#HorrorOctober: The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

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The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

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Formats: Digital, Paperback, 360 pages
Publication Details: October 16th 2013 by Severed Press
Genre(s): Horror; Humour
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

After ravenous corpses topple society and consume most of the world’s population, freighter captain Henk Martigan is shocked to receive a distress call. Eighty survivors beg him to whisk them away to the relative safety of the South Pacific. Martigan wants to help, but to rescue anyone he must first pass through the nightmare backwater of the Curien island chain.

A power struggle is brewing in the Curiens. On one side, the billionaire inventor of the mind-control collar seeks to squeeze all the profit he can out of the apocalypse. Opposing him is the charismatic leader of a ghoul-worshipping cargo cult. When a lunatic warlord berths an aircraft carrier off the coast and stakes his own claim on the islands, the stage is set for a bloody showdown.

To save the remnants of humanity (and himself), Captain Martigan must defeat all three of his ruthless new foes and brave the gruesome horrors of…THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO.

Review

This is not your average zombie pulp! The Ghoul Archipelago is a breath of fresh air to people like me who are pretty sick of zombies.

Martigan is the captain of a freighter sailing through the South Pacific in a post-apocalyptic world caused by zombies, where the mainland is all but taken over. Martigan and his crew are fighting a losing battle between ghouls, pirates and a whole host of bizarre characters vying to take control of the islands.

There’s Sonntag the ex-prison priest, a businessman who has developed a sex-dream machine, a presidential politician, and the captain, all at the forefront of this bloody, bizarre, battle which I mostly enjoyed but came away feeling a bit ‘huhhhhhh?’

I felt like there were too many characters and too many story-lines going on at once – it was pretty confusing at first, but once I got into the POV changes it got easier. I also felt like the pacing was off in places, making it seem a lot longer than its 360 pages.

But that being said, I can’t fault Kozeniewski’s vision. It has some great moments of pure horror and thrilling action, making it one hell of a ride, even if I had no idea where I was being taken.

Kozeniewski has a way of sucking you in; his writing is effortless and intriguing, mixing gory grossness with his trademark wit. He put me on the ship and it was sink or swim! I think I just about found my sea legs by the end of it….

unicorn rating 3

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2015 ‘Horror Tag’ Book Reviews (so far) #HorrorOctober

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You know guys, Horror is not just for October, so I thought I would post all the reviews I’ve written so far this year that I included in the ‘Horror’ tag. I kind of thought I’d need to do it in at least two parts but on further inspection I realised just how few horror books I actually read this year (excluding my Horror October picks). Shame on me!

Anyway, as we slide head first into the final few days of October, here are the horror books I’ve reviewed so far this year.

Get Ready to Shudder: Frozen Charlotte

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Author: Alex Bell
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 368 pages
Publication Details: January 5th 2015 by Stripes Publishing
Genre(s): Horror; YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

We’re waiting for you to come and play….Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.

Review

This book actually gave me nightmares (well, it gave me one – it was pretty awesome).

For starters, creepy-ass miniture porcelain dolls with their hands outstretched like they died reaching for you. Dolls that are everywhere, even in the walls. Dolls that whisper. Dolls with needles… But more about them later…I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the purpose of context, I’m a huge horror fan, especially as far as films are concerned, and I’m constantly disappointed that I never find any of them scary any more. I must be desensitised or something. To a certain extent, it’s the same for books, but I do find it easier to get creeped out by a good horror book than a film…and oh my, this book creeped me the hell out, so major props for that!

And it wasn’t just the creep-factor that was good about this book, I literally could not put it down. I was sneakily reading it at work and stayed up wayyy past my bed time to finish it off!

Frozen Charlotte is centred around Sophie and the events which follow her best friend Jay’s sudden death (it’s right at the beginning so hardly a spoiler). Jay downloaded a Ouiji Board app on his phone and he and Sophie play around with it, mocking it, like you do. But when Sophie calls on the only person she knows who has passed away – her cousin Rebecca – things go a bit weird to say the least.

To cut a long (not that long to be fair) story short, the app tells Jay he will die that very night…and of course, he actually does. Cue devastated Sophie trying to make sense of it all through the grief. And what better place to go than to an old converted schoolhouse on the blustering and foggy Isle of Skye.

It is her Uncle James’ home, and the whole family are clearly still suffering the loss of Rebecca. Everything about the place is wrong. From a parrot called Dark Tom who literally screams bloody murder all night long and young Lilias who has a phobia of bones (even her own), who once tried to cut out her collar bone, to Cameron, the musical protégé who got burned during the death of his sister and has never been the same again, and Piper who is trying to hold the whole thing together but is strangely obsessed with the Frozen Charlotte dolls.

