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review 2017-07-11 01:48
Halloween Carnival Volume 1
Halloween Carnival Volume 1 - Lisa Morton,Kevin Lucia,John Little,Brian James Freeman,Robert R. McCammon

 

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 is a tasty treat for horror lovers everywhere!

 

First off, I have to mention the opening story, Robert McCammon's Strange Candy. I'm a huge McCammon fan and this story was originally found in the FANTASTIC collection Blue World. Poignant and sweet this tale will always remain one of my favorites.

 

With that out of the way, the story that impressed me the most here was Kevin Lucia's The Rage of Achilles, or When Mockingbirds Sing. What started out to be a story of the difficulties of parenting a special needs child turned into a story of such bittersweet pain and love, I thought I heard my heart crack. Beautifully written with prose that cuts straight through your chest, this was the star of Volume 1.

 

La Hacienda de los Muertos by Lisa Morton was a neatly wrapped up tale about shooting a movie in Mexico. And maybe a ghost?

 

John Little can always be counted on to deliver and that he does with Demon Air. 

 

 Lastly, Mark Allen Gunnells' #Makehalloweenscaryagain was my first read of this author's work. While I generally don't care for hashtag anything, and even though I partially guessed how this story would end, I still enjoyed the journey and I look forward to reading more from Gunnells in the future.

 

Other than Strange Candy, I am not sure if these other stories have been published elsewhere previously. If so, I haven't come across them. I enjoyed the fact that these tales were mostly gore free, quiet horror since that's the type I prefer these days.

 

If quiet but powerful horror is your thing, I highly recommend this collection-especially for your Halloween reading pleasure!

 

You can pre-order your copy here: Halloween Carnival Volume 1

 

*Thanks so much to Hydra and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion. This is it!*

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review 2017-07-04 16:19
Dark Screams: Volume Seven
Dark Screams: Volume Seven - Brian Hodge,Bill Schweigart,Richard Chizmar,Brian James Freeman,Robert R. McCammon

The Dark Screams series comes along with this, Volume Seven, and continues to be one of the most solid anthology series' out there. 

 

Going into this, I fully expected the Robert McCammon story to be my favorite, as he's one of my favorite authors and never fails to satisfy my story urge. However, I have to hand it to James Renner because his story A MONSTER COMES TO ASHDOWN FOREST (IN WHICH CHRISTOPHER ROBIN SAYS GOODBYE) not only knocked the ball out of the park, it knocked it out of town! To see the Pooh stories turned into dark fiction pleased me to no end! Five FAT stars!

 

That said, I did love McCammon's Lizardman. In a way this story reminded me of that TV show I've seen previews of-The Swamp People? But then the tale took a strange twist and landed somewhere totally different. 4 stars!

 

 

WEST OF MATAMOROS, NORTH OF HELL by Brian Hodge was a strange tale where mythology and real life blended into a torture chamber of sorts. Never pray to the skeleton saint. 4*

 

I enjoyed the rest of the stories as well, just as not as much as these 3-and these 3 alone are well worth the price of admission! Highly recommended!

 

You can pre-order your copy here: Dark Screams: Volume Seven

 

 

*Thanks to Hydra and NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-06-06 20:40
The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss
The Halloween Children - Norman Prentiss,Brian James Freeman

 Beautifully conceived and executed, The Halloween Children is a great and spooky read for anytime of year!

 

Husband and wife- Harris and Lynn, each tell their own story in alternating chapters. Lynn's chapters are addressed privately to her marriage therapist, and they contain a litany of complaints about her spouse and the way he parents their children. Harris' chapters tell the story from his point of view, but well after certain "events" have occurred. What those events are you'll have to read this book to find out.

 

My favorite type of horror is the kind with lots of suffocating atmosphere and psychological tricks, (Trick or Treat?), and The Halloween Children has both of those things, in spades. Plus, it features two children who get creepier by the second. How could it get any better for a horror fan such as myself? Oh yeah, it could finish off with an ending that actually gave me goosebumps, it was so perfect.

 

This is THE book to read when you are looking for that creepy kind of thrill, but it's an extra perfect book to read around Halloween. Just be sure you have some candy ready when the door bell rings and the children begin to arrive. They don't like it when they don't get candy and you don't want The Halloween Children to pull their tricks on YOU. Trust me on this.

 

Highly recommended, especially to fans of atmospheric, psychological horror!

