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review 2020-05-02 02:34
On The Night Border by James Chambers
On The Night Border - James Chambers
On The Night Border is a collection of dark stories that has a little something for everyone fond of horror fiction. Oftentimes a collection like this can feel repetitive and fatigue me so much that I need a break from it but that didn’t happen here. I never knew quite what I was getting into with each story and that’s the best feeling!

I’m not going to summarize every story because we are currently in an apocalypse and who has the time to read all that when you could be reading the book?! Also? Still lazy over here.

There were no badly written stories here nor were there any duds. There was only one story, the last one actually, that didn’t thrill me because it was about infectious disease and quarantine camps and death and this is all something I’m trying my best to avoid reading about right now. Totally not the story’s fault though.
 
My favorite stories are these:

Marco Polo: This one was pure grisly fun and I loved it. It reminded me of that old show Tales from the Darkside. Anyone but me remember that show with its wonderfully ghastly tagline: ‘there is, unseen by most, an Underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit, a Dark side. The Dark Side is always there, waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us.’? Mwahaha. This story and many of the stories in this book would fit right in on that show. If someone rich and famous is reading my dumb reviews PLEASE REBOOT TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE. This story, in particular, is dark and twisty and a little manic. The perfect type of story to escape into.

Sum’bitch and the Arakadile This story is a tale of monsters and monstrous mothers and it made me sad for a few reasons I will not spoil. It’s short and to the point and might just poke you in the heart if you have one.

Mnemonicide: My notes say only YIKES! Haha, so I’m going on memory here. This one is about the purging of memories. We’ve all likely said and/or done things, maybe seen a few things, or met some people that we’d like removed from our brains. One dude decides to go for it in the most selfish way possible. This one BOTHERED me so much! You must read it and get bothered too!

What’s in the Bag, Dad? The setting is a traveling circus and ever since falling in absolute love with Katherine Dunn’s GEEK LOVE, I have a huge soft spot for those. There’s magic and pain and again some sadness here. It also kept me guessing which kept me reading because I am nosy and had to know what the hell was in the bag!

The Driver, Under A Cheshire Moon: Well, this sucker packs a punch. It’s dark but it is the best kind of dark. It lulls you into thinking one thing and then it sideswipes you with the truth of the situation. I ♥ it.

Living Dead: is a lighter-hearted story about the lovelorn and the living dead. This is my kind of story. And if you like this one you should also read Terry Maggert’s COOL TO THE TOUCH as a nice little companion piece. You will thank me later, haha.

I’ll stop here before I end up carrying on about all of the stories. Do yourself a favor and read this one if you need some fiction that’ll transport you to another world for a little bit. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
 
 
 

 

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review 2020-04-23 20:17
Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
Dead to Her - Sarah Pinborough

Dead to Her is Sarah Pinborough’s follow up to her pitch-black perfection of a thriller ‘Behind Her Eyes’. I LOVED that book so much. It was moody and evil and filled with horrible, selfish people doing horrible things to each other. Dead to Her is filled with an equal amount of evil and selfish people too but it took me a long time to warm up to the story because they were all beautiful, wealthy second wives and I was just “eh, who gives a cats bum about these witches and their inner thoughts”. This is where you call me a jerk and I totally agree.

“They were all poison one way or another and maybe she was the only one honest enough to see it.”

But somewhere along the line when the lusty interludes and evil goings-on began, my attention was caught and I couldn’t wait to see the devastation hit them all hard. This is the part where some people might want to tune out but I was there for it. I’m not going to pen a detailed review, this is a lurid thriller and the fun of them should be experienced by the reader and never spoiled beforehand.

This wasn’t a perfect read for me but I enjoyed it once it hooked me and I got over my dislike of the grasping second wife trope. There is a little voodoo, a little passion, a whole helluva lot of betrayal, delectable villains, and some nicely haunting turns of phrase as well as my favorite thing: secrets!

