Barks At The Moon

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.

Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

Gwendy's Button Box - Stephen King, Richard Chizmar

I listened to this as an unabridged audiobook read by Maggie Siff who starred in Son’s of Anarchy. I never watched that show because there’s no monsters in it (I know, I am a terrible person, no need to tell me) so I don’t know her work. I learned this from listening to the Q&A with King & Chizmar at the end of the audio. Methinks they might’ve been enamored a little with her work on the show. She’s a little flat at times but overall does a decent enough job with the material but, honestly, I’ve heard better narrators and her performance wasn’t anything to get all that excited about.

 

Since this is a short story and I am a lazy bum I’m going to be brief. One lovely summer day when Gwendy is a tween doing her best to get healthy and shed herself of a nasty nickname by exercising herself silly, she spies a strange man who offers her a very special button box. This box, he sinisterly promises, will dispense magical chocolates that will curb her hunger. It will also spit out silver coins that’ll help put her through college. Well, Gwendy is a smart girl and she takes that box home despite her misgivings about keeping a box that has a potentially very dark side . . .

 

This was an eerie little story more magical realism than horror but I enjoyed it even though I wish it had been longer. I kept waiting for something dreadful to happen and eventually it does. It is partially a King story, after all! Honestly, I would’ve liked to have seen even more dreadful events and to have had a darker ending but I did get that in the second story included in this audio “The Music Room”. That story gets five stars. It was short, comical and as pitch-black as it gets.

 

I'll be using this book for the Magical Realism Square.

 

BookLikes How to: book search tips

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

Searching books isn't always a piece of cake, especially with a never-ending virtual bookshelf and a catalog with multiple editions. Jenn, to the rescue with some handy tips for all BookLikers! 

 

-- A guest post by Jenn, Murder by Death

 

The first and best way to find a title in the book database is to search by ISBN (or ASIN).  There are a couple of benefits to using ISBN for searching:  it will find the edition you have in your hand, and if it isn’t in the database, searching by ISBN/ASIN will kick off an import of the book, saving you all the work of having to either add it yourself, or asking a librarian to add it for you.

 

(Tip:  If you search by ISBN and multiple entries of the same title come up, let a librarian know by filing a book report.  That way they can merge the multiple records into one correct edition.)

 

Sometimes you don’t have the ISBN/ASIN handy, or the book is too old to have one.  Then it’s helpful to know a few tips about how to get the most out of BookLikes search.

 

Note: there are two search fields covered in today’s tips:  the BookLikes database, which is the field at the top right corner of the BookLikes pages, and the search field on your shelf page, which only searches the books you’ve shelved and has a different set of rules.

 

 

Searching the BookLikes book database

 

Generally, searching by title is very straightforward, especially for unusual titles, like The Maul and the Pear Tree, but the infinite variety of titles guarantees that some will work better than others without having to tweak how you search. 

 

Partial titles work. If they’re unusual enough.  So using The Maul and the Pear Tree, I can get away with searching The Maul and, although just searching The Maul is not enough: 

 

 

 

Articles A / An / The are optional:  UNLESS it’s a really common title.  So while The Wychford Poisoning Case and Wychford Poisoning Case will both return the book I’m looking for, if I try to search for A Shock to the System by Simon Brett, I’m better off including that A. 

 

 

 

 

Special characters:  The book database search is pretty forgiving overall (see note below) when it comes to &, apostrophes, commas, non-english alpha characters etc.  So searching for Mr. Pottermack’s Oversight will work as well as Mr Pottermacks Oversight, although the number of results returned might vary.    

 

 

 

Likewise, searching Jo Nesbø will return results for Jo Nesbo and vice versa.

 

(Note: there are some exceptions for non-english characters; when in doubt, try both.  This also holds true for the ampersand [&]; while I generally find it is interchangeable with ‘and’ there have been exceptions, so it’s always good to try both.)

 

 

When you’re getting too many results and none of them are the book you’re looking for.

 

Let’s say I’m looking for Ten by Gretchen McNeil. This is like searching ‘cats’ on google.  It’s too common a word and I’m going to get results that look like this:

 

 

 

Of course searching Ten Gretchen McNeil works, but generally the less typing, the better.  With that in mind, I tweak the search so that it says Ten Gretchen. Now I get:

 

 

Ten McNeil also works, but gives us two results. It’s always better to use the least common words when you have the choice to do so.  So if you’re trying to find a title that’s likely to return a lot of results, using part or all of the author’s name too will find your book faster.

