Book Reviews: Joyland & Promise Not To Tell

Here’s a twofer. Buy one, get one free. BOGO.

Recently I’ve been racking up the books in my “read” column, which is great, because for a long time I felt like I had no time to read. It appears I’ve found that time, and I’m glad to have it back. The reason I’m reviewing both of these books together is, they’re both written in the first person and they’re both right around the same length.

First up was Stephen King’s Joyland.

joyland-coverI read some great reviews about this book at Horror Novel Reviews, and I can’t put it any better than they did. So if you want a great breakdown of the book, check those out.

As for me, I found the book to be perfect. What’s fascinating to me is how great of a storyteller Stephen King is, and how he’s not just a one trick pony. Sure, horror is his bread and butter, but when he goes off of that and into other areas, he seems truly at his best. Both of his Hard Case Crime books, this one and The Colorado Kid are amazing. The Eyes of the Dragon is another amazing story. All three are books I will read again, and I will get lost in again. All three have stuck with me, long after having finished them. More so than any of his other works.

Joyland, in particular, delivered on every level. When I absolutely had to put the book down, I was pissed. When it was over, I was pissed. This was something that ruled my day to day life while I was reading it. This is exactly how a first person story should be written. King took something as bland as a normal person’s day to day life and made it not only interesting, but riveting. It was like sitting with an old dude who had lived through it all and listening to him tell a story about his life. I still don’t want to believe this was fiction, it was told so well that SOMEBODY had to have actually lived it.

Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. There’s very little horror involved, as this is true to Hard Case Crime’s status quo. It’s a murder mystery. Even that is placed on the back-burner through much of the story, which is just about a college kid and his summer working at an amusement park, and the people he meets and how he lives his day to day life. And it’s so amazing.

I give this one an easy 5 out of 5 stars.
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“Fear Today, Gone Tomorrow” Now Available!

My story for this year’s 13 Stories Til Halloween has posted! Get your Halloween week started off right! Check it out now!


A Picture is Worth 250 to a Thousand Words #3

Matt Roberts:

Like writing shorts? How about short shorts? Eat my shorts? Try this contest on for size! I’m done with the puns. And the rhymes… this time…

Originally posted on Shannon Giglio:


Stretching our writing muscles here; you know the drill—it’s in the title. Write a short about the picture above and maybe win a prize—stories judged by me and my gifted hubby, author Peter Giglio. 250 – 1000 words. Deadline—Thanksgiving (American; that’s November 27th). What do you win? I don’t know yet—how about a $10 Amazon gift card?

What are you waiting for? Stories don’t write themselves—go!

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Trailer For 13 Stories Til Halloween 2014

It’s here! Check it out!

Five Things We Need More of in Horror Literature Today

Matt Roberts:

As I get ready to go over some edits and send in my second draft of my 13 Stories Til Halloween story (which is a ghost story, and that’s the only hint you’ll get!), check out HNR’s awesome write up of some things missing from modern horror. I couldn’t have written this better myself, and I couldn’t agree more with the five things listed here. We need them all! Where are they?

You’ll have to wait for 13 Stories to get my ghost tale, but for some awesome dark poetry, check out Shay Leigh’s Sins Within!

Originally posted on Horror Novel Reviews:

Written by: Matthew J. Barbour

Every genre needs new and exciting stories. Recently, we have seen an explosion in vampire and zombie literature; splatterpunk, once regarded as smut by the some of the most diehard horror aficionados, has gone main stream; and nowadays, it seems everyone is influenced by H.P. Lovecraft and constructing their own cosmic horror tales.  Truth be told, these trends are beginning to wear a little thin. Here are five things I hope to see more of in horror literature in the future.

The Ghost Story

A ghost is to horror like a knight is to fantasy. It isn’t required of the genre, but it is fundamental. The first thing that comes to mind when speaking of the horror is the ghost story. The roots of these stories intertwine with folk tales and legends as old as the earth itself.  However, their height in popularity appears to…

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Book Review: Asylum

With the recent event of dropping my cell phone in a glass of water, I’ve lost my e-reader and the current book I’ve been reading in the process. While waiting on the rice to hopefully do what it is rumored (and recently tested and failed) to do, I needed something else to read. With so many books in my back catalog of things waiting to be read, a friend of mine had just finished Asylum by Madeleine Roux and told me to give it a shot. So I did.