“Even in the sunshine, it seemed ghosts fought for breath.”

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review 2020-04-20 00:15
Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly
Theme Music - T. Marie Vandelly


“Come on. Run screaming into the night with me.”

Theme Music is my kind of book. Admittedly, my kind of book changes with the wind but today my kind of book is snarky and bloody and emotional and a rollercoaster of “what the hell is happening here?!!”

The prologue was HORRIFYING and it completely hooked me. Read it, if you love it I think you’re going to love the book. If it’s too much to take, read the book anyway but don’t blame me! This book contains one of the best prologues I’ve read in maybe forever. It made me cringe, laugh and question my sanity for the laughter. That’s some skill right there and it continues throughout the book. I LOVED the dark humor of the heroine so much. Words cannot express how much. Without it, this book may have been entirely too dark to handle at this point in my life. As written, it was my kind of perfection.

I don’t want to spoil the book for you so I’m going to be my typical lazy self and tell you very little. Win/win, right? You should be spending your time reading the book instead of my stupid review, anyway. So here’s the plot. It’s a simple one on the surface but it’s really not simple at all. Dixie rents a house. It is probably haunted. This is why she moves in despite a brief moment where she thinks perhaps this maybe isn’t the best of plans.

“I don’t think it’s right for me... To disturb the dead”

But she does it anyway, haha! See why I love Dixie? She begins to investigate the decades-old murders and discovers the truth may not be the truth she’s always assumed was the truth. How’s that for a sentence?! Ha, reviewer of the year award right there. Anyway, that’s all I’m saying and it’s likely too much.

This book has echoes of The Amityville Horror and The Haunting of Hill House and all of those chilling and blood-splattered haunted house stories we all love so much but it is told from Dixie’s point of view and as much as we might love her, we’re not always sure we can trust her but through it all, I never doubted my kinship with her. She’s morbid and she’s obsessed and she keeps the reader, as well as everyone around her, a little off-kilter.

“I only lied to you because I didn’t want to tell you the truth”

 

This is no doubt a wonderfully obsessive, creepy haunted house tale but it’s absolutely captivating and immersive because of the writing. Dixie drags you into her head and her whacked out world and you fall right in never quite knowing if Dixie is telling herself the truth. She also has a beautiful way of attributing scents to people, one that isn’t included nearly enough in the horror novels I typically read. “There was a warm, somnolent maple scent filling the air around him. Garrett smelled like that sometimes, too, as though he had been baking all night at a low temperature.” I don’t why but I LOVED that lovely sensory description so very much.

I loved this book with all that’s left of my heart if I haven’t made that clear enough yet. I will not say a negative thing. It kept me guessing throughout. My notes are filled with all the wrong guesses and here I was thinking I was getting better at this mystery game having read way too many lurid thrillers of late! The author was able to pull me in at a time when my brain was terribly distracted by - oh everything. She caught my attention with the creeps and the humor but she kept me with the strong emotional ties and the originally written heroine.

Amazing stuff. Go read it! And then make all of your horror pals read it.
 

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review 2020-03-27 19:06
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
The Luminous Dead - Caitlin Starling

I will admit straight off that I’m not a huge fan of action and sci-fi stories. I know, I am terrible. There's no need to tell me. I don’t know why I am the way that I am but that’s how I am. So I went into this after hearing over and over again that it was one of the best books of 2019, and hoping with every hope in my being that the creep factor would be enough to keep me going. If it wasn’t enough and I had to DNF this book I would have to be the lone voice of negativity and I don’t like being that person and truly it would’ve been my own fault. Fortunately for me, the horror vibe was creepy enough to keep me going through all of the action/adventure/sci-fi bits when I otherwise might've noped out but what truly surprised me was how much I wanted to keep reading to find out how everything ended for the two characters in the story. The complicated relationship that develops ever so slowly between caver Gyre and her guide Em was more than enough for me. I’m a sucker for flawed and complex relationships and this is a great one. There’s a lot of pain and hurt and backstory and damage here and I loved getting down into it and watching it all get picked apart and brought to the surface.

