The Toilet Zone

The Toilet Zone

The Toilet Zone by Bret McCormick

I will be completely honest…I almost declined reading this book. I’m ashamed to admit, I totally judged a book by its title. But I’m glad I changed my mind & gave it a chance. The 32 short stories in this anthology are well written & quite a few are scary as hell.
The premise of the book is each story is just long enough for your daily trip to the bathroom & each story has a reminder at the end to make sure you wash your hands. Although I am not sure I’d really recommend reading this in the bathroom, as I kept reading to the point that my legs probably would have gone numb. I enjoyed almost every story, but there were a few stand out stories that actually gave me nightmares… which is kind of difficult to do.
My 3 favorite stories:
1. The Itch by Mark Towse
2. Reclaimed by DJ Tyler
3. Crow by Ian Bain
I really want to give a description of each of these stories, but I feel like it would totally ruin the stories if I did. I’ll just say they are totally nightmare fuel.
*Thank you to Hellbound Books for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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The German House

The German House

The German House by Annette Hess

The German House takes place in 1960s Germany, where many are trying to forget about the war & it’s tragedies. The story centers around Eva, a young woman in her 20s, helping out at her her family’s restaurant, The German House, & working as a Polish translator. Eva is too young to have known what transpired during the war herself, & everyone she knows refuses to talk about it. As she is living her life of finding herself, as well as finding a husband, she is pulled into translating during the Frankfurt trials. Naturally, her family & boyfriend vehemently oppose to Eva taking part in the trials.

Eva’s boyfriend, Jurgen, is one of the worst characters in the book (although her sister, Annegret, is by far the most awful person in Eva’s world.) However, it is to be taken into consideration that the time frame this takes place, a woman’s role is very different and Eva struggles with becoming an independent woman or a potential & traditional wife. She is also at odds with her family, who begins acting strangely when she accepts the job to translate during the trial. She wonders what secrets they are keeping from her.

I love historical fiction, but there are so many historical fiction novels that take place during WWII that I almost avoid them at this point. But, The German House is a different take on the horrific aspects of the war, specifically from the German viewpoint. It is a story of a country with a generation trying to heal & rebuild, while ashamed of the atrocities that occurred & the juxtaposition of a modern generation trying to moving forward, while forcing those to acknowledge their actions as well as those who chose subservience.

I really enjoyed The German House as both a historical retelling of the Frankfurt trials, as well as Eva’s personal story & her family.

*Thank you to BookishFirst & HarperVia for the advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.*

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Beyond The Gate

Beyond the Gate (A Kathy Ryan Novel Book 3)

Beyond the Gate by Mary SanGiovanni

This was my first Kathy Ryan book & it was a trip. Kathy Ryan is an occult investigator that is hired to investigate the disappearance of a team of scientists. But this team didn’t disappear under mysterious circumstances here on Earth, but in another freaking dimension. This alternate dimension is discovered in a lab run by the Paragon Corporation, a super shady government research organization. When the Green Team scientists first venture into this dimension, the world appears to be abandoned & void of any sentient life. However, as the team has disappeared, the question becomes whether or not this dimension is as truly empty as they thought.

I was a little worried as this is the third book in the series that I would be missing out on a huge back story, but I think it held up pretty well as a stand alone book. It also makes me want to go back & read the first two books in the series.

Thank you to the author, Mary SanGiovanni, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Historical fiction has not been a genre I have read a lot of over the years. This book was highly recommended to me by a co-worker, so I gave it a go. And OMG…. am I glad I did. One of the best novels I have read over the course of my 35+ years of reading. This novel made me straight up ugly cry. I can think of only one other novel that made me cry like this that didn’t involve the death of a pet & that was Les Miserables.

The story takes place over the course of thirty years in Afghanistan, a history of which I was not familiar, covering from the Soviet invasion to post-Taliban rebuilding. We follow the lives of two women & their experiences during these volatile times. Not only do we follow the jarring aspects of survival in a war torn country, but survival as women with no choices & no control over their lives.

It is a heartbreaking story & one I highly recommend reading.

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Colombiano by Rusty Young

Wow. What an intense read.

The novel begins with a teenage boy, Pedro, living as much of a “normal” life on his family farm as he can with the ongoing civil war between the guerrillas, the Colombian government & private armies. After Pedro is forced to watch the execution of his father by the guerrilla, he vows revenge against his father’s murderers. Pedro drops out of school to join the private army, the Autodefencas, to fight the guerrilla forces.

The story follows Pedro from the age of 15-18 & his rise in the ranks of the Autodefencas. We follow his friends from back home as well as his fellow soldiers. We are privy to the inner workings of the trainings of a private army, their leaders & their missions. We also follow Pedro’s mission to avenge his father’s execution by utilizing his rank in the Autodefencas to hunt down the 5 men responsible for his father’s death.

This novel is not an easy read, but a good one as you are pulled into Pedro’s life from the very beginning. Many times I had to remind myself that these are 14/15/16 year olds committing these acts of violence. What makes this novel more unsettling is that, while a fictionalized account, some parts of the story are based on real events pulled from interviews with real child soldiers. It is a well-written & researched account as the author draws from his own experiences in a U.S. government counter-terrorism program in anti-kidnapping & historical research.

*Many thanks to Lily Green & publisher Havelock And Baker for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
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