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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 2018-11-05 15:50
TEETH by Kelli Owen
Teeth - Kelli Owen

 

Lamians. That's what vampires are called now. They have rights just like regular people under the Stoker Treaty, so you'd better get used to it. This is part of the premise of Kelli Owen's TEETH, and it sucked me right in! (See what I did there? Perhaps I should move on...)

 

As we already know, just because laws are there doesn't mean they'll be followed. We only have to look at the civil rights movement to see that. Once coming of age is reached and the new, Lamian teeth come out, they're as difficult to hide as skin color. Unlike skin color though, those new teeth signify a lot of differences-we are NOT all the same. Lamians have special powers-they may be able to read our thoughts for one, and who's comfortable with that? TEETH does a terrific job of addressing the types of sociopolitical issues of today under the guise of vampirism.

 

Set in a small town, bigotry, ignorance and prejudice play a large role here. Lamians are hated as well as admired. They are ousted from popular social circles and in others they may be worshipped. A young woman just getting her teeth and worrying about being expelled from her social clique at school has feelings just as valid as the young man who wants to pay the dentist for implants because he needs to be accepted into a Lamian group. Looking at issues from all sides, Owen does a great job of slipping in current political commentary and I enjoyed that. Oh, and she also slips in a serial killer, but I'll leave you to discover that on your own!

 

Another aspect of this story that I enjoyed was the Lamplight Foundation. This is a Lamian organization designed to help Lamians learn more about their history, their future, their abilities and many other things. I found myself wanting to know more about them, how they came about and especially more about the leader of their local branch, Maximillian. Perhaps we will get that in a future book? I certainly hope so.

 

Just when I think I'm sick to death of vampires, an author comes along and puts their own spin on the old myths. So... relax-there's no sparkling here. There's no whiny regrets here as there is with Lestat and Louis, either. What we DO have is a clever way to address fear, bigotry and prejudice, and how they are used in our current political climate. And that way is all dressed up and disguised in the bloody gore of torn out throats and other body parts. Come on, how much fun is that? It's a LOT of fun! Trust me on this.

 

Recommended! You can get your copy here: TEETH

 

*I was given an e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-11-02 17:45
EXORCIST FALLS by Jonathan Janz, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Exorcist Falls: Includes the Novella Exorcist Road - Matt Godfrey,Jonathan Janz,Jonathan Janz

 EXORCIST FALLS was so much demonic fun, I don't even know where to begin!

 

Narrated by Matt Godfrey, this audiobook starts out with the novella EXORCIST ROAD. A completely off the wall story of demonic possession with so many twists and turns, this reader didn't know which way was up!

 

I'm not going to get into the plot-exorcism is involved- which is plain from the get-go. What makes this book exciting and different is the twists and the loads of action within. Not only do we have the demon and the priest, we have an extremely depraved serial killer-and perhaps more than one. Father Crowder, the protagonist, isn't a completely good guy either-he often gets a bit over- zealous, (over-righteous?), in his thinking, which leads him down some uncommonly sinful roads.

 

My only criticism is the fact that towards the end of the tale the twists began to feel contrived. Honestly, though? I was having so much fun by then that I really didn't care. The final scene was such a gleeful delight, I would have overlooked a LOT worse. I'm grinning just thinking about it!

 

As I mentioned above, Matt Godfrey narrated (the hell out of )this story, and his voice and pacing were perfect. There were a few hairy scenes that I'm sure must have been difficult to get through, but he made it sound easy. He also sounded like he was having a great time, which only added to MY enjoyment.

 

If demonic possession all mixed up with a mysterious serial killer and sketchy priests sounds good to you, I highly recommend you give EXORCIST FALLS a try. I've never read anything else quite like it!

 

You can get your copy here, (tell 'em Char sent you): EXORCIST FALLS

 

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-10-15 13:44
REVIEW BY LIZZY - Disjointed Lives by Morgan Sheppard
Disjointed Lives - Morgan Sheppard
Promotions Manager, Ava Reese, has all she ever wanted: a fantastic husband, a great job, a good life. But her past haunts her. 

Although she thought she had left the darkness behind long ago, her dreams start to haunt her during the day, making her question everything she has.

Ava hopes that meeting with her best friend, Paige, will help her find peace again. Can they put Ava’s dreams to rest, or will the past destroy everything Ava has so carefully built?
 
@MorganJSheppard, @elizabethb19871, #Contemporary, #WomensFiction, 4 out of 5 (very good)
 
 
Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2018/07/06/Disjointed-Lives-by-Morgan-Sheppard
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review 2018-10-11 18:45
THE FUNGUS by Harry Adam Knight
The Fungus - Leroy Kettle,John Brosnan,Harry Adam Knight

Mushrooms: I'll probably never eat one again! THE FUNGUS is a fast paced, funny and disgusting 80's horror story that contains everything you'd ever want from a fungi-based creature feature. 

 

I recently read another book by this author, (two authors, really, using the pseudonym of Harry Adam Knight. Get it? HAK?), called SLIMER. I liked that one slightly more than this because there was no real science, just a fun, slimy, creature. In this narrative, we do have an attempt to be science-y, but not overly so, which I appreciated.

 

We follow several characters from the beginning, including the scientist who accidentally created this rapidly mutating fungi. Before we know what hit us, all of London is infected and not just people either. There are several types of fungi attacking concrete and other building materials eventually resulting in the literal crumbling of the city. Will any of the plucky characters survive? What about the doctor who created this mess? Will London itself make it through? You'll have to read THE FUNGUS to find out!

 

These two authors, John Brosnan and Leroy Kettle were actually very talented, (I say were, but one is still alive-Leroy Kettle,) and they knew how to write a creature feature without getting too bogged down in the fake science. Just enough to make it plausible to non-biologists is fine. Of course, using the old trope of science making a mistake and thereby destroying humanity is always rich with possibilities, maybe even more so these days than back in the 80's when this was written.

 

Being that this book was written back then, there are some sexist views, (a few racist ones too), and a few other things that don't fit in with today's culture and attitudes. There are also a few extraneous sex scenes thrown in there, because hey-in the 80's that's how the horror genre rolled. None of which bothered me much because this tale is just. that. much. fun.

 

Valancourt Books is dedicated to bringing back these out of print books, some of which have become nearly impossible to find. (If you are lucky enough to find one, you'd better be prepared to pay through the nose.) Over the years I've watched as they've become more and more popular and with their forthcoming PAPERBACKS FROM HELL series, I think they'll have reached the pinnacle as far as retro horror publishers are concerned. (They publish other lines as well, if you're interested, check out their website.)

 

THE FUNGUS isn't trying to masquerade as scientific or serious, it's just trying to provide imaginative, fast paced, creature feature fun. It has succeeded!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Valancourt Books provided me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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