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review 2020-05-31 17:42
SURVIVOR SONG by Paul Tremblay
Survivor Song - Paul Tremblay

 SURVIVOR SONG consists of the fastest 320 pages I've ever read!

 

Nats, (Natalie), is waiting at home for her husband to return from the store. This is no ordinary trip, however. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is a virus loose...a fast acting rabies virus that turns its victims, (animal and human alike) into rabid, (see what I did there?), strong, uber-violent attackers. Those infected will attack cars, humans, pretty much anything at all, and Natalie's husband is late. With Natalie being very pregnant, this is quite a scary turn of events. Will Nats' husband ever return? If so, will he be infected or not? What happens to Natalie's unborn baby? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I started this book in earnest early yesterday afternoon, (with only part of a previous lunch hour dedicated to it previously), and I had a hard time putting it down. The main characters, the previously mentioned Natalie and her friend Ramola, were so human, so REAL, that I never doubted the actions of either one of them.

 

Unfortunately, I never doubted the bad guys in this story either. I have to admit though, that some I thought were bad guys, weren't spoiled through and through and I ended up shedding some tears for a couple of them, to be honest. Most of the others, though? I had no problem believing in them either, because all I have to do is turn on the television any time, night or day, to see them in real life.

 

As in any zombie story, (I can hear Ramola now, in her British accent "They're NOT zombies!"), the real story is with the survivors. The things they have to do, or are forced to do, to save lives or to take them. This tale is brutal in that regard-the loss of humanity, or perhaps the salvation of humanity...we never know which is which at the time, do we?

 

I got a bit of a kick that the story takes place in my home state and that I was familiar with some of the places mentioned. For me, the locations made this tale even more real.

 

The only issues I had were that I wished it was a bit longer and, though I enjoyed the denouement and the end, I would have preferred a bit more explanation. For the latter reason I deducted half a star. I don't need everything wrapped up with a bow, but some elaboration would have pleased me more.

 

SURVIVOR SONG is destined to be up there on top tens lists this year and it deserves to be. My highest recommendation!

 

 

Available July 7, 2020, but you can preorder here: SURVIVOR SONG

 

*I received the e-ARC of this book from William Morrow, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-05-27 19:00
THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS by Brian Lumley, narrated by Joshua Saxon
The Taint and Other Novellas - Brian Lumley,Joshua Saxon

Welcoming the chance to get my Lovcraftian horror on via the excellent narration of Joshua Saxon, I tore into THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS. What fun!

 

A collection of 5 novellas which were written back in the mid to late 1900s, these tales do not have the polish of Lumley's later works, like the Necroscope series. These stories are more the work of a writer starting out, (while serving in the military), a writer bewitched by Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. The fun parts of the mythos are here, but they lack the racism and other issues of Lovecraft's work.

 

My favorites of the 5 were: LORD OF THE WORMS This tale featured Titus Crow, a name I remember from back in the day, though I can't quite remember the tales in which he featured. In this story, he's invited to a home under the pretense of cataloging a large book collection at an old estate. Of course nothing is as it appears. Throw in some mesmerizing hypnotism, (see what I did there?!), some maggots and some spiked wine and you have yourself a great time!

 

THE TAINT was a fun tale involving fish-men. That's right, fish-men. With all the creepiness inherent in that phrase. It's not as much a pulp tale as one would think, with just the right mix of horror and perhaps a bit of social commentary, (but that's just my take.)

 

Finally, the last story THE TEMPLE HOUSE takes the form of a man inheriting an old estate from his uncle. He takes a friend and goes to Scotland to inspect his inheritance, and soon finds a letter from his uncle asking him to destroy the place. Why? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Regarding the narrator, Joshua Saxon-I've only listened to one other performance of his, which was the excellent THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja. In that book he was voicing only one character while in this collection, he voices all kinds of people and he does it quite well. English, American, Scottish, he does them all and never for a moment did I doubt the origins of any of the characters. Well done, sir!

 

This was a collection full of fun Lovecraftian monsters, fish people, maggots and worms. If these are the things that delight you, then you'll enjoy the hell out of this volume!

 

Recommended!

 

You can get your audio here: THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS

 

*I received this audio download free from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-05-05 19:00
THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja, narrated by Joshua Saxon
The Cipher - Kathe Koja

THE CIPHER! I don't even know what to say.

 

I've only recently joined the church of Koja. It may not be as big as some, Stephen King's say, but there are joys to be found in smaller congregations.

 

This is the story of Nakota and Nicholas who one day found a black hole, named it the funhole, and changed their lives forever. They stuck different things into the hole, (getting uncomfortable yet?), including bugs, a mouse, and then a hand. What happened to these items when they were thrust inside? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I absolutely adore Ms. Koja's prose, and Joshua Saxon the narrator brought it home with flare. This must not have been an easy performance due to the style of the aforementioned prose-especially in the second half of the book because it's a stream-of-consciousness narrative. His voicing was phenomenal.

