Friday, July 19, 2019

Review: CHOP SHOP by Andrew Post

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


My Review

Chop Shop is a dark and delicious slice of violence embedded with an equally dark sense of humor and complemented by a tantalizing cast of outcasts full of life in the face of death. 

This book is breakneck. The speed at which the macabre escalates is pure entertainment. Rarely does a book grab me in a choke-hold and make me want it to squeeze harder than this quirky story involving mobsters, an unlicensed 'mob' doc, two funeral owners and a whole lot of dismemberment. 

From the outset, Chop Shop promised something special and for me, it 100% delivered. I like dark and violent crime fiction, the sort of stuff you won't see on daytime or even prime time TV - and Chop Shop hit all the high notes; this an after-dark midnight special which will leave you blood splattered and smeared - and maybe a little queasy... 

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Visit the Flame Tree Press website to learn more about their current and forthcoming books, and while you're there, check out the links of where to purchase a copy of Chop Shop.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: RETURN TO THE LOST LEVEL by Brian Keene

Publisher Apex Book Company
Length 207 pages
Format ebook
Published 2018
Series Lost Level #2
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review

The return is just as good as the arrival. 

As with The Lost Level, author Brian Keene has me once again geeking out over the fantastical creatures and dangerous plant life which inhabit this fanboy's delight; an extravagant form of escapism for the escape-driven enthusiast. 

The dangers of The Lost Level are well documented, thanks to the journal-like method used in the original book, yet the element of surprise never fails as action/accidental hero Aaron Pace and co face off against some truly menacing foes. There's one particular scene in which Aaron is forced to fend off a pterodactyl at feeding time which really sticks out thanks to the sheer brutality and edge-of-your-seat action. Then there's the hunt through the Lost Level's ominously dangerous jungle towards the home of the snake-men Anunnaki...wow, I wont' spoil it but man, this book begs to be read.

There's a distinct sci-fi/fantasy/adventure pulp-ish feel to these books which makes them all the more readable; nothing is ever truly what it seems (a triceratops as a pet anyone?) and any element of comic-book imagery could materialise at any moment - and it does for a little extra gravy on top.

My rating: 5/5 stars. As you can tell, I love these books. 

Order a copy online from the publishers website or Amazon, you won't regret it. 

You can read more about Brian Keene HERE

You may also like:

The Lost Level by Brain Keene, the first book to feature our hero Aaron Pace. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Review: DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN by Adam Christopher

Publisher Century
Length 432 pages
Format softcover
Published 2019
Series Stranger Things
My Copy I bought it


My Review

Darkness on the Edge of Town provides some insight into Jim Hopper's life as a New York City detective working homicide before he ended up as chief of police in Hawkins. The storytelling method uses a throwback technique (Christmas eve, Hopper and El sitting around as he recounts a case in 1977) which readers will either like or not; unfortunately it didn't work for me, with the method coming across as little more than a gimmick to link this book to the series proper - otherwise reading as a non-licensed cult/crime fiction story  (unless I missed something major in the book - entirely possible). 

I've always found Hopper an intriguing character with a lot of potential for further exploration and development, particularly from a noir or hard-boiled perspective - and while the second official Stranger Things novel goes some ways to achieving that, it leans heavy towards a more mainstream crime focus with hints of the other worldly thrown in in an attempt to tie it with Netflix series. 

As a crime fiction book, there are some really nice things going on in Darkness on the Edge of Town; the idea of a citywide black-out and a crazed cult engaged in battle in the darkness against a range of wild gangs is pretty cool, as is learning of Hopper's former partner and glimpse into his life post Vietnam. However, none of it felt deep enough to hold the story; when I hit page 300, it felt like things were really just starting to get going, then in 100-odd pages we're done; this is one of the few occasions I can say I would've liked an extra 100+ pages to flesh out the plot elements and provide added depth to the story.

My rating: 3/5 stars. The cover is cool. The book is just okay. 

You may also like:

Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond (the first Stranger Things novel)


World's Turned Upside Down (non-fiction serious companion)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Oh, The Horror! - For Your Ears [1]

This is the first post in a series of blog posts I plan to periodically revisit where I recommend some of the more scarier horror audiobooks I've listened to recently. 

Horror, as a genre, is incredibly diverse and my selections for this inaugural post reflect that with a creature-feature in The Nest, a teen slasher in The Last Final Girl, and a ghost story in Cold Moon Over Babylon. 

Without further preamble - here's the horror for your ears! 


The Nest (written by Gregory A. Douglas, read by Matt Godfrey)

Set on an isolated island with a small community, The Nest follows the speedy evolution of a subspecies of cockroaches, leveraging off other well known insect characteristics such as the hive mind of ants, and the workers/soldier classes of termites. Without spoiling, there's some further evolutionary goodies which the author throws in the up the horror ante but I'll leave that surprise for other readers. 

Naturally, these advanced cockroaches venture out of their nest to wreak havoc on the islands inhabitants, essentially making this somewhat of a survival horror with scientific elements spattering throughout for plausibility. 


The steady stream of blood, scenes of overtly graphic gore, and surprisingly good level of character development, make The Nest one of the better horror novels from the saturated 80's mass-market.

