Genre: Horror

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of Winter

February 22, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2018 7 Comments

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 Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterThe Dry by Jane Harper
Series: Aaron Falk #1
Published by Flatiron Books on January 10th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Mystery
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Short Summary: Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his small hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend who is accused of murdering his family and then committing suicide, but this small town is full of terrible secrets and shocking surprises.

Thoughts: This mystery is one of the most impressive debuts that I’ve read in a very long time, intertwining a past vs. present story, a captivating writing style, and a tangled mystery that was most thrilling when all is revealed.

Verdict: Whether or not this needed to be the start of a series, Jane Harper impressed me so much I’ll be reading anything and everything she writes.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterStrange Weather by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on October 24th 2017
Pages: 432
Genres: HorrorFantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing
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Also by this author: NOS4A2Twittering from the Circus of the DeadThe Fireman: A Novel

Short Summary: A camera that slowly eats your soul with each picture, a mall security guard is believed to have prevented a mass shooting, a man on his first skydiving adventure lands on a seemingly sentient cloud, and a sudden apocalyptic event in Boulder, Colorado causes the clouds to rain deadly nails.

Thoughts: Strange Weather is an indelible collection of four short stories about vastly different topics that relate in some way to weather but all leave you with that unsettled feeling that Hill is oh so good at.

Verdict: While this was an impressive collection, it wasn’t consistent and I hoped for a little more from certain tales; however, it is apparent that Hill is just as talented in short story form as he is in novels.

four-stars

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

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterWitch Creek by Laura Bickle
Series: Wildlands #4
Published by Harper Voyager on February 27th 2018
Pages: 384
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Dark AlchemyNine of Stars

Short Summary: Petra Dee won’t let a little thing like cancer stop her from finding her husband who she fears is lost to the darkness that lies under her town, but the Tree of Life is growing strong again and the power behind it won’t be stopped.

Thoughts: Petra’s perseverance to find her husband was admirable, but quitting chemo halfway through to go in search of him was fairly asinine and this installment, the weakest so far, could and should have been more about her search for Gabriel.

Verdict: I love this magical series and despite this weak installment, the cliffhanger means there are more installments to come and I’m still definitely on board for more Petra (and 100% more of her coyote side-kick Sig.)

three-stars

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

Rapid Fire Reviews – The Dry, Strange Weather, Witch Creek, The Wolves of WinterThe Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
Narrator: Jayme Mattler
on January 2nd 2018
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Short Summary: After a nuclear war and a devastating pandemic, Lynn McBride and her family are surviving in the wilds of Canada, but secrets her parents kept hidden are suddenly seeing the light of day and those secrets endanger everyone.

Thoughts: This can easily be compared to all the big names: The Road, The Passage, Ashfall, etc. because despite my continued love for the genre, it’s been done to death; however, Johnson manages to still make this a worthwhile tale (especially with the added help of narrator Jayme Mattler).

Verdict: As a debut author, Johnson’s pick of genre may be overdone but his writing skills shine with possibility for future novels.

three-stars

I received this book free from the Publisher 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 – We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert Cargill

February 7, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 6 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert CargillWe Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert Cargill
Published by Harper Voyager on June 12th 2018
Pages: 448
Genres: Collections & Anthologies, Horror
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Dreams and Shadows, Queen of the Dark Things

From the critically acclaimed author of Sea of Rust and Queen of the Dark Things comes a hair-raising collection of short fiction that illuminates the strange, humorous, fantastical, and downright diabolical that tantalize and terrorize us: demons, monsters, zombie dinosaurs, and Death itself.

In the novella "The Soul Thief’s Son" C. Robert Cargill returns to the terrain of the Queen of the Dark Things to continue the story of Colby Stevens . . .

A Triceratops and an Ankylosaurus join forces to survive a zombie apocalypse that may spell extinction for their kind in "Hell Creek" . . .

In a grand old building atop a crack in the world, an Iraq War veteran must serve a one-year term as a punisher of the damned condemned to consume the sins of others in the hope that one day he may find peace in "In a Clean, White Room" (co-authored with Scott Derrickson) . . .

In "The Town That Wasn’t Anymore," the village of Pine Hill Bluff loses its inhabitants one at a time as the angry dead return when night falls to steal the souls of the living . . .

