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review 2018-12-12 16:49
Creature by Hunter Shea
Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

CREATURE surprised me. I’ve only read one Hunter Shea book, THE JERSEY DEVIL, and that thing was pure madness from beginning to end with its out of control body count and frenetic pace. I was expecting a crazed people eating monster to pop out of the woods and eat everyone and the pup before moving on to town and slaying more innocents but this is a completely different type of horror story. This one is about the physical and emotional toll an incurable disease has on a woman and those who love her. It’s slower paced and allows the dread to slowly creep in as the characters face an ever present and unconquerable monster.

 

Kate has Lupus and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, both are incurable diseases that are managed with pain medication and surgery to fix body parts as they break down. The diseases and multiple surgeries have all but stolen her life. She’s housebound with her dog Buttons and a devoted husband who has turned into her caretaker. After a grueling trial of an experimental treatment, Andrew takes a leave of absence from work and surprises Kate with a getaway to a cabin in Maine where she can recuperate and they can spend some quality time together with Buttons. But it’s not long before strange events begin to taint their tranquility.

 

This book was incredibly hard to for me to read. My sister and two family members suffer from EDS, have all had multiple surgeries and were all disabled in their 30’s. Shea’s portrayal of Kate’s pain was heartbreaking and grueling and viciously accurate based on everything I’ve heard and seen. This is why it was a difficult read for me but I imagine it will be the same for most anybody who picks up this book because it is a punishing depiction of chronic pain, that insidious destroyer of lives.

 

If you’re looking for a stomp ‘n’ chomp this isn’t it, for the most part, but it isn’t any less of a horror novel than The Jersey Devil. It’s a different kind of horror novel. One that is slower paced and thoughtful and full of all the emotions. There is so much pain and suffering and guilt and love that when the slow creeping dread begins to interfere on the couple’s idyllic sabbatical, you’ll need to hang on tight to your heart. It’s breathtaking how well the author weaves it all together. I wasn’t expecting this type of story at all but I wasn’t disappointed. Very highly recommend if you enjoy a book that’ll tear you to pieces.

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review 2018-12-12 15:05
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Book
Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow, #10) - Donna Andrews
Six Geese A-Slaying - Donna Andrews,Bernadette Dunne

I decided to backtrack a bit to the series's first (I think) Christmas entry, which is set right after Meg and Michael's marriage and in which Meg is in charge of organizing Caerphilly's annual holiday parade -- emphatically not a "Christmas" parade, since it includes a nod to Diwali (complete with elephants), as well as a Kwanzaa float, which obviously makes this book a fun match with "24 Festive Tasks".

 

Andrews had definitely found her Meg Langslow legs by the time of this book, and the writing and plotting is great fun ... of course a holiday parade themed on The Twelve Days of Christmas offers countless opportunities for things to go hilariously haywire, but you still have to be able to hit just the right balance of humor and storytelling instead of simply stringing together a series of (wannabe) quirky incidents and characters, which not every writer is able to pull off convincingly.  Perhaps the one tiny letdown was that the murderer (and their motive) was fairly obvious well before the conclusion of the book, but still, I very much enjoyed my annual return to Caerphilly for Christmas the holidays.

 

And since a whole rafter of turkeys show up in various parts of the book -- they march in the holiday parade, they're being offered as charity gifts to the local poor, they're roasted at one of the local church community's food stand, and a turkey also features in the Christmas dinner "in the off" at the end of the story, to be prepared by Meg's mother -- I feel justified in using this as my Thanksgiving square read in "24 Festive Tasks" ... even if the turkeys are not accorded quite as prominent a role as the titular six geese (or actually, 37 geese ... or make that 38, counting one deceased of natural causes).

 

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review 2018-12-12 15:01
Review: "His Holy Bones" (The Rifter, #10) by Ginn Hale
His Holy Bones - Ginn Hale

 

~ 4.5 stars ~

 

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review 2018-12-12 14:15
24 Festive Tasks: Door 6 - International Day for Tolerance, Book
A Very French Christmas: The Greatest French Holiday Stories of All Time - Jean-Philippe Blondel,Dominique Fabre,Alphonse Daudet,Irène Némirovsky,Guy de Maupassant,Jean Brassard

 

An anthology of French Christmas short stories, from 19th century classics to contemporary, up to and including stories published in 2017.  "Nobody does Christmas like the French" is, of course, monumental sales hyperbole (and that's not even taking into account the ubiquitous non-French usual suspects like Dickens's Christmas Carol and E.T.A. Hoffmann's Nutcracker), but the stories included are enjoyable enough, even if (on balance) a bit on the preachy side.

 

Since several of these stories are set in Paris, I'm using this as my book for the 24 Festive Tasks - International Day for Tolerance square.  Since one of the anthologized stories is by Irène Némirovsky, I'm also using it for the "N" square of the Women Writers Bingo.

 

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review 2018-12-11 18:45
THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES VOL. 3 ed. by James Jenkins and Ryan Cagle
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories, Volume Three - Charles Beaumont,J.B. Priestley,James Purdy

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: VOLUME THREE is the latest entry in Valancourt Books' excellent anthology series. I certainly hope they continue this outstanding tradition next year!

 

What I like best about all of these anthologies is the fact that I haven't read any of the stories before. Introducing me to new authors, some I enjoy, some not so much, Valancourt has expanded my reading horizons and for that, I will always be grateful.

 

I can't get into all of the stories but I will mention those that had the biggest effect on me:

 

THE PARTS MAN by Steve Rasnic Tem. This man is a legend and he's a national treasure as far I'm concerned. This short story had wonder and grief all mixed together and I thought it was somehow both beautiful and sad. BRAVO! (This story is original to this collection.)

 

DON'T GO UP THEM STAIRS by R. Chetwynd Hayes. I loved the tone of this tale so much I bought one of his other books from Valancourt as soon as I was done.

 

THE FACE IN THE MIRROR by Helen Mathers. A terrific little ghost story wherein the lady saves the day!

 

THE LIFE OF THE PARTY by Charles Beaumont. A sad tale of an acne-ridden boy at a school dance. The introduction to this one states that it's partly autobiographical.

 

BLOOD OF THE KAPU TIKI by Eric C. Higgs. A creepy little story with an ending that made me chuckle.

 

THE BOTTLE OF 1912 by Simon Raven. A man returns home after WWII after serving as a spy. He returns with the hope of seeing his family again and celebrating with a special bottle of wine.

 

BEELZEBUB by Robert Westall. Next to THE PARTS MAN , this was my favorite story in the collection. Robert Westall was super talented and I wish he had written more tales in the dark fiction vein because I've loved every one of them I've read.

 

Once again, Valancourt Books knocks it out of the park! Consistently full of rare stories that offer up a diverse range of horrors-this anthology has something for everyone. This, the third in a series of anthologies containing authors that Valancourt has already published, is as much of a MUST-READ as the first two.

 

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF HORROR STORIES: VOLUME 3 receives my highest recommendation!

 

You can order it and other fine books directly from Valancourt here, with FREE shipping from now until the end of 2018: VALANCOURT BOOKS 

 

 *I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* 13 likes

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