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review 2017-04-21 17:40
Home Tears by Tijan (Audiobook)
Home Tears - Tijan

This book was a messy stew of family secrets, sibling in-fighting, jilted lovers, epic storms and terrible tragedies and was filled to the very brim with flawed characters. I’m afraid there was just too much going on for my pea brain to handle because this book tired me out and not in that cathartic “cry your heart out” kind of way. Were it not an excellently narrated audio, I likely wouldn’t have finished it.

Dani left her hometown and all of its bad memories a decade ago, after her best friend and the love of her life decided to fall in love with her younger sister. Yeah, you read that right. She didn’t look back, even when she learned that the man-stealing sister had died, and I really didn’t blame her. Seriously, there are some things you just don’t do and stealing your sister’s man is one of them. Now, after a traumatizing event, she’s run away from a perfectly nice man and has decided to return to her hometown, for some bizarre reason that is never sufficiently explained, and is forced to face the people she ran away from and, while she’s at it, she also decides to ferret out all of the family secrets and find herself a new man. See what I mean about a lot of stuff being jammed in here?

This story just wasn’t meant for me. I was attracted to the blurb because it promised secrets. I’m nosy and I love secrets. But these secrets just weren’t juicy in their execution. There was such a waste of juicy potential and angst and I LOVE angst almost as much as I love secrets but these reveals left me feeling nothing. No shock, no thrill, just “meh, that’s it?” The main problem I had with this book, besides the unending subplots, was the fact that characters didn’t engage me emotionally. I never felt any anguish because they didn’t seem to.

Honestly, I think Dani would’ve been better off if she’d never returned to this town infested with liars and cheaters and secret keepers.

Narration Notes: Narrator Sarah Mollo-Christensen does a great job with all of the characters and there are a lot of them. She gives them each distinctive voices suited to their character traits. Even the guys sound real and I don’t think that’s an easy task for any woman to pull off (and vice versa). If you love the way this author writes (and many do) and aren’t as crabby as me, I’d highly recommend listening to this audio version.

I received a copy of this audiobook from Tantor Media.

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review 2017-04-19 18:21
The Woodsman by Belle Scarlett
The Woodsman - Belle Scarlett

This audio is like mixing up a big box of Kraft’s “cheesiest” macaroni when you are starving and too lazy to cook a real meal. You know it’s not good for you but it’s just so cheesy you can’t stop! Before you know it, you’ve downed the entire thing. Same goes for this audio.

 

Lily is on her way to meet her future husband who is some old coot with a lot of money who will keep her well. Never mind him though because she is way-laid (yep, I see what I did there) before that nightmare can happen. Her carriage has troubles and she meets a very large wolf/man who leads her back to a cottage where some sexy stuff happens but the lovefest is cut short due to a curse, or something, something that has to do with virginity. Lily was having fun and gets all sassy, even stomping her foot but Marrick (the wolf-man) stays strong. For a short while anyway and then things happen.

 

 

There is nothing unique about this story, it’s overly wordy and pretty corny. It’s not even super, sexy, hot. More like lukewarm and vanilla. Still, I found myself enjoying the audio production. It even has sound effects for ambiance! Usually these things bother me but it works well here because the levels are right. The crickets chirping in the background were especially soothing. There are two narrators and Honey Scarlett does such a fun job with Lily’s character that I couldn’t stop listening. Her accent was hilarious and spot on and I just loved listening to her. Leeroy Will’s delivery of Marrick suffers in comparison. His delivery wasn’t as good, the cadence was slightly off and at times his accent sounded a little like Shrek. Sorry, that’s my take.

 

Anyway, if you’re looking for an amusing, non-brain taxing way to spend two hours and 39 minutes you could do much worse than this!

 

I received a copy of this audiobook courtesy of the publisher and Audiobookboom. I hope they don't regret it!

