WOOFER'S LAIR

Welcome to Woofer's Lair. Curious as to what you will see here? Well, for the most part, you will find book reviews, maybe the occasional movie review, and if you are lucky, you might stumble across one of my own works in progress. If you like what you see or what read, and even if you don't, please feel free to leave your comments. As I am somewhat new to blogging, all of your constructive feedback is appreciated. Have fun and thanks for stopping by.

Wicked Seasons

Wicked Seasons
My short story, HUNGRY FOR MORE, is included

CURRENTLY READING

CURRENTLY READING
Hunter Shea's Loch Ness Revenge

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Don't Bother Checking In

It's been three years since the massacre at Death House. Now a New York firm owns the property and is attempting to re-open the luxurious house and someone ain't happy about it. That's right, folks. Everybody's cross-dressing master of mimicry, Benji, is back.

Even if you've only seen one slasher film, you'll know what to expect from D'Allasandra's follow-up to Death House. That should be part of the fun—but it isn't; in fact, it's one of the reasons why this book fails. She (actually he, as Andrea D'Allasandra is actually Jery Tillotson) isn't concerned with character development because she knows she's only going to kill them off. Her only concern is to keep the story moving, but even that gets stale after awhile.

The characters in Horror House are poorly developed stereotypes, all of which you hope get killed off soon just so you don't have to deal with them anymore. Take Scotty, for example. The only gay character in the book. A flamboyant ex-stripper/GoGo Boy trying to live the legitimate life because he's fallen in love with the nerdish professor, Charlie (who never makes an appearance), yet like ALL (yes, I am being sarcastic here, so don't start sending me hate mail) gay men, he wants to screw every guy he sees and is constantly fantasizing about seducing Tyler, the straight, jock-type security guard. While the author tries to make him the likable comic relief, his over the top characterization makes the reader hope he's one of the first to go. One of the other problems with D'Allesandra's characters is that she pulls things out of thin air whenever it's convenient for that point in the story. Scotty thinks with his dick, but then all of a sudden he's got this soft spot for kids. Josie Jetson, a successful author of cookbooks who looks more like Honey Boo Boo's mother than Martha Stewart, is an abrasive, obnoxious bitch who hates everyone—but has a soft spot for kids. And why are kids their Achilles' Hell? Because Benji "adopts" an abused child, who then becomes a tool to catch his victims unaware. When you look at the entire cast of characters, there really isn't a likable one in the crowd, not even the sheriff, the only carry over from the first book. The "good guy" has been reduced to a conceited strip-o-gram cop who literally masturbates while watching himself perform in a home-made bisexual porn flick he made with another sheriff and the man's wife. Somebody give me a happy ending and shoot this guy—quickly.

Since the characters aren't enough to keep you interested, you pray the story itself is enough to hold your interest, but unfortunately, it isn't. There's nothing new, nothing fresh, but you plod on hoping that one of the characters will be killed off in an interesting, unique manner. Don't hold your breath. Not even the writing is enough to keep the reader engaged because it is very poor. One has to wonder if D'Allesandra accidentally submitted a first draft instead of the polished, final version because Horror House suffers from the same thing so many other self-published books suffer from—poor or no editing. With clunky sentence structure and needless repetition, it becomes painful at times to read.

I really wanted to like Horror House, but unfortunately I didn't, and I can't, in good conscience, recommend it. There are so many other self-published books out there you can spend your time with.



Thursday, January 10, 2013

There's Something Out There

I don't know what it is about Bigfoot, but I just can't get enough of the big oaf. When I was a kid, I remember watching the infamous Patterson-Gimlin video. I was going to be the one who found the irrefutable proof that Bigfoot existed. I said the same thing about the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster, too. To this day, I still find the legend of Bigfoot fascinating, and yes, I watch Finding Bigfoot, I'm not ashamed to admit it. And that's why when Eric S. Brown comes out with a new book I'm usually one of the first ones to buy it. The man writes Bigfoot. Not the shy creatures hiding out in the woods that we've all heard about, but vicious, man-hating, man-eating terrors of the deep woods.

