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review 2019-04-10 18:45
TRACING THE TRAILS: A Constant Reader's Reflections on the Work of Stephen King by Chad A. Clark
Tracing The Trails: A Constant Reader's Reflections on the Work of Stephen King - Chad CLark,Duncan Ralston,Richard Chizmar

TRACING THE TRAILS is a non-fiction book that reads like one Stephen King fan talking to another. (In this scenario, I am a King fan!)

 

This book is broken up by novels and decade, then short stories and then the novellas. After all that, there are essays on several of King's works written by other authors such as Duncan Bradshaw and Kit Power to name a few. (To be honest, I was a bit King'ed out by then and didn't read all of those essays carefully, just scanning them instead.) There were a few movie reviews as well, namely the IT miniseries and the new IT movies.

 

When I say it's broken up by novels and then by decade what I mean is these are essays and/or reviews written by Chad A. Clark in that order. The ones I enjoyed most were written about the novels IT, MISERY, THE STAND, SALEM'S LOT and PET SEMATARY.

 

My library hold for the audio of PET SEMATARY came in while I was still reading this book and seeing what Chad said here resonated with me, because this is the first time I've read PS as a parent:

 

" Regardless of what you want to call it, one of King's strengths is to take a character's story and present it in a way that you find yourself admitting that you might do the same thing. It's about taking the crazy and making it seem kind of sane. And ultimately, in the end, I find it almost as scary to realize how much I am being brought around to that mindset. "

 

Me too, Chad. Me too.

 

I enjoyed the short pieces written about King's short stories. Most especially ALTERCATION, (because I loved that story too and because my mom is in that situation right now), and UR, which was among MY first purchases for Kindle, (just like you, Chad.)

 

Regarding the novellas, I most especially liked the write up about THE MIST. I, too, am one of the few who liked the ending of the book AND the ending of the film. To be honest, I might have even liked the film's end a wee bit better. Let the discussions begin in the comment section below!

 

Lastly, there was a piece among the essays at the end about that scene in IT. Yeah, you know the scene I'm talking about. After reading Chad's take, maybe I understand a little better why King did it, but I still don't like it.

 

I don't think this book would work very well for people that do not enjoy King's work at all. That said, if you're a fan like me, (and Chad!), and you grew up reading King's early work. And if you continued reading his works for what seems like (and may BE) your entire life, then this is the book for you. You don't have to have liked all of the books King has written, in fact, it might be even more interesting for you if you haven't liked them all. Chad's reviews provide insight to what we King fans are thinking and even if you don't agree with everything Chad has written here, you might find this walk down Stephen King lane informative and fun.

 

Highly recommended to King fans, of course, but also to anyone looking for a more in-depth look at King's works throughout the years. Chad won't let you down!

 

Get your copy here: TRACING THE TRAILS

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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text 2019-03-13 22:30
Reading progress update: I've read 22%
Tracing The Trails: A Constant Reader's Reflections on the Work of Stephen King - Chad CLark,Duncan Ralston,Richard Chizmar

This is like a love letter to Stephen King's work and the years of entertainment he has provided. It's broken down into sections and then broken down by book. I've finished the 80's and I'm into the 90's section. 

 

The section on The Tommyknockers reminded me of how much I hated that book. I mean I REALLY HATED that book! 

 

So far, I AM enjoying this book though. I can relate because a lot of this constant reader's feelings, (meaning ME), are the same as the author's. So, onward ho! 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-07 00:37
Splatterpunk Fighting Back by MULTIPLE
Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Dave Benton,Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Rich Hawkins,Duncan Ralston,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,George Daniel,Elizabeth Power

Splatterpunk Fighting Back by MULTIPLE
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The definition of "splatterpunk" should give an idea of what this volume entails: characterised by the explicit description of horrific, violent, or pornographic scenes. With an abundance of monsters, gore, and sexual tones, it stays true to the nature of the sub-genre. My advice? Just be prepared.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I never would've known about this analogy had I not joined the one and only Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, and took part in their January group read with author invite. Being new to the horror sub-genre of splatterpunk, I expected that it would probably involve some disgusting and gruesome "what the hell did I just read?" moments, and I quickly discovered that I was correct. I enjoyed some stories more than others, however as a whole I consider it a great piece of horrifically violent and graphic literature.

Listed below are each individual tale, starting with my most favourite. I also thank the authors for being so pleasant to talk with, and for donating all proceeds of sale to charity.

Check out my blog to see the Q&A with some of the authors.

* * *Hellscape by Rich Hawkins* * *
Even this quick glimpse into this forsaken world left me completely engrossed. A twisted, bloody apocalypse? My cup of tea any day of the week. The Cthulhu-theme fascinated me, as I've actually never read any such thing before (I know, shame on me). Even though it was short, and seemed to drop the reader right in the middle, I was immediately pulled into the maternal desperation of the protagonist, as well as that drive of trying to keep the madness at bay. I loved every gruesome detail and the sheer brutality.

