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andreya

Andreya's Asylum

Insanity, horror and dark fiction are my catharsis. Brutally honest reviews are on the house.

 

 Professional Reader        80%

 
 

Review of Halloween Carnival: Volume One

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 - Lisa Morton, Kevin Lucia, John Little, Brian James Freeman, Robert R. McCammon

3.5 stars.

 

I loved 2 out of 5 stories in this collection but the stories I loved, I loved hard. Strange Candy by Robert McCammon and The Rage of Achilles by Kevin Lucia are worth the admission price alone. Demon Air by John R. Little was okay but underwhelming. I did not finish La Hacienda De Los Muertos by Lisa Morton and I skimmed parts of #MAKEHALLOWEENSCARYAGAIN by Mark Allan Gunnells because I was bored.


I received an e-ARC of this from Hydra and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

 

Dark Screams: Volume Seven

Dark Screams: Volume Seven - Brian Hodge, Bill Schweigart, Richard Chizmar, Brian James Freeman, Robert R. McCammon

Dark Screams: Volume Seven is obviously the 7th edition of the Dark Screams anthology. Containing six stories, the first and the last story made the collection for me.

LIZARDMAN by Robert McCammon
The hunter or the hunted? Tonight is the night-- he can feel it -- and it ends one way or another. My second favorite story in this collection.

 

A MONSTER COMES TO ASHDOWN FOREST (IN WHICH CHRISTOPHER ROBIN SAYS GOODBYE) by James Renner

Fascinating premise. I think this one could have been a lot better, it gets a little bogged down and then just bizarre at the end.

 

FURTHEREST by Kaaron Warren

A beach trip on acid, this one will have you rethinking just how far is too far.

 

WEST OF MATAMOROS, NORTH OF HELL by Brian Hodge

This was an odd story that was well written. I wanted to like it more than I did.

 

THE EXPEDITION by Bill Schweigart

I DNF this one.

 

SNOW SHADOWS by Mick Garris
My absolute favorite story in this collection. Beautiful and tragic, this story will haunt you--it did me.

 

This collection is totally worth the $3.99 on Amazon to buy it. I received mine as an e-ARC from Random House and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

 

Review of Optical Delusion by Hunter Shea

Optical Delusion - Hunter Shea

Optical Delusions, is the latest in Hunter Shea's Mail Order Massacre line. Although it starts out a little slow, it fully delivers the horror that you have come to expect from Mr. Shea. What could possibly go wrong with cheap X-ray vision sunglasses that actually work? I quite enjoyed this short bit of terror and can't wait for the next one.

 

I received a copy of this from Kensington Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of The Halloween Children by Norman Prentiss and Brian James Freeman

The Halloween Children - Norman Prentiss, Brian James Freeman

Quite possibly the best Halloween book I've ever read, reading The Halloween Children has become my yearly tradition. Since it was originally only available as a signed/limited edition from Earthling Press, I was somewhere north of stoked when Hydra decided to release this as an e-book. I was even more thrilled when I got approved for a NetGalley ARC.

How well do you know your neighbors? The residents of Stillbrook Apartments have a Halloween party every year, but as this one approaches, the general mood is becoming less than festive. With strange things happening around the building, even the handyman seems to be behaving oddly. By the time the Halloween party is cancelled, everyone is on high alert with each other and even...their own family?

The Halloween Children reaches a level of anticipation/anxiety that I've rarely had in reading a book, and if children didn't creep me out in general, this one seals the deal for me. Needless to say, I am in love with this book and very much hoping that the dream team, Norman Prentiss and Brian James Freeman, will be producing more of this creepiness together in the future.

I received an e-ARC of this from Hydra/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Just Add Water by Hunter Shea

Just Add Water - Hunter Shea

I don't like to say that he's my favorite 'mindless read' because it sounds borderline offensive, but Hunter Shea has quickly become my go-to for when I want a well-done monster flick in the form of a book. He pulls of a fast-paced, creature feature in a way that not only makes it seem damn near plausible but that you morbidly almost want to happen.

 

As someone who liked to repeat the same mistake with AMAZING LIVE SEA-MONKEYS! Or in my case, amazingly dead brine shrimp... Just Add Water was right up my alley. I felt the same excitement with their AMAZING LIVE SEA SERPENTS! and same letdown when they also succumb to false advertising... Or do they? When neighborhood pets start go missing and then neighbors, it doesn't take long for the 'why' to rear its ugly head. An ugly head--and body-- that look amazingly similar to their would-be pets...

 

This was a short but fun read that was everything I could have hoped for and more. I'm told this is the first in a series of amazing 'back of comic goods' stories and cannot freaking wait for the next ones. So no, Hunter Shea isn't mindless, but he is fun and a nice break from reality with some wicked-nasty monsters up his sleeve.