And in the title story, "We Are Where the Nightmares Go," a little girl crawls through a glowing door beneath her bed and finds herself trapped in a nightmarish wonderland—a crucible of the fragments of children’s bad dreams.

These tales and four more are assembled here as testament to Cargill’s mastery of the phantasmagoric, making We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories a collection of unnerving horror and fantasy will keep you up all night and haunt your waking dreams.

About C. Robert Cargill

C. Robert Cargill likes his coffee black, his hamburgers topped with fried eggs and his restaurants to be of the greasy spoon variety. Most nights, if you can find him, you’ll see him huddled in the booth of a diner, sucking down coffee as fast as the waitress can pour it, arguing with a number of other writers over something silly about which he will fight with great passion. He’s been a waiter, a video store clerk, a travel agent, a camp counselor, an airline reservation agent, a sandwich artist, a day care provider, a voice actor, and most notably, a freelance writer and film critic.

Cargill began his career with Ain’t it Cool News under the pseudonym Massawyrm, writing there for over a decade, subsequently becoming a staff writer for film.com, hollywood.com and co-founding the animated movie review site Spill.com. In the meantime he appeared on countless podcasts, webshows and in the occasional local film. During a fateful drunken night in Vegas, Cargill pitched the idea for the film SINISTER to friend and director Scott Derrickson, resulting in both the film and a screenwriting partnership between the two. When not writing films with Derrickson, Cargill spends his time writing novels and painting miniatures.

Cargill lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and (as he is contractually obligated to tell you) his dog. And really, if you find yourself in Austin, in a diner, in the middle of the night, and someone is talking way too loud, there’s a good chance it’s him.

I’m terrible and still have yet to read Sea of Rust, however, I adored both Dreams and Shadows and Queen of the Dark Things and this collection sounds like all kinds of fun.

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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Outsider by Stephen King

January 31, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 10 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Outsider by Stephen KingThe Outsider by Stephen King
Published by Scribner on May 22nd 2018
Pages: 576
Genres: Mystery, Horror
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

About Stephen King

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world's most successful writers.

Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.

The last two King releases were honestly disappointing to me (Gwendy’s Button Box and Sleeping Beauties) but I still rave about his Bill Hodges Trilogy so I’m not prepared yet to give up.

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Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight Pariah

December 15, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 6 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.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahFinal Girls by Mira Grant
Published by Subterranean Press on April 9th 2017
Pages: 112
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: Feed, Deadline, Countdown: A Newsflesh Novella

three-half-stars

What if you could fix the worst parts of yourself by confronting your worst fears?

Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented proprietary virtual reality technology that purports to heal psychological wounds by running clients through scenarios straight out of horror movies and nightmares. In a carefully controlled environment, with a medical cocktail running through their veins, sisters might develop a bond they’ve been missing their whole lives—while running from the bogeyman through a simulated forest. But…can real change come so easily?

Esther Hoffman doubts it. Esther has spent her entire journalism career debunking pseudoscience, after phony regression therapy ruined her father’s life. She’s determined to unearth the truth about Dr. Webb’s budding company. Dr. Webb’s willing to let her, of course, for reasons of her own. What better advertisement could she get than that of a convinced skeptic? But Esther’s not the only one curious about how this technology works. Enter real-world threats just as frightening as those created in the lab. Dr. Webb and Esther are at odds, but they may also be each other’s only hope of survival.

‘Reality was a hard habit to quit sometimes, especially for someone who knew what lies could cost.’

Esther Hoffman is a journalist seeking the underlying story of Dr. Jennifer Webb who has created a new virtual reality therapy program which uses horror movie style dream sequences in an attempt to change the long-term behavior of its patient. Esther is convinced that Dr. Webb is nothing but a con artist and during their interview, Webb suggests she personally experience the program and Esther agrees, hoping to get the inside scoop. While inside the sequence, Webb decides to join Esther in the zombie apocalypse simulation in an attempt to develop a relationship with her and possibly change her outlook towards her program. The problem is, while the two are locked inside a fabricated horror movie, there’s actual horror developing in the real world.

