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Archive for the ‘supernatural’ Category


What can I say? Looking back at the list of books I’ve read during 2019, it is disturbing to note that I’ve been reading … nay… consuming a lot of horror novels. Dark, disturbing and sometimes, stomach churning horror novels. I don’t know what that says about me, though it might explain my (perpetual) single status. Whatever. Their loss. Ever since NOS4A2, I’ve been fascinated with Joe Hill’s writing, and though I’m not a big fan of anthologies (don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a good few) I like reading Mr. Hill’s offerings (remember Strange Weather, folks?). So when I saw Full Throttle staring at me from the “New Arrivals” shelf, I figured why not … it’s not like I’ve got a string of dates lined up and seemingly sane folks can’t live on binge-watching the telly (I think I’m sane). But enough with the bollocks and let’s get on with the blooming review (so you folks can get back to your holiday festivities such as sipping eggnog and cuddling up to a Love Actually on Blu –ray … what, only me on that one, I’ve detoured … and revealed much).

Now in the last few months, I’ve serenaded you with the dark and disturbing, lotion-in-the-basket, sort of horror. Full Throttle is a nice “break” away from such. And yes, I am being extremely generous in the use if the word “break”. Full Throttle is a delightful collection stories that are frightening but not always (except for a few) in the preternatural sense, ranging from cautionary to vengeful to hear-touchingly creepy to (yes) macabre.

    To avoid spoiling the stories for my fellow readers and coming off like a complete tosser, I’ll offer up a taste of what is in Throttle:

  • A bunch of bikers carrying a dark secret finds themselves unwitting victims of a mysterious truck driver.
  • Teens visit a seaside carnival and youthful bravado leads to an assault on an innocent carousel worker … and unleashing a terrifying and frightening secret that would change their lives.
  • A bookmobile driver finds that his mobile library serves an interesting set of patrons: the dearly departed (though I must say as a librarian, my work with the public has it limits).
  • A girl and her AI companion, in a futuristic world, puts human morality under a magnifying glass and a sad commentary is revealed.
  • A Twitter user visits a horror-themed circus and finds themselves in a terrifying world. Or is it just a publicity stunt?
  • A call for help in a tall, grassy area at the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere, lures unsuspecting Samaritans to a sinister setting. They’ve made the movie adaptation (In The Tall Grass) on Netflix. The book and the movie versions differ slightly and that’s all this bloke’s saying.
  • A patriot separatist plans an act of domestic terrorism (shocker), but his past misdeeds have plans for him and his associates.

Bloody hell, I said I’d give you sampling and just may have screened the entire blooming book for you. To quote the immortal Marlene Dietrich: “Can’t help it”. And yes, I just quoted Fraulein Dietrich.

Though Full Throttle won’t have you cowering under the sheets in bowel-pinching fear, the stories are riveting and delightful chiller-suspense, mixed bag. Especially on a cold Christmas night for those that don’t fancy watching the telly with any Christmas themed movies (particularly ones featuring Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson). And most of all, it’ll make you appreciate some of the good anthologies that are out there. And I am looking forward to the second season of NOS4A2. Good show, Mr. Hill. No really, it is a jolly good show.

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Stephen King is having a really cool year. The second part of IT was in the theatres (it was bloody awesome … no pun intended … ok, maybe just a little). And the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep (which I reviewed several years ago … feel free to look it up), made it to the movies this month (about bloody time). Needless to say, I saw it and Rebecca Ferguson played a delightful Rose the Hat (gave me the hibby-jibbies). So when I heard that this book was on the horizon, I just couldn’t wait and it was spared very little resting time in the stacks at my branch. But enough with the blah-blah-blah, pleasantries and other such bollocks and let’s get on with the blasted review. Yeah?

Tim Jamieson has come to a sudden dead-end in his career, as cop in a Florida town, and has decided to settle for the “greener pastures” of (get this) New York City. An overbooked flight changes his mind and he ends up hitchhiking (with over two thousand dollars for giving up his seat on the plane) towards the North. He soon finds himself in a small, unknown town in the South Carolina. He settles and finds a job as a night knocker: basically a cop that patrols the town and knocks on the doors of businesses and certain individuals in order to make sure all is well. The pay sucks, it is simple and he is unarmed, but life in this town is just as simple and nice. Or so it seems … for the time being.