I received this e-ARC from Kensington Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Dark Screams: Volume Six

Dark Screams: Volume Six - Stephen King, Norman Prentiss, Richard Chizmar, Brian James Freeman, Joyce Carol Oates

My favorite so far out of the Dark Screams series, Volume Six delivers the goods. I knew I had to have it when I saw the lineup of some of my favorite authors, including Stephen King and Tim Curran. I had been meaning to read Joyce Carol Oates and was not disappointed. 

I honestly loved 4/5 stories which is pretty high for an anthology for me. 

The Old Dude's Ticker by Stephen King: So although I appreciate the 70's lingo, my only gripe with this one was the amount of times he asks 'can you dig' - yes, I can. One of King's more amusing stories in my opinion, it was a great opener.

The Rich Are Different by Lisa Morton: This is probably one of my favorite stories by her and I have read a couple books and a short story collection previously. An eyeful into the life of the rich and famous will leave you wanting more and I would very much like to see more into this particular world. 

The Manicure by Nell Quinn-Gibney: My least favorite of the bunch, I liked the premise but the story and ending fell flat for me. 

The Comforting Voice by Norman Prentiss: This is one of my favorite stories from Norman. I can still hear the voice in my head and particularly enjoyed the ending.

The Situations by Joyce Carol Oates: Daddy decides how it ends. No, really, if there is one parent that you don't want to upset, it's Daddy.

The Corpse King by Tim Curran: Can I just tell you how much I loved this? I have the limited edition sitting on my shelf but had not gotten around to reading it. Very 'Graveworm' in its presentation, this is one sick story that I think is a perfect ending to this collection and one that I'm glad to own. I freaking love Tim Curran and his ability to creep the crap out of me on a consistent basis.

If you haven't read Dark Screams, I highly recommend that you start and since they are mini-anthologies, I would start with this one. It was a fast read for me that I enjoyed immensely. 

I received a copy of this from Random House-Hydra and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Ararat by Christopher Golden

Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden

Ararat is the first book that I have read that was written solely by Christopher Golden. Previous to this I read Bloodstained Oz which was co-written by him and James A. Moore and it was wicked. I had been seeing a lot of hype for Ararat everywhere and was lucky enough to get approved for an ARC through NetGalley.

 

Ararat was not what I was expecting. It was so much better. An inhospitable mountain. The discovery of what very well may be Noah's Ark tucked into the side of the mountain. The remains of what appears to be an actual demon inside. Everyone knows the biblical telling of the story of the Ark, but an adventure-seeking couple may just have stumbled upon the truth and the truth does not always set you free. When an odd mix of scientists, religious representatives, overseers from the Turkish government, and the team that discovered the ark begin uncovering the secrets of the lost Ark, this discovery is more amazing than any of them ever imagined and quite a bit more deadly.

 

I loved every minute of this book and it pained me any time I had to put it down. Next on my list to read from Golden will be Dead Ringers, Ancient Enemy, and whatever else I can find by him. I only can't believe that I had not read him sooner. This will definitely be on my top list for 2017 and I hope to have a signed copy of this on my bookshelf soon. If you aren't reading Ararat, you should be.

 

I received an e-ARC of this from St. Martin's Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Some Will Not Sleep by Adam Nevill

Some Will Not Sleep: Selected Horrors - Adam Nevill

I finally got around to reading Adam Nevill and only wish that I had done so sooner, this man is amazing. I had originally bought a limited copy of Some Will Not Sleep as a bundle with a T-shirt and bookmark from Adam's online store, Ritual Limited, but also ended up buying the e-book so that I didn't have to smudge my gorgeous copy. That book cover was all the convincing I needed to know that I needed it in my collection.

 

I have a love/hate relationship with most short story collections, as it sometimes feels like authors like to squeeze in their garbage stories just to get them published, sandwiched between reprints and the few good stories that hooked you into buying it in the first place. There was not a single story in Some Will Not Sleep that I didn't love or that I think was less than stellar. The stories are creepy in a way that most authors can't pull off. With a blend of folklore mixed with the utterly irrational and bizarre, it's unsettling in a way that makes you want to crawl under the covers of your bed like a child, from the things lurking outside that shouldn't exist. I'm pretty sure that more than 'some' will not be sleeping after reading this.

 

I had previously read Adam's free 3-story collection called Before You Sleep which has one story that isn't in this collection and it's also very good. The plan at this point is to pretty much just read everything this man writes from here on out, he's -that- good.

I did not receive a free copy.

