Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Blue Stars and Other Tales of Darkness by Tony Tremblay ~ 2019

 Tremblay will taunt you,
he will snag you;
he will pour horror into you.



Author: Tony Tremblay
Publisher: Macabre Ink (May 30, 2019); an imprint of Crossroad Press
Publication: May 30, 2019
Pages: 214
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1950565637
ISBN-13: 978-1950565634
ASIN: B07SB4S2DJ - Publisher: Crossroad Press (June 18, 2019)
Introduction: Tom Deady
Author photographer: Chris White


5 Stars




Tony Tremblay
As I have stated before, Tony Tremblay's writing would fill any horror reader's appetite. From his critically acclaimed short horror collection The Seeds of Nightmares to his full blown-out Bram Stoker-nominated debut The Moore House, if you're looking for a great horror story - just ask Tony.

Blue Stars and Other Tales of Darkness is chock full of horror and chills; eleven tales my mind went through and thoroughly enjoyed ~ immensely. Tony delivers Hell, and you can do nothing other than appreciating what your mind goes through as you read.

First off, in appreciation to this collection of short horror, before each tale is story notes that tell the glimpse of the history behind each tale. How many times as a reader you are asking yourself, "Where, what, how in the hell?;  I felt that was a nice contribution.

Tremblay's writing is smooth folks, there's a pace you will enjoy, and has enough anticipation in the atmosphere as you read, it really does makes you want to turn the page. He incorporates quick growth of his characters and their dialogue into a really good time.

He has this ability to take your hand, softly, and introduce to you a hell you won't see coming. Then for some reason, your hand is clenched and locked in as if in a vise until you turn the last page. I have told the world before, Tony has an innate ability with his writing to take the reader on a very clear perception of making the reader realize how close their everyday reality is to his fiction writing.  My point would be made in this tale called The Scum Bar. 

The Scum Bar 
I pictured quite well. A noir tale of a couple of two-bit thieves whom would muster at this dive bar to contemplate their next heist. One of the thieves had got himself into a predicament and their next heist was going to get him out of it, yet, this offer that came up seemed a little to bit "too convenient" for the other thief. As warnings were coming out of his mouth, they were to no avail. As the heist was going down and the story ending, I thought, be careful of what you wish for. The ending worked out for one character I was agreeing with with their decision. And sadly (in all reality) I know damn well, those type of characters are in dive bars all across our globe right now, contemplating.

Blue Stars 
Are magical in their own right. A story of Edgar's loss of his daughter Mercedes and his dying need to be together again with her. This heartbreak tale takes place at a diner with a new waitress wanting/needing to help this poor man out. After his house had burned down with his daughter in it and a divorce six months after, he is spotted going around town to other restaurants and diners looking for a cup of Blue Stars. After Edgar explains to the waitress about blue stars she hoped she had found some at the Goffstown Pawn Shop and the next time Edgar shuffled in and made his way to his booth at the diner, she was almost too pleased with herself to provide him with his order. A cup of Blue Stars. Edgar stares at his cup and then turns to the waitress, smiles and says, "Thank you" - Folks, sometimes when you do good things, bad things happen and what happens next ...

The Thaumaturge 
This is a story of days of old and tales untold ~ you need to be careful of what you demand from your thaumaturge, or careful of who you marry? A delightful little tale of two cities that lived in peace for 25 years, the Red City and the Black City. King of the Red City had doubts or maybe they were nothing more than 'second-thought's on his wife the Queen, now folks, she was born into the citizenry of the Black City and they stayed true to one another through the years. Yet, the battle ensued. Ah, at one kind of price? Folks, this tale is a grinner of a story. The Black Army was gaining and the King didn't want to lose his two sons, Bekitt and Erin, who were commanders in his Army so he called upon his thaumaturge (a witch). The thaumaturge had warned the King if she used her magic, there will be a price to pay.

As this tale ends, you, yourself as a reader, might grin right along with someone else.

Trout Fishing at Glen Lake 
Killer of a story. Killer of a story, Mr. Tremblay. Folks, this tale of two young boys, Billy and John, witnessing a murder and then were spotted, wouldn't you want to turn and high-tail it out there? Yeah, I'm with ya.

Well, even though one of them getting shot, they made it to their destination. Kind of. It was a building Billy saw a couple days ago, but, looked like new owners moved in and now it's a pawnshop. They made it inside and met the new owner and so didn't those two murderers. They caught up with the boys.

Folks, here Tremblay takes you on your journey through a hell so deliciously entertaining, your just gonna love this read. The owner of the pawnshop is a great character from Tony's Bram Stoker-nominated debut novel The Moore House (2018). I love reading about this character. His demeanor, his movements/actions, facial expressions, great great character. Now, his partner Rex. He's a mystery. There's an enigmatic force surrounding him and he is a very interesting character in his own right.

Here on out through the tale, what happens between the five of them you are so engrossed with the read, your plainly just appreciating Tremblay's talent here as a writer and then comes the ending. He knows how to close a great short horror story all neatly tied up and explained away, I'm telling you folks, this is really good reading.

The ending came with one of the boys making sure and settling it in his own mind to never step inside that pawnshop again. Ever.

