Charles Stross, "Overtime"

2016: #Vote Cthulhu - Why Choose the Lesser of Two Evils?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: Siren of Depravity

Siren of Depravity Siren of Depravity by Gary Fry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of SIREN OF DEPRAVITY by Gary Fry

British psychologist-academic Harry is a man who has it made--on the surface. A lovely and devoted wife, a musician and academic; an adorable and clever daughter, just turned seven; a firm bond with his widowed mother. But just as scratching a painting reveals the brushstrokes underneath, scratching Harry's surface reveals horrors with which he has never really come to grips--horrors which suddenly begin to surface, like dinosaurs scrambling from a tar pit.

Horror readers will delight at the dark shadows of masters such as Lovecraft and M. R. James hovering like black storm clouds above this tale, and more than a few nightmares will be engendered.

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October 3-9 http://seasonsreading.blogspot.com/2016/09/frightfall-read-thon-time-to-sign-up.html

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review: The Obsidian Chamber

The Obsidian Chamber The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE OBSIDIAN CHAMBER by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child [A Pendergast Novel]

Authors Preston and Child have long since accustomed legions of devoted readers to labyrinthine plotting and indescribable characterization. In the newest Pendergast novel [October 2016] they have perhaps achieved their zenith. I read the novel in two days, but will be quite a while engaged in its absorption. Here the lives, past, present, and future, of Aloysius Pendergast, his ward Constance Greene, and his "late" brother Aloysius are extraordinarily delineated, along with a secondary cast of characters wrung through excruciating paces. The pace of suspense is near rocket speed, leaving wide-eyed readers breathless and enthralled.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: The Haunted Halls

The Haunted Halls The Haunted Halls by Glenn Rolfe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: THE HAUNTED HALLS by Glenn Rolfe

Indie author Glenn Rolfe continues to demonstrate his flair for unusual horror: horror tales that extend beyond the well-trodden traditional tropes. In THE HAUNTED HALLS, he explores new territory with prose that is nearly poetic in its lyrical imagery and sense appeal. I can almost hear a poetry recitation, or song lyrics.

THE HAUNTED HALLS juggles a plethora of characters, including multiple protagonists and many secondary and "extras," as well as multiple time sequences. With all the gore, violence, frights, and sensuality, I can readily visualize this as an exciting indie horror film.

I also marveled at the character of the antagonist: the main "haunt" of the Bruton Inn" of Hollis Oaks, Maine. If this young lady had dedicated her talents to more acceptable pursuits, she could be a corporate CEO, or maybe have discovered a cure for cancer. Instead, she is a juggernaut, an unstoppable force of evil, both in life, and after death.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review: Joe Coffin: Season Two

Joe Coffin: Season Two Joe Coffin: Season Two by Mr Ken Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of JOE COFFIN SEASON TWO by Ken Preston

Another accomplished roller coaster-paced serial novel from a talented author who really knows how to put the thrill in thriller. If you thought SEASON ONE electrifying (and it was!), "you ain't seen nothing yet " More vampirism, more violence and galore gore, more internecine backstabbing, many more fatalities. This time, Joe is in more danger than just the vampires: there's his growing acceptance of journalist Emma Wylde, there's cops hot on his trail, another vampire, and a mystery.antagonist burning with hatred of Joe Coffin, the mountainous craggy Mob assassin.

I'm on tenterhooks in anticipation of SEASON THREE.

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Review: Joe Coffin, Season One

Joe Coffin, Season One Joe Coffin, Season One by Ken Preston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of JOE COFFIN SEASON ONE by Ken Preston

A nonstop, heart-in-mouth, no-holds-barred, supernatural thriller, JOE COFFIN SEASON ONE is also rife with complex character evolution, deep thought processes, emotional highs and lows--and oh yes, gore, violence, sensuality, profanity, and vampires. You read that right! JOE COFFIN SEASON ONE is a vampire thriller, but I don't think you'll find anything like it in any other vampire story, no matter how well done.
Joe Coffin, our eponymous protagonist, is a "man-mountain," an individual in size much like The Incredible Hulk, a man who came into his stature in adolescence, the product of an abusive childhood (and he is certainly not the only one of those in this story), a pariah in school, a man who brooks no nonsense, but is easily led astray (only by women). He is the right-hand man of the eighty-year-old patriarch of Birmingham, England's Slaughterhouse Mob, a paternalistic leader who demands loyalty of his crew and of their wives/girlfriends. Joe, of course, is also a killer, but he is a killer with thought as well as an assassin killing to order.
While in prison for an assault, Joe's wife Steffanie and toddler son Michael are brutally killed. On release, Tom Mills, another member of the Mob, directs Joe to the alleged killers, whom Joe then kills. However, Tom has his own complex web of deceit going on, and as Joe proceeds to detangle it, with the aid of determined journalist Emma Wylde, more is uncovered than anyone could expect: not Joe, Emma, or Emma's live-in DCI Nick Asher. For the killer of Joe's family, and several others, is undead: a vampire, soon to be titled by newspapers "The Birmingham Vampire." It's very difficult to put a vampire down for the final count, as our hero repeatedly discovers.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Review: I Can Taste the Blood