Luke Ellis is twelve-year old kid. He is your typical twelve year old with a few minor exceptions: he is quite the child prodigy and when he is in a certain mood eating utensils and other things tend to move around on their own. Yes, Luke is telekinetic. And then one night, Luke’s parents are murdered and Luke is kidnapped and brought to a strange place in Maine known as …. (wait for it) … The Institute. The institute is run by a psychotic, Nurse Ratched type named Mrs. Sigsby and is staffed by a bunch of motherless, ex-military types of varying specialties. On entrance to the Institute many of the kids are told a yarn about them serving their country and saving the world …. and then the brutality …er, testing begins. Despite these are pre-pubescent teens, failure to confirm is met with physical abuse and even a form of water torture that makes waterboarding feel like a quaint baptism. Wait, a minute … children being separated from families and treated badly? Sounds familiar. Maybe not, only from the strange and twisted mind of King. Aye, that’s it. Along the way Luke befriends Kalisha Benson (who sounds like the Afro-American girl in last season’s Stranger Things), Nick Wilholm (the rebel), Avery and George Iles. Sort of like a twisted verstion of the Breakfast Club, except that these kids never go home, detention seems permanent and Mr. Vernon does not give out 500 word essays to write when they act up … they either get pummeled or tortured. But all is not lost, since the kids have found a friend in the form of Maureen Alvorson (a woman that re-stocks the vending machine that offers cigarette-type looking candies and alcohol … yes, you read right, among other things). The bad news, in all this, is that the kids don’t know that mom and dad are dead. The really bad news is that Maureen has a sinister ulterior motive that is unknown to these desperately, trusting teens. The kids find out that the Institute is divided into two parts: The Front Half where the new “recruits” are initially deployed for the Guantanamo Experience and then … there is the Back Half where kids simply disappear and are never heard from … ever … and it also features are weird humming sound. When that weird humming sounds changes to a pitch somebody in the world dies … puppies (thankfully) are spared. Somewhere along the line, Luke finds out the fate of his parents despite the Institute’s attempt to isolate him from that information and decides to go Freddy Mercury … and break free. It is during his strange odyssey (which would explain the cover) from the Institute that he crosses paths with Tim Jamieson … and needless to say … the shit hits the fan. And this where I stop for I fear that I will be spilling some unnecessary beans. To say more would be a complete and utter tosser to spoil for everyone … so there.

It. Is. Premium. King. Grabbed from various goings-on in this messed up world King stitches together a frightening quilt of a tale (or is it?) that is bloody disturbing yet intensively-mesmerizing that’ll leave you clinging on to the edge of the covers, as you battle insignificant things like eating, sleeping and bodily functions … all the way the breathtaking conclusion. Though there aren’t any preternatural creatures lurking around, this just might be his most disturbing and frightening yet. Why? Just look around us. Need I say more. And some of us just might utter a silent prayer and hope that this stuff remains bound and condemned to the pages of fiction. Mr. King, you remain America’s scary yet delightful uncle. Jolly good show, my good man.

