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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-09 22:44
Suspended in Dusk II by Simon Dewar
Suspended in Dusk II - Simon Dewar

Suspended in Dusk II by Simon Dewar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seventeen stories that tell of life and death and those happenings inbetween, where change is all but inevitable. Be prepared for horrors of all kinds, some more subtle than others.

(WARNING: This review contains MAJOR spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Grey Matter Press for giving me the opportunity.

First of all, I appreciated the large amount of diversity in this book; from the foreword it became clear that individuals of all shapes of life were given the chance to contribute, and I feel that’s largely absent in anthologies these days. It’s a shame, because nobody, no matter what ethnicity or sexuality or whatever else, should be excluded from such opportunities to expand their craft.

I’ll admit however, this anthology started off as rather weak for me, with stories I didn’t much care for situated right at the beginning. Angeline by Karen Runge was about, what I assumed to be, sexual abuse at a young age and the resulting aftermath in later years, whilst The Sundowners by Damien Angelica Walters focused on the complications of old age, and they were certainly interesting to a degree, but they both fell a bit short. Crying Demon by Alan Baxter made me smile, as I’m a personal fan of horror games, yet whilst it held a great deal of potential, it didn’t make it to the top of the list. Still Life with Natalie by Sarah Read was far too verbose, even for my tastes, and Love is a Cavity I Can’t Stop Touching by Stephen Graham Jones didn’t really include all that much. Yes, cannibalism is one of my most favoured themes, but the story struck me as hollow. The Immortal Dead by J. C. Michael also didn't do much for me - I mean, it wasmwell-written but just a little bland.

Now, let’s get into the stories that made an excellent impression and completely changed my overall thoughts regarding the book.

There’s No Light Between Floors by Paul Tremblay
A man emerges into something catastrophic, where gods freely roam. I feel like this is the one to either love or hate, as it’s left intentionally vague as to what’s actually happening, and it’s that obscurity that might put off a lot of readers. I tried to look at it from a different angle and take events less literal than how they were described by the character. My conclusion and subsequent theory was that his worldly perspective was entirely skewed, perhaps from trauma. I do enjoy tales that hold a deeper meaning, where I need to put my thinking cap on.

That Damned Cat by Nerine Dorman
A cult try to summon A Duke of the Ninth Infernal Circle, yet events take a rather odd turn. This surprised me - I never thought I’d be so entertained and find humour amongst this collection, but Simon Dewar clearly had his head screwed on right, as this in particular was incredibly engaging.

Riptide by Dan Rabarts
Desperate for revenge, a man sets out to hunt down the monster that took his family. I regarded this one as possibly the strongest addition. It introduced me to the taniwha, which compelled me to further read into Māori mythology. It was memorable in the sense that it was a perfect mini-novel, with a start, middle and end that captivated me the whole time.

It occurs to me that this review is already too long, so I'll refrain from writing a ten-page essay. Suffice it to say, the rest of these stories had me hooked, and there was a tremendous amount of variety in tone, atmosphere, and writing. In some, like Dealing in Shadows by Annie Neugebauer, I felt emotion, and in others, such as An Elegy for Childhood Monsters by Gwendolyn Kiste, I experienced a sense of fascination. Seriously, every one offered me something new.

In conclusion: I believe there's something here for everyone to enjoy. Naturally, there were the weaker links, but it was a simple matter of them not being my sort of thing. Those that did appeal to me, really made Suspended in Dusk II worth it.

© Red Lace 2018

Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/09/09/suspended-in-dusk-ii-by-simon-dewar
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review 2018-09-07 20:31
Whatever Happened to Ben and Mark?
'Salem's Lot - Stephen King

Not my favorite King. I think the biggest thing is that that book doesn't give you a chance to rest between scenes. Also the women were given very little importance I felt and done away with in this book. It would have been great to have some of them for the final fight or the list of survivors. I also think that the book at times was scary, but not as scary as King could have made it.  There were also some minor plot holes here and there too.


"Salem's Lot" was a pretty interesting look at vampires in Maine. We follow a writer, Ben, as he goes back to Salem's Lot. He has fond memories of the town from when he stayed there with his aunt as a boy. He returns in order to write and maybe lay to rest a house called the Marsten House had  on him too. Ben meets a young woman, Susan, and they start to date. When two young boys go missing, with one found later out of his mind the town starts to wonder if Ben could be linked to (at least Susan's mother does) and then Ben starts to reveal what he found out about the last owner of the house. Quickly things start to go bump in the night. 


I can't really say that I had a favorite of anyone in this book besides Mark. That kid had guts. King always knows how to write kids. Mark gets hit with a lot and honestly reminds me a bit of the young boy in "Desperation" who dealt with his family being murdered and still going on to confront evil. 

Ben felt colorless to me, Susan too for that matter. I think most of the adults did. King also spent time developing some characters and not others. For example, Father Callahan felt developed to me, but others like Matt and Jimmy felt only two dimensional.


I really wish that women had been given a bigger role in this one. The one character we can see as a co-lead would be Susan. And Susan was there to build up Ben it seemed and that was it. We have Ben saying things like he liked Susan, maybe even loved her. Gee thanks dude. 

I also wish that King had spent more time building up Barlow and Richard Straker. They are the villains in this piece but they felt like dime store villains. I think I am just disappointed since this is the same King that created It and the Crimson King. I wanted to see the supreme daddy of vampires. Speaking on that, I have to say that this wasn't that scary. If you are a horror fan I think you will like this book fine. 

