The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: November 3, 2015  

Format: Audio/Library Book

A master storyteller at his best—the O. Henry Prize winner Stephen King delivers a generous collection of stories, several of them brand-new, featuring revelatory autobiographical comments on when, why, and how he came to write (or rewrite) each story.

Since his first collection, Nightshift, published thirty-five years ago, Stephen King has dazzled readers with his genius as a writer of short fiction. In this new collection he assembles, for the first time, recent stories that have never been published in a book. He introduces each with a passage about its origins or his motivations for writing it.

There are thrilling connections between stories; themes of morality, the afterlife, guilt, what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. “Afterlife” is about a man who died of colon cancer and keeps reliving the same life, repeating his mistakes over and over again. Several stories feature characters at the end of life, revisiting their crimes and misdemeanors. Other stories address what happens when someone discovers that he has supernatural powers—the columnist who kills people by writing their obituaries in “Obits;” the old judge in “The Dune” who, as a boy, canoed to a deserted island and saw names written in the sand, the names of people who then died in freak accidents. In “Morality,” King looks at how a marriage and two lives fall apart after the wife and husband enter into what seems, at first, a devil’s pact they can win.

Magnificent, eerie, utterly compelling, these stories comprise one of King’s finest gifts to his constant reader—“I made them especially for you,” says King. “Feel free to examine them, but please be careful. The best of them have teeth.”

Review –
Always a pleasure to read a Stephen King book and this one was no exception.
The principal purpose of  the stories in this book is to entertain. Mr. King  says, “Although life experiences are the basis of all stories, I’m not in the business of confessional fiction.” No, he really isn’t, and the reason “The Little Green God of Agony” is one of the strongest stories in “The Bazaar of Bad Dreams” is that in this one, at least, King finds a serviceable horror metaphor for what’s on his mind, rather than trying to express it more directly. (He wrote this during his rehabilitation after his near fatal accident and all the pain he suffered)
There were some stories that I liked more than others but on the whole it was a delightful (if anything about Stephen King can be called delightful) collection of short stories concerning  various life changing subjects. What’s unusual about the tales in this volume is how many of its deaths are ordinary, mundane sorts of demises: deaths by cancer or heart failure or car accident or simple, non-­supernatural homicide. 
If you’re a “constant reader” or have never (GASP!) read Stephen King this is a great book to add to your TBR list or pile. Since it’s a collection of short stories it’s easy to commit to the book because you know you can read one story and put it down, but I doubt you will want to put it down after you start reading.
Loved it!
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Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

Book Description:

Published: April 4, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

Review –

Almost a decade has passed since the end of Sleeping Giants, yet the Earth Defence Council and all its scientists are no closer to understanding Themis and the technology that powers her. Of course, there have been advancements due to her discovery, and the tours she does over the globe continue to inspire. However, despite Themis being under the control of the EDC, some nations are still keen to use her for themselves. This is soon put to rest with the arrival in London of another robot, one similar to Themis, but not identical, though it is clear that it was built by the same beings. Now all of Earth waits to see what happens, and just what the future has in store.

Waking Gods follows the format from Sleeping Giants and tells its story through interviews, news snippets, recordings, diary entries, and other similar styles. It’s a narrative style that works really well for the series, giving first-hand information without bogging itself down with needless info-dumping. However, because of the varied characters that Neuvel tells the story through, we do learn plenty about Themis, as well as the new arrivals – it’s not just the one extra robot, but thirteen of them…

So much happens in this book and I could go on and on, but you have to read the book for yourself. The author is amazing at character development. Vincent and Kara are a great team that play well off each other, and also add little bits here and there to the answers that are swimming around. Rose is another that contributes in this way, but she’s also a very conflicted individual given her history – not only the one to discover then hand initially, but also that she died and was brought back, though without her memories of Themis. However, it’s the Interrogator that is by far my favourite – there’s just something about him that works so well at not only moving the story forward, but adding entertainment in some dark situations. 

A lot of times a sequel doesn’t live up to the majesty of its predecessor, but Waking Gods, does that and more. 

The third installment, Only Human, comes out in February 2018 and I will be sitting on pins and needle waiting to find out what happens after the jaw-dropping cliffhanger ending of this book.

Five stars!!!!!

 

 

The Good Daughter (Good Daughter #1) by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: August 8, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever…

Review –

Five Stars !!!!!!

What a roller coaster ride! Just when I thought I knew where this book was headed Karin Slaughter (one of my favorites) throws in a giant twist.

I had the audio version and listening was very painful in some parts and I won’t say which because it would give too much away.

