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review 2018-07-09 13:22
Insidious and disquieting horror. Great evil characters, a very satisfying ending.
Doctor Perry - Kirsten McKenzie

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank Rosie Amber (check here if you would like to have your book reviewed) and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel, that I freely chose to review.

I read and reviewed Kirsten McKenzie’s book Painted a while back and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, so when I heard about her new novel, and after reading the description, I knew I should read it.

Although the topic is quite different, there are many similarities between this story and the author’s previous incursion into the horror genre. The setting is not quite as important as the old house was in Painted, but Rose Haven, the retirement home where much of the action takes place, plays a central role in the story. This home, which had previously been a motel, has not much to recommend it, other than being cheap. There are a few sympathetic members of staff, but mostly, from the director to the nursing and auxiliary staff, people are in it for what they can get, try to do as little as possible, and some are downright dangerous. Caring professionals they are not, that’s for sure. What comes across more than anything is how dehumanised and dehumanising a place it is, but there are also gothic elements to it, particularly the doctor’s lab, that seems to have come right out of Frankenstein or Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The novel also has a timeless feel, as there is talk about television and the news, but no mention of social media or modern technology, and the action is set in the recent past, or in a parallel time-frame, similar but not quite the same as our present. Even with the outdoors scenes and the many settings, the novel manages to create a sense of claustrophobia that makes readers feel uneasy as if they were also trapped and caught up in the conspiracy.

I found this novel much more plot-driven than the previous one. The cast of characters is much larger here (there is a list at the end, which is quite useful), and it is not always easy to keep them separate, as some of them don’t have major roles, and sometimes the only difference between them might be their degree of nastiness or their specific bad habits (drug use, thieving, violence…). Some characters we don’t know well enough to be able to make our minds up about, like the police officers or some of Dr Perry’s patients. There are not many truly sympathetic characters, and even those (like Elijah and Sulia) show a certain degree of moral ambiguity that makes the novel much more interesting and realistic in my opinion. The book is full of characters that show psychopathic tendencies, and its shining star is Doctor Perry. I’ll try not to reveal any spoilers, but from the cover of the book and the description, I think anybody reading the book will know who the main baddie is (as I said, he’s not alone, but he is in a league of his own). He is a fascinating character, and we learn more and more about him as we read, although there’s enough left to readers’ imagination to keep him alive in our minds for a long time. Oh, there are two other characters that are quite high up in the malevolent league, but I’ll let you discover them yourselves. (I love them!)

The author uses the same peculiar point of view she used in Painted to narrate the story. The novel is written in the third person, from the point of view of most of the characters, from the residents in the hospital to the receptionist, and of course, the doctor, while also having moments when we are told things from an outside observer’s perspective (it is not a third-person omniscient POV but it is not a third-person limited point of view either, but a combination of the two), and that increases the intrigue and adds to the novel rhythm and pacing. There is head-hopping, as a chapter can be experienced through several different characters, and I recommend paying attention to all the details, although the main characters are very distinct and their points of view easy to tell apart. The mystery, in this case, is not who the guilty party is (that is evident from the beginning) but what exactly is happening and who the next victim will be. And also, how it will all end. In case you’re wondering, and although I won’t give you any specifics, I enjoyed the ending.

There are great descriptions of places, characters’ thoughts, and their sensations (including those due to chronic illness, which are portrayed in a realistic and accurate way), and also of some of the ‘supernatural’ (I can’t be more precise not to ruin the surprise) processes that take place. There is more gore in this novel than in the previous one, and although it is not extreme, I would not recommend it to people who are hypersensitive and have a vivid imagination unless they like horror. If you can easily “feel the pain” of the characters, this could be torture.

Another fascinating novel by Kirsten McKenzie, and one that will make readers think beyond the plot to related subjects (elderly abuse, unethical behaviours by caring professionals…). Great evil characters and a very satisfying ending. I recommend it to readers of horror who enjoy a gothic touch, and to those who prefer their horror ambiguous, insidious, and disquieting.

(Don’t miss the mention of a real orphanage in Florida and the link to donate to their important cause).

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review 2017-06-25 06:35
I'm interested to see how the characters develop through the series.
The Early Years (The MisFit Book 1) - AB Plum
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Please don't pass up reading The Misfit because of the three star rating here. The first chapter caught me, but after that - I, personally, just couldn't get invested in it. The story did pick up towards the end, and I think I will give the next book in the series a shot. I'm interested in seeing where it goes, and how the character develops.

