The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Fairytale retellings take on so many forms. Many aren’t that large of a departure from the original story. When I saw Christina Henry was publishing a retelling of Red Riding Hood I knew I must read it. I really enjoyed her take on The Little Mermaid. Henry’s retelling is everything I wanted it to be and more. It is a very human tale with love, loss, creatures and a girl in a red hoody. I am so very glad I stepped into the world of Red.

Synopsis: A virus which starts as a cough has wiped out a good chunk of humanity, Red goes on a voyage to get to her grandma’s house where she thinks that she will be safe.

What I liked: I love apocalypse literature and Henry does a great job of painting a picture of death, disease and the fall of humanity. There are a lot of different themes explored in the story: race, disability and family. It wasn’t something that I was expected but I feel the Henry handled each theme with purpose and grace. The characters are three dimensional and by the end of the story you really care about them. There is a lot of hope woven through the story and the good and bad of humanity. I really appreciated the way she used imagery to take the reader back to the original story.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything I didn’t like. I would have liked a bit more of the ending at Grandma’s house so you knew that Red was safe.

Star Rating 4.5 Stars

My thoughts: I really wanted more of an ending. It was slightly anti-climatic for me as I really wanted to know that everyone involved in the story was safe. I enjoying the chapters that were set before Red went into the forest. I really believe that having that back story really fleshed out her character and you got a good understanding of what her motivations are throughout. It was a fun read with a surprise thrown in and I really enjoyed reading it.

BIG Thanks to Berkley for sending me a review copy for my honest opinion.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

Haunted house books have been done a thousand times over. Every-time I pick up a new one I am hoping for a new story. A story that is going to scare me or leave me with creeping feelings. When I was sent The Invited by Jennifer McMahon I was hoping that I had found something different. Unfortunately, this wasn’t what I got in this story, I was pretty disappointed actually.

Synopsis: A man and wife start to build a house but things start to happen.

What I liked: McMahon has a writing style that would appeal to many readers.

What I Didn’t Like: I wasn’t a fan of McMahon’s writing style. There are many elements of the story that didn’t really gel with me. For example, the main characters learned how to build a house by watching you tube videos. That didn’t really work for me. This book was full of tropes that are for me are over used. The ghost that comes back to help find her killer is a trope that is used in many different books in the horror genre.

Star Rating: 3 Stars

My Thoughts: The Invited wasn’t my cup of tea. However, I would suggest that it would be a book that is good for a reader who likes more of a thriller instead of a horror story. Also this would be a good story for those readers that don’t read horror very often.

Without Condition A Novel By Sonora Taylor

What is it about the horror genre that lends to stories about serial killers. Is it the horrific things that some serial killers do? Or is it the idea that there is someone out there that doesn’t have the same respect or empathy for human life that the rest of society “should” have. I have read quite a bit of true crime and horror about serial killers. But….it is very rare to read a story about a female serial killer. Which is why I was so happy to read Without Condition by Sonora Taylor.

Synopsis: Coming of age story with a murderous twist.

What I liked: I really appreciated the multifaceted way that Cara was written. She was well written and three dimensional. She may have been a serial killer but there was a lot more to her. There was some many different sides to her character. I appreciated Cara’s story in general. For me it was more of a coming of age story with murder. It was more about Cara and growing up and how her relationship with her mother changes as she is maturing and falling in love. The ending really surprised me. I really enjoyed how the story ended. I wasn’t left feeling lost or empty.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My thoughts: I truly enjoyed this story. I think that Taylor really hit on something with this story. Even though Cara was a killer you felt for her. You felt for the child that she was….the woman that she was growing into. I really can’t wait to see what else Taylor has up her sleeve. If you don’t haven’t gotten this in your brain you are missing out.

A big thank you to Sonora for sending me a copy for review.

I am Not Your Final Girl: Poems By Claire C. Holland

I’ve watched a good deal of 80s and 90s slasher movies. There was always the one girl that normally was a fighter; who fought but she eventually succumbed. Or She fought through the night and was able to hobble her way to freedom the next day.  I found that I rooted for them as they hobbled through the forest and the dark. So whether you fancy yourself Laurie from Halloween or Nancy from Friday the 13th this dark poetry book is defiantly for you.

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Summary: Poems based on the final girls in popular horror movies.

What I liked: I have really enjoyed all the dark and horror related poetry I have been reading lately. I really enjoyed the concept of the book. The poems were dark and disturbing. What I thought was interesting was that this was the Holland’s feelings about these women, brought about by the political climate. I found each of the poems to be gut wrenching and heart breaking. When you really digest the words and the meaning he fear and anger behind the words is palatable. I believe that the women that are noted through out the book break the log used trope of women not fighting back and being weak. Especially in the horror genre.

What I didn’t like: It is a small thing was one of the poems was attributed to Sarah in The Craft but Holland seemed in the poem to be talking about Nancy. I could have read it wrong.

