Author: Guillermo del Toro

Rapid Fire Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return

Posted November 12, 2020 by Bonnie in 2020, Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews / 1 Comment

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Shadows by Alex North
Published by Celadon Books on July 7, 2020
Pages: 336
GenresHorror
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Source: Netgalley
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Thoughts: North’s evocative writing turns this coming of age story into quite the haunting tale. The Shadows tells the tale of a group of boys who begin using lucid dreaming as a temporary way out of their every day lives, but when one of the boys thinks he’s uncovered the secret to making this dream world something much more permanent, things turn very dark. The story uses my favorite dual narrative, alternating between past and present and shooting forward in time by thirty-five years where one of the boys has moved back to the small town only to find that the things he thought he escaped still linger. As the story progresses, things feel a bit frayed with new characters showing up much too fashionably late and a twist at the end that may impress some but felt ill-fitting with where the story was going.

Verdict: Tagged as horror, I feel this definitely fits more in the realm of “psychological thriller”. I skipped out on North’s debut and while this wasn’t perfect I very much loved his writing style and will definitely be picking up The Whisper Man.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

GIF oooh scary spooky - animated GIF on GIFER - by Anatus

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews | The Shadows, The Hollow Ones, The Return, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Hollow Ones by Guillermo del ToroChuck Hogan
SeriesBlackwood Tapes #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on August 4, 2020
Pages: 336
GenresHorror
FormateARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: The StrainThe Night EternalTrollhunters

Thoughts: I will forever be a fan of Guillermo del Toro. He’s created some of the most fascinating yet horrific worlds but I don’t think I can ever get past how every single one of his books seems to be written in the hopes of them someday being turned into a film. The summary of this gave me the idea it could be like an old X-Files episode: a young FBI agent investigating a terrible crime turns to a man of the occult after being unable to rationalize the supernatural aspects of the case. No, we’re not talking aliens, but the supernatural aspect actually reminded me far too much of another book which I had only recently read. I’m not sure the close comparisons were what ultimately left me unimpressed or if it was the considerable amounts of gratuitous violence and the fact that I didn’t realize this wasn’t a standalone novel until the final page.

Verdict: I just realized that every single Guillermo del Toro book I’ve read has been him paired up with someone else. Makes me want to give Hogan’s individually written books a shot. In regards to The Hollow Ones, while I can see where the authors plan to take this series, I’m not sure the first installment left me feeling invested enough to continue.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

Meh GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

three-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Return by Rachel Harrison
Published by Berkley on March 24, 2020
Pages: 304
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Thoughts: Oh, how I wanted to love this. The Return doesn’t start off creepy, just mysterious, and it builds the characterization of each and every character slowly. Possibly a little too slowly. The girls in this story are written so immaturely I kept having to remind myself of their non-high school ages. The horror elements finally start making themselves known in the final 50 pages of the story and to Harrison’s credit, she transforms the memory loss plot into something wholly unexpected and original. The concept as a whole wasn’t fully fleshed out and the supernatural elements were laid on extra-thick but it was still definitely unique.

Verdict: I liked it, but I didn’t. The supernatural aspects and the answer to the whole mystery was just a bit too odd-ball to wrap my head around. Harrison is going to stay on my radar, however, because this didn’t have the feel of a debut and definitely showcased her storytelling abilities.

In a nutshell, GIF style:

The Office - MIchael Scott -I Don't Know What The Fuck That Was on Make a GIF

two-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Posted March 11, 2020 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck HoganThe Hollow Ones by Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan
Published by Grand Central Publishing on June 23, 2020
Pages: 336
Genres: Horror, Supernatural
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: The Strain, The Night Eternal, Trollhunters, The Hollow Ones

A horrific crime that defies ordinary explanation.
A rookie FBI agent in dangerous, uncharted territory.
An extraordinary hero for the ages.

Odessa Hardwicke's life is derailed when she's forced to turn her gun on her partner, Walt Leppo, a decorated FBI agent who turns suddenly, inexplicably violent while apprehending a rampaging murderer. The shooting, justified by self-defense, shakes the young FBI agent to her core. Devastated, Odessa is placed on desk leave pending a full investigation. But what most troubles Odessa isn't the tragedy itself-it's the shadowy presence she thought she saw fleeing the deceased agent's body after his death.

Questioning her future with the FBI and her sanity, Hardwicke accepts a low-level assignment to clear out the belongings of a retired agent in the New York office. What she finds there will put her on the trail of a mysterious figure named John Blackwood, a man of enormous means who claims to have been alive for centuries, and who is either an unhinged lunatic, or humanity's best and only defense against unspeakable evil.

From the authors who brought you The Strain Trilogy comes a strange, terrifying, and darkly wondrous world of suspense, mystery, and literary horror. THE HOLLOW ONES is a chilling, spell-binding tale, a hauntingly original new fable from Academy Award-winning director Guillermo del Toro and bestselling author Chuck Hogan featuring their most fascinating character yet.

About Chuck Hogan

Chuck Hogan is an American author. His story "Two Thousand Volts" appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories 2009. He is the co-author of The Strain Trilogy with Guillermo del Toro. His 2004 novel Prince of Thieves was adapted to film as the Ben Affleck directed The Town in 2010.

About Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican director mostly known for his acclaimed films Pan's LabyrinthThe Devils BackboneCrimson Peak and the Hellboy film franchise. His films draw heavily on sources as diverse as weird fiction, fantasy, horror, and war. In 2009, Del Toro released his debut novel, The Strain, co-authored with Chuck Hogan, as the first part of The Strain Trilogy, an apocalyptic horror series featuring vampires. The series continued with The Fall in 2010 and concluded with The Night Eternal in 2011.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Early Review – Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus

Posted July 3, 2015 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2015, YA / 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Trollhunters (Trollhunters #1) by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel KrausTrollhunters by Daniel Kraus, Guillermo del Toro
Illustrator: Sean Murray
Series: Trollhunters #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on July 7th 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Strain, The Night Eternal, The Hollow Ones

three-stars

"You are food. Those muscles you flex to walk, lift, and talk? They're patties of meat topped with chewy tendon. That skin you've paid so much attention to in mirrors? It's delicious to the right tongues, a casserole of succulent tissue. And those bones that give you the strength to make your way in the world? They rattle between teeth as the marrow is sucked down slobbering throats. These facts are unpleasant but useful. There are things out there, you see, that don't cower in holes to be captured by us and cooked over our fires. These things have their own ways of trapping their kills, their own fires, their own appetites."

Jim Sturges is your typical teen in suburban San Bernardino—one with an embarrassingly overprotective dad, a best friend named "Tubby" who shares his hatred of all things torturous (like gym class), and a crush on a girl who doesn't know he exists. But everything changes for Jim when a 45-year old mystery resurfaces, threatening the lives of everyone in his seemingly sleepy town. Soon Jim has to team up with a band of unlikely (and some un-human) heroes to battle the monsters he never knew existed.

From the minds of Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus comes a new illustrated novel about the fears that move in unseen places.


“It’s a terrible thing, isn’t it? To be dragged under?”

In San Bernadino in the late 1960s, almost 200 hundred children went missing in what became known as The Milk Carton Epidemic. Children weren’t allowed on the streets past sunset, but on the day of Jack Sturges birthday, he and his little brother Jim were having too much fun on their bicycles to notice the sun was slowly making its exit. When Jack raced ahead towards the Holland Transit Bridge, Jim quickly lost sight of him. From the shadow of the bridge came a sight so terrifying that Jim could only run away in fear. Black fur, horns, claws, and massive teeth chased him home that day and while he managed to survive, he never saw his older brother Jack again.

Years later, Jim’s son, Jim Sturges Jr. is fifteen years old and lives alone with his paranoid father. Ever since he lost his older brother, his father has been terrified of the dark. Steel shutters cover their windows, ten locks secure their front door, and the flood lights and security cameras pick up anything that lurks outside. Jim never quite understands his father’s paranoia, that is until the day that he’s dragged through a hole beneath his bed and sees his first troll. And his lost Uncle Jack who is somehow just as young as he was the day he went missing. He’s told that the Sturges family belongs to a line of trollhunters, that the battle between humans and trolls has been going on for ages, and that he’s the next in line to step up to the task. Jim’s life is never quite the same again.

“This is the only thing I’m good at. There are times when you have to do the right thing, no matter how scary. […] If I don’t fight now, right now, when am I supposed to fight?”

Trollhunters will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, The Blackwell PagesThe Kane Chronicles, and the multitude of series’ that center around kids/teenagers burdened with the task of saving the world. Trollhunters is tagged as YA but the goofiness that is typically present in Middle-Grade fiction is flying high in this one. But there are also several instances of profanity (asshole and bastard are two I remember off the top of my head) so it’s clear this author-duo was possibly trying to entice an audience of various ages. I’m just not sure the way they went about it is necessarily a recipe for success. The fact that it’s marketed as horror doesn’t necessarily help either, especially since it’s really not. Children stolen from their beds at night (by monsters nonetheless) should be straight nightmare fuel but it never quite reached the level of terror I would have expected since the intensity was constantly lessened by the presence of goofy humor.

I’m a huge fan of del Toro, so this became an immediate addition to my TBR, but what most intrigued me about this one is the difference in the fantasy focus: trolls. I’ve read plenty of vampire, werewolf, and faerie stories but a troll story? Can’t recall a single one. But these aren’t the trolls of my generation either.

Oh, no. These trolls are nasty, ugly things that like to snack on humans like they were tasty kernels of popcorn. While the horror was somewhat lacking (except for that bit about the troll fetus that takes up residence inside humans for the night? oh. my. god. Wire my mouth shut, I’ll just breathe through my nose, thank you very much), the gruesomeness is actually pretty intense. For a glimpse of what these disgusting trolls actually look like, check out some of the artwork by Sean A. Murray. One thing I have to note about the artwork, and due to the fact that I read an ARC I can’t be certain this is necessarily the case in the finished copy, but the artwork never coincided with what was occurring in the story. A certain scenes artwork would be shown 20 pages later which kind of threw you off from the scene that was currently happening.

