Reading Mash-Up #194 — Happy Halloween!

Cartoon gif. In front of a full moon in a dark sky, multiple bats fly toward us and scatter in all directions.

It’s hours away from my favorite holiday, and as of the afternoon of October 29, I completed my 31 Books of Halloween personal challenge!  Quite a few hits and a couple of misses, but overall a creepy fun time.

What I’ve Been Reading

The Beauty of Horror: Tarot Coloring Book by Alan Robert — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 24/31)  So why am I including a coloring book on my reading list?  Because this is more than your typical coloring book.  Alan Robert not only gives us his artistic versions of a tarot deck, but also provides some introduction on the meanings behind the cards.  Very entertaining, and some decent information for those new to tarot.

We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III  — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 25/31)  I went into this one knowing the basic outline:  a family of four hide in their bathroom during a tornado warning and wind up trapped.  What I wasn’t expecting was the sheer emotional and psychological terror that would happen as the story unfolded.  I don’t want to give away any of the spoilers so I will just say that I tore through this in one sitting and was left feeling disturbed and unsettled.

The Haunted by Robert Curran and Ed and Lorraine Warren — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 26/31) An average American family moves into their new home, and shortly after, are plagued with strange noises, smells, and events.  World famous demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren are called in to help the overwhelmed family and to try to determine what evil is plaguing the residents.  Whether you believe in ghosts, demons, and other supernatural entities or not, this is still a good, creepy story, perfect for fans of The Amityville Horror.

Rovers by Richard Lange — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 27/31)  When I saw this book referenced as “Of Mice and Men meets Dracula,” I was instantly intrigued and needed to check it out.  And yes, Jesse and his brother, Edgar, do fit the OMAM bill, and this is a story about vampires.  But that’s really where any similarities end.  The main plot point centers around revenge, from the father seeking revenge against the killer of his child to the vampiric biker group looking for revenge against wrongs done against them.  I liked this one, especially being able to see everything from the multiple points of view.  I would recommend this to anyone looking for a different twist to the standard vampire story.

Sundial by Catriona Ward — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 28/31)  Rob fled her childhood home in search of a normal life with her husband and daughters.  When the oldest daughter starts to exhibit some disturbing behavior,  Rob realizes she must return to her past to help her daughter.    I was excited to read this one after enjoying Ward’s last novel, The Last House on Needless Street.  I wound up having some mixed feelings on this one though.  I’ll admit, I found it difficult to really get any traction until the halfway mark, when things finally started to happen.  Even then, I found Rob to be annoying as hell which I just couldn’t shake off.  Were the reveals worth the read?  I’m still on the fence with that.  Not bad, but if you’ve read TLHONS don’t expect the same type of story here.

The Long Shadows of October by Kristopher Triana — 3 out of 5 stars

(H 29/31)  If you’re a fan of those 1980’s/90’s horror flicks involving horny teens getting taken out by deranged killers/evil spirits, then this book is for you.  Triana pays tribute to those movies with a tale about a couple of teen boys housesitting at a mansion filled with lots of secrets…oh, and a succubus.  Entertaining, and not the total gorefest that Triana is known for (oh, it’s still there, but in smaller doses).

Graveyard by Ed and Lorraine Warren — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

(H 30/31)  After reading The Haunted, I was really disappointed with this one.  The writing is disjointed, and all of the stories are similar to urban legends I have been hearing about for years.  However, if you’re looking for some spooky ghost stories to tell around the campfire, you might find a few here.

The Night Stockers by Kristopher Triana and Ryan Harding — ??? out of 5 stars

(H 31/31) The plot in a nutshell:  the employees at Freshway grocery store have to work a night shift.  The satanic cult employees at the rival grocery store across the street, Devil’s Food, decide this would be the perfect time to kill the competition.   Literally.  When I first heard of this book, I thought the story sounded like a really bad B horror movie, only with a lot more “splatter” (thanks to having two outstanding splatterpunk authors working in collaboration).  I’ve read my share of extreme and splatter horror.  In all of the decades that I’ve been reading horror, I’ve come across some vile shit.  Nothing prepared me for the two scenes in this book that pretty near broke me.  But, strangely enough, I couldn’t stop reading (mainly because I wanted to see if the most twisted character met an ultimate demise, also to see who fricking survives, kind of like when I watch slasher movies).  There is some great dark humor, and the various references to the death metal culture of the 80’s/90’s are spot on.  I can’t in good conscience give this one any stars, but I would recommend it for fans of extreme and splatter.

Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

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