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review 2018-11-12 17:55
WELCOME TO THE SHOW edited by Doug Murano
Welcome to the Show: 17 Horror Stories – One Legendary Venue - Somer Canon,Rachel Autumn Deering,Brian Keene,Jeff Strand,Matt Hayward,Glenn Rolfe,Patrick Lacey,Matt Serafini,Adam Cesare,Jonathan Janz,Kelli Owen,Doug Murano,Mary SanGiovanni,Robert Ford,Bryan Smith,Booth Tarkington,John Skipp,Alan M. Clark

 

WELCOME TO THE SHOW is a themed anthology with all of the stories revolving around, (or involving in some way), a rock n' roll club named The Shantyman. That's it! There's no hard thread connecting all the tales other than the club itself. That makes WELCOME TO THE SHOW different because there's no one "bad guy" to blame things on. In this case, the "bad guy" is anyone or anything the writer wanted them to be. In this regard, I think the authors involved had a lot more leeway as far as the direction each story would take and I think that resulted in an above average anthology as far as the quality AND the variety of the stories within.

 

I can't get into all of them here, because I don't want this review to be as long as the book itself, but the tales that stood out the most to me were:

 

WHAT SORT OF RUBE by Alan M. Clark was a perfect start to this book, providing a bit of history and setting the tone. (I've never read any of Clark's work before, but he's on my radar now.)

 

NIGHT AND DAY AND IN BETWEEN by Jonathan Janz. This story went in a totally different direction than what I had expected. Loved it!

 

TRUE STARMEN by Max Booth. I'm not sure that it was supposed to, but this story cracked me the hell me up! It's the first time THE SHANTYMAN hosted pod-casters instead of a band, and the results just made me laugh.

 

OPEN MIC NIGHT by Kelli Owen. The 27 Club-you know, those singers and musicians that never made it past that age? I thought this anthology would be a shoe-in for stories about that club, but this was the only one. I was glad because it made this tale stand out even more.

 

PARODY by Jeff Strand. Zany Chester and his plans to be the next Weird Al fizzle out before they even got started. (It's birdies, not bodies!) Chester had to go to a few back up plans, actually, and none of them were pretty.

 

DARK STAGE by Matt Hayward. This tale spoke to me in a personal way which made it that much more horrifying at the end.

 

A TONGUE LIKE FIRE by Rachel Autumn Deering. The end was NOT what I was expecting at the beginning. Usually I can see that coming..in this case I saw something coming, but not what I got. Well done!

 

Brian Keene's tale RUNNING FREE made me laugh at the premise before it got all serious. (A man trying to run himself to death by heart attack, thereby evading death from the cancer already running through his body. Come on, that's kind of funny! [All right, I know I'm messed up.]) Anyway, this story didn't go the way I thought it would and I loved how it tied into previous tales in this book.

 

WE SING IN DARKNESS by Mary SanGiovanni. This story had everything that I've come to expect from Mary's work. A terrifying future where music is banned is only the beginning.

 

I enjoyed this collection and even though it was a little uneven throughout, the variety and quality more than made up for that. I liked that everyone didn't have quite the same view was to what was going on at The Shantyman because that allowed for more creativity in the tales. Variety is the spice of life and all that, you know?

 

I read a lot of collections and anthologies over the course of a year and there is no doubt in my mind that WELCOME TO THE SHOW will be among the best I've read this year. For this reason, I highly recommend it!

 

You can get your copy here: WELCOME TO THE SHOW

 

*11.12.18 We are currently reading this book, along with most of the authors in the Horror Aficionados Group at Goodreads. Feel free to join us, read along, and ask questions of the writers, if you like! (Our read continues until the end of this month.) Here's a link: WELCOME TO THE SHOW at Horror Aficionados

 

**I bought this book with my hard earned cash and these opinions are my own.**

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review 2018-11-09 21:47
Enjoying this
Cosmic Ghost Rider (2018) #2 (of 5) - Donny Cates,Dylan Burnett,Geoff Shaw

Far more fun than the Punisher/Ghost Rider mashup plus the power cosmic thrown in there because why the hell not concept seemed at first, 

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review 2018-11-06 03:33
The Woman in Black - audiobook
The Woman In Black - Susan Hill

 

 

It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve.

-first sentence

 

 

This is a dark, gothic, ghost story. The narrator, Arthur, recounts his experience at Eel Marsh house with the Woman in Black and how it changed his life forever. The story has haunted him for years and by writing it down, he hopes to be able to forget.

 

Arthur goes to Eel Marsh house to settle the estate of a reclusive old woman. At first, he tries to find reasonable explanations for the noises coming from the empty marsh. Then he realizes that what he hears is an echo of something that happened years before.

 

This is a slow moving story that gradually builds suspense and fear. The house is isolated on a marsh that can only be reached at low tide (it reminded me of The Elementals in that sense). As in that story, the isolation makes Arthur's experience even more terrifying. 

 

The audio is well done and I enjoyed listening. At 4 hours and 33 minutes, it is one of the shorter audiobooks I've listened to, but it didn't exactly fly by. It's a good story, but a bit on the old-fashioned side for me.

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text 2018-11-05 02:12
Have you heard of Stepp Cemetery?

 

There is a place in my town called “Stepp Cemetery” and local legends talks of a sad, lonely ghost of a Woman in Black who wanders the graveyard. There are many different versions of why this ghost is there, but in all versions she remains behind, mourning over a lost family member. Some say she sits on an old tree stump, protecting the graves of loved ones and if you listen you can hear her cry. Growing up we always heard about the stories, so of course, it was common for people to go ghost hunting and exploring. A lot of dark stuff is rumored to take place there as well.

