Bark's Book Reviews

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.

I Am Too Tired to Type the Title

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry: A Novel - Fredrik Backman, Joan Hustace Walker

Hey, another non-review from me. Imagine that!

 

I've been waiting for weeks (six of them, to be exact) for my turn in line at Overdrive to read this book. My number was finally called yesterday, just in time for my book meeting last night! Imagine the luck?! Grrrr. Guess that's what I get for being cheap but cheap I am and I'm glad of it because I would've wasted 11+ bucks on a boring book. I listened to about 2 hours of it before my meeting and was not thrilled with any of it and all of my friends who read it (3 of them, the rest were cheap like me) said it was boring and disappointing and that I will miss nothing by calling it quits now. So that's what I'm doing because

 

I Am Indeed In A Slump

So here's an updated Patrick picture :)  

 

 

 

The Perfect Caption Provided by Books, hockey, and a bucketful of snark

 BruinsGal

 

Funny Amazon Reviews Aren't So Funny When Read Out Loud

Funny Amazon Reviews - Jane Lynch, Jane Lynch, Audible Comedy

I woke up this morning, let out the dog and stepped my bare foot into a steaming pile of cat vomit one of my furry demons so thoughtfully left for me on the mat nearest the door. Last week it was mouse innards (On My NAKED Foot!!) so I know from personal experience that it could always be worse. Much worse, actually. Still, after that stellar start to the morning I needed a little laugh on my commute to work before I started thinking bad thoughts and decided to give this one a listen.

 

Maybe it's my current sour mood or just the fact that I've already read 80% of these funny reviews on Amazon, but listening to them barely made me crack a smile. I think they work better on Amazon where you can actually see the product they're riffing on, especially the wolf shirt. You've got to see that wolf shirt if you haven't already. It's also a helluva lot more fun when you can read the accompanying funny reviews of the item because usually once someone starts it spirals into a page filled with wacky reviews.

 

I'll give this a three because I guess I liked it a little.

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory: Sorry I had to quit you @ 90%

Spoonbenders: A Novel - Daryl Gregory, Ari Fliakos

2.5 (it was okay) for me but I'll bump it up to a 3 because I'm such a sweetheart (said no one ever).

 

This is the story of a once famous family who were shamed when their patriarch screws up on national tv and exposes himself for a fraud. Except they’re not all frauds but try telling that to anyone after the public shaming. Now they have to eek out a living like the rest of us schulbs. I think I’m one of the few people who did not find this book exciting, humorous and a rip-roaring good time. I didn’t like the time jumps which I found confusing on audio, I did not care about any of the characters, nor did I care what they were doing, who they were dating, or what binds they were getting themselves into. I’m not going to write a review because I’m lazy and because I know this one is truly a case of my personal taste and my current “meh” mood. I think I’m going to have to quit reading for a bit or at least quit forcing myself through ARC’s because I have lost all the joy for books at this point in time.

 

Reading progress update: I've listened 722 out of 842 minutes.

Spoonbenders: A Novel - Daryl Gregory, Ari Fliakos

I think I may have to give up reading. Everybody seems to love this book but I'm not feeling it. I have two hours left before it's over and I'm dreading them.

 

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Hell House - Richard Matheson, Ray Porter

Bought during Audible's $2.99 sale (10/13/17)! . It's more now, sorry about that.

 

A rich guy offers to pay a group of people to stay a few nights in a haunted house to prove there is life after death. All previous attempts to do such a stupid thing at this particular house have ended very badly for the suckers brave or stupid or hard-up enough to have a sleep-over. It’s no different this time around.

 

I read this book closely on the heels of finishing up Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House which was probably a big mistake on my part as the premise of these two books is nearly identical and Jackson’s story didn’t thrill me the way it did most people. Same goes for Hell House though I did like it a wee bit more than Jackson’s story but probably only because it was more lurid and crazy-pants and I like that kind of thing but it does suffer from the same over the top characterization.

 

This story is much more sexually horrifying. Some of the things that happen within these pages are upsetting. Trust me on this. The house was basically turned into a pit of debauchery and hellish events when its original owner cuts loose with a group of hangers-on who dip into orgies, drugs, murder, cannibalism (as you will, I guess) and every other nasty thing your brain can imagine! The house is tainted and incredibly haunted by a horny ghost who eventually infects the woman folk and does shocking pervy things.

 

I listened to this story on audio and the narrator, Ray Porter, does an excellent job. He is deadly serious which suits the story and he manages to deliver the lady voices in a way that doesn’t make them sound completely ridiculous even when they’re forced to behave in overly hysterical ways. He does a good job with the men and the evil inhabiting the house as well.

