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review 2018-09-19 23:15
Fantastic narration sets this horror-if-ic story apart from the others...
FantasticLand - Mike Bockoven

 

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~BOOK BLURB~

Fantasticland

Mike Bockoven

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Since the 1970s, FantasticLand has been the theme park where “Fun is Guaranteed!” But when a hurricane ravages the Florida coast and isolates the park, the employees find it anything but fun. Five weeks later, the authorities who rescue the survivors encounter a scene of horror. Photos soon emerge online of heads on spikes outside of rides and viscera and human bones littering the gift shops, breaking records for hits, views, likes, clicks, and shares. How could a group of survivors, mostly teenagers, commit such terrible acts?

 

Presented as a fact-finding investigation and a series of first-person interviews, FantasticLand pieces together the grisly series of events. Park policy was that the mostly college-aged employees surrender their electronic devices to preserve the authenticity of the FantasticLand experience. Cut off from the world and left on their own, the teenagers soon form rival tribes who viciously compete for food, medicine, social dominance, and even human flesh. This new social network divides the ravaged dreamland into territories ruled by the Pirates, the ShopGirls, the Freaks, and the Mole People. If meticulously curated online personas can replace private identities, what takes over when those constructs are lost?

FantasticLand is a modern take on Lord of the Flies meets Battle Royale that probes the consequences of a social civilization built online.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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Luke Daniels has essentially become my favorite male narrator after listening to this.  He and Angela Dawe were phenomenal.  They narrated several characters between the two of them, giving each voice its own sound.  Daniels did the majority of them.  He had different accents, inflections…this felt like it was a full-cast narration.

 

Fantasticland asks the question…what would a few hundred young adults do when completely cut-off from their phones and social media accounts and with no one left to tell them what to do…It's outlandish that something of this magnitude would happen, but it's laid out in a very real, very plausible way.  Seriously, this totally freaked me out, on several levels.  It was so intense and scary…if I was ever in a position to have to evacuate because of a hurricane…I'd be out.  Especially, after listening to this.

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

5STARS - GRADE=A+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4.5/5

Main Characters~ 5/5

Secondary Characters~ 5/5

The Feels~ 5+/5

Pacing~ 5/5

Addictiveness~ 5/5

Theme or Tone~ …on a horror scale, I'll give it a 5/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 4.3/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 5/5

Originality~ 5/5

Ending~ 5/5

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Book Cover~ It's perfect.  (Although a giant question mark laying on the ground would've been better…)

Narration~ 5+ for Angela Dawe & Luke Daniels

Setting~ Fantasticland Theme Park, Florida

Source~ I own Audible Audiobook

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I used this for Creepy Carnivals Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-09-19 22:52
Picking the right narrator makes all the difference...
Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

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~BOOK BLURB~

Anna Dressed in Blood

Kendare Blake

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Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

 

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

 

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

 

Yet she spares Cas's life.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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Plot-wise this has all the right elements, Anna is a fairly kick-ass ghost and despite how terrifying she is, you still end up liking her.  Especially after you hear the story of how she died.  Nevertheless, I still felt that it was missing something…maybe it's just me…or maybe it was due to the narrator.  When he did other peoples voices he was not so bad, but when he did the voice of Cas the MC, (which was his normal voice) he delivered his lines with very little emotion and it left me feeling disconnected from the story most of the time.

 

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~MY RATING~

3.7STARS - GRADE=B

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4/5

Characters~ 3.8/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~ 4/5

Addictiveness~ 3.7/5

Theme or Tone~ 4.5/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Nope.

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Book Cover~ It's quite striking…

Narration~ 2 for August Ross

Series~ Anna #1

Setting~ Thunder Bay, Ontario

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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I used this for Ghost Stories Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-09-19 07:01
Moments
Strength - Amy Daws

This is book #2 in the Lost In London series, and #5 in the London Lovers series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader understanding, and to avoid spoilers, I recommend reading these series in order.