 

It was after Halloween, around 2am of the next morning. I was a teenager. My family and some of my neighbors randomly decided to load up and go to the graveyard. We had the idea that we would go and find the Woman in Black, but what we found proves that the living are far more scarier than the dead.

 

Stepp Cemetery felt eerie, but that was to be expected. The wind was howling and you could imagine the sounds of a crying female and dark, fleeting shadows were always just around the corner. It is safe to say that we thoroughly spooked ourselves. I don't know if anything ghostly we saw or heard was real or imagined, but at the time it all felt real.

 

Some of us took the experience seriously, but most of us were just being silly and goofing off, though I don't think in an overly disrespectful manner. Just kids and kids at heart being kids, I guess.

 

After exploring for a while, we came across a grave of what looked like a young child. It had an Angel headstone. There was a melted candle on top of it. Our first thoughts went to devil worshiping; it just felt wrong. The sound of the wind suddenly seemed louder, the cries that may or may not have been the ghost, sounded more desperate. We were more unsure and nobody was joking around anymore.

 

 

That frightened us enough that the adults decided we should probably head back to the cars. As we were heading back, we noticed two people far in the distance. They also felt so-so wrong. Nobody spoke. We all felt this. One by one we got behind a huge tree, hiding from view. Luckily, the men hadn’t noticed us. As the men came near us, we moved around the tree to stay out of view. It would have been comical, like something from an old cartoon had it not been so scary.

 

The men got to the gravestone with the melted candle. One bent down and started digging. “Where is it?” He sounded gruff and furious. There was a glint at his side. He was armed.

 

A fight or flight moment happened and without speaking again, we all bolted and ran back for our cars. The men saw and started to chase us. The wind seemed to be chanting go, go, go!

 

“Give it back!” Whatever the men were looking for, they thought we took it. Was the burning candle a marker for something? What could these men possibly want to find in this old forgotten cemetery? What was so important that they would come armed? Was it drug related or something darker?

 

Somehow we made it to the cars. It was now around 3am, I noticed as we pulled out.

 

As if the men weren't bad enough, as we left a van full of men in white masks and black robes pulled into the graveyard. They stared at us and it felt like they were burning our image into their memory. I will never forget the fear I felt and I am sure everyone else felt the same terror. A couple more minutes and we would have been caught by whoever these men in masks were.

 

 

Were they devil worshipers? Were they just college kids doing a fraternity initiation? We will never know, but they felt bad.

 

As for the Woman in Black? I think she is real and a protecting spirit. We have family buried at Stepp Cemetery, so was she protecting us as well and whenever we did things unspoken as a whole, I wonder if it was because of her influence.

.

 

 

The moral of this story is be careful when you go to a place where you only expect the dead. The living are far worse

 

[Images are free for personal and commercial use: www.pexels.com]

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review 2018-11-03 23:18
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

After Cas's father died, killed by one of the ghosts he hunted, Cas inherited his athame and began following in his footsteps. Although his mother knows what he does and does her best to help him with any protective magic she has at her disposal, Cas has never told her his ultimate goal: he wants to become skilled enough to find and kill his father's murderer.

The ghost known as Anna Dressed in Blood will be his final one before confronting the ghost that killed his father. She's powerful - if Cas can beat her, he should be able to handle anything. But Anna isn't like other ghosts Cas has gone up against, and there are things going on in Cas's new city that he is unprepared for.

I was flying through this book when I suddenly hit a reading slump. Nothing except audiobooks could even vaguely hold my attention, and I went several weeks before diving back into this. It's a shame, because it badly interrupted the story's flow. It would have been best if I could have read this in a few big chunks over the course of a week.

Although the book is written in first-person present tense, which generally irks me, I barely noticed it here. It helped that I liked Cas's "voice." He reminded me a bit of the Winchester brothers in the show Supernatural, and the dry humor fit as well. If you're a fan of that show, I'd definitely recommend giving this book a shot.

Cas was a loner by choice who, upon moving to Anna's town, soon found himself reluctantly saddled with a couple people he eventually came to consider friends: a slightly telepathic witch named Thomas and Carmel, one of the popular girls. I liked that they both turned out to be useful in the big climactic battle, in ways that made sense. I'm hoping that Carmel gets more of a chance to shine in the next book. I liked that she didn't fit into the usual "popular girl = awful person" stereotype, although I disliked the potential romance between Thomas and Carmel.

Carmel was a little interested in Cas, but Cas only had eyes for Anna. Since he was out of the picture, Thomas, who had a huge crush on Carmel, seemed like a possibility, except she didn't show the slightest bit of interest in him. There was a line in the book that said something to the effect that Carmel could either end up with Thomas or be a shallow stereotypical popular girl and go back to dating jocks. It bugged me, because not wanting to date Thomas wouldn't be shallow of her - it'd just mean that she wasn't interested in him that way. It's possible to be both a decent person and not be interested in dating the main character's unpopular friend.

I liked Anna and the budding romance between her and Cas, although I dreaded the other characters' very valid reactions once Cas's feelings became more obvious. Even if she hadn't killed someone in front of them, romance between a ghost and a ghost hunter didn't seem like a good idea. But Anna was a pretty awesome ghost, and I liked that Cas admired her strength rather than felt intimidated by it. I did snort a bit at Anna's collection of YA stereotypes. Not only was she the most powerful and unusual ghost Cas had ever met, she also had violet eyes.

Cas had a few moments of stupidity - proving the existence of ghosts and his ghost-hunting prowess by taking untrained newbies on a hunt for a ghost he hadn't even researched, for example - but for the most part he was an enjoyable character. I look forward to eventually reading Girl of Nightmares.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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