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ChrisHayton

ChrisHayton

Are You Afraid of the Dark by Sidney Sheldon

Disclaimer: I purchased Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Sidney Sheldon, from my Book Club quite some time ago. I do not know the author, nor have I ever had any communication with him about this book or any other subject. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

This book, originally published and bought in 2004, surfaced while I was downsizing my library. I enjoyed many books by Mr. Sheldon’s, and decided to refresh my memory and re-read this one. This is the story of two very different women running from the antagonist who murdered their husbands (among others). The villain is determined to dispose of them as well. Extensive plot twists and high tension keeps you reading. I finished this book in one day.

 

The book is fast-paced, and along with an intriguing story, brings a high level of suspense and an unexpected finish. The writing shows a definite style that does not reflect many contemporary standards, but works. This is a story that piques the imagination. The author does the job of holding the reader extremely well.

 

I found the story dated, but fun.  The plot contrived, but still captivating. The writing, among the best I’ve ever read. I would suggest every writer read his work, if only to see how well he paints a scene with an economy of words. He builds relatable characters, and uses short flashbacks beautifully to bring the reader into the characters mind. His use of stereotypical descriptions, heroes and thugs alike, actually enhances the read. We can see the action happening and identify with all the players.

 

Mr. Sheldon is a master storyteller and well worth your time. Mr. Sheldon died in 2007. (Info about this great writer and his many books is on his website).

Finding Hope by Edmond Gagnon

Finding Hope, The Highway of Tears, is a fictional depiction of a true real-life horror story. Every year hundreds of young aboriginal girls go missing, never to be seen again. Highway #16 stretches through a remote area in northern BC, along the Alaska border. This isolated area swallows these young innocents. Their bodies turn up rarely, and the locals have given up hope of the police ever finding their children. This is a thought-provoking look at a major social crisis.

 

Ed Gagnon tells us the story of Hope, a young aboriginal mother, who fled an abusive husband, and landed in this remote country, hoping to protect herself and her daughter. On her way from her job in Jasper, to her home and daughter in Stewart BC, Hope goes missing. Her new friend, Norm, a retired detective, takes time from his planned motorcycle trip, to try to find her. Reaching out to the RCMP, he realizes for the first time, the enormous scope of the problem of missing women. Rather than becoming overwhelmed with the problem, he is determined to use his investigation experience to find his new friend.

 

Engrossing plot, engaging characters, and superb imagery make this a hard story to put down. This well-written and timely account of a truly heart-wrenching problem, is well worth the read.

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis is a Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and I was very interested in reading this book.

 

I had heard many good things about this author’s style and literary ability and I was not disappointed. I read the book in one day. It is a strong literary work with much introspection into the human condition through the eyes of fifteen dogs empowered with human intelligence. The addition of immortal gods and the Three Fates add a touch of humor and passion to the read.

 

I would highly recommend for anyone who enjoys great literary fiction.

 

11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King – this book chronicled Jake Epping’s travel through time to 1958 – his objective to change the course of history by preventing the assassination of John F Kennedy on November 22, 1963. It would be difficult to go into detail without giving away the story.

 

I enjoyed this book. It did not have the horror or fear factors normally associated with King’s books. His ability to write a thought provoking and interesting story came through loud and clear.  This was a large book (over 800 pages) and did tend to drag a little in a couple places, but overall I found it hard to put down and extremely well-written.

 

I would highly recommend this book to every reader.

 

No Light Tomorrow by Christian Laforet and Ben Van Dongen

Disclosure: I purchased the book “No Light Tomorrow” by Christian Laforet and Ben Van Dongen on January 9, 2016 at the official launch party. I do know the authors from professional encounters with them in various local writers’ group. I had no communication with the authors about the content of this review. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

This is an interesting collection of six short stories. Each story provides a hi-power mix of thriller, science fiction, and horror. All are unique, will leave you breathless, and make you wonder what just happened.

 

My only down side was the book was much smaller than I anticipated, and I would have appreciated more. I finished it in one sitting. I would have enjoyed spending another hour or two in these strange worlds.

 

To be clear, I am not a fan of science fiction. It surprised me that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It’s very entertaining, and left me wanting more.

The Damned by Andrew Pyper

Disclosure: I purchased The Damned by Andrew Pyper in the fall of 2015 at an Authors’ conference sponsored by the publisher, Simon & Schuster. I do not know this author personally, but I briefly communicated with him about this book or several other subjects while I purchased a signed copy. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

This book sat on my shelf for quite a while before I actually picked it up to read it. The Damned is a psychological thriller/horror novel. I enjoyed it very much and found I was unable to stop reading. I finished it in one day. The premise of the story is unique, and at no point was the conclusion obvious. Though probably not for every reader, this was an excellent story. I would definitely read his other books. Recommended to those who enjoy psychological horror.

