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review 2018-10-17 22:30
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF CHARLES MANSON by Jeff Guinn, narrated by Jim Frangione
Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson - Jeff Guinn

This is a fascinating look inside the head of a monster.

 

I especially liked the observations regarding how Charlie used a little bit of knowledge from all sorts of different subjects and wove them together to manipulate specific people. During his many prison stints, he met and listened to Black Panthers, Scientologists and he even picked up some tips from Dale Carnegie's book, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. He melded TOGETHER bits from of all them, depending on his audience. The result was often striking-as a professional actor he might have done well, but as a professional musician he did not. There lies much of the frustration that ended up helping to fuel his attempt at "Helter Skelter."

 

Jeff Guinn writes excellent, detailed biographies, (I especially enjoyed his Bonnie and Clyde and Jim Jones books), which work well as audios. I'm not sure if I would have liked them all as much in print, but audio works perfectly for me. (There is so much detail included that I feel like I may have become bored in actually reading these books.) The narrator here, Jim Frangione, did an excellent job and helped keep me interested, especially when detailing the actions of various family members.

 

A warning for sensitive people-the descriptions of these brutal murders is graphic and unflinching. It's uncomfortable to listen to. Even after reading hundreds of books, (both fictional and non), about murders and horrific happenings, it never fails to bother me and I never fail to try to imagine how someone could do such things. Guinn attempts to tell us in his excellent biographies, but somehow, the answer to the question "Why?" is never fully answered in any of them. But I can't keep myself from continuing to try to understand.

 

Finally, one thing I wouldn't want to forget to mention is the ridiculously random nature and brutality of these crimes. I think that often gets lost in the mysterious aura that surrounds Manson and his "family." It would be an extreme disservice to forget: the very pregnant Sharon Tate and her friends, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski and poor Steven Parent, (who was just a young man trying to sell a clock radio), the LaBiancas, Shorty Shea and Gary Hinman. May they all rest in peace.

 

Highly recommended to fans of true crime and detailed biographies.

 

*This fits the "Slasher Stories" category for Halloween Bingo 2018 here at Booklikes.*

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review 2018-09-30 20:07
THE DEVIL'S FINGERS (One Size Eats All #3) by Hunter Shea
The Devil's Fingers - Hunter Shea

 

A sucker for tentacles, that's what I am. (And I can't resist the old-"Get it? Sucker for tentacles?" So sue me.). Anyway, tentacles- THE DEVIL'S FINGERS has them in spades, and oh what fun it is to be with Hunter Shea again!

 

A group of 20 somethings head out into the woods to help their friend say goodbye to his recently deceased dad. They've come to spread his ashes at his favorite spot. Along the way though, they encounter a strange growth of fungi that somewhat resembles the pods in Alien. What is this gross looking fungus? It can't spread to humans can it? And if it can, will these humans survive the encounter? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

 

I'm keeping this review short because I don't want to give anything away and because I don't want this review to be longer than the book. I liked how this group of friends was written and I really liked how they had the strength to stand up when the time came. For me, with creature features, (even ones featuring a nasty fungus as the creature), the story lives in those who fight it, and in this case they fought hard. I also thought their actions were believable-even during the crazy action scenes and BOY, were there action scenes! Complete with the sounds and smells-everything you would need to create a vivid picture in your head-you are THERE.

 

In this, the third installment in the One Size Eats All series, Hunter Shea shows he is the master of bringing home dark and amusing B-style movies in Halloween fun-sized nuggets. What horror fan wouldn't love that?

 

Highly recommended!

 

 

Available everywhere October 23rd, or pre-order now: HERE

 

*Thanks to Kensington, via Net Galley, for the e-ARC of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-09-23 14:13
COCKBLOCK by C.V. Hunt, narrated by Ramona Master
Cockblock - Ramona Master,Roderick Hunt,Roderick Hunt

 

Callie and Sonya are on their way for a nice date night, when all of a sudden they are verbally assaulted by some men on the street. As the men got closer, the assault became physical and soon they are running for their lives. They discover that a message from the president is being broadcast nationwide and it's affecting men all over the country. How does it affect them? Will Callie and Sonya make it out alive? You'll have to read this short book to find out!

 

All of my horror loving friends that have read this have rated it fairly high. I love and trust them so when I saw this available in the Audiobook Boom! listing, I requested it right away. And now, here we are. 

 

Incredibly graphic and violent, while at the same time kind of hilarious, C.V. Hunt has worked some magic here. A somewhat derisive view of the president and politics in general is worked into the story as well. It's not in your face, but it's there and that's just fine with me. In a world where we shame rape victims for speaking out, where we often treat the perpetrators as young men who just made a mistake,

I enjoyed this story where women finally triumph over that culture.

