Roberta Writes – Book reviews: Dog Meat by Priscilla Bettis and The Midnight Rambler by C.S. Boyack

Dog Meat

What Amazon says

Kalb Ward slaughters dogs for the Colony, a closed, dystopian society where resources are tight, free speech is nonexistent, and those in power have eyes and ears everywhere. Ward desperately wants to quit his grisly job, but he knows he’ll be arrested, or worse, if he tries.

In the Colony, a citizen’s future is determined by a placement exam. Score high, and you’re set for life. Score low, and you end up living a nightmare–like Ward.

Li Ling, the love of Ward’s youth, scored high, and she’s a local celebrity now, far out of his reach. Meanwhile, his neighbor’s son is making a series of disastrous decisions as his own exam rapidly approaches.

Can Ward bridge the social divide and win back Li Ling? Can he help the neighbor’s son avoid a future as grim as his own? Can he escape the Colony’s oppressive rule and, if he’s very lucky, bring down the whole horrific system in the process?

You know what they say: Every dog has his day.

And Ward’s day is coming.

My review

This book is not for the faint of heart. It delves deeply into the cruelty of the dog meat industry and some of the descriptions are very disturbing. If you have a strong stomach, this books is worth the read.

Kalb Ward lives in a post-revolutionary dystopian society where all citizens are assessed through an examination at the age of 11 and assigned their future path in society. Ward was ill when he took the test and didn’t perform well, as a result his assigned path was that of a manual labourer. Despite the best efforts of his parents, they are not able to change this outcome and Ward has gone on to become a dog slaughterer for a restaurant. His job is very distasteful and distressing to him and the only way he can get through the killing of the dogs, which must involve extreme torture in order to season the meat, is by dissociating from his body. His ability to dissociate give the reader the first indication of Ward’s strength of mind and determination. Ward is desperate to find a way out of his awful life, even if it means going to jail which is called re-education by the ruling party.

Ward was an interesting character who reminded me a bit of Winston in 1984. In fact, the dystopian world inhabited by Ward also has a slightly ‘1984’ feel in that it has a version of a Big Brother ensuring that all citizens toe the party line and no infractions or transgressions of the societal laws are tolerated.

As the story unfurls, the reader learns that Ward’s father was an intelligent and successful man who was murdered by revolutionaries and his mother is also a woman of superior intellect. The frustration felt by Ward in his job that is not only dead-end, but also very cruel, is understandable given his obvious inherited intellect, and kind heart. His rising up against the restrictions imposed on him is not at all surprising, but there are a few interesting aspects to Ward’s character that are exposed through revelations of his past and present behaviours over the course of this intense novella.

I am always fascinated by the attitude, determination, and fortitude that people can exhibit in the most adverse of circumstances. The author has tapped into the intriguing aspect of human behaviour with the creation of Ward.

Purchase Dog Meat by Priscilla Bettis

Amazon US

Priscilla Bettis’ Amazon Page

The Midnight Rambler by C.S. Boyack

What Amazon says

Something evil is after the hat. The ageless enemies have battled many times, but this time Lizzie is wearing the hat. She’s also up against a ticking clock, in that if she can’t find the maker of her new friend’s medicine he will die.

The Rambler has kidnapped the only witch capable of making Ray’s medicine in an attempt to make the hat sloppy in his efforts. He’s also flooded the streets with deadly minions to impede any progress our heroes might make.

As if that weren’t enough, Lizzie is facing more of life’s struggles, both financially and mechanically. This all goes down in the middle of a huge flood event that she’s ill equipped to handle.

Join Lizzie and the hat as they battle the elements, the paranormal, and a being of pure evil. Lizzie might be battling some personal demons along the way as she and Ray grow closer.

My review

Who would suspect that Lizzie’s trendy variety of hats are actually her accomplice as she travels about fighting monsters and putting wrong things right. Not only is The Hat able to transform into interesting and fashionable hats, but he is also an accomplished hero whose role as the right-hand ‘man’ to Lizzie’s ancestors goes back decades, and an excellent musician. In between monster fighting escapades, Lizzie and The Hat play in a band.

In this novella, an evil scarecrow, The Midnight Rambler, with the ability to animate vegetables and turn them into biting attackers, returns to life full of determination to find and destroy his age-old nemesis, The Hat. The Midnight Rambler is well aware of the connection between Lizzie’s family and The Hat and kidnaps a friend of Lizzie’s, the Professor, to bring the pair to him.

Unfortunately, the Professor is the only person who can make the medicine that keeps Ray, his Frankenstein-constructed human son, alive. Lizzie meets up with Ray and quickly becomes bedazzled by his kind heart and unusual good looks. A romance develops between the two and Lizzie will do anything to find the Professor and save Ray. This results in Lizzie and The Hat taking bigger chances than usual to draw The Midnight Rambler out into the open. The trio use a variety of strategies, including listening to the Night Bump Radio and trying to get people to call in sightings of pumpkin-headed zombies, to track down their enemy and find the professor.

This is a light hearted and fun filled thriller with a lot of humour and snarkiness thrown in. Ray is a delightful character and Lizzie and The Hat are their usual highly entertaining selves. A great edition to this imaginative series.

Purchase The Hat by C.S. Boyack

Amazon US

C.S. Boyack’s Amazon Page

58 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Book reviews: Dog Meat by Priscilla Bettis and The Midnight Rambler by C.S. Boyack

    1. Haha, Jacqui, I love animals and such descriptions make me flinch but they don’t upset me the way they might some other people. You could skip the bad scene or two, if you needed to, it wouldn’t detract from the story.


  1. Great reviews of two very different books, Robbie. Dog meat certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but a wonderfully written and moving story. And Midnight Rambler is a hoot. I enjoyed both reads. Congrats to Priscilla and Craig. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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