 

Forbidden by Matthew Freake

Disclosure: I purchased “Forbidden” by Matthew Freake from the book’s publisher. I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with him about this book or any other subject. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review. I have no personal bias of any kind against any person based on their sexual orientation.

 

A homosexual affair, in a railway work camp, during the 1950s, sounded like an exciting and interesting read. Unfortunately, I felt terribly disappointed for a number of reasons.

 

I thought the story had great potential but it never reached the tension level or delivered the social backlash that would have permeated the 1950s. The hatred, violence, and general misunderstanding of homosexuals during that decade was buried between the lines, instead of being the theme that solidified the story.

 

Nathan being a victim of incest and abuse was predictable. The use of sex, as the vehicle to emotional love, portrayed Nathan and Alex as immature. I had a hard time feeling any kind of sympathy for their situation and didn’t get into this story at all. Sexual activity, described in explicit detail, made this read like erotica.

 

The use of 1st person to tell the story greatly restricted this book and was a poor choice where insight into internal attitudes and emotions were needed to bring the reader into the story. The reactions of the workers and society just weren’t there.

 

This book contained minor writing/editing errors including word/phrase repetition, use of passive voice, occasional tense errors, poor sentence structure, misuse of verbs, and grammatical errors.

 

Not recommended

 

Go Set a Watchman by Harper lee

— feeling what?!?

Disclosure: I purchased “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee from my local book store. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from anyone, to provide this review. I had no desire to continue reading this book and I did not finish it.

 

This book proved to be a total disappointment for this huge fan of “To Kill A Mockingbird”. I truly felt this was rushed to press and sent out to readers without benefit of ANY editing. It read like a bad first draft.

 

If you could sort out the read and get past the multiple editing errors, you still had a meandering story and stereotypical characters that seemed to be living in several different decades. I could not get into this book. I found myself re-reading sentences and paragraphs trying to understand the writing, and put this story into some kind of context. I’ve read more interesting and better-written work from novice authors.

 

This is the second book I’ve read this month by a noted author and published by a long-standing publishing house. Both have been super-hyped commercially and both turned out to be a waste of my time. I burned for $34.99 on this one. I understand there are some booksellers giving refunds on this book and I’m definitely going to check that out.

 

I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

A Casual Traveler by Edmond Gagnon

Disclosure: I purchased a signed copy of A Casual Traveler from the author. I do not know the author personally and have never had any communication with him about this book, except for a brief discussion when I purchased my signed copy. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

I approached this book expecting to read the usual travel log type of narrative, but was pleasantly surprised to find a very personal and in depth series of anecdotes. The extensive travels of the author provide a wonderful, although often brief look at various cultures. I did not read this book in the conventional way. I found myself looking up different areas that grabbed my interest and reading the stories in no particular order.

 

I enjoyed the read. It was very friendly and obviously inspired by the travels. The author shows good writing skills for his first book and gives the reader some wonderful stories. I highly recommend this book. It’s an easy read and very enjoyable.

 

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

This was an excellent book - definitely a Pulitzer Prize novel. I would recommend to anyone who enjoys literary prose.

What Waits in The Shadows

Disclosure: I purchased this book from Amazon. I do not know the authors nor have I ever had any communication with any of them about this book or any other subject. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

This book contains four separate horror novellas.

 

The first story “Blood Red Roses” by Russell James is set on a Mississippi plantation during the end of the Civil War. The story follows a fourteen year old boy sold to a cotton plantation after this father’s death. I found the characters and settings well described. The story was very interesting and moved along well. Commentary on the slaves and their treatment was well done. This was most enjoyable and I had difficulty putting it down.

 

The second story “Bootleg Cove” by Devin Govaere is set on the Chesapeake coast and involves a widowed mother trying to start her life over. This is a ghost story and the characters, human and ghost, are beautifully developed and the plot is unique. I enjoyed this novella and again had a hard time putting it down.

 

The third story “Linden Manor” by Catherine Cavendish is a gothic tale of ghosts and possession. The story evolves nicely and the characters are well developed. The story twists and turns into a tale far more intricate than you expect. This was a very well written and comfortable read. I enjoyed this story very much.

 

The fourth story “Castle by The Sea” by JG Faherty puts the reader in a carnival/castle setting. The story covers everything from dreams to time travel and has monsters, ghosts, and zombies. This was the only story I did not enjoy. The story was very scattered, and the twists and turns seemed forced. It did not flow smoothly and the attempt to create fear fell quite flat for me. It is not my preferred style of horror.

 

Bad Apples - Five Slices of Halloween Horror

This was a terrific mix of fun Halloween misadventures. I enjoyed it tremendously and recommend to anyone who enjoys horror in short blasts. Definitely memorable. Excellent writing that's hard to put down.

