HIDEAWAY by Dean Koontz

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by Dean Koontz

Source: Online
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley (July 2005)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

He was clinically dead after the accident — but was miraculously revived. Now Hatch Harrison and his wife approach each day with a new appreciation for life. But something has come back with Hatch from the other side. A terrible presence that links his mind to a psychotic’s, so that a force of murderous rage courses through him.

Initially published in January 1992, the year I was born, this book’s only flaw was the pacing. Let me clarify that the only reason it lacked the one heart to make it a fully complete five stars is this: I have a problem with the pacing.

Maybe it is the style of the author to write books with this kind of pacing to build the momentum (I have no idea as this is the first time I am reading this author’s work) and it is completely an individual preference thing, but I struggled all the way until 80% of the book where finally things start to kick off in fast, rapid motion. My interest remained intact throughout the whole book and I had no qualms about reading it all the way to the end; I just felt that this book could have moved at a quicker pace. But to clarify, I do see the author’s point of going about the story in this specific pace. It built the momentum perfectly and by the time I reached the exciting parts, my heart was already beating like a hummingbird’s wings and I cannot sit still with the excitement coursing through my veins. It was really suspenseful at the end, but I wished it had started slightly earlier.

Oh and I need to point out how rather misleading the description was. From the description, I was expecting the main character, Hatch Harrison to come back from the dead with a thirst for violence and his mental link to a psycho is the driving force for him to commit things the society deemed unlawful. But when I begin reading it, I was surprised to find out that the story turned out rather different from the description.

Turns out that the revival was nothing magical/otherworldly but was only made possible with our advanced technology. Turns out it was not Hatch that will go on a bloodthirsty killing spree, but someone else is the murderer. Turns out this book is rather spiritual but not in a religious kind of way. Turns out the ending was nothing I predicted. I think it was a rather pleasant surprise that everything turned out the way it was.

The characters in this book are very well developed. Hatch is worried about turning out to be like his father, a man with a violent temper, and does his best to be the perfect man and husband to his beloved wife, Lindsey. Lindsey is more strong-willed but is very capable of rolling with the flow. The daughter they adopted from the orphanage, Regina, is funny and the voice the author gave to her is exactly how a ten-year-old would sound like. The serial killer, Vassago — name of the third prince in the circle of Hell — fascinates me. He believes that he died and went to Hell and can only return once he has completed his ‘collection’, which is, of course, a collection of dead bodies.

The book is written in third-person point of view (POV) and while I am usually not a fan of shifting POVs, the author executed it very well and I had no problems at all jumping between the serial killer’s POV to the main character’s POV to the little girl Rachel’s POV. I loved how when we are in Hatch or Lindsey’s mind, everything is linked to the living, to reflect the image of their determination to continue on living after their near-death experience, and when we are in the mind of Vassago, everything is linked to violence and death, to reflect his obsession with the afterlife. I liked how each of the characters’ voices are so distinct. It is really enjoyable to be able to glimpse into each of the character’s mind and see the events unfold from their perspective.

I was not aware that there is a film adaptation (or was the book adapted from the movie?) but needless to say, I will certainly be trying out the movie soon. I cannot wait to see how Vassago will be like on screen. The atmosphere is not as dark as some of the books I have been reading lately, but it is thrilling enough to keep my palms sweating. The deaths executed by the antagonist is satisfyingly gruesome.

If you are a fan of serial killer plots, a thriller-chaser, or a supernatural addict, I highly recommend this one. Trust me when I say this book is definitely worth your time.

Signing off,
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KIN by Kealan Patrick Burke

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by Kealan Patrick Burke

Source: Online
Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: Cemetery Dance Publications (October 2011)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

On a scorching hot summer day in Elkwood, Alabama, Claire Lambert staggers naked, wounded, and half-blind away from the scene of an atrocity. She is the sole survivor of a nightmare that claimed her friends, and even as she prays for rescue, the killers — a family of cannibalistic lunatics — are closing in.

A soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder returns from Iraq to the news that his brother is among the murdered in Elkwood.

In snowbound Detroit, a waitress trapped in an abusive relationship gets an unexpected visit that will lead to bloodshed and send her back on the road to a past she has spent years trying to outrun.

And Claire, the only survivor of the Elkwood Massacre, haunted by her dead friends, dreams of vengeance … a dream which will be realized as grief and rage turn good people into cold-blooded murderers and force alliances among strangers.

