This Week in Books 17.10.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone. I’ve finally managed to get stuck into some Horror October reads. Let’s hope it continues until the end of the month.

Here’s what I’ve been up to…

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NOW:   I’m technically not reading anything right now, but I’m listening to Spine Chillers, an audio collection of ghost stories by MR James. I’m also going to start Hark! the Herald Angels Screams – a collection of Christmas themed, horror short stories, later today.

THEN: I’ve just finished  Kill Creek by Scott Thomas, which took me ages to read but was enjoyable. I have quite a lot to say about it I think…review will up at the weekend (hopefully). I also finished And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, which wasn’t planned, or in the spirit of Horror October, but I had to sneak it in. It was…strange.

NEXT: After Hark! It will be another Horror October book but I’m not sure which one. My options are here

 

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and I’ll come take a look.

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This Year in Horror (thus far) #HO18

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A round-up on my horror reads this year so far

The Hematophages

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Author:
Stephen Kozeniewski
Series: N/A
Format: Digital, 326 pages
Publication Details:  April 1st 2017 by Sinister Grin Press
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads

Doctoral student Paige Ambroziak is a “station bunny” – she’s never set foot off the deep space outpost where she grew up. But when she’s offered a small fortune to join a clandestine salvage mission, she jumps at the chance to leave the cutthroat world of academia behind.

Paige is convinced she’s been enlisted to find the legendary Manifest Destiny, a long-lost colonization vessel from an era before the corporations ruled Earth and its colonies. Whatever she’s looking for, though, rests in the blood-like seas of a planet-sized organism called a fleshworld.

Dangers abound for Paige and her shipmates. Flying outside charted space means competing corporations can shoot them on sight rather than respect their salvage rights. The area is also crawling with pirates like the ghoulish skin-wrappers, known for murdering anyone they can’t extort.

But the greatest threat to Paige’s mission is the nauseating alien parasites which infest the fleshworld. These lamprey-like monstrosities are used to swimming freely in an ocean of blood, and will happily spill a new one from the veins of the outsiders who have tainted their home. In just a few short, bone-chilling hours Paige learns that there are no limits to the depravity and violence of the grotesque nightmares known as…THE HEMATOPHAGES

Review

I was in two minds going into this book. On one hand, I expected to like it because I’ve enjoyed many of Stephen Kozeniewski’s previous books (Braineater Jones, Hunter of the Dead and The Ghoul Archipelago) , but on the other hand, I don’t have a huge capacity for deep-space colony settings/ hardcore sci-fi novels.

Luckily for me, 1. I’m a bit of a gore-fiend, and that came in spades, and 2. It appears that everything Kozeniewski writes is so damn readable! It’s annoying, really. 

The Hematophages centres around Paige, a seemingly accomplished and confident Doctoral Student. But deep down she’s inexperienced and naïve, having never left her space station. Paige bags herself a ‘need to know’ mysterious new job which will send her on a mission into the fleshworld (yes, it’s as gross as it sounds) with its oceans of blood and blood-drinking alien-fish monstrosities. 

The mission is fraught with danger from the start, attacked by pirates with no skin before they even arrive, and then the realisation that they are actually salvaging the world-famous ship The Manifest Destiny which holds some truly grim surprises of its own, Paige and her new BFF/the object of her affection, Zanib will be extremely lucky to get out alive (and with all their parts), never mind complete the mission.

I wasn’t sure about protagonist Paige at first. She seemed to have two entirely different personalities, which meant it took me a little while to get into the swing of things, but I warmed to her eventually and ended up really enjoying this fast-paced story.

The thorough world-building made it easy to understand Kozeniewski’s epic vision. And it was epic! As I said earlier, I’m not a huge SF reader, so maybe this was nothing new, but it was definitely new to me, and felt unique.

I liked that in this version of the far-future the human race are all one colour due to years of inter-racial sex, that the gross Skin-Wrappers evolved from ostracised people with some kind of cancer, and that men have completely died out. Hurrah! (I joke…but, imagine).

Written well, full of stomach-churning wrongness and women kicking some blood-sucking, alien-fish-with-teeth-for-tongues ass, Kozeniewski has done it again. He’s like the indie master of horror. Or something. Give him a try if you can stomach it!

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Flood and Fang

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Author: Flood and Fang
Series: The Raven Mysteries #1
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Publication Details: March 1st 2009 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre(s): Children’s; Gothic; Fantasy
Goodreads

Meet the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand.

Edgar is alarmed when he sees a nasty looking black tail slinking under the castle walls. But his warnings to the inhabitants of the castle go unheeded: Lord Valevine Otherhand is too busy trying to invent the unthinkable and discover the unknowable; his wife, Minty, is too absorbed in her latest obsession – baking; and ten-year-old Cudweed is running riot with his infernal pet monkey.