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Truth be told, I’ve been reading a lot of Janz stuff over the summer, but I didn’t want to make it a Summer of Janz thing (though that would have been a wee bit cool). So I had to spread it out, a bit. The latest that I just read … nay …. Consumed was The Darkest Lullaby. Another dark, twisted delicacy that will most likely give most folks sleepless nights especially if they live next to wooded areas. Be warned.But enough with the blooming pleasantries and let’s get on with the bleedy review. Yeah?
Apparently when it comes to writing horror Janz, in some cases such as Lullaby, dispenses with the foreplay and goes straight in to it. And then eases back into the foreplay, and builds up to the final climax (both metaphorically and literally). Interesting? Never thought about that … oh, wait ignore that part, that’s just a detour … nothing to look at. Or analyze. Lullaby starts off with a young woman giving about to give birth (sometime in the 80s) and it ends with her baby being taken away by a Rasputin-type figure, named Gerald Destrangis, and strange woman into a forest. I know, not much and it doesn’t exactly give you the hibby-jibbies … except this Janz we’re dealing with here and in the first chapter (yes, the FIRST) things went from normal to downright dark and sinister. And just when you are about to brace yourself for the oncoming onslaught … we meet Chris and Ellie (Eleanor) Crane. Married for a few years and hailing from Malibu (and a crappy apartment), they moved to Indiana to settle in a large house with a lot of many acres of land. This house was inherited by Chris from his late aunt Lilith. And though Indiana is quite a change from Malibu, the living situation is quite an upgrade for Ellie, though the house does have some creepy aspects. And just when things couldn’t get any better, Ellie discovers she is pregnant, after trying for quite some time. Seems like the move to Indiana is a good omen of sorts … but, yes, this IS a Jonathan Janz book. Funny thing about Lilith (nothing major or significant): prior to her passing she was part of an unholy cult that dabbled in blasphemous, dark rituals that involved sex, blood and sacrifices (let’s say we’re not talking about chickens on this one). Like I said, nothing major or significant.
And then the strange stuff begins (yes, you read correctly). Ellie starts seeing strange things as she explores the creepy (but big house that could hold a nice nursery room for her child). In one she encounters a strange alpha-male type man that chases her, from a secret room filled with ghastly images, with sinister and/or carnal intentions in his wild eyes … only to have both seemingly vanish. Chris, on the other hand, is exploring the large property, a land filled with woods and clearings and even a lake … until he encounters a strange naked woman walking in the woods … and ends up succumbing to a strange sexual encounter that he can’t quite recall (I hear those are usually the best ones assuming they are consensual … or tolerable at most). Oh, another not-so interesting thing about Lilith: prior to her passing she hated Ellie (with a passion) and had a strong attachment to her nephew, Chris. How strong you ask? The kind of attachments that you read about in Penthouse Forum (or so I’ve heard). And yes, bloody gross. But there it is. Needless to say, Chris starts to slowly change (and not for the best) and seems to constrain himself to two activities: taking walks in the wooded areas and writing a book that he forbids Ellie to look at. Wait a minute, sounds familiar? Sexual encounters with strange women, change in attitude, “writing” a book, living in roomy building seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Red rum (minus the spooky twins). But if you think I’ve spilled the beans on this book you sadly mistaken. Not even close. On top of all things, there is a snarky real estate agent that tries to talk Ellie and Chris out of the property but for some strange reason wants to buy it. As the red flags mount, Ellie decides that it is time to leave, unfortunately the forces that be have other ideas and leaving that house is not going to be easy. To make matters worse (yes), Ellie sister shows up out of the blue and … the shit hits the fan. And it splatters red … and maybe a bit brown.
Lives intersect, and dark twisted secrets come to light in the dark … some sinister and terrifyingly deadly. And yes, there are some terrifying twists that accompany this Christmas tale, that WILL keep some awake for a few nights … or at least be wary of strange, naked women that you may encounter in wooded areas (hint: you might think of walking …nay, running in the next direction). Alas, Jonathan Janz has done it again: for some, another anti-sleep cure … and for others, a thirst for more of his terrifying fiction. Will this poor man be able to keep up with literary thirst he has created? Time will tell (and I hope this will goad him into spitting out more books). Caution to readers (because you’re my mates and all): don’t become attached to characters (trust me). .

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Why, yes, it is another Jonathan Janz book and I can’t seem to get enough of his horror writing. And no, I’m not being paid one quid to promote his stuff (gasp!!!), and I actually like his stuff. And apparently he’s listening to my thoughts and writing tons of books every year. Maybe I should keep that part about him “listening to my thoughts” to myself. Too crazy? Oh well, enough with the bollocks and on with the review. Yeah?

