Genre: Horror

Better Late Than Never: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

May 26, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Better Late Than Never, Book Reviews, Read in 2017 6 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Better Late Than Never: The Dead Zone by Stephen KingThe Dead Zone by Stephen King
Narrator: James Franco
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on April 25th 2017
Length: 16 hours and 11 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

three-half-stars

Never before on audio! A #1 national bestseller about a man who wakes up from a five-year coma able to see people’s futures and the terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone—a “compulsive page-turner” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancé married another man during his coma and people clamor for him to solve their problems.

When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future. The Dead Zone is a “faultlessly paced…continuously engrossing” (Los Angeles Times) novel of second sight.

*First published in 1979, this is my first time reading The Dead Zone. Better late than never.

Johnny Smith has lived with physic abilities his entire life but it isn’t until the car accident in his 20s that they become an undeniable ability. He lay in a coma before waking to discover that his girlfriend at the time is now married, that he’s lost four years of his life, and that he now possesses the ability to witness the future of any individual (and sometimes even objects) he touches. Sometimes the future he sees is only a few minutes ahead of the present time but sometimes it’s years ahead. The truth of his abilities are revealed to the public after the highly publicized account of him waking after a four-year coma, and the limelight changes his life irrevocably. He sequesters himself from the public after the demands for his assistance in finding lost loved ones/missing persons, despite his mother, Vera Smith, and her insistence that he was brought back “to do God’s work.” When news of a high-profile serial killer hits his radar, he begins to feel morally obligated to at least try to help. And when he shakes the hand of an up and coming politician and foresees not just his future but the future of the human race, Johnny has to decide what is “right” and if he’s now duty-bound to changing the future so it never becomes our present.

“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn’t good enough, it has to do.”

First published in 1979, The Dead Zone ended up being far more relevant to today’s time than I ever would have predicted. The future of the dirty politician that Johnny foresaw is a man by the name of Greg Stillson who started off as a nobody yet rose up in the ranks and quickly became the popular vote for the next President of the United States. His political platform and personal style were aimed towards the working class and he was prided on his honesty but had a definite lack of tact. He completely lacks any political knowledge, has big plans for America (albeit most of them beyond ludicrous), and is a devoutly religious man. Stillson is first introduced almost as a caricature of a real villain, someone that can’t possibly be taken seriously, but you slowly realize his influence on the vast population is something that cannot be brushed off as having little consequence. The ludicrousness didn’t last long after realization dawned. As I said… most relevant, right?

The Dead Zone is many stories in one. The beginning is a long drawn out section detailing Johnny’s recuperation in the hospital and the subsequent surgeries that were required for him to ever be able to walk again. Once he’s back on his feet, literally, the story switches focus to catching the serial killer, and you begin to think that that’s the plot except that story finds resolution and hundreds of pages remain. It came off slightly clunky, almost like we were being left out on parts of Johnny’s life that weren’t interesting enough for the page, but at least in this instance, James Franco’s narration gives these characters life. His acting skills are on full display to helpfully differentiate the characters, making Johnny a mellow smooth-talker, and giving Stillson a villainous voice that accurately matches his vile actions. Despite the definite lack of any type of horror (unless you count the potentially horrific reality of it all) and the obvious backpedaling done on that ending, The Dead Zone ended up being a vastly different King than I’ve come to expect but was still no doubt a thrilling story.

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – Strange Weather: Four Short Novels by Joe Hill

May 24, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Waiting on Wednesday 15 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Strange Weather: Four Short Novels by Joe HillStrange Weather: Four Short Novels by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on October 24th 2017
Pages: 448
Genres: Horror
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: NOS4A2, Twittering from the Circus of the Dead, The Fireman: A Novel

A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill

“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.
A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”
On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.
In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

About Joe Hill

Joe Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His second, Horns, was made into a film freakfest starring Daniel Radcliffe. His other novels include NOS4A2, and his #1 New York Times Best-Seller, The Fireman... which was also the winner of a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror Novel.

