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text 2018-02-01 00:56
January in Review

January in Review

(Read: 5 / Reviewed: 9)

It's certainly been an interesting, if not a long, month! Phew, I thought January would never end! Fortunately I got through some great books and was able to write two reviews each week. This new routine really helped me stay on top of things. Let's take a look at all the bookish goodness, shall we?

Read

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Splatterpunk Fighting Back by (multiple) - This analogy has eleven individual stories written by different authors. Going in, I was only vaguely familiar with Duncan Ralston, having previously finished Woom. I never would've discovered this had it not been for Horror Aficionados on Goodreads, of who appointed it the January group read with author invite. I was lucky enough to ask some of the authors questions whilst trying to gain more insight into their brutal tales, and I had a blast! The best thing, though? All proceeds of this book go to charity! (Rated: 4/5)

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay - Another one I wouldn't have picked up if not for the Horror Aficionados group. Being the January group read, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! (Rated: 4/5)

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter - I started this long-running series in 2011, and it's still ongoing. Whilst I really enjoyed it at the beginning, my enjoyment waned several instalments ago, however I can't just give up without finishing it, can I? Ludicrous! (Rated: 2/5)

What Hides Within by Jason Parent - I found this on Netgalley, and I'm glad I did! Bloodshot Books accepted my request, and I promptly read and reviewed it. (Rated: 4/5)

Morium by S.J. Hermann - I was requested to read and review this novel by the author. Being my last read of January, this one takes priority and will be the first review of February. See my request information here. (Rated: 3/5)

 

Reviewed 

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Blood Song by Cat Adams (WORST READ)
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
Stephen by Amy Cross
The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds (BEST READ)
Woom by Duncan Ralston
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
Dark Space by Kevis Hendrickson

Other than that, January was a decent month for me personally. I'm enjoying reading more, getting out more, and generally trying to put more effort into my day-to-day life. I thank everyone who made this past month all the better, including the wonderful authors I had the chance to speak to! Here's hoping for a book-tastic February!

Red xx

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/31/january-in-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-26 23:55
What Hides Within by Jason Parent
What Hides Within - Jason Parent

What Hides Within by Jason Parent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clive Menard thinks nothing of it when he destroys some webbing whilst out kayaking - that is until he begins hearing a voice inside his head. Questioning his own sanity, he desperately tries to rid himself of the oddly feminine presence, but to no avail. The dark passenger is there to stay - or so that's what she continues to tell him.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Bloodshot Books for giving me the opportunity.

The blurb of this book instantly captured my attention. Just what could be more interesting than a talking spider living inside someone's head? I happen to love the little eight-legged critters, so believe me when I say I didn't hesitate to request this novel. Think of my delight when my request was accepted, and I was thus introduced to Parent's world, and more specifically, Clive's rather uneventful, mundane life; a life we can all relate to in some way. I liked Clive, despite him being a very negative and oftentimes selfish person. His inner monologue mostly consisted of insulting people, which added a nice touch of humour. I always appreciate when something I read makes me smile, and What Hides Within definitely did.

Other characters included Reilly; a detective with detachment issues, Morgan; the love struck best friend, and a questionable amount of perverted men. Okay, so there was two, but Derek was more than enough for me. Each and every one had their own very apparent flaws; selfishness, narcissism, the list goes on. I think they were intentionally depicted badly, to enforce Chester's motivation.

Speaking of Chester, she was the star of the show. The she-spider fascinated me in the way she was written; remarkably intelligent, manipulative, and deliciously deceptive. I admit, I had no clue of her intentions until the last half of the book. I consider myself perceptive - more often than not I can predict where the plot is going, but with Chester I was kept guessing with a multitude of questions coursing through my head. She certainly wasn't the typical baddie, and whilst she possessed obvious abilities and wasn't quite normal, she still only had the physical form of a small arachnid. Her weaknesses were made known throughout; she could just as easily be crushed like any other household spider, and that aspect so clearly fuelled her bitterness.

Naturally, I found myself wondering about her origins - where'd she come from? Just what, exactly, was she? She offered so little to Clive throughout, it nearly made me insane. That is, until this luscious morsel:

"In truth, I don't have a name. I am very old, descended from divinity. My kind was cast aside by a hateful ruler, before our fathers could name us and before our mothers could nurture us. Even so, we were giants amongst men, beings worthy of great reverence. But our creator had no use for us, and we were exiled, wrongly punished for our parents' sins. He chose not to destroy us, instead transforming us into these insignificant specks, forgotten by humanity and the omnipotent themselves."

