Book Review : Meddling Kids By Edgar Cantero

If you grew up watching Scooby-Doo like I did, you’ll recognize the parallels here – four young people and a dog unmasking the villains behind mysterious circumstances who would have gotten away with their crimes if it weren’t for those ‘meddling kids’. There was no way I could pass this one up!

What starts out as a nostalgic walk down memory lane quickly takes a sinister turn that doesn’t let up as the amateur detectives reunite to revisit their last – and most memorable – case, the one that’s left them all struggling their own types of PTSD into adulthood. As they delve into the mystery, the story deviates from the Scooby track as they find themselves up against an enemy of supernatural proportions. I liked it, but it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

From Goodreads:

For fans of John Dies at the End and Welcome to Night Vale comes a tour de force of horror, humor, and H.P. Lovecraft. The surviving members of a forgotten teenage detective club (and their dog) must reunite as broken adults to finally solve the terrifying case that ruined them all…and sent the wrong man to prison. Scooby Doo and the gang never had to do this!

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Keri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Sean, an excitable Weimeraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.

With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids taps into our shared nostalgia for the books and cartoons we grew up with, and delivers an exuberant, eclectic, and highly entertaining celebration of horror, life, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.

ARC Book Review : The Midnight Man By Caroline Mitchell

A horrible crime creates a kind of urban myth legend (think Candyman) decades later, only not everyone who plays the game will survive!

Sometimes you read a book and several pages in you think, “Nope. Not for me.” That’s how I felt when I started this one. I wasn’t connecting with the writing or the characters. I read a little further, but still wasn’t feeling it. But I rarely ever DNR a book, so I took a look at the reviews, and they were good, so I plugged on a little further, and suddenly all the little things that were bothering me fell away and I found myself caught up in a book with a compelling plot that kept me guessing. I’m glad I kept reading! I ended up enjoying this one much more than I anticipated. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From Goodreads: From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.

If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…

On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.

It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.

Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.

Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man? 

Book Review : All These Bodies By Kendare Blake

A serial killer’s rampage keeps the nation breathless as they follow the news in 1958 America. For an aspiring young journalist, he expects the papers to be as close as he’ll get to the case from his tiny Midwest nowhere town. Right? Wrong.

I had such high hopes for this one that I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. On the one hand, the plot was compelling, the characters were well developed, the writing kept me drawn in and hooked. On the other, this is the author of “Anna Dressed In Blood.” I expected my emotions to run the full gamut of the spectrum while my toes curled and I debated whether or not I was ready to turn the page. Sigh. It would be unfair not to say this was a good read, because it was, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be, which is unfair to everyone (book, author, and reader). I enjoyed it. But it’s no Anna.

From Goodreads: Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. In this edge-of-your-seat mystery from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake, the truth is as hard to believe as it is to find.

Summer 1958. A gruesome killer plagues the Midwest, leaving behind a trail of bodies completely drained of blood.

Michael Jensen, an aspiring journalist whose father happens to be the town sheriff, never imagined that the Bloodless Murders would come to his backyard. Not until the night the Carlson family was found murdered in their home. Marie Catherine Hale, a diminutive fifteen-year-old, was discovered at the scene—covered in blood. She is the sole suspect in custody.
Michael didn’t think that he would be part of the investigation, but he is pulled in when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. As Marie recounts her version of the story, it falls to Michael to find the truth: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And how did one girl wind up in the middle of all these bodies?

Book Review : The Cabin By Natasha Preston

A group of teenagers goes away for the weekend to party at a cabin. When they wake up after a drunken bender, well, not everyone wakes up.

This is the kind of book that is usually a perfect fit for me, but this one felt like a bad fit from the start. Still, I wanted to see where the author went with it, so I kept reading. Did it keep me reading? Yes. Was I wowed? No.

Teenagers getting killed? Check. Everybody’s a suspect? Check. The MC can’t trust anybody? Check. This has all the parts, and I can’t really put my finger on why, for me, it remained in pieces, so maybe chalk it up to wrong book, wrong time?

From Goodreads:

They think they can do and say whatever they want. They think there are no consequences. They’ve left me no choice. It’s time for them to pay for their sins.

A weekend partying at a remote cabin is just what Mackenzie needs. She can’t wait to let loose with her friends. But a crazy night of fun leaves two of them dead—murdered.

With no signs of a forced entry or struggle, suspicion turns to the five survivors. Someone isn’t telling the truth. And Mackenzie’s first mistake? Assuming the killing is over…

Book Review : Survivor Song By Paul Tremblay

This is one of those books that worms its way under your skin and won’t get out. A fast acting, rabies-like virus is spreading like wildfire. Those who get infected quickly turn, becoming insanely violent a la zombie style. But – like rabies, the virus is spread by saliva, so when an almost to term pregnant woman is bitten, there’s a chance her baby will be fine – if someone can help her deliver in time.

What ensues is a race against the clock filled with terror, suspense, and yes, a bit of gore. Trigger Warning – animals, as the initial carrying vector, do die. Usually that’s enough to get a hard pass from me, but I made it through trauma-free, though I might have lost a few nails by the last page!

This is the second book I’ve read by Tremblay, but it won’t be the last! He’s quickly earning a spot as one of my favorite horror authors, someone who can deliver a varying array of thrills and chills in both an effective and well-written way!

From Goodreads:

A riveting novel of suspense and terror from the Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts.In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink. 

Paul Tremblay once again demonstrates his mastery in this chilling and all-too-plausible novel that will leave readers racing through the pages . . . and shake them to their core.