 

I’m going to give this the same rating as the Jackson book. 3 Stars.

Halloween Carnival Vol. 1

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 - Lisa Morton, Kevin Lucia, John Little, Brian James Freeman, Robert R. McCammon

Halloween Carnival is a collection of 3 short stories and two novellas. It would’ve been perfect reading on Halloween night but I’m a slacker and watched movies instead.

 

Strange Candy by Robert McCammon

 

A man thoughtlessly and rather stupidity (if you ask me) eats a strange looking piece of unwrapped candy out of his child's Halloween bag. Seriously, who does that?! After ingesting the gross thing, he finds himself no longer in his living room and begins to meet strangers who give him final messages to pass along to their loved ones. He writes nothing down but manages to remember it all. Ah, to have such a brain, what must that be like? Anyway, it has a twisty-twist at the end. It’s sad and I really enjoyed it all. 4 Stars

 

The Rage of Achilles or When Mockingbirds Sing by Kevin Lucia

 

Father Ward wasn't expecting a visitor on Halloween but he got one anyway. A grief stricken father begs for absolution. This is another sad story about love, grief and regret and a dedicated priest who witnesses the supernatural. It’ll haunt you with its beautiful sorrow. 4.5 Stars

 

Demon Air by John R. little

 

This story? I don’t know what it was besides a great disappointment to me. A woman is on a flight to find herself and she does a lot of navel gazing for most of the story until things finally go strangely awry. When the pilot thanks everyone for flying “Demon Air” I was entranced. Gross things begin to happen, passengers are tormented and then it abruptly ends and the fun is over nearly before it’s begun. Such a tease! This story had quite a bit of promise but in the end was a total let down. It felt rushed and unfocused and as if two stories were smashed together and neither ended up satisfying in the end. 2 Stars

 

La Hacienda de los Muertos Lisa Morton

 

Trick is a washed up actor ready to film a horror flick in the most haunted town in Mexico. Before the film can get going, Trick must deal with the supernatural. I thought this was interesting but pretty standard stuff. It wasn’t sad, or horrible or particularly scary either. I’d give it a 3.

 

#MakeHalloweenScaryAgain Mark Allan Gunnells

 

A horror writer posts a hashtag on his Facebook page hoping to drum up a little interest in his novels but he attracts a weirdo who takes it way too seriously instead. Now he’s involved in a murder investigation and spends the days leading up to Halloween hunting down the madman terrorizing his town. This was a decent, if slightly predictable, tale of mystery, murder, and Halloween that kept me turning the pages to discover if I was right about the killer and I was! I feel so smart :) 3 Stars

 

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.

DNF: The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer

The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer, Ellen Archer

My friend, who probably has better taste than me and far more in the way of patience, graciously allowed me to borrow her hardcover copy of this tome. Me, being me, knew I would never finish it in this decade and decided to read it the old fashioned way and in audio so I could speed my way through it. 

That did not happen.

Juliana AKA Alex is a chemist/torturer/super smart lady who is on the run from her former employer who was up to nefarious deeds. They have already murdered her mentor who was the only person she cared about in the whole wide world. She fears she’s next because, well, her mentor is dead! So what does she do next? She accepts an assignment from her former employer hoping they will now leave her alone and she can live a somewhat normal life and won’t have to suit up with toxins and weaponry and sleep with a gas mask on her face every night. I was a little confused on this logic but I could’ve mixed things up because I might’ve been daydreaming a little when the many boring details began to lose me.

Anyway, her next assignment includes abducting a man suspected of carrying a biological weapon capable of starting a plague. He is a handsome, long haired, hazel eyed school teacher whose wife left him years ago because he wasn’t able to give her the life of luxury she felt she deserved. He even builds houses for Habitat for Humanity in his spare time. Clearly a good guy, right? But wait. Alex has pictures proving he is up to no good! Even though it seems improbable, she has proof that he’s been having secret meetings with the nefarious evil-doers who, along with his help, will unleash a devastating plague upon the population.

Yes! Count me in.

Alex doesn’t usually speak to her targets but she makes the mistake of chatting up this one and it turns out he’s quite alright. Seems like a nice guy even and he’s really cute. But she has a job to do and she jabs him with an ecstasy/truth serum blend she’s cooked up for the occasion and she learns that he is most likely innocent and that he likes her face. I suppose I can guess where this is going and it won’t end with the plague.

Darn it all!

It’s here that things went from a little boring to insta-romancy in the blink of an eye and I’m left wondering where the “gripping page-turner” the blurb promised me ran off to. 

