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Review – Lord Loss (Demonata #1) by Darren Shan

 

Lord Loss (Demonata #1)

By Darren Shan

SummaryGrubbs Grady has stiff red hair and is a little big for his age, which means he can get into R-rated movies. He hates history and loves bacon, rats, and playing tricks on his squeamish older sister. When he opts out of a family weekend trip, he never guesses that he is about to take a terrifying journey into darkness. Hungry demons and howling werewolves haunt his waking nightmares… and threaten his life.

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Review

Lord Loss was full of gore and horror and violence.

The book was in the YA section of the bookstore and not the Middle Grade section and I think that’s largely due to how much gore was in it, but otherwise, I feel like it belongs in the MG section. Which is part of the reason I only rated it 3 stars. 

Lord Loss would be the perfect book to give to fans of Goosebumps who have begun to grow out of that phase and long for something a little darker, but is still a younger teen. It’s a great book for those who aren’t old enough for actual horror, but aren’t prone to nightmares. It’s a perfect book for kids young enough to distrust parents and adults, but old enough to not be completely horrified by blood and demons.

As an adult who loves YA, I do have to be careful sometimes because there are books in that section that are too young for me and Lord Loss was one of them. Some books just feature younger characters while others rely on the reader to also be wary of authority and adults and once you are an adult, those books just don’t work anymore. I’ll gladly read about a 15 year old main character, but not if he thinks that even though this one adult is being super upfront and open about a subject, that person should automatically be suspected and it’s perfectly acceptable to slink around and not trust them and go with your gut about something you have zero experience with. *sigh*

To be fair, though, if you have a teen (especially a teen boy) who seems to not want to read and loves horror, this book will probably get him to read again. It’s fun and violent and awesome.

Star 3

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Review – Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and RIchard Chizmar

 

Gwendy’s Button Box

By Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

SummaryThe little town of Castle Rock, Maine has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told… until now.

There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson has taken the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside.

At the top of the stairs, Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground. From a bit farther away comes the chink of an aluminum bat hitting a baseball as the Senior League kids practice for the Labor Day charity game.

One day, a stranger calls to Gwendy: “Hey, girl. Come on over here for a bit. We ought to palaver, you and me.”

On a bench in the shade sits a man in black jeans, a black coat like for a suit, and a white shirt unbuttoned at the top. On his head is a small neat black hat. The time will come when Gwendy has nightmares about that hat…

Journey back to Castle Rock again in this chilling new novella by Stephen King, bestselling author of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Richard Chizmar, award-winning author of A Long December. This book will be a Cemetery Dance Publications exclusive with no other editions currently planned anywhere in the world!

Source: I purchased a hardcover

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Review:

Gwendy’s Button Box was a short story about a girl and a box. Gwendy Peterson met a man in a hat one summer day who gave her a box that changed her life. The buttons could do the worst, but one of them just gave her a piece of chocolate that kept her from craving the sweets and extra portions that made her heavy. She was determined to shake off the Goodyear nickname when she began middle school. A lever gave her a silver coin worth hundreds of dollars as well. Mr. Farris, the man in the hat, said that she was the right fit for the box. She wondered what that meant. 

I loved the book for about 90% of it. Gwendy was faced with such a conundrum. She was improving her own life, losing weight, getting good grades, and excelling in sports. She improved the lives of her parents who, before the box, were spiraling into a unhappy cycle of alcoholism and hating each other. She could see the good it did. When she pressed the bad button in a moment of curiosity, she was sick for days and a horrible cult was poisoned. Was that her fault?

I loved the premise of the book/novella and I was eager to see how it would all unfold.

I really hate to spoil books, but it’s hard to properly review this one without mentioning how much I disliked the ending. And as a King fan, I’m used to some pretty unfinished endings. But this one really takes the cake. I almost want to throw the book across the room, but not because the ending was BAD. I hate to spoil it, but the book’s ending was good… Everything worked out well for Gwendy and I just feel little bewildered. I mean, this premise isn’t supposed to end well, right? 

I feel like I wasted my time, but I suppose the novella was short enough to not really matter in the grand scheme of things. But seriously. Who ends a story like that?

