Bark at the Ghouls

Stay chill, it's only a silly book review.

I read the good, the awful & all of the "meh" in the middle. Mostly horror & romance of all kinds.

WHILE YOU SLEEP by Stephanie Merritt Review

While You Sleep - Stephanie Merritt

“Even in sunshine there was a bleakness to the island’s beauty that had whispered to her.”

While You Sleep is a book dripping in beautifully written atmosphere and eerie goings-on and features a protagonist who isn’t entirely reliable or likable. 

Zoe arrives at a remote island to rent a recently renovated home in Scotland. She’s running from her life, for – reasons, and needs some alone time. The neighbors are welcoming and a little smothering even though she does her best to keep them at arm’s length. She quickly learns that the house where she is staying has a spooky reputation and her attempts to investigate upset some of the locals. When odd events start occurring inside the house; sex dreams, a man who may or not be there, strange voices and other haunting events, no one wants to take her seriously with the exception of an old bookseller and a young teacher who is attracted to her. 

So that’s the set up. What follows is a very slow burn but the pace is pretty steady and even. Zoe and her crew of two attempt to figure out exactly what is happening at the house and dig up what has happened in the past. This may or may not have something to do with a long deceased woman, her dead son and possible experimentation with the occult. There are many descriptive passages of sexy times past and present because there also may or not be an incubus involved here somewhere. This may or may not be your cup of tea, coffee or bourbon but I didn’t mind it. More of it wouldn’t have hurt me any either.

Secrets and hints hide in every nook and cranny of this house and its surrounding cliffs. I figured out a few and a few I didn’t see coming at all (a particularly juicy and scandalous one at that). I admit I was disappointed when I guessed at a big one because I don’t think I’m very good at this kind thing but that one was so obvious to me. The characterization is strong and detailed and even though I personally didn’t like Zoe very much (and that never changed); she’s, ummm, imperfect to put it nicely and comes off as self-involved, angry at the wrong people and scatter-brained, I was involved enough with the other characters and their welfare that it wasn’t a stumbling block for me. You can’t like everyone, right? I also NEEDED to know all the secrets and most of them were answered in the end. There’s a pretty big one left dangling though which was a wee bit frustrating after all of the build-up.

I’d give this book a 3.75 on a scale of 1-5. It’s better than average and kept luring me back in whenever I had to put it down to live my life.

I received an ARC from Pegasus Books, thanks for sharing!

The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene

The Perfect Liar - Thomas Christopher Greene

Susannah is a widow with a teenage son who wasn’t expecting romance. Then she meets Max after he’s crashed a party to meet an important person in the art world. Even though their first meeting is a little bit shady, if you ask me (but I am a suspicious type), they quickly fall in love and marry and live the lives of successful, wealthy art people in a beautiful home in Vermont.

 

Blech. Sounds totally boring right?! Well, no worries. It isn’t long before a note shows up on the front door saying, “I know who you are” and all that gooey perfection is shot to hell.

 

Max has secrets. Susannah has secrets. Watching them both squirm and plan and seeing their perfect little lives unravel is so much fun, even more so if you have a little evil inside you. And you’re reading this, so you probably do!

 

I’m not afraid to admit that I didn’t like any of these characters very much but that’s beside the point. I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to. Suzanna is very strange and difficult to get a read on but that wasn’t a bad thing because her character kept me guessing. The kid is a bratty teen for most of the book until we finally get a wee bit of his past and see things from his point of view. And then there’s Max. I won’t spoil Max for you. Max is Ted Talk famous and he’s a guy who takes care of business and I will leave it at that. You should read about him for yourself if this sounds at all interesting to you.

 

The pace is pretty quick and I never found myself drifting off and thinking about all the cat boxes I need to clean when I get home from work so that’s an indicator of a good book for me. The fun here is trying to figure out who is the biggest and best liar and delving into all of their dark corners. If you enjoy these kinds of books, I think you’ll dig this one. It’s darker than some and for that I am thankful! There are some bits that require you to leave your brain at the door and the ending wasn’t a huge surprise for anyone who reads a steady of diet of these and pays attention to the clues but I have no major complaints about it. It was a dark little diversion and one I can easily recommend to others who like this stuff.

