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Stay chill, it's only a silly review.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Audio Review: The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston, Dark Historical Fiction
My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. If you will listen, I will tell you a tale of witches. A tale of magic and love and loss. A story of how simple ignorance breeds fear, and how deadly that fear can be. Let me tell you what it means to be a witch.

In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate: the Warlock Gideon Masters. Secluded at his cottage, Gideon instructs Bess, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had. She couldn’t have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life. She has spent the centuries in solitude, moving from place to place, surviving plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality. Her loneliness comes to an abrupt end when she is befriended by a teenage girl called Tegan. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth opens her heart to Tegan and begins teaching her the ways of the Hedge Witch. But will she be able to stand against Gideon—who will stop at nothing to reclaim her soul—in order to protect the girl who has become the daughter she never had?
I'm giving this a 3 out of 5, here's why:
I saw this book on Overdrive and chose it for my Halloween Bingo “Witches” square over at Booklikes for no other reason than the title and I guess the blurb sounded vaguely interesting to me, even though the reviews weren’t great. Turns out it was a decent read if you can get past the slow as hell start, but I don’t know if it would’ve worked for me if I hadn’t listened to it as an unabridged audio. Patience is a virtue that I don’t possess and I have too many books in the tbr pile to read before I croak.

But no one cares about all that.

After a slightly confusing and slow start with a distant narrator, Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith finally introduces herself and informs us that her current age is three hundred and eighty-four years. She’s apparently immortal and hiding herself away because something evil is after her. How did this happen? Well, hang in there because we’re about to find out eventually.

The book is told in journal form and skips around in time. I believe the current timeline was 2007 but my memory is crap so I’m not certain. It doesn’t really matter anyway. In the current day, she is making herbal remedies and incense and living a quiet life when a lonely teen named Tegan befriends her. Despite the fact that she never gets close to anyone for reasons, she starts to teach Tegan the ways of the hedge witch and begins sharing her life story with her. These stories, journal entries and whatnot flash us back to important parts of Elizabeth’s life.

The first flashback was my favorite. It takes place during the plague. I don’t know about you, but those dark, terrible times fascinate me. She suffers great loss and grief and I may have even almost shed a tear. It was here that she finally comes alive as a character and events happen that shape the rest of long life. The present day version of Elizabeth is muted and meh but the past version is easily relatable and I felt her pain. So, without spoiling everything, I’ll just say that she must learn her magic from an evil-doer named Gideon if she is to survive in the world. Gideon is a master of the dark arts and uses them to his advantage. He’s a rapist and a mind-wiper and an all around selfish son-of-the-devil. She’s not at all happy about things but one must survive, right? One night she spies him in the woods dancing with demons, as one will, and screwing a few for fun, and she is scandalized and horrified by the sight. I actually wanted more of the scene but much to my dismay, she runs. He wants her back because she has power. She changes her name to Bess and then later to Eliza but always keeps the Hawksmith. It might’ve been smarter to go with anything else but I’m not hiding from Satan’s minion, so what do I know? Gideon always ferrets her out and she is forced to flee yet again. This game goes on for years and years and yet more years and is still going on in the current timeline.

I thought Gideon was an interesting character. He changes shape and does repulsive things and he has no remorse. None at all. I kind of enjoyed this, probably because I read so much horror fiction, but I can also understand why most people find him disturbing. He is. My biggest fear as I went along in this book was that an awful romance was brewing between these two and it would be revealed that he had reasons for his atrocities and all would be forgiven. This didn’t happen and I couldn’t be happier. He’s just a beastly beast, there is no romance and that worked for me. This book is far more tragedy than romance.

I’d give this book a 3 ½ but it's not good enough to bump up to a 4. The ending, in the present timeline, didn’t thrill me. I found the past bits much more interesting. The narration was above decent and kept me in the story, even during the slow bits.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Audio Review: Borrasca by C.K. Walker

Borrasca by C.K. Walker, Dark Fiction on Audio
Sam Walker and his family have moved to a small town in the Ozarks.The seemingly picturesque town is a perfect place for them to settle down. Soon Sam finds friendship in some of the native children Kimber and Kyle. Unfortunately, everything is not as it seems. As Kimber and Kyle open up Sam's eyes to a local urban legend, this sleepy small town becomes much more dark. Shadows of the past are attempting to rise up into a final requiem of frightening proportions. Will everyone fall to the legend of Borrasca?
4 1/2 out of 5, here's why:
I just realized that I have never reviewed a NoSleep production. That's going to have to change because they are doing some amazing work and I need to stop keeping them all to myself. I listen to a ton of podcasts but this is the one I look forward to every Sunday morning when I'm making breakfast or cleaning up someone's mess.

Borrasca is a longer story than typically found on the podcast. You can find it by checking out NoSleep S7 E25. You can also read it on reddit but I recommend you listen to the full cast audio production. It is fantastic.

