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review 2018-03-14 11:03
A violent comic collection with supernatural elements - quite good
Ghost Fleet Volume 1 Deadhead - Donny Cates,Daniel Johnson



This one-off series centres around a haulage company that deals with “unusual” or illegal cargo. Circumstances arise which bring Trace, a driver, to the fore. Betrayal, bloodshed, death, destruction and the supernatural then follow ( not necessarily in that order ).


Not for the squeamish, this collection should please most comic readers. Flashbacks give us insight into the main characters and it’s quite clearly illustrated (with plenty of red for obvious reasons).


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review 2018-03-04 15:35
Scary House by Sean Thomas Fisher
Scary House - Sean Thomas Fisher

SCARY HOUSE featured genuinely scary scenes that I enjoyed!


There's nothing like a good haunted house tale to get my heart pumping. Combine that with a coming of age story and I should have a real winner on my hands. In this case, I did enjoy the story, it's just that I never felt quite connected to the characters.


Gavin and his friends are getting ready for Halloween and want to check out a somewhat nearby haunted house. Gavin had his new Polaroid, (this is the early 90's), and used it to take instant photos around the home. The house has a history, so when they find an old photo album still there, they flip through to find out more. It's when they come across a picture of their bikes, parked outside that they start to get the creeps. From there, as you may have guessed, things go downhill. What happens then? You'll have to read SCARY HOUSE to find out!


There's a lot of early 90's nostalgia, a Jurassic Park watch is repeatedly mentioned as are some other heavy metal and rock bands, such as Nirvana. (Which is funny to me, because the author used to be a DJ at my local rock radio station and it played a lot of music from that era.)


This book was fun and did have a cool premise. Unfortunately, I couldn't help feeling it was somewhat derivative of King's IT. (It must be hard to avoid that comparison, when it's a nostalgic coming of age story which also involves a group of kids coming back to town as adults.) The other issue I had was that I didn't care that much for the characters. For me, that fact took a lot of tension out of the final scenes.


Overall, I did have fun with this story and would try more from Sean Thomas Fisher in the future, it's just that SCARY HOUSE didn't turn out to be that scary for me. Your mileage may vary!


*I received a free Kindle copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-03-01 22:30
Deadfall Hotel by Steve Rasnic Tem, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Deadfall Hotel - Matt Godfrey,Steve Rasnic Tem,Steve Rasnic Tem

THE DEADFALL HOTEL is a beautifully written story, though difficult to describe with any kind of clarity. To vaguely set the scene: a recently widowed man accepts a job as caretaker at a somewhat remote hotel, bringing along his young daughter. The current, elderly caretaker is the one who recruited him, and will be available for on the job training, in the hopes that he will soon be able to retire.


Anyone going into this book expecting something like King's THE SHINING, or Matheson's HELL HOUSE, is probably going to be disappointed. While the Deadfall does have some ghosts hanging around, the story isn't really about them. Then again, it's not really about the living people at the hotel either. (Remember when I said this is a difficult story to review with clarity?)


Here's how I viewed it, (or tried to view it), and that was by looking at each chapter as its own separate story; connected only by their setting. King of the Cats, for instance. Yes, living people were in the tale, but it was mostly about the cats and the hotel. The Craving-yes the caretaker in training was part of the story, but only incidentally.


In these little vignettes, the author really shines, (especially in regards to the werewolf and the vampire), but when it came to the living people, the narrative didn't work as well for me. I enjoyed the characters, but they did a LOT of things that weren't believable. Towards the end, a few of their confusing actions were explained, (like why they went there in the first place), but the father repeatedly putting his daughter into danger was something that was not explained to my satisfaction.


Aside from these issues, I truly enjoyed this story. I've long been a fan of Tem's writing, but other than his novel UBO, (which I loved), I've not read any of his longer works. I pulled over in my car, so I could bookmark this quote from the audio:


"Fall is but a whisper in these environs. With so much death and decay on display year-round, we hardly notice the autumn and so it truncates, crawling off sullen and insulted by our lack of attention."


As I said above, I listened to this story, and I loved the narration-especially the voicing of Jacob, the elderly caretaker. Most chapters started off with quotes from his journals over the years and I think those were my favorite parts.


