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review 2018-08-17 18:30
CREATURE by Hunter Shea
Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

 

CREATURE! It. Knocked. My. Socks. Off.

 

Kate and Andrew have certainly been tested. Her health, (a horrible litany of problems due to auto-immune diseases and problems arising from the treatment of them), and his care of her, has tested the strength of their marriage at every turn. Now with Kate trying an experimental treatment, they are in for their biggest test ever. In an attempt to alleviate the tension and bring some relaxation to their lives, Andrew rents an isolated cabin in Maine for the summer. Instead of being the serene, quiet time they had both hoped for, their cabin becomes the target of something in the woods. Will they return from their vacation relaxed and refreshed? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This is not the book I expected from Hunter Shea. What I expected was a creature-feature, (one of those words is right there in the title after all), and it sort of was. But what it mainly was, was the story of a strong marriage and how chronic disease attacks every component of your life-and this is a tale I recognize from my own life. I had a period of years with an un-diagnosed disease, which in the end WAS diagnosed as an auto-immune condition. I know what it is to be frustrated, to have my patience tested, to be told it's all in my head, and to be poked, prodded, and experimented with like a lab rat. So, when Mr. Shea wrote about Kate's inner thoughts I totally understood and I recognized the pure truth of them.

 

What Mr. Shea did with Kate's thoughts is another thing entirely. It was brutal, yet beautiful at the same time. The imagination and creativity here was astounding. It was also frightening and spellbinding. I read the last 40% of this book straight through, because that was what the story demanded of me. I loved these characters, each and every one of them, and I rooted so hard for them all-I simply could not leave them at the height of their struggle.

 

Now, I find myself almost speechless, (and if you know or follow me, you know that's rare!). I want you to understand that this is a powerful tale, about so much more than what it appears to be on the surface. I hope that if you've ever trusted a review based solely on a reviewer's word, that you choose this one to trust. You will not be disappointed.

 

CREATURE gets my highest recommendation!

 

Available everywhere September 6th, but you can pre-order here: CREATURE

 

*Thank you to Flame Tree Press via NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-08-12 07:45
A ‘bloody’ good book, not for the faint of heart, which encompasses action, dark fantasy, and even morals behind dissecting your enemy
Not Even Bones (Untitled, #1) - Rebecca Schaeffer

This is a breakout bloody good book (pun totally intended), and if you don’t like blood, the idea of autopsies, or a lot of gore, I would stay far far away. But if you’re anything like me, and you don’t keel over at the thought of body parts being cut off (I know someone who does), and you’re looking for the most original dark fantasy this Fall (some would definitely call it horror), look no further.

 

In ‘Not Even Bones’, Rebecca Schaeffer has given life, as gory, twisted, and fantastical as it may be, to a sort of anti-hero we can’t help but rally behind, Anita, who not only is masterful when it comes to dissecting dead bodies, but who possesses magical capabilities (she’s able to turn her pain receptors on and off, and do amazing things like heal parts of her own body).


Nita and her mother have traveled the world working within the black market of selling body parts of other ‘unnaturals’; Nita’s mother does the killing and Nita does the dissecting, something she enjoys, but she uses the moral reasoning whereby ‘it’s all okay because she’s not actually doing the killing, her mom is’. She even has dreams of one day doing medical research and putting her skills to good use.

 

But then the day comes when Nita is betrayed and she ends up on the wrong side of the ‘Death Market’, and possibly will become body parts herself, and she really has to question all those good morals and boundaries she has set up for herself. She ends up putting trust in someone she’d never have imagined she’d have to, and doing things she’d sworn to herself she never would. And there’s a LOT of blood and guts along the way.

 

I don’t like making comparisons, and make a point of not doing so myself, but the one that has been made about ‘Not Even Bones’, and is right on its cover, is that it’s a mashup of ‘Dexter’ and ‘This Savage Song’ by V.E. Schwab. I could barely tear myself away from the TV show ‘Dexter’, I loved it to death, but this isn’t why I read this book (just look at the scalpel on the cover), and making comparisons like the one made here doesn’t give author Rebecca Schaeffer the true credit she should even give herself (Dexter is referenced in the book, so I know she loved the show too). I relished all the adventure and the gore, but I also found the writing and story captivating, and not worth comparing to anything else, especially once I got lost inside this new world and involved with the characters.


Above all, the questioning of Nita’s own existence, her morals, and her judgment in the situations that come up, was so fascinating to read, this book has levels beyond the ears and toes in jars of formaldehyde. It was so thought-provoking amidst all the horrifying bloodiness and excellent world-building, and that was so unexpected.

 

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this series progress; the fate of Nita looked precarious at the end of the book, and I can’t wait for more blood and more magical ‘monsters’ to be cut up into tiny little pieces to make her strange future right again. One can only hope, and even if she doesn’t really ‘deserve’ it.

