06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Paranormal

House of Secrets Omnibus by Steven T. Seagle, Teddy Kristiansen (Illustrations), 752 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/03/2013

Rain Harper is a teenaged runaway who has just arrived in Seattle. She needs a place to stay and finds an abandoned mansion that is miraculously unoccupied by other squatters. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out why: the house is not a normal house. It’s inhabited by a host of other-worldly spirits that form a jury who summon humans to account for their secrets. Rain finds herself in the position of “witness” to the proceedings. Rain, however, has more than a few secrets of her own. So do the friends she picks up along the way. When will the house finally demand to pass judgements on their secrets?
This omnibus collects the entire House of Secrets series, which means that it’s a massive tome and quite a bit to take in all at once. Rain is a fascinating, if unreliable, narrator, but the house is really what caught my interest. It has its own terrifying history and tends to show up in various locales at various points in time. Witty and dark, this is a great series.

The Lovecraft Anthology is a graphic collection of Lovecraft’s tales, adapted and illustrated by a variety of authors and artists. Featured in this first volume are several classics, including Call of Cthulhu, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Beyond the artwork, these adaptations also are quick verbal sketches of Lovecraft’s work. I enjoyed them, but often regretted the stories weren’t covered in more detail. Creating artwork is very time consuming, though, and being exposed to the styles of multiple artists was worth missing out on a few story details. As with any multiple-artist anthology, I had style preferences (D’Israeli!), but this will vary by reader. Recommended as an introduction to dark Lovecraftian worlds.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, 262 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/02/2013

When Irene Sauvelle’s father dies, she and her family find themselves moving to a small coastal village in Northern France where her mother, Simone, finds employment as a housekeeper for an eccentric toymaker named Lazarus. At first the small family is enchanted (if slightly caught off-guard) by the sheer volume and intricacy of Lazarus’s automatons. Village life treats them equally well. Irene quickly becomes friends with one of the house’s other employees, Hannah and then is introduced to (and quickly falls for) Hannah’s cousin, Ismael. The family appears to lead a charmed life until Hannah turns up dead in the forest near the estate. The house and its contents cease to be amusing as things take a turn for the menacing.
The narrative shifts from character to character, which means that the reader will have multiple perspectives with which to decipher exactly what sort of evil is at play here. The plot has echoes of other famous tales, most notably Wuthering Heights and Faust, though the book itself has a distinctly “Zafon” feel to it. The setting is characteristically atmospheric and the juxtaposition of the beautiful against the terrifying is also very much in keeping with Zafon’s other work. The plot is merely OK; it manages to be both a bit confusing and predictable at the same time. The end comes crashing to a close, which feels somewhat anti-climactic after the action leading up to it. It’s OK though; the intriguing setting and evocative language more than make up for any plot-based missteps.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Paranormal, Teen Books · Tags:

Personal Demons by Nimue Brown, 128 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/24/2013

Enter the dark and eerie world of Hopeless, Maine. You may notice that there are an awful lot of orphans for such an isolated place. You may also notice a girl named Salamandra who refuses to stay put in the orphanage that she’s been placed in. While this is going on, you’re probably trying to squint through the enveloping fog to see if there really are monsters crawling through the shadows. Hopeless, Maine is the type of town where anything can happen and where the most monstrous of the monsters may not even look like monsters at all.
Beautiful, atmospheric artwork and a dark sense of humor make this a comic series to watch.

08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst , 368 pages, read by Courtney, on 09/14/2013

