Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Boneyard (Deadlands #3) by Seanan McGuire

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*Spoilers at the very end of the review*

Step right up to see the oddities and marvels of The Blackstone Family Circus and Travelling Wonder Show! Gasp at pit wasps the size of a man’s forearm. Beware the pumpkin-headed corn stalker, lest it plants its roots in you!

Annie Pearl is the keeper of oddities, the mistress of monsters. Her unique collection of creatures is one of the circus’s star attractions, drawing wide-eyed crowds at every small frontier town they visit. But Annie is also a woman running from her past . . . and the mother of a mute young daughter, Adeline, whom she will do anything to protect.

Hoping to fill its coffers before winter sets in, the circus steers its wagons to The Clearing, a remote community deep in the Oregon wilderness, surrounded by an ominous dark wood. Word is that a traveling show can turn a tidy profit at The Clearing, but there are whispers, too, of unexplained disappearances that afflict one out of every four shows that pass through the town.

The Clearing has its secrets, and so does Annie. And it may take everything she has to save her daughter―and the circus―from both.

I’ve been interested in reading this novel for a while now, it’s been on my ‘to be read’ list for a few years. I felt like it was finally time to jump into this Weird Wild West novel.

Annie’s trailer of oddities made me realize just how far we’ve advanced in science and biology. Her “nibblers” are piranhas, she owns a pet lynx named Serenity, and other monstrosities of nature.

Overall I enjoyed this weird wild west tale. It had plenty of spookiness, horror, action, and adventure. It was worth the wait to be able to add this to the “weird wild west” subgenre.

Here’s a short story collection of Weird Wild West

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

In this story, wendigos are the main antagonists, other than the town itself they are a threat to the circus. The wendigos weren’t something to be taken lightly, the town had made a deal with them to keep them from eating the townsfolk during the harsh winters and to keep outsiders away. The wendigos would attack any outsider that came to the town by either killing them on the spot, kidnapping them and taking them back to their lair to save for later. Which I felt like a convenient circumstance so we can have somewhat of a happy ending to the story.

I first heard of wendigos when I was watching a playthrough of the video game “Until Dawn”. With that said, when I found out the wendigos were a supernatural based entity I did plenty of research on them because they captured my interest. I found them unique and fascinating compared to other supernatural beings and entities talked about in average lore.

This is a book I’d recommend to anyone interested in wendigos, the supernatural, circus stories, and mysteries. It is definitely worth a read, whether you get it from your local library or you buy it, it’s definitely an excellent story.

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with Larry Ehrhorn

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

**Spoilers for Four Months in Brighton Park**

Q: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Mr. Ehrhorn: “The only two authors that I personally know are Sue Massey (Letters from the Heart) and Erica Hughes (several self-published romance novels).  They both encouraged me to self-publish, and Erica took me through the technical aspects.”

Q: What is your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Mr. Ehrhorn: ” I have really enjoyed August Derleth’s Sac Prairie saga novels, the first being The House on the Mound, followed by Bright Journey, actually a prequel.”

Q: What was your hardest scene to write?

Mr. Ehrhorn: “The death of Mary Harker, a guide/friend for Kelly Elliott.  I wanted it to be sad, unexpected, and somewhat cruel from the hotel manager’s behavior.”

Q: What aspects of your novel reflect your personal experiences?

Mr. Ehrhorn: “Chicago, 1965, big high school, friends, activities, and some adventures.”

Q: How did you choose the main character’s name?

Mr. Ehrhorn: “I simply do not remember that.  I began this book, literally, thirty years ago.  I know I wanted the “kid with two first names,” but how I arrived there, I do not remember — perhaps some guys in the dorm?”

Thanks, Mr. Ehrhorn for reaching out to me and introduce me to your amazing book! I can tell that you’ve put a lot of time and love in your book.

Read My Review of Four Months in Brighton Park HERE

Buy Four Months in Brighton Park HERE

Posted in Discussions, Personal Blogs

DISSCUSSION: “Local Girl Missing” by Claire Douglas Book Club Questions

When I finished Local Girl Missing I found there were several discussion questions for book clubs. I thought about these questions, and here are my responses.

**Spoiler Warning**

  1. Why was Frankie drawn to Sophie as a friend? Why was Sophie drawn to Frankie in return?

I think since Frankie has proven throughout the novel that she is a sociopath and/or psychopath. Usually, with these types of people, they find someone who is “submissive” which Sophie is when she first meets Frankie. Sophie is thereby, drawn to Frankie as a friend because of Frankie’s confidence, and willing to teach her about being a teenager in a small town. It was the perfect storm personality-wise.

2. Why do you think Sophie feels so unable to tell anyone about her stalker? In what ways could she have acted differently?

Back before the days of texting, mobile phones, and e-mails. It makes it 10x more difficult to have proof that you have a stalker. Second of all, she is correct in the fact that the local police wouldn’t have done anything. The police can’t take action unless a threat to the victim’s life has been made. However, if she put in the anonymous tip after the rape happened, those women might have come forward before she felt the need to run away. Her stalker/rapist being a prominent figure in the community, it would make it more difficult to prove that he was in fact guilty.

