Reviewing the Pages: I Died Yesterday

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Revenge. Respect. Regret.

Sometimes doing the ‘right’ thing brings out the wrong in people.

I Died Yesterday – A evening with an old friend becomes a morning after that lasts for ever.
Chopper – A young man’s pursuit of his dream unearths a nightmare.
A Decision at Dusk – If you could bring someone back from the dead, would you use the power to help or hurt?
Sunflower – When the establishment fights back, they break more than the rules.
A View – Some noises are best left uninvestigated.

These stories are not happy, but they leave their mark. Some are set in our world; some are set in an alternate world (that of the Lords of Misrule series). This anthology combines dark humour, psychological terror, horror, and a splash of brightly coloured gore. It packs an emotional punch made even more harrowing by the paper-thin divide between reality and fiction.

Five uniquely individual short stories; each one uniquely crafted to bring a different sort of horror to the reader. As the author mentions, two of the short stories are not of our world, and I felt that those are the “weakest” of these five stories. I only say that they are the “weakest” because I don’t know the world that they are based in. However, they are not bad stories at all. Some of the references and things in those stories are lost on this reader, which I may have to remedy one of these days. But, other than that, the three stories based in this world are incredibly horrifying. Sometimes you can see the twist coming; but other times you won’t see it until it’s right on top of you. And it’s exciting. I would highly recommend this short story collection. Borrowing this from R.L. Stine: “Reader beware, you’re in for a scare.”

Wow.  That first story man.  That was BRUTAL.  At the very beginning of “I Died Yesterday”, you would have thought that the MC of the story was the one that died.  But then, it changes.  Quickly.  The MC is very unreliable, and even though you can figure out the ending, it’s the way that Graham gets to it is suspenseful.

The second short story, “Chopper” was much more confusing, and wasn’t as…enjoyable…as the first (not that the first story’s subject material was enjoyable, but it was a good story).  Our narrator here is not as unreliable as the first one, but isn’t all there with his imagination running wild.  I was excited about the twist that I wasn’t expecting to come out of this, which made the ending that much more interesting.

“A Decision at Dusk” gives us a unique perspective into necromancy, even if the story doesn’t flat out say it.  I like the premise that this druid is battling with resurrecting her brother vs the happiness of her niece, while also flaunting that she does this again and again to the man that killed her brother.  Though, the jaunt down to the village at the end gave me something to think about.  One little line made me pause…and think.  Is there more to Mia than we thought? Is that why the rumor about arms most prevalent? Another excellent story here.

“Sunflowers” is another horrifying tale.  This time, I’m unsure on just who to blame here.  The MC seems to have gotten herself into this mess by sticking her nose into business that doesn’t belong.  That leads her to getting kidnapped, tortured, and maybe even raped? I’m not sure about that last bit.  But, the unspeakable horror comes at the very end.  I was wondering where all this was going with the mentions about her brother.  Another hair raising story.  Just don’t take this one lightly.

“A View” is a read that reminds me of something that I think about constantly, and talk to people about on a regular basis.  If a character doesn’t do this particular action, would we actually have a story? This is one of those cases.  If our MC, with a very distinctive body…modification, wouldn’t have tried to satisfy his curiosity, would the ending of the story be different.  There are so many questions that I have that I want answered, and I’m not going to find them in these pages.

Reviewing the Pages: Something Borrowed, Something Blue

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“Something borrowed, something blue. Something terrible will happen to you.”

It’s a bad neighborhood in Detroit, the kind of place where abandoned houses get stripped, then taken over by squatters, then burned. But it’s about to get worse.

Across the street is a white van with those words spray-painted on the side in blue. It pulled up in the middle of the night without a sound. The windows are solid black glass. And it’s watching you…

I’ll be honest. I usually steer clear of novellas. Not because I don’t like the story, but because I usually don’t want the read to end within 20 minutes or so. Which is about how long it took me to read this one. BUT, this read. This read kept me engaged, and wanting to know more about…whatever it was. I loved the voice of the narrator; just the perfect mix of sanity and paranoia combined other odd musings that give life to this character.

If you like bite-size reads that will give you some chills, then this read is for you.

