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review 2018-02-20 18:29
Unsub by Meg Gardiner
UNSUB: A Novel - Meg Gardiner,Hillary Huber

This is one of those books with a trillion reviews so I am going to use this to my advantage and let my laziness take over and be super brief.

 

Unsub was pretty good but I didn’t fall in love with it like many a reader before me has. To get truly wowed over I suggest you read The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker after this one (not before, definitely not before). The Fourth Monkey features the POV of the serial killer and it is truly chilling. It’s also very dark and demented.  I loved that book but this “review” is about Unsub so enough about that.

 

I liked Unsub well enough, thus the 3 ½ stars but, I don’t know, it seemed a little too clean for my taste. Almost like one of those semi-gritty serial killer shows on network tv. Maybe I read too much horror and perhaps that’s the reason but the kills didn’t hit hard enough and so much of it felt a little too familiar to me. I wanted something from the killer’s perspective but I never got it.

 

I wasn’t particularly emotionally invested in the characters either which is a bit of a shame. I liked them well enough but something was missing to make me FEEL and I just can’t explain it. I liked Caitlin, her boyfriend and her broken father but I didn’t feel any emotional pull towards them. With that said, there were several imaginative and creepy scenes that were set by the killer (bee! crows!) but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more of that.  It also ends with a cliffhanger that wasn’t very shocking to me but it didn’t piss me off so there is that because I typically despise cliffhangers. If you enjoy audio I would most definitely go with that option because the audio narrated by Hillary Huber works well with the action packed plot. Had I read this in paper I might’ve put it down and left it there for several months.

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review 2018-02-14 19:24
Class Mom by Laurie Gelman
Class Mom: A Novel - Laurie Gelman

“Just because they think you’re crazy it doesn’t mean you’re nuts. Put that on my gravestone.”

 

Lots of books claim to be funny and they are not. This book is funny. It is so funny. I was never bored and only vaguely annoyed at a few things but it mostly made me happy to be listening to it. This won’t be much of a review because I just enjoyed it. I didn’t take any notes and there isn’t much here to dissect.

 

In all honesty, this book could’ve gone either way for me. What most people find “hilarious” or “rip-roaring” (what’s that mean, anyway?), I find annoying or boring. My humor, I guess, runs more to the snarky and the sarcastic but it has to be done just right. There really isn’t any pleasing me which is why I usually read horror. It rarely tries to make me laugh (with the exception of Jeff Strand who is full of excellent snark).  This book is also loaded with excellent snark. You might hate it. Don’t blame me. My tastes are weird. I’ll own that.

 

My kids are no longer in grade school but when they were the whole PTA/class mom thing was something I avoided at all costs. Nothing against those who volunteer their time but it wasn’t for me.  I wasn’t up for volunteering unless I was forced to and I also wasn’t up to dealing with the cliques and back-biting that comes with that sort of thing. Don’t even ask me about being a dance mom . . .  Ugh, so glad those days are behind me. Anyway, so why did I pick up a book called “Class Mom” which is so obviously about all of those things?

 

I haven’t a clue but I’m glad I did.

 

Jen is an ex-groupie who gave birth to two daughters who are now in college. She’s unsure who their dad(s) are but she doesn’t really care. Might be that lead singer from INXS. Might not be. It matters not now that she’s settled down and married to a lovely man who loves her snark and all. They had a boy named Max and he’s now in kindergarten and even though she’s the “most marinated” of the group of young parents, she volunteers to do the whole class mom routine all over again. She starts off the year by sending off a hilariously snarky and inappropriate email to the parents telling them what she expects of them throughout the year. She pisses off several of them but who cares? She’s been through this before and she doesn’t seem to care too much about making friends with all of them.

 

I love her attitude even if she sometimes goes too far for a laugh. The book continues in this vein, insulting the parents and learning their weaknesses and it was amusing. I’ll admit that this humor isn’t for everyone. You kind of have to take a Joe Lansdale approach to the humor and know that everyone and everything is a target and there are moments that aren’t at all politically correct.  She is offensive and clueless about it and she does put off people because of it. Be warned.

 

The one thing that I did not enjoy was a plot bit that goes on for eons where she starts texting one of the dads who is also an old high school crush she dubs “Such A Fox”. She was a foolish woman, no doubt,  but this made her come across as pretty dumb, if you ask me.

 

There isn’t really a plot here. She makes friends, she makes enemies, she pisses many people off, has that stupid flirt-mance and tries to figure out why Max’s sexy young teacher keeps disappearing. It’s light and fluffy and worth a listen if you can shrug off the insulting humor moments.

 

I listened to audio which was narrated by the author who stumbles a bit here and there but mostly does a fantastic job.

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review 2018-02-12 19:06
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton,Davina Porter

Historical fiction isn’t my typical genre but we chose this one for our local book group because it sounded mysterious. And boy was it ever mysterious! It wasn’t perfect but it was full of darkness and secrets that come back to haunt and those are always my favorite things to read.