 

I'm a bit irritated with myself because the few clips I made of the audio that highlighted the prose apparently did not save. There were short, staccato-like descriptions that...stabbed at my heart. Beautiful, honest and evocative words that my brain immediately transferred to a visual-like a direct injection. For instance "...the flat was full of drizzly day." 7 words that draw a perfect scene. Brief, staccato, BAM: there's the picture-full and complete.

 

I could go on and on about this prose but I'll leave it at what I've written. Kathe Koja's writing probably isn't for everyone; the reviews seem pretty split on Goodreads. For me, however, I feel like I have been missing out out an author that is perfect for my dark and black heart. I'm on a mission to read everything she's written. I'm a Koja missionary, baby!

 

My highest recommendation!

 

*I received the audio-book from Audiobook Boom! and the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-04-28 15:45
DEVOLUTION: A FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF THE RAINIER SASQUATCH MASSACRE by Max Brooks
Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre - Max Brooks

One word: SASQUATCH. I'm in!!

 

When a small group of environmentally conscious folk move into a "smart-community" (named Greenloop), in the Pacific northwest, everything seems to be just perfect. They are off the grid, groceries are flown in via drone, and they are self sufficient...until nearby Mount Rainier erupts. All of a sudden it becomes painfully clear that they are not capable of surviving very long without internet access, (can't order up those grocery drones now), and with the roads wiped out by lahars, there's no escape. Then, they start noticing noises from the woods and as all the local wildlife begins to run, they run into something deadly. Will our plucky group escape from Greenloop with their lives? Or will they stay and try to defend the lives they've built? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

The after-effects of a lahar:

 

I ended up loving characters that I nearly hated at first. Katie? I'm looking at you, girl! As the tale continues we learn more about each of the people living at Greenloop. Many of the important things about them aren't disclosed until much later in the book. My Google-foo was strong though and I discovered a lot of those particulars early on and that gave more depth to the tale. This entire group of people changed throughout, some in good ways, others not so much.

 

I thought that for a bigfoot story this tale was mostly realistic, though there were portions where I had a hard time suspending my disbelief. I cant say more about that without spoilers, but let's face it. This is a story about sasquatches, there's only so much realism there can be. And even though we're talking about somewhat of a creature feature here, the real focus is on the characters and not the cryptids. In that respect, it's not a creature feature at all, it's about the people.

 

DEVOLUTION is a quick read, fast paced and a lot of fun. There were gory scenes, lots of action and unexpected events popping up all over the place. It kept my attention, kept the pages turning and took my mind off this pandemic for a while. For these reasons I recommend it!

 

Available everywhere June 16th, but you can pre-order here: DEVOLUTION

 

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

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review 2020-04-26 21:04
DARK CELEBRATIONS by Calvin Demmer
Dark Celebrations - Calvin Demmer

 

Having been totally knocked out by Demmer's THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER, (it was my favorite collection of 2019), I jumped at the chance to read his latest, DARK CELEBRATIONS. I don't regret it for an instant!

 

In this volume, which tells tales of celebrations and/or holidays from around the world, I found a wide variety on offer, and most of them worked well for me. My favorites were:

 

THREE DEAD MEN captivated me because it went nowhere near where I thought it was going. Think Kill Bill with mummies. That's right...mummies!

 

SPRING OUTBREAK was another tale that ran in the opposite from my preconceived notions. Picture spring break with zombies. That's right...zombies!

 

PROM SCREAMS had me thinking the main character was a real jerk and that he should just own up to what happened. I also found myself thinking about Charlene ,(Charlie), McGee and what could have happened to her later in life. (If you don't know who she is, look her up!) This story lead to so many different thoughts, I have to leave it there. I dug this one a lot!

 

UNIDENTIFIED FATHERLY OBJECT had cool ties to the earlier stories and that I enjoyed. It was a bit out there, (I WANT TO BELIEVE), just as the title suggests.

 

INDEPENDENCE DENIED: I was captivated because of its Lovecraftian feel. In the times we're in now, I wouldn't be surprised at all if natural disasters started to surge. It seems like that would be a perfect fit for the apocalyptic-feeling with which COVID19 has blanketed us. At the same time, this tale was entertaining enough to make me forget about that for a while and I'm thankful to Mr. Demmer for the brief escape.

 

The only reservation I had with this collection is that the first few stories didn't pique my interest as much as the later ones did. That could be because, admittedly, my expectations were high. It all worked out though, as for me, the stories got better and better until the phenomenal last act of INDEPENDENCE DENIED.

 

Once again Calvin Demmer wows us with a set of tales that are thoughtful, dark, sometimes funny, sometimes gory, and sometimes homages to H.P. himself. Once again, I found myself enthralled, most especially in the later stories, and I was happy to turn myself over to be thoroughly entertained.

 

Recommended!

 

Get your copy here: DARK CELEBRATIONS

 

*Thank you to Calvin Demmer for the paperback in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* (less)

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