My rating: 5/5 stars. 

The Last Final Girl (written by Stephen Graham Jones, read by Eric G. Dove)

The Last Final Girl is a teen slasher with some saucy satire. The book oozes sexuality and is brimming with brutality; all the teenage women are attractive, while the the antagonist is pure typecast teen horror movie. 

Sure there's not a lot of depth but that's not what you pay for - load up the pop corn and don't answer the phone at night. 

The unique script storytelling methodology contributes to the distinctly b-grade feel which makes the Scream/I Know What You Did Last Summer-like spoof all the more alluring for fans of the slasher sub genre. 

And that ending...formulaic but fun! 

My rating: 4/5 stars.  

Cold Moon Over Babylon (written by Michael McDowell, read by Scott Brick) 

Cold Moon Over Babylon is a moody and evocative murder mystery with supernal elements that hits all the right chords for horror enthusiasts.  

The small town setting fits the intimate nature of the story with nobody discounted as a suspect; motives a-plenty for a murder most macabe. 

Yet the best parts lay at the bottom of a river run wild with horrors too dark to be seen in the light. The result? A scarily good gory ghost story which punctures the depths of despairs and puts a strangle hold on the reader. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Review: THE NEED by Helen Phillips

Publisher Penguin / Viking Books
Length 261 pages
Format softcover
Published 2019
Series standalone
My Copy provided by the publisher


My Review

Imagine being in two places at once; as a parent of young children, I can appreciate the appeal, however, this suspense filled surreal fiction centered around domestic family life flips the script on that notion to deliver a truly engrossing tale where nothing is quite as it seems. 

Comprising elements of sci-fi and horror, drama, The Need has a little something for everyone. Primarily centered around Molly and her two young children, the story is complimented by a series of strange happenings at a local dig-site where Molly works; a number of odd artifacts are unearthed and before long the site becomes a popular draw-card for the tourist industry. Unfortunately for Molly, the increase in attention spawns an unimaginable horror. 

The Need is pitch perfect for parents; that inbuilt primal desire to protect your children at all costs is exploited in devastatingly good fashion. The story is sure to pull at parent's heartstrings from the opening pages and throughout as it steadily evolves into something completely unexpected yet scarily satisfying. 

My rating:4/5 stars. 

The Need is scheduled to be published 16 July 2019. Read more about this book and others from the publishers website

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Pick of the Month [June 2019]

(June 2019 stack)

I read 11 books in June with just under half of those being from my genre of choice (for 2019 at least), horror! (and a higher proportion being ebook/audio than usual hence the lesser impressive stack compared to last months monument). 

It's not surprising then that The Nest by Gregory A. Douglas (first published in 1980) is my pick for June's reading. I first stumbled across this thanks to the excellent Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix and later by Valancourt Books who released it in print, digital, and audio formats in 2019. Simply put, this book was creepy - and, in rare air, holds-up very well nearly 40 years since its original publication. 


Keeping with the horror theme, Resurrection Dreams by one of my newest favorite horror horrors, Richard Laymon, was another page turning book of terror with some truly creepy characters and well executed plot. Both books I've read by Richard Laymon have been top-notch; there's a few more waiting in my tbr pile I'll get to soon.


Other highlights include the newly published In The Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland,  an engaging novella which drew me in with it's well defined characters and heartfelt domestic struggle involving two young brothers forced to live in an adult world driven by violence and blanketed in despair. Thanks to Silver Shamrock Publishing for sending me a copy for review! 


The Lost Level by Brian Keene (published 2014) is a delicious blend of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi; pure, unadulterated escapism for adults. I'm new to this series, having only discovered it this year and have the sequel lined up for this month. 

Lastly, I can't forget to mention my latest entry into my Pick up a Pulp series of blog posts, this one features Red-Headed Sinners by Jonathan Craig (published 1962) and it's a winner!

Happy reading.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Review: THE NEST by Gregory A. Douglas

Publisher Valancourt Books
Length 9hrs 59mins
Format audio
Published 1980 (audio - 2019)
Series standalone
My Copy I bought it


My Review

Well, that was creepy. 

The Nest is for cockroaches as Arachnophobia is for spiders. Damn near sure to induce entomophobia, this 1980's creature feature horror brought back to life thanks to Grady Hendrix's Paperbacks from Hell and Valancourt Books is a spine tingling, disturbingly good piece of fiction which, thanks to the authors extensive research, reads scarily plausible - yep, even with these menacing cockroaches reaching the size of 8 inches in the book, somehow this feels like it could happen, making the story that little bit more horrifying.

Set on an isolated island with a small community, The Nest follows the speedy evolution of a subspecies of cockroaches, leveraging off other well known insect characteristics such as the hive mind of ants, and the workers/soldier classes of termites. Without spoiling, there's some further evolutionary goodies which the author throws in the up the horror ante but I'll leave that surprise for other readers. 

Naturally, these advanced cockroaches venture out of their nest to wreak havoc on the islands inhabitants, essentially making this somewhat of a survival horror with scientific elements spattering throughout for plausibility. 

The steady stream of blood, scenes of overtly graphic gore, and surprisingly good level of character development, make The Nest one of the better horror novels from the saturated 80's mass-market. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. 
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