This Week in Books- Horror October Edition #TWIB

TWIBHEADER

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, and perhaps more importantly, happy Halloween!

As you may have noticed, Horror October this year has been a tad sparse – soz. But I have read a few good books over the month.

Here’s what I got up to last week…

twibbanner

NOW: I’ve just started Painless by Marty Thornley so not much to report there. I’m also dipping in and out of a new collection of Frankenstein stories. Bit miss and miss so far. 

THEN: I finished Hark! the Herald Angels Screams a collection of Christmas themed, horror short stories, which I loved. 5 stars from me. My review is here. Before that I finished Kill Creek, and The Life we Bury, which wasn’t technically a horror, but certainly had dark elements. I’m yet to review that one. 

NEXT: After Painless, and the Frankenstein collection I’ll probably have a break and read something “nice”. 🙂

 

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.

Advertisements

Horror October: Hark! The Herald Angels Scream #BookReview #ShortStoryAnthology

HO18

harkreview

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream // Christopher Golden (Editor) // October 23rd 2018 // Anchor Books // Goodreads

A collection of Christmas-themed horror stories!? What could be better! It’s like ordering two desserts. You know it’s in no way good for you, but you just want to do it anyway. 

You could be forgiven for dismissing this book based on the cover. It screams cheap and nasty, doesn’t it? But rest assured, the contents of this book are total class. There’s a mix of established horror/paranormal writers and some new names (well, to me anyway), and I was pleasantly surprised by every single one of them.

There’s a terrifying home invasion story to kick us off, a very, very, weird babysitter, a potty-mouthed robot dog and a haunted hotel room to name but a few story-lines, and they’re all fun and creepy in very different ways. 

The one that stood out the most to me was Love Me by Thomas E. Sniegoski – a writer that was new to me. It’s a creepy-ass tale about a desperate man who plans to rob an old pawn/antiques shop. When he breaks in, the lady who owns it and lives above, catches him in the act and invites him upstairs. Now, this isn’t quite the tale of revenge it seems to be. Without ruining it too much for you, it involves a stuffed toy, with teeth, who just wants to be loved. So wrong, but so good!

Usually when reading anthologies, I end up skipping some of the stories, and I fully expected to do that here too, but there honestly wasn’t a dud story amongst them, and each one made me want to finish it from the off. Golden has done a great job in selecting these. If you like horror, and you like (or hate, actually) Christmas, then this is the book for you!

I feel well and truly in the spirit now. I’m just not sure if it’s for Halloween or Christmas! Oh let’s face it, it’s both!!!

horroctrating-5

Horror October: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas #BookReview #HalloweenReads

HO18

killcreekreview

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

Kill Creek has been on my Horror October TBR list for two years running so I’m glad to have finally gotten round to it. I thought it would be a classic haunted house story, and in a way it was, but it was also so different to what I was expecting.

In this perfect-for-Halloween read, four famous horror writers are invited to an infamous haunted house for an unconventional all-night interview  with controversial online journalist Wainwright, in what seems to be an homage to the classic film House on a Haunted Hill. But really, that’s where the similarities end.

After a lot of bickering, some ruffled feathers, and classic haunted house hi-jinks, the writers survive the night and go home. The End. Not reeeeeally. I mean they do head home, but the story is far from over.

I felt like this major twist on the classic haunted house tropes was a double-edged sword. On one hand I thought it was genius as it was the last thing I was expecting, but on the other, I felt deflated. I wanted the predictable people Vs the house story. It had been set us as such and I felt cheated.

However, that’s just me being petulant. What followed was a story in itself, one that felt new and while it held my interest, I did think it could have been condensed slightly.

Overall, Kill Creek was a surprising take on the genre, one that is certainly in need of a bit of a shake up, so I applaud Thomas for that. It’s a perfect read for All Hallow’s Eve.   

horroctrating-4

This Week in Books 17.10.18 #TWIB

TWIBHEADER

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…

twibbanner

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This Year in Horror (thus far) #HO18

HO18

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

The Hematophages

hemat
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!

horroctrating-4

Flood and Fang

flood&fang

 

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.

horroctrating-4

Member of the Family

memberof


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!

horroctrating-3

Midwinterblood

midwinterreview

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

HO18

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.

_______________

iambehind

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 

bookdepo

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.

horroctrating-4

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

TWIBHEADER

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…

twibbanner

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.