Stay chill, it's only a silly book review.
I hope to read it and love it rather than skim it and DNF it but either way I'll be so, so glad to have removed one book from my most ancient of TBR piles! Thanks everyone for taking the time to vote.
Here's what I'm doing & when I'm doing it:
♥ Saturday Feb 3: I post my picks, you lovely people vote
♥ Saturday Feb 10: I post the winning book & get to reading because I am a slowpoke!
♥ Saturday Feb 18: When everyone else doing this starts reading.
♥ Saturday Feb 24: Post my review (OMG, the deadline looms so close!) & host a little US giveaway for Snow by Ronald Malfi
To join in the fun next month visit Because Reading the first Saturday of March. All of the rules are here.
Not everyone can take on the things that go bump in the night.
Not everyone tries.
But Jill Kismet is not just anyone.
She's a Hunter, trained by the best - and in over her head.
Welcome to the night shift...
*Been in the tbr for a few weeks.
The Lady's Tutor by Robin Schone
3.92 Rating @ Goodreads
Married young to a man hand-picked by her father, Elizabeth Petre is an ideal Victorian lady. She has borne two sons and endured sixteen years of selfless duty in a passionless marriage. Craving a man's loving touch yet loyal to her wedding vows, Elizabeth is determined to seduce her coldly indifferent husband. She knows of only one man who can teach her the erotic secrets of love.
The bastard son of an English countess and an Arab sheik, Ramiel Devington was reared to embrace both Western culture and Eastern pleasure. Scorned by society and challenged by prim Elizabeth's request, he undertakes her instruction in the art of sensual delight. But when the lessons become a temptation neither can resist, Elizabeth is forced to choose between obligation and a bold, forbidden passion.
*Been in the tbr pile for over a decade.
Snow by Ronald Malfi
3.69 Rating @ Goodreads
Todd Curry wants nothing more than to spend Christmas with his son. But when a brutal snowstorm cancels his flight from Chicago to Des Moines, Todd and a few other stranded passengers decide to rent a Jeep and make the trip on their own.
During the drive, they pick up a man wandering through the snow, who claims to be searching for his lost daughter. He is disoriented and his story seems peculiar. Strangest of all are the mysterious slashes cut into the back of the man’s coat, straight down to the flesh…
When they arrive at the nearest town, it appears deserted. Windows dark, car abandoned, fired burning unattended. But Todd and the rest of the travelers soon learn the town is far from deserted, and that they are being watched…
*Been in the tbr pile for about 3 months.
Voting Closes Friday, February 10, 2017 and I'll announce the winner soon after. Thanks for helping me out, everyone!
Ugh, sorry the survey won't work on Booklikes and I'm too inept to figure out the coding.
You can vote on blog page: HERE Sorry about that. It's a jump-link so you won't be logged out of BL.
I received this ARC from Netgalley. Thanks, Netgalley!
One house, five hauntings, five chilling stories.
Oh the Blurbs. Why do they lie? I promised myself this would be the year of the DNF and I am failing quite spectacularly at that promise. The problem is story collections. I may never read another one again. Story collections are the bane of my reading life this month. I can’t DNF them because I fear that if I do so, I’ll miss out something mind-blowing. This one has two good stories that are chilling and set in a haunted house. The other three? I haven’t a clue how they found their way into this collection.
Maggots by Nina Allan Maggots started out interesting enough but it soon went off the rails for me. A young college student suspects something is off with his beloved aunt after she goes missing for a brief moment while on vacation. He begins to obsess over thoughts that her body has been inhabited by another. . . Sounds good right? And it was at first but then it got terribly dull. It devolved into his search for the truth. That search leads him to Irongrove Lodge, which isn't haunted in the typical way, ugh, and then he discovers some cosmic weirdness. This kind of story just wasn’t what I was expecting from the blurbage. I didn’t find it chilling or haunting. 3 Stars
Priest’s Hole by K.J. Parker After my disappointment with story #1, I will admit to skimming Priest’s Hole almost immediately once I realized it too was not about a haunted house but about a shape-shifter instead. If I wanted to read the daily goings-on and meanderings of a day in the life of a shape-shifter I would’ve picked up another book. A sexier book, if truth be told. What on earth is going on here?! I cannot rate this one because I only read enough of it to realize it wasn’t the story I was looking for and I moved on to the next. DNF It was here that I nearly DNF’d the entire book but figured I’d give it one more shot and I’m glad I did. Yep, that was not a typo. I’m glad I did!
