Bark's Book Nonsense

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.

The Party by Robyn Harding

The Party: A Novel - Robyn Harding

I was lured into requesting this book from Netgalley when I received an email that promised me many juicy secrets and perfect people who behave very badly. I admit that I am a sucker for that kind of thing. 

This is a great book to pick up if you don’t want anything too heavy, too emotional or basically anything that’ll strain the brain. It makes for a good mindless “beach book” which to me means I can drop it in the sand, get salt water all over it and even crack the spine (ahhhh!) because I’ll be leaving it behind for someone else when I’m done without feeling sad about the torture I’ve put it through. The material flirts with darkness and there is even a throwback “Heathers” moment but it never gets too deep and, for me, that was a great big problem. 

So here’s the jist. Heather, uh, Hannah is turning sweet 16 and she invites her two childhood friends and two newer, cooler friends to her party.



She worries that her new friends will find her terribly uncool once they realize her mother is a controlling witch who won’t let them drink, do drugs or play with boys. Ummm, she could’ve avoided all of this angst by not inviting them in the first place but then we wouldn’t have ourselves a book now, would we? As you can suspect, the teens get up to naughtiness after mom goes to bed with a sleeping pill and some wine. Dad sneaks down and gives them a little present and soon after a very bad accident occurs that will ruin one forever and the others temporarily.



All of this setup was enjoyable and had me turning the pages awaiting some great and nasty reveals in the wake of this “event” but it never truly panned out. This accident spawns a series of Lifetime tv movie-like events that were dramatic but in the scheme of things a little too “meh” for my liking. Too much of the book gets hung up on boring lawsuit talk and selfish characters boo-hooing about the meanness of humankind whilst they ponder their navels and act like jerks.



I found myself losing interest in all of the characters somewhere after the halfway mark but especially Hannah who only cared about being the Queen Bee, even when she saw her “friends” being complete deplorables. To hell with being a decent person, popularity is far more important. 



If you’re in the mood for something that is more surface than substance and can stomach a cast filled with humorless unlikable people, you may love this book but it wasn’t meant for me. I need my darkness dark and emotional and The Party didn’t deliver that for me. Honestly, if I want to entertain myself with evil teenagers, I’d rather just rewatch Heathers.

Up Later and I Cannot Wait

Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders - Doug Murano

I've been reading too far out of my favorite genre . Bring on the carny horror!

 

Up Later and I Cannot Wait

I've been reading too far out of my favorite genre . Bring on the carny horror!

 

Goodnight, Booklikes!
Goodnight, Booklikes!

American Queen by Sierra Simone

American Queen - Sierra Simone, Stephanie  Rose

I guess I'm giving this book a 2 1/2.  

This author likes to jam a lot of stuff into her books and into her heroines and this story is no exception. She also likes to set up preposterous plot lines and run with them. I said this about her book Priest but it totally fits here too:

“This story is not based in any sort of reality. If you know that going in you’ll likely be okay. But I make no guarantees.”

Unfortunately, for me at least, I had a hard time doing that. I simply could not suspend my disbelief enough to get past the fact that this book is about a 3-way relationship featuring the President of the United States. Yessirree, you read that right. And, as if that weren’t weird and disturbing enough, one of the members of this lusty triangle just so happens to be the Vice President. I kid you not. Seriously, though, any other position of power would’ve worked better for me at this point in time than those two. Granted this book was written before an over-stuffed, pumpkin head took over the US but it is very unfortunate that every time someone says Mr. President or Mr. Vice President in this story that I can only picture the current two running our country.



Ok, say you can throw reality out the window better than I, what you’ll find here is a story about three people who lustlove each other but for many reasons, aren’t open and clear about their feelings which causes no end of angst and punishing kisses and eventually much kinky sex. The third caught up in this mess is Greer. She is the most beautiful girl in the world and that’s all there really is to her. She is submissive, a little naïve, adores edgy sex and is a little bit of a door-mat when it comes to dealing with certain people (her bitchy cousin, especially). She wasn’t my most favorite heroine and I’ll just leave it at that.

