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review 2018-04-01 15:28
SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt
See What I Have Done - Sarah Schmidt

3.5 stars! SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE is a beautifully written re-telling of the Lizzie Borden story.

 

I've always been fascinated by Lizzie Borden. Having lived all my life in Massachusetts, it's a story everyone is familiar with, even children, because of that horrible rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an axe... Because of my interest and due to the reviews of some of my friends, I decided to finally read this book that I had requested from NetGalley last year. I'm glad I did!

 

This narrative was split into several different viewpoints which was a bit confusing at first, but became easier as the tale went on. Because the story was told in this way, there ended up being a lot of repetition as each character had mutton soup at various times and they seemed to be preoccupied with pears.

 

That said, language is used beautifully even if it was a bit quirky. In fact, the prose was so lyrical at times that it distracted from the story. The characters were vividly drawn though and had strong personalities. I'm not sure how much of the narrative was actually true, but just about everyone in this tale is horrid. The creepy uncle who hangs about touching Lizzie and her sister in inappropriate ways. Mr. Borden who wasn't above smacking his grown children in the face whenever he was displeased. Mrs. Borden, (who was NOT Lizzie's real mother, by the way), seemed more of a doormat than a person. Lastly, Emma, Lizzie's sister, who cannot seem to figure out the simplest of mysteries, even when all the facts were right there under her nose.

 

All in all, I did enjoy this story, most especially because of the quirky, but eloquent prose. This story has been told before, but I liked how this tale was presented-so vividly, yet convoluted at the same time. I look forward to reading Sarah Schmidt's work in the future, and I do recommend this book, though it might not work for everyone.

 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-03-26 14:30
JACKRABBIT SMILE by Joe Lansdale
Jackrabbit Smile (Hap and Leonard) - Joe R. Lansdale

Hap and Leonard return to Hap's hometown of Marvel Creek in Joe Lansdale's latest release JACKRABBIT SMILE.

 

This time around our heroes are hired by a man and his mother to find their missing sister/daughter. The relationship between Hap, Leonard and Brett and their new clients isn't a good one, since both the man and his mom are openly prejudiced against any and all who aren't white. Which, of course, doesn't sit well with Leonard. Will the dynamic duo find the missing girl? Will the people who hired them get their due? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

The humor Joe Lansdale is famous for is here in spades, but there's a lot of darkness as well. Hap's hometown is full of racism, violence, and both false prophets and profits. (It's hard to believe good-hearted Hap came from such an ugly place.) All of this makes for a quick, extremely entertaining read.

 

 

If you're reading the Hap and Leonard series, you already know how addicting these books can be. If you're watching the television series on the Sundance Channel, you'll note some similarities between the current season and this book. Both take unflinching looks at the ugliness of racism in all of its different faces and forms; but they do it with bravery and a sense of humor. I think that's what makes this series, (both the books and the television show), so special and enjoyable.

 

If you're not reading this series or watching the show, what are you waiting for?

 

Highly recommended!

 

*Thanks to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for the e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This is it.*

 

 

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review 2018-03-22 18:45
MYSTERY WALK by Robert McCammon, narrated by Nick Sullivan
Mystery Walk - Robert McCammon

 

MYSTERY WALK is a story involving the epic battle between good and evil and Robert McCammon does these types of stories better than almost anyone.

 

I won't get into the plot much, as this book was written back in the 80's and hundreds of other reviews already do that. I will say that this is my fourth time reading this book, (I actually listened to it, courtesy of the narrator Nick Sullivan), and this time it affected me even more than it did previously. I'm not sure why that is-perhaps as I've grown older I see more truth and depth in this tale?

 

It could also be the fact that the narrator brought these characters alive for me. I easily pictured the small town of Hawthorn and both its hateful and sweet residents. I vividly pictured the tent revivals of J.J. Falconer and the bogus claims of healing from his son Wayne. (I had to try hard NOT to picture Wayne's first bout with healing, you'll see what I mean if you read this.) Mr. Sullivan's voicing worked really well for me here and for this reason I've bumped my rating of 4 and 4.5 stars from my previous reads to all five.