‘Everything they were before they came here is behind them now, and soon they will be free, soon they will be able to start to heal, soon—’

Grant is no doubt a skillful short story writer, able to develop characters and plot effectively, drawing in readers with her consistently original narratives. Final Girls is a fantastic blend of science fiction and horror with a Nightmare on Elm Street feel to it where dreams quickly become a reality. This novella manages to even touch on more serious topics regarding doctors and treatment and the dangers of such an effective program like this falling into the wrong hands. The creative blend of science fiction and horror in the beginning did, admittedly, morph into something less unique by the end, transitioning instead to a storyline more commonly seen, but Final Girls is still a worthy read if you’re looking for some thrilling psychological horror.

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.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahThe Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
Series: The Hungry Plague #2
Published by Orbit on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 392
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Also by this author: The Girl With All the Gifts, Fellside

three-half-stars

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

In The Boy on the Bridge, M. R. Carey returns to the world of his phenomenal USA Today and word-of-mouth bestseller, The Girl With All the Gifts, for the very first time.

Expectations are a bitch.

The Girl With All the Gifts was one of my all-time favorites of 2014 and I was filled with trepidation when this prequel was announced. Sure, there was a story that could be told but did it need to be told is the real question. The Boy on the Bridge is a prequel story that tells of the original mission of the Rosalind Franklin, the mobile science lab that Melanie essentially hijacks in Girl. Knowing the end result of the mission will lead any reader to understand that there can be no happy ending, only a story to be told. It’s bittersweet to see this new crew of scientists searching the world for a cure to the hungries, still filled with a chance of hope for the few surviving individuals of the world.

“Things don’t end, after all. They only change, and you keep changing with them.”

The Boy on the Bridge wasn’t nearly as compelling as I had hoped or anticipated. The writing was oftentimes overly technical which resulted in a definite detachment from the emotional tale at its center and it seemed as if Carey was writing it as something that had already passed rather than something happening presently.  I often found myself wondering if my overall opinion would have been different if this had been released prior to Girl. If I had been more interested in discovering these intriguing details of a widespread infection if I didn’t already know the outcome. I’m not really sure. I don’t feel Carey was being opportunistic by writing this but simply chose to expand on this fascinating world he created, and that’s fair. It’s also fair that I simply didn’t care for it and think Girl was solid and complete enough to stand on its own, but it is what it is.

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.

Short & Sweet – Final Girls, The Boy on the Bridge, The Twilight PariahThe Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford
Published by Tor.com on September 12th 2017
Pages: 176
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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two-stars

Three friends go looking for treasure and find horror in Jeffrey Ford's The Twilight Pariah.

All Maggie, Russell, and Henry wanted out of their last college vacation was to get drunk and play archaeologist in an old house in the woods outside of town. When they excavate the mansion's outhouse they find way more than they bargained for: a sealed bottle filled with a red liquid, along with the bizarre skeleton of a horned child

Disturbing the skeleton throws each of their lives into a living hell. They feel followed wherever they go, their homes are ransacked by unknown intruders, and people they care about are brutally, horribly dismembered. The three friends awakened something, a creature that will stop at nothing to retrieve its child.

“You can’t kill the dead. You’ve got to outsmart them.”

Tor.com released a “Fall of Fear” sampler which included A Long Day in Lychford by Paul Cornell, Switchback by Melissa F. Olson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne, and this title. This one enticed me the most. I’m also a terrible sucker for a great cover, and this one is a winner. It gives you the impression the story you’re about to embark on is atmospheric and eerie, and something perfect for any horror fan. Admittedly, I had high hopes having heard great things about Jeffrey Ford but this one a total dud. The blurb on the cover “Richard Linklater meets Stephen King meets Indiana Jones meets, well, Jeffrey Ford” by up and coming author Paul Tremblay is admittedly extremely off base. Just because something is tagged as horror doesn’t make it the next Stephen King and just because there’s some mild excavation of an old house doesn’t make these characters the next Indiana Jones, let’s be real.

The Twilight Pariah is a novella that tells the story of a final college summer between three friends. Maggie, the budding archaeologist of the group, convinces Russell and Henry to help her excavate an old privy at the Prewitt mansion. Ironically, the only thing I kept thinking about was an article I had recently read about archaeologists digging up Paul Revere’s outhouse. But also, there’s nothing particularly horrifying about the prospect of digging out an outhouse. Of course, finding a skeleton of a horned child should change things when shortly after a series of horrifying murders start taking place in town, but that sense of horror simply never coalesced. The characters are nothing but cardboard cutouts with a few quirky descriptive lines thrown in as a half-assed attempt to differentiate, which is pretty typical of characters in most short stories/novellas but there isn’t a credible plot to at least support the lacking characters. Ford tries to take this centuries-old mystery and link it to the present but it was a pretty flimsy connection, to say the least. And that ending. It felt like the author realized he was past his word count limit had to wrap shit up, pronto. Lackluster characters, middling plot, and an inadequate conclusion. Disappointing.

