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review 2020-05-11 21:16
You Are Not Alone
You Are Not Alone - Greer Hendricks,Sarah Pekkanen
I've read both THE WIFE BETWEEN US (5 stars) & AN ANONYMOUS GIRL (4 stars) and love/liked them but this one didn't manage to hit as hard with me. The secrets didn't thrill or disturb me very much but that doesn't mean you won't love it. I also listened on audio which comes with its own set of challenges.

Things start off when a young woman named Shay witnesses a woman jump to her death right before her eyes. Shay decides to look into this lovely mysterious woman and it leads her to more lovely mysterious women and eventually she believes she's become one of these lovely mysterious women but nothing is as it seems. And that's all I'll say. This is a mystery, after all, and I am not a spoiler or books.

I should've been a blurb writer with this talent, right?

My problem with the story is the lead character of Shay. I've glanced at a few reviews and I do believe this is a matter of taste and probably mood because no one has mentioned this but me. So I will be the jerk today. What else is new? Anyhow, I'm just going to come right out and say it. Shay was a bit of a sad sack. I found it difficult to understand her or to empathize with her. She makes many poor choices and sometimes comes across as impossibly naive when it comes to the "mysterious women" as well as other things in her life. To be completely honest, she drove me a little nuts.

There's another thing too. I listened to this book as an unabridged audio and it features many female characters and none of them were fleshed out enough for my liking so I continually mixed them up. The timeline also switches around and there was a time or ten when I found myself confused. Who is this person? What is her deal? What year is this? Who am I again? I'd recommend reading this one as a paperback if you are as easily befuddled as myself.

I sound so negative. Maybe this one should be more of a 2 3/4's star? I don't know. This is why I despise numeric ratings But I do know that I didn't hate it or "not like it". The revelations were not earth-shattering but it was entertaining enough to keep me going so I'm sticking with the three. A low three but a three nonetheless. Perhaps I have finally died inside and you should probably listen to the other reviews instead! That's my recommendation anyway.


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review 2020-01-19 21:17
Sociopaths In Love by Andersen Prunty
Sociopaths In Love - Andersen Prunty

I don’t know why I pick up books like these. It’s some strange compulsion that I cannot ignore. Some are better than others. This one falls right about in the middle but scores all the points for the gross-out.


An unhinged man enters the home of a young lady caring for her ill granny. He’s not there to make friends and have some tea either! He’s a dude who takes what he wants and walks away. He can do this because he has some sort of power that allows him to remain unseen once he walks away from the scene of his atrocities. I can’t fully wrap my head around that concept but I kept reading to find anyhow. So you can probably guess he is there for rapiness but he ends up finding more. Erica figures she’s not going to fight this guy because it will only be worse for her and she’s a little intrigued by the excitement of it all. After some extremely dubious con sex occurs, Walt realizes she shares his super power and they head off into the sunset and live happily ever after doing whatever the heck they want without consequence.


Well, not really.


Love isn’t exactly easy when you’re a murderous sociopath who likes to eat people and glory in your own filth.


What follows is a horribly gross, murderous and twisted road trip filled with wicked turns and cruel acts that were nearly too much even for me. I’m talking poop covered mattresses, a poop filled room, poop piles tinged with blood. There is poop. There is too much poop!  Poop isn’t something I like very much. I see enough poop. I raised two kids and currently have five pets. I need no more poop in my life. 


Anyhow, what this book is really about is a narcissistic psycho who gets increasingly more depraved page by page. To be honest, I found it a little boring in spots. There was much debauchery but spending time in these peoples heads was sometimes tedious. They weren’t very interesting to me and I’m not quite sure what compelled me to finish so please don’t ask. I do not know what is wrong with me but I do feel like I need my brain scrubbed right now.


If you’re a similar weirdo and think you might want to push your limits this book will mostly likely do that for you!


The copy I listened to was narrated by the author who reads this tale of deviant deeds in a dead tone that suits the monsters inhabiting the story.

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review 2020-01-08 20:15
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Ninth House - Leigh Bardugo

I don’t think this was a book for me. And I can’t recommend listening to it on audio the first time around because during the first third I found myself really confused. So confused I was tempted to start the thing over but I couldn’t work up the enthusiasm. I felt as if I had been tossed into a world after all the interesting stuff had already happened and that everyone knew what was going on except for me.


I don’t enjoy that feeling much at all because I am super nosy and felt left out but I especially do not like when that feeling lingers for hundreds of pages (or in my case what felt like hundreds of hours) and then I get hit with the dreaded nfo dumps.


There are some interesting plot threads here. I loved the bits about the “surgery” (and that’s all I’m saying) and the magical weirdness and the dark past of our main character but none of it ever gelled for me in the way I was hoping it might. To be honest, sticking with this story was a bit of a chore from beginning to end with a few moments in-between where it would catch my attention and then lose it again..


The main issue for me, besides the confusion, was the fact that I felt as if much of the story was being told to me. I like to live and breathe inside a story. I never felt that way with this one.