 

 Star 3

 

Review – Thinner by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

 

Thinner

By Richard Bachman

SummaryBilly Halleck sideswipes an old Gypsy woman as she is crossing the street in their quiet Connecticut town of Fairview, and everything in his pleasant, upwardly mobile life changes. He is exonerated in the local court by a friendly judge and the sheriff…but a blacker, far worse judgement has been passed on him nevertheless.

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Source: I borrowed a hardcover from my stepmom.

Review:

I absolutely love the awful B movie, Thinner, that is based off of the book. I mentioned wanting to read it while my parents were in town visiting and my stepmom happened to have her copy with her, which somehow always happens to us, so I borrowed it and finally crossed it off of my To Read list.

Thinner was just as good as the movie, which is a good thing even though I think the movie is terrifically terrible. The movie is awesome even though it’s such a cheesy movie, but the book kind of had a similar feel to it. It was a serious matter, but also kind of entertaining. 

The story involves selfish and cruel lawmen who ran Gypsies out of town, were awfully racist and classist, and pretty much let the death of one of the Gypsies go unpunished. The Gypsies got revenge, turning the rather large Bill Halleck into a shrinking husk of a man. It is such a great revenge story and I loved getting the point of view of the victim who started the story as a the villain. I enjoyed watching him start to realize that maybe he was an elitist jerk. 

The best part, aside from the horrific aspects of the book, was that it so perfectly portrays why revenge is so terrible. There are more than two sides to every story. Any victim can be the villain in another person’s story. People don’t see how awful they can be.. on both sides. And getting revenge feels good, but when does it go too far? Thinner is a cautionary tale in that regard while also being a tad creepy. 

I recommend Thinner, especially to people who are easily scared by King’s other horror novels and/or intimidated by the length of Stephen King novels. Thinner is not nearly as bone chilling and it is a very short novel.

Star 4

Review – Firestarter by Stephen King

 

Firestarter

By Stephen King

SummaryFirst, a man and a woman are subjects of a top-secret government experiment designed to produce extraordinary psychic powers.

Then, they are married and have a child. A daughter.

Early on the daughter shows signs of a wild and horrifying force growing within her. Desperately, her parents try to train her to keep that force in check, to act normal.”

Now the government wants its brainchild back for its own insane ends.

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Source: I purchased a paperback from a used book store.

Review:

When my husband and I started watching Stranger Things, he said that Eleven’s story reminded him of Firestarter. Amazingly, I had never seen the movie, but it just took a few bits of research to realize it was based off of the Stephen King novel. Stories like this are right up my alley, so I began the hunt for the book (which wasn’t easy, actually). I finally found it a few months later and dug right in. 

Firestarter was interesting. And like most Stephen King novels, it was pretty in depth in regards to exploring who people are and what makes them tick. I loved the concept. I’m already intrigued by government conspiracies, especially those that involve strange drugs and testing because there is some truth to that in American history and I love seeing the aftermath had any of those tests been successful. What if someone gained some sort of mental power because of top secret testing and weird serums? It’s such a great idea that anyone can build on.

In Firestarter, two test subjects gained slight mental powers. And then they fell in love, got married, and reproduced. Their child, Charlie McGee, was the firestarter, with the ability to create heat and flame, from small to large and explosive.

For much of the book, Charlie and her father, Andy, were on the run. Her mother had been murdered by the agency called The Shop, and found them after they got careless and settled into a place. Andy could “push” people and make them believe different things and influence them. But it wasn’t easy and it gave him headaches that sometimes took him days to recover from.

I don’t really want to give any of the plot away, but I do have to admit that for a book with such a cool concept, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d imagined. There was just a lot of running, a lot of Andy being worried about stuff, a lot of him trying to comfort his daughter, and a lot of near misses. Some sections switched to agents working for The Shop as well. The second half of the book was a little more interesting because Rainbird was interested in getting Charlie to unleash her abilities and he was playing both her and The Shop, but I was mostly just intrigued by his insight into human nature.