Roderick Wells is the most celebrated yet reclusive writer in the world. So when ten “lucky” writers are offered an exclusive invitation to his summer-long writing retreat, their dreams are aglow with riches and literary fame. They, however, are instructed not to tell ANYONE about this invitation since that would be an automatic disqualification. Maybe it’s just me but that qualifies as red flag behaviour. I’ve seen enough horror movies that start with that premise … they never end good. Or maybe I need to get out more. Maybe. The winner of this contest gets three million dollars and a recommendation to the publisher, of their dreams, to publish their books. Upon arriving the participants are made to wear blindfolds and are taken into a strange forest that has a Gothic-type mansion in the middle of nowhere. Yes, more screaming red flags that even Stevie Wonder can see on a dark, moonless night. Among the writers is Lucy, an actual published Young Adult (YA) writer that had great but short-lived success with one book and has yet to write another for over a decade. There is also the unpublished Rich and rising star Elaine. And there are few sociopaths within, Anna and Bryan. During their first meeting with an old Roderick Wells and his alluring youthful wife, Amanda, Rich receives a scary premonition about Roderick. And the shit hits the fan. With no access to the Internet but a great sprawling library available, the writers have to create stories and everyday are selected to read their stories to everyone else (I once took a class like that … one the best English classes I ever took in college). The genre was selected by Wells and it turns out to be (wait for it) … horror. Yes. Writers that are found lacking are treated to acidic criticism by Wells who make Simon Cowell seem like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. And they are eventually “eliminated” or as Wells would put it … “sent home”. Sort of like saying that the ailing Fluffy was being sent off to that “wonderful” farm to roam freely with all the other animals. Even more disturbing is that the eliminated writers tend to leave without their possessions, which Wells’ manservant, Wilson, claims that he’ll take care of it. Sure thing, mate. The strange thing is that as writers become “eliminated” Wells seem to get younger and strange things start to appear in and around his mansion. Maybe it is just the atmosphere. Yeah, and I’m the Queen of England. Strangely enough, what started out as a seemingly random gathering of writers turns out to be anything but. They are all bound by pasts filled with misdeeds and skeletons (some literally) in the closet. And no … I’m not going to spell out those misdeeds that ranged from bloody sleazy to viciously disturbing. Yes, I’d be a tosser if I robbed you of all the fun. So there.
Roderick Wells is Hannibal Lector (without the cannibalism … I think) meets Julie Andrews (minus the cheery demeanour) with a hint of Dracula (minus the fangs … I think). A good portion of the book was dedicated to revisiting the sordid, dark pasts of these writers, which adds beautifully to story and will easily evoke emotions for these characters. Basically those you’d love to see live or die (gruesomely). But be careful and choose wisely (or play it safe and don’t choose at all), because this IS a Jonathan Janz book. Don’t become attached to characters. You’ve been warned. Enjoy the read.

