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text 2017-12-29 18:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Books of 2017
Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden
The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman
The Changeling - Victor LaValle
Hell Hound - Ken Greenhall,Grady Hendrix
Bone White - Ronald Malfi
The Wilderness Within - John Claude Smith
A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix
Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural - Jonathan Janz,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton
The Trials of Solomon Parker - Eric Scott Fischl

 

Please note that these are not necessarily books published in 2017, only books I've read during this year. I also had to change the title from novels to books, because of the awesome PAPERBACKS FROM HELL, which is more of a reference book. I've read a lot of great books this year, and making up this list was so difficult, that I've added a few "Honorable Mentions" at the end of the list. 

 

Without further ado, (please click the cover to see my original review):

 

1.Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden  by Christopher Golden. I haven't read very many books by Mr. Golden, but I own quite a few of them. I have had the pleasure of meeting him numerous times at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival, where he is always friendly and humble. This story about the discovery of Noah's Arc was fun and frightening all at once and I loved it!

 

2. The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman  by Christopher Buehlman. This author is my favorite discovery of the year. Over the past 12 months I've read or listened to every novel he's written and I'm eagerly awaiting the next. The Suicide Motor Club features a road trip with vampires in American muscle cars. It couldn't have been more perfect or fun for me!

 

3.The Changeling - Victor LaValle  by Victor LaValle. This novel was just AMAZING. It's starts out in one direction and ends up in a totally different direction: none of which could be predicted and I love that! 

 

4. Hell Hound - Ken Greenhall,Grady Hendrix  by Ken Greenhall. This novel was originally published in the late 1970's. Brought back by Valancourt Books with a new cover and an introduction from Grady Hendrix, this book about an evil dog is spellbinding fun!

 

5. Bone White - Ronald Malfi  by Ronald Malfi. I find myself thinking about this book a lot lately, since the frigid cold weather began here. This novel was a cold and creepy read and I just loved it. 

 

6. The Wilderness Within - John Claude Smith  by John Claude Smith. A surreal, unique and intense read that I think about anytime I look out into the woods behind my house. 

 

7.A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly  by the AWESOME John Connolly. I've read a lot of series books over the years and very few of them have kept up the quality continuously throughout like this series about fictional detective Charlie Parker. I feel in my bones that the series is coming to an end and I will be so sad when that happens. 

 

8. Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction - Grady Hendrix  by Grady Hendrix. I don't even know what else to say about this GORGEOUS volume. It's a reference book, really, but no reference book EVER in history was as much fun or as pretty as this one. With colorful commentary about the times in which these books were originally written, no other book has had such a powerful impact on my TBR list as this one. 

 

9.Elizabeth: A Novel of the Unnatural - Jonathan Janz,Ken Greenhall,Jessica Hamilton  by Ken Greenhall. This is his second entry on my list. Originally published in the 70's, (like Hell Hound above) and brought back by Valancourt Books, this novel is CHILLING in its depiction of a nasty, calculating witch of a girl. (Also, please note both of these are referenced in Hendrix's PAPERBACKS FROM HELL.)

 

10.The Trials of Solomon Parker - Eric Scott Fischl  by Eric Scott Fischl. This book isn't classified as horror, but I put it solidly in the land of dark fiction and as such, it belongs on this list. I know it's not a popular or well known book, but it sure was a unique, fun and interesting ride. This one slid under most everyone's radar, but I thought it was great and I humbly hope its mention on this list helps it to get more attention. 

 

As mentioned above, I have three honorable mentions, (click title to see my review):

 

THE LISTENER by Robert McCammon. Much as I loved ARARAT, this was my favorite book of the year. Except that it isn't even out yet. Publishing in 2018, I didn't feel it was fair to add it to this list. (And even though I read it in 2017, be assured that it will be on my BEST BOOKS OF 2018 post.) An amazing novel of magic, friendship, crime and love, I cannot wait until more people read it, so I can discuss it with them!

 

SPINAL TAP: THE BIG BLACK BOOK by Wallace Fairfax was a total blast. This book features fun facts about the fictional band as well as a discography and other interesting tidbits. I haven't seen this book mentioned or talked about anywhere, and that's a damn shame. Any fans of the film This is Spinal Tap would love this book. 

 

ASH WEDNESDAY  by Chet Williamson was a fantastic book of quiet horror. It was slow burning and horrific, but not in a bloody or gory way. I took away from it a sense of the value of life and time-we have to make the most of the time we have. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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text 2017-09-04 15:40
August 2017 Round Up!
The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story - Douglas Preston
Marvel 1602 - Neil Gaiman,Richard Ianove,Andy Kubert
Mass Hysteria - Michael Patrick Hicks
Through A Glass Darkly - Donald Allen Kirch
The Lesser Dead - Christopher Buehlman
Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane (Rebirth) - Tom King,David Finch
Dreamwalker - James Russell Lowell
The Daily Show (The Book): An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests - Chris Smith,Jon Stewart
The Talented Mr. Ripley - Patricia Highsmith

I read 15 books In August

 

 

Graphic Novels:

 

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

The Lost Boys Volume 1 by Tim Seeley

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three-Lady of Shadows by Robin Furth

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three-Bitter Medicine

Batman: Volume 3 I am Bane by Tom King

 

Total: 5

 

Audio Books:

 

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

Song of Susannah by Stephen King

The Daily Show The Book: An Oral History

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston

 

Total: 4

 

ARCS:

 

Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks

Spungunion by John Boden (not yet available)

 

Total: 2

 

Random Books:

 

The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman

Through a Glass Darkly by Donald Kirch

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Dreamwalker by Russell James

 

Total: 4

 

 

 

 

READING CHALLENGES

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June & July: 0

August: 1-The Talented Mr. Ripley

Running Count: 6

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

July count: 4

August count: 5

 

Running Count: 33! Challenge Met!