It’s time to return to Elkwood.

In the spirit of such iconic horror classics as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance, Kin begins at the end and studies the possible aftermath for the survivors of such traumas upon their return to the real world — the guilt, the grief, the thirst for revenge — and sets them on an unthinkable journey … back into the heart of darkness.

I dived into this book on the same day I finished SOUR CANDY and this is where I officially announce Kealan Patrick Burke as my favorite author. Not only was he a complete dear by replying to both my Twitter and Facebook posts (can you hear my fangirl scream?), he writes freakingly awesome, gruesome, psychological thrillers. I have been reading so many Young Adult books recently that the gore and horror in this book are refreshing. The author is completely unapologetic with the description of violence that if you are a big fan of the gore genre, I am sure this will be a field trip for you.

I cannot even begin to describe how much I enjoyed every moment of this book.

I was aware of the cannibalistic elements in this book but gosh, I still suffered from a little shock. I pride myself with having a rather impressive stomach for gore but wow, the author proved me wrong (now I need to reevaluate my so-called high tolerance towards all that is bloody). A little warning ahead if you have a weak stomach. The lunatic cannibalistic family is one messed up family, I assure you. They call themselves the last of the old clan in service of God Almighty’s work. Their cruelty stemmed from their religious objective — a mission to cleanse the world of the corrupted ones and the cherry on top of it all? Their family members that have fallen, their flesh is to be devoured. Huh and I thought my family is messed up.

Initially, I expected to read nothing but a slasher story. The opening scene spares no detail in describing the aftermath of a bloodbath (I will stop at that to avoid giving away too many spoilers). But the story evolves into a tale of revenge on many levels and each character — whether he or she possesses good motives or bad — has depth and dimension not found in many other novels of the genre.

The whole book is written in a third-person point of view (POV), with chapters shifting in between different character’s POV. Usually, I am not a fan of this kind of writing, especially if it is executed poorly. But obviously, it was not the case with this book. The way it was written allows readers to have a glimpse into each of the character’s mind and see the events unfold from their perspective. Each of the character’s voice stood out from one another and no two voice sounded the same, which in my opinion, is very good. Nothing spoils the fun of reading more than hearing two similar voices when two characters are supposed to be a sky and a land apart.

I did not find the motives of the cannibalistic family members difficult to understand and even though they are described as heartless and a little not right in the head, I felt a weird attraction to them. I wanted to read more about them and each time I was introduced to a new family member, I felt myself pulled deeper into the book. I liked every character in the book — this is a first for me as I usually have a problem with either the main character or the side characters — but I found myself caring lesser for Claire, the girl who was the lucky sole survivor of this insane massacre. Not too sure why I did not concern myself with her as much, but in no ways was she dislikable or anything like that. I just felt too neutral towards her.

I did get what I asked for without knowing the ending would be the way it was. A big plus there, considering how I hate it when I can predict what happens. The writing was engaging, descriptive, and often disturbing. The book was suspenseful and written in the author’s signature powerful prose. I am sure you can tell from my review that I am a big fan of Kealan Patrick Burke. Second book from this author and I am still yet to be disappointed. Needless to say, I will be indulging myself in his other works soon. Though I might sound bias, trust me on this when I say this book is certainly an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

Signing off,
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ZOM-B (ZOM-B #1) by Darren Shan

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by Darren Shan

Source: Bought
Paperback: 217 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (October 2012)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B Smith’s racist father thinks it’s a joke — but even if it isn’t, he figures, it’s ok to lose a few Irish. B doesn’t fully buy into Dad’s racism, but figures it’s easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. But when zombies attack B’s school, B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors, making allegiances with anyone with enough guts to fight off their pursuers.

I was debating whether I should consider this book as ‘a book you can finish in a day’ or ‘a book with bad reviews’ for my 2015 reading challenge. Heck, I was even debating if I should even review it ’cause man, this book has received so many bad reviews, I am not even joking.