So, there’s really not much here that I want to talk about because I do actually want you to go out and read it.  But, I do want to say that I really do enjoy the way the narrator was written.  I wouldn’t have been sure that the character I was reading was a senior citizen if the book didn’t tell me that he was one.  It’s not often that I read about a MC/narrator that is well advanced in years.  And if I have read one like that, I don’t remember much about the book.  But, I really implore you to go out and check this read out.  Yes, I finished it in 20-25 minutes, but that shouldn’t deter you from this read.

Reading List #4

Hello everyone, and welcome back to another edition of my reading list! Now, I skipped over one book in the process of going through my last read, and I’m ok with that.  As much as I do like sticking to lists and following a set plan from time to time, there are just some times where I’m like “alright, I can skip that one”.  And it’s not like the book isn’t on my reading list as it is, I just didn’t have the book to read it.  I’m sure it’ll show up on here again.  And speaking of, here is a very long list of books to come.  This should take me to that magical 50 books read this year.  Wish me luck!

Reminder: all covers come from Goodreads.

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Reviewing the Pages: Relic

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Just days before a massive exhibition opens at the popular New York Museum of Natural History, visitors are being savagely murdered in the museum’s dark hallways and secret rooms. Autopsies indicate that the killer cannot be human…

But the museum’s directors plan to go ahead with a big bash to celebrate the new exhibition, in spite of the murders.

Museum researcher Margo Green must find out who-or what-is doing the killing. But can she do it in time to stop the massacre?

Oh how I missed Pendergast. I don’t know how I picked up this book to start with, but once I finished it the first time, I really wanted to read more about our mysterious Southern gentlemen with the FBI. But I never picked the series back up. Now, after re-reading the introductory novel to Pendergast, I realized quickly that I really should. Pendergast is an enigma, and I want to know about him.

This story gives us a fascinating look into ideas on evolution, and whether they are working theories or not, is a different story altogether, but I still enjoyed the tale. I’m one for reading books that help expand my brain with wide amounts of knowledge. Usually, it comes in the form of scientific information, like evolution, or paleobiology, or astrobotany. Maybe that’s why I like The Martian so much…it taught me a lot of plausible ideas. Which is where this book comes in…that there are still things that we as human beings have not explored. Things like bridging the gap in the evolutionary record. Science changes and adapts in every way, and I hope that, like this “little” discovery in this book shows, one day just might change the world.

This book is also a really good mystery, because while it gives you some information outright, the bulk of the information; the story that is getting woven here gets slowly revealed with each new revelation that the characters make. And I like that. Even with reading this book again, it gives me great pleasure in following along with the mystery. If you enjoy reading books heavily steeped in mystery with deep tendrils of science fiction, that I urge you to check this book out. And maybe, you’ll just might find yourself wanting to follow along with Agent Pendergast on his next adventure.

Alright.  Big spoilers here.  The ending is a very nice setup to getting us into the next book.  So the creature has been vanquished, and our heroes are celebrating their success, not only in taking down the creature, but their individual successes in life.  Which is good for them.  Bad for the rest of the world.  While they realize that the creature had a humanoid-like facial structure, the latecomer to the party holds the actual key as to what happened.  Which is dangerous.  Especially for someone like Kawakita.  I didn’t like his character.  Not because he’s poorly written or anything like that, but because he’s a character type that I don’t find appealing. The highly-motivated, almost world-conquering personality that won’t stop until he gets exactly what he wants using any means necessary.

There is so much more that I want to learn about Agent Pendergast.  We get that he’s Southern, to the point where he was raised almost in a more traditional Southern manner.  He’s very particular about how he dresses (to the point where he shows disdain for having to use his jacket for a trap).  He also seems to have a problem with people being nasty, especially towards him.  I love how the authors describe D’Agosta after a couple of Pendergast’s verbal lashings.

While I listed above that this is science fiction and mystery, there is also a great deal of horror involved in it as well.  It take you for a wonderful, brain-pleasing ride that, at the very end, will leave you wanting more. Just, keep all body parts and organs inside the ride at all times.

Reviewing the Pages: The Infernal Aether

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London, 1865.

