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review 2019-11-11 11:21
Silent Scream
Silent Scream: An edge of your seat serial killer thriller (Detective Kim Stone crime thriller series Book 1) - Angela Marsons

There was a time I was really into detective stories. Either on television or in books. I never seemed to tire from them. Until there was a moment where I felt I wanted to diversify the reading, and found I'm not really reading a lot of them at this point.

Silent Scream was one of the few I wanted to give a try though. And it was a bit of a mixed bag. On the plus side, I didn't foresee the ending and was actually quite surprised with it. For me, this might be the single most important factor in detective stories. It is nice to be able to figure things out before the detective, but sometimes you just want to get a run for your money (even if it is a review copy and you're not actually spending money on it). However, I didn't really like the main character, D.I. Kim Stone, she was a bit the textbook troubles detective who doesn't work by the book but apparently is so good at what she does that nobody seems to care. I hope she will improve her habits, as I plan to read some more books in the series.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2019-10-24 12:26
A fun read, unique, quirky, and full of love for art.
Stealing The Scream - Theodore Carter

I thank the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I had a ball reading this book. This is one of those books that are fun to read (even if you think you know where things are headed, you still want to read all the nitty-gritty details and end up discovering that things can go in unexpected directions), and are also great fun to tell others about. Because the plot of the book is both out-there and plausible at the same time, it’s impossible not to keep thinking about it, pondering over the details, and wondering how far things will go. And my bet is that anybody you tell about this book will also be left wondering and will want to know more.

The book’s description explains the main points of the plot in detail (too much detail for my liking, although luckily for me I didn’t remember the description when I got immersed in the book), so I won’t go over them again. This is a book suffused by art, painting in particular: love of art, the technique of painting, studying art, the obsession for art, collecting art, art museums and how they work, art as a business, but also and more importantly, the way art can communicate and affect people. The author, an artist in his own right, captures and transmits the way some art pieces can have an incredible effect on people, how we can feel moved, stirred, saddened, horrified, or utterly joyous by contemplating some artworks.  The power of some images (or sounds, or movements…) is undeniable and, as the main protagonist of the story learns, does not reside on a perfect technique. Some paintings have a soul that reaches out, touches our hearts and, like here, even screams at us.

The story is narrated in the third person from the four main characters’ points of view. This does not cause confusion as each chapter is told from a single character’s perspective, and it is clearly signposted. Percival, the retired CEO who takes up painting, is the central character, the one whose actions set the story in motion, although he does that at the suggestion of Lucinda, whose role in the story seems to be that of observer/facilitator, but whose motives and actions are, perhaps, the most intriguing of the whole book. She was an actress and seems to have fallen into her role as a mixture of PA, housekeeper, and live-in help of Percival quite by accident. She has lost her self-confidence and is both restless but unable to act, having lost her sense of purpose. Percival is a quirky character, who seems to show traits of Asperger’s (he has difficulty dealing with people other than a few individuals who know him well, is obsessive and once he has focused on something, he finds it difficult to switch off, he is rigid and inflexible in his routines…), and has a peculiar, sometimes child-like, sense of humour. Towards the end of the book his mind goes into freefall, and he reminded me of the Howard Hughes’s character as portrayed in the film The Aviator, but here the focus is on painting and art. Red, the shadiest character, is perhaps the most easily recognisable and familiar of them all, but although not particularly likeable, his resourcefulness and the ease with which he accepts the most bizarre requests make him rise above the typical crooks of novels and films. My favourite character was Leonard, the museum security ward. Although he is not well-educated or sophisticated, he is an observer of people, loves art (for its own sake), and has a curious and clever mind. He is the amateur detective, the only one to make sense of what is going on and who pursues the answers, no matter how difficult it might be.