Gnaw by Tade Thompson The perfect little family moves into Irongrove Lodge and the husband begins to renovate. Uh oh! You know that is never a good idea! His wife has reservations about the whole thing but the husband does what he wants. This story is a slow, slow burn but boy does it ever start to pay off in the final act. The son starts acting strangely and then the wife starts seeing extremely unsettling visions. I absolutely adored this story. The atmosphere, the creeping dread, the horrific images it has burned into my brain? It’s all awesome and it is the reason I am so glad I did not DNF this book! This was the kind of story I was hoping for when I requested this ARC from Netgalley. It’s a shame they weren’t all written in this vein. 4.5 Stars
The Best Story I can Manage Under the Circumstances Robert Shearman This is story would fit right in if this were a bizarro collection but this was not marketed as a bizarro collection. So, what we have here is a baby born with only a head. It has no legs, no arms, no torso, no nothing besides the head but it’s alive. Alright. But don’t you worry, soon after another baby is born with just a torso and a little peepee and the two baby parts find each other, hook up and match perfectly. Now what are the odds? Then things switch over to a boy and a strange little door that appears only on his birthday. Was it the same baby boy now fully whole? Don’t ask me because I was skimming at this point. I honestly couldn’t comprehend what was going on here and found it all just a strange jumble of words. Eventually I threw in the towel and DNF’d it. This was not at all what I wanted when I picked up this book.
Skin Deep Sarah Lotz The collection ends on a good note, at least. Skin Deep is about an older woman who purchases Irongrove Lodge for her boy toy. It's clear a terrible thing happened when the story begins and it is slowly revealed how she earned the nickname “The Butcher”. This was told from many POV’s which kept things lively and kept me guessing. It was dark with slowly creeping dread and as a bonus I got to watch a slow descent into madness. Great stuff and another 4.5 star story that’s worth a read.
It’s a shame 3 out of these 5 stories felt like they belonged in another collection.
Audiobook Challenge: Book #4 Not an audio
Horror Reading Challenge Book #4
I received the ARC from Netgalley. Thanks, Netgalley!
I guess this averages out to 3.5? I'm too tired to do the math so a 3 it is.
Holy crap this book took half my life to read. It says it was only 432 pages long but I Do NOT Believe It. There are sooo many stories. Too many stories. No one needs to read this many stories about nightmarish scenarios all in a row. I’ve always felt these Datlow collections were overstuffed and steered clear of them for years but this one got me with its tantalizing cover. The next time I shelve one of these tomes someone please knock some sense into me and point me to this review.
I was going to review each story in exquisite detail and even took notes but there’s no need to take up half of your life with all of that and besides my fingers would likely fall off and I kind of need them. I’ll just stick to better describing the loves and the hates and throw a few words at the meh in the middle.
Ok, here we go.
Shallaballah by Mark Samuels, 1.5 Stars: Why the editor decided to start this collection off with what I consider one of the worst stories in the collection is beyond me. Perhaps it’s just me and my atrocious taste but if I had my way this story wouldn’t be here. Guess that’s why I’m not an editor.
An asshole actor destroys his face in a car accident, shady Doctor steps in to repair the damage at a super creepy clinic and bad things happen.I didn't care about any of it because the MC was a dick. It was also vague and confusing near the end and I was left screaming, “Why and WTF did I just read?” Clearly you can skip this one if you want to or read it and tell me what a dummy I am.
Sob In the Silence by Gene Wolfe, 3 Stars: A dastardly man gets what’s coming to him. Brief but disturbing.
Our Turn Too Will One Day Come by Brian Hodge, 3.5 Stars: I love me some dark family secrets and this has a grisly one. Word of advice. When someone calls you at 2am and tells you to bring the shovel, hang up and go back to sleep.
Dead Sea fruit by Kaaron Warren, 4 Stars: A story about a dentist, anorexia and a creepy ass monster called The Ashmouth Man. One smootch from him and you will never want to eat again. Who wouldn’t want a kiss from that?! Just kidding. I enjoyed this. It was strange and unique and the ending was quite perfect.