3. The author uses the phrase “Like father, like daughter” in relation to Frankie and her father. How similar are these characters and in what ways? Frankie calls Sophie a liar when she reveals that Alistair has harmed her. How far will we go to protect our perceptions of the ones we love? Are we in denial about our loved ones?

 Frankie and Alistair are similar in the fact when they want something or someone they will stop at nothing to acquire it or them. Alistair (as far as we know) never murdered any of his victims. Frankie murdered Jason because she was turned down and she thought the reason was that Jason fancied Sophie more. None of them knew at the time, that he was gay.

The last part of this question is difficult for me to answer. From what I’ve learned in college was that as we grow up we’re supposed to see our parents as the people that raised us as well as their flaws.

Since Frankie didn’t have a good relationship with her mother, all of her love and attention went to her dad, thus building an unrealistic expectation of who her dad is. I would say for those that grew up in a healthy home, this is true. We go into denial if that parent is threatened to tarnish the idealization.

4. Do you think, on some level, Frankie believes her own story? Can you convince yourself to believe your own lies? How do you think this novel approaches the theme of memory?

I think she either spent the rest of her life convincing herself that Sophie was missing. Just like how she convinced Sophie that Jason dying was just an accident. I think it’s interesting to hear Frankie’s side of the story as well as Sophie’s side of the story. Sophie’s journal entries slowly unraveled the lies that Frankie has built up over time.

5. Sophie’s friend Helen insists that “Friendship should be about given and take. It should be about equality” whereas Sophie thinks this is naive. Discuss the power dynamics between friends throughout the novel and how they change.

While they are growing up together, Frankie gives Sophie the protection from bullies and an escape from home. After Frankie went to boarding school, this gives Sophie the chance to gain independence from Frankie. So when they meet up again, Sophie is more independent and is looking for a job outside of Oldscliffe. Frankie expects to go back to the way things were before boarding school, and they don’t because Sophie “grew up”. She didn’t need Frankie anymore to tell her what to do, or how to dress or who to date. Which causes the friction between them when it comes to their taste in men.

6. What are Sophie’s flaws? Is she purely a victim in this story?

The only flaws about Sophie that are noticeable to me are that her self-esteem is low. She never believed any of the boys were attracted to her. She talks about her younger self negatively. By the end of this novel, I felt more sympathetic towards Sophie than I did Frankie. Maybe it was because I could relate to Sophie better than Frankie.

7. Frankie addresses Sophie throughout the novel almost as if she is speaking to her. What do you think that the author was trying to portray by writing this way?

I think the author writes the novel in this fashion because it makes it seem like Frankie is talking to Sophie as if she was actually dead. She apologizes to Sophie for the way things happened as if she is praying for forgiveness for her brash actions.

8. How does young Frankie from Oldcliffe compare to the Frankie we meet in the present day? What has caused her to develop in this way? If Frankie really believes such assertions as “nobody turns me down” what causes her to feel so entitled?

I would say the “old” Frankie was ambitious, wanted to be popular, and wanted to leave Oldcliffe to do something not involved in the hotel business. The “new” Frankie has repressed the memories of the past, she does run her father’s hotel business in London. She loves the amenity of living in a big bustling town. I think she feels so entitled is because her father always gave her everything she asked for.

9. Do you believe that Frankie has real feelings towards Daniel? Discuss Daniel’s relationship with the women in this novel. 

I think after two failed marriages, Frankie going back to see Daniel may have made her realize how he was “the one” for her. He loved and cared for his family. Even if he was laid back, that didn’t make him undesirable.

10. What role does the atmosphere of Oldcliffe play in this story? 

The way the author described Oldcliffe, it reminded me of places like Coney Island in the “off” season. A tourist town that’s bustling in the summer, all of a sudden being empty for the rest of the year can feel creepy at times.

11. “I don’t think I’m bad. I’ve just done some bad things”. Is Frankie “bad”? What makes someone a “bad” person?

I don’t think Frankie is “bad”. She never seems to bully Sophie or other people. I think she might have some mental health problems, and if she sought help for them, she might get better. Anger and rage can flare up and causes you to lose your sense of your actions.

12. What causes friendships to turn to toxic envy? Are there barriers we should uphold with our friends? Can people be too close?

When we are children, we make friends easily. Maybe they were friendly to you once, or because you got paired up on a field trip. Any of those reasons. However, once puberty and growing up happens, you start realizing that your friend may have things better off than you. Whether they are real or imaginary reasons hatred and jealousy start brewing. We need to uphold our boundaries with every relationship we have. People can get too close and start suffocating you or making your life toxic.

13. What do you think happens after the novel ends? Does Frankie survive the fall and start a new life for herself, just like Sophie?

It is possible that she survived, but it’s just as possible that she’s dead. The reader will never know. If she did, she will either start a new life similar to Sophie or seek revenge on Sophie and her family. I think she’s mentally unstable enough to continue on telling herself that Sophie was missing or that she was dead. She is also capable of wishing to harm Sophie and her family.

Read my review of Local Girl Missing