I am so sad about this one. I was expecting to love it but I didn’t even like it.


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review 2019-11-27 17:56
The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
The Swallows - Lisa Lutz

The Swallows takes a look at the sexual antics taking place at a small private school. Antics that are allowed to continue even as underage girls are rated and shamed and end up leaving the school when the hoard decides to turn on them. It’s pretty awful stuff and the title is exactly what you might think it is as well as a little something more.

All the things get stirred up when a new teacher arrives at the school. She has the teens fill out an anonymous questionnaire and notices some disturbing answers that send her on a mission to find out exactly what “The Dark Room” is and why so many fear/hate it. One thing leads to another and the young ladies realize they have a way to fight back and fix the power imbalance and when it happens it is a glorious thing. Though I wish it had been darker and nastier but I’m a terrible person who definitely reads too much horror, haha.

This book was one of those infectious reads that make you stop everything to keep reading/listening. I knew revenge was ultimately coming because I might’ve sneaked a peek at a review or two just to be sure and I was there for it. My only real complaint was the huge cast. It’s too large for this book, if you’re asking me, and especially if you are listening on audio because many voices sound too similar. And everyone has a side-story. There are teachers, students, groundskeepers, a parent or two. I had some trouble keeping up with names and histories and connections and hookups and other dastardly deeds, I cannot lie. Even with that said, it was a still a strong enough gossipy story that I never felt the need to shut it down forever. I’ll always wish the ending had been longer (it felt SO rushed), bleaker and meaner but I know all books can’t end the way Cockblock by C.V. Hunt did!

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review 2019-11-27 16:34
Come Join Us by the Fire
Come Join Us By The Fire - Nicholas Kaufman,Cassandra Khaw,Alyssa Wong,Gwendolyn Kiste,Kat Howard,Kristi DeMeester,Carmen Maria Machado,Michael Wehunt,Brooke Bolander,Kary English,Priya Sharma,Sam J. Miller,Nadia Bulkin,Molly Tanzer,Livia Llewellyn,Simon Strantzas,Robert Levy,Paul

This is free. Go get yourself a copy! Link here

If these stories are any indication of what we can expect from Tor’s new horror line NightFire, we have some excellent horror fiction to look forward to in the brand new year! The production and narration is excellent and the writing is strong and polished. You might want to grab yourself a copy while it is still free. I’m betting you’ll find something here you will love.

As with all collections of this type, some stories will work better than others because we can’t love them all but there are NONE that are badly written. Not a one. So what it comes down to is personal taste so here are my thoughts.

NO MATTER WHICH WAY WE TURNED by Brian Evenson starts things off with a creepy-weird little short perfect for a collection called "Come Join Us by the Fire". It reads more like a poem but it sets a mood of unease right off the bat.

DADDY by Victor Lavalle spins a tale about a new father facing new father fears that are ratcheted up a thousand notches when his son tells him about the man speaking to him at night. This is chilling on a deep level . . .

THIS GUY by Chuck Wendig is a quickie that is violent and over in a blink.

FLAYED ED by Richard Kadrey puts a spin on horrorshow Ed Gein. One that will thrill and disturb any horror fan! I think it’s a must listen, for sure.

THE POND by Paul Tremblay tells a tale about how ghosts are made. It’s dark, it’s haunting, and it is very good stuff.

HER BODY, HERSELF by Carmen Maria Machado is a story about the kind of fear that most women will feel deep in their bones. I wish it were longer and hope to read more by this author soon.

THE GIRLS FROM THE HORROR MOVIE by Gwendolyne Kiste is about a former scream queen and the movie that just doesn’t want to let go of her and her twin sister. This is creepy done amazingly well and Kiste is an excellent writer. Also while I’m here, go read THE RUST MAIDENS, if you haven’t already. You won’t be sorry.

THESE DEATHLESS BONES by Cassandra Khaw – Ahhh, words aren’t adequate to describe how perfectly horrific I found this little story. Anyone who loves dark fairytales needs to drop everything and read it right now. It is everything I wish for in a short horror tale. Beautifully written, dark perfection.

IT WASHED UP by Joe R. Lansdale – The polluted sea coughs up a monster! This was a dark but light-heartedly bleak interlude. I know that makes no sense but if you’ve read Lansdale you will know what I mean.

STEMMING THE TIDE by Simon Strantzas wasn’t a favorite because the lead protagonist annoyed me with his ugly, judgy thoughts. I was also left with some big questions when it ended.

MIDNIGHT CALLER by Stephen Graham Jones features a final girl facing her worst nightmare! This story was so clever. I loved everything about it.

BLACK BARK by Brian Evenson was a weird tale about a strange piece of bark and two unfortunate men. This is SUCH a weird one! I’m not quite sure what I read here but I can tell you that I’m not sorry I read it.

