Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bay's End by Edward Lorn

5 Stars
 
“The first thing Eddy Tremont said to me on Saturday afternoon was also the last thing he said to me the day he died.”


Bay’s End is a not-soon-forgotten coming of age story about a group of friends (Trey, Sanders, Candy and Eddy) and the summer before they turned 13 that changed all of their lives forever.

“The monster we speak of doesn’t hide in the shadows or under your bed. He does not reside in any closet or attic. He lives next door. Right there, living life, being just incredibly ordinary. There is one like him in every town. He is your friend, neighbor, church member, and dinner companion. He doesn’t know he is a monster. He sees nothing wrong with what he does. To him, you are the one who is different.”

HOT DAMN BUT THIS FELLA CAN WRITE!

You’re probably thinking a pox must have fallen upon me since I’m praising two authors within two weeks. I assure you, I have already received my flu shot and am not contagious. My Grinch heart must be-a-growing or sumthin’. *shrug*

I started Bay’s End with pretty low expectations. I generally don’t read reviews until I’ve read a book for myself and I barely glance at a synopsis, so I assumed I was probably getting into some sort of horror story that I would like just fine, but wouldn’t be real Earth-shattering. Well, you know the old saying about what happens when you assume . . .

Edward Lorn blew the socks right off my feet. I realize I’m taking a HUGE risk with the next statement, but I’m telling you, Constant Readers, Bay’s End could have been written by a young King (Lorn himself states that Stephen King is one of his influences, and he has obviously taken notes on the how-to's of writing from the best of the best). Bay’s End was reminiscent of The Body, with flowing dialogue out of the foul mouths of some sharp-tongued kids. It also featured the only case of insta-love that is ever acceptable, which happens when a new kid moves into the neighborhood. Lorn is 100% spot-on that the “brother from another mother” status of pre-pubescent boys can be solidified in a matter of hours. With sprinkles of awesome early ‘90s pop-culture references added in for good measure and a loyal Cubs fan as Trey’s father, this book was near perfection for me. And for those of you who have read it/will read it and say “butbutbutbut I kinda saw some of the stuff coming,” just remember the story is written from a 12 year old’s perspective. As much as they like think they know everything about everything, that is an age that should be is still na├»ve when it comes to many grown-up issues. It's getting all the dang stars.

This book currently sits at a measly 135 ratings here on Goodreads . . . . and it’s FREE on Amazon. What the hell are you waiting for? Does someone need to push the one-click button for you too??????





Because I know there’s a chance it will come up, let me clarify my relationship with the author. I don’t friend/accept friend requests from many authors – including Edward Lorn. At some point he popped up enough on my feed that I began to follow him, but never requested his friendship. At some point in his Goodreads-ing I popped up enough that he began to follow me as well, but never requested my friendship either. So in case you are wondering - or preparing to accuse me of being an “Edward Lorn Shill” – that is not the case. We mutually cyberstalk each other and that is it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly

1 Star
 
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS - BUT I’M DOING YOU A FAVOR BY SAVING YOU FROM READING A GIANT CRAPFEST
Sometimes it’s perfectly A-okay to judge a book by its cover. The cover of Keep Your Friends Close should have been my first clue that I would not end up raving about the high quality of the book. Oh well, live and learn.

The remainder of this review is brought to you by



Seriously. This book was like the worst of the worst of Lifetime movies . . . or maybe on an episode of Sally Jesse Raphael back in the 80s. Only on those programs are you told of the story of a happily married couple who receives a visit from an old college pal only to have said friend look for the soonest opportunity possible to drop to her knees and “pleasure” her bestie’s hubs in the kitchen with such prowess he IMMEDIATELY falls in love with her, kicks the old ball and chain to the curb and lets the new bimbo grift the hell out of him.



And guess what else? She might have done it B – E – F – O – R – E - ! ! ! ! !
 


