• Carlton Mellick III - The Haunted Vagina (2011)

    Carlton Mellick III's "The Haunted Vagina" is a very bizarre and experimental fantasy-horror novella. The American author is known for controversial, grotesque and strange novels and novellas such as "Adolf in Wonderland", "Every Time We Meet at the Dairy Queen, Your Whole Fucking Face Explodes" and "The Cannibals of Candyland". The titles are already quite revealing and the content certainly is an acquired taste. The author's creative, descriptive and unpredictable style is however quite memorable and he has won numerous renowned awards.

    This novella revolves around an emotional young man named Steve and his quirky Asian girlfriend Stacy. Since her childhood, Stacy can hear voices inside her vagina and even claims her weird childhood friend is living there and not imaginary at all. Steve nevertheless falls for the unique lady but is quite surprised when a skeleton emerges from her vagina. He manages to kill the monster but sees a strange light in his girlfriend's body. She instructs him to penetrate her with his entire body to discover what's inside of her. As a matter of fact, her vagina is a doorway to a strange world with armies of skeletons, cremated houses and an odd mansion with humanoid creatures with colourful plastic skin. Steve gets pressured by his girlfriend to discover this world but he soon gets in danger and starts to wonder whether he will be able to return to his real world at all.

    As you can read, the novella's plot isn't like anything you have aver heard of and quite interesting to read. The detailed decsriptions of the strange world inside Stacy's body are quite intriguing. The story is unpredictable and includes an interesting side character with emotive plastic girl Fig who turns out to be Stacy's estranged, lonesome and twisted childhood friend.

    On the other side, the novella doesn't answer the questions you might have on your mind while reading its summary. It's only just about one hundred pages of length and fails to end on a remarkable note. The lead character isn't particularly charismatic either as he always follows his girlfriend's instructions blindly, constantly makes very odd decisions but nevertheless seems to be a rather ordinary person in his everyday life.

    Carlton Mellick III's "The Haunted Vagina" is strangely entertaining and might make you raise your eyebrows on multiple occasions. This fantasy tale is equally funny and horrifying. However, it never penetrates beyond its weird premise and fails to leave a deeper impression. This novella is recommended to readers of experimental fantasy novels who are sick and tired of conventional plots. This novel isn't recommended for anyone else and especially not for children or even teenagers.

    Final rating: 67%


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  • Greg F. Gifune's Midnight Solitaire is a short supernatural horror novel published in 2011. Depending on the version you have got, the novel is about two hundred pages long. It should take somewhere between four and six hours to read.

    The story revolves around four strangers who meet in a run-down motel during a blizzard: a businesswoman who wants to organize some changes in her life, a doctor who chases the murderer of his wife and daughter, a thief who wants to win his wife back and a receptionist who likes to invent stories. They are chased by a mysterious serial killer known as The Dealer and are trying to survive one fateful night.

    The author has won multiple Bram Stoker Awards and certainly knows how to write horror novels. The novel starts and ends on mysterious notes that offer food for thought. The settings in the run-down motel and abandoned restaurant are gripping. The showdown in the blizzard is intense, fast and bloody. The characters are introduced in separate chapters which gives them depth and makes the readers care about them. Once they meet, their relationships evolve intriguingly. The writing style is direct and at times explicit but also shows us how the different characters feel and think which makes for a balanced read. This novel has gore elements but mostly relies on an eerie atmopshere.

    On the negative side, the novel ends with a lazy twist that leaves some questions unanswered. A skilled writer should have made up a more creative ending. The story is written in a complicated simple present tense and this unusual choice somewhat harms the flow of the story. The novel is gripping in the second half but the first half has a few lengths and it shouldn't take almost half of the novel just to introduce all the lead characters one by one. The plot would have benefited from some more background information about the antagonist and its origins instead.

    In the end, Midnight Solitaire is a good read for horror novel fans but only an above average novel for occasional Readers.

    Final rating: 65%

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  • 1. Ralf Isau – Die Neschan-Trilogie (1995 - 1996)


    Band 1: Die Träume des Jonathan Jabbok (1995)

    Band 2: Das Geheimnis des siebten Richters (1995)

    Band 3: Das Lied der Befreiung Neschans (1996)


    These three books are brilliant and timeless fantasy novels for kids and adults alike with lots of imagination. If you like Michael Ende's "Die unendliche Geschichte" ("The Neverending Story") or "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien, the "Neschan Trilogy" by German author Ralf Isau is an absolute must-have for you!  


    2. Dan Simmons – The Terror (2007)

    This outstanding and epic historical fiction novel by American author Dan Simmons tells us the true story of the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror that were heading for the legendary Northwest Passage between 1845 and 1848 - and were never seen again. This novel is based on gripping and diverisfied characters, emotional moments in extreme moments and Inuit mythology.

