Friday, December 20, 2019

My Favorite Books of 2019

This one is for those who love to read. (My Top Twenty Books of the Year - the first ten were published this year; the last ten were published prior to this year, but I read them this year. Several of these are Novellas, hence there being twenty. Not all of these are horror, but should be enjoyed by anyone who loves different genres.)

In alphabetical order:
(Published in 2019)

1. Hateful Things (Book 2 in the Children of D'Hara series) by Terry Goodkind 
2. The Institute by Stephen King 
3. Island of the Flesh Eaters by Thomas S. Flowers 
4. The Line Between by Tosca Lee 
5. The Pandora Room by Christopher Golden 
6. Resurrection Man by Franklin E. Wales 
7. The Scribbly Man (Book 1 in the Children of D'Hara series) by Terry Goodkind 
8. The Sky People by Terry Goodkind 
9. Wanderers by Chuck Wendig 
10. Wasteland (Book 3 in the Children of D'Hara series) by Terry Goodkind 

Honorable Mentions:
(Published prior to this year)

1. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly 
2. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King 
3. *Flashback by Dan Simmons 
4. The Midnight, Texas Trilogy (Midnight Crossroad, Day Shift, and Night Shift) by Charlaine Harris 
5. Night Fall (Book 3 in the John Corey series) by Nelson DeMille 
6. Pushing Brilliance by Tim Tigner 
7. The Risen by David Anthony Durham 
8. Rough Trade by Todd Robinson 
9. Siege of Stone (Book 3 in the Nicci Chronicles) by Terry Goodkind 
10. Vine in the Fire by Stephen J. Semones 

So there you have my top favorite [22] books that I read this year. If I were to choose an absolute favorite, it would be Dan Simmons' Flashback as Best Book of the Year.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

My Top 10 Favorite Films of 2019

These are my Top Ten Favorite Films of 2019, listed in alphabetical order:

1. Brightburn 
2. Doctor Sleep 
3. Joker 
4. Knives Out 
5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
6. Ready or Not 
7. Rust Creek 
8. Terminator 6: Dark Date 
9. Trespassers 
10. Zombieland 2: Double-Tap 

Honorable Mentions: 
(these were not released in 2019, but I watched them for the first time, this year)

1. The Clovehitch Killer 
2. Heavy Trip 
3. Christine (2016)

My least favorite films of 2019 were: (shockingly both remakes)

1. Child's Play 
2. Pet Sematary 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

My Bottom 3 [Unfinished] Books of 2019

Before I get to my favorite books that I've read this year, I am first going to leave you with my bottom three. I had high hopes for these books, after hearing great things about them, but I am at the point now where there are too many books to read, and I do not want to waste time reading ones that I am not enjoying. So, without further adieu, these three books I started but did not finish:

1. God Bomb by Kit Power
I read the first seven chapters (50 pages) of this one before calling it quits. I just wasn't invested in any of the characters.

2. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
I read the first nine chapters (56 pages) of this one before stopping. I just couldn't get into it.

3. Starfish by Peter Watts
I read the first five chapters (64 pages) of this one. This one, I just may not have been in the right frame of mind for, at the time. I may go back to this one at a future date. . .

If you have read any of the above three books and enjoyed them, I am happy for you. They just weren't for me. If you haven't read any of these books, and they sound interesting to you, give them a shot, hopefully you will enjoy them more than I did.

Note: None of these books were published this year. I just started reading them this year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

If It Bleeds

This one is a short (90-pages) novella. I was completely sucked into this story. Dawson is really good with his use of metaphors and has written a unique fast-paced story. If you have ever seen the movie Christine (the true story of a TV reporter in the 70's) then you know that movie talks about our obsession with violence. Dawson continues that same theme with this story.

4/5 Skulls

Here is the book's synopsis:

"Moses Mayborne has a steady job in TV news, despite a horrible accident years prior that took the life of a co-worker. Just as his wife, a reporter named Sheila, has given birth to their first child, his boss gives him an opportunity to become a photojournalist. Moses accepts, for his baby son’s future, and to help erase the brutal memory of his past misjudgment.