Conjured is one of those books that’s incredibly difficult to describe. Our protagonist (sort of), Eve, is in witness protection but she doesn’t really know why. In fact, there’s really not much that Eve remembers at all. It’s not just her long-term memory that’s missing, she continues to lose chunks of her short-term memory every time she uses magic. She does know that if she attempts magic, she will lose consciousness as well as her memory. When she loses consciousness, she has horrific nightmares that evoke images of a macabre circus, an evil magician and a mysterious storyteller. Each nightmare is vivid and disturbing yet none will make sense until the book is nearly over. Life in WitSec (the witness protection program that’s taken Eve in) isn’t easy. Eve feels compelled to lie about her memory lapses and frequently worries about how she can be a witness if she knows nothing about her case. There are others that are kind of like her in that they can perform magic and are protected by WitSec, but none of them seem to suffer from the same types of memory issues. If anything, they revel in their talents. Eve’s handlers and the other “witnesses” all seem to know what the case is all about and who they’re in hiding from, but Eve is still clueless. They all appear to hope that her memory will return on its own, but Eve has trouble making sense of anything. In the meantime, Eve is given a job at the local library, where she meets a boy named Zach who is fascinated by her. Eve’s relationship with Zach grows from friendly acquaintanceship to something resembling a romance. All Eve knows for sure is that when she kisses Zach, they float (literally) and she doesn’t pass out. It is only this new human connection that prompts Eve to try and figure out more.
Eve is not a character that readers will relate to. Most of us, if in Eve’s position, would be desperate to find out what’s going on and would demand answers of those who did know more. In that sense, the narrative might be frustrating to some readers. The unconventional plot structure will further frustrate those readers. Those who don’t mind a bit of confusion along the way will be rewarded by a truly unique tale. The reader never knows more than Eve does, so each revelation adds more to the story. As the clues slowly start to form a coherent picture of Eve’s pre-WitSec life, the story becomes more and more nightmarish. The deliberate pacing may put some readers off as well, but others will relish the mystery and macabre setting. This is not the book for everyone, but it certainly sets itself apart from the pack.

26. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Tammy

Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill, 376 pages, read by Tammy, on 09/24/2013

heart-shaped box   Retired rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for damaged young women and for the macabre. He has a list of ex-girlfriends that he found entertaining for awhile but then sooner or later tired of. He doesn’t even call them by name but by the state they are from. He also keeps a mysterious collection of objects in his home including sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose and Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard. So, he’s thrilled when his assistant tells him a ghost is for sale on an online auction site. He ends up winning the sale.

But then the black, heart-shaped box arrives in the mail. It not only contains the suit of a dead man but his vengeful ghost. The ghost is the stepfather of an ex-girlfriend who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne sent her home on the train. Let the vengeful haunting and soul searching begin!

16. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Horror, Teen Books · Tags:

Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee , 272 pages, read by Angie, on 09/15/2013

Gospel and Merciful Truth live in a cabin in the woods with their mother, who has just died. Their only neighbors are Widow Cally and Jenny Gone and the Minister, a made thing who preaches the word of God. They are surrounded by a closing fog that leaves nothingness in their wake. Merciful thinks her mother is up and moving even though she is dead. The minister is keeping secrets. The world is ending and strange things are happening.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book about the world ending because God is punishing humanity. Most apocalyptic books have some references to God and religion (not always positive), but I don’t think God is often shouldering responsibility for the end of the world. This is an interesting mix of horror and spirituality. The characters are confined to the cabin because of a snow storm for the majority of the book which makes it very claustrophobic. Gospel and Merciful have to rely on themselves for most of what they know. Everyone is hiding things from them or lying and it is up to them to discern the truth. I’m not sure it all makes sense; the backstory is not adequately explained in my opinion. There is a sense of mystery and unknowingness that permeates the entire thing. There is also a beauty in Merciful’s story as she tries to figure things out. Ultimately she is responsible for her choices and the decisions she makes and she accepts that. There is no happy ending for our characters; just choices, mistakes and an ending.

I received a copy of this book at ALA 2013 and from the publishers on Netgalley.com.

16. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Teen Books

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman , 464 pages, read by Angie, on 09/15/2013

Oleander is your typical small town in Kansas, nothing much happens there until the day people went on a crazy murder spree. It is now one year later and the town has settled down, but they can’t forget the horror of the Killing Day. Daniel was the only survivor of a drug store shooting; Jule saw her aunt and uncle die; Ellie witnessed the crucifixion of a man; Matt, closeted gay jock, watched his lover get hit by a car repeatedly; and Cass is the only killer who lived, she killed a baby she was babysitting and has been in an institution ever since. So life returns to normal until a massive F5 tornado destroys half the town. Now everyone is going a little crazy, impulse control has been tossed aside, and the town is quarantined by soldiers. Oleander turns into a powder keg of religious zealots, power-hungry politicians, meth lords and crazy football jocks. Everyone is out to get someone and nowhere is safe. Daniel, Jule, Matt, Ellie, and Cass band together for survival, but will all of them survive?