The only good things I can say about Keep Your Friends Close? It was short and I read it fast. This is my second attempt at Pauly Daly and I’m pretty certain it will be my last . . . Unless I have an exceptionally bloaty-feeling, mood-swinging couple of days and opt to crack open a book rather than watching movie classics such as “Death of a Cheerleader” or “Co-Ed Callgirl”.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

EVERY STAR.


“Why was I so happy? My friend was dead. I should be sad. Was I happy she was dead? Did I secretly hate her? Did I have something to do with it? Did I do it myself? I did it. I had to. Maybe he did it too. Together. A pact. A game. Something sexual, fucked-up. Drugs and alcohol. Kids today. Where were our parents? Aren’t they to blame? Did he pressure me? Did I force him? I was happy. Why was I so happy?”

Those are the questions Anna must ask herself while sitting in jail while she awaits being tried for murdering her best friend. What began as a Spring Break trip to paradise, ended with Elise being found stabbed to death and Anna, along with her boyfriend Tate, being accused of committing the crime.

Please let me apologize in advance for what you are about to read because I have a feeling it’s going to get super rambly and might be a big mess by the time I’m finished.

I liked this book. A LOT. I liked it so much I did the crazy, post-it note marking of moments I wanted to make sure I remembered . . .



(and then I went to my kid’s baseball practice and all the other moms looked at me like I was a little “touched in the head” if you know what I mean). I have NEVER post-it noted a mystery/thriller because I liked it (but I have - quite often, in fact - post-it noted horrible parts of books in that genre).

Dangerous Girls grabs hold of you from Page 1 (seriously – Page 1 is a transcript of the 911 call reporting finding the dead body) and doesn’t ever let go. It has everything that makes a thriller thrilling – including a “ripped from the headlines” type of plot and an “everybody is a suspect” driving force that will just propel you through the pages. I read this book in 2 ½ hours. I COULD. NOT. PUT. IT. DOWN. The dialogue-heavy writing style and frantic pace made my reading speed become superhuman. And if you thought Megan Abbott could write terrifying teenagers? Well, honey, you ain’t seen NOTHING yet:

“Better to be a sneak, or a slut, or a narc, or a bully, than alone.”

“We want, we take, we have. It’s simple.”

So, after you get past the whole "this kind of has an eerie resemblance to the whole Natalee Holloway thing" and find your mind turning to the best of the worst evil high school girls . . .









it grows ever more delectable. Oh, and even if you think you know who did it, Haas will continue to fill you with doubts and make you question just how sure you are about yourself up to the final page.


P.S.: I’m sooooo stingy with my 5-Star ratings, and the fact that Dangerous Girls could have easily racked up a 6 or a 7 in the mystery/thriller category from me had me venture out to the author’s website to see what she’s all about. Well, first, she’s adorable. I find an author who looks like her producing stories like this to be awesomely creepy. Second, and most important, as of July 15th of this year Dangerous Girls had only sold 450 copies - a number so low that the author’s next book (Dangerous Boys, natch) was rejected all over town, leaving her no choice but to self-publish. I’ve never gone to bat for an author before (Lord help me, Abigail Haas/Abby McDonald, if you turn out to be an asshole), but I’m telling you that if you are a fan of Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn or Defending Jacob, you seriously NEED to read this book. Buy it, get it from your library, whatever – just read it and spread the word. Good authors shouldn’t be forced into self-publishing due to low sales/feedback.

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

4.5 Stars

You want a REAL review about Slaughterhouse-Five? Then I recommend reading what Richard or Dan had to say. I have owned this book for years and finally read it months ago - because Richard cyber-bullied me into it ; ) - but have been at a loss of how to express my thoughts. After reading Dan’s review I dug up the notes I had made to myself, and this is what I found:

“I'm glad I didn't read this back in high school when it was assigned. I was such an a$$hole and would have never realized I was reading something great.”

Yep, that about sums it up. I opted not to read Vonnegut because I just knew I was soooooooo much smarter and more awesome than he could ever dream to be. I’m fairly certain I chose a Hemingway novel instead (God, I was such an idiot – I totally deserved the punishment of having to muddle through that tripe).