 

This book is overwhelmingly claustrophobic and the atmosphere is painstakingly put down on the page. There may even be a monster lurking in the cave! I almost forgot about that bit of added terror. Trust me, you’ll want to read this book somewhere bright. Somewhere with a lot of air. Maybe somewhere you can hear the birds sing a lovely song to you. It is that intense. There is also some squirm worthy and delightful, depending on your level of weirdness, body horror that happens here. Gyre, the caver, has been fitted and physically modified into her suit as were some other folks we meet along the way but I won’t say anything more about that, nor will I tell you about the plot because I don’t want to spoil and maybe I’m a little lazy. But I will tell you that some of that stuff really made me cringe a bit in horror and I love it when a book hits me that way.

There are many 5 star reviews for this book and I’m going to be here giving it a four and ½ and I won’t be rounding up because of my personal preferences and because some of it was a little bit of a slog for me, if you want to know the honest truth It is not a book I’d reread again but I wasn’t disappointed with the horror bits and the emotional wringer the characters put me through. Definitely recommended and an incredible debut.

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review 2020-03-24 18:44
Full Brutal by Kristopher Triana
Full Brutal - Kristopher Triana

This book will not be for everyone but it was definitely for me. It managed to take my mind off of the current hellish timeline we’re caught up in and thrust me into someone else's for a few hours.

But, yeah, this book is not for everyone. It is extreme horror and by extreme I mean extremely gross and violent. Prepare thyself.

“I want to fuck you with a frozen dog turd.”
(note to myself: remove this most excellent line before the cross-post to those prudes at Amazon!)

It’s funny too, sometimes. Or at least I thought so. And I desperately needed some pitch black humor in my life at this moment in time.

Things start out normally enough. Kim is one of those spoiled little rich cheerleader types that most of us love to hate and by us I mean me, and maybe you too if you’re busy reading a review of a book called Full Brutal but I’m not here to judge. Her daddy gives her whatever her black heart desires, as well as all the freedom in the world but she is deeply unhappy. She can’t feel things like the other girls do. Boo-hoo. Woe is her. Blah, blah, get over yourself and who cares, right? Well, this girl decides to be proactive and tries to fix her ennui and her whining and believes life will be worth living once she finds the thing that gives her a thrill. You can't fault her for that, right? She thinks that thing might be losing her virginity but soon enough she discovers that sex is blah like everything else but she’s a girl who learns from her mistakes. She learns that it’s the thrill of the dark and the dangerous that make her heart and other body parts race.

I’m going to keep from spoiling the ugly surprises that await within these pages because I think the impact will be stronger if you don’t know what’s coming. I spoiled myself because I read the blurb and skimmed a review or two before stopping my nosy self. You should know that this story features a whole heck of a lot of trigger warnings. Quite possibly all of them with the exception of prolonged animal torture (but don’t quote me on that because my brain is not working okay right now). Sometimes things bother me depending on my mood, the day, or the color of the sky but there was nothing here that made me ever want to shut it off and pour bleach in my ears.

I enjoyed this immensely despite knowing I probably shouldn’t. Kim is a monster. One of those human monsters that walk around looking like everyone else and pretending to be like the others. Full Brutal is cruel and evil and so very wrong but the fact that the perpetrator of all of these horrible misdeeds is a beautiful teenage girl worked for me. I’m not even going to pretend to lie, if it had been a grown man telling this story and finding such joy and glee in these atrocities I might’ve pulled the plug, I refuse to think about that too much or attempt to explain myself so please don't ask. You like what you like, you know? And this book held me in its gore-filled grasp until the very last word.

Narration Notes: Dani George does a decent job with the narration. A few of the guys sounded a bit rough but they didn’t really matter anyway, lol.

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