Only Solstice, the black-haired, poetry-writing Otherhand daughter, seems to pay any attention. As the lower storeys of the castle begin mysteriously to flood, and kitchen maids continue to go missing, the family come ever closer to the owner of the black tail…

Mini Review

This is was fun, middle grade read, with a gothic vibe – of such the kind that Sedgwick is so good at. The illustrations were inspired, too. Fans of the likes of The Addam’s Family will be sure to love this series.

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Member of the Family

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Author:
Dianne Lake
Series: N/a
Format: Digital, 384 pages
Publication Details: March 8th 2018 by HarperCollins
Genre(s): Memoir; True Crime
Goodreads

In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls.”

At age fourteen, Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.

Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history. 

Mini Review

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had this weird fascination with Charles Manson, but I never really read that much about him in the time before the murders took place. This book, written by the youngest recruited member of ‘the family’, provides a lot of insight on that time when the group transitioned from a hippie commune, to a sadistic cult capable of the harshest of crimes.

I found a lot of this book interesting but it dragged, especially in the beginning. I get that Dianne’s dysfunctional childhood is what paved the way for her joining Manson, but it could have been summarised a bit. I’m glad I read it though!

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Midwinterblood

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Midwinterblood // Marcus Sedgwick // October 2011 // Indigo // Goodreads

I’m a huge fan of Marcus Sedgwick. He’s written some of my favourite books (My Swordhand is Singing; Blood Red, Snow White; She is Not Invisible), and I’ve been slowly working my way through his back-catalogue. Midwinterblood had been on my list for a while and I’m pleased I finally got round to it.

It’s an odd book, and I mean that in the best way. It’s one of those books that’s like reading a dream. It explores the theme of soulmates in that deliciously dark tone that you’d recognise in Sedgwick’s early novels if you’ve read any. It’s mysterious and tantalising, in that as you encounter the several versions of the protagonist, the truth feels like an unobtainable thing. I found that this forced me to keep reading, but in some ways made me want to give up too.

The setting helped too. I wonder if Sedgwick had Fair Isle in mind as that’s all I could think of as I was reading which made it all the more mesmerising. 

I can’t say Midwinterblood is gripping in the normal way a thriller or mystery book is, but its strangeness made it impossible for me to stop reading. 

I’m quite disappointed with the amount of horror I’ve read this year-  barely any at all. But I will definitely make up for it this Autumn!

 

 

Revisiting I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist #HO18 #BookReview

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It has become somewhat of a Horror October tradition for me to revisit the best/scariest/weirdest book I read the previous year. This time, like previous years I haven’t chosen the book I actually enjoyed the most, but the book that has stayed with me.

I Am Behind You is a book I’ve thought of often this past year. It was just so strange. Every now and then something will remind me of it and I try to remember what it what about…but as you will read in my review, I have NO IDEA what it was about. But it was creepy. Which is only ever a good thing in my book.

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Title: I Am Behind You
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Series: Platserna #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: September 7th 2017 by riverrun
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

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Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.

Review

 

I’ve had a hit and miss (but mostly miss), relationship with Lindqvist so far to be honest, but I loved the sound of this book. And I’m pleased to report that this has been my favourite of his so far!

I Am Behind You, is hands down one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read, and thus a perfect read for a dark October evening.

It’s about a myriad of different families who wake up in their holiday caravans to find that the caravan park is gone. They’ve been moved, or have they? There is nothing around, and when they drive, they don’t get anywhere. The ground is strange and smells like blood.

Not only that, but there are these white human-like creatures stalking around. Before long, the families realise that they all see these creatures as different things; a tiger, a salesman, John Wayne characters… what does it all mean?

And then it starts to rain acid.

Out of all of the Lindqvist books I’ve read, I Am Behind You was definitely the most readable. I don’t know whether the translation was just better this time, but the pages flew by. I was totally submerged in this strange, creepy place and had to keep reading to get to the bottom of it.

But here lies the problem. We don’t get to the bottom of it, of anything really. Which was really frustrating. There’s only so many crazy things that can happen without even an iota of an explanation before you stop caring. But read on I did!

Apparently this is the first in a series, so maybe it will be addressed in the next book, but I wish he would have given us something more concrete as to what the hell was going on, you know!?

The star of the show were the characters for me. Each of the families bring something different, and alarming to the story. A few of them are loveable, but mainly they’re all troubled in some way, especially Molly, the token creepy child who was once left in a tunnel and has never been the same since.

I hate to liken every horror writer to Stephen King, but parts of this really did remind me of him and his great characterisation. If you liked Under the Dome, I think you’d enjoy this too.

