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review 2019-01-05 09:58
Mister Jack by Chris Kosarich
Mister Jack - Chris Kosarich

When three teens set out on Halloween night to revive an old tradition, vandalizing a house on the outskirts of town....a house that belongs to an old woman who some believe is a witch, and most believe to have passed away decades ago, they are in for a shock. For the old woman is alive and well and appears to have been expecting them. The question of whether or not she is a witch remains to be seen.

She greets her visitors with reasonable grace...and a shotgun, then offers to tell them the true story of an urban legend named Mister Jack....and changing four lives forever.

A pitch perfect tale of Halloween, which Kosarich masterfully crafts to touch upon both the classic oral tradition of storytelling and the EC comics style of supernatural revenge stories.

A perfect story for Halloween night....or any night you need a little dose of the Halloween spirit.

Chris Kosarich is an author to watch....I recommend keeping an eye on him.

Highly recommended.

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text 2018-12-31 12:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Anthologies and Collections of 2018!
Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn
Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake,Fredric Brown
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume Three - Charles Beaumont,J.B. Priestley,James Purdy
Occasional Beasts: Tales - John Claude Smith
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
Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,Elizabeth Power
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden
Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories - Adam Light,Gregor Xane,Josh Malerman,Jason Parent,Evans Light
All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva

Welcome to my Top Ten Anthology and Short Story Collection List!

 

These are books that I read this year, but not necessarily published this year.

I happen to believe that novellas and short stories are the perfect length for horror stories, so I tend to read a lot of them over the course of a year. This year I read 14 collections and anthologies that rated over 4 stars. Here are what I thought were the best of them! (Click on the book cover to see my original review.)

 

Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn 

 

DARKEST HOURS by Mike Thorn

An incredible collection, especially for a first effort by an author. I can't say enough good things about it!

 

Figures Unseen: Selected Stories - Steve Rasnic Tem,Matt Godfrey 

 

FIGURES UNSEEN: SELECTED STORIES

by Steve Rasnic Tem, narrated by Matt Godfrey

Steve Rasnic Tem is a national treasure and I've been reading his short stories since I turned old enough to go to the library myself. (We won't say how long that's been, but it's in decades.) It's always been a mystery to me why he isn't more well known. This collection was narrated by the always excellent Matt Godfrey. 

(The story CITY FISHING still haunts my mind.)

 

Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake,Fredric Brown 

 

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER by Fredric Brown

This book was a gift to me from my Booklikes friend Tigus. I've read a story or two from Brown before, (THE GEEZENSTACKS!) but this collection opened my eyes to a wider variety of Brown's work. Thanks again, Tigus!

 

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume Three - Charles Beaumont,J.B. Priestley,James Purdy 

 

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES, VOLUME 3

Edited by James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle

 

Another solid entry from the gentlemen over at Valancourt Press. 

The two things I like most about these anthologies are that I've never read any of the stories before, and they are ALL good.

 

Occasional Beasts: Tales - John Claude Smith 

 

OCCASIONAL BEASTS: TALES by John Claude Smith

Written by an author I've come to admire a lot over the last few years, this collection spotlights John Claude Smith's penchant for the dark and weird. LOVED it!

 

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 edited by Doug Murano

The authors featured within such as Brian Keene, Matt Hayward,Kelli Owen, Mary SanGiovanni and others should give you an idea of the quality of these tales. All of the authors joined us over in the Horror Aficonados group at Goodreads and answered our questions. That only added to my reading enjoyment!

 

Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,Elizabeth Power 

 

SPLATTERPUNK FIGHTING BACK edited by Jack Bantry and Kit Power

Another anthology where the authors joined us in HA for a group read. What made this anthology unique was that the profits were donated to charity. Featuring authors like Tim Curran, Bracken MacLeod and Kristopher Rufty among others-the variety here was stunning. 

 

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden 

 

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM edited by Christopher Golden

 A fun anthology with stories centered around Christmas. Even though there was a central theme the variety of the stories ranged from poignant and sad to downright scary. What fun!

 

 

Doorbells at Dusk: Halloween Stories - Adam Light,Gregor Xane,Josh Malerman,Jason Parent,Evans Light 

DOORBELLS AT DUSK edited by Evans Light

A super fun anthology centered around my favorite holiday, Halloween!

 

All the Names They Used for God: Stories - Anjali Sachdeva 

 

ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD: STORIES by Anjali Sachdeva

A diverse debut collection! Spanning different areas of the world and different time periods, this was an impressive book!