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/34324484-not-even-bones
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review 2018-08-11 22:25
'Sadie' has an inventive approach and is an emotional read; you won't forget this character or book for a while
Sadie - Courtney Summers

This is a wildly inventive and brave thriller, one that weaves ‘Sadie’s’ story, in which a teenage girl tries to find the man who has killed her beloved sister Mattie, together with a ‘podcast’ called ‘The Girls’. The two writing devices make this a refreshing read, and now with the podcasts actually streaming (yes, in real life), Courtney Summers and Macmillan have made this book a living breathing thing.

 

The book feels so 'alive', that you almost forget that Sadie (who has had a tough life: she has a stutter, her sister has been murdered, her addict mother has left) is missing. Author Courtney Summers opens the book with: 'Girls go missing all the time', so we may think of our main character as just a number, but then we are challenged when we are forced to get to know this young girl and so we start to have emotions towards her as we read the book.

 

Sadie wants to find the man who killed her little sister Mattie, and through both Sadie's perspective as she goes from buying a car so she can leave the tiny town of Cold Creek, to the shocking and emotional end of the book, along with 'The Girls' podcast as recorded by West McCray, this is a great big hunt; it's a hunt to find this man, a hunt to find Sadie, a hunt for the truth. There are lots of characters along the way that West speaks to, who knew the girls, their mother, who have made assumptions, as he tries to find the truth and get to Sadie, and he uncovers a tragic home life, and uncovers what likely many runaways and abused children go through each and every day beyond these pages. Sadie becomes more than just a vigilante seeking retribution for her sister; she is a tragic character who represents that 'lost little girl', the scared abused teenager on-the-run.

*Needless to say, many push-button issues come up in this book: child abuse, pedophilia, addiction, so there may be some readers who need to stay away for those reasons.

 

I left this book with a big hole in my heart, knowing that the issues contained within are real, even if the story isn't, even if Sadie isn't a real girl who went looking for her sister with all that love in her heart. The final two pages had me crying and smiling at the same time, and even with a bit of an open end (be warned, if you don't like those - I happen to love them), 'Sadie' finishes perfectly. Kudos to Courtney (and Macmillan) for bringing Sadie to life.

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review 2018-08-09 18:45
ROGUE PROTOCOL by Martha Wells
Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells

 

ROGUE PROTOCOL, the third entry in the Murderbot series was a lot of fun!

 

This volume was a bit slow going at the beginning but once Murderbot got situated and the action started it became very difficult to put down. It is still trying to solve the mystery that started in the first volume and as more information is gleaned from various sources, Muderbot's position becomes more and more precarious.

 

What's fun about these books is that Murderbot isn't your average Security Unit (SecUnit) bot. It hacked its governor module a long while back and now, it has real feelings. It tries to ignore and/or deny them, but they're there. These emotions are not what it's used to and it has a hard time disguising them, and I think that's where the most interesting part of this story lives. It's not in the mystery it's trying to solve, it's in the mystery of Murderbot's feelings and how it deals with them. Oh, and it's also in the humor and sarcasm that it's now developing.

 

This was a fun addition to the series, even though it started a bit slow, and I'm very much looking forward to what happens next!

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and to Tor for the e-ARC of this novella in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-08-06 23:44
BEHIND THE DOOR by Mary SanGiovanni
Behind the Door - Mary SanGiovanni

In the small town of Zarephath, PA there exists a door. Everyone knows about it, and everyone knows what it does. Everyone also knows not to open the door: as in NEVER, EVER open the door. But, of course, someone does, and this is the basis for BEHIND THE DOOR.

 

A slight spoiler follows:

 

 

In my mind, this is a novel of cosmic horror. It doesn't feature Cthulhu or any Lovecraftian creatures, (though there are tentacles), but major aspects of it are there. What's behind the door is not of this world. Check. What's behind the door doesn't give a hoot about humans or humanity in general. It is cold, indifferent and unfeeling. Check, check, check. Now, it could also be interpreted as supernatural horror, in general, and that's fine too. But this is MY review and here we are. 

 

(spoiler show)

 

Kathy Ryan is a fascinating character and I can't wait to read more about her. An occult specialist, she knows things. For this reason, she is called to Pennsylvania to help the town figure out what happened, and hopefully, how to undo it. She comes in and she's heard. Surprisingly, she's understood and respected-pretty much right off the bat, with the few naysayers quickly changing their tunes as the situation escalates. (As a women in a primarily male field, I felt that this was a bit optimistic, but hey, that's just me and again, my review.)

 

I thought the other characters were also well drawn and believable. I just wanted to hug both Kari and Cicely as much as I wanted to kick Ed and Toby. (And I wanted to kick a certain place on their bodies that isn't ladylike for me to mention.) Characters that inspire that kind of feeling in me demand to be heard.

 

To recap: BEHIND THE DOOR is a fast paced novel that moves right along. Evil in a small town is a favorite trope of mine, and combined with this type of horror, (see spoiler above), this was a must read for me. If any of this sounds vaguely good to you? This is a must read for you too!

 

My highest recommendation!

 

Available everywhere August 28th, 2018, but you can pre-order here: BEHIND THE DOOR

 

*Thank you to Kensington, Lyrical Underground and NetGalley for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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