Bloody Good Horror Books Reviews “Dark Hollow Road”

About a month ago I sent a copy of “Dark Hollow Road” to Renier Palland of Bloody Good Horror Books seeking an honest, unbiased review. This morning, I was thrilled to see he’d posted one. This is probably the first review I’ve gotten from someone who has absolutely no personal investment in anything to do with me and I so appreciate his 100% honesty!

“Dark Hollow Road” by author Pamela Morris is a genre-specific paranormal tale with a substantial baseline. It features child abuse – not gratuitous – revenge, and redemption. The latter two elements can be misconstrued in most literary works, but Morris treats these literary elements with a gentile decadence, turning them into solid plot devices and powerful plot development. The novel, which is reminiscent of “The Blair Witch” in certain aspects, contains a deluge of paranormal and haunted house allusions. The antagonistic protagonist, Mary, reminded me of a neo-noir Carrie with similar, albeit completely different “powers”.

Morris feeds the reader a spoonful of youthful fear, i.e. Children become the go-to narrative in the novel. I’ll always refer to Stephen King’s “It” as the ultimate Jungian and totemic Freudian child horror story. Novelists have tried, and failed, to live up to the gratuitous and mind-numbingly terrifying world of “It”. It’s the magnum opus which most authors attempt to reach throughout their careers. Morris came close, but not close enough. “Dark Hollow Road” is imbued with so many paranormal and literary homages that it’s difficult to critique the novel as a stand-alone story. I found myself reminiscing about several works during the read-and-review process.

What does this mean exactly?

Firstly, it means that Morris is a masterful writer. Secondly, Morris tried her utmost best to create a familiar horror setting, yet failed at the finish line. And lastly, Morris delved into the psyches of childhood fears and childhood imaginations to create a slightly garden variety work of literature.

I wouldn’t go so far as to label it as unique or even fresh – Morris stepped into a genre-specific swamp throughout most of the novel. It’s as if she drew too much inspiration from too many areas, bundled it all together and created a horror author lovechild without knowing who the parents were. “Directionless” would be the best adjective to describe the novel.

As far as characterisation goes, Morris never misses a beat. Her characters are full, robust and weighty. This, combined with a good ear for dialogue, creates a gratifying novel with a terrifying amount of veracity. Morris knows her characters, and most importantly, they know her. Plot development, climax and denouement were all on par. Not excellent, but good enough to not be detrimental to the overall narrative. I would have liked to have seen more symbolism and perhaps a touch of social commentary. Horror novels are like measuring sticks for the societal psyche – it’s important to tell a story with enough social commentary to stop it from going blind and bland. Morris’ writing style and technique are similar to the above mentioned technicalities – good, but not great. I do believe that the novel required slightly more robust editing. It felt loose and frayed at the ends. With a proper, firm edit, “Dark Hollow Road” would have been a much stronger novel. The structuring was also off-kilter and there are quite a few set pieces that didn’t belong in the novel. It would have been more powerful without them.

I do think that Morris is a splendid author with natural control over her characters and their stories. It doesn’t always pan out while one writes the novel, nor does it float to the surface during editing. Sometimes, just sometimes, a novel can contain too much for its own good. Although this might not have been Morris’ best work, there’s definitely room for improvement. She could easily surpass Nicole Cushing if she focuses more on the directness of her novel and uses an iron fist during the editing process.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Overall, I’m happy with this and he makes some great points about hitting the editing process a little harder. It’s very difficult to edit properly when I’m at a place in my career where I don’t have access to a professional and experienced editor. Maybe some day soon that will happen. Of course, there are aspects I don’t agree with either – my writing isn’t about symbolism or making social commentary, for example. I’m just telling a story. May the reader take from it what they will. But, you know what? 4 out of 5 stars is NOTHING to sneeze at and I think that’s something to be pretty damn proud of.

Battle of the Books!

Dark Hollow Road has been out and about in the world for a couple weeks now. She’s slowly finding her way and has gotten some top notch reviews over on Amazon. Check them out! Thank you to everyone who’s posted one so far! You’re awesome.