It’s difficult to rate because it came out in the early 80s and there have been hoards of fiction regarding the same topics that I feel have better expanded upon some of the aspects of conspiracies, testings, abilities, etc. For its time, Firestarter was probably pretty awesome, but today it just didn’t impact me as much as I’d hoped. There wasn’t a lot of emotional connection to the characters and ultimately, that’s what made it fall kind of flat. I would’ve rather seen through the eyes of Charlie, I think. I would’ve liked a more complicated agency and more of a complicated plot, but I did enjoy the book.

 Star 4

Review – Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

 

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock

By Paul Tremblay

SummaryA family is shaken to its core after the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in this eerie tale, a blend of literary fiction, psychological suspense, and supernatural horror from the author of A Head Full of Ghosts.

Late one summer night, Elizabeth Sanderson receives the devastating news that every mother fears: her fourteen-year-old son, Tommy, has vanished without a trace in the woods of a local park.

The search isn’t yielding any answers, and Elizabeth and her young daughter, Kate, struggle to comprehend his disappearance. Feeling helpless and alone, their sorrow is compounded by anger and frustration. The local and state police haven’t uncovered any leads. Josh and Luis, the friends who were with Tommy last, may not be telling the whole truth about that night in Borderland State Park, when they were supposedly hanging out at a landmark the local teens have renamed Devil’s Rock— rumored to be cursed. 

Living in an all-too-real nightmare, riddled with worry, pain, and guilt, Elizabeth is wholly unprepared for the strange series of events that follow. She believes a ghostly shadow of Tommy materializes in her bedroom, while Kate and other local residents claim to see a shadow peering through their own windows in the dead of night. Then, random pages torn from Tommy’s journal begin to mysteriously appear—entries that reveal an introverted teenager obsessed with the phantasmagoric; the loss of his father, killed in a drunk-driving accident a decade earlier; a folktale involving the devil and the woods of Borderland; and a horrific incident that Tommy believed connected them all and changes everything. 

As the search grows more desperate, and the implications of what happened becomes more haunting and sinister, no one is prepared for the shocking truth about that night and Tommy’s disappearance at Devil’s Rock.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

Disappearance at Devil’s Rock was a somewhat creepy and engaging book about a missing boy, a shadow, and secrets between a group of boys. 

Paul Tremblay is someone who understands the horror genre. It’s correct to put his books in horror, but they don’t scare me in the same way that other horror novels do, but I’m not upset about it. This book and his other, A Head Full of Ghosts, remind me of Jennifer McMahon novels where it’s more about the secrets between people, the lies we tell ourselves, and the fact that the truth is so hard to uncover. Those things combined with the small essence of supernatural possibility had me looking over my shoulder at home and trying not to see things out of the corner of my eye. 

I loved Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. I wanted to know what happened to Tommy and why, but I was also interested in the aftermath, like the relationship between Elizabeth and her daughter, the other boys Tommy was friends with, and the town itself. I devoured Tommy’s journal pages because they felt so realistic. 

I definitely recommend the book and I’m definitely on the lookout for more of his books because I sense some real talent and amazing storytellings from Tremblay. I felt like the story was so plausible, despite how insanely far fetched some of it was, but that’s just part of being a kid and being drawn to the stories about the landmarks in your town, eager to get some sort of supernatural vibe from things. I will caution anyone that the book isn’t your typical bump in the night horror, but it does a great job of creating the atmosphere and keeping you on your toes, eager to see what other clues there are. It was well written and explored/was inspired by a lot of different elements of horror.

 

Star 4

Review – The Shining by Stephen King

 

The Shining

by Stephen King

SummaryPast horrors and evil lurk in Colorado’s Overlook Hotel, threatening winter season caretakers Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and their young son, Danny. Gifted with the shining, a clairvoyant Danny must battle the darkest evil in the remote hotel in an attempt to save his family from its influence.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I’ve seen the movie The Shining a hundred times, both the original and the remake. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King novels and I have a list of books from him that I need to read. I’ve grown up seeing so many of the movies and mini series, but sometimes it takes me awhile to finally pick up the brick of a book and dig in. I read Misery over the fall and realized that the book was even better than the very well made film, so I was excited to pick up The Shining finally. 

