The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char

23363928 “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins

Synopsis: Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.
After all, she was a normal American herself, once.
That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.
In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.
Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.
But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

*******

5 out of 5 stars

Well, crap. I haven’t the faintest idea of how to begin to review this book.

I don’t suppose I can leave it at, “It’s amazing, go read it immediately.”

I’m going to start with what I liked most about this book.

The world building is fantastic. To create an entire new world, new mythos, new philosophy in one book is hard and it’s exceptionally well done here. This falls into the fantasy genre quite simply because there is no where else to put it. Fantasy, sci-fi, historical, dystopian, horror, speculative – I think it fits all those genres.

Carolyn is our main character in this book but many of the other characters get equal play. Parts of the book are disturbing, parts are laugh out loud hilarious (remind me that in real life I can’t bitch-slap a lion). She goes through quite the metamorphosis through the story and it’s wonderful to read her development.

The character development is well thought out. There doesn’t seem to be much thought given to them at first, and then you find that you are incredibly invested in everyone in the book.

There is a lot of gore in this book. Descriptions of killing and of torture and of abuse. Somehow it makes sense that it’s here and necessary to the story. It’s violent but not gratuitous.

The one thing I didn’t like was that it took me a good 50 pages to really get hooked by this book. Normally I give up very quickly, but I am so glad I stuck with this one. I know I keep saying amazing but I don’t have any other words for this.

Again, I have no idea how to review “Library”. I don’t know where it fits, who should read it, and how to think about it. I just know I loved it and will definitely reread in the future.

The cover is …

… wait for it …

… amazing.

 

 

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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

23512999 “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” by Stephen King

Synopsis: A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.
Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.
There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.
Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

*****

3 out of 5 stars

As you know, I am a huge fan of Stephen King. My mother actually introduced me to his books when I was a very young teen as she is also a huge fan. I’m assuming she did because she thought I would read her books anyway.

My parents built the house that I grew up in, and my father made sure he built himself a “library”. It was just a small nook off of the living room with a big wing-back chair that had seen better days, and floor to ceiling books. Shelves of books all the way to the very high ceiling stacked three and four deep on the shelf. My father’s taste in reading runs more towards mysteries and crime thrillers (he is a huge Travis McGee fan) and my mom always read things more to my own taste – horror and  the like.

I remember sitting in that big chair and reading “Nightshift”, thirty five or so years ago. I must have been 12 and it may have been one of my earliest introductions to Stephen King.

“Bazaar of Bad Dreams” is a collection that is kind of a mixed bag. Not all horror, there is a poem in here too. I did enjoy that at the beginning of each short story (or poem) there is a quick intro about how the story came to be. While I enjoyed the book as a whole, there are a few stories here that really stood out for me.

“Ur” – An English teacher buys a Kindle to impress his lady love and ends up with a pink one that does not technically exist. It’s filled with books written in alternate universes.  I liked the story, but will admit this was a shameless plug.

“Under the Weather” – Deliciously creepy! Ad man goes to and from work while taking care of his ill wife. Or, so he says. The lead-in reads that it’s best to stay one step ahead of the narrator and in this case, I agree.

“The Little Green God of Agony” – This story has stuck with me since I’ve read it. It’s the story of one of the richest men in the world desperate for relief of the pain he has been in since a horrific accident. The premise is that his kind of pain is caused by a little god who feeds on pain, and the only way to rid the body of it is by exorcism. As someone who lives with chronic pain, I was asked by a so-called healer a long time ago to try to visualize it as a separate entity and make friends with it if possible. The closest thing I could come up with was the cartoon roach from the old Raid commercials. Needless to say, it didn’t work. This story is one of the best in the book.

“Summer Thunder” – The story of the end of the world. A beautiful and sensitive story and I can’t say I wouldn’t want to choose the same.

This is a good book and I enjoyed it. Not the best from King, but certainly not the worst (that distinction belongs to Dreamcatchers – do not read!). I will always read whatever King writes. Period.

The cover is gorgeous with a little bit of creepiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nightmares & Dreamscapes

Nightmares & Dreamscapes

6137578 “Nightmares & Dreamscapes” by Stephen King

Synopsis: A wrong turn on a lonely road lands a lost couple in Rock and Roll Heaven, Oregon, where there’s no escaping the free nightly concert…An ex-con pieces together a map to unearth a stolen million dollars–but at what price?…A desperate writer changes places with his fictional character, and becomes trapped in the past…And a third-grade teacher digs deep to exact revenge for his murdered wife.

