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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 2017-04-10 18:42
Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
Roughneck - Jeff Lemire

 

Set in a cold and bleak Canadian town, Roughneck is the story of a retired hockey player trying to put his life back together.

 

The e-ARC I received is mostly black and white, (except for the first 15 pages or so, which have this nice, light blue, cold feeling to them), but from what I've read the final copy will be in color. For me though, the black and white worked quite well.

 

Derek Ouellette is trying to drown his sorrows in alcohol. Being that he already is a tough guy, the drinking doesn't bring out the best in him. Then, when his long lost sister Bethy shows up, (on the run from her latest abusive boyfriend), things get even worse. Derek tries to do the right thing, but can he make it happen? You'll have to read Roughneck to find out.

 

I've not heard of Jeff Lemire before, but I requested an ARC of this graphic novel based on the description alone. I'm so glad I did! I enjoyed the artwork, the isolation of the setting, and the realistic view of the characters. I'm not sure if there are going to be more books about Derek and his sister in the future, but if there are? Count me in!

 

Recommended for fans of cold, bleak settings and tough guy ex-NHL players that can drop the gloves and go in a second's time!

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery books for the free e-ARC of this graphic novel in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2017-04-06 18:42
Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror, edited by Mark Matthews
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.

 

Garden of Fiends is an unflinching and intense collection of addiction stories from some of the best authors in the business. It is not for the weak of heart, but neither is addiction. Let's take a brief, but closer look at the tales within:

 

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke: Alcoholism is no joke and many find that they cannot quit on their own and seek out help from programs like AA. This story does not shy away from the absolute power that is addiction and then it slays the reader with its powerful ending. 5* 

 

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh: This tale was twisted as twisted can be. (At least I thought so until I read Max Booth III's story, but more on that in a moment.) A hard, direct look at the downward spiral of addiction and the other crimes associated with it. After all, drugs often cost an arm and a leg. 4*

 

Everywhere You've Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III: Combine a heroin addiction, blood everywhere and spiders and what have you got? You have this graphic and dare I say... disgusting?, tale of heroin dependence. You'll need a strong stomach for this one, but I think it's worth it! 5*

 

Last Call by John FD Taff: This was another story of alcoholism. This one shows us that there are no shortcuts to sober. 4*

 

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch: Demons abound in this story and not all of them are drug related. 3.5*

 

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews: A tale about how addiction affects everyone surrounding the addict. It floods out like the ripples on a calm lake,  as do the effects of eating anything from this particular garden. 5*

 

Returns by Jack Ketchum: here we have another tale of alcoholism, but with the twist of also involving a ghost. Short and to the point, this one punched me right in the gut. 5*

 

To be all technical about it, my ratings add up to a 4.5, but after thinking about this collection overnight, I think it adds up to more than the sum of its parts, so 5 fat stars it is!

 

My highest recommendation to those readers who are strong of heart!

 

You can pre-order your copy here: Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror">Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror"> 

*I was provided a free e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

**Further, I consider Mark Matthews a friend, albeit online only. This did not affect the content of my review.*

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text 2017-04-04 22:37
I've read 97% and...
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.

all I've got left to read is the story written by Jack Ketchum. Nearly every tale in this collection worked well for me and that's always a good thing. 

 

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review 2017-03-10 15:27
Wallflower by Chad Lutzke
Wallflower - Chad Lutzke

Wallflower is a novella rich in character development. Unfortunately, the main character develops in a way that does little to improve his life, and the reader is along for the ride.

 

I'm not going to get into the plot, because this isn't a book report and because I don't want to be a spoiler. I will say that this story rang true to me and I think it would to anyone that has ever known a person with an addiction-be it drugs, alcohol, gambling or anything else.

 

The whole "I'm not addicted", or the "I'm too strong to let any drug take over my life" arguments are what I've heard and even said myself at times. But it wasn't true. I knew it, and everyone around me knew it. My addiction was only to nicotine, (I'm saying only to a drug that kills almost 500,000 people per year in the U.S. alone), but it was a powerful addiction just the same. By the time I admitted that it was an addiction, it was too late, and I was hooked for another 25 years before I finally quit for good.

 

How does a person get to that point? What could be done to prevent it from happening, if anything? These are all valid questions surrounding addiction. Wallflower doesn't answer any of these questions, but it does tell the story of one man and tells it poignantly, with feeling and truth.

 

Highly recommended! You can get your copy here: Wallflower

 

*I was provided a free e-copy of this book by the author, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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