Reviewing the Pages: The Silence of the Lambs

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Hannibal Lecter. The ultimate villain of modern fiction. Read the five-million-copy bestseller that scared the world silent… A young FBI trainee. An evil genius locked away for unspeakable crimes. A plunge into the darkest chambers of a psychopath’s mind– in the deadly search for a serial killer… Thomas Harris is the author of Hannibal , Red Dragon , and Black Sunday . As part of the search for a serial murderer nicknamed “Buffalo Bill,” FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him. 

I’ve forgotten just how fast this book starts out, and it never lets up. Information comes at the reader fast and furious, and leaves out just enough information to leave the pieces untied. Sure, the reader knows what the picture looks like before the cast of good guys (certain characters not-withstanding of course). For those of you who haven’t been introduced into the cold, calculating mind of the pure sociopath Dr. Lecter, this is a fantastic introduction into a character (that is, if you decided to skip over Red Dragon, which this book references a few times, but it not a necessity to get involved in this story). I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good suspenseful read, with a lot of detective work involved as well. But, be careful. One never knows when Lecter might get into your head.

I want to make note of something that I found interesting.  Now, I haven’t seen it happen often (possibly because I don’t actually realize it), but the last line of this book contains the title.  In fact, the title is the last five words of the story.  It’s rather interesting, and I may have to be on the lookout for more of those interesting title tie-ins somehow.

Anywho, as I said in my Goodreads review, there is a lot of information that gets thrown right in our face.  In fact, we get our first meeting between Starling and Lecter only 15 pages in, and boy do we get a lot of information.  At times, it’s enough to make a man’s head spin.  But, at other times, we are only given just enough information that may be overlooked at the time, but helps to add to the big final reveal.

Then, there’s Lecter.  He’s absolutely terrifying here.  Here’s a man who kills without remorse, nor does it excite him any.  He just…kills.  And to top it all off, he uses his vast intellect to outwit everyone.  There’s a reason why Hannibal is an iconic character not just in the world of ink and paper, but the big screen as well (thanks to Sir Anthony Hopkins for his amazing portrayal).  And we can’t forget about his opposite here, Clarice Starling.  Starling is a strong character, who gets pulled into this case based on her skill set, and stays in it until the bitter end.  She stands up for what she believes in, and she doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to people that cross her (I don’t want to be that cameraman that she dropped the garage door on).

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys thrillers with some elements of horror and mystery.  But just remember, not everyone wants to invite you for dinner.  Some might want you FOR dinner…or wear you to dinner.

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Reviewing the Pages: The Lodestone Files: The Things in the Shadows

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Idris Sinclair lives a rather typical life; helping his family run their cherished diner. However, all the normalness he knows in life is about to go straight out the window when he happens to break into an abandoned van in the restaurant’s parking lot. He discovers a small weapon’s stockpile and various files, involving affairs foreign to him. 

As night begins to set in, the family is involved in one of our government’s most heinous and dastardly secrets involving entities, not of this world. 

It walks among us. It could be anyone—or anything. Suspect everyone you know, or you pass on the street. There is nowhere where you are safe. Run all you want; it will only make you taste more delicious to it. 

It’s too late. It already knows where you are. 

It’s. Here.

Much too short! That’s what I think about this story. There’s so much here that we are given in terms of information, and it leaves us so many answers. What exactly are these creatures? Why are there people watching them? What is going to happen to the boys? Etc, etc. McCartney starts off with a lot of atmosphere, letting us get connected to the characters, and then, pulls the rug out from beneath us during the meatiest part of the story.

I really want to learn more about this world! I hope that McCartney has more plans to dive into this world in the future. It might be short, but it packs a punch, and I highly recommend this to any avid reader.

No spoiler alert today, because this is just too short, and I’ve pretty much said what I wanted to in the Goodreads review above.  Seriously.  Go check this read out.  I got my copy through InstaFreebie, but I cannot state enough that I loved this read.  Go find it.  Check it out.  Trust me, you’ll enjoy it, and want more.

