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.

The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window: A Novel - A. J. Finn, Ann Marie Lee

“What is it about that house? It’s where love goes to die.”

Anna loves peeking in on her neighbors and making these fun little observations. She suffers from agoraphobia and hasn’t left the house in ten months and has nothing much else to do really. She watches old thrillers, drinks far too much Merlot, and downs enough pills to keep her mail-in pharmacy in business all while staring at the wealthy neighbors who are apparently all too cheap to buy curtains.

“I am the woman who viewed too much.”

After I patiently listened to three or four hours of audio with nothing much of anything happening, Anna’s peeping finally pays off and she sees something interesting! Her new neighbor and brand new friend gets knifed but she doesn’t see who does the stabbing. Too scared to venture outside, she calls 911 but as she’s sloshed off her butt and slurring her words they don’t believe her. 

From here accusations are made, red herrings weave in and out of her blurry vision and everyone feels bad for Anna for reasons that I guessed from the very beginning. That reveal was a complete dud but the one at the very end was perfectly evil and I loved it. 

Anna is a mess. She has reason to be a mess but it is rough reading about someone in complete self-destruct mode for an entire story. I also found it incredibly hard to sympathize with her due to reasons I cannot reveal but mostly due to the fact that I can be a little heartless and unforgiving sometimes. This was definitely one of those times. I also think I’m getting a little fatigued with drunken woman who sees a crime syndrome. I didn’t trust her and I wasn’t supposed to but at least she really was on to something, if you were wondering. 

I can only give this book a three because I found most of it not very thrilling. And with a book like this, aren’t I supposed to be thrilled and chilled and all tensed up? This never happened but maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll happen to you.

 

The narration was decent. Nothing screamed out at me to take notes so that's a good thing.

The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry

The Air He Breathes - Brittainy C. Cherry, Brian Pallino, Erin Mallon

I’ve had this sucker downloaded to my phone for over a year so figured it was about time to get it done. Note to all: I knew nothing of the plot before going into it because I bought it a year ago and my memory is crap. The guy on the cover looked promising though. So what follows is likely ALL my fault. Or mostly my fault. I will not accept the blame for all of this. Namely the last ¼ when something I anticipated in the first hour comes true. This is the rare case that I will admit that it sucks to be right.


Tristan and Elizabeth do not meet cute. They meet when she hits his golden retriever (which is later described as a “small/med dog” so I am confused. My golden’s have both been large/x-large but maybe I fed them too many treats!). I will admit that I almost deleted the thing off my phone when this happened because I was not up for this, would never be up for this, truth be told. Elizabeth does the right thing and drives him to the vet since he’s running around town without shoes and the vet is a mile away. He verbally abuses her for most of the ride in front of her five year old daughter. Apparently she just ran into the town asshole. Of all the luck. He’s scared and I felt for him but he was being a real dick all the same. Fortunately the poor dog only has a fracture but what a completely crappy way to start out a romance! Tristan is so emotionally fragile that he breaks down into big heaving sobs when he hears that his dog is ok. Yikes. My heart was not ready for this level of heartbreaking sorrow and it only gets more crushing from there.


These two are so broken and so emotionally raw that it is painful to read their stories. Both have lost their spouses in a car accident. Tristan actually lost his 8 year old son and his wife. Neither are dealing with their grief very well. He has channeled his into anger and she is a walking zombie. The first half is so grief laden it is almost physically painful to read. They forge an unhealthy relationship based on sadness and sex. It’s frankly creepy and very freaking sad and it continues to hurt to read about these two. They eventually realize what they’ve been doing is not a good idea and forge a real friendship that turns into something more and I LOVED this. I was ready to give it 4 ½ stars. It was gorgeous and heartfelt and full of healing goodness. The book should’ve ended right here but sadly it didn’t.


Someone mistakenly thought that adding in some crazy plot twists, suspense and loads of unneeded drama were needed and turned the lovely ending into a shitshow of epic proportions before finally giving us a HEA in the epilogue. I’m bumping off a full point for all of this nonsense.


So anyway, if you want some drama in your reading life and need to shed a few tears then read this. The characters are very well written, well matched and the romance believably developed. The little girl, Emma, was the kind of child that I actually enjoy reading about in romance. She’s funny and loves scary movies and monsters and dogs. She is awesome and I want to read her book someday. There’s also an ongoing thread featuring feathers that will gut you every time they appear. It’s all worth reading. Just be warned that the first third, as my notes say, and my notes do not lie, is “so fucking depressing I may as well be reading a bleak horror novel.” The next bit is five star material and so beautifully cleansing after all of the pain but argh that last bit before the very end needed to be exorcised right out of the book!