THE ANATOMIST’S MNEMONIC by Priya Sharma features a man looking for love but he has very strict requirements so he’s having a tough time and has to take matter into his own hands. It gets a little grisly at the end which is always a bonus in my book. That’s why we’re all here, right?!

RABBIT HEART by Alyssa Wong – This is my kind of bizarre story. If you’ve read and loved Bunny by Mona Awad you should read this story. You NEED to read this story because I think you will love it. It reads almost like a companion piece to Bunny. And if you haven’t read Bunny yet, you should go do so if you like weirdness!

THE BEASTS OF THE EARTH, THE MADNESS OF MEN by Brooke Bolander is about a woman’s search for an unholy whale. It’s all about action and adventure on the high seas and it wasn’t my favorite because I’m not a huge fan of action or adventure but it is well written.

COLD, SILENT, AND DARK by Kary English is dark and lovely and ended just perfectly.

WHEN THE ZOMBIES WIN by Karina Sumner-Smith is a depiction of what happens when the world is over run by zombies. Yep, it is just as bleak as one would expect.

HAROLD THE SPIDER MAN by Paul Tremblay is going to make your skin crawl. Harold is a little weird but he is kind to spiders. Perhaps a little too kind. This story was a lot of fun to read. It’s darkly comical and also darkly disturbing!

PONIES by Kij Johnson is a cotton candy coated nightmare of a story about fitting in. This one will haunt me until the day I die. I swear it.

BLACK NEUROLOGY by Richard Kadrey is a gruesome love story filled with ick, ick and more ick!

BEWARE OF OWNER by Chuck Wendig - Be warned, herein lies kitty violence and this is just the tip of the horror in this house of yikes and hell nooooo’s! This is a nasty little piece of work that I could barely finish because of the dastardly kitty violence. Sorry, this is how I am. I don’t like reading that stuff but maybe you do? Read what you want. I won’t judge.

THE VAULT OF THE SKY, THE FACE OF THE DEEP by Robert Levy – An old woman recounts a harrowing tale of human atrocity.

DON’T TURN ON THE LIGHTS by Cassandra Khaw is a tale of changing stories. I love the way this author writes, immediately immersing you in her unsettling world.

WASP & SNAKE by Livia Llewellyn is the chilling tale of an assassin who gets some frightening body modifications in order to become more efficient at her job. This story gave me early Barker vibes and is incredibly disturbing. It is a must-read if you are a body horror fan.

GREENER PASTURES by Michael Wehunt - A long haul trucker meets a man who may be haunted, or may be off his rocker but he listens anyway and that’s a huge mistake. This was a creepfest and made my little arm hairs stand on end.

AND WHEN SHE WAS BAD by Nadia Bulkin is a story about a monster and the final girl AFTER the carnage has happened. This is an amazing story of strength and anger and transformation from the point of view of a woman who has had ENOUGH! I wouldn’t change a single word and loved everything about it.

EL CHARRO by John Langan – Imagine this, if you will. One moment you’re chatting with friends about a book and the next you’re a prisoner of a monster, ahhh! This one didn’t make a huge impact on me but I didn’t hate it.

DREAM HOUSE by Kat Howard - Cara buys her dream house. An old mansion filled with dark corners and it immediately feels like home. Eventually she finds out why. This is a feel good creepfest. Is that a thing? If not, it should be and it is now.

SPAWNING SEASON by Nicholas Kaufmann- This is a dark fairy tale about a town beholden to the sea. It is super imaginative and so very good.

IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Molly Tanzer – An apocalypse happens. The beginning tells you how it ends but it’s the getting there that is all the horrific fun. So weird, so gruesome, so freaking bizarre!

57 REASONS FOR THE SLATE QUARRY SUICIDES by Sam J.Miller – A bullied teen with a unique gift reflects on the cost of his revenge. I didn’t like this story at first because I’m not fond of lists as a form of storytelling but it grew on me so stick with it if you’re anything like me.

WAS SHE WICKED, WAS SHE GOOD? by M. Rickert - A pretty little cherub performs atrocities that her ineffective parents are left to clean up. Nothing really is what it seems and this story will chill you to the bone if kids are what scare you the most!

A LIFE THAT IS NOT MINE by Kristi DeMeester – A worn out exhausted teacher tells the tale as her life is slowly consumed by darkness. This one will resonate deeply with anyone who feels stuck in a soul sucking job or in a life that they’d never wish upon themselves.

THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL YOU by Lucy A. Snyder is a gory little tale of a heart-wrenching break-up. It is a tale as old as time but with a killer twist.

THE DESIGN by China Miéville, I believe, is the longest piece here. It is about a medical student who discovers bones etched with designs. The need to find out more and decipher their meanings consumes him. This one didn’t grab me. Maybe I was too exhausted when listening? Maybe it was the narration that didn’t mesh with my sleepy head? Or maybe it just didn’t grab me? Anyhow, I may revisit it and report back but I might not.

As I said way up there, it’s FREE (at this moment) so there’s no reason you shouldn’t nab a copy and settle in for some unsettling stories!

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