I started this book more than three months ago. I kept coming back to it and deciding to read something else. Today I did that again and decided this one just isn't for me.
It's well written: strong characters, vivid action, a clear sense of place and lots of "something wicked this way comes" foreboding. But the pulse that beats beneath the start of this book is one of protracted, ritualised, violent abuse of children.
I'm sure there's an intriguing rationale for the abuse. There may even be a rebellion against it but I don't want that abuse in my head so this book and I have no future.
I haven't given a star rating as I don't think it's fair, given how little of the book I read. I'm putting this down to a poor buying decision on my part.
I received a copy from Penguin’s First To Read
This book was like a giant rom-com cliché. The alternate history for the Royal family was eye rolling and cringe worthy. That being said once you over look those things, it was actually a very entertaining read. Irritating as hell, but fun.
(Especially like me if you have a guilty pleasure for Royal gossip)
In this alternate world there is a Scottish Royal Family, and the heroine Daisy’s sister Ellie has fallen in love with Prince Alexander, heir to the throne. They are getting married. Daisy lives in Florida with her mom and her ex British rock star dad. She lives a pretty normal life. She has a part time job at a local convenience store and is looking forward to a planned trip to Key West with her BFF Isabel where they will go to a convention to meet their favourite fantasy author and get their books signed. All pretty normal.
But all this is thrown out of whack when Ellie announces she’s marrying the prince and the Royal family have invited the whole family to Scotland for a few weeks for the summer to get a taste of what’s coming.
Every other chapter is a page from a magazine or a gossip blog/tabloid.
Daisy is fuming but agrees on the basis that the Royal assistant Glynnis who has come with Ellie and Alex can arrange for a singing at a book shop near where they are staying and bring Isabel along later.
So off to Scotland they go given a Royal treatment – first class flights, fancy cars, the fanciest hotels. To add to the chaos, Alex’s younger brother, charming, Sebastian (who is Daisy’s age, 17) the most eligible teen in Scotland is there as well with his group of fancy friends. Sebastian is an ass, crude, full of himself and flirts with everything in a skirt. Daisy finds herself getting into a snit with his best friend Miles when a drunken Sebastian decides to head into her room.
The dialogue is sharp and witty and as soon as Miles and Daisy start snarking with each other it’s completely predictable as to what’s going to happen. Daisy has to go to several royal events and dress the part (something she’s not happy about) and of course things go eye rollingly wrong (including a rather amusing incident where she finds herself getting looked down on by some of the posh women and does a delightful job of holding her own and insulting them right back).
It’s cheesy as hell. However, at the time, I did find myself reading this with a grin on my face most of the time. Daisy is struggling to cope with major culture shock, even when her best friend finally arrives (Isabel’s huge crush on Sebastian not helping) Daisy finds herself unwittingly creating a scandal that catches the eye of the disapproving Queen. And Miles to the rescue.
Which leads to a fake dating plot.
As a lead character Daisy was immensely likeable, easy to understand where she’s coming from. Easy to follow her story as she moves between the very different world and gets to know the real people behind the tabloid gossip and learns maybe Miles isn’t the stuck up ass he pretends to be. They have some quite interesting conversations about their differences.
The end is absolutely gag worthy. But kind of works.
Not the most brilliant book I have ever read, but certainly an entertaining one.
So, there is a swimming hole know as "the drowning pool." In the 1600s, teenage girls and women accused of witchcraft were drowned there. Since then, it's been a place of a string of other mysterious deaths--suicides, murders, undetermined. The most recent woman to be found dead in the pool is Nel Abbott, who had been working on a manuscript about the women and girls who had died in it over the years, and this on the tail of 15-year-old Katie Whittaker's suicide. These deaths are one-two punch for Lena Abbott, Nel's daughter and Katie's best friend. And suddenly Jules, Nel's estranged sister and Katie's last remaining family member, arrives to look after the niece she has never known.
This book ended up leaving me kind of cold. It is told from the multiple perspectives of a large cast, some narrated in first person, while others are in a more detached third. The "Jules" sections are often dominated by Jules addressing as "you" her dead sister. Not my favorite device. Also interspersed are several excerpts from Nel's manuscript, The Drowning Pool. Although I mostly listened to the audio version, I quickly picked up the hardcover, when I realized that early on I was fairly lost as to who the characters were. Reading the early chapters in print helped pull everything into place, but even once I was used to the cast, I sometimes found myself needing to think a moment to remember who some of the characters were and how they were connected to other characters.
I did find myself interested in following through to the resolution, but I didn't find the resolution satisfying.
Splatterpunk Fighting Back by MULTIPLE
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The definition of "splatterpunk" should give an idea of what this volume entails: characterised by the explicit description of horrific, violent, or pornographic scenes. With an abundance of monsters, gore, and sexual tones, it stays true to the nature of the sub-genre. My advice? Just be prepared.