I gotta say that the cover for this book has got to be my favorite! With that in mind, I’ve taken the plunge and entered her into Cover Wars over at Author Shout. The cover with the most votes becomes their Book Of The Week which they’ll will promote for one week on their website, shout outs, and newsletter. It’s a great opportunity for free publicity, which I could really use!

In lesser news, I’m going to be firing up the old editing brain soon and dive back into edits for  The Witch’s Backbone Part 2 : The Murder. It’ll be out and about before you know it, sometime in the fall. In the meantime, you’re going to want to read The Witch’s Backbone Part 1 : The Curse so you’re up to speed on what’s going on. Unlike the other books in the Barnesville Chronicles, The Witch’s Backbone is a real series. You’ll need to read the first one to make sense of the second.

New projects are happening very quietly in the background, but I’m holding off on revealing the subject matter to anyone until I’m further into it. Even The Hubby hasn’t been made privy to what’s going on yet! Maybe soon. Maybe.

 

 

Book Review – Rise of the Forgotten by Jason J. Nugent

The brothers, Eron and Timo (Nagi) are reunited only to be torn apart in the earliest stages of war. Eron desperately searches for his lost love, Mina while Nagi is going nearly mad looking for his wife and children. All while being hunted down by the evil ADF. Other members of Eron and Timo’s family emerge from the mayhem in the most unexpected of ways.
Having read the first book of this series, I was eager to dive into the second. I’m happy to report I found it even more delightful and engaging. Jason has rounded out his main characters very nicely in this book, giving them much more depth.
Rise of the Forgotten is a fast-paced read full of hope and despair, love, hate, suspense, death and some very unexpected twists. It’s probably the best work I’ve read by Jason so far. I am so looking forward to reading the third book in this series!

Four out of Five Ravens. 

Top Ten Reads of 2017

Thanks to GoodReads, I now have a quick and easy way to keep track of my reading accomplishments. For 2017, I set my goal at 24 books. I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I lean more in the direction of thicker tomes, 300-400 pages and I did manage to get a few of those in. However, I must thank those authors who write on the shorter end of the stick for helping me make that 24 book goal.

Of those 24, I’ve selected ten that have left the best impressions. The only order here is the order in which I read them, earliest to most recent. Maybe one or more will strike your fancy and make it to your To-Read list for 2018.

TheWillowsThe Willows by Algernon Blackwood. Published in1907, The Willows was one of H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite reads. It’s a truly creepy tale of two friends who take an intentionally wrong turn while on a boat trip down the Danube, despite the warnings of the locals. Something bizarre and malevolent dwells within the willows along the shoreline, enticing one member of the party to a near-suicide. This being, or collection of beings, it’s never quite clear what’s out there, continually stalk and threaten the travelers. It seems the willows harbor another life form, of this world, the next, or perhaps from the stars. Whatever it is, or wherever it comes from, you’d be much wiser to follow the right path than in the steps of this stories two main characters.

 

 

SinisterEntity_SheaSinister Entity by Hunter Shea : Even at the tender age of eighteen, paranormal investigator Jessica Backman has seen and experienced more than her fair share of things that go bump in the night. She’s always worked alone, until a series of emails arrives from Eddie Homes, a total stranger. Who is this clown and how has he learned so much about her? Jessica has always been very careful about keeping her privacy, but Eddie knows things he absolutely should not know. When Eddie tells Jessica that her dad sent him, she takes notice. Jessica’s father died horrifically when she was only six, and boy does Dad have a job for her and Eddie to do! Sinister Entity is the prequel to the first Hunter Shea book I ever read, Island of the Forbidden. After reading this I’m just itching to get the first book of the series, Forest of Shadows.

 

DATTOML digital coverDreaming at the Top of My Lungs by Israel Finn : There’s always a touch of envy in me for people who can pull off a successful short story. In a mere 112 pages, Israel Finn managed to keep me engaged and amused for the past couple weeks. As with any collection or anthology by even the most famous of writers, there are some stories that are better than others. There were a few in here that I didn’t quite get or felt that were lacking, but the vast majority I thoroughly enjoyed and enough so that I’d easily consider picking up more work from this up and coming author.