The Good Daughter is the kind of exceptional psychological thriller that only comes around once every so often—a story as in-your-face shocking as it is tender and heartbreaking. Chapter by chapter, the author unceremoniously  unfolds the history of two sisters, and reveals the horrific past that has both tied them together and driven them apart.

This is a brilliant, bold crime novel that examines the unbreakable bond of family and the lengths two women will go to uncover the truth about the brutal secrets of their past.

It is  tough and dark  and  Slaughter doesn’t shy away from describing violence in graphic detail, yet each moment of violence is purposeful and intentional, driving character development and giving readers firsthand investment in finding justice for the victims of these horrific acts. 

It is character driven and readers who want a straight police procedural or a true legal thriller will be better off looking elsewhere—THE GOOD DAUGHTER is first and foremost a story of a family struggling to overcome its dark and secret-laden past. While this isn’t the kind of read I went into the book expecting, the story’s rich character development and emotional, often horrific flashbacks left me all the more invested in it.

This book is dark, but it’s dark for a purpose. 

I highly recommend it!

 

 

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Book Description:

Published: August 25, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

“The Dollhouse. . . . That’s what we boys like to call it. . . . The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you.”

Fiona Davis’s stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success in the 1950s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.”

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

Review –

In The Dollhouse, debut novelist Fiona Davis begins with a simple premise. But as the book advances, through alternating looks at Rose’s world in 2016 and Darby’s in 1952, the story becomes increasingly complex. Davis layers on relationships and intrigue, while building tension through her story structure. Each glimpse at Darby’s world leaves both Rose and the reader yearning for more, and eager to understand exactly what shaped the ladies at this women’s residence. The pace quickens as the story hurtles to its surprising—but satisfying—end. 

Fantastic book full of twists and turns and sub-plots and makes for a great Summer read!

Five stars.

Pale Horse (Project Eden #3) by Brett Battles

Book Description:

Published: June 16, 2012

Format: Audio

And I looked, and behold a pale horse;
and his name that sat on him was Death,
and Hell followed with him.
—Revelations 6:8

A simple push of a button and the world will never be the same.

Martina Gable returns home from college to spend Christmas break with her family, but the relaxing vacation she expects is not even close to what she’ll get.

Sanjay, a young man in Mumbai who knows more than he should about Project Eden’s plan, will do whatever he can to keep Kusum, the girl he loves, alive and safe.

A boy named Brandon Ash runs for his life in the hills of Montana, wanting only to see his family again.

But first there is Daniel, the boy’s father, who watches Olivia Silva’s finger hover over the enter key that will decide the fate of humanity.

Do you think you’re safe?

Pale Horse is part of the Project Eden continuing saga, which is best read after completing volumes 1 and 2 (Sick and Exit 9)

Review –

This is the third book in the Project Eden series and since I finished Exit 9 in December 2015 I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember much of the story or the characters. But I needn’t have worried.

Book 3 concentrates on the devastation as the world realizes the impact of what has happened. The author’s  imagery and excellent descriptive writing puts you right there beside your favorite characters; you can smell the fires burning and feel the cold snow.
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The main characters are still just as engaging and I’m  loving the subplots and the strong supporting characters. Brett could just skim over these subplots but they are becoming as exciting as the main; with just the right amount of time spent on them.

The world is in shock as the realization sinks in as to what has happened and we watch as governments and the resistance try to contain the virus.
What I love about this series is the fact we are following the everyday person like you or me. It’s completely believable with futuristic germ warfare it could happen anytime and that makes this thriller even more horrific and frightening on a base level.
I would like to see more of Brandon and more about the evil Perez as he is sitting in the background a bit, so I hope the author has something awful planned for him.

Great series!

Chained (Caged #2) by D. H. Sidebottom

Book Description:

Published: July 15, 2016

Format: Purchased E-Book

I had once thought that when I found the light I had been searching for in that long, dark tunnel that it would finally give me the gift I had been holding on for.
I had scoured the joyless night sky for peace, a peace that only the brightness of the stars could grant.
And I had endeavoured to catch that single magic snowflake in the middle of a howling snowstorm.
I had been looking. Forever.

But little did I know that it WAS the sinister darkness in the tunnel that was the gift. It WAS the black reservoir of the deepest, darkest night that would be the very thing to give my chaotic soul peace. And it WAS the heaving rush of the bleakest blizzard that was filled with magic.