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Ominous October – Sleeping Beauties By Stephen King and Owen King

October 12, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 13 Comments

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

Ominous October – Sleeping Beauties By Stephen King and Owen KingSleeping Beauties by Stephen King, Owen King
Narrator: Marin Ireland
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 26th 2017
Length: 25 hours and 20 minutes
Genres: Horror, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

two-stars

In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.

“The elms made him think of brothers, of sisters, of husbands and wives—he was sure that, beneath the ground, their roots were mortally entwined.”

What would happen to the world if all the women fell asleep?

In rural Appalachia, the Aurora Sleeping Sickness only affects individuals with the XX chromosome. When women drift off to sleep they begin growing tendrils of webbing that cocoon their bodies completely and while they remain alive in this world they wake up in a different one entirely. In this world though, there’s one single woman named Eve Black that remains able to still sleep and wake up but she possesses mysterious powers and seems to be the reason why all other women are in the state they’re in.

This started off so incredibly fascinating and reminded me strongly of The Stand with this mysterious sickness slowly infecting the world. The Aurora Sleeping Sickness was chilling in its descriptions, affecting only women and the reverberations throughout the community that results from their absence was brilliant and no doubt made any woman reader leary about putting the book down and going to sleep. I especially loved the inclusion regarding the “Mother’s Instinct” described as such:

‘This phenomenon proved to be one of the most curious and most analyzed enigmas of Aurora – the so-called “Mother’s Instinct” or “Foster Reflex.” While reports of violent interactions between sleepers and other adults ultimately numbered in the millions, and unreported interactions millions more, few if any occurrences of aggression between a sleeper and her pre-adolescent child were ever confirmed. Sleepers handed over their male infants and toddlers to the closest person they could find, or simply put them out of doors. They then returned to their places of slumber.’

The story starts off unhurriedly as the authors build up the intensity but it ended up being my favorite part of the story (aside from the narration itself; Marin Ireland knocked this one out of the park. 5 stars.) The slow, steady pace building up this world where such a thing could possibly occur was all necessary to make this as credible as it could be. The most problematic bit was the vast array of characters that we were expected to keep track of. When reading stories that include far too many characters to keep straight, I’ll occasionally write myself little bullet point lists or draw family trees just to keep things straight. If I had even attempted something like that with this story my desk (and myself) would have ended up looking something like this:

One of the main female characters, Lila, resulted in some great passages from her point of view. Ironically though, her husband Clint ends up taking over as the main act in the final half of the book. Not only does he take over as the main character but he ends up playing an important role in the vast scheme of things and wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about the females? How come a dude once again gets to take center stage? I had worried about this possibility before I even picked this one up, but alas, the book is definitely less about what would happen to the females and more about what would happen to the men. They resort to violence and guns and explosions and everything in between, surprising no one. The authors also seem to miss making any solid point regarding why this happened and what was learned from the experience. Suffice it to say, the descriptions of the sickness and the infected were eerie and great to read but when it came down to breaking any gender stereotypes there’s certainly nothing new here.

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Ominous October – Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

October 6, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 6 Comments

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

Ominous October – Black Mad Wheel by Josh MalermanBlack Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman
Narrator: Robertson Dean
Published by HarperAudio on May 23rd 2017
Length: 8 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Bird Box, Unbury Carol

two-stars

From the author of the hit literary horror debut Bird Box (”Hitchcockian.” —USA Today) comes a chilling novel about a group of musicians conscripted by the US government to track down the source of a strange and debilitating sound

The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious-and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.

“The question is not what you found… but what found you?”