Betrayed by his closest friend and rapidly drinking through his inheritance, Augustus Merriwether Potts returns to London in the hope of finding his fortune. Instead, he meets a mysterious stranger who thrusts him into a terrifying underworld of demons, ghosts and clockwork men. Fighting back against these new and unusual threats, Augustus and his friends come face-to-face with a creature which has been manipulating them and all humanity: a demon known as Andras, the God of Lies.

Andras has a plan: to recreate the Earth in his own hellish image using the power of the Aether, a terrifying otherworld populated by creatures from beyond humanity’s worst nightmares. With the world’s governments in thrall to the demons, Augustus and his friends find themselves in the front line of this battle to save the world against all the odds.

This read can be a bit confusing at times, and there are some things that make the reader pause, but all in all, this is a wonderful read. I really enjoyed the setting, and for my first time diving into a steampunkesque setting, I rather enjoyed it. I say esque, because I didn’t really get that vibe while reading. It’s much more subtle; giving way instead to more of the supernatural with the talk of demons and the Aether. But I have to say, I was enthralled with the read, and I do wish to pick up the second story in this series really soon. For those who are into the darker side of fantasy; with demons galavanting about in a historical time period, then you should check this out.

Ok.  Maybe the above review seems a little harsh.  I did rather enjoy this read.

I enjoyed the setting, and I rather enjoyed getting to know the characters, even if they do have some all-to-real human flaws to them.  And their humanity is what actually prevails here in the end.  Against a forthcoming demonic threat, being human is their greatest weapon.  And yes, that does sound silly.  But it is true.

There are some things that I didn’t like about this book, and that’s mainly just how easy certain things rapidly become.  Like Augustus using and wielding the sword he is given.  Like, wouldn’t he struggle with it more with his first non-duel fight? Or how quick that N’yotsu (a name that gives me fits over and over trying to spell correctly) accepts that he’s a demon and runs away.

Now, I know that a lot of people see the steampunk in this novel, but I didn’t necessarily find it.  Maybe it’s because I’m not as familiar with the intricacies of what exactly makes up steampunk.  But, don’t get me wrong.  It’s in there.  The flying airships are a testament to that after all.  But, don’t let my lack of steampunk knowledge keep you from reading this.  I did enjoy the story, and I really want to read the second book after reading the blurb.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.

Reviewing the Pages: The Graveyard Apartment

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A terrifying tale of a young family who move into an apartment building next to a graveyard and the horrors that are unleashed upon them.

One of the most popular writers working in Japan today, Mariko Koike is a recognized master of detective fiction and horror writing. Known in particular for her hybrid works that blend these styles with elements of romance, The Graveyard Apartment is arguably Koike’s masterpiece. Originally published in Japan in 1986, Koike’s novel is the suspenseful tale of a young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow in to, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that longer they stay, the more trapped they become.

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone… or something… lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again.

I saw this book somewhere, whether it was on Goodreads or through a website that did book lists, and were like “this is a horror book that you should read”. And I decided to go pick it up. Cause an apartment building in the middle of a graveyard is sure to leave us full of laughter and joy. Which, this book doesn’t have. At all. Sure, there are some snarky moments given by Teppei, but for the most part, there seemed to be too many aside and thoughts that should have been said. Which, may be the Japanese way. I’m not entirely sure.

Now, there are some minor cultural hiccups, like the mentioning of the Golden Week, and a couple other customs that us Westerners don’t come across in our daily life. But that’s perfect. I most certainly enjoyed the small peek into Japanese life that we got in this book, especially with the time period that it was happening in (which was 30 years ago. Makes me feel old just thinking about it).

As far as the horror, I felt like I was reading a horror movie. I think I’ve said that before in a review, but it really felt that way here. I also felt like there wasn’t a real motivation for the ghosts. I’m not entirely sure if there was an explanation given, other than some of the larger story points.

However, if you are a fan of ghost stories, and want to experience a different setting than one in your native home land, than you should check this read out.

Ok.  As I said above, this reminds me of a horror movie.  Well, I was specifically thinking of Annabelle, but with ghosts instead of a creepy possessed doll.

