06. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Eric, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red by Ridley Pearson, read by Eric, on 03/03/2013

Rose Red is a massive mansion in Seattle, the construction and haunting of which is described in the pages of the diary of Ellen, the young wife of an early 1900s oil baron, John Rimbauer. The site of several disappearances and murders, Rose Red becomes a living entity to Ellen, both welcome and terrifying. The fate of Ellen and her family mirrors the fate of the mansion.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer is fiction disguised as a diary, presented as paranormal evidence by a fictitious doctor, Joyce Reardon. Adding to the confusion is the real-world misconception that this novel was written by Steven King. Actually written by Ridley Pearson, this book was created to promote Stephen King’s Rose Red miniseries, which aired two years later. I didn’t find it particularly frightening, or believable as a diary, for that matter. A fair portion of the first half concerns world travel and the start of Ellen’s rocky marriage. Once back at Rose Red, however, the story starts a slow, unsettling burn toward a final confrontation, which is more compelling. This is a better than average tie-in novel, recommended for readers in search of creep rather than gore.

Crossovers-2 coverThe two volumes of “Crossovers” are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with each other and real people throughout history.  The premise of the book was inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s:  a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England, in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by.  Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (Tarzan), and many more.  Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he explored the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters.  Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by Win Scott Eckert and others to become the “Crossover Universe.”  Mr. Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe. Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future.  (Mr. Spock himself claimed Sherlock Holmes as an ancestor of his!)  There are 2000 entries in this chronology and 300 illustrations. Reading these two books is fun and will send you scurrying to find many of the stories and books that are referenced.

 

27. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Horror, Literary Fiction, Teen Books

Darkwater by Catherine Fisher, read by Courtney, on 02/18/2013

Here we have a story where two parts become one. In the first half of the book, we meet Sarah Trevelyan, descendent of the once-proud and wealthy Trevelyans. She has been reduced to assisting in a local school house to make ends meet for her and her ailing father. All the while, the spectre of her family’s former glory, Darkwater Hall, looms over her. Sarah would give just about anything to get her family’s honor back. One day, she meets the new lord of Darkwater Hall, Lord Azrael, who offers her a job assisting him with his alchemy. She eventually strikes a bargain with him that will restore her estate to her family, but only with the caveat that Azrael will return for her soul in a hundred years.
In the second half of the book, we meet a teenager named Tom. Tom lives in our time, but in the same location as Sarah. Darkwater Hall has become a prestigious school that Tom would love to go to, if he only had the intelligence and talent. Tom’s self-esteem gets bolstered when he meets Darkwater’s newest professor, Dr. Azrael, who just happens to want Tom as his assistant. It’s only a matter of time before Tom is faced with a bargain of his own.
I love stories that intertwine like this and Catherine Fisher is a great writer. There are certainly echoes of her other work here. Her characters are great as well. Sarah is believable, if not always likeable. Tom is hard on himself and unnecessarily so, just as many other teens are. I love that these two characters actually meet and relate to one another in spite of their vastly different origins. The Faustus-like theme is obvious, but it’s a delightful take on it.

20. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Classics, Fiction, Horror · Tags:

Alice in Zombieland by Nickolas Cook, Lewis Carroll, read by Angie, on 02/19/2013

Alice meets zombies in this fun mashup. This book follows the Alice in Wonderland story pretty well it just adds zombies to the mix. In fact, Alice herself becomes a zombie after falling down the rat hole and starts craving meat. While the book isn’t stellar it is a fun read. I really enjoyed how the author integrated zombies into every little bit of the Alice story.

15. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Teen Books

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough, read by Courtney, on 02/01/2013

When Mimi and Cora’s mother fails to return, their traveling salesman of a father sends his daughters off to live in the English countryside with their mother’s Aunt Ida. Mimi and Cora are met considerable resistance from Aunt Ida, who has no intention of keeping the girls with her in her ancient, run-down manor. The girls have no idea that Ida might have extremely good reasons for not wanting them there, but they try to abide by all of Ida’s rules (which include never opening windows and staying far, far away from the crumbling several-hundred-year-old church down the road). Cora can’t stand living there and young Mimi isn’t much happier. Things brighten up a bit when the sisters meet Roger and Pete, a pair of brothers that live in the old town of Bryers Guerdon. Finally, there are children their age to play with. Unfortunately, since boys will be boys, the very first place the children go to play is the forbidden church. One visit is enough to make Cora and Mimi uneasy, even if they aren’t sure why. After a couple more visits, the kids all see things that don’t add up until they begin to learn the story of Long Lankin. Is the legend of Long Lankin real? The villagers won’t talk about it, but they won’t let their children near the church either. What is the connection between Lankin and the church? What does Ida know that she isn’t telling her wards? Secrets are revealed as the story reaches its chilling apex. This is not gory horror, but atmospheric and psychological. Readers won’t be able to get this one out of their heads easily.

