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review 2018-11-16 18:30
THE BOOK OF ETTA by Meg Elison
The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere 2) - Meg Elison

 

THE BOOK OF ETTA (THE ROAD TO NOWHERE #2) is a heavy piece of dark, post-apocalyptic fiction.

 

This story picks up about 100 years after THE BOOK OF THE UNNAMED MIDWIFE. The Unnamed created the city of Nowhere and now they have developed their own way of life. Since the plague that started everything, women are scarce and children even more so. As such, Nowhere honors women and to keep the human race going, women there have created hives-a group of men/lovers who help that woman with chores and who also provide regular loving- with the hopes of childbirth as the result. According to the elders of Nowhere, this is the chief role of women now. Period. 

 

Here, we meet Etta, who feels constrained in Nowhere. Etta has no time for hives or for childbirth, and she wants no part of it. She goes out as a raider instead-looking for goods from the old world which can be made useful again. On her travels, she binds herself up to pass for a man and calls herself Eddie. There are more reasons for that other than the plain fact that it's safer to travel as a man, but I'll let you discover those reasons on your own. As Eddie, he comes across several towns, all with their own ways of doing things, (the world building here is impressive), and then he comes across the town of STL. (I see other reviews calling it Estiel, but I listened to the audio and I just assumed it was STL, so I'm sticking with that.) In STL reigns a man called "The Lion." What he has going on in HIS city is a travesty and an injustice-one that Eddie cannot let stand. Will he be successful in putting an end to the practices of The Lion? Will he survive? Will humankind survive? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as the first, but I think that's because it took me a little time to get used to the voices of Etta/Eddie. Once I did, though, I settled down and let the story wash over me. As I said above the world-building here is so interesting, each town having their own beliefs about women and children and how to keep the humanity going, it provided a lot to think about. Also, it was sad to see what happened to America in the wake of the plague-how many things had been forgotten, the uses for implements lost to history, and of course, what happened to personal freedoms and choices. It's hard for women to live in this world right now, just imagine how hard it would be in a world with no medicines, no birth control, no choices at all for women in general. These were the aspects of this world that interested me the most.

 

As a note of caution to potential readers-there are all kinds of unpleasant happenings in this book. None of it surprised or shocked me, avid horror reader that I am, but it might shock some. Rapes, pedophiles, genital mutilation, child abuse and other things are part of the post plague world and if those things really get to you, you might want to take a pass.

 

That said, I recommend this book if you enjoyed the first in the trilogy. No, it's not the same as THE UNNAMED, and no, it's not even the same world as the first book because things have changed so much, but Etta and Eddie have a lot to say and I, for one, was happy to listen. I'm intrigued and excited for the last book,  THE BOOK OF FLORA, which I've already requested from NetGalley.

 

*I bought this audiobook with my hard earned cash and my opinion is my own.*

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review 2018-11-14 19:51
Exorcist Falls by Jonathan Janz, Narrated by Matt Godfrey Review
Exorcist Falls: Includes the novella Exorcist Road - Jonathan Janz,Matt Godfrey

This unabridged audio contains two excellent connected stories of demonic possession. One is a novella that sets the scene for the novel to follow. You’ll want to read/listen to them back to back because they’re both horrifyingly hard to put down.

EXORCIST ROAD sets everything up and is a pretty complete story on its own about a young teen being savaged by a demon and who is suspected of being a murderer. Is it all an act or is a true case of demon possession? Two priests are called in to investigate and perform an exorcism. The younger, inexperienced priest discovers some horrifying secrets about the family and nearly everyone soon becomes a suspect in the Sweet Sixteen Killings.