Set in Amsterdam way back in 1686, 18 year old Nella arrives at her brand new husband’s estate and receives a cold welcome from his sister Marin and their maid Cornelia. Otto, the manservant, is the only one who doesn’t seem pissed off that she’s moving in. She is set up in a lavish room and left to wait for Johannes, the husband she knows not at all. When he arrives he doesn’t give her the time of day either. What is up?

“Her husband who speaks in all tongues save that of love.”

When I first began this book the setup felt a little Rebecca-ish with the gorgeous mansion, broody husband and creepy staff but as things went along it wasn’t a Rebecca clone at all but something else entirely. Nella soon realizes that she isn’t going to have the typical marriage she’d been dreaming of. She keeps waiting for Johannes to show up with his “rising rod of pain” as her mother enticingly described it, haha, and ask her to perform her wifely duties but it doesn’t happen. She’s both relieved and disappointed. Instead she settles for his companionship when she can get it and busies herself with settling into her new life. To keep his wife occupied, Johannes gifts Nella with a cabinet filled with a miniature version of their home and goes about his merry way, doing whatever it is he does. She orders some pieces for the tiny home from the local “miniaturist” and when they’re delivered the package contains extra pieces that alarm Nella. They are pieces that only someone intimately familiar with the home would be able to create. Nella writes a scathing letter of complaint to the miniaturist and more pieces show up. Who is this person and why are they doing this?

This plot bit was the least satisfying part of the book for me. Nella sets out to investigate and surprisingly this question is never fully answered to my nosy satisfaction which was weird seeing as it was the name of the book. It kind of fizzled and died a slow death but I guess it made for a beautiful cover? Fortunately the story had enough intrigue and other goings-on that it really wasn’t a big deal to me in the end. 

These people have many secrets and they all come back to haunt Nella’s new family. She must find strength against the most unexpected twists of fate and the utter disappointment of her new life. I’m being purposely vague because I know people hate the spoilers. I hate the spoilers. I’ll just say that Nella has to grow up quick and deal with some serious shit. She does so with grace and some humorous thoughts. At least I found many of them humorous. On prickly Marin and her lack of a husband she thinks, “Perhaps there was no man stout enough to take the vicious battering.” That just made me laugh because it was so accurate in the moment. But don’t let this fool you into thinking this is a light and airy book. It is dark, it is pretty bleak and there are several scenes that may haunt me for months.

“We can do nothing we women. All we can do if we’re lucky is stitch up the mistakes other people make.”

The characters are richly detailed and nuanced. Even the people that I disliked early on became fleshed out and believably flawed characters. They make plenty of mistakes and pay dearly for them. So although this is not my usual genre of choice, it turned out to be an engrossing and richly detailed story of secrets and little mysteries that took many unexpected turns I didn’t anticipate. The women also totally steal the show and I recommend it if you like secrets and drama and can stomach some brief moments of terrible violence. 

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review 2018-02-09 18:31
Virtually Perfect by Paige Roberts
Virtually Perfect - Paige Roberts,Marguerite Gavin

I add the randomist of books to my Overdrive queue. This is another that I added for whatever reason and by the time it came around to me I had no idea why I requested it. Sometimes it works out, other times notsomuch. This was one of the notsomuch times.

 

Lizzie was once a Food Network star but was fired for some reason I don’t think they ever revealed. I think I would've caught that because I was hoping it was embarrassing but I could’ve missed it because I might’ve dozed off a time or two. She’s since been making a living taking whatever job comes her way, mostly cooking for rich people. When she’s offered a full time gig cooking for a wealthy family at their luxurious summer home at the beach she takes it.

 

What follows is a modern day chick lit story of a woman who puts up with all sorts of crap to keep her job which is something most of us can probably relate to. We do need to eat and sometimes it pays to keep your big mouth shut. But this changes a little later in the story when she begins to make a few unprofessional moves and remarks that weren’t at all thought through. I mean I get it, a girl can only take so much, but it’s never a good idea to talk crap about the family who pays you to another family member that you barely know just because you think he’s the black sheep of the family. Even I know that! During the daily dramas that enfold she’s also attempting to patch things up with a friend she left behind for fame (snooze) and learns her mother has been hiding a big secret which she might’ve discovered sooner if she’d tried harder to get in touch with her mom.

 

This book gets mostly good reviews so perhaps it just wasn’t a story meant for me. I thought it might be light and entertaining and though it is very descriptive with the food and I enjoyed that bit, it started to aggravate me midway and never recovered. The plot was nothing special, nothing new, nothing that wasn’t predictable and basically bored me. None of the characters were all that likable, even Lizzy. The wealthy socialite who NEVER shuts up and all but one of her family members and friends were horrible people who the reader gets to spend way too much with. Imagine being stuck in a room with no hope of escape with loud, drunk, shallow, wealthy people who think of no one but themselves and their pleasure. I’d rather have toothpicks jammed under my nails than suffer through that. And their presence makes up much of this story. That’s not my idea of a good time but who knows maybe it’s yours?