    3. Дмитрий Алексеевич Глуховский - Метро 2033 (2005)

    Dmitry Glukhovsky's "Metro 2033" is a modern dystopian novel that has also been adapted as a comic book and several computer games. After the success of this novel, he wrote another one and then started a quite intriguing project when he invited authors from all around the world to tell their own story of the "Metro" universe that plays in different cities and countries. So far, I've read all novels of these series but this initial masterpiece remains the most atmospheric, haunting and imaginative one and introduces us to a dark world where a few citizens of Moscow have to live underneath the surface after a nuclear catastrophe.


    4. Michel Jobin – Projet Sao Tomé (2013)

    This intelligently written page-turner and international thriller by Chicotimi born author Michel Jobin introduces us into a very realistic world where a new democratically elected president finds massive petroleum ressources in the ocean of his poor country and wants to get a legal deal with the multinational that offers the highest bid to spend all the money on the development of his country. After an assassination attempt, the president has to make a deal with the Nigerian government but this isn't enough. Secret agents send by the United States of America and the People's Republic of China infiltrate his country and try to do everything to get their hands on the petroleum. 

    5. Enid Blyton – The Adventure series (1944 - 1955)


    First novel: The Island of Adventure (1944)

    Second novel: The Castle of Adventure (1946)

    Third novel: The Valley of Adventure (1947)

    Fourth novel: The Sea of Adventure (1948)

    Fifth novel: The Mountain of Adventure (1949)

    Sixth novel: The Ship of Adventure (1950)

    Seventh novel: The Circus of Adventure (1952)

    Eighth novel: The River of Adventure (1955)


    These timeless novels by British children's writer Enid Blyton tell the curious events of two female and two male teenagers who are discovering and solving strange mysteries in exotic places all around the world on their own. 


    6. John Saul – The Blackstone Chronicles (1996 - 1997)


    First novel: An Eye for an Eye: The Doll (1996)

    Second novel: Twist of Fate: The Locket (1997)

    Third novel: Ashes To Ashes: The Dragon's Flame (1997)

    Fourth novel: In the Shadow of Evil: The Handkerchief (1997)

    Fifth novel: Day of Reckoning: The Stereoscope (1997)

    Sixth novel: Asylum (1997)


    These six mystery and horror novels tell five haunting stories that are all strangely connected to an old asylum standing above a sleepy city and end in a sixth and final book that presents us a very tense showdown. Each novel introduces down-to-earth characters that face terrifying situations from one day to the other and have to exorcize some demons of their families' pasts. These novels are much more mysterious than brutal and develop a truly sinister atmosphere that even Stephen King couldn't beat.


    7. Friedrich Schiller – Don Karlos, Infant von Spanien (1787)

    This colourful German Sturm und Drang theatre play in five acts is set at the Spanish court where a young heir apparent has to conciliate with his father, deal with a difficult romantic relationship and face a bloody intrigues without knowing whom he can trust or not. This drama gets more and more intense and philosophical without losing its pace and a sense for some more light-hearted and humorous scenes.


    8. J.K. Rowling – The Harry Potter series (1997 - 2007)


    First novel: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)

    Second novel: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998)

    Third novel: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999)

    Fourth novel: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000)

    Fifth novel: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003)

    Sixth novel: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005)

    Seventh novel: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)


    What is left to say about the most popular bestseller series of the world? It may be a "safe choice" to put these novels on my list but they definitely are an important part of my youth and of modern Western culture. It's a pleasure to read over and over again these groundbreaking and imaginative novels that are by far superior to their film adaptions. 

    9. Karl May – Der Schut (1892)


    Karl May is a German author who hasn't travelled very far and has spent some time in prison wrote many adventure books that take place in different exotic locations from the Middle East to the United States of America. These books are not only very imaginative and introduce us to charming characters but they also tell us in a now historical but quite open-minded way about foreign cultures. These novels make you want to disover the world and contain very precise descriptions of historical conflicts, events and landscapes but also very gripping stories with "Der Schut" being my favourite among many intriguing novels like "Der Schatz im Silbersee" or "Winnetou I, II & III".

    10. Thomas Thiemeyer – Korona (2010)


    This German mystery author mixes an intriguing archeological background, exotic cultures and landscapes (especially in Africa), sympathetic characters and their profound antagonists with incredible fantasy elements. This story involving a portal to a different world in the savage forests of east Africa is my favourite novel out of five almost equally entertaining ones and should please to fans of the Indiana Jones universe. 