Naturally, this is a start to a new series since various questions were left unanswered. I hope that some thought is put into future installments because at this point I can’t see how they can be anything but repetitive. Trolls try to take over, battles happen, people die, good wins. The story often dragged at times and lacked any twists that would have helped keep me (or any reader) engaged. Less goofiness, more horror, and much more excitement are all I’d like to ask for in the next installment. Still worth the read, but not nearly as thrilling as I had hoped for from an author duo like this.

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Book Review – The Night Eternal (The Strain Trilogy #3) by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Posted October 31, 2011 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 / 1 Comment

Book Review – The Night Eternal (The Strain Trilogy #3) by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck HoganThe Night Eternal by Chuck Hogan, Guillermo del Toro
Series: The Strain Trilogy #3
Published by HarperCollins on October 25, 2011
Pages: 560
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Horror, Paranormal, Thriller
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Strain, The Hollow Ones, Trollhunters

four-stars

It's been two years since the vampiric virus was unleashed in The Strain and the entire world now lies on the brink of annihilation. There has been a mass extermination of humans orchestrated by the Master—an ancient vampire possessed of unparalleled powers. The future of humankind lies in the hands of a ragtag band of freedom fighters—Dr. Eph Goodweather, Dr. Nora Martinez, Vasiliy Fet, and Mr. Quinlan, the half-breed offspring of the Master who is bent on revenge. It's their job to overturn this devastating new world order. But good and evil are malleable terms now, and the Master is most skilled at preying on the weaknesses of humans.

Now, at this critical hour, there is evidence of a traitor in their midst. . . And only one man holds the answer to the Master's demise, but is he one who can be trusted with the fate of the world? And who among them will pay the ultimate sacrifice—so that others may be saved?

Night Eternal: the final installation in the Strain Trilogy. As the title may tell you, you’re in for a very dark and desolate journey. I will keep this short and sweet as much of this novel needs to be experienced firsthand, instead of through a review.

The Storyline
As the story opens, Dr. Ephraim (Eph) Goodweather is still reeling from the loss of his son, Zachary. Due to the vampire nature, his mother Kelly came back for him after she had already been turned.
”The insidious epidemiology of the virus spread in a vampiric perversion of human love.”
Norah and Fet are slowly developing a relationship between each other as Eph has been continually absent from Norah’s life.

The world they live in now is an extremely bleak one. The vampires control everything and you don’t get fed unless you work for them or reside in a blood farm.

“The farms were the only entirely different thing in this new world. That and the fact that there was no more educational system. No more schooling, no more reading, no more thinking.”

The blood farms were exactly as they sound: humans were rounded up as they were in concentration camps and they are drained of blood. Only the young and healthy were kept; the older humans simply weren’t kept around.

‘The darkly quiet exterior of the camp spoke to an oppressive efficiency that was almost as shocking.’

The Vampires
I had been anxiously awaiting how the authors decided to handle the creation aspect. I’ll keep this as a spoiler as some readers may be pleasantly surprised and I would hate to ruin this for them. View Spoiler »

The Writing
I had complained early on in the trilogy that the books read like a screenplay and that they would do fabulous as a movie, but left a little to be desired as a novel. The writing in the third, despite the bleakness, was completely enthralling and was worth suffering through the darkness. And dark it was; there was not one single of iota of happiness until maybe the very end and even that can is up for debate.

Final Thoughts
I’m quite pleased at how the trilogy was wrapped up. Ending a series well always seems like such a struggle in trying to wrap up all the storylines and loose ends but I think the authors pulled it off sufficiently. I’m not sure that it’s exactly what I had anticipated, not sure what I would have changed if I could, but you’re still left with a feeling of completion. All in all this is one of the best vampire series I have read; definitely one of my favorites.

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Book Review – The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan

Posted October 30, 2011 by Bonnie in Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 / 1 Comment

Book Review – The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck HoganThe Strain by Chuck Hogan, Guillermo del Toro
Series: The Strain Trilogy #1
Published by HarperCollins on May 28, 2009
Pages: 612
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Sci-fi, Thriller
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Night Eternal, The Hollow Ones, Trollhunters

three-half-stars

An epic battle for survival begins between man and vampire in The Strain—the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy from one of Hollywood’s most inventive storytellers and a critically acclaimed thriller writer. Guillermo del Toro, the genius director of the Academy Award-winning Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, and Hammett Award-winning author Chuck Hogan have joined forces to boldly reinvent the vampire novel. Brilliant, blood-chilling, and unputdownable, The Strain is a nightmare of the first order.

The Strain is a new series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. This book had a really great concept and it was quite original. The summary itself spooked me…

‘A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.’

…and it certainly didn’t stop there. This is not your average romanced vampire novel. This was a very exciting, fast paced, nail biter, edge of your seat kinda book. Not a recommendation before bedtime.

My one main issue that dropped this novel from 4/5 stars down to 3 was the writing style… it read to me more like a screenplay where nothing was really explained, like it would be better left to an actor acting out a script. I had a hard time connecting with the characters for this reason. This was overall a highly enjoyable novel regardless of my 3 star rating and I will definitely be continuing this series in the future.

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