Sunday, January 6, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Disco Deathtrap by Cameron Roubique

After four students from DeAngelo High are killed in a drunk driving accident, an English teacher and a gym teacher team up to organize an all-night lock-in at Rollerville Roller Disco on New Year's Eve 1980 to prevent losing more of their students. Sadly, they would've been safer anywhere other than Rollerville, which is rumoured to have been built over a cemetery. With a blizzard piling snow against all the emergency exits and a chain on the front door, there is nowhere to run once the slaughter begins.

I'm a huge fan of '80s slashers and I'm always looking for books that have a similar plot and style to the movies that I love. Disco Deathtrap perfectly captures that '80s slasher feeling and reads like a VHS horror flick you rented from Blockbuster. I enjoyed every minute of it and can't remember the last time I had this much fun reading. I had been in a bit of a reading slump before I started Disco Deathtrap and I'm so happy that it brought me out of it!

Other slasher novels I've read have had one-dimensional, stereotypical characters, but Cameron Roubique spends a lot of time introducing and fleshing out the large cast of characters before the action starts so I really cared about them when bad things started to happen. Another pet peeve of mine is when novels have a lot of characters and they're too similar and it's hard to tell them apart, but each character in Disco Deathtrap has enough unique characteristics to easily differentiate them from each other.

Obviously, since I'm a slasher fan I'm also a huge fan of gore and Disco Deathtrap has TONS of blood and guts. There's also a real '80s feel with lots of references to songs playing at the roller rink, fashion, etc.

If you're a fan of '80s slashers, definitely check this one out. I can't wait to read his other books, Kill River and the sequel, Kill River 2. Hopefully Cameron Roubique will be writing more "Year of Blood" books like he mentions in the Afterword of Disco Deathtrap.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Best Horror Books, Movies & TV Shows of 2018

There are still quite a few horror novels, films, and TV shows released in 2018 that I have yet to get to, but I'm proud that I did manage to read more this year than ever before (64 books, still not as many as most of my friends on Goodreads, but it was 14 over my goal of 50). I'm already compiling a list of books I want to read and movies I want to watch from other "Best of 2018" lists and hope to catch up in January. I just checked out The Hunger by Alma Katsu and Halcyon by Rio Youers from the library, I already have The Nightmare Room by Chris Sorensen on my Kindle, I just bought The Outsider by Stephen King from a thrift store, and plan on using an Amazon gift card I just received to buy Bone Saw by Patrick Lacey and Scream All Night by Derek Milman. I plan on watching Bird Box, Cam, and Annihilation on Netflix soon and I still really want to see the Suspiria remake and the new Predator movie. Anyway, here are my favourites in the horror genre this year. I'm going to list my top five books, and not limit it to books that came out this year (or else I would have a very short list), and only include my top two movies and TV shows because I watched less movies and TV than I read this year.

Top Five Books

1. We Soul Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

This was, in my opinion, the best horror novel of 2018. I've loved the other Grady Hendrix books I've read, My Best Friend's Exorcism and Paperbacks From Hell, so it's no surprise that I loved this one as well. I'm always on the lookout for horror novels with strong female protagonists and the main character in We Soul Our Souls, Kris, is a total badass.

I've had this book on my shelf for a long time (I inherited it from my mom), but I wasn't inclined to read it until Grady Hendrix mentioned it in Paperbacks From Hell, so I guess I have him to thank for the two best books I read this year. A fascinating book about a group of holocaust survivors and a golem in New York City with well-written characters.

OMG that crazy twist ending! Sarah Pinborough has written a handful of horror novels (I've read one, Breeding Ground), which is what piqued my interest when everyone was talking about Behind Her Eyes last year, because I typically would rather read horror than a psychological thriller. This was a real page turner and had a jaw dropping ending that would be impossible for even the most seasoned reader to guess. 

I found this paperback at a used bookstore this past spring and read it immediately after reading a rave review for it written by one of my Goodreads friends, so thanks, because I really enjoyed it. Creepy psychological horror about a woman being haunted by her dead daughter...or is it all in her head? It's only 81 cents on Kindle right now, so there's no reason not to check this one out. 

This was such a fun read! If you're a fan of creepy hospitals or asylums in horror, definitely give this one a go. 

Best Movie: Hereditary

I normally don't like films that are a slow burn and when I first started watching this film I was a bit bored, but I quickly became invested in the family drama and the payoff at the end of the film was definitely worth it. The last half hour of Hereditary is terrifying and you'll be thinking about the ending for days.