 

 

 

Boggy_BlackburnBeyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn : A must read for anyone interested in Bigfoot, specifically those associated with the southern United States. Blackburn gives us numerous examples from Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. (I may have missed some). Be that as it may, I was amazed there were so many sightings in all of these states. I had no idea! And not just from a hundred years ago, but within the past five years.

 

 

 

 

ShadowFabricThe Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell : On the second day of his new job, Leo is witness to a murder. His boss, Victor, stabs his own brother, Stanley, with a mysterious dagger known as the Witchblade. But Stanley suffers from no normal stab wound. Instead he is drawn into what appears to be a black piece of fabric and is consumed. The Shadow Fabric is an action-packed and fast-paced run through the underbelly of a realm of darkness, insanity, and a secret mythos that all but the very few are aware of. Leo took my hand, gripped it tight, and yanked me along through it all right along with him. His fears became my fears. His desire to find the answers, were mine. The feelings of betrayal and hopelessness that he felt made me cling to each page, urging him to continue to fight and find the truth.

 

 

TheSelectionThe Selection by Jason J. Nugent : A coming-of-age story taken to its most basic level, survive! Every eighteen-year-old boy has to go through it. Most will not make it. Not long ago Eron’s brother Timo entered The Selection. The last thing Eron remembers is the sound of his older brother’s screams. Now, Eron must face whatever awaits him and he’s understandably terrified. It was a little slow at the beginning, but once the greater action began, I really got involved with the characters and was cheering for Eron every step of the way. Jason has done a great job creating another world, environment, and belief system that is part of, yet so far apart from Earth, that it’s unrecognizable.

 

 

 

77ShadowStreetKoontz77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz : The first of several books that feature the Pendleton Hotel, 77 Shadow Street was my first voyage into the writings of Dean Koontz. I know! Don’t judge! There’s something very wrong going on at the hotel and for those that call the place home, it’s a matter of life and death. An entity that calls itself The One is dedicated to destroying those it deems unworthy and saving those that share its apparent lack of respect for the foolish, overly-sensitive and emotional human race. Your average Joe is a waste of this things time. All must be destroyed or assimilated. This process has been going on for generations and each cycle results in a series of gruesome deaths. What is The One? An alien intelligence? A powerful demon? An over-zealous, future computer that believes itself to be God? All of the above? Whatever it is, Koontz captured it perfectly. I can’t recommend this book enough.

 

watchingWe Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea : After being hit by very hard times, fourteen-year-old West Ridley and his parents are forced to move in with his ornery grandfather, Abraham. As if living with the grumpy and less-than-hygienic old man isn’t bad enough, the old family farmhouse is falling to rot and ruin and Grandpa couldn’t care less. In fact, he seems to intentionally want to drive them out with insults and rage. But, the family has no other place to go and no money to get there if they did. Buttermilk Creek, Pennsylvania is the bottom of the barrel, isolated, creepy, and filled with more terror than even the Horror-loving West can take. We Are Always Watching is loosely based on real events that Shea has taken and run with, twisting them into his own horrible version of a nightmare, as he does with all his work. Family secrets begin to leech to the surface and the more West finds out, the more he comes to realize he and his family need to get the hell out of Grampa Abraham’s house! Like, NOW!

 

Shattering-the-LeyShattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier : I was first introduced to Joshua Palmatier’s work about ten years ago through the Throne of Amenkor series and I really loved them. He has a marvelous way of combining Fantasy and Science Fiction, two genre’s I’m usually not all that into, but Josh may make a convert out of me yet. Shattering the Ley is no exception to the amazing work Palmatier does. He creates a myriad of characters that you quickly grow to either love or hate and his visual descriptions easily draw you into the world of his creations. A wonderful, engaging read and I am super eager to get into the next book in the series!

