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review 2020-07-05 17:32
THE BONE MOTHER by David Demchuk
The Bone Mother - David Demchuk

I can sum this one up in two words: LOVED IT!

 

Told as a series of short stories, I adored the way THE BONE MOTHER was presented. Each tale was preceded by a photograph and I found that those photos gave a face to the characters in each vignette. 

 

The tales themselves were very dark. They all came together,( mostly), at the end, to tell a story of pure evil. Told from Ukranian/Romanian points of view, these characters named horrors that I admittedly know little about: The Holodomor, for instance. Easily over 3 million dead, yet most Americans I've met know nothing about it. Why? References to Kristallnacht, and other horrific events in history also appear, all of which add to the darkness of this volume.

 

In some ways, though, these tales do have a lighter side to them-isn't it often the darkest of times that bring out the best in people? These characters sacrificed and loved each other, despite the often miserable lives and events they faced. In that way, this book SHINES. 

 

The writing was gorgeous and descriptive without being overly wordy. The presentation just blew me away. The photographs, the stories, the horror, the love and finally the darkness of it all-combined they make THE BONE MOTHER. 

 

My HIGHEST recommendation!

 

*I received this paperback from the author with no strings attached. I read it, loved it and here we are!*

 

 

 

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review 2020-06-18 23:00
LET'S GO PLAY AT THE ADAMS' by Mendal W. Johnson
Let's Go Play At The Adams' - Mendal W. Johnson

LET'S GO PLAY AT THE ADAM'S has quite the reputation, so I was excited to finally read it. In some ways, the book lived up to the hype, and in other ways, not so much.

 

I'm not going to run down the plot because it's pretty apparent even by just looking at the cover. This book was loosely based on a real case. The young woman's name was Sylvia Likens, and I know that I'll never forget her. I've read about her in another book: THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jack Ketchum. A book that I forced myself to finish. It was brutal in its descriptions of what happened to her, and I felt like I somehow owed it to her to keep reading until the end. I expected this book to be a kind of rehash of that one, but it wasn't. I also expected it to be rather trashy, and it wasn't that either.

 

LET'S GO PLAY has a different set up but it gets to the meat of the story right off the bat. This was where I began to realize that there was going to be a lot of psychology in this book. Not only in the captive's head, but in the heads of the children as well. We have kids varying in age from 17 down to 10. We get to peek inside the heads of all of them. I'm no expert, but I read a lot of psychological horror, and the thoughts going through all of these different heads seemed spot on to me. Everyone here acted their ages, and their inner thoughts reflected their later actions.

 

I have to say LET'S GO PLAY AT THE ADAMS' surprised me. It was more well written than I thought it would be, and the psychology seemed spot on. The facts remain however, this denouement was the same as in Ketchum's book, and as in real life. It was a tragedy and these kids were monsters.

 

Recommended!

 

Trigger warnings:

Rape and Torture

(spoiler show)

 

*Thank you to Valancourt Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback.*

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review 2020-05-31 17:42
SURVIVOR SONG by Paul Tremblay
Survivor Song - Paul Tremblay

 SURVIVOR SONG consists of the fastest 320 pages I've ever read!

 

Nats, (Natalie), is waiting at home for her husband to return from the store. This is no ordinary trip, however. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, there is a virus loose...a fast acting rabies virus that turns its victims, (animal and human alike) into rabid, (see what I did there?), strong, uber-violent attackers. Those infected will attack cars, humans, pretty much anything at all, and Natalie's husband is late. With Natalie being very pregnant, this is quite a scary turn of events. Will Nats' husband ever return? If so, will he be infected or not? What happens to Natalie's unborn baby? You'll have to read this to find out.

 

I started this book in earnest early yesterday afternoon, (with only part of a previous lunch hour dedicated to it previously), and I had a hard time putting it down. The main characters, the previously mentioned Natalie and her friend Ramola, were so human, so REAL, that I never doubted the actions of either one of them.

 

Unfortunately, I never doubted the bad guys in this story either. I have to admit though, that some I thought were bad guys, weren't spoiled through and through and I ended up shedding some tears for a couple of them, to be honest. Most of the others, though? I had no problem believing in them either, because all I have to do is turn on the television any time, night or day, to see them in real life.

 

As in any zombie story, (I can hear Ramola now, in her British accent "They're NOT zombies!"), the real story is with the survivors. The things they have to do, or are forced to do, to save lives or to take them. This tale is brutal in that regard-the loss of humanity, or perhaps the salvation of humanity...we never know which is which at the time, do we?