 

I listened to this story in its unabridged audiobook version narrated by Tavia Gilbert who did a fantastic job with the voices and bringing the emotions (and sometimes lack there-of) to life for all of the characters.

The Nowhere Child by Christian White

The Nowhere Child - Christian White

This is a debut novel and now that I’ve finished it, I’m looking forward to reading whatever the author comes up with next. The Nowhere Child has great character development and atmosphere, tons of family secrets, danger, illicit affairs, true love and loyalty. It’s like the author took a whole bunch of my favorite things and shoved them all into one book and I loved it all. There’s a lot going on but, trust me, this is not a kitchen sink book because I hate those.

 

Kim is living her life in Australia, the only life she’s ever known, when she’s approached by a strange man who claims she is not who she thinks she is. Ummm, what?! His declaration turns her life inside out and she ends up returning with him to America to discover the truth of her past as they unravel a strange web of secrets that inhabit one very small town.

 

The story is told in two storylines. There’s the present day and “the past”. Back in the 90’s, a two year old little girl named Sammy went missing and the author places you smack in the middle of the aftermath. What were the reasons leading up to this event? Who took baby Sammy and why? Everyone seems to have a secret or to be keeping secrets. This is what hooked me. The attention to detail and the strong characterization are what kept me.

 

The pace is fast and furious, flipping back and forth in time and both storylines keep you hanging in there from chapter to chapter. I was never bored, nor was I confused which is quite a feat for me.

 

The final act may stretch the limits of believability but I’d like to believe it could’ve happened and that’s all I’m saying.

 

The narrator Katherine Littrell uses a lovely Australian accent for her main character that I enjoyed. She also does spot on voice work for the American characters as well. There are a lot of characters in this story and I was never confused as to who was who. She gives them all a unique voice and tone and I can easily recommend this book in its audio format to help you pass the time.

4 1/2 Stars

The Tragedy Man by Staci Layne Wilson

The Tragedy Man - Staci Layne Wilson, Andy Garrison

Cary works at a dreary art gallery and he does not like his boss. He may even wish ill upon him, if only in his thoughts. As he sinks further into his own little world of misery, he daydreams about creative deaths for the jerk in charge of his work life.

When his boss turns up dead, Cary decides he’s going to become an Important Literary Writer of Important and Smart Literary Things. Instead, he sells a pulp horror novel all the while despising himself for writing such drivel and he becomes very successful in spite of himself but his success has a steep price. Cary really should’ve read the contract before signing it . . . 

The rest of the book follows the insufferable and always morose Cary as he falls further and further into a fever dream of sex, violence, madness and poor-me-ism. 

I liked some of the story even though it’s quite easy to guess at what’s going on here and the terrible images in the latter half had me laughing at Cary’s expense but I did not like a single thing about Cary. He’s a depressing, pompous sad-sack, lacking charm and self-awareness and he is also weak and insecure and has a mommy issue or two. He’s just really douchy, hateful and hard to stomach. I guess I wasn’t supposed to like him but his terrible snobbery and constant jabs at horror fiction made this story a not-so-fun time for me. He and his lover were constantly denigrating the genre I love most in the world, as well as its fans, and I found it all very unpleasant and wished painful death upon him a million times over. But the ending was spectacular so I am torn about a rating. I suspect I’ll go with a three after stewing on it for a bit. 

I listened to this story as an unabridged audio (and, YES, that counts as reading – fight me) and the narrator does a terrific job of bringing Cary’s arrogant and bitter tone to life. 

*I received a copy of this audio courtesy of the author.

In The River by Jeremy Robert Johnson

In The River - Jeremy Robert Johnson

This little book looks innocuous enough, doesn’t it? Soothing waves of blue and green grace the cover. Perhaps it was about an adorable sea monster or even a meaner one crunching and munching its way through a bunch of B-movie characters who kind of, sort of deserved everything they were getting.