But I plundered on and wish I hadn’t because, call me a wuss if you will, dogs have now died. Smart, loyal, beautiful, innocent dogs have lost their lives for these two incompetents and I am pissed off, sad for the doggies and disappointed with the way this book is going and doubt it will ever recover enough to grab my attention. And though the narrator is competent, this story has dragged out for way too long.



I’m calling it a day at just over the 50% mark. My dear friend had good intentions but this book was not meant for me.

Have You Tried Bookishfirst?

I won this book from Bookishfirst, Netgalley's sister site for readers. I'm thrilled to receive a real book as a win (!) but I honestly wasn't expecting to win anything and, crap, now I have three weeks to get it read!! Patrick is unconcerned.

 

 

For those who don't know, Bookishfirst features excerpts of a handful of upcoming releases. They ask that you read any that tickles your fancy and write a review of the excerpt and then you'll get tossed into a lottery to win the actual book. If you win, you have three weeks to write the review (yikes!). You will get points for any excerpt you read and any reviews you submit and when you gather enough points you can choose a free book. I thought this was very strange new thing (who the heck reviews excerpts?) but I'm curious and nosy and signed on to see what it was all about. At first I thought this was a weird way to go about gathering reviews and honestly would be a waste of time for myself who should be reading full books since my house is full of them but like I said I'm nosy so I tried it out. It was actually pretty simple. The excerpts were only a few chapters and the excerpt reviews are first impressions and simple to toss off. I've won twice now probably because this thing is so new. Perhaps I should've kept this secret to myself?! I love actual "books" so this new thing is pretty cool. If you like ebooks, however, I've only seen one on offer. I'm guessing this service provides additional exposure and lots of buzz for the books in the program? I don't know, it's kind of fun though and I'll likely try another when I get through this one.

 

Here's the latest round of books up for "excerpt review". All are paperbacks except the last.

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Off Limits by [Connelly, Clare]
Ebook


Have you tried out Bookishfirst?
 

 

Audrey Rose by Frank DeFelitta

Audrey Rose - Frank De Felitta, Matt Godfrey

Courtesy of Valancourt Books & Audiobookboom, thanks!

 

I have vague memories of being afraid of this movie when I was kid and that was all I remembered so when the chance came around to listen to the audio I grabbed it. I’m terribly impulsive like that.

 

The Templeton’s have a lovely home in Manhattan, a beautiful young daughter and an all-around perfect life. You know that’s all blessedly coming to crashing halt right now, don’t you? One day a strange man starts lurking about, sending gifts and doing other strange stalkery things. Who is this weirdo and why is he tarnishing their perfect world with his pestering? He eventually reveals that their beautiful daughter Ivy is the reincarnation of his deceased little girl Audrey Rose and he wants to be a part of her life!

 

Oh no.

 

That’s scary stuff for any parent, even these two. I say that because in one of the most disturbing scenes for me, they both ignored the fact that their adult neighbor/friend looked at Ivy’s blossoming bosom and made a lewd comment (she’s 10 or 11, btw) and then they all continued on with their festivities. Are you kidding me? I’d like to think that things weren’t that different in the 70’s. That pedo should’ve been stabbed in the manparts and unwelcomed forever. This didn’t give me hope for the well-being of poor Ivy.

 

Moving along . . . the stalker-man thinks it a wise idea to kidnap dear Ivy who is suffering from terrible night terrors and a courtroom drama consumes the plot for way too long. This is where the book pretty much lost me. No fault to the book but courtroom dramas are one of my least favorite things in the world. Seeing as I didn’t particularly care for any of the parents and the woo-woo wasn’t that interesting to me, I started to wish I were reading something else.

 

The only thing keeping me going, and I do not exaggerate here, was the narration by Matt Godfrey. I swear that man and Will Patton could read their grocery lists and I would be enraptured. Godfrey’s voice is comforting and calming to me and he does great work with all of the characters. I know for an almost fact that I would’ve DNF’d this book had I tried to read it in paperback/Kindle form because I have no tolerance for books that bore me and that’s what this one did.

 

If you want to revisit the 70’s with this book, make sure you grab the audiobook!

 

I’d give the story a 2 but the narration a 5 which averages out to a three (hey, my review, my math!).

