Miss Kate’s CBRV review #7: The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson

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This book is creepy.

The story is this: Dr. Montague studies the paranormal. To this end, he gathers a group of disparate people to investigate Hill House – a creepy old mansion that no one wants to stay in overnight. There’s Theodora – flirtatious and glam; Eleanor – mousy, lonely and weak willed; and Luke – heir to the property. 

They come together in the house, and in the course of the next few days they investigate the property as their sense of horror grows as the house itself seems to be coming alive. Not much actually HAPPENS for most of the book, but the feeling of dread is pervasive. Jackson’s descriptions of the dark, mildewy manse practically jump of the page.

This story is short – more like a novella. When the ending comes – and it does, abruptly – it’s quick and devastating.

Read more reviews at misskatesays.com: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/03/miss-kates-cbrv-review-7-the-haunting-of-hill-house-by-shirley-jackson/

Caitlin’s #CBR5 #58: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

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I really liked this book. It’s creepy and moody. It will seem like nothing is going on, then all of a sudden ALL OF THE STUFF HAPPENS.
It’s about a girl in a small southern town who meets a mysterious stranger with a secret. A dangerous secret, of course. It’s all very Twilight-y, but I liked it anyways.
You can read my review here.

loulamac’s #CBRV review #82: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris; audiobook read by Johanna Parker

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I watch True Blood, but I am not a fan. I don’t like Anna Paquin’s performance, and Stephen Moyer makes my skin crawl. I watch True Blood for Eric, I swoon over True Blood for Eric, I rewind and pause True Blood for Eric. So that, plus my monomaniacal loathing of all things Twilight might have you wondering why on earth I would go to the trouble of downloading this audiobook for my gym and running sessions. Why indeed? It just sort of happened, and now that it has, it’s not right but it’s ok. I won’t be reappraising the ghastly TV Sookie’n’Bill any time soon, but I didn’t mind this book.

For any of you who don’t know already, Sookie Stackhouse is a telepathic waitress in rural Louisiana. Vampires have recently ‘come out of the coffin’, although they are still something of a rarity in Sookie’s hometown. All that changes when Bill Compton, veteran of the American Civil War, walks into the bar where she works. The two are thrown together when Sookie saves his life, and before long they’ve fallen into bed, and in love. Alongside this unusual love story is a murder-mystery, as someone is killing local chicks who’ve got history with vampires. Sookie looks like she’s lined up to be the next victim, and her brother Jason is the prime suspect.

The murder element of the plot had much more traction in the book than I remember from the TV show, which is part of the reason I enjoyed it more than I was expecting. Johanna Parker’s reading is another. She manages to overcome the more banal sequences (much of the book is given over to descriptions of what Sookie is putting on as she gets dressed, down to the colour of the scrunchy she has put over the elastic band that’s holding her ponytail in place), and gives Sookie a voice that is down-home without quite being hokey. Sookie is selfish and frightened, but also loves her friends and family, and really cares about what happens to them. Johanna Parker gives her dignity and stops her from coming across as shrill (Anna Paquin, take note).

Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Review #6 – Red, White & Blood by Christopher Farnsworth

Red, White and Blood continues the adventures of Nathaniel Cade, undead vampire protector of President and his human partner, Zach Barrows. This third outing sees them fighting an ancient enemy – The Boogeyman. Cade and this monster have faced off before with Cade ending out on top. But as the myth goes, he’s never really dead, is he? A political enemy resurrects the monster to hunt down Cade and the President while on the re-election bus campaign trail.  

I would recommend this novel for lovers of horror, political thrillers and satire. I bet the Daily Show & Stephen Colbert writers would get a right kick out of it. 

Read the full review on my blog.

Popcultureboy’s #CBR5 Review #102: Let’s Go Play At The Adams’ by Mendal W. Johnson

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Not just terrifying, it’s also grim, bleak and unrelenting. Oh, and it’s gripping and unputdownable too. An all too believable story of five kids who take their babysitter hostage, it’s not an easy read, but it is a very worthwhile one. Full review is on my blog here.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #88-95: The Walking Dead, Vols. 9-16 by Robert Kirkman

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And thus concludes my journeys into the mind of Robert Kirkman, volumes 9-16. It has been a foul year. SPOILERS AHOY:

Vol. 9 — Here We Remain

I’m glad I took time off from reading this series. That last volume was brutal.

Vol. 9 of The Walking Dead handles the events of Vol. 8 the only way it could (and still keep readers from wanting to kill themselves from sadness). The first half is relatively quiet, with Carl and Rick moving slowly down the road, ambling to nowhere basically, and dealing with their grief over the loss of Lori and baby Judy, as well as their other friends. On top of being physically ill, Rick seems to be losing his mind, hallucinating and just generally feeling horrible about himself. Carl has a really neat — and sad — moment where he realizes he’s not a kid anymore, and he could survive without his dad if he had to. Thinking about kids living in this world Kirkman has created is just the worst.

[Full review here.]

Vol. 10 — What We Become

Aaaaand I’m already starting to get fatigue again with this series. I mean, these guys just can’t catch a break, and the minute you think Kirkman can’t pull anything worse or more disgusting or more horrifying out of his sleeve, he does.

