‘Salem’s Lot
Horror / September 12, 2017

Title: ‘Salem’s Lot Author: Stephen King Published: 1975 Genre: Horror Length: 653 pages   It would be a little obvious at this point in time to review It, as the new movie has just dropped into theaters. Instead, I decided to bring attention to another Stephen King novel that I read over the summer. ‘Salem’s Lot might not inspire media attention on the level of It , but King’s second novel is a fantastic read all the same. Also, it features blood-thirsty vampires, which are way scarier than clowns any day. I am vaguely aware of the television and movie versions of ‘Salem’s Lot but I have not watched any of them at the time of writing. Judging from the reviews, that may be a good thing. I was inspired to read the book, however, after taking a wickedly delightful trip to Salem, Massachusetts this past summer. As I wandered through the dark and twisting halls of a horror themed wax museum (Count Orlock’s Nightmare Emporium), I unwittingly stumbled upon the terrifyingly life-like figure of a Nosferatu style vampire climbing out of a coffin. The nearby plaque read “‘Salem’s Lot,” and I knew that I would have to find out more about it. The tale begins after…

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Book Review
Fantasy , Horror , Young Adult / October 15, 2016

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Author: Ransom Riggs Published: 2011 Genre: Young Adult Lit, Fantasy, Horror, Historical Fiction  Pages: 353 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a young adult novel that embraces elements of fantasy, horror, and a touch of historical fiction for good measure. The story revolves around our protagonist, the sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman, and his quest to solve the mystery surrounding his grandfather’s unbelievable past. As Jacob travels across the Atlantic to revisit the childhood orphanage of his grandfather, Jacob finds himself grappling with his family’s past in very real terms as he also struggles to decide his own future. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is artistic, atmospheric, and awash with unique and fascinating characters. There is a general sense of impending disaster that hovers over the novel from the very beginning thanks to skillful foreshadowing on the part of the author. The gloomy and foreboding settings pair exquisitely with the incredibly unsettling photographs that litter the novel. To be clear, the black and white photographs that are copied with the pages of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children are all completely authentic. Ransom Riggs artfully inserts the photographs in the appropriate places to support and punctuate the novel’s plot and characterizations while…

Choose Your Own Adventure – Top 10 List

When I was growing up, I always loved a good choose your own adventure book.  What could be more fun than interacting with, and choosing your own story?  In a way, it was almost like you were the author of your own destiny. True, there were always those cheap deaths that would happen when you were forced to make blind choices like which path to go down, but at least you could always go back and start over again! I think that it is a sorry shame that a lot of readers leave the choose your own adventure type books behind in their childhood. There are actually some very entertaining books for adults as well, although there are not nearly enough of them!  It was difficult to come up with ten.  This list combines choose your own adventure for younger readers as well as the more adult oriented ones. Also, I am aware that “Choose Your Own Adventure” is technically used to refer to the series of the same title, but I use the term for any book where you are able to choose your own path. The generic term to use is “gamebook,” but I do not think many people would…

The Zombie Survival Guide: Book Review
Comedy , Horror / October 12, 2016

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks is exactly what the title suggests. There have been many copycat survival guides since the release of The Zombie Survival Guide, but none of them are better than the original. Max Brooks provides chapters relating to about every aspect of zombie apocalypse survival imaginable.  Since I am originally from the Pittsburgh area (George Romero, anyone?) these are topics of potentially vital importance to my well-being.  Some of the sections cover combat, defense, travel, and general survival tips, although there are many more topics that are covered in the various sections.  There are even “true” tales of zombie attacks throughout history, dating from 60,000 BC to modern times. I postulate that the zombie report from 60,000 BC might be mistaking zombies for Neanderthals, but that is only a personal theory with little (no) data to back it up. Brook’s writing style is one of the most important elements in determining if a reader will enjoy The Zombie Survival Guide or be bored to tears by it.  There is no overt comedy in this guide.  In other words, Brooks writes the guide as seriously as if these events might really occur (because they might!) and does not crack jokes to lampoon…

The Last American Vampire: Book Review
Comedy , Fantasy , Historical Fiction , Horror / October 12, 2016

The Last American Vampire is the second novel in a series by Seth Grahame-Smith that begins with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  The Last American Vampire features Abraham Lincoln’s mentor and comrade, Henry Sturges, from the previous novel and fills in the details of his life and undeath. Let me begin this review by making it clear that I loved Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (check out my review). Seth Grahame-Smith’s formatting of the novel is one of the major reasons that I could not stop reading The Last American Vampire.  Seth Grahame-Smith casts himself as Henry Sturges’ interviewer and cobbles together an account from direct “quotes” from Henry that tie together sections of Seth Grahame-Smith’s writing.  The doctored photos that “prove” Henry’s existence at various moments in history also add to the overall effect.  The result is an authentic feel that makes The Last American Vampire read like a genuine history rather than a fictional tale. Henry Sturges’ adventures range across time from early colonial America to the 1960’s but all of his struggles center around hunting down a rogue vampire who is bent on America’s destruction.  Henry battles Jack the Ripper, Rasputin (my personal favorite), and other “historical” vampires who I will not name in order to avoid spoilers.  He also…

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Comedy , Horror / October 9, 2016

Every once in a while a book comes along that truly surprises you.  I picked this book up not too long after it was released, more or less on a whim.  I have a tendency to enjoy random, over-the-top humor, historical fiction, and horror, so I decided to give it a try. Although I braced myself against bitter disappointment, my caution proved to be gleefully unnecessary because Seth Grahame-Smith did not let me down. The narrative style is very attractive and interesting, because the entire story is told by a somewhat fictionalized version of Seth-Grahame Smith himself.  The chapters are made up out of summaries and direct quotations from Lincoln’s secret diary.  Seth Grahame-Smith weaved together real facts and quotes from Lincoln’s life into the fictionalized vampire hunter narrative so well that I am extremely jealous to have not thought of it first. In all seriousness, if we are honest with ourselves, I think that we can all agree that adding vampire hunting into history can only serve as a vast improvement.  Seriously, just look at the book cover.  If that does not get the point across, then I have no idea what will! Honest Abe’s personal vendetta against the vampires (who…