I listened to this book as an unabridged audiobook. I may not have finished it otherwise. Narrator Stephanie Rose is great as Greer. There’s a slight sexy innocence to her voice that works well here. She voices the guys decently, if a little robotically here and there but she’s not too bad. I’ve definitely heard much worse! 

Heads up, there is a wee bit of this which a lot of people do not like in their threesomes (I am not one of them).

 


 

(show spoiler)


Also thrown into this convoluted sexy stew for reasons unknown, we have several things that left me shaking my head:

*A man named Merlin who can apparently see the future!
*An otherwise virginal heroine who at 15 starts writing super porny letters to a soldier she kissed once. 
*Greer’s cousin makes a major pass at Greer’s man (one of them, anyway) and it’s all but ignored.
*There is sex with a half-sister (this happens off screen so don’t get too excited!) 
*A past marriage that happens out of the blue and makes no sense at all to me.
*And then there’s the killing blow: We have ourselves a genuine and terribly frustrating cliff-hanger!

People LOVE this book so much that writing this review makes me feel like a crab. But at least my cat loves me.

 

 

I received a copy of this audiobook from Tantor Media. I hope they don’t regret it!

 

Train to Busan

 
 
 

 

Train to Busan
Zombie Film 
Released 2016
While a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan.

See it on Netflix or Amazon
 
My Thoughts:
 
It's been ages since I've gotten off my bum and written a horror film review. I've seen a ton of films but usually can't remember a thing once the credits roll and that makes it hard to write any kind of review.  But this one? This one has been lingering and rattling around in what's left of my brain for days. Now it's screaming at me to write a review, if only to get it out of my head. I'll likely get the names spelled all wrong and maybe some of the details too but I'm going to do this anyway. Sorry in advance.

This is a movie you MUST see if you're a fan of character driven, action-packed zombie films (yes, they really do exist!). This is how horror films should be done, if you ask me. It's a South Korean film and has subtitles and the run time is just under two hours but don't let any of that put you off. This movie is spectacular. I'm not exaggerating. My husband who is not a horror fan by choice keeps bringing it up so I know it stuck with him too. It's currently running on Netflix. You really need to drop everything and go watch it. Seriously.


Seok-woo and his wife are separated and his wife has moved out. For her birthday his little girl Su-an only wishes to take the train to see her mother. She is a strong willed little kid and will do it alone if she has to! I really loved Su-an. She is adorable and has a fine backbone. Her dad is a workaholic businessman who misses all the important moments in her life but his latest and greatest mistake was to miss her recital. She's angry at him and he's a little miffed about the whole thing but decides to do the right thing and accompanies her on the train to mom's place thinking he'll be back to work in a few hours. They board the train together and then a zombie outbreak happens.

These zombies are fast and hungry and initially the people on the train are clueless as to what exactly is happening and they are all trapped in sections of the train as it speeds to its destination. This scenario is claustrophobic and completely terrifying.

The cast is filled out with a hoard of characters because the train is packed with people. As the movie progresses few of them remain human but those who do are really fleshed out into realistic people you will root for and, of course, there's one you will despise because there has to be at least one villain! I love that the movie took the time to develop its characters and was able to keep the action going. Many of the people start out as stereotypes but truly surprised me with their strength and humanity and bits of humor even as the terror brutalized them. 

This movie is violent and heartbreaking and one of the best I've ever seen.  It will probably leave you a weepy mess but it will also give you hope in some of humankind, at least, and I think we all need a little of that kind of hope right now. I had the ending spoiled for me by a bigmouth on a horror movie podcast (to which I've now unsubscribed) so do yourself a favor and go into this without reading any reviews other than mine, of course! Trust me, you do not want to spoil it for yourself.