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review 2017-04-18 16:06
Garden of Fiends Anthology
Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror - Bentley Little;P. Gardner Goldsmith;Lorne Dixon;Michael A. Arnzen;Pat MacEwen;Ray Garton;Ian Withrow;John F.D. Taff;Jeff Strand;Kevin Lucia;Benjamin Kane Ethridge;Shane McKenzie;Steve Vernon;Charles Colyott;Taylor Grant;Dev Jarrett;Eric J. Guignard;J. S.

This is a truly excellent collection of short stories all about the struggle of addiction. All have a horror twist and there isn’t a dud in the bunch. If I didn’t have to work, feed and clean up after people all the live-long day, I would’ve finished it in one sitting because it’s that good. I’m not going to rate them. Just know that they’re all around the 4 1/2 – 5 star range which totally averages out to a 5, right?

 

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

 

Things get off to a dark start (and stay there, really) with this story about a man caught in the throes of alcohol addiction. His life is a wreck, he is haunted by his mistakes, by his never-ending thirst and perhaps by something supernatural. It’s unflinching and you really do feel for this mess of a man as he is helpless to stop the all-consuming thirst . . .

 

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

 

In a not too distant future, a man has lost the love of his life due to his addiction. This only feeds the vicious cycle as he longs for drugs to take away his emotional pain. He lives in a desperate world where the wealthy pay big bucks for something only the drug addicted can offer them. But he’s not desperate enough to sink to that, or is he? This is apparently an excerpt from a longer work called Green Kangaroos, which I now need because I am the nosey sort, but the story feels complete enough here. This one is dirty and brutal and harrowing.

 

Garden of Fiends by Mark Mathews

 

Oh how I loved this one. It’s haunting and terrifying and all around awesome. Tara is a recovering addict and every day is a struggle to remain sober. She has a family who loves her and will do anything to keep her alive and I do mean anything. This is a story about an addict, a garden that grows terrible fruit and the damage it all does to one once close-knit, loving family. It’s sad and horrible and beautifully written.

 

First, Bit Just a Finger by Johann Thorsson

 

This is a little snippet of a story that started with a party trick that turns one woman on to a new obsession that’ll put some images in your head you may not easily forget. Eww this was disturbing! So fantastically disturbing and I wanted more!

 

Last Call by John FD. Taff

 

Ted is a slave to his addiction. When he shows up loaded at his latest AA meeting his sponsor is forced to take drastic measures and hands him a business card, telling him to go to the address on the card and ask for “the last bottle he’ll ever need”. He gets it and gets his life together but the past will come back to haunt in a most terribly heartbreaking way.

 

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

 

Maggie is 15, a runaway, sees demons and sets out on a course of disaster to locate her father. This was like watching an extremely dark episode of Supernatural with a surprise ending and I adored it.

 

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will Be by Max Booth III 

 

This one starts out in a most startling manner. Jeremy arises after a saucy night to discover that blood is oozing out of a place it shouldn't be oozing out of. He tries to shrug it off as a result of overuse but it’s difficult to shrug off something like that, especially when it doesn’t stop oozing! Uh oh. This story is darkly comical and is laced with my favorite kind of twisted humor. It’s probably my favorite because of that. Sex, drugs, cravings, spiders and madness fueled by drugs and nightmare images? What’s not to like? It’s also gory and bloody and so very messy. I loved it all.

 

Returns by Jack Ketchum 

 

Awww, this was a short and beautifully told ghost story about a depressed alcoholic, a man and a cat ending with a Ketchum edge. It’s a little scary to me that I just so happened to take this particular progress photo when sitting down to read this collection!

 

 

This book was a very cohesive collection and I am so glad I changed my stance on short story collections (due to burn out) and gave this one a try! I received an ARC from the publisher.

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review 2017-04-13 20:07
The Wrong Girl by C.J. Archer
The Wrong Girl - C.J. Archer

The cover of this one got me. Just look at it and see if you aren’t lured in too. A creepy Victorian, a pale Gothic beauty and an alluring title that promises this is “book 1 of the 1st Freak House series”, how could I possibly resist? I was expecting great things along the lines of “We Have Always Lived In the Castle” or perhaps a “Flowers in the Attic” vibe mashed up with a little “Geek Love” but that’s not at all what I got. If you don’t expect those things, you might be okay.

