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On the Lips of Children

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Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man. He's planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible. During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn't imagine: skinning unexpecting victims for food and money. And Macon, and his Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man. He's planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible. During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn't imagine: skinning unexpecting victims for food and money. And Macon, and his family, are next.


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Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man. He's planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible. During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn't imagine: skinning unexpecting victims for food and money. And Macon, and his Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man. He's planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible. During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn't imagine: skinning unexpecting victims for food and money. And Macon, and his family, are next.

30 review for On the Lips of Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    karen

    despite being someone well-trained in the art of readers' advisory, sometimes it can be difficult to place the right book in the hands of the right reader, because people tend to be vague about what kind of book they are looking for. it is very infrequent indeed that someone will specifically ask for a book about "tattoos, feral children, cannibals, twins, marathon runners, bath salts, and the fierceness of motherhood." but when that day comes, i will be ready. kids, stay offa bath salts. despite being someone well-trained in the art of readers' advisory, sometimes it can be difficult to place the right book in the hands of the right reader, because people tend to be vague about what kind of book they are looking for. it is very infrequent indeed that someone will specifically ask for a book about "tattoos, feral children, cannibals, twins, marathon runners, bath salts, and the fierceness of motherhood." but when that day comes, i will be ready. kids, stay offa bath salts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Creepy good! The author contacted me and I received a copy of the book in exchange of a honest review. THE QUICK A page-turner story featuring the horrors of real human nature. THE GOOD The first thing that captured me was that amazing cover! There's a saying that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but certainly the cover is a key factor to provoke an eagerness to read an unknown book. I mean, if you are looking already a specific book, you won't care too much about the cover. Howev Creepy good! The author contacted me and I received a copy of the book in exchange of a honest review. THE QUICK A page-turner story featuring the horrors of real human nature. THE GOOD The first thing that captured me was that amazing cover! There's a saying that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but certainly the cover is a key factor to provoke an eagerness to read an unknown book. I mean, if you are looking already a specific book, you won't care too much about the cover. However, if you looking for something new, something able to pick your interest, definitely the cover is what hook you. And this cover is creepy good. The main story is simple and it remains simple along the journey. I always like that. I mean, if you started with something expected to become more complicated, there isn't anything wrong in that, because you already are prepared to that. The problem is when a wonderful simple story gets unnecesarily complicated and/or too big. Characters with a past. Each character reacts along with his/her own previous experiences. And you get to know the past of each main character in the right moments, letting the reader to recognize the logic of their actions. Each person is the sum of his/her experiences, and you feel it in that way in the developing of the characters here. Real horror. You won't find here any supernatural stuff but it doesn't mean that it won't be less horrorful, in fact, it may well be even more scarier, since it's a situation that it can happen to anybody, and facing the sadistic violence that humans are able to do to other humans. And one of the best elements of this book, it's that the author decided to give some chapters to a character that she's a small child and when you read her chapters, you really feel the unique way that she reacts to her surroundings and the situations that she is facing. You never feel that she's stupid, which it's a poor choice by some other authors to think that a child is stupid and/or unable to cope with adult situations. Obviously, a child won't deal with an adult situation in the same way than an adult but a child is already a person, with a brain, with feelings, with experiences, and because of that, giving a fantastic opportunity for a storyteller to take the book, in the right moments, from the point of view of a child. THE BAD Lacking of "disposable" characters. It's a sad fact that any good horror story has victims, characters with some development, even one thinks that they are "main" characters and suddenly... they are no more. However, in here, you only have main characters and on each "side", they are too important to afford to be missed. THE ODD A climax relatively solved kinda easy. I am not saying that it was a no sweat situation. They certainly do a lot of things but at the end, when one is analyzing the book after finishing it, you "feel" that it missed some intensity, especially thinking about the crudity of the antagonists.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

