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review 2017-03-29 15:46
Little Dead Red by Mercedes Yardley (audio)
Little Dead Red - Mercedes M. Yardley
This is a not happy tale. Terrible things happen to innocent people.

Little Red Dead is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood which was never a sweet tale anyway, but author Mercedes Yardley takes the bones of that fable and gives it a very gritty, very modern treatment and turns it into a horrifying read.

Some women have all the luck. Marie is not one of them. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story and am honestly unsure how to even tackle this review. I’ll just say that Marie suffers from two huge losses that leave her devastated, emotionally drained and at her wits end. After a kind man and his wife intervene, instead of succumbing to depression she decides to plot revenge.

This is a well plotted, well executed, bleak and painfully emotional short story – all the things I look for in a story such as this but it is not an feel good read. You have been warned.

Narration Notes: As this story is told from Marie’s POV, I’m not going to lie, I do wish it had been narrated by a woman but that’s my own personal preference. That said, narrator Joe Hempel does a fine job with the darkness of the story and doesn’t ruin the female voices with painful falsetto. I cannot tell you how many times a guy has ruined a female character for me with a cringy performance and vice-versa. I found it hard to tear myself away from the audio and do things like go to work and listen to people who needed to ask me oh so important questions that could not wait (yeah, that’s sarcasm you hear there) because the storytelling was so involving.

I received a copy of this audiobook courtesy of Audiobook Boom.
 
 

 

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review 2016-09-02 18:34
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
The Summer That Melted Everything - Tiffany McDaniel

Fielding Bliss is an old man telling his story of the summer that changed everything. When you finish reading his story, you’ll completely understand why he’s now one of those nasty “Get off my lawn!” old guys. And you’ll also probably feel like crawling in a deep dark hole and never returning to planet earth. At the very least, you’ll likely give those old cranks a pass the next time they holler at you or your kid.

This story is cruel, it is bleak and it is beautifully descriptive and impossible to put down. You might not want to start it for your own well-being but then you will never know what you are missing.

It is the summer of 1984, a simpler time in many ways and also a just as complicated time. It’s the summer of hair spray and the beginning of AIDS and all the fears and prejudice associated with it. Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” could be the soundtrack for this one. In a little town called Breathed, Ohio the heat relentlessly blasts thirteen year old Fielding and everyone around him. When his dad, for some reason, decides to send out an invite to the Devil, well, no one is all that surprised when he actually accepts. What better circumstances for the devil to come a-calling than this brutally hellish summer?

The devil arrives in the form of a young black boy the Bliss family name Sal. Being kind folks, they take him in. Dad did invite him, after all. Sal is an old soul and makes fast friends with Fielding but soon a series of very unfortunate events occur around Sal. Prejudice, fear and heat induced madness start to take over the residents of Breathed as more terrible things occur over the tragic summer. And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot.

The descriptions in this book are a thing of pure beauty. It was truly an experience, this book. It brought me back to that time in the 80’s when I could spend all summer under a weeping willow tree reading while Corey Hart and Madonna serenaded me from an oversized boom box. The summer just before tragedy struck my family, altering it forever. This book hit a nerve in me and reading it was a bit cathartic. As painful a read as it was, I will never regret reading it.

This is one of those books that will break your heart even if you think you don’t have one and could easily leave you in a funk, so do yourself a favor and find yourself a nice, sunny spot outside and get to reading it.

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review 2015-11-09 13:00
Keeping Promise Rock by Amy Lane
Keeping Promise Rock - Amy Lane

GR Cleanup Read April 2011

 

It is a rare thing for me to come across a book that I don’t want to end. I’m usually in a big hurry for things to finish up so I can move on to the next one, especially when the book is over 300 or so pages. Not so here. I could’ve read another 1000 pages and still wanted more! And it wasn’t because things weren’t wrapped up (because they were) but because the bond between the main characters was so warm and real that I felt sad leaving them. I was as if my cuddly warm blanket had just been ripped forever from my cold, shivering body. Sniff. I’m going to miss these people and will have to buy and read the sequels when I finish writing this (unless I already have them in my shamefully large pile of TBR’s).