I enjoyed The Shining and I will admit that the years and years of seeing the movie has kind of ruined it for me because Jack Nicholson was such a strong and terrifying character. The book wasn’t nearly the same in that regard and I realize now why King has said in the past that he didn’t not enjoy the adaptation due to the casting of Jack Torrance. I get it now. The story is much more of a slow build up as the hotel chips away at Jack’s fears and flaws in order to get to Danny. It was more of a delicate dance than a slasher horror with a crazy father. I am inclined to agree and I think if anyone picked up the book after loving the movie and being disappointed are because they expect more from Jack Torrance that the book doesn’t give. He’s not insane. He’s a troubled man trying to do the right thing, dealing with alcohol abuse, and he finally cracked. 

Anyway, regardless of how anyone feels about the movie, the book was spectacular and enjoyable in a lot of ways I wasn’t expecting. It was still easy to plow through even though I knew the general gist of the book. Some of my favorite movie scenes weren’t there, but there were scenes in the book that were just as amazing that didn’t make it into the film. My favorite part was that Wendy wasn’t an unbearable dimwit in the book. And Danny, while strange, was much more tolerable to me, too. I enjoyed the characters quite a bit. The book was a creepy and haunting book and I’m glad I picked it up. I definitely recommend it to any King fans.

Star 4

 

Review – Horns by Joe Hill

 

Horns

By Joe Hill

SummaryIgnatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples.

Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more – he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic.
Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone – raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances – with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty.
Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power – with just a touch he can see peoples’ darkest desires – to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It’s time for a little revenge; it’s time the devil had his due.

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Horns has been on my TBR for a few months. I try to grab what Joe Hill books I haven’t read if I see them at a bookstore, but I wait until I’m in just the right mood to open them up. I’ve enjoyed Heart-Shaped Box and NOS4A2, but Horns isn’t quite the same genre. I suppose it’s still horror, but it’s not the same kind. 

I loved Horns. It was easy to get sucked in from the beginning when Ig woke up to a pair of grotesque horns on his head. He thought he was hallucinating, but then his interactions with other people made him think something even worse was happening. For some reason, they noticed the horns but didn’t react in the way anyone would expect and then they would reveal their absolute worst thoughts to him. Was this some sort of punishment?

Horns is really quite brilliant. It was a book about human nature, which is quite terrifying. People are awful and they lie everyday. There Ig was, trying to be a good person, loving everyone with all he had, and it counted for nothing when it really mattered. No one believed he didn’t kill his girlfriend and nothing he seemed to do or say changed the opinions everyone had. Sure, he “got away with it” and wasn’t convicted, but to everyone in his town, including his family, he was guilty. If the premise wasn’t already extremely intriguing, this angle really got me because I just can’t imagine not being believed by people and it would be really awful to walk around in a place where everyone thinks you’re capable of the worst sort of crime. 

Horns was a mix of the supernatural, a murder mystery, a glimpse of a small town life with small town attitudes, a horror, and a bit a dark humor to tie it all together. Joe Hill created characters I immediately couldn’t get enough of. The story bounced from the present, the recent past when Ig and Merrin were together, and the early past as Ig met Merrin, was saved from drowning by Lee, and disappointed his father by not being able to play the horn instruments like his older brother. We got the whole story from multiple sides and it was broken up into chapters/parts that all served different purposes to building the story. It was a story that took me through a small town and the interpersonal connections between everyone and lead me on a dark road with terrifying conclusions. 

I really don’t try to compare Hill to his father, but when I do, it’s nearly always a compliment. It’s really freaking hard to find an author who captures people the way King always does and Hill does it so perfectly. What lies inside of human beings is the really scary part of King’s horror novels and that’s essentially the same in Horns, though Hill creates unique characters and finds his own voice. I’m always impressed when an author really tackles those essences of horror instead of just giving me a bump in the night kind of story and that’s what sets King and Hill apart from the crowd. I love this kind of story and that’s why I compare Hill to King.. I would do it even if I knew they weren’t related. Because they both do exactly what good horror authors should do.

I highly recommend Horns. I really loved Heart-Shaped Box, but I think Horns might actually be better in a lot of ways, so I suppose I have two favorites now.

Star 5