    Mark Matthews is freaking brilliant! Read his books! Okay, there we go, review done. Yet again, I had the pants scared off me. No, seriously I am a new avid fan of Mark's writing because it's just so darn good. This book chilled me to the bone, had me holding my breath, yelling at characters and telling them what to do, on the edge of my seat, heart beating wildly. The works. Mark knows how to take everyday life situations and inject a whopper dose of urban horror into them. These situations may, Mark Matthews is freaking brilliant! Read his books! Okay, there we go, review done. Yet again, I had the pants scared off me. No, seriously I am a new avid fan of Mark's writing because it's just so darn good. This book chilled me to the bone, had me holding my breath, yelling at characters and telling them what to do, on the edge of my seat, heart beating wildly. The works. Mark knows how to take everyday life situations and inject a whopper dose of urban horror into them. These situations may, somewhere, not be that far from reality. A VERY sobering thought. The book opens with a screaming start. The horror hit early on (love that). We meet a woman trapped in an underground tunnel that once ran from Mexico to the USA, not anymore, there was a cave in. She's in the tunnel with two small babies, trying to keep herself and her babies alive. That in itself is horror enough, but wait, let's crank up the fear and chill factor a notch or seven. Baby Q's tongue took moments to notice anything, but soon the tiny mouth of the babe began to suck on her finger. She pulled the finger out of his mouth, dipped it back into the pool of blood puddling in her other hand, and then tapped it back on the child's tongue. Q's tongue lapped, became wet, and then he swallowed, coughed twice, and somehow found enough energy to cry. Then he cooed. You do NOT want to know where the blood comes from, that's the only taster I am giving you, but let me tell you, this book made my head spin with the imagery, the desperation, the horror, it's creepy and I freaking loved every second of it. Then we come up for air and meet Macon. Macon is an ink man, he is a Tattoo Artist and a good one at that, his partner Erin is proudly wearing tattoos that Macon inked on her once upon a time, now he has inked his heart onto hers. The happy couple. They have come to San Diego with their daughter, Lyric to both run in a marathon. They are so going to wish they hadn't. So that's the easy opening part of the book, it's all quite nice, but you can feel the tension coming, oh yes, it's subtle, but my spider senses were on high alert. Macon decided to take a run the night before the marathon, and heads off down a little known trail recommended to him by the hotel staff, he encounters some characters along the way, including a huddle of homeless men living in a makeshift camp at the side of the trail, I was on edge just at this point waiting to see what was going to jump out, what was going to happen. They have a dance of interaction and conversation and Macon carries on running. He doesn't know it but Erin has decided to put Lyric in her pushchair and follow him too to catch him on the trail. I was just so knowing that was a very bad idea. Should have stayed in the hotel honey. What happens to them next is so horrifying my mouth was hanging open. How far would you go to save your family from hell? Macon faces this very challenge when Erin and Lyric go missing on the trail. He goes looking for them (I was hiding behind a pillow reading it, clever that). So this was me, "Macon, just called the police dude, please, please, things are like, really bad, call the FBI, call the team from Criminal Minds, just call somebody, don't tackle this on your own hero man". He didn't listen to me. Let hell on earth commence. I am not saying anymore about the plot because I think it's a book you need to just go into with as much of a blank page in your mind as you can muster, then let the words that Mark has penned scream the words onto your blank page until your eyes hurt from being unable to stop reading, because you are going to want to know SO BADLY what happens next, and then next, and again. Freaking awesome. Totally tense reading material. What I can say is when the two worlds that are introduced in this book collide things will never be the same again for you dear reader, images will be seared upon your brain for days, weeks even. This is urban horror, the monsters are not made up, they are real. That's why it's more scary and more horrific, because it's human beings creating the horror. It's so cleverly done. What I so loved about this book is the switching points of view, we hear from Macon, Erin, the woman underground and even Lyric, and it's done seamlessly, it's not jumpy or disjointed, you know who is speaking and getting all perspectives is stunningly good. It's important to the overall impact of the book and it works really well. Erin and Lyric have ended up in hell on earth and Macon can be their only saviour, unless of course, he becomes a victim too. The darkness of the human psyche is well explored, the detailed graphic imagery is crystal clear, the tension and fear you feel with the words is tangible and real. The characters are dynamic, well written, raw, just bloody fantastic (pun intended). As they look at evil straight in the eye, how much can they bear? The body and mind can only take so much, where are the limits? And what of the woman with the babies? Are they still feeding? As for the final outcome, you have got to read it for yourself. I can see a sequel to this book (pretty please)! It's stunningly good, I was breathing heavy, frantically feeling for the characters, I was so worked up I felt like I was IN the darn book with them! Honestly, it's like that, sucks you in and makes it your world for the time it takes to read it. You will never consider all children innocent and pure again. On the Lips of Children indeed. Fantastic. Brilliant. Don't shy away from this if you are not a horror fan, because there is horror and then there is horror. If you have only ever read Stephen King novels, expand your mind, you might find something better. If you enjoy a good tense thriller, or graphic crime novel even, you can manage this easily and you know what? I bet you will love it too.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Char

    On the Lips of Children was not what I expected at all. Since reading one of Mr. Matthew's previous books, (Stray), way back when I first got my Kindle, I've been meaning to read more of his work. When he offered a free copy of this one, in exchange for an honest review, I said yes. I'm glad I did! "Stray" was a good read but this novella (short novel?) is more up my alley as I am a horror-lovin' gal. The story begins with a couple (Macon and Erin) staying at a hotel with their daughter, Lyric. On the Lips of Children was not what I expected at all. Since reading one of Mr. Matthew's previous books, (Stray), way back when I first got my Kindle, I've been meaning to read more of his work. When he offered a free copy of this one, in exchange for an honest review, I said yes. I'm glad I did! "Stray" was a good read but this novella (short novel?) is more up my alley as I am a horror-lovin' gal. The story begins with a couple (Macon and Erin) staying at a hotel with their daughter, Lyric. They are in town for a marathon taking place the next day. Before dark in the morning, Macon gets some info on a runner's trail that ends at the beach and he's off. That's all I will say about the plot.(The book's description will give you a little more.) This was an imaginative story. The general subject matter, (I won't be any more specific than that for fear of spoiling something), has been done before. However, Mr. Matthew's characterization is what sets this book apart. From the lead character's inner thoughts while running, to their inner thoughts regarding what happened to them later...they all rang true to me. The atmosphere in this one was dark-I loved the building sense of dread and tension that I felt. I didn't think the author would be able to keep that sense of tension throughout, but in the end, I have to admit that he did. Lastly, this book was pretty gruesome. In fact, that may be an understatement. It's nothing a seasoned horror fan would be disturbed to see, but if you're not a regular reader of the genre, the details involved here may disturb you. All in all, I loved this story. Recommended for fans of horror and dark fiction! (A copy of this is posted at the Ravenous Reads blog, for which I write guest reviews. You can find this review and more of my reviews there!) http://ravenousreads.blogspot.com/sea...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bark

