Sunday, March 24, 2019

A Paperback form Hell! The Sphinx by Graham Masterton

Publisher Star
Length 207 pages
Format paperback
Published 1978
Series Standalone
My Copy I bought it

My Review
The Sphinx is b-grade horror, full of cheesy dialogue, strange-acting characters, and an unbelievable plot-line - yet it's a whole lot of fun if you can suspend your belief. 

This is 1970's horror at the height of its over-the-top powers.

Gene Keller is a Washington based politician who falls for an attractive and busty young women, named Lorie, the daughter of a former French diplomat, at a party. He's immediately smitten by her emerald necklace, feline features, and perfect body, shown-off by a form fitting dress which leaves nothing to the imagination. It's love at first sight (or bite, as it turns out). 

Following her initial rebuff, Gene quickly assumes the role of a stalker, using his political clout to find her where Lorie works, her phone number, and even going so far as to break into the mansion she shares with her equally beautiful and mysterious mother, coming equipped with tools to scale the property walls and a gun of all things.

This is the mind of a perfectly sane and rational man (at least that's the way Gene is portrayed in the book) - after all, he's single and attractive, why shouldn't Lorie immediately fall head of heals for him? Something must be up and it's Gene duty as a man, dammit, to find out what's going on! 

Turns out something is going on - Lorie's hails from a once banished Egyptian lineage called Ubasti; half man, half lion. But that doesn't stop Gene from pursuing her, and in no time at all (3 weeks to be exact), they are married and living in Lorie's mansion. 

Needless to say Lorie's urges get the better of her and Gene finds himself in mortal danger! 

My rating: 3/5 stars. The Sphinx is a great form of escapism which doesn't take up a whole lot of brain power to process. The plot is linear and the characters near cardboard cutout but it all works. Don't expect high end literature with this one, but you can expect a good time.  

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Review: WILL HAUNT YOU by Brian Kirk

Publisher Flame Tree Press
Length 288 pages
Format ebook
Published 2019
Series Standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review
Will Haunt You is pure unadulterated horror.

Through a Haze of distorted reality, the reader becomes part of the story, following a steady progression into madness along with the characters.

For Jesse Wheeler, a retired band member of an almost famous rock group, the horror begins with an unfortunate incident which results in his young son sustaining injuries leaving him permanently disabled. Despite being able to salvage his marriage and continue caring for his son, Jesse’s mistakes fail to remain in the rear-view, thanks to a mysterious and dangerous book which threatens to take everything from him.

Will Haunt You is a truly terrifying tale with every turn oozing horror; nightmares in basements, dread lurking in hallways, science experiments hunting in forests, faces behind secluded cabin windows peeking through glass at their prey, etc. 

Some of the vivid dream-like imagery is so elaborately macabre my stomach churned and the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention – exactly what I want from my horror fiction. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. One of the best horror books I've read this year, if not all time. I loved it. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Review: THE CITY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT by Charlie Jane Anders

Publisher Titan Books
Length 482 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series Standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review
Not since 2018's Blackfish City by Sam J Miller has a novel captured my imagination and enveloped me in a complete shroud of the other worldly as The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders by virtue of its intricate and epic world building. 

Set many years into the future, mankind has taken to the stars in search of a new home. In January, they've found one, but the planet has a dark side; one which bathes half its surface in perpetual darkness while the other endures a never ending cycle of daylight.

There is so much to like about this novel; complex and well defined characters, interesting and dangerous landscapes (both political and physical), and some serious cool biological science fiction. The only downside is that the story had to end somewhere; both good and bad, as it left me wanting more.

My rating; 4/5 stars. I really like this novel and have my fingers crossed we'll see more of Sophie, the Gelet, and others (who I won't mention as to avoid spoilers). 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Review: PRISONCORP by Marlee Jane Ward

Publisher Seizure
Length 180 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series Orphancorp #3
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review

Disclaimer: Prisoncorp is the third and final book in the series which began with Orphancorp. Prior to reading Prisoncorp, I had not read the previous two books.

Prisoncorp reads remarkably well as a standalone (though some portions of the book would've certainly had a larger impact had I been familiar with the characters) drop kicking the reader into a harsh and unrelenting women's prison set sometime in the future.

The less than humane living conditions the inmates are subjected to is well articulated and makes you feel like you're there; scorched earth from the blazing outback sun, gritty and unwashed bodies bumping shoulders among one another, the smell of death and slow decay all around. The confines are as deadly as the inhabitants.

The plot centers around Mirii, a woman recently incarcerated in the harsh desert prison who is forced fight, scratch, and claw her way through the days in order to see another. When she finally finds comfort in the arms of her comrades, the tables turn with escape no longer just a fanciful idea.

There are some great scenes in this book; from Mirii's opening scene to the inevitable all out riot which leaves the pages blood stained and the characters scarred in more ways than one, to the emotionally deep connections the characters feel towards once another in the crammed comfort of their prison issued tents - all of it adds to the atmosphere packaged into this short novel.

Now to track down the previous books!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Pick of the Month [February 2019]

I read 16 books in February which included some fantastic audiobooks such as Sean Doolittle's Kill Monster and one of the best horror novels I've read (listened to) in a long time, The Siren and the Spectre by Jonathan Janz

Continuing my love of paperback fiction, I delved into the amazing domestic/Gothic horror that is Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews, along with a Paperback from Hell, in The Tulpa by J.N. Williamson.

Another horror which blew me away, was a novella by Jonathan Janz (an author I've only recently discovered), called Witching Hour Theatre. If you're looking to be scared witless, look no further. This novella will keep you up at night. 

On the crime fiction front, my pick of the month was River of Salt by Dave Warner which blends 1960's mob life with the sandy shores of Australia, an odd combination that works perfectly. For the pulp culture reader, Con Artist by Fred Van Lente is well worth checking out. 

During February I also managed to read a couple of books on my Mount TBR Challenge List in The Perpetrators by Gary Phillips and So Cold The River by Michael Koryta. 

Overall another great month of books and hard to pick just one pick of the month so I'm going with joint winner for February: 

River of Salt by Dave Warner 

The Siren and the Spectre by Jonathan Janz

Friday, March 1, 2019

Review: SUSPICIOUS MINDS by Gwenda Bond

Publisher Century
Length 302 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series Stranger Things #1
My Copy I bought it

My Review
I love the Stranger Things TV series and was very excited to see that the universe was being expanded to include a series of novels and comics with Suspicious Minds being the first official prequel novel published in February 2019.

The themes that make the TV series so appealing are prevalent here though with a slightly skewed focus. Rather than a bunch of kids goofing around with Dungeons and Dragons, fighting monsters real and imagined, and having to contend with the horrors of the upside-down, Suspicious Minds takes the story back to the Hawkins Institute; a mysterious laboratory in which dangerous experiments are undertaken on the consenting and non-consenting alike for the betterment of evolution (trying to invoke superhuman abilities through unrealized potential). 

There are some nice cameos from characters I won't name to avoid spoilers but will say that this novel (set in the late 1960's and early 1970's) leads in nicely to the series proper while also providing plenty of wiggle room for more stories set prior to season 1. 

My rating: 4/5 stars. I like that fact the book has a different focus to the TV series while still being able to feel like a Stranger Things story (which, obliviously it is). 
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