Closet Dreams by Lisa Tuttle, 5 Stars: Well, this was disturbing and I am not easily disturbed. It bothered me after I finished it. It’s scary, nightmarish, heartbreaking and it’ll haunt you.
Spectral Evidence by Gemma Files, DNF: I just could not go on with this one because of the format and all of the footnotes. I felt like I was reading for a school assignment and would be tested. I wanted nightmares not brain hurt when I picked up this collection.
Hushabye by Simon Bestwick, 3 Stars: This wasn’t what I’d consider horror and it leaves you hanging in the wind at the end. I hate when that happens.
Very Low-Flying Aircraft by Nicholas Royle, 2 Stars: The foreshadowing here was about as gentle as a baseball bat to the skull. It’s a story about a cocky dumbass of a pilot who puts his loins ahead of human life. Meh.
The Goosle by Margo Lanagan, 5 Stars: This is one of my favorites. It’s a fairy tale retelling that balances sarcastic humor with painfully dark undertones.
The Clay Party by Steve Duffy, 4.5 Stars: This is a gripping tale about a group of misguided settlers attempting to take a short cut instead of sticking to the trail. Nothing good comes of it, as you can imagine. This is another that ends perfectly.
Strappado by Laird Barron, 4.5 Stars: Two party-goers are invited to a super secretive art show and very bad things happen. This story was weird and twisty and will possibly give you nightmares.
Lonegan’s Luck by Stephen Graham Jones, 3 Stars: Back in the Wild West a super sleazy snake oil salesmen sets out to do what he does but things go awry. As I read through my notes I have no recollection of the story so 3 stars it is.
Mr. Pigsny by Reggie Oliver, 4 Stars: This story about death, art and a weird little man was creepy as hell.
At Night, When the Demons Come by Ray Cluley, 4.5 Stars: An apocalypse has happened and now demons hunt the remaining humans but it’s the women who have the most to fear. This was most definitely nightmare inducing and one of the better tales in the collection.
Was She Wicked? Was She Good? By Mary Rickert, 4 Stars: What's a parent to do when they discover their little cherub has a cruel streak and enjoys harming small creatures? This is the dilemma posed to the couple in this chilling story. The author paints some terrible images and even though I don’t think I entirely followed all of it, I did enjoy it. It needed to be longer, if you ask me.
The Shallows by John Langan, 2 Stars: I honestly don’t know WTF this one was all about. It was the sad story of a dying woman, a dying world and a lonely dog and a man recounting three different stories. My mind, oh how it hurts. There were whispers of cosmic things but that wasn’t enough to save this for me.
Little Pig by Anna Taborska, 4.5 Stars: Holy dogs and demon cats, was this one ever disturbing. Imagine you’re a woman, all alone with a small son and an infant to worry after and you are on the run. Now imagine there are starving wolves nipping at your heels. Now imagine the worst. This is one I won’t ever forget.
Omphalos by Livia Llewellyn, 1 Star:I despised this story about a family trip to hell. I don’t despise much, my tolerance for the awful is pretty damn high, but this one? This one was HORRIBLE with fifty exclamation marks. Don’t get me wrong, the writing was fine. I’m not talking about the writing. I’m talking about the content. Descriptive incest between a daddy and his daughter happens and I do not care if that is a spoiler. The people need to know. It was over the top and should’ve come with some kind of flashing trigger alert warning. But not only that (as if that wasn’t bad enough) it ended in one of those weirdly confusing, vague ways that left me squinting my eyes and wishing I hadn’t read it at all.
I don't know about you but I need a break right now.
Ahhh, that's better.
How We Escaped Our Certain Fate by Dan Chaon, 3 Stars: This is zombie tale that features a world where zombies are more of a pest than a threat. It’s laden with loss but aren't they all? There wasn’t much of anything new here but it was decently told.
That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love Robert Shearman, 3 Stars: A messed up story of skewed childhoods, weirdly twisted love and strange customs that include sacrificing dolls. Love requires sacrifice, after all . . .
Interstate Love Song (Murder Ballad No. 8) by Caitlín R. Kiernan, 4 Stars: We meet two serial killing twins, who just so happen to also be lovers (twin-cest!) just as their road trip of death and destruction comes to a bloody end. I have to admit their romance was a little sexy but they were grown-ups so don’t be judging me.
