The Bone Farm (and some series spotlights)

⇒This week I review Dean Koontz’s The Bone Farm and shine a spotlight on some of the other book series I’m addicted to.⇐


Author: Dean Koontz

(3.76 stars – Goodreads rating)

Genre: Crime Fiction / Mystery / Thriller

Published April 25, 2018by Brilliance Audio

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Elisabeth Rodgers

Pages: 100

#TheBoneFarm #JaneHawk


Let me say first that if you are looking for a series to get invested in, Dean Koontz has some wonderful, easy reads that will keep you on a series train for a nice, pleasant (tense, suspenseful, thrilling, sometimes scary) ride. The Bone Farm is book #0.5 (a case file that precedes the events of the Jane Hawk series), and is every bit as engaging as its older, bigger siblings. But if death-defying females aren’t your thing (hmm, who are you?), then you could try any of Koontz’s other appealing series: Odd Thomas, 9 books that will have you seeing death in a whole new light; Frankenstein, a new look at an old monster in 6 books; or Moonlight Bay, 3 books (2 pub & 1 on the way) that will test if you can survive the darkness of night. I’ve read all of Odd Thomas (love, love, love) and Moonlight Bay (well, not book 3 because it isn’t out yet (and may actually never happen). And I read Prodigal Son of his Frankenstein series last year (sooooo good). Dean Koontz has yet to disappoint me.

But let me back up a little and give you the Goodreads blurb on The Bone Farm:

Katherine Haskell, a young college co-ed is on her way back to school, but she never makes it there. Instead, she becomes the latest prey of the rapist and murderer dubbed by the tabloids the “Mother Hater.” He is a twisted soul who kidnaps young girls for pleasure then discards them. Katherine is missing, but she’s not yet dead. FBI agents Jane Hawk and her partner Gary Burkett must descend into the hell of this killer’s mind to solve the case before it is too late. The question is – will they both get out alive?

This novella is presented as a case file which only hypes me up that there will be more of these – oh book gods, please don’t fail us on this one. The bad guy is bat$&!# cuckoo, Jane is smart and ruthless, there’s a controlling mother, and an old creepy farm house – I’m here for ALL of it!!!! I almost wrote a spoiler right there because I got excited, but stopped myself right in time. Y’all lucked out. But just know, it gets twisty and good!

The Bone Farm is part of the Jane Hawk series, which includes 6 other books to date. The series features a strong heroine in an all-out battle against a new world order. The books are suspenseful, thrilling, and addictive. In a word, readthem. (I know, I know. Just do it.)


So since we’re talking about series, I thought I’d spotlight just a few of the other series that I have followed unfailingly over the years. Most of them are in my preferred genre of mystery/thrillers, but there are a few deviants in the bunch. And you might be surprised by what you won’t find on my list: namely, Harry Potter. (No shade! I just haven’t read them!)

Pendergast Series

One of my longest-standing series, I got hooked on Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child’s series featuring the enigmatic Aloysius X.L. Pendergast from the very first book, Relic (read the book, skip the movie) – even though he was only a supporting character way back then. The authors obviously saw something in him and took off running with his story, and it has been a favorite ever since.


Stephanie Plum Series

Many readers will own up to the fact that they have at least one numbered (or alphabetical) series on their reading list. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is mine. She just released book #25 last year and Twisted Twenty-Six is expected in November 2019. These books are cozy crime fiction with hilarious characters that become as familiar as your own family members. I don’t care if this series goes to 200, I am never not going to read a Stephanie Plum book. And oh, by the way, #teamRanger.


Jack Reacher Series

Please, please, please do me a favor and tell me that you did not watch the movies that were supposed to depict this character. And if you did, just forget all that you saw. This Jack Reacher – The REAL Jack Reacher (yes, he’s real to me) – is bigger than life and yet can disappear at a moment’s notice (just thought about that – Sasquatch tendencies? Hmmm…). He is such a fascinating personality with such an amazing skill set (think Taken, but with a brilliant, powerful, Matrix-like Army drifter). Reacher is BIG and BRAWNY, but he is not beautiful. He’s a brawler that doesn’t want to fight unless he has to. And then he’s deadly.