I have to admit the reason I bought this book was because of the cool cover and the possibility of another awesome zombie horror/action story. But I need to point out how misleading the description was. I thought this book was going to be filled with zombie beheadings or at the very least, zombie chomping down on us, human beings. But no, it was more about this teenager, B, and the character’s own metaphorical zombie life. Okay fine, there are zombies later on in the book, and throughout the book, there are more and more stories about the zombie plague making its way around the world. There are chunks of conspiracy theory thrown into the plot as well. But by then, I was already disappointed and once I reached that stage, it is difficult to turn back.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book, but I think one of the main turn-offs for me was B’s father. He is racist, abusive, manipulative, and an all around asshole. Well, B is not too different from the father — a bully raised by a bully. But I still do not think that it is right that B bullies others, nor do I wish to justify it. I know that the author created B in such a way so that we will hate the main character and I have to congratulate him for succeeding but at the same time, I struggled with it so much so that it kind of distracted me from enjoying the book.

I felt like it took awhile to lead up to the massive breakout zombie scenes and I wish we would have had more zombies in this book because I was expecting more. It felt like we only got 20 pages of zombies and I want more zombies. I mean I bought this book with the expectation that this is a Darren Shan book so there should be quite a lot of action and horror … right? Hmm.

If I had to sum it up, I would say this book was rather mediocre. It was a little dull but it was not necessary boring either. Most of the characters (other than B and B’s father whom I strongly felt negative for) were all too bland to form opinions on. I loved the title and the cover (once again, I judged a book by its cover). I am aware that there are eleven more books to go in this series and despite being a complete masochist, I surprised myself by how reluctant I am to pick up the second book.

I usually still manage to fancy books with plenty of bad reviews. But this is honestly the first time I agreed so completely with the thumbs-down reviews on Goodreads.com. I know I will probably get hell with this review but well, I am glad to offer my two cents. I would not tell you to not read it, but you cannot say you have not been warned.

Signing off,
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SOUR CANDY by Kealan Patrick Burke

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by Kealan Patrick Burke

Source: Online
Paperback: 101 pages
Publisher: Smashwords Edition (November 2015)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

At first glance, Phil Pendelton and his son Adam are just an ordinary father and son, no different from any other. They take walks in the park together, visit county fairs, museums, and zoos, and eat together overlooking the lake. Some might say the father is a little too accommodating given the lack of discipline when the child loses his temper in public. Some might say he spoils his son by allowing him to eat candy whenever he wants and set his own bedtimes. Some might say that such leniency is starting to take its toll on the father, given how his health has declined.

What no one knows is that Phil is a prisoner, and that up until a few weeks ago and a chance encounter at a grocery store, he had never seen the child before in his life.

If you are looking to have your mind resemble an item placed into a blender, this is the perfect book. A short novella but wow, my mind has been so thoroughly messed up in the best way possible.

I cannot even remember how I bumped into this book, or how have I not known this author earlier ’cause wow, seriously, the writing style and the plot of this novella just blew my mind. I am a fan of the thriller and horror genre (well not so much and quite limited to the zombie genre, to be honest) and as the years go by, it takes quite a lot to impress me. To be so blown away by this author’s work, trust me when I say this is something you should not pass up on.

Needless to say, Kealan Patrick Burke is now my favorite author.

There is something about his characters that sound so damn believable in the beginning. Main character Phil Pendelton seems like any average guy. He is just trying to buy some chocolate for his girlfriend like every good boyfriend should do. Only there is this kid in the mall that keeps screaming his head off. We all know that kid. The one that makes you think, “I never want to have kids” or “I feel so sorry for that parent”. I have had that happen to me a few times myself and as much as I love children, it makes me reconsider about ever reproducing. Some time later, this kid offered Phil a candy and as a decent human being, being offered candy to by a kid, he took it and you know what I learned from this? Mommy was right. Never, ever, take a candy from a stranger. Never.

What I loved about this book is how the author effortlessly controls the circumstances of Phil’s new life. I was never really a fan of Lovecraftian themes but I am starting to see the appeal. The emotional and mental torment Phil goes through, I found it more chilling than any sort of physical torture. We see first-hand the slowly diminishing control that he retains on his sanity, and began to wonder that if he will be able to extract himself from this sham of an existence, and if what he believed was ever true.

“In a situation in which every rational person is telling you a fact and you’re the one who denies it, doesn’t that make you the one most likely wrong?”

The narrative prose is phenomenal. It is impressive how the author uses such simple words and phrases to intensify the fear and horror I felt throughout the whole book. It is really impressive how the author masterfully manipulates a reader’s emotions with such apparent ease. This is a quality I feel that make his books so effective and so very memorable. I finished this novella in one sitting (3 hours) because that was how addictive and nerve-wrenching this author’s work was. I have little doubt that when 2015 comes to a close, this novella will be my top pick for the short story of the year.

