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January: Early modern horror: 1950-1980
February: Horror in translation
March: Women authors
April: Slashers, serial killers & the like
June: Stephen King & family
July: Graphic novels + children's/YA
August: Pre- through post-Victorian Gothic
October: Hauntings (/ghost stories)
November: Diversity in horror
December: Short stories
Jaws 2 / Hank Searls
It's been a few years since the shark terrorized the small town of Amity on Long Island. Martin Brody is still the chief of police. When Brody arrests a drunk man on the beach for shooting a seal, initially they also suspect the same man might be responsible for the disappearance of two divers and a married couple. Little does anyone know, but there is another shark off the coast of Amity...
This was one decent, but not as good as the first, I thought. Might have something to do with me listening to the audio for the first one, but I'm not sure about that. I have to admit I didn't find this one suspenseful like I did the first one. I enjoyed the parts that were from the point of view of the shark (and there were also POVs from a couple of seals, as well, that I enjoyed). I did find it interesting that this book was written based on the movie, rather than the usual other way around.
Let Me In / John Ajvide Lindqvist
Oskar is about 12 years old and is getting bullied at school. He is happy to meet and become friends with the strange girl next door, Eli. Meanwhile, people are being murdered in town. Really, Eli is very strange...
This was ok. I liked the Oskar/Eli storyline, but I lost focus for the myriad of other characters and mostly wasn't following when the focus was on others. I was listening to the audio, and it tends to be even harder to keep focus with an audio.
Have you picked out something for March yet?
My Cousin Rachel / Daphne du Maurier
Philip was raised by his bachelor cousin Ambrose. Philip is now 24 and plans to remain a bachelor himself. When Ambrose heads to Italy for a trip, Philip is surprised to learn that Ambrose has fallen in love and will get married while there. Philip never sees Ambrose again, as only a few months later, Ambrose dies unexpectedly. When Ambrose's new wife, Rachel, shows up in England, Philip is surprisingly drawn to her.
It was not fast-paced. The story was fine, once I got “into” it and figured out who was who and how they were related. There wasn't as much mystery to it as I was expecting. I have to admit I kept waiting for something to happen, but really... not much did. As I write my review, I'm surprised I'm rating it “good” and not “ok”, but unless I'm undecided on how I'll rate it as I read, I tend to stick with my thoughts while I was reading, so 3.5 stars (good), it is!
Bloody Bones / Laurell K. Hamilton
Vampire hunter and raiser of zombies, Anita Blake, has been called on to raise hundreds of bodies from a cemetery where the bones have all been mixed together. She's not sure if she'll be able to do it, but she'll try. In the meantime, a few teenagers have been murdered and it appears to have been something supernatural. Anita wants to try to help with the investigation.
I really enjoy these audios. They include some sound effects at certain points and it really works for me. I also really liked this particular story, but I just don't get the appeal of Jean-Claude. I really don't!
Mr. Mercedes / Stephen King
When a Mercedes mows down a line of people waiting in the fog for a job fair, the police are stumped. Det. Hodges, the lead detective on the case, later retires, but when he receives a letter from “Mr. Mercedes”, taunting him, he decides to investigate on his own.
I really liked this. As with most of King's books, the story is told from more than one point of view: Det. Hodges and Mr. Mercedes. In addition to liking the story, I really liked a couple of the secondary characters: Jerome, the smart, young black boy who will soon be going to college; and Holly, related to the woman who's Mercedes was originally stolen, grew on me, though I wasn't crazy about her at first.
The Year We Disappeared / Cylin Busby and John Busby
In 1979, Cylin was 9-years old. Her father, John, was police officer in a town in Massachusetts. He was shot in the face and survived, but – even though he was certain who was behind it – the police seemed to not be pursuing it. John believed the person behind the shooting was a local well-known criminal, Raymond Meyer, who also had connections at the police department and was known to be untouchable. Even so, some of the officers, including John, still tried to bring Ray to justice for various crimes.