 



It isn’t either of those things.

In The River is a deadly serious examination of pain and madness and it is one of those books that will not leave you after you turn the last page. It seeps under your skin and even now, quite a few days later, the images and emotions still bubble to the surface of my brain and continue to haunt me. I assumed I was going to give it a read in-between the bigger books and move along feeling accomplished that I finished a book in a few hours. That didn’t happen. I finished it quickly enough because I had to know what happened but I found myself unable to start up anything else for several days and watched tv and listened to podcasts in order to clear my head instead. 

So be warned, this one may be slight but it will wound you deeply and if it doesn’t I fear for you a little.

I can’t tell you much about the plot and honestly I am struggling with this review. I have put it off for days and days because I didn’t want to think about it. I’ll only say that it’s about a man and his boy and a fishing expedition that doesn’t end at all the way it should’ve ended. It hits you with a grueling image and prose that says only just enough to destroy you and just when you begin to believe that you’re ready to continue on and see where it leads and that you’ve perhaps recovered emotionally, it smacks you again with another terrible image for good measure. This is true horror, people, the kind that leaves scars on your soul.

In The River wasn’t an easy read but it was incredibly moving and incredibly painful and it made me feel all the anguish. This book gets all five stars. If you’re up for a good gutting, give it a read. I don’t think you’ll be sorry.

The Between by Tananarive Due

The Between: Novel, A - Tananarive Due

The Between is a story about a man on the verge of a breakdown. Is this breakdown caused by supernatural forces or is it all in his mind? Well, I’m not going to be jerk who spoils it all for you!

 

I bought this book years and years ago and I’m glad The Ladies of Horror Fiction finally forced me to unearth it, blow off the dust and read all of its pages. This book was their featured Community Wide Readalong and it was a good time. You should all join in on the next one.

 

When Hilton was seven he found his beloved Nana cold and dead on the kitchen floor. He ran to get help and when he arrived back home Nana was alive but she was never quite the same again. Many years later, Hilton is married with children and spends his work hours helping addicts get their lives back together but there is trouble brewing beneath the surface and his dreams are becoming increasingly more disturbing as the days pass.

 

Here’s a little quote snippet that’ll either make you want to read more, make you run screaming or maybe do both!

 

“There’s no joy in fucking the dead.”

 

Still with me? If so, you need to know this is a books rife with stress, marital woes, suspense and a flawed protagonist who makes a lot of mistakes. I’ll be honest, Hilton made me a little crazy angry at times. There's one scene where he nearly lost me because I’m not a very forgiving type when it comes to that particular way of dealing with stress so it may not bother you but it bothered me. It bothered me so much. As the story went along he grew on me and his love for his family was apparent and strong but it was touch and go there for me for a few chapters, I cannot lie. In the end, it is a compelling read with some truly nightmarish and disturbing images and I thought it all ended exactly the way it should’ve ended. There are a lot of surprises that kept our entire group guessing and I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for a nail-biter with some chilling scenes and very strong characterization.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting myself into when I picked up this book. It is called MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER, after all, and I wasn’t disappointed!

 

This is a tale of two sisters bonded by sisterhood, an abusive childhood and murder. One sister is the beautiful, flighty one. The other is the responsible, devoted one. One of them gets rid of pesky boyfriends with the help of a handy knife. The other helps hide the bodies. But when the knife wielding one sets her sights on the crush of her sister, things go awry.

 

This book, despite it being about a serial killer, is not overly gory nor is it very bloody. Parts of it are even darkly comical. Most have classified it over on Goodreads as a thriller or a mystery and it’s a little bit of both but it’s mainly a story about familial bonds and the lasting effects of childhood trauma with a bit of sociopathy thrown in there. It is told in a very entertaining way so you won’t feel as if your soul has been ripped out of you when you turn the last page. I enjoyed every fascinating word of this complicated relationship and highly recommend it to every weirdo like me who enjoys similar things. 

 

“We are nothing if not thorough in the deception of others.”

