Horror

Book Review: Sacrifice Box

Book Review: Sacrifice Box
Author: 
Stewart, Martin
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is about five friends who find a secret box. They put in objects of importance in this box and make three rules never return to the box at night, never visit it alone, and never take back your sacrifice. When someone breaks the rules how will these friends find their way back and what will they learn about each other? As the box tries to destroy them and the sacrifices come to life can Arkle, Lamb, Hadley, Sep, and Mack race against the clock to save the day? This is a book full of excitement and emotion. This thriller has hints of humor and lots of meaning. Many unexpected twists and nail-biting events will make this book impossible to put down. I sure
couldn't. This is by far my favorite book and I suggest it to every teen everywhere.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKenna B

Book Review: Alice in Zombieland

Book Review: Alice in Zombieland
Author: 
Showalter, Gena
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Alice Bell thought her father was crazy, at least until she saw the monsters herself. On her way home from her little sisters dance recital her life is turned upside down when she awakes on the side of the road barely conscious. They were in a car accident, and before she blacks out she vaguely sees a monster eating her father. "There is no way, zombies don’t exist" Alice thinks, but then she remembers the stories her dad used to tell her about them. She wakes up in the hospital with her grandparents standing next to her with sad looks on their face. She knew before they told her, her parents and sister were gone. She starts to see visions or images of zombies she can’t get them out of her head, so when she meets a bad boy named Cole at her new school she can’t help but think he knows more than he lets on about the monsters she sees. When it comes time to fight Alice and Cole must trust each other, but this fight is for Alice it's time to avenge her family. This was a book I couldn’t put down, I had to immediately pick up the next book in the series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S.

Book Review: Wizard and Glass

Wizard and Glass
Author: 
King, Stephen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

When I started reading Wizard and Glass, it became abundantly clear why The Waste Lands ended with a cliffhanger. While it would have been nice to have a short conclusion at the end of The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass needed a small amount of framing. That way, it didn’t become a book entirely devoted to a flashback. Granted, the large majority of this book is a flashback, even to the point that I’d consider it to be a prequel. Fortunately, Roland’s backstory was something that desperately needed to be expounded upon in this series.

I know most writers are discouraged from using flashbacks, but in the context of a more extensive series, Wizard and Glass is an integral part of understanding how the Dark Tower universe works. Plus, Stephen King can get away with a lot since he’s so well established. In the end, this book works well because it is relational. Understanding Roland’s past and how he had loved and lost helped to make him not only more relatable but more human as well. Up until now, he was this stark, emotionless gunslinger whose only drive in life was to get to the Dark Tower.

While Wizard and Glass is undoubtedly one of the stronger books in the series, I felt there were a few elements that I didn’t like as much when compared to say, The Drawing of the Three (my current favorite in the series). There was plenty of sex in this book that, while somewhat necessary to the plot, was a bit over the top at times. Additionally, for a book that was as long as it was, I would think that more would have happened in it. As it is, there was a lot of talk about stuff happening, but no real action about it until near the end of the book. Still, I look forward to what will happen next.

A much-needed flashback/prequel for the Dark Tower series, I give Wizard and Glass 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Monster of Elendhaven

Author: 
Giesbrecht, Jennifer
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Monster of Elendhaven follows two characters – Johann, the eponymous monster, and Florian, a mage that ultimately forces him to do his bidding. Mages are forbidden to exist in Elendhaven, and the locals in power kill Florian’s family, so Florian is out for revenge. And he’ll use Johann to ensure he gets it.

It’s rare that I wish a book was longer, but that’s definitely the case here. The worldbuilding was spectacular, as was the prose, but the plot was pretty basic, and the end jarring. I could have spent much longer in this dark, twisted world with our dark, twisted characters. I kept thinking of Patrick Suskind’s book, Perfume: A Story of a Murderer, as both of our characters were somewhat similar to the protagonist of that book. There’s a romance that I wouldn’t have minded so much, but again, it wasn’t given time to breathe in this short little novel.