* *Feast of Consequences by WD Gagliani & Dave Benton* *
Victims fighting back - it's a particular favourite of mine. This one actually began as rather typical, reminding me of the whole Texas Chain Saw Massacre trope, yet it turns into something else entirely. The inclusion of the "Sasquatch" type monsters made my skin crawl, as I suspected the family had a rather... intimate relationship with them. Definitely images I didn't need in my head.

*Extinction Therapy by Bracken MacLeod*
This one made me think a lot, admittedly a bit more in comparison to the others. There's a belief that we all have it inside ourselves - an animal, primitive, left over from our ancestors. What if that gets tapped into? Even good people can do bad things, and we all have unwanted thoughts that seep to the forefront sometimes. I found Spencer's journey to be fascinating, and I couldn't help but want a full-length novel.

Darla's Problem by Kristopher Rufty
A classic, isn't it? The monster in the closet, or beneath the bed. I really liked this one and, sure enough, the monster creeped me out! It made me think about how we so readily dismiss children when they speak of monsters or other such creatures that don't fit into our notion of reality - no wonder it's been the plot of so many books and movies. Also, poor Darla.

They Swim by Night by Adam Millard
If it's one thing I love, it's mythical creatures, especially when an author involves their own personal twist. Ana was portrayed with such raw sexuality, and I loved the hold she had over the men in her midst. This one in particular sparked my imagination; I couldn't help but ponder over Ana's origins. She struck me as an apex predator, but also something more. Ancient. Malevolent. Like at one point in time her kind were respected and feared, yet they faded away into nothing but stories and superstition.

The Passion of the Robertsons by Duncan Ralston
Well, this one certainly took religion to the extreme, and delved into the sheer insanity of two individuals. Being an atheist myself, I wouldn't want to get on the Robertson's bad side. Really, I think the couple would've been better suited to the good ol' days of when atrocities in the name of religion were the norm. Whilst I enjoyed it for what it was, it lacked in something to really make an impact. The ending was good, though!

Limb Memory by Tim Curran
To think if we lose a part of ourselves, a piece of our soul goes with it. Despite the added humour to the otherwise eerie tone of this one, I didn't favour it as much as the majority of other readers. Disembodied limbs generally don't interest me all that much.

Molly by Glenn Rolfe
My partner has pediophobia and while I often tease and laugh, I admit that there's something unsettling about dolls. It's the uncanny valley, right? I was left with a lot of questions regarding Molly, and I would've liked a bit more information for the events that transpired to make sense. She was able to clean up after her own murders? I felt like there was perhaps too much telling and not enough showing.

Melvin by Matt Shaw
I admit, this one made me laugh, but there was a tinge of discomfort below the absurdity. The detail was disturbing - such as Claudia's skin darkening from her insides being torn apart. It makes me shift in my seat when I think about it even now. The ending? Well, it was a great ending. However, despite my brief flare of enjoyment, I can't say I favoured it highly.

Only Angels Know by George Daniel Lea
I get the impression this was supposed to be intentionally hard to follow - as it was a piece written by the character himself, of whom was a very intense and unstable individual. I had to read it twice, and still I'm not sure exactly what happened. I know he had a procedure done to himself, but it doesn't give details, and I'm left wondering if that's the whole point. Whatever we come up with in our minds might be bad enough, if not worse than what George Daniel Lea intended. Was he getting parts of himself surgically removed? Getting parts of other people stitched onto him? Maybe I just missed it completely, and it's lost within his jumbled rambling!

The Going Rate by John Boden
Honestly, this one was just too short for me to get a real feel of anything. I liked the idea, of a neighbourhood having to give their pound of flesh to appease the demon, but I was left with too many questions. Like a flash, it was just over, offering what I felt like very little. I would've loved this had it been longer.

In conclusion - There's something here for everyone, but be aware of the pushing of limits. It's not pretty!

© Red Lace 2018


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/07/splatterpunk-fighting-back-by-multiple
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text 2018-02-01 00:56
January in Review

January in Review

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 9)

It's certainly been an interesting, if not a long, month! Phew, I thought January would never end! Fortunately I got through some great books and was able to write two reviews each week. This new routine really helped me stay on top of things. Let's take a look at all the bookish goodness, shall we?