Shay Corsham Worsted, 3.5 Stars: This was a weird one about a deadly lizard man masquerading as an old man. It left me with a crapload of questions but I kind of liked it.
The Atlas of Hell Nathan Ballingrud, 4 Stars: This was an interesting story about a rare book seller, a mob man and their journey to find The Atlas of Hell! The Atlas of Hell will lead you to objects brought back from Hell itsownself, objects fools are willing to pay big money to own. Who wouldn’t want to own that?!
Ambitious Boys Like You by Richard Kadrey, 4.5 Stars: Two thieves hit up the wrong house. Instead of a weak old man, they find dolls and booby traps and a whole lot of pain. This story was inventive, dark and creepy as hell and a great way to finally end this collection.
Hopefully I got them all but I can’t guarantee it and I am all typed out so this is all there is. There are some nightmarish stories here mixed in with a bunch of meh and I would recommend it with the caveat that you should not attempt to read it straight through. Read something else in-between these stories, split it up, you’ll thank me later. There is too much darkness to be taken in alone here and you may lose your will to read and to keep your eyes open.
Audiobook Challenge: Book #4 (not an audio)
This is a slower paced mystery about a missing 14-year-old boy, his devastated mother and his heartbroken sister. It is a good story but it is not a horror novel. Do not be led astray like me.
A family is shaken to its core after the mysterious disappearance of a teenage boy in this eerie tale, a blend of literary fiction, psychological suspense, and supernatural horror from the author of A Head Full of Ghosts.
I think I missed the supernatural horror bits. First The Turner House disappoints with its false ghost promises and now there’s this one. Damn, I am totally striking out in January.
Anyway, I listened to this book on audio and though it was too long and I drifted here and there, I never felt an urge to shut it off. I’d probably give it a 3 ½ but I’ll bump it up to a 4 because it was quite a bit better than “meh”.
The story revolves around what really happened the day (or was it night? The mind fails me once again) Tommy and his two pals went out to Devil’s Rock to do something . . . Tommy’s two buddies returned home safe and sound but Tommy did not. Now it’s up to Tommy’s mom to piece together exactly what happened. When Tommy’s diaries pages start appearing out of the ether she begins to question everything.
And I don’t blame her. I really felt compassion for Tommy’s mom. She was a well written character and even had some realistic flaws, eventually breaking down and losing her cool. I loved to read that. It made the story come alive for me.
Basically, the story is one long, slow reveal of what happened prior to that fateful day (evening?) at Devil’s Rock. It’s set in the present day but the past is shown via the diary entries and through flashbacks. I’m not going to give it away. If you want to know, you’ll have to read the book.
It’s an enjoyable thriller only marred by too much inane and repetitive dialogue between the boys. They are teenagers and their conversations go a little like this, a little too often for my liking.
Josh: Anyone up for Mindcraft?
Luis: Mindcraft is AWESOME man but dad says I need to get homework done tonight.
Tommy: Your dad is such a Hard-o! (I did not mean hard-on pervy spellcheck)
They have their own lingo, which is normal for most teen boys, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun to read and, believe me, it's even less fun to listen to. Almost immediately that lingo annoyed me and when the boys were together it never let up.
The narrator, Erin Bennett, does a decent job with the work but she's just a little too polished at times and I did feel pulled out of the story on a few occasions, especially when she calls out a name before speaking their dialogue. I’m not sure if it was a narrator choice or if the book was written that way but it was off-putting and strange.
The actual mystery is doled out slowly as it should be, I take no issue with that. I only wish the book had been pruned a bit where the silly conversations and sometimes repetitive scenes were involved.
I was under the impression that this was a book about a haunted house.
At about the halfway mark I finally realized that I was quite mistaken. Yes, it took me that long to figure things out.
This is a book about suburban decay, family dynamics and little life dramas. It’s well written but it’s not a ghost story, not even close and that’s entirely my own fault. I guess I saw the word “haint” somewhere in the description and I saw nothing else. But because I had purchased the audio during a sale I was determined to finish it. Am I glad I did? Not particularly.