These are some of the dark and haunting scenarios in Stephen King’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes.

*******

5 out of 5

Horror is my favorite genre by far, and in my mind, Stephen King will always be one of the grand masters of horror. He has not written the scariest things I have read (that honor goes to Jack Kilbourne/ J. A. Konrath who terrifies me and Nick Cutter whose books I can’t even pick up anymore, much less finish). What King does though is create worlds and characters I believe in, and that I believe can exist and sympathize with. His bad guys are bad indeed and he is always able to hook me within just a few sentences – my main criteria for judging whether or not I like a writer.

My second favorite genre is short stories, so this book with always be a favorite for me. I’ve read it countless times over the years and remember buying it new at Waldenbooks (aging myself here). It’s just a fantastic book. All of the stories are so different and so well done but I do have a few favorites that I want to review.

The book opens with “Dolan’s Cadillac” and is in, my opinion, the best story in the book. It’s the story of revenge, an elaborately planned revenge when a nondescript teacher loses his wife after she witnesses something she should not have. The story also addresses one of my greatest personal fears – being buried alive. I wake up some nights clawing at the air thinking that I am being buried. This is an amazing story with just the perfect amount of scariness.

“The Moving Finger”. Totally creepy. As a child, I knew there was always a monster in the bathroom, specifically in the toilet, that was going to get me. I never thought about it, I just knew it was there so I had better finish my business quick and get out of the bathroom. This story is that fear brought to life.

“Suffer the Little Children” – kids are creepy. There, I said it. I’m sure you have been around a small child that looked at you with too-wise eyes and spooked you. Or perhaps they said something so alien and adult that they had no business knowing. Great story.

“Chattery Teeth”. I loved this story! Who doesn’t want a guardian angel, even if that angel is a set of wind up teeth!

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It’s a great addition to any Stephen King or horror fan’s shelf.

The cover is amazing – we are looking right at Dolan’s Cadillac!

 

 

Chapelwood

Chapelwood

24611470 “Chapelwood” by Cherie Priest

Synopsis: Birmingham, Alabama is infested with malevolence. Prejudice and hatred have consumed the minds and hearts of its populace. A murderer, unimaginatively named “Harry the Hacker” by the press, has been carving up citizens with a hatchet. And from the church known as Chapelwood, an unholy gospel is being spread by a sect that worships dark gods from beyond the heavens.
This darkness calls to Lizzie Borden. It is reminiscent of an evil she had dared hoped was extinguished. The parishioners of Chapelwood plan to sacrifice a young woman to summon beings never meant to share reality with humanity. An apocalypse will follow in their wake which will scorch the earth of all life.
Unless she stops it…

*******

4 out of 5 stars

Loved this almost as much as the first book in the series, “Maplecroft”. The story begins almost 30 years after the Maplecroft murders. Lizzie has changed her last name to Andrews and lives a fairly quiet, although lonely life. Her sister, Emma died while they were estranged and her only friend through the Maplecroft murders, Dr. Seabury  descended into madness before his own death.

Lizzie is contacted by Inspector Wolf, who investigated the Maplecroft murders with an odd request – that she come to Birmingham, Alabama to consult on a new string of axe murders. He convinces her to come with a portrait of her long-lost love, Nance, drawn by the only survivor of the killing spree.

This book follows the same formula as the first book in the series and switches point of view with each chapter. A little confusing for me until I forced myself to read the names of each chapter – not something I normally do. Lizzie is also not the sole main character in this book. A girl named Ruth Gussman shares equal billing.

When Lizzie meets Inspector Wolf in Birmingham, she finds that a sinister church has taken hold of the town and another Lovecraftian theme threatens everyone there – particularly Ruth. She is a very strong and independent young woman who wants nothing more than to be left alone to live her life but the church has other plans for her.

Again, as with the first book, if the reader is not familiar with Lovecraft then much of the imagery and symbolism will be missed. It’s a great second book in the series and with everything Lovecraft, the heroes don’t always come out on top. The book is spooky and well written. I wish some characters could have been expanded upon, but I’m happy with what I read.