Hayden has had a tough time recently. He lost a loved one, was fighting depression, and lost who he believes was the love of his life. Then he meets someone he cannot stop thinking about. The timing sucks, but love gets you when you least expect it.

Vi does not want anything to do with the man who blew her off so quickly. When she sees him again she cannot stop her heart from wanting, but she can use her head and be smart. Is it possible to deny yourself something you were not sure you needed in the first place?

This was an emotional and deep story. These characters are fiercely independent and fight falling in the worst way. Chemistry is strong, however, and it wins every time. Sad, sweet, and sexy, this story and series are such a great read.

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review 2018-09-18 11:33
‘Dark Descent’ gives Elizabeth Frankenstein a voice, in a retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic, now 200 years old
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein - Kiersten White

It has been two hundred years since an eighteen-year old Mary Shelley gave life to one of the most haunting novels of all time and the first true work of science fiction, so Kiersten White’s retelling of ‘Frankenstein’ couldn’t come at a more perfect time. To think that the original book was written when a young girl accepted the challenge of writing a ‘ghost story’, and she originally didn’t lay claim to her own work.

 

Kiersten White has chosen to write ‘Dark Descent’ as a retelling from Elizabeth Lavenza’s perspective, a feminist retelling if there possibly can be one, set in a time when women were taught to be objects to be acquired.
In Shelley’s story, Elizabeth Lavenza (later to become Frankenstein) is a ‘gift’ given to Victor Frankenstein, a socially awkward child, and she is taken in by the affluent Frankenstein family in Geneva, saving her from her own mother and a life of destitution. Young Elizabeth tries desperately to win the favors of the volatile Victor, and to secure her place in the Frankenstein household, and soon brings in another young girl, Justine, much like herself, saving her from a life similar to her own. Justine Moritz is brought into the home as a governess to the other Frankenstein children, a calling that she is a natural at, and she and Elizabeth become fast friends. Much of this background is given to the reader by way of flashback interludes, as are the times that Elizabeth and Victor spent together back in Geneva before he leaves.

 

‘Dark Descent’ traces Elizabeth’s and Justine’s footsteps as they travel to Ingolstadt to find Victor - and his friend, Henry - which is where he went to continue ‘his studies’, but recently haven’t heard from. Following clues that are found in his letters home, they don’t have much to go on, but Elizabeth fears Victor’s obsessions and fevers have overcome him, and only she knows how to help him.
She also comes to the realization of what his experiments really signify, and wants to protect them from being discovered.

 

Without going further (maybe there are some people out there who don’t know the Frankenstein tale), what I will say is that this is a captivating, dark, and tragic story; times were bleak for many, and even more dismal for women, and this is made painfully clear in this retelling. White has made sure to paint a vivid picture of the ugly prospects that women had in the times of Elizabeth Frankenstein: the choices she mulls over in her head constantly are framed by how society judged women’s place in society and expected them to behave. None of that was science-fiction, and it provides a fascinating historical perspective, and leading questions into feminism. It’s not by coincidence that Shelley herself was the daughter of radical social philosophers, with her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, being a writer of one of the most important founding works on family structure and women’s education in the eighteenth-century.

 

*It’s worth noting too, that the backstory and tumultuous early life of Elizabeth mirrors that of Mary Shelley (brought up by foster parents, suffered a lot of losses in her life). I find this fascinating, and feel that this permeates the writing of the original novel, and White tries to reflect this shadowing of tumultuousness, particularly in the flashbacks.

Initially I found the book slow to get into, but I later likened it to the slow discoveries that Elizabeth was making, and how the travel at the time must have felt, and I realized that this is the type of novel that I didn’t need to rush through after all. That said, at about half way, the pace picked up considerably and I didn’t want to put it down. Once the ‘monster’ comes into the story, everything seems to happen almost too quickly, and I had a lot of overwhelming emotions in the second half of the book that made it a weightier read as it went on, descending further into grief and desperation. The title is incredibly apt in that respect. I also especially love that the tone and prose feel in keeping with the period; Kiersten did an excellent job with this.