Crazy Rich Asians is a new series for me. I only started reading it because I saw that the movie was releasing soon and I happened to find the first book on the shelf at my neighborhood Goodwill store (where I buy most of my books). After I read it, I went back and found the other two there as well (I have some very generous, good-taste readers in my area, apparently)! I love the humor of this series, as well as the way they sneak social commentary into the text without being preachy or judgy. (It’s a word!)


OTHER SERIES I LOVE:

4MK Thriller series by J.D. Barker

(The 3rd book may release in 2019 – fingers crossed)

Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

(I’ve reviewed all of these and I wish it wasn’t over!)

Archie Seridan & Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain

(A sadistic female serial killer. Nuff said.)

Court series by Sarah J. Maas

(YA romance with faeries. Yep.)

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

(Seriously, these are as good as – or even better than – the HBO show)

So if you’re a dedicated series reader, stick with it because series = goals! And if you haven’t found a series you love yet, keep looking – there’s a perfect succession of books out there just waiting to be discovered. Happy Reading!


October Spooky Reads Wrap-Up

⇒October had to be the fastest month of the year; I’m convinced. I got very few of my Spooky Reads read this month – I need 15 more October days! ⇐

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I had such high hopes. If you look back at my October TBR post, I was giddily excited about all the creepy reading I planned at the beginning of last month. Seriously, I had been planning my October reading since early September. So even with all that planning ultimately I only ended up reading 5 books (two of them weren’t even on my TBR list) and 1 additional ARC that doesn’t even qualify for Spooky Reads. Oh well, at least I’m reading. Let’s look at what I managed to get accomplished in the lightning fast month of October:

city-of-ghostsCITY OF GHOSTS by Victoria Schwab

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City of Ghosts was written for middle-grade readers, but it was so engaging and creepy that older readers will enjoy it too. It is the first in a series so anyone can follow Cassidy Blake’s adventures beyond the veil that separates life and death. Click for my review post.

frankensteinPRODIGAL SON: FRANKENSTEIN, #1 by Dean Koontz

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Another Book 1 in a scary series, Prodigal Son tells the story of Frankenstein’s monster centuries after being created and then drummed out of town. He’s been living in Tibet as a monk in the mountains, getting zen and smart. He travels to America, New Orleans to be exact, when he learns about the death of a friend and stays to help detectives solve a murder. I know the premise sounds a little convoluted, but it really works and makes the series one to follow. Click for my review post.

Eliz FrankensteinTHE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN by Kiersten White

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My local library must have known that I was previously reading about Frankenstein and his monster because, conveniently, my request for this book came through. Elizabeth’s story of meeting Victor Frankenstein and becoming his playmate (and conscience) eventually became something more… sinister. A very good read in which Kiersten White does a masterful job by exposing monsters in all shapes and forms and giving us a heroine who chooses to defend the world from them. Click for my review post.

Screenshot_20181026-074829_GoogleA HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay

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I felt meh after reading this book. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I picked the book up for either. I wanted a truly scary story of possession or ghosts or something, but it was more of a psychological study of a very disturbed little girl. Mental health disorders can be very scary, and I think this book drives home that point more than anything else. Click for my review post.

 

The Strange Casebook by Syd MooreTHE STRANGE CASEBOOK by Syd Moore

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These short stories are absolutely perfect reading for the Halloween season! I enjoyed “Snowy” and “She Saw Three Ships” the best, but each of them has eerily creepy aspects that fit right into dark rooms with low fires, hot cocoa, and creaky doors. Click for my review post.

So that was it for me as far as Spooky Reads go for October. But I did manage to read an ARC for NetGalley that released on October 16:

alva vanderbiltA WELL BEHAVED WOMAN: A NOVEL OF THE VANDERBILTS by Therese Anne Fowler

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Fowler expertly displays Alva Vanderbilt’s fortitude and resourcefulness when it comes to self-preservation and championing the causes of those who needed bolstering. I enjoyed A Well-Behaved Woman for showing that a woman – even in the 19th century – didn’t have to conform in order to be successful and powerful. Click for my review post.