I really wish I’d read this book for Horror October instead of Doll Bones. This was exactly the thing I was looking for. It was so good, and so creepy, at one point I had to put it down because I was shuddering so much internally. I couldn’t keep away for long though, I HAD to find out what the hell was going on!

The only tiny grumble I had with it, was that I couldn’t decide how old the characters were. It seemed inconsistent a lot of the time. Sometimes they seemed older than they should be, and then I’d get thrown by talk of first kisses and such, and visa versa. In the same way I couldn’t decide if Frozen Charlotte was aimed at the YA market or just had young characters. But you know what, who cares! It was great!

unicorn rating 4

Originally posted 26/01/2015

The Girl With all the Gifts

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Author: M.R Carey
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 460 pages
Publication Details: June 19th 2014 by Orbit
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads // Purchase

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Review

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***

The Girl with all the Gifts has everything. It’s a great mixture of classic horror, modern dystopia and fast-paced thriller.

I was worried that I’d ruined my experience of it having already read reviews and knowing what the ‘twist’ was, but I don’t think it hindered it at all. Plus, said twist is revealed pretty early on, so it’s not such a huge spoiler.

I was completely engrossed in Melanie’s story, and thought she was a great protagonist. In the beginning I felt sorry for her, being locked up, and the way her and the other children were treated. I think M.R Carey did a great job of bringing Melanie to life as a regular (albeit genius) child, and gradually revealing to the reader, and to Melanie herself that she is in fact a monster – a zombie to be exact.

The use of the school-room setting, Melanie’s genius-like intelligence and her love of stories enables the reader to see her as child first, and a zombie second, making it almost impossible not to root for her the whole way through.

I thought the relationship between her and teacher was kind of creepy at first, as I’m sure was supposed to be point, but they ended up being a great duo.

There were a few moments when I found myself losing interest, but I was quickly pulled back into this action-packed, rollercoaster of a ride. It’s one of the better zombie books I’ve read, and felt fresh and thought-provoking.

Having just started working in a prison, I read this book on another level too. The Girl With all the Gifts raised a lot of questions about imprisonment and human rights. I felt like it proposed many questions about incarceration, rehabilitation, having the mental strength to fight against your inner nature, and being able to embrace your future and let go of the past.

It was a really surprising read, one that I think would make a great book club selection.

unicorn rating 4

Originally posted 11/05/2015

Twisted Dark, Volume 1

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Author: Neil Gibson
Series: Twisted Dark #1
Edition: Digital, 196 pages
Publication Details: April 24th 2012 by T Publications
Genre(s): Graphic Novel; Horror
Disclosure? I downloaded a copy for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads // Purchase

The first volume in Neil Gibson’s acclaimed series of twisted tales contains 12 individual and unique stories which are all related. The stories vary from 10 year old girls to Colombian drug lords and everything in between. It is left to the reader to find the connections between the stories – some connections are immediately clear whilst other connection only become clear in later volumes. This series is designed for re-reading. The author describes the genre as psychological thriller, but the books contains horror, dark (at times demented) stories incorporating every human emotion, illegal activity, and brutal reality. Using various illustrators allows each story and character to develop their own form. Twisted Dark has been embraced by the comic book world receiving critical acclaim and a cult following. If you haven’t read one yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Review


Oh what can I say about this one!?

I was really intrigued by the idea of this as I’m a horror fan and enjoy some pretty twisted shiz on occassion. LOL. But I just wasn’t feeling it unfortunately.

Twisted Dark contains short stories which all have a dark, twisted reveal at the end, and link together in some way. I thought this was a great idea, and liked the look of the artwork, but it didn’t quite pull it off for me.

I think my main problem with it was that it was trying too hard to be shocking, but it just wasn’t. I think maybe I’m just not the target audience. I can imagine that had I read this when I was 15 and all ‘I hate the world, and everyone in it’ then I would have probably loved it. But, without being in that frame of mind, this just seemed a little…lame.

It also didn’t help that the digital version I had wasn’t great quality and the illustrations were a bit blurry, and the text was quite hard to read sometimes. I tried to look past this, and maybe I would have liked it a little better if the artwork was more appealing, but I still doubt I would have loved it.

I’m glad I gave it a go though, and would recommend it to a younger audience who have more patience than me and will reread it to find all the hidden connections – something I just couldn’t be bothered to do I’m afraid.

unicorn rating 2

Originally posted 23/05/2015

The Curse of Crow Hollow

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Author: Billy Coffey
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 414 pages
Publication Details: August 4th 2015 by Thomas Nelson
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse.

Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

Review

I finished this book last week and I’m still not quite sure what I think about it. What I am sure about though, is that Billy Coffey is a talented writer.