EXORCIST FALLS continues the story of the young priest who has been shaken but not destroyed by all he has experienced. He is now very haunted and conflicted but I can’t tell you why. The search for the Sweet Sixteen Killer continues and it’s pretty much non-stop action from here on out. There’s a little side of lust and a budding romance brought over from EXORCIST ROAD that I felt completely out of place in both storylines considering the trauma the woman recently experienced. Her character is woefully underdeveloped which probably explains my disbelief of her “romance” storyline. The last thing I’d be looking for after all of that was some love from a new guy. The reader is continually told that she is amazing but I didn’t feel her amazingness was ever shown which is kind of a shame. All of the men are very well developed though and she’s a bit player so it’s a minor nitpick, really. I loved the Jason Crowder character so much. A tormented priest with a horrible backstory and a demon ready to exploit all of his human weaknesses? Yep, you’ve got my attention.

Both stories are pitch black and ghoulish and very graphic. Terrible things are said and terrible deeds are done and I loved it but it may not be for everyone as the scenes are so realistically described you can pretty much picture it all going on very clearly. Maybe a little too clearly in some cases!

I can easily recommend the audiobook narrated by Matt Godfrey who has such a down to earth, calming voice he makes even the evilest of deeds go down a little easier. He does an excellent sinister demon voice too! Don’t miss it if you love this kind of story. 

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review 2018-11-13 19:59
Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
Carmilla - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This was my first reading of this classic tale of dark secrets written in 1872. 1872?! That fact stuns me after finally giving this a novella read. There is a quite a surprising amount of sexuality for such an ancient tome or did the world get ever more prudish as the years went by? There were lesbian kisses and touches and I think I even detected a wee bit of some non-consensual touchy-feely too! But, man, is it ever flowery in its telling.  The purple prose is oh-so-strong but it really does throw one back in time and allow the atmosphere to drip off the page so I’m not complaining. Just prepare yourself for some unrestrained writing. There are trembling embraces and languid and burning eyes and so much more to behold here.

 

Basically this a story about a sheltered young lady whose father takes in a strange, beautiful young lady named Carmilla  after her mother inexplicably leaves her for three months to take care of some business or another. Carmilla is ailing from what appears to me to be nothing more than a case of the vapors but mom dashes off anyway, saying she cannot take the poor ailing thing along with her. Hmmm, I don’t know about the rest of you but that would make me mighty suspicious!

 

Carmilla is ailing from something a bit more sinister than the vapors and mom’s dump and drop makes a lot of sense when everything is eventually revealed. I won’t reveal the whole thing because it’s short and I think you should read it for yourself. Just know that it was enjoyable and beautifully atmospheric and if you’re a fan of Dracula and all of his offspring and offshoots, you should give this a read.

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review 2018-11-12 17:55
WELCOME TO THE SHOW edited by Doug Murano
Welcome to the Show: 17 Horror Stories – One Legendary Venue - Somer Canon,Rachel Autumn Deering,Brian Keene,Jeff Strand,Matt Hayward,Glenn Rolfe,Patrick Lacey,Matt Serafini,Adam Cesare,Jonathan Janz,Kelli Owen,Doug Murano,Mary SanGiovanni,Robert Ford,Bryan Smith,Booth Tarkington,John Skipp,Alan M. Clark

 

WELCOME TO THE SHOW is a themed anthology with all of the stories revolving around, (or involving in some way), a rock n' roll club named The Shantyman. That's it! There's no hard thread connecting all the tales other than the club itself. That makes WELCOME TO THE SHOW different because there's no one "bad guy" to blame things on. In this case, the "bad guy" is anyone or anything the writer wanted them to be. In this regard, I think the authors involved had a lot more leeway as far as the direction each story would take and I think that resulted in an above average anthology as far as the quality AND the variety of the stories within.

 

I can't get into all of them here, because I don't want this review to be as long as the book itself, but the tales that stood out the most to me were:

 

WHAT SORT OF RUBE by Alan M. Clark was a perfect start to this book, providing a bit of history and setting the tone. (I've never read any of Clark's work before, but he's on my radar now.)