    A simple run in an unfamiliar place takes a turn for the very worst when a young family is dropped into the pit of hell. Or at least what I imagine might be happening in the pit of hell. Macon decides to take a leisurely run the day before his first marathon but he’s on unfamiliar turf. Before long he’s bugged by a group of homeless folk but that’s nothing compared to the terror that’s about to hit him when his lover decides to take their child along the same unfamiliar path to catch up to him . A simple run in an unfamiliar place takes a turn for the very worst when a young family is dropped into the pit of hell. Or at least what I imagine might be happening in the pit of hell. Macon decides to take a leisurely run the day before his first marathon but he’s on unfamiliar turf. Before long he’s bugged by a group of homeless folk but that’s nothing compared to the terror that’s about to hit him when his lover decides to take their child along the same unfamiliar path to catch up to him . . . This story is quite scary because it all feels so real. Crazy but, you know, it could happen. It almost makes me grateful that I’m too lazy to ever run a marathon and prefer to run only as much as I have to in order to keep the cardio up for the zombie apocalypse. Zombies won't be catching me. I’m not going to spoil this but there’s some creepy stuff that goes down and there are children in peril. The atmosphere is tense and claustrophobic and the characterization is pretty damn fine. There is a lot of time spent in these flawed people’s heads and I found their thoughts on running, grief, pain, and the art of tattooing all very interesting. If you’re looking to take a peek into the darker corners of humanity this is your story.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark Matthews

    Oh, that author dilemma of reviewing their own book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melki

    Aaaaa! C.H.U.D.s!!! Well, okay, more like C.H.U.M.s - Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Meth-heads. There's nothing particularly new here, and the writing won't win any awards, BUT it's a good, solid page-turner, so dig in.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    One of my favourite non king horror novels

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Book Info: Genre: Literary Dark Fiction Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: fans of dark fiction Trigger Warnings: murder, mutilation, cannibalization, cutting (self-injury), reported death of a child, danger to babies, kidnapping My Thoughts: This is a very twisted book. Dante's behavior due to the excessive drug use and his constant talk about needing to take people's faces off to see who they really are made me think of that movie Face-Off. I also have to wonder why, after seeing what meth and Book Info: Genre: Literary Dark Fiction Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: fans of dark fiction Trigger Warnings: murder, mutilation, cannibalization, cutting (self-injury), reported death of a child, danger to babies, kidnapping My Thoughts: This is a very twisted book. Dante's behavior due to the excessive drug use and his constant talk about needing to take people's faces off to see who they really are made me think of that movie Face-Off. I also have to wonder why, after seeing what meth and salts do to other people, anyone would even want to try the stuff. There are some typos. Most consistently, “feint” is used instead of “faint”, and “taught” instead of “taut”, but I noticed others as well. The typos were corrected in the final version, I had an ARC. This is not quite horror, although the ending is left vague enough that you could imagine it so if you wished. The main characters, Macon and Erin, are both adrenaline junkies, into tattooing and running. I know this author is a runner, so it's obvious he writes what he knows. Fans of dark fiction should find this an interesting read, but keep in mind there is a lot of rather nasty gore, so more sensitive readers should beware. Disclosure: I received an e-book copy of this from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Synopsis: Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man.  He's planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible.  During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn't imagine: skinning unsuspecting victims for food and money. And Macon, and his family, are next.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Although I won a copy in this book in a Goodreads giveaway, I had already purchased a copy for my kindle before the contest ended. This is definitely a story that captured my attention right from the synopsis itself! Macon is a tattoo artist, in town for an upcoming marathon. When he goes out for a practice run, his girlfriend and six year-old daughter decide to head out after him. What entails is a nightmare enough to cause any parents lack of sleep! In a drug-smuggling tunnel near where Macon t Although I won a copy in this book in a Goodreads giveaway, I had already purchased a copy for my kindle before the contest ended. This is definitely a story that captured my attention right from the synopsis itself! Macon is a tattoo artist, in town for an upcoming marathon. When he goes out for a practice run, his girlfriend and six year-old daughter decide to head out after him. What entails is a nightmare enough to cause any parents lack of sleep! In a drug-smuggling tunnel near where Macon takes his run, lives a very "unique" family. They are headed by a deranged, former drug-dealer, along with his "wife" and their two children that have lived their entire lives subsisting on the bodies of others captured, or brought their way. This story was a heart-clenching, horrific read from the very start. The images conveyed in Mark Matthews' story are all too realistic, and the characterization so good that you won't want to stop until the very conclusion of this novel. This was my first read by Mark Matthews, and I hope to see some more works of horror by him in the near future. An original story with jaw-dropping scenes of horror and disbelief that I thoroughly enjoyed. 4.5 stars. Recommended!!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maxine Marsh

    As a novel I enjoyed the way this book messed with my emotions: tension, concern for the characters and a sort of visceral disgust with the bad guys (some of whom the reader would feel pity for, a hard thing to pull off). I really wanted the protagonists to get away. Matthews created a couple who had their problems but you really wanted them to triumph over evil and be together. It was almost too realistic how an evil place existed on the margins of the normal world, and how easily it would be t As a novel I enjoyed the way this book messed with my emotions: tension, concern for the characters and a sort of visceral disgust with the bad guys (some of whom the reader would feel pity for, a hard thing to pull off). I really wanted the protagonists to get away. Matthews created a couple who had their problems but you really wanted them to triumph over evil and be together. It was almost too realistic how an evil place existed on the margins of the normal world, and how easily it would be to disappear and become a victim of it. I will definitely look forward to more great horror from Mark Matthews.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andi Rawson

