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review 2019-01-18 19:27
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Pretty Baby - Mary Kubica

This is one of those domestic dramas where the people are all slightly off and keeping secrets but you don’t know that at first. At first they all seem pretty normal. Getting to the reveal of all of the secrets is my favorite thing about these books. Well, that and reading about messed up people because that is always a good time.

 

Heidi is a do-gooder. She’s always tried to help out the less fortunate and has a decently cushy life so when she spies a young lady with an infant out in the elements she offers the girl a meal. And wouldn’t you know it, soon enough she’s offering her a warm place to stay inside her home. The home where her bratty 12 year old daughter and husband also live. She doesn’t check with either of them. She just brings this bedraggled stranger and her smelly, screaming baby into her home . . .

 

Chris, the husband is not happy about this turn of events but he travels so much that Heidi basically shrugs off his worries and does what she wants. And what she wants is to care for that beautiful baby.

 

“My eyes staring at the baby with longing, craving another chance to do this right.”

 

You know things aren’t going to end well, don’t you?

 

I’m not going to spill the details because the little details and secrets are what make reading a book like this so addictive and so much voyeuristic fun. This story kept me hooked from beginning to end and I particularly enjoyed that it was told from multiple points of view and that it flipped around in time to keep me on my toes but it never confused me. The author would you give one delectable little tidbit and then move on, leaving me desperate to read more - to read it all. I had to know ALL of the messy little secrets and messy they certainly were!

 

I recommend this story, if this is your sort of thing.

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review 2019-01-16 19:43
The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish
The Haunting of Henderson Close - Catherine Cavendish

I received this book in for review from Flame Tree Press. I’m going to do my best this year to read as many new ladies of horror fiction as I can and I snapped this up as soon as I noticed it was available without even reading the blurbage. I love all kinds of horror but the creepy, slow atmospheric kind has been working for me lately and this story has all of that and a little bonus gore too!

 

Way back in 1891 a do-gooder is brutally murdered in front of Henderson Close. Many moons later, the building is now a tourist trap where tours are given and it’s reputed to be haunted. When Hannah arrives as a new tour guide, the ghosts all seem to come out of hiding and it’s on her to figure out what the heck is truly going on. Is she losing her mind? Is she in danger? Why is she experiencing time jumps where she’s certain she’s been thrust back in time to 1891? What is going on and why won’t her bitchy employer believe her? Why am I asking so many annoying questions?! Hell if I know, these reviews write themselves.

 

Anyhow, this book has incredibly well written atmosphere. The author has taken care to create and set her scenes and create her characters and I appreciate that so much. You can nearly smell the stench that permeates the streets in 1891 and the dark corners of Henderson Close when the ghosties appear. It’s also very moody and creeptastic and the reader, as well as Hannah and a few friends, are left in the dark to figure out what the heck is going on. When the reveals are made in the last quarter, I have to admit that I was a wee bit confused by it all because there was too much going on and too many characters involved and it made my head hurt a little. Still, what I understood was pretty satisfying . . .

 

But up until that point, I was digging the story. There may (or may not) be ghosts, demons and gargoyles and there was even a surprise moment of serial killing gore. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t have minded a little more of that sort of thing!

 

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review 2019-01-15 18:59
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Ghost Story (Audio) - Peter Straub,William Windom

I originally read this book back in my early 20’s, back before I obsessively reviewed everything I read, and the only thing I could remember about it was an intense feeling of boredom. I later tried to read Mystery and Julia thinking it was me and not the writing. But I couldn’t get through either of those without wishing they’d end with every page I struggled through. At that point, I put Peter Straub down for good. Or so I thought. Back in December, I decided to use my Audible credit on Ghost Story to torture myself, it turns out.  Also, my book buddies were reading it and talked me into joining them but truly I only have myself to blame for thinking I’d matured enough to enjoy it now. Haha. Jokes on me! It was just as boring the second time around. Maybe even moreso . . . 

 

It was just as tedious as I’d remembered. It was so plodding, so slow to me, that I hadn’t realized I had sleep-read the last third. I had to rewind the entire seven hours of this audio because I was left so confused at the ending (who were these people and what the hell was going on?!). SEVEN HOURS. I want them all back and the previous seven too, ffs! What is the matter with me? At any rate, once I forced myself to listen again, this time with all of my faulty listening skills, the book made a lot more sense to me but it was still not very interesting. I tried, damn how I tried, but apparently not all books are made for every reader. Someday I will learn this about myself.

