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Search tags: most-of-all-you-a-love-story
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review 2018-10-04 14:48
A love letter in the guise of a horror book dealing with a painful topic. Highly recommended.
Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

Thanks to NetGalley and to Flame Tree Press for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I have read great reviews of this author’s books, all in the horror genre, and a recent one (by Char Horror, whose reviews I follow on BookLikes) convinced me to read one of his novels. I was lucky enough to find it on offer at NetGalley, and yes, the reviewers were right. It is a book worthy of reading.

It is difficult to review this book without giving too much of the plot and possible spoilers away. If I had to define this book, I’d say it is a love letter. I know it might sound strange when we are talking about a horror book, but there you have it. Of course, there are many elements of horror as well, but from reading some of the comments I guess this is a far cry from the author’s usual romp-and-munch monster books (or “cryptozoological”, as he defines them). There is a monster, well, a creature, although it comes in quite late in the book (we do feel some dark presence well before that, though), but this is a story that starts as a domestic drama and shares many of its elements. The protagonists, Kate and Andrew, are a young couple. Their life is completely taken by the wife’s chronic autoimmune and genetic illnesses (Ehlers-Danlos and lupus) and what it takes to keep her alive. She is a virtual prisoner at home and most of the time she struggles to even get out of bed. Her husband has a job but spends most of his spare time looking after his wife, and the rest of the time thinking about her. They have a dog, Buttons, who keeps watch over Kate, and she survives thanks to cocktails of pain relief medications, experimental treatments that bring on their own kind of hell, watching black and white movies and the support of her husband. When he manages to secure a few weeks off and a cottage by a lake in Maine, they both hope they will have a reprieve and a break from real life. Unfortunately…

The book, written in the third person, alternates the points of views of wife and husband, and the author is very skilled at describing the feelings of the couple, the effects of the illness, both physical and psychological (although Kate is the perfect example of the unreliable narrator, due to her illness and the pain-killers and other medications she takes, she is very articulate and finds ways to explain her symptoms that make us share in her suffering more vividly than many scare books) on both, and the toll it takes on a relationship to have to battle with such terrible monsters day-after-day. Yes, there are “real” monsters and also the illness, which is more monstrous, in many ways, than any monster, because it lives inside and it feeds off the person, literally. It is evident on reading it that the author has close and deep knowledge of the subject, and this is confirmed later in the afterword, which I found very moving.

The characters, which include the couple, Kate’s brother, Riker, and British sister-in-law, Nikki, are sympathetic, likeable, but also realistically portrayed, especially the central couple. If at times Andrew seems almost saintly in his patience and never-ending acceptance of his caring role, there are times when he gives way to anger, frustration, and a touch of egotism and selfishness. He also acknowledges that after so long battling with his wife’s illness, he might no longer know how to be anything else but her husband and carer. Kate is in and out of medication-induced slumber, at times hides things from Andrew, is not always wise and takes unnecessary risks, at least from her husband’s perspective. Theirs is not a perfect relationship, but considering the strain they labour under, it is pretty amazing in its strength and solidity.

The novel is claustrophobic despite its location and the brief excursions into nature. We are mostly reduced to the inside of the house/cottage, and to a single room most of the time, and that adds to the feeling of anxiety and tension that increases slowly but ramps up towards the end of the story. I kept thinking about Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game because of the location, and the way the story plays with the power of the mind to conjure up ghosts and monster from the dark recesses of our consciousness, but the background and the central theme are very different.

What about the creature? I am sure readers of horror will wonder from early on what the nature of that presence is. At first we have unexplained attacks on the couple and they do try to find rational explanations to allay their fears (and at some points, it looks as if the story is going to bear off into home invasion ground), but eventually, a not-easy-to-explain-away-rationally creature appears. What this creature is and where it comes from is something you can decide for yourselves, although there are clear indications and even explanations offered during the novel that make sense within the context. I did suspect what might be behind it from quite early on, but it is very well done and it fits into the logic of the story (however we might feel about horror and its hidden meaning).

Now, some notes of caution. There is a scene where the characters exchange jokes in poor taste, which might offend readers (yes, even horror readers), and although people in extreme situations might find refuge in pretty dark humour, there are topics that many people find disturbing. There is also quite extreme gore and explicit violence, although I don’t think that would put off fans of the genre.

As mentioned, this is not a standard horror book and it might be enjoyed by readers interested in domestic drama, chronic illnesses, and great writing, if they have a strong enough stomach to deal with the gore. There are also questions and answers at the end that would make the book suitable for book clubs interested in the genre and the central topic. Although I know this is not perhaps a typical example of Shea’s writing, I am impressed and intend to catch up on some of his other books, and his podcast. Hats off to him for his bravery in tackling this difficult subject, and I hope it was as therapeutic for him as he states.

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text 2018-10-01 16:55
Monthly Run Down - September 2018
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare - Gabourey Sidibe
Sexsomnia - Sleepless in Manhattan - Anya Omah
The Monster: A Story of NeverNeath - Dar... The Monster: A Story of NeverNeath - Darynda Jones
Immortal Nights - Lynsay Sands
Alex and Eliza: A Love Story - Melissa de la Cruz,Cassandra Campbell
China Rich Girlfriend: A Novel - Kevin Kwan
Lies: The Gripping Psychological Thriller That Will Take Your Breath Away - T.M. Logan

 

 

Books I Read:

 

This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare - 4 Stars - Interesting

 

Sexsomnia: Sleepless in Manhattan - 2.5 Stars - It had its moments.