This is a seat-of-your-pants horror thrill ride. It would actually make a great movie. It reminded me of Stephen King in its cast of characters and storytelling. You feel very claustrophobic in this small town with nowhere to go and no one to trust. Even a little old lady can be a killer in Oleander. I’m not sure I buy the science explanation behind the crazy, but if you take that with a grain of salt and just enjoy the ride you will not be disappointed. I really couldn’t put this book down. Wasserman is not afraid to go dark or to kill off characters. I like the question of whether the drug made everyone crazy or if it just brought out what was already there. Any author who starts a book off with the killing of a baby and then makes you sympathetic to the baby-killer is one twisted writer…and makes for a great book!

I received a copy of this book from the publishers at Netgalley.com.

09. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Horror

Funland by Richard Laymon, 420 pages, read by Helen, on 08/29/2013

The Funland Amusement Park provides more fear than fun these days. A vicious pack known as the Trolls are preying on anyone foolish enough to be alone at night. Folks in the area blame them for the recent mysterious disappearances, and a gang of local teenagers has decided to fight back. But nothing is ever what it seems in an amusement park. Behind the garish paint and bright lights waits a horror far worse than anything found in the freak show. Step right up. The terror is about to begin!

09. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Apocalyptic, Fiction, Helen, Horror

The stand by Stephen King, 1153 pages, read by Helen, on 08/25/2013

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides–or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail–and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.

05. September 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Horror, Kim B

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill, 692 pages, read by Kim, on 09/04/2013

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photography, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country. Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing–and terrifying–playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.” Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble–and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

Great book!!! Joe Hill follows in his father’s footsteps as a classic horror writer!!!!!

31. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Horror, Tracy

Stokers Manuscript, by Royce Prouty, 352 pages, read by Tracy, on 08/23/2013

When rare-manuscript expert Joseph Barkeley is hired to authenticate and purchase the original draft and notes for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, little does he know that the reclusive buyer is a member of the oldest family in Transylvania.

After delivering the manuscript to the legendary Bran Castle in Romania, Barkeley—a Romanian orphan himself—realizes to his horror that he’s become a prisoner to the son of Vlad Dracul. To earn his freedom, Barkeley must decipher cryptic messages hidden in the text of the original Dracula that reveal the burial sites of certain Dracul family members. Barkeley’s only hope is to ensure that he does not exhaust his usefulness to his captor until he’s able to escape. Soon he discovers secrets about his own lineage that suggest his selection for the task was more than coincidence. In this knowledge may lie Barkeley’s salvation—or his doom. For now he must choose between a coward’s flight and a mortal conflict against an ancient foe.

Building on actual international events surrounding the publication of Bram Stoker’s original novel, Royce Prouty has written a spellbinding debut novel that ranges from 1890s Chicago, London, and Transylvania to the perilous present.

27. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror · Tags:

American Vampire by Scott Snyder, 192 pages, read by Brian, on 08/17/2013

American Vampire is the first in series about a new breed of vampire in America.  This breed is more cunning and vicious compared to most vampires portrayed in literature, hence, they don’t sparkle in the sunlight.  Stephen King wrote this novels with long time graphic novelist Scott Snyder.

american

26. August 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal

Joyland by Stephan King, 283 pages, read by Brian, on 08/23/2013

I’ve got the Joy Joy Joy Joy down in Joyland. Where? Down in Joyland.  Stephen King has once again delivered another masterpiece of a short story.  Joyland isn’t scary or sexy but more of a mystery.  Sure there is a ghost a bad guy and a pretty lady but this story has a sweetness to it and heartache as well.  Character development is King’s greatest strength and I thank him for it.  The carnival has always been a fascination with me.  It is mysterious and creepy and even though I’m a rube, I just love the atmosphere of it.

joy

30. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Horror, Science Fiction, Teen Books, Thriller/Suspense

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad, 355 pages, read by Courtney, on 07/07/2013