Star Rating 4.5

My thoughts: There were some movies that were noted in the book that I hadn’t seen. But that gives me more to watch. The concept was super intriguing and I really am glad that I read it. My favorite poems from the collection are Selena from 28 Days Later and Jennifer from I Spit on Your Grave. Both of these poems are hard hitting and really gut punch you.  Both of these are movies that I have enjoyed and I always root for the two characters that Holland wrote about.

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

I watch a lot of horror films. A good chunk of them don’t scare me anymore. Especially haunted house films. Seriously, how many times can you see pretty close too the same story line in a film. Group of friends go into a “haunted house” and then ghosts try to get them. They all die and one escapes to tell the tale. It is a story that is told over and over again. What if the ghosty in the haunted house wins? What would happen then?

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Summary: A dilapidated house located by a cemetery is setup to be a haunted house for Halloween.

What I liked: I enjoyed the cheese factor. It really reminded me of 80s teen slasher films especially the end. The concept of the story was intriguing. I loved the whole haunted house becoming a fake haunted house. My favorite part of the story was the last 25% of the book.  I loved the idea that a house that was a slaughter house ended up being a real slaughter house.

What I didn’t like:  I would have liked more of the houses backstory. We got quite a bit of Katie’s backstory but not of the house really. Especially the little room. I wanted a bit more of that.

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: So there there is something that I am not a big fan of that was done in The House by the Cemetery a number of times. I have a pretty good memory. I can usually remember a character based on their name. I am not a fan when authors consistently describe a character by their ethnicity or a defining feature especially if that was how they were introduced. If a character is surly I will remember that the next time this character is brought up. It is a small thing but for me that drives me nuts. Unfortunately, Everson does this through out the book.

 

Fright into Flight edited by Amber Fallon

I have a deep appreciation for anthologies. I think that they offer people who read a lot a bit of a pallet cleanser between heavier reads. There are times when you find an anthology that just speaks to you.  I truly thought that my time had come…Stephen King and Bev Vincent where editing a horror anthology based on travel. I like going places just the traveling part is stressful, with so many moving parts that can go wrong. I  reviewed the contributing authors list and there was a glaring error….there were no women authors. I was shocked and possibly a little crushed.  There wasn’t one short story written by a woman.There are a ton of amazing women horror authors. It was shortly after that I came across a tweet from Word Horde press there were looking for reviewers to review their new travel horror anthology edited by a woman with a full cast of women horror writers. I jumped at the chance……Fright into Flight was delivered into my  mailbox a couple of weeks later.

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Summary:  16 dark stories centered around flight. Whether that is wings or floating away.

What I liked: OMG! I want to say that I have the words to do this anthology justice. The stories that have been carefully curated by Fallon fit with the anthology theme so well. It was like reading back to back episodes of Tales from the Darkside. All the stories were well written and edited. The stories fit so well together that while I was reading them I was never outside of the story. Many times with anthologies there are a couple of amazing stories and a good chunk that are just okay. But this wasn’t the case with Fright into Flight each story was just as good as the one before it. There were so many different themes that ran through this gathering of stories I can’t name them all. The stories are beautiful, heartbreaking and horrific.

What I didn’t Like: Nothing, it was beautiful.

Star Rating: All the damn stars

My Thoughts: This was a great answer to those of us that were perturbed that there were no women authors in the other anthology. The stories where so well chosen and fit the theme perfectly. I appreciated the fact that each story had different types of flight. The opening story sets the scene for the anthology perfectly and draws you right in. Once you dive in you just keep swimming. It was truly a pleasure to review this anthology. I truly hope that Fallon edits another anthology as this was right on the money and more.

Fright into Flight is available September 4th from Word Horde. Click on the picture to be transported to the publisher page for purchase.

****Big Thanks as always to Word Horde for sending a review copy for my honest opinion****

Triple Axe By Scott Cole

There aren’t many times I can say that a horror novel or novella is cute. Normally I reserve cute for animals I see on twitter or instagram. Especially sheep, that are bobbing all over the place. Those are the cutest things I have ever seen. There re basically fluff balls that are bouncing allover seriously cute.  But I can honestly say that  I would have never said porn, gore and murder where cute. But honestly Triple Axe by Scott Cole is indeed cute. Sorry Mr. Cole but it was, in a gory way.

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Summary: 3 porn stars are trying to catch the manic that is killing their friends.

What I liked:  The story was fast paced and once I started reading I wasn’t able to put it down. I enjoyed the story line immensely. The characters were well written and likable. You really wanted them to find the killer and win the day. Cole came up with a very  ingenious way for the manic to kill his victims. There is also a cult aspect that I really enjoyed in this book. It helps pull together the story that Cole is telling. Now, I hope with that ending we are going to get a sequel!!

What I didn’t like: Ummm the fact that it ended….on a cliffhanger!!

Star Rating: 4 porn stars

My thoughts: I loved how he wrote these characters. Yeah they were in the porn industry but they were human. The women in this story were bad ass and banded together to take the law into their own hands. He didn’t write the women as weak; they were strong characters in their own right. I appreciated that. There is plenty of gore in the book. But it didn’t come across as a pure splatterpunk. It was more like gore meets the porn world with a heart of gold.

*****A Big thanks to Scott Cole for sending me a review copy for my honest opinion****