He also writes short stories. Some of them were gathered together in his prize-winning collection, 20th Century Ghosts.

He was awarded the Eisner Award for Best Writer for his long running comic book series, Locke & Key, co-created with illustrator and art wizard Gabriel Rodriguez.

He lives in New Hampshire with a corgi named McMurtry after a certain beloved writer of cowboy tales. His next book, Strange Weather, a collection of novellas, is due in fall of 2017.

I’m a mega fan of Joe Hill, sure, but not only does this compilation of stories sound incredible but that cover is all sorts of amazing too. Dying for this one. DYING.

border24

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly Garden

April 21, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2017, Short & Sweet Reviews 2 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly GardenBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Pages: 306
Genres: Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Mayhem, Murder, The Language of Dying

four-stars

Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes?

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.
And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

‘Questions, question, question. It seems that ever since David and Adele came into my life I’ve been filled with questions. They’re like weeds in water. Every time I think I can swim away another one tangles around my legs to drag me back down.’

Everything about this story and its summary scream “typical suburban drama” but Behind Her Eyes is far from anything you’ve ever read, I can assure you. Sure, Louise is a single mom who meets a man in a bar. They share a kiss, but nothing more. When she gets to work on Monday to meet her new boss, David, it ends up being the man from the bar… who is married. Desperate to make everything less awkward, they both admit to it being a vast mistake in an attempt to make sure it’s never brought up again. But when Louise makes a new friend named Adele who ends up being David’s wife, Louise’s life becomes vastly complicated.

The present-day story progresses as David and Adele’s past unfolds which further complicates matters. It’s constantly alluded to that David is overly protective of Adele, that he keeps her literally locked inside their house, that he limits her access to her own personal finances, and that their relationship is far from anything healthy. Adele involves Louise in her personal drama but leaves vital pieces of the puzzle out in a desperate attempt to earn Louise’s empathy. But to what end?

Here’s where things get dicey and where I understand the negative opinions of many even though mine differ. The whole initial setup of this story appears very formulaic, establishing some preconceived notions of where the plot could possibly go. The massive emphasis by Flatiron Books Marketing team on the twist at the end is worthy because it’s one that absolutely no one could have seen coming. It didn’t come out of left field, so to speak, it wasn’t even playing on the same field. No, this twist is practically conjured out of thin air and while this would normally leave me feeling cheated (again, based on all those established preconceived notions) it was such an extremely bizarre and outlandish approach to transforming the a-typical suburban drama into something different that I really couldn’t help but love it. Pinborough never fails to surprise me.

Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly GardenPoe by J. Lincoln Fenn
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Published by Brilliance Audio on October 22nd 2013
Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins
Genres: Mystery, Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Dead Souls

three-stars

It's Halloween, and life is grim for twenty-three-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It's the one-year anniversary of his parents' deaths, he's stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.

But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri is assigned to cover a seance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion. There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he's about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. He wakes up in the morgue -- icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.

As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn't, it's quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.


“Two weeks. Everything you love, own, and cherish, can be gone, liquidated, and lost forever in two weeks. Give or take a day.”

Dimitri Petrov is a would-be novelist and current obituary writer for an irrelevant newspaper. He gets tasked last minute with covering a séance at a local haunted house on Halloween (of course), he meets his dream girl, and there’s a lot of awkward conversation where he manages to win her over… somehow. But his life admittedly goes a bit downhill from there when he manages to fall through the floor, wakes up in the actual morgue, and finds that he has a new ghostly friend he dubs Poe that won’t leave him alone. Add in the mystery behind the haunted house, the strange family history of his new girlfriend, the truth behind the tragic deaths of Dimitri’s own parents, some curious ancient books that seem to possess powers, and a spleen-eating serial killer and you’ve got the plot of Poe. All in just over 300 pages.

“I have watched enough cheesy detective television shows in my young life to know that when one is presented with an inexplicable mystery, the first order of business (after procuring good donuts and coffee—check) is to create a wall of clues with photos of suspects and article clippings, preferably in an artistic yet seemingly random fashion.”

