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review 2018-11-12 17:55
WELCOME TO THE SHOW edited by Doug Murano
Welcome to the Show: 17 Horror Stories – One Legendary Venue - Somer Canon,Rachel Autumn Deering,Brian Keene,Jeff Strand,Matt Hayward,Glenn Rolfe,Patrick Lacey,Matt Serafini,Adam Cesare,Jonathan Janz,Kelli Owen,Doug Murano,Mary SanGiovanni,Robert Ford,Bryan Smith,Booth Tarkington,John Skipp,Alan M. Clark

 

WELCOME TO THE SHOW is a themed anthology with all of the stories revolving around, (or involving in some way), a rock n' roll club named The Shantyman. That's it! There's no hard thread connecting all the tales other than the club itself. That makes WELCOME TO THE SHOW different because there's no one "bad guy" to blame things on. In this case, the "bad guy" is anyone or anything the writer wanted them to be. In this regard, I think the authors involved had a lot more leeway as far as the direction each story would take and I think that resulted in an above average anthology as far as the quality AND the variety of the stories within.

 

I can't get into all of them here, because I don't want this review to be as long as the book itself, but the tales that stood out the most to me were:

 

WHAT SORT OF RUBE by Alan M. Clark was a perfect start to this book, providing a bit of history and setting the tone. (I've never read any of Clark's work before, but he's on my radar now.)

 

NIGHT AND DAY AND IN BETWEEN by Jonathan Janz. This story went in a totally different direction than what I had expected. Loved it!

 

TRUE STARMEN by Max Booth. I'm not sure that it was supposed to, but this story cracked me the hell me up! It's the first time THE SHANTYMAN hosted pod-casters instead of a band, and the results just made me laugh.

 

OPEN MIC NIGHT by Kelli Owen. The 27 Club-you know, those singers and musicians that never made it past that age? I thought this anthology would be a shoe-in for stories about that club, but this was the only one. I was glad because it made this tale stand out even more.

 

PARODY by Jeff Strand. Zany Chester and his plans to be the next Weird Al fizzle out before they even got started. (It's birdies, not bodies!) Chester had to go to a few back up plans, actually, and none of them were pretty.

 

DARK STAGE by Matt Hayward. This tale spoke to me in a personal way which made it that much more horrifying at the end.

 

A TONGUE LIKE FIRE by Rachel Autumn Deering. The end was NOT what I was expecting at the beginning. Usually I can see that coming..in this case I saw something coming, but not what I got. Well done!

 

Brian Keene's tale RUNNING FREE made me laugh at the premise before it got all serious. (A man trying to run himself to death by heart attack, thereby evading death from the cancer already running through his body. Come on, that's kind of funny! [All right, I know I'm messed up.]) Anyway, this story didn't go the way I thought it would and I loved how it tied into previous tales in this book.

 

WE SING IN DARKNESS by Mary SanGiovanni. This story had everything that I've come to expect from Mary's work. A terrifying future where music is banned is only the beginning.

 

I enjoyed this collection and even though it was a little uneven throughout, the variety and quality more than made up for that. I liked that everyone didn't have quite the same view was to what was going on at The Shantyman because that allowed for more creativity in the tales. Variety is the spice of life and all that, you know?

 

I read a lot of collections and anthologies over the course of a year and there is no doubt in my mind that WELCOME TO THE SHOW will be among the best I've read this year. For this reason, I highly recommend it!

 

You can get your copy here: WELCOME TO THE SHOW

 

*11.12.18 We are currently reading this book, along with most of the authors in the Horror Aficionados Group at Goodreads. Feel free to join us, read along, and ask questions of the writers, if you like! (Our read continues until the end of this month.) Here's a link: WELCOME TO THE SHOW at Horror Aficionados

 

**I bought this book with my hard earned cash and these opinions are my own.**

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review 2018-11-01 17:45
100 FATHOMS BELOW by Steven Kent and Nicholas Kaufman
100 Fathoms Below - Nicholas Kaufmann,Steven L. Kent

100 FATHOMS BELOW is the depth where sunlight no longer penetrates the sea. That depth and further is where you'll find submarines and that's where the USS Roanoke attempted to locate the new class of Russian sub-supposedly in development. Unfortunately, the Roanoke encountered some problems accomplishing their mission.

 

Set in 1983, during the height of the cold war, the Roanoke and her crew are going about day to day submarine life. Not everyone gets along in such tight quarters, but they make do for the good of the ship. When Petty Officer Stubic becomes ill, the crew isn't worried, they have a medic to help with such things. But thereafter, as officer after officer sickens, and as lights keep getting smashed out on each deck, the crew begins to get frightened, and rightfully so. Will they survive whatever it is that's on their ship? Will they find the new Russian sub? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This is my first book from these authors and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it immensely. It's a fun story and it's fast paced with lots of action. I enjoyed the fact that several of the character's names in the book are actually the names of authors I recognize, so that added a bit of fun as well.

 

What I thought was slightly lacking was character development-I could have used a bit more to add to the depth of the cast. However, I understand this book isn't trying to be a literary classic, and what we do have here is some creature feature fun!

 

100 FATHOMS BELOW is probably just what you expect it to be, if you're looking for underwater, claustrophobic, B-movie-type fun. If that's what you are in the mood for reading right now? Go ahead, take the plunge: Dive! Dive! Dive!

 

Recommended!

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-10-08 18:45
HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM edited by Christopher Golden
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden

Christmas! I really can't stand it, but this anthology appealed to me for the following reasons. 1. The killer cover! (For which I got to host the exclusive cover reveal on my blog, Char's Horror Corner, and it was very exciting!) 2. It was edited by Christopher Golden and I've had good luck with anthologies he's edited in the past. I'm happy to report this one was no exception!