Viola and Francis raised 13 children and somehow managed to survive it with their sanity intact. I shudder just thinking about it. Anyway, Viola is now widowed, her health is ailing and her grown children are faced with dealing with the family home that’s been mortgaged to the hilt and is now worth next to nothing because the neighborhood has gone to crap, along with the economy.
This book does not focus on all thirteen siblings (thank the lord, I never would have been able to keep track) but instead tells the struggles of the oldest, ChaCha, who feels the weight of the world on his shoulders and has the specter of a haint hanging over him, the youngest, Lelah, who has a gambling addiction and Viola and Francis by flashing back to the past.
It’s a well written story but honestly I never felt attached to any of these people. They are real and real flawed, I’ll give you that, but I didn’t like any of them all that much and thus reading about their struggles (many of their own making) got a bit tiresome in the end. The book also never resolves the main issue of The Turner House and that bugged me.
Basically it is a tale of family dramas but unfortunately none of them were very juicy or devastating, if you ask me.
The narrator was decent but at times several of her characters sounded too similar and I got a little confused as to who was speaking.
HA Mount TBR Challenge: Book #4
2017 Horror Reading Challenge I can't count this. Boo!!!
Look who was waiting for me when I returned home from an endless week of work! I've been eyeing him for weeks and my husband surprised me with him today. Who needs jewelry when you have The Creature?!
Decently written monster-porn featuring . . . groceries! Hexed groceries that turn into a monster-man. There is no need for a review (and I'm lazy).
“What do you want from me?”Ashley’s voice sounded small and timid. The creature’s voice rumbled like fresh-tilled earth, as lush as rain-soaked melon vines. “To plant my seed. Rise, woman. Give me what is mine.”
LOL, that's all you get. You'll either want to read this or you won't.
I’ve always believed that old things are haunted but I never realized that the quiet little world of antique buying and selling was so cut-throat!
I listened to this collection of eerie stories on unabridged audio. They’re all stories about antique dealer Geoff Ashton, except for one or two that are stories told to him or are about a close relative. My copy was narrated by R.C. Bray whose voice is wizened and quite perfect for this book about old stuff.
The Devil and Clocky Watson This first story introduces us to Geoff. He’s an honest dealer just trying to make a living but others, namely a shifty character named Clocky Watson, cheat the system. Geoff attempts to get back at Clocky in what he thinks is the most fitting of ways but things go awry. This tale, like all the stories that follow, is eerie and dripping with creepy atmosphere. 4.5 Stars
The Doll Geoff realizes that old dolls = $$ and buys a large collection of them from a boozy widow for a song but trouble soon follows. Creepy dolls will always be creepy and this story is no exception. There were two points here where frighteningly loud music was piped in and it nearly made me pee my pants and overrode the narration. Beware! This one was probably my favorite. 5 Stars
The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux This story was about a creepy old church, desecrated graves, unnerving goings-on and Miss Dorinda Molyneaux.
The Dumbledore This one simply wasn’t meant for me and it more than likely comes down to a matter of taste and my lack of it. The Dumbledore was a watering hole for men during war times. It's about secrets, war heroes and a young boy named Little Tex. 3 Stars
The Woolworth Spectacles This one features Geoff’s cousin and was much more my speed. Shy Maude's always been told that "men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses". But then she finds a pair of spectacles at Woolworth's (that's an old department store for you youngin's) left behind by an old woman and puts them on her face.
And she can see the world in wondrous detail! Initially she’s pretty thrilled but then people start looking at her differently. Crude work-men leer at her and she is unsettled. Soon, though, she finds her power over men a little intoxicating and begins to use it even to her advantage even though she knows deep down that this is very unlike her. She revels in it anyway and it leads to disaster. I liked this story quite a bit and found Maude’s personality change both organic and frightening. 5 Stars
Portland Bill Geoff is on vacation with his wife, who has meandered off to do things without him. Before long, he finds a beautiful and distraught woman who begs for help. Her son has gone missing and Geoff being the dirty, old, and let’s not forget MARRIED perv that he is, has lustful thoughts about her even though she’s frantic to find her son.
“My bowels moved with lust for her.”
Oh Geoff, you sexy beast, however did you convince a woman to marry you?