    This being the third book I've read by Mark Matthews, I can only venture to say that his head must be a very, very frightening place. It is obviously a place where people live in caves, want to you eat you, and have incredibly creepy children. It's a place where your greatest fears become reality and everything you love can be taken from you. In movies and real life, joggers are always getting attacked and/or killed on running trails, which is disconcerting enough. I have never wanted to be a run This being the third book I've read by Mark Matthews, I can only venture to say that his head must be a very, very frightening place. It is obviously a place where people live in caves, want to you eat you, and have incredibly creepy children. It's a place where your greatest fears become reality and everything you love can be taken from you. In movies and real life, joggers are always getting attacked and/or killed on running trails, which is disconcerting enough. I have never wanted to be a runner but if I had ever so much as entertained that idea, Mark just guaranteed that I wouldn't ever be able to do it without looking over my shoulder, constantly, and suspiciously at anyone who looked even remotely homeless. Mark Matthews has a special talent of making even the most mundane of things, absolutely terrifying. If you haven't read Mark's other books, Milk-Blood (my favorite) and All Smoke Rises: Milk-Blood Redux, his brilliant sequel, you should rectify that immediately. His latter receiving praise from Kealan Patrick Burke, for which there isn't much better of a seal of approval you can ask for in the horror genre. Urban horror has met its master in Mark Matthews and I can't wait to read what he comes up with next. I received a copy of this book directly from the author without any obligation to review it but I'm putting my two cents in anyway.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    Yikes boys and girls..step away from the bath salts. This book is not for the fair of heart..or runners who like to venture out on their own. Needless to say I will never do that or offer help to someone when I am by myself. Good read though. Once I started I couldn't put it down cuz I had to know what happened next. Good job Mark!

  14. 5 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    Another solid read from Mark Matthews. This one didn't completely blow me over the way Milk-Blood did but it was still a dark and gritty experience and well worth reading. Love the title too. Recommended.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kaisersoze

    Starting with the less-good, I was a little disappointed that On the Lips of Children was not as disturbing as other reviews had led me to believe. For me, it also became a little bogged down in some of the details it was conveying, as certain elements of one character's back-story added little to proceedings. However, I most definitely found there to be something incredibly compelling about Mark Matthews' story of a small family in peril as they venture into the wrong part of San Diego and fall Starting with the less-good, I was a little disappointed that On the Lips of Children was not as disturbing as other reviews had led me to believe. For me, it also became a little bogged down in some of the details it was conveying, as certain elements of one character's back-story added little to proceedings. However, I most definitely found there to be something incredibly compelling about Mark Matthews' story of a small family in peril as they venture into the wrong part of San Diego and fall afoul of some of the hidden denizens of that city. At first I thought it was the writing, which - don't get me wrong - is excellent. Matthews demonstrates a rare talent with the written word that makes him extremely readable. But later I realised it was that On The Lips of Children is, at its heart, a tale about addiction. Addiction to meth, to blood, to tattoos, to running, to love, and maybe even, to grief. Perhaps this spoke to my own addiction to running, or possibly to my out of control reading. But whatever it was, I found this short novel to be a very effective thriller that kept me riveted until its (view spoiler)[ambiguous (hide spoiler)] ending. 3.5 to 4 Endorphin Rushes for On The Lips of Children.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen

    Book – On the Lips of Children Author – Mark Matthews Publication Date – June 4, 2013 Type – Stand Alone Genre – Horror/Dark Rating – 4 out of 5 Stars Review Ummmm? Why?  Right now Mr. Matthews, I am very upset with you – all day I have been trying to figure out if you seriously left me hanging like that….Really? I would really like another book - *tapping my foot – and like SOON! Can you please clean up the missing pieces?  I know there is enough story to squeeze out another book – so how about it? And Book – On the Lips of Children Author – Mark Matthews Publication Date – June 4, 2013 Type – Stand Alone Genre – Horror/Dark Rating – 4 out of 5 Stars Review Ummmm? Why?  Right now Mr. Matthews, I am very upset with you – all day I have been trying to figure out if you seriously left me hanging like that….Really? I would really like another book - *tapping my foot – and like SOON! Can you please clean up the missing pieces?  I know there is enough story to squeeze out another book – so how about it? And we come to another BR us Angels did together ---- and yet again – I thought I was the only one left reading till the end.  But my wonderful bestie Jenna is going to finish it for me just so I won’t be banging my head at every chance to figure out if I missed anything that ties up the ending.  Wendy aborted us after the Prologue to go back to her cheery love stories and JaHy (the loser) just gave up in general!  Ha----I am squishing your heads! (please someone remember that saying and don’t make me look like a fool) OK…so back to the story – the Prologue kicked ass….the beginning of the story drug…..the middle picked up and by 60% - I couldn’t put the sucker down!   Now when I first read that Dante was sniffing the “bath salts” – my son giving us the lecture on these suckers at our family Thanksgiving dinner is what came to mind ---- “Mom,” he says, “It is not going out to the store and buying up those perfumed crystals for your bath water, and taking them home and snorting them.  Bath Salts is just a name made up for designer drugs that are similar to meth.”  And that sucker looked at me like I was the dumbest person on earth….go figure – so I thought it would be simple for kids to get their hands on them and that was the reason for the Zombie Apocalypse that was breaking out…..so sue me! Ah Shit…I went off on a tangent again – back to the review – so yeah, it was gory and parts were heartbreaking but I’m still pissed at the ending….Hahahaa…I just remembered how Dante wanted to take off everyone’s face so he could see what was going on behind the face.  Dante was the shit but I absolutely loved how he got his back in the end. (yeah-his story ended *pfft) Re-Cap Do you know who really live in the tunnels that connect Tijuana to California?  Did you ever think that cannibals live in those tunnels just waiting for vacationing suckers to stumble upon them? Well Macon and Erin had no clue – and why wouldn’t they trust the hotel clerk when he told Macon about a short cut to get to the ocean quicker?  Macon was running in the marathon the very next day and couldn’t strain his muscles too much…so why not take Mr. Mex up on his suggestion?  Would this really be a horror if Erin didn’t go to follow Macon with their 6 year old daughter, taking the same path?  Who are these people living under the overpass and how come they are so close to the tunnels? When Macon finally makes it to the ocean and meets two little children at the end of the dock and the little boy starts sucking the blood out of his calf which is bleeding, didn’t Macon think things were a bit “off”? Macon gets back to the hotel only to find Erin missing and a strange message on his phone….money in exchange for Erin?  What is going on? From this point on – when Macon makes it back to the homeless freaks is when the story really gets good with blood sucking, eye popping, head bashing, skin gouging gore!! The ending?  You know I never give away the ending…but in this case – I really can’t.  See that, Mr. Matthews?  The readers want an ending….OK…that’s not true….I want the ending – so just message me and let me know the outcome of the 4 people left outside the tunnel – please? For more reviews, Free E-books and Giveaways