 

This book is not really a ghost story in the traditional sense. It’s about a group of elderly fellows who call themselves “The Chowder Society”. They spend nights sharing “ghost stories” with each other, smoking cigars, drinking spirits and keeping secrets as old fellows do, I suppose. I don’t really know as I’m not an old fellow. The old friends who tell the tale are most definitely haunted but they are haunted more by something that happened in their youth. Something they cannot escape, mwahaha. I don’t want to give the thing away so that’s all I’m saying about that. When the book begins one of the old fellows in the club has died and this stirs up a series of events and endless pages of tangents and memories in which the reader gets dragged along until the conclusion eventually happens. It’s easy to get lost and confused in this story so do yourself a favor and either DNF it or pay very close attention. Don’t be like me.

 

I found some of the stories interesting and there are some disturbing and pervy bits that I found rather comical but the book just went on and on and I felt like I had been reading/listening to it for my entire life. Eventually it did come to an end though and for that I am grateful. My two friends enjoyed this book very much while all I did was complain about the old coots, their roving eyes and their cheating ways and bitch about how confused I was about the time jumps and the plethora of unnecessary characters popping in and out of the story. This may be the last time I’m invited to a buddy read again, lol. So what I’m getting at here is don’t go by my opinion because my taste is atrocious. Also, don’t sleep read your way through this because it will not make any kind of sense.

 

Now I will leave you with my favorite quote courtesy of one of the many side characters whose name I have long since forgotten.

 

“There’s no teaching without beating.”

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review 2019-01-09 18:48
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Bird Box - Josh Malerman
I saw the film before reading the book because I figured my wait at the library would last an eternity. It didn’t because this is how my life works and now I’ve gone and spoiled everything for myself!

Actually, the film is quite a bit different from the movie. The bones are the same but characters, deaths, and many other plot points are very different so it was almost like reading something that wasn’t totally spoiled for me. The only slightly disappointing thing to me was the fact that the threat went unexplained in either version. I was hoping for a little enlightenment because I like answers. Instead I am just going to assume it was Cthulhu's minions come to call and call it a day because that works for me.

As for the audio? It kept me entertained and the narrator was competent and professional but I didn’t feel she voiced Malorie in a strong enough way. With that said, I never wanted to pull the plug and listen to something else and that’s saying something because the last audio I read was rewound at least eight times. At one point I had to rewind 7 hours because I had tuned out. I wish I were kidding (curse you, Ghost Story!).

The characters in Bird Box weren’t as fleshed out as I’d hoped. I didn’t get to know much about Tom besides the fact that he was wise and kind and a natural leader and I was disappointed that the kids weren’t fleshed out at all. Malorie was a sympathetic character because of her predicament but I never felt a strong emotional attachment to anyone which is a bit of shame and a bit of a missed opportunity. Still, the story and atmosphere and creepfest of a plotline almost made up for that fact.

 

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review 2019-01-07 20:06
The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste
The Rust Maidens - Gwendolyn Kiste

“Pray for the Rust Maidens

Even after all these years, those words suck the breath right out of my chest.”


After hearing about this book from several book pushing friends, I had a loud niggling feeling that I was going to enjoy this story from the very beginning but I wasn’t prepared for just how much I was going to LOVE it because I am such a grumpy, jaded reader most of the time.


The Rust Maidens is a look at a town falling to ruin and the people hanging on for dear life because they have no other choice. There’s an overall feeling of inertia, decay and depression as folks attempt to go about their lives as if nothing terrifying were happening to their town, to their lives, to their daughters . . .

Phoebe returns to the childhood home she left 28 years earlier to help move her dad into a nursing home. The return triggers memories of the past and the terrifying occurrences that forever after left an enormous blight on the town. When Phoebe was a teen five girls, one of them her best friend, began to suffer from a strange affliction. The affliction starts to change them physically and earns them the moniker “The Rust Maidens” and it appears the affliction has returned to strike again. The body horror is real and it is horrifying and that’s all I’m saying about it. 

Once I started The Rust Maidens, I had a difficult time putting it down to live my life because I needed to know what the heck was happening to these girls. There aren’t a lot of stories that manage to hook me the way this one this did. The writing is intimate and beautifully disturbing. I’m a huge fan of body horror when done for more than gross-out effect (well, ok, I do like those too if they look like Jeff Goldblum in THE FLY) but this story gets it all right. There’s just something about losing control of your entire self and transforming that terrifies and calls to me to read more . . .

I thought Phoebe was a terrific character and a faithful friend who feels all of her attempts to help only succeed in making matters worse and she shoulders far too much guilt. She’s a tough girl, a troublemaker and her return shakes up the lethargy that continues to plague the town. 

There is a dark beauty in the decay that permeates this story and I think anyone looking for a unique horror story as well as a beautifully crafted heroine will love it too.

 

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