Levels by Jim Vuksic

Disclosure: I purchased the book “Levels” by Jim Vuksic. I do not know the author personally and have had only encounters with him as a friend on the Goodreads site. I had no communication with him at any time about this book. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

I gave this book 5 stars and it deserves every one of them. It is an amazing read. I read it twice and I’m quite sure I will read it again from time to time. It had a remarkable impact on me and provided a very clear and concise explanation of the philosophy that could make our society a very peaceful and intelligent one.

 

From the first chapter I found this book unique. The pace was smooth and continued that way throughout the book. It was never boring or exciting, but held my interest complete and I often had trouble putting it down.

Unlike many futuristic stories, this book goes to the next step. It tells the story of an advanced society successful in its goals; one that has no need to engage in major battles. That success makes this book unique, fascinating, and disturbing all at the same time. There are no wars, battles, blood, suspense, or tension only experience and enlightenment. The conclusion is unexpected.

 

As I followed Jonathan and his various friends through their education and experiences, you get the feeling you are there with them. This book creates unusual emotional and personal connections laced with a truly deep sense of logic. It is an excellent read, and I highly recommend this book. I wish everyone would read it at least once.

KSHM Project - The Stocking Stuffer - by Karl Strand and Henry Martin

Disclosure: I received an advance copy of “KSHM Project - The Stocking Stuffer” by Karl Strand and Henry Martin. I do not know the authors personally and have had only encounters with Henry Martin on the Goodreads site. Since I had read and reviewed the other installments of this project, I was included in a group mailing of this advance copy. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

This is more extensive than previous project submissions and included five short stories with accompanying photos. The photos didn’t have the high impact in this submission as in previous ones and the stories seemed to take center stage. I rated each story individually.

 

The first story “The Stocking Stuffer” proved to be a terrific horror piece. The photos were very well done. Although the story lacked originality, the writing gave it a truly creepy feel. Well written and deserving of 5 stars.

 

“Salesman’s Dilemma” was original and well written. I found it hard to believe the story line and the coincidences. It had a comic book quality to it and unnecessary nudity. I only gave it 2.5 stars. Although unique in style, It didn’t seem to have the quality of other pieces in the group.

 

“Man Has To Eat” was an interesting tale, showcasing an extreme case of PTSD. I’m not a reader who enjoys blood and gore so this story would never rank as a favorite of mine, but I’m sure many horror readers would love it. Good job on the writing and the descriptions were excellent, really painting the picture. Photo on this one was good, but didn’t seem to relate to the story. Putting aside my personal preferences in horror reads, I gave it 4.5 stars.

 

“Leila” gave us an examination of insanity. The writer took us into the workings of the insane mind and provided insights into the motivation and progress of obsession. I loved the photo of the tramcar. Literary in nature, this writing was a deep character study I enjoyed very much. It got all 5 stars.

 

“Morphosis” was another tale of a mind off course. I found the story fast paced and brutal. The story does carry the reader, but I found the writing seemed almost rushed and the motivations were missing for many actions. I loved the photos with this story, but found the writing not nearly as good as earlier projects. It get 3.5 stars.

 

NOTE: This contains nudity, adult content, and course language. (Probably not a big deal, given the general horror theme). Two very talented professionals have combined to give us a truly unique and enjoyable piece of entertainment. I strongly suggest the entire project to everyone. It’s unique and fun.

The Watcher by Joshua Pantalleresco

Disclosure: I purchased “The Watcher” by Joshua Pantalleresco from a local bookstore. I do not know the author and have never had any communication with him about this book or any other subject. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

This is an epic poetry book about a futuristic world and a boy’s challenge to free himself from servitude. The poetry is beautifully written and the book contains some wonderful original art by Florence Chan. I read the entire book in under two hours and enjoyed it very much.

 

This was a delightful read. The descriptions and emotions were very nicely described. Although I rarely read children’s stories, the book was well done, and surprised me with a very interesting and tightly written storyline. The poetry was excellent.

Impressive Poetry

The Silence Before Dawn - Henry Martin

Disclosure: I purchased the poetry book “the Silence Before Dawn” by Henry Martin. I do not know the author personally and have had only encounters with him on the Goodreads site. I had no communication with him at any time about this book. The comments that follow are my own personal opinion. I received NO compensation of any kind, or from any one, to provide this review.

 

I enjoy contemporary poetry. I have developed a taste for the art form over the past few years. This book was very different from the poetry I normally read.

I felt I was reading a depressed youth in some poems, a cynical realist in others, the emotional joy in a select few, and the curious inquisition in many. I read the book three times and found tremendous diversity among the works.

 

This book showcased a thoughtful and masterful poet. Among my favorite poems were “A Day in The Park” “Without a Chance” “Roro” “The Mother of My Child” – I found they resonated with me. There were some I did not care for and found very disturbing and dark.

 

I have given this book 4 stars overall. I found the constant reference to mirrors a bit redundant and there were lines that echoed in several of the poems. Other than these trivial issues, the book was excellent.

I would strongly suggest every one read this book. I’m sure every reader will take different emotions away from this very impressive and diverse poetry.