Reviewing the Pages: Reliquary

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Hidden deep beneath Manhattan lies a warren of tunnels, sewers, and galleries, mostly forgotten by those who walk the streets above. There lies the ultimate secret of the Museum Beat. When two grotesquely deformed skeletons are found deep in the mud off the Manhattan shoreline, museum curator Margo Green is called in to aid the investigation. Margo must once again team up with police lieutenant D’Agosta and FBI agent Pendergast, as well as the brilliant Dr. Frock, to try and solve the puzzle. The trail soon leads deep underground, where they will face the awakening of a slumbering nightmare… in Reliquary, from bestselling coauthors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Following the events of Relic, this book follows some of main survivors of the incidents at the Museum as they follow a new threat that takes the fear from the Museum beast and spreads it around the deep underground of the New York tunnel system.

For me, it felt like there were too many stories in this one to follow. Sure, we had many different characters that eventually converged their storylines into one, but there felt like too many to worry about. The main story was enjoyable, and I felt like there could have been more done with Kawakita, but the story gave us enough information at the right time. I wasn’t a big fan of what they were doing with Smithback with the Take Back Our City rally that devolved into a riot. I felt that it wasn’t right for the story.

The action will keep you motivated, and every new reveal will keep you guessing. Sure, it’s not super stellar, but it will keep you entertained until the epilogue. For those of you who like mysteries tinged with science, you should check this, and Relic out.

So, I left out Frock for a reason.  Yes, it was a good twist that Frock is found out to be the main villain, and there may have been hints that it was him throughout the tale, but the whole reveal fell just a little flat.  It was just “Oh…Doctor Frock?!”, and that was it.  Sure, the motivation (stated afterwards) was there.  A man that has been crippled for most of his life is practically gifted the ability to walk again, with some…side effects.  Granted, the drug that has been extracted could very well be part of the problem, or it can only have enhanced the mental strain because of his jealousy of being confined to a wheelchair.  Who can really say for certain?

We do get a lot of new characters mixed in with the old.  Some, like Hayward, are fleshed out and given some life here.  Others, like Snow and Mrs. Wisher, are rather one-dimensional, and I hope that we aren’t going to get them back in a future book.  Which concerned me a little bit.  Both characters are rather instrumental in the plot, yet, they have little depth to them.  I do want to like Snow, but at the same time, there’s not much there.  At all.  There were some characters that we got introduced to that I was really glad to see go because I found their personality to be rather grating, yet there are some that still stuck around to the very end.

You should schedule this one into your busy reading schedules, fellow reader.  Reading Relic can be very helpful to you here, but not necessarily a requirement.  Dive underground into the New York City labyrinth.  You’ll never know what sort of mysteries you’ll uncover.

Reviewing the Pages: One Dark Summer Night

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The fairies are coming…the fairies are coming…

To kill us all.

It’s 1989. A small Midwestern college town with a history of strange sightings and hauntings. A summer intern program in the biology department that actually pays. And coworkers who don’t warn you about vivisection day…

Della Rae planned to keep her head down and work as many hours as she could get, while filling in the gaps with a lot of old sci-fi novels.

Her plan was interrupted by a sudden friendship with a townie student, a weird girl named Merc who shared Della Rae’s tastes in fiction. It was Merc who warned her not to go to the bio department that day…

Soon, there would be hell to pay for what happened in the bio department. And only Della Rae, Merc, and their friends can stop it from spreading.

I received this through a free download in exchange for an honest review.

In order to fully grasp the entire story of this novella, one must read it in one sitting. I didn’t, and I feel like I’ve missed a few details along the way. Which isn’t a bad thing. There are a lot of shifts around that I felt a little disjointed when getting back into the read, but at the same time, it helps the plot by having so many perspectives and shifts. There is a lot going on in this read, and for Della Ray, it’s one very long night. Well, technically this book covers a whole day, but still, the majority of the action takes place after the sun sets. It’s dark, a little bit creepy, and gives me some new fears about having creatures make random inanimate objects…animate (that, and skeletal zombie mutant creatures). Do take care when you read this one fellow readers; you may never come back.