Even though DEADFALL HOTEL wasn't quite what I was expecting, it did grow on me, and I did end up enjoying it. I would go there for a visit...as long as I didn't have to go near that godawful swimming pool. (Trust me, that pool was SCARY.)


Highly recommended for fans of dark fantasy, and/or weird tales!


*I received the audio of this book free of charge from the narrator with no strings attached. I chose to review it anyway. Furthermore, I consider the narrator to be a friend, even though we've never met in person. That fact did not affect this, my honest review.*

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text 2018-02-12 04:36
A View from the Lake - Greg F. Gifune
A View from the Lake - Greg F. Gifune

Katherine and James purchased lake property in rural western Massachusetts when they were in their mid-twenties. They rented out the various cottages while James worked on his poetry. It was an idyllic setting and life. That is, until James discovered the body of a boy floating by one of the cottage docks. The accident sent devastated James and he slowly sank into madness and depression from a broken mind. Katherine watched as James became more and more recluse and angry until one day he disappeared without a trace. Trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered life, Katherine makes the decision to sell the property in the spring and to try and start a new life. All she has to do is get through the winter. Not an easy task now that she's hearing strange thing that sound like James. Is this all in her mind or is he out there somewhere?



I've read a handful of Gifune's work and most of them are noted for the story being enveloped in shadows and fog, to the point where it's hard to tell what's going on, what's real and what's not. A View from the Lake is no different. But where it is different than my other experiences with Gifune's stories is that there is no pay off. The last 1/3 doesn't ratchet up and have this wonderful revelation that ties everything together. In fact, the ending came out of the blue and left you with more questions than answers. The characters weren't all that interesting and I didn't feel for Katherine or James. I know this is one of Gifune's earlier works and I think it shows. When you read his later works, you'll see that he commands things so much better.



2 Confusing Hallucinations out of 5


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review 2018-01-28 07:09
Ghost Doll & Jasper by Fiona McDonald
Ghost Doll and Jasper by Fiona McDonald (2012-11-01) - Fiona McDonald

What happens when a broken doll is touched by stardust? She becomes a ghost doll, of course! The newly awakened Ghost Doll and her companion Jasper, a mangy black cat, set off in search of a safe place to live. But the city is new and dangerous territory for Ghost Doll (who fell asleep in quieter times). The noise and rush of traffic terrifies her, and as for the new style of toy—complete with computer chip and battery—she can’t think of anything worse. But there is something far more sinister and dangerous lurking in the city. Someone else witnessed the falling star and is anxious to get a hold of the fragment—and Ghost Doll—for his own evil purposes. How will Ghost Doll and Jasper escape their hunter and find a home where they both are safe and loved?





A speck of stardust falls from the sky, eventually coming to fall on a doll's head in an abandoned house, bringing her to life as "Ghost Doll". Ghost Doll is startled by all the loud noises she's now experiencing and mystified by modern toy dolls she meets who are filled with batteries and computer chips. Ghost Doll, along with her new friend, Jasper (a mangy black street cat), sets out across the city in search of a safe, quiet place she can call home. 


A safe home becomes even more of an urgency for Ghost Doll when it is revealed shortly after her metamorphosis that scientist / inventor Dr. Borsch witnessed where the stardust fell. He becomes consumed with this need to obtain the stardust for his experiments, so when he discovers it lies within Ghost Doll, he and his henchmen set out to capture her. 


I found the illustrations (also done by McDonald) to have something of a 1990s avant-garde flair to them. Made me a bit nostalgic for old newspaper comics I remember loving as a kid :-) Some of the drawings were pretty cute, others were a little TOO squiggle-heavy, making them hard to decipher. 


The plot itself was at times sweet, other times moving (especially when we get to know some of Ghost Doll's history as she starts to have memories of a little girl she belonged to once). I also really liked Jasper, who didn't seem physically tough but he was strong where it was important, in his soul. But in general, something about the story fell just a bit flat. I enjoyed the adventure while I was there, but I was sort of a passive passenger, not feeling a strong pull to return to this one in the future. 

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