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

Kill Creek - Scott Thomas, Bernard Setaro Clark

A young internet tycoon lures four horror writers to the most haunted of haunted houses for a two-day interview under false pretenses. There’s some grumbling naturally, I mean who, besides me, would willingly want to stay the night at a scary old ghost filled place? But they all decide to do the right wrong thing and stay anyway and a whole lot of nothing too sinister happens. But just you wait!

 

The truly frightening things happen when they return back to their real lives and this is where the book excels. It takes that old setup and makes it fresh and new and terrifying. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book and everyone seemed to love it so I went in with very high expectations and a lot of fear that I would hate it or want to pick it apart because I can be a jerk like that. Fortunately, mostly all I can say is that it is amazing and the story will grab you from the beginning and if you like haunted house stories you NEED to read it next.

 

The four writers are all very different in style and personality and watching them interact was pretty fascinating in and of itself. Moore, the only female in the group, writes violent, in-your-face horror (the kind I honestly like best), Sam is your Stephen King type writing about the relatable good guys, Sebastian Cole is a Charles L. Grant quiet horror type and Daniel writes books for the tween/teen market with strong moral codes and little religious subtlety. Watching them struggle with their differences, rag on each other and later deal with their inner demons, secrets and tragedies was so interesting to me not just because I’m nosy but because they were so incredibly well written and believable.

 

Five star books are so hard for me to review. This one gets all five stars and it deserves each and every one of them. Kill Creek is the perfect blend of great characterization, growing dread, true terror and murderous bits. If you’re into audiobooks get the one narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark. He adds another level of fright to the terrors within with his professional narration.

 

I have nothing here to bitch about. Nothing at all. I know, I can hardly believe it myself!

They Feed - Jason  Parent

This monster romp was populated with mostly despicable people whose gruesome deaths were so much fun to witness. We all need a little of this sort of thing in our lives right about now, am I right?

 

Deep in the woods lurks a nightmare that doles out death to those foolish enough to venture into the woods looking for some rapey, murdery, torture-filled times and to a few innocents as well (but no worries, you won’t be crying about any of these deaths).

 

Tyler, newly released from a long stint in prison, revisits the woods that landed him in jail to try to make sense of his past but unbeknownst to him, he is being tailed by someone with revenge in their little black bitter heart. Also headed into these woods are a couple who really should NOT be together but their psychologist thought it would be good for them to spend some time in the outdoors (I think these people must share the same doctor of bad advice as the man in The Bird Eater). And then there’s the group of toxically stupid frat boys doing what they do.

 

“Things lived in the woods. Things with sharp teeth.”

 

Oh yesssss, come on in vile people! Come on in and get eaten! The sooner the better for me. The fun starts up soon enough and doesn’t really let go until the last page is turned. It’s gory and nasty and gleefully fun if you’re in the mood for a creature feature starring shit pancakes and tiny tentacled beasties.

 

Thank you Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi, author Jason Parent & publisher Sinister Grin Press for sharing an ARC with me!

 

3 reasons to publish a book review. Now. Scheduling not working

Reblogged from BookLikes:

You're on BookLikes among book lovers so you probably know why book reviews are so important. Just in case you're still wondering here are three points that should encourage you to publish a book review on your blog. Right now. 

 

3 reasons to share a book review:

 

1. Reading buddies know good books -- there's no better book recommender than a fellow book lover so if you're looking for a next read take a peak at your friend's bookshelf and a book blog. 

 

2. Deepen your reading experience -- writing a review makes you think, ponder, analyze the plot, characters, author's choices and perspective. 

 

3. Shout out -- if you receive good news, you want to scream it out; if you read a good book, you should spread the word out. It's great for your followers but also writers for whom positive feedback is an excellent fuel and wiring inspiration. 

Inspired to share a book review? 

Great!

 

Now a short note from the BookLikes staff. Oops!  

 

We wanted to let you know that the Post date option in the text editor mode received an unexpected hiccup and refuses to set a future post date, or any post date :/ Apparently, it follows Benjamin Franklin's motto: Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today. 

 

For the time being the best possible way of publishing is to publish NOW.

You CANNOT set up a future post date.