Continue reading

alwaysanswerb’s #CBR5 Review 57: John Dies at the End by David Wong

“STOP. You should not have touched this flyer with your bare hands. NO, don’t put it down. It’s too late. They’re watching you. My name is David Wong. My best friend is John. Those names are fake. You might want to change yours. You may not want to know about the things you’ll read on these pages, about the sauce, about Korrok, about the invasion, and the future. But it’s too late. You touched the book. You’re in the game. You’re under the eye. The only defense is knowledge. You need to read this book, to the end. Even the part with the bratwurst. Why? You just have to trust me.

The important thing is this: The drug is called Soy Sauce and it gives users a window into another dimension. John and I never had the chance to say no. You still do. I’m sorry to have involved you in this, I really am. But as you read about these terrible events and the very dark epoch the world is about to enter as a result, it is crucial you keep one thing in mind: None of this was my fault.”

I am trying to think of a weirder book than this (from my childhood: Sideways Stories from Wayside School comes to mind; I also remember Weetzie Bat being very strange but I may have just been too young to understand it.) Weirdness isn’t bad. In fact, this was a really entertaining book that was as funny as it was genuinely creepy. I’m still not completely convinced that I understood everything that was going on, and I am fairly certain that if I made this observation to the titular John, he’d simply nod and comment that I can’t be expected to; after all, I haven’t ever taken the sauce.

There is something very unique, not just about the plot — which is obviously so — but about Wong’s writing and his ability to, in the face of such weirdness, pretty thoroughly define his characters without really seeming like he is trying very hard to at all. By the end of the book, I absolutely understood the motivations and actions of each character, and that’s without any backstory worth speaking of for most of them.

Sometimes I worry that my review attempts get a little pedantic, talking too much about nuts and bolts, and since doing so for this book just seems kind of inherently wrong, like a square hamburger patty, I’ll just shut up here and say “READ JOHN DIES AT THE END.”

loulamac’s #CBRV review #71: Slugs by Shaun Hutson

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I first pored over this preposterous horror novel back in the heady days of the early ‘80s, when I was ten years old. It belonged to the elder brother of one of my schoolmates (he also owned James Herbert’s The Rats and The Fog), and I used to read the particularly racy and gory bits aloud to my squealing friends at lunchtime. I’m pleased to report that, while there’s no question that it’s trashy and naff, it has stood the test of time pretty well.

Life is plodding along in the quiet English town of Merton, the hot summer being the worst that people have to deal with. Things are going to get nasty though, as beneath the town’s streets, carnivorous slugs are multiplying, and they’re about to get a taste for human flesh. They first emerge from their lair in the local alcoholic’s cellar to eat him alive when he returns from the pub one night. Health inspector Mike Brady (Chief Martin Brody’s spiritual twin) is one of the first at the scene of carnage and spots slime trails all over the house. When slugs start coming up in his back garden and one tries to bite his finger, he begins to wonder…

All the usual tropes are there, as well as a few borrowed from horror’s kissing cousin the disaster story. There’s the hero who’s the only one who knows what’s going on, and isn’t believed by people in positions of power; there are the sexually adventurous teenagers who come to a messy end; there’s an innocent child who falls victim to the voracious menace (i.e. the slugs). The final raid on the sewer system, where our plucky hero is accompanied by a blue-collar buddy and a scientist, is essentially the final section of Jaws but underground. Not that I mind, if you’re going to borrow, why not borrow from one of the finest creature features of all time?

ABR’s #CBR5 Review #19: Joyland by Stephen King

 

joylandI am a fan of Stephen King. I think Carrie and Pet Sematary are horrifying reads. I think Different Seasons is brilliant. That said I haven’t read Stephen King for years. When Joyland was published I thought it was a good time to start again.

My first thought was that if you are a rabid Stephen King fan, you might be disappointed in Joyland. It’s more a tender, nostalgic coming-of-age story than a “typical” Stephen King horror story. But the more I read the more I thought that if you are a King fan, you’ll love this book. And if you’ve never really enjoyed Stephen King, you too might just love this book. While it does contain some of the tried and true Stephen King tropes – horror, suspense, great dialogue, sympathetic characters – the story isn’t so fantastical you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy it.

 

The story is told in flashback by Devin Jones, now a man in his 60s, who spent the summer of 1973 working in the Joyland amusement park. Years before Devin’s arrival a young girl was murdered on one of the rides, and rumors and legends about her ghost abound. Through a series of serendipitous events, Devin becomes a star performer at Joyland, attracts the attention of a protective single mom and her son, and delves into the murder. 

Joyland won’t get under your skin the way some Stephen King stories can, but it does have a little something for every reader. There is horror, violence, heartbreak, romance and yes, sex. But the heart of the story is quite sentimental and wistful. 

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #48: Born to Bleed by Ryan C. Thomas

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Cannonball Read V: Book #48/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 184

Genre: Horror

I loved Ryan C. Thomas’ The Summer I Died and I had no idea there was a sequel until recently. I picked it up despite the mediocre reviews and unfortunately came to the same conclusion: disappointing.

This books takes place 10 years after the horrifying events in The Summer I Died. ***SPOILERS FOR THE SUMMER I DIED*** Roger ended up surviving after watching his sister and best friend die at the hands of a maniac. ***END SPOILERS*** He’s obviously still very traumatized and barely functioning after he moved to southern California to be an artist. He’s out painting at a lake one day when his co-worker at the galley he works for, Victoria, and her boyfriend mysteriously vanish. After finding their car still there with blood on the ground, Roger goes all detective to track down a suspicious SUV that was there earlier and that he thinks might be the kidnappers.

Read the rest in my blog.