A Review of The Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Malorie and her children are leaving their house and sanctuary for the first time since she was pregnant. Almost 5 years after an event that changed the course of humanity as she knew it, she had to raise her children in this new post cataclysmic world where your eyes could be your undoing. There is something out there that is causing people to go crazy and commit suicide the second they lay their eyes on it. This narrative goes between present time and the time before, while she was pregnant, and just learning about the events as they slowly take over the whole world.

I read this book in a day. That’s how good it was. I normally don’t have time to read but I put everything aside to finish this one. The story was gripping. I was compelled to read it after I was told by quite a few people how weird and interesting it was. I couldn’t put it down. There were no lulls in the book and the author gave hints at the characters back stories, developing them in a way that made me care about their safety and what happens to them.

The only thing I didn’t like is that I felt there were a few discrepancies within the story and I don’t feel like there was a complete explanation or resolution to what was going on. Many theories were given but none were fully satisfactory to me and they never once said that any of the theories were what was happening.

I loved this book. I will give it a solid 5 out of 5. It’s rare for a book to capture me so much where I can’t stop reading it. There is some parts of fairly graphic gore so it may not be for you if you are squeamish. But for someone who is into post apocalyptic survival type books, it is fully engrossing, and will knock your socks off!

A Review of Sin by Patrick Reuman

In this novella we meet Ryan and Zoey, a couple of high school kids whose friend’s mom has gone missing. The school has an assembly to honor Alyssa’s missing mother. After the assembly the school is dismissed and Ryan and Zoey go back to Ryan’s house to decide what they are going to do over the weekend. Even with a potential killer on the loose, they decide to go camping in the woods behind Ryan’s house.

This is the first book I’ve read┬áby this author and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. At only 80 pages long there was a lot packed in. It was well written and had enough action to keep me reading. I couldn’t put it down. If it weren’t for having to cook dinner I would’ve read it all in one sitting. It may be a quick read but it will not leave you unsatisfied. It even had a twist that I never saw coming. I actually had to read that part twice to make sure I had read it correctly.

The only thing that I would say may turn some off would be the way religion and religious views are handled. Also, it has some pretty grisly scenes and some foul language. I give this a solid 5 out of 5. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more from this author. I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys horror and suspense and wants a story to get them through an afternoon.

A Review of Devin: A Compelled Novella by Anthony Puyo

Anthony Puyo is an up and coming author who cut his teeth in the horror genre. I read his debut novel, The Compelled, last year. This novella takes place in the same place and the same time. A cataclysmic event has plagued the earth and no one knows what is happening. Some kind of illness or disease has started spreading that causes people to go completely insane and their only objective is ripping and tearing the flesh of everyone they see. Devin was mentioned early on in The Compelled and this is the story of what happened to him after he was separated from the group of survivors he was with.

He essentially finds himself kidnapped and at the mercy of a vigilante who wants to exact revenge on the boys he believes to be responsible for the rape and murder of his daughter. Rex wants Devin to help him figure out which of the three boys he has captured killed Martha. But as Devin slowly begins to realize, Rex is coming apart at the seems and not everything is what it seems. Devin is at the heart of this murder mystery and he needs to solve the crime before Rex kills him.

I loved The Compelled and this was a wonderful foray back into the heart of the post apocalyptic world Anthony Puyo has created. Appearances by characters the reader is already familiar with makes them feel like they are running into old friends. And this book stands on its own. This is a separate story happening at the same time as the big picture and you don’t have to have any knowledge of what has happened. The extra tidbits are more like easter eggs for long time fans. The only criticism I have for this book is there is a lot of slang and the book reads more like a tale told by someone you met on the street. I think the slang works for the dialogue because a majority of the characters are young adults. But I would’ve liked a shift to more traditional writing for the narrative portion.

I would strongly recommend both these books to any fans of survival horror. It is fast paced action, lots of gore, and the suspense makes you not want to put it down. I would caution for strong language and extreme gore and violence. I give this one a strong 4 out of 5.

A Review of Joyland by Stephen King

Devin is 21 and in love. He’s about to finish college and Joyland is the perfect place for a summer before his life really starts. Joyland is as carny as it comes and upon getting hired Devin learns that it harbors a few secrets of its own. The legend of Linda Gray sparks something in Devin and he hopes to be one of the lucky patrons who see her ghost haunting the only dark ride Joyland offers. In a summer he hopes is endless, Devin learns the amusement park game, meets new friends, and is never far behind the not quite cold trail of the Linda Gray murder.

The carny atmosphere that King weaves in this story is rich in character and tradition. It is apparent that he has done research. I felt fully immersed and quickly picked up “the Talk” that only carny from carny, someone born into a carny family, truly knows. King also gave an authentic feel to the 1970’s era, using music and description of clothing.

This book is a slow burn. There is not a whole lot of action or much going on until close to 80% through. But King keeps the reader interested with in depth character development and he takes his time building the Joyland lore, breaking of tidbits at just the right intervals leaving the reader hanging on for a little more. Once the story picks up it really picks up and by then you are so invested in the characters that what happens to them matters and it gives you no chance to put the book down. The reader has to know what happens.

