Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Bad Seed's Got Nothing on Nora!

Author;  William W. Johnstone
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date:  9/1/86   Reissue: 9/13/16

A hideous jack-in-the-box.

Murderous Nazis.

And the most evil little girl in print.

William Johnstone brings them all together in a gory, chilling, and very scary roller coaster ride of a book.    The horror starts slowly as you realize that something is terribly wrong with young Nora.  This beautiful young child is warped and wrong – and her family will pay the price.

The book is extremely violent.  I should also warn you that there’s one scene involving Nora that is truly awful – it definitely breaks some taboos.  But this is an excellent piece of horror fiction that will keep you reading breathlessly to the end.  Just don’t expect to get any sleep that night.

I’m extremely happy that the publishers are reissuing these old horror novels.  Old as they may be, they stand up against today’s modern horror wonderfully – in most case surpassing them.

And excellent (and scary) read.

·          ARC Provided by Net Galley

Epic Chilling Horror

Author: William W. Johnstone
Publisher: Zebra Books / Kensington Publishing Corp.
Publication Date:  1986 - Reissue 9/13/16

I am so very pleased that books from horror’s golden age (lol – okay, the 1980’s) are being issued, and Rockinghorse is one of the best!   I read many of these books when I was a kid, but completely missed this one, so I’m even more pleased that I had a chance to read this one.

In pure William W. Johnstone style, the most innocent of items – in this case an adorable rocking horse, becomes a tool of great evil.   The book is fast, violent, and extremely scary.

If you’ve read Johnstone before, you’ll recognize his horror formula.    A community must take sides between good and evil – and it’s not always clear who’s on which side.  Then comes isolation and an epic battle of good vs. evil.

Johnstone puts many of today’s shock horror writers to shame.  He knew how to deliver the perfect combination of shocks and chills and this one is guaranteed to keep you reading.

I hope the publishers continue this trend.  I’ll read all they can throw at me!

·         ARC Provided by Net Galley

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Complex & Meaty

Author: Douglas Perry
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Publication Date:  9/6/16

This is a strangely complex yet compelling novel.  This feels more like a crime novel than a standard mystery.

There’s a huge cast of characters and a series of terrible events, seemingly unconnected, that meld together to form a dark and furiously stark book.  Because of the large cast, it takes the reader a while to really get to know anyone, but when you do, you discover unexpected complexities in each of them.

While there’s some violence in the book, it’s more of an overwhelming sense of menace as you witness a town and its people devolve in the face of an unknown terror.

The author does disclose the truth behind the terror, but it’s almost at the end of the book.  It’s ultimately a satisfying reason, but there was a part of me that wished the truth was vastly different. 

Note that the characters (again that huge cast) also have a lot of backstories – and many of them felt unimportant.  I really didn’t need to know the histories, hopes, dreams, and motivations of every character – but I got to read them!

Four stars.  It’s a weighty book and may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you stick with it, you’ll start to find that the various characters and stories meld into a meaty and satisfying read.

*ARC Provided by Net Galley

Gruesome Goodness!

 On Goodreads

The Jersey Devil
Author: Hunter Shea
Publisher: Pinnacle
Publication Date: 8/30/16

Whether you’re new to Hunter Shea’s horror or a long time reader, you’re in for a terrifying treat with this one.

In The Jersey Devil, Shea brings into the heart of the Pine Barrens to meet New Jersey’s most terrifying resident.   Expect blood and gore from the very first chapter.  It simply doesn’t let up.

However, this isn’t just a gore-fest.  Shea introduces us to a family that has a very special interest in the Jersey Devil – a very dangerous interest.   It’s one of those ‘family that slays together stays together’ things, and you’ll love it. 

Expect characters you’ll love, some you’ll weep for, and relentless terrifying horror.  If you live anywhere near the Barrens, you’ll be looking over your shoulder as you read.

Truly excellent horror!

*ARC Provided by Net Galley

Thursday, August 11, 2016

M.C. Beaton is Back!

Pushing Up Daisies
Author: M.C. Beaton
Publisher: Constable
Publication Date: 9/1/16

M.C. Beaton is one of my favorite authors and Agatha Raisin one of my favorite characters.  However, honestly, the book prior to this one was just okay.  I gave it three stars and found it really messy.  I was a little afraid that this favorite was on a down slope.

I needn’t have worried.

Pushing Up Daisies is an absolute delight.   When a wealthy man is found dead, his son hired Agatha to investigate the murder – and get the attention of the police off of him.  When Agatha takes the case, she’s thrust into a web of murder, gossip, and veggie growing.  Can she discover the identity of the murderer before it’s too late?

You will get some of the usual here.  Agatha still falls for unsuitable men, but she seems to be a bit more self aware in this one.  There’s an underlying sadness to her encounters.  Agatha (finally) may be growing up a little.  In addition, you get that seedy undercurrent to the bucolic village life that Beaton does so well.

This one is a fast, sharp, and smart read.  I’m very glad that Beaton is back!

·         ARC Provided by Net Galley

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Humans Make Good Snacks!

Author: Kurt Anderson
Publisher: Pinnacle
Publication Date: 5/31/16

I just had the fun of reading Devour by Kurt Anderson.

Now, those who know me know that I love books where giant chompy things decide that humans make the best snacks and this is a good one.   I try not to divulge the exact nature of our chompy things in my review.  I’ll just say that this is big.  Very, very big.  And very, very hungry.

Anderson does a bit of a slow build up in this one.  While you get a bit of blood in the beginning of the book, Anderson spends a bit more time developing his characters.  You have to wait for the majority of the action.  But when it comes, it comes in spades.  The body count is high.  Bullets fly.  Teeth gnash.  And you’ll grab your popcorn and race through to the end of the book.

So, kind of a slow start, but once things get going, you’re in for a wild and bloody ride.  I hope the author brings us more chompy things in the future!

·         ARC Provided by Netgalley.

Here There Be Dragons…

Author: Keith Yatsuhashi
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publication Date: 8/2/16

And what dragons they are!  (Okay, I should have said ‘be’ here, but my inner grammar nazi is complaining.)

Kojiki, by Keith Yatsuhashi is a wonderfully fantastical tale of dragons, ancient spirts, and the modern day world.  Keiko is a wonderful character.  I enjoyed her struggle to believe what was happening, but enjoyed it even more when she embraced her dangerous adventure.   The book will hit all the right notes for anyone with an interest in Japanese culture and mythology.

But really, I was there for the dragons.  These fierce guardians are awe-inspiring.  Huge, dangerous, and everything dragons should be.   I could practically see them attack as I read!

If I had one nitpick with the book, it was that I didn’t love the things that happened in the US quite as much.  That particular storyline held little interest for me at first.  Other than that, this was a terrific read!

·         ARC Provided by Net Galley