The author assembles a cast of characters that seem, at first, to be familiar types we’ve all read about or watched on movies, but we might not feel a particular connection to. (As I said, Leonard is perhaps the most “normal” of them all, and, at least for me, the easiest to empathise with). But as we read about them, we discover they all have something in common. They are lonely and disconnected from others. Percival and Lucinda live in the same house (although it is a huge mansion, the author manages to create a sense of claustrophobia and encroachment) but, as Lucinda eventually realises, they live in separate worlds. Red has chosen to live in the edges of society and doesn’t know how to relax or enjoy other people’s company, other than at a very basic/business-like level. And although Leonard has a regular job and some friends, he lives alone in his apartment, has been stuck in his job for years, and has no meaningful relationships to speak off. The “common” experience they go through teaches all of them something, not the same, but important lessons nonetheless.

The language is versatile, adapting well to each different character, with some very funny lines at times (Lucinda keeps collecting Percival’s pearls of wisdom, and some are laugh-out-loud funny), lyrical descriptions of paintings and experiences (some take on an almost hallucinatory quality), and accurate depictions of paranoid and disturbed mental states. The plot involves a variety of locations and settings, and some action scenes, without any real violence (although there is menace and veiled threats), and the narration moves at a good pace, with some reflective and contemplative moments, but never slowing down to a halt.

I also loved the end. As I have mentioned, all the characters learn something new about themselves, and the end of the central story (the robbery of The Scream) will bring a smile to readers’ faces.  I hope somebody decides to make a movie out of it, because it would be a joy.

This is a book a bit difficult to categorise, as it has elements of the mystery novel (perhaps a cozy mystery with a difference), of the alternative historical fiction, even if it is real history (a reimagining of what might have truly happened when The Scream was stolen), of literary fiction, it’s also a study on obsession and art… I’d recommend it to people who love quirky stories with intriguing characters that do not fit into a given genre and are not followers of trends. If you love art, have a sense of humour, and are looking for something fresh and different, you must read this.  I am very intrigued by the author’s biography and his other books, and I’ll be checking out the rest of his work.

 

 

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review 2019-09-05 20:11
Silent Scream, Nightmare Hall #1 by Diane Hoh
The Silent Scream (Nightmare Hall) - Diane Hoh

 

Dark Academia Square: The fictional Salem University only has the one accursed dorm, but it inspired 29 books of chills in the mid '90s.

 

The first of a teen thriller/horror series that completely missed my radar back in the day, but is a perfect fit for the season.

 

Jesse is excited to begin college and, as a freshman, was eligible to be a 'monitor' (RA?) of Nightingale Hall, the off-campus house where she and five other freshman will spend the year. Little does she know that it was a tragedy last spring, the suspicious death of a bright young coed, that meant only freshman who didn't know any better applied to live there.

 

The house is described as a three story brick house, with spacious formal rooms and a kitchen downstairs and bedrooms on the second floor. The third floor presumably housed the chaperone, who falls down the stairs early in the book and leaves our youngsters alone in the house for most of the semester.

 

It is not as diverse a group of students as I would have expected, but this was the '90s and only white kids were allowed into Salem University at the time apparently. Of the seven students we have our heroine Jesse who is pretty, but can't afford day-glo clothes like some people, the rich playboy with a beemer, the beautiful overachiever, the loner poet, the girl with the athletic scholarship who loves him, the almost-too-handsome Ian (no other character traits so I had to give him his name) and the nominal adult handyman who lives over the garage and takes night courses.

 

There are supernatural elements that defy explanation - shredded swimsuits and shattered glass, etc. - but this is mostly a straight-forward teen thriller about abusive boyfriends (they're ALL about abusive boyfriends) and whether or not Ian will invite Jesse to the Fall Ball.

 

This had some fun nostalgic elements that reminded me a bit about college - the textbook bill though, urgh - and would have appealed to the young readers who could fantasize about their own "grown-up" college days to come.

 

As a bonus, 'Nightmare Hall', like early V.C. Andrews books, had die-cut covers that hinted at a cool frontispiece. Poor blonde Giselle lies face-down in her lavender bedroom, that day-glo yellow halter top couldn't save her.

 

Nighmare Hall


Next: 'The Roommate'

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text 2018-12-31 12:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Anthologies and Collections of 2018!
Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn
Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake,Fredric Brown
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume Three - Charles Beaumont,J.B. Priestley,James Purdy
Occasional Beasts: Tales - John Claude Smith
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
Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,Elizabeth Power
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden
Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories - Adam Light,Gregor Xane,Josh Malerman,Jason Parent,Evans Light
All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva

Welcome to my Top Ten Anthology and Short Story Collection List!