 

This book was chock full of stories, nearly 400 pages worth, so I can't get into all of them here, but I will briefly talk about the tales that stood out for me:

 

YANKEE SWAP by John McIlveen. Wow! We go from a woman trying to avoid her sexually aggressive boss at a Christmas party, to her getting knocked over the head and waking up tied to a chair. This tale had it all-violence, surprises and plot twists along with a satisfying conclusion. Bravo! 5*

 

CHRISTMAS IN BARCELONA by Scott Smith. I loved Scott's A SIMPLE PLAN, but this tale was completely different from his usual stuff. I was able to guess the end just before the story got there, but that didn't spoil the fun at all. 4.5*

 

THE SECOND FLOOR OF THE CHRISTMAS HOTEL by Champion Mojo Storyteller Joe Lansdale. This was a perfect "ghost gets revenge" type story and I loved it, as I do most anything he writes.4.5*

 

 

LOVE ME by Thomas Sniegoski. This twisted little tale reminded me of the Tribble episode from Star Trek. What fun! 4*

 

GOOD DEEDS by Jeff Strand. I don't even know what to say about this one, but it's Jeff Strand. What else do I have to say, really? 4*

 

IT'S A WONDERFUL KNIFE BY Christopher Golden. I figured out the conclusion early on, but that didn't spoil the fun getting there. 3.5*

 

HOME by Tim Lebbon. This was a twisted little tale of the end of the world and Santa, albeit a Santa you would never recognize in a million years. 3.5*

 

Lastly, THE HANGMAN'S BRIDE by Sarah Pinborough. Sarah's books have quickly become some of my favorites in recent history, (and I'm glad I have a good-sized backlog to catch up with), but this tale really took the cake. My second favorite in this anthology, with a distinct Dickensian feel, young William and his soot-filled lungs stole my heart. 5*

 

Most anthologies are hit and miss with me-very rarely do all the stories hit their mark. In this case, though, it was pretty close to doing so, therefore I gave it a four star rating overall . Even if you hate Christmas, and you "Bah Humbug" with the best of them, this anthology has something for everyone-the variety is outstanding. So as the title suggests HARK people! Come and hear the angels scream!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for the e-ARC of this anthology in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-09-09 20:34
THIRTEEN DAYS BY SUNSET BEACH by Ramsey Campbell
Thirteen Days by Sunset Beach (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Ramsey Campbell

 

Quiet horror is one of my favorite sub-genres and with that in mind I was looking forward to this release from one of the masters. Admittedly, my expectations for this were high and I'm sorry to report that THIRTEEN DAYS BY SUNSET BEACH didn't meet them.

 

A man, Ray, takes his wife and extended family on vacation to an island in Greece. It's the first time that the entire family has vacationed together and everyone has been looking forward to it. It's not long, however, before they begin to notice strange things. Why are there no mirrors in their hotel rooms? Why are different members of the family having similar dreams each night? Even more intriguing, why are those same family members displaying bite marks on their bodies? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

First,  I did like the writing style and quality, and I enjoyed the foreshadowing. (At times, I think the foreshadowing was the only thing that kept me reading.) What brought me down quite a bit was the pacing and some of the characters. I didn't feel much for any of them, other than Ray, the elderly protagonist and Jules, whom I couldn't stand. (Really, I couldn't stand him-a more annoying, fussy, controlling man you couldn't find anywhere.) I hated him enough that I considered quitting this book more than once. Between him and the pacing, I came *this* close. But every time I said to myself "This is it! I'm done!" something happened that kept me going.

 

Overall, I'm sorry to say that this book didn't work well for me. The writing quality is there though, which is why I'm going with 3 out of 5 stars. What doesn't work for me might work exceedingly well for you, so if the synopsis sounds good, go ahead and give it a shot. Ramsey Campbell is a master of the horror genre after all!

 

*Thanks to Flame Tree Press via NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-07-06 18:30
WHITE DEATH by Christine Morgan, narrated by Matt Godfrey
White Death - Christine Morgan,Matt Godfrey

WHITE DEATH is the first book I've read from Christine Morgan and it was a winner!

 

Set during the Great Blizzard of 1888, it's apparent that Ms. Morgan has done her research. Set in the small town of Far Enough, Montana, this novel depicts what it was like for the inhabitants in a time when there were no weather forecasts, or warnings of any kind, before a storm.

 

At the same time, the author also weaves in some native American folklore in the form of a Wanageeska. In fact, it's the crossing of this creature that sets everything else off. I loved the characters in Far Enough, Montana, except for for the founder of the town, who deserved everything that happened.

 

The only problem I had was the large cast of characters, which are easier to follow on paper, than in audio. (I did find that jotting down notes on everyone helped quite a bit.) I thought the writing here was above average and detailed-if you ever want to know exactly what it feels like to have frostbite, or to debride the skin around your eyes trying to remove ice, than this is the book for you!

 

My only problem was that I didn't feel I got to know as many of the characters as I would have liked. However if I had, the book probably would have been much longer and the pacing slower. Perhaps a slightly smaller cast would have worked better and we could have become more familiar with people like Emma the schoolteacher, and a few others.

 

I listened to the audio of this story, narrated by the always excellent Matt Godfrey. In regards to excellence in audio, he never fails.

 

WHITE DEATH was entertaining and informative and caused me to want to learn more about the Great Blizzard of 1888. It was also quite a bit of fun where the Wanageeska was concerned and I would like to know more about that creature as well. Overall, it was a great time listening to WHITE DEATH and I definitely recommend it!

 

 

You can get your copy here: WHITE DEATH

 

*Thanks to Matt Godfrey for the Audible copy in exchange for my honest review. This is it. Further, I consider Matt to be my friend, even though we've never met, but this did not affect the honesty of my review.*

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