 

 

Omnibuses are omnipresent

Because the BL database searches for all records that match the words you searched for, omnibus editions, if they exist, will appear in the results.  So searching for Murder on the Orient Express will return the single title edition as well as any omnibuses that include it as part of the title.   Most of the time the single edition title will appear at the top, but sometimes the omnibuses will overtake them and you’ll have to do a bit of scrolling.

 

 

PLEASE NOTE:  At the time of this writing, books that have been published under different titles in different countries and tied/combined together in the system can only be found by one of the titles (the ‘main’ one).  For example, Agatha Christie’s book Lord Edgware Dies was published in the US as Thirteen at Dinner.  As it’s the same book, they’re combined under Lord Edgware Dies.  This means that, at present, a search for Thirteen at Dinner only turns up omnibuses that contain that story.  This is a bug and it has been reported to BookLikes.  In the meantime, if you can’t find your book and you know of an alternate title, try searching by that title.

 

 

 

Searching your shelves

 

The search function for your shelves (the field that sits atop your shelves instead of at the top right of the page) is an entirely different beast from the book database search and can be summed up briefly:  This is an EXACT MATCH search function.  If a title has apostrophes, commas or any other special characters and you don’t include them, the search won’t find your books.

 

This means if I’m trying to find The Devil’s Novice by Ellis Peters on my shelves and I type in The Devils Novice (no apostrophe), it’s going to return zero results. 

 

How to get around this:  I either have to include all the punctuation in the title OR just search for a part of the title.  So searching Novice (or novice - it’s not case sensitive) will bring up my shelved book.  Other searches that will work include:  Devil (because it will search partial words), and Ellis Peters although these will return multiple results.

 

Note: you cannot use partial words combined with additional terms:  Devil Ellis or Devil Ellis Peters does NOT work; partial words must be used alone.

 

The best rule of thumb for searching your shelves is, unless you know the EXACT name of the book, stick to a few words of the title: Miss Peregrine instead of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  The shorter the search terms (while still keeping them effective) the smaller the margin of error.

 

Still not finding your book?

  1. Is it spelled right? It’s always worth double checking, as BL doesn’t have “did you mean” functionality.  If the book has been published under an alternate title and you know it, try searching by that title instead and then looking under “other editions” on the book page.
  2. Search by ISBN/ASIN: if it’s not in the system, it will be by the time the search finishes.
  3. If there’s no ISBN/ASIN on the book, try searching by author; sometimes a record will have the wrong language setting, keeping it from appearing in the results.
  4. Add the book. If it’s still nowhere to be found, please consider taking the time to add the book to the database so that it will be there when the next reader comes looking.

 

 

Have you had a particularly challenging time trying to find a book?  If so, please share it in the comments below; sometimes a title needs some special love from the librarians (bad imports leaving languages out, etc), or someone else might have a tip to make those searches work better.

 

Happy BookLiking!

Sorry Sir, You Have Been Led Astray

"Thank you for your time, This is . . . We know you are friendly and warmhearted person from one of my friends. We are looking for someone to write product reviews in exchange for free samples and we expect you , Would you like to do us a favor. If you like, You can test two of them.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071SJ2MV8/keywords=Roasting+ Sticks

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072C6CXV8/keywords=Can+Opener

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072K67YLL/keywords=Ball+Pump"

 

Hee hee, These product review requests from junk peddlers attempting to sidestep Amazon rules are always good for a laugh on a crappy work day!

 

 

Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke

Blanky - Kealan Patrick Burke

Blanky is a grief saturated read that will ring true for anyone who has ever lost anyone prematurely.  It nails those dark, hopeless feelings that envelop you in the early stages of grief. It’s sad and it’s scary and it packs an incredible punch in so few pages. This kind of writing, the kind that is able to creep into my heart and shatter it, is what  keeps me coming back to books when there are always so many other things trying to pull me away from them.

“One rainy night I put her to bed and when I woke up, she was dead. That was the beginning of the end of my world. This is the rest of it.”

Steve is drowning in grief and he is all alone. His wife, unable to deal with their loss, has left to live with her parents for a while and Steve’s isolation and sadness is a living, breathing, soul sucking thing.

"We always said nothing would come between us, that there was nothing we couldn’t conquer. I know at the time we never imagined in a million years it would be something this fucking apocalyptic, but still...I meant it then and I mean it now. We’re stronger together than we’ll ever be alone.” “I know, but...I see her in you, Stephen. She had your eyes, and it got so that looking at you felt like looking at her, and all I could see was the accusation, the blame. I couldn’t bear it. I still can’t.”

Ouch, right? Talk about raw emotion. The writing here is so strong that it almost physically hurts to read these thoughts and experience the sadness that engulfs both of them.

