Monthly Archives: October 2011

Trick or Treat!! A Halloween Post

In honor of one of my favorite holidays of the year, I thought I would read some scary horror. Personally, when it starts to get chilly and there is that kind of cloudy gloom in the air indicating the presence of fall – I feel like it is time for some scary books served with a warm mug of coffee (or hot cocoa or possibly some alcoholic beverage – you choose). So for you my readers I have two (yes TWO) book reviews and a list of some horror reads that you may want to check out for Halloween.

The first book I read is Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlmann, the author’s first novel. It has such a good title…replete with images of shadowy evil figures just waiting across the river but just out of sight. Here’s the dl : Frank Nichols and his almost-wife Eudora have moved to his ancestral plantation home in Georgia in order to escape their lives. Frank was a successful academic until he took up with Dora, most recently another powerful professor’s wife. Now he has no job, no prospects, and no money and it is right in the middle of the Depression so he is SOL. When his aunt dies and leaves him the plantation Savoyard, it seems like a gift from God. However, he receives a strange letter from his aunt asking him NOT to move to the plantation because there are horrors that are waiting for him. Frank decides that he doesn’t really have a choice and they move there anyway. Besides, Frank has decided to write a novel about the horrific crimes his ancestors perpetrated on this plantation, mostly having to do with some sort of sexual sadism and misuse of slaves although this is only hinted at and not fully explained.

Enter creepy Southern town in Georgia, chock full of bigotry and weird Tennessee Williams-like alcohol-soaked townspeople. Frank and Dora try to fit in but have a hard time doing so. Frank is warned away from the woods over on the other side of the river, but of course he goes there only to be encountered by a strange half-naked little boy who doesn’t speak. CREEPY. For a little more added fun, the townsfolk typically send two pigs into the woods to appease “whatever is out there.” Suddenly they decide they can’t afford to send out pigs anymore and decide to stop. That is when the craziness really starts to happen…

I really enjoyed most of this novel. The creepy and stifling feeling of the town, the people in it, the weird boy in the woods, the strange goings-on all gave me that unsettled feeling. I had no idea what would happen next. Where I think the book was not very successful was the climax…it felt like a little bit of a let-down after all the tension that had been built up. The actual horror across the river was not as crazy as I had built it up in my mind. After that, it felt like Buehlman was desperately trying to rush and finish the story. It was a good ending but certainly didn’t live up to the first three-quarters of the book. All in all, I give the book six and a half shoes – definitely worth a read but maybe didn’t live up to all my expectations. I will be on the lookout from more books from Buehlman…let’s hope he gets better with age.

Three Appeals: Creepy Atmosphere, Interesting Characters, Tension-filled

Red Flags: Sex, Violence and Gore, Language No drugs unless you count lots of alcohol

Next book review : a graphic novel named Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Vol. 1 by Joe Hill with art by Gabriel Rodriguez. That’s right I said a graphic novel! I know many of my readers will scoff and make faces at the though of reading comics (said with sneer and pulled face) but you have GOT to try it. So many of these are fantastic stories with creative plots, interesting characters, original ideas plus awesome art! What’s not to love….so stop judging and give it a try. Plus all of the graphic novels I read are meant for adults, no kiddie stuff allowed.

Locke and Key is the story of the Locke family. We jump back and forth through time showing what is happening in their lives. The husband and father has been murdered. The wife is moving the family with their three traumatized kids, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode back to their ancestral home in Lovecraft, MA. Bode is only six years old but sees things that the other do not at the house including a seemingly friendly spirit in the well and using keys to open doors in the house that seem to have strange powers. Meanwhile, one of the teenagers who murdered Mr. Locke is also talking with the spirit in the well who is helping him with a plan to escape the mental asylum he is in. When he does escape there is only one place he is going to go: Lovecraft.

This was an awesome graphic novel. The story was interesting, full of plot twists, sinister evil, teenage angst and family issues. The characters are slowly developing. The art is amazing having both a realistic and cartoon-like quality that serves the graphic nature of many of the events well. I really enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to reading Vols. 2,3 and 4. I give the novel eight shoes – a great read.

