My washing machine died, my grown kid is being a brat and my yard smells of dog poo but you know what? I do not care! Nothing can make me move my butt from this chair until I finish a book or two.
Stay chill, it's only a silly book review.
My washing machine died, my grown kid is being a brat and my yard smells of dog poo but you know what? I do not care! Nothing can make me move my butt from this chair until I finish a book or two.
Benjamin has had enough of this cruel, cruel world. Blind and battered and suffering from PTSD after returning from service in the military, he visits the beach where he and his now dead best friend Rez shared many good times. He intends to drown himself but before he can do that he hears horse hooves and then, strangely enough, he hears Rez’s voice.
Rez is not only alive but he claims he is a kelpie arisen from the sea and must take a human sacrifice to appease and keep the bloodthirst of his band of kelpies at bay. Because he touched the water with death in his thoughts, Benjamin is marked for death and Rez is charged with bringing it. Uh oh.
So, what’s a kelpie, you may ask? According to this book and google legend, a kelpie is a shapeshifting water horse that watches over and saves hapless humans from drowning and shark attacks but twice a year they must sacrifice a villain or willing victim (and eat them!) or the bloodlust may overcome them.
Don’t you love it? So beautiful yet so very sinister.
Anyhow, once Rez realizes it’s his buddy that is marked for death, he seeks advice to remove the mark. This is where things get a wee bit wonky for me. The only way he can remove it is by having sexy times with Benjamin and making him his mate for life. Rez likes men but Benjamin is straight. Or at least he thought so . . .
I’ll say nothing more about the plot but I will say that the brevity of this story was definitely a deterrent to my falling in love with it. I don’t mind a good gay for you love story but this one didn’t work because there was no time for things to develop naturally. It was rushed and, in the end, I felt the relationship was based more on lust, comfort and outside pressures than any true love match. Add another hundred pages to this novella and it could’ve been an emotional angst-fest that I would’ve adored. As written it was just a strange little tale of lust. Not horrible but not all that memorable either.
I received a copy of this ARC from Netgalley and Carina Press.
I took one look at the cover and decided I had to read this. I wrongly assumed it was about the carny life and ever since reading Geek Love I’ve been drawn to those types of books. These stories aren’t about sideshow freaks and pop-up carnivals but they’re mostly pretty good despite that.
The book is broken up into three sections. Oddities, Curiosities & Undefinable Wonders. I enjoyed more of the stories in the first two categories and started to feel a little fatigued by the end. This is typical of me and short story collections (see my review for Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror) and likely says nothing about the collection but there it is.
Let’s start with the ODDITIES.
Larue’s Dime Museum by Lisa Morton Julia is intrigued by two old photos she discovers at an antique shop and brings them home. Soon her life has turned into a creepy Twilight Zone episode. This tale sets just the right tone for this collection.
Wildflower, Cactus by Rose Brian Kirk The price of beauty and the ugliness of human nature leads two women down the path of body modification and helps them find their power.
"The world is a mirror. What do you want to see?"
I wish this story had been a bit longer but I truly enjoyed what was there.
The Baker of Millepoix by Hal Bodner A heartbroken man buys a bakery and gives it his all (and that’s all I’m saying!). Before long, miracles start to happen. I do believe this was my favorite story in the collection. It has it all. There is a great setup, character building, fabulous storytelling and even a little humor. You must read it.
Jacqueline Ess: Her Will and Testament by Clive Barker I've read this one twice before in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood Vol. 2 . I nearly skipped it this time around but am glad I didn’t.
Jacqueline discovers she has a grisly talent that terrifies her a little. It would terrify me too. It’s a pretty dastardly power. But once she realizes what a rush of power it brings, she develops a new lust for life. She perfects her talent and wields it to exact revenge and rid herself of pesky men. It’s dark, bloody, visceral, horribly humorous (if you’re warped) and classic Clive Barker. Even on this, my third reading, I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time.
An Exhibition of Mother and Monster by Stephanie M. Wytovich This is a damning poem on those who glee in the sideshow freaks. Now I almost feel bad for my little fetish.
Next up: CURIOSITIES
I love shops filled with old treasures. The creepier the better.
Madame Painte: For Sale by John Langan Intrigued by a "must be kept outside" sign accompanying a strangely painted garden gnome, “you” decide to bring it inside and learn more about its story. And it's a horrible story, indeed! It's devilishly evil and I adored it. How come the old crap I bring home never has such a sinister secret life?!
Chivalry by Neil Gaiman Gaiman’s dry wit is on full display as he tells this tale about a stubborn old bitty who stumbles upon the Holy Grail and refuses to part with it! Sir Galaad brings her all sorts of gifts in order to get it back but she is not at all impressed. If I had the ability to laugh out loud while reading, this would’ve been the story to make me to do it. Simply charming.