One day Steve ventures into his deceased baby’s room and finds her blanky. The blanky that he could’ve sworn she was swaddled in when she was handed over to the paramedics. The blanky that should not be in her room . . .  Finding the blanky stirs a series of events that become increasingly sinister. Is Steve experiencing something supernatural or is it something far worse? I’m not a jerk and am not going to be the one to tell you!

This story gets all the stars. It is bleak and it may haunt you but I think all of you horror people should read it.

 

I'm going to use this for the American Horror Story square.

 

The Halloween Children by Norman Prentiss & Brian James Freeman

The Halloween Children - Brian James Freeman, Norman Prentiss

I’m giving The Halloween Children a solid four stars because it created a smothering sense of creepiness and managed to maintain it throughout the entire story and it held my attention from beginning to end. You know from the beginning that something terrible is coming but you’re never sure exactly what form that terribleness is going to take and when it’s finally revealed in all its gruesomeness it is quite terrible indeed!

 

But this isn’t a five star read for me because it is told by two very unreliable narrators and in the end many things were left unanswered. So many things! The authors could potentially write another short story just tying off all the dangly bits. I don’t need everything wrapped up in a bloody little bow but when I finished this story I felt like I needed to read it again in an attempt to learn more.

 

Basically it’s a story set in an apartment complex that may or may not be inhabited by insane occupants, murderous humans small and large, soul-stealing demons, or perhaps evil, whispering ghosts. Take your pick or choose them all, if you wish. Harris and Lynn are our main narrators and neither are very stable personalities, though usually entertaining to listen to. They have two children and they each favor a particular child and don’t work too hard at hiding their feelings. That’ll mess a kid up, just saying.

 

Harris is the building maintenance man and starts to notice some very strange and usually smelly events occurring when he’s out on late night calls. When the party pooping property manager cancels the Halloween party the events ramp up and this strangeness begins to infect his personal space and, well, I can’t tell you any more without spoiling too much.

 

This is a great little story to read on Halloween. It has some delightfully ghastly imagery, creeped me out and even made me laugh a few times. I am very glad that I no longer live in an apartment complex and that I always bought candy for the brats when I did! I received an ARC of this story from Netgalley, thanks Netgalley. I also read this book to participate in the Horror Aficionados October Group Read.

 

I'm going to use this for my Chilling Children square.

 

 

My Halloween 2017 Bingo Card

It - Stephen King The Bird Eater - Ania Ahlborn The Halloween Children - Brian James Freeman, Norman Prentiss Gwendy's Button Box - Stephen King, Richard Chizmar

UPDATE:  I fixed my card and it looks sadder than ever. I used BeFunky. It was so easy. Thank you all.

 

I'm only posting a marker for books that I've finished that have been called because it is clear I will never be organized enough to follow a game correctly.

 

 

I will update and bump this post if I ever get a Bingo!

 

 

 

Called & Read

 

Terror In A Small Town:  IT by Stephen King

Ghost: The Bird Eater by Ania Ahlborn

Chilling Children:  The Halloween Children by Norman Prentiss 

Magical Realism:  Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar

 

Read, Not Called

 

Amateur Sleuth: Prawn of the Dead by Dakota Cassidy
Classic Horror: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson 

Raven ?? Fidget Spinners Destroyed My Life by George Billions

American Horror Story Blanky by Keanan Patrick Burke

Vampires The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

 

Help!!

I have given up on Picmonkey and need to find another free online photo editor that will allow allow me to insert my bingo markers over the board. Picmonkey has failed me FIVE times on three different days and I give up. Whenever I attempt to save or export it makes me sign up to join a free trial and I'm not doing that. There is no option to copy and save the edited photo and I am beyond aggravated. I tried using Firefox, Explorer and Chrome and they all allow me to edit the photo but not save or export it. I am at my wits end. 

 

Reading progress update: I've listened 90 out of 675 minutes.

The Loney - Andrew Michael Hurley, Richard Burnip

When is the story going to start?! 90 minutes of nothing at all have happened. I may have to switch out my audiobook on the way home and try this at a later date because it may make me a road hazard. It is sooooo slow and, to be totally honest, boring. I'm going to have to restart from the beginning because I sleep-listened through most, if not all, of it.

 

 

 

IT by Stephen King

It - Stephen King, Steven Weber
There are a million reviews and plot breakdowns for IT so I am not going to bother adding another. I'm also tired. This book has been my constant companion through a boatload of crapola in real-life and I did not take notes. I read IT knowing it was long and hoping it would take me away like Calgon always promised and it did. The book. Not Calgon. Calgon is full of BS.