Anyway, hopefully you either aren’t currently an a$$hole or have outgrown the phase of a$$holery you went through as a teenager and will opt to pick Slaughterhouse-Five up some time for a read or a re-read. I think you’ll find it’s well worth your time.

And so it goes . . .


Crap Taxidermy by Kat Su

5 Stars
 
LOOK WHAT CAME IN THE MAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mitchell was so excited he had to put on a party hat.


(Could my head look any bigger?  Crap on a cracker!)

How should I begin this review???????

Should I tell you how many blog-to-books I’ve read in the past year? (Answer: Infinity)

Should I tell you that I am one of the rabid followers of all things relating to The Bloggess and on one fateful day while perusing my local thrift shop my life was changed forever?

I should tell you all of those things, but first . . . . let me take a selfie:



If you haven’t met him yet, that’s Mitchell. My version of Jenny Lawson’s James Garfield. I found him in a thrift store last Fall, along with his hefty price tag of $459. Knowing that I could not excuse dropping so many Benjamins on a rotted boar’s head and remain married, I chose Option B – I went and visited him a few times a month just to check in, catch up, make sure he was being treated okay, etc. Amazingly, come Christmastime the shop owners were more than happy to haggle on the price (a LOT) in order to stop my creepy visits adopt Mitchell out to a loving home. Win!

I brought Mitchell home and we became instant BFFs. We continued our chats and got to know each other on a deeper level. Friends and family found our relationship to be a bit strange, but it was only because they couldn’t appreciate what it was like for me to FINALLY have a fellow book lover in the house. Of course, Mitchell’s idea of a “comedy” isn’t quite the same as mine . . .



There was a downside to our new relationship, though. Since I work a full-time job, Mitchell found himself lonely just hanging around all day. It was high time he had a friend. My husband had his eye on an alligator head at a local antique store, but sadly it had already been sold. However, the powers of the interwebs are remarkable and I soon found not just a head, but an entire alligator for a bargain price (due to bad stitchery, stuffing leakage, and a missing (but completely unnecessary) hand). Frank Engator entered our life and I found myself getting high off the big score . . .



Along the way we’ve adopted more friends into our little menagerie. Adorable pals like Pauly Shore:



and the loveable drunk, David Hasselmouse:



This book confirmed my belief that there is nothing in the world quite like taxidermy. I might be a candidate for an appearance on “My Strange Addiction”, but it’s cheaper than heroin and releases tons of good endorphins. Be it bad, good, or bizarre, taxidermied critters are definitely a conversation starter when people step in to your house for the first time and realize your simple reading room is truly a “Where’s Waldo” of dead things.

It takes a special breed of weirdo to appreciate the art behind taxidermy, but I have faith that many of you are weirdos just like me and will rush to the book store come September in order to have this teensie little masterpiece featured as a coffee-table-book-of-choice. Until then, happy hunting. Personally, I currently have my sights on a deer’s butt in order to make my very own “Assquatch” : )



Copy provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Film In Five Seconds by Matteo Civaschi and Gianmarco Milesi

5 Stars
 
Are you a social person who likes to have friends over for fun and frivolity?



Have you found that some of your drunken party games are growing a bit stale?



Or that YOUR new favorite game:



is considered more than a bit “mean-spirited” according to some of your friends?



If so, have no fear. Although Film in Five Seconds is presented to you as a book, trust me when I say it can be an AWESOME trivia game at your next party. You see, each page contains a diagram depicting the most epitomizing moments from a famous film. Guess the movie, get a point, and at the end of the evening the victor gets to pillage the house and claim his/her reward bragging rights. So easy even the booziest of boozehound can play along (at least for a round or two).

Some examples of the provided “clues” include:




(Calm down there Chuckles, they ain’t all so easy)


(This one totally made me snort-laugh. I’m going to Hell.)

Highly recommended to all movie buffs!