Runner-Up: Halloween (2018)

This was such a fun movie! I had low expectations going in because the original Halloween is one of my favourite horror films of all-time and I've been disappointed by other Halloween sequels before, but I would say this is now my third favourite film in the franchise (Halloween H20 will forever be my second favourite). 

Best TV Show: The Haunting of Hill House

I rarely get scared when watching horror films/TV shows, but this show really freaked me out. I'm usually disappointed by adaptations of books I've read, but I actually enjoyed this more than the Shirley Jackson novel. Well, this is less an adaptation of the book and more of a reimagining--it's almost completely different, but it's still about Hill House being haunted. If you're a horror fan and somehow haven't watched it yet, I definitely recommend it. I loved it so much I think it has replaced American Horror Story as my number one favourite horror TV show. 

Runner-Up: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Netflix really hit it out of the park with their original series this year. I read and loved the comic book series of the same name, so I was psyched when I heard they were developing it into a TV show. Plus, I was a huge fan of the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV series. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is nothing like that show, it's much darker and features much more cannibalism.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Five Catherine Cavendish Book Reviews

Damned by the Ancients is the third book in the Nemesis of the Gods series by Catherine Cavendish, but you don't need to read the others in the series to understand the plot of this one. I really enjoyed the second book in the series, Waking the Ancients, and I enjoyed this book just as much.

Ryan, his wife, Yvonne, and their nine-year-old daughter, Heidi move into Villa Dürnstein in Vienna, the former home of Dr. Emeryk Quintillus, an archeologist obsessed with Cleopatra. After they move in, strange things start happening, like Heidi suddenly being able to speak another language, and Heidi seeing a man in the basement that no one else can see. Dr. Quintillus won't stop until his beloved Cleopatra is brought back to life...even if he has to use a child as the vessel.

I was looking forward to Damned by the Ancients since I read the last one in the series, so I had high expectations and it did not disappoint. Cavendish is excellent at creating relatable characters and I truly cared about the family in this book.

I thought this book would be very similar to the last book in the series, but in addition to Dr. Quintillus's odd obsession with Cleopatra, and the haunted Villa Dürnstein, there were a lot of other spooky elements added. I loved the scenes with the creepy doll, the cat that protects Heidi and secretly talks to her, and how Dr. Quintillus forces Gustav Klimt to use ashes from Cleopatra's mummy.

The ending left an opening for a sequel and I really hope Cavendish writes another book in the series.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

After Stella's cancer goes into remission, she decides to move to a peaceful small town with her husband to recuperate. But Priory St. Michael is anything but peaceful. There are rumours that something horrible that happened in the apartment before they moved in. Stella seeks the help of a Wiccan woman and learns that a succubus and incubus might be lurking in her new home.

I love Catherine Cavendish's writing, so of course I enjoyed The Demons of Cambian Street. It has everything I've come to expect from a Cavendish book: atmospheric, creepy, with relatable characters that you care about.

This spooky novella features a Halloween seance, so it would make a great Halloween read, and at just 97 pages it's a quick read and could easily be read in one sitting.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Becky is a maid at Stonefleet Hall and she hates cleaning Miss Abigail's room. There's something sinister about the bedroom, not to mention the blood stain on the floor that always reappears, no matter how hard Becky scrubs it. When she finds a doll made of feathers and wax, and people in the house start dying, she knows something is terribly wrong at Stonefleet Hall.

Miss Abigail's Room is like a creepy version of Downton Abbey, and I'm a huge fan of that show, so I enjoyed this novella very much. If you're a fan of Downton Abbey and creepy stories, check this one out, you won't be disappointed.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Elinor has been in a deep depression since her husband and daughter died. She hasn't been able to keep a job, and is deeply in debt, plus she has horrible nightmares on top of all her other problems.

Suddenly, her nightmares stop, she lands a job interview, and her life seems to finally be back on track. At the same time, several people are found dead with their eyes scratched out, seemingly murdered but ultimately deemed as gruesome suicides. Elinor's best friend Marnie thinks Elinor's newfound happiness is connected with the suicides and and enlists the help of Hazel, a woman who has had a similar experience with a demon. Together can they stop the devil inside her?

The Devil Inside Her was a heartbreaking story. I felt so sorry for Elinor. Just when she thinks things are turning around her life gets even worse.