In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire Audiobook Review

In an Absent Dream - Seanan McGuire

In An Absent Dream is a prequel to a series of books I have not read so I’m walking in cold here.

 

The tale begins when a young girl spots a tree where previously there wasn’t one. The tree does some twists and contortions and a little door appears. On that door it says only, “Be Sure”. Katherine is pretty sure she wants to step through that door so she does. Who could resist?! As you can guess, there are wonders on the other side of that door. Centaurs, cow people and girls who look almost human and the tastiest of pies! It’s a wonderland of freedom and choices and glorious sights free from the prying eyes of pesky parents and their expectations to form you into a proper wife. But then there are the rules. And the rules cannot be ignored. To ignore a rule is to lose a wee bit of what you makes you human and that is all I’m going to say about that.

 

This tale begins a little like a skewed Alice in Wonderland and it is completely enchanting. I loved Lundy. Young Lundy learned at the tender age of six that books are often better company than people and she wasn’t wrong, haha. She lives in a world that doesn’t value smarts in a girl and there are a lot of things written here worth chewing on.

 

“He shouldn’t have treated her like she didn’t matter. He shouldn’t have treated her like his idea of a girl.”

 

I loved watching Lundy grow and mature into a thoughtful and caring young lady. She faces some very tough choices and this book has some dark edges when the incorrect choice is made. I was a bit worried, as I always am when dipping my toe into the fantasy/YA world, that a boy would arrive and become the focus of the plot but it doesn’t happen here. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike romance but I get testy when it is shoe horned into a story where it doesn’t belong. This story stays focused on friendship and family and obligation and there isn’t a wisp of forced romance no matter how hard you look.

 

I listened to this book as an audiobook narrated by Cynthia Hawkins. She does fine with all of the voices and changes her tone enough so you easily differentiate between the characters but her pace was just a wee bit slow for my liking and my player wouldn’t allow me to speed it up. Had I been able to pace it at 1.25 or maybe even 1.5 I think it would’ve been perfect.

 

If you enjoy a beautifully written modern day fairytale, this one is for you!

Black Wings by Megan Hart

Black Wings - Megan Hart

“My mad feelings just want to come out so much.”

Black Wings is a brooding tale about a mother being ravaged by her own internal feelings of guilt and the escalating terror posed by her young daughter and her new creepy raven friend. 

Briella is only ten when she begins to lose all of her childhood friends. She has a terrible “I’m smarter than everyone” attitude that doesn’t exactly sit well with, well, anyone. But she doesn’t particularly care what anyone thinks and she is quite content to do her own thing and hang out with her new raven buddy. But mom is concerned. When Briella earns a free ride to a school for the gifted her dad isn’t thrilled. He says it’s the place where they stick the weird kids. But Briella loves it. Her ego, oddness, obsessiveness and creep factor soon start to bloom out of control.

I’m just going to flat out say it. I despised this kid. She was rude, full of herself and, as I was reading, I kept thinking to myself how lucky I was that I birthed two sweet kids instead of two holy terrors. It probably could’ve gone either way, haha, but I know I would not be equipped to handle a little monster like Briella. I felt for Marion even when I wanted to give her a good shake for allowing her brat to disrespect her and everyone around her. This story is told from Marion’s point of view so we see everything from her eyes which leaves you wondering what, exactly, Briella is up to almost all the time. Marion is a little clueless and has a bad habit of ignoring all warning signs. She also talks herself out of her gut feelings out of a sense of guilt and maternal love. It’s a complicated thing, motherhood is, and this story does a great job of putting it all out there similar to the mother in Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I think I may have enjoyed the character of Briella more had we seen things from her perspective but alas, as written, she was an arrogant, insufferable brat with some very dangerous thoughts.

The dread hides in the shadows for a long time before horrorish things begin to happen so you’ll have to hang in there with this one. I admit I struggled at times, but I was rewarded in the last quarter. If you have a black heart you’re going to LOVE this ending. Or maybe it’s just me.