My friend told me it wasn’t what she expected, as she likes really creepy stuff, like I do. Instead it turned out to be a YA novel and, while she was a bit put off by it not being as scary as she’d hoped, she liked it a bit. Of course there’s nothing wrong with good YA fiction, so I decided to give it a shot.

Being that it’s YA, it doesn’t take long to get through the 300+ pages, so I finished it in 2 days. When it started I wasn’t too attached to it, as page after page gave me what I expected, with easily predictable scenarios. But the longer I read, the more I liked it.

It wasn’t creepy to me at all, but it was a fun story. I enjoyed the characters, even if I’ve basically seen them all before in other YA books, and I enjoyed the story, which I’ve seen in a few other YA books. And even though the story played out how I expected, for the most part, it did give me a few nice twists and turns that helped push the story along and keep it fresh enough that I wanted to read more.
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Watching Them Change

Thea pulled out of the grocery store parking lot and her check engine light came on. She had been having issues with her car lately, with that light coming on and then, a mile down the road, turning itself off. She had the car checked before, but the mechanic found nothing. So when she saw it this time, she thought nothing of it.

She turned onto her street and the car began acting strange. It wasn’t reacting when she hit the gas, stuttering itself down the road.

“Oh no, not now! I have groceries!” She looked at her dash and the check engine light had gone off again, but the car was still acting up. This was a first. She also glanced at the fuel gauge, and she had plenty. She should, she had just put thirty dollars in it the night before and the grocery was the only place she had been since, besides driving home from the gas station. Neither were that far, and her car wasn’t a gas guzzler.

At least I’m close to home if it dies, she thought to herself. I can carry the groceries from here if I have to.

A few blocks from her house, the car finally gave in and puttered itself dead. She coasted it to the curb and parked it. “Dammit,” she sighed loudly to herself. She drew in a deep breath through her nose and blew it out of her mouth. Remaining calm in these situations was something she had been working on lately. Blowing up over things she couldn’t change was controlling her life in a bad way.

Calmed and under control, she got out of the car and gathered her groceries. She had been using totes for her groceries since her store had stopped using paper bags, and she was thankful for them now more than ever because they had handles. Six bags would be heavy and difficult to carry home, but if they had been paper bags it would have been impossible.

As she walked to her house, which she could see just down the street, she saw a neighbor out cutting his grass. She didn’t know him well, but she knew his last name was Collins. Or maybe his first name was Collin. She wasn’t sure. Either way, he was a nice man, always kept his place clean, and he was unmarried with no kids that she knew of. He had a strange orange glow around him, from head to toe. Thea stopped and stared at him for a moment, wondering why she was seeing his aura, if that’s what it was. She had heard about people who claimed to see auras around others, but she didn’t believe in that. She didn’t believe in anything like that.
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Interview: Matt Roberts

Matt Roberts:

The always awesome Beefybooyawn just interviewed me over at his blog! Go check it out!

Originally posted on Beefy's House o' Fun:

Since I had such a great time interviewing the amazing Kristen Stewart of Adventureland fame, which can be read here, I thought I’d give another interview, but this time to somebody who isn’t a statue.

With that said, here is author and historical education writer Matt Roberts! Welcome!

Matt Roberts: Thank you for having me!
Beefy: So, you’re a writer…
MR: That’s right.
BF: I’m writing this interview down right now. Does that qualify me?
MR: Absolutely.
BF: Great. So, you’ve got a book out called Hand One Is Dealt. Your thoughts?
MR: I do have a book out and that is the name of it.
BF: Awesome. When do you find the time to write?
MR: Whenever I’m not doing something else.
BF: Interesting. What’s your favorite pizza?
MR: Cooked.
BF: Indeed. How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck…

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How Well Do You Know Your Horror Novels? Take the HNR Horror Quiz to Find Out!