Six books completed for the month and two more in the hopper that I didn’t finish before Oct 31st ended – hey, I spent time actually celebrating Halloween! I’m still working on Haunt Me Still by Jennifer Lee Carroll and I’m listening to (the seemingly never-ending) IT by Stephen King on audiobook. So, it looks like I found a way to extend my October a little more – at least until the end of the week!

I don’t have a challenge planned for November, so maybe I’ll just use the month to read my Owlcrate books and more from my shelves to clear some space in time for a new year of new releases. Happy reading!


 

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The Strange Casebook (Essex Witch Museum Mystery)

⇒RELEASE DAY REVIEW: Grab some cocoa (and maybe a friend!) and dig into these six spooky stories before the next full moon! ⇐

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Oneworld Publications, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

by Syd Moore

SmellRating4

(3.65 stars – Goodreads rating)

Publish Date: October 31, 2018, by Point Blank / Oneworld Publications

Genre: Horror / Short Stories

Format: Kindle Edition

Pages: 106 pages

#TheStrangeCasebook  #NetGalley

The Strange CasebookI can tell you most sincerely sir, I’ve had enough of Death today.

Yes! I finally found a book that is perfect for the Halloween season! It also fits into my October Spooky Reads challenge!

The Strange Casebook is a collection of six short stories – each of them with eerily creepy aspects that fit right into dark rooms with low fires and creaky doors.

Remember those camping trips you took when you sat around the fire and tried to out-scare each other with the most gruesome or most bizarre tales of specters and ghouls? Any one of these stories would win hands down.

Yes, the screaming. I do apologise. The medication has calmed her now. She’ll not disturb us again.

From Goodreads:

Enjoy these six short spooktacular stories, inspired by Rosie Strange and Sam Stone’s work at the museum…if you dare! These stories focus on characters that interact with Rosie and Sam in the Essex Witch Museum series and take place across a number of different time frames. Whether it be Rosie’s old relatives, academic George Chin or the residents of Adders Fork – spooky incidents abound at every turn.

And the six stories:

  • Death Becomes Her: A woman joins the police force to defeat Death
  • Snowy: The widow Norah lives with a lot of discerning cats
  • Madness in A Coruña: A man visits friends in A Coruña for holiday and returns with more than just a t-shirt
  • She Saw Three Ships: What Ethel-Rose witnesses at Lillia Lodge will have her thinking twice about arriving early for holiday ever again
  • Jocelyn’s Story: Jocelyn seeks personal perfection at the risk of all else
  • The House on Savage Lane: Twins are always part of the creepiest stories!

I find myself alert to slipping ghouls, dark-backed creatures, shadows unpeeling from crevices and walls.

I enjoyed “Snowy” and “She Saw Three Ships” the best, but each of them has its own brand of oddity that makes for freakily atmospheric reading. 

Not a fast reader? No prob there either – these are short stories, remember? and you can stretch them out too; read one each night and you’re still done in less than a week.

Once we’d had her cleaned up she looked almost human.

These short stories exist as part of the Essex Witch Museum series which also includes Strange Magic, Strange Sight, and Strange Fascination. Strange Tombs will release in 2019.

But before Strange Tombs, get your hands on The Strange Casebook which releases on October 31st. Yes, Halloween! Told ya, perfect!


About the Author

Image result for author syd moore 2018SYD MOORE

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Syd Moore was a lecturer and a presenter on Pulp, the Channel 4 books program before becoming a writer. She is the author of the mystery novels The Drowning Pool and Witch Hunt.

(Bio adapted from ARC)


 

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A Head Full of Ghosts

⇒My October Spooky Reads book #4 is A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. What do you do when you’re literally living with your deepest fear?⇐

by Paul Tremblay
SmellRating3.5
(3.81 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published June 2, 2015, by William Morrow

Genre: Fiction / Horror / Thriller

Format: Paperback

Pages: 284

#AHeadFullofGhosts

A Head Full of Ghosts…being literally and figuratively haunted by outside forces, is almost as horrible as what actually happened. Almost.

October Spooky Reads month continues, and I’m getting exasperated! I AM NOT BEING SCARED! Ok, ok, so maybe my book picks are at fault because I chose to read primarily from physical books that were already on my shelves instead of lining up some truly, awesomely frightening books from the library. BUT!…. some of these have held the promise of “scary” without quite delivering.

