Cthulu and Other Monsters by Sam Stone

Cthulu and Other Monsters

Short tales of horror regarding the Old Ones and their minions by master horror scribe Sam Stone.

Cthulu and Other MonstersCthulu and Other Monsters by Sam Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always love getting my hands on a new Sam Stone book! This one is a collection of short horror stories about monsters and Cthulu.

One thing I like about Sam Stone is that she skips between and combines genres without it being jarring. The stories in this collection are all horror stories but they also combine other genres too. Some are a bit steampunk, and some are more sci-fi, some set in the past and some in the present. She’s clearly full of ideas and there’s a lot of originality in these stories.

My favourites are the steampunk tinged stories. There is one about Arabella, a Victorian lady who moonlights as a thief, and another where Lucy goes down into the sewers to hunt a monster plaguing the city. I loved both of these and I really wanted to see more from these characters!

This is a very adult collection, there’s lots of gore and a fair bit of sex. Things don’t always end well so you’re kept guessing right up to the end.

My only complaint is that sometimes the conversations are there more to give information to the reader than for the characters to communicate with each other. There’s a fair few “as you know” expositions that are thrown in there that feel like they don’t fit the story, and sometimes the characters can be overly formal and stilted. I feel like it could use a good editor as there are a few errors in the text. But it’s a minor complaint and it didn’t stop me enjoying reading this.

I found all of the stories creepy and interesting, and there weren’t any that I didn’t really enjoy. I feel like the author had a lot of fun writing them.

It’s a great little collection of horror stories and it’s just right for the long nights that are approaching.

Cthulu and Other Monsters
Sam Stone
Horror
April 2017
Paperback
287

Wylding Hall Playlist

Wylding Hall Cover

Wylding Hall is a book I reviewed a couple of days ago. It’s a spooky haunted house story about a folk-rock band that decamp to an old hall to make an album. Set in the 70s the book has a fantastic atmosphere, and the music is a big part of the book.

It’s just right for a Halloween month read, and I put together this playlist to make it even more atmospheric 🙂

If you have any suggestions for songs please comment below, I must admit I don’t know much about 70’s folk rock! Enjoy xx

Queen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood

Queen of the Flowers Cover

With more than a dash of glamour and serious helpings of style, the witty and courageous Miss Fisher returns.

In 1928 St Kilda’s streets hang with fairy lights. Magic shows, marionettes, tea dances, tango competitions, lifesaving demonstrations, lantern shows, and picnics on the beach are all part of the Flower Parade.

And who else should be chosen to be Queen of the Flowers but the gorgeous, charming and terribly fashionable Hon Phryne Fisher? Phryne needs a new dress and a swimming costume but she also needs a lot of courage to confront her problems: a missing daughter, the return of an old lover, and a young woman found drowned at the beach at Elwood.

‘Kerry Greenwood is one of Australia’s leading writers of mystery fiction . . . Miss Fisher is a remarkable and engaging creature who can solve whodunnits as easily as if she were the naughty niece of Miss Marple’ – Sydney Morning Herald

‘Greenwood’s prose has a dagger in its garter; her hero is raunchy and promiscuous in the best sense’ – Weekend Australian

‘Fisher, a feisty sophisticate of the 1920s whose honour lies with the greater good. She’s all class and intelligence: a seductive creature with a great wardrobe.’ Australian Style

My review of Queen of the Flowers

Queen of the FlowersQueen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I requested this through Netgalley as soon as I saw it because I am a big fan of the TV series!

I was a bit worried before I started reading that it wouldn’t live up to the TV version and would just end up ruining it for me. As soon as I started reading I realised my fears were groundless. The book version of Phryne Fisher is smarter, bubblier, sharper, just more than the TV version.

The characters are very likeable and I just love the descriptions of them. Phryne is an absolute delight to read. I love her independence and her outlook on life.

One of my favourite things about the TV series is the banter between Phryne and Inspector Jack Robinson. I thought I would miss it in the book but I actually like that’s it not there because it seemed to give the character of Phryne more room to breathe.

The tone stays light but the mystery ended up going in a quite dark direction, and Phryne does some decent investigating. I feel it does get a bit convoluted with two different stories going on and a few dips into the past thrown in. There were a few too many coincidences in Ruth’s story and it didn’t make sense why some of the people did the things they did.