Matt Roberts:

Well, I got a dismal 6 out of 13 (I see what you did there HNR) but I guess that’s good considering some of the 6 I got right were guesses! See if you can do better at the HNR Horror Quiz!

Originally posted on Horror Novel Reviews:

Think you know everything there is to know about horror novels and the twisted minds that create them? Well, we challenge you to a duel… well, not a duel, technically. But hey, why not a tricky quiz designed to befuddle the mind?

Think about these questions before you answer, folks. We’re judging you!

Drop us a line, and let us know what you scored!

Take the quiz RIGHT HERE!

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Bookshelf Tag

I know, I don’t post nearly enough these days. What can I say? I’ve got a lot going on. However, a friend of mine just posted a cool little thing over at her blog called *surprise* Bookshelf Tag. People are supposed to be tagged to do this, but she tagged nobody, so I figured I’d jump in and do this myself. And like her, I’m not going to tag anybody, so if you are so inspired to do this yourself, have at it!

1- Is there a book that you really want to read but haven’t because you know that it’ll make you cry?
No, but there have been a few books that made me cry. I probably cried the hardest when I read My Girl. Yes, the book inspired by the movie, and yes, the part where Macaulay’s character dies from the bees. I was a kid and it was sad.

2- Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.
I guess I’d have to turn to the popular answer to this. Needful Things by Stephen King. I was a teen and up to that point I had never read a novel, especially of that length, and I had never read horror, and I had never read Stephen King. I’ve been hooked ever since.

3- Find a book that you want to reread.
Like Jolene said, “A book?” I have such a long list of books that I need to read for the first time that I fear I’ll never get to reread the books that I’d love to reread, but amongst them are The Eyes Of The Dragon and Cell by Stephen King (the latter I will reread before I see the movie when it comes out), and eventually I’ll reread the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide series again. I’ve read it three or four times in total, which is the most I’ve read any book or series.

4- Is there a book series you’ve read but wish that you hadn’t?
No. There are individual books I wish I hadn’t read. Lisey’s Story from Stephen King is one I actually didn’t finish because I couldn’t get into it. There’s another recent one, but I can’t remember the name of the book or the author. I got 2 pages in and had to put it away.

5- If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?
There are a few books I’d be very upset to lose, but I think the one I’d save if I could only save one would be The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan. My dad gave me that book and it was the first thing I read by Brautigan that got me hooked on his work.

6- Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?
Either of Wilson Rawls’ books, Where The Red Fern Grows or Summer Of The Monkeys. I absolutely love those books. In the beginning of Fern when he talks about remembering his childhood and then goes into the story, I feel like I’m remembering it with him. It’s such a fantastic journey to go on and I love going on it. It’s a shame he only put those two books out.

7- Find a book that has inspired you the most.
This is tough. Probably, once again, Where The Red Fern Grows. It’s such a great book and for me it is the epitome of what storytelling is all about. It makes you feel for the characters, it draws you in to the story, and when it’s over it leaves a lasting impression. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer.

8- Do you have any autographed books?
Yes. I love autographed books and I’m not entirely sure why other than I think it’s cool to have author’s signatures. My first one was Sharon M. Draper, who signed her book Tears Of A Tiger for me. What an amazing book, and she’s an amazing woman! She stopped by my high school to talk to my class and afterwards had a book signing. After that, I wanted more autographed books, but it took a long time to get any more. I have an autographed copy of Beastial, which was actually signed to somebody else. I also have an awesome autographed copy of one of Alexandra Sokoloff’s books that she sent to me personally for writing a review of another of her books here! That was really cool, she’s a class act. I want to say I have one more, but I can’t recall if I do or not.

9- Find the book that you have owned the longest.
Oh man. I have a few from when I was a kid. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles official movie book might be the oldest one I have.

10- Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?
No. The only author I don’t care to read, no offense to anyone, is Stephanie Meyer. Other than that I’m pretty open to reading whomever.