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Yes, I know. I didn’t post anything on September, and the Evil Parrot will gladly admit to cocking up big time. Was pretty busy at work (yes, the library gets pretty hectic) and then I went to Vegas. Aye, gun ranges galore and jamming with rock bands at the Fremont Experience (Element 67 and Alter Ego crushed it). Everything else falls under the “whatever happens at Vegas” grouping (spoiler alert: not much, since I’m very chill). So I shall make up for my September misdeeds and offer you not one, nor two … but THREE reviews and since it is October, they are all Jonathan Janz stuff. Yes, it is like a book review grindhouse (and yes, I may have aged myself, since most folks may not know about grindhouse movie theater days … where you paid to see TWO movies instead of one and they consisted of violence, gore, and the occasional sexploitation). Great son and dad moments (and I mean that). But enough about Vegas, grindhouse movies and other such bollocks and let’s get on with the blooming review. Yeah?
I am being spoiled by Mr. Janz. Within a two year period, my book review blog has become littered with his stuff. And I’m about to do some more littering. So much (awesome) horror writing. And after every book, I’m like Kirsten Dunst in Interview With the Vampire: I want more. And it seems as if Mr. Janz is more than happy to oblige. If we ever cross paths, Mr. Janz, there is a pint with your name on it my good man.
The cover and the title , Wolf Land, spares little in alerting the reader what this book is about: werewolves. But be warned there is, a disclaimer in the beginning of the book (yes, I kid you not), promises that this is not those romanticized tales of werewolves … dear heavens, no. Feel free to put thoughts of Kate Beckinsale running around in body hugging latex out to pasture … then again … Alas, it gets quite dark, and viciously disturbing. Even some horror book taboos may have been crossed (if there is such a thing). Aye, there is more than just fictional victims being ripped to shreds here. The story begins with a bunch of former high school mates meeting up in a wooded area (it always a wooded area … what gives Janz) for some kind of party. The usual bollocks: kegs, beer, barbecues and hopes of shameful, drunken bouts of the old in-out, in-out. Sometime during this gathering, a stranger crashes and intrudes on the party goers. After taunting them, he changes into a werewolf and attacks them, and it is quite a vicious scene. Some die and a few survive. Among the survivors are an odd assortment of characters: Glenn Kershaw (a jock type with a cool Vette); Joyce (a librarian … YES !!! … that has a crush on Glenn); Duane “Short Pump” Mckidd (an occasional butt of jokes); Weezer (a typical wimpy, loser type); Savannah (a single mother with an adorable kid named Jake); and Melody Bridwell (who is secretly being used as a weekly rape toy by her father and four brothers … yes, you are reading right and the dark stuff hasn’t even been touched as yet). Now unlike that usual bollocks about the full moon, these werewolves can simply turn due to triggers that could be atmospheric, emotional or possibly certain foods (I’m not spelling it out and ruining the story for folks). There is even an interesting twist to this tale where some of the turned survivors not only change physically but psychologically. Some turned out to be latent psychotics and used their new-found abilities in terrifying and very, very disturbing ways. Sides of good and evil are drawn, and like most Janz books the bets are off on just about everyone. Try not to get attached to ANY of the characters. Though some wankers do
get their due, there is enough piles of bodies that would leave most folks shaking their heads at the end of the book … and wondering about the next book. And think people were shocked over the Red Wedding in Game Of Thrones. And yes, I did go there GoT folks.

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Once in awhile, I would pick up something from a familiar and favourite author and though I have certain expectations, whether good or bad, I am often blown away (and then come the conflicted feelings). So when this novelette showed up on my stacks, I had my misgivings: “bloody hell, a Stephen King novelette, this can’t be good … it is too thin, hence not really good”. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the old wisdom of “not judging a book by its cover (or in this case, size)”. But it IS Stephen King and I was compelled to read it. So enough with the bollocks and other such pleasantries and let’s get on with it. Yeah?

Scott Carey is an easy going chap. Up there in age, a marathon runner and retired. But lately, there is something bugging his mind (well several things). Every morning Scott weighs himself and notices that his weight is decreasing and we’re not in fractions but high single digit deductions. The problem is that Scott is not on a particular diet and eats like a normal person that has never read or heard any of the health crap spouted by Gwyneth Paltrow. To make things worse, he goes to his doctor who informs him that he is … perfectly well (no cancer, tumours or any of that bollocks). Despite the increased eating that would put most buffet eaters to shame, the weight still keeps dropping. On the other hand is the problem of his new neighbours and their dog that likes to poop on his lawn. What’s even more is that his neighbour is a married lesbian couple that owns the only (struggling) vegetarian restaurant, named Holy Frijole (touted as veggie cuisine with at Tex Mex flair), in town: Deirdre McComb and Missy Donaldson. And though Missy is quite easy going, Deirdre hates him with a passion. When Scott encounters a Proud Boy type that was speaking terrible things about the couple, he simple defends them … and almost found himself in a fist exchange. Scott, emboldened by his stance, takes some other positive steps. As the town prepares for the annual Thanksgiving 12K run, unlikely alliances form as Scott struggles to figure out his mystery illness and unwittingly bringing out the best in people, some who’ve marinated themselves in horrible behaviour over the years. Yes, it seems that I may abruptly jumped ahead in my review, but keep in mind that this is a very small book and if I were to say more, then I would simply telling you the bloody story … and that would make me a tosser. So there.
Elevation is (very) quick read, but in those short pages King has packed some much goodness that made you wish for more, but … alas, the story had to end. And such a delightful yet bittersweet ending. Touching, a story that could be very easily applied to current dire socialscape that basically says what so many of us already know (though some are in heavy denial) that when you strip away all the political and ideological bollocks circulating out there, it is very easy for folks to get along and even find the commonness that bind us together. Touchy, feely you say. Maybe. But from Stephen King, you gasp. Yes. And it is good to know that warm fuzzy feeling you get from reading one of his books is not from fright-induced piss but this time, it is really from the heart.