 

 

 

GehennaGehenna & Tartarus by Jason Brant : Alright, technically two books, but you just can’t have one without the other! This Zombie Western series is gory, thrilling, and laugh out loud funny all at the same time. Who could ask for more? Gehenna was my introduction to Jason Brant’s work and I couldn’t be happier. I love a good zombie movie, but in all honestly, these West of Hell books are the first zombie BOOKS I’ve read and am thoroughly enjoying. Tartarus picks up right where Gehenna ends. Both are super fast-paced and well-written. I only bought the first two and am now chomping at the bit to get my hands on the third.

Book Review – We Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea

Book Review – We Are Always Watching by Hunter Shea

After being hit by very hard times, fourteen-year-old West Ridley and his parents are forced to move in with his ornery grandfather, Abraham. As if living with the grumpy and less-than-hygienic old man isn’t bad enough, the old family farmhouse is falling to rot and ruin and Grandpa couldn’t care less. In fact, he seems to intentionally want to drive them out with insults and rage. But, the family has no other place to go and no money to get there if they did. Buttermilk Creek, Pennsylvania is the bottom of the barrel, isolated, creepy, and filled with more terror than even the Horror-loving West can take.

We Are Always Watching is loosely based on real events that Shea has taken and run with, twisting them into his own horrible version of a nightmare, as he does with all his work. He draws you into the confused world of West’s new reality. Family secrets start to leech to the surface while the long, hot, boredom-drenched days draw West to explore places he probably shouldn’t go. The more West finds out, the more he comes to realize he and his family need to get the hell out of Grampa Abraham’s house! Like, NOW!

I enjoyed being drawn in with West. Hunter did a great job of showing us the world as seen by a fourteen-year-old boy. That, in and of itself, was pretty frightening (and funny) at time. The secrets that dripped out were just enough to quench your thirst, just in time for another bout of terror to dry the back of your throat before another promised-drop of refreshment came into sight.

It kept me guessing and entertained throughout but it lacks that certain level of explosive and long-playing mayhem I’ve come to associate with Hunter’s cryptid-based novels. This was much more subtle. A much slower pace that pulled you in one little step at a time. I like that in a novel. It’s very much a slow-burn.

One  element I didn’t like has nothing whatsoever to do with the author’s skills or genuine talent, it’s the actual formatting of the book. I’ve never read a Sinister Grin publication before so I’ve no idea if it’s their normal practice to have the text double-spaced as it is here. It almost felt like a bit of a rip-off getting this nice, hefty book only to open it and realize it should have been about half the thickness had they single-spaced it like is normally done. I felt like I was reading a manuscript, not a finished novel.

All that in mind, I’m going to give We Are Always Watching

4 out of 5 Ravens.

My Writer’s Book Bag

Oh, how these summer days and nights are passing by all too quickly here in the Finger Lakes. The college students are not only swarming the campuses, but totally disregarding any lessons taught to them on how to safely cross a street. It’s still been plenty hot and humid with many a thunderstorm tossed in for good measure, but fall is approaching all too fast. This past weekend saw the annual carnival, parade, and fireworks come to my little town. Yes, those old-fashioned things still exist around these parts.

We’ve got a TON of things to do around the house before the first snows start to fly. In between some roof and foundation repairs, plugging a hole to keep out the damn starlings come next spring, and with any luck at all, getting our deck sealed, I’m hoping to find more time to read. LOL. Yeah, right!

The list is short this month as I’ve been buried in a very deep hole of editing my own stuff, but I did manage to squeeze in a couple of really good books!

ShadowFabric_MarkCassellFirst up, The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell. I’ve been stalking Mark on Twitter for a very long time and was finally able to gather up enough pennies to order his first book in the Shadow Fabric mythos awhile back. I’ll be posting a more detailed review at all the usual places (including here) in the very near future. In a nutshell, loved it! It’s been a while since I’ve been so eager to get back to reading as I was with this book. It starts out with a bang, well, more like an um, I guess you’d call it a squish and slurp? Whatever the sound of someone getting stabbed with a magical dagger and then sucked into the darkness is. I’m really looking forward to getting my eyeballs on more of Mark’s work and learning more about the incredible world he’s created surrounding the Shadow Fabric.