The writing was okay, the flow was off though from beginning to end. At first the book promises to be a story about a haunted or evil house. And then the house really is not that important to the story. We focus on the vampires and the house just felt like a house and that was it. I wanted to get more of a sense of menace from that location. I wanted to feel as if Marsten House was insane. 


The world building is just a typical one with vampires and them dying by stake, afraid of holy water and crosses. I was hoping for some mythology aspects that would be pretty cool to read about, but nothing much here.

The ending was just okay. We are left with the survivors back ready to take on the Lot. King includes two short stories about the beginning of Salem's Lot and another that talks about what happened to the town two years after the events of that book. 



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text 2018-09-07 20:10
Reading progress update: I've read 80%.
'Salem's Lot - Stephen King

Book ended around 80 percent. After that there are two stories from Night Shift and then deleted scenes from "Salem's Lot."


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-07 19:33
The Between by Tananarive Due
The Between: Novel, A - Tananarive Due

The Between by Tananarive Due
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When threatening letters soon find their way to his wife, Hilton James becomes seriously afraid for the safety of his family. Being the first African-American judge in Dade County, Florida, it can be any number of individuals that Dede has prosecuted. With tensions running high, and the threats getting worse, Hilton's own picture-perfect life, as well as his own reality, begin to fray at the edges.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

This one wasn’t even remotely on my radar before it was brought to my attention by Mike Thorn, author of Darkest Hours. I decided to pick a random suggested novel, as generally my favourites are books other people have told me to read. That’s the great thing about the community; you never know what you’ll end up with. I found Due’s eerily crafted story to be rather complex, and in all honestly, it was that complexity that intrigued me even further. This wasn’t a typical ghost story, but a breach in one person’s reality. It was emotional, and I oftentimes experienced discomfort in how much Due toyed with the mental states of her characters; their lives truly took a traumatising turn and that downward spiral was dammed scary. I was shocked to find how much I wanted things to work out for the James family, and as events escalated that pesky sense of dread never did subside. You see, when an author can humanise their characters enough for me to regard them like actual living, breathing people, then that’s where my ultimate attachment lies. Much like a family unit they tried desperately to overcome the unexpected, and we all know what that’s like, even if our daily problems aren’t supernatural in origin.

I do have to admit that I found it to have a rocky beginning. Hilton didn’t really leave me with a good first impression, what with secretly lusting after one of his former patients and then complaining about his very busy and stressed out wife. Despite these unappealing actions however, I eventually warmed to him and felt sympathy toward his plight. He had his obvious flaws and whilst some of his mistakes actually disgusted me, I couldn’t help but acknowledge his struggle. The further I progressed into the chapters, the more his life went to ruin - it was akin to watching a trainwreck. Do you ever feel the need to put down a book because it just got too heavy for you? Well, there were moments throughout where I needed a respite. This being my very first encounter with Due's writing, I was thrilled at how captivating her use of prose was. I think, overall, I prefer a less straight-forward structure, and more of an artfully constructed one. Here, it highly benefited the tone of the book.

The plot did well in making me question the legitimacy of Hilton’s bizarre experiences. At times it was left open enough to theorise on if he was actually mentally ill and suffering from some form of schizophrenia, or if he truly was being hunted by reflections of himself. The added aspect of African spirituality also interested me a great deal; I'm always in search of fiction that will prompt me to do research on beliefs I wouldn't otherwise be aware of. As I've already mentioned, the complexity came in the form of certain elements being intentionally vague and left open to interpretation. The dreams, the occurrences that seemed to erase themselves, they all hinted that something very thought provoking was at play.

In conclusion: A heart-wrenching story of one family and the otherworldly forces trying to tear them apart. I found the story-telling to be engaging, endearing, and successful in making my mind whirl. It was however draining at times, to the point I needed time to recover. I definitely want more of Due's works on my shelf though, and here's hoping they're just as emotionally charged.

Notable Scene:

Even with the humidity in the little house and the steam from pots boiling over on top of the stove, their lids bouncing like angry demons, Nana's flesh felt as cold as just-drawn well water. As cold as December. He'd never touched a person who felt that way, and even as a child he knew only dead people turned cold like that.

© Red Lace 2018

Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/09/07/the-between-by-tananarive-due
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text 2018-09-07 16:29
Reading progress update: I've read 66%.
'Salem's Lot - Stephen King

Yikes! This book is really good though there are parts of it I wish had been smoothed out a bit more. I never did read this one the whole way through before. I think as a kid it didn't scare the crap out of me and also didn't grab me the way most of King's works did since vampires didn't seem scary to me as a kid.


Now anything dealing with corn (Children of the Corn) scared the life out of me though.


I was an odd kid.

I do think that at times I want King to get just get to the point since the book in parts is overly verbose. Also I think that things just keep happening with no pause in between. 


King does sets things up nicely with this small unassuming town before evil finds it. A vampire comes to play, and he's taking everyone. I wish I had felt more about some of the deaths we witness. We just don't get to pause on them long enough before rolling into the next thing.


I am more concerned with the survivors so far which are Ben, Mark, Father Callahan (ohhh lookie there!), Jimmie, and Matt. 

Is it too much to hope a woman survives this too?


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