Alright, so this book is a stand-in for my original planned read, “Soul Smuggler”, which was only a preview in the edition that I downloaded.  And I do not regret my choice.  Granted, I did have some struggles reconnecting some plot points together (like how Craig goes from random stranger guy to the new Lord of the Hunt), and some of the twists and turns makes me pause and think about how we got here.

However, those twists and turns make sense in this world.  This is kind of what I would imagine the information I would get if I were in Della Ray’s shoes.  An outsider to this world, getting thrust into the situation via an acquaintance come situational friend, I would be rather confused about all of the revelations coming at us left and right.  Even though I don’t like the whole “I’m not sure about this, but I’m accepting of this” that the characters go through, it just works in this story.  Don’t ask me how.  It could be the inter-dimensional portal that is on the edge of town (or what appears to be a completely different one in the basement of the science lab), or the sheer magic of the fairies constantly crossing over.  Either way, I do love that some of my questions from the first story get answered here, but it leaves me with some more questions.  Who are these other beings that keep getting referenced? Are we going to see them in the next read? So many questions, and so impatient in getting the answers.

So, if are going to check this read out, make sure to keep something heavy handy.  You’ll never know if you have to smash your animated entertainment center down to size.

Reviewing the Pages: Ten Minutes to Deadtime

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Terry’s alarm keeps waking him at 3.33 every morning. The problem is, he never sets it for that time. On one occasion he wakes up and something is very different. And that’s when his life begins to unthread…
 
Already struggling to balance work and home life, can he overcome the evil that has awakened?

Super short, and while certainly interesting, I felt like there wasn’t much here to tie into the Shadow Fabric Mythos. Sure, we get the Witchblade and what could only be alluded to as the Shadow Fabric, but that’s about it. Sure, the scares that we get here are good. But, in terms of the Mythos, there’s some things that are left to be desired. If you need a quick read, and are hankering for some scares (and a little bit of bewilderment), then this read is for you. And, as a bonus, you don’t need to have read The Shadow Fabric in order to understand anything in this story.

Well, here we are.  Another story in the Shadow Fabric mythos.  And my, do we…not get a lot.  At least, in terms of the Mythos.  Sure, the Witchblade makes an appearance, though for a much sinister appearance than it does in The Shadow Fabric.  But, I have many, MANY questions to ask this story, and there’s just not that many answers.  For example, why 3:33 am? Besides the whole “it’s the Witching Hour and 3:33 is that perfect witching time” (or something along those lines).  Why is the Witchblade suddenly sinister, or is it much darker forces that have the Witchblade at work here? Are the Forgotten the souls that have been stitched together into the Fabric? As I said, so many questions that don’t have much of an answer here.  And that’s ok.  There really doesn’t need to be too many questions answered.  Let’s just hope that a lot of these are connected in one way or another later on down the line, maybe in a unified short story collection, or a sequel novel?

Either way.  For those wanting a quick and easy read, then you should pick up this read.  It may leave you with a lot of questions, but trust me, this whole series is full of them.

Reviewing the Pages: Night Shift

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More than twenty-five stories of horror and nightmarish fantasy transform everyday situations into experiences of compelling terror in the worlds of the living, the dying, and the nonliving.

