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). 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Review: DREAD NATION by Justina Ireland

Publisher Titan Books
Length 449 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series Dread Nation #1
My Copy provided by the publisher

My Review
Zombie and survival horror in general has long be a staple in horror novels and young adult novels where post apocalyptic themes run rampant. While some books can be same-same, Dread Nation introduces a historical element to its tale of woe by virtue of the period it is set in; the dark days of American History - the civil war. 

On the battlefield the dead rise to feast on the living, bringing an end to the war but peace remains elusive. Slavery is gone but the echoes of those darker times remain in the walled committees which keep the living alive and the dead out of reach. 

It's within one of these walled communities that the bulk of the story takes place. Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls' most proficient pupil, Jane McKeene finds herself stuck in Summerland; a great place to be if you're white and tote the company line, not so much if you're Indian or Negro. Forced to fight monsters worse than the reanimated dead, Jane, and a small band of accomplices struggle to eek out a living until the inevitable happens; a breach.

My rating: 4/5 stars. I love the unique setting and Jane is a great character. If zombie horror is your thing, Dread Nation is a must read. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: THE SIREN AND THE SPECTRE by Jonathan Janz

Publisher Flame Tree Audio
Length 10hrs 57mins
Format audiobook
Published 2018
Series Standalone
My Copy I bought it

My Review
What seems like the stereotypical haunted house novel is anything but. Delve beneath the misty and atmospheric fog, and you'll soon see horrors with deep roots spawning all shapes and forms.

The Siren and the Spectre is a great book. Simple and plain. The customary bumps in the night and horrors of the shock and awe variety are spread throughout the narrative but it's the characters and their stories which make this book so enjoyable. 

The Alexander House is a fabled place of lore. Within it's cracked and crumbling facade lay tales of woe and misery. Ghosts haunt the passageways and the blood of lives lost have long ago seeped into the walls and floorboards. Yet, paranormal debunker and author David Caine agrees to spend a month in residence, either to prove the skeptics wrong, or right. 

What David doesn't bank on, is the connection to the house of horrors he has with his own personal demons. That coupled with some deeply scary scenes of pure terror and nightmare inducing action sequences, leads to one heck of a horror novel. 

My rating: 5/5 stars. I love books which are multi-faceted and go beyond the plot to bridge the gap between fiction and plausible fact. This horror from Jonathan Janz does that. A personal favorite. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review: THE NIGHTMARE GIRL by Jonathan Janz

Publisher Flame Tree Press
Length 245 pages
Format paperback
Published 2019
Series Standalone
My Copy I bought it

My Review
If you read horror, read Jonathan Janz.

This year alone (2019) I've devoured 4 of his books, with The Nightmare Girl being the latest 5 star read. Not only are his books gloriously gory but they are loaded with interesting characters and entertaining plots. 

In The Nightmare Girl, we're introduced to small business owner Joe Crawford. He's a family man trying to do best by his young family, steadily earning a living in construction. He's a good natured, honest, All American kind of guy who finds himself deeply embroiled in a situation he's ill prepared for. 

A chance encounter of the crazy kind sees him intervening in a strangers' public display of family violence; the result leaves a mother charged and her child in foster care. As horrible as that is in itself, things get turned up a notch when the mother commits suicide before his very eyes, kick starting a chain of horrors culminating in a cult ritual that threatens to tear the town fabric in two.

The Nightmare Girl is a well rounded horror which doesn't fail to entertain. Much like the other novels by Jonathan Janz I've read, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

My rating: 5/5 stars.