 

The Monster: A Story of Neverneath - 4 Stars - I can’t wait for the next part to be published.

 

Immortal Nights - 4 Stars - It was so good to visit with the Argeneaus again.

 

Alex and Eliza - 4 Stars - Greatly enjoyed

 

China Rich Girlfriend - 4 Stars - Wow






DNF:

 

Lies - T.M. Logan - Lots of buildup but took too long to deliver. I lost interest.



Currently Reading:



Twilight - Stephenie Meyer - Re-reading...slowly

 

The Emerald Sea  - Richelle Mead - Finishing up the trilogy




Year to Date Totals:



January: 9 books

February: 10 books

March: 9 books

April: 6 books

May: 10 books

June: 6 books

July: 7 books

August: 12 books

September: 7 books

 

2018: 76 books

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review 2018-09-26 21:26
Alex and Eliza
Alex and Eliza: A Love Story - Melissa de la Cruz,Cassandra Campbell
 
Alex and Eliza, Book 1

I Picked Up This Book Because: I’m obsessed with all things Hamilton.

The Characters:

Alexander Hamilton:
Elizabeth Schuyler:
Angelica Schuyler, Peggy Schuyler,

The Story:

Writing:Very good but I expect nothing less from Ms de la Cruz
Forward Motion: This story moved well. The only pauses I had were to listen to tracks from the Hamilton Soundtrack.
Overall Interest: Good
Length of Reading Time: Seemed to be long on paper but I had a two day trip to NYC in which I didn’t read/listen to anything so really it was more like 7 days.
Re-read-ability: Probably not.

The Random Thoughts:



The Score Card:

description

4 Stars
 
 
 
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review 2018-08-12 21:50
LOVE RUN AGROUND
Breakup: The End of a Love Story - Catherine Texier

Catherine Texier's story of the breakup of her 18 year relationship with a man who was also her literary partner, lover, best friend, and father of their 2 daughters can best be described as 'an anatomy of an affair'. 

From the book's first pages, Texier provides the reader with an open access into the gradual unraveling of what had been for her, a loving and satisfying relationship. Her partner was in emotional withdrawal. Oftentimes, he was surly, abrupt, or would give her the silent treatment. The more I read, the more his selfishness became evident to me. Texier found it so hard to let go of what they had together. And, in his own way, even after admitting --- while both were seeing a psychologist to help sort out their evolving feelings about each other and their dying relationship --- to having an affair and continuing to spend time with 'the other woman', he and Texier continued an intermittent, fiery sexual relationship. As I was reading all this, I wanted to say out loud: "Why don't the two of you make a clean break of it?" Easy for me to say, I know, as a single man with no children. But that's how I felt as I watched their relationship slowly deflate and disintegrate. 

I felt sorry for Texier because she was completely blindslided by her partner stepping out on her with this woman. In Texier's words: "The rage of being rejected. It’s one thing to be with a guy and see that he’s losing interest and maybe you are too, and quite another to have built a family and two literary careers and a house and eighteen years of shared companionship, the passion still going full swing in spite of the mounting tensions, and to feel the plug being pulled out overnight without warning.”

There is a denouement between Texier and her ex-partner. As a way of fully coming to grips with the end of the relationship, she has a big blowout party in the apartment she had shared with him and their children. "The party was meant as the kickoff of my new life. It was packed. It went on all night. It was exhilarating. A kind of exorcism. I was reclaiming my sexuality on the turf of our love. The very place where we had loved and hurt each other. I performed it with the ferocious energy of life feasting over a still-warm corpse. I barely had to lift a finger. Everybody had come to celebrate with me. A week before, I had bought a secondhand Isaac Mizrahi poppy-red stretch dress with spaghetti straps. I had carefully chosen the dress. Nothing short of red would have done. The dress worked its magic."

"BREAKUP: The End of a Love Story" has valuable lessons to provide the reader about the dynamics of an intimate relationship that comes to an unhappy end.

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review 2018-07-24 05:35
Pretty Broken Girl: An Unconventional Love Story - Jeana E. Mann

Dakota, the daughter of the cook at the Seaforth mansion has set her sights too high in falling in love with the Seaforth's only son, Samuel. This is something Sam's parents won't stand for as Sam will inherit their vast empire and it's bad for appearances if he's married to the cook's daughter. 

 

But Sam disavows his family's fortune and when turns 18 and is out of high school, he marries Dakota and everything seems to be a happily ever after. Except Dakota's life is super complicated as she's tackling a sick mother and a deadbeat brother who's always on the wrong side of the law. 

 

Before she can embark on her HEA, Sam's father pays her off to leave his son alone by giving her money and not throwing her worthless brother in jail after he blackmails her with incriminating information. Dakota agrees to abide by the agreement and never see Sam again. She leaves Sam without saying a word, and ten years pass by full of hurt and revenge for both of them. 

 

Now Sam has bought her company and is her new boss. It will take everything in her power to resist not only Sam's allure, but find a way out of the problems in her life that never stopped plaguing her. Will Dakota turn to Sam this time or will she run away again? 

 

This read started out all right, but it got tedious fast with the should we - shouldn't we - I love you - I hate you. Ugh! I really wanted to like this book, but it was just too much back and forth at something that should have been so easy to talk through.  Plus, the title is really misleading. Dakota is nowhere near broken to me. I truly expected a BDSM read and this was nothing of the sort. 

 

Pretty Broken Girl features: 

romance

sexual content

suspense

intrigue 

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