 

Few works of fiction can garner the status of crossing so many genres (horror, romance, sci-fi, literary fiction), have affected pop culture and so many types of media, for so many generations, and with one mention of the title, conjure up so vivid images and visceral reactions to its central story. Kiersten White has captured those images and the emotions effectively inside her version, without the cartoonish depiction of the modern monster, returning him to Shelley’s imagining. Upon reading, there is a sense that Elizabeth and the monster have much in common, and the misunderstanding from the world around them is palpable. There is a distinct uneasiness at the end though, and much like the end of the ‘Frankenstein’, and even ‘Dracula’, you’re left with the feeling that things are unfinished, and that the myth will continue. It’s a feeling I relish. If you have a taste for dark, gothic, or classic fiction, give this one a read; it’s also a fabulous pick especially for lovers of classic horror and science-fiction. Thank you, Mary Shelley!

 

*Kudos as always to Regina Flath for her brilliant design of the cover. Stunning.

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/2305950033
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review 2018-09-17 19:39
The House by the Cemetery by John Everson
The House by the Cemetery (Fiction Without Frontiers) - John Everson

This is another book I read with a group of book buddies. I recommend reading all books with a buddy. It makes the experience so entertaining!

 

This book is about The House by the Cemetery, if you were wondering. The house is actually abandoned and rumored to be extremely haunted. An entrepreneur with more money than brains, apparently, decides it will be the perfect location to create a Halloween spook house. Yep, nothing could go wrong with that idea, right?

 

“This place is rotting, stinking and creepy. It should be left alone to trot into the earth and disappear.”

 

The story follows a group of makeup artists/designers and a carpenter named Mike as they prepare the house for opening night. Mike spends long hours all alone making the decrepit old house safe for thrill-goers. One day a young, attractive lady named Katie and her not so attractive friend (we know this because it’s mentioned every time she makes an appearance) start lurking around the house. Katie decides she and her friend want to help assist Mike with his work. He’s a sucker for any female attention and agrees to let them pal around and “assist” even though I think OSHA might’ve had some issues with that scenario. But OSHA will be the least of this guy’s worries once strange and terrible things begin happening in and around the house . . .

 

That’s the setup and as you can probably imagine nothing goes to plan. There are secret rooms, bones in the freaking walls, relationship dramas, kinky sexy times on a bed of nails, and something sinister at play behind the scenes. Everything culminates in a spectacular bloodbath that will thrill any gorehound. I LOVED the B-movie-ish bits of this book and the horror film references but I didn’t really love some of the extraneous character scenes. There were a bit too many exchanges that felt like padding and only served to make me dislike a few of the characters rather than feel any sort of compassion for them. But I read an ARC provided by Flame Tree Press so maybe your copy will be different? I also thought Mike was a complete fool. His blindness to reality was something to behold. He was both amusing and annoying in his sex-blindness. I wish there had been less of Mike and more time spent on the character building of a few of the other side-characters.

 

I’d give this story a 3 ½. It was a decently creepy, atmospheric story until probably the last third when it took a predictable turn for the bloody. I liked the bloody, don’t get me wrong, but I could see where it was heading and my need to read began to wane. I know I’ve probably read too many books and seen too many movies like this for my own good but it is what it is.

 

I think THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is a decent choice for the Halloween spooky season if you’re in the mood for some creepy thrills, some foolish characters and a sea of blood.

 

I'm using this one for my slasher stories square in Halloween Bingo 2018.

 

 

 

Squares Called:

09/01/18-"Classic Horror"

09/03/18-"Cryptozoologist"

09/05/18-"Cozy Mystery"

09/07/18-"New Release"

09/09/18- "Southern Gothic"

09/11/18- "Terrifying Women"

09/13/18- "A Grimm Tale"

09/15/18- "Modern Masters of Horror"

09/17/18- "Creepy Carnivals"

 

 

Squares I've Read on My Card that are not called yet:

 

SUPERNATURAL: The Mouth of the Dark

MURDER MOST FOUL:  Big Little Lies

SLASHER STORIES - The House by the Cemetery

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