VERY IMPT. BONUS NOTES: I just discovered that Levar Burton reads this in episode 7 of his new podcast! Drop everything and go listen!!
Fully Boarded by Ramsey Campbell I know Ramsey Campbell is a legend in horrorland but his writing has never quite worked for me. The same goes here. This story is about a travel reviewer, a wristband and some truly terrible hospitality. I’d give this a three. It was ok, slightly on the “meh” side of the scale and not my favorite here.
In Amelia’s Wake by Erinn L. Kemper This story is slathered all over with grief. It’s about a group of brother’s who are watching over Amelia Earhart's plane and about a slithery thing that hides in the shadows. I thought it was slightly eerie but slow and it ended too suddenly.
A Ware That Will Not Keep by John F.D. Taff A dying man shares a terrible story from his past. Now this one was took my breath away. It’s a creative and haunting little tale and that ending? Damn, that will be hard to forget.
Earl Pruitt’s Smoker by Patrick Freivald A bee keeper’s old smoker brings one woman the freedom and excitement she so desperately craves but it also brings out the worst in her. This is such an imaginative and chilling little story that smacks you in the face with the consequences of your darker side.
As a Guest at the Telekinetic Tea Party Stephanie M. Wytovich A whimsical poem that takes a dark turn. This one, at least, didn’t leave me with the guilts!
Hazelnuts and Yummy Mummies Lucy A. Snyder This tale lures you in with the funny but then takes a sad turn as a woman faces the one moment she wishes she could redo.
And, finally, we have UNDEFINABLE WONDERS. This is the part of the collection where my attention began to wane. I only found one of the stories exceptional and completely engaging. The rest were a little bit of a struggle for me to finish.
The Shiny Fruit of Our Tomorrows by Brian Hodge This story follows a bunch of down on their luck train hoppers as they attempt to find a tree that is rumored to have magical powers that may lead them down a better path. It’s strikingly real but maintains a sense of wonder but was missing a little certain something for me.
The Wakeful Kristi DeMeester This is a weird story about a teacher, a bad relationship, a strange little girl and a terrible garden. Is it a tale of madness or something else? I am left unsure but it I do know that it left me feeling unsettled.
Knitter by Christopher Coake My favorite of the undefinable wonders. The author creates a dark vision of another world where people are trying to live their lives while attempting to avoid ever seeing a creature they call "knitters" who have a devastating power that they use at will. It has a fairytale like feel with a pitch black undertone, hypnotizing prose and an ending that hurts.
Through Gravel by Sarah Read There is a society living underground who call themselves “The Kindred”. As time goes by, their numbers shrink but a newbie arrives with new ideas that will invigorate their group but The Kindred’s greed may be their downfall. This story didn’t do it for me. I cannot explain the reasons.
Hiraeth by Richard Thomas I may have been out of steam by the time I arrived at this story because I didn’t understand it. It could be my lack of brain cells that caused me to miss nuanced symbolism or whatnot but honestly I’m too tired to think and don’t want to work this hard to comprehend a short story. It’s about a poor farmer’s son who has a hole running through is body, a prickly tree with forbidden fruit and the pain the hapless boy brings upon himself – I think. It was weird, that’s for sure.
Anyway, I’m beat and that’s all I have. There is some wondrous storytelling within these pages and, even though some of the stories weren’t meant for me, it’s most definitely a collection worth checking out!
Conjesero is about a homicide detective whose latest case involves a murderous monster of the non-human kind. Kevin is at the top of his career, having just caught a murdering rapist, when his friend is mauled by something he claims resembles a werewolf. This isn’t just some large man in need of a haircut and shave, says his friend, it was a genuine monster.
And he’s not lying.
This is a monster/police procedural thriller that has a high death count and a monster who isn’t afraid to kill children so be warned! It features a little something for everyone who likes these sorts of books and the writing reminds me a little of Dean Koontz, at least the version of Koontz who isn’t being preachy, speechy and long-winded! It moves at a fast clip, the characters are relatable and there’s even a little romance a-brewing.
Two things did leave me perplexed, however. One is the age of one of the kids. Unless I was hearing things wrong, which is entirely possible, there’s a boy in the story who is described as being in the third grade and going to an elementary school but he and his friends speak and behave more like kids in high school or, at the very least, middle school. Their plot line just didn’t jibe with the age and it niggled at me. The other perplexing moment comes near the last act when Kevin decides to enlist the help of untrained civilians (one of them is his love interest, FFS!) to assist in catching this supernatural bad guy instead of putting together some armed SWAT team or something. It was a really dumb turn of events for such an accomplished detective and even I couldn’t suspend my disbelief that far to go along with his hapless plan.