 

On the positive side, the narrator has one of those musical and lively voices that’ll keep you going even when you know you should probably quit. Yep, it’s her fault not mine that I did not DNF.

 

This one gets a two because if I’m being honest I just did not like it very much.

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review 2018-02-06 19:56
Splatterpunk Fighting Back Anthology
Splatterpunk Fighting Back - Jack Bantry,Tim Curran,Glenn Rolfe,Bracken MacLeod,Kristopher Rufty,Adam Millard,John Boden,Matt Shaw,W.D. Gagliani,Elizabeth Power
Splatterpunk Fighting Back is a charity anthology with proceeds going towards cancer. I have a love/hate relationship with anthologies/collections/whatever you want to call them. I love reading them because even if a story isn’t working for me it’s usually over quickly but I dread reviewing them. They are so much work but here goes. I’m not going to rate them because that’s kind of pointless.

I’m going to attempt to write a mini review of each story but if I start to fatigue near the end or miss one it’s nothing personal against any particular story. 

They Swim by Night by Adam Millard

A man thinks he's getting lucky when an ethereally beautiful singer makes the moves on him. But he is terribly mistaken. This was a perfectly gory start to the collection. Why lead a reader in gently when you can grab them by the hair and drag them in kicking and screaming?

Melvin by Matt Shaw

Claudia insults Melvin at a dive bar. Big mistake. Melvin is a sick bastard and seeks revenge with a detachable dick. This story was gleefully nasty and I love, love, loved it.

Side note after the first two stories: 

There is so much sex related horror in here so far. It almost feels like as if I were reading a new installment of the Hot Blood series and that’s a very good thing. I loved those books so hard back in the olden days when we didn’t have digital books and could frighten people away with a creepy cover! Just be warned if this isn't your thing.

Extinction Therapy by Bracken MacLeod

A rich man visits some expensive woo woo doctor to reach his full potential. His lust for bloodshed is awakened and he glories in it. This story is primal, brutal and ugly. There's no sex in this one which surprised me in a good way. The story did make me very sad for the state of man and that’s all I’m saying.

The Passion of the Robertsons by Duncan Ralston

Whatever you do, don't go and get yourself on the bible thumping Robertson’s naughty list. Unfortunately for the town drunk, he manages to do just that. Now that he’s on their radar, they intend to force him to accept God’s word and their methods are not gentle. I liked this one, especially the ending.

Hellscape by Rich Hawkins

The world is now a hellish landscape and a woman goes on a desperate searching to find her son, slaying monsters along the way. I can’t find my notes on this one so it was either a forgettable tale or I was too tired when I read it. I DO remember thinking it felt like an introduction to a bigger story.

Molly by Glenn Rolfe

Caleb is a front desk clerk at a hotel and has to deal with all kinds of crap. One night he spies a strange silhouette in the window that shouldn’t be there when leaving work. Turns out one of the hotel’s bitchiest guests has a traveling buddy staying with her that she keeps hidden. Bloodshed ensues. Molly was a bloody creepfest that was a lot of fun to read.

Only Angels Know by George Daniel Lee

An artist puts out a call for subjects willing to give themselves to art. All of themselves. This is a story of extreme body modification but somehow the difficult to decipher writing, never outright graphic, wasn’t able to draw me in. I much prefer Kathe Koja’s novel “Skin” which tackles this same subject matter in a devastatingly gorgeous and unforgettable way. This was my least liked story in the collection.

Limb Memory by Tim Curran

After losing his left arm in an accident, a man whines and complains about his new lot in life. Poor me, boo-hoo-hoo. But just when I was getting annoyed with the man-whining, the phantom arm comes back to life to haunt him. This was gross and fun and enjoyable even with such a whiny ass main character. It brought back images from my scarred childhood of Michael Caine and “The Hand”. I’m still afraid to stick my arms out of a moving car’s open window after that one . . .

Feast of Consequences by WD Gagliani & Dave Benton

This was a fun throwback to cannibalistic slashers and half naked heroines as a young woman attempts to outwit a bunch of hungry, human monsters. I adored the modern day twist and the ending.
 
The Going Rate –John Boden

The tax man is coming and he's hungry. This was sinister and dark and creepy as hell. I loved it

Darla’s Problem –Kristopher Rufty

A young girl asks a policeman for assistance. He has no idea what terror awaits. This was another super creepy tale. Gory and not at all sweet. Great stuff!


Okay that’s all of them, I hope! If any of these stories sound remotely interesting to you then go buy yourself a copy!

 

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