Read

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Splatterpunk Fighting Back by (multiple) - This analogy has eleven individual stories written by different authors. Going in, I was only vaguely familiar with Duncan Ralston, having previously finished Woom. I never would've discovered this had it not been for Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, of who appointed it the January group read with author invite. I was lucky enough to ask some of the authors questions whilst trying to gain more insight into their brutal tales, and I had a blast! The best thing, though? All proceeds of this book go to charity! (Rated: 4/5)

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Another one I wouldn't have picked up if not for the Horror Aficionados group. Being the January group read, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! (Rated: 4/5)

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter - I started this long-running series in 2011, and it's still ongoing. Whilst I really enjoyed it at the beginning, my enjoyment waned several instalments ago, however I can't just give up without finishing it, can I? Ludicrous! (Rated: 2/5)

What Hides Within by Jason Parent - I found this on Netgalley, and I'm glad I did! Bloodshot Books accepted my request, and I promptly read and reviewed it. (Rated: 4/5)

Morium by S.J. Hermann - I was requested to read and review this novel by the author. Being my last read of January, this one takes priority and will be the first review of February. See my request information here. (Rated: 3/5)

 

Reviewed 

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Blood Song by Cat Adams (WORST READ)
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
Stephen by Amy Cross
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds (BEST READ)
Woom by Duncan Ralston
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Other than that, January was a decent month for me personally. I'm enjoying reading more, getting out more, and generally trying to put more effort into my day-to-day life. I thank everyone who made this past month all the better, including the wonderful authors I had the chance to speak to! Here's hoping for a book-tastic February!

Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/31/january-in-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-23 22:07
Woom by Duncan Ralston
Woom: An extreme horror - Matt Shaw,Duncan Ralston

Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel by Duncan Ralston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally returning to the one place that's caused him a great deal of pain in his life, Angel hires Shyla - a prostitute that has no idea what's in store for her. Settling down into Room Six at the Lonely Motel, Angel begins their encounter with stories of that very room - terrible stories that Shyla finds hard to believe. Just what is Angel's motive? Shyla will inevitably find out, one way or the other.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

One thing's for sure - this one will stay with me for a while to come, it's even possible that I'll never forget it. It's seared into my mind, each and every disturbing tale that left Angel's lips. Despite becoming so engrossed in the twisted playground that is Ralston's imagination, I actually needed to take several breaks throughout and come up for air. I'm fairly new to the whole "extreme" side of horror, and whilst I enjoy the pushing of limits and whatnot, I feel small doses are best. Admittedly, one particular story actually caused me to feel a bit sick. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself having a strong stomach, but there's some things that just freak me out, and what transpired with Mary in "Woom" was one of those things. Perhaps it's because what Mary did to herself wasn't far-fetched at all; it's a very real thing that women in the world still do to themselves, or maybe it's just because I own a vagina and the descriptive detail offended my female parts.

Below are the respective parts of the book, and the "theme" for each tale.

Room 6 - Essentially the introduction, where Angel and Shyla first met. I admit, Angel gave off that serial killer vibe from the beginning, despite being all gentlemanly and polite.
Cram(ps) - What's the term? Stuff or swallow? Boy, this one was unpleasant to start with, but Ralston just had to add icing to the cake. It got considerably worse. (Drug muling, miscarriage.)
Pro(lapse) - Probably my least favourite of the lot. It didn't deal directly with Angel or Shyla, but added some rather bizarre humour. (Rectal prolapse.)
Woom - As I've already stated, this one made me feel sick. I don't even want to think about it anymore. (Bathroom abortion.)
(S)mother - It was Shyla's turn to share. I wasn't surprised at all by her account - someone in her profession would obviously meet all sorts. (Account of rape, asphyxiophilia.)
Man(nequin) - This was my favourite! I didn't see it coming. At first I felt sorry for Bethany, but she was absolutely mad as all hell by the end. (Mutilation.)
(Still)born Again - The climax of it all, and what a climax it was. I knew Angel had something in mind, but I didn't know just how twisted it was. (Rebirthing.)

I know a lot of people are put off by an authors intent to shock and disgust, and I'd agree if the plot suffered and was nothing more than fluff. I, however, think there was a clear, thought-provoking story here; one of hardship after hardship, and a person's tragic connection to a specific place. Angel was, by all means, a very traumatised individual that obviously needed professional help, yet I suppose, in a way, professional help is exactly what he received from Shyla. Do I believe the room itself had anything to do with it? Well, it was definitely odd that that specific room was the stage to most of the events, and considering the number of the room, it was implied something more was going on. I, however, don't think the room was "evil", or had any paranormal connections. Perhaps negativity just attracted negativity.

I was spurred on to do a bit of research of my own after finishing, regarding the rebirthing therapy. I love it when something I read prompts me to delve deeper into a topic I wouldn't otherwise be interested in, or even know about. Whilst Angel took it WAY too far in the end, the practice itself, specifically the blanket / pillow version, is heavily controversial. What's especially harrowing, is the story of Candace Newmaker; a ten year old girl who died during a seventy-minute session. I recommend reading about it, if you're into that sort of thing!

Originally I gave a rating of three, but I've increased it to much-deserved four. I'm glad I happened across this on Amazon!

In conclusion - Very well done, but not for the faint of heart. Includes highly sensitive material. I'll be reading more of Ralston's work in the future - something about the dark and twisted is addicting.

Notable Quote:

"You should always listen to that voice when something doesn't feel right. Always look for the red flags. Stop worrying about being nice, about making a scene. I know that now."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/23/woom-by-duncan-ralston
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