The calendar sticks to a cursor and dances around making it impossible to set a publication date other than NOW. 

 

The issue has been reported and awaits for a fix. 

 

 

Workaround. 

If you have some reviews, articles, posts in your Drafts (no date scheduled) and you'd like to publish them NOW:

1. Go to your Drafts (Main menu -> Blog -> Drafts (in the right column)

2. Click Edit the post

3. Copy the source code (the text and images will be copied with the formatting)

 

4. Start a new Text post

5. Paste the source code

6. Publish with NOW date

 

If you have already scheduled your posts with the future dates, they will publish in accordance to the dates. It appears that the bug refers only to new posts.  

 

We're really sorry for the ongoing situation! ;(((

Please write to Kate@booklikes.com with any questions or concerns. 

 

We can only ask you to stay calm and follow Buddah's mantra: 

 

Look at me!

 

Seriously, this is a first. Last year I was 13 behind at this point and giving up all hope. Give me strength to keep up the momentum because I am on a roll!

Friday Reads!

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote, Scott Brick

This does not read like a true crime novel. It almost reads like a historical fiction novel but unfortunately all of the horrible events that take place happened. I recommend having something light and fluffy nearby to read when you're finished because this book will drag you down into a pit of despair.

 

The Cutter’s are a farming family and pillars of the community. Dad Herb is fair and liked by almost everyone. His daughter selflessly gives her time to everyone and his son, well, I don’t know much about him but he seems like a fine kid. The only one with issues is poor mom who suffers from depression and social anxiety and spends most of her time in her room.

 

They are just going about their lives with no idea that two thieves are planning to rob and murder them.

 

There is so much detail here, a little of it a wee bit unnecessary, and I had to force myself to stick with it in the beginning. Then I switched to audio and it went much smoother. It’s such a sad story but the author does a spectacular job of piecing together all of the historical details and making you feel a whole range of emotions, mostly anger and sorrow for the senseless loss of life. This isn’t a play-by-play emotionless retelling of a crime, Capote fills in the gaps with conversation and private thoughts. How accurate are they? I haven’t a clue but it makes the book go down a whole lot easier. I’m not a big fan of dry true novels and this wasn’t one of those. It’s a riveting story of a beloved family, two criminals with stories of their own, and the aftermath of that one terrible night.

 

Scott Brick narrated the version I read and his voice, strong and serious, is perfect for recounting this tragic story.

Reading progress update: I've listened 180 out of 946 minutes.

Kill Creek - Scott Thomas, Bernard Setaro Clark

Who wants to spend the night in a haunted house?!

 

 

Where do I sign up?!

Five Dares by Eli Easton

Five Dares - Bret Easton Ellis

I needed a little change of pace from all of the darkness and smart-stuff I’ve been reading lately and this book was just the thing. It was also about 6 months late over @ Netgalley. Oops. I don't know why they give me stuff. 

So, the setup is completely ridiculous but you know what? I don’t even care! 

Here it is:

Andy and Jake have been best friends for years. The pair are known for doing stupid stunts but the latest is the stupidest of all. While drunk, Andy decides that holding lit firecrackers will impress their college buds so Jake goes along with it. Andy says he’s tested this out, so why not? The stunt predictably leaves them both with badly burned hands that will take months to heal. They decide to heal together at Andy’s family cottage (his family is wealthy) where two kind souls come in daily to help them shower, provide nursing care and prepare their meals. Soon they tire of Netflix and the inability to, ahem, pleasure themselves (kind of tough without hands) and they start experimenting with each other. Andy, previously straight, starts getting feelings for his bisexual friend who has loved him forever and you just know this is going to get messy.

I told you the setup was ridiculous but hey, I still don’t care. It’s sexy and fun and sometimes you just need a little frivolity in your reading life.




These two were best friends and that came across in their thoughts and actions. Neither wanted to step over a line and lose the other and neither could come right out and express their true feelings fearing they’d lose their best friend. It’s a sticky situation, to be sure. The relationship started out as simply a means to ease their sexual pain but it soon morphed into something that had been simmering below the surface for years.