 

 

Thanks for staying with me this far if you're still here. I appreciate you!

I hope you'll join me again at the end of 2019.

 

 

 

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review 2018-12-16 01:10
Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (audiobook)
Hogfather - Terry Pratchett,Nigel Planer

Series: Discworld #20

 

A seasonal read that is just as fun as always, pretty much. There's lots of snarky commentary and adventures with the wizards, Susan, and the Death of Rats. I'm not sure what else to say, so I'll point you to my previous updates and a previous review.

 

Previous updates:

65 % (stuff to give the troops)

39 % (we have a fake imposter)

 

Previous review

 

 

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review 2018-12-04 22:32
The Water Rat of Wanchai
The Water Rat of Wanchai - Ian Hamilton

They had been profitable years, with Ava earning enough money for the condo and the car and an impressive investment portfolio. But the best thing about the jobs she and Uncle did was the ride getting to the money - it was never the same twice, and though it taxed her emotionally, it also forced her to expand her senses and her thought processes. Then there were the clients. Although she complained about them sometimes, especially those who in utter desperation were far too clinging and demanding, she also accepted Uncle's conviction that they were simply lost souls looking for redemption. "When we get them their money back, what we are really doing is saving their lives," he would say. Ava believed that, too.

Ava Lee is a forensic accountant, but we learn very little about what forensic accountants do in this book, because right from the get-go, Ava Lee turns into this shady figure tracking down people and information by using any means necessary - deception, coercion, chloral hydrate, but very little accounting.

 

Oh, I am so conflicted about this book. I really wanted to like this a lot. I was really hoping to find a new series that would fill that silly void left by other series about action-packed espionage. And this one looked good because the idea of a Bond-like figure written as a woman sounded too good to pass by.

 

However, the execution of the book didn't live up to my expectations at all. There are silly plot elements that required me to suspend disbelief just a little too much, like when Ava calls up a shipping company out of the cold and they remember every single detail about a one-off, very ordinary, transaction from 8 weeks earlier, and they didn't even have to consult their files? I found that hardly credible.  

 

There were other elements of the writing that also grated on me: the use of brand names instead of descriptions, was a major annoyance. I find this so lazy. Even if we get to learn that someone wore Adidas pants, it still doesn't tell me what colour or style or whether they were tracksuit bottoms or the more fashion-conscious kind. All I know is that they may have stripes down the sides (tho not all of them do...). 

So lazy. Yet, this book is full of this. Brand names appear so often that I once even laughed at how the multitude of product placement compared to a James Bond film, which is famously full of the same advertising. 

 

There was one particular scene where the author has Ava decide between two hotels in Hong Kong (or was it Macao), and I literally had to skip the page because I was not going to put up with reading an advertising leaflet for the Mandarin Oriental. Still, as we can see, the advert worked as I will forever remember the name of the hotel. Gaaaahhh...

I'm so annoyed about this. And I haven't even mentioned Ava's addition to a particular kind of Starbucks coffee sachet...

 

In all of this, what I can only describe as an exercise to replace descriptive writing with consumerist imagery, the plot and character development gets left behind. 

In the first half of the book, Ava does little else than answer phone calls and jump on planes to exotic locations. 

In the second half of the book, the plot thickens. Or rather, Ava breaks out her martial art skills to kidnap someone...

Ironically, this is where I should have really gotten into the book and just didn't. It took me a lot longer to finish the book than I thought, because I just could not face the tedium of reading about Ava's attempts to restore money to a company account. I think I'd have been more interested in it if the underlying purpose had not been quite so ... transactional, and if there had been more emphasis on the characters involved.  

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text 2018-12-02 14:17
Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 412 pages.
The Water Rat of Wanchai - Ian Hamilton

I should be able to finish this book today, as I am having up to 2 hours of uninterrupted reading time while my car is getting new winter tyres put on.

The gent at the garage told me I could wait or I could leave and he'd give me a call when they have finished. Even he smiled when I pulled out my book asking him to point me to their waiting room.

 

So, reading the heck out of this book while fuelled by garage coffee. :)

 

As for the book, I'm still interested but there are elements that really annoy me.

 

For example,  I find it a stretch to believe that a shipping company would remember the details of a one-off job from 8 weeks ago, that was a normal job, without consulting its files.

That does not happen, and yet, this happened twice already.

 

Anyway, onwards...

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