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Yes, I could not get enough of the R.S. Belcher books, so when this popped up in my library’s databases, I just simply had to get my claws on it. Of course, after having read the synopsis, I simply wanted to inhale the bloody book. Are you intrigued, about now? Well enough with the pleasantries and other such bollocks and get it on with it. Yeah?

Jimmie Aussapile is a truck driver, traversing the interstate highways of America delivering stuff, possibly to a some Amazon warehouse or other such bollocks. Nothing special … or so it seems. The truth is Jimmie is a member of the Brotherhood of the Wheel a secret group comprised of truckers, bikers, taxi drivers, RVers and state troopers that are derived from Templar lines. They secretly travel the highways stalking serial killers and bringing them to justice. They are the secret line between the lawless and the law-abiding. When Jimmie has a ghostly encounter with a hitchhiker that informs about children missing over the country and the strange eerie Black Eyed Kids (BEKs) that prowl the highways, like a moth to a flame he is drawn in. And no they are not strange fans of The Black-Eyed Peas group. Hector Sinclair is a member of the Blue Jocks, a Scottish-clan base motorcycle club, and unlike most MCs they make a legitimate living bounty hunting. When the leader of the club dies, Hector is chosen to become the head of the Blue Jocks but not until he fulfils his “apprenticeship” with the Brethren. Lovina Marcou is a hard-boiled, no-nonsense Louisiana State Police Investigator in search of some missing persons when she has a hair-raising encounter with the BEKs. When a bunch of teenagers are brutally abducted somewhere near Kansas, paths are crossed where Lovina, Hector and Jimmie find that they have more in common with each other as they form a team along with a cross-section of strange allies. Yes, even Elvis shows up. Yes, that bloke … Mr. Blue Suede Shoes himself. Interesting story. Read the book. I’m not going to be a wanker and spoil the fun. Soon the world of firearms and computers merge with the supernatural when this unlikely group find themselves teaming up against several supernatural foes that are a wee bit nasty. And blood will spill. A whole lot of it. We’re talking Incas-type sacrificial blood spillage. A bit too much? Aye, sometimes I do stuff like that. And (I know it’s cliche) survival of the world … nay, universe is at stake.

Quick note, for those that read Nightwise (my last book review) would have gotten a nice but quick introduction to Jimmie when Laytham Ballard needed a lift. Also interestingly enough Mr. Ballard’s name is mentioned several times in Brotherhood.

Once again, Mr. Belcher pulls us into his strange world of magic, technology, weapons, fists, and dark humour. And there is no slowing down to the intensity of suspense and action in Brotherhood. I can just hear Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” in my head. And yes, I think Sammy was better than David Lee Roth in Van Halen … but that’s just me. I’ve detoured … slightly. Every page turn is like peering around the corners of a dark mansion that is stalked by a stealthy, machete-wielding maniac. All the way towards the end it is a white-knuckled, adrenaline-induced ride towards a breathtaking conclusion. And even when you reach the end, you still want more. Good news on that front: it is a another series. Ah Mr. Belcher, you loveable bastard. And now comes the foaming and impatience in anticipation of the next books. And the page turns (don’t worry you’ll get this AFTER having read the book).

(P.S. Try not to get too attached to certain characters in this book. You’ve been warned. And I’ve saved you some tears. And yes, you are quite welcome.)

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