In the beginning, this story was entertaining, fast-paced, and fun, but just as it started out fine for Dimitri, unfortunately, the book went downhill as well. The characters themselves were never fully formed except for Dimitri who was the stories requisite guy who found humor and sarcasm in anything and everything (and reminded me a lot of the guy in The Last Days of Jack Sparks.) The mysteries were excessive and mildly convoluted, yes, however the horror elements brought about some very well-written pieces of terror. The descriptions were on point and were enough to churn even the hardest of stomachs. The biggest issue I had was how the author chose to focus more on the cutesy relationship aspects in a plot that didn’t require anything of the sort. Adding a romance factor certainly helps to appeal to a wider audience but it just didn’t work for me.

Having already read Fenn’s sophomore novel, Dead Souls, I can see how far she’s come with her plotting and characterization(Dead Souls is absolutely incredible — read it). Her debut may not have been my favorite but she’s definitely fallen onto my radar on authors to watch out for.

Short & Sweet (Mysteries) – Behind Her Eyes, Poe, The Butterfly GardenThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
Narrator: Lauren Ezzo, Mel Foster
Series: The Collector #1
Published by Brilliance Audio on June 1st 2016
Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
Genres: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


two-stars

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding.…

“Some people stay broken. Some pick up the pieces and put them back together with all the sharp edges showing.”

FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are put in charge of interviewing a kidnap survivor that goes by the name of Maya who was recently rescued. According to her, she was one of many “butterflies” who lived in a garden. They were all girls who over the years had been kidnapped and brought to the garden by a man only known as The Gardener. He tattoos beautiful wings on their backs, renames them, rapes them, and cares for them until their expiration date of 21-years-old at which point The Gardener would kill them and preserve them in resin such as one does with perfect specimens. The Butterfly Garden switches back and forth between past and present and unveils the ordeals of the years that Maya spent behind the walls of the garden.

First off, yes, this is some sick and twisted sounding shit but whatever, I’m weird. Considering The Collector is one of my all-time favorite books, this story was immediately appealing to me and there were vast similarities. The kidnapped girl(s), the obsession with preserving butterflies (actual butterflies though), and the acclimating the victim(s) to transform their abnormal environment into something normal. Where The Collector was straight forward and quietly disturbing, The Butterfly Garden worked very hard at establishing the belief that we were working with an unreliable narrator and that there was clearly a big twist to anticipate. This was a most unsettling read and the author never flinches away from describing the brutality the girls were forced to suffer through. Also written well (and equally unsettling) was the mentality of The Gardener and how effortlessly he was able to convince himself that he was doing what was right for these girls by taking them in and caring for them.

I did have some serious issues with the technicalities of The Gardener’s whole operation that I’m sure could be easily overlooked with a little suspension of disbelief but sometimes I just can’t be that kind of reader. I’ll add in spoiler tags just in case: View Spoiler » All in all, I had a lot of questions that didn’t come equipped with a whole lot of answers.

And then that ending.

I’M SO ANGRY. I don’t remember the last time I read such an immensely enthralling book that captivated me from page one, had me searching for extra time in the day just to read it, only to have it fall flatter than a fucking pancake at the end. I mean seriously, what even was that? Don’t market your book based on some hidden secret if all you’ve come up with is that. There’s apparently a second book too. No, thank you, please.

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – Sleeping Beauties: A Novel by Stephen King and Owen King

April 5, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 10 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Sleeping Beauties: A Novel by Stephen King and Owen KingSleeping Beauties: A Novel by Stephen King, Owen King
Published by Scribner on September 26th 2017
Pages: 720
Genres: Horror, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison

Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.

