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review 2019-02-19 18:45
THE PLAYING CARD KILLER by Russell James
The Playing Card Killer (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Russell James

 

THE PLAYING CARD KILLER was one twisty-turny thriller of a ride!

 

Brian is tired of taking anxiety meds as he's been taking them his entire life. He decides to quit them cold turkey and see what life is really like. Unfortunately, his panic and anxiety attacks return and they seem worse than ever. Also, he can't sleep without having terrible nightmares wherein he's strangling people. When Brian learns that the victims he's seeing in his dreams are actually being killed, his anxiety ramps up to a previously unknown level. Is he murdering people while he's asleep in some kind of sleepwalking trance? How could he do such a thing? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

It's hard to talk about this story without spoilers, but I'll give it my best shot. While I don't think this tale added anything new to the thriller genre, I do think it gave an unflinching look at anxiety and panic attacks. In fact, it personified them in the form of Mr. Jitters and that WAS new. To be honest, Mr. Jitters freaked me out. I've had personal, close up experience of what panic and anxiety attacks can do to a person and I've seen what the meds can do as well. There's nothing good about any of it and this book addresses those facts head on.

 

I loved the characterization in this book, especially that of Brian and Detective Weissbard. They came across as real to me, with real life concerns and problems. I could understand why Brian wanted to be off of his meds and why it was so important to him.

 

The only problems I really had with this story was that Weissbard's boss was a caricature of a "bad cop" and I thought that came across as a bit silly, even though I did hate the guy. Also, the real antagonist of this story didn't seem quite real to me at first, but as the tale progressed, I warmed up to him and I could see where he was coming from.

 

Overall, this fast paced story flew by and I enjoyed it. I think fans of psychological horror, serial killer stories and police procedurals would enjoy THE PLAYING CARD KILLER as well!

 

Recommended!

 

 

You can buy your copy here: THE PLAYING CARD KILLER 

 

*Thank you to Flame Tree Press for the paperback copy in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-02-14 18:44
Black Wings by Megan Hart
Black Wings - Megan Hart

“My mad feelings just want to come out so much.”

Black Wings is a brooding tale about a mother being ravaged by her own internal feelings of guilt and the escalating terror posed by her young daughter and her new creepy raven friend. 

Briella is only ten when she begins to lose all of her childhood friends. She has a terrible “I’m smarter than everyone” attitude that doesn’t exactly sit well with, well, anyone. But she doesn’t particularly care what anyone thinks and she is quite content to do her own thing and hang out with her new raven buddy. But mom is concerned. When Briella earns a free ride to a school for the gifted her dad isn’t thrilled. He says it’s the place where they stick the weird kids. But Briella loves it. Her ego, oddness, obsessiveness and creep factor soon start to bloom out of control.

I’m just going to flat out say it. I despised this kid. She was rude, full of herself and, as I was reading, I kept thinking to myself how lucky I was that I birthed two sweet kids instead of two holy terrors. It probably could’ve gone either way, haha, but I know I would not be equipped to handle a little monster like Briella. I felt for Marion even when I wanted to give her a good shake for allowing her brat to disrespect her and everyone around her. This story is told from Marion’s point of view so we see everything from her eyes which leaves you wondering what, exactly, Briella is up to almost all the time. Marion is a little clueless and has a bad habit of ignoring all warning signs. She also talks herself out of her gut feelings out of a sense of guilt and maternal love. It’s a complicated thing, motherhood is, and this story does a great job of putting it all out there similar to the mother in Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I think I may have enjoyed the character of Briella more had we seen things from her perspective but alas, as written, she was an arrogant, insufferable brat with some very dangerous thoughts.

The dread hides in the shadows for a long time before horrorish things begin to happen so you’ll have to hang in there with this one. I admit I struggled at times, but I was rewarded in the last quarter. If you have a black heart you’re going to LOVE this ending. Or maybe it’s just me.

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review 2019-02-13 22:30
ALIEN: RIVER OF PAIN by Christopher Golden (Audiobook)
Alien: River of Pain - Christopher Golden

I especially liked the last one I listened to ALIEN: OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Tim Lebbon, so I thought I would enjoy this one just as much. I didn't.

 

I felt that during the first half, not much happened, other than us meeting everyone, which seemed like a bit of a waste due to spoiler-y reasons.

 

Also, when the action finally started, it was a bit difficult to fathom what was going on-I mean you could figure it out- but it seemed silly to go through all of these performances, screaming and sound effects, only to have to figure out what happened by the actual dialogue before and after the event.

 

Overall though, this was a free audio and I was entertained- I just didn't get anything new.

 

*Thanks to Audible for the free download.*

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review 2019-02-13 18:45
THE IMMACULATE VOID by Brian Hodge
The Immaculate Void - Brian Hodge

 

THE IMMACULATE VOID is a stellar entry in the fields of cosmic horror and dark fiction!

 

Brian Hodge has long been a favorite author of mine and this novel only justifies his position on my favorite authors list.

 

I'm finding that I don't have adequate words to properly review this book. (Which is the same way I felt about John Langan's THE FISHERMAN.) I was lucky enough to read both of these novels in 2019 and I'm just worried that nothing else I read this year will be as good as these two books.

 

My HIGHEST recommendation!

 

Get your copy here: THE IMMACULATE VOID

 

*This book is on the 2018 Locus Recommended Reading List and for good reason. If you don't want to listen to me, please listen to them!* http://locusmag.com/2019/02/2018-locus-recommended-reading-list/

 

** Book source: I bought this book with my hard earned cash.**

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review 2019-02-10 16:22
WAITING OUT WINTER by Kelli Owen
Waiting Out Winter - Kelli Owen

A few years ago we had an invasion of caterpillars that was so bad we would be driving over a carpet of them to get into our garage. Seriously, our blacktop was a moving wave of caterpillars. It freaks me out to this day, but hey-at least they didn't fly. Just think about how hard it is to avoid flies!

 

WAITING OUT WINTER is about an invasion of killer flies; a government experiment gone wrong, (don't they always?) However this isn't your average romping, chomping creature feature. This is a quiet little horror story, taking place during an apocalypse, but focused on the disaster from a small town and family point of view. It's not gory, but it is poignant, sad and scary.

 

This was a short, entertaining story and only my second from Kelli Owen. I recommend it and I will be on to the second novella shortly!

 

You can get a copy here: WAITING OUT WINTER

 

*I bought this book with my hard earned cash and Kelli Owen was kind enough to sign it for me. Thank you, Kelli!*

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