April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

Poetry Review: The Hatch

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Author: Joe Fletcher
Pages: 120
Published: June 1, 2018
Genre: Poetry, Horror, Fantasy
Rating:  3.5/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

I don’t claim to have any understanding of poetry at all and I feel like that really impacted my ability to enjoy this collection. There were so many poems that I know had a deeper meaning than what I was getting, but I had no idea what I was reading. That being said I found the writing really beautiful and did really enjoy some of the ones from section two. I think The Wake and The Hatch are probably my favorites of this collection.

A dark and weird collection of poetry I would recommend this one for poetry lovers and horror fans.

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April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

Book Review: Obscura

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Author: Joe Hart
Pages: 348 (ebook)
Published: May 8, 2018
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Sci Fi
Rating:  5/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Dr. Gillian Ryan has had a rough few years. After her husband developed a new pervasive form of dementia called Losian’s (which has no set age of onset) they got into a car accident that severely damaged her leg and led to her current addiction to painkillers. On top of that, her husband passed away shortly after their daughter was born (who now also has Losian’s) and now she found out her funding for Losian’s research is being cut. Basically everything sucks for Gillian. That is, until an old college friend reappears in her life and offers her a position with NASA that could change everything but would require she leave her daughter for at least six months. Gillian has to decide if the promise of funding for her research is worth the precious time spent away from her daughter who could pass away at any moment.

This one was all over the place (in a really good way). Working in Gerontology I fully went into this one expecting to hate a horror story written about dementia. But Joe Hart did such a fantastic job of not only taking the real emotions that come with dementia (loss, anger, fear, frustration, helplessness) and created a world where people actually care about it (more than just those that work in the field and those with family members that have it). I found myself fully invested in Gillian’s story and needed to know what the hell was going to happen next to her. The entire time I was playing guessing games with myself to determine what could possibly go wrong next and was pleasantly surprised to be wrong every time! It’s always a bummer when a story is predictable and this one wasn’t at all.

I highly recommend this one for horror fans. It had just the right amount of WTF moments mixed with reality to make it truly terrifying at times. An excellent read.

 

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

Book Review: Tin Man

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Author: Sarah Winman
Pages: 224 (Hardcover)
Published: May 15, 2018 (originally published July 27, 2017)
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, LGBT
Rating:  5/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Michael and Ellis became best friends when they were 12. A relationship borne out of tragedy that spurned a beautiful love story…ish. Half of the story follows Ellis from the time he met Michael until adulthood as a widow from his wife Annie. While the other half is from Michael’s diary.

I didn’t originally plan to pick up Tin Man because it’s not a genre I typically go for (contemporary, adult fiction), but it has quickly become one of my favorite reads of 2018 so far. Both endearing and heartbreaking, Tin Man is everything that I didn’t realize I needed in a book. The characters are written beautifully and the relationships are complex and tragic but still believable. I found myself rooting for so many different storylines and in the end I think I would have been happy with anything the author decided to do. I highly recommend everyone pick this one up.

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases! · Horror Reviews

Book Review: The Atrocities

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Author: Jeremy Shipp
Pages: 104 (ebook)
Published: April 17, 2018
Genre: Gothic, Horror, Fantasy
Rating:  4/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Ms. Valdez has taken a new job as a governess for Isabella. So far her experience has been…weird. After navigating a maze outside of the house where she was confronted with grotesque statues she was finally able to enter the home but has not yet been able to meet Isabella. No one will tell her much about the girl other than that she was in an accident and now needs help. Is this the job that she signed up for?

This one left me guessing the entire time. I was sure that I knew what the answers were going to be as I was reading and being introduced to each new character, but of course not. Shipp did a great job of taking some of the weirdest concepts and combining them with the traditional story of a new governess meeting a strange family. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and can definitely recommend it!

April 2018 Reviews

Book Review: Waiting for the Last Bus

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Author: Richard Holloway
Pages: 177 (ebook)
Published: March 1, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, Philosophy, Religion, Memoir
Rating:  3/5 (Did Not Finish)

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I wanted so badly to enjoy it, but unfortunately ended up DNF’ing at around 56%.

Richard Holloway is a Bishop that has spent decades assisting people to achieve a peaceful death. Waiting for the Last Bus is less of a memoir and more of a commentary on grief, forgiveness and religion. There were definitely parts of his writing that I enjoyed. For example, throughout each chapter Holloway would provide segments of poetry and other works to help demonstrate the concepts he was writing about which I felt added to the overall atmosphere of the book. And I did find his writing style enjoyable and easy to read.

However, at one point he writes about older adults being mistreated because of their age without ever explicitly referring to this mistreatment as ageism. I’m not sure what the disconnect was at that point in the book, but it was frustrating because I was really wishing he would call it what it was.