I’m not sure if or how there can be a third book but I will be watching for it just in case!

The cover – perfect. We get to see Lizzie older, still with her trusty axe.

 

 

Maplecroft

Maplecroft

20821288 Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

Synopsis: Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one….

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.
But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.
This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

*******

4 out of 5 stars

I have always been fascinated with the story of Lizzie Borden. The gruesome crime she is said to have committed – killing her parents with an axe. What would drive someone to that? Insanity? Desperation? Or something else entirely?

“Maplecroft” explores that and I had such fun reading it. I will warn you – this is heavily Lovecraftian. OMG. SO. MUCH. LOVECRAFT. If you are a fan, then I feel you will certainly enjoy this, but if not I think that much of the symbolism and imagery might not be as impactful.

The story takes place after Lizzie has been acquitted of killing her father and stepmother, and has moved to Maplecroft Manor with her ailing sister Emma. Lizzie has a laboratory in the basement where she studies and dispatches the horrors she deals with. Emma is a well renowned scientist in her own right, and posts scientific papers and discoveries under the name E.A. Jackson.
Lizzie also has a love interest in this story, a young actress named Nance. I liked how this was written and handled so delicately without taking away from the main story.

The book is written in chapters, each with a different first person narrative. I like this style of writing and feel that we are really able to see some of the characters evolve, such as the neighboring doctor, Owen Seabury. He starts out as a minor character but soon becomes somewhat of a hero.

I love the cover art! The axe that Lizzie is holding is almost a main character in it’s own right in this book. It totally ties in to the Gothic Horror feel of the entire book and I can’t wait to read the next in the series!

 

 

Horrorstor

Horrorstor

image“Horrorstor” by Grady Hendrix

Synopsis:

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

*******

5 out of 5 stars

It’s been so nice being able to review really great books lately and this one was a pleasure to read. It was just so much fun!

The story is set in an IKEA type store, and as anyone knows who has shopped IKEA, they are designed to never let you leave without buying something. This book takes that premise one step further with the Orsk store never letting you leave at all.

What I liked: Let’s begin with the book deign itself- brilliant. While I read the ebook, it was still a treat. The cover looks like a slick Ikea cover until you really look at the details. Each chapter starts with an Orsk product image and description. Innocent and charming at first, they rapidly change into horrific torture implements.

The plot is so clever and I love the fact that it’s set in my beloved Cleveland Ohio. This is not your run of the mill horror story. It’s horror, parody, some zombies, and a little coming of age combined. It’s a combination that really works for this book.

There is not one thing I could find to dislike about this book. I really liked it and would highly recommend it to someone who likes a lighthearted horror story.

Number of the Beast: Paladin Cycle, Book One

Number of the Beast: Paladin Cycle, Book One

24608960 “Number of the Beast: Paladin Cycle, Book One” by Max Redford, Lita Stone
Synopsis:When a cosmic war brews between the zodiac races and their gods, the life of a young waitress from small-town Texas becomes the key to saving or destroying the multiverse.
Set in contemporary USA, this epic story crosses multiple genres including fantasy, thriller, horror and romance.

*******

3 out of 5 stars

This was a tough book to read and a tough book to review. There is a LOT going on in this book; several major plot lines and lots of central characters. It was easy to get lost with the different story lines, but the plot itself is quite original and I feel this books sets the stage as a good intro to the next book in the series.

What I liked: The world building is well done in all three major story lines. Each is quite different and they come together well near the end of the book. There is some sex and violence in the plot which is integral  to the story, and I do like my horror to have a little gore in it! The language changed for each plot line as well; the soft-spoken Texan drawl, the formal Paladin speech, and the growling of the beast. Well done.

What I didn’t like: Because of the differing plot lines I was confused a bit, especially in the beginning of the book. Until I caught on to the language cues, I was a little frustrated because it wasn’t always clear which story I was reading. The book is a little slow in the beginning but picks up quickly and if you can keep up with all the characters, you will have no trouble following it.

I do think this is worth a read, especially if you enjoy horror with a bit of fantasy thrown in for good measure. This book sets up the next book in the series, but reads well on its own.

Free e-book in exchange for honest review