Without Condition by Sonora Taylor

Without Condition - Sonora Taylor

I fell into this dark character study from the very start and never fell out of it which is a bit of a rarity for me.

Without Condition takes its time building the story and focuses on the coming of age of a lonely little girl named Cara who lives on an isolated former pumpkin farm with only her mother and a farm hand for company. Cara looks forward to school and meeting kids her age but a bad encounter in kindergarten sets the tone for the rest of her school years. She’s bullied and whispered about and as a result she withdraws and doesn’t bother making friends with the girls. It’s easier with the boys anyway because they don’t whisper about her. But as she grows older she realizes they do something even worse. They talk and they embellish and her reputation gets trashed by everyone. Those ugly voices Cara hears whispering in her head get louder and louder until she finds an outlet to quiet them . . . 

I LOVED the first half of this story. It’s a slow build but it is such an interesting tale. I was 100% invested in Cara as a character. She is most definitely “off” but it’s an understandable type of “off” because we get to know Cara intimately. She is prickly and she is intense but I never disliked her. It’s dark as hell and it doesn’t shy away from any of the viciousness dwelling within people and Cara most especially. Would she have turned out the way she did had she not been bullied and shunned and failed by the adults in her life? That’s hard to say. I thought the author did a great job creating Cara and all of the life events and complexities filling her tortured mind. 

About halfway or so in the book changes focus and it becomes a dark romance. Cara meets a man named Jackson. He’s the first man that she hasn’t wanted to kill, lol, and things get very complicated in Cara’s head. Her life of work and spending time with her slightly off mom, who supports her long truck rides to “quiet” the voices, starts to morph into something else. Cara is falling in love but she has so many secrets that a normal life with Jackson may be impossible no matter how badly she now desires it. This section of the book is most definitely a romance with some wickedly dark edges. That’s my favorite kind, to be honest, so I was the perfect reader for this one. Cara isn’t the only one with painful memories in her past. Jackson is a wounded person and his head is a wee bit messed up as well but is he damaged enough to accept someone like Cara? 

This is not an action packed, slice and dice type of horror novel and it’s a little slow in the middle but that worked just fine for me. The entire book is a deep dive into the tortured mind of characters deeply scarred by the words of others and I found it endlessly fascinating. The writing grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I can honestly say my heart was worried for both Cara and Jackson which lends itself to the strong character development. Without Condition is about 75% dark romance and 25% horror novel so if you enjoy the two as much as I do you’ll want to put this moody little gem on your must-read RIGHT NOW list.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous Girl - Julia Whelan, Sarah Pekkanen, Barrie Kreinik, Greer Hendricks

I gave The Wife Between Us five stars when I read it in 2017. It was so twisty and so turny and filled with dark surprises that kept me in a constant state of anxiety. I loved everything about it so when I saw this one was releasing, I put it at the very top of my list.

 

I don’t think any follow up would have lived up to my expectations after loving The Wife Between Us so hard but An Anonymous Girl was definitely a decent, if not mind-blowing, follow up. It didn’t reach 5 star territory for me because I am spoiled and I didn’t think the reveals were all that shocking. It’s highly likely that I am probably terribly jaded too. So my four star may well be your five star. Despite that, it was an entertaining thriller/mystery/secret filled read that kept my attention.

 

The story revolves around a broke makeup artist who is riddled with guilt over something in her past. She has secrets and I love secrets! She decides to take the place of another young lady in an interview that promises to pay $500 bucks simply to answer a few questions. Well, wouldn’t you?!

 

But, of course, you know it entails far more than that for our hapless heroine, don’t you?

 

She is chosen by the doctor running the study to step out from behind the laptop and handle some real life situations as part of a morality and ethics “study”. To say more will ruin things so I will say no more about that strange situation.

 

The doctor is cold and calculating and manipulative and frankly, creepy as hell. Especially when you’re listening to the voice in your ear! What is that doctor up to? This is one of those books you’ll have to keep reading just one more page until the whole thing is done because you HAVE TO KNOW. Or maybe it’s just me because I am so nosy.