Things start out promising, if you ignore the fact that heroine has orange hair and is not at all the temptress who appears on the cover. Two young ladies (18ish or so) have been locked away in an attic for most of their lives and are only let out for supervised walks. Hannah, an orphan, was taken in by an earl and grew up as a companion to his daughter Violet who suffers from an affliction that causes fires. Hannah suffers from narcolepsy so the two are kept squirreled away from society. They grow close and are the best of friends.

I can’t express to you how much I loved this setup. So intimate, so character based, so lovely. But then things had to go and change, as things do.

You may enjoy the changes, many appear to do so if the reviews are any indication, but I wasn’t thrilled with the direction the plot ran off in and I never recovered. Hannah is kidnapped and is apparently mistaken for Violet (who also has red, not raven hair – so the chick on the cover wasn’t her either). She is swept away to another creepy mansion where she is told she will be trained to control her powers of fire. She’s also told that she’s not really a prisoner but that she cannot leave. Hmmm, I’d be mighty suspicious were I Hannah . . . Hannah doesn’t reveal that she is not Violet because she supposedly loves Violet and wants to keep her safe. She starts to “train” with Jack, a handsome lad who is able to summon fire at will. She starts to crush on Jack and me, oh my, what’s he going do when he realizes she doesn’t have the power of flame in her fingertips? And worse yet, what’s the keeper of the castle going to do to her when he finds out they nabbed the wrong girl?

What follows is a lot of intrigue and espionage and secret meetings and vaguely nefarious characters and such. All of it terribly boring, if you’re asking me. The early character development is dropped like a hot potato and Violet is tossed to the wind never to be heard from again (at least in this installment of the series). None of it excited me, I’m sad to say. I guess I was expecting something more freakish to be going on in a house dubbed “Freak House”. For a short book this one seemed to drag on forever and I will not be seeking out the sequels which may or may not answer the many questions that I still have after finishing this installment.

Narration Notes Lucy Rayner does a fine job with Hannah’s POV, Sylvia’s is a bit too high-pitched for me but, oh my ears, does she ever butcher all of the manly voices. Jack is supposed to be a 20-something love interest but he and all the men sounded like ancient creepers/gruff old geezers and this is all I could picture whenever Jack or any of the men spoke.



It was disconcerting and that’s all I have to say.

I received a copy of this audio from Tantor Media. I hope they don't regret it!

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review 2017-04-07 19:39
The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn
The Devil Crept In - Ania Ahlborn

This story starts out a little slow but it’s of the slow burn variety that builds into something terrible and terrifying so I didn’t mind too much.

 

Stevie's best and only friend, Jude, wandered out into the woods near their home one day and never came home. No one besides Jude's mother and Stevie seem terribly upset about it. Jude was an unlikable sort, sure, but the lack of interest in finding him is a little bothersome so Stevie decides to investigate on his own. He and Jude had spent endless hours in the forest doing what boys do in the woods and came upon a creepy old house. Stevie is certain that house has something to do with Jude’s disappearance.

 

This story is a mishmash of many horror-ish things. It’s a coming of age tale mixed up with remnants of King’s Pet Sematary and a splattering of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but it’s totally its own story. What is eventually revealed is horrifying, disturbing and very gruesome and could give you nightmares if you think about the images too much.

 

I enjoyed the slow unraveling of this story and watching how the origin of a nightmare begins. Stevie was an interesting kid, struggling with a disorder that makes him a target and growing up with an assholish step-dad. He’s determined to find his friend and later he’s unafraid to stir up a little trouble to get at the truth. There’s a side story that I won’t reveal that absolutely captured me where one very unlucky woman is faced with a moral dilemma like none other I’ve ever read and I felt for her. She only wanted love but she got something else entirely!

 

A word of warning, if you need one, there are deaths in here and many of them happen to innocent little beasts but it’s all part of this story and felt like an awful, natural progression of one of the characters.

 

If you like your horror gory and creepy then this one’s for you.

 

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley. Thanks, Netgalley!

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