77ShadowStreetKoontzI’m still making my way through my first Dean Koontz (audio)book. Yes, I know, I know. I’ve been told many, many times over the years that I’d like Dean Koontz stuff by those that know me well, but for whatever reason, I never picked up anything by him before. Wow. There will be more Koontz to come on this list, I’m sure. I’ve started out with 77 Shadow Street. It seems August is Shadow Month! Just realized that. The Pendelton Hotel stands at 77 Shadow Street and undergoes some sort of paranormal time-warp every thirty-eight years. Part horror, part paranormal, part sci-fi, part Apocalyptic-disaster, filled with giant larva-like creatures, ghosts, murderers, alien assaults and body snatching, I am fully invested in this story. The narration of this book is absolutely amazing, too! Whoever this guy is, I hope he got paid well. Every character, and there are a lot of them; men, women, children, and those creatures\beings\entities that haunt the place, each has a very different and distinct voice.

And, that’s it! Just the two. There are three books sitting here on the corner of my desk waiting their turn to be read. Oddly – two of them are science fiction – a genre I usually avoid like the plague.

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

January
Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February
Maledicus by Charles F. French

March
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

May
Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea

June
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (audiobook)
We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson (audiobook)
Beyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

July
(Almost) Average Anthology by Jason J. Nugent
Moment of Darkness by Jason J. Nugent
The Whistlers by Amity Argo (audiobook)
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood (audiobook)
Luellen & Lucy by Dee DeTarsio

August
The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell
77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz (audiobook)

My Writer’s Book Bag

It’s been hot and steamy up here in the Finger Lakes Region of New York the past month. Rain, rain, and more rain. Then a few hot & muggy days before, you got it, more rain. It’s putting quite the damper on getting some things done around this old house that desperately need doing! I have been able to get some reading done, though.

We ended last month wallowing through the swamps of the Southern United States with Bigfoot and all his relations thanks to Lyle Blackburn’s Beyond Boggy Creek. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend to any and all who have even a passing interest in this cryptid. Lyle does an amazing job. My only complaint was there weren’t enough pictures. He mentions pictures that allegedly show the creature, but only shares them with us a few times.

momentsOnce I was done getting down with the various Swamp Apes, I made my way through two very short books of short stories by Jason J. Nugent, (Almost) Average Anthology – which btw, isn’t actually an anthology, but a collection – and Moments of Darkness. Both books contain some pretty creepy tales that Jason should be proud of. There were others I didn’t quite ‘get’, but hey … I’ve found that holds true in a lot of short stories even by the most famous of authors. Jason’s first novel has been steadily working its way up my To-Be-Read Pile and I enjoyed his short stories well enough to be looking forward to that.

WhistlersAs I did last month, and as I’ll likely be doing again next month, I also enjoyed a couple of audiobooks as I sat at my desk at work, slaving away over more piles of books. I just can’t escape them! For July I treated myself to two very awesome tales of terror. The first was The Whistlers by Amity Argo over on the No Sleep Podcast. Wow. Creepy-deepy, my friends! Very, very creepy! It’s wonderfully narrated and just over two hours long and you can find it here: https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/episodes/s5/5×25

willowsMy second audio story for the month was The Willows by Algernon Blackwood. This was a Chilling Tales for Dark Nights presentation. They do a wonderful job over there and I highly recommend you give them and No Sleep Podcast a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN_bbDrW7_M  I’ll be heading over to one or the other soon to find more spooky things to give a listen.

luellen My final completed book for the month of July, Luellen & Lucy by Dee DeTarsio, was bought on a whim. Historic Romance is NOT my genre of choice, but hey … it’s set 12 years after the US Civil War, a period in American History that I am keenly interested in, the cover had the same lady on it that one of my erotica’s does, and one of the main character’s is named Lucy, again, as in three of my erotica’s and my most recent release, “No Rest For The Wicked”. Not thrilled with it, was I. You can find my review over on Amazon if you really want to know more. Let’s just say here that I read it as fast as I could just to get it over with. I’m not one to stop reading a book I don’t like. I will always do my best to see it to the bitter and confusing end – as was the case here.