About Owen King

I'm the author of the novel Double Feature and We're All In This Together: A Novella and Stories, co-editor (with John McNally) of the anthology Who Can Save Us Now, and co-author (with Mark Poirier) of the graphic novel Intro to Alien Invasion. My writing has appeared in publications such as Grantland, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, and One Story. My next book, Sleeping Beauties, a novel co-authored with Stephen King, will be published by Scribner in 2017.

My wife is the beautiful and mysterious Kelly Braffet. She has written three wonderful books, but my personal favorite is Save Yourself.

About Stephen King

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world's most successful writers.

Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.

border24

I cannot get over this cover — absolutely to die for — and damn, does it sound good!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey

February 8, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 10 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. CareyThe Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey
Published by Orbit on May 2nd 2017
Pages: 400
Genres: Horror, Zombies
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Girl with All the Gifts, Fellside

A new standalone novel set in the same world as the USA Today bestseller The Girl With All The Gifts.

From the author of USA Today bestseller The Girl With All the Gifts, a terrifying new novel set in the same post-apocalyptic world.

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.

The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.

To where the monsters lived.

About M.R. Carey

Mike Carey was born in Liverpool in 1959. He worked as a teacher for fifteen years, before starting to write comics. When he started to receive regular commissions from DC Comics, he gave up the day job.

Since then, he has worked for both DC and Marvel Comics, writing storylines for some of the world's most iconic characters, including X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, LUCIFER and HELLBLAZER. His original screenplay FROST FLOWERS is currently being filmed. Mike has also adapted Neil Gaiman's acclaimed NEVERWHERE into comics.

Somehow, Mike finds time amongst all of this to live with his wife and children in North London. You can read his blog at www.mikecarey.net

border24

I raved about The Girl with All the Gifts but never expected anything more set in that world. The Boy on the Bridge is intended as a standalone story set in the same world and whether or not reading Girl before is a requirement or not remains to be seen. But color me intrigued.

confused adam levine maroon 5 interested intrigued

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Short & Sweet – The Chronicles of Alice

February 3, 2017 Bonnie Book Reviews 4 Comments

Short & Sweet – The Chronicles of AliceAlice by Christina Henry
Series: The Chronicles of Alice #1
Published by Ace on August 4th 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Horror, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eBook
Source: Gifted
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood…

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.

‘Alice hardly recalled when she was new and whole. That girl seemed like someone else she’d known once, long ago and far away.’

When Alice was sixteen-years-old, she snuck out of New City and into Old City with her friend Dor. She returned home changed irrevocably: she had a cut across her face that would no doubt transform her beautiful face into a scarred one, she was covered in blood, and she couldn’t stop talking about Rabbit. Her parents are determined to quiet any negative gossip that could be associated with their family so they place her in a mental asylum in Old City and there she remains for ten years. Drugged daily, memories of the Rabbit still haunt her and her only companion is Hatcher, a man that she speaks with through a small mouse hole which connects their two rooms. When a fire consumes the asylum and something powerful within is released, her and Hatcher escape together. Together they must work to contain what was released and Alice intends to find the truth of what happened to her all those years ago.

“I feel the night crawling up all around, blotting out the moon. I feel blood running down the walls, rivers of it in the streets below. And I feel his teeth closing around me.”

This book was mad. Completely and utterly mad. It’s this bizarre mix of fantasy and horror but is one outrageously insane nightmare. So, if you’re looking for some variation on the original Disney tale? hahahaha…. Look elsewhere. I read this entire book with this look on my face:

All the characters from the original tales are included in this retelling, except their roles are vastly different (and they are men, not animals). We see Chesire, Caterpiller, the Carpenter, and Walrus who are all crime bosses in Old City. But instead of just silly illusions we’re dealing with fighting rings, sex trafficking (massive trigger warnings here in terms of rape), cannibalism, some horrifying depictions of slavery and magical body modifications… (refer to above gif once again for my response). Honestly, this book is extremely disturbing and the incredible amount of non-stop violence felt like a complete assault on my being at times. Even if it was a difficult read, it was quite remarkable how the author managed to take the basis of a story yet transform it so drastically so as to render it nearly unrecognizable. What didn’t work quite as well was how the actual characters themselves were written. Whether it’s because the author chose to focus completely on the world itself or because she chose to have us rely on our recollections of the characters from the original tale, either way, the characters themselves were lacking in both personal detailing and their general motivations.