I thought this was very good. Frustrating about the corruption in the police department and not being able to do anything about Ray for so many different offenses. The viewpoint went back and forth between Cylin and John, so you could read about the happenings from each person's perspective.
Danse Macabre / Stephen King
This was originally published in 1981. It is an analysis/criticism of horror books, movies and tv from 1950 to 1980. Although King said more than once in the book that he doesn't like analyzing this stuff, that's what the book felt like to me. More like the analysis and criticism one is supposed to do in English classes, and I was never interested in doing that. I read for interest, fun, enjoyment (or sometimes to scare myself in the horror I read!). But, not to analyze. Because of that, I lost interest many times while reading the book. There were parts that I did find myself following; moreso for books, movies and/or tv I've already read or seen. Overall, I'm rating it “ok”, but I think it really wasn't my cup of tea.
Locke & Key. Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows / Joe Hill
The third book in the Locke & Key series finds the Locke kids home alone for a couple of days, and of course, an additional key is found and used.
Don't want to say too much in the summary, but overall, I enjoyed this. However, I found that, in this volume, I was more interested in family dynamic than the horror part of the book.
Hollow City /Ransom Riggs
This book picks up right where Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children left off.
*******SPOILERS if you haven't yet read the first book********
Miss Peregrine is in bird form and the group of peculiar children, along with Jacob, no longer have a home. Miss Peregrine is not able to turn back to human, so the children are on a mission to find another ymbryne to try to help her.
It started slow and I wasn't a fan of the peculiar animals. That was just getting way too odd for me. However, as the children moved on from the peculiar animals, the book picked up and I ended up liking it. I was waffling between 3 stars (ok) and 3.5 (good), and decided to stick with the lower “ok” rating, although I am interested enough to read the third book to see how it all ends. I did also enjoy meeting some of the newer peculiar characters who they came across in this book. I still love the old photographs, as well.
Help for the Haunted / John Searles
Sylvie is 14-years old and Rose is her older sister. Their parents have an odd job. They are very religious and they help people who are “haunted”. They also lecture on what they do and become famous for it. When, one night, they receive a phone call, they put Sylvie in the car with them and drive to a church. While Sylvie stays in the car, her parents, one-by-one, go inside. Neither ever comes out.
I really liked this one. It was a little creepy in a couple of parts. I listened to the audio and it did a good job of keeping my attention, so I didn't miss very much on the rare occasions my mind wandered. The book starts with the phone call and the trip to the church and it goes back and forth in time from then, but even with the audio, I was able to follow.
The Winter People / Jennifer McMahon
We are given glimpses into the life of Sara in 1908 through her journal. Sara married her childhood sweetheart, and though they had trouble having kids, they did end up with the light of their lives, Gertie. Of course, Sara is devastated when they lose 6-year old Gertie. During the present day, we follow 19-year old Ruthie and her little sister, Fawn, after their mother goes missing. In searching their house (the same house that Sara and her family lived in all those years ago) for clues as to where their mother has gone, they find Sara's journal amongst other things and try to put the pieces together.
This pulled me in almost right away. I am rating it as high as I am, as it is the first book that has scared me in a while. Not just parts of it, but a good portion of it. When I finished reading it (10:30 at night), I should have gone to the basement to do something, but no – didn't happen! It was a good story with lots of secrets being revealed. I really liked this one. It kept me reading!
Amy Girl / Bari Wood
It's the early 1970s. Amy is only 8 years old when she (mostly) sees her father kill her mother with a hammer. She was locked in a closet at the time, and she tried – with her mind – to stop him. From here on, when Amy gets upset, she feels a cold and is able to control other people with her mind. Her uncle, who is in a mental institution, sees things through other people and knows what's happened. One of the police officers who saved Amy from the closet decides to take her in as a foster child. His daughter, Greta, loves having Amy around, but teenager, Paulie, HATES Amy and will do anything to get rid of her.
I have had this over 25 years and never read it until now. There is an inscription from a couple of friends from high school and it took me this long to read it! It's a good thing I still “like” horror novels, because it was really good (though quite horrifying). There is a lot of violence, though, so beware.
