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Tommy Reads 2018

Thank goodness for Goodreads. Seriously. I don’t know how else i would keep track of my year long books read without it. Plus, there’s the progress goals that helps you keep on track with reading. There were more than a few times that I had gotten so bogged down in my own work that I needed that reminder to take a breath and read other peoples books. And I have found some good suggested reads on there too. This year, my goal was 12 books, one per month. Kinda wimpy when compared to others, I know. I saw one person with like a 500 book reading goal. Freaking crazy! I guess i’m just a slow reader. I am setting 2019 goals a little higher with plans to read more small press indie books. There year is, though, what it is. Can’t complain. I’ve read some really great titles. So, without further babbling on my part, here are my 2018 reads!

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Necroscope II: Vamphyri!

By:  Brian Lumley

Wow, I didn’t really believe book 2 could top book 1, but dang was I wrong. Much like in book 1, the story has a slow drawl and then quickly picks up pace, especially toward the end with Vamphyri. While there wasn’t much vampire action in book 1, it had it in spades in book 2. I really enjoyed how deep in went in mythology and history of how Thibor was created, kinda like a medieval Dracula twist. I was curious as to the fate of Harry–his story here was very gratifying (sorry, no spoilers). The ending came with a bang–sad at times and satisfying . What happened to Alec was heart wrenching and horrifying–i’m now eager to start book 3.

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Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology

By: Johnathan Maberry, Et. al.

I will say this, I burned through this book quickly. Lots of great stories to enjoy, I especially like the truck driver one “Dead Run” by Chuck Wendig. “Deadliner” by Shusterman was also entertaining. My favorite from this collection is a tie between “Snaggletooth” by Brallier—which worked like a zombie version of The Tell-Tale-Heart, and “Jimmy Jay Baxter’s Last, Best Day on Earth” by John Skipp, even though the ending was very abrupt, it was devilishly fun.

Most of the others were good enough, though surprisingly not fitting into the mold of “Nights of the Living Dead.” I had thought these were supposed to be stories based in the Night of the Living Dead universe, that is 1968 in all its wonderful awfulness. However, there were quite a few that stepped outside that timeline, mentioning cell phones and other such things that were obviously not around back then. In fact, only a few took advantage of that kind of plot-line, using the real turmoil in 1968 to juxtaposed against the zombie Apocalypse–highlighting how we as a species are truly are own worst enemy. Still…they were entertaining enough.

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The Haunting of Hill House

By:  Shirley Jackson

A fantastic and sadly short read. Nell was a very tragic character and the conditions in which the characters found themselves within Hill House was strange and unsettling. There were real chilling moments of terror, such as when Nell was laying in bed believing she was holding Theo’s hand but then discovered she was not. The ending was jarring to the point that it felt very sudden and not what i was expecting. The Haunting of Hill House is certainly one of “those” reads fans of supernatural thrillers and horror ought to take the time to read.

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The Amityville Horror

By: Jay Anson

A great quick read. I had seen the both movies (original and sequel) prior and i can see why they changed things in the film versions, but i can also see why the second movie focused so much on the “Exorcist” vibe. That this wasn’t just about ghosts, this was demonic too. With that in mind, it makes the book/story feel even more creepy. Not sure how much faith i have that this was “based on real events,” certainly there are things that happen in this world that we cannot explain. Reading this book with an open mind will certainly give you the chills.

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The Ridge: An Elders Keep Novella

By: Jeffery X. Martin

A fantastic piece of folk horror. The story was driven with an excellent sense of mystery and intrigue. The characters were very relatable, a husband and wife team. The monsters were excellently ancient and yet still completely original. Seriously, you’re not going to want to miss. A must read for horror fans, but especially for those who fancy folk horror from an author who is truly becoming a master in this niche.

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The Rising

By: Brian Keene

Not what I was expecting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I thought I was walking into a zompoc read, and while i did; I didn’t. The best way to describe The Rising is that it was like a blend of zombies and The Evil Dead. The zombies are not brainless consumers, as in a traditional Romero story. They talk. They think. They plan. And they are utterly evil. The best part of this book, like in any decent zombie story, are the characters. The cast are very diverse, each suffering and struggling with their own internal and external conflicts. And the other survivors, mostly, are just as evil, if not worse, than the zombie-demons. The Rising is a must read for horror fans.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers

By: Jack Finney

Great read, totally recommend for fans of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers universe. I kept picturing the actors from the 1956 cast. And for the most part it follows suit, though there are some mighty keen differences. The ending is the biggest change and i shall not be the one to ruin the surprise. Though, truth be told my favorite ending is by far the 1978 movie, so very awesomely nihilistic. The book ending certainly has those undertones, but not near as dark as i was expecting/hoping. Still, a great read, lot of good lines to remember and ponder on.

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Chariots of the Gods

By: Erich von Daniken

The truth is certainly out there, whatever truth you want. Here’s my moment of truth: I first became interested in reading this book because of two reasons, 1. Ancient Aliens TV show on “History Channel,” and 2. The Thing, when Palmer said “…Chariots of the Gods, man. They practically own South America. I mean, they taught the Incas everything they know” I knew then that i wanted to read the book and because i knew it started a new sub genre within speculative history (of which i do not look too favorably on). And this book is certainly full of speculation. While very well thought out, it reminded me of struggling to fit puzzle pieces together that don’t fit. Are there unanswered questions from our past? Gosh yes, and i’m thankful that they are “unanswered.” To know all the answers, even to claim to, would make life a little more boring, i think. I liked the premise, i love questioning the boundaries of what we know about ancient history, but in the end, a lot of the conclusions such as in this book sound more fiction than reality. Not that i do not believe in life outside the sphere of our small blue dot–maybe i believe in a different kind of extraterrestrial.

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Necroscope III: The Source

Brian Lumley

Just when you thought the series couldn’t get anymore expansive, bam! comes The Source. I have to admit, it took me a few tries to get back into the swing of Brian Lumley’s epic detail oriented storytelling–that kind of style of writing just isnt around much anymore, or at least not any that are good. And Lumley is certainly good! The characters in this one are just as vetted and likeable (or dislikeable) as in previous installments. I was thrilled to see Harry once again back in a physical role instead of the metaphysical. There are new characters too, my fav being Jazz Simmons, an unlikely survivor/British spy thrust into the world of monsters and strange alien worlds. While some of the science-meta stuff gets a bit cornballish, it makes enough sense to shrug it off. I def must read for fans of the series and certainly fans of horror and vampires that certainly do not sparkle.

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I Am Legend and Other Stories

Richard Matheson

An interesting take on the vampire–if that is what they were–mythology. It was a fun read with a real twist/poetic ending, unlike many other monster tales in which the “apple cart” is set back up again. I liked the protagonist methodological/scientific approach and his day to day dealings with maintaining his sanity with being alone. Certainly a classic fans of horror will not and should not miss.

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20th Century Ghosts

By: Joe Hill

I can’t remember who suggested that I read Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts but regardless this was not the book I thought it was going to be. But i thought i was getting a ghost story. I liked it enough to give a rating of 4 stars, granted, but whatever horror or thriller elements I thought would be here was like shopping with a minimalist. Horror was there–ghosts were there…somewhere, in tales of button-boys and hauntings of old movie theaters, certainly notwithstanding, but otherwise…don’t put a “ghosts” on your title if there are in fact no ghosts. That said, most of stories, which may or may not have lacked actual horror, were very character driven and well written. The last story was great, more like a novella, except for the ending which felt like Joe didn’t really know how to end it properly and so just kinda let it fade to black. But, you give me a tale about interdimensional gateways inside a kids cardboard box fort, well, I’m sold. The story about the cape was great too, i really enjoyed the ending of that one. And my other top favorite was the titular story 20th Century Ghosts. I love tales of old movie theaters.

Thomas S. Flowers is an Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom Army veteran who loves scary movies, BBQ, and coffee. Ever since reading Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” and Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” he has inspired to write deeply disturbing things that relate to war and horror, from the paranormal to his gory zombie infested PLANET of the DEAD series, to even his recent dabbling of vampiric flirtation in The Last Hellfighter readers can expect to find complex characters, rich historical settings, and mind-altering horror. Thomas is also the senior editor at Machine Mean, a horror movie and book review site that hosts contributors in the horror and science fiction genre. You can follow Thomas and get yourself a FREE eBook copy of FEAST by joining his newsletter. Sign up by vising his website at www.ThomasSFlowers.com.

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