 

I bought both the limited edition version and the e-book and they were both worth it. :)

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Highwayman by Craig Saunders

Highwayman - Craig  Saunders

This one has been hard for me to review. I love anything and everything that comes from the shed of Craig Saunders. That said, this one wasn't my favorite. I loved the prose which was witty and intelligent. I loved the story line, which is Craig-like fantastical. As always, I loved the characters who were real, sometimes brutal, and humanly flawed. Certain parts did seem to get a bit rambly at times and a little more "out there" than I typically like.

 

Highway man was a book that I read right after I lost my wife. There were so many things in it I could relate with, including Bethany who I sort of wanted to hate but I couldn't because I could see reflections of myself. Karl, who is this hapless, self-centered guy, who finds his soul in a coma. And The Highway man who it feels like has been following me all of my life. If you find yourself getting a little lost in this book, the journey is well worth it.

 

This is Craig Saunders, one of my go-to authors whose work I can't wait to read. I am comparing this book to his previous books, so to say that it's maybe 'less than' one of his other novels still makes it a heck of a lot better than many other books and authors I have read. I'm saying that I liked Deadlift, and Masters of Blood and Bone, and many of his other books better, yes, but I'm not saying that you shouldn't read this. It's Craig. You should always, always read Craig.

 

I received a copy of this from NetGalley and DarkFuse in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Fungoid by William Meikle

Fungoid - William Meikle
I knew when I first saw the cover release for Fungoid that I wanted to read it. The cover and the author did not disappoint. Dystopian/apocalyptic/pandemic stories are a personal favorite of mine; I can't get enough of them. I'm sure that says nothing about my disdain for humanity that I love reading about them getting wiped out. 

William Meikle does an excellent job giving us a contagion that not only falls from the sky but that creeps into your soul. When something that we made in a lab is far more dangerous than anything mother nature could throw at us, living may actually be far more terrifying than dying. When it calls for you, will you answer?

Although Tormented is still my all time favorite book by William Meikle, Fungoid came in a pretty close second. Meikle is still one of my favorite DarkFuse authors and always a solid read.

I received this book from NetGalley and DarkFuse in exchange for an honest review.
 
© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

 

 

Review of The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

The Devil Crept In - Ania Ahlborn

I have loved Ania Ahlborn since I first read The Bird Eater and have since read everything that she has published. Although I have liked some books better than others, I can't say that she has written anything that I didn't enjoy; I don't actually think she's capable of that. Ania has a style that is hard to pin down, but you know the moment you pick up one of her books that it's hers and that this is what you need to be reading. The Devil Crept In is a book that you need to be reading.

 

Stevie Clark is a 10 year old with an odd speech tic and not a lot going for him. Jude Brighton is Stevie's cousin, best friend, and the center of Stevie's world. When Jude suddenly goes missing, Stevie's life comes to a standstill. Jude being gone is not an option. The more time that passes, the more urgently Stevie knows it is that he finds him. The rumors, the murmuring around town about the Larsen kid, the missing pets, something still out there... Sometimes the truth is worse than your nightmares and a lot whole harder to wake up from.

 

Hey Jude... where are you?

 

The Devil Crept In is my favorite book of Ania's since Seed, which has stayed with me since I first read it several years ago. The same building tension. The same creep factor. And I know that a book has gotten into my head when I find myself mentally rhyming words in the same cadence as the main character. Oops. I won't likely be forgetting this one any time soon and will, as always, be impatiently awaiting her next book. Thanks for another great read, Ania.

 

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This is it.

 

© 2017 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

 

Garden of Fiends from Mark Matthews Pre-Order is now up!

 

 
 

 
**So Check this promo out**

The first 25 readers who send a receipt confirming a pre-sale purchase of GARDEN OF FIENDS to WickedRunPress@gmail.com will win the kindle book of their choosing written by any author on the GARDEN OF FIENDS table of contents. Yep, don't wait for April, read from the table of contents TODAY.

Lemme break this down:

1. Purchase Garden of Fiends on Amazon presale (currently at a discounted price.)

2. Choose from one the books listed below written by authors appearing on the table of contents

3. Email your Garden of Fiends' purchase receipt along with your choice of one of the books below to WickedRunPress@gmail.com and...

Bamn! If you’re one of the first 25 you’ll receive an amazon voucher emailed back for a free kindle download of your chosen book.

(And, pssst... if you're not one of the first 25 who email, I can still promise something extra.)