I Can Taste the Blood I Can Taste the Blood by Josh Malerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD Anthology
(Josh Malerman; J. Daniel Stone ; Joe Schwartz ;Erik T. Johnson; John F. D. Taff; edited Anthony Rivera)

I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD Is at once anthology of five discrete novellas penned by five separate and individual authors, and also in a sense a themed collection. In no way a "shared-world" set, instead offered here is a unique collection of creativity. The five authors involved worked from only one shared premise, the title, "I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD." Exactly what that statement specifies, and how and why to work it, relied on the individual writer--and how successful they accomplished!!

The five novellas will turn you inside out, upside down, and strip you of your preconceptions, whatever they may be. Prepare to be transported to the farthest reaches of extreme horror; to find the difficulty in identifying truth; and to be absorbed by five novellas you cannot forget.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Eat the Night

Eat the Night Eat the Night by Tim Waggoner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: EAT THE NIGHT by Tim Waggoner

Wow! I loved this novella! By the second chapter, I was on a rollercoaster, surrounded and suffused by metaphysics, philosophy, astrophysics, entropy, life-after-death, thought-creation, and a universe that rocks with Lovecraftian resonance. The story line is deep, the characters fully rounded, the plot snapping and unforgettable. I could read this over and over again.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Wretchedness

Wretchedness Wretchedness by Ambrose Ibsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: WRETCHEDNESS by Ambrose Ibsen

So far, I think this is the best I have read from this wide-ranging author, and that expresses high praise indeed. This novel is literary horror taken to an extreme. Although never specifically stated, I saw a very Lovecraftian viewpoint, as the author writes of a priestly caste existing BEFORE the dawn of recorded time, worshipping a god long dead, but recoverable, and planning made for an outcome then many millennia into the future. Their forsaken deity is reminiscent of Lovecraft's eldritch and outre Elder Gods, and the geometry it foments of Cthulhuian geometry with its awkward and mind-blowing angles. The result is not a fast-flowing horror-thriller, but a meaty, metaphysical, thought-provoking, novel. I think it will be especially enjoyed by fans of Jasper Bark, whose works also delve into unknown pre-written records cults in the geographic location we know as the Middle East.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Green and Pleasant Land

Green and Pleasant Land Green and Pleasant Land by Steve J. Shaw
My rating: 0 of 5 stars


Inaugurating what promises to be a fine series, GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND is an exceptional anthology, first in the GREAT BRITISH HORROR Series. Edited by Steve J. Shaw, this title features several outstanding authors unafraid to extend the cutting edge of horror. The eponymous phrase is well-known and often used, but in the stories contained herein, even though the land is sometimes green (when not foggy, misty, windy, or overcome with rain), it certainly is never pleasant. But then, isn't that the essence of great horror?

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review: Tales from The Lake Vol.3

Tales from The Lake Vol.3 Tales from The Lake Vol.3 by Monique Snyman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL. 3 edited by Monique Snyman [Crystal Lake Publishing]

Every anthology I've had the immense pleasure of devouring from Crystal Lake Publishing has been highest quality. The new Volume 3 is no exception: deep, heartfelt, thought-provoking and thoughtful, and literate. The 19 stories in this collection are not here just to raise chill bumps. They are explorations of the human condition (and various inhuman conditions). They will expand your imagination and extend your perspective. When finished, looking back, you will be thankful you read. [Includes a thoughtful and wise introduction by Editor Monique Snyman, plus 19 tales.]

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Review: Marvelry's Curiosity Shop

Marvelry's Curiosity Shop Marvelry's Curiosity Shop by John Brhel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: MARVELRY'S CURIOSITY SHOP by John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan

A delightfully entertaining paranormal, supernatural, magical set of vignettes, tied inextricably to the illustrious Dr. Marvelry, and his gently eccentric boutique, Marvelry's Curiosity Shop, a bastion of antiques and occult marvels in New York State, owned by an acclaimed former magician.