This story isn’t going to be for everyone and it’s definitely going to take someone with a higher threshold for reading some seriously messed up shit. It’s grotesque yet in that captivating way that keeps you reading while simultaneously thinking: “What the hell else could possibly happen?”

This fantasy horror mashup will definitely appeal to fans of unconventional fairytale retellings.

Short & Sweet – The Chronicles of AliceRed Queen by Christina Henry
Series: The Chronicles of Alice #2
Published by Ace on July 12th 2016
Pages: 304
Genres: Horror, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


three-half-stars

The author of Alice takes readers back down the rabbit hole to a dark, twisted, and fascinating world based on the works of Lewis Carroll…

Alice and Hatcher have escaped the Rabbit, Cheshire, and the Jabberwocky, but they are still on a mission to find Hatcher’s missing daughter, a quest they will not forsake even as it takes them deep into the clutches of the mad White Queen and her goblin or into the realm of the twisted and cruel Black King.

The pieces are set and the game has already begun. Each move brings Alice closer to her destiny. But, to win, she will need to harness her newfound abilities and ally herself with someone even more powerful—the mysterious and vengeful Red Queen…

“Once, there was a girl called Alice, and she lived in the New City, where everything is shining and beautiful and fair. But Alice was a curious girl with a curious talent. She was a Magician.”

After Hatcher and Alice discovered the truth of their pasts, they set out in search of Hatcher’s daughter Jenny who was believed to have been sold and sent East. On their journey, they stumble upon a small village near the woods with the horrifying stories of the children that they must sacrifice to the White Queen. Alice believes she can be of help to these people despite her inability to consistently use her magic and when Hatcher disappears, Alice is left on her own to take care of herself and make things right for the village.

‘There were monsters in the night but there were monsters in the day too, and monsters inside people who smiled and showed you all their teeth like they were nice.’

Reading this duology back to back was like shifting from fifth gear down to second without slowing down. If Alice was 100% horror, Red Queen is more like 30% and has all the building blocks to make it feel more like the fairytale these stories are based on. Creepy woods that contain unknown creatures that hunt at night, a White Queen and a Black King and the mysterious story of their pasts, magical villages that possess untold rules, a goblin that can fool you with illusions, and giants who were transformed from normal men by a malicious queen. For the majority of this story, Alice is the sole character presence and we get an inside look at her thought process which at first is hesitant and insecure at her ability to do anything on her own. Alice is not only besieged with her personal identity crisis but also with getting a grasp on her magical abilities. The build-up to her gaining confidence is a bit of a plodding process but is a necessity to make her change a realistic one.

The fairytale aspects of this story take center stage when it comes to wrapping up this magical adventure by cleaning up loose ends in a bit of a rapid and unrealistic (but realistic in fairytale standards) style. While I was glad to get a respite from the brutality of the first installment, I think there should have been more included in Red Queen so it felt less like a completely separate story instead of a continuation of the first.Christina Henry certainly knows how to mix up a fairytale and turn it into something awe-inspiring though and I look forward to next reading her take on Peter Pan and Captain Hook in

Christina Henry certainly knows how to mix up a fairytale and turn it into something awe-inspiring though and I look forward to next reading her take on Peter Pan and Captain Hook in Lost Boy.

Divider

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad Boy

December 23, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016, Short & Sweet Reviews 10 Comments

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
Published by Thomas Dunne Books on August 9th 2016
Pages: 346
Genres: Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.

As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.

By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy's family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget, Bryn Greenwood's All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.

