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review 2019-09-15 05:13
Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler
Cricket Hunters - Jeremy Hepler

Five friends bond into the group they dub 'the Cricket Hunters' under the guidance of Celia and her abuela, a practicing bruja.....weaving a little of that white magic of childhood with the beliefs of their friend and her grandmother, while doing all the things that kids with bikes, woods and soaring imaginations do.

But with the sunshine comes the darkness.....and all magic isn't white. For one of them will disappear and never be seen again.

15 years later, Celia and Parker, one of her fellow hunters, are married. Celia has never let go of her abuela's teachings. But the past isn't finished with her or the Cricket Hunters, because now it's Parker's turn to vanish. And Celia will need the strength of her faith, and the magic of her childhood to find out what happened to her husband, and her long lost friend, because a darkness is gathering around her.

Jeremy Hepler delivers a brilliant coming of age tale, a mystery that runs the gamut from heartbreaking to bone chilling, filled with hope, heart and even horror.

I'll be watching for Jeremy's next books with avid anticipation.

Many thanks to Ken at Silver Shamrock Publishing, and Jeremy for the review e-ARC.


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review 2019-09-11 12:05
A scary novella that asks us some uncomfortable questions
Human Flesh - Nick Clausen

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I am a fan of horror, had read great reviews of one of Clausen’s collections of short stories, and I liked the sound of this one (and the cover is pretty impressive as well).

This is a short horror novella that works at many levels. Its topic is fairly well known (especially to lovers of the genre, and as a psychiatrist I’m also aware of its diagnostic implications, although I won’t elaborate on that), but despite its short length, the author manages to capture the atmosphere of the story, the cold, the darkness, the weirdness and the horror (more psychological than graphic, although it has its moments) in the few pages available, using also a pretty interesting way of telling the story. As mentioned in the description, rather than a standard narration, we have what appears to be a compilation of documents pertaining to a mysterious case, and this will appeal as well to lovers of crime stories and police procedural novels (although if they are sticklers for details, they might be bothered by the supernatural aspects and by some bits and pieces of information that don’t seem to quite fit in, but…). This peculiar way of narrating the story forces readers to do some of the work and fill in the blanks, and that is always a good strategy when it comes to horror (our imagination can come up with pretty scary things, as we all know). It also gives readers a variety of perspectives and some background that would have been trickier to include in a story of this length otherwise. Does it make it more difficult to identify with any of the characters? I didn’t find that to be the case. The story (or the evidence) starts mildly enough. An accident means that a family cannot go skiing as usual for their winter holidays, and the father decides to send his two children (and older girl, Otha, and a younger boy, Hugh) to stay with their grandfather, Fred, in Maine.  Things start getting weird from the beginning, and Otha (who has a successful blog, and whose entries create the backbone of the story, making her the main narrator and the most sympathetic and easier to identify with for readers) is not the only one who worries about her grandfather, as some of the neighbours have also been wondering about the old man’s behaviour. The secret behind their grandmother’s death becomes an important part of the story and there are eerie moments aplenty to come.

The novella manages to combine well not only some legends and traditional Native-American stories with more modern concepts like PTSD, survivor’s guilt, but also the underlying current of grief that has come to dominate the life of the children’s grandfather. It also emphasises how much we have come to rely on technology and creature comforts that give us a false sense of security and cannot protect us again extreme natural conditions and disasters. Because of the age of the main protagonist, there is also a YA feel to the story with elements of the coming-of-age genre —even a possible love interest— and I’ve seen it listed under such category, but those aspects don’t overwhelm the rest of the story, and I don’t think they would reduce the enjoyment of readers who usually avoid that genre.

Is it scary? Well, that is always a personal call. As I said, there are some chilling scenes, but the novella is not too graphic (it relies heavily on what the characters might or might not have seen or heard, and also on our own capacity for autosuggestion and suspension of disbelief). There is something about the topic, which combines a strong moral taboo with plenty of true stories going back hundreds of years, which makes it a very likely scenario and something anybody reading it cannot help what reflect upon. We might all reassure ourselves that we wouldn’t do something like that, no matter how dire the conditions, but how confident are we? For me, that is the scariest part of the story.

In sum, this is a well-written and fairly scary story, with the emphasis on atmosphere and psychological horror rather than on blood and gore (but there is some, I’m warning you), successfully combined with an interesting way of narrating a familiar story. As a straight mystery not all details tie in perfectly, but it’s a good introduction to a new voice (in English) in the horror genre. I’m sure it won’t be the last of Clausen’s stories I’ll read.

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review 2019-09-11 00:12
Solid
To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han

Lara Jean Song has a lot on her plate as a sixteen year old girl in high school.  She lost her mother when young, and lives with her father and two sisters.  Her older sister is going away to college, and Lara Jean feels like this could be her year.  Until love letters she has kept hidden somehow get sent to the boys she wrote them to.

 

Along the way she rekindles a friendship with Peter, and maybe Josh.  She intends to solve the mystery of how the letters got out.  She also finds out what makes a teenager popular.  This is a story of more than just romance.  It is a yearning and a growth.

 

I was a bit sad to find that the book itself is quite thorough and varied and had split the attention away from more than just the main character.  After a while it grew on me and I just enjoyed the humor and "cultural" and teenage funnies.  As for what happens, well there are more books to this series, and I intend to read them.  I give this story a 3/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

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review 2019-09-11 00:07
Think
The Second Coming - Carrie Aarons

Aria has lived near the ballers her whole life.  Now she works for the very college that brings them to their small town.  She avoids them all, even dresses down as not to attract any to herself.

 

Jude finds her attractive anyway.  He sets out to find more about her.  Only he is already on thin ice.  He is pushing the envelope because he can.  Aria wants nothing to do with someone who is so cavalier with the rest of his life.  

 

This is a story that I Was not sure I would understand.  Outside of reading, I am not real patient with someone like this main character.  Seeing it through their eyes however, I now understand why he appeals to someone more laid back.  I found the banter interesting.  The heat was certainly there.  And the friendships were very cool.  I cannot wait to read more about this series.  I give this a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

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review 2019-09-08 11:53
Finished my re-read
Force of Chaos: The Coming of Age of the Antichrist - Lin Senchaid

Original review here http://loram.booklikes.com/post/1803345/force-of-chaos

 

I still stand by it. I will probably re-read this one again sometime in future and hope the author has more in progress. I might even get a paperback because cover art!

 

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