 

(spoiler show)

 

I listened to this on audio and I admit it took me a while to get used to the narrator. It must have been difficult for her at times, because as I said above there are some incredibly brutal scenes here. I gained respect as the story unwound and ended up enjoying her quite a bit.

 

Brutal, tongue in cheek, (and in many other places in this story), violent, graphic, and with an eye toward our current political environment, COCKBLOCK, is original, imaginative, sarcastic, and has a clear vision of what it wants to say. The only question that remains is are you brave enough to hear it?

 

Highly recommended to those horror fans who can handle brutal violence and rape.

 

*Thanks to the narrator and to Audiobook Boom! for the audio of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-08-30 18:45
The Siren and the Spectre by Jonathan Janz
The Siren and The Spectre (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Jonathan Janz

 

Alexander House is the most haunted house in the state of Virginia. David Caine is perhaps the most well known debunk-er in the United States and as such, he is called in to stay at the house and write a book about it. The current owners are hoping that David will be persuaded into believing that the haunting is real, and that the resulting book about the matter will draw visitors/tourism to the home. Is David finally persuaded that ghosts and hauntings do exist? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

My brief synopsis above doesn't do this story justice. Unfortunately, that's part of the problem I had with this book. There's a LOT going on-and to be honest? I thought it was too much. I loved the portions about the history of the house, the area where it's situated, and its former inhabitants-specifically Judson Alexander. I would have been happy with a book about him alone.

 

I understand that this story has several layers and I respect what Jonathan Janz tried to do. However, I think the focus of this tale became too wide, what with tons of information about David's old girlfriend, his old friend Chris and Chris' new wife Katherine, the CRAZY neighbors down the way, the local sheriff, and I haven't even mentioned the siren yet! I was fine with all of it through about 2/3 of the novel, but by the last third it just got too busy for me.  Yes, there were thrills aplenty and lots of surprises, but I felt like the denouement went on a bit too long, and tried to cover too much material.

 

The writing itself though, was excellent, as I've come to expect from Mr. Janz. He created  a tense and dense atmosphere-at times I felt I would surely suffocate from it. I also felt the characters were mostly realistic and while David Caine wasn't perfect by any means, I did come to care for him and I wanted him to pull through. This tale was imaginative and to restate, my only problem was that I wished it had been more focused.

 

I seem to be almost the only one who isn't all-out raving about this story, so it's definitely possible that I read it wrong. Even with my complaint, I still enjoyed the heck out of THE SIREN AND THE SPECTER. You probably will too. Jonathan Janz is always worthy of your consideration and if you decide to give this one a go, feel free to come and share your thoughts with me when you're done. You can tell me how wrong I am!

 

Recommended!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book from FLAME TREE PRESS via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-08-23 18:45
OCCASIONAL BEASTS: TALES by John Claude Smith
Occasional Beasts: Tales - John Claude Smith

 

For a few years now, I have been a big fan of John Claude Smith's twisted view of the world. This collection of tales only serves to remind me how skilled, (and twisted!), he really is.

 

I'm not going to get into each tale, as there a total of 14 stories in this volume, but I am going to touch briefly on the ones that affected me the most:

 

DANDELIONS: There was something about this story that put me in mind of Shirley Jackson. Maybe it was the feeling of the characters that something was wrong with the geometry in the hotel in which they stopped for the night? Other than that portion though, I doubt Ms. Jackson would have recognized the warped reality to which Mr. Smith delivered us, kicking and screaming. Bravo!

 

PERSONAL JESUS: Be it Depeche Mode or the Johnny Cash version, I will never hear this song again without thinking of this story. Creepy. Imaginative. Horrifying!

 

THE JOHNNY DEPP THING: Perhaps some would find it tasteless of me, or maybe even inhuman, but this story had me gleefully chuckling the whole time. It's just messed up.

 

THE GLOVE: I felt a bit of a Science-Fiction vibe from this tale, and I'm not sure why. Whatever the genre label, all I know is that if I come across a stray glove somewhere? I'm not touching it! (Also, fake psychics suck.)

 

Both THE WOUNDED TABLE and THE LAND LORD I've read before in another collection. Even though I was already familiar with them, I mention them both again here because they're still fantastic tales of...intensity? Both give the reader peeks into that aforementioned warped reality that belongs to John Claude Smith alone.

 

Now that he's again sharing that reality with us, I think any dark fiction lover would be remiss by not stashing a copy of of OCCASIONAL BEASTS on their shelves. It will call to you, and you will be unable to resist!

 

Highly recommended! *I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it. *

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