 

NIGHT AND DAY AND IN BETWEEN by Jonathan Janz. This story went in a totally different direction than what I had expected. Loved it!

 

TRUE STARMEN by Max Booth. I'm not sure that it was supposed to, but this story cracked me the hell me up! It's the first time THE SHANTYMAN hosted pod-casters instead of a band, and the results just made me laugh.

 

OPEN MIC NIGHT by Kelli Owen. The 27 Club-you know, those singers and musicians that never made it past that age? I thought this anthology would be a shoe-in for stories about that club, but this was the only one. I was glad because it made this tale stand out even more.

 

PARODY by Jeff Strand. Zany Chester and his plans to be the next Weird Al fizzle out before they even got started. (It's birdies, not bodies!) Chester had to go to a few back up plans, actually, and none of them were pretty.

 

DARK STAGE by Matt Hayward. This tale spoke to me in a personal way which made it that much more horrifying at the end.

 

A TONGUE LIKE FIRE by Rachel Autumn Deering. The end was NOT what I was expecting at the beginning. Usually I can see that coming..in this case I saw something coming, but not what I got. Well done!

 

Brian Keene's tale RUNNING FREE made me laugh at the premise before it got all serious. (A man trying to run himself to death by heart attack, thereby evading death from the cancer already running through his body. Come on, that's kind of funny! [All right, I know I'm messed up.]) Anyway, this story didn't go the way I thought it would and I loved how it tied into previous tales in this book.

 

WE SING IN DARKNESS by Mary SanGiovanni. This story had everything that I've come to expect from Mary's work. A terrifying future where music is banned is only the beginning.

 

I enjoyed this collection and even though it was a little uneven throughout, the variety and quality more than made up for that. I liked that everyone didn't have quite the same view was to what was going on at The Shantyman because that allowed for more creativity in the tales. Variety is the spice of life and all that, you know?

 

I read a lot of collections and anthologies over the course of a year and there is no doubt in my mind that WELCOME TO THE SHOW will be among the best I've read this year. For this reason, I highly recommend it!

 

You can get your copy here: WELCOME TO THE SHOW

 

*11.12.18 We are currently reading this book, along with most of the authors in the Horror Aficionados Group at Goodreads. Feel free to join us, read along, and ask questions of the writers, if you like! (Our read continues until the end of this month.) Here's a link: WELCOME TO THE SHOW at Horror Aficionados

 

**I bought this book with my hard earned cash and these opinions are my own.**

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review 2018-11-05 19:33
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
The Last Time I Lied - Riley Sager

Hmmm, I have to say that this book was a wee bit disappointing. The reviews are stellar, for the most part, and my hopes were high but all I can summon up when I try to write a review is “meh”.


I guess I’m broken again. Or maybe I’ve read too many of these but, boo hoo hoo, I was hoping for something sinister, something blacker and meaner than what was written upon all of these pages. I also guessed the present day villain and I am not at all good at this game, trust me. The past one got me though so points for that.

 

Three friends go missing at a summer camp and the surviving girl, Emma, carries the burden of surviving and also of pointing the finger of guilt at her first love Theo. The camp is closed for obvious reasons but fifteen years later Emma is contacted by the owner and asked to return for reasons that make NO SENSE to me but don’t think about that because I am a nitpicker and without those lame reasons there would be no book.

 

Alas, Theo returns too and he is as handsome as ever so there’s some lusting and confusion going on there as Emma attempts to determine exactly what the heck happened to her camp friends so many years earlier and Theo isn’t entirely in the clear.
This book was too damned long for its own good. It seemed to go on forever. There was so much mean girl drama that even I got tired of it and I always enjoy some mean girl dramatics. I think it boils down to the fact that I didn’t find Emma very interesting, sympathetic or engaging so thusly the mystery of it all wasn’t enough to hold my attention.

 

I think I need to rewatch Sleepaway Camp to put the good, gory, summer camp vibes back in my head.

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