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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 2018-11-28 23:19
When the rubric fails you
The Ghost in the Mirror (Lewis Barnavelt) - John Bellairs;Brad Strickland

The Ghost in the Mirror is another story in the Lewis Barnavelt series by John Bellairs (subsequently completed by Brad Strickland). This is also another story featuring Rose Rita and Mrs. Zimmerman which again begs the question why this was called the Lewis Barnavelt series... At any rate, the reader follows Rose Rita & Mrs. Zimmerman as they travel back in time in the hopes of righting a 'great wrong' and thereby restoring the magical powers that Mrs. Z lost in the previous book (The Figure in the Shadows if you're not caught up). This was a much darker narrative with threatened human sacrifice and something akin to voodoo magic. However, the narrative was just another cookie cutter format with absolutely no surprises. It honestly felt like he had a little rubric that he was following for his stories and he just plugged in details like 'Rose Rita & Mrs. Z main characters' + '19th century era' + 'dark magic' and hoping for a good result. I was disappointed especially as this book didn't even have the benefit of illustrations sprinkled throughout like the other installments in the series. (Yes, this is the last in this series that I'm going to read.) This was lukewarm at best and honestly I'm happy to have finished my time with these characters (especially Rose Rita). 1/10

 

Source: Amazon

 

What's Up Next: So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know by Retta

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-11-24 21:03
Fun story, great setting, and a reluctant hero/villain you’ll get to love. And a fabulous cat.
The Devil's Apprentice - Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a fun book. Written in the third-person form the point of view of Philip, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives with his mother and who lost his father when he was very young, this novel is suitable for younger readers and also for adults. If you have given up on new adult stories because of their heavy reliance on romance and low-grade erotica, you are safe with this book. Yes, there is a love interest, but the book is a great adventure first and foremost. Rather than a reluctant hero, we have here a reluctant villain (well, more or less). A tragic mistake makes Philip end up in a situation that is totally out of his comfort zone, and he has to undergo a training that I’m sure many boys and girls would take to like a duck to water, but not him. He has to learn to be bad, and it is a challenge.

There are some world-building and some wonderful descriptions (of locations, like Lucifer’s castle, a church with a very interesting graveyard, the doors of Hell…), but it is not excessively complex, and it does not slow down the adventures. Philip, like the readers, is totally new to this place, and his descriptions help us share in his adventures more fully. He gets a variety of guides and people explaining how things work there: Grumblebeard, the hospitable devil guarding the doors of Hell, Lucifax (Lucifer’s wonderful cat), Satina (a young female demon and a Tempter) and Lucifer in person (in demon?). Everything is dark and night (people do not wish each other good day, but good night, you don’t write in a diary, but in a nightary…) everywhere, there are many types of demons, each one with his own characteristics and roles to play, and bad humans (and there are a few not-unexpected jokes about politicians, although some of the others who end up in hell might be a bit more surprising) get punished in many different ways, but Hell itself is a place where demons go about their daily lives, have their jobs, go to school, get married, tend to their gardens… It is a place full of dangers but also full of interest, and Philip gets to experience plenty of new things, not all bad.

The book’s view of Heaven, Hell and moral issues is far from orthodox. Personally, I did not find it irreverent, but it is a matter of personal opinion. Even though I did not necessarily agree with all the views exposed, these are issues well-worth thinking and talking about and I am sure those who read the novel will feel the same. I enjoyed the sense of humour, and I liked most of the characters, from the secondary ones (I’ve already said I love Lucifax, but I grew fond of most, from the cook to Death himself), to the main protagonists, like Lucifer, wonderful Satina, and Philip. He is not perfect (well, he is perhaps too perfect to begin with, and then he turns… but I won’t spoil the book for you), and he learns important lessons on the way, and he is not the only one. Although I felt at first that some of the changes that take place in the book stretch the imagination, when I thought more about it, time in Hell moves at a different pace, and for a character who is as inflexible and extreme as Philip, for whom everything is black or white —at least to begin with— the process he goes through makes sense. And by the end of the novel, he has become more human and more humane.

