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Saturday, 26 August 2017

Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of 4 novellas in which King explores the "dark side" to people, and how exactly would you react if placed in certain situations? For example, what would you do if you found out that your husband of over 20 years has been hiding a dark secret? How would you react if a a psychopath raped you and left you for dead? If given the opportunity to pass your hardships onto someone else...would you?


"Life is fair. We all get the same nine-month shake in the box, and then the dice roll. Some people get a run of sevens. Some people, unfortunately, get snake-eyes. It's just how the world is."

One of my favourite aspects, and one of the most horrifying things, about this collection is that some of these scenarios could actually happen. You could very easily find yourself in a situation where you don't know your spouse as well as you thought you did. And there is definitely the potential to encounter brutal rapists/murderers whilst driving down quiet backroads. Although there is a slight supernatural element to 1922, there is still the very real possibility of making one single bad decision that will continue to impact and haunt you for years. Even the story Fair Extension would make you question how far you are willing to go to save your own ass at the detriment of someone else.

1922 was a great opener for the collection, it was scary, hard-hitting, and sucks you into the story very quickly. One of the best short stories (or novellas, whatever) that I've ever read from King. It was brilliant! Next up was Big Driver, which was hard to read at times; it was brutal, visceral and terrifying, especially reading this as a woman. I can't deny that I have recently felt uneasy driving down the backroads around my house...maybe stick to main busy roads in future! Fair Extension was awesome, I loved how King juxtaposed the fate of the two families. I'd read an entire book based on that story and idea. Lastly, A Good Marriage. This was one I felt slightly less excited about reading about as I had already watched the adaptation last year and just thought it was okay. But I REALLY enjoyed this one - Darcy is a badass. I can't even begin to imagine what I would do in that scenario.

It's very easy to see where the title for this collection comes from - these are dark, heavy stories, with pretty much no light or positive outcomes. I thoroughly enjoyed each story and would probably give each individual novella five stars, which is very rare when it comes to collections of short stories or novellas. I can honestly say I was sad to come to the end of this collection and I think I now have a new book to recommend to people who are looking to venture into the world of King. Highly recommend this one!!

King, I missed you.

Johann
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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Often considered to be a love story, Wuthering Heights is actually a story of revenge. Set on the moors of England, Wuthering Heights focuses on a mysterious character named Heathcliff. At a young age, Heathcliff is rescued and grows up with his adopted family, before being resigned to servant status. After the woman he loves, Cathy, marries another, he flees only to return years later, a rich and educated man, intent on revenge against the two families he believes have ruined his life.


"He shall never know I love him: and that, not because he's handsome, but because he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made out of, his and mine are the same."

Reading this book was a rollercoaster for me. I was switching between loving and hating it from chapter to chapter. First, the pros: the writing is beautiful, the relationship dynamics were really interesting at times, the scenery and location were just perfect.

Now, the cons... what a hateful, disgusting bunch of characters. I can sincerely say that I didn't like any of them. We had two unreliable narrators in Lockwood and Nellie Dean, and I'm not particularly a fan of that set-up. The family tree itself got pretty confusing at times - similar-sounding names, Cathy and Catherine used interchangeably for two different characters - I had to stop reading numerous times just to get the family tree straight in my head - READING SHOULD NOT INVOLVE SUCH HARD WORK. I actually felt drained reading this book. As for the character of Joe, I hadn't a clue what he was saying half the time, I just got the "gist" of it and carried on. 

My major issue with the book was Heathcliff. Yes, having your heart broken sucks pretty bad, but I just cannot get on board with the way he treats people throughout the entirety of this novel, both physically and mentally. As far as I'm aware there are readers out there who fawn over Heathcliff - WHY. He is a horrible man! You can be a passionate person without resorting to such heinous acts. However, I do appreciate that Bronte shows the less-explored, "ugly" side of love, it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

I loved the wild, stormy, tumultuous landscape...the gothic feel to the novel. Sometimes it was so easy to get lost in these complicated relationships, but then other times I wanted to DNF so badly and throw the book across the room. Like I said, this was a rollercoaster ride! Overall I kind of enjoyed it? But it also left me feeling angry at times... so I think 3 stars out of 5 is a fair assessment! And if anyone wants to explain to me why they love Heathcliff... please. Enlighten me.

Johann
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Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Nocturnal Reader's Subscription Box: Infested and Infected

This month's theme was Infested and Infected... and as per usual, it did not disappoint! We got THREE, count 'em, THREE books this month, as well as a pretty cool King-inspired wearable and only the greatest mug I've ever seen. Let's look at this month's contents...