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    Thank you to the author for the copy of this book to review. Right first of all, if you are faint of heart or have a nervous disposition I would probably not read this novella- although you will be missing out if you don't. It took me under two hours to complete, that was how enthralled I was. Incidentally, reading this novel AND going to see Elysium at the cinema on the same day is probably not conducive to your health. Elysium has exploding people...this novel has exploding lives.... So, Macon, Thank you to the author for the copy of this book to review. Right first of all, if you are faint of heart or have a nervous disposition I would probably not read this novella- although you will be missing out if you don't. It took me under two hours to complete, that was how enthralled I was. Incidentally, reading this novel AND going to see Elysium at the cinema on the same day is probably not conducive to your health. Elysium has exploding people...this novel has exploding lives.... So, Macon, marathon runner, father, tattoo artist, goes for what should be a simple run, and ends up entangled in a nightmare....his wife, behind him, won't escape either... Doesnt sound like much when I give you that little blurb does it? Determinedly though I'm not going to tell you anything else because the true genius of this book is that its so unexpected. It is horrifying. Family pitted against family...Mother against Mother....how far would YOU go to protect your children? In a funny kind of way it had a whole Star Wars thing going ....the light versus the dark side....neither giving up, both determined to come out on top. And characterisation is key - Lyric, oh Lyric, broke my heart...and hey this really is a horror story at heart and yet it has real gut wrenching emotion as well. Don't see that too often... This is a powerful story mostly because you really have no idea where its going....Mark Matthews has a very particular turn of phrase and the ability to keep you guessing, and to have you on the edge of your seat as you wonder who will ultimately triumph...A real page turning Good v Evil tale of terror. Loved it. Happy Reading Folks!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Mark Matthews, I REALLY NEED TO KNOW ! ! ! So this was really creepy, and disturbing, and icky and horrific. It doesn't happen to me often when reading, as I am older, and jaded, but there were episodes in this book that made my heart pound. Hard. I could feel throbbing in more than one pulse point. This book is well worth the read if you like to be scared out of your mind. But there are other aspects explored as well like family and relationships and love and trust, that might appeal to readers Mark Matthews, I REALLY NEED TO KNOW ! ! ! So this was really creepy, and disturbing, and icky and horrific. It doesn't happen to me often when reading, as I am older, and jaded, but there were episodes in this book that made my heart pound. Hard. I could feel throbbing in more than one pulse point. This book is well worth the read if you like to be scared out of your mind. But there are other aspects explored as well like family and relationships and love and trust, that might appeal to readers beyond the horror genre but only those with nerves of steel and ironclad constitutions. But Mark Matthews, please I really have to know . . . (and I can't decide that this is a spoiler, so if you aren't Mark Matthews, read the question at your own risk . . . is everyone truly safe at the end? Because I feel like we are supposed to know they are rescued, but it doesn't feel that way in my gut. And my insides have been roiling for days while turning it around in my mind. And I just can't take it anymore. I must know! Please?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Nikki

    Macon's planning to run a marathon and his girlfriend, Erin, is critical yet supportive, always giving him tips and warnings of over-doing it. Macon's got something to prove though. He wants to be the best man he can possibly be for his future wife and his daughter Lyric. He feels this marathon is the best way to show that he can go the distance. Macon, on his practice run, daydreams of his proposal, of being a real family, of having a happy life, but his musings are interrupted by a family of can Macon's planning to run a marathon and his girlfriend, Erin, is critical yet supportive, always giving him tips and warnings of over-doing it. Macon's got something to prove though. He wants to be the best man he can possibly be for his future wife and his daughter Lyric. He feels this marathon is the best way to show that he can go the distance. Macon, on his practice run, daydreams of his proposal, of being a real family, of having a happy life, but his musings are interrupted by a family of cannibals threatening to upset his happily ever after. Macon's strength will be tested and he'll have to dig deep if he wants to survive this ordeal. The writing itself is strong and flows well, making this an easy read. The characters were really fully-fleshed and could easily be visualized as real people with real issues. Story wise, whether you enjoy it or not will likely be based on subject matter (cannibalism, kidnapping), pacing(slow, but steady) and/or dialogue, not because Mark can't write, because he really can. I found the story to be a bit long-winded and repetitive when it came to Macon and his thoughts, but understood that the author wanted me to understand this man's motivation and desires. I also had a slight issue with how things played out and Macon not being the least bit wary of strangers following him. I do understand that this could be explained by his thoughts being elsewhere. Overall, this was a good, if disturbing read. It will draw you in and have you anticipating the outcome. I will definitely try something else by Mark Matthews. You can read this review and more on www.horrorafterdark.com

  20. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    I read this book in one sitting which should tell you something about how powerful it is. I have made the best and worst decisions of my life in an attempt to protect my children. This is the story of two women, both mothers, who meet on a field of battle with one goal in mind--to save their children. One comes from a place of fetid, rancid darkness, the other from a world of searing, cutting light. While the men who surround them fight, maim and torture each other, these two mothers plot, with I read this book in one sitting which should tell you something about how powerful it is. I have made the best and worst decisions of my life in an attempt to protect my children. This is the story of two women, both mothers, who meet on a field of battle with one goal in mind--to save their children. One comes from a place of fetid, rancid darkness, the other from a world of searing, cutting light. While the men who surround them fight, maim and torture each other, these two mothers plot, with razor like precision, just how they are going to accomplish their goal. "Mother is the name for god on the lips and hearts of all children." Lupita and Erin are gods who really answer prayers. When her daughter Lyric asks to go home, it is as good as done for Erin. She will do whatever it takes to answer her daughter's prayer. It is Lupita that speaks to me in this novel, she crosses boundaries and endures a life of degradation and abuse to make sure she keeps her son and daughter under her watchful eye. Lupita may seem like a victim but she is the "little wolf" that her name implies. She is a fearsome god. I left San Diego because I had a debilitating fear that my blue eyed son would be kidnapped, so the scene of this book is especially meaningful to me. Matthews paints a chilling picture of the underground in the area between San Diego and Tijuana and the people who inhabit that dark and wicked place. He uses the power of darkness to tell us a story about the blinding light that is the love of a parent for their child. This is not a book for light weights. It is gritty and violent and black as the heart of a drug addict but it is also empowering and horror at its very best. And the ending...oh the ending.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    I enjoyed this book. It was good to read about a family of cannibals and how they survived. It was set in San Diego, and they lived in some tunnels and this dark. There were 2 small children and I was thinking if they survive would they be like Hannibal. The family they captured were likeable, two marathon runners and their daughter. I found the story to move along at a fast pace, it was gruesome as it was very graphic in its telling of what was happening. Even at the end it kept you guessing. Did I enjoyed this book. It was good to read about a family of cannibals and how they survived. It was set in San Diego, and they lived in some tunnels and this dark. There were 2 small children and I was thinking if they survive would they be like Hannibal. The family they captured were likeable, two marathon runners and their daughter. I found the story to move along at a fast pace, it was gruesome as it was very graphic in its telling of what was happening. Even at the end it kept you guessing. Did they escape only to be captured again, or was there a happy ending? I thought that was a good way to end the book, kept you wanting more.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    In On the Lips of Children, tattoo artist Macon has been training for his first marathon, a feat he hopes will convince his girlfriend and accomplished runner Erin that he is a worthy suitor. Little does he know that a routine jog will bring he and his young family face to face a group of depraved and bloodthirsty creatures. Any regular urban runner can attest to the flighty,nervous feeling one gets when running under an "occupied" underpass or down a poorly lit trail. Author Mark Matthews does a In On the Lips of Children, tattoo artist Macon has been training for his first marathon, a feat he hopes will convince his girlfriend and accomplished runner Erin that he is a worthy suitor. Little does he know that a routine jog will bring he and his young family face to face a group of depraved and bloodthirsty creatures. Any regular urban runner can attest to the flighty,nervous feeling one gets when running under an "occupied" underpass or down a poorly lit trail. Author Mark Matthews does an excellent job of juxtaposing the process of painful struggle, growth, and rebirth associated with distance running and body art with the real life fight for survival in this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ken B

    Matthews does a great job of keeping the reader off balance in this novella. There is not a character in the book in which he allows you to develop a sense of trust. The reader is left guessing at this result or hoping for another. But, rarely what you expected or wanted is given. 4 STARS

  24. 4 out of 5

    siobhan Quinlan

    Might not have been a good idea to read this while on holidays surrounded by woods but after milk blood i had to pick this up right away. This book had me so scared and unable to put it down. read in one sitting and i barely slept that night