A Head Full of Ghosts for example. I mean, come on! It’s right there in the title! Ghosts. In a Head. Gotta be horrifying, right? Meh, only marginally so.

…there are all these ghosts filling my head and I’m just trying to get them out…

Here is Goodreads’ synopsis:

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show, and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Are you good at keeping secrets, Merry?

The story is told from 8-year-old Merry’s perspective, so we get the innocence and gullibility of youth combined with her faith that her big sister and best friend would only always protect her. With a sister like Marjorie though, that’s blind faith indeed.

Marjorie is fourteen. And we all know how heinous some teenagers can be. Sure, blame it on imbalanced hormones and the awkward state of trying to “find oneself”, but Marjorie had some help with her misplaced aggression and angst: a psychotic break.

Here we tread on thin ice – do we pity her because mental health issues are gravely serious and people suffering from them should be treated not only with medicine but with respect and dignity? Or do we make Marjorie the monster because, hey, she’s “crazy” and this is a fictional book? You decide because I couldn’t.

I mean, this chick was definitely certifiable, but it seemed that her family was too in many ways. They definitely didn’t help her situation. So many different turns could have been taken that weren’t. It feels more like they were all in on it together, so their story really ended in the only way it could have.

What if you expelled the person’s real spirit and only the demon’s spirit was there to take its place?

Gripes: (in my whiny voice) I wanted it to be scarier! I wanted a real horror book. I read psych thrillers a lot, and that is what this book felt like to me. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad book – and there are some genuinely creepy moments. However, I found myself looking for more of those moments instead of being interested in the rest of the story.

Were these the most irresponsible parents on the planet? I’m thinking yes. Right now, I’m sitting here trying to dredge up one redeeming value about either of them… I got nothing.

And was that supposed to be a twist at the end? Hmmm… no spoilers, but I think what was supposed to pass as astounding information in the final two chapters just felt like a given. Still interesting, but predictable.

… I’m wicked smart, because I have to fill my head with something other than the ghosts.

A Head Full of Ghosts left me wanting more horror, but it was still a creepy book that had me questioning on several occasions whether or not there was really more to Marjorie’s mental health issues than what we’d rationally surmise. Could there have possibly been ghosts? In her head? Extremely willful and manipulative ghosts?  And how does that line up with the scientific definition of what psychosis is understood to be?

In the 1800s, Marjorie would have probably been burned at the stake instead of given her own reality show (19th-century folk didn’t play around with demons or witches), but that age is long gone; the spectacle is now more important than the cure. It’s sad. And that’s how this book makes me feel. Sad, instead of pleasantly scared and jittery like I wanted to be.

But that’s not quite right either. Maybe I really feel horrified, but in a completely different way than I intended.


About the Author

Image result for paul tremblayPAUL TREMBLAY

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Paul G. Tremblay is an American author and editor of contemporary horror, dark fantasy, and science fiction. He is also a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

(Bio from Google)


 

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

⇒My October Spooky Reads book #3 is The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. An unexpectedly compelling and clever retelling of a classic monster story.⇐

by Kiersten White
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(4.02 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published September 24, 2018, by Delacorte Press

Genre: Horror / Historical Fiction / Young Adult

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 304

#TheDarkDescentofElizabethFrankenstein   #Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth FrankensteinVictor was the only person left whom I loved. I would not let the monster take him.

Do you ever read the author’s notes at the end of the book? I have to admit that often I don’t (especially if I’m reading down to the wire and I have to write my review or my blog by a specific deadline). But I am SO glad that I stopped and read this author’s note before closing the cover on this fascinating retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

So over 200 years ago, on a dare, Mary Shelley wrote a book that is referred to now as a classic gothic science fiction novel. In White’s book, she felt it was important to highlight Mary Shelley’s genius in writing that classic through presenting her story through the eyes of a female protagonist. White writes in her notes:

… at publication, for decades after, even today, people gave all credit to the men around her. After all, how could a girl — a teenage girl — accomplish something so great? …

How much of who we are is shaped by those around us? What happens when everything we are depends on someone else? And, as always: Where are the girls? Even Mary’s wild and expansive imagination could not put a girl at the forefront of this story. They’re relegated to the background, mere caricatures. And that was where I found my story. With a girl given to a boy as a gift. With a girl whose whole life revolves around the brilliant boy she loves. With a girl who inadvertently helps create a monster. With a teenage girl, because, as Mary Shelley proved, nothing is more brilliant or terrifying than that.