Stanley's Hole  Simply put folks, if the end of the world is coming, Do Not!, stick your finger in that hole. Let Stanley.


Those are just a few tales I remarked on, though seriously folks, this collection of horror tales are really good material to satisfy any itch you have for horror and dark fantasy.



Highly recommended.



Tony's writing was referred by award-winning John McIlveen a couple years back.  Folks, other great reads and I mean, great reads come from John's pen.  You are very welcomed, readers.


Here's where you can get your fingers on Blue Stars and Other Tales of Darkness:
  • Amazon ~ Kindle $3.99 ~ Paperback $12.99 ~ USD


About the author:


Tony Tremblay
Tony Tremblay is the author of The Seeds of Nightmares, a collection of his short stories from Crossroad Press that made the Bram Stoker Awards Recommended Reading List.

The Seeds of Nightmares debuted at number two on the Amazon Hot Horror Chart and made the top twenty in the Amazon Horror sales listing. His horror and noir themed tales have been featured in anthologies, magazines, and websites on both sides of the Atlantic.

In addition to his print work, Tremblay is the host of The Taco Society Presents, a cable T. V. show on G-TV based out of Goffstown, NH ( it can be viewed on YouTube ) that features discussions on horror as well as guest interviews with horror authors.

In addition, he has worked as a reviewer of horror fiction for Cemetery Dance Magazine, Beware The Dark Magazine, and the Horror World Website. He (along with John McIlveen and Scott Goudsward) founded NoCon, a horror convention held every September in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Also, Tony Tremblay is the writer of numerous short stories that have been published in various horror anthologies, horror magazines, and webzines under his pen name, T T Zuma.

He lives in New Hampshire with his wife Paula.

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Connect with Tony on

Facebook      Goodreads

Amazon

or better yet

 http://www.tonytremblayauthor.com/



Deep within Tony's dense imagination:


The Seeds Of Nightmares did not bring the reader into the story,
it brought the story into reality for the reader.

My review with his interview

&

This link is what I had to say on one of his many short stories, one
that is part of a three part series The Terror Project


 Go ahead, pick a story, any story
you'll be glad you did

 Triplicity: The Terror Project Vol. 1 by Stacey Longo / Tony Tremblay / Rob Smales ~ 2016

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After you have read those:

Check out his Bram Stoker-nominated debut

The Moore House 2018


My review of his debut

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And for a beautiful cause folks, you'll find his short story Blue Stars appearing in Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a charity anthology benefiting the Jimmy Fund / Dana-Farber Cancer Institute



Folks, do enjoy ~

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys ~ 2016


Winter, 1945.
Four teenagers.
Four secrets.

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As World War II draws to a close,
refugees try to escape the war's final dangers,
only to find themselves aboard a ship with a target on its hull




Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Publication: First Printing edition (February 2, 2016)
Pages: 400 pages
Language: English

ISBN-10: 0399160302
ISBN-13: 978-0399160301

ASIN: B00YM34WM8
Text copyright © 2016 by Ruta Sepetys

Map illustrations copyright © 2016 Katrina Damkoehler
Jacket images: Image Depot Pro, Doug Armand
Photo illustration: Travis Commeau
Design by Theresa Evangelista
Author photo: Magda Starowieyska / Fotorzepa




Book clubbin' with Ruta


3 Stars



Ruta Sepetys
A wonderfully sad historical story.

Told in alternating short chapters from the four main characters' point-of-view,  these teenagers and their secrets had everything riding on the line to secure their future from the present they were trying to out-run.  What would you do ... or say, knowing if you stayed where you are, diffidently your future was to bleak to imagine living through?

A story wonderful of past events screaming to be heard through Ruta's penmanship, because sadly, no one could have heard their screams.

Nor their tears.

Salt to the Sea.

When I first started out on this read, it was hard for me to appreciate the short alternating points of view.   The chapters could have been a bit longer for me, folks.  Way too short and to add, the sentences were a bit too choppy, even for a young YA read.  Worried I was headache bound, I did have a personal curiosity to quell from the title and with my partner, patience, we read on.  OK, war in mind and a ship that sunk carrying with her the greatest loss of human life ever to be floating on the open seas ~Welcome to ~ Salt to the Sea ...

This tale takes you on a fictional journey near the end of WW II.  When the Allied forces were gaining ground, the German civilians were evacuating.  Fleeing toward the Baltic Sea, where the German navy will transport them to safety.  The tale surrounds actual real things, folks.  There was/is/a Operation Hannibal (largest sea evacuation in modern history), The Amber Room (once called the eighth wonder of the world - disappeared during the war and remains a mystery of WW II), MV Wilhelm Gustloff (was sunk by the Soviet submarine S-13).  All three were as colorful as their history, though, the fictional main characters she created were not as colorful.