Here are your choices: 

Jack Ketchum
The Girl Next Door
Off Season
Offspring
Peaceable Kingdom
The Woman
Red

Kealan Patrick Burke
Kin
Sour Candy
Secret Faces
The Turtle Boy

Jessica McHugh
The Train Derails in Boston
The Green Kangaroos
Pins
Rabbits in the Garden

John FD Taff
The Desolated Orchard
I Can Taste the Blood
The End in All Beginnings

Max Booth III
How to Successfully Kidnap Strangers
Lost Signals
American Nightmare

Johann Thorsson
Not Your Average Monster: Volume 2

Glen Krisch
Where Darkness Dwells
The Hallowed Land
The Nightmare Within
Loss

Mark Matthews
Milk-Blood
All Smoke Rises
Lilly's Tale: The Milk-Blood Trilogy
On the Lips of Children
STRAY
 
 

 

Detritus in Love by Mercedes M. Yardley and John Boden

Detritus in Love - Mercedes M. Yardley, John Boden

Detritus in Love is and it isn't. There is love but it isn't a love story. There is horror but it isn't a horror story. The love comes not from the living and the horror, not from the dead. Yet both are undertones for this beautifully macabre story of Detritus, a boy whose only solace comes from those who shouldn't still be—yet are— and whose Opposite threatens to break what little happiness he has managed to hold on to. Darkly poetic, this little wonder of literary brilliance from Mercedes M. Yardley and John Boden is one that brightened even my dark heart.

 

© 2016 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Odd Man Out by James Newman

Odd Man Out - Pete Kahle, James R. Newman

Odd Man Out by James Newman is for the faint of heart. It's for the bigots and the racists and it's also for the humanitarians, for people who do their best to be good people. It's for anyone who has ever had oxygen in their lungs and blood in their veins. It's a story that could be yours or mine...

 

It's a story of summer camp in the late 80's; of a group of teenage boys all vying to be leader of the pack, or at least not the lowest ranked; of that awkward stage when they're not quite children but not yet men. One of them has a secret and it's about to call into question everything they and perhaps you believe.

 

If there is one book that every person should have to read, this is the one. Everyone reads The Diary of Anne Frank, which shows you hate on a larger scale. Odd Man Out is that same hate but on a smaller scale and much closer to home. It's a hate that every minority, every disabled person, every person with any definable characteristic that can be singled out has to worry about whenever they leave their house, open their mouth, let their guard down... because their existing may offend the wrong person at the wrong time.

 

I am not new to James' name, as he's obviously big in the horror genre. However, as someone who only this year got around to reading my first book by him, I can already tell you that I love his writing style and will hopefully be adding to my Newman pile very soon.

 

I received a copy of this directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2016 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

Review of Invisible Fences by Norman Prentiss

Invisible Fences - Steve Gilberts, Norman Prentiss, Keith Minnion

We are all afraid of something: heights, spiders, strangers, ourselves... I think for most people fear comes from experience, real life levels of aversion therapy. But some, some seem to be born afraid of their own shadow; it is as if there hasn't been a single safe place for them since they left the womb. For yet others, fear has been conditioned into them by other people and those other people are usually the ones who are supposed to be the safest place of all--our parents. Nathan is a product of his upbringing. The stories his parents telling him doing more than just keeping him from crossing a busy street or playing where he shouldn't. They lay the foundation for phobias he will carry with him into adulthood.

 

Not all fear is unfounded. However, in my experience, it's usually the things that take us by surprise that hit the hardest. The things that creep up on us while we are busy trying to secure our life from every other conceivable danger. Invisible Fences is a story of fear. It's a story of conditioning. It's a story about ghosts. Perhaps more 'literary macabre' than actual horror, this dark little novella is sure to satisfy both those who love the dark and those who simply don't want to feel alone in their neuroses. This is the first book I read from Norman Prentiss and still one of my favorites.

 

© 2016 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum

 

Review of Stranded by Bracken MacLeod

Stranded - Bracken MacLeod

Stranded is the second book I've read by Bracken MacLeod, although the first one hasn't been published yet, it was enough to make me realize that I didn't just want to read Stranded, I needed to. I will also need to read anything that he writes/publishes in the future. Stranded was definitely worth all of the hype and I happily have a signed copy on my bookshelf from when I met Bracken for the second time in person.

 

I'm sure by now everyone has told you the plot. I wouldn't be rehashing it, even if I wasn't a bit late in posting my review. What I will tell you is that as a woman who is not real current on my sailor jargon, the book started a bit slow for me. This is entirely why it has taken me so long to write this, because I don't know how else to say it. I wasn't sure how to tell you that I thought it started a bit slow and that I don't think it detracted from the book, whatsoever. That said, by 40% I could not put this book down and the rest went fast, too fast. At first I was a little bummed at the end; I wanted more. But the more I have talked about it and the more I have thought about it (which has been a lot), it's either entirely fitting or a great opening for a sequel. (hint, hint)

 

So how do you write a review that sounds like you don't really like the beginning or the end? Like this. You say that Stranded is one of the best books you have read this year. That Bracken MacLeod is a literary force to be reckoned with. And you say that you maybe could have loved this book a bit more but it was pretty damn good anyways.

 

I received an e-arc of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

© 2016 by Andi Rawson of Andreya's Asylum