Friday, May 18, 2018

"He Said / She Said"

“He Said/She Said”
Written by Erin Kelly
Review written by Diana Iozzia

            First and foremost, I think this book is going to get me back into the British psychological thriller books, and I’m grateful for that. I had heard great things about Erin Kelly and was intrigued by “He Said/She Said”.
            This book has four perspectives, Kit in 1999, Laura in 1999, and both of them in 2015. Kit is an eclipse hunter, bringing along his girlfriend, Laura, for her first time to see an eclipse. At the festival for this eclipse, Laura witnesses a stranger, Beth, being raped and assaulted by Jamie, another stranger.
            We see the story in the past, of Laura and Kit’s battle in the courtroom, to prove that Jamie indeed raped Beth, that it was not consensual sex that looked strange and kinky, as Jamie claimed. Slowly, intertwined with present day Kit and Laura, we unfold the story of the aftermath of Jamie’s conviction. Beth becomes obsessed and clingy to Laura, much to Kit’s dismay.
             In present day, Kit and Laura are expecting twins. Kit is off on an eclipse chase, under an assumed name, hoping Beth has stopped looking for them (Why he’s afraid of her? Of course, we don’t know the whole story yet). Laura stays home and increasingly becomes paranoid, as a video of drunken Kit appears on social media, nearly becoming viral.
            This novel is twisty and intriguing, but it does not pay off with the ending I had expected or wanted. I had a thought in my mind where it could be going, but it seemed to be a red herring, as other reviews have agreed. The twist and climax were not predictable, but they just were not exciting or thrilling. Yes, they were suspenseful and a little surprising, but I was a little underwhelmed with the ending. However, the other 75 percent of the book beforehand was great. I thoroughly enjoyed this, but do not think this book is going to have the shocking, brilliantly concocted twist ending that it’s branded to have. 
* won in a contest held by Minotaur Books on Instagram . *

"The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares"

“The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares”
Presented by Jason Blum
A Collection of Short Stories
Review written by Diana Iozzia
The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares by Jason Blum

            Where on Earth to begin? In shopping in the book section of the ever-brilliant Dollar Tree, I found “The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares”. I have been a fan of films created and produced by the Blumhouse production company in the past. My favorites include: “Sinister”, “Paranormal Activity”, and my favorite horror film to date, “Get Out”. I opened up this book and found that the book is a collection of short stories written by Jason Blum’s friends and colleagues, including a contest winner to have a place in the book. Jason Blum had stipulated to each writer that the story they contributed did not need to be of a certain plot, horror, character choice, or fear level. The main stipulation was that each story should take place in a city. Whether that be a fictional or a non-fictional city. By the way, this is not a spoiler free review. But I’m not going to give toooooo much detail in case you do read the book after you read my review.
            To begin, I cannot give a flat answer, “yes, this book was amazing” or “this book was terrible”. Short story collections are often difficult to gauge, because they are often written by various authors. I would say for this, I counted how many stories I loved, how many I liked, and how many I wanted to burn. I am a fan of horror fiction, but not every horror plot intrigues me. I am not afraid of much, aside from falling from literally any height, drowning, dark laundromats, and food that might be saucy or squirt out at you when you try to bite it. So, when I begin reading horror, I look for scary stories that would be great at a campfire, or when you’re trying to creep out your significant other before bed time. I did not expect to hide under the covers or place white sheets over my mirrors.
            “Hellhole” followed a man who is flipping a rotten and destroyed money pit of a home in Brooklyn. I didn’t enjoy the plot or the ending, but the writing style was intriguing.
            “Valdivia” was one of my favorite stories, and after reading this book about a month ago, this story is certainly the most memorable. I was intrigued after I read that the author was Eli Roth, a horror favorite and common colleague of Jason Blum. Our main character visits a strange city in Chile, in which he investigates to find about the rumored Nazi community that once existed there. **

            “Golden Hour” follows two men hunting down predatory monsters in Hollywood. I disliked this story greatly.
            “A Clean White Room” follows a strange landlord who kills tenants for the superintendent. This was absolutely the worst, most boring, and stupidest story in the collection. I know my opinion is subjective, but I hate it and that’s that.
            “The Leap” follows a really strange psychic who has the ability to possess others. This was a story I didn’t expect to like, but I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end. **
            “Novel Fifteen” follows a pompous mystery writer. He’s sweaty and an alcoholic. He’s bored. He’s possibly going to have a mental breakdown. I think this story is more, “you’re driving yourself insane” scary than “ooh, there’s a boogeyman” scary.
            “The Darkish Man” follows a creepy stalker who kills people mysteriously in bars. Umm, nah. Skip this one.
            “1987” was a strange story about homophobia and gay bashing.
            “Geist” creeped me out pretty badly before bed. This follows an urban legend in Munich, in which a man who finds out his lover is a ghost. **
            “Gentholme” was fascinating and a really creative way to tell a story in which a couple accidentally move into a ghost town, with its previous occupants still around... ***
            “Donations” was the short story winner that was entered into this collection. I thought this was completely passable. A city in which people, their body parts, and their possessions are taken by some magical omnipotent, over-being for donations to the city. This sounds like an episode of “The Twilight Zone”, but we’re missing the twist ending, like “Oh, they’re all in a doll house. Oh, they’re experiments made by Sid from ‘Toy Story’”.
            “The Old Jail” follows a man’s descent into insanity. It was really confusing, but I didn’t mind it too much. The narrative is strange, because it’s from the perspective of the man, so the narrative becomes more frenzied as the story progresses.
            “The Words” is about a child psychologist who is struggling to have her young five-year-old trauma patient recover from his tragedy and his mutism.
            “Dreamland” follows a sleep study gone wrong. I can imagine this on screen, whether it be a film or a Black Mirror episode. Pretty good, but also bizarre on many different levels.
            “Meat Maker” was a strange, weird cop chase.
            “Eyes” was completely unmemorable. Even skimming it for a second time just to write up a little bit about it for the review, I remember absolutely nothing from this. It seems like our main narrator is a man who is paranoid a homeless man is following him.
            “Procedure” follows a police investigator who is trying to solve the crime of a rape and attack of a woman. She shows him a secret group of strange surgeons who have found an erogenous zone inside the body, only accessible by an invasive, dark room procedure.
            Overall, my favorite stories were “Geist”, “Gentholme”, and “The Leap”. I think these stories were brilliant, while some of the other stories were lackluster. I would suggest this if you have a wide taste in horror, I think this just proved I’m more of a “ghost story” horror fan.