Book Review: A Head Full Of Ghosts By Paul Tremblay

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A family falling apart. A teenage girl who descends into madness – or not. Because she might be possessed – or not. Luckily, it was all documented by a reality TV show. Now, fifteen years later, the girl’s younger sister struggles to reconcile what she thought she knew with what happened – or not!

I’ve never read this author before and had no idea what to expect, so I was thrilled to find myself wrapped up in the middle of this creepy tale! Suspenseful and chilling in that ‘is it or isn’t it?’ way that crawls under your skin and gives you chills! I’ll definitely be reading more of this Tremblay’s work!

From Goodreads:

A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends domestic drama, psychological suspense, and a touch of modern horror, reminiscent of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House.

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Book Review: Malorie by Josh Malerman

Bird Box was the kind of fast paced, heart pounding, white knuckled ride to horror town that’s impossible to put down. The sequel, Malorie….well, I wasn’t sure what it was, at first. It starts out with a bang then calms down. Time skips ahead and suddenly the kids are teenagers and they’ve been living the last decade in relative safety – but has their lifestyle really been what a teenager would call living?

Finally, something happens that spurs Malorie into action, luring her and her kids away from the protection of their home. I understand that a conflict was needed to raise the stakes and force the characters into action, but the decision seems completely unlikely given the Malorie readers have come to know. Regardless, danger and mayhem and horror ensue, culminating in a satisfying ending.

That said, this sequel really can’t compete with the near perfection of the original. This one focuses more on the character’s emotions as they come of age in the ‘new’ world and the specific challenges that presents, which isn’t a bad thing, but it does put a minor damper on the horror. Still, a good read.

From Goodreads: Twelve years after Malorie and her children rowed up the river to safety, a blindfold is still the only thing that stands between sanity and madness. One glimpse of the creatures that stalk the world will drive a person to unspeakable violence.

There remains no explanation. No solution.

All Malorie can do is survive—and impart her fierce will to do so on her children. Don’t get lazy, she tells them. Don’t take off your blindfold. AND DON’T LOOK.

But then comes what feels like impossible news. And with it, the first time Malorie has allowed herself to hope.

Someone very dear to her, someone she believed dead, may be alive.

Malorie has already lost so much: her sister, a house full of people who meant everything, and any chance at an ordinary life. But getting her life back means returning to a world full of unknowable horrors—and risking the lives of her children again.

Because the creatures are not the only thing Malorie fears: There are the people who claim to have caught and experimented on the creatures. Murmerings of monstrous inventions and dangerous new ideas. And rumors that the creatures themselves have changed into something even more frightening.

Malorie has a harrowing choice to make: to live by the rules of survival that have served her so well, or to venture into the darkness and reach for hope once more.

Publication Announcement

My story, Searching For Sunshine, which has appeared in Heater Magazine and the Detecting Fear collection, can now also be found in the Water Turns Red anthology.

About Water Turns Red:

Crime manifests itself in many forms.
But it always bleeds red.

WATER TURNS RED is a collection of 21 chilling stories that explore the various shades of this ghastly color red.
Within these pages lie the corpses of those killed in cold blood, the cunning minds of their killers, and the wits of detectives. Together they paint a disturbing image of the human psyche.

Do you want to witness it?

You can find the anthology here: http://getbook.at/waterred

Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

This was definitely a #BlameItOnLitsy choice. Despite being published almost 20 years ago, it’s been getting a lot of attention – and good reviews – lately. So much so that when it showed up as a Kindle daily deal, I had to snatch it up. It was definitely suspenseful and interesting, but, to me, it felt like the author took the long way around. Heavy on the court drama and the did she/didn’t she. The twist at the ending did blindside me, but I felt a bit underwhelmed. If you like legal mysteries, this one’s for you.

This book was described as “an homage to 1980’s slashers and mall culture,” How could I resist? The short answer is that I couldn’t. It was a quick, fast paced, fun read. That said, it was rough in some areas and seemed almost as much of a social commentary on consumerism as a teen slasher. It took an odd, unexpected turn that I felt detracted from what was promised. Definitely campy, but that’s the point. 3.5 stars rounded up.

Thanks to NetGalley, the Publisher and the Author for an advanced copy for review.

I just started:

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Monday (Mini #BookReview) Madness

This week I read:

This novella was a quick, down and dirty slice of horror by the author of “Clown In A Cornfield”. The MC is a grocery store worker by day, a horror movie director by night, and was developed in a way that felt true to life. But what happens when one of the actors takes things too far? It’s interesting to see the evolution of a writer’s style and talent from their earlier works. This one was a bit rough in places, but it kept my attention more than several more polished works have lately. I understand what Cesare was going for with the ending, and I like it, but I felt it needed just a little bit more, a page, maybe two, to give the reader the payoff they deserve.

This book is a modern day, YA retelling of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s works, and OMG does the author throw references to enough of them in here – I lost count. I am a HUGE McGinnis fan, and a Poe fan, so my expectations were really high for this book. But whereas McGinnis’s characters usually feel deep and developed, in this book they felt kind of shallow and flat. We get slices of the story from both MC’s perspectives, but even though all the reasons are there to feel for the girls, I didn’t. And there’s motivation, sure, but not enough to explain why things would be taken so far. It ends on a cliffhanger that feels more like the book just stopped in the middle. There is a sequel in the works that will hopefully wrap up the loose ends and answer all the questions, but the way it ended with really nothing to satisfy the reader who just spent 370 pages with the book was frustrating. Good, but not as great as I was expecting.

I just started:

Click the links to friend me on Litsy or Goodreads and unite our bookish communities!

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