TLDR: This book is nasty in that deliciously evil sort of way. If that’s your thing, you’ll love it. I wish it were a bit longer.

3.5 stars. Thanks to NetGalley and Tor for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review.

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: The Drawing of the Three

The Drawing of the Three
Author: 
King, Stephen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

While it took me a while to get used to The Gunslinger , I was able to dive right in with The Drawing of the Three as I continue reading this Dark Tower series. Personally, I think the simplicity of the story and the immediacy of the danger helped to hook me from the start. Unlike the first book in the series, The Drawing of the Three has a solid set of relatable characters that are introduced just fast enough to get used to their unique personal challenges. If anything, these individuals piqued my interest, and I’m curious to see where their story goes from here.

One aspect of this book I found to be extremely entertaining was the action sequences. When there were stakes on the line, and things had to happen, the resulting action in these plot-moving points was both intense and hilarious. Generally, I am not much of a fan of the “fish out of water” approach to characters, but King makes it work here with The Gunslinger traveling back and forth between the worlds to take advantage of our modern wonders that help him survive in the fantastical world of the Dark Tower.

I also have to give kudos to the narrator of this work, Frank Muller, as his voice acting brought every character to vibrant life via their accents and verbal tics. I had no doubt who was speaking as he wove the story through his reading. Although, the one qualm I had with this book was that one of the characters was a bit grating on the nerves. While this added some excellent conflict to the story, it was annoying having to hear their manic voice for as long as I had to. I’m just glad that they weren’t the first character pulled into the Gunslinger’s world. Otherwise, I don’t know how I could have kept listening.

A superior and straightforward story in the Dark Tower series, I give The Drawing of the Three 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Roadwork

Roadwork
Author: 
Bachman, Richard
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

I wasn’t aware of Stephen King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym until I picked up this book to read on a whim. While it’s clear all of King’s technical prowess is still present in Bachman’s work, the “king of horror” gained a chance to write outside his genre. Of course, King has done this before with a few different books (like Hearts in Atlantis , The Green Mile , and The Dark Tower series), but writing under a pseudonym seemed to unleash an amount of cynicism I’ve hardly seen in King’s writing before.

Written in the early 1980s, Roadwork exhibits all the identifying marks of a cynic who has been over-saturated with consumerism. The need to have a job to support a family by buying a house that needs to be filled with the accouterments of modern living is a bit too much for some people. This is especially true for those who don’t quite meet the standard of the "American dream” in their own mind and have no other course other than to wallow in self-pity. By now, it’s practically a tale as old as the industrial revolution. Unfortunately, this means Roadwork doesn’t stand out much in my mind as an original story.

Perhaps Roadwork was one-of-a-kind back when King wrote it, but I doubt that was the case. Heck, the beat poets of the ‘60s and ‘70s certainly wrote about separating themselves from the toxic consumerism shoved down their throats. Roadwork almost felt like a “paint by number” novel that covered all the basic items in a story of this kind, checking each box until it reaches its obvious and inevitable conclusion. While it was nice to read something by Stephen King that wasn’t necessarily beholden to the fame of his name, I’m not sure if I would have read it if he wasn’t attached to it at all.

A so-so cynical work that is hardly original enough to mention, I give Roadwork 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Author: 
Brooks, Max
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Max Brooks is an agent of the United Nations, tasked with collecting the stories of those who lived through the Zombie War. Having broken out when a young Chinese boy was bitten while swimming, it spread through illegal organ and human trafficking, hidden by governments, until a massive outbreak occurs in South Africa, shining a light in a plague that would bring humanity to the brink of extinction. Max Brooks’ World War Z chronicles the stories of people from all walks of life, from military scientists, to blind old Japanese men, to astronauts aboard the ISS, and their stories of how they survived the terrors of the assault of the living dead.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ryan P.