 

 

 

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review 2017-08-07 16:00
The Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman
The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman

 

 Vampires and American muscle cars. It's like this book was tailored to me personally. And on top of that, it ROCKED!

 

A family is on a road trip on an American highway one night, with their young son in the back seat. A car with no lights on pulls up next to them, grabs the arm of the boy, (he had his arm out the window), and poof, the boy is gone. Next thing you know, the car is crashed on the side of the road, with both mom and dad badly injured. Where did the boy go? Who took him? Will he ever see his father and mother again? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

There's no sparkling here and there's no romance, (well, maybe a little, but it's a different type of romance.) Instead, these vamps traveled in a pack during the late 60's. For me, the time period was a perfect, refreshing setting because: 1. the cars were all American,(this was a time before the invasion of imported cars), 2. I'm an American car gal AND I love muscle cars and 3. there were no cell phones or other technologies distracting me from the story.

 

At this point in my horror-reading life, I'm vampired out. It takes a special book to get me excited about them, and this one was it. I loved the return of vampires with hypnotizing skills, (remember when Dracula did that hypnotizing thing?), ones that can make you do his/her bidding and then forget you ever saw them. I enjoyed the fact that these vampires had other special skills which I'll leave you to discover on your own, (but trust me the skills were COOL). I loved that these monsters were just that: MONSTERS in capital letters. Lastly, I also loved the fact that the protagonist was strong and female, never exactly sure of her strength but pressing on just the same. Jude was one to root for and root I did! 

 

Now I'm sad that I only have one Christopher Buehlman book left to read. If you're out there, sir, I hope you're working on something new!

 

If you haven't read any of Mr. Buehlman's work as of yet, you should rectify that-and quickly! I doubt you'd be disappointed with any of them, but I highly recommend The Suicide Motor Club! It might just restore your faith in vampire horror stories and give you a new author to read!

 

You can get your copy here: The Suicide Motor Club

 

*I obtained my copy through my awesome public library, because I'm usually broke. Libraries RULE*

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review 2017-02-25 15:11
giving up, but not putting on my DNF shelf
The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman

Look, it's not a bad book.

 

But also totally not what I expected going in.

 

100 pages in, the story drags, even with a good half dozen or more gratuitous murders by three vampires (including one wearing a neck brace... maybe they explain that down the road).

 

I wanted high speed highway murder adventure.  Not confused loss and and oddly engaging murder.

 

Removing from my shelves entirely rather than shelving as a DNF.  Might work better for me at another time

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review 2016-04-03 20:04
Review: New Arabian Knights by Robert Louis Stevenson
New Arabian Nights - Robert Louis Stevenson

Wikipedia page: New Arabian Knights (1882)

Gutenberg link: New Arabian Knights

 

I've only read some of Stevenson's works (none of the longer novels yet) and this was one that'd been recommended somewhere for the stories about the Suicide Club, the premise of which sounds like something that could easily be transplanted in a modern piece of fiction. (Check out the adaptations listed on the wikipedia page for Suicide Club. One author transformed it into a Holmes tale.) All of these read very much like many magazine short stories of the time - think how Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories read, heavy on action adventure first and characterization a bit later, in small doses if at all. It's mostly all about the action.

 

Aside: It's still kinda weird to have grown up reading Doyle's Holmes and to then bump into people who view them all as one complete thing with an indepth world instead of a world you only learn about in bits and pieces dropped in many stories. Because Holmes didn't hop into life having all that - Doyle was also churning out short stories in bits, like many other authors of the time, most of whom didn't foresee carrying on with the same characters for a series. Of course building a headcannon with Holmes isn't at all a modern thing - decades ago I bought my dad a book of the complete Holmes stories (hardback and insanely heavy) with intricate and detailed footnotes that indicated that whoever was writing them was treating Holmes as a historical figure that did actually exist. Never could tell if that was tongue in cheek or an author who genuinely believed. And yes, there are people that do believe Holmes was a real person - not just influenced by Joseph Bell, etc.

 

Anyway, if you've never read short stories and realized they were all written for separate publication, this is a kind of fun example. The Suicide Club series (really only 2 stories when combined) sort of work well together, even though the whole "I am framing this as written by an Arabian author who told me the story" doesn't really seem fleshed out. Even Stevenson agrees, as in the last tale he gives that up completely:

"As for [character in story], that sublime person, having now served his turn, may go, along with the Arabian Author, topsy-turvy into space."

 

So by the last couple of stories the Arabian Author framing is gone, as is the Suicide Club - so expect that part to be brief. I'll note that for some reason one of the later stories, the Pavilion on the Links, is one that shows up in multiple short story collections - it's action/adventure with an Italian gang in pursuit of revenge, and a love triangle in which you know who's the good guy, because obvious good guy is obvious. But I sort of enjoyed it anyway because Stevenson does have fun writing atmospheric locations.

 

So if the stories of this period interest you this is worth it, especially for the premise of the Suicide Club. You'll totally see why this is definite screenwriter fodder.

 

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