ARC provided by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

3 Stars
 

Well, rats. Maybe my expectations were just too high after falling head over heels in love with The Rosie Project last year. Maybe there wasn’t enough magic left to make a worthy sequel. Whatever the case, I’m bummed I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would.

WARNING: IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ THE ROSIE PROJECT AND INTEND TO DO SO, BACK AWAY FROM THIS REVIEW IMMEDIATELY. THERE IS ZERO WAY TO AVOID SPOILING THE FIRST BOOK AND STILL BE ABLE TO WRITE ABOUT THE SECOND.

Still here? Okay, here we go …

This is the continuation of Sheldon Cooper’s Don Tillman’s story. Now 41, he and Rosie have been married for 10 months (and 10 days, if you want to be technical – which we know Don always wants to be technical). The couple are residing in The Big Apple where Don is an assistant professor at Columbia and Rosie is finishing up her Ph.D. Rosie is about to inform Don that they have a little “something to celebrate.”

And there’s where our problem begins. While Don remains Don and is completely over-the-top adorkable, getting himself into laugh-out-loudable (new word – add it to the dictionary, Merriam-Webster) pickle after pickle due to his inability to interact successfully with most other humans, Rosie loses her charm and basically becomes a straight-up bitch (I’m sure there are more refined phrases I could use to describe Rosie, but she peeved me off, so I’m not going to). It was impossible for me to read this as just “entertainment” when I was so angry with the main character and none of Don’s antics were enough to keep my spirits up once Rosie entered a scene. That’s not to say Don was without faults . . . Don is FULL of faults. That’s kind of the whole point ; )

WARNING #2: THE FOLLOWING IS REALLY A SPOILER WHICH MIGHT RUIN THIS BOOK FOR EVERYONE. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
 
Still with me????
 
Okay.
 
Rosie commits the ULTIMATE sin of any woman – let alone a married one. She decides (even though she chose someone like Don for a partner and therefore supposedly accepted him as-is, including all of his quirks) that it is “her body, her choice,” stops taking birth control without consulting Don, gets knocked up (even though she’s finishing up a Ph.D. program and then immediately plans on turning around and beginning medical school), has ZERO plans on who will care for the baby/how they will pay for the baby, and then gets mad at Don for not jumping for joy about the situation. It made my heart hurt. It made me think that the author really dislikes women as he puts forth this surprise baby scenario as something the “average” wife does on the regular. It ruined the magic for me and made me soooooo sad.

I’ve sat on this review for a few days now because my head told me to give it a low rating, but my love for Don told me to keep it high. I’m settling for a 3, but not with a completely clear conscience. If I thought about it any longer it could easily become a 2 (or a 4 – I have some serious multiple-personality disorder on this one). I won’t be throwing in the towel on Graeme Simsion just yet, but I sure wish he would have given me more “Shamy” like I had hoped for . . . .




ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Thank you, NetGalley!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Unborn by Amber Lynn Natusch

1 Star



Okay, okay – maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but it was pretty horrible. In fact, the only positive was that I read it really fast. However, that might have been caused by my inability to ever not finish a book I’ve started and wanting to end my suffering as quickly as possible.

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH SOME WILL SEE AS “SPOILERY” – BUT IF YOU HAVE HALF A FUNCTIONING BRAIN CELL YOU WILL TOTALLY FIGURE OUT WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY SO I’M NOT SPOILER TAGGING ANYTHING

The whole idea behind this book sounded pretty kick-ass and the cover art was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.. Khara (who happens to be a ginger and therefore looks NOTHING like the cover – clue #1 this might not deliver to its full potential) was raised in the Underworld as a ward of Hades, but wakes up one day in a place worse than Hell Detroit after being kidnapped and brought there by some unknown person/force. Spoiler Alert: Khara totally knows someone from the Underworld who has always been out to “make her his,” but because she’s a complete idiot for whatever reason she brushes off the idea that that person could be the one who is after her.

Anyway, it seems the Motor City has been battling some rogue supernaturals whose M.O. is sucking the souls out of humans and a group of brothers is in charge of keeping the city safe


(With less make-up. Maybe.)

Khara is found by one of these fellas who almost immediately figures out that he (and his band of merry men) are her half-brothers . . . and let the incest jokes begin. Yeah – even though these dudes are wicked hot demigods who spend their free time looking for soul sucking supes at a bar called “The Tenth Circle” (get it, reference to Dante = oh so witty), this brother must not have much luck with the ladies because he can’t stop talking about how he’d like to bang his sister. Note to Amber Lynn Natusch, you’re no George R.R. Martin – leave the incest to the pros.



Now the brothers and Khara – and a super hot badboy angel

(there just had to be a sexy fallen angel to complete this horrible group of characters, right?)

who no one likes, but somehow still lives in the house with them, all must ban together in order to stop the evil that is threatening to take over the city and wants Khara for his own. Did you read the whole review? If so, I’ll give you three guesses who the bad guy is and the first two don’t count.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Thank you, NetGalley!
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Vines by Christopher Rice

3 Stars
 
You ask, “is this another book about evil plants????” Why yes, yes it is. You say, “but it’s been done before (and probably better).” To that, I say:



This one adds a little twist. Not only are there terrifying plants that might kill you, there are also deadly bugs



No, not that kind of bug. Huge, evil, swarms of bugs hungry for human flesh



Close enough.

Caitlin Chaisson appears to lead a charmed life as an heiress who lives in a sprawling mansion called Spring House outside of New Orleans and is happily married to a local hero . . . or so she thought. While witnessing her husband’s tryst with the party planner at her birthday party, Caitlin decides she is going to end her life and slashes her wrist in the mansion’s gazebo. Rather than dying, Caitlin’s blood awakens a dark force that has been lying in wait for over 150 years. It is now up to Caitlin’s estranged best friend, Blake, and her hired man’s daughter, Nova, to figure out the mystery of what exactly resides in the ground at Spring House.

Although there are definitely scarier “plant books” around (specifically The Ruins), this one is more of a mystery rather than an out-and-out horror story and it wasn’t too shabby.

I had not read Christopher Rice until recently due to . . . REASONS . . . but I’m glad I gave him a chance. He writes a good, fast-paced thriller with flowing dialogue and great main characters. He also doesn’t waste a boatload of time/pages dealing with what I like to call the “non-believer syndrome” in preternatural stories. Rice believes in having Character A tell Character B some weird s*&^ is going down and making Character B trust Character A enough to believe there must actually be some weird s*&^ going down. He cuts to the chase and wraps the story up efficiently. Obviously there are some books that demand more pages, The Vines wasn’t one of them and I’m glad Rice left it at its current length rather than add a bunch of unnecessary filler.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Thank you, NetGalley!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Bees by Laline Paull

2 Stars
 
The best thing to come out of reading this book is finding the following:



This book is really about a beehive – where the bees have been anthropomorphized and talk and shit. Amazing that that bit of info seems to be a spoiler for some. Heck, that was the whole reason I wanted to read it - an unusual premise is a quick sell for me. What wasn’t a quick sell? The story of Flora 717 (a/k/a the horniest bee in the hive) and her unyielding desire to birth a little larvae of her own even though she was born a simple sanitation bee rather than a queen. It reminded me a bit of Agnes of God, which I know is completely whack-a-doo and more than a little on the creepy side, but the entire hive atmosphere seemed very much like a nunnery to me – especially the “Accept, Obey and Serve” mantra all the female bees must follow.

Before I get inundated with the “I didn’t get it” or “maybe I’m too stupid to be reading a literary wonder such as this” comments, I’m going to tell you to save your breath. There’s a good chance that I just didn’t get it, or that I’m stupid for books like this. However, I feel there is a stronger chance that this book was seriously overhyped/overrated and in reality just pretty much sucked.

I’d still totally read another book about bees, though. The .gifs, they are aplenty : )