When Philip Tonka wakes in an Iowa hospital, he can’t remember how he got there or what happened to him, but his doctor informs him that he’s been in a coma for six months after breaking every single bone in his body. Prior to this, Philip and the rest of his bandmates, from the 1950s band called the Danes, are approached by government officials to investigate a peculiar sound emanating from the Namib Desert in Africa. The sound has been reported to make people sick when hearing it but most importantly has been the reason why a nuclear warhead was disarmed. Whether or not that sound is the reason for Philip’s injuries remains a mystery since he can’t remember if the source of the sound was ever actually found. Through alternating chapters told in past and present, it’s slowly revealed just what kind of bizarre answers Philip and his friends found in that desert.

After adoring Malerman’s debut novel Bird Box, he quickly became an “I’m reading anything and everything” author for me. I went on to read his short story Ghastle and Yule (I didn’t even finish those 54 pages), his novella A House at the Bottom of a Lake (2 stars), and now I’ve finished his second full-length novel and damn but I’m full of disappointment. Mysterious sounds in the middle of a desert, government conspiracies, memory loss, injuries that shouldn’t even be possible… it sounded like one badass episode of The Twilight Zone and I was all onboard.

Image result for twilight zone gif

I first tried to read this on my Kindle but Black Mad Wheel has quite the slow, meandering pace that made it difficult to stay invested. I opted to try it on audiobook before officially calling it quits and even if I didn’t end up loving the story as much as I had hoped, Robertson Dean thoroughly sold me on his narrative skills and I will definitely be seeking out more books narrated by him in the future. His various accents used for the different characters did wonders in helping to differentiate them because just from text alone, they all tended to blur together a bit. Once the pieces of the puzzle started coming together though, the story took a decidedly philosophical turn and while I loved the inclusion regarding the true power of music, it all just ultimately lost me in the end with Malerman opting instead to give only a vague hint at any concrete answers the reader may have been hoping for in the end.

“I wonder, soldier, if it’s our mind playing tricks. I wonder if we cannot comprehend a sound with no source and so we invent one. Each our own way to stave off the feelings of futility for having tracked a sourceless sound.”

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Ominous October – The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan Stroud

October 5, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2017, YA 7 Comments

Ominous October – The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co. #5) by Jonathan StroudThe Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud
Series: Lockwood & Co. #5
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 12th 2017
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror, Ghosties
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Also by this author: The Screaming Staircase, The Whispering Skull, The Hollow Boy

five-stars

After the dramatic events of The Creeping Shadow, the Lockwood team (plus Quill Kipps) deserve some well-earned rest.

So naturally they break into the Fittes Mausoleum, on a perilous mission to discover the truth about London's top ghost-hunting agency, and its sinister leader.

What they discover will change everything.

But there's little time to ponder. A near-miss at a haunted fairground is only the start - as the Fittes agency closes in on the team, an epic struggle commences.

With the help of some unexpected, and rather ghostly, allies, Lockwood & Co must battle their greatest enemy yet, as they move ever closer to the moment when the earth-shattering secret of 'the problem' will finally be revealed.

Jonathan Stroud once again delivers a rousing adventure full of danger, laughs, twists, and frights. The revelations will send readers back to Book 1 to start the series all over again.

Lockwood & Co. Series

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Whispering Skull (Lockwood & Co. #2) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]
The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. #4) by Jonathan Stroud [Purchase|Review]

“It was a time of beginnings, and a time of endings.”

After the events of The Creeping Shadow, the group set off to prove the Skull’s story right: that Marissa Fitts hasn’t actually been laid to rest and she’s been posing as her granddaughter Penelope for years. As the title implies, they do indeed find an empty grave. How Marissa could possibly remain alive and looking as young as she does remains a mystery. The mystery of the empty grave isn’t the only thing occupying their time though. They’re battling the Fitts agency to remain in business when Marissa announces that all small agencies will be absorbed into one and they must also deal with a fairground haunted by La Belle Dame Sans Merci (The Beautiful Lady Without Mercy) who psychically enchain her victims after alluring them with her beauty. Never a dull moment with Lockwood & Co.

“We’ve worked wonders to get here, and we won’t panic now. If we’re right, there won’t be anything to worry about. If we’re wrong, we deal with it, as we always do. […] But we won’t be wrong. We’re on the verge of something big here. It’s going to be good!”

Kipps adjusted his goggles dolefully. “Since when has anything good happened in a crypt? It’s going to be bad by definition.”

