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text 2018-09-08 12:14
Cryptozoologist
Dweller - Jeff Strand

 

I can't decide if Toby is mostly pathetic, or just an asshole.

 

The way he treated Owen as a convenience and as a cool thing he owned had me pissed off through most of the story.

 

It rarely seemed to occur to him that Owen might be miserable and lonely.

 

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review 2018-07-23 00:49
Welcome To The Show
Welcome To The Show - Matt Hayward

You've probably read anthologies in the past that have mixed horror and music but this one is a little different. Welcome To The Show includes 17 horror stories that are all set in a fictional San Francisco night club called The Shantyman. Edited by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano this book takes you from The Shantyman's disturbing origins right up to it's apocalyptic future. Demons, vampires, other dimensions and the end of the world, its all here under one roof.

 

One story I liked here was Parody by Jeff Strand. Showing that this anthology has it all this was a funny story about a Weird Al wannabe. Zany Chester was hoping to make it big by singing his own 80's song parodies and hopefully open mic night at The Shantyman will be his big break. Things don't go according to plan though but at the least everyone will remember Chester's performance. This is a simple fun story but what I really liked was the attention to detail in Chester's character. It's obvious that Chester is delusional but the fun part is trying to tell the difference between Chester's reality and the real world. Jeff Strand really show's he's a great writer with this one. 

 

Another good one was Running Free by Brian Keene. This one is about a man who is dying of cancer who takes up running in hopes of dying of a heart attack instead of cancer because if the cancer kills him his family can't collect on his life insurance policy. The problem is he is starting to have visions of dark clouds hanging over people and try as he might he can't seem to bring on his demise. You have to give this story points for originality, there is a lot going on here and I found myself loving the main character even though he's a real bad person. Most of all I like how this story blends real life horror with fictional style horror.

 

My favorite story in the book was We Sang In Darkness by Mary SanGiovanni. This one is different from the others in the book. It's set in a dark future world where music is banned and aliens are part of society. This was beautifully written a lot of meaning in this one that is left to interpretation. What I liked most about it though was how music gets used as a form of communication between aliens and humans who can't understand the other's language. There is also a great jaw dropping shock ending here that fit the mood of the story perfectly.

 

The stories in Welcome To The Show were kind of hit and miss. There were plenty of gems but a few of them left me rolling my eyes. That being said I loved how this anthology creates it's own mythology with each story adding something original to it. The mood seems to change throughout the book as well with some stories being funny while others were dark, The Shantyman is a place where anything goes. The editor's had a nice concept in mind and the way the stories were connected it almost felt like a novel. Crystal Lake publishing puts out some great horror anthologies and this is no exception.

 

http://www.crystallakepub.com/

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review 2018-07-04 20:20
Sick House by Jeff Strand
Sick House - Jeff Strand
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I had a good time with this book. This was a really nice change of pace which was exactly what I was looking for. I don't read horror all that often but I almost always enjoy it when I do decide to pick one up. This was a really quick read that hooked me right from the start. I am so glad that I decided to pick up something a little different than my usual reading fare.

Boyd and his family are excited to get a fresh start when he gets a promotion. They find what they believe to be a perfect house for their family in their new town and are thrilled to move in. Then some strange things start happening. Food goes bad almost as soon as it comes into the house. There is an incident with the family's pet tarantula. Then things really start to get crazy.

I really liked Boyd and his family right from the start. They really seemed to be excited about the move and they kept a pretty positive attitude about things until events became out of control. I loved the way that Boyd and his wife, Adeline, always put the kids first and did everything in their power to protect them. The kids seemed to handle things better than could be expected and some pretty important scenes in the book revolve around them so they were important players in the story.

I did enjoy the first half of the book a bit more than the second half. I was almost holding my breath trying to figure out what was going on in this house. I knew that something big would happen and I think the anticipation really added to the overall enjoyment for me. After some of the big events started, the excitement level stayed at a very high level until the book came to a conclusion. I did enjoy the action and liked that there were some pretty creepy and gory scenes but the mystery of the story seemed to fade a bit. I did appreciate the epilogue and liked that there were a few surprises saved until the very end of the novel.

This was my first experience listening to Joe Hempel's narration and I kind of feel like I might have been missing out. I thought he did a fantastic job with this book and I am pretty sure that I liked the story even more because I made the decision to listen to the book. He did a great job with all of the voices and was able to add a lot of excitement to the story. I definitely hope to listen to more books by this narrator in the future.

I would recommend this book to horror fans. This was a really interesting take on a haunted house story with plenty of gruesome and scary moments to keep things entertaining. This was my first time reading any of Jeff Strand's work and I look forward to reading more in the future.

I received a review copy of this audiobook from the narrator or author via Audiobook Boom.

Initial Thoughts
This was a nice change of pace for me. There were some pretty creepy and rather gory scenes in this tale of a family and their new home. I liked the first part of the book when the family was just trying to figure out what was going on quite a lot. The second half of the book was pretty much non-stop action until the end. I thought that Joe Hempel did a fabulous job with the narration of this one and I will be looking for more of his work in the future.

 

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text 2018-05-01 18:45
April 2018-That's A Wrap!
Stirring the Sheets - Chad Lutzke
Zombie Bigfoot (Creature Quest Series Book 1) - Nick Sullivan
Unbury Carol: A Novel - Josh Malerman
Hammurabi Road: A Tale of Northern Ontario Vengeance - Steve Vernon
It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World - Curtis M. Lawson
Winterbay Abbey: A Ghost Story - John Bladek,Davonna Juroe,Matt Godfrey
All Systems Red - Martha Wells
Sick House - Jeff Strand
SHOCK Anthology - Joe Pruitt
Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey

I've read 13 books this month!

 

Graphic Novels

SAGA, Volume 6 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples 4*

SHOCK Anthology edited by Joe Pruett 4*

 

Total: 2

 

 

Novellas

Stirring the Sheets by Chad Lutzke 5*

All Systems Red by Martha Wells 3.5*

RAGE by Richard Bachman 3*

Manchester Vice by Jack Strange 4*

 

Total: 4

 

Audiobooks

Zombie Bigfoot written and narrated by Nick Sullivan 4*

Hammurabi Road by Steve Vernon 4*

Winterbay Abbey: A Ghost Story by John Bladek and Davonna Juroe, narrated by Matt Godfrey 4.5*

Figures Unseen: Selected Stories by Steve Rasnic Tem, narrated by Matt Godfrey 5*

 

Total: 4

 

 

ARCS/Reads for Review

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman 3.5*

It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World by Curtis Lawson 4*

 

Total: 2

 

Random Reads

Sick House by Jeff Strand 3.5*

 

 

 

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

3. October by Michael Rowe

4. It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World by Curtis Lawson

Status: 4/40

 2018 Running Total: 61

 

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review 2018-04-22 15:33
SICK HOUSE by Jeff Strand
Sick House - Jeff Strand

 SICK HOUSE is yet another example of Jeff Strand's crazy and sick mind. What fun!

 

It's a relatively short book written in such a way that it just flies by. There's crime, violence, murder, witchcraft, a haunted house, lots of blood and gore and a satisfying ending. What else is there to say?

 

Recommended for those who like their in horror in short, bloody bites!

 

*I bought this book with my hard earned money and it was worth it.*

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