Audible Has Introduced An "All You Can Eat" Romance Streaming Service

  

Audible:  https://www.audible.com/ep/Romance-Package?source_code=SNGGBWS1031170027

 

The cost:  $14.95 or $6.95 for KU & Audible subscribers. Supposedly it has a catalog of 10,000 romances and you can listen to as many as you can consume (update from Audible: This service would be similar to Kindle Unlimited and you would be able to borrow up to ten books at a time and keep them for as long as you want. You can also swap them out whenever you are ready.) Sounds intriguing and I say FINALLY and friggin' yay (and we need one for horror) but the articles coming out today are pissing me off. Apparently Audible has added a new feature that allows one to type in terms to bring you to the good parts; sexy bits, witty banter, etc. It sounds unnecessary and like click-bait to me but it's brought out the misinformed who think romance readers are nitwits only reading for the sex. Dum dums. That's what Monster-porn is for. I totally read that stuff for the story.

 

Idiot #1:  https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/01/audibles-new-romance-audiobooks-service-uses-machine-learning-to-jump-to-the-sex-scenes/?ncid=rss

 

"Let’s admit it: you probably aren’t reading that romance novel for the plot. Or its literary value. Audible knows this, and is today launching a new collection of romance-themed audiobooks that come with a handy feature that lets you skip right to the action. Called “Take Me To The Good Part,” the feature will fast-forward you to the steamy sections of the audiobook, says Audible."

 

 

Idiot #2:  https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/11/01/audible-romance-takes-you-steamiest-parts/819212001/

 

"You devour romance novels to get to—ok, admit it—the steamiest parts."

 

Seriously, are we still in the 80's?! Do horror readers read horror only to skip to the gory bits, mystery readers to the murder? This makes me so incredibly mad and I don't even read a lot of romance (but when I do it IS for the plot and characters you presumptuous snobs!). 

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

I read this for my real life book group which met and talked about this book two Monday's ago. Yep, I'm always with the program.

 

There is no point in writing a review for this book since I am still lazy and there are currently 37211 reviews on Goodreads and 141 of them written by my friends alone. This sounds like as good an excuse as any to duck out of a real review and just tell you that I loved it. I loved Ove, I loved his Aggravation Cat and I loved his relationship with sassy Parvenah (sp?) and her family. And mostly I loved that the old grump found a purpose to keep on living which is something so many people never find. It’s just a lovely story. You should read it if you haven’t already.

Reading progress update: I've listened 665 out of 826 minutes.

Audrey Rose - Frank De Felitta, Matt Godfrey

Oh no. It's turned into a courtroom drama. Crap, those are my least favorite. Kill me now.

 

 

The narration is top-notch and rather comforting though so I shall finish.

75% Done & no one will let me finish this book!

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

 

 

 

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 Prawn of the Dead (Lemon Layne Mystery) - Dakota Cassidy, Hollie Jackson You Will Know Me: A Novel - Megan Abbott, Lauren Fortgang

UPDATE: I don't think I'm going to get a Bingo. I've been in a bit of a slump the last two weeks and haven't felt much like reading. Next year I'll focus on reading books based on the bingo calls. I've been reading all over the place and have a few waiting in the wings for a call. 

 

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

Murder Most Foul: You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

Amateur Sleuth: Prawn of the Dead by Dakota Cassidy 

Vampires The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

 

Read, Not Called

 
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

 

 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

You Will Know Me: A Novel - Megan Abbott, Lauren Fortgang

My will to review has left the building so this book is getting shafted. Sorry book, you kept me entertained but the words have deserted me. 

I’m giving this one a 4. It was decent, the narrator was engaging and she kept me listening but I figured out the murdery bits long before they were exposed and that is not like me at all. I didn’t understand the “why” of it though and am still not sure I do even when it was explained. 

This book is busting at the seams with some very flawed and unlikable teens and adults. They’re all pretty awful at one point or another. There’s only one little boy that is a decent human but he’ll be ruined in no time hanging around this bunch. If scarlet fever or neglect don't do him in first!

The story revolves around a young gymnast and Olympic hopeful and the dastardly people surrounding that competitive world. Having had a child in a competitive sport for too many years, I can tell you these people are REAL and I was never so happy as the day my kid told me she wanted to quit and just be a kid for a while and I could go back to spending my weekends sleeping in and doing whatever the hell I wanted to do instead of adhering to someone else’s demanding schedule. I don’t know how decent people manage to escape that kind of thing with their sanity intact. Well, some of them don’t in this book and it’s glorious! There are rages, jealous fits, and venomous conversations. It’s all pretty awesome but I was just a wee bit let down at the end but I can’t tell you why without exposing too much.

 

I'll be using this for the Murder Most Foul Square.

 

Currently reading

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, Bea Holland, Josie Dunn, Huw Parmenter, Anna Bentinck
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen, The Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Progress: 20/440pages
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix