Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Netgalley · New Releases · Reviews

Book Review: Ill Will by Dan Chaon

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Ill Will: A Novel by Dan Chaon

Goodreads.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

BarnesandNoble.com – Ill Will by Dan Chaon

Disclaimer: This ARC copy was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: Adult/Mature Adult/Mystery/Thriller

Plot:We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves.” This is one of the little mantras Dustin Tillman likes to share with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

Opinion: WHEW! What a whirlwind that story was! After becoming introduced to The Girl on the Train, I have been in a frenzy trying to find similar books. I came across Ill Will on Netgalley and HAD to give it a go. Let me tell you readers, I have so many STRONG and INSANE emotions rushing through me right now…I barely know where to start! This book is like a bad mushroom trip that feels WAY too real.

Thirty years ago, Dustin and his cousins woke up to find their parents brutally murdered in their home. Already flushed with loss at a young age, a life sentence is handed down on Dustin’s adopted brother Rusty who is blamed for the crimes. Now years later with children of his own, Dustin works as a psychologist in Cleveland. Soon a call from Dustin’s cousin brings panic into his life, as he is told that Rusty’s sentence has been thrown out and he is being released. Now Dustin begins to reflect back on the night that changed his life forever, and whether he and his cousins were right about testifying against Rusty and blaming him for the murders. All the while, a staggering number of male college students being found dead is making headlines. Though the police call the strange occurrences “accidental drownings”, Dustin’s new patient feels otherwise and suspects foul play. Could there be a link to this madness, or is Dustin slowly falling down a rabbit hole?

This is a truly interesting and dark story. There are tons of misleading twists and shocking occurrences, and the characters are truly gritty. Dustin is our main character and the reader follows him as he relives moments from his past, while also dealing with his present. One day Dustin gets a call from his cousin who tells him that Rusty, his adopted brother and the person who took the fall for the murders, is being released from prison. He is told that new DNA results were discovered which proves that Rusty couldn’t have murdered his new family. This brings a panic into Dustin’s life because now he is unsure if Rusty was the culprit of the crime, or if he was just blamed because of the things he had done in his past.

As Dustin reflects on his past growing up with Rusty, I was…how should I say this…COMPLETELY f***ing disturbed. There is some SERIOUSLY dark and grimy things that go on between these boys. Rusty can be described as a tough and hardheaded boy at an early age, and grows into a metal loving hooligan that likes talking about satanic rituals and even goes as far as sacrificing small rabbits. Dustin is a young an impressionable boy, and sees Rusty as his knight in shining armor. He proves to be a more than gullible child, and will allow his mind to be overturned by suggestions and hints by his older cousins and Rusty. In each flashback that these characters take the reader in, we are given glimpses of each characters flaws as a child and reasons why they could or couldn’t have been the ones to murder their family.

Another huge part of this story is Dustin and his patient Aqil. Aqil is a former police officer who has more than an obsessive and compulsive personality. He becomes fascinated by the mass amounts of local drownings of college males, and brings it upon himself to start investigating. As Aqil attends sessions with Dustin, Dustin starts to get wrapped up in the ideas and theories that Aqil presents him. Soon he finds himself spending all of his time with Aqil and latched onto the idea that there is a murderer on the loose killing these boys. The end result for these murders is truly…SHOCKING. I was so blindsided when this portion of the story was SOMEWHAT answered. Yes, in this book you will find that the author likes to leave you guessing.

For me though, I think the ending is where this story really shines. At first I wasn’t too keen on the fact that the ending didn’t completely tie everything together. I ended the book and thought to myself WAIT, what happened?? As it has now been a few days since I have finished the book, I have a different feeling towards the ending. I actually enjoy the fact of where the author took it, because there are so many actual cases where things end up in that fashion. I think I have a pretty decent idea of what could have happened, and I think you guys will too if you give this read a go. But honestly, the best part is knowing that you have no idea what actually happened. So touché Dan Chaon, touché. All in all, I am only giving this 3 stars because this book took me a LONG time to get through and because I was rather uncomfortable for most of the read. I prefer a thriller that THRILLS me, not a story that makes my skin crawl and forces me to put it down. It is an interesting story, but I could have done without all the in-depth sexual scenes.