I had accused Victor of creating a monster, but I had done the same.

Goodreads summarizes the book this way:

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

You are mine, Elizabeth Lavenza, and nothing will take you from me. Not even death.

The Dark Descent… is a very good book but it was not the book I thought I was going to read. I wanted a spooky story for the season to flesh out my October TBR that featured a classic monster and a creative retelling to give the familiar story a fresh feel.

I got all of that in addition to an exciting and challenging story about one young woman’s determined struggle to find security and truth in a world that constantly tries to rip both away from her. And yes, it was about Frankenstein too.

Kiersten White has done a masterful job with this book by exposing monsters in all shapes and forms and giving us a heroine who chooses to defend the world from them.

The book is moody and atmospheric and is perfect for fall reading. It’s very well written with characters that grow and become richer with each chapter. And I love, love, love how White inserts Frankenstein’s monster is inserted in fits and spurts throughout the story. We get small doses of him while being overtly exposed to the true monster in Victor Frankenstein himself.

This was a truly enjoyable book that fast readers could definitely finish in one or two sittings as long as they took the time to really let the meaning of the novel sink in as the chapters fly by. I am not a fast reader, but I think that was a benefit when it comes to this book – it left more time for Elizabeth’s personality to grow on me and for Victor’s duplicitous nature to become a heartwrenching tragedy.

Four stars for this female-led novel that is absolutely perfect for fireside reading underneath big blankets with steaming hot chocolate and a dozen fresh-from-the-oven cookies! Go for it!


About the Author

Kiersten WhiteKIERSTEN WHITE

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of many books for teens and young readers, including And I Darken, Now I Rise, Bright We Burn, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, and Slayer. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, where she perpetually lurks in the shadows.


 

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Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein #1)

⇒My October Spooky Reads book #2 is Prodigal Son, Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein #1. The monster has become a face-tattooed monk and his creator is plotting a global takeover with a pack of perfectly placed zombies!⇐

by Dean Koontz and Kevin J. Anderson
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(4.02 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published January 25, 2005, by Bantam

Genre: Fiction / Horror / Thriller

Format: Paperback

Pages: 469

#Prodigal Son   #Frankenstein

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #1)He cannot understand why Father would create him to be… dysfunctional. Father seeks perfection in all things.

Say “Frankenstein” to almost anyone and you can just about guess what image pops into their brain: a big, green, rectangle-headed monster with crazy stitches marking where his body parts have been sloppily meshed together.

Whether you’ve read the classic novel by Mary Shelley or seen any of the many movies about this well-known scary guy, you come to realize that the monster isn’t, in fact, the raging creature that terrorizes a town. The monster turns out to be that creature’s creator, Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

It’s still hard to separate the name from the creature,  but leave it to Dean Koontz to figure out a way to do just that. Not only do we see the “monster” as a man, but we also see the hero in him as well.

Every city has secrets – but none as terrible as this.

Here’s the book summary:

Every city has secrets. But none as terrible as this. His name is Deucalion, a tattooed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who’s traveled the centuries with a secret worse than death. He arrives as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that is missing himself. Detective Carson O’Connor is cool, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks. Her partner Michael Maddison would back her up all the way to Hell itself – and that just may be where this case ends up. For the no-nonsense O’Connor is suddenly talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more – and less – than human. Soon it will be clear that as crazy as she sounds, the truth is even more ominous. For their quarry isn’t merely a homicidal maniac – but his deranged maker.

My origins are a prison graveyard, the cadavers of criminals – combined, revitalized, reborn.

As the book opens, we see that both Dr. Frankenstein and his monster have achieved a level of immortality (200+ years of it) and find themselves living in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Nope, not joking.