Anderson Cain WAS the darkness.
He WAS the black peace in my soul.
And within the raging pool of his wild green eyes WAS the magic.
The magic that saw me. The real me.
He made sure I saw me too. All of me. He’d told me he would make me accept who I really was.

I was Kloe Grant. And now – now I am the epitome of what he wanted me to be.

But when I finally let go, and I allowed that darkness to find me, neither of us was prepared for who I really was.

Death itself.

 

Review –

Chained picks up right where ‘Caged’ left off. Immediately, the reader is plunged back into the screwed up pasts of Anderson and Kloe. Forcing Kloe to confront the memories that haunt her, Anderson is still out for revenge and plans to use Kloe as the means to exact that revenge on his father.

The characters are all the right and wrong things in the world. These two have seen more than their fair share of evil. The ways that they decide to deal with those evils are cruel and unusual, but in the end it was so beautiful. I cried throughout the story for the lives they led, the love they never knew, and the love they found. There are so many dark elements in this story, but they are portrayed so beautifully.

Just like Caged, this book will blow your mind and play with your emotions. There were so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming…and a few that I did. I don’t want to spoil anything. This is one that you need to experience firsthand. Prepare to be shocked and left with an uneasy, disturbed feeling. If you’re a fan of dark, erotic stories, this series is a must read!

This book contains extreme violence, strong adult language and scenes of dark sex, including M/F/M.

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Road to Nowhere (Road to Nowhere #1) by M. Robinson

Book Description:

Published: December 6, 2016

Format: E-Book

I once read that every warrior hoped an honorable death would find him. I always went looking for mine, but not even the Reaper wanted me.
I was trained to kill. I was trained to not ask why. To take orders and just march in line. Hooah motherfucker.
Life or death.
Ride or die.
And I’m not only talking about the military. I’m talking about the life that led me on the road to nowhere.
My life.
I fought for my brothers.
I fought for my family.
I fought for my country.
And I fought for her…

Never realizing I might die for them too.

Review –

This book had me feeling several emotions, anxiety, sadness, wariness, and kept me turning pages to the very end.

Creed is a member of a MC club and meets Mia, the kid sister of his best friend. He’s 19 and she’s 9 and she loves him from the minute they meet and over the years she wants him to see her as a “woman” and not a little girl. Creed becomes Vice President of the MC club and the girl he likes, Autumn is killed in the 9/11 bombing and because of that he enlists for four years. Mia grows up but still is too young but she tries to convince Creed whenever he is home on leave. Finally he knows he has to break her heart in order to get her to stay away from  him, for her sake.

Mia is not quite 16 when she goes to MC club party with a girlfriend of hers and meets “Rebel” and she gives him her virginity all the while wished it were Creed. Her first and one time to have sex and she gets pregnant and goes to tell Rebel and finds out he is Creed’s younger brother. Creed finds out and all hell breaks loose.

Everything in this book, it’s just so damn good. The overprotectiveness that Mia had to go through. Her father, a Good Ol’ Boy, not allowing her to truly grow up. The choices she made because of that – I truly felt her frustration, anger and her passion to live. I love how everyone is somehow intertwined in this book. Creed is friends with Mason who is the son another Good Ol’ Boy. It just makes the entire story even more interesting.
The ending. (I won’t say what happens but it’s bad) Holy shit. Seriously?!!? Killing me here! I know it’s with good intentions. But damn, I am dying here. I am seriously sucked into this whole story and I need the rest so badly. The second book in the series comes out later this year and I can’t wait.

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Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

Book Description:

Published: February 9, 2016

If there’s one thing Mare Barrow knows, it’s that she’s different.

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

The electrifying next installment in the Red Queen series escalates the struggle between the growing rebel army and the blood-segregated world they’ve always known—and pits Mare against the darkness that has grown in her soul.

Review –

This book takes up exactly where the first book left off (I love it when authors do that) and  even though it has been a year since I read the Red Queen, I had no trouble falling back into the story line.

There is so much action, heartache,heartbreak,angst and death in this installment of the series I don’t know where to start. BUT, I’ll try.

Mare has found her brother, Shade, a new blood, like herself, whom she thought was dead and he joins with her and others to find other new bloods to recruit to fight Maven before Maven can find them and kill them or worse be manipulated by the queen.

Mare spends the majority of the book being suspicious of everyone – she’s been betrayed far too many times already in her 17 years – and her suspicion carries over to the reader as well. I spent most of the book with absolutely no idea of who was trustworthy and to be honest, I still am not 100% sure, especially with the characters I want to trust most.