This is not a 5 star read but 4 1/2 stars for a few reasons. I was so unsettled by THE scene near the end that I must've blocked out when I read this book at the age of 17. It didn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me that Bev would initiate such a thing. When I was 11 I had friends who were my world and my family was all kinds of messed up and that thought would've never crossed my mind ~ even at 14 when things got even worse. It just struck me as strange and disturbing and unnecessary. And it was really gross to listen to on audio. I've read lots of gross things but this one took all the cake. I also didn't like the whole bit about 
Bill cheating on his wife with Bev. Ugh, why didn't she just throw Ben a bone and leave the married guy alone?! Home-wrecker and weak men. Blech
(show spoiler)


Other than that and the fact that it was a little too long for me, it was a nearly perfect book of childhood friendships and one of the most terrifying monsters ever put to the page.
 
Will use for a Bingo square whenever I update my card.
 

 

Fidget Spinners Destroyed My Family by George Billions

Fidget Spinners Destroyed My Family - George Billions

I’m not sure what that cover is about but that cannibalistic kiddo is not in the book. Sorry, folks. It’s eye catching though, right?

 

What this book is really about is a family that is on the brink of imploding and we get to witness it in all its glorious ugliness. Yay! From the outside, Karen and Kevin and their two children appear to have a perfectly beautiful upper class life but if you get to snooping and look a little closer you’ll see things aren’t so sickeningly picture perfect. Ah, my favorite kind of story. I love books like this. If you do to, you’ll want to check this one out.

 

It’s darkly comical, as the best of these types of stories tend to be. Kevin, who is a big kid himself, decides to give the kids (and himself, of course) fidget spinners one Christmas and Karen sees it as the beginning of the end. Of everything. She’s a bit of a dramatic soul. She blames all of her woes on the fidget thingies and refuses to face her true reality. This book is told from Karen’s mostly sloshed POV and she’s a truly terrible person on the inside. Horribly, hysterically, terrible. Her thoughts are often ridiculously bitchy, snooty and mean as well as slightly crazed and I have to admit I loved it there in her head. Granted, no one would probably want to spend too much time there because it would wear on you but this book is only 96 pages. That’s the perfect length of time to spend with someone like Karen, if you ask me.

 

“I screamed. I tried to help. I tried to save him. Believe me when I tell you, I really tried.”

 

Lol, I don’t believe a thing this woman tries to tell me but it’s fun listening to her. Please be warned an unforgivable thing happens to an animal. I didn’t like that part at all but that’s the risk you take with books like these.

 

If you’re in the mood for something blackly humorous grab yourself a glass of Karen’s favorite wine (that would be any and all of them) and settle in for a dark little gem with this novella.

 

I received an ARC of this story from the author. Thanks, it was a lot of fun!

 

I read this for Halloween Bingo but am not sure where I'm going to stick it just yet. 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson

"The house was vile. . . Hill House is vile, it is diseased, get away from here at once."

I’m stingy with my stars and gave out five of them to Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It had it all; quirky characters, creepy goings-on and dreadful deeds and I was expecting similarly great things from this classic.

Perhaps my expectations were too high or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood because I found this one slower than cold molasses with slightly over-the-top characters whose plight never grabbed me. It took me well over a week to finish this skinny little book. I know I’m slow but that’s ridiculous even for me. I’d pick it up, read a few pages and fall asleep. Once I even dropped the edge of this cursed book on my face as I nodded off and woke up with a welt on my chin. At least my husband, the NON reader I might add, had a great laugh. And still I plundered on. . . 

In the end, I never did connect with the story and it wasn’t able to infect me with insidious dread. I can’t quite pinpoint what went wrong besides the fact that there was too little spooky and too much yapping for me. What with all of the talking these people did, I never did learn much about them. The descriptions of the house were divine, however, and I would love to live there.
 

 

I read this for Bingo. I'm all off track and have to figure out where I'm going to place it when I get my act back together. I don't even know what's been called at this point. Is there a master post of bingo calls somewhere?

If I Disappear for A Bit

This is why. Buddy lost his fight with the damn tumor yesterday and I am going to either crawl into a ball and hide from the world via the tv or bury myself in my books and writing reviews. I'm not sure which way it will go but I do know I probably will not be able to respond to replies on this post for a very long time (if ever). I will read them but it won't be today. 