It seems rare that a series possesses such a fantastic story in addition to a brilliant cast of characters. It always makes me cringe when books are constantly being compared to Harry Potter, but the friendship dynamic in Lockwood & Co. is certainly comparable. Of course, it also has that Ghostbusters/X-Files angle that sets it apart. Lockwood himself is quite the complex character with a growing death wish that comes to a peak in this final story. His dark backstory gets dealt out in small servings involving a sister that was ghost-touched at a young age and parents that both died under mysterious circumstances. We see all this through the eyes of Lucy and while the two have been developing an almost reluctant romance since the start of the series, it deserves mention that it never overwhelms the story itself or any of the supporting characters. I originally picked this series up because of my love for a good ghost story and while I’m not often scared by them these days, Stroud still manages to include lines that’ll leave tingles down your spine.

“Her jagged mouth opened in welcome; she was like a deep-sea fish swallowing her prey. As she hugged him close, blue veins of ice ran swiftly down his skin. [Name omitted] limbs jerked and thrashed; he tried to speak, but could only make a gargling sound as he was drawn back into the dark.”

Being that this is the series finale, there’s always the issue with wrapping up all loose ends. What happened to Lockwood’s parents? What caused the rampant increase in hauntings in recent years? How has Marissa Fitts managed to retain her youth for so long? Who is the skull in the jar and what will become of him? And of course, what will become of Lockwood & Co.? I’m notoriously displeased with the majority of series endings but I’m so relieved that this wasn’t the case with The Empty Grave since I’ve been a diehard fan from the very beginning. It retained the perfect balance of creepy and humor (with help in that department from Skull) and resolved unanswered questions without giving it that “and they all lived happily ever after” type of ending that I so dislike. I started Ominous October back in 2014 and The Screaming Staircase was one of the first books I posted about. It’s always heartbreaking to see an amazing story come to an end but I was so pleased to see these fantastic characters get the story they deserve. Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly, and even Kipps… but I’ll still miss Skull the most.

“These spirits are a bit showy,” the skull said. “All that hooting and cackling. You don’t see me doing that. I ask you, where’s the class?”

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Waiting on Wednesday – Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

October 4, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 10 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Pitch Dark by Courtney AlamedaPitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
Published by Feiwel & Friends on February 20th 2018
Pages: 384
Genres: Horror, Sci-fi
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Shutter

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.

About Courtney Alameda

A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a "standout in the genre" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott's 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

I really enjoyed Alameda’s debut Shutter (the story was great, even if it didn’t scare me. I’m starting to realize that’s seemingly impossible.) and am all about deadly aliens that kill with sound. I also see that Alameda made another successful offering to the cover gods because dayum, that’s awesome.

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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke

September 27, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 10 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron MahnkeThe World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke
Published by Del Rey on October 10, 2017
Pages: 320
Genres: Horror, Paranormal
Format: Hardcover
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A fascinating, beautifully illustrated guide to the monsters that are part of our collective psyche, from the host of the hit podcast Lore, soon to be an online streaming series.

They live in shadows--deep in the forest, late in the night, in the dark recesses of our minds. They're spoken of in stories and superstitions, relics of an unenlightened age, old wives' tales, passed down through generations. Yet no matter how wary and jaded we have become, as individuals or as a society, a part of us remains vulnerable to them: werewolves and wendigos, poltergeists and vampires, angry elves and vengeful spirits.

In this beautifully illustrated volume, the host of the hit podcast Lore serves as a guide on a fascinating journey through the history of these terrifying creatures, exploring not only the legends but what they tell us about ourselves. Aaron Mahnke invites us to the desolate Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where the notorious winged, red-eyed Jersey Devil dwells. He delves into harrowing accounts of cannibalism--some officially documented, others the stuff of speculation . . . perhaps. He visits the dimly lit rooms where seances take place, the European villages where gremlins make mischief, even Key West, Florida, home of a haunted doll named Robert.

In a world of "emotional vampires" and "zombie malls," the monsters of folklore have become both a part of our language and a part of our collective psyche. Whether these beasts and bogeymen are real or just a reflection of our primal fears, we know, on some level, that not every mystery has been explained and that the unknown still holds the power to strike fear deep in our hearts and souls. As Aaron Mahnke reminds us, sometimes the truth is even scarier than the lore.

