Book Review: Before I Wake by C.L Taylor

Before I Wake by C.L Taylor 18565283

Published: June 1st 2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark1600108_10152164384975908_207743490_nA mother risks everything to uncover the truth behind her daughter’s botched suicide attempt

To the outside world, Susan Jackson has it all-a loving family, successful husband, and beautiful home-but when Charlotte, her teenage daughter, steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma, she is forced to question all of it.

Desperate to find out what caused Charlotte’s suicide attempt, she discovers a horrifying entry in her diary: “keeping this secret is killing me.” As Sue spins in desperate circles, she finds herself immersed in a dark world she didn’t know existed-and the closer she comes to the truth, the more dangerous things become.

Can she wake up from the nightmares that haunt her and save her daughter, or will Charlotte’s secret destroy them both?

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Ooooh, what a tricky story! You know those mystery novels where you can figure out the ending halfway through and be correct?

This is not one of them.

Charlotte was such a mysterious character. Initially I envisioned her as so innocent and so sweet, until her mother, Susan digs deeper into her life and some truths are revealed. There is simply no way to review this book without it being filled with spoilers. So, instead I will praise what I enjoyed about the story and what made it work so well.

I’ve read two other books with the same title, Before I Wake—and this one, put the other two to shame. The writing style of C.L Taylor was absolutely flawless. A true storyteller. The novel both engaged and compelled the reader to want to know more, MORE, MORE! That’s a great mystery. One that is thrilling and makes you emotionally connect to the story.

Susan is a mother that will seemingly stop at nothing to make sure Charlotte is okay…. Even when it is going a bit extreme, (reading her diary) * cringe *

I finished this in one night, and as soon as I finished the last page I found myself still pondering the story. How did I not suspect the ending sooner? It almost makes me want to do a re-read just to see if there are any hints that I missed.

Great mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed every page. 🙂

Thank you, NetGalley for the digital review copy.

 

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Book Review: The Damned by Andrew Pyper

BookReviewsThe Damned by Andrew Pyper

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Published: February 10th 2015

synopsis

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Demonologist, called “smart, thrilling, utterly unnerving” by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, comes a spine-tingling supernatural thriller about a survivor of a near-death experience haunted by his beautiful, vindictive twin sister.

He’ll have to go to hell and back…

Danny Orchard wrote a bestselling memoir about his near-death experience in a fire that claimed the life of his twin sister, Ashleigh, but despite the resulting fame and fortune he’s never been able to enjoy his second chance at life. Ash won’t let him.

In life, Danny’s charming and magnetic twin had been a budding psychopath who privately terrorized her family—and death hasn’t changed her wicked ways. Ash has haunted Danny for twenty years and now, just when he’s met the love of his life and has a chance at real happiness, she wants more than ever to punish him for being alive—so she sets her sights on Danny’s new wife and stepson.

Danny knows what Ash really wants is him, and he’s prepared to sacrifice himself in order to save the ones he loves. The question is: will he make it back this time?

Review

Andrew Pyper sure can deliver chills to his readers.

After reading The Demonologist last year, I instantly read all of preceding books. As soon as I saw his name on a cover, I knew the book is going to be flawless. There are not many authors I can say that about.

The Damned was a deeply disturbing story. The darkness of this story envelops the reader and you simply cannot put the book down until you finish.

Danny is the perfect protagonist to appeal to reader’s emotions. He is deeply flawed and has had a literal hell of a life. We identify with him because we all are in the pursuit of our own happiness and sense of calm in life. With him, happiness is impossible. He is bound to something much bigger than choosing right or wrong to control his happiness. The small, fleeting moments of happiness are so important in his dreary life.

Ash is a character with absolutely no redeeming qualities. It is easy for the reader to detest her, and consistently root for Danny to banish her for good. I can’t elaborate more on Ash without spoiling the story (which I refuse to do.) This is one you must read for yourself!

Pyper has beautiful prose. It is stunning, horrifying and enthralling. The bond between the characters is unique to state the very least, and the story has an authentic voice.

This book has a sinister charm that horror readers will swoon for. One of the best horror stories I have ever read. Absolutely flawless storytelling. This one is sure to deliver nightmares!

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Book Review: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

must reads

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters

Published: September 2014

synopsis

Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies, but this one is unique even by Detroit’s standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you’re Detective Versado’s geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you’re desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you’re Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you’ll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe–and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world.

If Lauren Beukes’s internationally bestselling The Shining Girls was a time-jumping thrill ride through the past, her Broken Monsters is a genre-redefining thriller about broken cities, broken dreams, and broken people trying to put themselves back together again.

review

Similar to Beuke’s first novel,  The Shining Girls, this story also follows multiple characters: young girls, a journalist, a police officer and a serial killer. Broken Monsters is set in the urban environment of Detroit and the world Beukes creates is so vivid at times it is hard to remember that it is in fact, fiction.

As a homicide detective, Gabriella Versado has witnessed the unthinkable. The darkest thoughts of humanity turned into horrific actions. Policing in inner city Detroit is every officers nightmare, every shift resembles heading to the front lines of battle.

A victim of a gruesome homicide is found, and officers and the community are stunned. A young boy is fused together with the body of a deer. Making this find one of the most grotesque and disturbing of Versado’s career. The crime has the workings of a satanic ritual, a cult—the possibilities are endless but the answers are nowhere to be found. 

While Mama Versado is working the crime, her daughter Layla is stirring up trouble and trying to take the law into her own hands. Alongside her bestfriend, the teen girls engage in flirtations with online predators. Layla believes she can contribute to the takedown of these online monsters. Layla is a strong-spirited young woman and as a reader you can’t help but love her. She has great intentions, but her actions aren’t well thought out, resulting in being trapped in a very dangerous situation.

Whenever there is a gruesome crime, there are the leeches that try to break into their five-minutes of fame by ‘helping’ solve the case. Disgraced journalist Jonno, acts as though he is part of the investigation team, trying to solve the crime to bring light and honour back to his name.

The most interesting perspective of all: the mind of the killer, Thomas Keen. Often authors don’t do a grand reveal until the end, however in Broken Monsters, the readers were invited into his mind from very early on. Keen has a disturbing image, one where he sees himself as helping society and repairing the broken by creating outrageous and disturbing art. 

This novel is unlike any other I have read. The constant shift in perspective kept my interests piqued. It was gruesome and horrific at times, but it needed to be in order for the story to be so effective. 

A must read for horror and thriller fans alike. 

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Book Review: Alice Isnt Dead by Joseph Fink

must readsAlice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

Alice Isn't Dead

Published: October 2018 by Harper Perennial

Harcover, 321 pages

 

synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling co-author of It Devours! and Welcome to Night Vale comes a fast-paced thriller about a truck driver searching across America for the wife she had long assumed to be dead.

“This is not a story. It’s a road trip.”

Keisha Lewis lived a quiet life with her wife, Alice, until the day that Alice disappeared. After months of searching, presuming she was dead, Keisha held a funeral, mourned, and gradually tried to get on with her life. But that was before Keisha started to see her wife, again and again, in the background of news reports from all over America. Alice isn’t dead, and she is showing up at every major tragedy and accident in the country.

Following a line of clues, Keisha takes a job as a long-haul truck driver and begins searching for Alice. She eventually stumbles on an otherworldly conflict being waged in the quiet corners of our nation’s highway system—uncovering a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.

review

In the same vein as Welcome to Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead started as a podcast under the banner “Night Vale Presents”.  Creator Joseph Fink presents the complete story in the form of a novel. 

Our protagonist is determined to find her missing wife. She takes on a position as a truck driver to fuel her mission. She will stop at nothing to find her and makes herself at home driving the highways of America until she has answers. Her quest finds her encountering zombie-like creatures, emotional distress, members of a secret government agency and a group of timeless mythical beings. 

Fans of the podcast will need a minute to readjust from listening to Jasika’s Nicole’s narration to reading, but the written story finds its rhythm quickly. The pace established is flawless, parsed with revelations about the protagonist’s past and relationship.

Kudos to the refreshing portrayal of anxiety, implying that mental health is not something that needs to be fixed. This story takes on a load of factors and is able to tie each off with a bow.  Fink demonstrates a true talent for the intricate details of the human condition as the story of Keisha and Alice’s relationship is developed.  Night Vale Presents,  establishes a hero with a natural progression, rather than going with typical tropes. 

Alice Isn’t Dead covers so many things at once. A scrutiny of time, analysis of conspiracy theories and an intimate portrayal of the human condition. By far the strongest story from the Night Vale Presents Team, Alice Isn’t Dead plants the seeds for new nightmares to bloom. Best read on an empty stomach with all the lights on. 

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Book Review: The End of the Day by Claire North

Book Review: The End of the Day by Claire North

The End of the Day

Published: April 4th 2017 by Redhook

synopsis

Charlie has a new job. He gets to travel, and he meets interesting people, some of whom are actually pleased to see him.

It’s good to have a friendly face, you see. At the end.

But the end of all things is coming. Charlie’s boss and his three associates are riding out, and it’s Charlie’s job to go before.

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.

review

The End of the Day, takes place in the real world, but with one fantastical element added: the presence of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and their Harbingers. Death has an office in Milton Keynes from which he hires Charlie to be his Harbinger of Death. The reader embarks on a journey examining what it means to be human.

Charlie’s job is to travel the world, to talk to those chosen by Death, to bring them a gift, and to honour life. There is an episodic air to events as the reader follows Charlie going about his business. To an outsider the meetings may appear to be nonsensical, but they perfectly illustrate how intimate and personal a life and a death are. 

The Harbinger of Death isn’t the job he ever expected to be doing, but finds it suiting. He gets to travel, meet interesting people and celebrate the complexity of human life. To be clear, he isn’t death. Charlie is what comes before; he is a courtesy or a warning. The other important distinction that needs to be highlighted is that death doesn’t have to mean the end of a life; it can also mean the end of an idea.

Modern helpers for the three horsemen make appearances throughout the story. The Harbinger of Famine frequents a supplement shop always in awe.  Pestilence’s visit to an immunization clinic brings a comedic light to an otherwise dark story. The characters are so cleverly constructed that they spring to life from the pages.  A story that dives into the human condition and keeps digging along this single path, always vacillating between joy and despair, purpose and meaninglessness.

Despite all the death and misery, despite the failed battles and broken people, at its core, this story is about seeing the humanity in each of us, even in those of us who do not see the humanity in others. Charlie is the mirror that allows us to view our own humanity in all its chaotic glory. 

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Poetry: Dreams

poetryDreams are made of us

We are made of dreams

Dreams

Born of our thoughts

Born of our emotions

Endlessly renewing

Endlessly creating

Born of our misery

Thriving in on our unconscious state

Bringing the dead back to life

Born of our desire

The sense of fulfillment we crave

The moments in life of bliss

Our stories live on

Our dead live on

We will them so

Everything in this world

Both seen and unseen

Is conceived through our being

We the dreamers

Live forever

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Music: Ode To The Cure: Celebrating Love Song

MusicThe Cure’s Love Song

Love is complicated, painful, beautiful–the feeling that makes the world keeps spinning. Without love, life would not be worth living. There would be no purpose in being alive. 

Epic love stories weren’t meant to be comprehended and dissected. The Cure’s Love Song explores the complicity and beauty of love. This single was released in 1989 from The Cure’s eighth studio album Disintegration. I don’t think there is another musician who compares to the Cure’s front man Robert Smith. Every song of his reminds me of a certain time of my life. His lyrics help me keep myself together, and keep everything in life in its right place. There is not a single Cure song that doesn’t’t deeply resonate with me. The Cure can be labeled as Goth-Rock, British New Wave, Post-Punk, New Romantics, Pre-Alternative, but I believe a one-word-description fits: perfection. 

Love Song changed my life. I identify with every single word; it is amazing to know that someone else, somewhere in time identified with every emotion I was feeling at that exact time. It’s in between the words, lyrics and moments where the true depth of belief anchors the heart. What once was will always be. That’s what Love Song preaches, and reinforces. True love that only mends never breaks. Many other artists including; Death Cab for Cutie, 311, Nina Sky, Tori Amos and Adele have made their own cover of Love Song, but nothing compares to The Cure’s masterpiece.  Every other artist whom has attempted is lacking the same grace as The Cure.

It is classic, and the power of the original will never be duplicated. Love Song details the classic expression of the love that happens between two humans, and the unbreakable bond love creates, “however far away I will always love you”. Love is the power that can save your life, “you make me feel like I am free again,” it allows for you to escape whatever troubles you and to “feel like (you) are whole again”. Though it may carry a tone of sadness, Love Song is one of the most inspirational, uplifting songs I have ever been graced with listening to. It is the kind of song that makes me excited to be alive. Love! What a wonder! Time and changes may occur, but Love Song carries the depth of “I will always love you…” The mind of Robert Smith created such an epic, beautiful love story that enchants you. The lyrics make you feel inspired, and excited for what is yet to come. There’s nothing greater than having a sense of hope for things that have yet to pass. Love Song fills you with warmth that somewhere out there someone loves you so intensely and fiercely that they can identify with every word in this song. It’s marvelous to know that someone believes in you. It’s the best feeling I can think of. Love Song combines all these great feelings and leaves you filled with love, hope and faith.  Love Song is pure lyrical and musical euphoria; it is the kind of song that inspires you to live your life with your heart open to the beauty that is love. Whether, you are feeling loved or lonely, Love Song speaks to you; it tugs at the innermost core of your heart and makes you feel alive.

Give it a listen?

 

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