I've read almost all of Cavendish's books and while they're always very atmospheric and eerie, this one is also fairly gory, which I really enjoyed because I'm a gorehound. So, if you're looking for a read that is atmospheric but also doesn't skip on the gore, The Devil Inside Her, is the novella for you.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Nadine, Maggie, Gary, and Nick, have each done horrible things in the past that they've kept secret. When they're all invited for dinner by Erin Dartford, a famous fashion writer, they all wonder why they've been chosen. Someone knows their deep, dark secrets and waited a long time for their chance at revenge.

Cold Revenge is a unique novella in that it had me cheering for the evil to win because once I read their horrible secrets, I felt that they deserved something bad happening to them. I did feel sympathetic toward one character who truly did regret his actions, but the rest seemed very cold and awful. But having unlikable characters isn't necessarily a bad things because it's very satisfying when they get their comeuppance. So, if you also find it satisfying when terrible things happen to terrible fictional characters, read this novella.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, October 27, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix

Kris Pulaski used to be the guitarist in a heavy metal band called Dürt Würk. Right before they hit the big time, the band's frontman, Terry Hunt, decided to go solo as Koffin, becoming rich and famous so fast it's as if he sold his soul to the devil.

Twenty years later, Kris works at a Best Western and finds out, via a giant billboard, Koffin is returning for a farewell tour. The information floods Kris with past resentment and anger, fueling her to embark on a journey to confront Terry and find out what really happened on the night the band broke up.

I loved this book! The journey Kris goes through is so epic, it's reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. The plot has lots of twists that I didn't see coming and scenes that shocked me, making me stay up late reading to see what happened next.

Kris was such a kickass heroine. She goes through so much in this bookcrawling through tunnels, watching people die in front of her, being held prisoner at a rehab centre, and so much moreand never gives up, she just keeps fighting. All the characters are relatable and I liked all the bandmates Kris reunited with along the way.

You don't have to be a huge heavy metal fan (I'm not) to enjoy We Sold Our Souls. There are probably lots of references to metal music that went over my head, so if you're a fan of metal (or just a horror fan) you need to read this book.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, October 25, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

Every town has that notorious house where - if the legends are to be believed -something horrible took place and is now haunted. In Bachelor's Grove, that house is in the woods next to a cemetery, and according to the rumours, it was once occupied by a witch. It's a spooky old house and seems like the perfect place for a haunted house attraction to a man named Perry. He recruits his carpenter friend, Mike, to repair the house before the Halloween season. But there might be some truth to the stories about the witch, as Mike, Perry, and several haunters and hauntees come to discover.

The House by the Cemetery reminded me a lot of a B horror movie. It was a fun and gory read. I loved all the horror movie references. Each room in the haunted house was inspired by a different horror movie (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Curtains, among others) and they were designed by the haunters, who love horror movies - two were even nicknamed Argento and Lucio.

The only part of the book I found lacking were the characters. In true B movie fashion, the main character, Mike, wasn't very bright and at times I just wanted to yell at him. There were a lot of characters and sometimes I had a hard time keeping them straight. I had an especially hard time telling Jeanie and June apart. Their names were similar, they were both makeup artists for the haunt, they both loved horror and Halloween, and they were both interested in the same guy. But I still found all the haunter characters, and their love of horror and Halloween, relatable.

Although I didn't love all the characters, I still enjoyed the book. If you're a horror movie fan looking for a book to read this Halloween, The House by the Cemetery would make a great choice.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Dewey's Readathon Closing Survey

I fell asleep around 4:00 am. The older I get, the harder it gets to stay up late. I wanted to read 19 books, but only ended up reading five.

Total pages read: 757

Closing Survey

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
At 4:00 am I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore so I just went to bed.
2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, Kill for Satan! by Bryan Smith, Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan, Halloween III by Jack Martin, Paper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson, and part of Damned by the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish
3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?
Kill for Satan! by Bryan Smith was really gory and fun and it takes place on Halloween, so it's a good read for this time of year.
4. What’s a really rad thing we could do during the next Read-a-thon that would make you happy?
I thought the Hourly Instagram Photo Challenge was really fun. 
5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep?
I'll definitely participate next time. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Mid-Event Survey

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

I just finished Down a Dark Hall and I think I'm going to read Halloween III next.