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Barker

    On the Lips of Children by Mark Matthews is absolutely terrifying and chilling to the bone, quite literally within the first few pages of the prologue. Certainly not for the younger reader, On the Lips of Children is an over 18yrs read due to the horror and gore, not to mention the emotional scar it leaves behind. This is definitely a must-read for all horror fans that like a book to leave a profound impact on them. Macon is a tattoo artist and an avid marathon runner. These two interests of his On the Lips of Children by Mark Matthews is absolutely terrifying and chilling to the bone, quite literally within the first few pages of the prologue. Certainly not for the younger reader, On the Lips of Children is an over 18yrs read due to the horror and gore, not to mention the emotional scar it leaves behind. This is definitely a must-read for all horror fans that like a book to leave a profound impact on them. Macon is a tattoo artist and an avid marathon runner. These two interests of his are his life along with his partner, Erin, and their six year old daughter, Lyric. Erin and Macon have had their fair share of dark ordeals before they met, however nothing could have prepared them for the terrifying horror that they were about to encounter. After arriving in San Diego to run a marathon in two days time, Macon and his family check into their hotel. When Macon goes out for a pre-dawn training run in preparation for the marathon the following day, he runs along a trail that takes him across a baseball field, and further down into the dark depths of underpasses and bridges, with the highway above and the trail goes on until it reaches the beach. Along the route, Macon disturbs a homeless camp under a dark bridge, by running into a metal trolley that he couldn't see in front of him. He tries to apologise but there are definitely some strange vibes coming from these homeless guys. Macon runs on with the thought that there was nothing more that he could do when he notices he's being followed. Although mostly keeping their distance they do keep him within sight. Meanwhile, Erin has an awkward moment of her own when it feels that Mex, the hotel clerk, is lingering outside their hotel door, after Lyric escaped to buy a Pop Tart from the machine outside. Erin then takes Lyric out in the stroller to look for Macon along the trail...... …...Along the dark, remote trail at dawn, underneath the buzzing highway Erin and Lyric are kidnapped by a family of scavenging humans, dwelling in an old caved-in drug-smuggling tunnel that runs from San Diego, USA to Tijuana, Mexico. These dirty, animalistic scavengers have spent years surviving off the blood and flesh of humans. Although, completely oblivious to all what has happened as he was on the beach at the time, Macon runs back along the trail to the hotel only to be informed by Mex of where Erin and his daughter have gone. Macon returns to the trail in the hunt for his family. Now it's time for Macon and his family!!! The prologue itself is torturously horrifying as the mention of eating human flesh is written so early on. Mark Matthews' writing is so clear, the reader doesn't miss a thing – even though they may wish they had at times. But the setting is absolutely brilliant, with the time of day, the contrast from the busy, noisy highway to this dark, narrow, remote trail, the homeless guys that are not even visible in the dark of the bridges and lastly, the tunnels and those that live inside. Whilst reading that Erin and Lyric are being kidnapped I felt cold all over and noticed how tense I was. I could completely connect to this chilling story as my own partner runs marathons and I have a young daughter that uses a stroller, just as Lyric was in hers when she was caught. The experience of reading On the Lips of Children for me has been quite personal and felt quite realistic to the point that, without wanting to, I pictured my own family going through this traumatic ordeal. As a partner, mother and a reader, I had to continue no matter how chilling it was as I simply had to know the outcome. There are also moments in the book that are quite upsetting as during Lyric's capture Mark Matthews takes you through what she is seeing and feeling. She questions her safety. Where is her Mommy? This doesn't feel right but she doesn't want to scream, instead finding herself holding her breath with just a McDonalds toy of Buzz Lightyear in her pocket that she clings onto. She doesn't want to pull her toy out of her pocket in case these other children take it from her. (My little one loves her little Smurf toys that came from McDonalds – and it's these little pieces of information that defines what a 'normal' family they are. The reader just places themselves in this family's shoes and the story completely tears through your mind and insides, just as the scavengers tear the flesh from humans.) All of the characters were written absolutely brilliantly, and Macon and Erin do have well-written, dark histories that the reader comes to discover. I won't reveal any more but wanted to give it a mention as the plot of this book is so much more than the main capture of Macon's family. The reader does feel a little torn (if you excuse the pun!) when reading about the scavenging children as they are so young themselves and from a mother's point of view, you will do absolutely anything necessary to keep your babies alive! My favourite character was Mex, the hotel clerk, simply because of the way in which Mark Matthews has written him. He made me feel uncomfortable. Can he be trusted? He suggested the route that Macon should run. I thought he was the evil behind this somehow. Yet he alarmed Macon to his missing family as he told him when they'd left and where he thought they were going. But he was outside the hotel door with Lyric and seemingly awkward? He was aware of something surely? Did he tell Macon where his family was in order for him to get captured too? I had so many questions surrounding this one character. On the Lips of Children is absolutely horrifying, and at times upsetting. It is very quick-paced, just the right length and it does wrap up at the end, leaving no questions unanswered. It is a novel that will give you the heebie jeebies so if you are looking for a good scare this book is certainly up your street. A marathon like no other!!! A Reader's Review Blog received a copy of On the Lips of Children from the author, Mark Matthews, in return for a fair and honest review. We would like to thank Mark Matthews for the copy of his work.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Macon and Erin are building a life together. With their past in the rear view mirror, they need to find a way to survive a harrowing ordeal and make their dreams together come true, for themselves, for their daughter Lyric and for those that have been lost. They will need to dig deep to find the courage to keep running forward toward freedom. Q and T never had a chance - Weaned on blood and flesh, living in underground tunnels and sewers, struggling to survive and find their way in the dark with Macon and Erin are building a life together. With their past in the rear view mirror, they need to find a way to survive a harrowing ordeal and make their dreams together come true, for themselves, for their daughter Lyric and for those that have been lost. They will need to dig deep to find the courage to keep running forward toward freedom. Q and T never had a chance - Weaned on blood and flesh, living in underground tunnels and sewers, struggling to survive and find their way in the dark with only a mother’s love to keep them safe (?) and a disturbed father that just may be the end of them all. Family is everything. I was fortunate enough to receive the Audlble version of On the Lips of Children from Mark to check out and review. Fortunate, indeed. On the Lips of Children is a very good, character driven, dark fiction/horror tale that will make anyone that has children squirm in their seat. The narration was excellent and the pacing of the story was perfect. The story itself was simple enough, but the themes and concepts went much deeper and rang with interesting social and psychological tones. Mark did a wonderful job of building up the tension and the feeling of foreboding. The story and never strayed into cliché’ gimmicks or cookie cutter “horror” to provide his thrills and chills. Several times I found myself thinking I knew what was coming and was wrong…must have been my cookie cutter brain. Sometimes you run for fun. Sometimes for the endorphins. Somtimes....for your life. And sometimes you need to stop and make a stand. Solid 4+ Stars! Highly Recommended! (view spoiler)[ The concept of The Tribe (the bums) serving “the family” by feeding them tourists in exchange for drugs and their own safety was really intriguing to me and worked perfectly in the storyline. Created a very dark and chilling atmosphere throughout. (hide spoiler)]