3-stars

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · New Releases · Pre-order · Reviews

Book Review: Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

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Devil in the Countryside is available for Pre-order, and will be available on February 15, 2017. Please see the links below:

Amazon.com – Devil in the Countryside (Of Witches and Werewolves) by Cory Barcaly

Goodreads.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Barnesandnoble.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Bookdepository.com – Devil in the Countryside by Cory Barclay

Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural

Plot: Devil in the Countryside is a story about the most famous werewolf investigation in history, brimming with intrigue and war, love and betrayal, and long-kept vendettas.

It’s 1588, the height of the Reformation, and a killer is terrorizing the German countryside. There are reports that the legendary Werewolf of Bedburg has returned to a once-peaceful land. Heinrich Franz, a cold and calculating investigator, is tasked with finding whomever — or whatever — the killer might be. He’ll need all the help he can get, including that of a strange hunter who’s recently stumbled into town. Though they’re after the same thing, their reasons are worlds apart. And through it all, a priest tries to keep the peace among his frightened townsfolk, while a young woman threatens his most basic beliefs.

In a time when life is cheap and secrets run rampant, these four divergent souls find themselves entwined in a treacherous mystery, navigating the volatile political and religious landscape of 16th century Germany, fighting to keep their sanity — and their lives.

Opinion: Once again, I am PLEASANTLY surprised with a book that is completely out of the genre that I usually read. This story was AMAZING! I found myself having immense trouble putting it down and doing adult things such as going to work, or sleeping. The writing is perfection. It gives the reader the necessary balance of description and detail, while also eloquently weaving a tale of fantasy and realism.

Based loosely on actual events that took place in Germany over a 20 year span, Devil in the Countryside transports the reader to 1588 as murders in Bedburg start to rise. Fear spreads quickly through the town as gruesome and mangled bodies are found in the countryside, and threats against protestant reform begin to plague the Christian ruled town. As Investigator Heinrich Franz looks into the murders, he enlists the help of a hunter by the name of Georg Stieghart who has a past of being quite vicious. This story also follows Father Nicholas Dieter of the church in Bedburg, and young Sybil Griswold who is the daughter of a wealthy farmer. While the investigator tries to hunt down the Werewolf of Bedburg, the church tries to fight off Protestants from overtaking the town and the minds of their people.

Though I gave you guys a little description up there, I’m going to explain a little bit more about these characters/events so that you really get the idea. Probably the COOLEST thing about this book is the fact that it is based on true events. In 1589 a trial was held for a man that was presumed to be the famous Werewolf of Bedburg, who was accused of murder and cannibalism. Shocked? Me too. The fact that these people actually thought that a man was turning into a werewolf and slashing bodies to pieces is just…beyond me. The again, this was also a time when everyone thought witches were casting spells and dealing in dark magic…and here I thought my generation was cuckoo.

Heinrich Franz is the investigator that is put in charge of finding out who/what the Werewolf of Bedburg is, and he seems to go to any lengths to make someone responsible. I really can’t pinpoint my feelings for this character. He is an evil and emotionally unattached man, but I quite like his ruthlessness and cunning behavior. He is the type of person that will do ANYTHING to close a case, especially if that means framing someone in the process. Georg Stieghart is truly my favorite character in this story. He comes off as a drunken idiot most of the time, but he proves to be a very strong-willed and intelligent person. As Georg seeks revenge for the death of his family, who he assumes is the Werewolf, he assists the investigator and helps him hunt the killer down. The relationship between these two characters is fairly comical. They both act friendly towards one another and share news that they have, but they also don’t trust each other and have their own agendas. I enjoyed how the story turned out for Georg and how his character makes a complete 180. He loses some of his savagery and turns into a truly upstanding person.

Sybil Griswold is the daughter of wealthy farmer Peter Griswold. Sybil goes through a lot of dark events in this story, and I commend her character for taking everything in stride. Not only does a dear friend of hers come up dead, but her father begins to force her into a marriage with a nobleman’s son who proves to be vile and pretentious. Sybil finds solace in her time spent with Father Nicholas Dieter, who is a priest at the church in Bedburg. Father Dieter seems to be the most developed character, and for me, the most interesting. He starts out being a very faithful and dutiful servant to the religion that he preaches for, but soon starts to open his eyes to what is going on in the world around him. The relationship between these two characters brings the romance factor into this story, and gives the reader a little light in this otherwise dark and gritty tale.

This story overall was fantastic! The events that took place were gruesome and unnerving, and I kept picturing a less theatrical Tim Burton setting of gray buildings and woeful expressions. Though I am not a big fan of reading a story with religion being such a central theme, it was obviously necessary to this story but it didn’t overtake the actual plot and events that the author was focusing on. I highly recommend this story to any reader that likes thriller/mystery, or to anyone who wants to dabble in a different type of story. I am REALLY looking forward to see what happens in book 2, hopefully it will come out soon!

5-stars

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Book Promo · Book Reviews · Books · Reviews

Book Review: Deny the Father by M. Duda

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~ Buy through the links below ~

Amazon.com – Deny the Father by M. Duda

Goodreads.com – Deny the Father by M. Duda

Barnesandnoble.com – Deny the Father by M. Duda


Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot: The first story in this collection, “A Sarjeta,” follows an impoverished Portuguese with one simple dream. He wants to taste meat. Although Leandro also has larger goals of becoming a famous artist, his hunger and poverty are always at the front of his mind. When he forms a relationship with the wrong person, Leandro will realize that incredible evil exists just across the street.

The middle story, “Good-bye, Sweet Mercury” takes a turn away from the horrific and focuses on a father’s love for his daughter. In this short, simple tale, the father stands at a precipice in his life. He doesn’t want to leave his little girl and will have to make a big decision about his future.

The last story, “Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today,” furthers M. Duda’s theme of metamorphosis and introduces an indentured farmer who is trying to make up for his criminal past. In a future civilization, the farmer faces harsh truths about himself.

Through these glimpses into different worlds, M. Duda tells three intricate, compelling tales of transformation.

Opinion: Readers! I bring you yet another collection of short stories by the highly imaginative author M. Duda. This is the third book I have received from this author, and might I just say these stories just keep getting better and better. What I love about this author is that he isn’t afraid to create stories that reflect on the darkness and savagery that exists in the world. I love any story that is able to make me slightly nauseous at the truths that I am seeing, but a story that also excites the ravenous reader that I am.

Deny the Father has a total of three short stories. The first story A Sarjeta (The Gutter) follows a poor young man that has the sole desire to earn enough money to taste meat for the first time. While living with his sister and her children only eating beans day after day, Leandro finds himself caught up in a dangerous game on his path to riches. In the second story, Good-bye, Sweet Mercury, Tim struggles with saying goodbye to his daughter and moving on after his death. The third and final story, Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today, is set on another planet called Menhir-X. Jax and his wife, Delna, live on this planet as sugar cane farmers along with other alien life forms called Allohms. This story documents as Jax struggles to keep his farmer, while also confronting his past and present mistakes.

I think my favorite story in this collection would have to be Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today. The overall theme focuses on the struggles to provide for oneself and their family, while also putting a spotlight on the mistakes that one makes and how they can cost you dearly in the end. This story shows the wrinkles and imperfections that can scar a person in time, and I think it was an interesting tale of a man seeking redemption. A Sarjeta (The Gutter) is a truly gritty and grimy story. It captures the idea that innocence can be stolen rather than lost, and it gives the reader a sad feeling of hopelessness and despair. It made my heart squirm in my chest and left me feeling uneasy. To me A Sarjeta (The Gutter) and Yesterday Never, Tomorrow and Today are two stories that test the evil inside oneself and others, and it makes the reader question their conscience or morals.

Good-bye, Sweet Mercury is a very VERY short story that lasts only three pages. I have noticed that the author, M. Duda, touches on life after death at least once in each of his books. In this story, like his other paranormal tales, we are greeted with a character who struggles with the idea of moving on and leaving a loved one behind. Good-bye, Sweet Mercury instills a moment of hope for the reader while they read this story. It was a welcome moment that brought me out of the darkness that usually embodies these shadow books and restored my faith in humanity…if only for a moment.

When it comes to reading an M. Duda collection of short stories, I am always very pleased with the imaginative and poetic tales that I read. As much as I adore reading my overly fluffed YA/Fantasy stories, I will always be seeking a story like this that evokes deep thoughts long after I have finished reading. As always, I HIGHLY recommend reading these shadow books! I hope this author NEVER stops writing these eerie stories, they are truly special and amazing.

5-stars

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Book Promo · Book Tag · Books · New Releases

Bookish Book Lover Tag

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Here we are guys, my first book tag post for 2017! Though I was tagged in this when it was still 2016…we don’t care do we? No, we don’t. THANK YOU to Luci over at Irontallica666Blog for the tag!

The rules:

  • use the original banner
  • answer the questions
  • use lots of book covers
  • tag your friends!

What book are you currently reading?

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Can you say OBSESSION? This girl is psychotic, and I love her oh so much.

For those of you have read this book, can we all just take a minute to bask in that WTF moment between Rowan and Aelin where Rowan says that cringe-worthy sentence? You know the one. It involves using the word moan and turning my wondrous YA story into a borderline disturbing erotic novel, where I feel like I have interrupted a moment that I REALLY don’t want to be interrupting.

Someboodddyyy say AWK-ward?

What’s the last book you finished?

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Obviously.

Favorite book you read this year?

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It has to be Hatred Day and Emotions. These were both SUPER original and interesting reads, and I was hooked on them.

What genre have you read most this year?

Fantasy books for sure! I have become a sucker for anything involving royal courts and sword play!

What genre have you read least this year?

I would have to say romance or horror.

What genres do you want to read more of?

2015 and 2016 have been years where I have REALLY branched out of my normal comfort zone in regards to genre of books. I am pushing myself to become open to anything at this point.

Except erotica. Just no.

How many books have you read this year and what is your goal?

I don’t even want to know the low amount of books that I read in 2016, twas a hard year indeed. I want to read 100 books in 2017, or more. The more the merrier! My goal is to stay focused and become a reading machine. Goodbye social life, I don’t need you anyways!

What is the last book you bought?

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What book are you saving up for to buy?

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*Sigh*…Childhood. (Insert dreamy and twinkling eyes)

How many books did you check out last library visit?

Last Library visit? I couldn’t even tell you the last time i was in an actual library.

What’s a book you can’t wait to read?

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NUMBER 5! Let’s just keep them coming Sarah J. Maas, no need to ever stop the series.

Seriously. Write forever.

What’s a series you’d recommend to everyone?

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I read A Series of Unfortunate Events years and YEARS ago, and to my dismay….*sigh*…I can barely even say it…I LOST THEM. Ugh…woe is me.

Who’s an author you’re hoping writes more? 

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This book….always this book. If Jay Asher could just write more stories like this, he would be probably my favorite writer. I know that another story of his called What Light was just released in October, but I have a feeling this isn’t going to be as captivating as Thirteen Reasons Why.

A few books your heart adores?

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So as not to be a Repetitive Rebecca, I left out my books that are a series since I have already placed them above in a previous question.

These are some of my favorite books, so you might as well trust my judgment and put them in your TBR list if you haven’t already read them.

DEFINITELY get Whispers of Bedlam Asylum because guess what?! Yours truly  and my wonderful girl Annelise are in it. Oh yeah, I s**t you not ladies and gents. The wonderful Mark C. King gave us the esteemed pleasure of being written into this majestic little tale.  Just to make you want to get this even more, both our characters are stuck in an insane asylum together against their will…and I swear, we’re sane.

(Just look for the names Jenaca and Annelise 😉 )

What series’ coming conclusion makes you sad?

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(Uncontrollable tears) I don’t want it to ever end!!

What books are on your wish list?

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There is like…over 300 books in my TBR list right now, so the above will have to suffice for now.

~ TAG Bloggers, You’re It! ~

~ Tag One – TheGenreMinx ~

~ Tag Two – GeekandBookNerd ~

~ Tag Three – HersfortheReading ~

~ Tag Four – LexiesLit ~

~ Tag Five – ACupofWitTea ~

~ Tag Six – MollyGould ~

~ Tag Seven – RavenWing72 ~

~ Tag Eight – HerInkedSoul ~

~ Tag Nine – MorganHobbes ~

~ Tag Ten –  TheBloodyBookBlogger ~

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Book Promo · Book Tag · Books

Would You Rather Book Tag

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Thank you to Amber over at Only True Magic for tagging me in the Would You Rather Book Tag a few months ago. I feel like I need to find way more Book Tag posts to participate in, tag me bloggers!!!! 🙂 Alright, here we go:

 

1. Rather read only a series or stand-alone books?

OoOoOohhh that’s a tough call! For me it all depends on the genre and how great the story line is. In other words, I want my Fantasy/Paranormal books in a series and my YA books stand-alone.

2. Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?

I love a strong female lead character, and as a female, I would obviously relate more to a main character that is also female. On the other hand, in real life I am much more accustomed to being around guys than I am women. Why? It’s just….you know…a hell of a lot easier! I think because there are so many books I have read that have a female lead, I am leaning more towards preferring a story that has a male lead.

3. Rather shop only at Barnes & Noble (or other actual bookstore) or Amazon?

Bookoutlet.com ALL THE WAY BABY! Granted I can only shop at this store online, which hurts the nerd in me that wants to wander around a book store for 3 hours, but you can’t beat these prices. They have SO many great books that range from $1-$5. I know, it’s insanely awesome and we just DON’T deserve them. *Sigh*…swoon worthy. 

Once again Bookoutlet.com…compensation for free publicity is greatly appreciated 🙂 

4. Rather all books become movies or tv shows?

Movies. Harry Potter, Hunger Games, The Giver, Me Earl and the Dying Girl, The Fault in Our Stars…wonderful.

Whoever keeps deciding to turn these amazing books into television shows, you need to stop it. Whoever you are, you’re ruining it. I might be the only one who thinks this way, but I seriously hate TV because all of the acting sucks and they stray away from events WAY too much. Like The Mortal Instruments for example, what the hell is even going on there? You guys should have stopped after that failed attempt at a movie. Really.

5. Rather read 5 pages per day or read 5 books per week?

Come on, 5 books per week. What am I going to do with 5 pages a day you crazy pants?!?

6. Rather be a professional book reviewer or an author?

I’m going to go with professional book reviewer. I love receiving free books and helping to promote someone’s work and a world that they have created, I think it’s amazing and something that should be shared. I have always loved writing, but I am never able to get past a single pivotal moment and fill the rest of the story with useless conversation. I would like to try my hand at writing a book one day, but I am content with book reviewing. 

7. Rather only read the same 20 books over and over or get to read a new book every 6 months?

If I am only allowed to read 1 book every 6 months, then you are seriously trippin’ on some fantastical ridiculousness. I would die.

8. Rather be a librarian or own a book store?

Oh man, book store all the way!! Get a nice little coffee shop in there stocked with cheese and crackers and croissants. I would seriously drink cappuccinos all day, running around like a crazy person hyped up on caffeine and new book boyfriends. Oh yeah, sign me up. (The wine will be there for after-hours shelf stocking…obviously).

9. Rather only read your favorite genre or your favorite author?

Genre. There is way more for me to get through and enjoy by sticking with a genre rather than author. I can barely handle the wait of a book as it is, I wouldn’t survive it.

10. Rather only read physical books or eBooks?

WHAT is with all of these difficult questions!? Ebooks are cheaper, easier to get, and a lot of authors will send digital copies of their books for review instead of print copies. It’s also easier to lug an ereader around than a bunch of books…

Who am I kidding, physical books.

~ TAG Bloggers, You’re It! ~

~ Tag One – Kristen Rose Reads ~

~ Tag Two – Fictionophile ~

~ Tag Three – CloLovesToRead ~

~ Tag Four – Adoptabookaus ~

~ Tag Five – Hey Ashers ~

~ Tag Six – Reveries Reviews ~

~ Tag Seven – BookNista ~

~ Tag Eight – Gems Curiosity Blog ~

~ Tag Nine – Just Another Bookish Blog ~

~ Tag Ten – Book Slayer Reads ~

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Books · Reviews

BEDTIME FOR SENECA by M. Duda

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot: Five speculative tales weave a complex tapestry of tragedy, horror, and loss
leading readers into dark places…but not necessarily guiding them back to the light.

  • Five different short stories
  • Each story weaves a thread of tragedy and irony

A darkly disturbing book of adult bedtime fables, Bedtime for Seneca offers five separate glimpses into worlds hidden just out of sight, ranging from the seemingly mundane to the fantastical.

“Three Nights in Budapest” explores an estranged father’s last, desperate attempt to gain his daughter back at any cost. In “Mortal Image,” Life accepts a mysterious assignment from her superiors that requires working with her obnoxious, unkempt coworker–Death.

Meanwhile, a nervous smoker with a lover who’s both more and less than he seems seeks help for his addiction from a decidedly odd psychiatrist, while an aggressive advertising consultant hopes to secure a new contract with the help of a rapid language acquisition class with its own agenda. And in “New Friends Made,” a dinner with a recently divorced friend takes an unexpected, and violent, turn.

Loss and regret run through each of author M. Duda’s disturbing tales, where even victory is made possible only by first losing. Each seductively twisted fable leads you into a darkness from which you must find your own way back…should you ever wish to return.

Opinion: Once again readers, do NOT judge a book by its cover. This is the second book from M. Duda that I have had the pleasure of reading/reviewing, and once again he has done a FANTASTIC job of executing “the creep factor” into his fantastical tales. The first book I had read and reviewed for M. Duda was his second shadow book called A Cat Will Play, which introduced me to psychological and eerie short stories. Just like A Cat Will Play, Bedtime for Seneca will have your mind reeling and leave you feeling unsure about your outlook on life.

This book contains five short stories: Three Nights in Budapest, Mortal Image, New Friends Made, Tiny Dragon, and Nervous. Three Nights in Budapest follows a father named Andrew trying to get his daughter back, while also reliving moments from his childhood when his violent father would beat his mother. As Andrew works to find where his daughter and ex had disappeared to, he learns that he might not be as different from his father as he thought. Mortal Image is the story of Life and Death being forced to work together on a mysterious assignment where an old drunken man is about to die. As Life fights to be released from the assignment, she is taught a lesson of forgiveness and gets a glimpse into her lost past. New Friends Made takes a turn into the fantasy and adultery side of things and tells the story of a married couple who has invited their newly divorced friend over for dinner, but things turn quite terrifying quickly. Tiny Dragon follows Leonard Small, an arrogant and outspoken advertising consultant, as he attends a fast-paced language learning class in order to obtain more work. In Nervous, Mr. Grelling attends an appointment with a strange psychiatrist in order to quit smoking due to his lover not approving.

Once again, I do not want to go into too much detail about each story because I will just give everything away! I tried to give a little bit more information in my description above, so hopefully that will give you guys a little more insight into what each story is about. I think my two favorite stories in this book have to be Three Nights in Budapest and Mortal Image, purely because I loved the hidden meanings in both and the length of the stories. Mortal Image might be one of the most unique short stories I have read before, and the way the author has made Life and Death into characters was genius! Though Tiny Dragon and Nervous left me feeling a little confused and not sure what EXACTLY was going on, I feel like the main “message” or theme to the story was more obvious in Tiny Dragon than it was in Nervous. The writing style that M. Duda possesses has made him move onto my list of favorite authors, purely for his way of creating a story for a reader that has a ton of different meanings. Not only does he capture how a person’s mind can linger into other thoughts in different moments, but he keeps each character unsettlingly human and true to their emotions and needs.

Overall, this is another great collection of short stories by M. Duda. Please keep in mind that this is not a book meant for children, as there are some scary and adult moments throughout. Also, if short stories aren’t something you normally read, I definitely suggest giving one of M. Duda’s books a try! He will get you absolutely hooked!!

4 Stars

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Books · Reviews

A CAT WILL PLAY by M. Duda

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, M. Duda, for an honest review.

Genre: Short Story/Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal

Plot:

Three twisted tales explore the dark side of human nature
…and the possibilities of fantastic unexplored worlds.

  • Three new and different short stories
  • Experience psychological horror in the short story “CRDL”
  • A lost family member may be found in the afterlife, “Christmas Never Snows”
  • In “Cosmo’s Tale,” growing up is harder than it looks for a young Esther
  • A thread of dark irony weaves through each tale

Welcome to a shadowy world of imagination and depth–where the veil between worlds is much thinner than we ever thought possible and the biggest question is never what happens next, but why. In this dark and unexplored place, good intentions don’t always work out as planned, and the living and the dead each find themselves trapped in cages of their own making.

Containing three unique and imaginative tales, A Cat Will Play showcases the very best and worst of human nature through very different characters and situations. Experience the psychological horror of a postapocalyptic world in “CRDL,” a young girl’s search for excitement and answers in “Cosmo’s Tale,” and the haunting journey of an earthbound spirit in “Christmas Never Snows.”

At times playful, terrifying, and twisted, M. Duda’s second installment of the Shadow Books series evokes a broad range of settings and moods with an underlying thread of darkness that masterfully ties each story to the next. Fans of futuristic sci-fi, paranormal fantasy, and young adult literature will each find something to enjoy in A Cat Will Play–and find themselves anxiously awaiting Shadow Books to come.

Opinion: Okay my readers, I know you have heard this one a MILLION times but I must repeat it again: Don’t judge a book by its cover. This is NOT a children’s book, it is actually quite far from it. When M. Duda asked if I could review this book for him, I of course had to clarify what genre it fell into because the cover is pretty misleading. After reading the short stories that were contained in A Cat Will Play, I have to say that the cover is actually quite fitting for the underlining messages that are sealed inside this one of a kind book. This is something VERY different from what you have ever read, and it has a horrifically beautiful feeling that is captured in every word and detail.

A Cat Will Play contains three short stories, all of which showcase different aspects of human nature. The first shorts story, CRDL, gives the reader an insight into a post-apocalyptic world that is riddled with poverty, unclean air, and an abundance of dead bodies that are used to create cooking fuel for children. Christmas Never Snows is about a woman who has passed away, but remains in the house she grew up in as a child. With the inability to leave her home, due to the guilt of feeling responsible for her mother’s death, her father comes back to help assist her into the afterlife. In Cosmo’s Tale, a young girl struggles with finding a crowd to fit into while also trying to find answers to why things are the way they are in the world.

These three short stories are amazing! The style of writing that M. Duda uses in his writing is highly descriptive and detailed. The imagery brings the writer right into each story and leaves you feeling a bit strange about the world. I personally loved the last short story, Cosmo’s tale, which centered on a fourteen-year-old girl who is longing to find adventure but looks in the wrong places. It captures adolescence perfectly in the way that each awkward character is portrayed, as well as showing that each person has their own struggles that they are hiding. Not only does the main character come to realize that not everything is what it seems, but she starts to really appreciate what she has been dealt with in life. Christmas Never Snows explains to the reader about forgiveness and accepting mistakes that have been made. Basically, one can never truly rest until they accept the things that they cannot change.

Each short story in this book reveals a few small life lessons that everyone should be aware of, but the author delivers each lesson in an almost blatant yet cryptic way. I would highly recommend this book to any reader, no matter what genre you are most interested in. The writing is fantastic, and you will get sucked into the characters and situations as soon as you read the first page. I am so glad I read this book, and I cannot wait to go back and read book one.

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