14. February 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Eric, Fiction, Horror · Tags: ,

Devil's Wake by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, read by Eric, on 02/14/2013

The sheer bulk of zombies and similar human horrors in films, books, and television makes it increasingly difficult to bring something new to the genre. In Devil’s Wake, the husband-wife writing team of Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due don’t attempt to do so. In their scenario, the undead are of the infected variety, which pass the infection on through bites.  A ragtag group of young adults must avoid being bitten as they travel from the state of Washington to Devil’s Wake, a reportedly “freak free” island off the coast of Southern California.

For the most part, the characters’ back stories are given perfunctory glances. A majority of them are delinquent teens from a work camp. At times, their dialog seems out of place for their age, and the cultural references too dated. This, combined with the familiarity of the plot, failed to spark my interest much until they were on the road, and interacting with other survivors. Unfortunately, the novel abruptly ends after this point, not because it’s a natural break in the story, but so there can be a series of books. I’m not sure I’ll go along for the ride.

Crossovers-1 cover

The two volumes of this book are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with real people throughout history.  The premise of this book is inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s:  a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by.  Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (aka Tarzan), and many more.  Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he detailed the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters.  Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by others into the Crossover Universe.  Win Scott Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe.  Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future.  Reading these two books is a fun and highly addictive experience!

 

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

Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine, read by Brian, on 02/01/2013

Rachel Caine has released her 13th book in Morganville Vampire series.  I found every book to be entertaining and suspenseful. Morganville is a small dusty Texas town where humans and vampires coexist, sort of, in a bare minimum way.  In this chapter of the series the town is recovering from the draug, a parasitic enemy of the vampires and humans alike.  Now the draug is gone the vampires feel free to rule the town.  Humans feel they need to take up arms and free themselves from vampire rule.  To add to the mayhem, a television crew come to town to film a ghost hunter show.

With many book series, the longer it goes, the worst it gets and you hope the author will put an end to it.  Rachel Caine has written a series in which you finish a book and can hardly wait until the next one.

bitter

20. November 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags: ,

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, read by Tammy, on 11/10/2012

The sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood with all the heart-thumping suspense and clever quips you would expect from main character Cas and his friends. The ghost girl, Anna saved ghost-hunter Cas and his friends in the first book by dragging the voodoo monster, Obeahman, down into Hell. But now she’s reappearing in Cas’ dreams and in his room and her voice is coming from other ghosts. Cas realizes she is being tortured and he’s determined to rescue her despite all advice to the contrary. This sequel takes Cas and his friends to Britain and explains the creation of the athame and Cas’ connection to it.

05. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Horror

Locke and Key: Clockworks (Vol. 5) by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, read by Courtney, on 08/15/2012

Oh, I do so love a good back story.  This volume delivers in spades. Bode is still occupied by Dodge, but his siblings are starting to come around.  A key is discovered that allows its holders to view events in the past.  Tyler and Kinsey go back to view the events that transpired when their father was a teen in Keyhouse.  It turns out to reveal some of the true evil concealed by the house as well as the origins of Dodge’s sinister streak.  Three different time periods covered in one volume and so many questions answered.  Good reading.

25. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Horror, Teen Books · Tags:

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, read by Courtney, on 07/13/2012

Yes, a thousand times yes! This might be my new favorite zombie novel. Sloane’s life is miserable. And that’s before the zombies kill nearly everyone. Sloane had been planning on killing herself the day that the undead broke through the door of her house. Yes, she’s depressed. But that’s not even the half of it. Her mother died when Sloane was young. Her father was severely abusive. Her sister, Lily, ran away six months ago, in spite of promising to take Sloane with her. Now, petrified of her father and reeling from her sister’s betrayal, Sloane is faced with the zombie apocalypse. She winds up back at her high school with a handful of others who have managed to survive. There is distrust and in-fighting immediately and personalities continually clash. All Sloane wants to do is die. Nightmares of her father wake her up more at night than the fear of the undead.
What does one do when the world appears to be coming to an end? When you didn’t want to live in the first place? This is such a fascinating twist on the classic zombie novel. Summers, who has already proved herself an exceptional YA writer, once again shows her skills in giving voice to an all-too-common issue (the depression, not the zombies), giving this novel an added emotional charge.

28. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Apocalyptic, Graphic Novel, Horror

100 Months by John Hicklenton, read by Andrea, on 06/27/2012

This book was very dark. If the sun hadn’t still been shining when I read it I may have had nightmares and/or been severely depressed. Suffering from MS, the author, John Hicklenton, committed assisted suicide the day after finishing this graphic novel. I was not surprised to learn that fact after reading and looking at the very disturbing and graphic illustrations. The entire story is about death and suffering. Mara, an earth goddess, is sent by her father (a scary looking creature who is presumably Satan) to slay the swine God Longpig (presumably all the negative aspects of humanity). It centers on her journey to find the Longpig. Mara claims the purpose of her task is to ultimately avenge her friend’s death (Jesus?).  Along the way, anyone she finds she punishes. She pretty much unleashes her wrath on all of humanity. The accompanying pictures are graphic but the composition and the usage of colors is quite breathtaking (if you can look past the death and destruction the illustrations represent).

I randomly came across this book while looking for another and am kind of glad I decided to read it. Considering this was Mr. Hicklenton’s final statement to the world, I almost wonder if he was trying to give people a glimpse of what he thought the world is coming to and what will happen if we don’t change. It was almost as if he believes in the whole idea of self-destruction is imminent if humanity refuses to change kind of view. Creepy but interesting book.

18. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Andrea, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller/Suspense

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings, #1) by Robert Liparulo, read by Andrea, on 06/15/2012

The first book of the Dreamhouse Kings series, House of Dark Shadows was one of those creepy books that makes one a little bit jumpy – especially while reading at night or while no one else is around. The characters and the creepy situations they are made to face throughout the book reminded me of the Goosebumps thriller series from the 90’s, but only for a more mature reader. The series centers on the King family who moves into a house that seems to have portals that lead to different time periods and places throughout the world. Unfortunately for them the portals seem to have let someone in who seems to be quite a threat to the family considering he has taken Mrs. King with him into another portal. Seems exciting and will continue to read the next book in the series to see what happens to the King family next.

07. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror

Black Dawn by Rachel Caine, read by Brian, on 06/07/2012

Rachel Caine’s, Black Dawn, is twelfth book in the Morganville Vampire series and unlike some series with many books to it’s name, Morganville keeps getting better. In the last installment of the series, Last Breath, both the humans and vampires are being threatened by a new enemy, the Draug.  The draug are the one thing vampires scurry away from as they drain the life out of their victims.  Black Dawn is the continuation of the fight to save Morganville.  The vampires can not defeat the draug and must rely on the human citizens to save them.  Of course, there are the constant struggles between humans vs vampires, vampires vs vampires and humans vs humans.  If you haven’t tried this series, I would recommend it.

05. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Short Stories

Zombies Vs. Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier, Holly Black, read by Angie, on 06/03/2012

It is an age old question.

Zombies or Unicorns?

Are you on team Zombie or team Unicorn?

I assumed going into this collection I would definitely fall into the team Zombie category. I love zombie stories and movies and unicorns have always just seemed to girlie to me. And I have to admit that I am still on team Zombie, but the unicorns might have turned my head just a little bit.

This is a pretty solid collection of stories from some of the best teen authors of today. I love the back and forth banter of our team captains before each story. Yes, it could seem annoying to some but I thought it brought a lightness and a sense of fun and illustrated the challenge of the book. Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black were clearly having fun with this book and we should too.

As for the stories…some were better than others. Some were great short stories, some were not that great and a few I wish were the start of an actual book. So bring on the zombie apocalypse or the invasion of the unicorns. I am ready!