I liked the main mystery though, and I found that once I read the first chapter I couldn’t put it down.

This is just like a glass of wine in book format. It’s all bubbles and lightness and the story fizzes along. I love the world the author has created and I will definitely be reading more of the series!

I received a free copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Queen of the Flowers
Phryne Fisher
Kerry Greenwood
Mystery
2004
Kindle
287

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

Wylding Hall Cover

When the young members of a British acid-folk band are compelled by their manager to record their unique music, they hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient country house with dark secrets. There they create the album that will make their reputation, but at a terrifying cost: Julian Blake, the group’s lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen or heard from again.

Now, years later, the surviving musicians, along with their friends and lovers—including a psychic, a photographer, and the band’s manager—meet with a young documentary filmmaker to tell their own versions of what happened that summer. But whose story is true? And what really happened to Julian Blake?

My Review of Wylding Hall

Wylding HallWylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Following a horrible tragedy a 70’s folk band decamp to a large old country house in the middle of nowhere to write their second album. Through interviews with the members of the band and their entourage who were there at the time, we are told the story around the unexplained disappearance of one of the band members.

I loved the 1970s summer setting, with the hippie folk musicians trying to write an album in an old country house. I think the author got the vibe just right, and the supernatural elements were sufficiently creepy, but not overdone.

The interview format worked well, but some of the characters voices blended into each other, I found it was hard to keep them straight. The main characters though were unique enough to be recognisable.

I read the book in two goes. The first half I found creepy and chilling. I didn’t want to turn out the light when I went to bed that night! But when I came back to it the next day a lot of the atmosphere had gone. I don’t know if I rushed through it too fast, or if it was because I read it in the busy canteen at work, but it just wasn’t as creepy anymore. I’d recommend reading it all in one go if you can.

It’s well-written, and I enjoyed reading it, it could have done with being just a bit more of a ghost story towards the end.

Wylding Hall
Elizabeth Hand
Horror
February 17th 2015
Kindle
176

What Makes you Happy Tag

Today I’m taking part in my first book tag! This is the 5 things that make you happy tag. Thanks Sarah for tagging me, sorry it’s taken me a while to get to it!

5 Things that Make Me Happy

I’ve not put reading on this list because I felt it’s a bit too obvious!

1) Roller skating

moxi roller skates

Something that I loved when I was younger, and I took it up again a couple of years ago when I joined a roller derby team.

2) Making things

Crochet Dragon

Crochet, knitting, baking, websites (my day job is web development). I’ve been working on a crochet blanket since last Christmas, and I’ve had a stripy jumper on the go for well over a year now. I also love baking, especially if it’s a gift for someone. My boyfriend is obsessed with ginger flapjacks so I make them a lot for him.

3) Being at home

cosy at home

Kinda ties into number 2, but I’m a real homebody. I love days where I don’t have to do anything and I can just curl up on the sofa, drink lots of tea, put some roller derby on tv and work on whatever craft project I have on the go. Or those days where I can just stay at home and read all day 🙂

4) Exploring new places

Prague

I’m maybe not the most adventurous person, but I do love mini holidays to places I’ve never been before so I can do a bit of exploring. I like cities so that I can find odd little shops and cafes and visit all the art galleries and museums, and I also love costal breaks so I can go walking on the beach and hunt for sea glass.

5) Going to the gym

gym checkin

Yes, I’m one of those people that loves exercise. There are more of us then you might think, hands up if you also love those days that you get to go to the gym? To make it even worse I also have an instagram dedicated to gym checkins and food photos. #sorrynotsorry.

5 Songs that Make Me Happy

Bif Naked – Everything

Le Matos feat. PAWWS – No Tomorrow

Sia – Chandelier

Nina Simone – Ain’t Got No, I Got Life

Weezer – Buddy Holly

I Am Tagging

I tag The Dreamland Bookshelf, Sucker for Coffee, The Craft Fantastic

And You

What are some of the things that make you happy?

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson #1) by Patricia Briggs

moon called cover

Mercedes Thompson, aka Mercy, is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will.

Mercy’s next-door neighbour is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water

My Review of Moon Called

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Urban Fantasy books like this live or die on their main character. Luckily, Mercy is pretty awesome. She’s independent and a bit cheeky but knows her limits. She works as a mechanic and has her life sorted, and there are hints of possible romances, but she doesn’t fawn over anyone and it’s not a big part of the story.