 

Jessica, our hapless heroine, soon becomes entwined in quite a nasty little web of deception and I enjoyed watching everything unravel but as I said earlier, the secrets weren’t so big as to shock me very much. I was expecting more to happen, something truly terrible and earth-shattering, but alas perhaps I am twisted. As written, An Anonymous Girl is a perfectly entertaining and often unsettling way to spend a few hours. If you listen to the audiobook I think it’ll be another experience altogether. Hearing the doctor’s voice in my head still haunts me. It was done perfectly; cold and unemotional and it made my skin crawl a little. The other voices suit as well. Thomas sounds a little dull which was fitting (he was not my favorite) and Jessica had a youthful tone that struck all the right notes.

 

“Sometimes an impulsive decision can change the course of your life.”

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love (Audio) - Katherine Dunn, Christina Moore

I’ve read this book numerous times. It’s one of the few books I’ve ever reread, never mind more than once! This time around I read it on unabridged audio which made the story all the more intimate for me. I also buddy read it with a great group of reading friends. We don’t always agree on books (see my Ghost Story review for more on that) but this time we all LOVED it. Whew, I was so relieved because I’ve been pushing this book on everyone for years and sometimes people do not like it. At all.

 

This is my most favorite book in the entire world and this fourth or so reread of it did not change my opinion. GEEK LOVE, written in the '80's, satisfies all of my reading needs. It is character driven, the plot is highly disturbing and it always hurts my heart even when I know what is coming but I LOVE it so very much.

 

I could tell you all about the plot and the dastardly and innocent characters that inhabit the pages but this book is something you must experience on your own. The twists and the turns should come as a surprise and a terrible shock to the system or you won’t get to live out the full impact of Geek Love. I will only say that it is most definitely NOT a romance, despite its name, and that it might crawl under your skin and stay there for a very long time. Give it a read and tell me what you think!

 

The audiobook version I listened to was narrated by Christina Moore and I thought she did the story justice, imbuing the words with innocence and with rage and despair and narcissism when called for.

January 2019 all Wrapped Up

I posted some stuff on my blogger blog this month:

 
January 2019
 
Reviews Posted
(clicking on cover will bring you to my review @ blogger)
 
                                                               
 
 

Ladies of Horror Fiction

 
 

The Ladies of Horror Fiction have started a new feature called LOHF Shelf Edition where we feature a blogger and show off their ladies of horror fiction shelves. You can see the first installment showing off Alex's shelves here. We'd love to show yours off too! Just leave us a comment on Alex's post and someone from LOHF will be in touch.

New Purchases/Review Copies

I used an Amazon holiday gift card to buy myself a little something. I've seen people raving about this book all over Twitter and the blogs so my hopes are high!

 

Patrick's not too sure about this one, haha

 

This book was sent in for review for my blog and LOHF courtesy of author Sonora Taylor. I'm about 80 pages in as I write this and so far it's a well written tale of a lonely little girl's evolution into a murderess.
 
 
Flame Tree Press sent me these two brand new horror novels and I'm so excited to start them!
 
 

Movies

Shudder watches this month:

I managed to get through 3/4's of the much talked about Mandy, starring a grizzled Nicholas Cage, before falling asleep during the carnage and haven't felt an undying urge to finish it up. It was so weird. I also watched Starry Eyes which was filled with some glorious body horror and is about a young starlet doing whatever it takes to become famous. My husband wasn't nearly as thrilled with it as I was.

Netflix watches this month:

Bird Box, who hasn't seen this one already? It was a nail-biter and enjoyable and I am thankful it was much different from the book which I read after the fact. They both stand on their own as similar but very different things and I recommend them both. I also watched a chilling documentary about the fashion industry and dirt cheap labor called The True Cost. I tend to keep my clothes until they fall apart but I'm going to make an effort to buy sustainable items when I need to replace something in the future and if I can't afford that I'll be hitting up thrift stores and Thred Up instead of buying new and cheap.

I hope your January reading life has been fantastic! 
 