As always, let's start with the books! I was lucky enough to get a signed book this month - Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones, synopsis is as follows:

"Walking through his own house at night, a fifteen-year-old thinks he sees a person in full Blackfeet regalia step through a doorway. Instead of the people who could be there, his mother or his brother, the figure reminds him of his long-gone father, who died mysteriously before his family left the reservation. When he follows it he discovers his house is bigger and deeper than he knew."

This horror novella sounds pretty good, I'd honestly never heard of it before! The second book was this month's new release, The Grip of It by Jac Jemc, which I've already seen around bookstagram and was definitely intrigued by. Synopsis is as follows:

"Touring their prospective suburban home, Julie and James are stopped by a noise. Deep and vibrating, like throat singing. Ancient, husky, and rasping, but underwater. "That's just the house settling," the real estate agent assures them with a smile. He is wrong. The move - prompted by James's penchant for gambling and his general inability to keep his impulses in check - is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to start afresh. But this house, which sits between a lake and a forest, has its own plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to establish a sense of normalcy, the home and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The framework - claustrophobic, riddled with hidden rooms within rooms - becomes unrecognisable, decaying before their eyes. Stains are animated on the wall - contracting, expanding - and map themselves onto Julie's body in the form of painful, grisly bruises. Like the house that torments the troubled married couple living within its walls, The Grip of It oozes with palpable terror and skin-prickling dread. Its architect, Jac Jemc, meticuloulsy traces Julie and James's unsettling journey through the depths of their new home as they fight to free themselves from its crushing grip."

Again, that book sounds awesome! Kinda feels like the story might be similar to House of Leaves? We'll see! The last book in the box was This Book is Full of Spiders by David Wong, a sequel to John Dies at the End. JDATE is a book I've wanted to pick up for a while, as my friend Mindi (@gowsy33) has given it rave reviews and she has great taste, so this really gave me the perfect excuse to order it! Synopsis for This Book is Full of Spiders is as follows:

"You will dismiss this as ridiculous fearmongering. Dismissing things as ridiculous fearmongering is, in fact, the first symptom of parasitic spider infection - the creature stimulates skepticism, in order to prevent you from seeking a cure. That's just as well, since the "cure" involves learning what a chainsaw tastes like. You can't feel the spider, because it controls your nerve endings. You won't even feel it when it breeds. And it will breed. Just stay calm, and remember that telling you about the spider situation is not the same as having caused it. I'm just the messenger. Even if I did sort of cause it. Either way, I won't hold it against you if you're upset. I know that's just the spider talking."

It sounds sooooo good! It's meant to be a mixture of horror and comedy, so it should be an interesting read! Now for the rest of the goodies... We got a Captain Trips baseball cap! I generally don't wear hats, but I was considering starting to wear one when I go out for a run, so this one couldn't have arrived at a better time. 


As shown above, we got a lovely cockroach-infested bookmark...which I can't even look at, let alone use! As well as a pin inspired by the Jonathan Maberry book Patient Zero, and it also glows in the dark! I'm obsessed with bathbombs, so I was really excited to get a bathbomb in this month's box - apparently there's a surprise in the centre, I can't wait to try it this weekend. I also received a 'Salem's Lot postcard with the terrifying Barlow on the front. Lastly, my favourite item we've ever received in a nocturnal reader's box... this Exorcist inspired mug!! If you follow my insta at all, you'd know that The Exorcist is one of my favourite books of all time, as well as being my favourite horror movie. And I live for coffee. So combine the two and I'm very happy.


Oh! And here's a closer look at this month's artwork entitled "The Woman Who Never Killed Bugs" by Ally Burke. Pretty pretty pretty cool, huh? (channelling my inner Larry David as always).

I'm majorly excited for next month's box, the theme of which is Monster Mayhem! Cthuhlu is meant to making an appearance... some boxes are still available, and I promise you'll want one! So use my code DRJOBIS15 to save yourself 15%! Until next month...

Johann
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Monday, 14 August 2017

Book Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of this collection of short novels by Joe Hill (release date is later in the year). For those interested in a brief synopsis of each story... keep reading. If not, skip ahead! The first story, Snapshot, is about a young boy's encounter with a villain who robs his victim's memories by taking Polaroids of them. The second, Loaded, tells the story of a mall security guard who is believed to have stopped a mass shooting, but his story quickly unravels... Aloft, the third story, is a unique tale about a skydiver who lands on a very strange cloud in the sky. Finally, the last story, Rain, tells of an apocalypse wherein literal nails fall from the sky as rain. Pretty interesting collection of stories!