Hell Cat of the Holt by Mark Cassell

Hell Cat of the Holt (a novella): supernatural horror in the Shadow Fabric mythos - Mark Cassell

I shallowly chose this as my next read because of the title and the cover. I live with a hellcat who chews laptop cords, Ipads, electrical wiring, hapless and short lived mice and human legs. He likes the legs best of all but only if they’re hairy so I’m usually safe. He also takes great joy in lazing about on the stairway awaiting the human stupid enough to dare pass him. You know the type.

Here’s the devil’s furry son we call Patrick.



Here he is in action:



Anyhow , this story turned out to be about a potentially demonic cat and a whole lot more. It’s part of the “shadow fabric mythos” which consists of several connected stories set up by the author. I haven’t read any of the other work set in this mythos but I can tell you that I’m going to change that and that you can go into this one without feeling left out, confused or aggravated. Hell Cat of the Holt stands alone quite well and is one of those atmospheric stories that creeps under your skin pretty quick. 

I was taken in by the opening scene which was nearly a complete unsettling short story all on its own. I even had to flick back to the blurb to make sure I hadn’t accidentally picked up another short story collection. Nope, I was safe! I hadn’t just accidentally agreed to read another “Nightmares”. Phew.

Anne has recently returned to the home of her childhood with her cat Murphy. Soon after, Murphy goes missing and she spends most of her time wandering about the small town in search of him. She worries that the rumors may be true, and that there is indeed a big, black monstrous cat terrorizing the locals, causing accidents and she fears that it may have done something terrible to her beloved Murphy! Nothing hooks me like a sweet kitty in peril and hooked I was. With the help of a neighbor named Leo, Anne digs deep into the secrets of the demonic cat and discovers something far more insidious and frightening than an overlarge cat with red eyes (but yeah, that’s scary enough!).

This short tale paints an excellent picture of a small town gripped by something not quite of this world. It’s a little gory and the atmosphere is as much a part of the story as the characters and I always love an author who can do that and do it well. There is a bonus story at the end that ties in with Hellcat and adds an even creepier undertone to everything. 

If you’re a fan of atmospheric horror and cats you’ll most definitely want to read Hellcat of the Holt. 

I received an ARC of this story from Confessions Of A Reviewer promotion. Thanks for sharing!

The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker

The Fourth Monkey - J.D. Barker

I don’t read a ton of straight up thrillers because the police procedural bits usually don’t thrill me but this one did. It’s about a serial killer (those I do like!) and not only does it follow the current day rush to find a kidnapped teen left for dead, it also tells the creepy tale of the killer’s super weird and rather disturbing childhood. He and his parents lived in a picture perfect neighborhood and had the picture perfect marriage but they weren’t like other parents and I was riveted from page one of the killers spectacularly lurid diary that was filled with juicy secrets. Oh how I love juicy secrets! 



I’m not going to tell you much of anything about the plot because I’m too lazy and you don’t really want things spoiled for yourself, do you? Why read the book if a review tells you everything? And this is one you’ll want to read and discover all on your own. If you’re into thrillers and dysfunctional households, I think you’re really going to enjoy this one. 



What I will tell you is that the way this story is told kept me hooked. It alternates between the victim’s ordeal, the police attempting to figure it all out and the killer’s diary. All of these stories are compelling and kept things moving. The characterization is pretty awesome too and that’s a rarity in many of the books I read. The dynamic between the group working on the case felt very realistic and the main man on the case is wounded to his very soul and is extremely sympathetic. I liked him, I felt for him and I ached for his heartbreak. It takes a lot to make me feel much of anything but when it’s done right, as it is here, I am glued to the pages. This darn book kept me up until 1:30 in the morning when I had to get up at 6 for work. I NEVER do that but I had to learn all the secrets and get all the answers. I’m totally regretting it today.



I also loved the creepy characterization of the young killer in the diary. He reminded me a lot of young Norman Bates of Bates Motel (oh, how I miss that show) and his too adult for his age word choices didn’t seem at all out of place in his strange little world. 