Self-published and currently available only in digital, this book is highly recommendable. Seriously, read this book. There is no question that I will be eagerly reading the rest of this author’s works. Makes me wonder why it took so long for me to notice him. Next up on my reading list is this Bram Stoker Award-winning author’s book — KIN.

Signing off,
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THE TEMPEST by William Shakespeare

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by William Shakespeare

Source: Online
Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 2008)

Adelaine Pek’s ratings: ♥ ♥ ♥ / 5 hearts

In The Tempest, long considered one of Shakespeare’s most lyrical plays, Prospero — a magician on an enchanted island — punishes his enemies, brings happiness to his daughter, and comes to terms with human use of supernatural power. The Tempest embodies both seemingly timeless romance and the historically specific moment in which Europe begins to explore and conquer the New World.

Its complexity of thought, its range of characters — from the spirit Ariel and the monster Caliban to the beautiful Miranda and her prince Ferdinand — its poetic beauty, and its exploration of difficult questions that still haunt us today make this play wonderfully compelling.

The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place, using illusion and skillful manipulation. The eponymous tempest brings to the island Prospero’s usurping brother Antonio and the complicit Alonso, King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio’s low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand.

This is my first attempt at reading a play by the renowned English poet and playwright, Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet’s simplified version does not count) and I have to say, I was amused. Not impressed, as I have to admit I struggled a bit with the language as I do with any book/novel written before the 90s. Not sad either, as the tale is not tragic enough to make me cry. But if I have to explain what my feelings were to the book (?), it would be ‘meh’.

In no way did I mean the book was terrible (please do not start firing at me).

I have always wanted to read THE TEMPEST. It is referenced in a lot of the books I read and when the time came for me to read a play as instructed in my 2015 reading challenge list, it naturally came to me to pick this book. I actually liked how the book opens in the middle of a fierce storm. Right at the start and we are already smack in the middle of an action. I was instantly drawn in (as I usually am when action is used to reel readers in) and was introduced to a ship with a colorful company on board trying to reach the island in sight before it reaches the bottom of the ocean. I was imagining in my head how the casts would look like with the words “Enter mariners wet” in the script and found myself snickering at it. I also liked how there were numerous independent subplots to keep my interest going.

If I have to describe this book, I would say it bears similarity to a fairy tale; fantastic creatures, magic spells, picturesque setting and adventurous story crowned with a happy ending. I guess I draw the lucky stick that my first Shakespeare play did not end in a tragedy. Though I do wish he had spent more time on the romance between Ferdinand and Miranda. There was potential there, but the treatment is rather brief, not to say hastily. To me, Miranda was … innocent, for a lack of better word. Her reaction to the foreign men are similar to teenage girls in an all girl dormitory and being presented with a male company for the first time. But I guess I cannot blame her as she has spent all her life on the island, having seen no other man but her father. It is also not surprising why Ferdinand, the son of her father’s enemy, would fall head over heels in love with her.

It is difficult to say if Miranda, her character formed in such isolation, would not fall in love automatically with every fairly decent and not bad looking fellow. She seems to be aware of her ignorance of the world and of men, yet she is also aware, albeit very dimly, of her rare virtues. How would it affect her to be introduced into human society? One may only guess what kind of monstrous collision would that be. Even when the story ended with everyone being happy, there is a sense of a subtle suppression that no one is aware of — Ferdinand and Miranda’s romance was arranged by Prospero.

Also, I felt that this play is morally ambiguous. Though Prospero presents himself as a victim of injustice working to right the wrongs that have been done to him, his idea of justice and injustice is somewhat hypocritical — though he is furious with his brother for taking his power, he has no qualms about enslaving Ariel (who is a boy by the way!) and Caliban in order to achieve his ends. His sense of justice seems extremely one-sided as well, and mainly involves what is good for himself.

While I am sure I missed some of the puns and words that have changed their meaning over time by reading the play without any extra help, I found that I do not need to understand fully to enjoy Shakespeare’s work. I might not be ready to write a thesis on THE TEMPEST, but I never felt that I did not understand what was going on. Not sure if I will be picking up the rest of his works but who knows, maybe when I am feeling a little fancy, I actually might start on MACBETH.

Signing off,
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