As Moses scours the city for news, he notices a change in the city’s residents; they’ve become colder, and more prone to violence. He witnesses cannibalism, suicide, and lack of empathy for a dying woman. He sees wild dogs roaming the streets with fangs bared and evil in their eyes. When he pays a visit to a friend who is debilitated by self-mutilation, he begins to understand the connection between the growing mania and the TV station where he works. He fears for himself, his family, and the world.

Guided by the ghosts of his past, Moses dodges the deadly rampages of a savage city in a desperate search for his loved ones. When he finds them, he comes face to face with the evil, and the reality: We are what we see."

Friday, December 6, 2019

Doctor Sleep [Book Review]

Generally, I prefer to read the book before the movie. I bought Doctor Sleep, when it was first released, with the intention of re-reading The Shining and then delving into Doctor Sleep. It didn't work out that way though. Before I knew it, the movie was released, and I decided to go ahead and watch the movie first.

Aside from slight character casting, this book has got to be one of the most faithful book-to-movie adaptations that I have ever read. Of course, you cannot fit everything in a 500+ page novel into a two-and-a-half hour runtime, but Mike Flanagan did a superb job with his screenplay, cutting certain characters and plot points to better streamline his film. (One of the storylines that Flanagan decided to cut left a welcome surprise revelation in the book that I was happy about.)

Needless to say, if you enjoyed the movie, you will definitely enjoy the book, and if you haven't seen the movie yet, this is one of King's fastest paced novels.

5/5 Skulls

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Hollow Heart: A Horror Novella

I am a big fan of Crystal Lake Publishing. You can pretty much randomly pick any book out of their library and know that you are going to enjoy it. 

With that said, Hollow Heart was a bit of a misfire for me. I love small town/cosmic horror stories, but I just wasn't invested in the characters in this story (except for Mary, maybe). 

Aside from the disconnection, Ben Eads writing was on point. His style sparks the imagination, and he was able to hold my attention as my curiosity (to what was going on - snow/redwood trees in Florida, a mysterious letter, power outages, vanishing roads, etc) never diminished.

3/5 Skulls

Here is the book's synopsis:

"Welcome to Shady Hills, Florida, where death is the beginning and pain is the only true Art…

Harold Stoe was a proud Marine until an insurgent’s bullet relegated him to a wheelchair. Now the only things he’s proud of are quitting alcohol and raising his sixteen-year-old son, Dale.

But there is an infernal rhythm, beating like a diseased heart from the hollow behind his home. An aberration known as The Architect has finished his masterpiece: A god which slumbers beneath the hollow, hell-bent on changing the world into its own image.

As the body count rises and the neighborhood residents change into mindless, shambling horrors, Harold and his former lover, Mary, begin their harrowing journey into the world within the hollow. If they fail, the hollow will expand to infinity. Every living being will be stripped of flesh and muscle, their nerves wrapped tightly around ribcages, so The Architect can play his sick music through them loud enough to swallow what gives them life: The last vestiges of a dying star."

Friday, November 29, 2019

Resurrection Man

My favorite independent horror author, Franklin E. Wales, has just released a new novella titled Resurrection Man, available in paperback as well as digital. All bias aside, this one will, most-likely, get my vote for "Best Novella of the Year".

It is a story told in first-person (from a Pathologist's point-of-view) with a hard-boiled detective feel to it. Due to its size (under 120 pages) I do not want to give anything else away, though I will tell you that I absolutely love the Epilogue to this story! (It would make for a killer Pilot/TV series!)

Here is the book's synopsis:

"For two hundred years, pastors of unknown origins have set up tent revivals on the outskirts of small towns, preaching their messages of salvation and healing. Are they really seeking to save your soul? Are they hustlers who just want your money? Or, is it something even more sinister? Although he’d attended many such revivals as a child, city morgue pathologist Cornelius never gave it much thought… until the dead woman on his table spoke to him."

5/5 Skulls

P. S. If you are unfamiliar with Wales' work, he is a master story teller! I have read every single one of his books, and NONE disappoint!