Mercy has to explain things to us at certain points, but it doesn’t go overboard with this. The world building feels like it happens naturally, with just little additions from Mercy every now and again.

When it’s finally revealed the ‘bad guys’ plot was very convoluted. Up to this point, I was finding Moon Called a fun, light read and I struggled to switch gears and pay attention enough to understand what was going on. I don’t think it helped that it’s all (or mostly) revealed by Mercy sitting and thinking about it. I’m a bit fed up of books where the main character sits and thinks a bit and then makes some big mental leaps to end up right on the truth.

All through the book, there were hints of attraction between Mercy and Adam, and Mercy and Sam (love triangle warning!). It built up some interesting tension between the characters that I was enjoying. I was disappointed that the ending seemed to drop this completely. There are something like 14 books now though, and I have read that nothing really happens on the romance front until book 4, so maybe (hopefully) the tension is brought back in future books.

I think it’s a good start for a series though, I enjoyed it even though the complicated ending knocked it down from 4 stars to 3 for me.

I will be reading the next one for sure!

Moon Called
Mercy Thompson
Patricia Briggs
Urban Fantasy
January 31st 2006
Paperback
317

Wake by Elizabeth Knox

Wake Cover

On a sunny spring morning, the settlement of Kahukura in Tasman is suddenly overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead.

As the group try to take care of one another and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the first time that this has happened, and that they aren’t all survivors and victims – two of them are something quite other. And, it seems, they are trapped with something. Something unseen is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them.

Wake is a book that asks: ‘What are the last things left when the worst has happened?’ It is a book about extreme events, ordinary people, heroic compassion—and invisible monsters.

My Review of Wake

WakeWake by Elizabeth Knox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Inventive, original, dark and disturbing. Wake takes what has become a common story – a small group of people survive while everyone around them dies, and makes something unique out of it.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it, and really you just need to read it yourself, but Wake is a mix of horror, thriller and drama, with a touch of sci-fi added in.

Wake has a cast of 14 characters and a large part of the book is about how they interact, how they work together, and how they cope with what happens. With so many of them, a few of them inevitably get a bit lost and don’t feature very much. The action mostly focuses on a core group, these characters are done very well and are believable in the way they act based on their different personalities. I ended up losing track of some of them though and I couldn’t keep who was who straight if they weren’t in the core few.

Sam was by far my favourite character. I didn’t find many of the others likeable, except I did like William, the American, – maybe because he was just honest and open from the start? But Sam was lovely and I think the author did a really good job with her story. Learning about her was my favourite part of the book.

I like the way Elizabeth Knox writes, but I found it more practical and brutal than beautiful or poetic. I know a lot of other reviewers disagree with that though so maybe I just didn’t really understand her style? Sometimes I had to re-read a sentence a few times before I understood what was happening.

The world building was brilliant, and the whole thing was very readable, a few times I only meant to read a chapter then realised an hour had passed without me noticing.

My favourite thing about the book is the sci-fi bit. I wish that was developed a bit more but it wouldn’t be realistic or fit in with the story so I can forgive it.

The way it ended made me happy. I don’t really like when I have to make my own mind up about what is happening in a book, I always feel like what was the point of actually reading the book if I don’t find out what’s going on. There are enough answers in Wake to satisfy me and I like the way it’s revealed slowly with enough pointers that I could try to work it out for myself if I wanted to.

Wake is original and disturbing, and it is a must-read for anyone that likes survivor horror stories.

Wake
Elizabeth Knox
Horror
November 1st 2013
Paperback
443

Slam! Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon, Veronica Fish (Illustrations)

Slam! Cover

In the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will have to decide if their budding friendship is stronger than the pull of a team when a win is on the line.

When life starts coming at you like a freight train, you have two options: run away screaming or lean into the hit.

From the first day of Fresh Meat Orientation for the Eastside Roller Girls, Jennifer and Maisie knew they’d be fast friends. But when they’re drafted by different teams, the pull of competition — and their increasingly messy personal lives — threaten to drive them apart. In roller derby, you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, a better lover, and a better friend. Derby can heal your heart . . . but it might break a bone or two in the process.

