

 

Darby owns a tattoo shop, Lucky Supreme, and a few years back some of his old flash was stolen. (This is the name for the designs that hang on the wall in tattoo shops, some of which is valuable now.) Darby has had the word out about it, and he finally gets a lead as to where the stolen flash is located. As Darby heads to the California coast to get his flash back, he meets up with characters I won't soon forget-some enemies and some friends, but all compelling. Darby himself is somewhat of an enigma.

 

 

" I found myself smiling at the quantity of the madness I carried around inside me."

 

 That's all I'll say about the plot, except for 2 more things: food and humor. All of Jeff's books feature at least one character who cooks, and man, the food always sounds delicious. Lastly, his books feature a black sense of humor that always works for me and this one was no different.

 

"Hurl crazy hookers at the enemy at every opportunity. Sun Tzu said that, didn't he?"

 

I swore to myself that I wouldn't start any more books that were part of a series, but with Jeff Johnson, I could not resist. This is an engaging tale full of captivating characters, a protagonist you can root for, (even though he's not your typical hero type), and a city where it is nearly always raining, but whose residents have a spirit that rises above. Lucky Supreme is a fun book with often sharp insights into human behavior and I give it my highest recommendation!

 

Available here on April 11th: Lucky Supreme: A Novel of Many Crimes (A Darby Holland Crime Novel)

 

*Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the free E-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

Sci-Fi and Scary Coolthulhu Crew 2017 Challenge-March Update

The Secret of Ventriloquism - Jon Padgett Wallflower - Chad Lutzke The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 3 (Walking Dead Compendium Tp) - Charlie Adlard, Charlie Adlard, Robert Kirkman Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix, Ken Greenhall, Jessica Hamilton

 

 I am participating in a Horror Reading Challenge over at the Sci-Fi and Scary blog. You can sign up yourself at the Sci-Fi and Scary Blog here: Sci-Fi and Scary

 

This month I've read 4 books towards the challenge:

 

The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett

 

Wallflower by Chad Lutzke

 

The Walking Dead Compendium 3

 

Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall

 

March Total:  4

February total: 3

January Total: 5

 

Grand Total: 12

I've read 16% of Lucky Supreme and...

Lucky Supreme: A Novel of Many Crimes - Jeff Johnson

I'm loving it so far!

 

Jeff Johnson is such an interesting man, and his writing appeals to me. It always has a noir feel to it, it's filled with a dry, black sense of humor, there's always good food cooking, and his writing style is vivid and clear. 

 

My question is why he isn't more well known?

 

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Donald Allen Kirch

Drop Dead Gorgeous - Donald Allen Kirch

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a bizarre and erotic horror story that resonated with me.

 

U.S. Only Audiobook Giveaway at Horror After Dark! Click here to enter.

 

Ray wakes up duct taped to a chair and soon realizes that he is being held captive by the most beautiful woman he's ever seen. She wants to tell him a story, and he wants to stay alive. So begins this wicked tale of revenge, sex, lies, genetic modifications, lust, and, perhaps a bit of social commentary. These are the reasons I say it was bizarre, but bizarre in a good way!

 

 

(Click here to see the Drop Dead Gorgeous book trailer! )

 

I had no idea where this tale was going, so I just hung on for the ride. I'm not going to get further into the plot, because most of the other reviews already do that. I will say that Mr. Kirch deftly strings the reader along until the perfect ending quickly arrives, leaving said reader in a daze. I was worried he would chicken out and shy away from the denouement this story so richly deserved, but he didn't.

 

Steve, Eve, Wells and even the evil Annabelle were well drawn, realistic characters. Not one of them was a cardboard cutout, they each had depth; both good points and bad. Sometimes I found myself feeling sorry for the villains and hating the "good" guy.

 

There's a lot to be learned here too, at least there is to my mind. How society treats women, (and men, really), based on their bodies and their looks. Many women would kill to have the body of Eve, but she would kill to get rid of it. That got me to thinking that I should probably be careful about what I wish for. Also, there are some scary experiments going on with genetic modifications, nanos and science-y stuff, which brought many ethical questions to the forefront of my mind. We all know that scientists are working on ways to make us immortal and while most of us would probably like to live forever, is that actually a good thing? The world is overpopulated as it is. It's rare that an erotic horror story bring up questions of such import, but this one did.

 

All in all, Drop Dead Gorgeous adds up to more than the sum of its parts,  and it delivers over and above what you would expect from the cover. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it and look forward to reading more from Mr. Kirch in the future!

 

*Mr. Kirch provided Horror After Dark a review copy free of charge, in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill, Christopher Golden

My favorite stories were:

 

Pop Art

20th Century Ghost

Better Than Home

My Father's Mask

Voluntary Committal

 

My thoughts on this collection cannot possibly make a dent in all of reviews already written about this book. Suffice it to say: I loved it and it gets my highest recommendation!

At the Cemetery Gates: Year One by John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan

At The Cemetery Gates: Year One - Chad Wehrle, John Brhel, Joseph T. Sullivan

At The Cemetery Gates: Year One is a collection of 14 short stories. Most of them feature cemeteries-if not actually set there, they're at least mentioned.

 

My favorite story of the bunch was An Epistle From the Dead which was a macabre tidbit with a touch of poignancy to it that really brought the story home.

 

Pictures of a Perpetual Subject was also a poignant tale with a haunting outcome that I won't soon forget.