Three Appeals : Complex and Scary Story, Interesting Characters, Visually Stunning

Red Flags : Violence, Gore, Scary, Sex,

Now on to my list off good Horror reads from 2011. This was partially taken from the blog – please check them out for even more horror recommendations.

1) The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts. The home’s new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain due to double engine failure. The body count? Thirty-nine. A creepy ghost story with  literary leanings (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

2) Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.   Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.   This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…(taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3 ) American Vampire Vol. 1, 2 & 3 by Rafael Albuquerque, Stephen King and Scott Snyder

Volume 1 follows two stories: one written by Snyder and one written by King. Snyder’s story is set in 1920’s LA, we follow Pearl, a young woman who is turned into a vampire and sets out on a path of righteous revenge against the European Vampires who tortured and abused her. This story is paired with King’s story, a western about Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire– a stronger, faster creature than any vampire ever seen before with rattlesnake fangs and powered by the sun.

4) Bed Bugs by Ben Winters

FOR RENT: Top two floors of beautifully renovated brownstone, 1300 sq. ft., 2BR 2BA, eat-in kitchen, one block to parks and playgrounds. No broker’s fee.

Susan and Alex Wendt have found their dream apartment. Sure, the landlady is a little eccentric. And the elderly handyman drops some cryptic remarks about the basement. But the rent is so low, it’s too good to pass up. Big mistake. Susan soon discovers that her new home is crawling with bedbugs . . . or is it? She awakens every morning with fresh bites, but neither Alex nor their daughter Emma has a single welt. An exterminator searches the property and turns up nothing. The landlady insists her building is clean. Susan fears she’s going mad—until a more sinister explanation presents itself: she may literally be confronting the bedbug problem from Hell. (taken from

5) Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

It’s been 14 years since First Night, when the dead came back to life. Six billion people have died (and reanimated) since then, and America has collapsed into isolated communities living within the great “Rot and Ruin.” Benny is 15, which means it’s time to get a job or face cut rations, but his general laziness leaves him with only one employment option: join his stuffy, sword-swinging,
Japanese half-brother, Tom, as an apprentice bounty hunter. This means heading beyond the gates to slice and dice “zoms,” but Benny quickly begins to see the undead in a new light—as well as realizing that Tom is much more than he ever
let on. (taken from Booklist)

6) Willy by Robert Dunbar

In an isolated school for boys with emotional problems, a disturbed adolescent struggles against a mire of superstition and oppression. Then he meets Willy, and the other boy – charismatic and strange – saves him … or damns him. (taken from Fantastic Fiction)

7) Houdini Heart by Ki Longfellow

Weeks ago, she was one of Hollywood’s biggest writers, wed to one of its greatest stars. The doting mother of their golden
child.  But now?  She’s alone, tortured by a horrifying secret no woman could bear. Pursued by those she can’t outrun, anguished by a guilt she can’t endure, and driven close to madness, she flees to the one place she’s ever called home: a small town in Vermont where River House still stands.  To a child, the splendid hotel was mysterious and magical and all its glamorous guests knew
delicious secrets. Cocooned in its walls, she will write one last book.  Her atonement? Or her suicide note? But life is never as you dream it, and River House isn’t what she’d always imagined it was. (taken from
Holy Crap Balls….that was a lot of writing! Enjoy my readers and let me know if you are or have read one of these books. How did YOU like it???


Filed under book review, eight shoes, graphic novel, horror, six and a half shoes, YA

The Magicians – Book Review

If you are like me then you might be a little bit more than obsessed with Harry Potter – maybe you’ve stood in line at midnight to buy a book or possibly had a party with your friends before that including Potter themed appetizers – but I digress. If so, you might also have occassionally thought while you were reading Harry P. that honestly sometimes you just wished that Harry would say something that a teenager would say – like “This whole Voldemort thing is bullshit.” or “I’d like to bang my girlfriend sometime…” If you are in that category then you should try The Magicians by Lev Grossman – it is a cross between grown up Harry Potter with some grown up Narnia thrown in. Check it out….