(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)
I never would've known about this analogy had I not joined the one and only Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, and took part in their January group read with author invite. Being new to the horror sub-genre of splatterpunk, I expected that it would probably involve some disgusting and gruesome "what the hell did I just read?" moments, and I quickly discovered that I was correct. I enjoyed some stories more than others, however as a whole I consider it a great piece of horrifically violent and graphic literature.
Listed below are each individual tale, starting with my most favourite. I also thank the authors for being so pleasant to talk with, and for donating all proceeds of sale to charity.
Check out my blog to see the Q&A with some of the authors.
* * *Hellscape by Rich Hawkins* * *
Even this quick glimpse into this forsaken world left me completely engrossed. A twisted, bloody apocalypse? My cup of tea any day of the week. The Cthulhu-theme fascinated me, as I've actually never read any such thing before (I know, shame on me). Even though it was short, and seemed to drop the reader right in the middle, I was immediately pulled into the maternal desperation of the protagonist, as well as that drive of trying to keep the madness at bay. I loved every gruesome detail and the sheer brutality.
* *Feast of Consequences by WD Gagliani & Dave Benton* *
Victims fighting back - it's a particular favourite of mine. This one actually began as rather typical, reminding me of the whole Texas Chain Saw Massacre trope, yet it turns into something else entirely. The inclusion of the "Sasquatch" type monsters made my skin crawl, as I suspected the family had a rather... intimate relationship with them. Definitely images I didn't need in my head.
*Extinction Therapy by Bracken MacLeod*
This one made me think a lot, admittedly a bit more in comparison to the others. There's a belief that we all have it inside ourselves - an animal, primitive, left over from our ancestors. What if that gets tapped into? Even good people can do bad things, and we all have unwanted thoughts that seep to the forefront sometimes. I found Spencer's journey to be fascinating, and I couldn't help but want a full-length novel.
Darla's Problem by Kristopher Rufty
A classic, isn't it? The monster in the closet, or beneath the bed. I really liked this one and, sure enough, the monster creeped me out! It made me think about how we so readily dismiss children when they speak of monsters or other such creatures that don't fit into our notion of reality - no wonder it's been the plot of so many books and movies. Also, poor Darla.
They Swim by Night by Adam Millard
If it's one thing I love, it's mythical creatures, especially when an author involves their own personal twist. Ana was portrayed with such raw sexuality, and I loved the hold she had over the men in her midst. This one in particular sparked my imagination; I couldn't help but ponder over Ana's origins. She struck me as an apex predator, but also something more. Ancient. Malevolent. Like at one point in time her kind were respected and feared, yet they faded away into nothing but stories and superstition.
The Passion of the Robertsons by Duncan Ralston
Well, this one certainly took religion to the extreme, and delved into the sheer insanity of two individuals. Being an atheist myself, I wouldn't want to get on the Robertson's bad side. Really, I think the couple would've been better suited to the good ol' days of when atrocities in the name of religion were the norm. Whilst I enjoyed it for what it was, it lacked in something to really make an impact. The ending was good, though!
Limb Memory by Tim Curran
To think if we lose a part of ourselves, a piece of our soul goes with it. Despite the added humour to the otherwise eerie tone of this one, I didn't favour it as much as the majority of other readers. Disembodied limbs generally don't interest me all that much.
Molly by Glenn Rolfe
My partner has pediophobia and while I often tease and laugh, I admit that there's something unsettling about dolls. It's the uncanny valley, right? I was left with a lot of questions regarding Molly, and I would've liked a bit more information for the events that transpired to make sense. She was able to clean up after her own murders? I felt like there was perhaps too much telling and not enough showing.
Melvin by Matt Shaw
I admit, this one made me laugh, but there was a tinge of discomfort below the absurdity. The detail was disturbing - such as Claudia's skin darkening from her insides being torn apart. It makes me shift in my seat when I think about it even now. The ending? Well, it was a great ending. However, despite my brief flare of enjoyment, I can't say I favoured it highly.
Only Angels Know by George Daniel Lea
I get the impression this was supposed to be intentionally hard to follow - as it was a piece written by the character himself, of whom was a very intense and unstable individual. I had to read it twice, and still I'm not sure exactly what happened. I know he had a procedure done to himself, but it doesn't give details, and I'm left wondering if that's the whole point. Whatever we come up with in our minds might be bad enough, if not worse than what George Daniel Lea intended. Was he getting parts of himself surgically removed? Getting parts of other people stitched onto him? Maybe I just missed it completely, and it's lost within his jumbled rambling!
The Going Rate by John Boden
Honestly, this one was just too short for me to get a real feel of anything. I liked the idea, of a neighbourhood having to give their pound of flesh to appease the demon, but I was left with too many questions. Like a flash, it was just over, offering what I felt like very little. I would've loved this had it been longer.
In conclusion - There's something here for everyone, but be aware of the pushing of limits. It's not pretty!
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