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review 2017-10-12 19:21
Gwendy's Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar
Gwendy's Button Box - Stephen King,Richard Chizmar

I listened to this as an unabridged audiobook read by Maggie Siff who starred in Son’s of Anarchy. I never watched that show because there’s no monsters in it (I know, I am a terrible person, no need to tell me) so I don’t know her work. I learned this from listening to the Q&A with King & Chizmar at the end of the audio. Methinks they might’ve been enamored a little with her work on the show. She’s a little flat at times but overall does a decent enough job with the material but, honestly, I’ve heard better narrators and her performance wasn’t anything to get all that excited about.

 

Since this is a short story and I am a lazy bum I’m going to be brief. One lovely summer day when Gwendy is a tween doing her best to get healthy and shed herself of a nasty nickname by exercising herself silly, she spies a strange man who offers her a very special button box. This box, he sinisterly promises, will dispense magical chocolates that will curb her hunger. It will also spit out silver coins that’ll help put her through college. Well, Gwendy is a smart girl and she takes that box home despite her misgivings about keeping a box that has a potentially very dark side . . .

 

This was an eerie little story more magical realism than horror but I enjoyed it even though I wish it had been longer. I kept waiting for something dreadful to happen and eventually it does. It is partially a King story, after all! Honestly, I would’ve liked to have seen even more dreadful events and to have had a darker ending but I did get that in the second story included in this audio “The Music Room”. That story gets five stars. It was short, comical and as pitch-black as it gets.

 

I'll be using this book for the Magical Realism Square.

 

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review 2017-10-11 15:57
Blanky by Kealan Patrick Burke
Blanky - Kealan Patrick Burke

Blanky is a grief saturated read that will ring true for anyone who has ever lost anyone prematurely.  It nails those dark, hopeless feelings that envelop you in the early stages of grief. It’s sad and it’s scary and it packs an incredible punch in so few pages. This kind of writing, the kind that is able to creep into my heart and shatter it, is what  keeps me coming back to books when there are always so many other things trying to pull me away from them.

“One rainy night I put her to bed and when I woke up, she was dead. That was the beginning of the end of my world. This is the rest of it.”

Steve is drowning in grief and he is all alone. His wife, unable to deal with their loss, has left to live with her parents for a while and Steve’s isolation and sadness is a living, breathing, soul sucking thing.

"We always said nothing would come between us, that there was nothing we couldn’t conquer. I know at the time we never imagined in a million years it would be something this fucking apocalyptic, but still...I meant it then and I mean it now. We’re stronger together than we’ll ever be alone.” “I know, but...I see her in you, Stephen. She had your eyes, and it got so that looking at you felt like looking at her, and all I could see was the accusation, the blame. I couldn’t bear it. I still can’t.”

Ouch, right? Talk about raw emotion. The writing here is so strong that it almost physically hurts to read these thoughts and experience the sadness that engulfs both of them.

One day Steve ventures into his deceased baby’s room and finds her blanky. The blanky that he could’ve sworn she was swaddled in when she was handed over to the paramedics. The blanky that should not be in her room . . .  Finding the blanky stirs a series of events that become increasingly sinister. Is Steve experiencing something supernatural or is it something far worse? I’m not a jerk and am not going to be the one to tell you!

This story gets all the stars. It is bleak and it may haunt you but I think all of you horror people should read it.

 

I'm going to use this for the American Horror Story square.

 

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review 2017-10-10 19:37
The Halloween Children by Norman Prentiss & Brian James Freeman
The Halloween Children - Brian James Freeman,Norman Prentiss

I’m giving The Halloween Children a solid four stars because it created a smothering sense of creepiness and managed to maintain it throughout the entire story and it held my attention from beginning to end. You know from the beginning that something terrible is coming but you’re never sure exactly what form that terribleness is going to take and when it’s finally revealed in all its gruesomeness it is quite terrible indeed!

 

But this isn’t a five star read for me because it is told by two very unreliable narrators and in the end many things were left unanswered. So many things! The authors could potentially write another short story just tying off all the dangly bits. I don’t need everything wrapped up in a bloody little bow but when I finished this story I felt like I needed to read it again in an attempt to learn more.