Praise for the Lore podcast

"Truth can often be much scarier than fiction--something Mahnke proves as he dives deep into the world of folklore and the darker side of history in a quest to root out the fragment of truth at the bottom of our fears."
--Entertainment Weekly

"Unlike so much horror that needs over-the-top viscera to scare you, this podcast leans on history--folklore, myth, the stuff people once thought was true--to tell its tales."
--The Atlantic

"Narrated by Mahnke in a style that evokes spooky campfire stories, Lore is a history lesson like no other."--Esquire

About Aaron Mahnke

Aaron Mahnke is the creator, producer, and host of the hit podcast Lore (Best of iTunes 2015 & 2016), Executive Producer of the Lore television show on Amazon (from the producers of The Walking Dead), and author of The World of Lore book series (Penguin Random House / Del Rey).

Born and raised in Illinois, Aaron now lives with his wife and children on the historic North Shore of Boston, where he writes and records full-time.

The Lore podcast is so good and damn but if I wish I had Amazon prime for the upcoming show. I’ll just have to be content with this fantastic sounding book that is going to be a perfect October read.

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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Better Late Than Never: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

May 26, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Better Late Than Never, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 6 Comments

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

Better Late Than Never: The Dead Zone by Stephen KingThe Dead Zone by Stephen King
Narrator: James Franco
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on April 25th 2017
Length: 16 hours and 11 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

three-half-stars

Never before on audio! A #1 national bestseller about a man who wakes up from a five-year coma able to see people’s futures and the terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone—a “compulsive page-turner” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancé married another man during his coma and people clamor for him to solve their problems.

When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future. The Dead Zone is a “faultlessly paced…continuously engrossing” (Los Angeles Times) novel of second sight.

*First published in 1979, this is my first time reading The Dead Zone. Better late than never.

Johnny Smith has lived with physic abilities his entire life but it isn’t until the car accident in his 20s that they become an undeniable ability. He lay in a coma before waking to discover that his girlfriend at the time is now married, that he’s lost four years of his life, and that he now possesses the ability to witness the future of any individual (and sometimes even objects) he touches. Sometimes the future he sees is only a few minutes ahead of the present time but sometimes it’s years ahead. The truth of his abilities are revealed to the public after the highly publicized account of him waking after a four-year coma, and the limelight changes his life irrevocably. He sequesters himself from the public after the demands for his assistance in finding lost loved ones/missing persons, despite his mother, Vera Smith, and her insistence that he was brought back “to do God’s work.” When news of a high-profile serial killer hits his radar, he begins to feel morally obligated to at least try to help. And when he shakes the hand of an up and coming politician and foresees not just his future but the future of the human race, Johnny has to decide what is “right” and if he’s now duty-bound to changing the future so it never becomes our present.

“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn’t good enough, it has to do.”

First published in 1979, The Dead Zone ended up being far more relevant to today’s time than I ever would have predicted. The future of the dirty politician that Johnny foresaw is a man by the name of Greg Stillson who started off as a nobody yet rose up in the ranks and quickly became the popular vote for the next President of the United States. His political platform and personal style were aimed towards the working class and he was prided on his honesty but had a definite lack of tact. He completely lacks any political knowledge, has big plans for America (albeit most of them beyond ludicrous), and is a devoutly religious man. Stillson is first introduced almost as a caricature of a real villain, someone that can’t possibly be taken seriously, but you slowly realize his influence on the vast population is something that cannot be brushed off as having little consequence. The ludicrousness didn’t last long after realization dawned. As I said… most relevant, right?

The Dead Zone is many stories in one. The beginning is a long drawn out section detailing Johnny’s recuperation in the hospital and the subsequent surgeries that were required for him to ever be able to walk again. Once he’s back on his feet, literally, the story switches focus to catching the serial killer, and you begin to think that that’s the plot except that story finds resolution and hundreds of pages remain. It came off slightly clunky, almost like we were being left out on parts of Johnny’s life that weren’t interesting enough for the page, but at least in this instance, James Franco’s narration gives these characters life. His acting skills are on full display to helpfully differentiate the characters, making Johnny a mellow smooth-talker, and giving Stillson a villainous voice that accurately matches his vile actions. Despite the definite lack of any type of horror (unless you count the potentially horrific reality of it all) and the obvious backpedaling done on that ending, The Dead Zone ended up being a vastly different King than I’ve come to expect but was still no doubt a thrilling story.

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