The Killing Dance / Laurel K. Hamilton
In the 6th book in the series, Anita finds out someone is trying to have her killed. She is still caught up in a triangle with vampire Jean-Claude, and werewolf Richard.
Mostly, I liked this one, but I definitely did not like the ending. I still don't like Jean-Claude. I also mostly like the audios of these books, as there are some good sound effects, but I do wonder if it's the narrator's voice for J-C that has me disliking him so much (I'm not sure of that, though). I know that, at least closer to the start of the book, it was easy for me to tune out during scenes with J-C. I am wondering, though, if the next book is where the series starts to go wrong. Not sure if I'll continue on or not.
Second Child / John Saul
When 15-year old Teri’s parents die in a house fire, Teri is the only one to get out. She is collected by her biological father to go live across the country with him, his wife and their 13-year old daughter, Melissa. Melissa is considered by some to be a bit… strange. But she has good reason. (The back of the book doesn’t say much, so I don’t want to give too much away.) They are rich, but Melissa and her mother (Phyllis) don’t really fit in, though Phyllis certainly tries.
This was really good. I was pulled in at the start and it kept me reading and wanting to read. I was quite horrified and disgusted with actions of many of the characters and felt so badly for Melissa. This book has elements of both supernatural and psychological horror, both of which I “enjoy” reading. Just be careful reading through some of the reviews, as much more is given away than I think should be for this book.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow / Washington Irving
Reread a 3rd time:
3 stars. I have read this two previous times, two years in a row. This is the first time I was able to sit and read uninterrupted. I had hoped I would like it better, but I’m actually rating it lower than I rated it the first two times. Maybe my mindset; maybe I was rating more leniently at the time, but I just am not interested in the super-detailed description, most of which has nothing to do with the story. Once again, I do agree that the actual meeting of Ichabod Crane with the Headless Horseman is the most interesting part.
Ripley Under Ground / Patricia Highsmith
In this sequel to The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom Ripley is married and living in France. A few years back, he concocted a scheme where, although a painter had died, someone was rounded up to paint in that painter’s name, as if he was still alive and a recluse. There was a gallery in London that sold this painter’s paintings, there were art supplies and a school of art all in this (dead) painter’s name. But when an American suspects he has bought a forgery and wants to come to London to prove it, Tom must stop this from happening…
This pulled me in early on. There was a bit of a lull in the middle for me, but it picked up again at the end. It was good and I do plan to continue the series.
Dinosaur Lake / Kathryn Meyer Griffith
Henry is the Chief Park Ranger at Crater Lake, which sits atop a volcano. There has been no volcanic activity in anyone’s memory and earthquakes are rare and mild. Near the start of the book, some dinosaur bones are found when a small earthquake reveals them. When Henry learns that people have seen a “monster” in the lake, including one of his best friends/one of the other rangers, he doesn’t really believe them until he sees it himself. Things go from bad to worse as people start to disappear...
This was really good. Lots of suspense and I was often on-the-edge-of-my-seat with a pounding heart. There was a range of characters and motivations; some of the characters I liked, some not so much! At first, the book had me thinking of similarities to Jurassic Park, then Jaws (Henry gets to a point where he wants to close the lake, but no one believes that there is a problem), and some Loch Ness Monster (monster in a lake) and Bigfoot (no one believes it) thrown in there. This is part of a series, and I do hope to continue.
The Birds / Daphne du Maurier
I listened to the BBC audio dramatization of du Maurier’s The Birds (the same one Hitchcock based his movie on). It follows a family of three who have moved from London to the country. It takes place in England, it seems to be just after the war (WWII, I am assuming, as it was written in 1952). They notice birds congregating outside their home and becoming more and more aggressive.
I really liked this. Boy, that ending was creepy!!! I did see the movie years ago, and now I’d be interested in seeing it again. As I look at other reviews, it seems the movie is quite different. I’m not sure how close the dramatization is, but I thought this BBC version was done very well!