 

I got a bit of a kick that the story takes place in my home state and that I was familiar with some of the places mentioned. For me, the locations made this tale even more real.

 

The only issues I had were that I wished it was a bit longer and, though I enjoyed the denouement and the end, I would have preferred a bit more explanation. For the latter reason I deducted half a star. I don't need everything wrapped up with a bow, but some elaboration would have pleased me more.

 

SURVIVOR SONG is destined to be up there on top tens lists this year and it deserves to be. My highest recommendation!

 

 

Available July 7, 2020, but you can preorder here: SURVIVOR SONG

 

*I received the e-ARC of this book from William Morrow, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-05-27 19:00
THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS by Brian Lumley, narrated by Joshua Saxon
The Taint and Other Novellas - Brian Lumley,Joshua Saxon

Welcoming the chance to get my Lovcraftian horror on via the excellent narration of Joshua Saxon, I tore into THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS. What fun!

 

A collection of 5 novellas which were written back in the mid to late 1900s, these tales do not have the polish of Lumley's later works, like the Necroscope series. These stories are more the work of a writer starting out, (while serving in the military), a writer bewitched by Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. The fun parts of the mythos are here, but they lack the racism and other issues of Lovecraft's work.

 

My favorites of the 5 were: LORD OF THE WORMS This tale featured Titus Crow, a name I remember from back in the day, though I can't quite remember the tales in which he featured. In this story, he's invited to a home under the pretense of cataloging a large book collection at an old estate. Of course nothing is as it appears. Throw in some mesmerizing hypnotism, (see what I did there?!), some maggots and some spiked wine and you have yourself a great time!

 

THE TAINT was a fun tale involving fish-men. That's right, fish-men. With all the creepiness inherent in that phrase. It's not as much a pulp tale as one would think, with just the right mix of horror and perhaps a bit of social commentary, (but that's just my take.)

 

Finally, the last story THE TEMPLE HOUSE takes the form of a man inheriting an old estate from his uncle. He takes a friend and goes to Scotland to inspect his inheritance, and soon finds a letter from his uncle asking him to destroy the place. Why? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

Regarding the narrator, Joshua Saxon-I've only listened to one other performance of his, which was the excellent THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja. In that book he was voicing only one character while in this collection, he voices all kinds of people and he does it quite well. English, American, Scottish, he does them all and never for a moment did I doubt the origins of any of the characters. Well done, sir!

 

This was a collection full of fun Lovecraftian monsters, fish people, maggots and worms. If these are the things that delight you, then you'll enjoy the hell out of this volume!

 

Recommended!

 

You can get your audio here: THE TAINT AND OTHER NOVELLAS

 

*I received this audio download free from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-05-05 19:00
THE CIPHER by Kathe Koja, narrated by Joshua Saxon
The Cipher - Kathe Koja

THE CIPHER! I don't even know what to say.

 

I've only recently joined the church of Koja. It may not be as big as some, Stephen King's say, but there are joys to be found in smaller congregations.

 

This is the story of Nakota and Nicholas who one day found a black hole, named it the funhole, and changed their lives forever. They stuck different things into the hole, (getting uncomfortable yet?), including bugs, a mouse, and then a hand. What happened to these items when they were thrust inside? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I absolutely adore Ms. Koja's prose, and Joshua Saxon the narrator brought it home with flare. This must not have been an easy performance due to the style of the aforementioned prose-especially in the second half of the book because it's a stream-of-consciousness narrative. His voicing was phenomenal.

 

I'm a bit irritated with myself because the few clips I made of the audio that highlighted the prose apparently did not save. There were short, staccato-like descriptions that...stabbed at my heart. Beautiful, honest and evocative words that my brain immediately transferred to a visual-like a direct injection. For instance "...the flat was full of drizzly day." 7 words that draw a perfect scene. Brief, staccato, BAM: there's the picture-full and complete.

 

I could go on and on about this prose but I'll leave it at what I've written. Kathe Koja's writing probably isn't for everyone; the reviews seem pretty split on Goodreads. For me, however, I feel like I have been missing out out an author that is perfect for my dark and black heart. I'm on a mission to read everything she's written. I'm a Koja missionary, baby!

 

My highest recommendation!

 

*I received the audio-book from Audiobook Boom! and the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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