 

We adopted Buddy when he was 9 months old after my sister got divorced and could not keep him. We sure won out on that deal. He would've been 12 in November and was the sweetest dog I ever had the pleasure of knowing. He didn't have a mean bone in his body and loved everyone.  I will miss his steamy dragon breath, his calm, quiet energy and his sweet, silly face more than I can ever say.

 

This Book Was Made for Snoozing

My friend said I must read this. I told her I was scared. It was too big. I may have it for months, if not years. She said, "I don't care. Take it anyway!" I have lovely friends but they do not help with my book issues :) Anyway, for now, Patrick has found a use for it!

 

Prawn of the Dead by Dakota Cassidy

Prawn of the Dead (Lemon Layne Mystery) - Dakota Cassidy, Hollie Jackson

Lemon Layne and her mom run a gas station/convenience store/BBQ pitstop and one morning Lemon starts off the day by finding a dead fellow in one of the bathrooms! It appears he’s been shot and later it’s revealed that a piece of his brain is missing and that he was the ex-boyfriend of her mother. Her mother had told everyone who would listen that she wanted him dead after she discovered he had been cheating. Uh oh!



So Lemon, with the help of her pet monkey and her best friend, starts a-snooping and uncovering the dirt. To find out more about the plot you will have to read the book. 

This book is zany and light-hearted and will not hurt your brain or make you sad. I did not figure out the mystery but I suck at sleuthing so no surprise there. It takes place in an idyllic small coastal town in Washington and the cast is filled with eccentrics and out of all of them I loved Lemon’s mom the best. She’s feisty and just made me smile. We also have a hoard of zombie hunters, a monkey, a bossy best friend (she was not my favorite), a hunky policeman and quite a few others who come to vivid life in the audio. This is book #1 in a new series and even though I’m not a fan of following a series around until the end of time, I’d definitely read another of these to see what other wacky things are bound to happen in this little town. More murders, perhaps?!

I’d recommend the audio read by Hollie Jackson. She brings these nutty people to life and does a killer accent (I don’t know if it was accurate but I liked it anyway). She keeps the story moving and deftly moves from manly man to pissed off old lady without a hitch.

 

*I received a copy of this audiobook from Tantor Media. 

 

Read for Halloween Bingo 2017.

 

 

My Card:

 

The Bird Eater by Ania Ahlborn

The Bird Eater - Ania Ahlborn,  Peter Berkrot

After starting out with a nasty murder by a boy with a maniacal grin, I was expecting The Bird Eater to be so much better than it actually turned out to be.

Twenty-one years after the chilling events in the opening scene, Aaron returns to his dilapidated and reputedly haunted childhood home hoping to heal his freshly broken life. Apparently his therapist advised him to do so despite the fact that he witnessed a murder in the house and he’s currently struggling with depression, borderline substance abuse, separation from his wife and the death of his young son. Yep, being all alone in a murder house will surely cure his woes. I hope he didn’t pay that person too much for the shitty advice. 



The problem for me with this story was Aaron and all of the other main characters. Aaron was a broken man and remained that way throughout the story and, quite honestly, his self-loathing exhausted me and the way the book was written kept me from feeling his anguish. There was a disconnect between Aaron and I which kept me from feeling much of anything. Aaron reconnects with his childhood friends and his childhood love and I found that so bizarre and unbelievably frustrating that I nearly have no words. I mean, 21 years have passed, he was 14 freaking years old when his world crumbled and this Cheri person is still carrying a torch for him?!!! 



Dayam, even I gave up on Corey Hart after a year and moved on with my life when he didn’t show up to whisk me away and I was in luv. 



Reality should’ve kicked in for Cheri at some point in those 21 years!

And did I mention that Cheri is also MARRIED to some poor schlub who works his bum off so she can buy nice things and she’s ready to toss him away because her grief ridden true love has returned!? Cheri thinks she can fix Aaron. Ugh, Cheri was a weak, pathetic excuse for a character and only managed to suck any enjoyment out of this story for me. Aaron’s other childhood friend is a supposed ghost hunter but doesn’t do any ghost hunting in the local haunted house. WTF is going on with these characters?!

Whew, glad that’s out of the way. There were a few things I enjoyed; the creep factor, the crazed Birdboy, the atmosphere and the slow build (to a lame reveal) but obviously this is not a book I would ever reread. 

It’s getting 2 ½ stars because I am bothered!

 

This book will fulfill my Ghost square.

 

 

 

Bingo Call: 9/7/2017

Reblogged from Obsidian Blue:

Here is your bingo call:

 

 

Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror.

Currently reading

You Will Know Me: A Novel by Megan Abbott, Lauren Fortgang
A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley, Richard Burnip
Progress: 90/675minutes
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples
A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel