Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: River of Teeth

River of Teeth River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a world where the US government DID import hippos into the Louisiana swamp to raise for meat in the 1800s, Winslow Houndstooth gets hired for a caper, no, an operation, to get the Hippos out of The Harriet, a vast marsh overrun with feral hippos. Only one member of his crew is a traitor...

When I read about this on the Facebook, I knew I had to read it. A western with people riding hippos? What's not to like? Anyway, Tor denied me on netgalley but an early birthday present from the esteemed Richard saved the day.

Where to start? The book kind of reminds me of the part in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly when Blondie and Tuco blow up the bridge. Only instead of the desert, it's in the Lousiana swamp. And they're riding hippos. And instead of Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach, the crew is a bisexual English former hippo rancher, a rotund con woman, a pregnant professional killer, a gambler, and a person of indeterminate gender. And instead of a bridge, they're using explosives to get the hippos out of the Harriet. Huh, I guess it's only superficially like the bridge scene...

The mistrust among the crew is one of the drivers of the story, along with Houndstooth's quest for vengeance. It would make a great movie. What would you call a western set in the Lousiana swamp? A gumbo western?

Anyway, it's a lot of fun. While it uses western conventions and a western plot structure, the setting and the characters make it something else entirely. Something I want to read much more of. Good thing the sequel comes out soon. Four out of five stars.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Two Lost Boys

Two Lost Boys Two Lost Boys by L.F. Robertson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Andy Hardy's appeal comes up, Janet Moodie catches the case. Andy is on death row for raping and murdering two women with his brother, Emory. Can Janet get Andy's sentence reduced to life? And what hold does the Hardy boys' mother have over them?

Recently, the people at Titan hit me up to read Forever and a Death. I said I would and added that I'd take anything else they wanted to send my way. This showed up not too long after and I'm glad I'm kind of a book mooch.

Two Lost Boys is a legal thriller but it's also an exploration into family secrets and how people become who they are. As Janet mines Andy's past, she unearths more and more dark secrets Ma Hardy would prefer to keep hidden. I saw some of the twists coming but I was still pleasantly surprised in places.

Janet Moodie is far from the usual thriller heroine. She's middle aged and a widow, living with her dog after her husband's suicide years before. She's not Wonder Woman but she gets things done. I liked her right away.

Since the case hinges on Andy being mentally disabled and not deserving of the death penalty, lots and lots of dirty laundry gets aired. Andy seems less like a criminal than an unwitting dupe and the worst person in the Hardy family sure isn't him. After the thirty percent mark, the book had its fangs buried in my brain stem and I couldn't get it out of my mind.

Even though legal thrillers are normally as welcome as a fart in an elevator on my bookshelf, I really enjoyed this one. Four out of five stars.



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Review: Black Site

Black Site Black Site by Michael Patrick Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a bunch of clones search for the origins of human life through genetic experiments, they uncover something far older and more sinister...

Black Site is a sf horror novella with Lovecraftian overtones and one hell of a read. Alpha and his fellow clones were innocently dabbling with genetic manipulation when they accidentally unleash a life form from the dawn of the universe. Awesomeness ensues.

As impressed as I was with Revolver, Black Site is even better. It has that claustrophobic feeling that the Alien movies share as well as an undercurrent of insanity. MPH has crafted a brutal horror tale here. Four out of five stars.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: Cold Cotton: A Hap and Leonard Novella

Cold Cotton: A Hap and Leonard Novella Cold Cotton: A Hap and Leonard Novella by Joe R. Lansdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who would have thought Hap not being able to get a boner would get everyone into so much trouble? When a potential therapist calls Brett Sawyer's detective agency, she hires the gang to figure out who is harassing her. Things quickly spin out of control and Hap and Leonard quickly find themselves balls deep in trouble.

Cold Cotton is a Hap and Leonard novella set some time after Honky Tonk Samurai. The boys wind up being caught up in a web of greed and murder. Oh, and Hap is as impotent as a eunuch. There's also a nymphomaniac, a Rottweiler, and wall to wall witty banter.