You've no idea how many times I've read over that paragraph, in an attempt to decipher it. There's so much information in that small piece, and it's the most we get. My thoughts turn to Arachne of Greek mythology (Chester did mention this name), and my assumption is that Chester and her kind are descendants of Arachne, whom was cursed by a God and turned into a spider. The story of myth and Chester's description doesn't quite add up, however, so perhaps Parent added his own take. Either way, I took pleasure in trying to figure her out.

The plot was a slow burner - it focused on acquainting the reader with the characters and the relationship between man and spider, whilst sprinkling some mystery elements into the background. Despite not being action-packed, the build up to the explosive climax was no less exciting. When it came down to it, I wasn't expecting the last twist involving Clive.

In conclusion - I found it very enjoyable. The horror was subtle, yet superbly weaved. Considering the ending, is Chester's antics really done? I don't think so!

Notable Scene:

Had Clive been capable of even sporadic coherency, he might have feared the hideous being perched on his snout. The minute animal protruded like a wart no more than a third of an inch off Clive's skin. Despite its size and his heavily medicated state, Clive could easily make out what it was; a spider, but unlike any he'd seen before.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/26/what-hides-within-by-jason-parent
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-11 13:00
Stephen by Amy Cross
Stephen - Amy Cross
Stephen by Amy Cross
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Forty years after her traumatic ordeal at Grangehurst, Beryl Seaton is finally ready to relive her past and recollect the events that have haunted her every day since. As a much younger woman, Beryl is accepted to be governess in the household of Doctor Elliot Brooks, her job to help his wife take care of their only son, Stephen. But there's something terribly wrong with Stephen, and it becomes inevitable that things could only get worse.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

If I ever thought that books could go too far, then I'd more than likely say that about this particular one. It's one of those stories that heavily relies upon the shock factor; it wants you to ask the question of what-the-hell-did-I-just-read? And I did, in fact, chew over that question myself, especially after the much dreaded, yet highly anticipated chapter twenty-eight. When it comes to this novel, that chapter is rather infamous - all you have to do is glance over reviews to see the affirmed revulsion. If that wasn't enough, then Beryl's own words should certainly give you an idea:

"Let me state this, then: I, Beryl Seaton, write the next chapter only because it is a true account of what happened. I take no pleasure in the telling of this tale, nor do I in any way recommend that anybody should read the following chapter. I shall set down the events entirely within a chapter of their own, so that any right-thinking reader can simply skip that chapter and go to the next..."

The entirety of twenty-seven is one big forewarning, but it's obvious that its intention isn't to deter us from the next chapter; its intention is to make us want to read it all the more. The whole plot has been leading up to that moment, so what could possibly be so bad, you wonder? Well, I'm not going to include the specifics, and not because it's a spoiler, but because I simply can't bring myself to type the words. It's truly disgusting, and if you're that curious, just read it for yourself!

As for the character of Beryl, I didn't find her at all dislikeable, but the writing suffered a great deal due to her personal narrative. I get that it's a retelling of her life - or the most horrific part of her life - and that at the time of documentation she's in her seventies. She's an old woman, and I'm fully aware that the memories of elderly folk just aren't the same, but the sheer amount of repetition in this book bothered me. Beryl states again and again how her younger self is naive and gullible. Those exact same words are recycled; as if they somehow gave us new insight every time they were written. Perhaps it really was to highlight her old age, or maybe it was merely to make the overall book longer. Either way, it didn't do any favours, as after all, Beryl's lack of real-world experience was integral; nothing would've happened otherwise.

Despite the faults that irked me, I enjoyed the plot for what it was; definitely eerie, and truthful in the ugliness of the situation. Let's face it, there's nothing pleasant about a dead child, and there's doubtlessly something morbid about treating it as if it were alive and breathing. As unsettling as it is, there's been cases of it happening in real life. Such a loss can indeed affect the mind, so Severine's madness was not so far-fetched.

However, I do think that it would've been better had some aspects been removed. Beryl's masochistic tendencies were out of place, and the scene with the apparition added absolutely nothing aside from filler. Anything paranormal played such a minor part, I wondered why it was there to begin with. It's like Cross tried to cram in too many things, and ultimately they didn't quite work together. Sometimes being much more simplistic has a greater impact, and I think this one would've benefited from it.

The ending also didn't make much sense to me. Why did she seem so goddamn obsessed with Severine? I understand the need for closure, but her attitude, like she was in love with the other woman, just seemed so out of character.

In conclusion - I found it to be pretty average. I liked the premise of the plot - it was creepy - but there were issues that got in the way. I'll not be adverse to reading more of this authors work in the future, though!

Notable Quote:

"It is astonishing how one can perform mental gymnastics and persuade oneself that left is right, up is down and so forth."

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/12/stephen-by-amy-cross
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