 

These are books that I read this year, but not necessarily published this year.

I happen to believe that novellas and short stories are the perfect length for horror stories, so I tend to read a lot of them over the course of a year. This year I read 14 collections and anthologies that rated over 4 stars. Here are what I thought were the best of them! (Click on the book cover to see my original review.)

 

Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn 

 

DARKEST HOURS by Mike Thorn

An incredible collection, especially for a first effort by an author. I can't say enough good things about it!

 

Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey 

 

FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES

by Steve Rasnic Tem, narrated by Matt Godfrey

Steve Rasnic Tem is a national treasure and I've been reading his short stories since I turned old enough to go to the library myself. (We won't say how long that's been, but it's in decades.) It's always been a mystery to me why he isn't more well known. This collection was narrated by the always excellent Matt Godfrey. 

(The story CITY FISHING still haunts my mind.)

 

Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake,Fredric Brown 

 

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER by Fredric Brown

This book was a gift to me from my Booklikes friend Tigus. I've read a story or two from Brown before, (THE GEEZENSTACKS!) but this collection opened my eyes to a wider variety of Brown's work. Thanks again, Tigus!

 

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume Three - Charles Beaumont,J.B. Priestley,James Purdy 

 

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES, VOLUME 3

Edited by James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle

 

Another solid entry from the gentlemen over at Valancourt Press. 

The two things I like most about these anthologies are that I've never read any of the stories before, and they are ALL good.

 

Occasional Beasts: Tales - John Claude Smith 

 

OCCASIONAL BEASTS: TALES by John Claude Smith

Written by an author I've come to admire a lot over the last few years, this collection spotlights John Claude Smith's penchant for the dark and weird. LOVED it!

 

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 edited by Doug Murano

The authors featured within such as Brian Keene, Matt Hayward,Kelli Owen, Mary SanGiovanni and others should give you an idea of the quality of these tales. All of the authors joined us over in the Horror Aficonados group at Goodreads and answered our questions. That only added to my reading enjoyment!

 

Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,Elizabeth Power 

 

SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK edited by Jack Bantry and Kit Power

Another anthology where the authors joined us in HA for a group read. What made this anthology unique was that the profits were donated to charity. Featuring authors like Tim Curran, Bracken MacLeod and Kristopher Rufty among others-the variety here was stunning. 

 

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden 

 

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM edited by Christopher Golden

 A fun anthology with stories centered around Christmas. Even though there was a central theme the variety of the stories ranged from poignant and sad to downright scary. What fun!

 

 

Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories - Adam Light,Gregor Xane,Josh Malerman,Jason Parent,Evans Light 

DOORBELLS AT DUSK edited by Evans Light

A super fun anthology centered around my favorite holiday, Halloween!

 

All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva 

 

ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD: STORIES by Anjali Sachdeva

A diverse debut collection! Spanning different areas of the world and different time periods, this was an impressive book!

 

 

Thanks for staying with me this far if you're still here. I appreciate you!

I hope you'll join me again at the end of 2019.

 

 

 

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review 2018-11-30 04:11
A Midsummer's Night Scream
A Midsummer Night's Scream - Jill Churchill

Jane has finished her first book and it is being looked at for publication and she needs to find an agent to help protect her interests. While this is going on, she and her friend, Shelley, are tasting meals created by caterers, hired by Shelley to provide small, snack meals to the cast and crew of the play. The play is written and directed by Professor Emery, who dislikes the actor, playing the oldest son. Shelley and Jane make friends with the female actor hired to portray the matriarch. They all go to a class together with the costume designer, to learn cross stitch. 

 

So much is happening in the story and it helped to move it along and I feel like I have read this book before, but I don't remember ever borrowing it before. I feel that it is important to note that it was published in 2005 because there is a character who states that she will never have a computer in her home and she won't use one. I find this interesting as there are now people who state that they won't ever own a smartphone but have computers in their homes. 

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