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mandy DeGeit

    I do most of my reading during daily exercise on the treadmill. As I got into the story, I realized that the main characters are also runners. There are a few minor differences however, they run outside, where I prefer the indoors, and they run, where I’m more along the lines of jogging/walking. (It’s difficult to read when you’re running.) The book was interesting and opened up a world of horror in the underground tunnels below San Diego. Unsuspecting tourists and helpless people are taken as h I do most of my reading during daily exercise on the treadmill. As I got into the story, I realized that the main characters are also runners. There are a few minor differences however, they run outside, where I prefer the indoors, and they run, where I’m more along the lines of jogging/walking. (It’s difficult to read when you’re running.) The book was interesting and opened up a world of horror in the underground tunnels below San Diego. Unsuspecting tourists and helpless people are taken as hostages, their captors fuelled by the need for drugs and money. The family living in the bowels of the earth are much more than just dysfunctional and newly taken hostage Macon must pull himself together if he wants to save himself, his wife Erin and his daughter Lyric. The story kept me intrigued, as I wanted to find out what would happen to the family. Matthews goes into great detail with his writing, from the aspects of running to the description and feel of what it’s like to get a tattoo. I felt in some instances there was a little too much description (like with the running), but he does take the time to ensure the reader can see what’s happening in the story, rather than just telling us what’s going on. I did feel the ending was a little abrupt, as I wanted to know more about certain things, but it did leave me satisfied enough to have enjoyed the book. I recommend this book for horror lovers as it was a good story with well-thought out characters and plot lines. Three and a half stars. MDG

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    3.5 stars On the Lips of Children was a quick and very creepy read. Reviewer Charlene referred to "the building sense of dread and tension," and I agree that the gradually ratcheting tension was one of the strengths of the book. As a mother, I particularly identified with Erin's thoughts as she struggled not only to save her own life, but to protect her daughter. The horror stories which speak to me most are those in which I start talking to the characters as the plot develops: "No, don't go there 3.5 stars On the Lips of Children was a quick and very creepy read. Reviewer Charlene referred to "the building sense of dread and tension," and I agree that the gradually ratcheting tension was one of the strengths of the book. As a mother, I particularly identified with Erin's thoughts as she struggled not only to save her own life, but to protect her daughter. The horror stories which speak to me most are those in which I start talking to the characters as the plot develops: "No, don't go there!" "Turn around and go back!" Because On the Lips of Children moved so quickly, with the action taking place over the course of roughly 24 hours, I found myself yelling at Macon and Erin almost constantly as I frantically turned the pages. I liked the opacity of the motivations of the secondary characters and the (view spoiler)[ambiguity of the (hide spoiler)] ending. What stopped this book from reaching 4 stars was the suspension of disbelief required during the action sequences between Macon and Dante. I simply found it hard to accept that Macon could take that amount of physical punishment and remain conscious, much less be able to walk and talk (albeit less than steadily). I received a free copy of On the Lips of Children from the author in exchange for an honest review. I also received a copy of the audiobook version; I will supplement this review once I have listened to it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Eccles

    I received an advance review copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I know that this book has both male and female leads who are marathon runners, but it has the pace of a world-class sprinter! The opening epilogue is something I read quite a while ago, and it sickened me to the point where I thought "Wow! I need to read all of this book!" Macon and Erin have travelled to San Diego with their 6 year-old daughter, Lyric, so that the girls can watch Macon run his first maratho I received an advance review copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I know that this book has both male and female leads who are marathon runners, but it has the pace of a world-class sprinter! The opening epilogue is something I read quite a while ago, and it sickened me to the point where I thought "Wow! I need to read all of this book!" Macon and Erin have travelled to San Diego with their 6 year-old daughter, Lyric, so that the girls can watch Macon run his first marathon. Both Macon and Erin have their secrets and their demons, and have overcome them together, but now, as the three of them fall foul of a cannibalistic family who live in the tunnels originally dug by drug smugglers beneath the overpass, it becomes a race against time as they try to both survive and escape the drug-crazed Dante, his woman Lupita and their twin little horror, Q and T. There is no lull in pace whatsoever in this book, and Mark Matthews delivers his tale with tremendous impact. From the epilogue, it shows just what a mother will do to look after her children. Highly recommended!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I want to start by thanking the author, Mark Matthews, for giving me a copy of his book in audiobook format. I love horror, I love to be shocked, I LOVE creepy. This book delivered. On The Lips of Children is a wonderfully disturbing, original, horror story. Mark Matthews knows how to tell a story. The delivery was fast paced and kept me interested and engaged throughout. The only thing I wish was that I had a chance to feel a little more attached to the main characters and was actually a little I want to start by thanking the author, Mark Matthews, for giving me a copy of his book in audiobook format. I love horror, I love to be shocked, I LOVE creepy. This book delivered. On The Lips of Children is a wonderfully disturbing, original, horror story. Mark Matthews knows how to tell a story. The delivery was fast paced and kept me interested and engaged throughout. The only thing I wish was that I had a chance to feel a little more attached to the main characters and was actually a little put off by Erin. It would have been nice to have my heart tied to a woman fighting for the life of her child. I listened to this book and the audiobook was well read. It was a little distracting when the reader’s voice sounded like it was being read through a cardboard roll when we were listening to the characters thoughts. 3 ½ stars for the narration. I also love the cover of this book (creepy/eerie/twisted) but after listening to the story, I don't quite get the connection to the book. The child, yes, but the setting, no. I definitely recommend this book! It was fun! Thanks Mark!

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