In the not-too-distant future, plans are being made to bring mankind back to the moon. It’s been decades since the first astronauts set foot on the lunar surface and NASA has now decided to send a new crew up. The twist this time is that they’ve decided to send three teenagers (for the ratings, ostensibly). A giant, world-wide lottery is held and three are chosen: Midori (a trendy Harajuku girl who longs to see the world), Antoine (the broken-hearted Parisian who wants to get as far away from his ex as possibly), and Mia (a musican from Norway who honestly has no desire to go to the moon, but is signed up by her parents and goes anyway). After their training, they’re off to be the first inhabitants on DARLAH-2, a space station that was built in the ’70’s but the existence of which has only just been made known to the public. Things go smoothly until the teens and their accompanying astronauts arrive at the station. First, the power goes out. Then people start dying.
I picked this up, thinking it was going to be a sci-fi book but was surprised to discover that this book is far more horror than sci-fi. The setting, however, did add to the claustrophobic feel- earth is days away, which means no rescue and nowhere to run. There’s a pervasive feeling of dread throughout in spite of the excitement that surrounds the fanfare put forth by NASA (the narrative is interspersed with advertisements promoting the lottery, as well as photos and diagrams from the mission itself).
I wound up using this book as one of my high school book group’s selections, with great success. There was plenty to discuss and all agreed that the book was definitely creepy. One girl claimed to have screamed. I, personally, had a few issues with the premise itself (i.e. who would ever think it’s a good idea to send minors into space?). I was also very unclear as to the nature of the menace facing the kids and crew. This was likely intentional, but still a bit frustrating. Overall, an unusual reading experience. Gotta love YA lit for its genre-blending tendencies.

27. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Helen, Horror, Mystery

Joyland by Stephen King, 283 pages, read by Helen, on 06/05/2013

Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

26. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Tammy · Tags: ,

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, 342 pages, read by Tammy, on 06/24/2013

Moving and thought-provoking. Definitely not two words I thought I’d ever use to describe a zombie novel.

world war zIt didn’t dwell on the gore of a zombie attack and killing zombies though some of that action is described. Instead it is a collection of first person accounts from doctors to soldiers to individual citizens and political leaders in a variety of countries and cultures. It clearly brings home the emotional, social and economic damage caused by world-wide plague conditions or even an individual country laid low by a plague outbreak. It deftly combines the two (war and plague) never completely forgetting that the enemy were once other human beings often neighbors and friends or family who did not choose to become the enemy but for your survival and the survival of the human race and the human spirit — they all have to die.

26. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Elizabeth, Horror

London Falling by Paul Cornell, 402 pages, read by Elizabeth, on 06/16/2013

London Falling

I was excited when I picked up a copy of Paul Cornell’s London Falling. The book has been widely described as urban fantasy, a genre that I really enjoy. I knew of Cornell from his work on the television program Doctor Who. I immensely enjoyed London Falling, but I do not consider it to be a wholly urban fantasy novel.

London Falling tells the story of a group of police officers who have worked to find enough evidence against a local gang leader to put him behind bars. When the suspect is gruesomely killed in a locked room, the police are baffled. Their investigation leads them to discover another London, one filled with magic, witchcraft and evil.

While I understand why the novel is being described as urban fantasy, I disagree with that assessment. Perhaps it has some elements of the genre, but I would describe London Falling as a police procedural supernatural horror with a very British sense of humor. The result is a horrifyingly exciting story that I would recommend to fans of supernatural horror, police procedurals and English football (soccer) humor.

 

 

04. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror · Tags:

Fall of Night by Rachel Caine, 352 pages, read by Brian, on 06/04/2013

Fall of Night is the fourteenth book in the Morganville Vampire series.  This is the first book that takes place out of Morganville.  Why? Morganville is ruled by vampires and no one leaves Morganville without permission from the vamps.  Claire the main character of the story is has permission to leave and attend college at MIT.  Claire will be working with a professor and former resident of Morganville to a machine that can slow down a vampires attack.  Most of the main characters are back for a thrill ride that doesn’t stop until the last page.

caine

03. June 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Food, Horror · Tags:

Apocaylpse Cow by Michael Logan, 352 pages, read by Brian, on 06/01/2013

Do you want to stop eating meat?  Read Apocalypse Cow and your meat eating days will be in the past.  The setting starts out at a slaughter house outside of Great Britain.  A cow dies and then comes back to life to attack the owner of the establishment.  Without warning all the cows start attacking the humans.  A special group of men are sent  to take care of the problem.  The only issue, a cow gets away starting and an epidemic of animals turning into zombies begins.  This book could have been called, “Revenge of the Animals”, as the human population [Great Britain area] starts to head towards extinction.

cow