Book Review: Song for the Unraveling of the World

Song for the Unraveling of the World
Author: 
Evenson, Brian
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

At the beginning of this year, one of my reading goals was to try a new genre. The short story genre is the genre I never new I needed until I read this book. The strength of short stories, in my opinion is the ability of the author to do a lot within a small amount of space; creating strong character development, great world building and meaningful messages within each story.

Within a few pages Everson manages to create character driven stories that are terrifying, full of paranoia and delusion and at the same time haunting and beautiful. From a girl without a face, to a therapist who never leaves his patience alone, to a film director willing to do anything to get the perfect final scene, these stories evoke a sense of fear and explores exactly what we will do to fulfill our most inhuman impulses. These stories provide a great introduction to a genre I now love. I can’t wait to see what else Everson does, he is definitely one to watch. Thank you to Eidelweiss and Coffee House press for the Digital Review Copy for review!

Reviewer's Name: 
Tawnie

Book Review: Nightflyers

Nightflyers
Author: 
Martin, George R. R.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Those who are familiar with George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series may be lamenting the end of the semi-faithful Game of Thrones television show. In the time we’ll all have to wait until the next Song of Ice and Fire book comes out, there are other little stories from this author to satiate our appetite. Nightflyers is a short novella by Martin that also seems to be hinging itself on the success of Game of Thrones, albeit in the science fiction genre instead of high fantasy.

Considering how verbose Martin can get with his works, it was almost refreshing to read a story that was so focused and short. Granted, even though Nightflyers is science fiction, all of the notable George R.R. Martin elements were present: mainly, sex and violence. Depending on your tolerance of these elements, I can say that they’re at least naturally integrated with this novella. Martin certainly seemed to have an adequate grasp of sci-fi to give this story a satisfying twist that drove the plot into the denouement.

Without giving too much away, I did appreciate the science (and pseudo-science) that was used to create an interesting story. Or, at least, the story was written in such a way—with a dash of horror sprinkled in to engage the reader—that prevented me from being bored with it. If it had been expanded out into a full-size book, I’m sure I could see where plenty of fluff could have been added in to reach the required word count. In the end, I’m glad that Martin kept this short, which works primarily to the story’s benefit.

A quintessential George R.R. Martin sci-fi novella, I give Nightflyers 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: There's Someone Inside Your House

There's Someone Inside Your House
Author: 
Perkins, Stephanie
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

It's been almost a year since Makani Young came to live with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska, and she's still adjusting to her new life. And still haunted by her past in Hawaii. Then, one by one, the students of her small town high school begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer. Makani will be forced to confront her own dark secrets.

"There's Someone Inside Your House" is a compelling book that at times feels impossible to put down. Stephanie Perkins excels at writing fast reads and this book is no exception. Being my first time reading one of her books I have to say that I wasn't disappointed, but I also wasn't won over. If your looking for a complex horror novel, this is not the book for you. It's murder plot is very straightforward and its essentially about a serial killer terrorizing a town. The beginning of the book was my favorite part, the murders were slow and calculated, each one more interesting then the last and the characters were brand new so I was still suspicious about all of them. Not knowing who I could trust made the beginning my favorite part, but once the killer is revealed and the action starts to speed up my interest began to decrease. My main problems with the book was the serial killer's baffling motivation and lackluster reveal. I also thought Makani's mysterious past was brought up way too much to be believable. In almost every chapter she worries "do they know about my past?" "could he have found out what I've done?" and when it actually is revealed what she did, her constant worry seems all the more unrealistic. I wished her two friends would have been more developed, especially Darby. I felt like they were both pushed to the background to make way for Ollie's development. That being said I did enjoy Alex, Darby's, Makani's interaction/friendship. And I think Makani makes an interesting protagonist. Her mysterious past adds intrigue and any references to her childhood in Hawaii feel genuine and well-researched. Ollie is also unique and likeable. All in all it was different sort of book for me, I doubt hardcore mystery or horror fans would enjoy it, but if your looking for a simple YA slasher then I think you would enjoy this.

Reviewer's Name: 
Zion

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