I really enjoyed this story for all of its sweet sexiness. The only thing I wasn’t too thrilled about were all of the flashbacks to their silly stunts in the past. Those kept throwing me out of the current story. One or two would’ve done the trick, if anyone were asking me. Other than that this story was exactly what I hoped it would be. There was plenty of time spent developing both characters which would’ve been a complete disaster done wrong as they were pretty much the only two in story! There’s a little angst but it was never unbearable. I actually enjoyed Andy’s struggles to figure basically everything out; his future, his sexual preferences, his career path. Argh, so stressful! But when the light finally turns on it feels genuine. That isn’t something I can say about a lot of romances. I really loved these two and almost finished this book in one sitting because I just didn’t want to put it down. They were both sweet and slightly goofy and acted their age without being obnoxious. If you’re ever looking for a fun romance this is a pretty good one. 

Now back to the horror . . .

Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley

Find You in the Dark: A Novel - Nathan Ripley

Martin is a family guy who has what some may consider a very creepy hobby. No, he doesn’t collect Living Dead Dolls or horror movies like the rest of weirdos, he digs up the corpses of people murdered by serial killers and taunts the police with his ghastly finds. His wife and daughter have no idea what he’s doing on the side even though he comes home dirty and smelly after a long day of playing with old bones. The police also haven’t a clue.

 

Find You In The Dark has a twisted and unique to me story. On his last dig, something goes awry that may expose Martin’s strange little hobby to the world and put he and his family in danger. Martin will do anything to keep his family safe (even though one member doesn’t deserve his loyalty, if you ask me) and that is all I am going to say about the plot.

 

I love being in the head of messed up people rather than being stuck reading a story from the lead investigators POV the entire time. Martin, a serial killer and the police officer who gets involved in the case all share page space and I enjoyed that. I see a lot of people taking issue with the female officer but she didn’t bug me at all. The person I didn’t like was Martin’s wife. She was spoiled and selfish and every conversation with her was insufferable and I kept hoping bad things would happen to her. If my spouse took off for a few days and came home smelling of anything foreign, never mind death (frigging death, people!), you can bet he’d be answering questions until his lips fell off. This woman? All she cared about was helicoptering her teenager and getting her boutique ready for opening day. Not a nosy bone in that one’s body. How is she even a wife?!

 

This wasn’t a fast paced book and it took me longer to finish than I had hoped. Something about the pace was just a wee bit off but I liked the strange turns the story took. There aren’t fifty shocking twists but it walks down some dark and unexpected paths. If you don’t mind a slower pace and like to spend a little time with deviants this one is for you!

 

 

Thank you Atria Mystery Bus for surprising me with a copy of the ARC!

Reading progress update: I've read 0%.

Five Dares - Bret Easton Ellis

My brain hurts from all of the classic and horrific reading I've been doing lately and needs something to lighten the mood. I think this one will work nicely :) Plus it's about 6 months late over @ Netgalley, oops.

1984 by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four - Simon Prebble, George Orwell

This book is quite terrifying. I think most everyone but me has read it or was forced to read it in high school. I was a delinquent student and missed out on this book somehow and decided to read it now. Don’t ask me why. It is perhaps a very bad time to decide to read this book about a world where Big Brother is watching your every move, history is being re-written on the daily and replaced with lies and where most everyone is just another cog in the wheel and basically a Sheeple obliviously going along with things.

 

Anyway, this book was pretty chilling and very readable except for the long winded section where the “hero” is reading the journal/book provided to him about the way of the world. I think that could’ve been tightened up as it repeated much of what the reader already knew but if you need to know all the details you’ll love this part. I wasn’t a fan of the “Newspeak” section at the end where it explains in great detail how language is being slaughtered to control the masses. I also didn’t like the “hero” but I don’t think I was supposed to. In this world no one can be trusted and he is a rather weak and loathsome creature. He’s married, hasn’t a clue where his wife ended up and doesn’t really seem to care, he cheats and he sees a young woman and fears her because she is part of the Thought Police but secretly he wants to hurt and rape her. Ugh, what a loathsome creature. Did I say that already? Despite his distasteful personality and all of my complaints, I think you should read this if you haven’t already because it tackles the absolute absurdity of allowing government complete control over every aspect of your life.

 

The audiobook version I listened to as narrated by Simon Prebble who does an excellent job.

Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner

Into the Black Nowhere: An UNSUB Novel - Meg Gardiner, Hillary Huber

I gave Unsub three 1/2 stars and this one will be getting three minus the 1/2 and I will be stopping with the series right here. It’s just not one for me. Everyone else seems to love it so I think it’s a case of personal taste. And, to be totally honest, I wasn’t really in the mood for it when it arrived in from Overdrive but I plunged in anyway because I had waited so damn long for my turn.