There was also a slew of new characters come into play in this book and some we get to  know while others  we’re merely told how they came to the group after the simple recruitment of the first Newblood, Nix. Suddenly we have around 10-12 new characters stirred into the mix, with no idea how they got there or why we should care about them. Character development for what could have been interesting side characters was instead merely highlighted 

There is sadness, loss, tragedy, and sacrifice and the ending is a definite cliffhanger, but I loved it and now have to wait until February 2017 for the third book, King’s Cage to be released. Can’t wait!!!

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I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Book Description:

Published: September 16,2014

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Review –

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

This is a beautifully written young adult coming of age novel that has so much happening so here are so highlights:

  • Noah and Jude Sweetwine are identical twins and the book follows them from ages  13, 14, and 16. Noah and Jude live on the California coast in the town of Lost Cove with their parents, Benjamin, a conservative science professor, and Dianna, a liberal art professor. 
  • Their home environment is stable and they are taught love of knowledge, art, reason and emotion.
  • Their mother insists they both apply to a private high school, the California School of the Arts. Noah and Jude get along very well together, and do everything together, until they are 13.
  • When they turn 13, differences between them become apparent. Noah positions himself as the better artist of the siblings (and as his mother’s favorite), the more rational of the siblings, and is secretly gay. To prepare for acceptance into CSA, Noah spends his summer sketching nudes through the school’s windows, where he meets an English model named Oscar. 
  • Jude, herself far more emotional and feeling, falls in with a popular crowd of girls who are more interested in makeup and skimpy clothing than anything else.
  • Things are further complicated by the appearance of a new kid, Brian, whom Noah quickly develops a crush on, though they keep their feelings for each other quiet. Brian and Noah both pretend to be straight, and later have a falling out when Noah cannot accept Brian’s charade.
  • The sky comes crashing down for both Noah and Jude when they learn their mother is having an affair, and she intends to leave their father.
  • When they are 14, their mother prepares to serve Benjamin with divorce papers, only to lose control of her car after a rainstorm, and plummet to her death off a cliff.
  • Both twins reel from the loss. Noah lies and tells his father and sister that Dianna was actually on the way to make things right with Benjamin when she died. Jude, long feeling invisible compared to Noah, only mails her application to CSA when her father requests she mail both hers, and her brother’s.
  • When they are 16, Noah is attending the local public high school while Jude attends CSA. She cannot get her sculptures right, and so is sent out to mentor with famed sculptor Guillermo Garcia. Guillermo himself is reeling from heartache. He also mentors to 19-year-old Oscar, whom is heartbroken years after the death of his own mother. Oscar and Jude take an instant liking to one another, and Jude later learns that Guillermo is the one who was having an affair with her mother, something for which she forgives him.
  • Meanwhile, Noah has been making dangerous dives from the rocky coastal cliffs near Lost Cove, believing that his mother’s ghost guides him down into the ocean to safety. While attempting one such jump while drunk, it is Oscar who saves Noah. Oscar and Jude soon after become an item. 
  • As the novel ends, both twins confess the truth to each other – about their mother and CSA – and reconnect. Noah, Jude, and their father decide to sell their house and live on a houseboat. Noah comes out as gay, and begins officially dating Brian – something acknowledged and accepted by Benjamin.

Phenomenal book!!!!!!

Five stars *****

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Book Description:

Published: September 29, 2015

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

Review –

Five-star-feedback-on-oDesk

I’ve had this book set aside on a back burner for several months waiting for the perfect time to read/listen to it. I chose to listen to it, although I also had the physical soft covered book in my collection.

The narrator, Kathleen Early, did a fantastic job as the voices of the three sisters, Claire, Lydia and Julia and as a listener it is so enjoyable just to sit back and not have to worry about being able to keep all of the characters separate in your mind.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started the book other than it was a story about three sister, one who disappears as a teen and causes the other two to become estranged.  It was sooooo  much more than that. It was DARK and I think this is a change for the author. I’ve read several of her books and I don’t remember ever describing one as DARK before.  Parts of it gave me chills and other parts made me sick to my stomach (parts are that DARK) but all those parts were necessary to understand or try to understand the character of Paul, Claire’s husband . He is truly a monster and makes Hannibal Lector look like a boy scout.  The darkness spans decades and involves some people who you would least expect. I refuse to give too much of the story away because it is so much better when you are surprised at some of the convoluted moments.

The whole story was a journey of “it can’t get worse than this” and then it would. But the weak become strong and the bad get punished and there is a semi HEA for some. 

If you enjoy murder mysteries with lots of twists and turns, this is definitely a book to add to your “to be read” list.

Five stars *****

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