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Cuddlebuggery Book Blog > Horror

Messenger of Fear

“He is not indifferent, that’s the thing. His too-near voice that seems always to be whispering in my ear is held to a standard of cool detachment, but his eyes and his mouth and his forehead and the way he swallows all speak of reflected pain.”

The opening installment to Michael Grant’s new series seems largely a routine affair. As the introductory piece to a larger work, Messenger of Fear is rather simplistic in both its construction and its establishing of an overarching mythos and cast of characters. It’s all mostly predictable (particularly the big “twist” near the end, which one will likely figure out very early on), following as it does the well-worn formula that so many YA authors have taken to since the meteoric rise of the paranormal romance genre.

This particular incarnation centers on Mara, who awakens in a sort of limbo with no clear memory of who she is or how she came to be in this new dimension.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey

The problem is The Girl With All The Gifts is that it is amazing and I don’t want to tell you anything about it.

You see, one of the best parts of this book is how it unfolds. Each layer of the story is slowly revealed with as much intense build up as the human nervous system can take. You guys, this book is flat out creepy. Like my shoulders are tense, I kind of have goosebumps, WHAT’S THAT? NO DON’T TOUCH ME I’M SCARED creepy. I went in with zero idea of what to expect besides Ellen at Orbit was really excited about it, Joss Whedon and io9 loved it and I think maybe there are zombies or something. I think this approach is sort of key for getting the full effect of the narrative.

Unfortunately, this leaves me kind of at loose ends as far as reviewing goes.


“The difference between childhood and adulthood, Vic had come to believe, was the difference between imagination and resignation. You traded one for the other and lost your way.”

Joe Hill is a bit of an enigma to me. His use of a pseudonym seems to suggest that he has long desired to avoid being compared to his father as a writer and storyteller – an understandable enough wish, given the longstanding cultural popularity and relevance that King has enjoyed throughout his career. As the son of the man responsible for such titles asCarrieThe Dark Tower, and The Shining, one could reasonably expect Hill to do his damnedest to ensure that his own adventures with the written word are tainted with as little potential for bias as possible, to give the critics and everyday readers no reason to accuse him of only coasting along on the privilege afforded to him by familial relation.

Don't You Forget About Me

Since I’ve started my little project of Reading Whatever I Wanna — AKA This Ain’t Your Job — I’ve noticed I’m reading more and, more importantly, enjoying it. Sometimes I still want to talk about these books, though, so that’s when To All the Books I Forgot to Review was born. This works out perfectly for a few reasons: (1) Sometimes I don’t have an entire post worth of words to talk about just one book. (2) Since we have so many reviewers now, we might end up reading the same books, but I don’t always review them. (3) It also let’s me read more and talk more, just in a more condensed format. Of course, the best part for my readers is that this post will always feature a giveaway of some of the books mentioned, open internationally to our readers.

Hover over the books for the synopsis and links!


Chuck Palahniuk believes that you are an idiot.

I say this without any definitive proof, of course, but having read this particular novel of the man’s in its entirety and parts of another (Damned, if you are curious), I think that this assertion is a fairly reasonable one. My experience with Palahniuk is quite limited, obviously, so you may freely label me as being overly judgmental or poorly informed without having to worry about me heatedly debating your claims. Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I am too quick to such a strong opinion.

I find myself, however, caring little about the ultimate validity of my views, because, after forcing myself through Haunted, I think it likely that I will never touch Palahniuk’s work again, and I am not in the least upset by this decision.

I picked this one up because I have long suspected that its author’s craft is the type that is, if absolutely nothing else, entertaining.

20th Century Ghosts

If there is but one thing that I truly adore about Stephen King’s work, it is his penchant for crafting consistently interesting short stories. Granted, the quality of his storytelling tends to vary quite broadly from one tableau to the next, and his tone can vary so dramatically that it is oftentimes difficult to maintain a stable understanding and mindset towards what he is trying to accomplish in the space of some dozen pages at a time. Still, his entries are always, if nothing else, entertaining, with at least one wonderfully weird, wonderfully unsettling idea or detail to make the brief journey in one way or another worthwhile.

I bring this up because Joe Hill strikes me as being much the same sort of writer as his father. In fact, I could easily see 20th Century Ghosts as being a work stemmed from the elder King’s pen, so similar is Hill’s wordplay and imagination.

Review: Horde by Ann Aguirre

Horde by Ann Aguirre

To any authors trying to figure out how to end their series, I advise you to talk to Ann Aguirre because that lady knows what she’s doing. If I had to sum up my feelings in a gif, it would be this:

I imagine Horde feels similar to a satisfying run. (As I am the kind of person that goes out of her way to avoid that sort of activity, I wouldn’t know firsthand but I’ve read about it.) Your adrenaline’s up and your blood is pumping, you’re in that magic zone where everything’s a rush and you haven’t started to feel the fatigue. It has all of the best bits of the previous Razorland books (action, danger that feels real, character growth and subtle, heartwarming feels) minus the self-righteous assholes running around saying the monsters will eat you if girls wear pants.

Deuce continues to be, hands down, one of my favorite YA Heroines.

The Shining

Despite being a longtime fan of the singular Stephen King, I feel that my acquaintance with his work is depressingly lacking.  While I’ve read plenty by him, I have yet to get to some of his most celebrated and/or popular contributions.  I consider myself a fan of the man, but how can one consider himself as such if he has yet to read the Dark Tower series, or The Stand?

I picked up The Shining, so famous today and yet untouched by myself, on a whim, primarily because it had suddenly come to my attention that a sequel had been written.  Seeing as how very few of King’s works has ever played recipient to a bona-fide follow-up, I figured that my reading of one of his most famous pieces was long overdue, especially given its treatment by other mediums of entertainment.

I have, of course, seen Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation. 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman is the sort of author whom I always mean to read, and yet never actually get around to picking up.

I’ve enjoyed adaptations of his work.  Coraline is one of my favorite films, and Stardust, though flawed, proved an entertaining watch.

And I like the man himself.  His imagination and skill as a writer is clear, and he seems like that kind of down-to-earth celebrity whom you can easily imagine spending an afternoon with, drinking tea and talking fiction.

Yet, I’ve only read one of his stories in its entirety, and that was the aforementioned tale of button eyes and Other Mothers.  I have attempted his Good Omens twice, and one day intend to make the journey through his Sandman series, but otherwise have been seemingly the only reader in all of existence who hasn’t devoured and loved his words to bits.

All this leading up to the actual novel subject to this review: As his latest, Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a remarkable little book that really works for a number of reasons, and proves a slice of cultural output that convinces me once and for all that I really need to seek out the author’s other works.

Rot and Ruin

Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin gives the zombie genre an interesting little spin.  Granted, my experience with literature involving flesh-eaters has been rather lax, but I nonetheless feel confident in stating that the Benny Imura series is unique in at least one very important way.  Rather than treating the undead hordes as mere sacks of rotting flesh and brittle bones, there only to pose various obstacles for the human characters whom we are meant to side with, Maberry does something that is oftentimes only touched on in other media on the subject:

He makes them human.

Sure, they’re falling apart at the seams and have an unquenchable desire for your precious internal organs.  But, at one point or another, they were just like you and me.  Human beings with beating hearts and functioning brains.  People who had hopes, desires, dreams and fears.  The author’s focus on this knowledge is a standout aspect of the novel.

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