“This story is about a place that dwells on the mountain; a place where bad things happen. And you may think you know about the bad things, you may decide you have it all figured out but you don’t. Because the truth is worse than monsters or men.”

When 9 year old Sam’s dad is reassigned to a new location as sheriff, for some never said wrong-doing, he packs up the family and relocates them to a sleepy little town in the Ozarks. Sam makes two new best friends who tell him all about the local legend they call “Borrasca”. Apparently, every now and again people hear screams in the woods and blame it on Borrasca. There’s also a weird treehouse that requires a certain ceremony to enter and leave . . . alive.

“Underneath the Triple Tree there is a man who waits for me and should I go or should I stay my fate’s the same either way.”

A few years later Sam’s older sister goes missing and he just knows, is absolutely certain, that she performed the ceremony incorrectly (or not at all) and hasn’t run away but has become the next victim of Borrasca. His dad, who is still the sheriff by the way, doesn’t believe him nor does he seem overly concerned that his daughter is missing. Perhaps she was just too annoying or maybe he’s hiding something . . .

More time passes, more teen girls go missing and very little is done about it by anyone except for Sam and his friend Kyle who have to do their own research. In a longer book, this likely would’ve annoyed me but that’s the joy of the short story format, there’s no time to ponder and get all worked up over plot points that seem to make no sense at all. When the secret is revealed, everything that happens prior; the strange conversations and the odd behavior of the adults, make all kinds of sense. It’s a dark, disturbing, horrible secret and not one I saw coming. This story may require a reread to catch everything said and done but I don’t know if I can bear it honestly. That ending, ewwww!

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Horror Film Friday: Home Movie

Horror Film Friday
So today we have yet another 2 star movie. I know it doesn't appear to be so but I do love horror films.

Home Movie (R Rated)
Home Movie, Released 2008
Everyone in their upstate suburban community agrees that The Poes are the picture-perfect family: Pastor dad David, psychologist mom Clare, and the adorable 10-year-old twins Emily and Jack. But something has gone horribly wrong with the Poe children between Halloween and Easter, a grisly descent into madness and murder that David and Claire have captured on video. This found footage will reveal the shocking series of events. This is their HOME MOVIE.

Adrian Pasdar of HEROES and Cady McClain of ALL MY CHILDREN and AS THE WORLD TURNS star in this critically acclaimed and ferociously disturbing debut feature from writer/director Christopher Denham that rips open the dark side of the modern American family. You may never look at home videos the same way again...

This one gets a 2 out of 5, here's why:

A family moves into a large house, with lots of nooks and crannies (all the better to hide yourselves later), way out in the woods with nothing to see for miles but trees. I was excited and my hopes were high this wouldn’t be a dud.

Dad records every living moment of their lives on a too often shaky held hand-cam. He is a Pastor who apparently has nothing better to do with his time. But I sure as hell have better things to do than watch his boring little vignettes where he’s usually the star,awkwardly hamming it up for the camera, acting the fool, as the kids look completely uninterested and DO NOT UTTER A WORD (because that’s not weird at all). This worked for a little while, he is Adrian Pasdar of Near Dark fame (Heroes doesn't count), after all, and damn that man has aged well, but even I need more than a pretty face to keep watching.  Eventually you come to the realization that there is something off about these kids when the son beans dad hard in the head with a rock while playing a friendly game of catch in the backyard. That’s not normal. Let’s just “punish” him by doing absolutely nothing. Before long they are doing much more ominous things than a little attempted braining of goofy dad. These things usually involve animals (wish I’d know that little detail beforehand) . These “things” that they’re doing would have any sane, caring parent seeking outside help for their children.

Not these two fools. They parent by sweeping all of these bad things under the rug and going on with their day.

And, get this, the wife is a child psychiatrist of all things!

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Well, she decides to diagnose them, study them and even medicate them.

This, of course, is a terrible idea. Turns out she is quite possibly the world’s worst child psychiatrist ever to breathe air.

She and Adrian realize the error of their ways far too late and make so many TSTL moves in the final scenes that they deserved every terrible thing their little kiddies decided to dish out to them. I only wish it had happened sooner because I ran out of fucks to give far before the movie ended.

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The reviews on this tell me how creepy and unsettling it is but I just wasn’t feeling it. Most of the acting felt forced and unnatural. But on the positive side Adrian Pasdar still looks pretty good so I'll give it two stars instead of one.

You can buy it @ Amazon.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Perfect Nightmare by John Saul

Perfect Nightmare by John Saul, Abridged Audiobook
Every parent’s nightmare becomes reality for Kara Marshall when her daughter, Lindsay, vanishes from her bedroom during the night. The police suspect that the girl is just another moody teenage runaway, angry over leaving behind her school and friends because her family is moving. But Lindsay’s recent eerie claim - that someone invaded her room when the house was opened to prospective buyers - drives Kara to fear the worst: a nameless, faceless stalker has walked the halls of her home in search of more than a place to live.