 

This is book #2 in the Unsub series and follows FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix as she tracks down a serial killer inspired by true life murderer Ted Bundy.  I’ve come to realize recently that I’m not a huge fan of police procedural type books unless the serial killer is given his/her own POV like the most excellent The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker. I love getting into their heads and seeing what makes them tick. I think I’m spoiled for all serial killer books now that I’ve read that one. This is my problem and not the fault of this book. This story was told mostly from Caitlin’s POV and while she’s a determined, single-minded, strong woman, she wasn’t the killer and when the killer was caught halfway through the story (are you kidding me?!), my attention began to wane pretty quickly and it just devolved into something that I didn’t like. A supposedly meticulous killer suddenly goes batshit crazy and starts a-killing willy-nilly? Seriously? Nope, that just didn’t work for me.

 

I listened to the very end but it was only “meh” for me. The narrator Hillary Huber is very professional sounding but I definitely felt as if she were reading to me in many spots (something I didn’t notice in Unsub) and it would pull me out of the story which didn’t help the book go down any easier for me.

Reading progress update: I've read 75%.

Nineteen Eighty-Four - Simon Prebble, George Orwell

Apparently the news isn't scary enough for me.

 

 

 

HIstory is being re-written on the daily, everyone, even kids (especially kids) are spies, women are all part of the Thought Police, our "hero" is scared of them but secretly wants to rape & hurt them, Big Brother controls everything we do. Yikes, it's a terrible time to be reading this book for the first time.

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor, Euan Morton

This book felt very familiar. If you grew up reading King and watching many an 80’s movie, you’ll no doubt feel the same way. It has a beautiful sense of place and a slow sense of creeping dread but there wasn’t anything totally new here and by the end I was beginning to just wish it would hurry up and spill all of its secrets.

 

I listened on audio and the narrator was good with the voices but I really and truly wish that two of the characters weren’t named Nicky and Mickie. Maybe a Nicky and a Peter? Or a Robin and a Mickie, perhaps? This made for so much confusion for me on audio. I’m not sure if it was the light accent of the narrator or the similarity of the names, or both, but it kept tripping me up and that's never a fun experience.

 

The story is presented in two timelines. There’s present day Ed in 2016 and there’s young Eddie in 1980-something. The 80’s timeline is when most of the strange and terrible stuff happens as young Eddie comes of age with a group of his closest chums. The book bounces back and forth between the two timelines as grown up Ed tries to solve a decades old murder after a letter arrives with ominous chalk drawings and an old frenemy arrives soon after. Information is doled out very slowly in both timelines but eventually it all begins to come together. And that’s all I’m saying about the plot because this is a mystery-thriller, people, and a thriller should never be spoiled! But that doesn't mean that I'm done yapping.

 

So, current day Ed is a bit of a dullard, if you ask me. He is dry and rather unemotional and he's telling the story. He’s a grown man living with a young lady named Chloe but there’s nothing sexual going on there so don't get too excited. I’m kind of glad about that on one hand but if I’m being totally honest a little sexy time might’ve perked things up or added some real tension but alas it’s all pretty sexless. Their relationship made no sense to me until the reveals started coming much later in the book. But for most of the story they interacted with some weird sort of passive-aggressive tension that made me a little uncomfortable for them.

 

Young Eddie’s story was more interesting to me, even though he has the same personality as older Ed, because Eddie witnesses some pretty awful things but alas none of them are supernatural even though there are little teases strewn about so don't get too excited about that either.

 

As a mystery-thriller The Chalk Man worked for me because I am terrible at figuring these things out and this one fooled me and kept me going until the end because I HAD to know. My main complaint about the book is with the people and the complete lack of humor. They weren’t people I ever grew to care about. Even the kids. They’re a group of angry, dull, unlikable kids and I didn’t feel their connection to each other. They didn’t seem like a close-knit group to me and that’s where the book fell down hard. In the beginning, I had high hopes but perhaps they were too high. There’s a dog in a few scenes that I loved more than everyone combined and he has no dialogue and only a scene or two. That probably says too much about me but there it is . . .

 

But, oooh, you have to read until the very end because the final dark surprise was fabulous!

 

I’m giving this a 3 ½ bumping down to a 3.

Currently reading

The Shining by Stephen King, Campbell Scott
Mind Wreck: Shadow Games by J.Z. Foster
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
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