Crow Hollow is a small southern town with a secretive, tumultuous past. When a group of teenagers celebrate a birthday in the mountain’s mines, they disturb the equilibrium between the town and the resident weirdo, old Alvaretta Graves.

The younger generation in Crow Hollow grew up swapping fanciful stories about Alvaretta ‘the witch’, but most of them think it’s just small-town superstition… little do they know that their parents know a lot more about the mysterious Alvaretta than they could ever imagine.

I can’t even go into what I liked and disliked about this book without first saying just how much Coffey’s style reminded me of Stephen King. It was uncanny, and actually really distracting because that’s all I could think about the whole way through!

The Curse of Crow Hollow is narrated by a local who is introducing an out-of-towner to Crow Hollow and the events that recently occurred – it was very Needful Things, but worked well.

I loved how a very simple plot of ‘teens partying goes wrong’ becomes something much more complex. There’s superstition, politics, secrets and confessions, and Coffey brings it all together with some great scary moments and well executed spooky atmosphere throughout.

I also really liked the mystery surrounding the parents and what they ‘did’ to Alvaretta in the past. It was interesting to see their reactions when you find out that their children are basically being punished (in some pretty horrible ways) for something they did – it reminded me of A Nightmare on Elm Street a little bit.

The other King-esque trait was the abundance of characters, but unfortunately this is what let it down for me. I didn’t feel the vast amount of characters were developed enough, and I never really cared about any of them individually, which considering what happens to them, is pretty bad, and my interest really waned because of that.

Despite not loving the characterisation (or the whole Christianity thang going on), I really enjoyed Coffey’s style. It made for a really intriguing, atmospheric read, and I’d certainly like to see more from him.

unicorn rating 3

Originally posted 10/08/2015

Beneath the Lake

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Author: Christopher Ransom
Series: N/A
Edition: Kindle, 449 pages
Publication Details: September 10th 2015 by Sphere
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Thirty Years Ago: On a camping trip by a remote lake, the Mercer family enjoyed the vacation of a lifetime – until a violent tragedy forced them to make a decision that would haunt them for ever.

This Summer: When the younger Mercers learn their father is dying, the family reunites at the lake, seeking a second chance to put their lives back together. But something is waiting . . .
Four Days of Hell: Also arriving at the lake are estranged son Raymond Mercer and an alluring stranger, Megan, both ignorant of the family’s secrets. Within hours, they are all trapped in a relentless nightmare and fighting for their lives. Some places are better left. Some secrets are better forgotten. Some people are better dead.

Review

Oh, I wanted to like this so much…but it was a bit of a let down. I really liked Ransom’s debut The Birthing House, but I’ve tried a few of his other books and they haven’t had the same impact on me…(that was one creep-ass read). Unfortunately, Beneath the Lake was a similar story for me.

It started off so well! The opening was full of unexplained, extremely bizarre happenings which urged me to read on. Then we are catapulted 30 years ahead without knowing what actually happened that day at the lake- but knowing it was something terrible- and now the estranged Mercer family are planning a reunion there.

It all sounds good right? Well, it was for a while, but intrigue turned to boredom somewhere in the middle and I found it a struggle to get to the end. It just fizzled out for me I’m afraid.

I thought this had an interesting plot, but it peaked too soon, giving way to bad pacing. It did succeed in keeping me guessing for a while, and I did detect a constant uneasiness, but it just wasn’t enough to keep me hooked.

unicorn rating 2

Originally posted 15/09/2015

This Week in Books 28.10.15 #HorrorOctober

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Welcome to my weekly post, where I sum-up what I’ve been up to in bookland the past week.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone, and welcome to the last Horror October edition of TWIB, this year!

Here’s what I got up to…

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Now: An English Ghost Story ~ Kim Newman // Behind Closed Doors ~ Elizabeth Haynes

I’m really enjoying An English Ghost Story. It’s not at all what I expected, but loving it so far. I haven’t got as far as I’d have liked on the Haynes book, but I’m sure it’s going to be good as well.

Then:

Vampire Vic 2: Morbius Reborn ~ Harris Gray // The Ghoul Archipelago by Stephen Kozeniewski

Both of these had their ups and downs, but I still enjoyed them. My Vampire Vic 2 review is here, and The Ghoul Archipelago one will be up shortly.

Next: ???

My Horror October reads pushed some ARCs back so I’ll be returning to them. The Winter Place is first up!

That’s it for this week, what did you get up to?

If you still do a similar WWW post (or just want to join in, leave your link/answers in the comments, OR why not tweet using #TWIB, and I’ll come and visit.

First Look: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz #HorrorOctober

I can not wait for this book. It sounds twisted and sinister…something that needs to be done more in the YA market if you ask me.