Quentin Coldwater is on his way for his entrance exam to Princeton. When he shows up at the interviewer’s house he finds the man dead on the floor and a mysterious envelope with his name on it. Inside the envelope is a manuscript about Quentin’s fantasy series – a series about a fantasy world called Fillory (very similar to Narnia). While on his way home he drops the manuscript and the pages are blown everywhere. While trying to gather them up, he finds himself in a whole new world. He learns that he is right on time to take an entrance exam – not to Princeton but to magic college. We get to follow Quentin as he learns about real magic, develops crazy relationships at the college and finally what happens when you leave magical college. Ever wondered what the heck kind of a job a magician would have? This novel explores that problem and what would happen if magicians became bored….

This was a such an interesting and rare treat of a book. I can honestly say that I had no idea what would happen in the book and that more often than not it surprised me. Grossman obviously loves the fantasy genres and throws in all sorts of references including Harry Potter and Narnia. He really develops the characters richly with all of their quirks, issues and questionable choices. Quentin is the anti-hero – he’s not that nice and screws people over but you can’t help but like him (most of the time). It also has that literary quality that many people miss in many fantasy books. I really enjoyed this book and give it eight shoes!

Three Appeals : Fantastical story, literary quality, rich character development

Red Flags: Sex, Violence, Drugs, Language –Satan’s Quartet;)

If you like The Magicians try :

1) Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Centuries ago when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairles, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he is barely more than a legend, and England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes in practical magic. Then the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey appears and causes the statues of York Cathedral to speak and move. News spreads of the return of magic to England and, persuaded that he must help the government in the war against Napoleon, Mr Norrell goes to London. There he meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. Together, they dazzle the country with their feats. But the partnership soon turns to rivalry. Mr Norrell has never conquered his lifelong habits of secrecy, while Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous magic. He becomes fascinated by the shadowy figure of the Raven King, and his heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens, not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear. – This is an awesome book! (taken from Fantasic Fiction)

2) Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

When he was 19, James Stark was considered to be one of the greatest natural magicians, a reputation that got him demon-snatched and sent downtown – to Hell – where he survived as a gladiator, a sideshow freak entertaining Satan’s fallen angels. That was 11 years ago. Now, the hitman who goes only by Stark has escaped and is back in L.A. Armed with a fortune-telling coin, a black bone knife, and an infernal key, Stark is determined to destroy the magic circle – led by the conniving and powerful Mason Faim – that stole his life. Though nearly everything has changed, one constant remains: his friend Vidocq, a 200-year-old Frenchman who has been keeping vigil for the young magician’s return. But when Stark’s first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head that belongs to the first of the circle, a sleazy video store owner named Kasabian, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than he counted on, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. . .(taken from Fantastic Fiction)

3) Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Doctor Impossible—evil genius, diabolical scientist, wannabe world dominator—languishes in a federal detention facility.  He’s lost his freedom, his girlfriend, and his hidden island fortress. Over the years he’s tried to take over the world in every way imaginable: doomsday devices of all varieties (nuclear, thermonuclear, nanotechnological) and mass mind control.  He’s traveled backwards in time to change history, forward in time to escape it.  He’s commanded robot armies, insect armies, and dinosaur armies.  Fungus army.  Army of fish.  Of rodents.  Alien invasions.  All failures.  But not this time.  This time it’s going to be different…  Fatale is a rookie superhero on her first day with the Champions, the world’s most famous superteam.  She’s a patchwork woman of skin and chrome, a gleaming technological marvel built to be the next generation of warfare.  Filling the void left by a slain former member, we watch as Fatale joins a team struggling with a damaged past, having to come together in the face of unthinkable evil.  (taken from Fantastic Fiction)


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Filed under book review, eight shoes, fantasy, RA