This outing, Brown teams up with Jennifer Minar-Jaynes to give us Boggy Creek, The Legend is True, a novelization of a film by the same name, which I haven't seen yet — but it's on my list. Brown doesn't waste any time getting to the meat of the matter, so to speak. Boggy Creek opens with a rather nasty attack on a young couple parked in the woods. Casey Guthrie is savagely mauled and his girlfriend, Brittany, is among the missing. Missing? Yeah, Brown finally went there without actually going there. Seems that's the MO of these Bigfoot attacks — the men are killed, the women abducted. You do the math. Anyway, back to poor Casey. It's a powerhouse opening to a fun read.

As it turns out, Casey and Brittany aren't the only victims of these random animal attacks. Yeah, you heard me. Seems the local sheriff knows what going on, but refuses to do anything about it because of some misguided sense of duty. It's his deputy, Mark Klein, who finally grows a pair and decides enough is enough. He and his redneck friends decided to hunt the beast down.

Meanwhile, enter some would-be college freshmen. Jennifer Dupree and her friend, Maya, are headed to Boggy Creek for a little rest and relaxation. Jennifer is actually coming to lay the past to rest. Her fathered lived in Boggy Creek until he met his maker in a freak accident (or did he? We're never told what exactly happened to her old man). Unbeknownst to Jennifer, Maya has planned to make this a partying weekend, and thus the scene is set. Now the question becomes: Will Jennifer and friends survive their week in the wilds of Boggy Creek, or will they become meat for the beast?

Let me start off by saying Boggy Creek, The Legend is True is not a great book, but it is well written (barring a few errors that I'll get to later), and it is fun. I mean, it's Bigfoot; what's not to like? Given the length of the novella (a mere 120 pages), it's perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon in front of the fireplace. Notice I say afternoon. If you live in the city with not a tree in sight, feel free to curl up in bed at night, but if you, like me, live in or near a wooded area, it's best to read this during daylight hours. The scare factor isn't high, but the suspense is there. The authors have the ability to draw you into the story, so much so that you'll be jumping at those unexplained sounds outside. Is that really a branch scratching at the window, or something else?

The cast of characters in Boggy Creek, The Legend is True is your typical slasher fare: creepy neighbor, gruff sheriff, inept deputy, partying coeds, and a host of cannon fodder. Regardless of their role, the authors treat them all with the same attention to detail, fleshing them out and making them real. They give that same attention to his scenic descriptions as well, fully realizing the locales, thereby making it so easy for the reader to lose him- or herself in the narrative.

For all the pluses in this novella that make it a fun read, there are a few glaring errors that were enough to jolt me out of the story and had me flipping back to double check to see if I had misread something. In the very beginning — remember Casey and his girlfriend? — the couple is sitting in the front seat of his pickup. Yet a few paragraphs in, the monster leans into the car. Wait a minute? Didn't you just say they were in a pickup truck? OOPS! (Bad editor!) When Jennifer arrives in town, she and Maya pass a sign that says, "Boggy Creek, Texas. Population 406." Later on when the sign is passed, it reads, "Boggy Creak, Texas. Population 421." Whoa! Wait just a cotton pickin' minute! Was there a baby boom within the past 24 hours or so? And is the highway department that much on top of things that they were out there putting up a new sign so quickly? (Very bad editor!) And a little later on, when Jennifer meets the creepy neighbor, he says his name is Dustin Long, but two chapters later, during a flashback, he name is Dustin O'Brien. (Very, very bad editor!) Yeah, he may have given her an assumed name, but if he is supposed to be concerned for the girl's well-being, especially after what happened to his wife, why lie? More importantly, we aren't told that he lied. The average reader might not notice these things, but to me they were glaringly obvious and enough to break the flow of the story. There were a few other things that I can't recall at the moment, which means they weren't enough to knock me out of the narrative.

The only drawback to the book is that the authors didn't give us a look at Bigfoot other than through the eyes of the characters. They put us in the creatures head when it is about to attack, but doesn't give us a peek at the "homestead". Are the ladies being dragged back to the lair in a Neanderthal-type manner only to be served up as a midnight snack? Or are they, as is insinuated within the text, being used as breeding stock? Inquiring minds want to know these things. Is there a "I had Bigfoot's baby" story in the future? One can only hope.