 
    
 

Elevation by Stephen King

Elevation - Stephen King

This was a perfectly meh weird story. It didn't offend me but do you know what does? The fact that Goodreads READERS awarded it the best HORROR novel award only because it had Stephen King's name on it. Do these people even read the genre they are voting on? Do they even read the books? 

Anyway, this is the story of a perfectly bland middle aged white man who got off on the wrong foot with his new neighbors. He's also suffering from a very odd affliction. When he steps on the scale he loses weight at the rate of a pound or so a day, even when he's holding bags of coins but he's not losing body mass. He's just getting lighter and lighter and soon he knows he will simply drift away. 

I don't know about you, but this plot doesn't excite me in any way. It's hard to work up worry about a man who can eat whatever he wants and lose no weight. Worst case scenario? He'll either die or leave this terrible planet and float out into the universe to see things never seen by human eyes. The latter option doesn't sound too bad to me right about now! The side plot about his relationship with the married lesbian couple is only mildly interesting. It felt forced and didn't hit me emotionally at all. Likely because I've read/seen these people a million times before starting this story and there was nothing unique about any of them. I wish their pooping dogs had a bigger place in the story. But at least it's short and I'm out nothing but time because I borrowed the audiobook from my library. It's read by Stephen King so you're either going to enjoy his nasally narration or not. Personally I don't mind it but the story gets a 2 because it just wasn't that great, if you ask me.

The audiobook includes another short story called Laurie. It's about a grieving old coot who has a puppy foisted upon him by his worried sister. After much grumping and complaining he grows to love Laurie and Laurie, like all good dogs, loves him right back. This story I loved. I loved the grumpy old man and Laurie's relationship and there's a moment of suspense that had my heart in my throat. I'd give this one a four. It could've been a five if it were longer. 

Combine these two together and this version is getting a three from me.

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

When The Lights Go Out - Mary Kubica

I was going to write a real review for this book but it doesn’t deserve it. This book made me so crazy-mad that I am not going to waste my time. Up until the last quarter or so I would’ve rated it a 3 ½. It was holding my attention even though some of the themes; the insatiable baby-lust, the absent husband who may or may not be cheating, etc. were all too familiar after just finishing up this author’s novel Pretty Baby and I may have mixed them up a time or two in my head but it wasn’t awful by any means. There were lots of secrets lurking and I really did want to keep reading to discover them all until the big reveal was unleashed upon me. It was weak, manipulative, over-used, unoriginal, and the lamest of lame-ass plot reveals. I couldn’t believe what the author had just done to me. I still can’t! I feel cheated, misled and more disappointed than mere words can say. 
And for that this book is getting a VERY generous 2.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Pretty Baby - Mary Kubica

This is one of those domestic dramas where the people are all slightly off and keeping secrets but you don’t know that at first. At first they all seem pretty normal. Getting to the reveal of all of the secrets is my favorite thing about these books. Well, that and reading about messed up people because that is always a good time.

 

Heidi is a do-gooder. She’s always tried to help out the less fortunate and has a decently cushy life so when she spies a young lady with an infant out in the elements she offers the girl a meal. And wouldn’t you know it, soon enough she’s offering her a warm place to stay inside her home. The home where her bratty 12 year old daughter and husband also live. She doesn’t check with either of them. She just brings this bedraggled stranger and her smelly, screaming baby into her home . . .

 

Chris, the husband is not happy about this turn of events but he travels so much that Heidi basically shrugs off his worries and does what she wants. And what she wants is to care for that beautiful baby.

 

“My eyes staring at the baby with longing, craving another chance to do this right.”

 

You know things aren’t going to end well, don’t you?

 

I’m not going to spill the details because the little details and secrets are what make reading a book like this so addictive and so much voyeuristic fun. This story kept me hooked from beginning to end and I particularly enjoyed that it was told from multiple points of view and that it flipped around in time to keep me on my toes but it never confused me. The author would you give one delectable little tidbit and then move on, leaving me desperate to read more - to read it all. I had to know ALL of the messy little secrets and messy they certainly were!

 

I recommend this story, if this is your sort of thing.

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