Where I was just so-so interested in about 70% of the book, I loved the last quarter so much that everything else was totally worth it. The build up made sense. The great pains taken in building Joyland to what it became was vital to the plot. I give this one a 4 out of 5. The ending is worth the entire book.

A Review of Sick Bastards by Matt Shaw

So, I had to think very carefully about how I was going to review this book for various reasons. And I think the fact that the book comes with a warning will give you an idea why. The only reason I even picked up this eBook to begin with because I was dared to read it by a fellow book worm. Heed the book’s warning. Heed my warning: If you are in any way, shape, or form bothered by anything at all, do not read this book. With that said, I’ve actually read worse, but this is pretty bad.

The main character wakes up in a post apocalyptic world after a nuclear blast and he has no idea who he is. No name, no date of birth, no society he can reach in a dense wood. He is living with an older man, an older woman, and a young adult woman. There is only a family picture of them in the truck outside their cabin to show them that they are a family.

This book is a series of flashbacks mixed with present day events that weave this tale together for the reader. Though we are dropped right in the middle of an already unfolding story, every few pages we go back to the past, and that helps us to understand what’s going on. The elements of this story are the very basics in depravity: lust, incest, murder, rape, etc. This family is fighting their basest urges and protecting themselves against mutations outside their home.

I did not like this book at all. The characters are inhuman in the least. The storytelling was actually fairly good, but the subject matter and the all hope is lost ending left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I actually wanted to quick reading several times but the fact that this book was so short is the only thing that allowed me to keep reading. I give Sick Bastards a 2 out of 5 stars and only because I thought the writing style worked and the author did warn me that I mignt not ┬álike it. The very fact this thing was written was an offense to me. Some things just need to stay in people’s heads. But at the same time, the finale of the book makes a great point into human psyche. I will leave it to you to decide…

A Review of The Watchmaker’s Hell: The Pit by LA Barnes

The Pit is book one in a series of four books. It begins with a group of people dropped randomly in hell. This story is told through the perspective of many different characters so I won’t get into one specific character as being the protagonist. Also, many characters are not what they seem so in order to not give anything away I won’t get into it much. The main conflict is a a war in hell some are trying to avoid while others are trying to figure out why they are in hell.

The character development in this book is exceptional. Each profile is given an extensive history and backstory. With that said, I feel like some of it is too much. This is an extremely long narrative and would serve its purpose better by cutting out some of it. As we navigate through perspectives there is a lot of rehashing of events both past and present and sometimes it becomes too redundant. This book shows there can be too much of a good thing. But honestly, this was my only complaint.

The story was told well and was always leaving me wanting more. There are a few twists that I wasn’t expecting and I was left wondering if what I was reading was the truth just like the characters. It’s fascinating to be left feeling betrayed because I often times felt very immersed in the plot.

Without giving too much away, my favorite sub plot was the reconnection of two characters, one who was the reincarnated lover of another. For most of the story I felt very drawn to them and their connection. I was rooting for them and vicariously living through their rekindling romance.

There is lots of foul language as well as sexual content both being discussed and implied acts. There are also a lot of religious overtones. The author goes into doctrines of many different belief systems. Besides being a bit too wordy in parts I did enjoy the book. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars and I think I would’ve given it a 5 if it had been edited more.

A Review of The Witch House of Persimmon Point by Suzanne Palmieri

The Amore family was cursed from the very start. This family history starts in Italy and follows their immigration to America all the way to present time. Eleanore inherited a house she knows nothing about, but it came at the right time. She’s on the brink of divorce and doesn’t know what to do with her life or the strange daughter she is trying to raise. A reporter wants to do a tell all on the tragic history, and what may be multiple murders, of Haven House. Eleanore and her daughter Maj go there a few days before the reporter is expected to arrive to try and unlock the secret of the witch house before the reporter can. When she arrives she finds 14 year old Byrd Whalen. She’s ran away from home and claims the witch house as her birthright. Eleanore may be in the dark of the family history but Byrd knows everything and slowly tells her the stories of the cursed women of the family while they search for the answers they are looking for.

This book had me from the start. I hated to put it down for real live. It got to the point where I was so immersed that I rushed through it just so I could see what happens. My initial thoughts are that it is a lot like Tess of the d’Urbervilles. It is a heartbreaking and seems like that tragedy doesn’t end. But you fall in love with the characters despite their major flaws and seem to root for them even when you want to slap some sense into them as a lot of their tragedy is of their own orchestration.

The author opens this narrative with a letter about trigger warnings. The story is riddled with every kind of abuse you can think of: rape, torture, physical abuse, verbal abuse, incest, abandonment. You name it and this family has probably been plagued by it. While some of it was extremely hard to read I don’t feel like it was painted in a positive light. I liked how it showed that there are lasting effects from abuse and it can spurn generations of the same abuse if not recognized so one can break the cycle.

I really enjoyed reading this book. And I think it would appeal to anyone who is a fan of VC Andrews books. She also delved into generations of familial abuse. But I think one would have to be in a place where they have come to terms with their own abuse in order to be able to get through this with the Amore family. I give this book a solid 5 out of 5.