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Previous choices:

Revisiting Self-Made Man by Poppy Brite #HO17

Revisiting An English Ghost Story #BookReview #HorrorOctober2016

Revisiting Wakening the Crow by Stephen Gregory #HorrorOctober2015

Revisiting The Coldest Girl in Coldtown #HorrorOctober2014

 

This Week in Books 10.10.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next.

Guys, why is it still so warm and sunny? It’s Horror October; I need long, dark nights and gloomy days, it’s an outrage LOL!

I haven’t got very far on my Horror October reads as I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks at work thanks to Libraries Week. It’s been fun, but long days means a lot less reading time!

Here’s what I’ve been attempting to get through however…

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NOW:   I started Kill Creek by Scott Thomas last week for my first Horror October read but didn’t get into it straight away, and then the new Patrick Ness book And the Ocean Was Our Sky came into work so I picked that up too. I’m hoping to resume Kill Creek today as I’ve heard good things and haven’t given it enough of a chance yet. 

THEN: I’ve just managed to finish listening to The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens which I really enjoyed despite it being a bit far-fetched. 

NEXT: After Kill Creek it will be another Horror October book but I’m not sure which one. My options are here

 

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and I’ll come take a look.

Welcome to Horror October 2018 #HO18

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Welcome to Horror October

If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ll know that I do a Horror themed month each October with lots of special posts and interviews, all culminating in a Flash Fiction battle between some great independent horror writers.

Sadly, due to other commitments I haven’t got time to do that this year, but I will of course still be celebrating everything I love about horror this month. I have a list of great-looking books to (try and) read.

Here’s what to expect… 

Kill Creek // Scott Thomas // Oct 2017 // Inkshares // Goodreads

At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.

When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror.

But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.

Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein // Various // Oct 16th 2018 // Abaddon // Goodreads

A new anthology bringing together five great new and established writers to explore the world of Mary Shelley’s all-time classic, Frankenstein

“My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.” 

Victor Frankenstein was the first to unlock the key to life, but he would not be the last. Through two centuries of scientific enquiry and relentless advancement, five more minds found the secret, and five more creatures were made. Five more stories ended in tragedy.

From the 1840s to the modern day, from the race to publish the first anatomy to the desperate search for weapons to win the Second World War, telling the stories of the creatures that never were.

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream // Various //  Oct 23rd 2018 // Anchor Books // Goodreads

Eighteen stories of Christmas horror from bestselling, acclaimed authors including Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Josh Malerman, Michael Koryta, Sarah Pinborough, and many more.

That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children–Want and Ignorance–beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts.

Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.

Painless // Marty Thornley //  Jan 2018 // CreateSpace // Goodreads

The debut psychological-horror novel from author Marty Thornley is a page-turning ride, a front row seat to a clinical trial gone horribly wrong. 

For Greg Owens, this was supposed to be a chance to end years of back pain and escape his reliance on pain pills. If it all worked out, he could maybe even get back the life he left behind as the pills took control.

Instead, as the patients are cured of their physical pain, they encounter a different sort of pain building inside them – obsessive thoughts, depression, self-destruction. The side-effects grow worse, and the suspense ratchets tighter. The patients want answers and violent revenge, setting them on a collision course with a crazed doctor, determined to protect his life’s obsession.

The Life We Bury // Allen Eskens // Oct 2014 // Seventh St Books // Goodreads

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.

Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valour in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his sceptical female neighbour, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

Do you fancy any of these? Or maybe you’ve already read them, let me know in the comments!

Happy Horror October 2018! #HO18

It’s that time of the year again, Folks. I’ll be sure to let you know what I have planned for this year’s Horror October in the next few days or so, but for now I’ll leave you with this…

Credit to Goodreads.

My nightmare is Toxic Clown under your bed. It couldn’t be more accurate. EEK!

What’s yours?

 

This Week in Books 26.09.18 #TWIB

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next.

It’s that time of the week again. I’ve had a busy but good week so far; not too bad reading wise either. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

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NOW:  I’ve literally JUST finished  I Do Not Trust You (see below) so I’m technically not reading anything, but will be starting Kill Creek by Scott Thomas later today.

THEN: I Do Not Trust You was great! It’s a YA adventure/action/fantasy about a ridiculously smart archaeology enthusiast who has to team up with a worshipper of the god Horus to save her father and stop the god Set rising again. It’s not as far fetched as it sounds, and the detailed mythology in it really appealed to me. My review will be up soon. 

NEXT: After Kill Creek I actually don’t know but it will be another horror because it’s almost October already (howwwww)!!

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This meme was originally started by Breaking the Spine. It’s where we choose one upcoming release that we just can’t wait for!

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The Disasters // M.K England //  December 18th 2018 // HarperCollins // Goodreads

 

What have you been reading this week? Let me know in the comments below, or why not join in and publish a TWIB post of your own. Leave the link to your post and i’ll come take a look.