    11. Jules Verne – Voyage au centre de la Terre (1864)

    This French visionary wrote many groundbreaking adventure, fantasy and even science-fiction novels and predicted a couple of events that would later become through. His "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is probably one of his most famous and imaginative novels and it has aged very well and is still very popular and easy to digest nowadays without lacking a certain kind of creative depth.


    12. Yves Thériault – Agaguk (1958)

    This French Canadian novel introduces us into the intriguing world of the Inuit people by describing detailed exotic cultural events set in a very emotional and philosophical thriller that touches essential topics such as family values, heritage and traditions, love and rivalry, adaptability and assimilation, conservatism and modernity.

    13. Friedrich Torberg – Der Schüler Gerber (1930)

    This groundbreaking Austrian drama tells us the tragic tale of a vivid pupil who goes through hell because of a cold-hearted teacher, a sick father and a tragic love story and ends up by committing suicide. This honest novel was a scandalous wake up call for an entire society and pleases me even more than the groundbreaking expressionistic Bildungsroman "Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törleß" by another famous Austrian author called Robert Musil that tells the story of a mixed-up pupil who assists explicit homosexual abuse in a military school. 

    14. Jean-Paul Sartre – Huis clos (1947)

    This philosophical and dramatic theatre play about being an object in the world of another consciousness may make you think profoundly and empathetically and leads you to see the world from a different point of view.

    15. Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

    This propagandistic but grippingly authentic dystopian political and social science-fiction novel is on the same level as George Orwell's famous "Nineteen Eighty-Four" as it portrays the deepest fears of the Western world in the Cold War and imagines in a very precise way a cold and totalitarian world where emotions, equality, freedom, knowledge and progression are slowly dying out and where a hero out of the massives has to stand up for democratic values. 

    16. Erich Maria Remarque – Im Westen nichts Neues (1929)

    This slow paced anti-war novel is a detailed drama written by a German author who has gone through a cruel and senseless World War I and portrays the horrors of war in a most authentic way.

    17. Carsten Stroud – The Niceville Trilogy (2012 - 2014)


    First novel: Niceville (2012)

    Second novel: The Homecoming (2013)

    Third novel: The Departure (2014)


    This trilogy is a fast paced gripping mixture of genres such as action, crime, gangster, horror and mystery novels that reminds of authors like Stephen King or Lee Child and directors such as David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino. The three pageturners tell several diverisfied story lines that are all connected to a small town that seems to be damned and surrounded by an unspeakable mystery.

    18. Diane Lacombe – L'appel des cygnes (2006 - 2008)


    Tome I: Gunni le Gauche (2006)

    Tome II: Moïrane (2008)


    Set in the glorious era of the Vikings around the year 1000, these two novels by French Canadian author Diane Lacombe tell an epic love story in an authentic historical context with many crime and drama elements in a light-hearted but emotional way.

    19. Eoin Colfer – The Artemis Fowl series (2001 – 2012)


    First novel: Artemis Fowl (2001)

    Second novel: The Arctic Incident (2002)

    Third novel: The Eternity Code (2003)

    Fourth novel: The Opal Deception (2004)

    Fifth novel: The Lost Colony (2006)

    Sixth novel: The Time Paradox (2008)

    Seventh novel: The Atlantis Complex (2010)

    Eighth novel: The Last Guardian (2012)


    These imaginative and also very humorous fantasy novels are a welcome alternative to many genre stereotypes that happen to be too childish or too brutal and always repeat the same patterns. These eighth action filled novels between comedy elements, well elaborated thriller parts in an epic fairy tale universe have a certain Irish charm, adventurous story lines and inttellectually driven technical descriptions and elements to create a page-turning potpourri that manages to offer something new here and there to a genre that has become too popular for its own good.


    20. Сергей Александрович Снегов - Люди как Боги (1966 - 1977)


    Первая часть: Галактическая разведка (1966)

    Bторая часть: Вторжение в Персей (1968)

    Tретья часть: Кольцо обратного времени (1977)


    This Soviet science-fiction trilogy "Humans as Gods" including the novels "The Galactic Reconnaissance", "The Invasion of Perseus" and "The Reverse Time Loop" is a groundbreaking science-fiction masterpiece with an incredibly detailed description of a futuristic society and its economical, political and social struggles on one side and a multitude of imaginative technologies on the other side.



    Bonus: My favourite book series that I've followed over many years are:


    1. Maddrax - Die dunkle Zukunft der Erde (Science-Fiction)

    2. Die Abenteuer (Adventure / Archeology)

    3. (Geisterjäger) John Sinclair (Horror)

    4. (Dämonenkiller) Dorian Hunter (Horror)

    5. Die drei ??? (Youth Thriller)


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