 

Available for your Kindle on June 13th, here: The Halloween Children

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and to Hydra for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2016-05-06 20:58
Review- Captain America: Civil War

 

 

After the sloppy, undercooked mess that was Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War is a gourmet meal that’ll cleanse your palate and leave you wondering when the heck DC’s gonna get their act together. Put it this way: people are still divided about BvS. You either love it or hate it.

 

No one’s gonna be divided on this movie. It’s everything it needed to be.

 

 


It’s been said before and will always be said: the main reason the Marvel movies work is because the audience has had the time to become fully invested in the characters. CA: CW introduces two “new ones”- Black Panther and Spiderman- and you’re brought along for the ride with them. Buckle up.

 

***MINI-SPOILERS AHEAD*** You know the plot: a year after the destruction of Sokovia in Age of Ultron, the Avengers are viewed as running rampant across the globe. Many of the world governments come together to declare the Avengers are in dire need of supervision… or else. (FYI: this isn’t a new idea; in the comics the Avengers operated under the auspices of the US Government.) For reasons both pragmatic and personal, Stark agrees but along those same veins, Cap doesn’t. Both have valid arguments. As the UN ratifies the Sokovia Accords, a terrorist attack leaves many delegates dead, including the King of Wakanda. Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, is identified as the prime suspect and the hunt for him begins. Bucky professes innocence to Cap, who supports his friend despite the pressure to bring him down and the lines are drawn.

 

There’s no real twists to this story; you can tell the whole time where it’s headed, but it’s a fun ride all the way. Even the prologue scene is framed so that if you didn’t intuit its significance right off the bat they still handed it to you on a platter almost immediately anyway.

 

In typical Marvel movie fashion, it’s the subplots and asides that made the movie shine. Scarlet Witch and Vision’s budding relationship, Peter Parker’s conversation with Tony Stark (and Marisa Tomei as a sexy MILF Aunt May!), Steve and Bucky reconnecting, even a seemingly throwaway line by Stark during the climactic fight at the end- all good stuff that put heart and soul into an action movie.

 

The villian’s arc also helps to sell the story. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote: show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy. The same hold true for the bad guys; it matters more when it’s personal and nothing’s gonna change their course. His entire history is inextricably linked to the whole- both the Avengers as well as Hydra- and makes for a good character arc in its own right.

 

The much anticipated big fight at the airport was surprisingly pretty good. Everyone got their moments to shine in the scene, even Spiderman and Antman making big contributions to the cause. Got a little choppy on the editing, but nothing too distracting.

 

As for the climactic fight between Bucky, Cap and Shellhead, it was satisfying both emotionally and visually, a dynamo of action and drama that brought the plot full circle.

 

Not that there aren’t a few warts here. The inciting incident at the beginning was clumsy and kinda dumb; I had a hard time believing anyone, even a rookie like Scarlet Witch, could’ve made a mistake like hurling an explosive device INTO an occupied area, especially when if you let it explode in the air- where it already was- you’d have been fine. But plotwise that was simply the icing on the cake anyway.

 

I thought T’Challa/Black Panther’s intro could’ve been built up a little more but they did a fine job of his development and juxtaposing him as an almost literal anti-Stark character: similar resources yet different personalities and motives.

 

The Peter Parker/Spiderman intro scene needed more explaining as to how Tony found him but you can roll with it. Spiderman was everything he should be- an anxious kid in way over his head yet eager to prove himself to the adults, and talking too much the whole time to cover up his nervousness. An excellent addition to the movie.

 

On a side note the Agent Carter story arc is also wrapped up, and given the ambiguous state of the tv show, it doesn’t look like a good sign.

 

CA: CW is a great comic book movie and fantastically entertaining. This is one you really need to see, not only for continuity but for the fun of it. 5/5 stars.

 

One question: how’s Tony calling Spidey ‘Underoos’ when in this world there weren’t any superheroes to make Underoos from…? lol

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review 2016-05-04 00:00
Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra #1
Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra #1 - David Mandel,Michael Walsh,Amanda Conner Hank Johnson is poor schmoe working for HYDRA. This is what he's done when he's not HYDRA-ing.

This is some funny shit, a few days in the life of less than successful HYDRA agent. His wife nags him about getting a job at AIM. His kids go to the Baron Strucker Academy. He gets sexually harassed by Madame Hydra. This is just a sampling of what befalls Hank Johnson.

The art and tone is very reminiscent of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye. If you ever wondered what HYDRA agents did during their down time, you'll enjoy this. Five out of five stars, for what it is.
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