 

The remaining stories were all good, but not outstanding. These are the types of tales to be told around a campfire at night or at a sleepover. In fact, I think they're perfect for those types of scenarios. Seasoned horror fans used to hard-core scares might come away slightly disappointed, but I believe the average horror reader would find these tales satisfying.

 

 

Today, this book is free! Click here: At The Cemetery Gates: Year One

 

Recommended!

 

*Horror After Dark was provided a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is it!*

To Die For by Alice Clark-Platts

To Die For - Alice Clark-Platts, Penguin Audiobooks, Rachel Bavidge

 

To Die For seemed more like part of a story, than a full one.

 

That said, a couple of the characters were very well drawn, (if hateful), and I would have liked to have read more about them. But by then, this "story" was over.

 

Thanks to Audible for the free download. I may try a full book from the author in the future.

Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall

Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix, Ken Greenhall, Jessica Hamilton

 

In the late 70's, I started reading horror in earnest, and I honestly thought I was familiar with most horror writers of the time. I was wrong. I'd never heard of Ken Greenhall until Valancourt Books brought him to my attention. Now, I want to get my hands on everything he's written.

 

Baxter, the bull terrier, is a sociopath. But he's just a dog, you might say! It's true, but he's observant, willful and extremely dangerous. With some portions of this book being from his point of view, the reader gets a clear look into what's going on in that doggie head of his. I know this book sounds cheesy, and perhaps like a rip-off of Cujo, but the facts are that it's not cheesy at all, and it was written before Cujo. Featuring keen insights into human behavior, precise but spare prose, and bringing to the reader a growing sense of dread and horror, I'm pretty sure this will be among the best books I will read this year.

 

My highest recommendation! You can get your copy here: Hell Hound

 

*Thanks to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

Batman, Volume 2: I Am Suicide by Tom King, Michael Janin and Mitch Gerads

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide (Rebirth) - Mikel Janin, Tom King, David Finch

 

Tom King caught my eye with the Vision comics, so when I saw he was writing Batman Comics I immediately requested them from Net Galley. 

 

The first, Batman, Volume 1: I Am Gotham , was pretty good, so I was happy to try Batman, Volume 2: I am Suicide.  Unfortunately, I'm not enjoying these as much as I enjoyed Vision. Admittedly, this could be because I am not very familiar with DC Comics or superheroes, in general, so please keep this in mind.

 

The first story in this volume is I Am Suicide. I loved the artwork but the story seemed to be all over the place. Batman was trying to capture Psycho Pirate who is being kept by Bane, and he assembled a group of misfits, none of whom I'm familiar with, to do so. On the way there, he encounters resistance and repeats himself constantly. (He's trying to get to Psycho Pirate because something he has or can do can help Gotham Girl, who's still a mess from her experiences in I Am Gotham.) Bane is a super huge criminal dude being held in a prison called Santa Prisca. I thought that if I were more familiar with these characters things would make more sense, but from reading the other reviews here, that doesn't seem to be the case. Overall, this story was a 2.5 stars out of 5 for me, mostly because I thought the art was very cool.

 

Rooftops, which is the second story in this volume, was much better. It was a bit cheesy and predictable, but it had some humor and a nice connection between Batman and Catwoman. Again, the artwork in this story was excellent and conveyed the feelings the author was trying to get across. 4 out 5 stars.

 

 

I did enjoy this volume, just not as much as I expected to. I'm still interested in seeing where this series is going, because I love the idea of a dark Batman. He is developing as a complex character and I like that, it's just that this volume was a bit of a let down.

 

Available April 18th, you can pre-order a copy here: Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide (Rebirth)

 

*Thanks to Edelweiss for the free advance review copy in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, narrated by George Newbern

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman, George Newbern

 

This was such a touching, funny story it almost made this cold, cold heart shed a tear.

 

I can't help but see some similarities between this story and the movie Saint Vincent, with Bill Murray. Also, I have to say that this tale is a bit predictable.

 

Those things said, I did laugh out loud a few times while listening, and I thought this narrator did a fantastic job.

 

If you're looking for a sweet tale about a curmudgeonly old coot without a friend in the world, this book is for you!

 

Recommended!

 

*Thanks to Audible for the free download.*

I've read 50% of Hell Hound and...

Hell Hound - Grady Hendrix, Ken Greenhall, Jessica Hamilton

 

I'm torn between racing through to the end or slowing down to savor every word. I'm not sure how I missed Ken Greenhall back in the late 70's, since that's when I began to read horror in earnest. I only know that I will now try to track down everything he's written.

 

The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home by Robin Furth, Peter David, & Jae Lee

The Dark Tower, Volume 2: The Long Road Home - Peter David, Stephen King, Richard Ianove, Jae Lee, Robin Furth

The second volume of The Dark Tower graphic novel series is as visually stunning as the first, but I felt the story quality was slightly below that of the first volume.

 

 

                               Our boy Sheemie, after his transformation:

 

It's a real treat to see the artist's renderings of these characters, but it's even better to see the settings and the Crimson King. There is so much detail in the art, that I could gaze at these images for hours and never get bored.

 

Sheemie is a badass now:

 

 

 

 

Based on the two volumes I've read of this series so far? I'm in love with Jae Lee and believe that he's a comic God.

 

That is all.

 

You can buy your copy by clinking the link below, or you can check your local libraries as I have. Either way I highly recommend this series!

 

Dark Tower: The Long Road Home

Currently reading

American Vampire, Vol. 4 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Jordi Bernet
You Will Know Me: A Novel by Hachette Audio, Megan Abbott, Lauren Fortgang
Progress: 65%

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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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