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review 2018-12-03 18:45
THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW by Richard Laymon
The Traveling Vampire Show - Richard Laymon

As I was listening to this, I came to realize that I've read it before. A few things, like the name Julian Striker and one of the character's sisters rang a bell with me. Other than that, because I have a mind like a steel sieve, the rest of the story seemed new, so I went with it. Now that's it over, I am glad that I read it while at the same time I wish I ditched it. As you can see, I'm torn.

 

What I liked: The beginning. The coming of age portion-kids walking around and learning about the town, popping into each of their houses...these things I enjoyed. Unfortunately, they were a very small portion of the book. I did enjoy the narrator, though the quality of the recording itself didn't seem as good as others I've listened to recently.

 

What I didn't like: The sexy-times coming of age portions. One or two would have been fine, but at times, it seemed like the majority of the book was talking about hard-ons and breasts. Especially breasts. Every single woman in this book had time dedicated to her breasts. I mean, I HAVE breasts. I LIKE them. But J.H.C.- enough already!

 

Ahem. Okay-what I didn't like (continued): This entire book took place in one day, which was fine. However, it seemed like out of 404 pages, 325 were taken up just getting TO THE SHOW. Lastly, once they got there the situation spiraled out of control and became completely unbelievable. There's just....no way. I understand I'm reading a book about vampires, but believe me when I say there are believable stories about them and this one isn't it. (Kelli Owen's TEETH perhaps, or Yvonne Navarro's AFTERAGE for example.) I can disregard the realism factor if the book is intriguing or interesting in other areas. This one is not.

 

I rated THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW 2.5 stars, because I do feel it is representative of horror being written at that time, (2000-2001), and in a way, it is often thought of as a classic of the horror genre. I wanted to rate it higher than that, but I'm sorry to say that this tale didn't earn it.

 

I can't say that I recommend this, but I AM glad that I finally read it, (or re-read it, as the case may be), because I would forever be wondering about it, if I hadn't.

 

Source: I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash.

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review 2018-12-02 15:11
SCAPEGOAT by Adam Howe and James Newman
Scapegoat - Adam Howe,James R. Newman

 

 

Set to a rock n roll soundtrack in the 1980's, SCAPEGOAT should appeal to any fan of 80's horror, and 80's hair/metal bands. If these things are your bag, you should just buy  

this book now and get to reading!

 

 

Lonnie, the barely-dressed Cindy, Mike, and Pork Chop are on a road trip in Lonnie's R.V. heading to Wrestlemania 3. Since the guys were in a band,(Wrathbone), together they've drifted apart. Mike has a wife and child now and couldn't be happier. He's only on this trip for a brief vacation and to see some wrestling. Both Lonnie and the kilt-wearing Pork Chop seem to be the same people they were in high school and Mike realizes he doesn't have much in common with them anymore. Just as he's beginning to regret his decision to come with, something runs in front of their camper and gets hit. What was it? Will our group ever make it to Wrestlemania 3? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

I've read the work of both of these authors before, so the quality and depth of this book did not surprise me. What did surprise me was the way this tale played out. Being a horror fan, I've read many, many books about cults, both fiction and non, because if Jim Jones isn't a real life horror story, I don't know what is. I've also read tales about dark religions and hillbillies, and very few of them had the courage to take the route that this story took. (One or two of the true stories did, to be honest, because real life is horrific, isn't it?)

 

The other thing about this book that makes it special is the characters. I developed true feelings for all of them, though my feelings often changed throughout. Thing is, I knew all these people at some point during high school. At first, Cindy reminded me a bit of myself. (But then that changed.) I loathed Lonnie for quite a while and I thought Pork Chop was the biggest loser ever, and then those feelings changed too. There are no flat characters here-they seemed real to me, they had depth and they were more complicated than I originally thought. I love when that happens!

 

The only issue I had was that the denouement went a little too quickly for me. I would have liked to have learned a bit more about the cult and the town in which it flourished. Perhaps that would have slowed the story down too much and that's why the authors wrapped it up the way they did? I'm not sure, but this was a damn good story either way.

 

Adam Howe and James Newman are both authors to watch. Anytime either of them puts out something new, it's automatically added to my "To Be Read" list. But this? A novel with both of them writing together? Just the thought of it put a smile on my face and the fact that the novel is actually fun, fast paced, intriguing, and creative? That's just the icing on the cake.

 

Highly recommended!

 

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

 

**During the month of December, 2018 both of these authors are joining in a group read at Horror Aficionados, a Goodreads group I help to moderate. They will be available to answer your questions and comments about SCAPEGOAT. Please come join us here: 

Horror Aficionados Group Read of SCAPEGOAT

 

We'd love to have you!**

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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 2018-10-05 22:30
HEART SHAPED BOX by Joe Hill, narrated by Stephen Lang
Heart-Shaped Box - Joe Hill,Stephen Lang

It was fun taking this ride down the night road again, this time on audio.

 

I was not crazy about the narrator, nor the musical bits in between the chapters, but the story itself is still good, though maybe not quite as good as I remembered, resulting in the deduction of 1 star from my previous 5 star rating.

 

Still, Craddock and his creepy eyes remain scary AF. 

 

The moral of the story is: Never try to buy a ghost.

 

Recommended!

 

I read this book again for the Ghost Stories square in Halloween Bingo! 

 

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review 2018-10-05 18:30
OUT BEHIND THE BARN by Chad Lutzke and John Boden
Out Behind the Barn - Chad Lutzke,John Boden

 

OUT BEHIND THE BARN is totally original, weird and creepy. I loved it!

 

That said, this is not the type of story I've come to expect from either of these authors. I've enjoyed the work of John Boden for years now and what I always expect from him is beautiful writing and poignancy. I expect the same from Chad Lutzke as well, just slightly less poetic, maybe? I'm not sure what I expected from this novella, but it was not this strange story of Maggie, her farm and her boys.

 

Davey and Ronny are watching when Maggie gets home and carefully unloads her burden into the barn. Then an arm drops down from her carefully wrapped package. This has happened before, so they are not surprised or alarmed. Will the package work this time? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I'm finding it very difficult to review this book without giving anything away. It was short, spellbinding, mysterious, creative and suspenseful. Once the mystery is revealed, the problem remains as to how the characters will deal with it, and that's where the poignancy I expect from both of these authors showed up-in a big way.

 

The only issue I had with this story is that I expected to see one more chapter regarding a certain character's reaction to those poignant events. Then again, maybe that would have spoiled how I imagined that reaction went down?

 

OUT BEHIND THE BARN is a powerful piece of work, in spite of, (or perhaps because of of?), its short length. Either way, it affected me, and I'll be thinking about the boys and Maggie's farm for a long time.

 

Highly recommended!

 

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

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