 

Basically it’s a story set in an apartment complex that may or may not be inhabited by insane occupants, murderous humans small and large, soul-stealing demons, or perhaps evil, whispering ghosts. Take your pick or choose them all, if you wish. Harris and Lynn are our main narrators and neither are very stable personalities, though usually entertaining to listen to. They have two children and they each favor a particular child and don’t work too hard at hiding their feelings. That’ll mess a kid up, just saying.

 

Harris is the building maintenance man and starts to notice some very strange and usually smelly events occurring when he’s out on late night calls. When the party pooping property manager cancels the Halloween party the events ramp up and this strangeness begins to infect his personal space and, well, I can’t tell you any more without spoiling too much.

 

This is a great little story to read on Halloween. It has some delightfully ghastly imagery, creeped me out and even made me laugh a few times. I am very glad that I no longer live in an apartment complex and that I always bought candy for the brats when I did! I received an ARC of this story from Netgalley, thanks Netgalley. I also read this book to participate in the Horror Aficionados October Group Read.

 

I'm going to use this for my Chilling Children square.

 

 

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review 2017-10-04 18:17
IT by Stephen King
It - Stephen King,Steven Weber
There are a million reviews and plot breakdowns for IT so I am not going to bother adding another. I'm also tired. This book has been my constant companion through a boatload of crapola in real-life and I did not take notes. I read IT knowing it was long and hoping it would take me away like Calgon always promised and it did. The book. Not Calgon. Calgon is full of BS.



This is not a 5 star read but 4 1/2 stars for a few reasons. I was so unsettled by THE scene near the end that I must've blocked out when I read this book at the age of 17. It didn't make a heck of a lot of sense to me that Bev would initiate such a thing. When I was 11 I had friends who were my world and my family was all kinds of messed up and that thought would've never crossed my mind ~ even at 14 when things got even worse. It just struck me as strange and disturbing and unnecessary. And it was really gross to listen to on audio. I've read lots of gross things but this one took all the cake. I also didn't like the whole bit about 
Bill cheating on his wife with Bev. Ugh, why didn't she just throw Ben a bone and leave the married guy alone?! Home-wrecker and weak men. Blech
(spoiler show)


Other than that and the fact that it was a little too long for me, it was a nearly perfect book of childhood friendships and one of the most terrifying monsters ever put to the page.
 
Will use for a Bingo square whenever I update my card.
 

 

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review 2017-09-29 19:13
Fidget Spinners Destroyed My Family by George Billions
Fidget Spinners Destroyed My Family - George Billions

I’m not sure what that cover is about but that cannibalistic kiddo is not in the book. Sorry, folks. It’s eye catching though, right?

 

What this book is really about is a family that is on the brink of imploding and we get to witness it in all its glorious ugliness. Yay! From the outside, Karen and Kevin and their two children appear to have a perfectly beautiful upper class life but if you get to snooping and look a little closer you’ll see things aren’t so sickeningly picture perfect. Ah, my favorite kind of story. I love books like this. If you do to, you’ll want to check this one out.

 

It’s darkly comical, as the best of these types of stories tend to be. Kevin, who is a big kid himself, decides to give the kids (and himself, of course) fidget spinners one Christmas and Karen sees it as the beginning of the end. Of everything. She’s a bit of a dramatic soul. She blames all of her woes on the fidget thingies and refuses to face her true reality. This book is told from Karen’s mostly sloshed POV and she’s a truly terrible person on the inside. Horribly, hysterically, terrible. Her thoughts are often ridiculously bitchy, snooty and mean as well as slightly crazed and I have to admit I loved it there in her head. Granted, no one would probably want to spend too much time there because it would wear on you but this book is only 96 pages. That’s the perfect length of time to spend with someone like Karen, if you ask me.

 

“I screamed. I tried to help. I tried to save him. Believe me when I tell you, I really tried.”

 

Lol, I don’t believe a thing this woman tries to tell me but it’s fun listening to her. Please be warned an unforgivable thing happens to an animal. I didn’t like that part at all but that’s the risk you take with books like these.

 

If you’re in the mood for something blackly humorous grab yourself a glass of Karen’s favorite wine (that would be any and all of them) and settle in for a dark little gem with this novella.

 

I received an ARC of this story from the author. Thanks, it was a lot of fun!

 

I read this for Halloween Bingo but am not sure where I'm going to stick it just yet. 

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