I’m terrible at figuring out mysteries and most clues completely go over my head and, as per usual, I didn’t see many of these twists coming but that’s not saying a whole heck of a lot. If you’re a die-hard mystery/thriller fan you may have a different experience – or you might not. Either way, it’s tough to put down and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a read.

This twisted quote is my absolute favorite. It makes me laugh every time I read it. But don’t read it if want to go in blind.

 

 

"Oh, I didn’t beat him. I pushed him down the stairs, chained him to the water pipe, then went to work trying to slice the evil out of him. It was messy work, and even after three hours I’m afraid I only made a dent in it. I worked up such an appetite, though.”

 

(show spoiler)

 

 


I received an ARC from Booklover Catlady Publicity. Thanks for the twisted read!

Last Night With The Duke by Amelia Grey

Last Night with the Duke (Rakes of St. James) - Amelia Grey, Alison Larkin

A sexy duke needs to hire a chaperone to escort his two younger sisters and keep them safe from the vipers out to ruin them as they make their debut amongst the ton. He fears someone will harm their reputations to pay him back for a prank he played out years earlier. While visiting the local governess/chaperone business, he witnesses a sassy young woman instruct one of her underlings on the proper way to keep a boy in line and decides then and there that Miss Esmeralda Swift is the only woman able to do the job. It doesn’t matter that she’s probably too young, doesn’t particularly want the job and has a few unconventional demands, such as bringing her little sister and their dog along for the duration. He meets all of her demands and offers her a deal so good she cannot refuse. All of this happens after only one conversation simply because she is the most beautiful woman he has ever set his eyes upon . . .

 

 

Esmeralda, her bratty little sister and her rascally dog move into the duke’s home and chaos and kisses ensue. But do you know what doesn’t ensue? The darn revenge plot line that was set up in the first very long scene! That whole “someone is out to get my innocent sisters, whoever must it be?” part of the story never happens. It was just thrown out there to have a reason for these two to meet and that bugged me and a second or two of conflict. Now I’m not a huge fan of mysteries but I’m thinking a little mystery would not have hurt this story because it was a little bit boring. There wasn’t much going on and there was very little actual conflict between the two characters.

 

Esmeralda was born to the snootier class but she’s been forced to become a manager of the governess/chaperone agency because her mother was disowned when she decided to marry a penniless poet. Esmeralda spends a lot of time longing for the life the she should’ve had by birthright and, I’m not going to lie, that got a little tiresome, boo-hooey, poor me after a bit but she also does right by her little sister and that balanced things out for me. Because she is an employee the duke doesn’t want to mess with her, so instead he flirts and teases and leads her on which I found a little mean. They long for each other but don’t take much action until he learns of her fancy family ties. Meh. As I said, there’s not much of a conflict here. There is a lot of time spent talking about wardrobes, chasing after dogs, going to balls and such but there isn’t any deep relationship development happening. Mostly they like each other’s faces and other body parts and it feels like surface attraction and little else and that isn’t why I read these kinds of books. I want angst, drama, true love. But mostly I want to feel something besides vague boredom. That didn’t happen here.

 

Narration Notes: Alison Larkin narrates this lackluster story beautifully. She has a very engaging voice and was the only reason I was able to keep going. If you plan to read this series and you enjoy audios, this one is the way to go!

 

2 ½ stars for the story but I am bumping up this unabridged audio version to a 3 because the narration is lovely and made me tune in to the very end.

My Overdrive audio # came up and . . .

Killers of the Flower Moon - David Grann

This book is narrated by Will freaking Patton. I am so excited to finish this book now :)

 

Just started the wrong book.

The Party: A Novel - Robyn Harding

Why do I find DOC's in the Kindle app so confusing?  I thought I was starting a book called The Girlfriend but was actually reading The Party but I think it was meant to be. I thought I was hitting a slump, for sure, but this book is filled with juicy secrets and I cannot stop reading it, even though I'm now reading my Netgalley titles all out of order!

Reading progress update: I've read 110 out of 320 pages.