Patrick Shields recognizes Kara’s pain - and carries plenty of his own since he lost his wife and two children in a devastating house fire. But more than grief draws Patrick and Kara together. He, too, senses the hand of a malevolent stranger in this tragedy. And as more people go missing from houses up for sale, Patrick’s suspicion, like Kara’s, blooms into horrified certainty.

Someone is trolling this peaceful community - undetected and undeterred - harvesting victims for a purpose no sane mind can fathom. Someone Kara and Patrick, alone and desperate, are determined to unmask. Someone who is even now watching, plotting, keeping a demented diary of unspeakable deeds . . . and waiting until the time is ripe for another fateful visit.
I'm giving this 3 1/2 out of 5, here's why:
Somehow I ended up with an abridged copy of this audiobook. I don't like abridged because I always feel like I'm missing something super important, usually characterization, but this abridgment wasn’t too bad.

This story is about a psycho attempting to create a family by abducting women through Open Houses. It has tones of that horrible triple abduction story in Cleveland, where the monster kept three women imprisoned for his own selfish needs for over a decade. Truly a horrible, nightmarish true-crime. But this book was written years before Castro was exposed as a rapist and kidnapper which makes reading this all the more horrifying. This version doesn’t linger too much on the damage inflicted on the victims and for that I am grateful. I had enough of that after watching Lifetime’s “Cleveland Abduction”.  I can’t speak for the unabridged version, however, so beware.

When teen Lindsay is abducted, her mother Kara is distraught and heartbroken and takes action. When things go from bad to worse for Kara she doesn’t dissolve into a puddle of self-pity but keeps on keeping on with the search. As admirable as that is, it felt a little unbelievable and unnatural but I’ll chalk it up to the four hours that were cut from this version and give it a pass. Kara quickly ends up joining forces with a man named Patrick, a widower and brother of a friend, and I found that bit rather strange and unnatural too considering the previous turn of events which I will not ruin.

It should be noted that I figured out who the killer was pretty early on. It should also be noted that I am not at all good at these things. I can only assume that it was pretty darn obvious.

The narration is done by Dick Hill and Susie Breck. I liked the fact that there were two narrators but Dick Hill’s voices weren’t very distinctive and his males all sounded like the same man, except for the killer. His killer voice was over the top, bordering on silly. Still, the story was definitely creepy and it was a page-turner so I’ll give it a solid 3.5 stars.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thief by Alexa Riley

Thief by Alexa Riley, Erotic Romance
Sean Sparrow has one more job to pull: break into the bank, steal what he was hired to take, and get out. He plans everything to the very last detail, sure of success... until he sees Tessa.

Tessa Martin lives a humdrum life. With a boring job and a crappy roommate, she's sure there must be more to life than this. She's not prepared for the muscle-bound bearded man who walks into her life, offering her everything she's ever wanted.

When Sean breaks down all of Tessa's walls, she has no choice but to fall hard and fast. But when the truth comes out, and Sean is fully revealed to her, will their instalove be enough to hold them together?
3 out of 5 and here's why:
Sean Sparrow is a thief planning to rob a bank. It will be his last job, he says. He intends to retire after this nasty bit of work and live a life of leisure with Tessa, the curvy bank employee. Only she doesn’t know any of this. She doesn't even know him!

Things start to get screwy the moment Sean sets his eyes upon Tessa’s luscious and virginal bod (he doesn’t ask around town, he just knows). He wants her and he cannot wait until after the heist to have her. He fully intended to woo her up after the theft because he’s a good guy and all but, alas, his dick cannot wait. They meet, 15 seconds later he declares her his forevermore and she thinks something like, “Oh my, you are the sexiest man I have ever seen, you couldn’t possibly want little ol’ meeee” and falls on for him. I think all of Alexa Riley’s heroes have a superpower that allows them to hypnotize virgins with one look from their sultry eyes. Or perhaps it’s their way with the words.

“You'll take me inside your little c*nt until I fill you with every drop of cum I have.”

So, he breeds her (his words, not mine) until he figures she’s so deeply in love with his penis, she’ll forgive him when he later robs her bank, puts her life in danger and sweeps her off her feet and away to his private little island for a life of breeding debauchery. She’s in such a sex daze that she won’t complain, right?

Still, she gets a little mad.

He apologizes and she tries to understand.

But she soon realizes it’s just who he is, all controlling and sexy and stuff, and he just can’t help that.

Debauchery and breeding starts anew.

These books are full of WTFery but are so ridiculously hard to put down. I don't recommend starting one or you'll likely end up buying them all.

If you've read any of these Alexa Riley books please feel free to share your recommendations :)

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FTC Disclaimer

Bark's Book Nonsense usually buys the books reviewed on the blog but occasionally receives ARCs in for review. Reviews are written out of the goodness of my heart and I never receive any money, gifts or favors in exchange for my brutally honest words.