The vignettes are delightful, suspenseful, occasionally scary. There's a firm moral caution contained here as well: "Don't mess with something if you don't know know the provenance--and if you do know the provenance, still don't mess with it." Or: "Be careful what you wish for."

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Devils In Dark Houses

Devils In Dark Houses Devils In Dark Houses by B. E. Scully
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: DEVILS IN DARK HOUSES by B. E. Scully

This is literary horror in fine fettle, a collection of subtly horrifying vignettes, interwoven into a thought-provoking, terrifying tapestry certain to lodge itself into the reader's mind and linger there for an extended duration. This is the Pacific Northwest as you've probably never witnessed: gritty, deep, complex, and riveting. Each vignette Is complete in and of itself, connected by the framework of two city homicide detectives, Cass Shirdon and Monte Martinez.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Review: Teacher: A Lasting Impression of Evil

Teacher: A Lasting Impression of Evil Teacher: A Lasting Impression of Evil by Jacob Mesmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of THE TEACHER by Jacob Mesmer

A tautly-plotted, frightening, horror novel with strong paranormal overtones, THE TEACHER is a fairly quick read, since the reader is easily absorbed into the storyline. Ian Ruby is a brand-new first-time teacher, a mathematician and statistician, and yes, geek. So nervous about communicating well with his classes, yet that quickly becomes the least of his worries, as he clashes with a villain like no other. Gruesome and bizarre crimes are committed, with some of the perpetrators apprehended and convicted, while several are killed by the police at the scene. When Ian is tapped to do a statistical study, what he uncovers is both terrifying and ultimately personally dangerous.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review: Fear Gorta

Fear Gorta Fear Gorta by Cory Cline
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of FEAR GORTA by Cory Cline

"Gorta" is an Irish term referring to a severe or extreme food shortage, for example with crop failures. As I read this story, with its "legend" of the Hungry Man, I was strongly reminded of the rationale behind the Native American Wendigo. In both cases (Wendigo and Hungry Man), greed becomes overwhelming, causing a sort of eternal yearning, hunger, need. Two little boys and two adolescent bullies collide in a clearing in this story, a supposedly haunted clearing, where once a farmer lived, who met death in an untimely and gory way. Not at all for the faint of heart, but if you love your horror out front and bloody, try this one. It's horror leavened with coming of age and lightened with humour, and a very quick read.

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Review: The Story's Writer

The Story's Writer The Story's Writer by Wayne Lemmons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of THE STORY'S WRITER by Wayne Lemmons

A compelling novel of supernatural evil as it manifests via humanity, THE STORY'S WRITER has at least three possible qualifiers for its title of "Writer." It is a hard-driving novel of the lengths to which individuals, overtaken by something evil to which they have submitted themselves as accessible vessels, will go, in terms of violence, child abuse, pure unadulterated hatred, and torture and murder. A gentle, seemingly sensitive writer named Grant has instituted a successful career in the horror genre, by the time he meets single mother Amy and her eight-year-old son Bailey. If that were all to the story, it would be sweetness-and-light, happy-ending material.

But Grant has been offered the ugly history of a well-known Nashville tavern; and in investigating, pondering, and discussing that history with the current owner and his long-time barkeep, Grant [or something nudging Grant] manages to open himself up to a process that can only be described as possession. In typing (on a manual typewriter) the words of "The Story," the evil behind the bar's history takes over, and before very long, Amy is also drawn into it by the tasks of typing and editing. Poor Bailey, a mature child for his age and a loner by choice and circumstance, all too soon becomes the target as the entities possessing Grant, Amy, and The Story determine on a new outlet for their evil.

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Review: Long after Dark

Long after Dark Long after Dark by Greg F. Gifune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of LONG AFTER DARK by Greg F. Gifune

In the 16th century St. John of the Cross wrote of "the long dark night of the soul." In the early 20th century writer F. Scott Fitzgerald penned that while in it, the time is always 3 AM. In LONG AFTER DARK, master author Greg F. Gifune explores a new view of the long dark night, a night that doesn't just occur at 3 AM, but in the daylight as well, a night that is unending.

Poor Harry Fremont: long-term husband, efficient senior manager, father of one (a university student). He is concerned about his job future due to a merger; he and his wife must sell their residence due to encroaching commercial development, and his wife's executive career keeps her working long hours and traveling too much. Any of those factors could be faced and eventually dealt with efficiently, but suddenly Harry develops serious flu symptoms, with additonal pains and symptoms that don't even relate to flu. Suddenly Harry can't sleep--at all. His wife has jetted off to San Diego, for business; his son is away at university; the sole remaining neighbor is not home. But for Harry, solitude would be a blessing. He is certainly not alone. Badgered by waking nightmares, bizarre neighborhood sights, noises, really strange annoying phone calls, then a visit from his wife's boss' spouse which only stirs suspicions already lodged in Harry's unconsciousness.

Author Gifune has an exceptional talent for the subtle introduction of his horror. Yes, there is full-on horror before the story concludes, but for me, the best was the way in which the horror creeps in on little cat feet, like Robert Frost's fog, so that although the terror escalates, still I was shocked when certain events occurred, and found myself nearly screaming along with Harry, and chills coursing up and down my spine. If you haven't read anything by Greg Gifune, race to read this one. If you're already a fan, be prepared for the best.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Review: The Deepest Wound

The Deepest Wound The Deepest Wound by Rick Reed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jack Murphy Thriller #3

What a roller coaster ride! I don't know how the author could pack in any more adventure, emotion, danger, mystery, or thrills! I'll definitely be reading the first two in the series, plus the upcoming novel. Detective Jack Murphy is very much a "man's man," to the continuing dismay of his ex-wife Katie. Perhaps I should call him "the Clint Eastwood Sphaghetti Western" type: strong, silent, incredibly determined. He has never been responsible for the death of an animal, but he has killed several men in the course of his homicide duties.

When a deputy prosecutor in Evansville "disappears," and body portions start turning up at the local landfill and across the state line in Illinois, Murphy is hot on the trail. But the eventual revelations will rock the city and county, and leave a trail of fatalities along the way.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Review: Unearthed

Unearthed Unearthed by Richard Chizmar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

by Richard Chizmar, Brian Keene, Ray Garton

This title collects two stories written quite some time back by the illustrious Richard Chizmar, author, editor, anthologist, and publisher. As he explains in an introduction, when he serendipitously came upon these two stories, he asked two masters of the horror genre to rework them with him.

"The Sculptor" is a collaboration by Mr. Chizmar and Ray Garton, and relates the tribulations of the eponymous artiste, a man who first gains recognition, then loses his motivation or perhaps his talent. When an unforeseen "impossible" event occurs, both motivation and talent are immediately, immensely, reawakened. As always happens when we "deal with the devil," there are drastic and tragic consequences. [Note: although there are Faustian tones here, the Sculptor doesn't seek out such a contract outright; rather the events are thrust upon him, sadly.]

"Roses and Raindrops"--I loved this story!--is narrated by a senior citizen living alone near the community of Aberdeen, Virginia. A prosperous and thriving community without crime, depressed economy, or any of the other plagues of modern society, Aberdeen is a great place to work and live; just not a great place to raise kids. The denouement is ravishingly horrifying, and the ending is, if possible, even better. This story is by Mr. Chizmar and Brian Keene.

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Review: Plushinomicon: The Legends of Teddy Bear Island

Plushinomicon: The Legends of Teddy Bear Island Plushinomicon: The Legends of Teddy Bear Island by Kristi King-Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Oddly, I never knew I found stuffed animals scary. Now I know . PLUSHONOMICON is based on the characters from Orc' s Teddy Bear Island RPG. It's a series of vignettes presented as short stories, purposely open-ended so that, as in the Choose Your Own Adventure-type, gamers may use each story as a campaign start for their own role-playing gamery. Yes, there are some really scary moments here (gee, it's not just dolls!)

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review: Woom: An extreme horror

Woom: An extreme horror Woom: An extreme horror by Duncan Ralston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of WOOM by Duncan Ralston

Oh my, such a book. WOOM surely must qualify as one-of-a-kind, outre, far-out, psychological horror. Room 6 at the Lonely Motel is not haunted per se, but Room 6 surely does have a history, a history of horror, both self-inflicted and other-inflicted. One of the characters in this book often ponders fate and planetary alignment, and how either/both of those might impact human choices; and for certain, there is something of the phrase "When the Stars Are Right" operating in Room 6 of the Lonely Motel, an unassuming, by-the-hour site, not so far from the New York State/Canadian border.

I read this book while alone. Although it didn't terrify me, it certainly did wring me inside out, more than once. The denouement was completely bizarre and out of this world, but the conclusion was even more so! Mr. Ralston takes such a collection of vignettes and weaves them into one seamless, very bizarre, narrative. There is storytelling, and there is Storytelling; and what occurs here puts all those legendary campfire tales to shame. What humans do to themselves and to each other....

Duncan Ralston has already made quite a name and a niche for himself with SALVAGE, and EVERY PART OF THE ANIMAL. In WOOM, released August 6, he has carved out an entirely new niche, one just for himself.

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