Dr. Frank – now going by the name Victor Helios – has become a local entrepreneur. In public, he is a do-gooder and a powerful, influential man. But behind the scenes, he is creating a New Race of people – having perfected the method he used to create his first “person” so many years ago. As he strategically places his minions in key positions within the police force, religious institutions, healthcare, and government, his plans to achieve a future global takeover are coming together.

Frankenstein’s original monster – who has given himself the name Deucalion – spent time in the mountains of Tibet becoming a monk and getting all zen and stuff. Not kidding. He had to find a way to suppress his rage, the monks accepted him (warts and all), so he stayed. That is, until, he receives a letter from a trusted friend telling him that Dr. Frank is still alive and the S*^# is very close to hitting the fan! Deuc high-tails it to NOLA to finally confront his creator and try stop him from destroying everyone on the planet.

One man’s resistance, while admirable, cannot turn back the most titanic forces of nature.

As powerful as Deucalion is, he isn’t battling old Frank alone. He’s hitched his horse to two homicide detectives, Carson O’Connor and her partner (maybe eventually boo-thang) Michael Maddison – who weren’t exactly expecting their homicide case to turn into a supernatural saga.

Koontz’s writing is as interesting as ever – drawing you into a web of complex characters and laying the foundation for a thrillingly monstrous series. I never would have thought of the story of Frankenstein and his monster this way, but now I can’t wait to see how Deucalion, Carson, and Michael manage to save the world!

There are a whole lot of characters, but you quickly get used to the multiple POVs and all the different “voices”. By the middle of the book, I even began to anticipate which character’s story was coming up next. Don’t take that to mean that I’m calling the story “predictable”, it was… sensible.

If you’re picking this up expecting a bit of a fright for your October TBR, you may be disappointed. There are some gruesome moments, some mystery, and some definitely off-kilter characters, but all-in-all it’s basically more of a thriller than a horror novel.

That does not, however, make it any less enjoyable a read!

Koontz’s Frankenstein series continues:

Book 2: City of Night (2005)
Book 3: Dead and Alive (2009)
Book 4: Lost Souls (2009)
Book 5: The Dead Town (2011)


About the Authors

Credit EngstromKevin J. AndersonDEAN KOONTZ and KEVIN J. ANDERSON

Acknowledged as “America’s most popular suspense novelist” (Rolling Stone) and as one of today’s most celebrated and successful writers, Dean Ray Koontz has earned the devotion of millions of readers around the world and the praise of critics everywhere for tales of character, mystery, and adventure that strike to the core of what it means to be human.

Kevin J. Anderson has written spin-off novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files, and is the co-author of the Dune prequels. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series and the Nebula Award-nominated Assemblers of Infinity. He has also written several comic books including the Dark Horse Star Wars collection Tales of the Jedi written in collaboration with Tom Veitch, Predator titles (also for Dark Horse), and X-Files titles for Topps.

(Bios from Goodreads)


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October Spooky TBR

⇒No offense to all the other months, but October is my favorite! So I decided to celebrate my favorite month and the Halloween season with some spooky reads – muhahahaha! ⇐

Image result for spooky october

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Yes, over Christmas, over Independence Day, and even over Thanksgiving. There’s so much I love about Halloween but one of the main things is that it gives me an excuse to wear costumes in public! Plus, it’s a great season to find all those horror/thriller books on your shelves and settle in for some spooky reading.

I’m doing double duty this month by cracking open some truly creepy books AND continuing my shelf-discipline challenge by choosing books from my personal shelves that fall into horror/thriller/mystery categories. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll be thoroughly freaked out BUT my shelves will be a little bit lighter!

Here’s a look at the October TBR that I started building in September:

NOS4A2NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2 (pronounced “Nosferatu”) is the third novel by American author Joe Hill. The book focuses on a woman trying to save her son from a vicious, supernatural killer who has set his sights on him. The novel is called NOS4R2 in the United Kingdom.  (Wikipedia)

I have wanted to read this book for so long! When I finally found it on sale at Half-Price Books I snapped it up and immediately knew that I would add it to my October TBR. 

Apparently, NOS4A2 is currently in development to become a 10-episode TV miniseries in 2019 on AMC, so I’m glad to go ahead and read this before it hits the little screen.