We meet Wavonna “Wavy” Quinn when she’s only five years old and she’s already experienced far more than any five year old should. Her father Liam is a meth dealer and her mother Val is an addict. Val possesses more than a few neurosis about cleanliness (she tells her she has germs, sticks her fingers down her throat telling her food is dirty, occasionally even throws food out completely forcing Wavy and her younger brother Donal to dig from the trash for their dinners) and subsequently passes these same neurosis onto Wavy. She refuses to eat when others are looking, she doesn’t touch anyone, and refuses to be touched. Until Jesse Joe Kellen. Kellen is a drug runner for Liam but he begins the only one that takes care of Wavy and her brother. As Wavy grows up in her unstable environment, we’re told her story from her point-of-view and various others in her life and we see how her and Kellen’s relationship transforms into something, well, both ugly and wonderful.

I’ve read some questionable books in my time but the idea of romanticizing a relationship between an extremely  young girl (they met when she was just 5) with a twenty-something-year-old man had me saying

For good reason, but damn did Greenwood make it work. The story unfolds over the course of 15 years or so of Wavy’s life and through it all we see the trauma she underwent in her household and how her and Kellen’s relationship ultimately saved them both. I appreciated how much we got to see from Wavy’s point of view because it gave the reader the ability to develop some much needed tolerance. While it may be deemed wrong in the eyes of the law, Wavy had a complete understanding of their less than perfect romance. Setting aside the squick factor that I know is a definite issue, this was a beautiful tale of hard-fought love.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyThe Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
Published by Orbit on March 3rd 2016
Pages: 336
Genres: Horror
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


four-stars

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.
In 2014, Jack Sparks - the controversial pop culture journalist - died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack's final hours.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks is about, well, the last days of Jack Sparks. While researching the occult for his most recent book, he had some mysterious incidents that even he couldn’t explain away. See, even though he was researching the occult, he was actually a professed non-believer of it all and sought to discredit everyone. He attended an actual exorcism and laughed at the experience and then there was the mysterious video that was added onto his personal YouTube channel showing possible proof of an actual ghost. It was a bit downhill for him from there on out.

This story was, for the most part, a mystery and the horror would sneak up on you reminding you of its true genre, but there was quite a lot of humor to balance things out. For the record, I read a lot of horror and this story often left me with my jaw on the ground. Once things really got going and you’re dealing with various different storylines that were confusing yet still managed to make sense, then Arnopp hits you with the twist.

But like, in the best way.

The Last Days of Jack Sparks managed to both shock and impress me despite the loose ends that didn’t quite get resolved to my liking. If you enjoyed A Head Full of Ghosts but were wishing it was a bit more terrifying? This reads for you.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet – All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, The Last Days of Jack Sparks, Bad BoyBad Boy by Elliot Wake
Narrator: Randal Marsh
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on December 6th 2016
Pages: 248
Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


two-half-stars

Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

Renard Grant is a popular transgender vlogger who is also a vigilante saving terrorized women in his spare time. If your immediate thought is “that’s a bit of a mouthful” you would be right. Grant’s story is a rousing tale of discovering your true identity; something that Wake can speak from the heart about because his emotions shown clearly through the delivery. The transformation process is discussed in much detail and it’s enlightening and informative, shedding light on something with many pre-conceived notions.

I adored Unteachable and while Black Iris and Cam Girl both had their fair share of flaws, there was still much to love and the writing style is something to behold. The issue I had with Bad Boy is there’s simply far too much going on in the few pages there are. There was already enough of a story recounting the experience of transitioning without adding in the concept of a masked vigilante group protecting women. It’s a great concept, the only problem is the transition story View Spoiler » was a far more compelling one and the superfluous addition only caused it to pale in comparison. On top of that, the combination of many of Wake’s previous characters from Black Iris and Cam Girl was overwhelming. Each of her characters can hold their own as the star of the show and having them all grouped together, battling for attention, felt like some sort of all-consuming motley (and not in the best way). Bad Boy is still no doubt well worth the read for the edifying aspect alone.

Divider

Audiobook Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

December 10, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain ReidI'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Narrator: Candace Thaxton
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on June 14th 2016
Pages: 5 hours and 22 minutes
Genres: Horror, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Audible
Goodreads


two-stars

In this deeply scary and intensely unnerving debut novel, Jake and a woman known only as “The Girlfriend” are on a drive to visit his parents at their secluded farm. But when Jake leaves “The Girlfriend” stranded at an abandoned high school, what follows is a twisted unraveling of the darkest unease, an exploration into psychological frailty, and an ending as suspenseful as The Usual Suspects and as haunting as Misery.

Deeply scary and intensely unnerving, Iain Reid’s debut novel is a tightening spiral of a story about a woman’s uncertainty of her relationship with her boyfriend, Jake. After an uncomfortable and confusing trip to meet Jake’s parents at their isolated farmhouse, reality unravels and events spin out of control when Jake and “The Girlfriend” make an unscheduled stop at an abandoned high school. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is about doubt, psychological fragility, and the lengths we’ll go to avoid the truth. Twisted as Shutter Island, as suspenseful as Under the Skin and as atmospheric as The Sisters Brothers, Reid’s breakout literary thriller is sure to keep readers guessing until the last page.

‘Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.’

Jake and his girlfriend are traveling to visit his parents, whom she’s meeting for the first time, but on the way there she realizes that she’s thinking of ending things with Jake. Throughout the entirety of the trip, she contemplates her decision, wondering if she should truly go through with it. Her internal monologue remains ambivalent while describing their supposed rare and intense attachment. What exactly would make her suddenly think about ending things remains a mystery. She also touches on strange events from her childhood and a recent individual who has been leaving eerie voicemails that she isn’t sure how to handle. In addition to this are sections interspersed which imply that a crime took place but no clear answer is given. This rehashing of events is an unsettling build-up to a truly baffling finish.

what britney spears confused britney wut

This story had such diverging ratings that I HAD to try this, even if it turned out to be horrendous. Sometimes you just gotta see for yourself because you never really know. Well, my rating pretty much speaks for itself. I didn’t hate it but I clearly didn’t love it. The narration of this audiobook succeeded in making this one a manageable read and bumped up my rating from a mere 1 star. Her character voices were easily able to differentiate including Jack’s male voice. The individual that was leaving the eerie voicemails was described as having an effeminate voice and while the voicemails themselves were meant to spook the reader, Candace Thaxton’s production of these particular scenes were the most eerie part. (See below for an audio clip.) In terms of the “mystery”, it relies heavily on creating a build up of intrigue (and an immense amount of bait-and-switch tactics) to get you to the twist of an ending. Enough is revealed by our narrator via her stream of conscious depiction of events, but you can tell from early on that she’s not being exactly forthcoming in the details. Something is being omitted; there’s a missing piece of the puzzle. If you didn’t already detect the cryptic nature of our narrator, the fact that she isn’t ever identified, she remains nameless the entirety of the novel, should be a flashing warning sign.

‘Both fictions and memories are recalled and retold. They’re both forms of stories. Stories are the way we learn. Stories are how we understand each other.’

Admittedly, the beginning was fairly adequate even though there was that feeling of a forced air of mystery. As more is revealed, it’s hard to see what direction this story is headed in but it’s enough to still leave you curious. But then the weirdness sets in. She asks Jake questions which he ignores completely as if she never even spoke, he gives her a tour of the farm View Spoiler » instead of going immediately into the house to see his parents whom they traveled hours to see, his idea to stop at a Dairy Queen while there’s an ongoing blizzard outside, and most especially was his insistence that they detour down an unplowed road because he thinks there’s a school down there with most likely a trash can because he has to throw away his melting lemonade cup before the cup holders get sticky.

wtf confused huh jenna marbles what the fuck

This sudden lack of sense was an immediate disconnect from the mystery because I knew that something fishy was going on. Nothing seemed logical and clearly everything that was happening had to be questioned to the nth degree. Regardless of my confusion, the ending could have delivered a spectacular twist that had me praising the authors ingenuity… but not in this case. The ending clears up all questions without being thrown some curve ball twist you never saw coming. Thinking back over the entirety of this short novel, you can see hints at the reveal that was to come, but that doesn’t make it any more satisfying. In truth, the ending is a bit too orderly for how convoluted this novel is presented and while the introductory build-up had me immediately hooked, the end result was anticlimactic.