Anyway, I really missed out on the motivation here.  Sure, our setting primarily takes place in an apartment complex that was built on a Buddhist graveyard, and that the spirits were not happy that there were living people living in their final resting spot.  That’s about it.  I would have much rather had this attack happen because of Reiko finally getting enough energy to start haunting the holy heck out of the family.

I did appreciate this read, just wasn’t so keen on the lack of the motivation of the haunting and the general portrayal of the characters, especially the brothers.  Yes, I know brothers can fight and get jealous of each other, but it just didn’t seem to work for me here.  However, I do urge you to check this read out, and enjoy it.

Reviewing the Pages: Lovecraft’s Monsters

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This deliciously creepy and loving tribute to the master of modern horror features riveting illustrated stories of his wicked progeny.

In the century since the master of horror, H. P. Lovecraft, published his first story, the monstrosities that crawled out of his brain have become legend: the massive, tentacled Cthulhu, who lurks beneath the sea waiting for his moment to rise; the demon Sultan Azathoth, who lies babbling at the center of the universe, mad beyond imagining; the Deep Ones, who come to shore to breed with mortal men; and the unspeakably-evil Hastur, whose very name brings death. These creatures have been the nightmarish fuel for generations of horror writers, and the inspiration for some of their greatest works.

This impressive anthology celebrates Lovecraft’s most famous beasts in all their grotesque glory, with each story a gripping new take on a classic mythos creature and affectionately accompanied by an illuminating illustration. Within these accursed pages something unnatural slouches from the sea into an all-night diner to meet the foolish young woman waiting for him, while the Hounds of Tindalos struggle to survive trapped in human bodies, haunting pool halls for men they can lure into the dark. Strange, haunting, and undeniably monstrous, this is Lovecraft as you have never seen him before.

Contents

“Only the End of the World Again” by Neil Gaiman
“The Bleeding Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Love is Forbidden, We Croak & Howl” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“Bulldozer” by Laird Barron
“A Quarter to Three” by Kim Newman
“Inelastic Collisions” by Elizabeth Bear
“That of Which We Speak When We Speak of the Unspeakable” by Nick Mamatas
“Red Goat Black Goat” by Nadia Bulkin
“Jar of Salts” and “Haruspicy” by Gemma Files
“Black is the Pit From Pole to Pole” by Howard Waldrop and Steven Utley
“I’ve Come to Speak with You Again” by Karl Edward Wagner
“The Sect of the Idiot” by Thomas Ligotti
“The Dappled Things” by William Browning Spencer
“The Same Deep Waters as You” by Brian Hodge
“Remnants” by Fred Chappell
“Waiting at the Cross Roads” by Steve Rasnic Tem
“Children of the Fang” by John Langan

Creatures. Gods. And at the very depths of it all; horror. Fear. What comes out of the deep or the dark. The unknown. And the alien. That’s what, at least my understanding of it is, is at the heart of the Cthulhu Mythos. And this collection of short stories covers a wide variety of creatures and Gods in the mythos. From poems to longer short stories, this tale has something for just about everyone in it. Whether you like tales about people transforming into creatures; tales of dread that will make you question everything in it; or tales that take both real and well-established fictional characters and throw them Lovecraft’s world. If you are a fan of these sorts of stories, I implore you to dive right on in. But be forewarned, a fair amount of knowledge of the creatures and Gods within the Mythos will come in handy here

I do find it really hard to talk about Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos…only because I don’t fully know what to say.  After all, there is so much to cover, and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface as to what exactly is out there in terms of literature.  But, I did these stories and poems.  They took on a small aspect of the Mythos, and fleshed it out in a manner that gave that particular piece some spotlight.  Especially some of the creatures that I have yet to come across.  Like the Hounds of Tindalos, the King in Yellow, and the Serpent People, which, by some strange coincidence, are all not original Lovecraft creations, but instead are a part of what I can imagine are in the innermost ring of the Mythos.  I do suggest to anyone that loves the Mythos to dive into this collection.  There is a story in here for everyone, and who knows, maybe you’ll just find yourself ensnared in the tendrils of Cthulhu.  If I do see you here, don’t be afraid to wave.  It’ll be nice to see a friendly, humanoid face.