The story is hilarious, as most Joe Lansdale books are, and very entertaining. Since it's a novella, the laugh density is pretty high and it doesn't overstay its welcome. Hap and Leonard are in fine form, although Leonard doesn't get as much attention as I would have liked. Nice to see his relationship with Pookie still going strong, though.

That's about all I'm prepared to say. I'm beginning to like the Hap and Leonard novellas better than the novels. Four out of five stars.

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Review: Video Night

Video Night Video Night by Adam Cesare
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every Friday night, high school seniors Billy and Tom watch a horror movie in Billy's basement. As this Friday draws near, a secret alien invasion threatens to take over the town. Can Billy and Tom save the world in time to watch The Re-Animator and keep the Video Night tradition alive?

Back when I was a horny teenage boy in that hazy time before the internet, I'd stay up all hours of the night watching movies on Showtime, trying to catch a glimpse of boob. In the process, I watched a lot of b-movies, mostly horror. Video Night brings back fond memories of that time.

In the vein of the 'teenagers against an other worldly menace' movies of the 1980s/early 1990s, Video Night is a fun, nostalgia-laden gorefest. What else can you expect when alien organisms are infecting people?

I was reminded of a whole slew of movies while reading this: Night of the Creeps, Night of the Comet, Monster Squad, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Return of the Living Dead, and a whole slew of others. It seems like the whole damn down was crawling with monsters by the end.

The ending did not disappoint and was true to the books origins. My hunger for more of Adam Cesare's work has grown significantly since I first opened the book.

It might be a case of the perfect book for the time I was reading but I can't think of a single bad thing to say about this book. I think Adam Cesare and I would have been pals had we met as teenagers. Five out of five stars.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

The Sound of Broken Ribs

The Sound of Broken RibsThe Sound of Broken Ribs by Edward Lorn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Belinda Walsh's husband leaves her homeless and penniless, she goes out looking to ruin someone else and runs down writer Lei Duncan.  Only Lei Duncan lives and isn't in the mood to be ruined.

The Lorn hit me up to read an ARC of this and I was game.  After all, he's never let me down before.  This books kicks the Lornography up several notches.

The Sound of Broken Ribs is a horror novel about loss, revenge and pain.  If you had the chance to get revenge upon someone that wrecked you life, would you do it?  How would you go about it?

Edward Lorn's writing has always reminded me of a young Stephen King's: lean, evocative, and powerful.  Actually, this reminds me of Stephen King in another way.  Lei Walsh is run over while running along the road.

Anyway, the writing is lean and mean and the twists cut right to the bone.  Every time another twist hit me like a speeding car, I'd look at the number of pages left and wonder "What the hell else can happen to these characters?"  Sure enough, worse things were always lurking around the curve.

Lei's road to recovery and revenge was painful.  I even felt sorry for Belinda's hit and run ass.  This book is one calamity after another and almost impossible to put down.

I can't praise this book enough.  If I hadn't already anointed Edward Lorn the Future of Horror, I would with this book.  Five out of five stars.

* You can buy the Sound of Broken Ribs here.


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: All-Night Terror

All-Night Terror All-Night Terror by Adam Cesare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When a recently fired TV host takes the station hostage, Danny Chambers, along with the other viewers, is forced to watch the host's six favorite movies with the police waiting in the wings.

Using a hostage situation at a TV station as a framing device, All-Night Terror is a collection of six horror tales (and four bonus tales in the appendix.) It feels very much like Creepshow or one of any number of anthology horror films that came out in the 1980s.

As with any collection, some of the tales are better than others. Of the ten, Killing Time in the Off-Season, Appraisal, and Bringing Down The Giants were my favorites. Appraisal was genuinely scary. The others were just horror movie style fun.

It's not a game changer but it's a damn fun read. In the Afterword, Adam Cesare mentions that it was written to get people to try his and Matt Serafini's other works. In that, it has succeeded since I'm chomping at the bit to read Video Night. Three out of five stars.

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