Carrick (Crick) Francis fell in love with Deacon Winters the moment he set eyes on him. Crick was just a lonely child living with an abusive stepdad and emotionally absent mother and caring for his many younger sisters when he first spied gloriously beautiful Deacon sitting calmly and confidently astride a horse. It was then he knew he would do anything to get the attention of that godlike older boy. Deacon is drawn to Crick as well and takes him under his wing, little brother-like and teaches him all about horses. Being around Deacon and his kind, loving dad change Crick and though he is impulsive and makes dumbass choices, they bring out the best in him. As the boys’ grow, so does their bond and their undeniable feelings of love for each other. Deacon, reserved and responsible, keeps his desire for Crick to himself for years, waiting for him to grow up and wanting him to live a full life. A life that doesn’t chain him to the ranch. Deacon’s life is the ranch and he has no desire to go off to college or have exciting adventures. Good lord, I loved Deacon. He is a guy who wants to make everyone happy, even if it means denying himself what he wants most in this world. Ouch, my eyes are watering again.

Promise Rock is an angst-a-thon. Deacon and Crick can’t catch a break. The author piles one traumatic event atop another and until the oh-so-sweet and hard earned conclusion. There is a huge misunderstanding that keeps them apart for two years which takes up a good chunk of the book. Normally a separation of this length would put me off a romance but it works here. Damn, does it ever work here. Their love grows stronger, they talk via letters and later by tweets and both characters grow and change as they are forced to deal with loneliness and a grief so strong it’ll bring you to your knees. And of course the never-ending trauma and setbacks that befall them and those they love. This book ripped my heart into little, itty bitty, raw pieces and healed them all with its beautiful storytelling, characterization and satisfying conclusion.

I could go on for days about this sexy, lovely, pain-filled romance and its incredibly well drawn cast of characters but I’m going to stop here because my mascara is starting to run and that's never pretty and this is a book that should be experienced and not spoiled by my big mouth.

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review 2015-11-08 13:00
The Walking Dead Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman
The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 - Cliff Rathburn,Charlie Adlard,Tony Moore,Robert Kirkman

GR Cleanup Read April 2011

 

I cannot believe the dark places this graphic novel delves. No one, and I mean no one, is safe in this ongoing saga. It takes place after the dead have risen and destroyed everything and follows a handful of often rotating survivors as they try to get by in a frightening new world. It starts out a little slow as everything is set up but once it gets going I didn't want to put it down.

It is less focused on the zombies than its core of characters and their interaction and relationships but there is plenty of gore to go around. It's horrible, sad and unputtdownable. This volume collects issues 1 - 48 of the long running series and man is this sucker heavy!

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review 2015-08-19 16:27
Dark Horse by Kate Sherwood
Dark Horse - Kate Sherwood

The first half or so of this book is heart-crushing. It may break your heart, even if you think you don’t have one.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dan trains horses and he is one of the best. His life was bliss until a riding accident destroyed his world a year ago. Now his lover is in a coma and has been declared brain dead. Dan can’t let go and wants to keep Justin around just to be near him. When he is forced to let Justin go (due to circumstances out of his control), he has to reluctantly rebuild his life. Oh my heart. This part is so painful.

The rest of the novel is all about Dan attempting to start over with the horses he and Justin loved and forcing himself to slowly step into building new relationship.

It’s painful and it’s messy. Don’t pick this book up thinking you’re too hard-shelled to cry. You will. It may destroy you for a while. I had to take a few breaks from all of the sadness. But don’t worry it’s not all grief and tears. Dan eventually begins to move on and meets a nice guy he’s attracted to as well as a couple who are both attracted to him. It’s a situation that Dan is certain he is not ready to enter but Evan and Jeff are gorgeous and Evan is very persistent. Jeff is older and he befriends and supports Dan as a friend when he needs it most.

“I’m too old to think a broken heart is romantic.” Awww, Jeff, he always knows just what to say.

This book doesn’t follow your typical m/m romance formula where two guys meet, fall in love/lust, have a few (usually silly) fights and live happily ever after. I never quite knew how things were going to end and if Dan would ever be able to open his heart to someone new. I liked the not knowing.

The pace is rather leisurely and there is a lot of time spent on the day to day ins and outs of horse training. I loved all of it but you might not. It is character driven and I prefer those types of stories, when they’re written well, over an action driven plot/convoluted plot any day. The only “action” going on here is action of the sexy kind and it comes late into the book so hang in there if you think it won’t ever happen. It’s worth the wait.

This book stands on its own and doesn’t end with any huge cliff-hanger but it is the first in a series. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series to see where these guys take things.

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