"When movie stars grieve in the tragic third act of a love story, they always make mourning look a lot more beautiful than it really is."

I do enjoy a short story or a short novel... as Joe Hill himself says, it's all killer, no filler. However, I wish that could be said for these stories. I loved being back with Joe Hill, but ultimately felt like some of these stories just dragged on a little bit?

The first story, Snapshot, was one of my favourites. A really strong opener for the collection. It was the perfect length with the perfect message. Emotionally charged too!

As for Loaded... I have mixed feelings. It started really strongly, I was loving it... but it just kept going on and on. And the main protagonist was just a really hateful person. Then the ending straight-up pissed me off. I do however appreciate what Hill is trying to say with this story with regards to gun violence in America.

The third story, Aloft, was so unique and original! A really enchanting and intriguing idea from Hill. But again, really felt like I lost some interest in the middle.

The final story, Rain, was a terrifying concept. Nails literally fall from the sky as rain... destroying everything in its path. I was revelling in his descriptions of the post-apocalyptic world. Hill even admits in the afterword that it's a spoof of his own work - I do love when an author can poke fun at themselves.

Overall, I did really enjoy this collection, I love Hill's style of writing and pop culture references. He also can write a sex scene so much better than his father! But I did feel like some stories perhaps could have been trimmed slightly. Although, I wonder if this is because I read this collection on my kindle, and I'm really not a fan of reading on my kindle. Maybe I would have enjoyed some of the stories slightly more if I was reading a physical copy. I'd give this collection 4 stars out of 5! Some really fresh ideas in here. I'm happy to have new Joe Hill!

Johann
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Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Book Review: Legion by William Peter Blatty

A young boy is found murdered and crucified on a pair of rowing oars, a priest is decapitated in his confessional box... Mutilations performed at these crime scenes suggest a serial killer from years before, who had been previously shot and presumed dead (although the body had never been recovered). A police detective, Lieutenant Kinderman, investigates these crimes and ends up visiting a mental asylum, where there are a couple of possible suspects and some connections to the exorcism of a certain Regan MacNeil began to form...


"Every man that ever lived craved perfect happiness, the detective poignantly reflected. But how can we have it when we know we're going to die? Each joy was clouded by the knowledge it would end. And so nature had implanted in us a desire for something unattainable? No. It couldn't be. It makes no sense. Why this exception? the detective reasoned. It was nature making hunger when there wasn't any food. We continue. We go on. Thus death proved life."

First of all, William Peter Blatty is now one of my favourite authors. The Exorcist is probably my favourite horror movie of all time (alongside The Evil Dead and Sinister) and is also one of my top books. So when my buddy Cam (Instagram handle is @skipbassman - you should follow him, cos he's awesome) told me that I should read these other Blatty books, I was on board! I've noticed that an underlying theme of all these Blatty books has been good vs evil, the presence (or absence) of God, and what this means for humanity. This is a topic that I've always found very intriguing and one that I probably think a lot about myself. I guess such a topic isn't for everyone, but you can enjoy both The Exorcist and Legion even if that's not your style.

Having previously watched The Exorcist 3 and having LOVED it, I went into this book with a general idea of what I was getting into (The Exorcist 3 is, of course, based on Legion), but that in no way dampened my reading experience. Blatty's writing style is effortless, easy to read, but it packs a punch. He likes to make you think. As someone who loves serial killers and murder mysteries, the storyline of Legion was a page-turner for me. He writes with such wit and humour, Blatty has such an intelligent and unique voice. And Kinderman himself... *slow claps* great character. Just generally likeable and he's really cute with his wife, which warms this girl's black heart.

The links and tie-ins to The Exorcist were pretty great, it makes me want to reread that one again. But on its own, as a standalone novel, Legion is brilliant. I'm struggling to think of a negative about this novel... the only thing that comes to mind is a couple of dream sequences involving Kinderman, but as a general rule of thumb, dream sequences annoy me. I get what they're trying to convey but often it feels like wasted pages to me. I looked at other reviews on Goodreads, which I always do when I finish a book, and one of the major complaints was that it wasn't scary. WELL, sorry that Blatty can deliver something other than horror!!! *severe eye roll* I hate when people go into a book by an author they've read before, expecting more of the same... NO, that's not how it works. That's like listening to a band and expecting the same song over and over again... DUMB DUMB.

Anyway, this girl is now a big fan of William Peter Blatty, and I'm now on the lookout for some more of his books. Legion gets 5 stars out of 5 from me! July was an epic reading month!

Johann
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