“Jerusalem’s Lot” Previously unpublished
“Graveyard Shift” October 1970 issue of Cavalier
“Night Surf” Spring 1969 issue of Ubris
“I Am the Doorway” March 1971 issue of Cavalier
“The Mangler” December 1972 issue of Cavalier
“The Boogeyman” March 1973 issue of Cavalier
“Gray Matter” October 1973 issue of Cavalier
“Battleground” September 1972 issue of Cavalier
“Trucks” June 1973 issue of Cavalier
“Sometimes They Come Back” March 1974 issue of Cavalier
“Strawberry Spring” Fall 1968 issue of Ubris
“The Ledge” July 1976 issue of Penthouse
“The Lawnmower Man” May 1975 issue of Cavalier
“Quitters, Inc.” Previously unpublished
“I Know What You Need” September 1976 issue of Cosmopolitan
“Children of the Corn” March 1977 issue of Penthouse
“The Last Rung on the Ladder” Previously unpublished
“The Man Who Loved Flowers” August 1977 issue of Gallery
“One for the Road” March/April 1977 issue of Maine
“The Woman in the Room” Previously unpublished

Night Shift is a collection of twenty short stories that are all designed to fill you with terror and dread. And it does a very good job of that. Whether it’s continuing on with some of the stories in his already extensive library; or creating new stories that will become a part of horror culture, in both good and bad ways. There are a lot of stories here that have become either big screen or made-for-TV movies, or either TV shows or mini-series. Each one of these short stories contain the right amount of horror for the length that the story was. Which is good. Sometimes there’s too much horror in a short piece, and not enough time within the pages to dissipate it. For those of you who like short horror, and haven’t read many from Stephen King, then this read is one worth checking out.

Well, there’s not much more that I want to elaborate on.  I will add in my thoughts on the individual short stories as I had posted them during the course of my reading through this book.

“Jerusalem’s Lot”–King dipped into Lovecraftian horror with this one, which ties in to ‘Salem’s Lot in a way.

“Graveyard Shift”–What is it with rats and horror? In this case…the rats ARE the horror.

“Night Surf”–A precursor, or prequel-in-idea story to The Stand, the horror isn’t in the horror of catching A6, it’s the human fear of dying.

“I Am the Doorway”–not even space can escape King’s touch of horror. Couldn’t imagine having that happen to me.

“The Mangler”: almost by pure chance, a demon possesses a powerful machine and causes havoc.

“The Boogeyman”–a very…unique take on talking to the monster. Lots of in-depth analysis to be had here.

“Grey Matter”–not much I can explain about this one. Man drinks a foul beer and becomes a giant grey blob that is starting to divide.

“Battleground”–I love this story! Such a fun concept.

“Trucks”–What happens when an unexplained event causes machines (in this case, tractor-trailers) gain a mind of their own? This short story gives us an idea.

“Sometimes They Come Back”–Ghosts and demons, a perfect horror mix with childhood trauma as the catalyst event for it.

“Strawberry Spring”–Interesting premise for this tale. Weather phenomenon causing one person to get…murderous? Ending leaves the story in ambiguity.

“The Ledge”–Well, what would you expect when you try to run away with the wife of a criminal syndicate boss that has known to be a little sadistic? With the crime boss’ penchant to lie, the ending is a little ambiguous.

“The Lawnmower Man”–This is what happens when you let a Greek god start a lawn service.

“Quitters Inc.”–Interesting short story. Unlikely to happen in today’s society, but still, interesting concept.

“I Know What You Need”–A little bit of black magic to gain love? Don’t you know that any sort of magic won’t get you love?

“Children of the Corn”–Religion and horror don’t mix very often, but it can certainly be scary.

“The Last Rung on the Ladder”–A story, which while the premise is more suspenseful than terrifying; it’s the underlying terror of drifting apart and the guilt of not contacting loved ones before they leave our plane of existence. A theme that hits to close to home this week.

“The Man Who Loved Flowers”–This story almost didn’t seem like it was going to have a tinge of darkness in it, until the very end.

“One for the Road”–So, we got a prequel for ‘Salem’s Lot, and now we get a sequel…of sorts. More like a small continuation of the story that falls a few years after the ending.

“The Woman in the Room”–Horror based in reality can always be the scariest, and watching a loved one wither away can be downright terrifying.

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.