The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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source: free ARC via the publisher
title: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
author: Neil Gaiman
genre: fantasy
pages: 181
published: June 18th 2013
first line: I wore a black suit and a white shirt, a black tie and black shoes, all polished and shiny: clothes that normally would make me feel uncomfortable, as if I were in a stolen uniform, or pretending to be an adult.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

my thoughts:
Reading a Neil Gaiman is like having a magical experience. The imagery he creates and the feelings he evokes while I am reading his stories are what draw me in. He writes beautifully and he makes you almost believe that the fantasy he creates could be reality.

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

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source: free review copy via the publisher
title: Pretty Girls
author: Karin Slaughter/ Twitter
pages: 573
genre: crime fiction/mystery/thriller/suspense
published: 2015
first line: When you first disappeared, your mother warned me that finding out exactly what happened to you would be worse than never knowing.
rated: 5 out of 5 for a thrill ride with twists and turns that had me on the edge of my seat
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blurb:
Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

my thoughts:
Oh my goodness, this book! It has had me on the edge of my seat since last week. I could not read it fast enough, and when I did read it, I didn’t want to stop.

If there is a book that might make you faint while reading, it’s Pretty Girls. It was a thrill ride of emotions, truly. I finished reading it last night and at 573 pages there was not a dull moment.

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Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

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source: free review copy via Harper Collins
title: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
author: Neil Gaiman
genre: short story/fantasy
pages: 368
published: October 27, 2015
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction—stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013—as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion…

my thoughts:
The folks over at Harper Collins kindly sent me an ARC of Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances back in January of 2015 and look how long it has taken me to read it.

I liked the introduction by the author and after reading each story, I’d go back and read his comments on each which was a nice touch. I savored each of these stories with a few poems thrown in. What I like about short stories is that there is not too much commitment. You can read one or two a day and feel a little sense of accomplishment at the end of each one.

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Mailbox Monday: New arrivals

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Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Happy Monday everyone. For the mommas in the U.S., I hope you enjoyed Mother’s Day. I had a nice one with my kids and hubby. The rain passed early on, leaving us with a beautiful, sunny day. I was treated to breakfast in bed (its tradition) and a gift bag full of my favorite goodies and treats since I have a sweet/salty tooth (another tradition started by my son years ago). We also visited my mom for a bit and it really was a nice, relaxing day.

Later on, my daughter made me chocolate covered strawberries. We both enjoy scary movies so we rented and watched The Forest together as well. I recommend it, as it scared me enough to have me peeking through my hand during some scenes because I was too scared to fully watch.

On a bookish note, these are my latest arrivals:
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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter came via HarperCollins. I have read this author before and I enjoyed her thrilling work.

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The Toy Taker (D.I. Sean Corrigan #3) by Luke Delaney

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source: free copy via HarperCollins in exchange for my honest thoughts
title: The Toy Taker (D.I. Sean Corrigan #3)
author: Luke Delaney
pages: 530
first line: The street was quiet, empty of the noise of living people, with only the sound of a million leaves hissing in the strong breeze that intensified as it blew over Hampstead Heath in north-west London.
published: 2014 UK/ July 28, 2015 US
rated: Chilling and Suspenseful
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Blurb:
Description: Your child has been taken…

Snatched in the dead of night from the safety of the family home. There’s no sign of forced entry, no sign of struggle, and no one heard or saw a thing.

DI Sean Corrigan needs to find four-year-old George Bridgeman before abduction becomes murder. But his ability to see into dark minds, to think like those he hunts, has deserted him – just when he needs it most.

As he investigates, another child vanishes — and still no trace. What kind of monster is Corrigan hunting? And will he work it out in time to save the children?

My thoughts:
I have to start my review by saying that The Toy Taker is a fast paced crime thriller that had me on the edge of my seat. I actually have The Keeper, which is the second in the series, but I did not realize it until I was already immersed in this one.

As the book opens, we get inside the kidnappers head as he breaks into the home of an affluent couple in London and kidnaps four-year-old George Bridgeman while the family is asleep.
His mother doesn’t realize her son is missing until the next morning. There is no sign of forced entry or of a struggle and police are stumped as to who entered and exited the house without leaving a trace.

Just when Detective Corrigan thinks he has the person who did it in custody, another child is taken and Corrigan and his team find themselves at square one again with time running out.

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