Broken MonstersBROKEN MONSTERS by Lauren Beukes

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you’re Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you’ll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe–and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world. (Goodreads)

I remember picking this book up randomly somewhere and it has been on my shelf for a while now, but it originally caught my interest because it seems to mix horror with fantasy. I love it when genres merge and create something more fantastic and freaky!

A Head Full of GhostsA HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia. To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession.  (Goodreads)

I will admit to having read a few reviews by Goodreads friends about this book, so I feel kind of prepared to be scared. I’m not expecting the next Great American Novel here, but I am looking forward to some genuine scares.

PhantomsPHANTOMS by Dean Koontz

CLOSER… They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California. AND CLOSER… At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease. AND CLOSER… But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined… (Goodreads)

One of the scariest images is an abandoned town existing where there should be the hustle and bustle of people, activity and… life. Dean Koontz is a masterful storyteller and I used to read his books much more often than I do now. Here is my chance for redemption since two Dean Koontz books show up on my October TBR…

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #1)PRODIGAL SON (FRANKENSTEIN, BOOK #1) by Dean Koontz & Kevin J. Anderson

Every city has secrets. But none as terrible as this. His name is Deucalion, a tattooed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who’s traveled the centuries with a secret worse than death. He arrives as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that is missing in himself. Detective Carson O’Connor is cool, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks. Her partner Michael Maddison would back her up all the way to Hell itself–and that just may be where this case ends up. For the no-nonsense O’Connor is suddenly talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more—and less—than human. Soon it will be clear that as crazy as she sounds, the truth is even more ominous. For their quarry isn’t merely a homicidal maniac—but his deranged maker. (Goodreads)

I’ve read some pretty amazing new interpretations of classic literary treasures this year. Why not in the horror genre too? Dean Koontz works with Kevin J. Anderson to deliver the first in a series of thrilling Frankenstein-ian stories that may have me looking over my shoulder before I finish reading.

Haunt Me Still (Kate Stanley, #2)HAUNT ME STILL by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Caught in a web of evil, Kate Stanley tangles with a legendary curse, a witch-haunted blade, and all-too-modern murder. What price genius? Macbeth is so famously cursed that many actors refuse to name the play aloud. Kate Stanley, Shakespearean scholar and theater director, dismisses the curse as superstition, but–as the cast begins rehearsals at the foot of Scotland’s Dunsinnan Hill–evil begins to stir. Actors go missing, and a trench is found filled with blood. Then Kate discovers a local woman dead in circumstances that suggest ancient pagan sacrifice. Marked as either suspect or future victim, Kate races to find a dangerous, alternate version of Macbeth said to contain actual rituals of witchcraft–and Shakespeare’s darkest secret. (Goodreads)

A haunted play and a legendary curse are apparently all it takes to get my attention in a bookstore when I’m hunting for books to beef up the scare factor for my October TBR.

The Little StrangerTHE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters

One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his. (Goodreads)

A ghost story wrapped in the cloak of historical fiction, The Little Stranger may give me more than I’m expecting from my spine-chilling list this month, and that works for me. Even that cover looks eerie – maybe that’s why I tucked it in the back of my bookshelf until now, you know… for safety…

BlazeBLAZE by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., was always a small-time delinquent. None too bright either, thanks to the beatings he got as a kid. Then Blaze met George Rackley, a seasoned pro with a hundred cons and one big idea. The kidnapping should go off without a hitch, with George as the brains behind their dangerous scheme. But there’s only one problem: by the time the deal goes down, Blaze’s partner in crime is dead. Or is he? (Goodreads)

I started reading this several years ago but never got very far into it before being distracted by other books. Now is the perfect time to pick it up again and delve back into King’s world (which always proves to be more than a little bit twisted and sinister).

So there it is, my October TBR in a nutshell. Will I have any put-the-book-in-the-freezer moments (Friends fans, raise your hands)? Maybe. But I’m determined to get through as many of these as I can – and maybe I can plug in a few chilling audiobooks as well along the way. Let’s celebrate the season book lovers!

HAPPY OCTOBER READING!



