The Shadowy Horses

The Shadowy Horses - Susanna Kearsley My rating: 3.5 of 5 starsI won this book in a contest hosted by Reading Between the Wines and Sourcebooks.Shadowy Horses is centered around Eyemouth, which is an actual fishing port located in south-east Scotland. The story references actual places and events including The Ship Hotel, the fish auctions and the Herring Queen Festival. While it hasn't actually been verified that Eyemouth is the last resting place of the Ninth Roman Legion, this is what the fictional character Verity Gray is drawn to. Actual evidence had yet to be discovered, only the protestations of an eight year old boy that claims he's seen and spoke with someone who walks the fields... a Roman soldier that died over two thousand years ago.The Shadowy Horses is my third read by Susanna Kearsley and while it's not my favorite, it still managed to guarantee that this is one author I will be reading everything she writes. This gothic tale felt more subdued than I had anticipated based off the enticing summary but was still wonderfully intriguing. The main character Verity was a strong and intelligent character that was a joy to read about. While I didn't see the necessity to include a budding romance into this potentially enigmatic story line it ended up being a lovely addition making this an extremely well-rounded story. The ending was strangely dramatic and felt out of place from the way I thought the story was going but still left me altogether satisfied. I will most definitely be seeking out more from Susanna Kearsley.

Night Film

Night Film - Marisha Pessl My rating: 5 of 5 starsA copy of Night Film was provided to me by Random House for review purposes.'It's funny how the night that changes your life forever starts out like all the others.'The plot at it's very basic state: Scott McGrath was an investigative journalist until his life was ruined by Stanislas Cordova, a man renowned for his underground films. His obsession over the man has never quite dissipated and when he hears that his daughter, Ashley Cordova, has possible committed suicide, his curiosity of the man is once again piqued. This is such an intricate and in-depth mystery that is so very easy to spoil. 'Within every elaborate lie, a kernel of truth.'There is a brilliant incorporation of visuals into the text that may be construed as extraneous but managed to bring the story more to life and added a hint of fact to make it all the more real. This mystery is anything but standard and completely took me by surprise. It has everything: grittiness, hints of the paranormal, a surprising drollness and an intensity that will leave you gasping.'Just when you think you've hit rock bottom, you realize you're standing on another trapdoor.'It will hook you from the first page, of that I have no doubt. It will leave you mesmerized. The mystery will leave you bewildered. The possibilities will leave you astounded. It will scare you. There is a shocking blend of vehemence and subtlety that will mystify you. There is no end to what this book will do to you, physically and emotionally. It's a story about searching for the truth and realizing that nothing is what it seems. It will leave you in doubt.Night Film is a haunting and intoxicating story that treads the line between science and mystical that will burrow into your very core and leave you questioning everything.

Shooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy, #2)

Shooting Scars - Karina Halle My rating: 4 of 5 starsA copy of Shooting Scars was provided to me by Netgalley/Grand Central Publishing for review purposes.I read Sins & Needles on a whim last year... it's one of those romantic suspense novels that appeared to be just like all the others but managed to shock the hell out of me with how explosive and thrilling it really was. And as far as Shooting Scars goes... no middle-book syndrome here! Shooting Scars is an action packed follow-up that takes you on a thrill ride that refuses to let up. It's intense, exciting beyond belief and has the perfect amount of sexiness. This story is a definite favorite of mine... I love the rarity of flawed characters possessing such a mesmerizing story.The dual-narrative was perfection and offered us the opportunity to witness Ellie facing head-on the issues that drove her and Javier apart... and how their reunion dredges up the same feelings that brought the two together in the first place. It also allows us the internal look at Camden's dark transformation and just how deep his feelings for Ellie are and of the things he's capable and willing to do to get her back. The ending will no doubt leave you anticipating the last piece of their story... it's bound to be intense there's no doubt about that. The Artists Trilogy is dark, seductive and extremely exhilarating.

Twittering from the Circus of the Dead

Twittering from the Circus of the Dead - Joe Hill @TWITTERING It was just a family road trip to Colorado for snowboarding and skiing.8:47 PM - 6 Aug 13@TWITTERING The trip home turns disastrous when they stumble upon the #CircusoftheDead8:51 PM - 6 Aug 13@TWITTERING Stopping and taking a break sounds like a plan. Might as well take in some entertainment.8:54 PM - 6 Aug 13@TWITTERING The special effects are amazing but something is definitely off.8:56 PM - 6 Aug 13@TWITTERING Nobody takes it seriously. Those aren't real zombies after all. Zombies don't exist.8:59 PM - 6 Aug 13@TWITTERING Nothing goes according to plan. Not when you stop at #CircusoftheDead9:06PM - 6 Aug 13@TWITTERING #CircusoftheDead Creepy. Gruesome. Eerie. Full of startling horror.9:10PM - 6 Aug 13@TWITTERING #CircusoftheDead All too brief. Abrupt. Inconclusive.9:11PM - 6 Aug 13


Enon - Paul Harding My rating: 2.5 of 5 starsA copy of Enon was provided to me by Random House for review purposes.'I felt like a ghost, listless and confined, wandering in a house that had been mine a century ago, relegated to examining the details of the lives of strangers.'Enon opens in tragedy. Charlie Crosby misses a life changing phone call from his wife: his only daughter has been hit by a car and died. His struggle to deal with the grief is bad enough but shortly after his wife leaves him as well. Without his wife and daughter in his life he has lost all reason for living. He becomes the very epitome of pain and suffering. He has no one to share this grief with so he internalizes everything and by doing so sends himself on a downward spiral.Enon is imbued with a suffocating grief that threatens to swallow you whole. The story meanders down a twisting path, lacking any linear pattern but instead forging it's own self-destructive path. I understand the purpose behind the lack of a solid plot as I felt it was representative of Charlie's mindset, but I was still anticipating something monumental to happen. A moment of major significance. But it just didn't happen. The first person point of view gave the book a very monotone feel despite how emotional you would expect it to be. I think this is a story that will speak to many people, but it almost seems like something you need to be going through personally in order to fully understand, appreciate and relate. Enon portrays just how all-consuming grief can be, especially when you allow it to overtake you.

This Song Will Save Your Life

This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales My rating: 4.5 of 5 starsA copy of This Song Will Save Your Life was provided to me by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)/Netgalley for review purposes.'...I also felt like an eggshell that had gotten a tiny crack. You can't repair something like that. All you can do is hope that it sticks together, hope that the crack doesn't grow until all your insides come spilling right out.'Elise Dembowski is the unpopular girl in school. She's that girl that eats her lunch in the bathroom. She's the one that never gets asked to the school dances. She's the one that shuffles along silently down the halls, never saying a word, never making eye contact with anyone. The invisible one.Elise decides she's going to spend the entire summer leading up to the new school year learning how to be just like all the popular kids so that this year can be different. But it's not. It ends up being just as disastrous as all others, but everything changes the day she goes home and decides to commit suicide."I had once thought that I wanted to get revenge by dying. But getting revenge by living, and living well, was much, much sweeter."I love how this book has been the conduit for so many shared personal stories. It resonated deep with me too, so I can't but share my own tale.The first half of this book I couldn't seem to connect with Elise's story and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. I thought about it, discussed it with others and it finally hit me that the reason was due to how much I could relate and that I was unconsciously trying to emotionally disconnect. While I know I wasn't the most tortured kid in school, my early school days are not filled with memories that I look back on fondly. I dealt with bullies at the bus stop and being teased for my choice in fashion for years. But what resonated the most with me was that intense desire that Elise had to just be noticed by the popular group of kids. I remember the day the popular group of kids at school finally talked to me, asking me for a quick favor, just to keep something in my backpack for them... saying no never crossed my mind. I remember being called to the principal's office, having him search my bag and finding pot... apparently my "new friends" had been caught and had quickly decided to pawn it off on someone and I ended up being the perfect one to take the fall. It took me a long time to understand the full extent of what those girls did to me that day. That incident made me realize that there are some people in this world that may put on a happy face and pretend to be your friend but they don't have your best interests at heart. They don't care what happens to you. And they are most certainly not people you want/need to have in your life. Even if you can't relate to Elise's story, I'm sure you've known an 'Elise' type at some point in your life. But this can truly be a life lesson for everyone, whether you relate or not, because everyone is misjudged at some point in their life. This Song Will Save Your Life is a novel of self-discovery. It's about finding good people to have in your life that will treat you with kindness and respect. It's about finding what makes you happy in life. It's about being shamelessly you... and realizing there isn't a damn thing wrong with that.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells - Andrew Sean Greer My rating: 4 of 5 starsSource: Library Checkout'The impossible happens once to each of us.'Greta Wells is devastated after losing her twin brother Felix to AIDS and after her long term partner Nathan also leaves her. Burdened by a deep depression that is slowly getting the better of her, she takes the advice of her Aunt Ruth and visists a doctor who recommends electroconvulsive therapy. Ironically, right before her first session she considers, "How I longed to live in any time but this one. It seemed cursed with sorrow and death." The night following her first session she goes to sleep in 1985 and arises the next day in 1918. She wakes up as herself just under slightly different circumstances: her brother is alive and she is married to Nathan but is in love with a younger man named Leo. She discovers that her 1918 self is also undergoing electroconvulsive therapy and again, the night following her session she arises the next day in another time; this time in 1941. The cycle continues: 1985, 1918, 1941 and so on for 25 treatments."You’re all the same, you’re all Greta. You’re all trying to make things better, whatever that means to you. For you, it’s Felix you want to save. For another, it’s Nathan. For this one, it’s Leo she wants to resurrect. I understand. Don’t we all have someone we’d like to save from the wreckage?"This is a time travel story, yet it's not really. It touches on the possibilities of past lives and how your actions resonate to future lives and reincarnations of a sort. Because while 1985 Greta is traveling to her past selves, these individuals she's 'taking over' for are also on the same adventure and they're all trying to correct past mistakes and secure their own happiness. "Is there any greater pain to know what could be, and yet be powerless to make it be?"The heart of the story is of course Greta, her lives, and the individuals she loves in these lives. It's a tale of romance and how each Greta found (and loved) Nathan but after experiencing each of these lives a wrench gets thrown into the works as she is forced to consider the possibility that he is not her one true love, that she's been blinded into repetition and is only resorting to what she knows.While each life could easily showcase the historical detailing of the time, this is glazed over. In 1918, we have the flu epidemic and World War I is ending. In 1941, World War II is beginning. In 1985, we have the AIDS epidemic. While living in these time periods, Greta maintains a certain absence as if she's truly just a visitor and isn't quite experiencing the moments around her. For someone who said, "...not all lives are equal, that the time we live in affects the person we are, more than I had ever though" I really wished to see the transformation of her character due to her environment and the impacts her surroundings had on her as a person.The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is treated as a serious tale of time travel yet is rife with flaws in its design. A definite suspension of disbelief is required because of how truly 'Impossible' the story is. Despite this (and the crazy unraveling that occurred at the end), it all managed to still work. It would be easy to nitpick it to death but in all actuality, time travel is not an exact science and different variations are definitely possible and this was quite an original interpretation of it. The story of Greta Wells is an imaginative tale about past lives and the implausible impossibility of "what if".

The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh - Benjamin Hoff, Simon Vance My rating: 5 of 5 starsA copy of The Tao of Pooh was provided to me by Tantor Media for review purposes."...the basic Taoism that we are concerned with here is simply a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life. From the Taoist point of view, the natural result of this harmonious way of living is happiness."There are some things that I've accepted that my brain is just not built to understand. Calculus and Economics are a couple of examples. But the one shining example is Philosophy. My freshman year of college I signed up for Philosophy 101 but I knew right from the start I was going to have difficulty. Most people would have stuck it out and studied super hard, but I? Timed it just right and booked it out of there when the teacher's back was turned to the class. Yes. I am a coward. So suffice it to say, Philosophy and I don't have a good track record. But if my Philosophy professor spoke of Philosophy (and maybe incorporated some Pooh-isms into his lecture) as Benjamin Hoff does in 'The Tao of Pooh' I think I would have lasted more than 10 minutes. 'You'd be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.'The Tao of Pooh discusses many Taoist principals by relating them to the characters from Winnie the Pooh. Winnie the Pooh symbolizes the Taoist ideal of a still and calm mind and his ability to accomplish tasks "effortlessly" and is a true personification of the Taoist foundation. At heart 'The Tao of Pooh' manages to be a simplified and practical introduction into the ideals of Taoism and how to go about incorporating them into your daily lives in order to change things for the better.'You can't save time. You can only spend it, but you can spend it wisely or foolishly.'While I had already read this book years past, the narrator of this audiobook was perfection and truly made this book even more spectacular. I had the pleasure of listening to Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner on audio (narrated by Peter Dennis) and I must say that Simon Vance did an incredible job with the different voices of Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and the rest of the gang from The Hundred Acre Wood. This production was nominated for an Audie in the Solo Narration—Male category and is in my opinion completely deserving of the nomination.'The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.'While 'The Tao of Pooh' may not be the most profound study in Philosophy or Taoism, it makes it clear and concise and thoroughly enlightening.

Winter's Bone

Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell 'You got to be ready to die every day - then you got a chance.'Ree Dolly is a sixteen year old girl living in the Ozarks and has been burdened with a responsibility that has forced maturity upon her at an early age. Her mother is crazy and can no longer care for her two younger brothers and with her dad missing she's the only one left to do it. When the loss of their house becomes a threat, Ree is forced to reach out to the Dolly clan; blood relatives, but not ones you ever want to be in the debt of.'Long, dark, and lovely she had been, in those days before her mind broke and the parts scattered and she let them go.'Ree was such an incredibly strong heroine, but wouldn't ever recognize how weighty her actions are simply because she was doing what had to be done. Her story of survival is a heartbreaking one; growing up in the Ozarks where you're expected to grow up early and carry your own weight and then later get married and have children of your own. In addition, the community she lives in is known to all as being a center for cooking meth. Ree has different dreams and refuses to settle into the grooves already laid out for her. She intends to join the army and make something of herself, but this dream impossible with no one else to care for her brothers, so it becomes vital for her future to find her father. 'Fading light buttered the ridges until shadows licked them clean and they were lost to nightfall.'The writing was exquisitely rendered. Bleak. Dismal. Lugubrious. Just a few words best to describe this small yet substantial story. Daniel Woodrell is unrestrained in his depiction of this Ozark community and just how harsh and desolate parts of this world can be. This may be a story of fiction, yet it's still based on fact as people live like this to this day. It really puts it into perspective the luxuries that many of us take for granted each and every day. Winter's Bone is a dreary story that somehow manages to still radiate hope with an incredibly memorable heroine. Recommended for fans of Cormac McCarthy and Donald Ray Pollock.


Touch - Alexi Zentner It's funny, I usually start out my reviews with a short little blurb of my own just rehashing the particulars of the story. With 'Touch' though, this story was so all over the place that I can't adequately explain it's basis; it simply eludes me. The official summary feels deceiving and makes it sound ripe with potential... but it never lived up it, that's for sure. I truly feel as if I've been hoodwinked. I blame the stunning cover! *shakes fist* But honestly, I recall going through this magical realism stage and added practically every book tagged as such. This is one of them. I'm thinking that if the author isn't Sarah Addison Allen, then I apparently don't care much for magical realism. It should be said that according to the Reading Group Discussion questions (yeah, I read them in hopes that it would clarify some things. I was wrong) this is considered more along the lines of mythical realism as it incorporates Inuit mythology. While I could say that the incorporation of mythological elements may give it a smidgen of credibility in comparison to strange magical stuff happening for no apparent reason, it was a poorly managed addition to the story. The story is centered around this small town in the Canadian wilderness which came into existence only after gold was discovered. It's a story about survival. But then out of nowhere some strange creature would pop up and it was like mental whiplash. Like the mahaha (actual creatures name, I wasn't just laughing):"They tickle you until all your breath is gone. Leave you dead, but with a smile."Holy freaky shit. That's the stuff of nightmares. But I was intrigued and wanted to know more so I googled this scary beasty with the funny name. The page I found described the mahaha in basically the exact same way the author did in the book. Like it was copied. And that kind of killed the cool out of it. To me, magical realism IS the story, it's incorporated and intertwined into the very fabric of the story. But all the magical elements in Touch felt like a strange and ill-fitting addition that was added as an afterthought to an otherwise contemporary tale of survival. The writing style itself, apart from the actual story, was lacking a much needed finesse. The tale was not linear and bounced all over the place without any indication as to whether we were back in the present tense or still being told the story of the past. The point of view was a poor choice as well. The grandson is the narrator retelling his grandfather's story. Why not just have the grandfather tell his own story? Even though the grandfather told him his story it seemed unlikely that he would know as many details as he did. There were also strange leaps to other characters and telling the story through there eyes which definitely made it implausible as his grandfather wasn't even present in those instances. While the writing reflected definite potential, it was too unpolished for me to enjoy. I can't remember the last time (if ever) I finished a novel and honestly had absolutely no clue the purpose or meaning of it. So much of this story was too farcical in its inconceivability for me to garner any sort of entertainment. Many people have lauded this book for it's eerie, haunting qualities but ultimately this left me chilled for all the wrong reasons.


Coraline - Neil Gaiman 3.5 stars

The Devil All the Time

The Devil All the Time - Donald Ray Pollock My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars" people did fine and dandy as long as things were going their way, but the minute the shit hit the fan, they fell apart like paper dolls left out in the rain."The Devil All the Time spans decades and showcases several unforgettable individuals. We're first introduced to Willard Russell, an extremely religious man who sacrifices animals to his 'prayer log' in hopes that it will keep the cancer from taking his wife. His son, Arvin, is irrevocably changed by this period of his life. We're also introduced to a preacher that believes he possesses the ability to bring people back to life, but when he kills and his ability abandons him he is forced to flee. And lastly is the couple that travel the country picking up hitchhikers, killing them brutally, and taking pictures as mementos. 'Only in the presence of death could he feel the presence of something like God.'The Devil All the Time is comprised of some of the most perverse characters I've likely ever read. Incredibly violent and brash in both characters and the story itself. There is suicide and rape and several brutal killings of both humans and animals but it somehow manages to not ever get to the point of gratuitous; rather, the actions of these individuals were conducted with a casualness and almost flippant manner that was fitting for them.The desperation and overall mindset of these individuals in this small backwoods town (Knockemstiff, Ohio - which is actually a real town where Donald Ray Pollock himself grew up) was astounding. No one seemed to have big life plans, they all seemed to be extremely simple people. Except for the perverse ones.'...he pulled the trigger and a wad of wet, gray brains show out the other side of the college boy's head. After he fell over, blood pooled in the sockets of his eyeballs like little lakes of fire...'I'm not usually one for religious stories but these were tantalizing yet so shocking; my eyes were likely the size of dinner plates every time I was reading. It was quite like watching a train wreck, I couldn't have torn my eyes away even if I tried (or wanted to). These seemingly unconnected story lines come together in a way that surely shocked the hell out of me. This was a completely enthralling story, I hope we can expect more from Mr. Pollock. Big thanks to Rory for the push to finally read this.

How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea

How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea - Mira Grant My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog

The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All That Glitter Off of the Dog - Jen Lancaster My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars'...ready or not, happiness, here I come.'Organization = happiness? That's what Jen Lancaster has set out to prove. Her life is in dire need of some organization not just within her house but in her life in general and she thinks that in doing so she'll be less stressful and have more happiness. She decides to emulate the Queen of Organization: Martha Stewart. The Tao of Martha is her personal accounting of incorporating Martha's ideals into her daily life, both when it goes right and when it goes horribly wrong.Having read all of Jen's memoirs, it's become a requirement to pick any new ones up even if they have steadily declined over the years. I'm thinking it's a combination of lack of new material that's actually worth writing about and a dramatic change in lifestyle from what we originally saw in her first memoir 'Bitter is the New Black'. In 'Bitter', Jen is a much more relatable person as she's struggling to survive as her and her husband both are unemployed. With each memoir she is slowly transforming into the person who talks only of her cleaning ladies, monumentally expensive landscaping plans and her shopping excursions to affluent stores that I couldn't even afford to breathe the air of. While the writing still manages to sustain (somewhat) the snark that we've all come to know and love, the stories have become achingly superficial. Prime example:'Shoot, I haven't even reserved an organic turkey yet! ("I'll take 'The Most OverPrivileged First-World Complain to Ever Be Uttered' for a hundred, Alec!")'Admitting that you're being shallow still doesn't make it funny.While there were a few laugh out loud moments, I found the majority of 'Tao' to be incredibly boring. Early in the beginning there's a 7+ page accounting of her cleaning her desk which includes an itemized description of everything she had stored from over the years. (Considering she just moved/bought her house a few years ago, all this excessive garbage she dragged to the new house makes it even less funny. Like the broken wine glass shards. Really?) One thing I've always loved about her memoirs is how each chapter is a story in and of itself but in 'Tao', again, wondering if she was just running out of material, there were several stories that lacked any sort of point and entertainment value (and a few stories that were entirely way too personal and included info I would rather just not know). Like the chapter where we receive entirely way too much info regarding her digestive system. Or the chapter where she discusses her massive love for zucchini for several pages. Or the bit how she's attempting to figure out why her roses are dying when her friend points out that she probably shouldn't be watering them with a high pressure hose (duh?) While the funnies were lacking in consistency, this was still a fun and easy read that also managed to teach me a few things: -15 pounds of Easter candy for 9 kids = bad math.-When gardening make sure you don't wear your older underwear so ticks can't crawl up and attach themselves to your lady-parts.-If I start stocking up on emergency rations, six jars of marshmallow fluff is not essential.-If my doctor ever prescribes me Ambien, I'm chaining myself to the bed.

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse (White Trash Zombie, #3)

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse (White Trash Zombie, #3) - Diana Rowland 2.5 stars

Y The Last Man TP Vol 01 Unmanned

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned - Pia Guerra, José Marzán Jr., Brian K. Vaughan 3.5 stars

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