2. How many books have you read so far?

Three: The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, Kill for Satan! by Bryan Smith and Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Damned by the Ancients...I've been saving it to read closer to the end.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

My boyfriend was watching TV and I got sucked into watching it too.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

How easily I've given into distractions. I hope to read more in the second half. 

Dewey's Readathon

Today is Dewey's Readathon! Once again, I will attempt to read for 24 hours. 

The books:

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
2. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
3. Midnight by John Russo
4. Twinkle, Twinkle, "Killer" Kane by William Peter Blatty
5. Halloween III by Jack Martin
6. Halloween Party by R.L. Stine
7. Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan
8. The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
9. Goosebumps Graphix #1: Creepy Creatures by Gabriel Hernandez, Greg Ruth, and Scott Morse
10. Paper Girls Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson
11. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #7 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Robert Hack, Jack Morelli
12. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #8 Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Robert Hack, Jack Morelli
13. Damned by the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish
14. Kill for Satan! by Bryan Smith
15. Twin Lakes: Autumn Fires by Melissa Lason and Michelle Garza
16, The Haunted Forest Tour by James A. Moore and Jeff Strand
17. The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman
18. Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
19. 1922 by Stephen King

The snacks:
  • Pumpkin spice pretzels
  • Boursin herb & garlic cheese and crackers
  • Candy corn M&M's
  • Assorted chips
  • Dirty chai tea

Opening Survey

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Oakville, Ontario, Canada

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Hmmm...I really want to read all of them, that's why I chose so many and couldn't eliminate any, I guess Damned by the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish because I really enjoyed the book that preceded this one in the series, Waking the Ancients.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

The candy corn M&M's because I bought them last month when I took a trip to Philadelphia and I've been saving them for this. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I want to read more than I did last time. I think I say that every time, haha. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz

I loved both Children of the Dark and The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz, so I was really looking forward to reading The Siren and the Specter, and it did not disappoint.

Alexander House is a famously (supposedly) haunted house, recently purchased by a couple planning to turn it into a tourist attraction. They ask David Caine, an old friend and skeptic who writes books that debunk famed "hauntings," to investigate Alexander House, hoping he will write about having a supernatural encounter in the house, thereby attracting tourists. David assumes this is like all the other "haunted" houses he's written about and is prepared to disprove yet another legend. But Alexander House has a dark past. It was the site of horrible crimes committed by Judson Alexander, a depraved man who still haunts the house, as David is about to find out.

This was a very spooky haunted house story. All the scenes with "the long bedroom" creeped me out so much. Judson Alexander was a great villain and I really enjoyed the parts of the book that spoke of the disturbing things he did in the past.

The only problem I had with the book was that the main character, David, was unlikable and I had a hard time understanding some of his motivations and his selfishness - at least until a bit of his childhood was explained later in the book. I had a hard time rooting for him, but I liked Sheriff Harkless and David's love interest, Jessica, so there were a few characters I could connect with.

The Siren and the Specter is an unsettling ghost story that would make an excellent Halloween read this October.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Second Wife by Catherine Cavendish

Crossroad Press has recently published new editions of five of Catherine Cavendish's novellas: Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail's Room, The Demons of Cambrian Street, The Devil Inside Her and this one, The Second Wife.

When newlywed Chrissie Marchant moves into Baron Grove, her husband Joe's home, it becomes apparent that he may not be completely over the death of his first wife. A large picture of Emily Marchant still hangs in the living room, the house is still decorated just as it was when she died and Joe refuses to change anything. After a few unsettling experiences are accompanied by Emily's signature scent of vanilla, Chrissie realizes that maybe Joe's first wife hasn't moved on either.

I'm a huge fan of Catherine Cavendish. This is the sixth book I've read by her and she never disappoints. The Second Wife is a creepy and atmospheric ghost story.

The characters are well-developed. Chrissie is a relatable protagonist and her reasons for not wanting to leave after her ghostly encounters are understandable (her sister lives on the other side of the world and Joe is all she has) and make the story more believable, keeping me from constantly wondering why she didn't just leave every time something freaky happened to her. I hated Joe and didn't understand what Chrissie saw in him...I guess he's a rich and handsome doctor, but keeping a shrine to your dead wife after you remarry is weird and creepy.

At 110 pages, this is a quick read and can easily be read in one sitting. The novella gets to the spooky scenes by the second chapter and never lets up the suspense until the satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended for fans of gothic horror, ghost stories, or anyone looking for a chilling read.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5