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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 2018-10-17 22:30
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CHARLES MANSON by Jeff Guinn, narrated by Jim Frangione
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson - Jeff Guinn

This is a fascinating look inside the head of a monster.

 

I especially liked the observations regarding how Charlie used a little bit of knowledge from all sorts of different subjects and wove them together to manipulate specific people. During his many prison stints, he met and listened to Black Panthers, Scientologists and he even picked up some tips from Dale Carnegie's book, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. He melded TOGETHER bits from of all them, depending on his audience. The result was often striking-as a professional actor he might have done well, but as a professional musician he did not. There lies much of the frustration that ended up helping to fuel his attempt at "Helter Skelter."

 

Jeff Guinn writes excellent, detailed biographies, (I especially enjoyed his Bonnie and Clyde and Jim Jones books), which work well as audios. I'm not sure if I would have liked them all as much in print, but audio works perfectly for me. (There is so much detail included that I feel like I may have become bored in actually reading these books.) The narrator here, Jim Frangione, did an excellent job and helped keep me interested, especially when detailing the actions of various family members.

 

A warning for sensitive people-the descriptions of these brutal murders is graphic and unflinching. It's uncomfortable to listen to. Even after reading hundreds of books, (both fictional and non), about murders and horrific happenings, it never fails to bother me and I never fail to try to imagine how someone could do such things. Guinn attempts to tell us in his excellent biographies, but somehow, the answer to the question "Why?" is never fully answered in any of them. But I can't keep myself from continuing to try to understand.

 

Finally, one thing I wouldn't want to forget to mention is the ridiculously random nature and brutality of these crimes. I think that often gets lost in the mysterious aura that surrounds Manson and his "family." It would be an extreme disservice to forget: the very pregnant Sharon Tate and her friends, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski and poor Steven Parent, (who was just a young man trying to sell a clock radio), the LaBiancas, Shorty Shea and Gary Hinman. May they all rest in peace.

 

Highly recommended to fans of true crime and detailed biographies.

 

*This fits the "Slasher Stories" category for Halloween Bingo 2018 here at Booklikes.*

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review 2018-06-21 20:09
Cat Ellington's review of A Life Removed by Jason Parent
A Life Removed - Jason Parent

Please consult either one of the following links to view my analysis of A Life Removed by Jason Parent.

—Cat Ellington

 

• The Review Period with Cat Ellington: https://catellington.blogspot.com/p/my-reviews_27.html

 

• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2007831466

 

Source: catellington.blogspot.com
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review 2018-05-25 18:30
THE ROAD TO JONESTOWN by Jeff Guinn, narrated by George Newbern
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple - Jeff Guinn

What a sad, sad, story. Even while I was listening, I was hoping for a different ending. 

 

Jeff Guinn is an excellent author of true crime. He is somehow able to relate the facts of the story without passing judgement. In this case, I learned a lot. The Peoples Church, (no apostrophe!), did a lot of work in the area of desegregation. Jim Jones and his wife even adopted a black child. In fact, they did a lot of good works together, for the elderly and for the members of their church. 

 

But as so often happens, absolute power corrupts and all that. Jim ran his church with an iron fist. He slept with many partners and somehow made it so that it was okay within his church. He began to do drugs-a lot of drugs. There was corporal punishment for those who did not follow the rules. He began to become paranoid and unbearable to be around, at times. 

 

Follow this to the end that we all knew was coming. I didn't realize how many people were involved in this mass suicide/mass murder, but I know now it was over 900. I say mass murder because children, (children!), were killed by having a syringe full of poisoned flavor-aide shot down their throats. It's one thing when your twisted beliefs cause you to kill yourself, it's another thing entirely to kill infants and children. It's just such a waste of life. 

 

Despite my attempts, I will never understand this mentality. I'm fascinated with it, I admit, but I can't understand it. Perhaps, it's just not understandable? It's certainly not sane. 

 

If you want to learn more about the Peoples Church and Jim Jones, then I highly recommend this book. I listened to it on audio, narrated by George Newbern and he was excellent. 

 

*I downloaded this audio-book from my library for free. Libraries RULE!*

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review 2018-03-12 01:25
A Darker Place
A Darker Place (Anne Waverly) - Laurie R. King

Anne Waverly, a respected University professor who specializes in alternative religious movements, goes undercover again to learn more about a community called Change that has branches in Arizona, England, and Japan. She found it easy to get into the community when a young girl, who looked a lot like her dead daughter and who hadn't been speaking took an interest in her. The young girl spoke to her and even laughed. She learned about her brother Jason and found herself determined to keep these children safe. She was slowly learning the secrets of the Change community in Arizona but not enough to call in her FBI counterpart to take over. Then she, along with the two kids and one other child were sent to the England branch for more advanced training with Jacob. They quickly realized things were not the same at the England branch and she was scared for herself and the kids and decided she needed to contact Glen with the FBI and fast! The problem was, he had no authority in England.

 

This book was slow moving but held my attention until the end but the ending was very abrupt and left me with a lot of questions.

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