And not only that, but I did a bit of fangirling when I realised that in the past the authors wrote episodes of ROSWELL together. YES, THAT ROSWELL (I will never be ashamed of my love for that show)! Ahhh this has to be good right? RIGHT?

Roll on January!

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Sanctuary Bay

Authors: Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz
Editions: Hardback, Kindle/e-book, 320 pages
Publication Details: Expected January 19th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre(s): YA; Thriller; Mystery; Horror

Goodreads // Netgalley // Amazon PRE-ORDER

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.

Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this twisted YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.​

About the Authors

Laura J. Burns has written more than thirty books for kids and teens, touching on topics from imaginary lake monsters to out-of-control Hollywood starlets. (Those two things have more in common than you’d think.)

With Melinda Metz, she has also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE.

You can pre-order your copy now!

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If you are an author, publisher or agent and would like to be featured on Lipsyy Lost & Found, drop me message on lipsyylostnfound[at]gmail[dot]com

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Haunted House Books #HorrorOctober

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is a Halloween themed freebie — our choice. I’ve chosen the theme of haunted houses!

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Read any of these? What would have made your list?

#HorrorOctober 2015: Week 3 Round-Up

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Wow, we’re in the final week of Horror October already! Where ever does the time go?

Anyway, here’s everything you may have missed from week three!

Horror October Week 3: 16th – 22nd (Click on the images to view the post)

Horror Films That Still Scare Me #2

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Review: Seize the Night

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Guest Post: My Love of Murder and Mayhem by Cleo Bannister

Murder on the Orient Express

This Week in Books

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Review: Vampire Vic

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Great Posts from the around Blogosphere

If you’d like a link adding to next week’s round-up, email it to me on lipsyylostnfound-AT-gmail-DOT-COM-

Review: Vampire Vic 2, Morbius Reborn #HorrorOctober

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Vampire Vic 2: Morbius Reborn by Harris Gray

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Formats: Digital, Paperback, 257 pages
Publication Details: September 15th 2015 by Harris Gray
Genre(s): Horror; Humour
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Amazon

Vampires walk among us. Appraising our houses, policing our neighborhoods, crossing our borders. We understand there will be biting and an occasional conversion. These are small sacrifices for the sexy thrill. We do worry about vampires popping up in positions of power. They are evolved, difficult to slay, not as sexy. A backlash grows; but are we far too late?

Victor Thetherson is nearly cured. The treatment buries the charisma and confidence that only vampirism seems able to resurrect, and snuffs his rekindled love affair with ex-wife Barbara. Victor can’t trust himself as a vampire and doesn’t want to live with himself otherwise.

Eugene Foreman dispenses wisdom on his Sage Slayer site, offs vamps when convenient, and romances Victor and Barbara’s daughter, Amberly. His sensei, the Civil War Soldier, begs Eugene to slay Victor before he realizes his deadly inheritance.

Victor versus Eugene, round two in an ancient war. With Morbius Reborn, our time at the top of the food chain is coming to an end.

Review

Before we begin, if you missed my review of the first book in this series, you can check it out here. But if you’re too lazy to do that, I’ll just tell you briefly that I really enjoyed the witty, light-hearted nature of it in comparison to most Vamp Lit out there.

Morbius Reborn starts off pretty much where the first book left us. Victor has finally become a respectable vampire. One that bites people, gets the ladies at ‘Hello’, and has not only survived his company’s merger, but has excelled during it.

He is a new man compared to the pathetic, middle-aged mess he was at the start of the first book. However, Vic is starting to get a little bit too good at the whole vampire thing and he can’t stop biting people.

This leads to Vic having treatment for his vampirism, which not only threatens to turn him back into the weak, wobbly, mess he once was, but at the same time Eugene the Vampire Hunter is being pressurised to slay Vic, and it makes no difference at all to Eugene if Vic is trying to get better or not…

I wish I could say that I loved this book as much as the first, but I can’t. I found it really hard to get into this one.

One of the best things about the first book was how realistic it was. Sure Vic is a vampire, but it’s set in a very real world of an average work/life cycle. Morbius Reborn however felt like a bit of a leap away – it had somehow lost that realness (starting with the whole Extreme Revamp thing)!

I was really pleased to see Eugene get more of a part in this one though, and I thought it was a genius idea to have him date Vic’s daughter.

All in all, I still enjoyed this book but not as much as the first. It had its moments, but I found it a bit muddled and very slow to start. I’ll definitely still give the next one a bash though, I believe it’s going to be a trilogy.

unicorn rating 3

Thanks to Harris Gray and Sami at Roger Charlie for the opportunity to review these books!