‘Maybe the end was written right from the beginning.’

1986 jeff goldblum geena davis the fly this is it

 

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

November 9, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Universal Harvester by John DarnielleUniversal Harvester by John Darnielle
on February 7th 2017
Pages: 224
Genres: Horror, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut

Jeremy works at the counter of Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa. It’s a small town—the first “a” in the name is pronounced ay—smack in the center of the state. This is the late 1990s, pre-DVD, and the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut. But there are regular customers, a predictable rush in the late afternoon. It’s good enough for Jeremy: It’s a job; it’s quiet and regular; he gets to watch movies; he likes the owner, Sarah Jane; it gets him out of the house, where he and his dad try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck.

But when Stephanie Parsons, a local schoolteacher, comes in to return her copy of Targets, starring Boris Karloff—an old movie, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store—she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, Lindsey Redinius brings back She’s All That, a new release, and complains that there’s something wrong with it: “There’s another movie on this tape.”

So Jeremy takes a look. And indeed, in the middle of the movie the screen blink dark for a moment and She’s All That is replaced by a black-and-white scene, shot in a barn, with only the faint sounds of someone breathing. Four minutes later, She’s All That is back. But there is something profoundly disturbing about that scene; Jeremy’s compelled to watch it three or four times. The scenes recorded onto Targets are similar, undoubtedly created by the same hand. Creepy. And the barn looks a lot like a barn just outside of town.

Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious. In truth, it freaks him out, deeply. This has gone far enough, maybe too far already. But Stephanie is pushing, and once Sarah Jane takes a look and becomes obsessed, there’s no more ignoring the disturbing scenes on the videos. And all of a sudden, what had once been the placid, regular old Iowa fields and farmhouses now feels haunted and threatening, imbued with loss and instability and profound foreboding. For Jeremy, and all those around him, life will never be the same . . .

About John Darnielle

John Darnielle is an American musician, best known as the primary (and often solitary) member of the American band the Mountain Goats, for which he is the writer, composer, guitarist, pianist and vocalist.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

border24

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

bonnie blog signature

Divider

Waiting on Wednesday – Black Mad Wheel: A Novel by Josh Malerman

November 2, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Black Mad Wheel: A Novel by Josh MalermanBlack Mad Wheel: A Novel by Josh Malerman
Published by Ecco on May 23rd 2017
Pages: 304
Genres: Mystery, Horror
Format: Hardcover
Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Bird Box

From the author of the hit literary horror debut Bird Box (”Hitchcockian.” —USA Today) comes a chilling novel about a group of musicians conscripted by the US government to track down the source of a strange and debilitating sound

The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.
Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious-and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

Part Heart of Darkness, part Lost, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking new novel plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear.

About Josh Malerman

FUN FACTS ABOUT JOSH

1. Shares a birthday with Amelia Earhart
Is the middle child
2. At 12, got stung on the face by a jellyfish after father convinced him the ocean was safe
3. The Twilight Zone: The Movie was the first horror film he saw
4. Almost always writes as horror movie soundtracks play on the record player (The Howling, Poltergeist, and Zombi 2 are great, but Creepshow is best)
5. Sings for the rock n’ roll band The High Strung
6. Wrote/performs the theme song for Showtime’s Shameless (starring William H. Macy)
7. Has only read two books twice: William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Stephen King’s The Shining
8. Is a member of the Detroit Zoo
9. Lives with his fianceé (whose head he recently shaved) in Royal Oak, Michigan

border24

I adored Malerman’s debut Bird Box and I’ve been anxiously awaiting more from him. This one certainly sounds intriguing!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

border24

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

bonnie blog signature

Divider