And oh, the joy … when I was done and could move on to my current book in hand, Mark Cassell’s The Shadow Fabric. Back to the Horror, baby! And I have to say, so far, so very good! I’ll get into more details next month after I’ve finished!

So, there you have it! Hope you all are having a wonderful summer and reading some good books of your own!

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

January
Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February
Maledicus by Charles F. French

March
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

May
Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea

June
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (audiobook)
We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson (audiobook)
Beyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

July
(Almost) Average Anthology by Jason J. Nugent
Moment of Darkness by Jason J. Nugent
The Whistlers by Amity Argo (audiobook)
The Willows by Algernon Blackwood (audiobook)
Luellen & Lucy by Dee DeTarsio

My Writer’s Book Bag

How wonderful it is to be able to open all my doors and enjoy some fresh air or better yet, to sit out on the back deck in the morning with a cup of coffee and a good book. It seems summer has finally arrived in the Finger Lakes.

LochN_SheaI must confess I haven’t done a whole lot of actual reading the past four weeks, but I did  finish up Hunter Shea’s Loch Ness Revenge quickly enough. It’s no wonder he’s been banned from Scotland. Poor, defenseless Nessies, just innocently swimming along minding their own business! Or… maybe not so much that. Great fun!

Although I’ve not been reading quite so much, I have been listening to audio books. I found two old favorites I’ve not read since my high school days and decided it was time for a refresher. I think I love them even more the second time around.

Wicked_BradburyFirst, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. This is by far my favorite Bradbury novel. When the evil carnival folk come to town, it’s best if you just stay away even with nary a clown in sight! Our heroes have a lot more horrifying things to worry about that some silly, old clown. The slow and steady built up to the end is pure delight. And, the movie that was based on this book, I have to say, a wonderful job.

Castle_JacksonShirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived In The Castle is equally as well-written. I’d forgotten a lot of this story and after this re-introduction, I am wondering if there was a certain aspect of it that stuck firm into the back of my brain and took deep roots all these years until I came to find myself writing Dark Hollow Road. They aren’t the same by any stretch of the imagination, but a few scenes struck familiar chords in the story I created around Mary Alice Brown compared to the life of Merricat (Mary Catherine Blackwood), including the first names! It never even occurred to me until I was listening. The middle names differ, but I did name my Mary’s little sister Katherine. Also, I was delighted to see there’s a movie adaption in the works for this book. Looking forward to that especially after I saw that Crispen Glover is cast as Uncle Julian!

Boggy_BlackburnWhat little actual reading I have been doing is Lyle Blackburn’s, Beyond Boggy Creek. If you have any interest in the many names, sightings, and stories of Bigfoot as found in the American south, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and the rest, this is the book for you! I had no idea there were so many.

Short and sweet this time around, but I still have plenty of books in my TBR pile that I’m determined to get through.

 

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

January
Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February
Maledicus by Charles F. French

March
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

May
Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea

June
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (audiobook)
We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson (audiobook)
Beyond Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

Reviews – Two Books & A Movie

According to my Blog Calendar, this is the weekend I should be posting some sort of review, be it a book or a movie. This time around, being as I’ve been so intent on finishing up the first draft of my next Barnesville Chronicle novel this past month, reading anything too long and deep just hasn’t happened.

I haven’t watched any movies worth reviewing. Unless stating that The Adventures of Baron Munchausen isn’t my cup of tea, counts as a review. Technically it’s not a Monty Python movie, but Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle were both involved in its creation, as was Robin Williams! You’d think with that sort of line-up, it’d be something more amazing than I found it to be. It just left me confused and wondering what sort of drug Gilliam was on when he came up with all this. About halfway through, I decided I had more interesting things to do, like sort through my dresser for old clothes worthy of being donated somewhere.

Moving along, I did do a bit of reading.

Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn is a collection of short stories of the horror variety. There’s always a touch of envy in me for people who can pull off a successful short story. In a mere 112 pages, Israel managed to keep me fully engaged and amused for about ten days. As with any collection or anthology, by even the most famous of writers, there are going to be stories that readers will enjoy more than others. I have to be honest and say that there were a few in this collection I didn’t quite ‘get’ or felt like they were lacking somehow. However, the majority of them I thoroughly enjoyed and enough so that I’d easily consider picking up more work from this up-and-coming author. My biggest complaint about this book is that it was far, far too short.

Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea was another quick read for me, coming in at 141 pages. Hunter is a pro at sucking the reader in and half-chewing them before spitting them back out covered in blood, goo, and whatever other sorts of partially digested stomach contents may have been in there at the time. And I mean that in nicest way possible. If you enjoy monster killing mayhem and madness, you really should check out not just Loch Ness Revenge, but all his other cryptid tales. I have the same complaint with this as I did Israel’s book – too short. I wanted more details about the characters and their lives, but with these shorter books, Hunter’s skills and talents as a story teller aren’t being put to their full potential. I really do prefer his novel length works. For me, a story is only as good as how well I get to know the players.

Short and sweet this time around, folks. I have some thicker works reaching the top of my TBR pile now and with first draft of my latest Barnesville Chronicle, The Witch’s Backbone finally done, maybe I’ll find some breathing room to do more reading.

My Writer’s Book Bag

It’s hard to believe it’s the middle of May already. Spring has been desperately trying to spring here in the Northeast. Here’s hoping our recent bought of warm and sunny weather is going to stick this time! April proved to bring us a plethora of rain. May has certainly blessed us with flowers. One of my four lilac bushes is literally drooping to the ground under the weight of its own flowers. The small murder of crows I’ve been trying to lure in with peanuts and cat kibble are slowly making a comeback by perching in the trees outback and cawing at me. Our back yard is mostly set up and ready to go for a summer’s worth of friends, family, evening fires, fair weather, and food. In between all of that, along with writing and submitting a couple novels and a bit of dark poetry to some publishers – one of which has already been accepted – I’ve managed to get in some reading time.

In last month’s Book Bag, I’d just started Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles. I’m happy to report, I’ve emerged victorious from this adventure into some serious literary analysis, yes, Sigmund Freud even showed up! It reminded me way too much of all those English classes where the instructor insists that the color of the chairs is symbolic of the four Cardinal directions as specified in some mystic’s dream book from the early 15th century. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I don’t use a lot of symbolism when I write and the one time I tried to be clever that way, I got so bogged down in trying to remember what represented what that I completely lost track of where I wanted to go with the plot. I tend to believe the chair was blue, red, yellow, or green because the writer liked that particular color and thought it would be nice, but maybe that’s just me. That aside, I learned the difference between ‘horror’ and ‘terror’ as it was defined back in the late 1700s and that Romances weren’t considered Novels. An interesting and educational read despite the academic dryness.

While slogging my way through that, I managed to get in some good old short stories from Israel Finn’s collection, Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs. I’ve been eyeballing this book for a good long while and finally decided it was time to give it a read. As with any collection or anthology, you’re going to find some you really enjoy, some that leave you confused, or some that just don’t hit the spot. Happily, most of Finn’s stories were very enjoyable and better still, memorable! My biggest complaint on this one is that it was way, way too short! I’m hoping to add more of Israel’s work to the TBR pile in the future.

I recently dove back into the dark and murky depths of another Hunter Shea cryptid book. This time it’s poor old Nessie that he’s picking on. Hot on Shea’s aquatic tail (see what I did there?) is a Lyle Blackburn book that takes us beyond the realm of Boggy Creek to look at other cryptids of the ‘Squatchier kind found deep in the American South, but we’ll save any further details on those for next month.

2017 Bookshelf-To-Date

January
Montauk Monster by Hunter Shea

February
Maledicus by Charles F. French

March
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe,
The Beast of Boggy Creek by Lyle Blackburn

April
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
Sinister Entity by Hunter Shea

May
Ann Radcliffe: The Great Enchantress by Robert Miles
Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn
Loch Ness Revenge by Hunter Shea