June 29, 2017

Brother by Ania Ahlborn


From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a brand-new novel of terror that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…

‘Brother’ is . . . a very brutal book to say the least. There is a lot of blood, a lot of cringing, and a lot of having to put it down to take a break. It follows the traditions of the Morrow family as they make their way through girls. By making their way through girls, I mean brutally murdering them.

This book is not for people who don’t enjoy gore. There is a lot of it, and some of it is really hard to read. If you can get through that, you will find an interesting story about a kid that longs for normalcy when his life is anything but normal.

You get the sense that Michael may not be all there, but it could just be his lack of education and communication with the outside world. All he knows is the messed up family that he has ended up with. He knows he doesn’t really belong in their circle, but it takes him the whole book to find out his actual truth.

Michael is a complex character while being a very simple person. For someone who has done unforgivable things, Michael has a good heart and feels very deeply.

Then there is Reb, Michael’s “brother”. I am not sure he has felt any emotion except for anger. Despite being a sibling, I feel like he ran the family. It lived and breathed on the back of Reb.
Wade was the father, but he was much more of a background character and didn’t really mean anything to me.

Momma – she got the family started in their messed up ways. Everything they did was to please her. She was an ominous presence that couldn’t really do much on her own. She did a lot of . . . cooking. She had a severe lust for blood and she wanted to see people suffer. For a character who doesn’t say a whole lot, she was terrifying.

Misty Dawn was the reject of the family due to her loneliness and need for love.

Brother is told from Michael’s POV and introduces you to his struggles and want for a new life.
It is a deep book, and it is well written. Despite the gruesome scenes, it made me want to keep reading.

If you can handle it, give it a shot.

3/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes:

“Them’s the perks of livin’ out in the wilderness, Momma has once said. You scream and ain’t nobody around to hear.”

“If it didn’t matter how hard they screamed, Michael didn’t get what the difference would be. Day or night, dead was dead. At least during the day he wasn’t trying to sleep.”

“Some hurts were just too painful to talk about.”

“The air was always better when the world was sleeping. It made it easier to breathe.”

“She was his Fate, delivering him from a life of horror, saving him from himself.”

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Who We Were Before by Leah Mercer


Zoe knows that it wasn’t really her fault. Of course it wasn’t. But if she’d just grasped harder, run faster, lunged quicker, she might have saved him. And Edward doesn’t really blame her, though his bitter words at the time still haunt her, and he can no more take them back than she can halt the car that killed their son.

Two years on, every day is a tragedy. Edward knows they should take healing steps together, but he’s tired of being shut out. For Zoe, it just seems easier to let grief lead the way.

A weekend in Paris might be their last hope for reconciliation, but mischance sees them separated before they’ve even left Gare du Nord. Lost and alone, Edward and Zoe must try to find their way back to each other—and find their way back to the people they were before. But is that even possible?

I will classify this book as frustratingly intriguing. It is told in the POV of two different people and you kind of want to smack both of them at different times. Then you have to remember that they are both suffering from an inconceivable loss, and you start to understand them a little more.

At the beginning, the story was a lot more frustrating, but as the characters get a little more in depth, you start rooting for both of them and the book becomes a lot better.

Who We Were Before was really well written in my mind. It jumped from character to character, time period to time period, yet you are still able to keep up really well. The use of different time periods and different POVs creates more depth for the characters than you would get without it.  Zoe and Edward are both, somehow, really likable characters. Yes, I know I said earlier that you want to smack them. Tough love?

You meet Zoe as a spaced out, grieving mother who wants nothing to do with the life she leads due to the loss of her son. She is stuck inside of her own mind, and no one is going to break her out. You get a taste of who she was before and who she could be through the flashback chapters. It gives her an added charm that is very necessary due to the lost soul she has become.
You meet Edward as a man who is fed up with his wife and who she has become. He wants the woman that he married back, but doesn’t try to understand where she has gone. Instead he turns away from her and into the arms of someone else. . . almost.

You want them to find each other and get their love back, but they are both hiding so many secrets, you have to wonder if they can ever get it back.

I got this book very cheap on Amazon, it may have been one of the free KindleFirst books, but I can’t recall. I will say, I am glad that I took a chance on it. I enjoyed reading it late at night while lying in bed. It was a nice way to unwind from the day and get lost in someone else’s story. It moved a long nicely and never really became boring. It took me awhile to get through, but that is because I would only read a little at a time before bed. If you get lost in it, you could easily knock it out in one day.

If you are looking for your next weekend or afternoon read, I would highly recommend this one. It is quick, easy, and an overall nice book. Give it a shot.

3.5/5 stars

Memorable Quotes:

“They look about mid-twenties, still young enough to believe nothing can go wrong, I wonder what they think of Edward and me?”

“Love your son. Have a huge, gaping hole in your life, a kick in the stomach each morning you wake up, and a pain that leaves you struggling to breathe. That’s how you get like that. Like us.”

“If I could, I’d stay here in this spot, with her, forever.”

“The yarn was connected to my heart, entwining emotions into every row.”

“The metro rattles into a station, and together we watch the doors open and close as passengers get off and more get on. The rhythm of life, I think absently. One minute the people you love are there, the next they’re gone.”

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