 

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Dracul

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group/G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and the authors for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this book.

by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker

SmellRating5

(4.06 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published October 2, 2018, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Genre: Fiction / Horror

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 512

#Dracul  #NetGalley

DraculThere are mysteries which men can only guess at, which age by age they may resolve only in part.

Remember that episode of Friends when Rachel discovers Joey’s copy of The Shining in his freezer? If not, quick recap: Joey gets so scared while reading The Shining by Stephen King that he hides it in the freezer until he is brave enough to go back to it!
That’s what I felt like resorting to while reading  Dracul – only, I was reading it on my Kindle, and I don’t think electronics like freezers too much.

This book was legitimately frightening in all the best ways! It doesn’t even start you off slowly, you’re immediately thrust into a dire situation with 21-year old Bram Stoker trying to last one night in the midst of sinister forces who prove to be unrelenting.

Toward the end of the book, the action is so fast-paced and the enemies so numerous, you…well, you want to put the book in the freezer!

He’s come for us, Bram. He wants me, but he wants you most of all. We are not that different, you and I, the blood of others thriving within our veins.

Dacre Stoker (Bram’s great-grandnephew) & J.D. Barker (of The Fourth Monkey) write this epistolary origin story (of sorts) detailing Bram Stoker’s eerie experiences with his nanny, Ellen Crone, which eventually lead to his first encounter with the tall man, who would, in fact, turn out to be Count Dracula himself. <insert scary music here!>

Let’s just pause for a moment and appreciate the name, Dacre Stoker. Who wouldn’t want to read a horror novel by a dude named Dacre Stoker? You kind of have to!

OK, back on point…

The story is fiercely personal, told through the letters and journals of Bram Stoker, his sister and brother, and a colleague who helps them pursue the fearsome Count. It is a new story told about an ancient horror and I thirstily devoured every page! Dracul reads like a movie playing in my head with vivid imagery and precise (but not exhaustive) mood-setting.

I recommend this book to fans of the original book Dracula and fans of all the original monsters that make us check under our beds (nope, I don’t still do that. Nu-unh. Well, hardly ever…). Even if you’ve only ever seen the movie, this book’s descriptive prose will instantly transport your imagination back to the 1800s with stuttering lanterns, rolling fog, and things that go bump in the night. Mu-hah-hah-hah! <– But trust me, it’s not hokey like that, not at all.

Dracul releases October 2, 2018 – just in time for Halloween – so make sure you add this one your TBR!


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Bad Man

by Dathan Auerbach
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

(3.94 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published August 7, 2018, by Doubleday

Genre: Fiction / Horror (ish) / Mystery / Suspense

Format: Kindle

Page Count: 320 pgs (Kindle version)

badmanThey’d seen flyers for Eric here and there over the years… they never really looked. No one ever does.

When I think about what makes a good horror story, one of the most important components is the atmosphere. Auerbach sets us up in a small Floridian town and then strips us of all sense of security and comfort. He surrounds his characters with grief, poverty, and suspicion, and therefore creates a perfect setting for this creepy tale that weaves real-life horror with a little something extra.

Eric has been missing for five years and no one has any answers as to what could have happened to him. His big brother, Ben, was the last one to see him and seems to be the only one committed to still searching for him. When Ben takes a job at the same store where Eric went missing, strange things begin to occur that convince him that someone does know what happened to Eric and they’re trying to reach out to him. But is it to help him or to stop him from asking questions?

The Bad Man will leave you guessing. The unreliable narrator, the creepy store setting, and Ben’s shady coworkers and friends all manage to introduce more questions as you read than they answer. I found the book to be quite engrossing; however, the ending was wholly unsatisfying in that there were several strings left hanging that made even the epilogue seem incomplete.

I would recommend this book to lovers of horror and mystery that don’t mind a story that leaves you with lots of questions at the end. This one isn’t tied up with a neat little bow. And if you don’t mind filling in the blanks for yourself, this is definitely the book for you.

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Doubleday Books, and the author for providing this ARC for me to read a review.**


About the Author

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Dathan Auerbach was born in the southern United States and has lived there for most of his life. He is the author of Penpal.

(Biography taken from Bad Man)