04. June 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Science Fiction

Alien vs Predator: Three World War by Randy Stradley, read by Brian, on 06/02/2012

The graphic novel, Aliens vs Predator: Three World War, combines three of the deadliest creatures alive: Man, Predator & Aliens fighting for survival. Using Aliens like hunting dogs  a Predator clan  wants to wipe out another Predator clan and anything else in their way.  Man, by the way of a woman who use to fight with one of the Predator clans must unite together to destroy Predator/Alien clan or perish.  This graphic novel is colorful and full of action.  Anyone is a fan of either the Predator or Aliens will enjoy this piece of work.

 

12. May 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Horror, Teen Books

Morning Glories by Nick Spencer, read by Courtney, on 05/11/2012

6 kids have been selected to become students at the prestigious Morning Glory Prep School. It’s a boarding school that claims to prepare its students for a “better future”, but one of the students notices that something is awry almost immediately when she realizes that not only do all 6 of the newcomers have the same birthday, they also cannot reach their parents or anyone from home. These kids have no idea why they’ve been selected, other than for their sheer over-achievement and no idea what the school is trying to accomplish. What they do figure out, quite quickly, I might add, is that the school has a deeply sinister side with motivations yet to be seen. As the arc progresses, we find out more about each student and their troubled pasts.
I’m still not sure how everything fits together yet, but this is a pretty exciting beginning to a story that will undoubtedly have much more to offer

23. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Horror, Mystery

Outbreak by Robin Cook, read by Angie, on 03/22/2012

There are outbreaks of Ebola all over the country. The CDC sends Dr. Blumenthal to take care of it. Of course she doesn’t get the support she needs from the upper echelon of the CDC because her superior wants to sleep with her. All the outbreaks seem to be connected. All the patient zeros attended the same conference and they were all mugged. No one will listen to Dr. Blumenthal. Then she goes rogue and she is hunted across the country by this shadowy medical group behind the outbreak.

The book was a bit lame with bits of excitement in between. It wasn’t horrible though. I have definitely read worse books. I found it hard to believe that the doctors at the CDC would be so petty that they would sexually harass and let personal feelings and grudges interfere with Ebola outbreaks around the country. I will suspend believe about the medical group behind the outbreaks. But I had a huge issue with the turnaround at the end. It was like Cook just gave up writing and decided he needed to finish the book and needed a happy ever after. Poorly done. Subject was interesting just poorly executed.

I read the ebook version of this book available through Overdrive.

21. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Horror, Teen Books

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake, read by Angie, on 03/19/2012

First, thank you to the wonderful people at Tor who gave me this ARC. I love you! I love this series and I devoured this book. And no they did not pay me to say this.

Girl of Nightmares picks up six months after Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas has stayed in Thunder Bay to finish high school. He is still hanging out with Thomas and Carmel and dispatching the occasional ghost. And he is haunted by visions of Anna. He doesn’t think she has moved on and in fact he finds out she is trapped in Hell. He is pissed and wants to rescue her. Does he get support for this? Nope. Gideon, Mom, Morphan all want him to back off and leave it alone. Pretty much Thomas is the only one on his side. Of course this isn’t going to stop Cas…he loves Anna and isn’t going to leave her trapped in Hell, plus she is kind of haunting him.

As far as I am concerned Anna Dressed in Blood was awesome. Girl of Nightmare may not be as good but it is a great follow up. We learn all kinds of interesting things about the athame and Gideon and secret societies that could take this series in new directions or it could just end it. I love Cas; I think he is an awesome character and I love the relationships he has with the other characters in this book. I like that the story progresses and that there seems to be a purpose behind all the revelations. Thomas and Carmel grow in this book as well. I think Thomas has the potential to be a true badass! I can’t wait for more people to read this one, which is why I have shared my ARC with all my friends!

The library doesn’t have this book yet since it won’t come out until August 2012, but we will buy it then. Until then read Anna Dressed in Blood and eagerly anticipate.

20. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Brian, Drama, Fiction, Horror

The Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn , read by Brian, on 03/09/2012

I love the television show, The Walking Dead on AMC, so it stands to reason I would want to read the graphic novels too.  This compendium covers the first eight novels into one economical book.  This means you can sit in your chair, grab a beverage, read all night long then call in sick for work.   The story follows Rick Grimes who awakens from a coma alone in a hospital to find the world ruled by the undead.  Rick finds his family with a group of people and they embark on a journey for survival and trying to find a way to have as normal as a life possible in this hideous world.  Even though the story involves zombies it is more human interaction and how people relate to one another in desperate times.  I enjoyed it very much.