Bestselling novelist, screenwriter, and retired Los Angeles Derby Doll Pamela Ribon (Going In Circles, Why Girls Are Weird) joins artist Veronica Fish (Archie, Silk) for a tale of friendship, heartbreak, and truly epic jams.

My Review of Slam!

Slam! Vol. 1Slam! Vol. 1 by Pamela Ribon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Slam is a bright and fun graphic novel about two young women who join a banked track roller derby team.

The artwork is wonderful! Bright and bold, and it really captures the different characters personalities.

The story is strong and interesting, with good dialogue. The characters feel realistic, they are well fleshed out with distinct personalities that show through in the way they speak and act. But for me, the story just moved a little bit too fast. A lot of things were skipped over that would have made me feel more involved. I wanted to see more of the training, and things like one of the characters first date with a new man – he just appears once and then suddenly she really likes him. I wanted to understand why!

So really my complaint is that I want more!

I recommend to anyone that likes roller derby, stories about women in sport, or stories about friendships between women.

Slam! Vol. 1
Slam!
Pamela Ribon, Veronica Fish (Illustrations)
Graphic Novel
September 7th 2017
Graphic Novel
112

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Sunshine Cover

There are places in the world where darkness rules, where it’s unwise to walk. But there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years, and Sunshine just needed a spot where she could be alone with her thoughts. Vampires never entered her mind.

Until they found her…

My Review of Sunshine

SunshineSunshine by Robin McKinley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Somewhere in here lurks a decent story, but it’s so overwhelmed by the ramblings of Sunshine that it’s almost completely lost. In the first five pages, I know where Sunshine works, where she lives, her Monday movie nights and all about her landlady’s niece, but I still don’t know why she’s all on her own at the lake.

I liked the actual story, but it does start to drag. The vampires are satisfyingly nasty and mean, like in the film Lost Boys.

Sunshine is likeable enough, but by the halfway point I just really wanted her to stop talking. Cut out all the rambling and the repetition (how many times do we need to be told no one ever gets away from vampires?) and the book would be less than half the long 405 pages it actually is.

The author spends so much time explaining the world that it’s hard to believe this was ever intended to be standalone. So many concepts are explained in depth that are then not actually relevant to the story that I’m convinced this was the setup for a longer series, more like True Blood.

After all the long, long build-up, the big fight with the main villain is almost a non-event after all the talking. The villain himself is a moustache-twirling cartoon style villain, with some seriously dodgy dialogue. And he doesn’t do anything. Disappointing.

Could have been good, but needs some serious pruning to remove all the irrelevant rambling.

Sunshine
Robin McKinley
Urban Fantasy
November 30th 2004
Kindle
405

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple Cover

The Color Purple is a 1982 epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker which won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction. It was later adapted into a film and musical of the same name.

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of colour in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence.

The Color PurpleThe Color Purple by Alice Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t even know how to start reviewing this, but I will say that it’s heartbreaking, eye opening, harrowing and uplifting. I’ve never actually cried reading a book before, but I came closer at the end of this than I ever have before.

Books on lists of classics, or those lists of 100 books you must read, are books that I normally stay away from. I expect them to be dry, preachy, pretentious, or all three and generally just dull. But this, this book deserves its place on all of those lists.

Alice Walker is a skilled story teller, and The Colour Purple is accessible and interesting. It works first and foremost as a story about a poor black woman living in deep south America in the 1930’s. Celie narrates her life through journal entries and letters, a literary device that I’ve rarely seen done well but here it works brilliantly to bring her world to life for us.

In this world, the book uncovers issues of race, misogyny, religion and feminism. It manages not to beat us over the head, or preach to us, but just shows us that they are there and how they affect people’s lives. In this subtle way, we can’t ignore them because they are a vital part of Celie’s story.

It’s sad to think that these issues are just as relevant today as they were in the 30’s. These prejudices haven’t gone away, not even here in the UK where we like to think we’re more tolerant than the Americans. They are just as internalised as they ever were, but, until recently anyway, better hidden.

My favourite thing about this book is the women working together to support and help each other.

I recommend this to everyone. It’s an interesting story, and while it’s hard to read at first it has an uplifting ending.

The Color Purple
Alice Walker
Fiction
1982
Paperback
295