The four main characters are Joana Vilkas, a Lithuanian whom is haunted by her conscience.  Florian Beck, a former art restorer has a secret he is carrying and knows if the Soviets capture him, he will be killed and if the Germans capture him, they too, will kill him.  There is pregnant Emilia Stozek with her secret and there is Alfred Frick, the pipe dreamer.  Alfred, I thought at first, was a loose cannon I was going to keep my eye on.  He mentally writes these letters to Hannelore Jager; she seems to be his lover back home.  These letters he never writes down on paper nor does he send them.  Pretty much throughout the novel he is living in this fantasy world where he tells Hannelore of all the brave accomplishments in his military duty and how dangerous his job is and how he rescued a beautiful young woman.  He also hides a lot.

Sepetys did give you their background and their motivations, yet, the characters were pretty much one dimensional.  The secondary characters were very interesting and intrigued me more than the simple main characters.  I dug Heinz, the shoe poet.  This character had me smiling and enjoying his dialogue with every turn he made.  His comments concerning shoes and how the shoes tell the real story of the person wearing them.  And, his familial instincts toward Klaus, the wandering boy, was a treasure.

I did appreciate the historical events that were peppered throughout the tale.  I went away from the read content on those notes.  But, flooding chapters with 'memorable' repeated names - the pink hat, the shoe poet, the wandering boy, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., (you get my point)  My word, that was annoying.  These characters have names Ruta, please use them and just pepper your tale with those 'pet' names.  I shake my head and wonder why authors do that annoying thing.

As the tale went on, her pace was okay for my tastes, but, the settings were mediocre.  Sometimes I was with them in the cold and most of the time I was reading a story.  Until toward the end, when all hell was breaking loose while the ship was sinking.  Her descriptive writing, folks, was there;  As if Sepetys wanted to make sure you're flipping pages and has your attention.  I could picture the scenes quite well and I imagined how damn cold that water had to have been.  All those people, young and old.  Thousands upon thousands filling the stairwells and corridors trying to get to one of the 22 lifeboats.  22?  Oops.  They were missing 10 of them folks.  Now, this is winter.  January to be exact and could you imagine, some of those remaining lifeboats are not operable for one reason and the next.

The visual descriptions of the pandemonium and death were clear.  I could see those children legs up in the air while the rest of their body floated below the surface, upside down in their life vests.  People slipping off the side of the ship plunging into/onto ....
The young man who pleaded to be hoisted up into a lifeboat, yet he was over-ruled with the thought of the boat capsizing.  As he clung on the side of the boat in the freezing water, "Would you please at least warm my hands?"  Did he make it?  Folks, you will be turning pages to see if, or you're hoping to see if your favorite character of the story survives.

Though the ending did clear the air on Emilia's baby Halinka and Klaus from Emilia's heroics, the ending did not totally satisfy me.  Even though some loose ends were tied up and neatly explained, a lot of secrets came out where I felt there really wasn't much time for the resolve and the last few pages were confusing.

On a bittersweet note folks, 23 years later, there was a letter received offering comfort for some unknown answers to questions one character had floating around in their head.  I did read the letter twice and no, it was not from Mr. Pipe Dreamer.  I will say, the letter made closing the book - worth my time.




So you ask, would I recommend?

Thumbs up for those historical buffs looking for a little action during a read!




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Here's where you can get your fingers on Salt to the Sea: 
  • Amazon ~ Hardback $15.19 ~ Paperback $8.79 ~ Kindle $9.99  USD
  • Barnes & Noble ~ Hardcover $17.09 ~ Paperback $8.79 ~ NOOK $9.99  USD



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About the author  ~






Connect with Ruta












 Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) is an internationally acclaimed author of historical fiction published in over fifty countries and thirty-six languages.  Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide.  Her novels, Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy are both New York Times bestsellers and international bestsellers.  Her latest novel, Salt to the Sea, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and winner of the Carnegie Medal.  Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over twenty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television.

Ruta is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee.  Born in Michigan, she was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers.  Ruta attended college to study opera but instead graduated with a degree in International Finance.  Prior to publishing her first novel, she spent twenty years in the music industry helping artists and songwriters distill story through song.

Sepetys is the first American crossover novelist to address both European Parliament and Library of Congress.  She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Resident Fellowship for Salt to the Sea.

Ruta was recently bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation.  She is intensely proud to be Lithuanian, even if that means she has a name no one can pronounce.

Ruta lives in a treehouse in the hills of Tennessee.

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Based on Ruta Sepetys acclaimed novel  ~  Between Shades of Gray  2012


Ashes in the Snow

Starring

Bel Powley and Jonah Hauer-King


https://www.amazon.com/Between-Shades-Gray-Ruta-Sepetys/dp/0399254129/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1548622970&sr=1-1


 "Few books are beautifully written, fewer still are important; this novel is both." --The Washington Post

Fifteen-year-old Lina is a Lithuanian girl living an ordinary life -- until Soviet officers invade her home and tear her family apart.  Separated from her father and forced onto a crowded train, Lina, her mother, and her young brother make their way to a Siberian work camp, where they are forced to fight for their lives.  Lina finds solace in her art, documenting these events by drawing.  Risking everything, she imbeds clues in her drawings of their location and secretly passes them along, hoping her drawings will make their way to her father's prison camp.  But will strength, love, and hope be enough for Lina and her family to survive?

A moving and haunting novel perfect for readers of The Book Thief.



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