 

MYSTERY WALK is full of hope but at the same time does not shy away from the difficulties in life we all face. The wonderful prose of Robert McCammon is only improved by Nick Sullivan's narration. If you're in need of a little hope in your life during these difficult times, then I highly recommend giving MYSTERY WALK a listen. If you do, give Billy Creekmore a hug from me and tell him that Char said "Hi".

 

You can get your copy here: Mystery Walk

 

*I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator, in exchange for my honest review. This is it!*

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review 2018-03-20 20:39
Unsettling, entrancing tale of escaping the traps we're born to
Along the Indigo - Elsie Chapman

Disclaimer: Reviewing pre-publication proof via NetGalley

 

I loved this. Vivid, strong character writing and a fully fleshed-out sense of place from the first page made this an engaging story, and the dark fantasy/paranormal elements, while light, tinted the story with a deliciously creepy atmosphere.

 

Marsden is saving up to skip town with her 8-year-old little sister before one or both of them get roped into joining Nina's girls like their mom. Their dad died (or killed himself) when she was her sister's age, and their mom started working the not-so-secret nightshift in the boarding house they live in/brothel.

 

Being pressured toward sex work isn't the only source of Marsden's misery. She's half Chinese in a white, rural American town. Her mother's job - and her likely future - are an open secret, and the predatory, bullying behaviour of her peers and neighbours has her self-isolating to survive. And she can't hear the voices of the dead - despite regularly visiting the covert behind the boardinghouse to strip the bodies of the dead for cash. It's the last remaining piece of family property, a sort of suicide forest, tainted by the murder spree of a mad ancestor.

 

So there's a lot going on here. The visible minority/POC/mixed ancestry thing is handled well and comes up in Mars & her sister's experience, as well as another boy in town's story. The absent/abusive parent thing is troubling but very well handled, as is the dysfunctional community. And the suicides. There's heaps upon heaps of messed up in this book, but the author doesn't bury you in it. It's an engaging read, atmospheric and challenging without feeling hopeless. It reminds me of Brenna Yovanoff's books, and Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed In Blood just a touch. I think it's set in eastern Oregon or Washington maybe, or one of the prairie/desert states further east of there, but it has more in common with Southern Gothic paranormals. Creepy, foreign and familiar at the same time, unsettling and entrancing. Will circle back to this author's earlier works and follow her future books with great interest. Highly recommended read.

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review 2018-03-19 18:30
STINGER by Robert McCammon, narrated by Nick Sullivan
Stinger - Robert R. McCammon, Nick Sullivan

 

STINGER by Robert Mccammon is simply 80's horror F-U-N! With the entire book taking place over the course of one night, it's a great example of the horror being written during that time.

 

This is the story of a duel alien invasion-one alien crashed on earth due to a ship malfunction, (Daufin) and the other a bounty-hunter come to track the first one down, (Stinger). All of this takes place in the town of Inferno, in west Texas.

 

With a variety of small town characters putting aside their differences to unite against Stinger, the universal theme of good vs. evil comes into play. The shape-shifting abilities, (for lack of a better word), of Stinger allow it to take over host bodies and bend them to its will, making this a more interesting tale than it otherwise would have been. I think it also must have been quite challenging for the narrator of this audiobook.

 

The narration here took me a while to get used to, most especially during scenes where there was a lot of action. At first, I wasn't sure if I would make it through the entire way, (Stinger is 500+ pages long), but I did become accustomed to it and began to enjoy it thoroughly.

 

This is my third time reading STINGER and I think it's possible I might read it again in the future. Sure it's infused with a lot of 80's pop culture and lingo, (all the good looking girls are smash-foxes), but that was a special time for me, and for the horror genre, so I have no problem with that. Also, I think it's possible that STINGER has influenced a lot of authors, (it's difficult not to see a connection to King's UNDER THE DOME), whether they were conscious of it or not.

 

STINGER was a lot of fun to listen to and Nick Sullivan did a fairly good job of bringing it all home in a fun way. If you're looking for many hours of listening enjoyment and alien invasion action, STINGER is the book for you!

 

*Thank you to the narrator for the free Audible edition in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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