Additionally, for a while he speaks about whether or not humans are able to make choices in their life and then moves into asking for forgiveness. I really struggled with this section because it felt as if the author were saying that everything is completely out of our hands and we are incapable of making decisions (good or bad) which conflicted with other statements in the book up to that point.

Maybe if I considered myself a religious or spiritual person I would have enjoyed this more. But after a while I felt that the content became disjointed and I had a hard time keeping track of what he was trying to say.

April 2018 Reviews

Book Review: Thirty Hours with a Corpse

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Author: Maurice Level
Pages: 224 (ebook)
Published: March 15, 2016
Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Gothic
Rating:  4/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

Thirty Hours with a Corpse is a brilliant collection of weird short stories from French author Maurice Level. While each story is its own entity that definitely makes the reader question humanity, there are some common themes throughout the collection (ex. criminal activity). This collection dives into some of the darkest parts of what humans are capable of yet somehow leaves you wanting more.

Despite how dark each story is, there really isn’t much “gore” to be found. Probably the stories that are the riskiest for those with weaker stomachs are ‘The Horror on the Night Express’ or ‘The Cripple’.

I would definitely recommend this short story collection for horror fans. Level’s writing is beautiful and I don’t believe I’ve ever read stories quite like his before.

April 2018 Reviews

Book Review: The General Theory of Haunting

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Author: Richard Easter
Pages: 306 (ebook)
Published: December 24, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Gothic
Rating:  4/5

I received this one for review from NetGalley.

I really enjoyed this one. The General Theory of Haunting is a new take on a traditional haunted house story. Partially set in the 1800s and in 2018, you follow a group of main characters as they navigate Marryman Hall in December 2018. While on a company retreat a group of fellow employees begin to realize there may be more to the Hall than they originally thought. The butler, Mr. Boulder, insists that the Hall is not haunted (because of course not), and is quick to explain away any suspicious noises they may hear in the night.

The setting bounces between present day (December 2018) and December 1810 as the Hall was first being built.

Definitely not the scariest or creepiest ghost story I’ve ever read, but it had enough of a spooky atmosphere to it that I found myself wanting to know what would happen next and I was pleasantly surprised.

April 2018 Reviews · Exciting New Releases!

ARC Review: The Seasons of My Mother

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Author: Marcia Gay Harden
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Published: May 1, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Alzheimer’s
Rating:  4/5

I received this one as an e-ARC from NetGalley.

This was definitely not what I was expecting as far as a memoir about Alzheimer’s, but I really enjoyed it. Marcia Gay Harden’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011, but the majority of the book is a beautifully written look back on her life with her mother and the impact that she has had on her life and career. She uses her mother’s love of flowers and the Japanese flower arranging art of Ikebana to move the reader through the ups and downs of her life as a waitress, then actress, mother and ultimately caregiver.

I really appreciated the focus that is given on her mother as a person rather than on Alzheimer’s as a disease. This is a great addition to the handful of books being written by family members on the topic and I’m happy to recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about how memory changes and what dementia looks like for families.

I had some issues while reading it, but nothing that was enough to totally take me out of the narrative.

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Book Review: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

Author: Cormac McCarthy
Pages: 309
Published: July 11, 2009 (First Published January 1, 2005)
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Rating: 5/5

This is the third book I’ve read from McCarthy and he never ceases to disappoint. A crime thriller that follows a man named Llewellyn Moss when he discovers the left overs of a heroin deal gone bad in the desert. Now on the run from both parties involved, Llewellyn has to decide if the decisions he has made thus far are worth it.

Told through multiple points of view, No Country for Old Men was absolutely fantastic. I had a little difficulty getting used to the writing style McCarthy used in this novel as he wasn’t a huge fan of punctuation. But after the first chapter it became increasingly easier to read and I flew through it. If it weren’t for McCarthy’s work I don’t know that I would ever have picked up novels with a western US setting. Now I’m hooked.

I loved this one.

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Book Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Author: Lisa Genova
Pages: 292
Published: December 16, 2014 (First Published July 6, 2007)
Genre: Contemporary, Psychology, Adult Fiction, Medical
Rating: 5/5

One of the most difficult things I’ve ever read. I picked up Still Alice for a project during graduate school and never expected to love it as much as I did.

Alice has been a linguistics professor for Harvard for years. Known as a prominent academic and strict mother, Alice and her husband are well known in their fields. One day while jogging, Alice forgets where she is. This starts a downward spiral of forgetfulness, mistrust, and eventually leads to a career ending diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. While Still Alice is a work of fiction, this novel read too much like a real life account of what someone may experience with this diagnosis.

Told entirely in Alice’s perspective, the reader follows Alice as her world crumbles around her and she struggles to find a way to cope with being treated like a child by her friends and family.

Gut wrenching and brilliant, Still Alice is a fantastic novel that I highly recommend.