I listened to this as an unabridged audiobook and recommend doing it that way if you enjoy audiobooks. Steve Rausch has a commanding voice and does a very good job voicing Kevin and the men though, I cannot lie, he is a little cringy when it comes to the women and children but that’s usually the case when there’s one narrator and he has to voice varied characters that aren’t in his range. He keeps a good pace and kept me tuned in which is more than many narrations tend to do.
This book pieces together a brutal piece of history and unravels an ugly murder mystery. It’s disturbing, depressing and, at least for me, not at all the fast moving read I was led to believe from some of the early reviews. Maybe it’s just me, but I had a difficult time sticking with it. There were so many people involved and random details tossed in that didn’t seem to move things along that to me it seemed a little too over-stuffed and hard to follow at times. Perhaps it should’ve been a little longer? I don’t know. I tried it first in its Kindle version which includes photos of the people involved and then I moved on to the audiobook when I found myself putting it down and not wanting to pick it back up again. The audiobook is read by three narrators and one of them, Will Patton, is one of my favorites so that definitely helped. Something about his voice just pulls you in and forces you to pay attention.
This is a story about those in power who systematically attempt to eradicate an entire tribe of Indians in order to nab their wealth. First they remove them from their homeland and stick them on an unwanted patch of land (which turns out to be worth a fortune later when oil is struck), then they take their buffalo away making them dependent on the government’s money and then after the tribe has accumulated millions because they were far savvier than anyone assumed, the murdering begins. It is a terrible, awful story and it makes me heartsick that there was no justice and that these people were treated as if they were stupid children – or worse. I wasn’t expecting hearts and rainbows but I was hoping someone, somewhere would pay for all of the atrocities committed but no, the greedy and the powerful get away with murder. It’s sickening.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I do. It’s an important book and appalling true story that needed to be documented. We all need to know about the evil that was done to the Osage Tribe and I am not sorry I read/listened to it but I can’t honestly say I would ever read it again.
Previous reading notes:
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.
UPDATE: My number has come up and this is read by Will freaking Patton! Yes, this was most definitely a good decision on my part.
Starting over with the audio today. I'm kind of glad I have both as I can read along with the Kindle and look at the pictures smattered about while listening to Will Patton's voice. I feel so spoiled ;)
More than I realized, apparently.
While I was on my little hiatus from the reading and internet world last week, I went out into the real world and did something I hadn't done in years. I visited a brick and mortar independent bookstore and spent hours browsing. I looked at every used title and realized I owned many of them (oops) and then I went over to the new section and tried to touch them all.
It was heavenly.
You all need to do it at least once a week if you don't already, even if you don't buy anything (I didn't, I really wish I had but tbr guilt stayed my hand). Go, look, touch, smell (well, maybe don't smell if they look anything like this!) and savor the bliss that washes over your soul. There is nothing quite like it. I used to do this when I was young and free and had all the time in the world. I worked next door to a used bookstore and the employees all knew me by name and usually had a stack waiting just for me. I hadn't realized how much enjoyment and peace those weekly (sometimes daily) trips brought into my life.
It's only been a week and I am dying to go back to relive that feeling and buy some books I do not need but must have. How ever did I let this kind of joy leave my life?! Wait, I know. Non-reading visitors to my home began to comment on the number of books I had lying about and I began to feel indulgent, wasteful, greedy. I started hiding my books from sight and from the unwanted comments that would wound them. Don't let it happen to you. I don't care if you own all the books in the world on your e-reader or in your home, do yourself a favor and visit a real bookstore if you're lucky enough to have a good one nearby.
If you're road-tripping it to the northeast of the US may I recommend the lovely independent The Toadstool Bookstore? They have three locations and two have cafes. I don't know about the third as I haven't made it there yet. The Peterborough location has an enormous selection of used and new books that you can lose yourself in for a day or two and, best of all, no one bugged me the entire time I was there!
Do you have a favorite spot to buy "real" books? Do you ever browse a physical bookstore without a list in hand? And, because I'm super nosy, do outsiders give your love of books the side-eye too?
I was a complete reading slug but I did discover an awesome indy bookstore on my travels and managed to leave with nothing which I now regret but good news for me is that they also have a local branch! Now I'm back on track and energized to get through my piles once and for all so I can buy more books! So, what did I miss?!
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.
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).
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!
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!
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.
I received an ARC from Booklover Catlady Publicity. Thanks for the twisted read!