Killers of the Flower Moon - David Grann

I'm putting this one on hold for a bit. I've been really struggling to get through it and am instead going to continue to wait for my number to come up for the audio version via Overdrive and read it that way. It's dense with information and history and I feel I'll absorb it better that way. My brain is too tired to read this at night after a never ending day.

Giveaway for The Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey - A.J. Barker

I'm running a little giveaway for a book called The Fourth Monkey over on my blog. I've read this book and thought it was perfectly evil. I'll post my review on July 1st, it'll probably get around 4 1/2 stars because the characterization was great. It's about a missing teen and also has a creepy diary that tells the tale of a young serial killer in the making. If this sounds at all interesting to you and you are in the US or UK please enter the giveaway by clicking here. You could win a signed copy of the book and some other stuff.

 

Here's a peek at what's inside the giveaway box:

 

 

 

Emphatic by Kaylee Ryan

Emphatic  - Kaylee Ryan, Jillian Macie, Nelson Hobbs

3 1/2 Stars

Emphatic is a sweet romance about a rock star and a beautiful girl next door type who fall madly deeply, emphatically in love but don’t truly get together until the book is almost finished. Their romance starts out hot and heavy but then turns into one of the slowest of slow burns I think I’ve ever read in this genre.



Logan has just graduated college and has wisely dumped her cheating loser of a boyfriend and is ready to start a new life and a brand new job. But first she heads to Hawaii with her best friend to celebrate and maybe have a well-deserved fling. There she meets a gorgeous hunk of friendly tatted up man who calls himself Michael (but is really named Kacen). A hot and heavy sexy time ensues. She leaves sated and ready to begin life as an adult but you’ll never, ever in a zillion years guess who her new boss turns out to be . . . Yep, that dusty old-school romance trope is shined up and put to use here. Things like this make me feel like I’ve read entirely too many books. If you can’t guess, you probably haven’t read enough romances yet so get going on that!

What follows is a very sweetly developed romance between Logan and the rock star who loves her to pieces from the first moment he meets her. Even though he can have anyone he chooses he thinks she is the most beautiful girl in the world and loves that she isn’t after him for the fame. He falls hard and fast and he never sways. She, however, has been emotionally wounded by her ex and fears the pain of getting entangled with anyone, never mind a gorgeous rock star so he must wait ‘til she comes around.



Do you think there is such a thing as a hero who is too emphatically in love? I didn’t think so until I read about this guy. He lavishes Logan with sweet (and often sappy) words, stolen butterfly kisses and he always seems to be hovering around with his undying devotion. Some girls love this kind of thing but I’m not that kind of girl and to me it was almost smothering. Maybe I’m just too old to appreciate that kind of touchy feely kind of loving especially when it’s one-sided for so long.



Narration Notes: The story is told in first person, alternating between Logan and Kacen’s POV and each have their own narrator. Logan’s narrator has a lovely voice which gets sultry when it needs to. She does justice to the male characters too. Kacen’s narrator has a soft southern accent which, at first, didn’t seem to fit and then I remembered/realized they were in Nashville so I went with it. Honestly though, I preferred the female narrator but I can see why they went with one for each POV because it would’ve been very confusing otherwise.

I liked the writing despite all of my complaints about the story. The author has an easy, down to earth style and though nothing truly exciting happens despite the fact that this book features rock stars (no drugs, no debauchery!), it was never boring – if that makes any sense. The characters were all decent people just falling in love and hanging around. If you want a sweet, slow-burn and like this kind of hero give it a go!

 

I received a copy of this unabridged audiobook from Tantor Media. Thank you Tantor, I hope you don't regret it!

Strangers of the Night: Touched by PassionPassion in DisguiseUnexpected Passion - Megan Hart

I'm reading a real book today since the IPad is not sun friendly. I didn't realize how much I missed holding an actual book in my hands!

Currently reading

The Girlfriend by Michelle Francis
Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders by Doug Murano
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
Progress: 110/320pages
A Bed of Spices by Barbara Samuel