All in all, though, I have to say that Eric S Brown and Jennifer Minar-Jaynes delivered a solid and enjoyable story, a must for Bigfoot fans. Highly recommended!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? GHOST TRACKERS!

The first time I learned SyFy was airing a show called Ghost Hunters, I remember being so excited. I mean, as a kid, that's what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be the next Hans Holzer. I couldn't wait to see it. And half way through it, I remember thinking, What a crock of shit! I know, I know. It's SyFy. But still... So when I saw that Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson teamed up with Tim Waggoner (author of Pandora Drive and Darkness Wakes, the only Waggoner books I've read to date), to write what promises to be a supernatural series, I groaned. Literally. I know Tim can write, but what was he thinking teaming up with these jokers? Were they doing novelizations of their "cases"? If so, I figured they would be good for a laugh. I could already hear the dialogue in my head: Did you see that?, What was that?, Did you hear that?, with nothing manifesting. If you've ever seen their show, you'll know what I'm talking about. Curiosity got the better of me, so I investigated further and read the jacket copy — and it didn't sound bad at all. In fact, it kinda reminded me of my own teenage years when I wanted to go poking around the supposedly haunted houses in my neighborhood. So... Against my better judgement, I took the plunge and bought it.

Fifteen years ago, three friends who shared an interest in the paranormal ventured into the infamous Lowry House. What happened while they were in there was so traumatic, they were robbed not only of their memories of that night, but also huge blocks of their high school memories.  But whatever happened that night runs far deeper. Amber never fully recovered. She's plagued by nightmares, keeps herself heavily medicated, and can't seem to hold down a steady job. Drew, a psychologist, entered his chosen field with an ulterior motive — that somewhere along the way, while treating his patients, he would find the key to unlock his own lost memories. Trevor continues his pursuit of the paranormal with the hopes that a chance encounter will trigger the lock box in his mind and allow his memories to be rediscovered. That night in Lowry House, something else was lost as well, the chain that bound the three friends together. After that night, they drifted apart.

One night, a voice from their past reaches out to Amber. A fellow misfit, Greg, calls her and invites her to attend their 15 year high school reunion. She's reluctant at first, but before she can talk herself out of it, she's reaching for the phone and reconnecting with her old friends, friends she hasn't spoken to since that night.

From the moment they arrive, it's obvious that whatever entity traumatized them as teenagers isn't finished with them. Nothing overtly frightening, more like a cat playing with a mouse. Some of their memories start to filter back to them, but not nearly enough to prepare them for what's to come. Will they recover their memories in time, or will the evil of Lowry House, even though the house itself no longer stands, finish what it started 15 years ago?

One of the problems you have when dealing with a book like this is you never know just how much the known author, in this case, Waggoner, had to do with it. Did he do a majority of the writing, or did the television personalities do the writing with the author only on hand to offer suggestions and help shape things up?  Without knowing the answers to these questions, I went into Ghost Trackers not expecting much, and sometimes it's best going in with minimal expectations. This way I wouldn't be disappointed if it sucked too much, and I'd be pleasantly surprised if it turned out better than expected. I'm happy to say, I was pleasantly surprised, to the point where I did not want to put it down. I usually go to bed between 3 and 4 am, and some nights (mornings?) the sun was starting to shine through my bedroom window and I was still reading. I had to force myself to put it aside so I could get a couple of hours sleep before starting work for the day.

The story flowed evenly and at a rapid pace, and I couldn't help but be swept up in the events as they unraveled, even if, at times, it felt like I was watching one of those cheesy SyFy Original Feature Films. The Biology Lab scene actually had me chuckling because I was having mental flashes of Haunted High. If you've seen it, you'll know what I'm talking about. The characters, for the most part, are fully fleshed out, believable, and likable. The only thing that didn't sit well with me was the ending; it was a little too sentimental, almost as if the book was being targeted for a Young Adult audience. I even had an "Awwww" moment — for the BIG BAD GHOST!! And while plausible for the novel, the ending came across as a little too contrived. Another "Awwwwwwwww" moment here.

Problematic ending aside, I enjoyed Ghost Trackers and intend to read the next in the series. If you enjoy genuinely creepy ghost stories, I would highly recommend picking up this one.