Despite his pervy thoughts, he’s not so bad a guy and decides to help her out. When the townsfolk and police brush him off Geoff starts to have ominous feelings about the situation. Haunting and, like all the rest, beautifully atmospheric. 4 Stars
The Ugly House I listened to this one twice because when I sat down to write this up, I couldn’t remember a thing about it and figured I had sleep-walked through it. Now after the 2nd listen and writing all of the above, I still can’t remember much about it besides the fact that there was a building inspector and an ugly house that Would Not Be Demolished and damned if I can remember anything else about it.
Guess it wasn’t meant for me. 3 Stars
I’d easily recommend this collection to anyone looking for slower paced, old-style horror that crawls under your skin and creeps you out.
Audiobook #2: Audiobook Challenge
I liked this book. It made me laugh. Not all rolling on the floor and laughing my effing bum off but it made me laugh on the inside. I knew it. And that is all that counts.
This Jenny person has a skewed sense of humor that I love and adored. She is weird and she embraces it. She’s also mentally ill with a laundry list of disorders. She suffers from depression and crushing anxiety and a host of other disorders but she still manages to live a life that sounds fun and that is inspiring. She does get to navel gazing a wee bit here and there and not everything is laugh on the inside funny but it never, ever bored me. I can see why her blog is so very popular. She has a way of telling a story that drags you into her world. She talks about some serious issues but you never want to drown in a pit of despair. How she manages to do this is beyond me. I’m just thankful she has the talent to do so because I needed a little laugh after A Little Life.
I did not take notes and although there are many quote worthy tidbits in this book, you’ll have to go read the thing yourself because I was reading selfishly for joy and was too frigging lazy to be bothered to write any of them down. I think reading them for the first time is part of the fun anyway. So do yourself a little good and find yourself this audio. It’s read by the author whose voice is a little squeaky (she even admits this) but they're her words and I don’t think it would feel right to listen to anyone else voice them.
Audiobook #1: Audiobook Challenge
*I am so behind with my reviews :( I actually finished this in December. Good thing I took notes!
If you’re feeling a little too thrilled with your life and need to tone that shit down a bit then this book is the one for you. It’s basically 700+ pages of pain and anguish and intense self-loathing. Are you ready?
This is the tragic story of a broken man named Jude and his closest friends. Jude is a man surrounded by people who love him deeply but alas love never seems to be quite enough to help him completely overcome his horrible past. Jude’s early life was one of devastation. I’m not going to rehash any of the horrible things that Jude experiences in his childhood. I had to suffer through it all, bit by bit, as it was slowly doled out throughout the course of the book, so if you want to know what happens you’ll have to do the same! Just know that it never gets too graphically gross and it easily could’ve gone there.
I see lots of people calling this tragedy porn and such but I don’t feel that way but then again I’ve been reading dark fiction for far too long. Read for yourself something like The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum (which was based on a true crime) and you’ll see what I mean. This story deals more with the inner turmoil and lingering trauma of those earlier cruelties and how they’ve shaped Jude into the person he is in his adult life. It’s not entirely believable, especially the final tragic childhood event, but it’s a compelling character study nonetheless. Still, it is not a book I will ever wish to revisit. Honestly, if I hadn’t been listening to it on audio, I have no doubt that I would’ve DNF’d it because was way too long for my personal liking and I didn’t have the deep emotional cathartic release that everyone else has seemed to have experienced. But, you know, I have cats.
I persevered because I listened to it on audio and I can listen to almost anything if I am enjoying the narrator and the story isn’t completely deplorable. Oliver Wyman narrated my version and he did justice to the work and kept me hooked even through the sloggy, meandering bits. His voice oozes emotion and was calming to me for the 32+ hours he was in my head telling this sad, sad story.
Yes, you read that right. Thirty Two + hours!
It was a grueling exercise in self-torture and there aren’t any truly happy moments in this entire book. They are all tainted by Jude’s sorrow and inner torment. With that said, I didn’t think it was the most tragic story ever told as I’d been led to believe and I am disappointed that it didn’t break my heart. I was kind of looking forward to that. Perhaps all of the “it’ll break you” talk beforehand left me with too high expectations or perhaps it was because I forecasted too many of the reveals long before they were revealed? At any rate, I give the story 3 – 3 ½ stars and the narration 5, settling on an uneasy 4.