The book is a page-turner, there are heroes and villains (or baddies and really evil characters), a few secrets, betrayals, red-herrings, tricks and deceits, an assassination attempt, and a mystery that will keep readers intrigued. And a great final twist. (Yes and a fantastic ending. I had an inkling about it and about some other aspects of the plot, but the beauty is in how well they are resolved). The novel is well-written, flows well, with a language of a level of complexity that should suit adults as well as younger readers, and it managed to make me care for the characters and want to keep reading their adventures.

A few quotes to give you a taster of the style of the pitch of the book.

“Let that be your first lesson, Philip. Down here, humor is always dark.”

“God and the Devil roll dice at the birth of every human being,” the cat explained. “A one-hundred-sided die determines the degree of evil or goodness in each person. The results fix the nature of each individual.”

I particularly loved this accusation addressed at Philip:

“You look like a devil, but you’re not one. You are nothing but a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”

I am not surprised that this book is a popular read in Denmark. I expect it will do well in its English version too. And I’ll be eagerly waiting for the adaptation to the screen. I recommend it to anybody who enjoys well-written YA books in the fantasy genre, without an excessive emphasis on world building, who don’t mind some creepy and dark elements and appreciate a good dose of dark humour. I have a copy of the second book as well, and I can’t wait to see what Philip and his underworld friends get up to next.

 

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review 2018-11-16 18:30
THE BOOK OF ETTA by Meg Elison
The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere 2) - Meg Elison

 

THE BOOK OF ETTA (THE ROAD TO NOWHERE #2) is a heavy piece of dark, post-apocalyptic fiction.

 

This story picks up about 100 years after THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE. The Unnamed created the city of Nowhere and now they have developed their own way of life. Since the plague that started everything, women are scarce and children even more so. As such, Nowhere honors women and to keep the human race going, women there have created hives-a group of men/lovers who help that woman with chores and who also provide regular loving- with the hopes of childbirth as the result. According to the elders of Nowhere, this is the chief role of women now. Period. 

 

Here, we meet Etta, who feels constrained in Nowhere. Etta has no time for hives or for childbirth, and she wants no part of it. She goes out as a raider instead-looking for goods from the old world which can be made useful again. On her travels, she binds herself up to pass for a man and calls herself Eddie. There are more reasons for that other than the plain fact that it's safer to travel as a man, but I'll let you discover those reasons on your own. As Eddie, he comes across several towns, all with their own ways of doing things, (the world building here is impressive), and then he comes across the town of STL. (I see other reviews calling it Estiel, but I listened to the audio and I just assumed it was STL, so I'm sticking with that.) In STL reigns a man called "The Lion." What he has going on in HIS city is a travesty and an injustice-one that Eddie cannot let stand. Will he be successful in putting an end to the practices of The Lion? Will he survive? Will humankind survive? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first, but I think that's because it took me a little time to get used to the voices of Etta/Eddie. Once I did, though, I settled down and let the story wash over me. As I said above the world-building here is so interesting, each town having their own beliefs about women and children and how to keep the humanity going, it provided a lot to think about. Also, it was sad to see what happened to America in the wake of the plague-how many things had been forgotten, the uses for implements lost to history, and of course, what happened to personal freedoms and choices. It's hard for women to live in this world right now, just imagine how hard it would be in a world with no medicines, no birth control, no choices at all for women in general. These were the aspects of this world that interested me the most.

 

As a note of caution to potential readers-there are all kinds of unpleasant happenings in this book. None of it surprised or shocked me, avid horror reader that I am, but it might shock some. Rapes, pedophiles, genital mutilation, child abuse and other things are part of the post plague world and if those things really get to you, you might want to take a pass.

 

That said, I recommend this book if you enjoyed the first in the trilogy. No, it's not the same as THE UNNAMED, and no, it's not even the same world as the first book because things have changed so much, but Etta and Eddie have a lot to say and I, for one, was happy to listen. I'm intrigued and excited for the last book,  THE BOOK OF FLORA, which I've already requested from NetGalley.

 

*I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash and my opinion is my own.*

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