 

Source: beckisbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/the-misfit-the-early-years-by-a-b-plum
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review 2016-11-24 00:00
Sorted!: The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Bossing Your Life (Good Psychopath 2)
Sorted!: The Good Psychopath’s Guide to ... Sorted!: The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Bossing Your Life (Good Psychopath 2) - Andy McNab,Kevin Dutton Q:
‘The key is deciding beforehand,’ Andy explains. ‘It lies in being psychologically aggressive with yourself and consciously seizing the initiative. That way you take control of the situation and impose your will on the task rather than letting whatever it is you’re doing dictate your mental state.
‘Stick with it and after a few goes you’ll find that being average actually feels great … and that what feels even better is when you start to notice other people “trying too hard”. There’s nothing more uncool!
‘In the Regiment you’re taught from Day One to be the grey man. To not stand out in a crowd. And you know what, Kev? Forget the licence to kill. There’s nothing more liberating than the licence to bore the shit out of someone!’
(c)
Q:
WHAT YOU DO
Become a gamer
WHAT IT DOES
Fiendishly clever research shows that symptoms of PTSD may be tempered by playing the video game Tetris right after experiencing a traumatic event. Sounds bonkers – but not only is it true, the logic is water-tight. Here’s how it works.
On the one hand, biologists studying the phenomenon of neuroplasticityfn2 have discovered that memories are ‘consolidated’ or laid down in the brain over a period of approximately six hours. On the other hand, cognitive scientists have demonstrated that the brain’s capacity to consolidate memories is limited.
Put the two together and it follows that an intensive mental task – such as Tetris – should, if played in the ensuing aftermath of a bad experience, successfully compete with the formation of negative images and thereby disrupt the development of traumatic flashbacks.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to bad experiences. It works for any experience. So if the evils of work are preying on your mind and you want to keep them firmly on the other side of your front door, then why not get your tablet out on the train home?
‘Who’d have thought it?’ laughs Andy. ‘A tablet to block memories rather than enhance them!’
(c)
Q:
Put the kettle on
WHAT IT DOES
Napoleon Bonaparte once quipped: ‘The reason I beat the Austrians is they did not know the value of five minutes.’
Horatio Nelson made a similar observation: ‘Time is everything; five minutes makes the difference between victory and defeat.’
And it’s true!
It’s amazing what you can get done in five minutes … if you allow yourself to.
‘And it’s also amazing just how many five-minute periods there are in a day!’ laughs Andy. ‘It’s good discipline, five minutes. Sometimes, I lay my boring paperwork chores out on the kitchen table – bills, expenses, that kind of thing – put the kettle on, and aim to polish them all off by the time it boils. It’s a little game I’ve played for years, and I’ve always beaten the whistle.
‘But it’s also a great workout for the mind. Keeps you fit and flexible. Brain cardio, I call it.’
Good advice that, from Andy. Because once, like him, you start to get five-minute-fit, you begin, quite literally, making short work of everything.
So why not put the kettle on and give it a try?
‘After all,’ says Tea Boy, ‘what have you got to lose? At the very least you’ll get a brew out of it!’
(c)
Q:
Just do it.
WHAT’S IT TO YOU?
Research shows that procrastination uses up valuable mental resources, and, a bit like leaving the lights on in the car, constitutes a subtle drain on battery power. So next time you find yourself putting off filing that report:unchain your inner psychopathjumpstart your motivationtoughen your resolve …
… and ask yourself this: since when did I need to feel like doing something in order to do it?
‘I can honestly say,’ comments Andy, ‘that the only time I ever feel like doing something is when I’m actually doing it. The decision to do it is always cold and clinical.’
(c)
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review 2016-11-11 22:53
The Lost - Jack Ketchum
The Lost - Jack Ketchum

Right off the bat, The Lost starts with a bang (pardon the pun). Ray was a nutcase when he was a teenager and blew two girls away that were camping. His two friends, Tim and Jennifer, were sheep when they watched him do it and just stood there with their mouths open. They didn't turn him in. They didn't try to stop him. Nothing. Why did he do it? Just to see how it felt. Four years later, Ray is still just as big of a nutcase. The only difference is that he hasn't killed anyone in those four years since. Tim and Jennifer are still the loyal sheep that follow Ray's every move without question. The police were unable to pin the murders on Ray, but the officers on duty, Charlie and Ed, knew damn well that Ray did it. However, they didn't have the proof the bust him. So, for 4 years, he walked a free man. But four years is a long time and Ray has never had anyone push his buttons to see what he would really do if his temper reached critical mass...until now.

 

 

The Lost is a fantastic tale told in Ketchum's patented straight-forward way. He captures small town America. The characters are amazingly realistic and feel like you know someone exactly like them. When I say Ray is a nutcase, I mean it. On the surface, to the people that don't really know him, he only seems like a harmless hood. But his evil is constantly simmering under a lid that is barely on and just waiting to go flying off. Those are the scariest kind of monsters. Realistic and unassuming until one day...BLAM! Ketchum does an amazing job ratcheting up the dread until the final act. If you haven't read Ketchum yet, this one isn't a bad one to start off with. Pick it up. You won't be disappointed.

 

 

 

4 1/2 Bullets through the Eye out of 5

 


You can also follow my reviews at the following links:

 

https://kenmckinley.wordpress.com

 

http://intothemacabre.booklikes.com

 

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5919799-ken-mckinley

 

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url 2016-02-21 20:32
Stop Calling Sherlock a Sociopath! Thanks, a Psychologist.

SherlockSherlock Holmes is not a sociopath. He is not even a "high-functioning sociopath," as the otherwise truly excellent BBC Sherlock has styled him. First of all, psychopaths and sociopaths are the exact same thing. There is no difference. And second of all, no actual psychopath-or sociopath, if you (or Holmes) will-would ever admit to his psychopathy.

 

Read more here.

Source: io9.gizmodo.com/5933869/stop-calling-sherlock-a-sociopath-thanks-a-psychologist
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